A new version of WordPress is out, and I’ve upgraded the three installations I’m now maintaining this evening: this blog (Moving at the Speed of Creativity,) Learning Signs (our family learning blog) and Eyes Right (a Christian team blog.) Several of the newer features of WordPress DO make the process of upgrading easier, but this is still a somewhat tedious process that requires careful attention to detail. I like the current WordPress feature which shows a notification message at the top of the dashboard when a new version is available:
From a security standpoint, it is a VERY good idea to keep your WordPress installation up to date, just as it is a good idea to keep your client computer operating system(s) up to date with the latest security patches. There sometimes ARE compatibility issues with plug-ins and new WordPress versions. For that reason, when MAJOR WordPress updates have been released I’ve checked for compatibility on the main plug-ins I rely on (like PodPress) and only upgraded after compatible versions of those plug-ins become available.
Several months ago during an upgrade, which I attempted to do in a more hasty fashion than I should have, I neglected to de-activate my plug-ins first before upgrading and that led to some problems that may have corrupted one of my mySQL databases. I’m not sure if those problems are related to the troubles I had with my podcast feed, but they could be. I had been using an automatically created WordPress RSS feed for my “podcasts” catagory, but somehow that got messed up and enclosures stopped working as they should in the “burned” Feedburner feed for my podcast. I tried using a WordPress.com website to create my podcast feed for awhile, but ultimately switched over to using FeedForAll software (commercial) for creating and managing my feed. I resumed using the PodPress plug-in for WordPress, which I REALLY like, but I manage the RSS feed separately. I’d prefer a web-based solution for managing the feed, but I like the control FeedForAll provides over the XML code. Thankfully, since I use Feedburner (a great, free service) for my podcast feed, I haven’t had to change my PUBLISHED podcast feed address.
I follow the basic steps for upgrading WordPress provided in the WordPress Codex whenever I want/need to upgrade my blog engine software. More specifically, the steps I follow for completing a WordPress upgrade like I’ve completed this afternoon (x3, once per installation) are:
- Download the latest version of WordPress, as well as upgraded versions of WordPress plug-ins I use. My current plug-ins are listed on the about page of my blog. (I updated that page thoroughly this evening.) I like the fact that the plug-ins page for WordPress now shows if newer versions of uploaded plug-ins are available, with a handy link to directly download the latest version.
- Under Options – Discussion in the WordPress dashboard, turn on the option “Before a comment appears: An Administrator must always approve the comment.” This insures spam comments don’t go up on the blog while the anti-spam plugins are deactivated.
- De-activate all WordPress plug-ins in the WordPress dashboard. Thankfully there is now a single link that deactivates all of them with one click.
- I delete the “wp-content” directory in the new version of WordPress I’ve downloaded. That directory includes plug-ins and themes, and since I don’t want to overwrite my existing theme and plug-in files (in at least one case, I’m using a modified version of the default Kubrick theme) deleting and not uploading wp-content seems like the best way to avoid an overwrite.
- I upload the new version of WordPress into the root directory used for the blog site. (I use the free ftp software for Macintosh, Cyberduck.)
- Reactivate all the plug-ins in the Plug-Ins menu of the WordPress dashboard.
- Turn off the option to require an administrator’s approval before a comment shows up. (Undo step #2 above.)
That seems like a lot of steps when I write them all down, but thankfully this process DOES seem simpler than it has in the past. Given this complexity, however, I certainly WOULD recommend that educators (and others) getting started with blogging use an administrated blog engine service, like WordPress.com or Edublogs (for WordPress) or Blogger. In each of those cases, network administrators handle the updates and upgrades for the blogging engine software. This does impose some limitations in terms of the customizations available, but for many people I think those limitations are outweighed by the benefits of NOT having to mess with all these “upgrade issues” whenever a new version of software, like WordPress, is released.
If you’re using WordPress and also deal with upgrade issues, I’d be interested if you have other tips or suggestions related to this process. Also, does anyone know the word that means “all the plug-ins I currently use in WordPress?” There is a special term for that which I’ve heard before, but have forgotten.
Remember to follow Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wesley's Facebook pages for "Speed of Creativity Learning" and his eBook, "Playing with Media." Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Mapping Media to the Common Core / Curriculum."
On this day..
- Dave Ramsey on Strengths, Jobs, Entrepreneurship, Lifelong Learning & Persistence - 2011
- Lessons Learned Videoconferencing on the BlueJeans Network (Dec 2011) - 2011
- Fuel for Educational Change Agents: A new, lightly-edited podcast channel - 2010
- Watching Live Bowl Games on MobiTV - 2010
- Praise for MobileRSS on the iPhone - 2009
- Toodledo: My quest for a web-based and iPhone friendly GTD organizer is over - 2008
- Empowering citizen journalists - 2006
- YouTube and Technological Anarchy - 2005
- Educational Banner Evangelism - 2005
- Open Source Tipping Point? - 2005