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New Auto-Update Feature Coming to WordPress

Jailyn Glass, marketing manager at Perfect Afternoon
Jailyn Glass

Auto-Update Feature

At PA, we completely vouch for WordPress. This content management system is the best at managing your content while making it easy for you to update without the need for a developer or coding experience. With this upcoming feature, you’ll be able to check one thing off of your monthly maintenance list. WordPress announced an enhancement to its Auto-Update feature. This already covers minor core WordPress software patches, but it will now extend and cover plugins and default WordPress themes as well. 

In this article, PA will cover detailed information about this upcoming feature and what you can expect it to do for your website.

What’s the Auto-Update Feature?

With a number of abilities, the Auto-Update feature will allow:

  • Website administrators to opt-in to automatic updates for plugins and themes within the admin area
  • The ability to enable/disable auto-updates on a plugin-by-plugin and theme-by-theme basis
  • Users to create email notifications to send auto-update summaries to website administrators, so they are aware of what has been updated
  • Offer capabilities for developers to disable or programmatically define how auto-update works on any given website (via hooks and constants)

This will be able to be turned on and off in the Plugin and Theme management areas of the admin, the same area where you normally update them manually. 

The WordPress core team posted recent mockups of the intended design – see the image below.

Auto-Update Feature By WordPress
WordPress users will be able to enable or disable auto-updates for plugins and themes.

What the Auto-Update Feature Isn’t

While this feature will make users’ processes more efficient, the feature is not: 

A Fire & Forget Method

This feature is not a “fire and forget” way to keep your WordPress website fully up-to-date. Websites should be monitored at the timeframe you deem appropriate, whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly, and double-checked after an automatic update is applied (which is where the administrative email summary comes in handy).

A Complete Update Replacement Option

Secondly, it’s not a replacement for proper updating and quality assurance checks. With the feature, users will still have to update their website with the necessary content for each post and page. Additionally, quality assurance checks will make sure that you check issues, warnings, and errors that are not brought to your attention from an admin standpoint. 

[callout] Read About Additional WordPress 2020 Feature Releases [/callout]

When Will It Release?

The update is slated to release on August 11, 2020, with the WordPress 5.5 core update. This is a tentative date, but stay tuned to this post as PA will keep you updated with the latest WordPress news.

3 Recommendations From PA

As a professional web development agency, we maintain a lot of WordPress sites for our clients – including manually updating their plugins. Thus, here’s our recommendations when it comes to how to best utilize this upcoming feature, and what we will be doing with it as well: 

Update Website Carefully

If you’re going to use the auto-update feature, do it carefully and with the guidance of your web developer partner. Updating a plugin can technically break something, so if you automatically update a feature and you’re not checking it after, it could mean bad news. Let your web developer partner safely advise you on how to update your plugins and themes.

Look At Which Plugins Are Safe

We advise letting your web developer partner dictate what plugins can safely be automatically updated and what ones should not. Not auto-updating unsafe plugins will eliminate the headache that can come with reversing the damage created.

Don’t currently work with a web developer? Contact us, and we’ll schedule a website review.

Use Of an Automatic Process

PA only plans to use this feature to automatically handle the update process. We’ll be following each set of updates with thorough checking of functionality. This process will create one less step for our developers without losing our quality assurance checks. 

Primary Image Source: Envato Elements

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