WordPress 3.0, WordPress 3.1, and WordPress 4.0 Explained

You probably didn't notice, but the other day I upgraded this blog from WordPress 2.9.x to WordPress 3.0.
Luckily, the update was not that drastic. My theme and my plugins seem to be working the same, and the interface is almost identifical.

But Here's the Big Question:
Should You Upgrade?

  • YES, if you are running a free (open) blog such as RobertPlank.com, to get used to the new features and take advantage of themes that use the new functionality.
  • NO, if you are running a mission-critical WordPress membership site, especially if it's hosted with Wishlist Member.

Three First impressions About WordPress 3.0

  1. Better looking Dashboard with a "notification" area (like Facebook)
  2. Batch updating of plugins (now if only the updater wouldn't stall on my server)
  3. New theme-dependent things like menus, featured image, and standardized way of changing your header graphic

Three Things You Might Not Have Noticed

  1. WordPress MU (MultiUser): so you can create a blog network if you change your config file
  2. author specific templates: if you know how to rename your theme files, you can give different users a different admin interface
  3. custom post types: you could create an e-commerce store or article directory in WordPress easily without "fudging it" using pages.

3 Things to Look Forward to in WordPress 3.1
(coming August 2010)

  1. newer HTML editor: local autosave, paste with formatting, and faster performance such as showing text while resizing
  2. prevent comment impersonation: if someone tries to leave a comment on your blog, and that email address belongs to a registered user, require them to login
  3. email authentication: users can login using their email address and no longer have to remember usernames, only passwords.

4 Things I Want to See Before WordPress 4.0

  1. better plugin updater: mine still times out, I at least want a progress indicator, and maybe even the ability to update a plugin WITHOUT going into maintenance mode or halting the entire thing
  2. official plugins: please build the All in One SEO Pack, Robots Meta, Google Sitemap, Subscribe to Comments, Twitter Tools, Get Recent Comments, List Category Posts, MaxBlogPress Ping Optimizer, WPTouch, and Psychic Search plugins right into WP so I don't have to install them by hand on every single blog I setup
  3. automatic update: I really don't see this coming until WordPress 4.0, but I would like a Windows-like function to automatically check, and update, the blog, theme and plugins overnight
  4. big picture stats: when I login to the dashboard, I want to see the word count of my entire blog, the average word count of my posts, my top commenters, the average comment length, how many posts per month, how many comments per day, how many hits per day, and how many searches per day my blog is getting

What do you think about the new WordPress?  Have you upgraded yet or are you waiting until a more stable and tested version?

Filed in: BloggingMembership Sites

Comments (22)

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  1. David Bibby says:

    I installed WordPress 3.0 on my own server and I am DELIGHTED with it. Previously I was using the hosted version on WordPress.com and soon realized all the limitations that implied.

    Now I have complete control of my content, appearance, plugins, etc.

    Thank you for all your inspiration and tips.. you have really helped me make progress every day!


    P.S. Wow.. first one to comment!

  2. I upgraded all my blogs and I’m fine with WordPress as it is, but I welcome your thoughts and ideas. WordPress team should read this blog to get inspiration for future versions indeed.

    Have a nice weekend everyone. 🙂

  3. Ken Gary says:

    Big Picture Stats sounds like a great idea for a plugin!

  4. Syamsul Alam says:

    I’m using wishlist and yet I still upgrading my wordpress. Your statement “NO, if you are running a mission-critical WordPress membership site, especially if it’s hosted with Wishlist Member.” really scare me out because you have authority in this kind of thing.

    Would you mind to explain, why I should not upgrade to 3.0 if I use wishlist?

  5. @Syamsul – Wishlist emailed and told us not to upgrade yet. There is one small issue they found and will release a new version next week. That’s why most of us are not upgrading our Wishlist installs yet.

    In fact, I haven’t upgraded any of my blogs yet. My experience with WordPress has been that they’ll find a security problem in the next two weeks, then everyone will have to go to 3.1 or 3.01 or whatever. So I’m giving it a couple of weeks.

    Always thinking, Robert – I love that about you. Everyone is excited about the newest release and you’re already planning for the next one! Love your ideas.

  6. Andrew says:

    It seemed to be a no-problem upgrade for me.

  7. Kenny says:

    Great post, Robert.
    Like Jeanette, I’m holding off for a week or two before upgrading (i.e. waiting for the core wp to get updated if needed, and also for plugins that I use to be updated).
    I am interested in your ‘big picture stats’ idea. Do you currently have a plugin or way to view these stats?
    I can see comment statistics with Akismet statistics (I get over 200 per month), but I can’t see how to get the other info quickly and easily.

  8. Robert Plank says:


    I’m using the “blog metrics” plugin to get some stats such as average comments, word counts and all that… but it’s not enough.

  9. Valentin says:

    Awesome information, and enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Adam Porter says:

    I haven’t updated yet. I’ll likely do so over the weekend. The “please update…” notification is calling to me.

  11. HelenRappy says:

    Really great information here. I have be curious about what upgrading would do to my blog.

    I like the dashboard I have now just fine and I now know where everything is! I love progress and all, but I am fine staying right where I am for awhile. When my plate feels less full (if that is possible) I will make time to look into it and maybe upgrade.

    I know that being one of the first has its benefits and advantages, but I need to choose my ‘cutting edge, first’s’ wisely.

    Thanks for doing the research and sharing it with us!


  12. I upgraded to 3.0 with no problem, but my site’s pretty simple so far…

    Robert, those plugins you mentioned…would you put them on EVERY blog you have? and what others do you recommend?


