It doesn’t seem that long since I upgraded to WordPress 2.5, but the next version will be here soon anyway. WordPress 2.6 won’t be as big an upheaval as 2.5 was, but does add some nifty features. The first beta is out now, and a final release should follow next month. Ryan Boren has the Official Word on what to expect, but here are a few things I’ve spotted in my testing so far that I like:
When you switch themes, WordPress displays an actual preview of what your site will look like before actually activating the new theme. As I only ever use my own themes, this isn’t that big a deal for me, but it is very cool, and will be a great help to people who like to download and try other people’s themes. Rather than relying on a screenshot or a demo site, you can see what your own posts (well, the top few, anyway) will look like without having to inflict the change on your readers. Nice and easy, and a welcome addition.
This is a feature that’s been argued about for a while. I vaguely recall some people arguing that it was unnecessary and likely to cause earthquakes and the downfall of civilisation.
Personally, I quite like it – it’s a total of the words in the current post, updated each time the draft is saved (whether manually or automatically), and a useful reminder to me that I may have gone on quite long enough about whatever it is I’m going on about at the time. For anyone who doesn’t care about such things, it’s in an location where it’s easy to ignore. Me like.
Another improvement for me is this new interface for managing plugins. It now keeps activated and deactivated plugins separate, and allows you to activate or deactivate as many plugins as you want in one go. That’s nice, as if you have a lot of plugins in use, it can take a while to reactivate them all after upgrading WordPress to the latest version. It’s been possible to deactivate all plugins with a single click for quite a while, but this is a lot more useful.
Not only that, but building on the automatic plugin update functionality, you can now get WordPress to automatically delete plugins that you no longer use. The next step will surely be adding a facility to browse the plugin repository and install plugins direct from the admin interface, which would make the whole process a lot more streamlined and friendly for less technically-minded users.
The last improvement I’ll mention is the Return of the Bookmarklet. This was cruelly wrenched away in WordPress 2.5, but now it’s back and better than ever. Not only will it make it easy to make a new post quoting text from a web page, but it can also automatically insert photos and even YouTube videos from the page in question, making it even easier to get content into your site.
As with any beta version, the best thing to do is try it out on a test site rather than your live blog. Some people do successfully run their sites on the bleeding edge of development, but they’re either very brave or have exceptionally good backups!
 Or something. There may have been less dramatic objections, but I don’t remember what they were
 And I can’t be bothered searching mailing list archives to remind myself
 Which is always recommended, even if lots of people never do it