Do We Still Need Auto Update?

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david63
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Do We Still Need Auto Update?

Post by david63 » Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:30 am

Ever since time immemorial there have been problems with the Auto Update process in phpBB (I have never managed to get it to work - but that's another story). After the numerous problems over the last week is it not time to re-assess this process?

The original idea behind Auto update goes back to phpBB 2 (I think) where there were many core changes not only by MODs but by "hacks". As one of the main tenets of phpBB 3.1/3.2 is that core code is not changed then surely the requirement is now not there?

In my opinion Auto Update should never have been included in phpBB 3.1.

Again in my opinion the main/preferred update process should be "changed files". It is not only the quickest but also the simplest and most straightforward. The changed files method should be changed so that there is one update for each version (3.2.0 > 3.2.1, 3.2.1 > 3.2.2, 3.2.2.> 3.2.3 etc.) rather than the current system where there is one massive file containing updates from every version to every other version.

Yes doing it that way might entail a bit more effort if a board gets several versions behind, but on the other hand if it causes less problems then boards may not get as far out of date. It may be possible that the database update could be cumulative so that it would only need to be run once for several updates.

There will be the argument that users will have to ftp files when there is an update - well they have to ftp the files to start off with and with the Auto Update method there is the downloading/uploading of files anyway.

The next argument would be that those who have made core changes will have to reapply some or all of them after every update. The response is that if you are capable of changing core files then that is something that you should be able to do. We have all been there at one time or another with various packages that we have wanted to "tweak" and changed core code but we have not expected the developers of the package to cater for us.

Removing the Auto Update must make creating releases quicker and easier, with a possible side effect being that they could be more frequent for bug fixes and adding events.
David
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and you do not know what you do not know!

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Jacob
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Re: Do We Still Need Auto Update?

Post by Jacob » Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:45 am

I wouldn't remove the Auto Update, but hide it so you have to search for it.

There could be two different pages, one for installing and one for updating. On the updating page, the changed files method could be the first (big) tab, the auto update the second (smaller one) and the patch files method the third.

And, for each one, the instructions should be on the same page, instead of a link to the instructions on a different page.

And I think the current changed files method is better than the one proposed for david63. I'm 3 versions behind and wouldn't want to update 3 times.

Just my humble opinion and blah blah. Thanks for the hard work.

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P_I
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Re: Do We Still Need Auto Update?

Post by P_I » Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:01 pm

Executive summary: Keep Automatic Update but change what it does and use WordPress's automatic update as a model.

The long winded explanation: A very timely topic that I've been pondering for a few days. Some background first.

We run our sites on a shared hosting environment and I'd classify them as small to mid-size. Our forums have existed since ~2005 and phpBB 2.0.x days. I'm a software developer (enterprise level applications) and very comfortable with technology and like living on the bleeding edge. I also like simple and easy procedures/processes that are as automatic as possible.

For the two main boards that I run, we make a small number of codes changes to customize the sites to our needs. The changes are
  1. change to our site logo (now handled by extension, we're in the process of removing our code changes and using the extension solution)
  2. change the display of who is online so that guests and bots don't see the registered users list.
  3. change the styling for the bots group to remove font-weight=bold
I would argue that the last two points are either bugs and/or should be ACP board settings options, "but that's another story" :lol:

For phpBB 3.0.x and phpBB 3.1.x we've always used the automatic update process when moving between the dot bugfix releases and haven't encountered problems. Going between feature releases, we use the Full Package upgrade proceed. We always test the upgrade first on an off-line replica of our forums because performing it on our production environment. This has saved our bacon on more than one instance.

On the websites that I manage, we also run WordPress for our homepage and a blog and MediaWiki for our wiki. We manually integrate the sites as best as well can.

We use WordPress's automatic update procedure (manually triggered) and I must say they've made it dead simple to use. It's just a button push. MediaWiki's update procedure isn't quite a one button update, but it's close. Update the files and then run php maintenance/update.php. In both of these cases, we also first test the update process on an off-line replica.

Now to the OP's question.
david63 wrote:
Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:30 am
As one of the main tenets of phpBB 3.1/3.2 is that core code is not changed then surely the requirement is now not there?
I agree it is one of the main tenets from the phpBB.com team's point of view, but based on what I read in the Community forums I'm not convinced that everyone, users and support team members, have bought into that basic tenet. I still see too many examples of support team members and "quasi-support team members" like Lumpy telling posters how to fix/change their forums by change this file or that file. As the number of extensions and styles has increased since phpBB 3.1 was released, there has been a noticeable change in the community towards the basic tenet of not changing the core code, but the road ahead is still bumpy.

