- General Observations on WordPress 5
- My WordPress 5 FAQ article
- Latest WordPress Releases
- Recent Queries on WordPress
- What Next?
General Observations on WordPress 5
It is interesting that Automattic (the WordPress.com people)
have hardly mentioned Gutenberg, the new block editor. There has been no big
announcement for what is possibly the most far-reaching change yet made to WordPress.
To my cynical mind, this says that any big push to get users to adopt it will
not happen until they are confident that: it is stable enough; it contains all
of the functionality that is in WordPress 4; and their support mechanisms are
geared up to cope with a potentially increased workload, as people do migrate.
So, perhaps a useful strategy for WordPress.com users is to
wait until they do make a song and dance about it, before considering any
switch to the new block editor. You can stay where you are, simply by not clicking
on any invitation to switch to (or try out) the new block editor.
WordPress.org users who wish to play safe at this point in
time can either (a) not upgrade to WordPress 5 or (b) upgrade to WordPress 5
but install the Classic Editor plugin so that you do not have to use the new
A brief word on my own experiences. My main website lives on WordPress.com. I decided to adopt Gutenberg, the new block editor, in early January. There are a couple of bugs which affect me but I can work round them. I have not experienced any significant problems so far. I also look after a small, straightforward website for Ascot Volunteer Bureau. I converted it to the new block editor a month ago without problem.
My WordPress 5 FAQ Article
In lieu of any useful, concise material thus far on migrating to WordPress 5 (or not), I have penned this article to describe what options are available to users. It is in the form of FAQs. I will maintain and update it, as necessary, until such time as something better appears. Any questions or feedback on its content is welcome.
Latest WordPress 5 Releases
I had previously mentioned the 5.0.1 and 5.0.2 bug fix
releases which came out before Christmas. The focus in 5.0.1 was on security
fixes, while 5.0.2 included a range of performance fixes. 5.0.3
followed in early January, comprising 37 bug fixes and 7 performance updates.
WordPress 5.1 was released to WordPress.org users on February 21st, 2019, and will follow to WordPress.com users shortly. It is difficult to discern any particular focus other than attempts to polish the new block editor, and to make the software more error-free and robust. In addition to some performance improvements, the other item worthy of note is a site health check feature. This an ongoing project whose objective is to improve the stability and performance of WordPress. It is aimed at WordPress.org users. The first version was initially implemented as a plugin which has now been put into the core WordPress software. Further enhancements in this area will follow later this year.
WordPress.com users will probably have noticed a recent cosmetic
change which allows you to alter some colours on your dashboard. It seems to be
mainly for Calypso users, as far as I can see. Further
Finally, I note that a facility to copy a post or page has
appeared in the editor that is invoked via the wp-admin dashboard .. not before
time .. and it has reappeared (having disappeared for a while) in the editor
that is invoked via the Calypso dashboard.
Recent Queries on WordPress
This section contains topics that have been brought up
recently by individuals who receive these newsletters.
Shortcodes (I would call them macros, but I am an old geezer)
have been used to implement various features in WordPress. Examples include
contact forms, galleries and displaying recent posts. A full list of shortcodes
in WordPress.com can be viewed here.
A couple of people have experienced problems when trying to
edit or delete content that is implemented using shortcodes.
You need to switch from the visual view of the relevant post
or page to the text / HTML view. Shortcodes are encapsulated within
parentheses: consisting of the shortcode name along with a list of associated
parameters, e.g. email address and text boxes on a contact form. If you wish to
remove the entire shortcode then simply delete everything from [ to ],
including the parentheses.
The ease with which a shortcode can be edited varies.
Contact forms and displaying recent posts are relatively straightforward,
whereas galleries should be deleted and recreated from scratch.
Re the new block editor, each shortcode appears in a
separate block. Just remove the entire block if you wish to delete it. I get
the impression that shortcodes will eventually be replaced by specific blocks
that provide the same functionality, but who knows how long that may take.
Portfolios (of pictures)
This topic is relevant to individuals who have lots of
photos on a single post or page. I have spoken to a number of users who manage
(somehow) to squeeze lots of photos into a single post or page using the Twenty
Ten theme. Twenty Ten can still be used although it is no longer a supported
theme. At some point these users will have to change their theme. Hence these
WordPress.org users can find lots of plugins that provide
sophisticated gallery facilities.
WordPress.com users can use the portfolio option to display multiple photos. When it is active you have posts, pages and portfolio pages. There are various themes which make explicit use of portfolio pages. However, it is in fact possible to use the portfolio option with any theme although I would guess that the effectiveness (how good it looks) will vary from theme to theme. Read this WordPress.com support item for further information on portfolios and the themes which explicitly use them.
Notes on Changing Theme
Writing the above section has reminded me that I keep
meaning to pen some thoughts on the general topic of changing theme.
Beware that some or all of your current theme customisations
may be lost when you switch to a new theme:
Image. The main issue here is that the current image size may not be
compatible with the size that the new theme would prefer
areas. Obviously, if a widget area (say the left-hand sidebar) exists in
your current theme, but it does not exist in the new theme, then you may well
lose the widgets within it. Less obviously, a single widget area (say the
right-hand sidebar) may be lost even though the new theme also has a right-hand
sidebar – it depends on how aware the new theme is when it is activated
While your menu settings will almost certainly be retained, the new theme may
start off by using a default (perhaps empty) menu. You may have to tell it to
use your menu. The other possibility is that you may have to reconstruct your
menu(s). For example, the new theme may not have as much space as the current
theme (across the screen) to hold all the top level menu items. In which case
you may have to redesign your menus to fit in with the new theme, e.g. by using
- CSS modifications,
where used, are theme specific. Any existing modifications will disappear in
the new theme.
It is good practice to make a note of your various
customisations before you change a theme. You can then re-apply them (except
for CSS), where necessary, in your new theme.
It is possible to make an image clickable. Two reasons to do
so spring readily to mind:
- To link to another page, either on your site or
anywhere else on the Internet
- To display a larger version of the image in
order to make parts of the image more distinct, or to make any text readable.
Note that the image displayed will be the size of the original version.
In edit image mode you will find a link option. To link to
another page or post, select Custom URL and enter the URL of the page. To
display a larger image, select Media (assuming that the original is in your
media library) and enter the URL of the image if it is not already displayed.
This applies only to WordPress.org users. In April 2019 the
minimum version of PHP that WordPress will run on will be PHP 5.6. However, as
I have mentioned before, version 5.6 is no longer supported by the PHP people.
Unless there are mitigating circumstances, you should be on PHP 7.0 or greater,
as they are the only versions that are currently supported by the PHP people.
The development of widget blocks appears to be proceeding
rapidly. However, the use of blocks for menus is not proving to be
straightforward, and no agreement has yet been reached on how it will be
There is currently no set date for WordPress 5.2, but it
seems likely that it will appear around the end of April. Similarly, there is
no agreed scope for it at the moment. Jungle drums indicate that it may
include: the first appearance of core widgets in blocks; further work on
polishing the new block editor; and improvements to the Site Health Check.