WordPress 2.8 Beta Hands On Review

June 3rd, 2009

Over a period of time WordPress has evolved a lot integrating a host of interesting features in it, WordPress 2.8 is another exciting release which adds a host of new and interesting features.

If you haven’t tried the beta versions of WordPress 2.8 yet, here is a hands-on review that talks about the key features made available in this version of WordPress.

WordPress 2.8 Highlights

  • Theme Browser and Installer
  • Ability to add Custom Headers
  • New drag-and-drop widgets admin interface and new Widgets API
  • New ways to customize dashboard widgets
  • Syntax highlighting and function lookup built into plugin and theme editors.
  • Configurable Views on Management Pages.
  • Faster Loading Admin Pages

Theme Browser and Installer

The earlier versions of WordPress made it much more easier to install and update plugins, WordPress 2.8 adds a feature to allow users to easily install and upgrade themes.


The theme browser provides users with a variety of options to search themes, the options provided are colors, number of columns width, features and more. In addition to that you can also search themes by keywords.


WordPress 2.8 also adds the ability to install themes with a single click, much like it does for plugins, you can also preview the themes without first installing them.

Custom Headers

Many themes come with custom headers that are included by default, changing them would require the users manually editing the theme, or in some cases using the theme options.


However with WordPress 2.8 users can now add their own custom headers, you can upload a image and crop it before applying it as the header image.

The custom headers feature will only work if the theme author has configured the theme to allow this capability, you can read more about the customizing headers feature.

New Drag and Drop Widgets and Widgets API

Widgets play a big role in allowing users to customize their themes without the need to manually edit the theme, WordPress 2.8 has done a huge overhaul of how widgets work, allowing users to easily move widgets between different widget areas with ease.


Users can now also use the same widgets on multiple widget areas, something that was not possible in the earlier versions of WordPress.

Along with the added flexibility WordPress 2.8 also includes a widget API that will make developing widgets much more easier than before.

Customize Dashboard Widgets

The Admin Dashboard in WordPress is a place where you get the most information about tons of things, however earlier versions of WordPress only allowed users to rearrange the widgets.


With WordPress 2.8 users can now specify the number of columns they want to see in the dashboard area, at present users can customize the view up to 4 columns.

Syntax Highlighting for Plugins and Theme editor

If you have ever taken a look the plugin and theme editors in previous versions of WordPress, it has been almost like you are viewing the code in a plain text editor.


However that is about to change in WordPress 2.8, as it adds syntax highlighting which resembles a proper code editor and also a easy way to lookup functions that are used.

Configurable Views on Management Pages

WordPress by default displays a host of information to the users when managing the content or comments, however not all users may find those information useful to them.


WordPress 2.8 allows users to easily configure what information should be displayed by using the Screen options on different management pages.

Faster Loading Admin Pages

The admin pages in WordPress 2.8 load much more faster than the earlier versions thanks to various script compression and concatenation that are used.

I did see a considerable increase in speed when compared to WordPress 2.7.1.

Other Interesting Highlights

These are not the only features that have been included in WordPress 2.8, if you are interested in learning more about the features in WordPress 2.8, take a look at the Version 2.8 document in WordPress Codex, if you want to test the new version, download WordPress 2.8 beta 2.

What do you think of the new features in WordPress 2.8? Do share thoughts about it.




  1. Martin (20 comments.) says:

    I have been using the Bleeding Edge versions of 2.8 for a while now and the part I love most in WP 2.8 is the support for 4 columns on the WP Dashboard. At least now I can fit everything on my screen at once in four columns instead of the old 2 columns which was in versions 2.7.1 and under.

    Four columns is so much better for my 30inch monitor!

    The new layout for the widgets section is great also, no more clicking the dropdown and clicking “show” so we can access other widgetized sidebars. Having all widget areas listed in plain view is a god send.

  2. Lazy (9 comments.) says:

    i really like the new 2.8 version of wordpress, makes fun using it.

