PHP 7.3 Upgrade on Managed WordPress

For our Managed WordPress customers, official security updates for PHP 7.2 will end on November 30, 2020. If your site is currently running PHP 7.2, it will be automatically upgraded to PHP 7.3 on November 1, 2020. You can verify what PHP version your site is using in your control panel.

If your site has custom PHP code, including custom themes or plugins, you may need to modify your code to keep them compatible with the version upgrade. If you want to test this PHP update on any sites in your account, you can order a clone site to test the update and ensure everything is working well.

Our upstream provider Pressable has some more information about the automatic upgrade.

Jetpack Premium Included With Managed WordPress Hosting

Many customers have recently been inquiring about Jetpack Premium that is included as a part of our Managed WordPress Hosting (MWP). This blog post will explain a little bit more about this service and what it does.

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What is Jetpack?

The Jetpack plugin for WordPress has been around since 2011. It includes free core features for designing, securing and growing a WordPress blog.

  • Design: free themes, image tools, sidebar customization, rich content
  • Security: secure logins, brute force attack protection
  • Traffic Growth: site stats, automated social sharing, related-post content, high-speed CDN for images/fast site load times

Jetpack’s features are provided and hosted by WordPress.com, which removes any server resource usage from your Laughing Squid Hosting account. This does require you to create a WordPress.com account login if you do not already have one, but these basic features are free to use after that.

What is Jetpack Premium?

Jetpack Premium is a paid-for service from Automattic, the parent company of both WordPress.com and Jetpack. The service includes some pretty advanced security features. Imagine having your website code, themes and plugins automatically scanned every day for security malware, and if a threat is detected, you receive an email notification. And if the the threat is already a known one, having it instantly resolved. That is what Jetpack Premium actually does.

Jetpack Premium also offers unlimited backups. You can automate daily backups of your entire site with no storage limit. You can also restore or migrate your site from a backup with one click.

Jetpack Premium is also a great way to leverage your website’s growth. If you use Google Analytics, you can seamlessly integrate into the Jetpack dashboard, giving you a side-by-side comparison of both Google and Jetpack’s traffic metrics and targets. What about SEO, you ask? You can also use Jetpack Premium to preview how content looks in Google, Facebook and Twitter and get suggestions for optimizing your content for these various platforms.

Jetpack Premium also grants you access to monetize your site in the WordPress.com advertising network, and you can accept online payments through your site using various merchants like PayPal.

On its own, Jetpack Premium currently costs $9/mo. The good news is that JetPack Premium is included in all of our Managed WordPress Hosting (MWP) plans. If you are looking to enjoy the benefits mentioned above at no cost, migrate to MWP Hosting today!

Working With the New Blocks Editor in WordPress

When you are creating content in WordPress 5.0 and beyond, you will notice a new editing experience. The traditional text box is missing. There is a lot more whitespace. Less clutter and buttons than before. Let’s take a closer look at what is going on with the new Blocks editor.

Users will finally be able to build the sites they see in their imaginations.

Matt Mullenweg, Chief BBQ Taste Tester of Automattic

Built under the project name Gutenberg to replace the previous TinyMCE editor, this new block editor is now the default content editor in WordPress. The goal of Gutenberg and block editing was to simplify the WordPress experience and give users a better visual representation of what content will look like before they publish.

What are blocks?

Blocks are containers for organizing the information on your webpage. For example, when you create a new blog post, the post creation screen first displays a rectangular ‘Add title’ box. Whatever you type in here will be the blog post title.

You can add additional content blocks by clicking the plus sign (+) inline, or in the header, as shown below:

Blocks can be any sort of content: headers or paragraphs, lists or quotations, images or video. Just click the plus sign and the various block options become available for selection:

For whatever content block type you have chosen, there are also additional settings available for adjustment in the right-hand column to further tweak a particular block.

If you are really feeling your inner writing mojo, you can open up the screen whitespace even further with some settings in the upper right-hand corner:

  • toggle the gear icon to collapse the Settings column
  • click the three dots icon and select Fullscreen Mode
Fullscreen canvas.

Blocks can be moved up/down easily via a directional arrow, edited, or altogether removed. On the whole, the experience is quite nice for composing blog posts easily and for editing. Block editing affords a reasonable feeling of page control over the old editor.

Adding images and sorting content order are a cinch.

How does the new editor affect old posts?

The new editor will NOT upgrade old posts to blocks automatically. Only newly-created posts are blocks by default. If you go back in time and edit any older content not created with the Gutenberg editor, you will have the option of converting the post content to blocks. It is probably a good idea to first backup your WordPress before any tinkering with archived content to avoid any unforeseen problems.

Can you still use the old editor?

For WordPress versions 5.0 and beyond, you can install the Classic Editor plugin to continue blogging with the old editor. It will be supported by WordPress until 2022.

There are a lot of video and blog tutorials available for learning the new WordPress editor. But the best bet might be to launch a new post and just play around with the blocks and see how simple the blogging future will be in WordPress.