WordPress 2.9 is coming up in the next few weeks and it packed full of new features. Some will not really concern you, some will make your life ten times easier. Out of the lot I think the crop tool for images is my favorite closely followed by the category template support.
Support location of category templates based on category-slug as well as category-id
This is probably the feature that will help most CMS developer. It works the same way as sidebars does. You add the slug of the category to the name of the file and when you display this category WordPress will look for the template and use it to output the posts.
Example: You want a specific template for the “Members” category. You create a file in your theme called category-members.php. When displaying the members category WordPress use this template. This allow for a complete control over each category display like page templates do for pages.
At least, we will be able to crop, resize and rotate pictures from the backend. The feature is accessible just after you’ve uploaded a picture by clicking on the “edit picture” link.
Ever deleted a post and realized to late that it was the wrong one? The addition of the trash state let you bring back deleted posts, pages and pictures for the dead.
Probably one of the most hacked / plugged in feature on WordPress. The 2.9 version adds the ability to attache a picture to a post and use it in conjunction with the post_image() template function to display it. The obvious use for it is when you want to get this kind of layout:
Easier way to embed media using oEmbed.
Raise the version of MySQL supported from 4.0 to 4.1.2
The MySQL requirement have been raised to 4.1.2 which will allow the developers to use new SQL functions and hopefully speed up stuff a bit. More info there:
Canonical tag support
The canonical tag is used by search engines to avoid duplicated content issue. It will be added to single posts and pages.
Plugins will be able to set a new directory for WordPress to look for themes.
Widgets outside of sidebars
the new widget() function will let you call widgets outside the traditional registered sidebar.
Add support for metadata to comments. The is the same function as per metadata on posts and pages and will allow you to use new variable in your templates.