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So as anyone who pays attention to the technical side of the blogging world (although I have no idea what small, obsessive sliver of the population that may be) is probably aware, WordPress 2.7 is scheduled for release in a few days—December 10th, to be specific. In fact, it’s already been rolled out as of today (Thursday) for bloggers hosting at WordPress.com, and for the externally hosted (like me) there’s the only-slightly-preliminary “WordPress 2.7 Release Candidate 1.”

I’m not usually an early adopter of new software; if I have something I like that works, I stick with it… but this is a major upgrade, and they’ve been teasing its improvements for a while now. (At least as long as I’ve been blogging, in fact, which after all only dates back to September.) I don’t feel like waiting.

I’m really looking forward to it, frankly. I’ve been using version 2.6.1 since I first installed WordPress on my domain host, and while it’s certainly functional (widely applauded as the best open-source blogging software around, in fact), and I’ve customized it pretty extensively with plugins… still there’s no denying that the admin interface is an ugly, disorganized kludge, and requires far more clicks (and hunting around) to get things done than really ought to be necessary. WP 2.7 promises (in addition to all its under-the-hood improvements) a dramatically redesigned and streamlined admin interface (aka “dashboard”).

Here’s the part that makes life interesting, though. I didn’t originally do a manual install of WordPress—instead I used Fantastico, a component of my host’s CPanel interface that has automated scripts for a wide range of add-on features. This saved considerable hassle at the time, but it means a catch-22 in terms of upgrading. I can’t use the handy “WP Automatic Upgrade” plugin, as there are warnings that it’s not always safe on installations that originated with Fantastico. OTOH, I can’t upgrade with Fantastico either—since it’s famously slow to add in scripts for new software releases, and at the moment is only up to WP 2.6.2.

This won’t be a problem down the line, since among 2.7’s improvements will be built-in automatic upgrade functionality for future releases. It’s getting to 2.7 that’s the trick. My only real option is to bootstrap it and do a manual installation… which is certainly doable (the WP site includes detailed instructions; it involves completely overwriting some folders, replacing only the contents of others, and leaving some key files carefully untouched), and within my abilities, but all else being equal it’s the sort of headache I’d rather avoid.

For one thing (and this is recommended even for automatic updates, but crucial for manual ones!), it means I need to back up all my WP files and the related MySQL database. Now, the database I can back up easily enough using CPanel… but aside from that, CPanel’s rather limited functionality means I can only back up my entire site (not just the blog files) in a single compressed archive, which is rather more than I need. So, to pluck out just the folders and files I’m concerned with, I’ll need to use an FTP program… which, again, is doable, but not something I’ve ever had to bother with before. (For uploading static files to my site, I’ve always just used Dreamweaver… a lovely program for site design and management, but so far as I know not useful for this sort of task.)

Which means I need to obtain, install and configure a separate FTP program (I’ve chosen CyberDuck), before I can back up my blog files, before I can download and install the 2.7 upgrade… and then I still have to learn to use it, of course. (And I haven’t even mentioned the part about making sure it’s compatible with my Theme and all of my plugins.) I’m sure for some long-time bloggers all this is old hat, but it’s all first time stuff for me.

Isn’t it great how new technology makes our lives easier? :roll:

Still, I’m gonna tackle it. Everything I’ve ever learned about computers has been self-taught (including the troubleshooting)… why change now? I’ll let you know how it goes.

But if it happens that my blog seems at all out-of-whack sometime over the next few days… well, I’ve warned you in advance of what the reason is likely to be.

Remind me to write sometime about all the fun involved in updating my home theater system…

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One Response to “The joys of software updates”
  1. Irene says:

    I am almost of the mindset that I will no longer upgrade my versions of Wordpress, as each time I do the plugins play up. To upgrade or not this is the question.

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