WordPress Releases New Major Update ‘Clifford’ Following Redesign

In November, Automattic, the company that owns WordPress, announced a comprehensive redesign of its ubiquitous content platform. WordPress 4.4, has now been released, codenamed Clifford in honor of the Jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown. A major improvement is that WordPress users can now create responsive images, without the need for third party plugins. Until now third party plugin or themes were needed, but now the feature is standard.

This year WordPress was estimated to power a huge 25 percent of all websites, confirming its market dominance.

Automattic also revealed it would be open-sourcing the new code which programs the updated WordPresS replacing PHP with JavaScript. WordPress was originally written in a programming language called PHP, popular with developers for making it fast to write new programs. Other changes have seen a simplified user interface, and, as of last week, an official desktop app for all three major operating systems — Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Speaking to VentureBeat, WordPress creator and Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg explained the working philosophy behind these renovations.

“We asked ourselves a big question. What would we build if we were starting from scratch today, knowing all we’ve learned over the past 13 years of building WordPress?”

Word Press Creator Matt Mullenweg
Matt Mullenweg, Founding Developer, WordPress. (Photo by Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE via Getty Images)

As with any new iteration of software, technical challenges and teething issues are inevitable — new possibilities bring new problems. For small personal websites and blogs, integration of the new WordPress should be less problematic. But for those with complex content, such as online stores, multi-media, or public archives that rely on fast loading and smooth functionality when handling high levels of traffic, the change could be troublesome. WordPress has released a plugin called Jetpack, designed to ease any potential transitional glitches, freeing up web hosts from having to support Node.jss..

And there will almost certainly be security issues, as latent bugs and vulnerabilities as yet undiscovered leave doors ajar to hackers. According to digital design agency security expert Declan Schafer, WordPress users can minimize security threats by choosing an obscure password and specify limited login attempts, but most importantly ensure all mini updates are downloaded. These updates will fix security vulnerabilities as and when they are discovered.

In the past, WordPress sites attracted hackers because users did not update the site software, and to counter this problem WordPress made sure minor updates would be installed automatically. But WordPress 4.4 is a major update, and major updates are still not installed automatically — users have to manually click on the “update” button to install. There are also numerous security plugins that can prevent unauthorized access, catalogue threatening events, and disable access to sensitive parts of a website.

Aside from the technical aspects of this redesign, in terms of functionality, the update has made WordPress faster and more intuitive. Users can now drag-and-drop image uploads, receive real time notifications, manage multiple WordPress sites in one window, and look at enhanced social stats. Aesthetically, the new interface is simple and minimalist, allowing greater clarity.

WordPress is in its 13th year, and over that period of time many new technologies have come to market, changing the way people work and play: smartphones, touchscreens, tablets, JavaScript, Github, and API architectures. The WordPress redesign has been modeled around these hardware and software innovations, built to take full advantage of them.

For over 10 years now, WordPress has remained largely unchanged, but still managed to maintain its popularity and relevance across a decade of huge technological evolution. It is Automattic’s intent that through these updates and redesign, WordPress will continue to be the dominant force in content management, and still be powering over a quarter of the internet for another 10 years.

[Image via Pixabay]