First, let me say I am pretty familiar with WordPress. I am not a core developer but I have created hundreds of WP websites using a multitude of WP plugins over the years. I have worked with many excellent well developed, well-supported plugins and many poorly executed plugins.
Then came the Visual Composer / WP Bakery / Visual Composer Website builder debacle.
For those not familiar Visual Composer was the gold standard in WP Page builders, then something happened, they changed names, they changed functionality, they changed to multiple products. They changed and they changed for the worse.
Since this whole name change, functionality change, I have spent way to much time trying to understand what Visual Composer is and is not, what WP Bakery is and is not, what Visual Composer Site Builder is and is not.
My Current Visual Composer / WP Bakery Experience
Typically I start on a site redesign or refresh and discover that the website has Visual Composer or WP Bakery installed. Now the process to find the best upgrade path begins.
Questions I have but can never find fully satisfactory answers after searching both the official documentation and countless Google searches:
- What is the difference between WP Bakery and Visual Composer Site Builder?
- Do I still need a WP theme with Visual Composer Site Builder?
- Can I migrate from WP Bakery to Visual Composer site builder?
- What is the difference between “Visual Composer” and “Visual Composer Website Builder”?
- Why is this all so confusing?
- Why are some versions paid and then you can upgrade to a free version?
Lots of question but not many readily available answers.
If someone who knows the answers to these questions and thinks this guy is not using the right names or concepts and thinks I should know this, that is exactly my point. The whole functionality, migration path, similar names, lack of explanation is exactly my point. Visual Composer has a poor job of explaining their product.
When it is all said and done, I should not have to think this much.
Visual Composer always explains the name change
There is one part that is very clear and is always mention Visual Composer had to change its name to WP Bakery because of theme forest or something. They love to explain the name change, but then stop before diving into technical details such as migrating from one version to another
What exactly how the code is technically similar and different, installing, working with visual composer or any variations of this software.
With all the confusion around this, I am left with the feeling the Visual Composer has very little chance of gaining market share or even surviving in the World of online page builders.
Most Recent Confusing Situation
Here is my current problem and what inspired me to write this post. I would love for someone to provide a link to the documentation that I can never see to find.
Client site with Visual Composer installed.
When I go to the plugins it is not listed anywhere. I see several Visual Composer addons listed in the plugin manager. I do not see a main Visual Composer Plugin or WP Bakery Plugin
In the WP Admin sidebar I see Visual Composer and under that is an about tab. This looks promising so I can at least learn what version or any details about the plugin installed.
It shows that I have Visual Composer 4.5 if you look at the header and there is an image that shows version 4.5.6 installed.
Some of my immediate thoughts
I feel like this is version is way out of date. Why have I not ben prompted to update it.
Even if it is on my to update, where do I go to update this plugin and how do I update it
If this is very old what are the PHP minimums and maximums that it will run on?
So what do I do with this software? What is the upgrade path?
Will the site and all pages break if I move to WP Bakery?
Will the site and pages break if go to the current version of Visual composer (currently around version 19)
So I decided to roll the dice and install the newest version of Visual Composer and now I have two versions of Visual Composer installed. What am I supposed to do with this?
Side note I found the website https://visualcomposer.com/ very confusing
Very difficult to find the free version of the software. It is available for download but hidden pretty well.
No mention of any upgrade paths from older versions or if it is possible to go from VC to WPBakery or WP Bakery to VC.
Pre Sales support is very diffucult to find. I joint a slack channel looking for support, I created an account to try to ask a question but could not b/c I was not a paying customer, Would have been nice to have pre sales support. Finally I found it on the Contact us form. When I submitted a ticket, I got a confirmation email that said
Visual Composer Team <email@example.com>
9:07 AM (35 minutes ago)
Thank you for reaching out to us.
Our working hours are Monday-Friday, it will take a bit longer for us to get back to you if you are contacting us during the weekend.
To add additional comments, simply reply to this email.
Would have been nice if they had mentioned a time zone for these hours. The picture of a man taken from a webcam was not that reassuring.
So now I am left with two versions of Visual Comoser installed and no idea about if my pages will break or not or what the best practice.
With this user experience and customer support, I do not see how Visual Composer has any sort of viable future other than trading on what they used to be and working with sites and site owners that feel trapped using their page builder.
If I have overlooked any details please let me know. I am sure there is info out there but as a site owner or maintainer, it feels like I am working way harder than I need to get this page builder working.
Thanks! — Steven
Hi We have a client site that has visual composer installed.
The theme is Vicki 1.1.1 http://sitesao.com/item/vicky-wordpress-restaurant-cafe-theme/
There is nowhere to update it.
All I can find is an about screen that shows it is Visual Composer 4.5, there is an image that shows 4.5.6
I feel like this is way out of date.
1. How do I update this version?
2. What can you tell me about 4.5.6? how old is it? what php version will it run on? etc?
3. What is the best upgrade path? WP Bakery? Visual Composer (New)? some sort of older Visual Composer Version?
4. Is it possible to migrate to WP Bakery?
5. Is it possible to migrate to the new Visual Composer?
Sorry for all the questions but I find this whole thing very confusing and very few places to ask support questions without having a paid subscriptions
Thanks! — Steven
Steven Johnson, a WP Hosting Reviews senior editor, works from Atlanta and covers all things related to WordPress and Hosting.
He graduated from Georgia Tech in Chemical Engineering, has managed hosting companies and now builds WordPress and Joomla Websites for small to medium companies full time.