What’s new in WordPress 3.7, “Basie”

basie-wordpress-3-7WordPress 3.7, “Basie”, has just been released. It's been named in honor of Count Basie. The WordPress 3.7 development cycle is the quickest turnaround between major versions of WordPress ever.

You may not notice a whole lot of sexy new (visible) features in this version, but the release is a huge win for the platform.

WordPress 3.7 highlighted features

Let's start with the biggest highlights for WordPress 3.7

Automatic background updates

The new WP_Automatic_Updater class is likely the most significant feature for 3.7. Automatic upgrades are now available for minor versions of core, but it can also be extended to theme and plugin updates by choice. For the best rundown of the upgrade process and exceptions, definitely read Dion Hulse's summary of the feature and also the new Codex page on the updates and various options around the feature.

Some have been skeptical of auto updates for WordPress, but I embrace them. Really projects like Chrome and iOS are pushing this concept forward to the mainstream, and it makes sense for WordPress to able to constantly improve silently as well. People just want their CMS to work. Nobody likes doing updates; no normal people at least. So long term, even major upgrades should get auto update treatment, and I think long term that's what will happen.

Plus, the team is being super careful to make auto upgrades work well. They are performed via SSL, and in testing, the failure rate is practically zero (in fact, I think it is zero).

A better password meter

Everybody needs better passwords. Bad passwords are created out of laziness or lack of education. A better password meter will help prevent both.

The new password meter uses Dropbox's zxcvbn library, and it's a significant improvement.

Improved (more relevant) search

WordPress search has sucked for a long time. It's not been based on relevance, but on dates. According to the primary ticket for this feature, Andrew Nacin cites the following for the new order for choosing what to return in WordPress search:

  • Full sentence matches in post titles.
  • All search terms in post titles.
  • Any search terms in post titles.
  • Full sentence matches in post content.

This enhancement solves a major pain point that nearly every WordPress user with any significant amount of content has been facing for many years.

Better global support with language packs

The new “language packs” feature in WordPress 3.7 will allow for, “faster and more complete translations.” To get started making your themes and plugins be able to use these tools, check out Samuel “Otto” Wood's guide. Language packs will be separated from WordPress core and maintained independently from core, themes, and plugins.

Language packs are also going to be updated silently along with minor updates, so that better support for more languages can be supported quicker. Translating WordPress to more languages is a clear way for the platform to continue staggering growth. As I noted in my primer on l10n and i18n, nearly a third of all WordPress installs are non-English. But even beyond that, only about 750 million people count English as a first or second language, so most of the world that could be using WordPress would struggle mightily without a translated version.

More goodness in WordPress 3.7

So, those are the dominant features of WordPress 3.7. But that's not everything, by a long shot.

Date queries

There has been significant improvement in date queries within WP_Query. You can see some code examples from Alex Mills, but essentially it's now easy to query based on a slew of date parameters. The WordPress Codex is also up to date with the new options.


Accessibility has been improved in a few locations, including keyboard accessibility improvements on list table rows and color contrasts in the default themes.

If you are interested in accessibility, there is an entire Make WordPress blog devoted to it.


Multisite got a bit of love in 3.7. wp_get_sites is a very handy function introduced to replaced the get_blog_list function, which has long been deprecated.

Inline Docs

Inline documentation has gotten serious attention in WordPress 3.7. There is never a better place to go than to the source code, and the team behind inline docs has been knocking out tons of undocumented or poorly documented code.

New functions, classes, actions and filters

Based on the release page, six new classes have been introduced, as well as ten new methods of existing classes. Twenty two new functions are in core, two new actions (including the very nice save_post_{$post_type}), and twenty three new filters are available for your convenience.

New build tools

One of the features that will never be noticed by users, but is great for core developers, is the new slate of build tools available.

The best description of these new tools available is this post by Daryl Koopersmith, though some of those items may not be totally accurate as plenty could have changed since then. But the point is that the build tools for WordPress are better than ever, and going forward will make it easier for developers.

Bug gardening

At last count, 437 tickets were closed and counted as “fixed” in WordPress 3.7. But countless more tickets have been touched this cycle. As a prominent goal of this release was housecleaning, it was a huge success.

I don't have the exact number of tickets touched in 3.7, but that thankless effort deserves some major kudos. By the way, if you ever want to just go hack away at some open bugs, this is the URL you want to bookmark.

The future of WordPress core development

This was the first iteration of synchronous major release development. WordPress 3.7 and WordPress 3.8 have been developed on side by side, as Matt Mullenweg noted would be done during this year's State of the Word.

By all means, it appears to have been an extremely effective effort. Even as 3.7 goes live, WordPress 3.8 is chugging along. And 3.8 also introduces a core shift to “features as plugins first” mentality. Proposals for MP6, a new dashboard, a new themes page, and Omnisearch have already been pitched to be blessed for the anticipated December release.

A major achievement

WordPress 3.7 has been a major achievement. Andrew Nacin has led development this cycle, with Jon Cave and Dion Hulse as co-leads, and they really knocked it out of the park.

Congratulations to everyone involved. 211 people have props in WordPress 3.7. Together, this community makes WordPress.

Now, go update your websites.

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  1. I’m thinking to update to 3.7 before that I wanna know is it possible to turn off automatic update? I don’t want that I’m afraid it might break my layout!

  2. Thank you for laying it all out.

    This update should improve security by doing something to deal with two of the major exploitable area: out of date versions and poor passwords.

    I didn’t realize how much was going into 3.7. I blinked and it was here. This is all really great. Huge appreciation for all the people who spent time and energy on this.

  3. Listing search results by relevance doesn’t work for my site — is there a way to turn it off? To go back to listing results chronologically?

  4. Yay! finally the better search. I am using Google custom search on my sites, now I think I should remove it and give the new improved native WordPress search a Spin!

  5. WP now adds class menu-item-has-children in menu item if menu item has children. I like these kind of details.

  6. I have the same concern as expressed by “Arafin Shaon” above: not all themes are automatically compatible with new WordPress versions, so the possibility of problems is very real. Anyone knows if this new ‘automatic update’ feature can be turned off?

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