WordPress 4.5 Released

WordPress 4.5 is now live! For a full recap of the changes in 4.5 visit this link.

The biggest changes you will notice when working in your site is the linking functionality in the editor. It is now an inline interface instead of the tradition popup:

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 5.20.19 PM

Besides this change, most of the updates are behind the scenes and will not be noticeable to most users. Please be aware that this update has caused a lot of incompatibility issues. jQuery is breaking on many sites that were coded poorly. You will see this by noticing that your sliders are no longer working, dropdowns don’t show and parallax sections are not functioning correctly.

Remember to make a good backup before updating!!

Upcoming WordPress Release: 4.4

When Does the New Release Come Out?

Today! You should already be receiving alerts in your dashboard for the new update. All wpONcall customers have already been updated and checked for any issues. We are not seeing any big issues with our client sites so far. It seems to be a fairly trouble-free update.

How will this version effect me?

For the most part, you will not see any noticeable changes when logging into WordPress. There are some big backend features that effect the big picture of WordPress’ future path (in particular, introducing the WordPress API into core – learn more here). For most users, this won’t have any effect on how they currently use their WordPress site. It will, however, have an impact on how we will interact with WordPress in the future.

One cool feature that you can start using today is “Responsive Images”. In WordPress 4.4. WordPress will automatically serve the correctly sized image depending on the screen size of the device. You can upload an image that is 1500px wide and it will serve a smaller version automatically. This makes it easier for site owners to do less editing and resizing of their images before uploading.

Another noticeable change is the comment form on posts. Now, the comment field is the first to show, then the name, email and website fields. The comment form used to have the comment field show last. This will make it easier for visitors to leave a comment.

CommentsFirst

Of course, there are other changes in WP 4.4, but nothing that will have much impact on you!

Anything to look out for?

We haven’t had any major issues yet. We will update here if anything comes up.

You should update your site as soon as possible and make sure to make a backup before you do!

Here is a video overview of the changes:

Time to Update! WordPress 4.3 Now Live

Today WordPress 4.3 was released into the wild. This official video gives a good idea of how the changes will impact your site:

 


 

The major updates were:

Stronger Passwords

This is a great feature that is long overdue. Now WordPress gives you the option to generate a strong password when you create a new user instead of creating a weak password that you can remember. Resetting your password will also be more strict.

better-passwords

Site Icons (Favicons)

This is a nice addition, but almost all premium themes already have a field to add a favicon to your site. This will be nice for sites using a theme without the feature.

site-icon-customizer

A Different “Menus” Interface

The WordPress menus interface can still be found with its original interface when you go to “Appearance” then “Menus”. 4.3 has added a new interface to the “Customizer” which allows you to see the menu in a live preview as you change it. This will be helpful for seeing if a new menu item fits in your navigation before you make it live.

menu-customizer

 

Formatting Shortcuts

This is a cool feature that allows you to add formatting to your page without clicking on the tools above the text box. This is very similar to markup editors that let you format as you type (our favorite is Ulysses).

formatting-shortcuts

Comments Turned Off On Pages

This is an annoying quirk left over from the blogging days of WordPress (a comment field showing on your static pages). Now you don’t have to worry about comments showing on pages in case your theme did not already take care of it.

dicussion

A Word of Warning!

Unfortunately, there is a bigger chance of this update breaking your site than previous core updates. WordPress 4.3 is removing the ability to use PHP 4 style constructors, which means your plugins can break if they have not updated to the PHP 5 standards. You should do a search of your plugins on this page to make sure your plugins won’t break with the update: http://gist.github.com/chriscct7/d7d077afb01011b1839d

All wpONcall clients don’t have to worry about this update as it will all be taken care of by us! Good luck with your updating!

 

New Security Release: 4.2.4

Today, WordPress 4.2.4 was released as an important security fix. This update comes just one week after the release of WordPress 4.2.3.

4.2.3 caused quite a few issues with many sites as it changed the way WordPress uses shortcodes. This caused many sites to break their formatting when they relied of shortcodes to display content. The release team did not give a lot of warning to this change, although it was important to close the security hole with cross-site scripting.

This update, 4.2.4 supposedly fixed the issue sites were having with 4.2.3, so many plugin and theme authors will be happy. This update also addresses more issues with cross-site scripting as well as a SQL injection vulnerability.

You should update your site right away and always remember to backup your site before updating!

