Wordpress 5.5 - What You Need to Know

Ryuzaki

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So I waited like a good boy to make sure plugins had a chance to update and Wordpress itself had a chance to root out any bugs in their new Wordpress 5.5 roll out.

I'm looking at it now and wanted to share some info so you don't have to go on the hunt to understand it all. Here's the most important stuff.

Native Sitemaps
WP now has a native sitemap that is auto-generated and located at /wp-sitemap.xml. If you're using Yoast this will automatically be disabled and the URL will redirect to the Yoast sitemap at /sitemap-index.xml. If you want to use the WP Sitemap then your server needs to have the SimpleXML PHP extension installed. They don't offer an image sitemap, but it looks like Yoast got rid of that too.

You can disable the WP Sitemap using add_filter( 'wp_sitemaps_enabled', '__return_false' ); in your functions.php, but that only disables the output, but still runs all the functionality. To totally kill it off you need:
Code:
add_action( 'init', function() {
     remove_action( 'init', 'wp_sitemaps_get_server' );
}, 5 );
Please note that I have not tested the code above.

Auto-Updates
Wordpress can now automatically update plugins and themes. This is a bad idea because you need to let them fix bugs. I try to stay a version behind, and if I can't then I wait as long as I can before updating. This auto-updating is disabled by default. You could probably turn it on for themes and be fine though.

Gutenberg Block Editor
It has different CSS, looks sleeker, runs a little better. There's now a Block API that speeds up rendering. The Preview functionality now lets you choose Desktop, Tablet, or Mobile so you don't have to resize your browser. That's kind of cool.

They introduced Block Patterns, where you can save designs in innerblocks and reuse them instead of having to rebuild the designs out over and over. There's some new image editing crap in there that nobody should be using if they care about page speed at all.

And the Block Directory finally came out. You can install blocks like you would plugins from the repository. This is probably the best feature for most people that want improved designs but can't build custom blocks. Get ready for the bloat though if you go crazy with it. Keep your page speed in mind.

Lazy Loading
Wordpress finally added the upcoming native lazy loading that all browsers will implement eventually. Adoption is low, so if you're still using a lazy loading plugin, keep using it and make sure the plugin disables the lazy loading. You should know based on the loading="lazy" style of attributes in the HTML.

Disabling Lazy Loading without a plugin is as simple as as adding add_filter( 'wp_lazy_loading_enabled', '__return_false' ); to your functions.php.

The most important change they made here too is that Gutenberg images finally include inline widths and heights for your images. How in the world they rolled that out without those is beyond me, but you'll notice your "Cumulative Layout Shift" scores on Pagespeed Insights and in Search Console are dog shit without this. I'm super glad they fixed this. I had no clue it was coming, they were quiet about it. Good stuff here.

jQuery Migrate
It's gone. They no longer include it or enqueue it. That means a lot of plugins and themes can potentially break. jQuery Migrate includes deprecated functions from older version of jQuery. Plugins and themes should have removed these over time as they're deprecated but many don't. Check your site on a staging server first!

Template Arguments

Why it took this long, I don't know, but you can finally pass arguments through:
  • get_header()
  • get_footer()
  • get_sidebar()
  • get_template_part()
  • locate_template()
  • load_template()
This page explains how it's done: Passing arguments to template files in WordPress 5.5

Dashicons Final Update
They added 71 new icons. I'm not sure what the total count is and this may not matter to you if you're not a developer, but it's nice to have more choices, especially when assigning an icon to custom blocks.

This has been a BuSo Public Service Announcement.
May we all prosper and stay healthy.​
 

Ryuzaki

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Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the biggest issue with WP 5.5:

jQuery Migrate [added above]
It's gone. They no longer include it or enqueue it. That means a lot of plugins and themes can potentially break. jQuery Migrate includes deprecated functions from older version of jQuery. Plugins and themes should have removed these over time as they're deprecated but many don't. Check your site on a staging server first!
 

bernard

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I think honestly things like that are unprofessional.

You can't be have like 50% of all websites run on Wordpress and not do a controlled, communicated phase out of something so vital.
 

Ryuzaki

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I think honestly things like that are unprofessional.

You can't be have like 50% of all websites run on Wordpress and not do a controlled, communicated phase out of something so vital.

They're learning that the hard way. "Millions" of sites were broken by Wordpress 5.5.

