What’s New in WordPress 3.9 Beta

what is new in WordPress 3.9

Many of you might already be aware that the first beta for WordPress 3.9 is out in the wild, and you can download it and try out some of the new things that are expected to be shipped with this new release, which is expected to be ready sometime in April 2014. Of course, there will be a Beta 2,3 and a Release Candidate version out for 3.9 before the public release. You can check the project schedule here.

If you have not caught up with what is new in this beta build, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We will be running through some of the most important changes from a developer and user point of view. Click the buttons below to jump between the two sections.


Warning : This is a beta build, and it’s not recommended that you run this on a production version of your site. These versions are released so that active community members can play around with the new features and test out the new stuff, to make sure there is no issues with it before it’s deployed for the broader public.

Pro Tip : If you want to try the new releases, I highly recommend installing the WordPress Beta Tester plugin.

Important links:

  • Oh noes, I found a bug: Inform the right people on the forum or file a bug report.
  • I hate bugs: So do we! Go through this bugs list before submitting a new one, because there is no point in submitting a duplicate bug report.
  • Squashed bugs: Here’s a list of stuff that was fixed.

What’s New for Developers in WordPress 3.9 Beta 1

These are some of the core changes that will impact WordPress theme and plugin developers:

  • The multisite load process was rewritten. #27003
  • WordPress 3.9 will be using the MySQL Improved (mysqli) database extension if you’re running a recent version of PHP. Plugin developers are advised to test their plugins and see that everything works well. You are also advised against calling mysql_* functions directly. #21663
  • Autosave was refactored, so if you see any issues related to autosaving, heartbeat, etc., let us know (#25272).
  • Backbone 1.1, Underscore 1.6 (#26799), Masonry 3 (#25351), PHPMailer (#25560), Plupload (#25663) and TinyMCE ( #24067) were updated.

What’s New for Users in WordPress 3.9 Beta 1

In this section we will be looking at the changes that impacts users.

1. Updated to Visual Editor

TinyMCE was updated to the latest version. For the uninitiated, TinyMCE is an open-source, platform-independent, web-based Javascript HTML WYSIWYG editor that powers the Visual Editor on WordPress. The update made it possible for them to remove the “Paste from Word” button. It’s said that the visual editor will handle copy paste from Microsoft Word with more grace, and will add much cleaner HTML markup.

TinyMCE Before After

It looks like 3.9 Beta 1 introduced a Horizontal Line button on the visual editor header. This is how the horizontal line renders in the Twenty Fourteen WordPress theme.

horizontal line WordPress 3.9

It would also appear some visual changes were applied to the button icons, like the one for Text Color, and the new TinyMCE editor dropped the support for the color picker / palette option.

Font Color Before and After

2. Widget Customizer & Header Image Editor in Live Previews

Widgets offer an easy way to customize you sidebars and footer on you WordPress site. When you go into Appearance >> Themes >> Customize in WordPress 3.9, you have the option to see live preview for widgets. When you click on “Add A Widget”, a new menu slides out where you can search for a widget, and you can see the widget in action before you push it live on your site.

Widget Customizer in Live Previews

You can also upload, crop, and manage header images, without needing to leave the preview area. Don’t forget to have a look through GraphicRiver’s Background Images for some great header images you can use on your site.

header image preview

3. Visually Appealing Theme Browsing Experience

You can see below the screenshot for the themes you can download from the WordPress theme repository. You’re able to look at a live demo for the theme, or install it from this screen. While you’re browsing for themes, don’t forget to have look through the professionally designed WordPress themes on ThemeForest. From parallax to responsive, we’ve got just about every WordPress theme styles you can think of.

Old Theme Install

New Theme Install

4. Drag and Drop Media in Visual Editor

It is now possible to drag and drop images in the visual editor, and WordPress will upload that media to your site. This will a great time saver, especially if you are working with multiple monitors where you usually try to drag and drop items between screens. I tried it with images and video, and both worked well, so I am going to take a stab in the dark and assume it will also work for audio.

drag drop

5. Live Gallery Preview in Visual Editor

No longer will you have to look at the placeholder box for galleries in the visual editor—you get a live preview now. Here is a before and after shot for a simple gallery in the visual editor.

Old Visual Gallery
Old Visual Gallery
New Visual Gallery
New Visual Gallery

6. Audio and Video Playlist

Now you can create audio and video playlists within WordPress. You can access this when you go to the Insert Media screen.

Old Media Gallery

New Media Gallery

And in case you are wondering, this is how an audio playlist will look in the default theme.

audio playlist

7. Improved Image Editing Options

You can edit images from within the visual editor while working on your post. Previously, you needed to leave the page and open up the image editing controls.

old image editor
Old image editor
new image editor
New image editor

So, there you have it folks—some of the new things that are present in the WordPress 3.9 Beta 1. Let us know what you like (or dislike) with the new version.

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