The Solution To The Lack Of WordPress Beta Testing

While catching up on some old podcasts, specifically Episode 82 of WordPress Weekly, I came across a discussion about WordPress beta testing. The discussion centers around the problem of bugs not being caught during beta testing because there just aren’t enough beta testers.

To me, the solution seems straightforward – but that may be because I worked in the software industry for 10 years and have experience in software release management, so I’ll take the long path and set the scene properly.

That makes it a long post, but stick with it – you need to read it all to fully understand my reasoning. First we need to consider the following question:

Should You Upgrade WordPress Immediately After A Release?

Short answer: Sometimes, but not always.

Over the last couple of years, there have been repeated calls for WordPress users to update their blogs immediately after a new version has been released. At times, the call to upgrade has almost become a frenzy.

I’ve taken this with a grain of salt and held to my belief that upgrading immediately isn’t always the correct choice. Sure, upgrade immediately if the release fixes a critical security issue – but most of the time it’s better to wait and see whether:

  • there are any major bugs in the new version
  • your theme works with the new version
  • all of the plugins you’re using work with the new version

I’ve developed this ‘hold back’ approach while working in the software industry over the last 15 years or so – I’d contend that it’s ‘best practice’. Upgrading to a new version without testing the new version in your environment (including server, theme and plugins) is the sign of immature processes.

Some may argue that this approach is overkill for a simple blog, but there are many sites out there running WordPress that are a little more complicated.

Even simple blogs are often not that simple, especially as so many are now monetized. Ask yourself, will I lose money if WordPress doesn’t work after an upgrade? If the answer is yes, you should probably be testing new versions before upgrading.

Note: I’m a relatively sophisticated WordPress user and can judge the need to upgrade pretty well from the release notes. If the release notes don’t make much sense to you, it’s better to err on the side of caution and upgrade.

You’re probably asking how does this relate to beta testing? Well, in a couple of ways:

1. Bugs In New Releases Mean Less People Will Upgrade

Let’s leave aside the fact that I don’t personally subscribe to the ‘upgrade immediately’ advice and assume that it’s a good thing (which it would be in the ideal world).

Bugs in new releases undermine this advice. After the recent problem with scheduled posts, introduced in the WordPress 2.9 release, there have been people questioning whether upgrading immediately was a good thing.

If beta testing was improved and caught more of these problems, then there’d be less of the ‘hold back’ people out there and more people would follow the advice, in theory making WordPress more secure. There’d be:

  • less people (such as Robert Scoble) complaining about WordPress security.
  • less need for Matt to write public responses outlining why people should upgrade.
  • less complaints about bugs and the loss of functionality.

There’ll always be bugs in software and there’ll always be people who complain – but more comprehensive beta testing would lead to less bugs, leading to less unhappy users, leading to more sites being updated immediately, leading to less hacking, leading to even less unhappy users.

Better beta testing begets better security.

2. Balance Between Upgrade Speed Vs Security

Alternatively, if we don’t leave aside my beliefs, if we can moderate the unthinking update immediately advice, then we’re provided with a tremendous opportunity:

On a case by case basis, we can decide if an upgrade is in the “update immediately” category or in the “can wait for critical bugs to be fixed” category.

My solution, way down the bottom of this post, is going to propose delays to upgrades that are not for critical security issues, so that user experience less critical bugs. But more on that later.

The Problem: A Lack Of Beta Testers

The problem, which has been mentioned in various places including the podcast, is that although WordPress has a beta testing phase, there aren’t enough end users testing it to catch all the critical bugs. The software appears to runs fine during beta testing, but bugs rise to the surface when the release is rolled out to everyone.

First, some facts:

  • Software is always going to have bugs
  • Beta testing will never find all the bugs

There will always be some bugs that are only triggered when the software is run in an obscure environment or is used in a way that’s slightly different from how most people use it.

So it’s not about eliminating bugs, just about reducing the number of critical bugs that get through beta testing. The only way to do this is to get more people, using the software in different ways, on different server environments, to test the software.

