How NOT to push out code updates for a WordPress plugin

This is how this started off.

I subscribe on the plugins forums to be informed of certain key words, relevant to me. One of these triggered a discussion that revealed, well, something extraordinary.

The originator of the discussion was trying to diagnose a problem with his site since updating to the latest version of the plugin. He’d rolled it back but found the same problem occurring, which was odd. The plugin developer revealed this was because they’d made changes to the previous version without incrementing the version number – essentially, the version he was rolling back to wasn’t the one he’d installed before when it was working last.

Sometimes we upload very minor fixes that are pertinent to only a small percentage of users, so we don’t increment the version number every single time for every modification since that has been equally annoying for users in the past..

This it totally the wrong behaviour and the originator has seen the results of that. ALL code changes should require a version change, however small. It’s up to individual users, via the details in the change log, to decide whether they need to upgrade.

I’d make better use of more detailed version numbers – using multiple decimal places. For example, the first number represents a major release, the second a more minor and the last a trivial one (or emergency bug fix).

…this happens with other plugins who only change the version number to indicate compatibility with the latest version of WP

Well, they shouldn’t. If no code changes are required after a new WP release then you simply update the README to reflect this. If code changes were made you update.

To say I’m surprised that a major developer (this is someone running a business off the back of the functionality that their plugin provides) thinks like this, would be an understatement. Needless to say, I responded. Thankfully one of the main admins of the forum also ‘waded in’ and backed up my own responses. It was only at this point that the developer backed down and agreed to change their ways. It’s a shame it took the admin intervening for this to happen but at least a success that they now listening.

But I continue to be surprised by the lax attitude of developers. Yes, many do it for free, as do I, but that’s no excuse for fundamental failings such as this.

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