Maintaining the WordPress core updates just became a little easier, thanks to the latest version of WordPress, v3.7, released October 24th. It adds quite a bit of functionality under the hood, most you won’t notice, but one big feature is automatic minor updates. While that makes keeping the core platform up-to-date with the latest security and bug fix updates (i.e. going from 3.7 to 3.7.1), it also adds the option for auto-updating plugins and themes, which may make maintenance tons easier, as plugins and themes can have updates on an almost daily basis.

There’s even an option to allow WordPress to update it’s core files to the latest major version updates (i.e. updating from 3.7.x to 3.8), but I’d strongly recommend not doing that unless all your plugins are strongly supported and have a good chance of continuing to work across all major version updates.

Highlights of v3.7

Background Updates: Automatic updates for maintenance and security updates. Daily updates for developers using nightly builds.

Stronger Password Meter: New password meter to encourage users to choose stronger passwords.

Improved Search: More relevant search results.

Better Global Support: Localized versions will receive faster and more complete translations. Background updates will include translations.

For a detailed list of all the changes, bug fixes, and updates, visit the v3.7 Codex page.

For developers that know how to customize their WordPress configuration, here’s the list of constants and filters you can use to control the automatic updating. For everyone else, please contact us to inquire about our WordPress consulting.

The WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE constant is added with v3.7, and you can add these to your wp-config.php file to control what updates are automatically installed. I’d recommend not using any of these, as they are either already set (minor), enable development versions (true), or disable all core updates (false). Instead, use the filters discussed after these values.

To enable only minor core updates, the default setting in v3.7:
define( ‘WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE’, minor );

To enable development, minor and major core updates (development updates are bleeding edge, not recommended for production sites!):
define( ‘WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE’, true );

To disable development, minor and major core updates:
define( ‘WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE’, false );

There are also filters you can add to your site to enable specific updates. These would typically go into your theme’s functions.php file, or to survive theme changes, into a custom plugin folder in a .php file you’ve created.

To specifically disable minor updates, use the following:
add_filter( ‘allow_minor_auto_core_updates’, ‘__return_false’ );

To specifically enable major updates, use the following:
add_filter( ‘allow_major_auto_core_updates’, ‘__return_true’ );

To specifically enable development (nightly) updates, use the following:
add_filter( ‘allow_dev_auto_core_updates’, ‘__return_true’ );

There are also filters for plugin and theme updates.

To enable automatic updates for plugins, use the following:
add_filter( ‘auto_update_plugin’, ‘__return_true’ );

To enable automatic updates for themes, use the following:
add_filter( ‘auto_update_theme’, ‘__return_true’ );

To disable the automatic update functionality completely, use this: