WordPress 4.1 is in Beta and includes Juicy Tidbits for Developers

Normally I don’t get super-excited about new WordPress releases. It wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t even go out of my way to read up the new features when a release was made. And to get worked up on a minor release? Forget about it. So either 4.1 is a really exciting minor release or WordPress has just become such a big deal to me that I would be excited no matter what. The jury is still out on this.

One of the first things that jumped out at me was the fact that 4.1 finally addresses the issue of shared taxonomy terms. In the past if you created a taxonomy term with the same slug as another taxonomy term (belonging to a different taxonomy), these terms had a single shared record in wp_terms. This got awkward when you decided to update the name of one of them which didn’t really apply to the other one. Starting in 4.1, “shared” terms will no longer be created and an update to a shared term will cause it to be split into 2 separate terms.

Another bit of good news for developers is continued improvements to the query functions built into WordPress. WP_Meta_Query now allows nested queries and avoids redundant joins. WP_Tax_Query also now supports nested queries, avoids redundant joins, and supports ‘EXISTS’ and ‘NOT EXISTS’. WP_Date_Query, WP_User_Query and WP_Comment_Query also have had improvements including bug fixes.

Titles, which have long been a pain point for theme developers, are also getting some love. While a full solution is not in place yet, theme support for ‘title-tag’ can now be declared which will indicate to WordPress that themes are not declaring title in their own and that WordPress can add it without causing duplication. According to Konstantin Obenland, “The long term plan is to enable users to manage document titles from their admin, independent of which theme they’re using.”

The Customizer has received many updates as well. As a developer who creates custom themes for a living, I’ve always been a bit leary of the customizer. In this release though it’s received some improvements including the introduction of more complete JS models for the UI components. Since it’s not going away, it seems as good a time as any to get a better handle on how it works and how it can be used within theme development to give a better experience to the client. Read more about it here or here.

WordPress 4.1 is only in its first Beta now so I don’t recommend putting it on production sites, but you can download it here to try it out.

Read more about the release here.

What do you think?