How do we get more people to test the software? The answer’s coming soon (honest).

Software Release Management Anecdotes

First, let me say that I worked in the software industry (for a library management system vendor) for 10 years. For quite a bit of that time, I was the person who authorised the release of software to clients and/or agents.

I could bore you with software release management anecdotes going back to 1994. Luckily for you, I came to my senses and edited them out! I’ll just say that making sure that major releases were properly tested and free of bugs was extremely important for the following reasons:

  • Loss of reputation, harming future sales: Upset users are significant in the relatively small library software marketplace.
  • Direct financial loss: yes, it cost a significant amount of money to burn 5000 CDs back in 1994 (and then post them out).
  • Lots of additional work: printing letters, packaging CDs and supporting users who were upgrading, etc.

Obviously, WordPress operates in a very different environment from library software industry of old and many of these points are less of an issue:

If WordPress lose one user, or even ten thousand users, because of loss of reputation, they don’t actually lose any money in sales (actually there is no they!). If they have to release an upgrade, there are no costs for CDs and postage, people just download it. There’s no surge in the amount of support they need to provide, as support is crowd sourced.

Does that mean WordPress can afford to ignore this issue?

I say No – they should care about their reputation (and their users), even if there isn’t the same financial emphasis that there is in the closed source software industry. In fact, they should look to the closed source software industry and learn from it. Solutions to this very problem have been worked on and refined for decades.

In my particular case, we had several major incidents that led to us refining our testing and release processes. We ended up moving to a process that involved three phases of testing – I’ll outline these and relate them to WordPress in the next section.

The Three Phases Of Testing

1. Developer Testing

I’m sure this is done comprehensively by the WordPress developers. Ultimately, we employed a couple of full time testers, which Automattic could possibly consider funding. They may already have some testers (besides the Chief BBQ Taste Tester), although it’s not obvious from their About page.

I’m not going to explain the relationship between the WordPress project and Automattic here. This post is long enough. Let’s just say that the WordPress project itself doesn’t have any money (as I understand it). Automattic does have money and they have a record of employing people to work on the project.

But the problem isn’t here and full time testers would only have limited impact, so let’s keep moving.

2. Beta Testing

This is being done, but the problem is that not enough end users are involved. WordPress could look at ways to entice more users to join the beta testing program, but many of the methods that the closed source software industry use, such as offering discounts to beta testers, won’t work in the open source world.

One idea could be to build in a "do you want to upgrade to the beta version (for the greater good)" message into the automatic update function. When a beta version is released, everyone gets this message.

It would have to be very clear that it was a beta version and that there may be some problems and it would need Yes, No and Never Ask Me Again options, but it could work. Not many would choose to upgrade, but 1% of 3 million is 30,000, which is a lot more than the number of current beta testers.

Once again, though, I don’t think the answer is here. It would be a significant improvement, but could cause a lot of negative publicity: there’d be too many people who’d choose it accidentally, then blame WordPress for upgrading them to beta software.

3. Live User Testing / Staged Release

So we come to the solution at last (I told you we would) and it’s not in the beta testing phase.

Instead, the answer lies in a staged roll-out to users: limiting new releases to a relatively small number of people until it’s proven that there are no major problems.

If any major problems are found, a decision can be made on whether they are serious enough to fix immediately, before making the software available to the rest of the users. Even if it’s decided not to fix the problems, users can be made aware of issues that may affect them before they upgrade. Even that small improvement would make a real difference to users.

WordPress.com is sometimes used for live user testing – and this is great for testing the pure functionality of new features – but it doesn’t test the software on the myriad of different server environments or with all the themes, plugins and advanced customisations that are out there. You need to test with live (self hosted) users.

The staged release approach been used for decades. I was using it 15 years ago. Google uses it today: they roll-out new features in Google Analytics or Google Adsense slowly.

How Would A Staged Release Work?

