Almost a month ahead of schedule Wordpress 2.6 has been released.

Codenamed "Tyner" after jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, Wordpress 2.6 contains a number of new features worth having a look at.

Among these is the ability to track changes for every post and page, Google Gears integration and better image manipulation.

Post revisions

One of the major new features in Wordpress 2.6 is the ability to tracks changes to pages and posts. This means that administrators can see who made what changes to each post on the site. As Wordpress matures into more of a content management system than just a blogging tool, tracking changes makes a great deal of sense.

Using this feature will also allow admins to see the specific differences between two versions of the same post.

The new version of Wordpress also includes a bookmarklet that can be used from a browser to post directly to the blog.

The other major change for this release is the integration of Google's Gears project. In its announcement the Wordpress team said: "Gears is an open source browser extension project started by Google that developers like us can use to give you features we wouldn't normally be able to. There are a lot of things we can do with Gears in the future, but in this release we've stuck to using what's called a "Local Server" to cache or keep a copy of commonly-used Javascript and CSS files on your computer, which can speed up the loading of some pages by several seconds (they just pop right up!). You can install Gears for Firefox or Internet Explorer, with support for Safari and Opera pending. WordPress works just fine without it, you just get a little extra juice when you have it installed."

Theme previews

One of Wordpress' strengths is its themeing ability which allows users to change the look and feel of their site easily. In Wordpress 2.6 the dev team have added much-needed theme previews. This means that admins can preview their site in a new theme without having visitors see the changes. The real benefit of this will be for developers who are working on a new theme and need to test it out without showing the world what they are doing wrong.

Some of the other changes in Wordpress 2.6 include a word count, image captions, bulk management of plugins, a revamped image control to allow for easier inserting, floating, and resizing, full SSL support in the core, and the ability to force SSL for security and the ability to toggle between the advanced Flash uploader and the classic one.