In his 2013 State of the Word Speech, Matt Mullenweg shared his plans to release two major versions of WordPress later this year in addition to 3.6 coming out this week and to generally increase the rate of WordPress updates. We discussed this a bit on the WPWatercooler today, but there wasn’t really time to get into things.

The discussion (argument?) went something like this: (paraphrasing here)

Scott Bolinger: The WP survey reported back that the two worst things about WordPress were updates and plugins. And Matt’s State of the Word Speech was basically a call for more updates and plugins.

Chris Lema: It’s really annoying and costs a lot of money to retrain people when WordPress is updated, especially in the enterprise.

Jason Coleman: You’re whining.

Chris Lema: Of course updates are easy for you, you bleed blue WordPress blood. You need to be able to relate to end users who are confused by UI updates, etc.

And that’s about where we left it before moving on to the next topic. If I had time, I would have continued on like this…

First, I do understand the end user’s perspective. I have to do these updates for clients, answer the support calls, and sometimes retrain them. I used to be in the Chris Lema camp and thought WordPress was needlessly updating their UI too fast. I mean, I thought the change in version 3.3 to hide submenus in the dashboard behind flyouts was a big big deal. But that’s nothing compared to the potential change between the current version of the WP dashboard and this mockup of how things might look under the new “MP6” dashboard UI.

mp6_screenshot mp6_screenshot2

I’ve since changed my mind. Here are a few arguments for faster WordPress updates.

  1. What’s the alternative? Slow down? Have fewer updates? I don’t think Chris’ enterprise clients would like that option. WordPress needs to iterate to stay relevant. If WordPress gets stale, we’ll stop using it to build cool stuff.
  2. Things aren’t even changing that fast. That flyout menu feature was added in version 3.3 back in December 2011. Since then, the media library update was the only big UI change which happened earlier this year. An MP6-like update to the WordPress UI possibly (possibly) happening by the end of this year will be a big change, but then so is the jump from Microsoft Office 2010 to Office 2013. Enterprise should be ready for these kinds of things.
  3. What about new users? Sure existing users are disrupted when the UI updates. But if the changes are meant to make WordPress easier to use, it will make training new clients easier. I use a similar argument all the time with clients: sometimes you can’t worry about the few existing users you have and need to instead focus on the many future users you want to have.
  4. Finally, faster updates should encourage some changes that will make things easier for enterprise users. Things like automatic minor version updates or a better decoupling of the admin UI to the underlying WordPress framework are a bigger focus of WP development right now. I think the updates in these areas will make up for the inconvenience of a larger number of core updates.

I really mean for this to be a continuation of the discussion we started on the show. So I look forward to feedback and counterarguments in the comments below. Why am I wrong?

Update: Chris Lema has posted a reply on his blog.