WordPress 2.3 introduced the Upgrade Automatically Feature for plugins. In the plugin list there is a notification for plugins that have updates and they are easily updated by supplying ftp login information.
This was a great addition to WordPress. No longer did I have to check and see if a plugin had been updated, download it, extract the zip file and upload the files to my webhost. It was such a tedious process that my plugins did not get updated very often. Now, I can just click “Upgrade Automatically”, type in my login, and the plugin gets updated. Yesterday there was a problem auto upgrading Google Sitemaps but it was easy enough to correct manually and this is the only problem I have had with this feature.
Except … except for plugins that I have customized. For example, on my Current page I list what I am reading, watching and playing with Amazon Simple Admin plugin. This plugin contains a number of template that can be customized. I didn’t like the look of the default plugin when I first installed it a couple of months ago so I edited it. So, when I automatically upgraded the plugin earlier this week I went to the Current page and saw that the entire look had changed. At first I jumped to wild conclusions and thought my site had been hacked. I then stepped back, used some logic and reminded myself that Occam’s Razor states that the simplest solution is the most likely solution. And then – ah-ha – I had upgraded the plugin.
What is really sad is that I have done this before with a different plugin when I used the auto upgrade. Obviously, I didn’t learn my lesson the first time. While I welcome the integrated plugin update functionality within WordPress, I can’t completely recommend it. If I never changed plugin templates or set features, then I would be fine. But, since I like to customize and have a rapidly fading memory, I run into problems and create extra work for myself.
Can anyone recommend a way for me to remember and notify myself that I have customized plugins so I don’t run into this problem using auto-upgade again? Or, perhaps, I should stick to manual upgrades? Maybe, just maybe, having to ftp to my host and open the directories will remind me that I have edited the files.