WordPress 4.1 Features and Updating

WordPress 4.1 was released late last week.  This version, named “Dinah” in honor of jazz singer Dinah Washington, is a major new release.  I’ve updated four WordPress sites today.  Two of them used the Graphene theme and two of them used WordPress Weaver.  None of the sites had a problem with WordPress 4.1.

This new version of WordPress has a couple of nice features.  First of all, there’s distraction free writing.  Click the button on the right side of your page or post editor (see the below image) and the sidebars magically slide away.  This leaves you better able to focus on your text.  To get the sidebars back just click on the button again.

Distraction Free Writing

The other interesting new feature gives you more control over the images in your pages and posts.  Click on the image and you’ll be able to easily align it, delete it or go into editing mode.  Edit Image

How to Update?

Because this is a major release, your WordPress installation will not update automatically.  Instead you’ll need to backup your system and then update the software.  Luckily that’s not a problem with WordPress.

Step one is to backup your system.  Step two is to update the software.  Here’s how you do both of the steps.

Easy Database Backups

I use the WP-DB-Backup plugin. It’s super easy to use and it will make a copy of your WordPress settings, posts and comments.

Backing Up Images, Themes and Plugins

If you’re technically inclined, I recommend downloading a backup of the wp-content file folder via FTP.  The folder contains your uploaded images, your WordPress theme and plugins.

Smaller sites are usually OK to update without the FTP backup.  However if your site has any of the following features, I urge you backup your site via FTP before you update your software:

  • more than a dozen active plugins
  • eCommerce functionality
  • membership functionality
  • sites with newsletter plugins
  • sites with customized or custom-coded versions of plugins
  • sites with customized or custom-coded versions of themes

Click the Update Button

Now that your system is updated you’re ready to update the software. At the top of the page you’ll see this message:

WordPress Update

Click on Please Update Now and follow the instructions.

Problems After the Update?

Most of the time the backup and update will literally take about two minutes and there will be no issues at all. In those few instances where there are problems:

  • Disable plugins one at a time to see if that clears the issue. If a plugin is incompatible with a WordPress upgrade then see if there’s an update for the plugin. If there isn’t, email the developer of the plugin and ask for help.
  • If the plugins aren’t causing the problem then the next issue to look at is the WordPress theme. Try switching to another theme to see if the problem goes away. If it does then check for a theme update.

You can also have me look at the issue. Feel free to contact me if you have problems after a WordPress upgrade.  And if you’re too busy to deal with this, I offer a WordPress upgrade/update service.

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