WordPress is Testing Automatic Background Update in 3.7 Beta 1

WordPress is testing background update. One of my site running on WordPress 3.7 alpha has been quietly updated to 3.7 beta. I didn’t even know until I received an update notification email.

SUCCESS: WordPress was successfully updated to WordPress 3.7-beta1-20130928

UPGRADE LOG
===========

WordPress 3.7-beta1-20130928
—————————-
Updating to WordPress 3.7-beta1-20130928
Downloading update from https://wordpress.org/nightly-builds/wordpress-latest.zip…
Unpacking the update…
Verifying the unpacked files…
Preparing to install the latest version…
Enabling Maintenance mode…
Copying the required files…
Upgrading database…
Disabling Maintenance mode…
WordPress updated successfully

This is GREAT! But what does this mean to WordPress users, developers, especially to administrators. What will happen to maintenance. Will plugins, themes stand the test without crashing the sites? With so many questions pop off my head, the first thing I remember was the moment when Matt Mulenweg talking about automatic update like some mobile OS on WordCamp San Francisco 2013. My reaction was, tempting but questionable. Just a bit more than a month later, it is becoming a reachable reality.

Of course there will be all kinds of compatibility issues. Plugins, themes, integrations, customizations, etc. Whether we, as end-user should embrace this bold move and click the Update button once again like what we have done so many times.

Despite the fact that this is undoubtedly convenient to site owner, there are many outstanding questions yet to be answered. The biggest concern should be the stability. Whether a update could potentially crash a site without being thoroughly tested. After all, as a website admin, or business owner, the last thing we want to see is “I am not able to access my website”.

iOS 7 brought in automatic update feature, but the update is for installed app only, not iOS itself. It is OK for a single app that could possibly becomes unstable or even crashes after the update. Actually, a regular app update mainly targets bug & error fixing. It is more than welcome that we can get it without any delay.

Someone may use Chrome as example to endorse this feature. But I don’t think this two are comparable. As a Chrome user, I don’t mind if a Chrome update makes the browser crashed or unstable. There are Firefox, Safari & IE available in case Chrome doesn’t work. The problem caused by a bad Chrome update is minimum, one person only.

Update for the platform itself should be tested intensively and repeatedly in a test environment before applying to live site. I believe this is extremely true to large business site. If testing the compatibility of all published plugins & themes with new update release is possible, it doesn’t means the update can be trouble free. Many WordPress sites are built on customization by individual companies, developers. Apply update on live site without testing is extremely risky. I would like see the automatic update as an option which can be switched on or off. Matter of fact, this feature is better off staying to minor maintenance updates for security and bug fix only.

Dumping all the doubts and questions to a under-developing feature doesn’t seem to be fair, or at least, keep it to myself at this moment. In the meantime, I would like to enjoy reading the email saying “WordPress updated successfully”.

The only complain so far is too many updates. The update happens every 12 hours, instead of the claimed every night. Finger cross …

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