A staged roll-out of WordPress would work something like this:

  1. Once the beta testing phase is complete, the automatic upgrade notice would be sent out to say 100,000 people.
  2. There would then be a period of say one week, where the feedback would be monitored and any critical bugs identified and investigated.
  3. At the end of the period:
    • if no critical bugs have been identified, then the automatic upgrade would appear to everyone else.
    • If critical issues have been identified, a decision would be made on whether to proceed with the release or delay it until the problem is fixed.

It goes without saying that urgent security releases would bypass this.

Now I’m not talking about physically denying the software to anyone, just manipulating who gets it through the automatic upgrade process. Anyone would still be able to visit wordpress.org and download the lastest version.

How Would A Staged Release Be Achieved Technically?

I’m not the best person to answer that, but I’d imagine it wouldn’t be too hard to do. It would require the automatic upgrade function to be modified: instead of WordPress installations asking "is there a new version", they’d ask "is there a new version and can I have it".

On the server side, it would check the download count and, when it reached the threshold, start saying no. You could make it complicated (checking whether it’s been downloaded from this IP address before), but it would be best to keep it simple.

There exists the potential that some users may be unhappy about either getting the new version before it’s been through live testing, or having to wait until after. The key here is that users are not getting the beta version, they’re getting the real version that’s been through beta testing, just as they would now. It’s just that it’s being rolled out slowly to further protect users.

This would need to be well communicated.

Of course, it could be made it opt-in. The first 100,000 users could be shown the message: "WordPress 3.1 is available! Update or Wait". If they choose Wait, it won’t ask them again until the live release testing is complete. The rest of the users would be shown: "WordPress 3.1 is available, but we recommend you wait for moment. Wait or Upgrade anyway".

Final Thoughts

So the solution to the beta testing problem isn’t actually within the actual beta testing phase. It’s just to roll out the upgrades slowly, giving time for critical bugs to be caught before they affect too many people. This would protect the majority of users from any serious bugs.

Personally, I have doubts that this would ever be adopted: I think it would be seen as too complicated. But really, it wouldn’t be that hard to do and would make life better for the vast majority.

What do you think? Am I crazy? Do you disagree with me? Do closed source practices have no place in the open source world? Do you have a better idea? Let me know!

30 responses on “The Solution To The Lack Of WordPress Beta Testing

  1. Andrew

    I think that this is quite a good idea. I personally like to use the bleeding edge code, and most of the time I don’t purposefully go hunting for bugs. If I come across one then I will submit it.

    As to how to physically implement this I’m not quite sure.

    Would it result in a significant increase in traffic to Automattic servers since there is data being sent between the users server and the Automattic servers?

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for your comment.

      That traffic is already be there. That’s how the each WordPress installation knows whether there’s a new version (that’s how you get the message to upgrade). It would be simply changing this message slightly, as well as the logic in WordPress itself, so it knows how to deal with the message.

      1. Andrew

        This is certainly true.

        Actually, now that I think about it, there might actually be a decrease in traffic since not everyone will be scrambling to update to the latest version.

  2. Jeffro

    Hey Stephen, your staged approach ala Google Labs, etc is a pretty cool idea. for starters, I would like for it to be opt-in. The opt-in could trigger a flag that lets the WordPress.org API know that I want to be part of the WordPress Live testing. Would this put me on Trunk or would this be a different version? I imagine it would have to be a little more refined than Trunk.

    Interested to hear Peter Westwoods thoughts on this.

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Jeffro,

      There’d be different ways to do this and I’m sure the Core team would have a much better idea about how to do it (I’m just throwing the idea out there) – but I wasn’t thinking of a new version, just holding back the “upgrade now” option for most people, while giving it to some who would then be testing the final release of the new version.

      If it was opt in, then when beta testing was over, you’d get the upgrade message same as now, but most people wouldn’t get it for another week. That buffer lets any critical errors be found and a decision made about what to do.