Read more here: http://wordpress.org/news/2015/08/wordpress-4-2-4-security-and-maintenance-release/

Incremental Backups: The Future of WordPress Backups

Backups have always been a pain for WordPress site owners.

Backups stall, error codes come up, it’s hard to restore your site, you use up all of your storage; the list goes on and on. In this post, we will look at what is wrong with the current state of WordPress backups and then look at the new generation of backup options: incremental backups.

Current backup plugin options (like BackupBuddy) have flaws including:

  1. Not incremental backups - BackupBuddyTheir reliability. To this point, all backup options worked by either backing up the entire website (files and database) or only the entire database. When you have a larger website, the backup often fails because the server timeouts or there is a lack of PHP memory. Both of these things are hard to fix when you are hosted on a shared hosting plan. The problem comes directly from the large file size of the backup.
  2. Ease of Restoration. What do you do when something goes wrong with your site and you need to restore from a backup? You need to copy over all of your site files, which can take a long time with a large backup. During that time your site is down until the backup completes. There is no need restore an entire website if there are only minor updates that need restoration. You also need FTP access and knowledge of the file structure to successfully restore a site. There is no “restore button.”
  3. Storage Space. Every backup that is made creates a new zip file that is stored on your server (or sometimes cloud server). This adds up over time, with some sites creating a backup of over 1GB for each backup! You will learn that your “unlimited” hosting package is really not unlimited. Shared hosts do not like you using a backup plugin to store your zip backups and will often tell you to stop. Many of the major hosts will actually tell you to stop using BackupBuddy because it is too resource intensive and taking too much space.

 

Enough about the old way that doesn’t work well. Let’s dive into incremental backups.

 

What are Incremental Backups?

Incremental Backups work in the same way as Apple’s TimeMachine. Every change you make is automatically stored, so you can revert back if needed. Instead of backing up your entire website file structure and database every time you make a backup, these plugins will only backup the change that you have made. This is very similar to how Dropbox and GitHub work, with file versioning. Some of these new incremental backups are even using Dropbox to power the file versioning.

What are the Benefits?

You will no longer have issues with backups timing out because only small updates are being saved each time. This makes your backups more reliable and less resource intensive on your server. Another benefit is the ability to make restores of the site if anything breaks or needs to be reverted. Instead of restoring the entire website, only the files that have changed will be reverted.

Here is a real world example: You go an update a plugin on your site. After you made the update, you notice that all of your site styling is off. Instead of reverting your site to a full backup (which you probably did not make to do a plugin update), you can simply revert your site back to where it was before you made the plugin update. This will take a lot of stress out of making plugin updates!

What Are The Options?

BlogVault has been around for awhile and offers a unique incremental backup solution that does not add excess strain on your server (therefore being more successful with each backup. They also have other useful tools such as WordPress migration, staging and a white label version.

Incremental Backups Plugin - WP Time CapsuleFrom the guys behind InfiniteWP, WP Time Capsule is one of the first standalone plugins to offer incremental backups. It is a free plugin with a Pro version coming soon. This plugin works with Dropbox’s revision history to create and restore versions of your site. You hookup your DropBox account and the backups are made behind the scenes. The pro version will include:

  • Auto backup, which saves every change on your site automatically
  • Roll Back, which reverts your site automatically if anything breaks
  • and Staging, which allows you to create a separate staging site.

If InfiniteWP rolled this new plugin into their existing platform, they would have a game-changing product.

ManageWP - OrionManageWP is releasing a new version of their software, called Orion, in the (hopefully) not too distant future. Part of their new platform is incremental backup functionality. They are addressing the problems mentioned above such as using less server resources and having a more reliable backup solution.

The downside is this will only be part of their ManageWP platform once it is released to the public. There will be no standalone plugin you can use like WP Time Capsule.

VersionPress - Not Exactly Incremental BackupsVersionPress is a plugin that uses Git to record each change you make to your site. Positioned more as a developer product (rather than consumer friendly), VersionPress will require a bit more setup and knowledge of Git to be used. This is a premium plugin starting at $50, but does incorporate a lot of the functionality that makes incremental backups great.

Conclusion

I love that more companies are focusing on incremental backups and the many advantages they possess. Backups on WordPress have always been unreliable and difficult to restore. Incremental backups solve these issues and make WordPress an even better option for businesses that rely on their website. The best option to start trying right now is WP Time Capsule as it is a free plugin and easy to setup to get your feet wet with incremental backups.  Do you have any experiences with incremental backups or do you plan on switching from a traditional backup solution like BackupBuddy?