If you are using Headway Theme version 2 and are still waiting anxiously for the upgrade path to Headway 3, it looks like it is not going to happen. I also have a few clients’ websites built with Headway 2 three years ago and since then never had any Headway or WordPress upgrade due to lack of Headway’s seamless upgrade path from version 2 to 3. But recently, I was forced to upgrade to Headway 3 as the older version of Headway started to give problems. The layout was broken and misaligned for unknown reason when I tried to update the content.
The method suggested by the support team from Headway Themes is to install Theme Test Drive plugin to redo the theme. This plugin allows you to work behind the scene while your site continues running live so your visitors will not see the mess. However, some members complained that it was confusing to use and screwed up their websites. So I decided against this method and started exploring other options.
Clone & Work on Your Current Site for Upgrade
Eventually I used back the same method I used before – I asked my web hosting company to clone my current website to another server of theirs and work on the cloned version. I uninstalled Headway Theme 2 and installed Headway Themes 3 and re-created the theme in Visual Editor. This was the only time consuming part otherwise everything was working smooth and well.
Preview New Website using Existing Domain
Do take note that if you are going to use this method and in order for you to preview your new Headway Themes in your browser using your existing domain name, you would need to edit the host file in your hard disk otherwise you would be seeing your old website in Headway version 2 not the new website in Headway version 3. In another word, your website visitors would still be seeing your old website but you are able to see your new website at your computer while working on the upgrade version.
Modify the Host File to Preview New Theme
Click here to follow the steps to modify your host file and add the following line to the host file, save it then restart your PC to take effect.
The string of number was the new IP address of my web hosting company’s server. This is the cloned version I was working on so if you going to use this method, please ask your web hosting company what is the new IP address and replace the above code with your new IP address and your domain name.
Once the upgrade was completed, the web hosting company then re-directed the URL from the old website to the new website. They told me the DNS propagation would take few hours to complete and there was no major hiccup during the transition.
Advantages of using Cloned Method
There are many advantages to this method and personally I find it is far superior to Backup Buddy method (Sorry, Backup Buddy!).
- My existing or old website could continually run live without any disruption.
- All the external and internal links including links to text, media files and graphics are not affected.
- Similarly, the settings for the plugins and widgets remained intact.
- Last, and the most important, I was able to preview the developing website like a real website with correct URL and links.(This is the main reason I did not want to develop on sub-directory because when the website is migrated to the root directory, some of the links did not change to the correct URL especially the links embedded in the LiveCSS.)
So far, this is the best method for me as I could happily upgrade the theme without worrying it would break and cause damage to the website.
Those of you who are still waiting for Headway 3 upgrade path may like to consider this method as the earlier you upgrade, the less compatibility issues you need to worry especially when WordPress is constantly pushing upgrade. Or, if you have a better way to upgrade Headway 2 to 3, you are welcome to share it in the comment box below.