WordPress 5.6 Troubles: Will Your Website Break in December 2020?

4-min read

Learn more about how WordPress 5.6 update might break your website from the jQuery Migrate Plugin.

It’s no secret, I love WordPress. The simple to navigate interface, features for easy content adjustments, and many more website development qualities to turn your website into a lead-generating machine. But will WordPress 5.6 break your website? Continue reading to learn more about WordPress 5.6 troubles that might impact your site’s performance.

Brief History of WordPress 5.5

WordPress 5.5 rolled out earlier this year in August and shortly after, the update broke millions of websites. Simply put, this is due to sites running a plugin or theme that has outdated code. WordPress 5.5 outdated plugins or themes will no longer function properly and since the outdated code is no longer supported by WordPress, it might break your website.

I have told clients time and time again to never use templates or fill a site too heavily with plugins. This is because developers all over the world create templates, themes, and plugins and if they don’t update them regularly, then they will phase out and become ultimately un-useable. In a worse-case scenario, the plugins could even break your WordPress site.

representing wordpress 5.6

The Root of the Issue

If you didn’t already know, technology is evolving faster than the human race. So, breaks in websites built around plugins, themes, and templates do not come as any surprise to me. But at the same time, you need to learn how it will impact you come December. Thankfully, the WordPress development team has pinpointed the exact plugin that has capability issues with WordPress 5.6.

It’s called jQuery Migrate Plugin and all of those websites who still depend on jQuery in December will experience breaks and issues occurring on their website. jQuery is a set of scripts that gives websites the ability to have animation, interactive elements and makes creating more plugins easier. Sounds fine right? Think again.

Why jQuery is No Longer Supported

Older versions of this problematic plugin contain Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and Denial of Service (DoS). This is bad news bears for your website because XSS is a code vulnerability that allows for an attacker to inject malicious client-side scripts into the webpage. When you land on one of these pages, you are bringing in the malicious code thus downloading malware causing your personal information and website to be in jeopardy.

The risks of DoS or DDoS attacks mean an unreachable online platform, loss of confidential data, loss of productivity such as an online portal, and reputation damage of a brand. In other words, there is no question that XSS and DoS are not useful for a growing business, it actually comes with some serious consequences.

Let’s Learn from the Past

One of the goals of WordPress 5.5 was to modernize websites by forcing the entire ecosystem with the latest and safest(heavy emphasis there) version of jQuery. The first step in this journey was to remove the jQuery Migrate 1.xlibrary. WordPress announced this step months ahead of time, giving developers plenty of time to create different solutions… Yet WordPress 5.5 still broke websites.

It was a hard hit for many when WordPress 5.5 updated. For example, it caused many to not be able to login to their admin panel and some sites stop displaying completely. Fortunately, WordPress released a plugin called Enable jQuery Migrate Helper to restore these broken websites and it worked. Millions of websites were up and running again in no time. 

What’s the Deal with WordPress 5.6?

So, what’s the deal with WordPress 5.6? Should you be concerned that your website might break come December? WordPress 5.6 will go into phase two of modernizing the use of jQuery by updating the Migrate library to the latest version, 3.3.1. Websites are relying on the help of the Enable jQuery Migrate Helper plugin to keep them from suffering yet again, but will it still break?

Here is their official announcement:

“As part of #50564, part two of this process was committed, which updated the bundled jQuery version to 3.5.1. Alongside this, jQuery Migrate was also updated to the newer 3.3.1 version.

For the duration of WordPress 5.6, the migrate script will remain enabled by default, to capture any unexpected uses of deprecated features.

Do note that the Migrate script for version 3 is not compatible with features that the previous migrate script provided a polyfill for and features previously marked as deprecated are no longer available.” – Marius L. J., part of the WordPress Development team yesterday, (early November)

Essentially, this means that the functionality will break all over again for those sites relying on the Enable jQuery Migrate Helper plugin to keep their site up and running. Unfortunately, a WordPress plugin developer shared that the Helper plugin will still not work like the jQuery library in WordPress is planned to be upgraded and “leaving the helper useless”.

Will it Affect Your Site?

Many developers updated the software on their end to the latest version of jQuery and fixed the issue. It’s a shared belief that users of those products will likely see their sites working as normal. If you have a professional developer who is on top of the software updates, then don’t sweat WordPress 5.6.

However, if you don’t, will this impact your site? Yes, only if you’re currently using the Enable jQuery Migrate Helper plugin and have experienced error messages when logged into your admin panel. On the other hand, if the Enable jQuery Migrate Helper isn’t showing any errors, then your website should function as normal.

Key Takeaways:

  • Update the Enable jQuery Migrate Helper as soon as you can
  • Look out for any errors appearing on your WordPress admin panel
  • Refrain from using cheap, inexperienced developers because you want a website quickly
  • Refrain from using templates, plugins, and themes as much as you can and only use them if they give value to your site safely
  • Stay informed about any more official updates from the WordPress Development team
  • Have your developer or IT department be mindful of this article and any more updates to WordPress

Do you have any questions about the WordPress 5.6 update? Let me know in the comments.

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