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Customizing WordPress: Starting Points and Tips for WordPress 2.5

Last updated Oct 17, 2003.

By Miraz Jordan

WordPress 2.5 brings new features and a radically overhauled Dashboard. It looks different, feels different. And every command you’ve ever wanted to use has been moved!

This article briefly discusses a few of the highlights in this new version of WordPress, including a few tips for things you can customize.

Change the Dashboard Color Scheme

The Dashboard has a fresh new color scheme in shades of orange and blue. Figure 1 shows the old version of the Dashboard; Figure 2 shows the new color scheme.

Figure 1

Figure 1 This blog using WordPress 2.3.3 shows the old Dashboard overview.

Figure 2

Figure 2 A different blog, using WordPress 2.5, shows the new Dashboard overview.

If you don’t like the new color scheme, click the Users link near the upper-right corner of the Dashboard. Click your username in the resulting list of users. Your profile and personal options are displayed (see Figure 3) so you can change the settings as you like. In the Admin Color Scheme section, click the radio button for the color scheme you want—Classic or Fresh. Click the Update Profile button at the bottom of the page to save your changes.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Choose your preferred color scheme.

See Useful Information Quickly

The Dashboard overview page has been reorganized to make useful information easy to find (see Figure 4). Buttons are prominent for the things you most likely want to do, such as creating a new post or a new page. Also obvious are a summary of the number of posts and pages you have, categories and tags, the name of the theme you’re using, and which version of WordPress you’re running.

Figure 4

Figure 4 The new Dashboard overview screen puts useful information right where you need it.

Edit the Dashboard

The majority of the Dashboard overview consists of lists of recent comments, incoming links, stats, and newsfeeds about WordPress. A new Edit link appears beside many of these items. Click the Edit link to customize what’s contained in that box.

For example, by default the Incoming Links section displays the results of a Google Blog Search feed. If you’d prefer to use Technorati to find incoming links, click the Edit link and enter an appropriate Technorati URL (see Figure 5). Just add the address for your own blog after http://feeds.technorati.com/search/. It should be similar to this one that finds links to mactips.info/blog:

http://feeds.technorati.com/search/mactips.info%2Fblog

While you’re at it, specify how many items you’d like to see and whether the item date should be displayed. Click Save to confirm your changes.

Figure 5

Figure 5 Google Blog Search is the default setting for incoming links. Click Edit to change to an alternate search source; then click Save.

Save a Post or Page

There are massive changes on the screens for writing a post or page (see Figure 6). Scroll around to find anything you’ve lost.

Figure 6

Figure 6 The new, reorganized Write Post screen.

A welcome change is that now there are only two buttons to save a post: Save and Publish. The Save button saves your post while keeping it onscreen for further editing. While you’re writing a post, WordPress autosaves every few minutes.

Scroll down if you can’t see the Tags or Categories boxes; they’re below the Post body box now, rather than beside it.

Edit the Permalink

In previous versions of WordPress, you could enter a customized "slug" before saving or publishing a post. The slug would form part of the post’s permalink URL. In WordPress 2.5, this is a two-step process. The Post Slug field is gone. Instead, write and save the post, or wait a few moments until the draft is autosaved. A new permalink line appears below the title. Click the Edit link at the end of the line to make changes to the permalink.

Set Image Thumbnail Sizes

WordPress 2.5 offers many options for adding media to your blog, including an image gallery and a whole media library. Uploading and inserting images is handled quite differently, and additional options are available for resizing or inserting a gallery of images.

First, go to the Dashboard and click the Settings link at upper right. In the Settings area, click the Miscellaneous link to reach the Miscellaneous Settings page shown in Figure 7. Note the new Image Sizes section. Enter your preferred sizes for the Thumbnail Size and Medium Size settings, or just keep the defaults. These sizes will be available for all new image uploads.

Figure 7

Figure 7 WordPress 2.5 has new image size options.

Manage Media

Go to the Dashboard and click the Manage link, and then the Media Library link. The Manage Media page appears, listing files that you’ve uploaded to your blog. Click a file’s name to edit its title, caption (alternate text), or description (see Figure 8).

Figure 8

Figure 8 The Manage Media page lists files you’ve uploaded to your blog.

Unfortunately, although you can delete a file from here—check the box(es) beside any file(s) you want to delete and then click the Delete button—you can’t upload new files.

Add Media to a Post

When you write a post, WordPress displays a new media bar above the post entry box. Click the appropriate button to add a media file (see Figure 9). When the upload window shown in Figure 10 appears, choose the file you want, add any desired metadata such as alternate text, choose a size and alignment, and click Insert into Post.

Figure 9

Figure 9 The media bar above the post entry box allows you to upload images and other files.

Figure 10

Figure 10 Click an icon, choose a file, and add metadata.

Explore

There are so many new features in WordPress 2.5 that we can’t hope to uncover them all in one article. But these tips for customizing the Dashboard, and for using media such as images, should give you a good start with this major new version of WordPress. Meanwhile, until our next installment of "Customizing WordPress," just have fun exploring!