Last updated - July 8, 2021
If you have a WordPress website, you know updates are an important part of the WordPress ecosystem. You will see new updates coming pretty regularly with several bug fixes and feature additions. Some of these updates are really important and you may not want to ignore them. WordPress 5.5 is one such version, where a lot of major changes are introduced. In this article, we will look into WordPress 5.5 version, and try to understand the major improvements and challenges.
You will find some interesting features to boost your overall site performance with this update.
Lazy loading of images
Lazy loading is a feature that will help a lot in improving page load speed and site performance. With lazy loading, images on your site will wait to load until the user scrolls close to them so they are about to come into view.
Also, for mobiles, lazy loading will prevent browsers from loading images meant for other devices. This could be another user friendly feature as only less data will be consumed of the user.
Your SEO efforts could get a boost with this WordPress version update.
Generally, WordPress helps you in making sites popular with search engines. With WordPress 5.5, there will be a new XML Sitemap that will help search engines to discover important pages on your site ‘right from the word go’. This would mean a faster reach for your website to the target audience and more time to convert users into customers or subscribers.
Plugins and themes
Managing plugins and themes are quite an essential part of a WordPress site owner’s routine. Let us see how this update is going to make a difference in that department.
Automatic updates for plugins and themes
With WordPress 5.5, you will get the option to choose whether you want to update plugins and themes automatically or not. Basically, if you want to keep your plugins and themes updated always, you can turn this option on. You can keep the auto update option on for individual plugins or themes, or for all. On the other hand, you can also choose to manually install new updates as well.
Manually update with zip files
WordPress 5.5 has made manual updating of plugins and themes easier too. All you have to do is upload a zip file to initiate the update manually.
The most important changes that you will see with this WordPress update will be in the Gutenberg block editor.
Block patterns are one of the major highlights of WordPress 5.5. These patterns will help you create visually appealing layouts combining text and media. You will be able to express your stories in a more effective manner thanks to this.
Inline image editing
If you generally, spend a lot of time on image editing, the new WordPress version has something interesting for you. You will be able to crop images right from the image block itself. You can also rotate and zoom images from the image block as well. Overall, this could be a great help in saving time while editing images on WordPress.
New Block Directory
Finding the right block that you are looking for won’t be a difficult process anymore. In the latest version of WordPress, the block directory is incorporated into the block editor. This means that you will be able to install new block types on your site without needing to leave the editor.
Visual improvements to the block editor
After the update, the block editor overall looks more attractive and accessible. For example, the ‘Add block’ option has become more pronounced with a black background. Similarly, borders and highlighting are made more accessible.
Better block navigation
Block editor had posed some general difficulties to users while using child elements inside a parent block. With this update, selecting a parent block or the child element inside it is much more smoother. You can also move blocks by drag and drop mode as well.
There are some changes to make the WordPress experience more accessible too. These include:
- Option to copy links in media screens and modal dialogs with the help of a button, where in earlier versions, a line of text needed to be highlighted.
- Can move meta boxes with the keyboard.
- Assistive devices will be able to read instructions in the image editor and edit images.
Developer level changes
Apart from improving the general user experience, you will find several developer-level changes also with WordPress 5.5. Here, we will take a look at some of these changes as well.
Server-side registered blocks in the REST API
There is a major update in the Dashicon library with WordPress 5.5. This update newly adds 39 block editor icons.
This WordPress update standardizes the process of defining a site’s environment type. You will be able to define the environment types, such as staging or production, and execute commands specific to that type. This update allows you to retrieve an environment type using the code
Please note, after WordPress 5.5.1, it won’t be possible to override possible environment types. You can find more details here.
Passing data to template files
With this WordPress update, you can pass data more effectively into template files. A new $args argument helps to improve the template loading functions (
get_header(), get_template_part(), etc.). This argument will help to add data worth a complete array into a template.
PHPMailer library update
This will help developers to get more fine-grained control of redirect_guess_404_permalink().
For sites that use PHP’s OPcache, there will be more reliable cache invalidation. This is due to the new
wp_opcache_invalidate() function during updates (including to plugins and themes).
Custom post types
Default terms can now be specified for custom taxonomies in
Custom post types associated with the category taxonomy can now opt-in to supporting the default term.
Default metadata values
The REST API now officially supports specifying default metadata values through
Updated versions of bundled libraries
You will find updated versions of these bundled libraries: SimplePie, Masonry, Twemoji, getID3, imagesLoaded, Moment.js, and clipboard.js.
WordPress 5.5 Issues
As more users updated to WordPress 5.5, some issues too were reported. In this section, we will look into some of the major issues that were reported after the update.
