Nov 14, 2012

Gallery Plugins and WordPress 3.5

Since we launched MaxGalleria two weeks ago one of the more commonly asked questions we’ve received has been, “This looks great, but how does it fare with the new media changes in WordPress 3.5?”. The primary reason for this question is this post on the Make WordPress blog that shows early wireframes of what the proposed media upload and workflow might look like in WordPress 3.5. And since that post there have been three beta releases for WP 3.5, which includes much of the proposed new media functionality.

It’s a fair question because on the surface, it looks like all WordPress gallery plugins might take a hit when WordPress 3.5 ships, but that’s not really the case. And there are two primary reasons WordPress gallery plugins will continue to be needed:

1. The media changes in WP 3.5 are centered around adding media to a post.

In WordPress 3.5 Beta 3, it looks like most of the new media functionality is close to complete, and it all centers around the workflow of adding media to a post in the post editor. These changes are close to what you see in those early wireframes and are clearly a huge and welcome improvement.

But that’s the only place where you see the new workflow. The Media Library itself is unchanged, as is adding media using Media > Add New; both of those are the same as they were prior to WP 3.5. This isn’t to downplay the significance of the new workflow, but it’s not as all-encompassing as many people think.

2. The gallery functionality in WP 3.5 is still just your basic gallery.

While adding media to a post in WordPress 3.5 Beta 3, you have the option of creating a gallery for that post, and again, this is definitely a huge improvement over what we have today. And if all you need is a basic gallery layout and functionality in your post, then by all means, use what’s already there. Again, just like you can today.

But it’s not like you can go to Media > Galleries in WordPress 3.5; that doesn’t exist. So from a gallery management perspective, you still need a gallery plugin like MaxGalleria. Not to mention needing different templates, layouts, and skins for how your galleries look. That’s where WordPress gallery plugins come into play and continue to provide their value (along with the gallery management aspect).

And what about MaxGalleria specifically?

For starters, none of the above media changes in WP 3.5 affect MaxGalleria in really any way. However, we have a bit of work to do before WP 3.5 is released because there are some core changes under the covers that we have to account for to ensure everything in MaxGalleria works as expected. Basically, the underlying media changes in WP 3.5 require us to provide backwards compatibility with previous versions of WordPress.

To get a sense for the amount of changes in WordPress 3.5, see this post about Beta 3. It provides a high-level overview, but the biggest part related to MaxGalleria is that there were over 300 changes made between Beta 2 and Beta 3, and nearly one-third of those were media related. Pretty crazy.

So to wrap things up, the upcoming media changes in WordPress 3.5 are without a doubt some of the best UI changes we’ve seen in WordPress in quite some time, and definitely worth it. But that doesn’t mean gallery plugins are all of a sudden not as important.