The release date for WordPress 2.8 has almost been confirmed, according to the latest blog post on the WordPress development blog, the target date for releasing WordPress 2.8 is June 10th.
- 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.
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.