      And as I said, this would be bypassed for major security releases…

      1. Ozh

        Try to insert the topic in an irc meetup / in the wp-hackers mailing list? Or maybe ask privately westi/mark their thoughts about this, to see if the idea has potential or is dead-born

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Oscar,

      Great point about giving WordPress a boost in the eyes of the enterprise. I hadn’t considered that, but there’d be a much higher adoption of WordPress by the enterprise if they had more confidence in the testing process.

  3. John Zemler

    This is an excellent piece of informatioin and as a user (as opposed to a dev) I would like to see WP go this direction. For non-security crisis releases, I’d be willing to wait an extra week or two to get a better, less buggy, version.

    The piece is also interesting because it is “long” and blog readers allegedly have an aversion to gaining full information from a long post. Your post spent the time/length to say what needed saying and I am glad you did not feel compelled to make it shorter. Not all useful information can be delivered as short jingle, real information often takes time to devlop and I am glad you did.

    Your mention of Robert Scroble’s rant caught my eye. After reading it and other of his pieces I remain mystified why people pay him much attention. As I remain relatively new to blogging I wonder, did he used to be important or meaningful?

    I found your site through WPTavern. Thank You and Semper Pax, Dr. Z

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment. Good to see that people would be willing to wait. Also thanks for reading through the whole post (and appreciating it). That’s just the way I roll – I break the topic down into sections, then expand on those.

      As for Robert Scoble, he’s mainly famous because he started blogging when he was still at Microsoft. He became the voice on the inside of Microsoft, rather like Matt Cutts has done now with Google. The tech world looks to people like these who have the inside knowledge.

  4. Ryan Boren

    I think a staged release would have to be opt-in. Those who aren’t already opting in via the Beta Tester plugin wouldn’t like us opting them in without asking. Regardless, those who currently wait probably wouldn’t upgrade during the initial staged roll-out period even if they got the upgrade notice earlier than others. Without being able to forcibly upgrade people, we won’t be expanding the testing audience. The audience will still self select. Forced upgrades will never happen, of course.

    The Beta Tester plugin already does pretty much what is suggested, and we encourage use of it in every beta and RC release announcement. Perhaps building it into WP would help, but there is a line to tread when building in nags.

    Rolling out to a single site like gmail or wordpress.com is different than rolling out software that anyone can install anywhere. We often do staged rollouts on wordpress.com. That’s harder to do with self-hosted WP because we don’t control the process start to finish. We can force upgrades on wordpress.com and immediately fix any problems before rolling it out further. Neither is possible with self-installed WP.

  5. westi

    I’m not sure that staged releases really help here.

    They do help when you have full control over the infrastructure and you can release updates incrementally across your users.

    To a certain degree the WordPress Beta Tester plugin allows you to already opt in to taking part in the process early and getting involved.

    Staged releases as you describe them also go against the whole test before production philosophy which you, quite rightly, promote as a good practice.

    In my experience working in a traditional software development team you can never get as many beta testers as you would like however hard you try to recruit them as they often do not understand the benefit they get by being involved.

    I think the most important things we can do is make the availability of beta and rc as public and obvious as possible and make it easy for people to get onto the beta track and try to ensure that they get the recognition they deserve for their contribution.

  6. Oscar

    Isn’t a staged release by definition released “incrementally”? It seems that allowing certain users as the author describes (100,000 for example) would just be ideal for the users that want to get the latest and greatest right away, while allowing more conservative ones to wait a little bit longer to reassure them.

    It seems that these kind of discussions are always bias towards developers, it seems to be forgotten that most users don’t want to be part of “testing” because they usually feel like they have to do something special, or they simply don’t know what to do or what this means. Most people aren’t developers. Most people don’t want to “participate and contribute.” As selfish as this may be, it is the reality.

    We already have a large group of testers, a large group of developers and hopefully large enough of a community to contribute early on and find bugs. Why not extend the tester group to a less sophisticated group that just uses WordPress, they may even dabble on their themes, but aren’t full blown developers.

