After few weeks of intensive development, the first Beta version of the upcoming GD Knowledge Base Pro 5.0 is ready and available for testing, representing a huge update over the previous major plugin release.
The list of new features coming in version 5.0 is very long to go through everything in a single post, but the focus of this new release are following changes: Block Editor blocks (to replace most of the shortcodes and widgets), highly improved display of the content on the front end with mostly rewritten and expanded styling, new options to control layouts, styling, and display elements.
This is a Beta release, and it might contain bugs or unfinished features! Do not use it on live websites! This version is made for testing purposes on staging or development websites only. This version requires PHP 7.0 or newer and WordPress 5.1 or newer. For Blocks, plugin requires WordPress 5.6 or newer, and for older versions, blocks will not be loaded.
The most important core change is the transition to using the latest Dev4Press Library, version 3.6 that has an improved interface, and it is overall a great choice for plugin foundation, making many things more uniform and easier to work with, not to mention using modern PHP structures and coding.
Visually, this version is a big leap from previous major versions, and almost every part of the design, display, and styling has been updated. Many new ways to customize plugins have been added
With the beginning of the transition of WordPress from the old Widgets panel to the new Widgets panel powered by block editor, it was important to either fix the widgets to properly work with a new panel or take some more time to actually create blocks to replace these widgets (and shortcodes). So, this version does exactly that (and it also fixes widgets for use with Legacy Widget block) and brings 7 blocks (for now, with more to come in the future updates).
Not every existing shortcode or widget is converted, but most are, and some might not be so important, considering that Tabs and Accordion blocks exist already in many forms, and you may already use them as blocks from various other block related plugins.
So, these blocks are not very high in the list of priorities for future updates, but there are many other things that will be made as blocks in the next major updates. Also, some blocks might change until the 5.0 stable release.
This version changes a lot of how the plugin works, and it deprecates over 100 PHP functions from the previous version and replaced those with the better-organized classes for various purposes. Most deprecated functions will continue to work for now, but some of the functions have no equivalents anymore, and the functionalities they were used for have changed.
As for the widgets and shortcodes, all of them are still available and will remain unchanged. There will be no new shortcodes and widgets added in the future, and one of the future versions will include the option to disable widgets completely.
For now, this version needs more testing, especially for websites that had customized templates, and using some of the deprecated functions. Also, any customized template should be made compatible with the new way the templates are structured so that all the new settings can be used. Also, Integration Addon for WooCommerce has not been updated yet, and it will not work with Beta #1. This addon will be updated when Beta #2 get’s released.
How to test the new Beta version:
- If you don’t have customized templates (via theme templates overrides), there is nothing to worry about, everything should work fine after upgrade (again, do not use on live websites!)
- If you have customized templates via theme, you would have to check the PHP error log to see all the deprecated messages. For now, all deprecated functions will continue to work, but will be removed in the future. Even better, make sure to update templates to match new templates.
- Make sure to go through the upgrade screen so that plugin can make settings updates and other things requiered before the plugin can be used.
- If you use WordPress 5.8 and new Block Powered widgets panel, most of the widgets in new plugin now have block equivalents, so while you will be able to see all the exiting widgets, adding new Legacy Widget is possible for fw widgets only, the rest have now blocks instead.
Please, report any issues you run into with the new Beta version. I expect to release at least one more Beta version before the stable version is released later this month. Before the new Beta version, there will be a new demo website set up live, most likely later this week.