“We’re going to deploy on December 20th.”
I’m not Christian and December 25th is just another day when I binge watch Netflix. The 24th? Movie night! But I picked up a habit at the Bank and that was not deploying code for the last two weeks and first two weeks of the year unless the company was going to be fined if we didn’t.
I was brutal about that to people. I was harsh and mean and demanded lengthy justifications. I made them speak to senior management, who were hard to find around that time of year because every one was on vacation.
The reason for this was that the bank had a clear cut fiscal responsibility not to go down between Thanksgiving and a bit after New Years. That was when year end processing happened, and that was when many companies who used us were processing the most orders. For a lot of people, business booms right when everyone wants to take a break to be with their family.
WordPress runs 25% of the Internet.
We use it for blogging, for building Facebook-eqsue sites, for running ecommerce stores.
That means and we the developers of WordPress now have a responsibility not to break when we upgrade people. A huge responsibility. And it’s one we can never give with 100% assurance because of one simple fact.
We made WordPress open.
Anyone can make a theme or plugin. And while we do our best to test with core WordPress, we cannot test all of the 45k plugins in the repository yet. The best is maybe we could write a script to check for fatal errors on activation. But even then, can we test all 45,000 against all possible permutations of combinations?
That’s an incredibly massive number. All my factorial calculators, even Google, just said ‘Infinity.’ And we add about 9000 plugins a year. This is staggeringly huge and it gets bigger every year
But with this increase in share and use comes an incredible responsibility to 25% of the web. We cannot break their sites.
Of course I know that’s impossible. There will always be outliers. And even with the large user base that companies like Yoast have, the dearth of willing and capable Beta Testers for a free product is going to bite us. It’s part of what I asked what I did at the Town Hall at WCUS — Are we going too fast?
Speed cannot exclude us from a responsibility to our users. And with the increasing provenance of online stories and websites for everyone, pushing a change when we know that the majority of the world is celebrating something between Nov 15th and January 15th is reckless. Look at how many people want time off in those months to be with family. Look at how many businesses are running sales. Look at the amount of data transfer that spikes.
And then picture what happens when an update has a small bug that takes down one site in a thousand. 1/1000 of 1/4th of the entire Internet. If that didn’t make you shiver, do the math again. Imagine if Apple went down because they pushed an update right around Christmas?
The answers change sometimes, though. What if it was a security fix? Would that change your mind? It would change mine. A major upgrade around Christmas worries me. A minor one, not so much.
It may be time to call a year end moratorium on updates to our systems and apps. If they’re business and mission critical, test them as best you can, but consider if you have to update before that Christmas rush. Make people jump through hoops to prove they need the new shiny right now. If you know you’re understaffed or under heavy load, consider that as much as anything else.