  3. Lars Hilse (2 comments.) says:

    The biggest benefit I see is in the syntax highlighting. Other than that I think the features are nifty, yes. But nothing revolutionary.

    • Stu (3 comments.) says:

      I agree. It’s a very incremental change from 2.7.1. Line numbers for the plugin and theme editors is my favourite feature.

      Also, I wonder if database tables will change.


  4. WhisperT (1 comments.) says:

    I have been loving 2.8 The syntax highlighter makes me wanna cry. Now I don’t have to hack WP anymore to add it. *luv* Now if only we could get WP to stop messing up code we manually put in our posts and pages.

    • conversion (1 comments.) says:

      To remove the auto formating in wp posts/pages, I put this into functions.php of my theme:


      or in a themplate:

      It removes the auto adding of br’s, p’s etc. It works well for me when using html edditor (you’ll need to type precise html ever-since using the code above) and it’s safe, you can play with it, or research it in the wp forum.

  5. Andrea_R (29 comments.) says:

    The custom header option has been there for a while. I wrote up a tute on how to add the code to your theme here:

    The notes for 2.8 just state they changed the wording of the menu generated.

    • Justin Tadlock (51 comments.) says:

      I was about to say the same thing. I can’t even remember a time when it wasn’t a part of WordPress.

    • Keith Dsouza (82 comments.) says:

      @Andrea_R @Justin Thanks for pointing that out, however the new feature in WordPress 2.8 allows users to upload and edit headers without having to manually do it, that is why I decided to include it as a new feature.

      • Justin Tadlock (51 comments.) says:

        You can upload and edit headers without having to manually do it in previous versions. I’ve added this feature to a theme before created on WP 2.5.

        If there’s something new added, I’d like to know though, but I’m just not seeing it here. All I’m seeing is a change in the wording from “Header Image and Color” to “Custom Header”, but I may be missing something.

        Is there something more than what’s shown with the WordPress Default theme?

  6. Kenji (7 comments.) says:

    Any idea when the final release is? Looks like it’s four days late so far (I know, “it’s done when it’s done”).

  7. V.C (44 comments.) says:

    I don’t dare to try that new version because It may affects my plugin :(
    What can I do?

  8. David (1 comments.) says:

    I’m already in love with version 2.7, so why did you create something as great as 2.8 seems to be? I absolutely love the changes to the Dashboard area, and I’m looking forward to all the other ‘goodies’. Thank you!

  9. Jan Jaap (1 comments.) says:

    I have tested the 2.8 beta now for a while, however I might not be getting the point with the new syntax highlighter.

    If I go and edit a plugin or theme, I’m still presented with the plaintext editor.
    In Opera 10, it is disabled and no edits can be made at all.
    In Chrome it shows up as plain text…
    Am I missing something here, or do you need to enable the highlighting?

    • Keith Dsouza (82 comments.) says:

      @Jan I was able to view the Syntax highlighter in Opera 9, Firefox 3, IE8 however I could not view it in Google Chrome and it is completely disabled in Opera 10 as you said. I have filed a bug with WordPress Trac (, I am sure they will take care of the issue before WordPress 2.8 is finally released.

      • Kirk M (67 comments.) says:

        I just checked out the plugin compatibility chart mentioned in the post you referenced and I found it to be inaccurate to the extreme when bouncing 3 popular plugins against the list (which was supposedly updated June 2, 2009). Here’s what the list says about:

        WP Super Cache: Not compatible (WP max version=2.5)

        All in One SEO Not compatible (WP max version=2.5)

        Aksimet Not compatible (WP max version=2.5)

        All 3 above plugins are fully compatible up to WP 2.7.1 (Max version not listed in WP plugins directory but it’s always compatible).

        No digs meant here but I wouldn’t use this list to check plugin compatibility for 2.8.

        • Keith Dsouza (82 comments.) says:

          Kirk, thanks for the feedback, I have updated the post to reflect this.

