Why so many updates?

When I first got involved with WordPress I’d been using HTML for quite some time – about 8 years, from memory. I was quite used to the idea that the various addons used on HTML sites would be updated a couple of times a year. Like many people I frequently chose to use commercial HTML templates when I wanted to do things quickly and got used to the idea that the authors would knock out a couple of updates a year. Like a postcard-style English village, life was calm, peaceful and relatively happy.

Why so many updates?

So WordPress came as quite a shock to the system.

WordPress itself is updated regularly. I’ve never sat down and counted all the minor and major updates, but I suppose it would be about right to say there are about 12 a year, a couple of which will be major. As you might expect, most themes and plugins get updated after a major WordPress core update. On odd occasions you’ll find that if your WordPress install is set to auto-update, plugins get broken during the process, or strange things start to happen. A recent update saw a friend’s recruitment website go potty. Well, he went potty, not the site, but the cause was a simple update which saw what had been 200px square profile images and logos suddenly start displaying at page-width size. An easy fix, once he realised the problem, but it was a problem he didn’t see for around a week, during which time his site must have looked pretty awful.

But changes within WordPress don’t explain all the updates. Developers say that it’s often due to them adding new functions, but that’s a long way from the truth. Most developers add extra functions a couple of times a year – if they do – and most updates are simply dealing with bugs. And these are the paid-for premium themes and plugins we’re talking about.

One of the first things I do if I’m looking for a plugin to perform a task is look at the versions log. When I see a plugin that gets updated every couple of weeks, or a theme that gets 4 updates in a week, it makes me nervous. How many bugs can one piece of software have? One of the better-known premium backup plugins on the market is a case in mind, with weekly updates almost guaranteed and, occasionally, 2 or 3 updates in a single week.

Updates that fix bugs are a good thing

Seriously, no matter how irritating it is to be using a plugin that needs more TLC than your 6-month old daughter, it’s defintely better to know the authors are at least trying to get their plugin or theme fixed. From a security and functionality standpoint, at least. That said, I can’t help but wish developers would manage without quite so many updates!