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WordPress 3.8 Now Available


Written by

Dave Warfel

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4 minutes

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WordPress 3.8 was released on December 12, 2013. We’ve highlighted the big changes below, but click the links within each section to learn more about the major improvements.

Many of these changes were developed as plugins first. If you have any of the plugins installed, be sure to uninstall them once you upgrade to 3.8.

New Admin Design (MP6)

It’s been quite a while since the WordPress admin area has seen a new design. That finally changes in version 3.8.

All of your menus & metaboxes can still be found in the same places, and most things will continue to function in the same way. The new admin design eliminates many of the gradients, shadows & old icons from previous versions. All that is being replaced with more contrast, a new font (Open Sans) & flatter design elements. There are more color skins to choose from, so you can branch out from the standard gray or blue options you’ve had for years. And the mobile experience is MUCH improved.

All of this stems from the MP6 plugin, which has been around since March. Learn more about all the details of the new WordPress admin design »

Improved Dashboard (DASH)

The WordPress Dashboard is where you start each time you login to the admin area. It contains important information about your site, as well as links to perform common tasks (view pages, moderate comments, create new posts, etc.). In WordPress 3.8, it becomes more streamlined.

The “QuickPress” & “Recent Drafts” widgets get combined into one widget called “Quick Draft.” The welcome message is much easier to understand, and the entire page has been condensed to fit more information on the screen (without compromising on important white space). They’ve also improved the “Comments” widget.

Everything you need to know about WordPress’ new dashboard screen »

New Twenty Fourteen Theme

The new WordPress theme by Automattic, Twenty Fourteen, will be released with WordPress 3.8. We have yet to take it for a test drive, but WPMU has posted a comprehensive (and quite critical) review of the new theme. Check it out over on their blog.

Twenty Fourteen Theme Screenshots

Theme Chooser (THX38)

Another change coming to 3.8 is how your “Appearance” > “Themes” page will look. The new updates will make it easier to scroll through & preview themes, but I suspect most sites don’t change themes all that often. This update will most likely impact brand new WordPress installations, and those searching for the perfect theme for their new site.

WordPress 3.8 Theme Chooser Overview
“Appearance” > “Themes” screen
WordPress 3.8 Appearance > Themes Preview
Previewing a theme in WordPress 3.8

Theme Development Enhancements

If you’re a WordPress theme developer, there are a few things you should know about:

  • You can now check for post formats using has_post_format()
  • You can now specify more arguments for background images—default-repeat, default-attachment, and more
  • New size for theme screenshots: 880px x 660px

Get the full details on

WordPress Core Support for Sass

Sass is a preprocessor for CSS, and it stands for “Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets.” It allows us to write more efficient CSS with fewer lines of code, re-use colors as variables, and a few other nifty tricks you can learn about on the Sass website. After a serious debate over Sass vs. LESS (a similar CSS preprocessor), WordPress has decided to adopt Sass into core. Read more about the decision on WP Tavern »

What does this mean for you?

For developers, it means creating admin color schemes & modifying admin CSS just got easier (well, sort of). We can now use Sass when modifying the admin CSS, but the process is not as easy as most would like. According to this support thread, one of the authors of the new admin design links us to a tutorial for adding color schemes to the WordPress admin. You’ll probably agree, it requires more effort than you were expecting. I’m hopeful this will improve in the future.

For everyday users, I’m sorry, but it doesn’t mean much at all. All your themes will still be designed the same way, and since there is no need for most of you to mess with CSS anyway, you won’t be impacted. Just continue about your business as usual.


Have you installed WordPress 3.8? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments. What are you most excited about?

Dave Warfel

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Dave has been working with WordPress since 2011. He's built 100s of client sites and almost a dozen of his own. He's tested almost every plugin you can think of, hosted with at least 10 different companies, and gone down every SEO rabbit hole you can imagine. When's he's not tinkering with new software, you'll find him in the mountains of Colorado, trail running, summiting peaks, and rippin' downhills on his mountain bike. 🏔️🏃🚴🤸

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