Announcing WordPress 1.5

(This is my favorite part of what I do.) To the 12,126 of you who have already downloaded WordPress 1.5, congrats for being on the ball. We had a “soft launch” on Monday the 14th while we worked out some infrastructure issues and we’re now very ready to announce WordPress 1.5 to the world. This release is named “Strayhorn” in honor of Billy Strayhorn the pianist and sublime composer who worked closely with Duke Ellington and wrote tunes like “Take the A Train” and “Lush Life.” We thought he was perfect to represent the power and elegance of this release, which has been under intense development and testing the past few months.

If you’re ready to get right to the meat, go download WordPress and don’t forget to read the installation or upgrade instructions. If you’d like to know more about the release, please make yourself comfortable and read on, we’ve got a lot to share.

1.5 has been our most user-focused development ever: we’ve listened closely to your requests, complaints, praise, pleas, and we’ve done our best to address these both in the core and through enabling plugin authors more flexibility. Any sentence that started “I love WordPress except for…” was fuel for the fire. Here are the key areas we addressed with in Strayhorn:

Templates and Site Customization

In the past the template system was simple to grasp but complicated to extend, especially if you wanted to create different templates for different sections of your site. In 1.5 we have created an incredibly flexible theme system that adapts to you rather than expecting you adapt to it. You can have your entire weblog run through a single file, just like before, or you can literally have a different template for every single different category. It’s as much or as little as you want. We’ve also broken common site elements like headers, footers, and sidebars into their own files so you can make a change in one place and see it everywhere immediately. As a quick example of how easy the new system is, let’s say that you ported your old template to a 1.5 theme and then decided that you wanted your permalink pages to work differently than your front page, simply drop a file called single.php into your directory and WordPress will automatically use it instead of the main template when on a permalink page. That’s it.

Of course we wanted to showcase the new flexibility with a new theme that took full advantage of it and was aesthetically pleasing to boot, so the new default theme for WordPress is the beautiful Kubrick by Michael Heilemann. For people who want to get their feet wet but not build a theme or design from scratch, Kubrick provides a fantastic foundation that has already inspired quite a bit of creativity. You can switch between themes with a single click.

Control Your Comments

For many comments are the best part of weblogging, they enable easy and transparent interaction to take place between you the author and your audience. However some unsavory characters have made this open interaction more of a burden than a blessing. WordPress 1.5 aims to bring the joy back to comments. First we’ve made everything much more secure by default using a new option we call “emergent registration” or “automatic whitelisting.” What it does is the first time someone comments they are automatically held in moderation unless you’ve approved something from them before. This means that your regular visitors don’t have to wait for you to manually approve each comment they make, thus slowing down the conversation, but you still can ensure that a drive-by comment vandal will never show up on your site. This is enabled by default, so that also means if you forget about your blog for a little while you won’t come back to find your domain a nest of spam (which begets more spam). This works for trackbacks and pingbacks too, and we even go the extra step of whitelisting domains that are in your blogroll.

Everything In Moderation

Many of you let us know that the moderation feature of WordPress was working great in catching your spam, but you still had to deal with spam even though it never got on your site. Well first we streamlined the comment management tools so it’s really easy to deal with hundreds or thousands of comments, trackbacks, and pingbacks at once, but we also added a blacklist option. There has been some really disgusting spam going around, and most of us can be certain that under no circumstances would we want some terms on our website, unlike moderation which is for things that may be risque but may also occur in a normal conversation. When something hits your blacklist you never even have to see it. (Even though we do save it for later analysis.) We’ve also added code for checking for insecure proxies, which how the large majority of spammers leave comments while hiding their identity, which we now block by default.

Conversation Registration

Finally we’ve integrated our user system and comment system much closer. You can now specify that you only want comments from people that have verified their email and registered on your weblog, without any dependencies or having to share any data with third-party external systems. We revamped the registration and login system to make this as seamless and easy as possible. When someone is logged in we also tweak the comment form just for them. You could combine this with something like the plugin that hides posts from lower-level users and have a very well-protected weblog.

Manage More Than Your Blog

Another thing we observed and heard was that you wanted to use the elegant WordPress interface to manage more of your content than just your blog. In other systems people would get around limitations by making everything a post and playing with templates in bizarre ways, which you can do with WordPress too, but sometimes you don’t want a template or another post—you want a page. In 1.5 we added the “pages” feature which allows you to run your entire site through WordPress, if you want. For example, you could create a page called “About” and it would be automatically added to your sidebar and the link would be and then you could create a sub-page of that called “My Dog” which would live at /about/my-dog/. You can have two pages or a thousand, manage your blog and a few photo pages or an entire corporate intranet 20 levels deep.

Keep Up With the Latest

The new Dashboard feature in your admin panel keeps you up to date with the latest happenings on your blog and the most important news from around the WordPress world, keeping you connect to the latest developments, updates, news, and enhancements.

There’s More Still…

There are tons of things that for whatever reason just aren’t right for the core WordPress distribution, but that’s okay. You want us to stay small and fast and we want you to have every feature you could possibly imagine, which is why we’ve expanded the internal API for plugin developers to use by hundreds of “hooks” into the very deepest parts of WordPress. Plugins can now integrate with the rest of the administration interface easily and do more then they ever could before. We’ve also created a great collaborative enviroment for plugin developers to create plugins just like WordPress is developed, and moving forward we’ll be creating an easy user interface for you to find and use the hundreds of plugins available for WordPress.

Under the Hood

In addition to all of the features above, we made significant improvements and optimizations to core pieces of WordPress code, following our “Code is Poetry” mantra. Amazingly, if you remove the extra templates we ship with now, this release of WordPress is actually smaller than 1.2, despite adding dozens of new features. Our testing team gave the code a thorough workout too — hundreds and hundreds of bugs have been fixed since 1.2.2. WordPress is now leaner, faster, and more secure then ever before, and we’re committed to continuing that trend.

Go Get It!

This has been the longest announcement post we’ve ever done, and we still haven’t covered half of what’s great about 1.5, for example built-in podcasting support. The best way to get the Strayhorn experience is just to dive in and download it. After all, the price is right. I apologize if I gushed a little, I’m just so excited and proud of what the WordPress team has done that’s hard to contain my enthusiasm. I’m really proud to be part of something so many of you are choosing to make a part of your lives.

Get the Latest Updates

WP Briefing — The WordPress Podcast

Join Josepha Haden and Matt Mullenweg to learn about where WordPress is going and how you can get involved.