Brand new WordPress 3.2 is very important release, not so much because of the new features, but because it is a crossroads version that finally puts support for PHP4, mySQL 3/4 and MS IE6 (and IE7 will soon be gone) where they really belong: into history. Check your servers before upgrade!
From now on, WordPress requires PHP 5.2.4 and MySQL 5.0.15. All respectable hosting companies are already up to date with PHP and mySQL (some even running latest PHP 5.3), but you better check to make sure that your hosting company is upgraded, or you will be surprised when after upgrade you end up with broken website. All modern browsers will do fine, and from what I have seen IE7 will work for the most part with some minor problems, IE8 is also fine.
Image below shows the new WordPress admin dashboard. New interface uses space on the page a bit better and widgets and other elements are looking more compact and cleaner. For the most part I like the new look, with exception of the top header section, I think old one was better. On the image here you can see pretty much standard dashboard content with addition of GD Press Tools Pro widget and execution stats in the footer.
Interface changes also include improvements to post editor that now supports new full screen Just Write mode. Editor expands to the full browser window with toolbar on top. Once you start writing, all controls will be gone leaving only empty space with no distraction. I am not going to use it much, but I am sure that many users will welcome this clean and simple approach.
New theme replaces TwentyTen, and its called TwentyEleven. Theme is HTML5/CSS3 based, and its faster than earlier one, but I don’t like it very much to be honest. I think that it would be better to improve on TwentyTen than go with new theme, but here it is.
Admin bar is improved with more options and menus added. It would be nice to have some extra control over what is in the admin bar, but plugins will take care of that. Next GD Press Tools Pro will have more options for admin bar control. Other changes are many minor visual improvements: login form changes, new links in the footer and more. jQuery is updated to 1.6.1 with jQueryUI to 1.8.2.
But, as with any new WordPress there are some downsides. Many of the updates will for sure break many plugins and themes that use jQuery due to changes in jQuery 1.6. I hope that plugin and theme developers are going to check everything and fix potential problems. I have tested my plugins and they are all OK, with some Lite versions coming next week to make sure everything is OK. Some users I talked to recently expressed their disapproval of new interface, but that is expected with any interface change. For me, I like the new WP look (for most part).
What’s next for WordPress? Now that requirements are sorted out, and interface improved, there are still several areas where WordPress is lacking. Most important problem is content management. I have said it before 2.9 and 3.0 and 3.1, and I am saying again, WordPress is not equipped to work with large amount of content. If you have few hundred posts and 20 categories, it’s not bad, but for large websites that use custom post types and custom taxonomies, this is a real problem. Changing taxonomies for large number of posts in the same time is slow using current batch approach, and still impractical. We need better, and easier to use drag and drop interface for handling posts and taxonomies with AJAX filters and pagination. I really hope that this will be one of the things we can expect in 3.3, and I will try to push the suggestions once the WP 3.3 gets in development.
For now, WP 3.2 is great upgrade to the platform, and I strongly recommend that you switch to it as soon it is released. Speed of the new WP alone is reason enough. Add better interface and other minor changes and WP 3.2 is the version to use. All core developers and contributors deserve big thanks from the growing WordPress community for all the work to make this new version.