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Opened 7 months ago

#49620 new feature request

Allow plugin/theme developers to utilize Beta, Alpha, Canary release channels for automatic updates

Reported by: wfmatt Owned by:
Milestone: Awaiting Review Priority: normal
Severity: normal Version:
Component: Plugins Keywords:
Focuses: Cc:

Description

With the changes introduced with #48850, WordPress user can now configure plugins and themes to automatically update when a new version is released. In general, this is a great feature in terms of security, and reducing overall site maintenance.

At Wordfence, we have offered automatic updates for our plugin as a feature via the WordPress auto-update API for a number of years. Since the automatic update rolls out over the course of 24 hours, issues with a new version can end up being widespread very quickly, especially as our user base has grown in size. We've being adding more and more testing on a variety of different hosting environments and configurations to catch potential issues before we push an update to the plugin.

One feature that would be nice to have would be to configure release channels for different stages of stability in the plugin/theme. Chrome/Chromium has used release channels as a means to gradually rollout automatic updates to users.

Plugin developers could define Beta, Alpha, and Canary tags which can be used for testing. They can be defined in the same way developers can use the Stable Tag header in the readme.txt. End-users of WordPress would be able to select a specific release channel when configuring automatic updates. Stable for production websites, and alpha/beta/canary for staging and development sites.

There was a fair amount of feedback from WP Tavern's recent post regarding automatic updates for plugins and themes. Quite a few users mentioned issues with updates causing a WSOD on their site, and seemed hesitant to adopt this new feature:

https://wptavern.com/automatic-theme-and-plugin-updates-slated-for-wordpress-5-5#comment-320040
https://wptavern.com/automatic-theme-and-plugin-updates-slated-for-wordpress-5-5#comment-320044
https://wptavern.com/automatic-theme-and-plugin-updates-slated-for-wordpress-5-5#comment-320049

Being able to provide release channels can allow WordPress users utilizing staging sites to know ahead of time if an update could potentially break their site, before it occurs on their production site. They could disable automatic updates in production for that plugin/theme and (hopefully) post details of their issue in the support forums.

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