EDIT: following update from 14th Feb 2017 – This post is now pretty old, WP did not release a fix. Scroll down to the what to do section to get a few potential solutions.
A few days ago, WordPress released WP 4.5. It includes an array of pretty neat new features like native support for a theme logo, faster refresh while working in the Customizer, a faster way of editing inline links, up 50% faster image load speeds through better compression, and a few other additions.
Like many others, I couldn’t wait to try it out. As a best practice, I NEVER update Major WordPress versions on live client sites, due to the potential of design-breaking bugs, and this was also the case with WordPress 4.5 (I think even managed WordPress hosts only update after testing major versions).
So I decided to update one of my many side-projects and test out the new version. Again, like many other, I like to use WP themes in combination with the Visual Composer plugin, as it makes creating custom designs a lot more fun, and clients LOVE it. The plugin has been a long-time favourite of mine, and is used on more than a million sites world-wide. You can imagine my surprise/horror when I found Visual Composer not displaying anything in the editor after the WP 4.5 update…
After what seemed like a 4 hour anxiety wave of mind-melting questions and possible consequences of this catastrophic situation, I managed to calm down enough to boil the issue down to a few questions/thoughts.
- Is WordPress aware and will they patch the issue?
- If they don’t, we’ll need to wait until our theme devs push their respective updates with the Visual Composer that’s compatible with 4.5.
- Then it hit me, all those sites (1+ million!?!), they’ll all break and only a fraction will actually think about updating VC. And of that fraction a LOT of them are built on outdated non-supported themes that run on customised older versions of Visual Composer (eg. they can’t even update), and those that then refuse to update to WP 4.5 will build up (at this point undiscovered) security vulnerabilities as future updates are pushed… This is going to be a HUGE MESS!
WP 4.5 & Visual Composer: The problem, & possible solutions
WordPress pushed their v4.5, breaking all older versions of Visual Composer (famous page building plugin installed on 1+million sites).
If your site runs on a theme that came with a customised version of Visual Composer (like most themes do these days), you’ll have to wait until the theme dev pushes a new version with the updated Visual Composer plugin.
If your theme dev has left the theme and is no longer supporting it, you have a massive problem and can either refuse to update WP (which leaves you open to any undiscovered security vulnerabilities in 4.5), or get a re-design done of the site that’s compatible with WP 4.5.
What to do
Though if your theme came with a customised version of VC… a few scenarios are possible.
You haven’t updated yet & have a theme that’s still pushing regular updates:
Wait until the theme dev pushes the new update that’s compatible with WP 4.5, then update! Though keep in mind that if you haven’t updated the theme in a while, part of the design might break, so factor in a few hours to fix that (this is going to be the main issue for a lot of web design agencies).
You haven’t updated yet & have an outdated theme that’s no longer pushing updates:
Either stay with WordPress 4.4.2 & make sure to double down on security (WordFence just pushed a new update with an enhanced firewall, highly recommended). Also don’t forget about Hide My Wp which hides everything WordPress related on your site, so nobody knows you’re using WordPress, very effective! Or, get a re-design done with a theme that’s compatible with WordPress 4.5 (which will either cost money, time, or both).
That’s it for now
I’ll keep this post updated if anything of note happens, or WordPress changes their minds and pushes a quick fix.
With a passion for digital marketing and web design (primarily WordPress), Matthew never stops learning! He rather reads up on new marketing strategies than binge-watch the next big NetFlix special.
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