          Sorry for the inconvinience :-)

          • Epic Alex (18 comments.) says:

            One thing just to note, if you click on info for where a plugin is not compatible, it tells you the reasons. For WP Cache, for example, the reasons are that wp_content is hard coded, which in itself isn’t an error, its just that it is possible in versions after 2.5 to define that, so if someone has done so, the plugin won’t work, but if they haven’t changed the route to wp_content, then it will.

          • Epic Alex (18 comments.) says:

            I mean wp-content, sorry

  10. Stijn (8 comments.) says:

    Thanks for the walkthrough. It’s always good to know what to expect before making the actual leap of upgrading. I especially like the syntax highlighting. Note of interest: you may want to rewrite that first sentence.

  11. HSN (2 comments.) says:

    Has someone done any performance & speed benchmarking with this version compared to 2.7.1 ?

  12. Christopher (18 comments.) says:

    fixing widgets is great, but what we really need is to have multiple language options available built in like how the qtranslate plugin does it. We also need wordpress to clean up the slow queries.

  13. Carrie (12 comments.) says:

    I am sooo tempted to try the Beta now. :D

  14. Quentin says:

    just upgrade to 2.8 yesterday, but get a fatal error in all feed related function……

    Fatal error: Call to undefined method SimplePie::set_feed_url() in /home/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx/wp-includes/feed.php on line 550

  15. christopher moore (1 comments.) says:

    Going to hold off until the release, but it looks great so far.

  16. WpDite (1 comments.) says:

    Waiting for the 2.8 version. However first i will do a test run of it whenever the stable version releases and after to my running sites.

  17. George Serradinho (107 comments.) says:

    Wow, this post has most the details nicely explained and with cool images. I am tempted to download the beta version now, but I will just have to bite my teeth and hold on a little bit longer.

    Thanks for having such a detailed and informative post.

  18. Michael Klusek (1 comments.) says:

    Syntax highlighting and line numbering. Yea.

  19. Hugh (3 comments.) says:

    The media manager got more clunky from 2.6 > 2.7 so I’m hoping that is smoothed out as well. Eh, it’s not that big of a deal.

  20. Bob Easton (1 comments.) says:

    And what about fixes for accessibility compliance?

    The image loader erroneously substitutes TITLE for ALT, ignoring one of the basic guidelines of Web Content Acessibility Guidelines. TITLE is an OPTIONAL element. ALT is REQUIRED and should be the value the Image Loader populates.

  21. Carson (46 comments.) says:

    It would be good if there was a quick and easy way to change the font size in the post editor. If there is one now I haven’t been able to find it. Settings – Writing seems like a good place to put it.

    • Bo Tipton (4 comments.) says:

      Being able to easily change the post font would be a great idea but like you I have not been able to find it if it is there.

  22. Bo Tipton (4 comments.) says:

    I think I will wait on the beta version until it is released also.
    Sounds like there are some good features being added like the faster loading admin area.

    Bo Tipton
    The Ornery Marketer

  23. waw (1 comments.) says:

    Nice I like the Dashboard area and custom header option

  24. Robby Douglas (1 comments.) says:

    I’ve never been an early adopter just because something is new. It’s also why I never immediately install any software that ends in “.0″

    I’ve had an early look at 2.8, and am concerned that WP is only tweaking code for bells and whistles that I, for one, am not ga-ga about. I’m more interested in stuff like: Why not make a better menu system that will include categories AND pages, or include javascript or php in posts for system-administrator-approved people (like ONLY the administrator) without having to have widget crutches or buying some generic theme.

    WordPress needs new engine parts – not more air in the tires.

  25. Ash (1 comments.) says:

    look forward to it… :)

  26. ovidiu (6 comments.) says:

    just updated 3 blogs to 2.8 and one of them is missing the syntax hightlighting feature as well as the line numbering :-(

    any ideas what to check?


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