    I think the idea is great, let us get the latest available and let us acknowledge that it could have a bug, it could cause a problem. But in return you get that many more people testing.

    People aren’t sitting around at home waiting to be “part of the beta” testers for WordPress, they’re waiting for the new feature that was promised so they can do something new or extend their website. They have their stuff to do, and it isn’t testing WordPress. So after we’ve done our early testing, and the release is ready. Why not let them have it as an RC and extend the user base just as the article suggests. Then you can make it an official release and make it available to everybody.

    A simple way to make this “opt in” is simple. Something like “click here to receive the latest updates (beta, RC, etc)” with an agreement that this could break plugins/themes/etc. I think this is certainly better than releasing an update considering it “good” and finding that a bug went undiscovered, just to patch it with a .1 release a day/week later.

    This would instantly extend the “beta group” and all these people have to do is use it. No special work required, no special downloads, no discussions in wp-hackers, etc. Most people using WordPress aren’t developers and don’t care to be. Make it easy to report crashes, even autodetecting issues and highlighting them on the dashboard, where a user could click “we found a problem, click here to send a report to the WordPress Developers” (maybe that’s a little overreaching, but hopefully illustrates my point). Then when satisfied, a release could be moved from RC to production.

    Think about MS, how many people did they have in their beta testing for vista? 100,000? more? less? and it still flopped, why? They have the money, they have the resources… No real user input.

    Gmail releases staged and also wordpress.com, and yes, they have control over their infrastructure and can easily monitor stuff, but this isn’t the case for Self hosted wp. I see this as one of the great advantages and a huge opportunity to make WP even better than it is. It means this for the development cycle, more people, more server configurations, different scenarios and stuff even you guys as developers haven’t even thought about.

    There’s a gap between the official beta testers and the regular users, which can be filled with power-users or people that don’t mind trying out the latest, but don’t want to go through the trouble of setting up svn, going on trac, discussing their findings etc.

    I don’t see how this would go “against the whole test before production philosophy” you’re simply extending the test to a huge user base and letting it run in the real world before you give it an absolute green flag. This is where I would like to go into my dashboard and say “no, only show me the latest production release” or “yes give me the bleeding edge, I’m willing to try it out” simply with the click of a button.

    @Stephen, it was an uphill battle to have my company adopt WP, because it wasn’t considered “production” or enterprise level software. I think a formal process of development (as it exists now) is great, but would benefit from extended testing from the regular users. For example, we have our production site, and 3 or 4 clones of it as dev1, dev2, dev3, etc. All we do on those is test new releases, and I know I’m not the only one that does this, so if we had access to the new releases earlier we’d be a lot more confident.

    eh… I think I went on long enough.

  7. Brandon

    And some people tell me I’m crazy for waiting a long time for new WP installs.

    My problem always is , many of my sites rely on hacked php files to work (Have you ever tried to kill the greeting messages on wordpress? It’s awful!)

    It would be nice if they would just slow down the development and put out one GOOD version ,rather than 5 versions that sort of kind of work but make my plugins stop.

  8. Bradley

    Interesting idea, something that the develppers of WP should really consider. I have never been a big fan of upgrading as soon as a new release is out.

  9. Tyler

    Thanks for the in-depth discussion of software testing. I have always upgraded as soon as a new version is released (because it annoyingly begs me to at the top of the screen.) I haven’t had any trouble thus far, but will consider waiting after reading your article.

    Great article.

  10. Pixel Crayons

    I am fully agree with the post, that we must not go for the upgrade immediately after a new release of any software. There can any bugs or different sorts of problems with a new release. So, one must wait for few days before upgrading for any new release

  11. ScottiedogDave

    Stephen-

    As a long time developer myself (25 years, pc and mainframe) my only really true complaint of open source is the double edge sword of autonomy. WordPress is one example. WP is managed by a few, and the few have agreed to follow a particular set of standards. Some standards are generic enough that almost any developer with structured background can follow (naming conventions, commenting, using common functions, etc), but because of the nature of the idea of autonomy, one of WP’s advantages is that you can create a plugin to give WP functionality it currently doesn’t have (i.e. a plugin).

