Beware the WordPress white screen of death

Debugging the ultra-modular WordPress blogging software can be a challenge

By Joab Jackson, IDG News Service |  Open Source, content management, wordpress

For instance, this version will be the first to check for unexpected output when a plug-in is initialized. "This isn't a fatal error itself, but something unexpected that could cause fatal errors in certain situations," Jaquith said.

Another potential fix that version 3.0 will bring is that it may boost the memory limit for all actions executed by administrators. "Administrators are more likely to be doing things like upgrades that take more memory." Jaquith said.

WordPress is not the only Web software that can serve up the WSoD. The beta of Version 7 of the Drupal, another open-source content management system reliant on PHP, also suffers from the issue, said Adriaan BloemF, an analyst for the Real Story Group, a research and consulting firm specializing in content management software.

"WordPress and Drupal are particularly susceptible to this because users get to write PHP in templates and modules. Both systems are usually heavily customized, and the customizations are of varying quality," Bloem said.

Overall, however, this bug, despite the initial shock of seeing a WSoD is not a severe one, Bloem said. "The white screen is nothing to specifically worry about, it's just a PHP quirk," he said.

Bloem did add that as organizations rely more heavily on these software packages, they should make changes in a more controlled manner.

"Some of the more complex systems don't really allow developers to touch the core system that close, so they don't break as easily, or as catastrophically," Bloem said.

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