Why I’m Reconsidering Being a WordPress Tester

I’m venting. I’ve documented testing pre-release versions of WordPress since prior to 3.1 being released in February 2011, coming in at either the Beta or Release Candidate (RC) phase depending the version of WordPress. This release cycle, for the upcoming version 4.1 of WordPress, has annoyed me to the point of reconsidering testing pre-release versions in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I still think WordPress is great software and will continue to use it for my websites and recommend it to others. I’m just not sure I’ll be testing versions prior to them being marked as ready for production sites anymore.

My first problem is the system for testing pre-release versions taking a big step the wrong direction. In the past I could use a plugin, which is incredibly easy to install and activate using WordPress, to move from Betas through RCs to the full release version via the update feature built into WordPress. During the 4.1 release cycle a change was made that caused the same process I would have used in the past to install 4.1 Release Candidate to take me to 4.2 Alpha. This was unexpected to me based on past experience, but I’ve been told multiple times in the support forums that this is the expected behavior, despite it never happening to me in the past. Apparently all my experiences in the past were wrong.

My second problem is the plugin I used, called “WordPress Beta Tester” with the description “Allows you to easily upgrade to Beta releases”, installed an Alpha. For some strange reason I expected the Beta Tester plugin to install Betas or higher, but not Alphas. When I questioned the BETA tester plugin installing an ALPHA in the support forums, calling this “Silly” when I really wanted to call it “Asinine”, it was again stated that it’s the expected behavior. Apparently I’m an idiot to go along with my wrong past experiences.

The third, and probably biggest problem is the official announcement post for 4.1 Release Candidate says “To test WordPress 4.1 RC1, you can use the WordPress Beta Tester plugin…” which is not true. There is no was to get the 4.1 Release Candidate using the plugin mentioned, instead it will install 4.2 Alpha. This is misleading those that are willing to test a pre-release version of WordPress on the official WordPress website, and will probably annoy them when they are told it’s the expected behavior, despite the announcement stating different.

Making it more difficult to test pre-release versions for a platform that prides itself on being easy to use is confusing to me. I asked for insight into why this change was made, but the question went unanswered and the support topic was closed. Before anyone says it, I know I can download the zip and FTP the Betas and RCs for testing, but I probably won’t. To me, FTP is for when something goes wrong, like removing the plugin that locked me out of my site last week or installing 4.1 after my site is unexpected migrated to 4.2 Alpha. It’s not for correcting an unexplained step back in the testing process.