Auto-updates feature meeting summary: March 10th, 2020 (kick-off meeting)

These are the weekly notes for the WP Auto-updates team meeting that happened on Tuesday March 10th, 2020. You can read the full transcript on the core-auto-updates Slack channel and find the meeting’s agenda here.

It was the first meeting for the Plugins & Themes Auto-updates feature, and this kick-off meeting was really efficient and worthwhile for the project 🚀

WP Auto-updates feature general scope

Here is the current general scope of the Feature Plugin:

  • Ability for website administrators to opt-in to automatic updates for plugins and themes in the related WP-Admin screens
    • ✅ Done for plugins
    • 🔲 Themes: needs to be ported. Slated for milestone 0.4.
  • Ability to enable/disable auto-updates on a plugin-by-plugin and theme-by-theme basis
    • ✅ Done for plugins
    • 🔲 Themes: needs to be ported. Slated for milestone 0.4.
  • Email notifications to send regular auto-update summaries to website administrators
    • 🔲 Plugins: Slated for milestone 0.3.
    • 🔲 Themes: Slated for milestone 0.4.
  • Hooks and constants to help developers disable or programmatically define auto-update settings
    • ✅ Done for plugins
    • 🔲 Themes: needs to be ported. Slated for milestone 0.4.

For the moment, the team started with plugins autoupdates, then all this work will have to be ported to Themes screen.

As a reminder, the Feature Plugin is developed on GitHub and is available for testing on plugins repository.

Current status of the project – version 0.2 🐝

Last week, version 0.2.0 was released with a lot of enhancements and bugfixes. Here is the complete changelog:

  • Remove auto-updates column from must-use and drop-ins screens – PR #39
  • Ensure the the enable/disable bulk actions appear in the dropdown and are handled in multisite – PR #38
  • Remove dashicon from “Enable” text in plugins auto-updates column – PR #36
  • Replace “Automatic Updates” with “Auto-updates” in filters – PR #35
  • Display only filters with at least one available plugin – PR #33
  • Remove setting from site option when deleting plugin – PR #32
  • Populate site health with plugins auto-updates informations – PR #24
  • In multisite, only add the “Automatic Updates” column on the plugins-network screen – PR #21
  • Add auto-update-enabled and auto-update-disabled views on the plugins screen – PR #18

@pbiron noticed some PHP notices on version 0.2.0 and made a pull request to fix them. It is milestoned for version 0.2.1, later this week.

@audrasjb shared some screenshots of the current design of WordPress Admin screens:

Click images to open them in full size (it will opens in a new tab).

@mclancy3 will open GitHub issues to provide some feedback on the Plugins screen’s user interface.

Work in progress

@pbiron raised an issue with a premium plugin that assumes there is no extra column on the plugins list table and add its own column with a colspan attribute. As mentioned by @clorith, this is not a bug in WP Auto-update feature plugin but rather a bug in this particular plugin. @jeffpaul proposed to add this to a Known Issues/Caveats section in readme files.

@jeffpaul also proposed to port the Features/to-do list section from into GitHub issues. @audrasjb already ported Email notifications and Themes auto-updates into issues, and @jeffpaul will take care of the remaining ones.

@jeffpaul pointed out that 10up uses two GitHub Actions to help deploy plugins to as well as readme/asset updates. He proposed to submit a PR to add those here and help streamline deploys to For the moment, @audrasjb generates releases from the GitHub repository and deploy them manually on the plugin repository, using SVN. If it’s not a top priority, it would be nice to improve this workflow.

As proposed earlier in core-sitemaps meeting, @pbiron suggested to add a label to issues when something different will have to be done to the plugin code when it gets merged into core. @audrasjb stated that it would be nice to introduce this kin of labels and also to use DocsBlocks comments to point out things that will need specific implementation on WP Core. @jeffpaul proposed to use a GitHub pull request template for that.

About next development steps, @audrasjb is currently implementing email notifications. It shouldn’t be a problem given there is an useful automatic_updates_complete action to hook on.

Porting auto-updates features from Plugins to Themes will probably be a way more difficult, as there is not so much hooks in the Themes screen template. Themes in multisite is fairly straightforward, since a list table is used there, but for single sites there is no list table so what we’ve done for plugins won’t really apply. We’ll probably end up with JavaScript hacks to include the interface opt-in buttons and informations. @jeffpaul proposed to expand the focus of 5.4.x to include those hooks in the themes screen, which sounds like a perfect option right now.

Current GitHub issues

Issue 31: Automatically rollback to previous version if fatal errors detected after update

@audrasjb thinks this issue is out of the feature plugin’s scope. @clorith added that if auto-updates are off by default, yes this would be out of scope for the first release, but definitely something to look into in the future. If they are on by default, this would be a blocker. @audrasjb answered that Plugins, Themes and Core (major) auto-updates are all meant to be opt-in, in the 2020 general roadmap. The team agreed to keep this issue open for the moment.

Issue 13: Automatically delay/postpone updates

@audrasjb said Postponing updates is a great feature, but it’s not on this feature plugin scope, and not sure it’s even in Core scope. @clorith pointed out that the core solution should facilitate by providing filters and such, but not add all those options. The team agreed to keep this issue open for the moment.

Next steps

  • @audrasjb will focus on email notifications development and grant GitHub commit access to @pbiron.
  • A call for testing will be published on Make/Test once 0.2.1 is released with the PHP notices fixes.
  • @jeffpaul will work on improving the GitHub repository organization.

Next meeting is scheduled on Tuesday March 17, 2020 at 18:00 UTC and will take place on #core-auto-updates Slack channel.

#auto-update, #feature-plugins, #feature-projects, #feature-autoupdates