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Could WooCommerce Do More To Avoid Upgrade Complications?

Mar. 20, 2015

In my recent experiences, it seems a site that uses anything but a stock install of WooCommerce should be afraid to upgrade. Custom templates are permitted but tend to break on upgrade, just had a payment gateway break this week because of a change Woo made (I've read support threads of several payment gateway plugins having issues). I love the software, but I think they could do a better job making sure templates and expensive payment extensions work with the latest version. People can't afford to have downtime. Writing to their support takes them a week to reply and even then, they rarely give answers.

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15 votes   Flag
Tom Harrigan

If a site can't afford to have downtime, that site should have a staging environment where changes can be tested before bringing those changes live. I'm not sure how WooCommerce can guarantee that a template works correctly if it's been customized. By customizing things, it adds an unknown number of variables to the equation. If a WC update has the potential of breaking a customization, I'd think/hope that all of the changes are noted in the changelog or on the WC dev blog ( develop.woothemes.com/woocommerce/ ) so that people can be aware and take the proper course of action. As far as what they could do to avoid complications, it all comes down to communication and everyone can always improve on communicating better and more effectively, whether it be to end users or extension devs.

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Eric Karkovack

Good points, Tom. A staging environment is really a must. I think the thing that bugs me most with the templates in particular is that they seem to rewrite them. So even if you only added a line of text or a call to a custom field, it breaks. Just seems like too many things go wrong on updates.

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Tom Harrigan

Interesting. I'll be signed in to the #woocommerce IRC channel if ya wanna talk about specifics further. I suspect that some conditionals and checks could probably be added with the customizations so that in a case like this they fail gracefully rather than end up causing huge headaches immediately and allow time for the customization to be patched.


(While that may seem not as great as ideally having everything always play nicely with each other, I don't think there's really a way around it when we depend on code that is out of our control)

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Eric Karkovack

Thanks! Of course, you're right that they can't possibly account for all customizations that devs make to templates, etc. I'm far from a master programmer, but I'd just like to see improvement.

Woo apparently changed something with how error messages are called and it's led to a few wpayment gateway extensions not working.

support.woothemes.com/hc/communities/public/questions/202241985-Fatal-error-Call-to-undefined-method-WooCommerce-add-error-

That one threw me over the edge this week, lol!

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Ideas Guy - Deviance

I'm in the process of implementing this into my friend's blog page for his services. I have had nothing but issues using this software. Glad someone else feels that way.

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Eric Karkovack

It really can be a wonderful package, but reliability has to become better. I used MIA Merchant for years and never once had a site break because of an update. While that's more of a closed system than WP, there's something to be said for upgrading without major issues popping up.

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Matt Cromwell

Tom Harrington is spot on. You simply can't update an ecommerce site without a proper staging environment. But, unfortunately, the changes they make in rapid fire succession do mean a lot of re-working even for some of the most basic Woo extensions and/or Themes. And in my experience (responsible for a prominent 3rd Party Woo extension) their changelog is not sufficient and their changes are always much more significant than they let on in their Dev blog (develop.woothemes.com/woocommerce/). The only way to really know what's going on is to compare with their commits on their Github account. But -- for example -- changes made within the previous 10 days before 2.3.0 (Happy Hippo) were very significant and their were over 80 commits made, so keeping track was crazy and virtually impossible.

I'm thankful for all the improvements they've been making. It just overall feels like they don't make a strong enough effort to help their 3rd party devs who really help make them more and more relevant within the WP ecosystem.

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Eric Karkovack

Well said! The extensions are what really separates Woo from competitors. If those devs aren't made aware of changes to the core plugin, everyone loses.

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