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The WordPress 3.8 update is scheduled for December 12th (next Thursday), and we at Oomph are eagerly awaiting its release. Promised to hold, “many terrific visual improvements to the dashboard,” 3.8 beta 1 is already available to the self-hosted (play away!), and will automatically integrate on the 2nd for WordPress.com VIP hosted sites.
Until the official release next week, we wanted to give you a quick rundown of projected features and how they’ll affect your site, as well as important tips.
Here’s what you need to know:
- WordPress.com VIP hosted sites will notice a change after the update on December 2nd. This will affect, according to WordPress, code surrounding the Admin, Dashboard, Theme Preview and Widgets refresh.
- Those with custom plugins or custom admin interfaces should start testing now to keep everything running smoothly. WordPress.com VIP recommends reading this post for more guidance.
- WordPress 3.8 brings a workflow change: features are developed first as plugins before being incorporated into Core. This means by the time features make it to the user, they’ll be fully baked and ready to go–However, if they are not ready to be incorporated, it also means they won’t hold up new releases.
- The admin console is getting a lovely makeover (see below) in an effort to keep things simplified, modern, and responsive. This has been live on WordPress.com since this summer, but will now be in Core. You can read more about the specific thought process behind it here.
- 3.8 features a “less bloated” dashboard to stay organized (mostly done by consolidating or removing widgets). It’s not a huge change, but it should contribute to the streamlined, modern look WP is going for.
- The theme selection process should be improved with the incorporation of the THX38 plugin, which you can preview here. This keeps the “user-friendly” quality of WordPress alive and well, allowing users to easily make their WP site their own.
- A cleaned up widgets tool, called Widgets Refresh, will tentatively be included, tasked with simplifying the way users manage the widgets on their site.
Be sure to email the WordPress.com VIP team with any questions, at email@example.com! If you have any questions or concerns about 3.8, let us know in the comments below.
Today, developers and designers alike code, create, and customize sites for multiple screens. As users, we’ve already come to expect that no matter which site we visit, the given destination will instantly recognize our device, adapt to our screen size, and quickly acclimate to our device’s various specs—at the very least. Simply put, what was once considered an exceptional mobile site is now universally demanded.
But responsive design is far from evolved. In addition to these established requirements, device manufacturers and OS developers continue to push the boundaries of the expected, as seen in Google’s latest release: the Nexus 5 with Android 4.4 KitKat. This offering throws down a mobile gauntlet, catering to consumers’ call for increased functionality, design simplicity, and more.
What can this release teach us about where responsive design is headed? Let’s find out:
1. One Thing to Rule Them All
As a certain tablet’s recent ad campaigns insinuate, there is a real consumer call for a “one device” that does it all. The Nexus 5 capitalizes on this desire with a wider range of optimized functionalities—for example, full-screen immersion mode and swipe motions that mimic an e-reader, KitKat’s advanced photo editing suite, or the Nexus 5’s built-in infrared blaster support that easily transforms the device into a universal remote.
2. Take Social A Step Further
More social! Always more social. It’s not just apps, it’s not just pages, now even entire mobile platforms have to be socially optimized. KitKat allows users to sync contacts across all social media sites, something previously available only by app. To keep you in the know, if you are called by a number not found in your contacts, KitKat will use Google search to find a possible match, and include available photos.
3. Tech Should Be Wear-Optimized
Smart glasses, smart watches…Today, technology is increasingly wearable. The Nexus 5 with KitKat is the next mobile device to incorporate this hardware, putting a motion detector right in the device that is goes further than most—including sensors that act as pedometers for fitness enthusiasts. Wearable tech is becoming more than a mere trend, but how will it evolve from here?
4. Less Is More
As we learned at WordCamp Boston ’13, less is more in mobile. But while the pressure has traditionally been on developers to keep sizes down, Google has made an effort to do so itself in KitKat. The platform is optimized to perform on devices with RAM as low as 521 MB, and its Developer Kit includes access to RenderScript, providing devs with a way to make better apps with less code. This shift of responsibility from developer to manufacturer is a significant one; though it doesn’t tangibly reach the consumer, the powerful apps and less expensive devices that follow will likely push such features into the realm of the required.
4.4 Why Wifi?
It’s not a huge revelation, but clearly the rapid migration to The Cloud is influencing consumer expectations. Wifi is great, but users no longer want to rely on it. Increased functionality sans wifi is pushed forward by Google Cloud Print, released earlier this year and included in KitKat, which lets users connect any printer to The Cloud for remote printing without wifi.
So in conclusion devs and designers, KitKat and the Nexus 5 signal a change a lasting impact on RWD, and ultimately increase expectations for UX. Now that users have had a taste, they will most certainly want to break them off a piece of that…unprecedented functionality.
Version control systems like Git are a necessary part of any reasonable software development workflow; there are many options out there, the most common being Git, SVN, and CVS. People become passionate about their choice of VCS, and entire stacks of procedures, policies, and politics become entangled in what should be a simple and mostly transparent toolchain choice.
