PHP Version vs. Twitter WordPress Plugin

If your install of the new Twitter WordPress Plugin is not working, the problem is probably your PHP version. If you install the Twitter plugin without PHP 5.4, nothing will happen and you'll be left scratching your head. Here's what to do about it.
Twitter WordPress Plugin.
26 Feb 2015

Twitter WordPress Plugin Not Working?

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The Twitter WordPress plugin requires PHP version 5.4 or greater. If you install the Twitter plugin without PHP 5.4, nothing will happen. Nothing at all.

It will look like the plugin installed successfully (because technically it did), but there’s just no way to use it or see its settings or any of the usual plugin stuff. It looks as if the plugin is working but somehow inaccessible. The truth is that the plugin isn’t working at all.

Twitter WordPress plugin requires PHP 5.4

Ok, but what does that mean? If PHP and servers and stuff are a little above your pay grade, here’s what you need to know:

  • PHP is the programming language WordPress runs on. That’s why you’ll see things like index.php and edit.php?post=X in your wp-admin URL bar.
  • Like any technology, PHP has versions. WordPress’ current version is 4.1.1. PHP’s latest version is 5.6. The oldest PHP version you can use with the Twitter WordPress Plugin is 5.4.
  • Because PHP is a programming language, it runs deep on your server. Even if you’re pretty good about servers and managing files w/ FTP, it’s unlikely you have any control over your server’s PHP version.

Ok, so what do I do?

Ask your hosting provider to upgrade your PHP version. You probably can’t do it yourself (and it would be a disaster if you did it wrong or something), so just ask the tech support folks at your hosting company. Your mileage may vary, but the friendly folks at WP Engine were very helpful in upgrading my PHP version. I was on 5.3.2-1. They moved my site over to a new server running 5.5. All set now.

One important note about hosting and PHP upgrades: if you’re on a shared hosting environment—and there’s like a 99.9% chance that you are—then your tech support folks will probably have to move your site to a new server. It’s unlikely they’ll let you run PHP 5.5 and your neighbor on the same server run 5.3. Instead, your site will get picked up and moved from one box to another and you’ll live happily ever after in 5.5 land.

This server move is only important if your DNS and hosting aren’t married. In my case, my domains are purchased at DreamHost and my files are hosted at WP Engine. That means I have to tell DreamHost how to find my files (that’s what “DNS” is, if this isn’t your jam). Now that they’ve moved from 5.3 box to 5.5 box, I had to update my records. I got a new IP address and I had to change my DreamHost DNS records to point to the new WP Engine IP address. Once that update happened, it was smooth sailing.

Update 3/5/15: Twitter WordPress plugin updated

The official Twitter WordPress Plugin has been updated.

Twitter has updated their WordPress plugin to alert users on older versions of PHP that the plugin won’t work for them. This is a huge help for confused users like me! In addition, plenty of users were complaining that the Tweet button was appearing in their sites’ auto-generated excerpts. That would drive me crazy too. Twitter was good enough to remove that with this latest update.

Update your Twitter plugin!

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