[wp-hackers] Long term suckage

Matt Mullenweg m at mullenweg.com
Fri Jun 18 15:49:06 UTC 2010

On 6/17/2010 5:12 PM, Dan Gayle wrote:
> I once again wish that Wordpress would adopt a two-pronged release strategy.
> Yes, go ahead and release the latest, greatest bleeding edge version as your
> main release. But please, PLEASE, start a long-term-support (LTS) branch.
> Backport all the security fixes and keep something stable for at least the
> previous release version.

I used to think this was valid, hence the 2.0 LTS branch. Now, after 
working with hundreds of the largest companies and media properties in 
the world, I am philosophically opposed.

While I like the theory of LTS, what happens in practice is it covers up 
the incompetence of IT or developers because they put off small slightly 
painful upgrades until they get so out of date of trunk (3 years? 5 
years?) and you have to go through a giant, painful, screws everybody 
over upgrade.

At a deeper level, it's disrespectful to your users. A good example is 
WYSIWYG, which we improved dramatically in the releases following 2.0. I 
would run into businesses who were sticking on 2.0 because it was LTS 
but their users were HATING WordPress because "making the WYSIWYG not 
suck" wasn't backported as a security fix.

I would rather have them hating some other out-of-date CMS. I would 
rather the IT department do two hours of work every 3-4 months than a 
two-month death upgrade project every 5 years.

Not backporting is a conscious decision. I would rather invest 100 hours 
in backward compatibility in a new version than 2 hours in backporting a 
fix to an obsolete version of WordPress. Plus, as noted by everyone 
else, backporting was often impossible because it wasn't one or two line 
fixes, it was architecture changes that would touch dozens of files. The 
LTS was actually *less* stable with these "fixes" backported because it 
had almost no one using it. Why?

So if we had been able to stick to the 5 year cycle for 2.0, you would 
still be on something roughly like this version of WordPress:


Please download it. Install it (someplace private). Make a post. Edit a 
theme. Upload a photo gallery. Use a custom post type (oh wait). It 
sucks. It's embarrassing we used to promote this software. We've learned 
so much, gotten so much better, and we're going to continue to.

You don't even need to go that far back. Use 2.6 for a month. It's only 
about 2 years old.

The best thing we could do for the savvy people inside these big 
companies is to give them a scapegoat they could blame the constant 
upgrades on (those open source hippies! keep making new software.) all 
the while they know it's really best for their site and their users.

Plus, this is wp-hackers, we know upgrades aren't that bad. Half the 
people here run trunk. So does WP.com a good chunk of the year (and all 
the major sites hosted there).

As the wizards of WordPress, the question we should be asking isn't how 
do we trap people in the jail of old versions for years at a time, but 
rather how do we make upgrading as easy, safe, and painless as possible 
to the point where we could even start auto-upgrading.

Matt Mullenweg
http://ma.tt | http://wordpress.org | http://automattic.com

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