The honest truth is, they all work. All VCS options have distinct quirks, advantages, and disadvantages. Some perform better than others, but if you state your goal in English, most tools in existence will accomplish that goal. The missing component in an unsuccessful system tends to be company buy-in. I have seen many excellent technology efforts fail because the whole team didn’t buy-in, and I have seen some terrible tech tools provide long-term valuable services because the team was on-board. The bottom line is that if a team is willing to use a tool, they will make it successful.
Everyone at Oomph was interested in moving to Git, but there was a lot of concern about disruptions to commenced business–It’s simply not acceptable to tell a client that you can’t deploy their site because you’re in the middle of a VCS switch. Additionally, the number of distinct repositories Oomph manages made the migration daunting: If you have a single repository, it’s pretty straightforward process, but if you have 10, 20, or over 100, it gets a bit more challenging. Our path forward was to migrate the highest-traffic repos, then set a system in place to sort at the smaller and less active ones over time. All new projects start with Git, and all the old ones on SVN are in the process of being migrated, based upon activity level. If a project sees very little activity, we have no immediate reason to change it over.
The migration has presented the team with a learning curve and some new challenges, but ultimately this new step has resulted in greater speed and efficiency across the organization. The education effort is ongoing, as we continue to migrate old projects and integrate new team members. Oomph now has the Git foundation to build upon, and the right people positioned to help this migration remain a long-term success.
Oomph is proud to introduce our new Chief Technology Officer, David McKinley. David brings to the company a wealth of knowledge in advanced web and mobile technologies. Using this expertise, he will provide Oomph and our clients the guidance we need to make the right decisions when facing the constantly evolving world of technology.
A creative engineering mind with a career spanning more than twenty years in high-tech, David’s passion for technology was born the day his dad brought home a Commodore PET computer in the late 70s. He then formally began his tech career in the early 90s when the field was advancing rapidly—a boon that provided him the opportunity to grow his experience with equal velocity working for companies like Motorola, Applix and KVH Industries. Most recently, McKinley created high end home and commercial automations in his role as lead mobile applications architect at Savant Systems where he also earned several patents and a CEDIA Manufacturers’ Excellence Award for Savant’s iPad Automation application. Here at Oomph, David will continue to deliver cutting-edge ideas as he works with clients like NESN, NBC Sports, and Interactive One.
In addition to his command of the tech industry, David contributes quite the musical talent to our team. An accomplished musician, David not only owns thirty-five guitars, he plays a variety of instruments that include didgeridoo. He lives in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, with his wife, two daughters, nine cats and one poodle.
Oomph’s in-house DJ’s Ian Del Giudice, pictured here, and Alex Vallejo played the party.
We had a great night on Long Wharf last night and we hope you did, too! Thank you to all who traveled from near and far to join us at the Oomph Open House and grand opening of our Boston office. Let this be the first of many times we share. If you missed the fun, check out photos from the event on Flickr.
With the official opening of our new Boston office on Long Wharf, which we are excited to celebrate tonight, this is a time of gratitude at Oomph. We want to take this opportunity to thank our clients who have trusted us to help build new experiences for their customers—each of the projects we’ve had the pleasure of working on has made us who we are, and each has been an incredible experience for us. We also want to thank our partners and friends who have stood in our corner and seen the future of Oomph along with us. This milestone belongs to all of us.
So, tonight we celebrate each of you, we celebrate our team, and we celebrate what’s next. Cheers to the grand opening of Oomph Boston and to all that we have accomplished together.
Hope to see you tonight!
It’s time for some Drupal design, Boston-style. Hundreds of designers, developers and site builders will converge on MIT’s Stata Center this weekend, June 22 and 23, for Design4Drupal Camp, Boston. This annual event, now in its fourth year, is a chance for Greater Boston’s Drupal community to network, share ideas and help power the momentum of this ever-evolving, popular open-source platform.
Oomph will be represented at Design4Drupal Camp by Rob Aubin and Nick Blanchard who are both looking forward to the experience.
“What makes it special is that the tracks aren’t laid out to be too developer-heavy,” says Rob. “There’s a real focus at Design4Drupal on UX and front-end strategy, which is a lot more palatable for front-end developers, UX specialists and those new to the platform.”
Education never stops for those who are passionate about what they do, and this is a guiding philosophy for the Oomph team. We like to think of it as Oomph University, and we’re fortunate to have so many valuable events like Design4Drupal Camp happening all the time, right here in Boston–an influential digital design and development community and ideal classroom.
While Nick says he is interested in learning more about how industry leaders incorporate UI and UX design into the Drupal platform, Rob expects to pick up new tips and ideas for the creative team at Design4Drupal, especially regarding the interactive side of creating content. Look for more on their D4D experience this weekend as they tweet live from the event @oomphinc and #D4DBoston. Next week, Rob will share his D4D #OomphU insight with you here on the blog.