Its great when software gets updated. You get bug fixes, security patches, and cool new features. Unfortunately the downside of updating is that it can break… well everything! I had thought I had skated when I recently updated WordPress to 3.4. Well unfortunately I didn’t get entirely unscathed.
I run Thesis from diythemes which is hands down probably the best Premium WordPress theme I have used. I get the functionality and customization I want to be able to create the site I envision. What also makes them great? It took them less than a week to come out with 1.8.5 to resolve the issues that broke when I had updated to WordPress 3.4.
So read on as I go through my trauma and drama of keeping the site updated. Was it a horror fest or a simple transition?
WordPress 3.4 Woes
Like so many other bloggers I was excited and enticed by the allure of updating to version 3.4. Why? Because they touted such things as embedded twitter links! Being able to embed HTML in my image captions! So going against my own advice and testing on my sandbox – I went and updated. (At least I backed up everything just in case!)
But my woes were actually with Thesis not with WordPress itself. The update went seamlessly without any issues. I had even used my smartphone to perform the update *eek*.
My suggestion to those who haven’t updated to 3.4 yet? Make sure to do a FULL backup of everything. That and check to see if the theme you are using breaks.
Oh and good news for those running Genesis – it hasn’t presented any issues so far.
List of Changes with WordPress 3.4
You can get the full list here – its a TON of updates so have fun reading. You can read the highlights below though. I really love the Enhanced Theme Control screen now. You not only get to preview the theme you can make some basic changes/tweaks before you activate them!
Enhanced theme control
- Customize theme options before activating a new theme using Theme Customizer
- Use Theme Previewer to customize current theme without changing the front-end design
- Improved Custom Headers with flexible sizes
- Selecting Custom Header Images and Custom Background Images from Media Library Screen
- Support HTML in image captions
After I had updated WordPress – I thought that everything was OK. Until I created another post with images. The good news is they were displayed. The bad news is that they were stripped of any type of styling. They wouldn’t align on the page and the captions were stripped!
Thesis 1.8.5 to the Rescue!
Chris Pearson the coder for Thesis quickly provided an update to resolve the issues with the WordPress update. But he added a few more tidbits as well! Take a look at what was fixed/updated with this version:
From the www.diythemes.com blog post:
Our team has been working hard to ensure Thesis has the best WordPress Multisite integration in the business, and many of the changes in 1.8.5 improve on an already-awesome multisite experience. Here’s what’s new on that front:
- Fixed theme preview in WordPress 3.4 for normal and multisite installations
- Improved multisite post thumbnail handling on a wider variety of server setups
layout.csserror message in multisite that appeared (wrongly) due to certain user permissions
Next, we’ve made three small modifications that will help you keep search engines happy while providing some additional layout flexibility:
- Updated the
authormicroformat in post bylines so it passes the Google Rich Snippet Tool without any warnings
- Basic HTML tags are now allowed inside widget titles, so you have more presentational flexibility in those areas
- In previous versions, if you added a nav menu via a widget, it would display horizontally like the default nav menu. Now, menus added via widgets will display just like a normal vertical list of links, so you won’t have to waste time undoing undesirable styles.
Also, WordPress improved image captioning in version 3.4, and this affected the way Thesis displayed captions. In previous versions, we used a shortcode hack to get them to display properly, but thanks to WordPress 3.4, we no longer need that shortcode.
How to Update to Thesis 1.8.5?
I managed to do this in about 10 minutes. This is the method I perform the update and it seems to work pretty good. But you might want to test this before you perform the update. This site has an issue with the multiple widgets getting re-arranged after I update. It only takes a few minutes to fix – but it isn’t fun!
Backup your Existing Settings in Thesis
You will want to go to your Thesis -> Manage Options and click on the Download All Options button. This will create the following file type which is saved to your computer: “thesis-all-options-<current date>.dat”
The reason why you do this is so you don’t have to go into your updated install of Thesis and manually change everything again. You can easily re-import the *.dat file it creates and all of your settings will be magically reset to the way they should be!
Prep the Thesis 1.8.5 Folder
- Download the 1.8.5 Thesis zip file.
- Unzip the Contents (I unzip it to my Desktop)
- Open up your FTP program (I use Filezilla – it is free and awesome!)
- Open up the Custom Folder on both the update 1.8.5 and your current Thesis installation (mine is 1.8.4)
Copy over the following files from your EXISTING Thesis install:
- cache folder
- images folder
- rotator (if you use images in here)
Make sure you overwrite everything inside of the Thesis 1.8.5 Custom Folder when prompted. This copies over the cached thumbnails, your customizations you made in both the custom.css and custom_functions.php files.
Note: DO NOT overwrite the layout.css file inside of the custom folder!
Now upload the Thesis 1.8.5 Folder using Filezilla back to your Themes directory on your webhost (mine goes to public_html/wp_content/themes).
Update the Permissions in Thesis 1.8.5
Go into the custom folder again (on your webhost) and change the following permissions:
- cache folder – 755
- images folder – 755
- custom.css – 755
- custom_functions.php – 755
- layout.css – 666
In Filezilla its as simple as right clicking on the file and selecting File Permissions then put in the Numeric Value and clicking OK.
Review and Activate Thesis 1.8.5
Now your almost done! (Yes, it really does only take me 10 minutes to update!) Ok, so everything is uploaded onto the server. And you adjusted the Permissions. Finally you can now go into your WordPress Admin screen and click on the Appearance Screen.
Make sure to review the install to make sure that the site looks OK before you activate it now. If everything looks good – click on the Activate button and it will now be turned up live!
You will want to go to the Thesis options and click on the Big Ass Save button on both Site Options and Design Options – just in case it didn’t read everything during activation (frustrating I know).
Upload Your Site Options Back to Thesis
Finally you can re-upload that *.dat file that you downloaded under the Manage Options screen. Or you can manually go into the Thesis options and tweak the settings by hand.
This is where I did get a weird glitch where all of my widgets were mysteriously re-arranged. It was (thankfully) a simple fix to get everything back to normal.
Now go and look at your website and make sure nothing else broke after the update.
The other downfall of updating WordPress? Plugin issues. This is another reason why I highly suggest having a sandbox or a copy of your site that you can safely break to test updates such as this. For me I’ve been having problems with W3 Total Cache, WP Touch, and Digg Digg.
Now for me – this is more related specifically to my site and not directly related to the WordPress update. But they made themselves known once I upgraded. So I had to perform some tweaks and actually had to disable WP Touch until I can figure it out.
Hopefully all of you folks haven’t had to go through the same pains I went through! But if you make sure you test before you update – you will avoid a TON of issues!
I do love Thesis but updating I have realized after writing this is a major pain in the butt. Although it only takes me 10 minutes to perform the actual update. I can’t imagine how long for users who are new to WordPress and Thesis would manage. Hopefully Chris Pearson will figure out a better installation method.
Leave a comment below with on what you think about the new WordPress update and if you had any issues with updating your own sites!