The WordPress Dashboard has seen several improvements in 3.8. We’ll take you through all the changes to the dashboard widgets, and show you screenshots side-by-side of how the Dashboard looked in 3.7 compared to how it looks now.
One thing you’ll notice is that there are far fewer screen options on the Dashboard in WordPress 3.8. Several dashboard widgets have been condensed or combined into one, and even one was entirely eliminated (Incoming Links widget).
The welcome screen hasn’t changed much. It still offers all the same links to help you get started with your site, but the fonts & styling take on that of the new UI.
Right Now / Site Content
In 3.7, the “Right Now” widget used to contain the following info:
- Total number of pages, posts, categories & tags
- Total number of comments, and breakdowns for each comment status
- Your WordPress version, the active theme & number of widgets
- (if installed) Basic Akismet stats about comment spam
Some of this information isn’t very useful, and users weren’t getting much value from it. The “Right Now” title also doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially in today’s social media world of “real-time”, “news feeds,” etc.
WordPress 3.8 replaced the “Right Now” widget with “Site Content.” This includes:
- Total number of pages, posts & comments (removing categories & tags, and not breaking down each comment status)
- Your WordPress version & active theme (removing the number of widgets)
WordPress News / Plugins / WordPress Blog
The Dashboard contained 3 widgets that displayed information about WordPress news & plugins. That has now been condensed into 1 widget. In 3.7:
- WordPress Blog – displayed the latest articles from http://wordpress.org/news/feed/
- Other WordPress News – displayed the latest articles from the http://planet.wordpress.org/feed/ feed, which is a mashup of several WordPress-related blogs (wptavern.com, blog.akismet.com, wordpress.tv)
- Plugins – displayed the most popular plugin & the newest plugin, both from WordPress’ plugin repository
The WordPress 3.8 Dashboard condensed all of these into 1 widget called “WordPress News.” Both feeds are included, and now only 1 popular plugin is displayed (removing the newest plugin).
QuickPress / Recent Drafts / Quick Draft
WordPress 3.7 had 2 widgets related to Drafts.
- Recent Drafts – displayed up to 5 of your latest posts saved as drafts
- QuickPress – a mini form to use for publishing (or drafting) ideas quickly, without going all the way into the “New Post” screen
The WordPress 3.8 Dashboard has condensed these into one, and renamed it “Quick Draft.” The form is displayed at the top of the widget, and no longer allows you to actually publish the content. You can only save it as a draft. Below the quick draft form, your most recent drafts will be listed, with links to go to the edit screen.
Recent Comments / Activity
You used to see a “Recent Comments” widget that would display up to 5 of your most recent blog comments. WordPress 3.8 has removed this widget, and added an “Activity” widget. This new widget includes:
- Posts/Pages that are scheduled to publish soon
- Posts/Pages that have recently been published (up to 5)
- Recent comments (up to 5), with links to approve, spam, etc.
- Links to each comment status type, so you can view all comments that need approval, or delete spam comments
This new activity widget is supposed to more closely mimic that of a news feed, and truly show what the “Right Now” widget didn’t show in 3.7. Truth be told, it still has a long way to go. But this is a step in the right direction.
If you have the Jetpack plugin installed, and enabled the Site Stats module, you also see Site Stats on your Dashboard. No changes have been made to this widget, but you will notice the fonts have been updated to match the new UI.
The “Incoming Links” widget was reportedly broken in 3.7 (and many versions prior). This was completely removed in 3.8. You probably won’t even notice it’s gone.
Adding Custom Dashboard Widgets
The process for adding custom Dashboard widgets has been updated, as well as the code for removing the new widgets that were introduced. There are several new functions introduced to access the new widgets. There are no Codex pages as of yet, but you can use the Dashboard Widgets API, and look through the source code for the following functions: