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Fear Not WordPress 2.1 and WordPress Plugins

WordPress NewsThe biggest fear I hear over and over again is that people do not want to upgrade because they are afraid their WordPress Plugin won’t work. This is a good example of how important WordPress Plugins are to our WordPress blogs, as well as how dependent we’ve become on them.

WordPress developers have added a backwards compatibility file to help most older WordPress Plugins and WordPress Themes continue to work. For those really paranoid about how this new upgrade will impact their blog, see these instructions below to help set up a WordPress test blog.

In a update to Aaron Brazell’s “10 Things You Should Know About WordPress 2.1″, WordPress developer Ryan Boren explained how most of the old template tags will work because of the new inclusion of the new deprecated.php file in the WordPress 2.1 download.

This file adds backwards compatibility to WordPress, instructing the programming language and WordPress Plugins that the template tags were this and now are that. The deprecated.php file is found under /wp-includes.

This might not apply to every WordPress Plugin but it should to all who have updated their WordPress Plugin within the past six months or so.

Still, check the WordPress Plugin compatibility list to make sure your WordPress Plugin is on the list, and if it isn’t, then contact the WordPress Plugin author (info on your Plugins panel) to find out if their Plugin has been updated.

Attention WordPress Plugin Authors: If your WordPress Plugin has been updated, get on the damn list!

More Help With WordPress 2.1

While most people upgrading from the most recent updates have had little trouble installing the new WordPress 2.1, here are some tips to help you make the transition an easy one.

1. Update WordPress Plugins: Before you install WordPress 2.1, check the WordPress Plugin compatibility list to make sure your favorite can’t-live-without WordPress Plugins will work with the new version. Even if they aren’t on the list, check the WordPress Plugin author’s site to see if they have updated their Plugin.

2. Don’t Upgrade Properly? Don’t Complain: Most upgrade issues in the come from those who don’t follow the upgrade instructions properly.

If you are making the leap from an older version, please follow the instructions on upgrading from WordPress 1.5.x and 2.0.x to 2.1. Changes were made in each of these versions to the database, so your upgrade may need to be incremental, or at least a little more fussy.

3. Before installing the new version of WordPress:

1. Backup everything, including your WordPress Theme files.
2. Turn off all WordPress Plugins.
3. Delete the old WordPress core files.
4. Upload the new WordPress core files.

If you don’t do this, we’ll tell you to do this when you come visit us in the . ;-) The process of uploading files over the top of others can cause glitches if there are any interruptions in your Internet connection. Don’t trust it. Delete and upload new files.

If you are having massive errors and problems after running the upgrade.php script, then start over by deleting the files and uploading them again. This solves most problems with upgrades and patches. Hopefully, this process will be automated and easier in the future.

4. Turn Off WordPress Plugins Before Upgrading: WordPress 2.1 changes the tables structure in the database a bit and adds new ones. WordPress Plugins that access the changed tables in the database may implode after the upgrade, so make sure these are updated before you begin the upgrade process.

Make sure all WordPress Plugins are inactive, then turn them on one by one and test the site thoroughly after each one is turned on so you can find the culprit before you get too far.

Download Squad’s Post Install Checklist is worth reviewing to make sure everything is still working as it should.

5. Specific Troubleshooting Issues

If You Have Trouble: If you are having trouble with the WordPress 2.1 upgrade, spend a few minutes searching through the . The odds are you aren’t alone and someone has already responded with an answer. If not, then ask. Your problem may be the some as someone else who doesn’t have the courage to ask.

Rich Text Editor No Shows: For those who use the Rich Text Editor feature for writing posts, you need to make sure you enable Javascript in Firefox in order to see the WYSIWYG editing section of the Write Post panel. Make sure nothing else you have installed prevents Javascript from running or you will not see the Rich Text Editor appear correctly.

If your host server has not upgraded past MySQL 4.0, do not install WordPress 2.1. According to Ryan Boren, while the WordPress 2x branch will continue to support MySQL 3.23.23, WordPress 2.1 will require MySQL 4.0, taking advantage of the more powerful and optional functions in the newer versions of the database program. It’s time to nag them or find a new server if you want to keep up with WordPress. You should also know that MySQLAB has stopped support for MySQL 4.0. Ryan says that WordPress 2.2 will require a minimum of MySQL 4.1.

WordPress Theme Authors be warned. Some are reporting screwed up WordPress Themes and structure after upgrading. WordPress 2.1 now incorporates blogroll links into the category list and a few new WordPress Theme template files, deprecated a few older ones. If your WordPress Theme uses the wp-list_cats() template tag, it has been deprecated in WordPress 2.1. The new template tag is wp_list_categories(). Ericulous summed up some of the other changes in template tags between WordPress 2.0x and WordPress 2.1.

Old Atom Feeds: Some have complained about the lack of an upgrade for Atom. Matt Mullenweg announced that next update will feature the Atom API for the next version. Until then, you can add Atom 1.0 feed to your WordPress blog with WordPress Atom 1.0 WordPress Plugin, enable it manually with the instructions from snellspace.com, or replace your feeds with .

Instructions for the Really Paranoid WordPress User

If you are really paranoid about how WordPress 2.1 will work with all your WordPress Theme and Plugin modifications and customization, and you can’t afford to have your blog down for the time the upgrade may take, the following might help:

  1. Create a test directory on your site.
  2. Install WordPress 2.1 to that directory, creating a new database for testing.
  3. Using the default or classic WordPress Theme, write several test posts that resemble your typical post writing and styles.
  4. Add your WordPress Theme files to the test site and test it.
    • If the Theme works, then start adding your WordPress Plugins one-by-one, testing the blog thoroughly before adding the next one.
    • If the Theme doesn’t work, it usually means you are using WordPress Plugins not designed to fail gracefully, and/or you didn’t embed them in your WordPress Theme with the failsafe method. Check to see if you have the latest version of your WordPress Plugins. Then go through your WordPress Themes to ensure the conditional statement to check whether or not a Plugin is active is wrapped around every Plugin statement breaking your blog’s Theme. See When the Blog Breaks: Fixing Your Broken Blog for the instructions on what to do when Plugins break your WordPress Theme.
  5. When you’ve tested your test site thoroughly, and fixed all things needing fixing, properly install WordPress 2.1 to your main blog, test it, and copy over the now fixed and updated WordPress Theme and Plugins.
  6. Delete the test site and clean out the testing database files, very carefully.
  7. Enjoy your new WordPress upgraded blog.

More News on WordPress

For more information on what is happening around the WordPress Community this week, see WordPress Wednesday on the Blog Herald with Lorelle, that’s me. ;-) I’ll be posting weekly updated on what’s going on within the world of WordPress. If you have any news you want shared, be sure and let me know.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network

32 Comments

  1. Posted January 25, 2007 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Well now you have me quite concerned. I just came onto WordPress about 2 weeks ago – after being on blogger for many years. I made the switch because blogger screwed everything up with their new beta. Nothing worked as it was supposed to – and people were unable to post or comment on our multi-blog. Also the structure of paragraphs in posts were all messed up. So we took the plunge to WordPress. I’m very happy with the results, but now am concerned that I’m going to suffer through growing pains with another provider!!!! Do we have to switch? And since I’m so new on WordPress – how do I discover if I may already be under the new program?

  2. Posted January 25, 2007 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I had the same “fear” at first. But after talking with a friend who just recently upgraded and how it was easy, I decided to go on with the upgrade. What I did was just to check all my plugins and see that they’re updated to the latest versions. Then I did basically exactly the same steps that you enumerated above. I didn’t think upgrading to 2.1 would be that easy.

    Everyone who plans to upgrade to 2.1 should check your host server MySQL version. I know some people who got their blog messed up or their database messed up because they didn’t check the MySQL version first before upgrading.

    Just as Lorelle said, just follow instructions and you’ll be fine. :)

  3. Posted January 25, 2007 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Smiley: You might be confusing WordPress with WordPress.com. The link you put in your comment URL is to a WordPress.com blog. All WordPress.com bloggers have been blogging with a version of WordPress 2.1 for a few months now. WordPress.com blogs are part of the testing ground for the full version of WordPress.

    If you are blogging with WordPress.com, sit back and enjoy the ride. You don’t have to do anything because it’s all done for you.

    If not, then what Jaypee says is the gospel. ;-)

  4. Posted January 25, 2007 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Thanks
    I am on WordPress.com
    There is so much I’m learning which is why I’m glad I found your site :)

  5. Posted January 25, 2007 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Update done, everything went smoothly.

    All the plugins I use, some quite old, work fine! The only slight issue is with the Tiger style interface plugin, but that’s an admin side thing and very much a ‘nice to have’ so not a big loss.

    The new version is HUGELY faster than previously, so that’s good.

    The only thing I don’t quite get is why my link categories were changed (which broke my get_links call). Can’t find much in the way of explaining WHY that was done, but again not a huge problem.

    In short, thumbs up. If you haven’t heavily edited PHP files you should upgrade now.

    Finally, thanks for this great post, much appreciated.

  6. Posted January 25, 2007 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    The categories broke because of the wp_list_categories() new template tag mentioned above in the article. Change that template tag and they should work fine. I’ll be having more about this soon. Glad it worked for you.

  7. Posted January 25, 2007 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I did have a sandbox for installing WordPress 2.1 and other subversions. Currently I’m using it to make sure everything doesn’t break when I port over WordPress and my newly designed theme over to the new blog. It just makes sense to be careful.

  8. Posted January 25, 2007 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Really not a fan of point number ‘2’ under ‘More help..’. Telling people, who didn’t upgrade as per documentation (apparently irrespective of why – including understanding what it all means) to ‘naff off is, well, not really on, is it?

    The upgrade does work, right out of the box, for most people. But sometimes it won’t and it might break. And folks may have to deviate away from instructions slightly under some instances to get the upgrade to work right.

    And seriously – what’s with the paranoia? You make it sound like it’s a huge thing. It isn’t.

    Disabling all plugins, doing a ‘full’ backup of everything (including the mysql db) and then uploading the new version will work in 99.9% of cases. For the .1% left, then making a note of what broke and rolling back to the last backup will at least get things back to normal.

    The support forums are a great place to then hit up for potential reasons. Please, don’t suggest people who don’t follow the upgrade instructions precisely should find love elsewhere.

    It’s comments like that, that have really turned me off the WordPress community.

  9. Posted January 25, 2007 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Isn’t it amazing how people read things into words that aren’t there. This always amazes me.

    It is a “fact”, indisputable and verifiable, that the majority of the problems and questions reported on the WordPress Support Forum regarding upgrades are from people not following the upgrade instructions. Most specifically, from not deleting the core files first and not turning off Plugins.

    In other words, if you didn’t follow the instructions right, why blame WordPress? Follow them and they work. Support volunteers provide these instructions on the WordPress Codex, on the forum, and all over the place. Then these same volunteers spend hours and hours saying, “Did you follow the upgrade instructions?” “No. I uploaded the files over the old ones.” “Follow the instructions by deleting then uploading…” So if my wording caught someone’s attention, maybe a volunteer might repeat themselves one less time.

    Oye, the things I could say if I really wanted to slamming the dumb things people do when upgrading or installing WordPress, or anything else. Could I have a field day with that subject?!? ;-) hee hee

  10. Denise
    Posted January 25, 2007 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Boy, I’m definitely bookmarking this site.
    I need to do an upgrade, and to say the least I’m a little leary.
    I’m not very techi and I think I will use the support of the forum.
    Maybe I can find someone to walk me through each step.
    Thanks for all the valuable info.

  11. Posted January 25, 2007 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Great instructions, if only I had read them before doing the upgrade (specifically the plugin disabling thingy), 2.1 has been a total nightmare for me and I’ve been using wordpress happily since the pre 1.2 days.

  12. Posted January 25, 2007 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    It’s all good, just listen to Lorelle, follow her instructions and those on the WP instructions and everything will be fine. :)

  13. Posted January 25, 2007 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    After reading the WP support forums for the last few days, I can offer a little advice on this topic:

    If the plugin does any of the following things, it will probably not work in 2.1, or work incorrectly.
    – Displays items from the “Links” (this is almost universal, nearly every plugin that displays Links is now broken)
    – Modifies the way posts display (ordering, which posts, etc)
    – Makes posts automatically (post-by-email, automatic feed reading post tools)
    – Displays posts/comments in some other way (some “recent comment/post” plugins, etc)
    – Displays categories in some other way (may work, but work incorrectly, as some of the options for various deprecated bits don’t work anymore)

    This also applies to widget plugins that fit the generic things listed above, widgets are not immune.

    There may be other generic categories which will fit, but these are the big three I’ve noticed. Note that most plugins that I’ve seen broken have updates which fix the problems. Some of the big ones that need you to download updates for:
    -Category Visibility RH
    -Ultimate Tag Warrior
    -Adhesive

    Anyway, if a plugin doesn’t work, look for an update.

  14. Posted January 25, 2007 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    “Most specifically, from not deleting the core files first and not turning off Plugins.”

    Given the instructions don’t actually mandate a delete, I think that’s a little harsh. They suggest it’s “another option” – but do not dictate that it is a requirement.

