Open source blogging platform WordPress may have won most peoples' hearts as the best blogging platform in town, but that doesn't mean its core developers are resting on their laurels. The company made two statements last night about moves its users are sure to love.

WordPress announced last night on the company blog that WordPress.com users have a new blogging option called "Turbo," which uses Google Gears to speed up the service's admin functionality. Just an hour earlier, WP founder Matt Mullenweg indicated that users should look for OAuth support in future versions of the software.

Gears

The new WP.com Turbo feature uses Google Gears to download more than 200 files to users' local computers so they can be run without accessing the web. Though many of the most high-profile Gears implementations elsewhere are focused on providing off-line functionality, it's not clear whether that's the case here or if Gears is just being used to speed up blogging. Either way, this is good news. With the new feature, WordPress.com effectively offers what is called a Rich Internet Application (RIA), combining the responsiveness of local actions on the desktop with the connectivity of the web.

RIAs are already shaping up to be a powerful part of the web. Local storage and user interaction with at least some data fleshes out the possibilities offered by the celebrated migration towards web applications.

This is probably only the beginning for WP support of Gears. We wonder whether the WP developer community will build extensions that leverage WP support of Gears, perhaps even incorporating Gears support for mobile devices. Oh, the possibilities are a thrill to consider. The draft version of WordPress.org, scheduled to be released in final form within the next two weeks, already includes support for Gears as well.

OAuth

OAuth is a user authentication protocol that is quickly becoming a standard. It's all about making mashups fast, easy, secure and thus more common. When Google rolled out OAuth support for all its data APIs earlier this week, we said it was only a matter of time until almost every one else did so as well.

WP's Matt Mullenweg said last night that he wants to see OAuth support in WP but wouldn't be able to include it in the next version. Can we expect to see it in the next version then? We certainly hope so.

What might OAuth support in WordPress look like? There are a number of directions it could go. By supporting inbound OAuth authentication, WordPress could do things like allow you to post to your blog through 3rd party applications without giving them your password. It could also allow blog commenters to associate their accounts on other OAuth supporting services with their WP comments, again without giving up their passwords.

For blog publishers to be able to get secure programmatic access to their reader's data from other services would be very exciting. You don't want to give some random blog your Google Accounts password, but imagine if you could see all the comments ever left on that blog by your Gmail contacts - without giving up your password. That would be great.

There are probably far more possibilities than we can imagine, but that's what makes WordPress so exciting. There's a huge world of plug-in developers that extend the service in ways that none of us could imagine. With OAuth support those developers would be able to leverage a whole new class of options based on secure user data. That means WP blogs could tie in programmatically with any of your Google accounts, your Photobucket account or any other service that supports OAuth in one direction or the other. That's exciting to imagine and it sounds like it should be coming soon.

We're excited to see that WordPress isn't just relying on its developer community to keep it fresh and hip with the times. These new core developments will serve as a foundation for those developers to improve even further on the WordPress user experience.