WordPress 3.9 Beta 1 was released yesterday. This is a major release, developed under the plugins-as-features development model. In this article, we will show you what new features are coming in WordPress 3.9 along with their screenshots. WordPress 3.9 is still in beta, so some of these features may not make into the final release.

You can test the beta version on your computer or in a by using the WordPress Beta Tester plugin.

Live Widget Previews in Theme Customizer

With WordPress 3.9, you will be able to see live previews of widgets in the theme customizer. Widget Customizer will allow you to edit widgets, rearrange them, and even add new widgets.

Widget customizer in WordPress 3.9

The exciting part is that you can see all this happening in the live preview pane on the same screen. In the earlier versions of WordPress, users were able to edit most theme features from Customize screen except widgets. Now with this feature, theme customizer looks complete and much more powerful. In case you are wondering the old Widgets screen will still be there, so you can manage widgets the old fashioned way as well.

To try out this feature, you can install and activate the Widget Customizer plugin. Upon activation simply go to Appearance » Customize, where you will notice a Widgets section for each widget ready area and sidebar supported by your theme.

Audio / Video Playlists

With WordPress 3.9, users will be able to create audio/video playlists. The audio/video playlists will work as a shortcode just like image galleries. You will be able to upload multiple audio/video files and add them as a playlist right from WordPress media uploader.

Arranging a playlist in WordPress media uploader

WordPress will also try to get the attached media’s cover and album information using the ID3 tags, but this will fall under a theme feature. It will be a very useful feature for WordPress Themes for bands and musicians.

TinyMCE aka Visual Editor Updated

Visual Editor in WordPress is based on TinyMCE editor which is another open source software. TinyMCE recently released a major update to the software, so in this release WordPress TinyMCE will be updated. This update resulted into many improvements in the Visual Editor. In fact, you can say that WordPRess 3.9 is focused on improving the writing/editing experience in WordPress. Some of these improvements are:

You will be able to see live gallery previews in the visual editor. When you add a gallery to your posts, images will be displayed in a beautiful grid right inside the post editor.

Live gallery previews inside post editor

You can also drag and drop images to the editor directly, and they will be automatically uploaded (this is pretty awesome).

Simply drag images to the editor for upload

Many more improvements are made into adding and editing images while writing a post. Like if you want to crop and edit an image while writing a post, you don’t need to open another window for that. You can do that directly by clicking on an image and resizing it by dragging the handles on the corner.

Resize and edit an image right inside the post editor

Pasting text directly from Microsoft Word will not result into weird characters. You don’t need to press ‘paste from Word’ button anymore. We’re sure many beginners will be excited to hear that.

Improved Add New Theme Screen

You will also notice further improvements in Themes screen. There will be a new, sleek and stylish UI to add new themes in WordPress. It fetches screenshot of the featured themes. You can also click on tabs to switch between popular tags, filters and search for new themes from the official theme directory.

Add new theme screen in WordPress 3.9

For Developers

Aside from the notable features above, there were several under-the-hood updates that our developer users might find useful. Below are the two that we were interested in:

  • WordPress Image Crop position – Up until now additional image sizes were cropped to center horizontally and vertically. In this recent release, there will be an image crop position that will allow developers to decide the crop position. (#19393)
  • Autosave Refactored – Autosave had lots of “moving parts” and over the years many additional functions were “pinned” to it. In WordPress 3.6 most of the additional functionality was moved to heartbeat, like logged out warning, nonces update, etc. In this release, saving of post data is moved over to heartbeat as originally planned. (#25272)

It is going to be a exciting a new release. We are particularly excited about the visual editor updates. It will greatly improve post writing experience for many WordPress users. Let us know, what features you like in WordPress 3.9, and what you would like to see in the upcoming releases by leaving a comment below.

Check Details on WordPress.org