WordPress 4.8 has been released and is the latest version of WordPress. What does this mean for you, a WordPress site owner?
First, it’s time to upgrade, and while upgrading is important you want to do it properly to make sure nothing on your site breaks.
Second, let’s take a look at what’s new and exciting for you as you work with your WordPress websites.
Note that many web hosts are set to automatically update WordPress. While this is a nice feature, it can cause problems when upgrades do not go well. If you can’t set the upgrade options yourself, then make absolutely sure you have a quality backup before they automatically upgrade.
Backup Your Site
Note that once in awhile, it’s a good idea to test your backups. See how I test my backups.
If possible, when backing up before you update I recommend backing up your complete WordPress installation, then downloading a local copy to your computer. Many times, if things don’t work properly with the update, you can rollback the installation using your complete backup much faster than having to start with a fresh installation of WordPress and then restore the backup
The free version of UpdraftPlus does not allow you to backup the WordPress core files. You can do this with the premium version, which also gives you many more features including the ability to backup to multiple destinations, added security by encrypting your backup files, and UpdraftPlus Premium also comes with 1 GB of offsite backup storage in their UpdraftPlus Vault.
Backup Buddy is a another premium backup plugin that allows you to easily backup the core files of WordPress.
Clone Your Site and Test
Instead of backing up your site and then testing the upgrade, another option is to clone your site to a new site, if your web host supports this option. You can then update the cloned site and test your upgrade. If all goes well, you should be able to upgrade your live site. Make sure you back your live site up before updating even if the clone upgrade went well. In this case, if you need to skip the core files, that should be fine. If you can do this, it is a better option than backing up and then upgrading your live site because if the upgrade breaks your site, you only have to work on troubleshooting in the cloned site. Your live site is still safe.
For more information on options to clone your site and test before upgrading, and tips for troubleshooting an upgrade that breaks your site, see my earlier post https://whiteglovewebtraining.com/wordpress-updates-tools-and-services-to-help-maintain-your-site/
For the site owner, content creator, and blogger, there are several new features in WordPress 4.8 that make adding content easier. This is particularly true for widgets.
New Widgets in WordPress 4.8
The WordPress 4.8 image widget allows you to easily add an image to a widget. Drag the image widget to your sidebar or other widget area. Add a title, if desired, then click to add your image and add an image as you would any WordPress post or page.
The WordPress 4.8 video widget allows you to easily add a video to a widget.
- Drag the video widget to your sidebar or other widget area.
- Select Add Video.
- You can upload a video to the media as you do an image, or you can enter a URL of a video hosted on YouTube or Vimeo. Unless you are using a host specifically for video, it is not recommended to upload these and run them from your web host. Use YouTube or a service like Vimeo to host your videos.
Just as the video widget allows you to easily add videos to your sidebars, the WordPress 4.8 audio widget allows you to easily add an audio clip to a widget.
- Drag the audio widget to your sidebar or other widget area.
- Select Add Audio.
- You can upload your mp3, audio file to the media are as you do an image, or you can enter a URL of an audio file hosted elsewhere. As with video, if you have large audio files, unless your host is specifically configured for this higher bandwidth, you are better off using a service like Libsyn or SoundCloud to host your files. These are services used by podcasters to host large audio files.
Visual Formatting in the Text Widget
The latest version of WordPress has also slightly enhanced the visual formatting in a text widget. Previously, you had to use HTML to format text within a text widget. For those needing more visual editing options, the Black Studio TinyMCE plugin is still a much more robust option.
Black Studio TinyMCE
If you want a visual editor in your text widgets that matches what you have for posts and pages, install Black Studio TinyMCE. Once installed, you will see a widget named Visual Editor. Drag this to your widgeted area to add and format text for your sidebar or other widgetized area.
Troubleshooting Black Studio TinyMCE – If when you first drag the widget into the sidebar it opens with part of the window hidden behind the Dashboard menu, close the widget window and reopen it. It should then appear over the menu allowing you to access it.
For more information on extending the WordPress visual editor, visit an earlier post I wrote https://whiteglovewebtraining.com/how-to-extend-the-wordpress-visual-editor/
As is normally the case with software upgrades, this version of WordPress includes several security fixes. This is a main reason why it is important to get your site updated.
My audience members focus on using WordPress as a business and communications platform. As with other WordPress upgrades, there are also features aimed at the development community. I don’t cover those in my posts. If you’re interested, checkout the blog on WordPress.org.