WordPress Beta Test plugin.

WordPress 2.7 branch was pretty stable, and didnt need many bugfixes. WordPress 2.8 on the other side, is already at 2.8.4 in just some weeks time and will at least be 2.8.5 before 2.9 comes. This is bad for reputation, and makes lots of extra work ( and irritation ) for people maintaining many sites.

Rumors says that there were not enough beta testers for WordPress 2.8. That may and may not be true, but whats true is that WordPress needs better and deeper beta testing, done on “real” sites loaded with plugins, hacks and content.

In June Peter Westwood released a WordPress Beta Tester plugin. The plugin enables you to upgrade your blog to the latest Beta or Release candidate at the click of a button using the built in upgrader.

If we look at the stats for the plugin well see that it’s not very much used. It’s downloaded 230 times in two months, and one might think that this isnt a good idea after all.

However, in my opinion a WordPress Beta Tester plugin is a great idea. It just needs more features to make it attractive for normal people to use. The hardcore WP devs dont need it.

Beta testing needs to be done in an environment as close to real installs as possible, with the same plugins, hacks and content as live sites. To achieve this the plugin should include features and documentation to help and motivate WordPress users to run a cloned version of their live site on localhost or a subdomain like beta.mydomain.tld. The plugin should be smart and installed both on live site and beta site making real beta testing easier.

Additional features should be:

  • Ability to import export mysql as the WordPress import/export have too many issues.
  • Ability to regex search/replace url`s based on a settings option with url for both sites.
  • Ability to backup content folders.
  • Documentation with best practices for beta testing and how to participate in tickets. ( Making a ticket, reproducing errors etc ) Maybe this could be included in the new Handbook project too ,with beta testers as a user group along with End Users, Theme Developers, Plugin Developers, Sys Admins, and CMS users.
  • Ability to run frontend in maintenance mode or private mode.
  • Probably something I didnt think ofΒ  πŸ˜‰

There are plugins doing most of what I`d like to see, but I`d like to see a canonical plugin making features of available plugins available in one dedicated WordPress Beta Testing plugin. I believe it would make beta testing better, WordPress better, and make a lot of people happier.

A plugin like this would also make moving WordPress around much easier, and it would be easy to recruit WordPress movers to become WordPress beta testers.

What do you think ?