Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Charlie Parker

WordPress has been updated to version 3.8, notable for two reasons: a redesign of the admin panel, and a new “Twenty Fourteen” theme. Following Automattic’s jazz musician-themed code names, this one’s called Charlie Parker, and I like it a lot.

Matt Thomas wrote an excellent overview of the design decisions that drove WordPress 3.8 (via Shawn Blanc). The only thing I dislike is this:

We overhauled and streamlined typography, reducing to a single typeface, Open Sans.

I don’t know why, but I dislike Open Sans immensely; it simply doesn’t look very nice to my eyes. That’s why I made the Helveti-Admin plugin. It’s less than 2 KB and, if you dislike Open Sans as much as I do, you may find it to your liking. Just download it and upload the /helveti-admin/ folder to /wp-content/plugins/. Then head to your WordPress admin panel, click Plugins on the side, and activate it in the list.

I’m not really planning on updating the plugin. I don’t think it themes the admin bar, but I just care about the main content area. It shouldn’t break anything, but you know, use it at your own risk and peril.

The rest of the update is gorgeous, though. The new default theme is leaps and bounds better than any previous default theme. I tried the live preview on this site and, I have to say, I like it a lot. I’m not tempted to switch — I worked hard on this theme, dammit — but it appears to be a very flexible theme, despite the demo showing a cluttered magazine-like style.

The admin panel is a substantial improvement. It’s flat, yeah, but it’s smartly designed and doesn’t have the heavy look of the previous admin page. Everything looks more uniform and more decisive. I love it.

Update: Perhaps I spoke a little too soon about the Twenty Fourteen theme. It seems that nobody at WordPress owns a large display, because if I increase the width of my browser window too much, a large blank space appears on the right-hand side. Responsive, indeed.

There’s some sense in this decision: you don’t want super-wide paragraphs with atrocious line lengths, for instance. This seems like an ungraceful way to handle that.