Mesocolumn WordPress child theme fix after updating theme

It was bound to happen, the very reliable Mesocolumn WordPress theme finally made an entry in a website’s fatal error logs.  I make a habit of examining website error logs, if you have a business with a web department, insist that they regularly scan and check your website error logs or subscribe to a service or has a script that can report 500 errors immediately.

Here was the error that cropped up:

[22-Apr-2016 09:27:05 UTC] PHP Fatal error: Call to undefined function get_theme_option() in /webroot/prolificfutility.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/mesocolumn-child/footer.php on line 119

500 server errors are never pleasant, it’s a fact of life if we don’t dedicate QA time to test, test and then test the sites again and again.  There is a point of diminishing returns of dedicating too much time to testing because that takes time away from web development, you know, actually creating coding solutions?!

Fixing WordPress 500 errors

This was an easy fix, because the error was easy to spot in the logs — get_theme_option function was undefined and there was a condition in the footer that called on it, so I simply wrapped the condition throwing the error first with this check:

It’s not an ideal fix, but since I didn’t have time to investigate further, at least the page would continue loading if the get_theme_options() function was actually deprecated from the theme during a recent update.  It’s all about prioritizing your web development tasks to make sure you are optimizing your code production and in the context of other due dates, projects and considering the ROI of this task, it’s way down on the priority list.  So far down it will probably never be addressed since, truthfully, there are usually much more important and profitable web development tasks to perform.  Perhaps the next update it will fix itself, there’s no harm in doing an extra check to see if the function exists, even if they bring it back.

The more important benefit is that the page continues to load without throwing a fatal error, which is not only bad for SEO, it’s bad for the UX of every visitor and that’s always something that’s top on the priority list!

Aaron Belchamber has written 243 articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *