Upgrading to Wordpress 2.3.2

How unsexy are Wordpress security updates? I have the horrible habit of doing everything else first before attempting one (which, of course, is absolutely the worst thing you can do, as the recent spam hack on the SWX blog demonstrated so well). I used to dread doing the updates mainly because I just knew something would break. At least that's how I used to feel.

When I last upgraded Wordpress, a little over a week ago to version 2.3.1, I made a slightly delayed New Year's resolution that I wouldn't hack the blog. Instead, I decided to do everything using plugins and widgets (which are plugins that display on your sidebar). And -- wonder of wonders -- I actually stuck to it! That being the case, upgrading is no longer a nightmare.

In fact, when you have an unhacked Wordpress installation, all you have to do to upgrade to 2.3.2 is:

  1. Download 2.3.2.
  2. Delete the wp-content folder and the sample wp-config file from the distribution.
  3. Test it locally on your development machine (skip this step at your own peril; the last thing you want is all your readers discovering your "Doh!" moment mistake at the same time as you do!)
  4. Upload the new files to your server.

That's it. All in all, it took me under ten minutes to do. As there were no database changes between the two versions, I didn't even have to run the upgrade script (which I realized after running it on my local installation and seeing the resulting message.)

The moral of the story is that if you don't hack your blog but use plugins for everything, upgrading no longer needs to be a nightmare. Using a plugin-based architecture (which in Wordpress shares similarities with aspects and the Template pattern in object/aspect-oriented programming) gives you flexibility in customizing something without altering the original, thereby making updates to the original possible without breaking your customization.

The same moral holds true for development when you're using third-party libraries. Instead of hacking them, see if you can't extend their capabilities either via inheritance, or, even better (because it's more flexible), through composition (say via the Decorator pattern or by using interceptors). That way, unless the public API of the library changes, you won't be afraid to update the library to its latest version. (And, if you're designing an API, see if you can't include some hooks or filters in there to make it easier for people to extend it without too much trouble.)

To cut a long story short, the blog's now running Wordpress 2.3.2 and all is well. It's also a real pleasure to actually find myself looking forward to the next Wordpress update rather than dreading it! :)