WordPress

WordPress 4.8 and Widgets: A Public Service Announcement

WordPress updates are an important part of keeping your site secure, and they can come with some great goodies. Unfortunately, updates have a tendency to break things. While WordPress 4.8 came with some great new features, it also might have broken all your widgets. Today we’ll cover the new features of 4.8, then look at why your widgets might not display properly, and how you can fix them.

The Good Stuff: New Widgets and More

Let’s start with what 4.8 got right. They’ve added several new features to the widget system, including media widgets! Media widgets are exactly what they sound like – widgets that allow you to place media files on your site directly. The new image widget, for instance, allows you to drag and drop images into your sidebar without any custom code or plugins. It’s a feature that seems overdue, but it’s finally here. The other media widgets WordPress has added in 4.8 include a video widget that displays both file uploads in most popular video formats and embeds from Youtube and Vimeo, and an audio widget that generates a simple HTML5 audio control bar. It accepts MP3, OGG, and raw WAV audio formats.

WordPress has done even more to improve widgets. Instead of a plain text field requiring HTML formatting for your text widgets, you can now use WordPress’ built-in visual editor. It’s not a critically important change, but it’s a nice new feature nonetheless. They’ve also made minor changes to the visual editor, improving navigation and usability, and added a WordPress news widget on the dashboard that displays info about WordPress updates and local WordPress events. Finally, there have been a number of small tweaks and fixes to a variety of internal WordPress functions, on top of the ordinary security updates and bug fixes every release comes with.

The Less Good Stuff: Your Text Widgets Might Break!

You know that visual editor for text widgets we mentioned earlier? Yeah, it’s not all good news. You see, WordPress has this irritating habit of wrapping pretty much everything in <p> tags when you edit things in the visual editor. As text widgets used to be manually formatted with HTML tags, these additional <p> tags and line breaks can break your widget formatting by doubling up on tags. Thankfully, it’s an easy fix. Just check all your site pages to make sure your widgets display properly. If any of them look weird, go into the widget editor, switch to the advanced (old) view, and remove the extra tags. That’s it!

Conclusion

WordPress updates happen pretty frequently. It’s the double-edged sword of popular, open source software – frequent updates and support for millions of plugins means that things will break occasionally. Be sure to back up your WordPress site before updating to minimize risk of catastrophic failure, and double-check it after the update’s been applied to make sure everything still works.

Did all of this go right over your head? Feel free contact us if you need help your WordPress site. We’re Kelowna’s WordPress experts!