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Web Dev + WordPress + Security

New Plugins for WordPress 5.5

Forgotten post! I wrote this article way back for WordPress 5.5 but forgot to publish. Rather than delete I am posting it now. I think the information remains relevant for the most part. Read with a grain of salt :)

WordPress 5.5 brings some new features that may help a lot of users. The two biggies: sitemaps and lazy loading images. This rundown post explains a bit about each, and shares some free plugins to help should you need to disable any of this new WordPress functionality.


Why are these plugins necessary?

Before getting to the sweet new plugins, a quick note for people who keep asking questions like:

  • I don’t think this plugin is necessary?
  • Why would people need this plugin to disable such and such?
  • Why do you keep making plugins like this?
  • Why do you even exist, you are not wanted?

And so forth. I get these questions from time to time. And from people who should know better, to be quite honest (looking at you genius). The simple answer, in short:

Every plugin that is used by at least one person is useful and worthwhile.

So if you find yourself asking why anyone would need a plugin to “Disable this feature” or “Disable that feature”, just remember that the Web is used by literally billions of people, each with their own specific requirements. You can’t possibly think that everyone else thinks exactly like you do, or needs exactly what you need. Just because your tiny mind can’t fathom “why” someone would need this plugin or that plugin, doesn’t mean that they don’t. Fortunately the Web is limitless and there is plenty of room for everyone, including those who dare to think differently than you.

So.. lol. I feel better now. Let’s move on to the new features and plugins..

New Feature: WP Sitemaps

This is the big one for lots of folks. For over a decade WordPress users have been able to add a sitemap to their site by installing a plugin. A few clicks and done. We’re talking millions of existing sitemaps on WordPress-powered sites. All over the Web.

But now with WP 5.5, for some reason WordPress has decided to ignore the many existing sitemap plugins and build another sitemap generator right into WP core. Which is great for absolute new users who are too inept to install a plugin.

But for literally everyone else it’s just another needless headache pushed on them by a few overzealous but out of touch developers. Now with sitemaps included in WP 5.5 and beyond, you’re gonna have millions of sites with duplicate sets of sitemaps.

So if you’ve got a WordPress site and have carefully configured your sitemap plugin to do whatever you need, with WordPress 5.5+, you’ve got to make a decision:

  • Do nothing and run duplicate sitemaps (one from plugin, one from core)
  • Replace your plugin: Remove the sitemap plugin and configure WP sitemap
  • Disable the WP sitemap and continue using your preferred sitemap plugin

Not sure where you’re at, but my workflow says not to mess with something if it’s not broken. So I made a quick plugin to disable the new WP Sitemaps..

New Plugin: Disable WP Sitemaps

New plugin! Disable WP Sitemaps is 100% free and open source for everyone (GPL license). It’s also only one line of code. Thank you WordPress developers for making it easy for us to disable unwanted new features.

And that’s what the new Disable WP Sitemaps plugin is all about. Making it easy to disable the new WP sitemaps if/when they are not needed. You can learn more in this post about how to disable WP Sitemaps.

New Feature: Lazy Load Images

The other big feature shipping with WP 5.5 is built-in lazy-loading images. So for browsers that support native lazy loading, your WordPress images will be loaded only as needed as the user scrolls down the page. Sounds pretty neat, right?

Yes but not all browsers support lazy loading. Not everybody wants lazy loading. And like with sitemaps, many people already have implemented their own lazy-load solution. So this new core feature will be redundant for many sites.

In other words: yet another cool feature that should have been left as a plugin. You know, to encourage competition, improve functionality, and provide more options. Nonetheless, some people will find the new lazy load feature useful. But for those who don’t, check out this new plugin..

New Plugin: Disable Lazy Load

For anyone who does not want or need the new WP Lazy Load feature, check out my new WordPress plugin, Disable Lazy Load. This plugin does one thing and does it perfectly: disables WP Lazy Load functionality.

As with the Disable Sitemaps plugin, the Disable Lazy Load plugin is free, open source, and super lightweight and fast. Only one line of code in fact, thanks again to the forward thinking of the WP dev team. Learn more about Disable Lazy Load.

One for the road: Disable Media Sizes

This should have been rolled out last year, when WordPress introduced even more auto-generated image sizes for each media upload. Here is a tutorial that explains more about it, and now here is the Disable Media Sizes plugin that will do all the work for you with just a few clicks.

Disable Media Sizes is a very simple plugin that gives you control over which image sizes WordPress should generate whenever you upload an image. I think this plugin will help a lot of folks optimize their disk space and simplify their workload and general data exposure/maintenance.

Wrapping up..

So check ’em out, get ’em while they’re hot. Or not, if you’re gonna be using the new WP Sitemaps and Lazy Loading features. Personally, I think WordPress should leave as much as possible to plugins. That’s the whole point of plugins, to extend and customize WordPress with new features. You know, super cool stuff like:

  • Emojis
  • Embeds
  • Gutenberg
  • Responsive Images
  • All the Privacy stuff
  • Application Passwords
  • Robots Meta Tags

And now add to that list:

  • Sitemaps
  • Lazy Loading
  • Extra image sizes

There are other examples, but you get the point. ALL of those “features” should have been left as plugins. Not stuffed into WordPress core. Imagine how much faster and lighter core WordPress would have been if all of the fluff and extra functionality was left to plugins. But alas, we’re in a different timeline now lol.

When more than half of your default plugin stack is just to “disable” new features like Emojis, Embeds, Sitemaps, and Lazy load, it’s time to question whether or not you’re using the best tool for the job.

About the Author
Jeff Starr = Designer. Developer. Producer. Writer. Editor. Etc.
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Perishable Press is operated by Jeff Starr, a professional web developer and book author with two decades of experience. Here you will find posts about web development, WordPress, security, and more »
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