WordPress, one of the most popular blogging applications, is out this week with a major update. WordPress 3.0 includes 1,217 bug fixes and a long list of new features developed with the efforts of 218 contributors.
WordPress is available as an open source download that anyone can setup and install on their own server as well as on a hosted platform at WordPress.com. According to Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), WordPress.com is the 12th most visited site in the world, with 120 million unique visitors in April.
With the WordPress 3.0 release, the open source effort is continuing to move beyond its basic blogging system and is now including more content-management capabilities. Among the biggest changes in WordPress 3.0 is the addition of multisite capability, allowing users to deploy a single WordPress installation across multiple sites, though there are some limitations.
The multisite capability is not enabled by default and requires users to manually edit the “wp-config.php” file to start the feature. Multisite is also restricted to providing site addresses within the main domain of the site in which WordPress 3 is installed.
The WordPress codex help system notes that users will have a choice between subdomains (site1.example.com and site2.example.com) and Subdirectories (example.com/site1 and example.com/site2) for their multisite addresses.
From a management perspective, there is now a grand unified updater in WordPress 3.0, enabling users to do bulk updates for plugins and themes. In previous releases of WordPress, users had to manually update plugins and themes individually.
For the actual sites, WordPress 3 provides a number of new customization features, including the ability to display custom background and header images. From a site-navigation perspective, there are also new custom menu features. Users can now create a navigation menu that includes links to a category, page, post or external URL.
With the new Custom Post type, users can also move beyond the traditional WordPress taxonomy of blog posts and content pages. A WordPress 3 installation can now have any type of navigation naming, than taking it beyond a basic blogging platform and bringing it more in step with a traditional content management system.
WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg noted in a blog post that the immediate focus moving forward is not a WordPress 3.1 release. Instead, the WordPress development team is now going to try to improve things around the broader user experience of WordPress.
“The growth of the community has been breathtaking, including over 10.3 million downloads of version 2.9, but so much of our effort has been focused on the core software it hasn’t left much time for anything else,” Mullenweg wrote.
Mullenweg added that development efforts will look at improving the theme and plugin directories, forum and mailing lists, among other items.
“The goal of the teams isn’t going to be to make things perfect all at once, just better than they are today,” Mullenweg wrote. “We think this investment of time will give us a much stronger infrastructure to grow WordPress.org for the many tens of millions of users that will join us during the 3.X release cycle.”