WordPress 3.7 Now Available

WordPress 3.7 Release Notes

WordPress 3.7 was released on Oct 24, 2013. We’ve highlighted the big changes below, but click the links within each section to learn more about the major improvements.

Improved Search Relevance

For years, one of the biggest issues we’ve had with WordPress is its search engine. The default WordPress search has always been lacking behind the rest of the platform. Results were always ordered by date, with the most recent post listed first. Keywords were taken into consideration, but no weight was given for titles vs. content vs. categories vs. custom fields. WordPress 3.7 has made a small, but incredibly useful update to how WordPress search works.

Results are now ordered by relevance, along with date. According to this changeset on WordPress Trac, here’s how the new ordering logic works:

  • Full sentence matches in post titles
  • All search terms in post titles
  • Any search terms in post titles
  • Full sentence matches in post content

If you consider each of these bullet points as a section, the results in each section will be ordered by date (independently of the other sections). So… relevance first, date second.

This should provide millions of websites with much better search results for their visitors. We also suspect that plugin developers will utilize the new filters that have been introduced:

  • wp_search_stopwords
  • posts_search_orderby

Automatic, In-The-Background Updates

WordPress 3.7 will keep itself updated.

When you navigate to Dashboard > Updates, you’ll see a message alerting you whether or not automatic updates are working on your server. Example cases where WordPress cannot update itself include:

  • If you’re using version control like SVN or Git
  • If you are required to enter FTP credentials when installing themes and/or plugins
  • If your hosting company has chosen not to support background updates (WP Engine is one such company)

Each time an update is released, the site admin will receive an email with the status (successful or failed).

WordPress Background Updates Eligibility
Check if your site is able to receive automatic WordPress updates.

This sounds like it’s very much still in the beta stages, and has a lot of room for improvement in the future, but it’s exciting from a security standpoint. Automatic updates means your site receives all the security patches as soon as they are released.

WP Engine Customers: WP Engine is not supporting background updates.

Better Password Strength Meter

Another improvement in security, WordPress has adopted a new password strength meter, created by zxcvbn. Warning: The explanation gets very detailed. A brief scan of how this strength meter works reveals a new way of thinking about strong vs. weak passwords. For anyone who has had discussions with your clients about the importance of strong passwords, you might want to take a look at zxcvbn’s explanation. I’d encourage any plugin developers who have created password-related plugins to take a look. You might consider updating your plugin to be consistent with the new WordPress default.

Try the demo. zxcvbn has provided a bunch of real-world examples, or you can try your own password to see how it measures up. Or try it out right within your WordPress Admin.

Advanced Date Queries (date range)

New WordPress advanced date queries allow you to query posts within a specific date range. For a while now, you could query posts from one specific day, month or year, but not within a range (without writing custom SQL queries). WP_Query has been updated to included the ability to use ranges. Check out the ticket on WordPress Trac for more details.

Alex Mills (the lead developer on this code), has posted some examples on his website. It’s fantastic work that makes more complex queries seem very simple to run. Kudos, Alex.

Automatic Translations with Default Themes

WordPress didn’t provide many details for this new feature, but here’s what they had to say (along with “more to come…”):

If you’re running WordPress in another language, we’ll automatically download any available translations for official WordPress importers and the default themes.

Have you installed WordPress 3.7? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments? What are you most excited about?

What Are Your Thoughts?

All fields are required. Your email will not be published.

You can use standard <code> and <pre> tags to post code examples, or a service like codepen.io.