WordPress 4.8 was recently released and came with a handful of new widget controls. Personally, I thought this would make life easier on developing some of my blogs, but alas, I was mistaken. It seems that the video widget for WordPress 4.8 does not work for everyone. However, I believe I know why.
It’s All About the Cache
That’s right. Your cache plugin may be preventing you from taking advantage of the video widget in your WordPress site. Unfortunately, this is probably going to prevent a lot of people from taking advantage of some additions to the new version of our favorite content management system.
I can’t say with 100% certainty that caching plugins are the only cause of the error thrown when trying to add a YouTube video to the new video widget. However, it is the case on most of my sites.
I came across this problem when I tried to add a video from my YouTube channel to one of my blogs. Since I wanted to pull it directly from the URL, it should have been nothing more than a copy and paste effort.
Then I received this error:
"Sorry, we can’t display the video file type selected. Please select a supported video file (.mp4, .m4v, .webm, .ogv, .flv) or stream (YouTube or Vimeo) instead."
Because of my past experiences, I figured it could be one of a few different things: a) there was a bad code somewhere in the core, b) one of my plugins is preventing it from working, or c) my theme was stopping it.
At first, I thought it was the theme because the video widget works perfect on one of my other sites. That’s when I realized the other site doesn’t have a cache plugin installed. So, I disabled my plugins just to be on the safe side.
Vwalla…the widget works perfectly. Unfortunately, I want to keep my cache plugin. I don’t think it’s a good trade-off to remove plugins like W3 Total Cache so that you can add a video widget to the sidebar. This is especially true since you can get the same effect by embedding the YouTube code yourself.
Possible Fixes for the Video Widget
So, what does this mean for those of you who want to stick with your cache plugin? Well, you have a few options at the moment.
1. Install a New Cache Plugin
For a lot of people, this really isn’t much of an option. Most of us are extremely satisfied with the cache plugins we use, and switching it up makes us very uneasy. After all, not using one could cost speed and hurt SEO.
Many of us have spent hours configuring the cache settings so everything works smoothly. It would be a shame to have to waste all that time and potential search result performance simply to have a new video widget.
Plus, what if you’re one of those people who outright bought their cache plugin? Are you going to be able to take advantage of the new widgets in full?
It’s situations like this why I don’t buy plugins. There are simply too many variables than can cause a site to break or tools I wouldn’t be able to use.
2. Use Embedding in a Text Widget
An excellent workaround is using the text widget to embed video from YouTube into the sidebar of your website. And yes…iFrames do work in the sidebar of WordPress. I’ve never had an issue with this not working, and suspect those who claim it doesn’t work to be the victim of poor code design or grossly outdated files for the theme.
How do you do this?
- Go to the Appearance section of WordPress and click “Widgets.”
- Drag the Text widget from the list on the left and drop it into the sidebar.
- In the text tab of the Text widget, paste the embed code from the YouTube video.
- Click Save.
This is perhaps one of the easiest workarounds until your cache plugin’s developer pushes an update to support the video widget. If you’re in doubt that iFrames work in a sidebar, consider the Wattpad button in my sidebar on this site is an iFrame.
3. Wait for Updates to Your Cache Plugin
I am fairly certain many caching developers will rectify the coding once they realize there is a problem. At least, I am hoping with my fingers crossed. While I can just as easy add embed in text, it would be convenient to use the video widget in WordPress 4.8.
However, I am a patient man. Because the text widget does work so well, I could really care less either way. Besides, I am able to do more in a text widget than in a video widget anyway. The video widget only allows for a single file. In the text field, I can place as many as I’d like.
The point is that the capabilities of WordPress are such that you can easily choose alternative methods to produce the same results. While I do find it a bit annoying that developers are not on the same book and page when creating additions, I can understand the difficulty.
With thousands of developers putting together themes, widgets and WordPress core files, there’s going to be a loss in translation. The best thing you can do is relax and realize there’s always options in WordPress.
4. Try to Fix the Coding Yourself
Perhaps the most unrealistic thing for most WordPress users is to try and fix the code yourself. If you don’t know what you’re doing in PHP or even CSS, you can easily break your site.
However, I know several talented code developers who probably already modified their websites to work with the new video widget.
If you do decide to give coding a try, always make sure you back up your site first. This is a smart practice whether you’re messing around in code or installing a new plugin. You just never know when you’ll need to restore from a disastrous event.
The Pains of Advancing Technology
Internet technology brings all kinds of wonderful tools and abilities directly to the average user. Unfortunately, it also often comes with the pain and frustration of things not working right after a component is updated. I can only hope that cache plugins get fixed so I can take advantage of the video widget. Otherwise, I’ll just keep using the text widget with embedding directly from YouTube.