WordPress 4.7 officially rolled out in December and it got more attention than your typical update in the build-up to release. Rather than an incremental revision, WordPress 4.7 – affectionately dubbed “Vaughan” after jazz singer Sarah “Sassy” Vaughan – brings some welcomed new features – both for developers/designers and website owners.
So there’s some good stuff in the latest update and it’s pretty clear the team at WordPress is trying to resolve some of the user concerns with the platform. That said, there are still some new features we would have liked to have seen in an update by now (we’re never happy, are we?)
The Best of WordPress 4.7
Starting on a positive note, here are the best things to come out of WordPress 4.7
While there’s nothing particularly interesting about WordPress updating its default theme, there are some important tweaks worth mentioning. For many developers who build their own themes using child themes, the Twenty Something themes are a popular starting point. So it’s good to see a couple of features introduced that we’ve enjoyed on many premium themes for some times now.
The first of these is the new “video headers” feature which basically allows you to set a video header section from within the theme settings of Twenty Seventeen. You were never able to do this in Twenty Sixteen or earlier versions of the theme, meaning video backgrounds would have to be hard-coded into your customizations or not at all. You would have to turn to another theme to get this options from within the theme settings.
Custom CSS in Live Preview
This one may not appeal to everyone but bare with me. The good news about this feature is you can now add custom CSS to any theme in Live Preview by selecting the “Additional CSS” tab. Type away your CSS stylings in here and you’ll see changes happen on the fly, right in front of your eyes.
Hit save and there you have it – custom CSS in an instant. The only problem is these styles will only affect to the theme you apply them to and this is where some developers might lose an interest.
In fairness, it makes sense that CSS styles applied inside a themes preview only affects that specific theme. What some developers might not appreciate is that this feature wasn’t implemented in a more universal way but that could be something that wouldn’t really fit in with the Live Preview system.
Custom Bulk actions
Developers can now create their own custom bulk actions in the drop down menu for posts, comments, users and other admin screens.
You’ll need to know your way around some WordPress code and core files to add these features (or have a developer on your team). But this will be really handy if you ever find yourself screaming out for a bulk action that doesn’t come as default in the WordPress dashboard.
Rest API Endpoints
This one is huge for developers, but not the most interesting things to explain. Basically, this means you can tap into WordPress data externally (say, from your mobile app) and use that to complete functions outside of your site.
So you can pull things like WordPress posts, comments, users and other core elements into an external application and perform separate tasks with them.
Thumbnail previews for PDF files
It’s quite interesting to see how popular this particular feature has been in online comments sections, considering it’s a pretty simple addition. You now get thumbnail previews for PDF files that are uploaded into the WordPress media library, displaying the first page of the document.
Until WordPress 4.7, this was only possible by using plugins and that’s a welcome addition for anyone that regularly uploads PDF files. Not so good for the aforementioned plugin developers perhaps.
Once you get used to using shortcuts in the WordPress editor it’s pretty hard to do without them. The only thing is, you have to know them to get the best out of the editor to begin with. Which is fine for your basic bold (Ctrl or CMD + B) and italic (Ctrl or CMD + I) commands that are fairly universal but many of the shortcuts like headline choice are unique to WordPress.
So it’s nice to see shortcut hints in tooltips and drop-down menus for version 4.7. For those unfamiliar with some of WordPress’ most useful shortcuts, this will helps speed up their workflow on a daily basis – a simple but really useful addition.
Multilingual WordPress dashboard
Many WordPress sites have people from around the world working on them at any one time. Until now, everyone logging into the same WordPress site would have to use the dashboard in the same language – but not anymore.
Now users can select their native language and their choice will be saved for future logins. This means foreign-speaking developers, writers and other contributors can work their way around the WordPress interface, even if they’re not fluent in the site’s main language.
What we’d still like to see in a WordPress update
Overall, WordPress 4.7 is a really interesting update with some big new features. So I don’t want to turn around and complain too much. Sure, it would be great to see more emphasis put on improving speed and performance but those are things that will have to gradually develop over time.
To keep users excited about updates, WordPress needs to add exciting new features and it’s done a very good job of it this time around. However, there is one big improvement I think they’ve missed.
The media gallery is in need of an update
Considering how visual the modern web has become you have to think that WordPress’ media gallery is long overdue an update. This is by far the most time-consuming interface for any publisher that cares about visual content and there are a number of areas that could be improved:
- There’s no way to search/filter images to easily find them again later
- No default settings option for media files
- Editing alt text for images and other SEO tasks is a pain
- Migrating media from other sites is beyond slow
That last point should be enough motivation for WordPress to think about reworking the media gallery because it makes migrating from, say, Joomla to WordPress a pretty unappealing notion.
As for the daily user, having a more intuitive way to manage media elements and access them again later would shave tons of time of the WordPress workload.
Despite the media gallery lagging behind some of WordPress’ newest features, you have to say that version 4.7 is a success story. Casual users and developers alike have plenty to enjoy from the update and hopefully the WordPress team can build up some kind of mome