Upgrading to WordPress 2.6

WordPress caught me on the hope a little bit by releasing a new version of their WordPress blogging software, and I decided to upgrade tonight. I had a couple of issues with the upgrade this time that are worth pointing out. Firstly, if you can’t login in again after the upgrade, clear your cache and your cookies, then try again. Don’t do what I did and spend ages trying to change the password in a variety of ways.

Also, if like me you use the K2 theme, you may then find your sidebars have reverted to the WordPress default. If you go into the K2 options, don’t change anything, then click save, this restored them to how they were before for me.

New look for the site using the K2 theme – Stage 1

And there we go, a new look! I’ve been meaning to get into the nuts and bolts of the site a bit more, and have used the K2 theme for WordPress to give me a building block to work from. One of the nice features of K2 is that you can write your own styles for it, so you can keep the basics built by them, and then start to mould it how you like. What’s more, you can revert back to their style if you don’t like it.

What I’ve been using to assist me today is a fantastic article on Customising K2 by Paul Stamatiou (which was mentioned recently by the ever-inspiring Lorelle). I’ve had problems working with K2 in the past, but this really helped me get what I wanted working. I’ve now got a nice little set of images that rotate as the header, and a bit more idea of how it all fits together. There are 5 articles in Paul’s series on K2, so I will certainly be reading the rest of them.

My aim now for Stage 2 is to develop my own style a little more, make this blog look a bit more unique than just a different header. I haven’t got it quite clear in my mind yet, but I now think I’ve got the building blocks in place to work with what I’ve set up today.

Issues in K2 theme with Sidebar Modules

The K2 theme is one of the more popular WordPress themes, and I’ve used it in various guises on several different blogs. However recently it has been causing issues with its own Sidebar modules, giving quite random behaviour, some will work, some don’t work at all, and some when placed in the middle of the sidebar will wipe out working ones under it. So it is about time I got it sorted out. Some investigation on the K2 Forums suggested that the latest builds has fixed this, so I decided to try it out.

This was the process I used to fix it:

  • I downloaded the latest nightly build of K2. The one that worked for me was revision 323. Once they release their next full version, I would suggest using that instead (I was on 0.95rc1, which I had installed after 0.91 to try and fix the sidebars issue).
  • I changed the theme on my blog to the default one for now. I’ve had issues in the past with making changes with K2 live, so better to be safe than sorry.
  • I unzipped the K2 files, then logged onto my server. I renamed the directory with the existing version of K2 to K2old. There are a couple of reasons for this, one of which is that if things go wrong, or I just don’t like the new version, I can change back to the old version in a click. Both version will be selectable in the themes section of WordPress once I’m done now. I copied the new version over, and went into k2/images/ to chmod to 777 the headers directory. This allows you to upload new header images for K2 within the admin interface. If you have any old images in the previous version of the theme, now is the time to copy them over as well. This was the other reason for not deleting the old version.
  • I could now go to K2 Sidebar Modules, add new modules, and they show up fine on the site.

Job done!

I killed my WordPress blog, and lived to fight another day

So it was late. It was the wrong time of night to be playing with those sorts of options. And I compounded my error with the classic mistake of “oh, it’s a little change, I won’t need a backup”. Let both of those mistakes be lessons I learn.

So what happened? Well, I have a couple of other blogs with the WordPress theme K2 on them (this is a skinned version of K2 here), and I noticed that on my main personal blog I didn’t have the same options for the sidebar. After some experimentation, I removed a conflicting plugin, then chose to upgrade the theme. I followed the instructions carefully (well apart from backing up of course), disabled the theme, and then…

Nothing. Nothing at all. The whole site was blank. No posts, no admin, no error messages, just a blank screen for every URL. Really not good at all. So what did I do? Panicked of course.

After a good five minutes of quality panic, I decided to have a look at my database. It was there for starters, which was a very good thing. Then it struck me, there must be an options table for WordPress. And there is, wp_options by default. In there is an entry for theme. So as a last chance, I altered it back to K2 from default. And it worked, I could see the blog once more, and could sort out things from there.

Now, I wouldn’t recommend altering tables like this by hand. It was a qualified guess, but I got lucky. I didn’t deserve to after my other acts of stupidity, but I did. It was a handy thing to learn a bit about in case of that sort of disaster, but in this case it should never have happened, if I had backed up it would have been a lot easier to fix.

Fate also dictates that the morning after, I notice Lorelle’s great post on fixing a broken theme.