Wordpress has always been a CMS (Content Management System) and blogging tool for those that aren't as adept at web design and coding, but want the flexibility and professional design that many large companies pay thousands of dollars to developers to create.
The community support has always been very active and WordPress core development has come a long way in the last few years. With the introduction of WordPress version 3.7 “Basie”, an important new feature, along with several others, has finally been put into play, automatic updates.
WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg stated in his latest State of the Word at the 2013 WordCamp in San Francisco that one of the goals for WordPress was to perform automatic updates similar to the Chrome browser, and hope that when updates occur that most people won’t even notice. There has been some controversy though whether or not WordPress is being helpful or harmful by giving website administrators the ability to automatically apply major updates or just security patches to their sites.
One negative reaction that some people have been touting is that WordPress has defaulted the Automatic Updates feature to “on” in the 3.7 update, and hadn’t given them the choice upon install to default the setting to “off”. Some users may have already seen that their site has been updated automatically from version 3.7 to 3.7.1.
From a support perspective, automatic updates can put admins in the precarious position of having to race against the clock to fix any issues that might arise from an improperly installed update. These issues could be anything from a simple CSS fix to a complete corruption of the MySQL database. Of course these issues can crop up even when updates are applied manually, but imagine an update occurring while you’re sleeping and you don’t know there’s been an issue with your retail site for the last 8 hours, and you’ve lost customers and revenue due to the downtime.
Theme creation, which is a multi-million dollar business in itself, may also be affected by automatic updates. While there may have been a small window before the flood of support requests came in for broken themes, plugins, or even just minor fixes, now theme authors are faced with a more immediate reaction to the latest patches and updates WordPress rolls out, and are even more under the gun to apply patches to their work. Plugins come with their own headaches, as many people still use plugins that are no longer being supported by WordPress or their authors, and have the chance of failing with each update that rolls out.
Some positive aspects to the “Basie” rollout are that the “set it and forget it” nature of automatic updates allows the more non-techie blogger or site curator to not worry that their site is protected from the latest exploits. It can also be a boon for site administrators that maintain several websites at a time, knowing that at least the security patches can be automatically applied.
The real argument is whether or not you like your website developer or admin to be proactive or reactive to events that can occur at anytime.
According to the folks at WordPress.org, there have been several other upgrades that came along with “Basie“. These include:
- Stronger password recommendations: Your password is your site’s first line of defense. It’s best to create passwords that are complex, long, and unique. To that end, our password meter has been updated in WordPress 3.7 to recognize common mistakes that can weaken your password: dates, names, keyboard patterns (123456789), and even pop culture references.
- Better global support: Localized versions of WordPress will receive faster and more complete translations. WordPress 3.7 adds support for automatically installing the right language files and keeping them up to date, a boon for the many millions who use WordPress in a language other than English.
If you want to disable WordPress Automatic Updates, click the link for a great step-by-step instruction on how to do so.