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If WordPress 5.0 broke your site, here’s how to fix it.

WordPress 5.0 is launching tomorrow, and the internet is likely to be flooded with searches for this question when many people update to WordPress 5.0. Some users will be unable to edit pages that they have made, and others will be unable to even access their edit screen. There may even be 500 errors or white screens for some users. These issues will mostly effect WordPress sites running older or unsupported themes or plugins, but may affect some brand-new sites as well.

The process for fixing these errors is well known among WordPress developers, but for the many people who use WordPress as a tool and not a livelihood, this can be a major issue, and there isn’t currently a clear source for information on remediating the issue.

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So, in order to make things simpler for these users, I’ve compiled a simple set of steps to get your site back up and running:

Step 1: Install the Classic Editor plugin

Installing and configuring the Classic Editor plugin is the first and most important debugging step for problems with WordPress 5.0. The Classic Editor plugin will restore the editing experience from WordPress 4.x.

  1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard at https://<your domain.here>/wp-admin
  2. Go to the Plugins section of the left-hand menu
  3. Click the “add new” button at the top
  4. Search for “Classic Editor” on the right-hand side
  5. Click “Install Now” on the card related to Classic Editor (By WordPress Contributors)
  6. When the installation completes, click “Activate”
  7. Go to the “Settings” section of the Dashboard’s left-hand menu, and open the “Writing Settings” link that appears.
  8. Ensure that “Replace the Gutenberg Editor with the Classic editor.” is selected.
  9. Check to make sure that you do NOT have the Gutenberg Plugin installed. If so, deactivate and uninstall the plugin.

Completing this step should be enough to get your site functional for now.

If for any reason, the Classic Editor plugin fails to resolve your issues, you may want to consider migrating to ClassicPress, which is a fork of WordPress that is fully compatible with WordPress themes and plugins but will not be integrating the new Block-based editor (Gutenberg). It’s still in beta but is nonetheless completely stable. Migrating to ClassicPress is fairly painless, using their migration plugin.

Some users may want to stay here, once their site is stable with an interface they are familiar with, but others will want to be able to use the new Block-based editor on their site. If you wish to continue, read on.

Step 2: Set up a Test Site

Getting the new Gutenberg editor working with an older site may take a significant amount of playing around with settings, plugins, and themes. None of this should happen on your live site, as it will put your site at risk. Instead, you need a test site (sometimes called a staging site) to do your work on.

Some WordPress hosts make this easy, by offering you a one-click staging option. If so, use this to push your site to staging. If not, you can easily set up a locally hosted site using Local by Flywheel, by following these instructions.

On your new test environment, you’ll deactivate the classic editor plugin, and continue onwards to repair compatibility issues.

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Once you have tested all changes on your new local environment and everything is working properly, you can copy your repaired wp-contents directory back to your live site.

Step 3: Update Plugins and Themes

If you are incredibly lucky, all the incompatibilities between your site and WordPress 5.0 may be the result of older plugins and themes whose authors have already released updates. Updating all plugins and themes is critical to achieving full compatibility with Gutenberg.

If you are using Pro themes or plugins whose license has lapsed, you may need to purchase new licenses to receive the latest update. If, after purchasing, you still find incompatibility issues, you should bring them up with the plugin or theme’s author.

If you have made modifications to your theme since downloading or purchasing it, you will need to move those changes to a child theme, before updating your theme. Otherwise, your changes will be overwritten when the update occurs. When you switch themes to the child theme, your customizer settings will not automatically carry over to the new child theme. This plugin will allow you to export your customizer settings from the parent theme, and import them into the child theme.

If, after updating, your theme and/or plugins are still not compatible with WordPress 5.0, you will need to install the Classic Editor plugin, until new versions are released.

Step 4: Fixing Custom Code and Structures

There are many potential causes for incompatibilities with WordPress 5.0, but here is a list of some of the simpler ones to diagnose:

