WordPress 5.5 Breaking Plugins and Themes

On August 11th, WordPress Version 5.5 “Eckstine” was rolled out for websites powered by the world’s most popular content management system.

Over 10,000 websites have been updated, however; many of them are breaking after making the change.

One of the major reasons for this bug is essentially deprecated support for the Javascript “jQuery Migrate” Library. Let’s cover the significance of this library in the context of WordPress websites, the reasons for this bug, and the fixes that can resolve this problem.

jQuery Migrate

JavaScript is the main programming language responsible for many site functionalities and features. From simple functions such as drop-down menus to complex features such as single page Web-Apps, JavaScript makes sure everything runs in a streamlined and smooth manner. It has been adopted in different flavors, frameworks, and libraries. One such JavaScript library is jQuery Migrate.

jQuery Migrate’s core functionality is to provide support for older versions of code to allow it to function normally on WordPress. With each update, many of the older features become redundant and are discontinued. For example, a WordPress theme that may have worked with an older version of JavaScript may have issues on a newer version of WordPress that uses an updated Javascript library. jQuery Migrate’s job is to ensure that older WordPress themes and plugins continue to function with code that may no longer be fully supported.

The jQuery Migrate library was not shipped with version 5.5 of WordPress. This has caused compatibility issues to spring up, and numerous sites to break down.

WordPress 5.5 Update Issues

Over the past two weeks, numerous users have posted their problems and technical difficulties on the WordPress and Stack Overflow forums. As expected, many of these problems are linked with Javascript compatibility issues due to the version 5.5 update.

The bug seems to disturb a wide range of functionalities and features. One user reported that their embedded Youtube videos have stopped working altogether after the update. While another user reported that their site was not available after the update at all. Some popular plugins also seem to be affected and many older themes seem to be teeming with compatibility issues. One thing is certain, these sites are being riddled with WordPress Javascript errors.

Namely, the WPBakery Page Builder and Yoast seem to be generating most of the frustration. The WP admin panel has also been reportedly broken for a significant number of users.  Unfortunately, many websites will need to remove the WPBakery page builder altogether which will destroy the website’s layout and look.  We’re updating sites to use Divi Builder – the world’s most popular wordpress theme.  Let’s see how users can fix WordPress site.

WordPress.org Response

Fortunately, WordPress has been very receptive and cooperative in light of all these issues. They have been able to come up with a workaround that claims to temporarily fix jQuery Migrate Bug associated with the update. According to WordPress officials, the jQuery Migrate Helper needs to be installed and enabled. The plugin’s description on Github highlights the issue and the fix very clearly.

“With the update to WordPress 5.5, a migration tool known as jQuery-migrate will no longer be enabled by default. This may lead to unexpected behaviors in some themes or plugins who run older code. This plugin serves as a temporary solution, enabling the migration script for your site to give your plugin and theme authors some more time to update, and test their code.”

Enabling this plugin has proved to be very helpful for a lot of users. It does what jQuery Migrate originally did. It enables support for old JavaScript code that uses deprecated functions in the jQuery JavaScript Library. The plugin also displays warnings that notify users about these functions and whether their theme is using them or not. These warnings can be checked by looking at notifications that are displayed on any page in wp-admin where potential errors have been detected.
According to WordPress support, if these warnings are displayed, the theme or plugin that originally generated them should be promptly updated. The warnings will disappear and it will be safe to disable the jQuery Migrate Helper plugin once plugins and themes causing trouble are updated to use up-to-date Javascript code.

Since this is a temporary solution, there are better alternatives present.

Another Alternative

Since such plugins are outdated and require support for their deprecated functions, they can evolve into security risks. It is always better to invest in a plugin that is new and frequently maintained. Keeping WordPress plugins up to date is one of the best ways to avoid running into an issue that affects your entire site and keep your WordPress site as secure as possible. If your theme is also facing compatibility issues, it might be a good idea to opt for a site redesign with a modern theme.

In Conclusion

While WordPress has been quick to respond with their fix, many users are disgruntled after this update. Version 5.5 has been called a “disaster” by a lot of frustrated users. Even now, the forums are being populated with issues, rollback requests, and rants. This issue is being covered throughout the internet, and WordPress is facing a lot of criticism for their short-sightedness and lack of prior testing. Boston Web Group is aware of the issues caused by updating WordPress to version 5.5 and is happy to help implement fixes so you can get your site back up as quickly as possible if you experience any issues.