WordPress 3.7 Forces Automatic Updates on Users, Exposes Developers Inexperience With Real World Issues

Developers are optimistic by nature. I know because I have been one for more than 20 years. How many times have I been sure that this one tiny change can just be promoted to production and it should work no problemo. After all, I fully unit tested, function tested and system tested it. And how many times did I get red faced because there is always one stupid case that is so rare that just happened to be affected.

The wonderful people who freely bring us WordPress are pushing automatic updates on users of its blogging software. Automatic updates sounds like a great idea. After all, it promises to keep your wordpress engine up-to-date with security updates that keep your site protected from vulnerabilities.

Listen guys, I just happen to run a commercial web site that NEVER successfully automatically updated. No matter how many times I tried the auto update (whether security or core), it failed and compromised my site. I then always have to resort to manual updates. I have other commercial sites that have absolutely no problem updating automatically.

WordPress developers’confidence that they can make auto update work for the majority of its users is admirable… but, did I just type “majority”? Here is the problem and exposes the inexperience of the current crop of developers who are bringing us WP 3.7. A majority is not enough. Auto update needs to work for ALL users, 100% success, or it’s going to be a headache and blow up in your faces.

I don’t want to sound negative here, so I wish you guys all the best of luck. Fingers crossed, because I just know that one commercial site of mine is going to fail at some point on one of the auto updates, requiring me — and you developers — lots of running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to figure out and fix the problem.

Take, for example, the child theme idea. It’s a great idea in theory and works beautifully when you just want to make simple changes to a theme. As soon as you start making major changes, it just becomes too unwieldy and you might as well just copy the whole theme and make changes to the theme directly.

It might be a good idea to let us know when you expect to post the first few automatic security updates because I can assure you there will be a lot of us wide awake to watch each one very nervously. Oh, make it optional. Forget about the “what’s the point of developing auto updates if the majority of people are not going to use it” reasoning. This just reveals inexperience in real world issues. Too many companies use WP and cannot afford downtime. It’s $$$ and lots of reputation on the line. Make it optional.