    And because of the nature of open source, almost anyone with limited programming skills can contribute a plugin to the community. This is for the most part good, as you can start with a base, then customize it as you see fit. But from a corporate structure, this is bad, because each of the plugins are different, may or may not have been heavily tested, they may use naming convention, but not the Same convention. In addition to that complexity, not all plugins are maintained thru WP versions, so if you have one that works on, say WP2.71, but dies at WP2.92, and the plugin developer found a paying job in a different state, you are sol.

    Not that it is good practice to use a plugin that isn’t getting regularly updated, but sometimes it is necessary. As an example, I was using a webhost who had a particular policy to not allow phpmail. I found an smtp plugin that worked. But as WP evolved, I had to modify the smtp plugin for each version because the developer had abandoned the plugin. I could have used a different supported plugin, but none of them actually did what I specifically needed. I eventually switched webhosts so I no longer needed the plugin, which took time to migrate code and data. (As a side note, had the plugin I used been incorporated in WP, it would have resolved the majority of email/hosting issues most users had).

    In a corporate environment, that is a big ouch double no-no. In effect, you become a hostage of your own need to use unsupported plugins.

    But more to your point on the testing. I think that any open source movement, such as WP could actually benefit with a little more corporate input and a little bit less autonomy. Best of both worlds, so to speak.

    WP is great for non-techie indivuals to get out on the internet and toot their horn. It’s convenient, is loved by search engines, has a fairly decent admin interface, is customizable, requires very little technical background, and has a lot of community to support it (free themes, plugins, etc). But for the mid range extreme blogger/power users and small to medium business that have limited development resources, WP has a few major drawbacks, one of which is administration efficiency. Backing up the database – you either do an xml file, and it misses important things like links, or you do a full backup dump, but then if you have to restore it, it restores everything, including the junk left by disabled plugins that didn’t clean up after themselves.

    Another example is – if you have, say, 500+ posts in 40 odd categories (which is very common), and you need to edit one or several in the middle, you can search for it if you know the name, or you can filter it by category – that is if you remember the name or category. Once you get to the post, do your edits and save it, you can’t go back to the filtered list. WP takes you back to the full list, where you have to start again. Besides the fact that WP has a poor sorting and filtering ability in just trying to track and edit posts, it is not very helpful as a high powered CMS that people are trying to us it for.

    (One more rant)… The other thing that I have a hard time with is how pages and posts work, and how they sit in the database. In relational database theory this would be ideal, but in a physical relationship this doesn’t work. In essence, a post and page can exist in the same table and have different relationships to different sets of data, as long as the majority of the data of posts and pages is similar. But if a post and page calls different functions to produce different results, and if by changing the code on one side of the relation (changing a UI function to to address something, like tags), technically, the page side of the code needs testing, just to make sure something else didn’t break. Also, since the both sets of the data are in the same table, it should be easy to utilize either set of functions with the opposite code by supplying a simple data parameter (page/tags, posts/templates), but in WP, that is not the case without having to modify code and data for the most part.

    I better get to my point. I believe that if WP and some businesses met to whiteboard some functionality/features that maintained backwards compatibility and added more business centric features (as in examples above); then WP would get more assistance in the testing department, and WP would grow in the direction that people are growing – and become a more efficient open source content manager.

    Well, I’ve dawdled enough out here, time to git back to work.

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi ScottydogDave,

      I think that might be the best comment ever left on this blog. I agree with pretty much everything you said. I hadn’t even thought of quite a few of them.

      I guess the other thing to add is that I think WordPress could do with one or two more experienced heads – nothing against the people running it now, I have a *lot* of respect for them, but I think it would be good if they were getting input from people who’ve been doing it for a long time, such as yourself…

  12. Craig

    Adding an option to install beta versions to the updater – what a FUCKING STUPID idea. This is what people running live sites use to update their installations – many of whom don’t really know much about what beta even means. People who are going to test beta version will do so with a fresh installation to avoid any risk of fucking their live sites up.

    I honestly can’t believe how you can claim to be a Web Developer with such a truly retarded view of the processes involved in testing.

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Craig,

      At least you’re just trolling and not spamming! I can handle that :)
      Of course I said the solution’s not in the beta testing phase – that would still happen as it does now, but there’d be a staged rollout to everyone else rather than open slather.

  13. Martin

    It is always interesting to follow the WP discussion, and I agree that some stuff about the updated versions should be better communicated. However, WordPress is a strong product, and I am actually very fond of it. Thanks for posting!

  14. Info Gadget Baru

    And some people tell me I’m crazy for waiting a long time for new WP installs.

    My problem always is , many of my sites rely on hacked php files to work (Have you ever tried to kill the greeting messages on wordpress? It’s awful!)

    It would be nice if they would just slow down the development and put out one GOOD version ,rather than 5 versions that sort of kind of work but make my plugins stop.

  15. ScottiedogDave

    Info Gadget – I agree with that for the most part – The Hello Dolly and Howdy thingy are totally irrelevant to any professional cms, and some of the hacks that are needed from the template side just don’t make sense. For example, the latest addition of custom menus is klunky at best, when a simpler hack is to just code page excludes in a template with a simple one line of code, storing the page ids in the option table (that way you don’t have to look up the pageids in each template file every time you change the menu).

    I recently wanted to add the page/post thumbnail feature, but in order to get the feature to work on the edit page, you have to add an add_action in the functions template to trigger the thumbnails. Not only is the documentation weak about this feature, but unless you are a template developer, this one is easily missed. To get around this before it was added to 2.9, I just added a few lines of code in the functions.php, so when ever I want to add the thumbnails, they were there.

    I also coded an admin tool to mass import thumbs for all posts. Now that 3.0+ has the feature, one can add the thumbs, but only if you add them for each page. (after you enable the feature in the template. Again, if you have 400+ posts, the last thing you want to do is manually add 400+ thumbs. There should be an easier way to import the thumbs for all posts in one easy swoop (I may share my code as a plugin one day).

    If you pre-publish posts or use any kind of cron job, there is no way to view the cron jobs unles you use another plugin.

    I have created some custom interfaces that don’t follow the regular blog look and feel. In doing so, I have ended up adding major php code to manipulate the content around the loop. I have also modified dozens of templates that had excess code dealing with the comments. If you turn off comments on pages from the begining, you shouldn’t need to tell the world that the comments are closed. The function should just break out of the comment loop. Also, there should be some defaults in the general settings to set global page/post comment and pings to off, and only turn them on as needed. To get around this, I created a hack (I guess you could call it a plugin), but now it seems I have about 20 plugins (hacks) that I add to each site just to get basic functionality. Add another ten or so for other features, and that is a lot of plugins that could fail during an upgrade.

    With all the sites I have developed, I would guestimate that I have never used more than 30% of the functions that exist in WP for any website, and most of those functions I hardly use all the parameters/options that are available. It seems almost overkill.

    On the other side of the coin, I do appreciate the effort the developers put in WP, as it has streamlined my development projects. I have cut development down from weeks to just days.

    Later.

  16. Graciela

    I’ve stopped upgrading completely with WP, and I have about 10 sites with them.

    They’re a nightmare for releasing upgrades without being tested. The last one knocked out one of my sites completely, and I had to reinstall it on a different server and re-do half the information. Took me days.

    I also now have 4 sites where the RSS feeds won’t work. Worked fine until I did the stupid upgrade. Now? No RSS feed and no way of figuring out why.

    Now I advised everyone I know NOT to upgrade. WordPress is good for some things but these ‘fixes’ they do are often worse than useless.

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