WordPress 5.5 rolled in August 2020 and soon after millions of websites across the Internet broke. Get ready because WordPress 5.6 has the potential to do the same thing.
One of the WordPress developers behind the jQuery Migrate Plugin said in a support thread that the plugin would become “useless” once 5.6 rolls out. Anyone still depending on it in December will experience the rubber bands snapping off their sites all over again.
Why WordPress 5.5 Broke Websites
WordPress is on a planned three phase modernization of the use of jQuery. jQuery is a set of scripts that gives websites functionality like animation, provides interactive elements to web pages, makes creating plugins and themes easier because it handles features common to websites and manipulate CSS with it.
Older versions of jQuery are still being used in many plugins and themes. Older jQuery libraries contain Cross Site Scripting (XSS) and Denial of Service (DoS) vulnerabilities, which can be dangerous for websites.
WordPress 5.5 was the first step toward modernizing WordPress by forcing the entire WordPress ecosystem to update their code and get on board with the latest and safest version of jQuery.
The first step of the journey was to remove the jQuery Migrate 1.x library.
jQuery Migrate is code that allows a website with plugins that use older versions of jQuery to continue functioning. It makes a WordPress site backward compatible with plugins and themes that still use older jQuery scripts.
WordPress announced these steps months ahead of time. Plugin and theme developers had ample warning that jQuery would be removed, giving them plenty of time to update their software.
When WordPress released version 5.5 in August 2020, millions of websites stopped working as they should. Some people were locked out of their sites and couldn’t log into their admin panel. Other publishers saw their entire sites stop displaying entirely.
WordPress released a plugin called, Enable jQuery Migrate Helper to restore all the broken websites. Millions of websites were restored and kept working like normal.
Why WordPress 5.6 Might Break Some Sites
WordPress 5.6 will roll out step two of modernizing the use of jQuery by updating the jQuery Migrate library to the latest version, 3.3.1.
The effect of doing that is that sites that are relying on the “Enable jQuery Migrate Helper” to keep their sites from falling apart are going to suffer all over again.
According to the official announcement:
“The first step was included with WordPress 5.5, which stopped enabling jQuery Migrate version 1.x by default.
As part of… part two of this process… which updated the bundled jQuery version to 3.5.1. Alongside this, jQuery Migrate was also updated to the newer 3.3.1 version.
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.”
That means that functionality will break all over again for sites still relying on the Enable jQuery Migrate Helper plugin to keep their site functioning.
In a WordPress Enable jQuery Migrate Helper plugin support forum, someone asked if the Enable jQuery Migrate Helper plugin will still keep working with WordPress 5.6
“When the WordPress 5.6 update arrives, will Enable jQuery Migrate Helper still work?”
The WordPress plugin developer answered:
“So the short of it is that no, it will not help once WordPress 5.6 comes around, as the jQuery library in WordPress is planned to be upgraded, and that would leave this helper useless…”
Many plugin and theme developers updated their software to the latest version of jQuery and fixed the problem. Users of those products should have no problem.
But there are many themes and plugins that are no longer being maintained and there may be others who have not yet updated their code. Users of those products will likely see their sites top working.
Will WordPress 5.6 Break Your Site?
If you’re currently using the Enable jQuery Migrate Helper plugin and when logged into your admin panel you see error messages, then yes, you may experience unexpected website behavior when WordPress updates to version 5.6.
On the other hand, if the Enable jQuery Migrate Helper isn’t reporting any errors that means your themes and plugins have updated their jQuery libraries and the site should function well.