Web-based blogging tool WordPress.com is getting a big update in a few hours with the release of version 2.7. The update is going out to all WordPress.com users at 5 p.m. PST Thursday, with a release for self-hosted WordPress.org users to follow later this month. Brave beta testers who want to get an early jump on 2.7 early can install the latest release candidate which has been available since Monday.
Version 2.7 brings a host of changes, with the biggest one being a complete overhaul of the blogging tool's dashboard interface. Instead of having navigation elements on the top of the page, everything has now moved over to the left side of the screen, similar to most Web mail services.
As an added benefit, you're able to minimize the new menu bar completely, giving you the entire browser window to compose a post and tweak various options. When minimized you can still get at the features though, as hovering over the edge of the menu item will pop it out, letting you quickly change an option without bringing the bar back out.
Another noteworthy addition is "QuickPress," which lets you write and publish a new post right from the dashboard without having to enter the composition screen. It's a little reminiscent of FriendFeed and Facebook's latest publishing offerings in keeping things simple, with no text-formatting options, and simple buttons to add YouTube videos, photos, and videos.
Other improvements include a new automatic WordPress software updater for self-install users that will download and install the latest version with one click. Previously users had to install a special third-party plug-in that would do this for them. Users can also now change the color scheme of the administration pages, and upload media without having to create posts. A full list of changes can be found here.