I would hazard a guess that a second problem is board administrators only become aware of a new phpBB release through their ACP. A covered in [PHPBB3-14968] Version check marks 3.1.10 boards as outdated - phpBB Tracker. This creates two problems. The first being that admins of phpBB 3.1.10 boards think they are out of date and must update and second that they should use the Automatic Update Package. I don't know the statistics, but I'd hazard a guess that a large percentage of board administrators don't know the community forums at phpBB.com exist and they don't follow phpBB • Announcements or the specific [3.x.x Support Forum] discussions.

So, I would suggest that phpBB still needs an Auto Update, but the underlying functionality should be completely changed. Given the tenet that core code is not changed, then the Auto Update procedure should be modelled on the WordPress auto update procedure. From my perspective as a site administrator, the WordPress auto update handles downloading the necessary software package, replacing (I think) the changed files and running whatever database update scripts that are required. It all happens out of my site.

In essence, Auto Update should provide a one button solution to do all of the following:
david63 wrote:
Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:30 am
Again in my opinion the main/preferred update process should be "changed files". It is not only the quickest but also the simplest and most straightforward. The changed files method should be changed so that there is one update for each version (3.2.0 > 3.2.1, 3.2.1 > 3.2.2, 3.2.2.> 3.2.3 etc.) rather than the current system where there is one massive file containing updates from every version to every other version.

Yes doing it that way might entail a bit more effort if a board gets several versions behind, but on the other hand if it causes less problems then boards may not get as far out of date. It may be possible that the database update could be cumulative so that it would only need to be run once for several updates.

There will be the argument that users will have to ftp files when there is an update - well they have to ftp the files to start off with and with the Auto Update method there is the downloading/uploading of files anyway.
Or the phpBB automatic update should automate the following which gets posted regularly to the support forums:
  • Go to the admin panel of your current board and purge the cache.
  • Download the full package of 3.2. click here 3.2.x Full Package
  • Unzip it to your computer, now remove the file named config.php
  • Upload all the rest of the files and folders into your forum's directory (Note: you don't want to overwrite your original config.php file)
  • Browse to yourdomain.com/yourphpbb/install/ then click the update tab. Click update.
  • Delete the folder named /install/
My $0.02.

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pierredu
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Re: Do We Still Need Auto Update?

Post by pierredu » Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:19 pm

On the other hand, since the installation works even without a config.php file, why is there an empty one in the update package ?

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paulus Online
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Re: Do We Still Need Auto Update?

Post by paulus » Sun Jan 15, 2017 5:40 pm

pierredu wrote:
Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:19 pm
On the other hand, since the installation works even without a config.php file, why is there an empty one in the update package ?
Only in the full package there is a empty config.php?
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pierredu
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Re: Do We Still Need Auto Update?

Post by pierredu » Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:55 pm

Even in the full package. The situation is the same.

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DavidIQ
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Re: Do We Still Need Auto Update?

Post by DavidIQ » Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:59 pm

No the full package has it, update package does NOT have it. Not sure where you are getting an update package with a config.php file from but the ones on phpBB.com do not contain this file.
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pierredu
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Re: Do We Still Need Auto Update?

Post by pierredu » Mon Jan 16, 2017 8:50 am

Well, I'm surely wrong.
Forget about it.

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Ger
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Re: Do We Still Need Auto Update?

Post by Ger » Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:56 am

I favour removing the current auto-updater (with file diffs etc.) and replacing it with something like P_I suggested. In fact, I recall this has been discussed about a year ago or so, but -IIRC- DavidIQ mentioned it wouldn't be so simple.

Can't find the topic now.

- edit -
Found the previous topic and the ticket

The suggested approach would be to
  1. Notify of new version in ACP dashboard
  2. Download changed files with a click of a button
  3. Put board in maintenance mode
  4. Replace changed files
  5. Run migrations
  6. When successful, put board back online
For those who still modify their board files, the current auto-updater could still be provided, but I think it should be renamed and only available through phpBB.com website with some advice about it's only intended for modified boards. And possibly deprecating it in the future.
Above message may contain errors in grammar, spelling or wrongly chosen words. This is because I'm not a native speaker. My apologies in advance.

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david63
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Re: Do We Still Need Auto Update?

Post by david63 » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:39 am

Ger wrote:
Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:56 am
Can't find the topic now.
There is also this topic - https://area51.phpbb.com/phpBB/viewtopi ... 26&t=50901
David
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and you do not know what you do not know!

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