Making blogging easier

1clickupgrade
The latest release of WordPress, version 2.6.1, came out a few days ago.

I upgraded this blog yesterday in a process that was painless as it happened literally with one mouse click and didn’t involve the manual upgrade process that’s usual with self-hosted WordPress, and which can be quite daunting for some users.

My hosting service, DreamHost, offers a simple 1-click install and upgrade service that makes the process of upgrading your blog as simple as, well, one click.

I noted on my tech blog last month what my WordPress upgrade path has been since I’ve been with DreamHost :

  1. Backup the database: this is where everything in your blog resides – posts, comments, user settings, etc – so always have a recent backup (the WordPress Database Backup plug-in is very good).
  2. Disable all plug-ins.
  3. Run DreamHost 1-Click Upgrade and wait for email confirmation that the upgrade has been done.
  4. Log in to the blog and re-enable all plug-ins (which I do one by one, checking the site each time to be sure there are no compatibility issues).

From step 3 to receiving the confirmation email usually takes less than 15 minutes. For all the steps 1-4, the total time, typically, is less than an hour.

As DreamHost makes a backup copy of my entire site before doing an upgrade, which I can revert to in case of any disaster, I usually don’t do the additional step of making sure there is a copy of the entire blog – everything that’s installed on the server – on a local computer before doing an upgrade, unless I’ve made changes to any core files or theme templates. I tend to do a full backup myself anyway from time to time.

As with all blog upgrades whether WordPress or any other self-hosted platform, there is a bit of preparation work to do before that one click where the absolutely essential steps are numbers 1 and 2 above (and see the full upgrade guide on the WordPress Codex which I always check even with a one-click upgrade procedure).

In thinking about how easy an upgrade is (and a fresh installation, too) using the type of service offered to its customers by DreamHost, I started wondering when installing or upgrading a blog platform like WordPress might universally become a sort of one-click process, with reliable and trusted functionality built-in to the platform itself.

Imagine how easy it would then be for literally anyone to manage their blog platform without being any kind of IT person, or turning to someone with tech knowledge for help. And the easier it becomes, the more likely it would be that more people will set up a self-hosted blog (check some pros and cons of self-hosting).

There is a plug-in for WordPress called WordPress Automatic Upgrade that many people swear by. If I wasn’t using DreamHost, I’d consider using that although I’m a bit put off by some of the horror stories in the WordPress support forum.

Yesterday, WordCamp took place in San Francisco. This is the grand-daddy of WordPress conferences, gathering together a great deal of talent in developers and bloggers to talk about the future of WordPress.

In reading much of the commentary about the event – notably ZDNet’s coverage and TechCrunch – I paid particular attention to commentary from WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg on what the developer priorities are in the coming year.

In reporting on Mullenweg’s presentation at WordCamp San Francisco, TechCrunch notes:

[…] The focus for 2009? Easier upgrades. Their growth, Mullenweg says, is not dissimilar from other popular products (he mentioned Microsoft, OSX, iPhone, Facebook platform as examples), and believes that good platforms need good self-updating systems. Automattic has a three-prong strategy for better updates: better community awareness, working with webhosts, and adding automatic upgrades functionality to WordPress. Mullenweg envisions the upgrade process to work just like Firefox: one-click, with a list of plugin and theme incompatibilities generated. WordPress.org’s plugin directory (and a recently-launched theme directory) will help make this possible. Many new features are also in the pipeline, including the much anticipated BuddyPress

, but that a clean update system will remove one of the biggest thorns for WP users.

(The bold is my emphasis.)

This is very good news.

Until then, there’s DreamHost and 1-click.

See also this thought-provoking post by Sarah Perez writing in ReadWriteWeb – The Next Social Networks Will Be Powered By WordPress and Movable Type.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Bruno Amaral

    I’m not a fan of the one click install. When I first installed my blog, I did the whole ftp, upload and configure dance. It was a way of learning a bit on how wordpress works.

    This means that I don’t have the automatic backup that dreamhost provides. So what I did was configure the WordPress Database Backup plugin.

    I scheduled a daily backup to be sent to my gmail account, and added a filter for the subject keywords. This means that if anything goes wrong,I will always have a previous copy of the blog.

    And since gmail keeps it away from my inbox, it’s a transparent process for me.

  2. neville

    It probably depends on your experience, Bruno. I like DreamHost’s one-click install simply because my experience shows it’s reliable and so I trust it when it comes to upgrading a blog.

    I’ve also done quite a few traditional installs and upgrades as you describe.

    I know which way I prefer!

    Re backup, I do that too with the database backup plug-in, at least weekly. That’s just the database, though: I also keep a complete copy of the site on a local computer which I update whenever I make a major change.

    I trust DreamHost but not enough to rely only on their backups.

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