WordPress 3.8 was released last week with moderate fanfare, touting all kinds of back-end upgrades as well as a spiffy magazine-style default theme.
As is done with all round-numbered versions, WordPress 3.8 was named for a jazz musician; this time, Charlie “Yardbird” Parker.
By naming 3.8 after a genius of a jazz man, WordPress’ parent company, Automattic has not only demonstrated an overstatement of representation, they have yet again shown a lazy disregard for the ladies. Evidently, the geeks at Automattic don’t listen to women musicians.
Who was Charlie Parker, aka Yardbird or Bird? He was no less than one of the giants of jazz, being an innovator of the style known as bebop.
Bebop – or, just bop – is characterized by fast tempos, asymmetrical phrasing, and intricate melodies that can sound jarring and fragmented to the uninitiated, and exciting and urgent to fans.
According to Parker, he was playing “Cherokee” in a 1939 jam session when he realized that the twelve tones of the chromatic scale can lead melodically to any key, and following that, he could turn a solo into something infinite.
Beboppers like Bird, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Thelonius Monk were influenced by Coleman Hawkins and other 30’s era swing musicians, but by incorporating this new innovation into melodies, they created a sound never heard before.
Bebop’s popularity rose in the 1950’s and provoked a number of jazz styles such as cool, West Coast, modal, free and avant-garde – all the music we love today. Unfortunately, Parker didn’t live to hear all that. He died in 1955 at the age of 34.
Charlie Parker and his signature style of Bop were nothing short of game changers in the world of jazz. To understand the importance of Bebop, think of it as Jazz.2.0
Is WordPress 3.8 a game changer like its namesake? Not really. Which is why it’s kinda inappropriately named after Charlie Parker.
But, 3.8 does have some nice changes. So, designers rejoice! Your job is about to become more aesthetically pleasing.
Twenty Fourteen Theme
The only thing readers will notice about WordPress 3.8 is the clean, modern, magazine-style default theme called Twenty-Fourteen. The background is pitch black, the navigation bar is left vertical and the home page is built for photos, offering a grid layout or a slider.
Twenty Fourteen has a mid-century black and whiteness that Bird would have been perfectly at home in.
In keeping with the vivid contrast of the Twenty Fourteen theme, the WordPress 3.8 dashboard is as contrasty as grade-four photo paper. No more of the washed-out, 5% gray dashboard highlighted by cerulean blue labels. This new dashboard pops from the screen like a picture in a gallery. And, it has 8 color schemes!
Super clean, sharp and easy to read, these are improvements Bird would dig.
In Appearances> Theme administrators will see their uploaded themes a little differently. There is no separation between the activated theme and the others. Whoop-dee do for a page you might visit once per year.
Bird would not have been impressed.
With the same drop and drag format, the widget layout has been rearranged so you’ll see two columns of widgets (instead of three) and two columns of widget areas.
Bird might have yawned, but I like the new arrangement.
With WordPress 3.8, the back end is much more useable on your phone. The dashboard layout is responsive and allows you to scroll through each edit box quickly and sharply, making blogging-on-the-go a painless endeavor.
But unlike Charlie Parker, WordPress 3.8 is not a total game changer. There are some cool changes and benefits for administrators, but this not a giant of a WordPress version. Naming it Pat Metheny would have been more accurate.
What do you think of WordPress 3.8? Is it making a big change to your workflow? Or, are you hardly noticing the differences? I’d love to know.
If you’re not hep to Bird, the best flick you can see about him is Bird, directed by Clint Eastwood. Forest Whitaker does an amazing job bringing Bird’s short career to life and the soundtrack is a jazz education in itself. Dig it.