Tracking Changes to Popular Website Platform
WordPress 3.7.1 was released about two weeks ago. It fixed about a dozen bugs in the 3.7 release. Earlier this summer we mentioned that WordPress was planning several big software releases before the end of the year. I’ll explain why the latest rounds of changes bodes well for website maintenance as well as a few words of caution.
Before “Basie” There Was “Oscar”
If you’re a WordPress fan, 3.6 (dubbed”Oscar”) was released on August 1. Oscar was highly anticipated as it improved the auto-saving and revision functions. One of our favorite features is Post Locking — which allows only one author per post at a time — which is a must for teams that collaborate on creating webpages or blog posts. Then came “Basie,” named in honor of Count Basie, on October 24. Release 3.7 has these bragging rights:
- Automatic Updates. No more worries about keeping your version of WordPress current with the latest security updates.
- Stronger Password Recommendations. The weakest link to a website’s security is a poor password – one that is easily guessable by Brute Force software attempts.
- Better Global Support. Offers more complete translations to those who run WP in non-English languages.
- More Developer Options. Provides better ways to control upgrades and multisite improvements.
- 439 Fixes. Resolved over 400 issue requests.
WordPress 3.7.1 Recap
As with many software updates there were a few holes to be plugged. WordPress 3.7.1 fixed:
- Images with captions that broke in the visual editor
- Allow sits running on old versions of WP or were poorly configured to check for updates
- Avoid fatal errors with some plugins
- Hierarchical sorting problems
- Warnings that occur in certain setups
Another Update in the Queue Before Year End
As a business owner/marketer, following the latest and greatest software releases is probably not high on your list of things to follow. But if you’re interested… 3.8 is in production and continues their “plugin-first development process.” Basically this allows more freedom to uncouple feature development from a release. Matt Mullenweg in his “State of the Word” at WordCamp 2013 announced their drive to push out more frequent software releases. I think this speaks to Automattic’s core value of providing a best-in-class product that’s nimble and responsive to its users’ needs.
What 3.7 Automatic Updates Don’t Do
WordPress 3.7.1 now represents a self-updating software. That’s good news in that a website can automatically take advantage of the security features in each new release of WordPress. That said, you still need to perform website maintenance as WordPress 3.7.1 doesn’t:
- Update plugins — pieces of code that adds functionality to your website (e.g., forms, rotating testimonial quotes)
- Perform manual backups — similar to backing up your files on a hard-drive, your website has files and databases that need to copied and stored in case of a catastrophic event
- Manual quality assurance checks – to confirm that a WordPress software update didn’t break your website or any features
- Fix Broken Links – includes identifying and fixing any broken outbound links
- Site Recovery – there are many steps to rebuilding a site if it gets hacked or has a fatal error due to a WP update
We are pleased that WordPress 3.7 has made keeping a website humming on the latest features (and security measures). Yet the care and feeding of a website should never be on auto pilot. A website is now part of a business’ mission-critical marketing systems.
What version of WordPress are running? If you don’t know, that’s a hint your website may already be at risk.
How can we help?
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