So they're releasing 5.5.1 as a maintenance release, where they're adding in a backfill for some global Javascript objects that were removed without being deprecated first. Sounds like it'll be a mini-version of jQuery Migrate again. They're going to leave it in until March 2021, which is a generous 6 to 7 month heads up.

This was totally and completely their fault. I'm not sure what they were thinking. They could have scanned their own theme and plugin repositories and seen that this would add up to several million sites. Others have now done that and you can see the list of themes and plugins that are broken at the moment and which have patched up the issues.
 

bernard

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Pragmatism is not exactly what comes to mind when thinking of non-profit coding.

Weird pedantic decisions due to theory, sometimes?
 
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I didn't think this deserved its own thread because it's related to WordPress 5.5 (the 5.5.3 release to be exact).

Everyone that updated (or was forced to auto-update): please check your WP install for plugin conflicts. So far today, the following has happened and I had to fix:
  • Sitemap XML stopped working. I use all in one SEO, not the default one.
  • I was unable to add a new post, then unable to select an author for this post, etc. This was due to the page speed plugin settings conflicting with this update somehow (JS minification to be exact).
  • A plugin I used for tables stopped working. I rely on it for affiliate links, so it was bad.
  • Redirection (the plugin) had to recreate/update its database. Yep, that's as tricky as it sounds and you need to do this manually (click on it in the back-end AFTER creating a json back-up copy). Lots of people use this for 301 redirects (UX/SEO purposes), but affiliate guys like me heavily use it.
Basically, make a back-up of entire site, update ALL plugins, clear cache(s), then manually spot check things like your sitemaps and others mentioned above. Be aware of this "minor" update, 'cause it ain't nothing nice!! I don't remember having to update all mission critical plugins because of a minor update before, but oh well. I fixed it all, so you can too.

Admin: feel free to move this reply if need be. Just wanted to share it where it seemed most relevant.
 

darkzerothree

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Hmm...

How would this be their fault.

As a site owner /admin, checking plugin compatibility is your job.
Or am I missing something?
 
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Hmm...

How would this be their fault.

As a site owner /admin, checking plugin compatibility is your job.
Or am I missing something?
Don't get me wrong, it's not their fault and checking compatibility is always your job as a site owner. I wanted to point out that this "minor" update caused many plugins to conflict that didn't conflict before. Plugin conflicts are pretty common, but to have things like XML sitemaps, redirects, etc. potentially break on top of several back-end glitches/problems is kinda nasty. So, consider it a friendly warning to triple check instead of double check.
 

Ryuzaki

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Hmm...

How would this be their fault.

As a site owner /admin, checking plugin compatibility is your job.
Or am I missing something?
Wordpress had a massive screw up. They had an error in the auto-update system that updated a bunch of sites to Wordpress 5.5.3-alpha-49449... even sites that said no, they didn't want auto-updates. It gave them all the default WP themes from 2010 onward or so plus Akismet and Hello Dolly and other crap.

Wordpress caught it and stopped it, but then a new problem arrived, which was that people who got pushed to that alpha couldn't then upgrade past it once the issue was resolved and a new version pushed out (quickly) to get them out of beta testing mode.

And that's likely where some of these problems with plugins are coming from. When things get rushed due to mess-ups, there's not time to update the plugins and test them with the newest version that was fired off well before schedule.


Important Update:

jQuery Migrate
It's gone. They no longer include it or enqueue it. That means a lot of plugins and themes can potentially break. jQuery Migrate includes deprecated functions from older version of jQuery. Plugins and themes should have removed these over time as they're deprecated but many don't. Check your site on a staging server first!
Quoted above was what I typed about jQuery Migrate when WP 5.5 came out. Basically they want to get rid of the jQuery Migrate file, which allows old plugins to be "patched" and still work with deprecated functionality. People cried and they held off and a "jQuery Migrate Helper Plugin" was released that ensured you kept that file.

WP 5.6 is coming in December 2020 and part of what they're doing is updating jQuery to version 3.5.1 and jQuery Migrate to version 3.3.1. That means anything that was supported for jQuery Migrate v 2.x and below will now be dropped out.

So the oldest and laziest of the plugins that haven't even fixed the oldest crap there was a polyfill for will definitely be breaking. This problem will continue to be a rolling problem until eventually (in the next year) jQuery Migrate will be phased out completely, and ultimately interest in jQuery Migrate Helper will die off too and it'll stop being supported.

Ditch the old plugins and get modern, or you'll be forced to at an inopportune time.