WordPress announced Monday the launch of WordPress 3.3, the latest iteration of their powerful platform, which includes some new and improved user interface features and a shiny new drag-and-drop image uploader.

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Other WordPress 3.3 features include a new toolbar, menus that allow users to hover the cursor over them from navigation help, and a Tumblr importer. WordPress 3.3, or “Sonny,” named after jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt, is available right now.

Sonny Stitt

Sonny Stitt

That all sounds good, but as anyone who has ever used WordPress knows, user interface updates can often be more trouble than they’re worth. What would be really nice is a WordPress that always works the first time, bug-free, without any of the formatting problems that have plagued past versions of the software.

WordPress has logged over 65 million downloads since launching its 3.0 version, and 14 million since the launch of WordPress 3.2 in July 2011. And while the software has always been popular, the launch of 3.2, or “Gershwin,” named after jazz songwriter/pianist George Gershwin, was wildly so. Over 330, 000 downloads of “Gershwin” occurred within the first 24 hours.

George Gershwin

George Gershwin

Developers believed that the renewed interest in the “Gershwin” version was due to the less cluttered interface, and the improved viewing mode, where the dashboard disappears into the background during composition, something the developers reportedly referred to as “zen mode.” Also, the interface became more accessible on smaller screens, for mobile use.

But while this may be true, as I said before, it also assumes that users compose posts within the software itself. Some users, namely myself, more often cut and paste text from other word processing software suites, and experience myriad formatting problems in the process, even when following the formatting guidelines in so-called “zen mode.”

Not to rain on WordPress’s shiny-new-update parade, but even a much less zen-y iteration that solved these formatting issues would make for fewer blogger headaches. And we all know that blogging is a headache-prone pursuit, even without the formatting issues.

Started in 2003, WordPress powers 22% of all new active websites, as of August 2011.

WordPress 3.3, code named Sonny after the great jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt, released it’s final version today and everyone should have seen the yellow update notification bar by now. Upgrading is simply just by a click of the mouse and the whole process should not take more than 5 seconds. Upgrades to new versions of WordPress has come a long way indeed.

In tandem with the WordPress 3.3, make sure also to upgrade the Twenty Eleven and the Twenty Ten default WordPress Themes if you are using anyone of theme. Even if you are using a Twenty Eleven or Twenty Ten Child Theme you should always upgrade the Parent Theme to keep it compatible with the latest version.

As for Premium Themes like Catalyst or Genesis, expect to see the upgrade notification in a couple of days.

The Most Notable Change In WordPress 3.3

The most notable and pleasant change once the upgrade is completed is you will be greeted with a Welcome Page that list out all the changes in the WordPress 3.3.

After that whenever you go to any page in your WordPress Admin, there will be a pop up tooltip if there are new features included within that page. For example, if you go to your Post Editior for the first time after upgrading to WordPress 3.3, a pop-up tooltip box will appear next the the Upload/Insert icon to notify you of the media uploading feature.

New Media Uploader In WordPress 3.3

Unlike the previous version, the new media uploader has everything under one roof. Gone are all those different icons which are used to upload different kinds of media and replaced with a all-in-one icon.

The super cool thing is you can drag and drop whatever you want to upload with having to hit the upload button. Uploading time are significantly faster with this new feature.

WordPress 3.3 New Admin Bar

The WordPress 3.3 Admin Bar has been given a slight facelift with 2 minor additions. One is the comment bubble notifying you the number of comments awaiting notification and the other +New drop-down menu with links to some of the more frequently visited pages within the Admin Panel.

In all, WordPress 3.3 is a well and good update. WordPress seems to be getting better and better with each major update and thus it is no wonder to date, there have been close to 70 million downloads for the WordPress platform.

Feel blessed that the developers are keeping WordPress entirely free. If they had charged even a dollar for each download, they would have been filthy rich by now.

For Users

Experienced users will appreciate the new drag-and-drop uploader, hover menus for the navigation, the new toolbar, improved co-editing support, and the new Tumblr importer. We’ve also been thinking a ton about what the WordPress experience is like for people completely new to the software. Version 3.3 has significant improvements there with pointer tips for new features included in each update, a friendly welcome message for first-time users, and revamped help tabs throughout the interface. Finally we’ve improved the dashboard experience on the iPad and other tablets with better touch support.

For Developers

There is a ton of candy for developers as well. I’d recommend starting your exploration with the new editor API, new jQuery version, better ways to hook into the help screens, more performant post-slug-only permalinks, and of course the entire list of improvements on the Codex and in Trac.

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