    Another person jumping into the breach to defend WP honour, without actually listening to what is being said.

    Turning people away, if they do not follow one of at least two methods for upgrade is extremely unnecessary. Note that I also suggested based on ‘understanding’ not purposefully ignoring instructions.

    Who also said anything about blame? Seriously – feel free to protect the honour of WP all you like.. just please be aware that the deletion of the existing files is suggested, not mandated in the very instructions provided.

    I am not attacking anyone, or WP.

  15. Posted January 26, 2007 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    I did a clean install of WordPress 2.1 and I’m having issues with multiple plugins which were said to be compatible according to the compatibility list. Some of these same plugins worked without any issues when I had performed an upgrade to 2.1 earlier. I had other problems with the upgrade (after following the instructions carefully — heck I’ve upgraded WordPress at least half a dozen time since I’ve been using it the last three years) which prompted me to do a clean install. This is probably the most painful upgrade I’ve had with WordPress since I’ve been using it.

  16. Posted January 26, 2007 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    Nice article, Lorelle. I upgraded to 2.1 on the day of its release and have had only a few hiccups with plugins I had installed. All in all, it was quite painless. Given how well the WP community reacts and supports itself, I was quickly able to find fixes for the plugins that were choking on 2.1.

  17. Posted January 26, 2007 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    Nice work, Lorelle. Great information as usual. If I can get my theme customization the way I’d like it on 2.1 I’ll be making the dive soon, too.

  18. Posted January 26, 2007 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    Lorelle – Thanks for the terrific coverage of the upgrade. It’s nice to have a single place to send folks in addition to the forums.

    This may seem like common sense, but I’m getting some questions on it. Those that have either heavily modified or created custom themes should test locally first. I’ve talked with several people who have a local sandbox (most running a XAMPP installation on Windows) and aren’t taking advantage of it to test theme changes. The most common one I’m seeing (design-wise) is not working with the wp_list_categories() new template tag.

    Anyway, like I said, this may seem like common sense, but if you have the technical skill to create your own template, it’s probably worth it to test everything on a local sandbox.

  19. Posted January 26, 2007 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Great post! I installed 2.1 and id worked out fine! No problemo at all. But before you upgrade, do what you have to do!

  20. Posted January 26, 2007 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    I just want to say thanks for this very helpful article. Will be upgrading during the weekend and this has come in very useful indeed. :)

  21. Posted January 26, 2007 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Yes, following instructions does pay off. And this upgrade is no different than any other WordPress upgrade. Backup, disable plugins, delete old files, install new files, turn plugins back on. Nothing to it.

    I manage 8 blogs and all were upgraded in less than 20 minutes.

    Keep up the good work helping the fearful, Lorelle. :)

  22. Posted January 26, 2007 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Useful stuff. Actually The fear or “paranoia” is not so far fetched, although who wants to admit it? I for one took one look at the huge list of issues and problems of people who upgraded to 2.1, nearly freaked out and decided I would definitely not upgrade yet. I don’t want my blog down.

    My personal impression is that if you aren’t a WordPress geek understanding all things code (which I am not and do not), you’d have problems. Regardless of whether or not that is the case that’s the impression I still have.

  23. Posted January 26, 2007 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I should say this, but it’s a case of “do as I say not as a do”. I’m currently on a very restricted bandwidth, so I uploaded over the old files and blew everything to bits. It took me four times longer than if I had done it right the first time by deleting and uploading fresh.

    *Pounding Head Against Wall*

    So much for the teacher living by the lessons. I sure didn’t save any bandwidth on that one! ;-)

  24. Posted January 28, 2007 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Two observations (from a WordPress lover):
    1. How come WordPress hasn’t updated its plugin engine to allow the plugin to fail but the engine to continue working? I’m always amazed at the ‘blank page’ I get from installing a bad plugin… or installing a good plugin AFTER a bad plugin.
    2. I’m still surprised there’s no call to the site to try to obtain the latest version number so folks know when to upgrade.

  25. Posted January 29, 2007 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    re Point 2 – so people don’t follow the instructions properly? How terrible of them. Perhaps if the instructions were written properly, this wouldn’t be such a problem. The upgrade instructions are ridiculously bad. Although, since everything on the WordPress codex is so badly written, perhaps people are used to this standard of communication. I know people put a lot of work into the software, but a little more care is needed with the documentation. The tone here – “don’t complain” – comes across as a little arrogant to someone who is constantly throwing his hands up in despair at the incomprehensibility of WordPress instructions. As an exercise, someone should try writing a single, coherent set of upgrade instructions that start at the beginning, finish at the end and contain NO URLs to other pages whatsoever. This style of writing, where you never give the right information but simply link, link, link is the root of the problem.

