I have taken a leap and performed an upgrade of my blog to WordPress 2.3. I wish I could say everything was rosy but unfortunately it wasn’t so. Even with proper preparation and investigation and research there were several things worth noting.

This post is to provide my personal account and perhaps help other people overcome lost functionality due to UTW being discontinued as well as few other things.

My blog was heavily using Ultimate Warrior Tags for presenting multiple functions and was one of the main reasons for delay in upgrading as basic tags function included in [tag-tec]WordPress 2.3[/tag-tec] was simply failing to deliver a solid replacement. So this post would be to discuss how to upgrade blog and still retain functionality lost while keeping all the new features.

Preparation for Upgrade.

Perhaps the most important step in entire process. For me it included following things:

  1. Get a complete backup of my wp-content directory and my complete database. Those 2 locations are the ones that hold all my modifications and personalization.
  2. Download in one location latest version of WordPress (v. 2.3) and update to EVERY plugin my blog uses that had an update. Unzip all files into their respective directories to simplify upload. Check and verify that plugins I use on compatibility list. UTW wasn’t and had to be replaced, as well as all functionality it provided. I’ll cover it more later.
  3. Check site of my theme author and get whatever updates he provided.
  4. Record all settings for my widgets to ensure I can replicate it later if something goes wrong.

Once I had everything I needed I installed Maintenance Mode plugin that allowed me to present visitors with a message that blog is undergoing scheduled maintenance while still viewable by admin (me).

Upgrade To WordPress 2.3

Next steps for me were more custom that will be for many. I went through my theme templates and removed any reference to UTW functions. I use it on my sitemap and in single post to display Last 7 Related Posts. While it wasn’t much of work it had to be done to prevent errors later …

  • Deactivate All Plugins. While sometimes upgrade can be done over active plugins it is better to deactivate it and since a huge number needed upgrading to comply with WordPress 2.3, I deactivated ALL plugins.
  • Upgrade core WordPress system using FTP client and run upgrade script. I personally use Filezilla, which is free and very effective with all the features I possibly need.
  • Import my UTW tags into new tagging system that is build into core now. Simply visit Admin->Manage->Import and import UTW tags using simple 5 step process.
  • Upgrade each plugin, one-by-one and verify my blog works properly after each upgrade. It takes longer but ensures that if any issues with one specific plugin – I don’t have to chase it down later and will know right off the bat, especially since several plugins I use didn’t have a new version.

Once core system and all required plugins were updated for new version I had to find a way to …

Replace Ultimate Warrior Tags Functionality

As I have mentioned before, I heavily use functionality provided by UTW and loss of that plugin was a major headache for me. I actually waited over 2 weeks until I was able to locate what I could use as replacement. Here is list of what I have installed and why …

  • Configurable Tag Cloud provides me with a widget that almost successfully replaces UTW tag cloud on my sidebar. Gives ability to use weighted tags and implement color variations based on popularity of the specific tag.
  • Simple Tags plugins seem to be a complete replacement for UTW, including tag cloud but I’m still in process of testing it. It also provides a widget for tag cloud just like plugin before it but I’m still in process of testing it and choosing which is better. This plugins also provides you with great options for tag management and addition of them to your posts. I actually like the way it does type ahead using AJAX to give me a list of tags based on few letters I already typed. One feature I found most useful about this plugin is that it has an overview of “Untagged” posts. I was quite surprised to find a few 🙂
  • Embedded Tag Thing from Christine, creator of UTW that allows me to use tag functionality with Tagalize IT plugin.
  • WP 2.3 Related Posts is one plugin I waited for before upgrading. Once installed I simply specified a few settings in Options and then added PHP code to my single.php page and Voila! I now have my last 15 Related Posts automatically added to each post, based on tags used. Why I wanted this functionality so badly that I waited to upgrade? My stats showed that people navigating deeper into my blog more often then not did so using Related Posts, so it was one thing I wasn’t willing to lose.
  • And last but not least is Technorati Tags plugin that mimics UTW ability to add Technorati tags to your posts using tags set via native WordPress 2.3 system. I love it for one simple reason that it brings back ability to auto insert Technorati tags. I have just found this plugin and integrated it.

Now my system is complete with new features while retaining old functionality!

There you have it! Once all above was completed (about 1.5 hours of research and actual upgrade) my blog was placed into normal operating mode via Deactivating Maintenance Mode.

On a nice note – I use quite a few plugins by Lester Chan and upgrading his plugins to be compliant I also go a few nice widgets, some of which already implemented into my sidebar. Web 2.0 is all about allowing readers to contribute and one widget allows me to display most rated posts and most voted on, displaying a certain level of its popularity. Makes your vote count!

While I have done quite extensive testing after upgrade I would appreciate your comment with feedback if you find some issues on my blog that I have missed.