Classic Widgets

A major revamp of this website is coming soon, but for now, I wanted to provide a quick update. The WordPress 5.8 brought a significant change to the way widgets are edited in the Customizer and the Appearance - Widgets page. By default, the widgets use the Block Editor (Gutenberg) instead of the classic interface where widget boxes on the left are dragged into widget locations on the right.

For those who prefer the classic widget experience, we have installed the Classic Widgets plugin. Site administrators can enable this plugin for all users on their individual sites.

Whither Gutenberg?

WordPress 5 was released on December 6, 2018. This major release includes the new block editor, aka Gutenberg, the most significant change to the WordPress editing experience since WYSIWYG was added.

On Thursday, December 20, we deployed WordPress 5.0 to our multisite network. However, we network activated the Classic Editor plugin. With this plugin active, the editing experience is unchanged from previous versions of WordPress. Site admins have the ability to override this plugin on an individual site under the Writing settings in the WordPress dashboard.

If the new block editor is enabled, the content on existing posts and pages is placed into a "Classic Block." A classic block can be left as-is, or it can easily be converted to the new Gutenberg blocks, where each paragraph, image, embed, etc. is a separate block.

We highly recommend watching the "WordPress 5 Essential Training" video course at before enabling the new block editor.

Also, be aware that the accessibility level of the new editor is currently unclear, and those who rely on keyboard navigation, rather than touch or a mouse, could experience difficulty trying to create content.

WordPress 5.0 comes with the new Gutenberg-optimized Twenty Nineteen theme. The new block editor should work with most existing themes, but some content, such as full-width images, might be constrained by the limitations of that theme. We will be adding more Gutenberg-ready themes in the coming months.

Warhol-style version of the Gutenberg logo

PHP 7.2

Our multisite WordPress network is now running PHP 7.2. This change was necessary because PHP 5.6 will no longer be supported after December 31, 2018.

Site performance should be improved after this update, as PHP 7 boasts remarkably optimized memory usage, and WordPress running under PHP 7 can run twice as many requests per second as the same platform running PHP 5.6.

Stuffed PHP elephant mascots, and orange one and a black one

Sites for University Departments and Groups


Our managed hosting service includes the basic set up and support of WordPress sites that support the mission of the University, including sites for officially-recognized student groups. Faculty, staff, undergraduates, and graduate students are invited to use the service.

How to Request a Site

If you can't find what you are looking for, send an email to or use the Princeton Service Portal.

OIT’s Web Development Services group administers the managed hosting environment, powered by WordPress.

To the cloud!

Today we finally finished migration of the OIT-managed WordPress server to the Pantheon cloud-hosting service. Page load times are noticeably improved. We hope that uptime for the service will also see significant improvement.

We apologize for the many issues with the service during the last few months.

Future enhancements include replacing the Authorizer plugin with a less obtrusive single-sign-on solution.

WordPress in the cloud


Single sign-on (CAS) replaces LDAP

All sites in the OIT-managed WordPress environment now use Princeton University's Central Authentication Service (CAS) for authorizing access to protected pages, including the WordPress admin dashboard. This replaces the LDAP-integrated WordPress login page.

Screenshot of old and new login pages

The old WordPress log-in page is on the left; the CAS log-in page is on the right.

Accessing /wp-admin or wp-login.php will automatically redirect to the CAS login page. After authentication through CAS with a Princeton netID and password, a logged-in user will be directed back to the original WordPress site. If a netID uses Duo two-factor authentication, Duo will work the same here as with any other CAS-enabled site.

One feature that is not available with the new CAS solution is the ability to bulk add authorized users to a site. We hope to find or write a plugin that will re-enable this feature.

Enabling CAS was one of the last milestones before migrating all of the sites in our managed WordPress environment to a cloud hosting provider.

WordPress 4.7 deployed, Twenty Seventeen coming

This morning we deployed WordPress 4.7 to the OIT-managed WordPress environment.

One of the main new features of the new version is a brand new default theme, Twenty Seventeen. This theme is not yet activated across our network because I want to first create a child theme that includes the option to add the Princeton University branding to the footer. I will get this theme deployed by the end of next week.

One of the main new features is that the Custom CSS feature is now available in the WordPress Customizer, allowing live previews of CSS design changes. This builds off of the custom CSS feature that is part of the Jetpack plugin suite.

WordPress 4.7 “Vaughan”

WordPress 4.3 is live

I have deployed WordPress 4.3 across the sites in our WordPress network.

New features include formatting shortcuts in the editor, an option to edit the menus in the customizer, and a customizer option to add a browser and app icon to your site.

The “enforce strong password” feature does not really apply to our environment, as we manage our passwords in the Princeton University directory service (LDAP) instead of locally within WordPress.


Oh, the humanity!

Update: It appears that the whitelist is not preventing the arithmetic CAPTCHA. I will contact Jetpack support for more information.

Those of you logging into the admin area of sites on our WordPress network may have been repeatedly asked to “prove your humanity.” This is a feature of the Jetpack plugin suite that helps protect against brute force login attempts.

“Human” users would have to solve an arithmetic problem and enter the answer in a tiny box. This tiny box was easy to miss, so multiple failed attempts to log in would add up, and the username trying to log in would be temporarily locked out.

I have added all Princeton University IP addresses to the whitelist settings for the Jetpack Protect feature, so in the future, you should only encounter this test of your humanity when logging in from an outside network.