After seeing the media changes in 3.5 I was excited to upgrade several sites and use the new tools. For the most part it's a great step forward, thanks for all the hard work.
With that said, it's confusing that the menu_order is no longer used for images at all and breaks several sites that I've built custom gallery functions for.
Typically I'd allow myself or clients to manage their images through the "insert media" section without having to actually insert the media into the post in a traditional sense. This made a lot of sense for things like full screen backgrounds, slideshows, or other uses of images that aren't strictly galleries but some level of control is needed.
A great way to pull those images was doing a custom query using menu_order as the orderby argument. Since the menu order is no longer recorded in 3.5, this isn't an option and is confusing.
Please bring this option back. It would be even more useful with the improved drag and drop interface, is backwards compatible, and keeps reams of documentation from becoming incorrect and outdated or forked. I'm not sure there is really a downside, but understand there was probably a compromise made.
In the mean time, does anyone have a suitable work around for ordering images without inserting them into the post?