    Mtn Jim

  13. Thanks for an interesting article.

    To be honest, the idea of WP auto-updating all the blogs makes me cringe. Especially considering all those bugs (see Jeanette’s comment).

    I guess I like to stay in control. I’m also with Helen here… whatever version I have right now seems to work just fine. So I’ll wait a while…

    On the other hand, I really like your idea of incorporating all those plug-in functions you list into the standard WP versions.

    Meanwhile, I just discovered a little bug in my current installation. I tried to edit a page (very important update) and it’s completely blank in edit view. Yikes!

    So I’m not about to experiment and see what else can go wrong…

  14. Mike says:

    There are both pros and cons to the popular “Get it out there fast and fix it later” approach.

    From my mainframe programming days (punch cards), I noticed that fixing bugs in a program took QUADRUPLE the time and effort as taking a little longer to do it right the first time.

    I took the latter approach, which occasionally irritated my managers, but my customers loved not having to come back to me with bug reports.

    However, in marketing, you can quickly lose market share by not getting your product out before the competition does.

    Knowing these things, I’ll either wait for at lest the first maintenance release before buying software, or, if there is an introductory price, I’ll buy it then but wait for the maintenance release before installing.

    With operating systems, I had Windows 3.1 on my 486, but waited for Windows 98 SE (Second Edition) for my next machine, skipped Windows ME, waited for XP Pro SP2 for the next (now have SP3), skipped Windows Vista, and will hold off on Windows 7 until XP Pro SP3 is no longer supported.

    So I agree – wait for at least the first maintenance update for WordPress 3.

    And, Robert, with the exception of Twitter (which not everyone uses), I agree that most of the plugins you mention ought to be part of the core in order to simplify users’ lives.


  15. Dan Martin says:

    Great timing. I’ve yet to get around to adding blogs to some of my websites. When I started looking, I kept hearing about the major update to WP3.0 and decided to just wait for the biggey. HostGator wants users to wait until WP3.0 is stable.(?) So… I’ll have to muck around with FTP.

    Are you going to cover this in your next “Webinar for Dummies” series??

  16. Thomas says:

    Thanks for the heads up on 3.0 with wishlist member.
    Not being a person that does well with the mechanics on the back end, I need all the tips that I can get.
    The list of plugins that you use is priceless.
    Now if you would expand on that list (Plugin and it’s purpose) or point us to where you have explained that before, it would be awesome. I know that you have mentioned some of them before if not all of them before and I am sorry if I don’t know where they are.
    I think that it is time for me to check out your PHP for beginners.

  17. Nancy Boyd says:

    Hi Robert,

    Wow man, you just saved me hours of research! I had already planned to wait on the upgrade until some of the bugs are worked out, but now I can actually plan and have great criteria for my decisions.

    You’re keeping us ahead of the curve here, buddy. Thanks.


  18. William says:

    Hey Robert,
    Just upgraded last night. Spent around 30 min. checking everything out. The changes were not much, but what they did change I like.

    It looks like I will have to check out the pages section, I didn’t notice 1,2 or 3.

    One thing I would like to mention, I don’t think it has anything to do with WP as much as it does CPanel or maybe just my hosting company’s cpanel.

    I watch for updates regularly on word press. Last year I missed an upgrade and was hacked. All content lost. Luckely use Microsoft word to create articles and posts.

    For some reason with this hosting company, I have to go into fantastico to upgrade each version.
    I tried to upload with ftp and it just doesn’t work.

    This time I went into cpanel and fantastico was missing. I decided to take a deep breath and make sure I didn’t accidently hide icons and such.

    Then I went into software services and found wordpress under the icon “softaculous”. I think it is pretty cool and faster than fantastico. the upgrade was a snap and it has an option to back up your files before upgrading.

  19. I upgraded to 3.0 and everything is working just fine. I’m enjoying the new dashboard. I can understand everyone’s apprehensions about upgrading if they have Wishlist membership sites. Always better to be safe than sorry.

    Thanks for all the super WP upgrade info!


  20. Quentin says:

    I was using many of those features in 2.9 however they have been reorganized.

    I think if the main plugins were included would be good but which ones.

    I hope it doesn’t go the same way as Joomla. It started off very simple and then got so big and chunky it was almost impossible to use by your average user.


  21. Robert Plank says:


    I have also worried about WP becoming the next Joomla and I was especially worried when WP announced they would merge WPMU (multi-user) and WordPress together for version 3.0.

    But I’m pretty relieved that the menus are still pretty much the same and that you have to modify a config file to get that extra feature.

    Even more relieved that no one here asked how me how to do any of that advanced stuff, that tells me most users are just using the core.

  22. I use WP for the blog and other pages at my hosted site. I upgraded to 3.0 as soon as it was available, hoping it would correct the bug that had just popped up in the prior version — it refuses to give the correct time of day so that my scheduled posts mysteriously would not go out. I looked at settings and saw that although WP claimed to be adjusting Pacific time for daylight saving, it was not, so at 6am WP thought it was only 5am and would not send out my 6am post. I have to schedule my posts accordingly or they go out an hour late. The very same bug is in 3.0. Odd because it worked fine for months until just a few days before the 3.0 release.
    Also 3.0 refuses to send out my post notifications on Twitter with a hashtag no matter how many times I verify that the area is filled out correctly in my scheduled blog post.
    I had a problem the first day of using 3.0 when one of my posts was truncated when it was published — half of my text was simply missing – vanished.
    Overall, I do like WP but I hope the bugs are fixed soon.

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