Why I share update notices

When there are announcements of updates to the software my clients choose I share those updates to social media in my newsletter. Why? It’s important to be aware of updates even if you don’t understand completely everything that’s being changed. It’s also important to stay aware regardless of how one manages the installation of these updates. As a small business owner you are concerned with the supplies that are an active part of your core business. For example, if your business creates yarn then you stay current on how your fiber and dye supplies come to you. I believe having awareness about your software, a key part of your business, is now a requirement too. My sharing is an attempt to help amplify what’s important over all the noise that comes at you every day.

What do you need to do with this information? Read through the release. Evaluate to determine the impact the changes will have for your software and how you use it. Make backups. Plan when to update.

Let’s step through this recent announcement of the WooCommerce 3.3.4 fix. One thing to keep in mind is that not all announcements are of the same quality. I’m using a robust example for this post.

If it says security release make updating a priority!

Version & Date – I like to check the version number against what I’m using. There are some standards for how version numbers change, but they aren’t always followed.

Commits & Changelog – A commit is when a change to the code is saved to the central repository. Programmers often will pull and work on their changes before they commit them back in. The changelog is that–a log of the changes made in a particular version. Hopefully the developer is following a style guide and best practices.

Changelogs are generally more readable regardless of what you know about software development. The commits are often concise and focus on the language to guide the commit message. In this version, for example, the commit reads “Implement selective_refresh for store notice”. The changelog reads * Fix – Prevent full refresh when editing store notice in the customizer. The later is easily readable and I don’t need to look at the code to know how this change will impact my clients.

Fix or Tweak – This terminology is subjective. Most companies (or solo developers) will standardize on a specific style. Fixes are that, things weren’t working right and they were fixed. Tweaks are small improvements.

But what about beta versions? I do not suggest you run any beta software on the machines or website you rely on. I recommend clients skim the announcements. If there’s something they think will be critical for their business, let me know and I’ll help set up a testing environment.