  26. Mathijs
    Posted January 29, 2007 at 3:43 am | Permalink

    Why o why no support for older mysql versions? None of my 6/7 wp sites (on several hosts, sites from clients as well) has mysql 4. This is really bad. So no security updates for me. What should I do? No way I can force all those hosts to upgrade their mysql.

    Luckily I saw it on time before I upgraded (with all the upgrades lately upgrading has become a kind of weekly ritual…) otherwise I would have messed up all databases. And I know from experience what a problem that can be.

  27. Posted January 29, 2007 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Simon: You want better documentation for WordPress, volunteer with the WordPress documentation team and pitch in. That always speaks louder than whines. ;-) Volunteers are constantly working to improve the documentation. Everyone is welcome to pitch in.

    Mathijs: Like any software or product line, when the vendor no longer supports it, people need to be cautious using it and think about upgrading. And you can “force” your host to upgrade. You pay, you should be heard. Would you take your 2007 car to a mechanic who had never worked on anything beyond an Edsel? Probably not. Make it clear that you won’t keep your site with an Edsel-style host. Make it vocal and make it clear. Money dictates action.

  28. Posted January 29, 2007 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Functionality to make this process easier might be a nice feature.

  29. Mathijs
    Posted January 29, 2007 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Well, indeed I can try to put pressure on the hosts. But as only one of the thousands of clients paying just a few dollars a month for a shared hosting I doubt it will have any effect.

    But it does make me wonder. If for me already 4 hosts don’t have mysql 4, how many WP users are effected world wide?

  30. Posted January 29, 2007 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    OK, I’ve rewritten the upgrade instructions and made them available here: http://www.copywriter.simontownley.co.uk/?page_id=16.
    Help yourself and reuse as you wish.
    Please bear in mind that I’m brand new to WordPress and blogging – I’ve been doing this for little over a week. The file still needs an edit so sorry for typos etc. But I’m off to play tennis now… I’ll tidy it up and improve things tomorrow. (My upgrade went very smoothly – except that I has images in wp-includes/images which were lost. I had backups, though!

  31. Posted January 30, 2007 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    I had no real problem to install WP 2.1 .
    The links was easy to manage with the style sheet.
    In fact, I had only one problem : I didn’t see the WYSIWYG section.
    It was not because of the browser and JAVA or my profile !
    It was the “WordPress Plain Text Paste Plugin Version 0.3″ (see http://www.ndsinternet.com/blog/archives/2007/01/wordpress-plain-text-plugin.
    Activated, you don’t properly see the WYSIWYG. Deactivated, all is ok.

  32. Posted September 23, 2007 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I won’t upgrade my web again because some of my useful plugins generate errors… :(


35 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  14. [...] you’re thinking of upgrading to WordPress 2.1 (maybe in a week or so), check out this “Fear Not WordPress 2.1″ article with support for extremely anxious bloggers. Also see the Download Squad article on a similar [...]

  15. [...] Lorelle on WordPress explains why there is no reason to fear the loss of your plugins by upgrading WordPress.   She explains that WordPress now contains backwards plugin compatibility, but also provides instructions on how to set up a test blog if you are still concerned. [...]

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  17. [...] having upgraded my blog, I read some interesting blogs here, here and here. They gave me the creeps :-)  I should have followed the steps outlined and [...]

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  19. [...] WordPress 2.1 came out I was a little bit keen about updating it but after finding this article I thought I would give it a try and it’s now working flawlessly so I thought I could post [...]

  20. [...] FTP and SQL backup before proceeding. Also Lorelle also has some good guidelines on her blog about upgrading to wordpress 2.1 and compatible plugins. Permalink Leave a Comment Technology, Web Design [...]

  21. [...] meantime, I’ve found couple of good articles about the upgrade. One of the best among them is Fear Not WordPress 2.1 and WordPress Plugins from Lorelle VanFossen. It is highly encouraging and if this one doesn’t help me, none [...]

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  27. [...] If you decide it’s time to upgrade your version of WordPress, you can find some great tips to help you with the process here on the Lorelle blog. [...]

  28. [...] Great post from Lorelle that pretty much covers everything you need to know about upgrading to WP 2.1. Posted in Blogging Basics [...]

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