WordPress 3.0 Features Every Theme Developer Should Know

WordPress 3.0 RC2 is now available for download; this means that final version could be released any day now. This release will mark a new milestone in WordPress history, with several exciting new features including: multiple sites, custom menus, custom post types and a new default theme.

Like our coverage of WordPress 2.8 and WordPress 2.9; this article highlights important enhancements in WordPress 3.0 and provide links to some really useful resources.

Multiple Sites With Single WordPress Install

Although merger of standalone version with MU may not affect every one, this is very important development. You will now be able to create multiple sites using single installation of WordPress, where each site may have its own set of themes and plugins. Your multisite setup can work with sub-domains or sub-directories:

  • Subdomains work by using wildcard subdomains. You must have this enabled in Apache, and you must also add a wildcard subdomain to your DNS records. Some hosts will not support this, so you may need to ask your webhost before enabling this feature.
  • Subdirectories work based on mod_rewrite. If you are using pretty permalinks in your blog already, then subdirectory sites will work as well.

Multisite feature in WordPress is disabled by default, you will need following steps to enable it:

  • Go to Tools > Network under WordPress admin menu and specify Network settings
  • Create “blogs.dir” in wp-content folder
  • Add following line in your wp-config.php file: define(‘WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE’, true);
  • You may also need to modify your .htaccess file

Once the above steps are completed, you will see a new menu section called Super Admin. This section will allow adding and managing additional sites in your network. Your base WordPress install is now the main site in your network.

Learn More:

New Default Theme

Believe it or not “Kubrick” is gone, and replaced with new default theme: Twenty Ten.  Twenty Ten is an elegant theme with features like: two column layout, support for custom background and header images, provides built-in support for microformats, widgetized sidebar, and horizontal drop down menu.

Twenty Ten has been developed keeping in mind that a large number of theme developers use default WordPress theme as base for learning and designing their own themes. It therefore illustrates several new features like:Custom Background Images, Editor Styles, Improved Child Theme Support, etc.

Learn More:

Custom Menus

This is probably the most useful new feature for theme developers. WordPress 3.0 allows you to register any number of menus and display them in your themes template files using a simple function call. Most importantly it provides an easy to use menu section in the admin area – from where users can easily add, edit and remove menu items. Users will be able to add, edit and remove: pages, custom post types, categories, taxonomies, and custom links to these menus.

Learn More:

Custom Post Types & Taxonomies

Custom taxonomies were added in WordPress 2.8, enabling developers to create new ways to classify content. WordPress 3.0 improves this feature significantly by including support for hierarchical (category-style) taxonomies, and providing end users with custom taxonomy UI for pages as well as for posts.

Learn More:

WordPress introduced custom post types in version 2.9, but a lot of work was left for plugin and theme developers. However, WordPress 3.0 provides full support for custom post types, simplifying the whole process. This is a big deal – theme developers can now build easy to use CMS solutions for wide range of sites, meeting needs for specific type of content (portfolios, projects, video libraries, podcasts, quotes, chats, etc).

Implementation is pretty straight forward. All you need to do is register post type in your functions.php file. WordPress 3.0 will automatically add admin section for your new custom post type, enabling content managers to add, edit and update content. To add a template for your custom post type, you will create a new template file named “single-{post_type}.php” (you can use any standard WordPress template tags in this file).

Learn More:

Related Plugins:

New Template Files

In addition to other enhancements, WordPress 3.0 has also added several new template files in its template hierarchy. Here is list of new template files for quick reference:

Template For Front Page of Site
Will be used for both your latest posts or a static page as set by the admin (File: front-page.php).

Template For Custom Post Types
If custom post type is books, WordPress will look for single-books.php (File: single-{post_type}.php).

Author Specific Templates
If the author’s name is “admin”, WordPress would look for author-admin.php. If the author’s ID is 1, WordPress would look for author-1.php (Files: author-{nicename}.php, author-{id}.php).

Templates For Custom Taxonomies
If the taxonomy is “sometaxtonomy”, and taxonomy’s slug is “someterm”, WordPress would look for taxonomy-sometaxtonomy-someterm.php (Files: taxonomy.php, taxonomy-{taxonomy}.php, taxonomy-{taxonomy}-{term}.php).

Additional Resources

Checkout Codex to see more comprehensive list of enhancements and changes in WordPress 3.0. Here is a list of some additional resources that you may find useful:

We hope you found this post useful and timely, and remember to share any additional WordPress 3.0 resources for developers that we may have missed.

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Reader Comments

5 Responses to “WordPress 3.0 Features Every Theme Developer Should Know”
  1. Arun Prasad says:

    This is very useful. Thank you for the excellent round-up of wordpress 3.0 resources and features. Thanks again!

  2. Pam says:

    thanks for a good roundup

  3. Linda says:

    It’s great to see WordPress evolving so that it is much easier for web developers to create web sites with features that clients and web visitors alike will appreciate. My clients absolutely love the ease of use of either a Joomla or WordPress website – content managements systems are definitely the way to go.

  4. Jennifer R says:

    Woa, new wordpress version support multisite? So what about WordPress MU?

  5. Gosh, great list of resources. Thank You very much for this post.

    I think the post title should be changed by ‘all about wordpress 3.0′ :lol:

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