WordPress 2.5 has been officially released! (You can download it here.)

A major upgrade, WordPress 2.5 packs a boatload of new features. Here are many that were listed in the official announcement at the WordPress Development Blog:

  • Customizable Dashboard widgets
  • The ability to upload multiple files at once
  • EXIF data extraction from image files
  • Search functionality for pages in addition to posts
  • Tag management functionality
  • A password strength meter
  • Concurrent post editing protection
  • Automated plugin updating
  • An improved visual editor
  • Built-in gallery support

These security enhancements are also included:

  • Salted passwords (to guard against brute-force password guessing)
  • Encrypted cookies
  • A new function for WordPress developers designed to avoid SQL injection attacks

The 2.5 update has developer features for WordPress programmers like myself, such as taxonomy creation, a new Shortcode API, and increased inline code documentation.

As if the above features mentioned in WordPress’s official announcement weren’t enough, 2.5 includes even more enhancements:

  • An overhauled administration interface.

  • Built-in avatar support using Gravatar.

  • Full text feeds even when the <!–more–> tag is used.

  • Two default color schemes for the admin interface; additional skins can be added via plugins.

  • A “comment bubble” in the admin menu that tells you at-a-glance how many comments are awaiting moderation.

Looking at the above features list, it appears WordPress 2.5 will be obsoleting the following plugins:

  • Full Text Feed
  • Existing gallery plugins like the excellent NextGEN Gallery (of course, these plugins can still have a use if you don’t care for WordPress’s built-in gallery)

WordPress 2.5 also takes care of these fixes that I included in my WordPress Tweaks plugin:

  • Changing the “Blogroll” admin section back to “Links”
  • Adding the “current_page_item” CSS class on a static page used for posts [bug ticket]

If you’re curious, you can also check out 2.5’s entire list of 734 recorded changes and fixes, or check out some interesting WordPress 2.5 statistics.

WordPress 2.5 has a ton of new features, but also has some changes that some people consider feature regression:

  • The categories section has been moved below the post editor on the “Write Post” page. (Although some are very annoyed by this, I personally don’t see it as much of an issue. Yes, it may necessitate a bit of extra scrolling, but how often do we need to set the categories when writing a post? Once, maybe twice?)

  • No more drag-and-drop sidebar assembly. You need to click an “Add” link instead.

  • The new color scheme will certainly not meet the approval of some. (Give them a break; it’s hard to find colors that please everyone. We’ll get used to it. And as mentioned above, 2.5 allows the admin interface to be customized with color schemes.)

There’s a lot of changes coming with WordPress’s latest version. What’s your take? What changes are you excited about, or disappointed with? Will you be upgrading right away, or will you wait a while?