  1. My Custom Taxonomies are Missing
    For custom taxonomies to show up in Gutenberg (the new WordPress 5.0 editor), the “show_in_rest” attribute needs to be set to true.
  2. I have a lot of categories/tags/terms, and some are missing from the editor interface.
    This is so far unconfirmed, but sites with over 100 terms in a taxonomy may only be seeing the first 100, due to limits in the REST API. This isn’t yet slated for a repair, as the bug has not yet been confirmed, but you will likely need to use the classic editor plugin until it is resolved.
  3. My ACF field groups are all visible, regardless of visibility settings
    This is a known issue with 5.0.0, and is scheduled to be addressed within 2 weeks, with WordPress 5.0.1. Use the Classic Editor plugin until then.
  4. I can’t add new images to my existing posts. The images just appear at the top of the post
    This is a known issue with 5.0.0, and is scheduled to be addressed within 2 weeks, with WordPress 5.0.1. Convert the post to blocks, or use the Classic Editor plugin until then.
  5. Link settings do not save when edited on existing posts
    This is a known issue with 5.0.0, and is scheduled to be addressed within 2 weeks, with WordPress 5.0.1. Convert the post to blocks, or use the Classic Editor plugin until then.
  6. The jQuery events bound to my custom metaboxes aren’t firing
    You will need to rework these events to use event delegation, as the metafields are now added after page load.
  7. The post/page edit page is blank
    Check any security plugins or custom code to see if the REST API has been disabled on your site. WP REST is a requirement for the new editor, so you will have to re-enable it. Also, if you disable JavaScript on your browser for security reasons, you will now need to re-enable it on your WordPress admin. Unlike most sections of the WordPress admin panel, the new block editor has no fallback for non-javascript use.
  8. My custom TinyMCE extensions are missing
    These extensions will only function within the “classic block”. If they are missing from there as well, it is likely caused by a change in how TinyMCE is instantiated in WordPress 5.0. The functionality of the tinymce_before_init filter has not been fully verified yet with the classic block, but that should be your path to attaching new tinymce plugins, until we are told otherwise.

This is an incomplete list of issues, and certainly doesn’t encompass anywhere near all the breaking changes found in WordPress 5.0. If you find new incompatibilities, please note them in the comments below, and I will verify them and add them to the list.

Step 5: Get Professional Help

If you can’t resolve the issues with your site yourself, and aren’t content with the Classic Editor as a solution, reach out to a local, reputable WordPress developer or agency for assistance. Yes, it will cost you money, but your results may be a lot better than trying to patch together a solution yourself.

If you don’t know a local dev shop, or don’t trust the local guys with your site, feel free to reach out to bytes.co (disclaimer, this is my day job). We manage over 300 WordPress clients and solve tricky integration issues every day. And hey, if you like my blog, you’ll love my team of developers. </shill>

Step 6: Report Bugs and Publicize Your Experience

If you are having issues with the WordPress 5.0 release, the core team needs to know about it, even if it has already been posted. Prioritization of resources in bugfixes will be partially based on demand, so make sure to report any issues you have on wordpress.org’s trac system, or by issues on the block editor’s Github page, or via comments on the WordPress.org blog, and by writing blog posts on your own website, or even just by tweeting @wordpress.

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Your voices are important to the future of WordPress as a community, not only in getting fixes in place for the issues you experience but also in helping to shape a future release process that better meets the needs of the entire WordPress community.

 

 


and, before you ask… no, this post was not written with Gutenberg.

8 Comments

  1. Some random dude's profile image.
    Some random dude says:

    Small note: Please provide clickable links to WordPress trac, WordPress.org blog, WordPress.org Gutenberg support area, Gutenberg Github, thanks.

  2. Charles's profile image.

    “If for any reason, the Classic Editor plugin fails to resolve your issues”

    That RIGHT THERE is the scary part. The way 5.0 has been hyped -practically GUARANTEED – is that the Classic Editor is the 100% answer towards resolving any issues with the new code being introduced in 5.0x. Thats been repeated ad nauseum starting with 4.9X a couple of months ago, through three 6 5.0 betas and RCs, to the official release right now.

    Phrasing like the above makes me think NOBODY knows if the classic editor is REALLY going to negate all the Gutencrap code everyone is so afraid of, and that just compounds the fear.

    • gschoppe's profile image.

      Hi Charles,

      You’re right that Classic Editor has been used as a cop-out by the Gutenberg team, in a manner that assumes all other parts of the site will work fine. Most notably, I know that an incompatible version of wp.hooks has been incorporated into the 5.0 branch, that breaks plugins such as FacetWP. I have no confirmation at this time that Classic Editor prevents the wp.hooks functionality from being loaded by 5.0

      • Luke Cavanagh's profile image.
        Luke Cavanagh says:

        If you have the Gutenberg plugin active still on a WordPress 5.0 site as well as the Classic Editor plugin and the Classic Editor set as the default editor, Gutenberg is still going to be the default editor. So customers are going to run into not making sure that the Gutenberg plugin is deactivated.

    • gschoppe's profile image.

      if you can’t access your dashboard at all, your issue might be cache or plugin related. try clearing any caches provided by your host or DNS provider, then if the problem persists, ftp into your site and rename the plugins directory to `plugins-bak` in extreme cases, you may even need to rename your theme folder similarly to get WordPress to stop loading any custom code. Once this is done, you should be able to log in. Then you can start re-adding your plugins one at a time, until you run into an error, and finally reset to your original theme. this will let you either get fully back up and running, or it will at least show you which part of your site is causing the error, so you can work with their support team to get back up and running.

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