Classic Editor plugin problems
Since Gutenberg editor has come into being, a lot of discussion happened around how user friendly it is. However, a lot of users were still not ready to let go of the classic editor that they had been using for long. Proof for this is the great popularity of the Classic Editor plugin that has huge popularity in the WordPress plugin repository.
After the WordPress 5.5 update, many users reported problems with the Visual Editor mode of the Classic Editor. This could be a problem for content creators who continued to use the Classic Editor even after the introduction and acceptance of Gutenberg.
General plugin and theme problems with jQuery Migrate turning off
User experience issues
There were reports on issues with pagination for many users after the WordPress 5.5 update. Basically, it created problems for sites with themes that were using the word ‘page’ with additional non numerical values. However, it can be overcome with the help of some workarounds. Another reported issues was the troubles related to featured images after WordPress 5.5 update.
As we have discussed above, WordPress 5.5 has introduced new XML sitemaps. Apparently, many users reported a bug, which was creating wrong sitemap pages. This issue has been reported specifically from sites that were using native WordPress sitemaps and those sites that needed more than one XML sitemaps.
Several of these problems were already addressed as the new WordPress 5.5.1 is already available. We will look into the bug fixes that were done with this update a little later in the article.
How to fix WordPress 5.5 issues?
After updating to WordPress 5.5, several users reported of broken websites. Here is a quick look at how you can avoid issues, and also how to fix them.
This is a plugin developed by WordPress development team that will help you deal with the problem associated with turning jQuery Migrate off temporarily. It will enable the migration script, which will provide more time for plugin developers to update their code. Please note that this is not a permanent solution and only provides more time to make changes. There will be warning messages on the WordPress admin reminding you of the deprecated code that is being used in your plugins or themes.
Downgrading WordPress version
Another solution that you can try out if WordPress 5.5 is giving you troubles, is to downgrade the WordPress version. There is an option to manually download the desired stable version zip code, and then upload it through FTP. However, this could be a complicated step for most users. In that scenario, using a plugin would be more advisable.
This plugin will help you go back to a previous WordPress version, if the current version is causing issues. You can install this plugin, which will automatically detect the WordPress version that is currently installed. Then, you can specify the version that you want to go back to in the designated field. This will be a good option, if you need to keep on using the older version for a while.
The plugin also allows you to edit the download link manually if needed. This will allow you to get the release from another source, or change the language of WordPress core.
Update plugins and themes showing warning messages
You need to update all your plugins and themes into their latest versions. Once you have updated all the plugins and themes with their latest versions, and if there are no more warning messages, you can disable the JQuery Migrate plugin, and install WordPress 5.5.
If a plugin or theme is displaying the warning message even with its latest version, you may have to contact the developers and request them for an update. If they are not updated, you may have to discontinue using those plugins or tools.
Check your PHP version
If your site is running on an older PHP version, it could create problems for your website after the update. You can update PHP into a latest version to resolve this issue. You may have to contact your hosting service provider to mange this.
How plugin and theme developers can test for version updates?
If you are a plugin or theme developer, you can use the following plugin to test it to see the functioning with the update.
Test jQuery Updates plugin will help you test different versions of jQuery and jQuery UI before updating them in WordPress. The plugin is developed by WordPress team, and should be used in a testing environment. You can also report bugs in the jQuery script, if you find any.
WordPress 5.5.1 – Bug fixes and new features
Here is a list of all the bug fixes and feature enhancements that you will get with WordPress 5.5.1.
- Content attribution issue when deleting users in bulk – One of the reported issues after WordPress 5.5 was related to content attribution when multiple users were deleted in a bulk action. This bug has been fixed.
- Issue with the bulk action menu at the bottom of ‘Posts’ section is fixed.
- Comments issue when replying to an individual user is corrected.
- Extra padding below the admin bar is fixed.
- In the navigation menu of the block editor, the selected option was not highlighted after the 5.5 update. This has been fixed with 5.5.1.
- Another noticed issue was with button background color application. This problem has been addressed in WordPress 5.5.1.
- Description of blocks that denotes the position in tree grid had a bug where the level was incorrectly displayed.
- Another fix is related to a regression bug for category select in QueryControls component
- Hardcoded strings in block patterns are made translatable.
- Text contrast issue with some themes is fixed now.
- Some users had noticed that when certain terms where searched in the Gutenberg block directory, an error was displayed. This is fixed after the update.
- There was also a problem with tiny editor preview when using Mobile or Tablet options with metaboxes enabled. This also stands fixed after WordPress 5.5.1 release.
- In addition, a number of packages version numbers are updated.
There are several more bug fixes with WordPress 5.5.1. You can check the WordPress 5.5.1 improvements and fixes here.