With all of the design improvements to the plugin and theme screens in recent WordPress releases, the experience of updating extensions started to feel clunky and disjointed. The Shiny Updates feature plugin was created to hide what project contributors refer to as the “The Bleak Screen of Sadness.”
WordPress users received a small taste of shiny updates when the feature was applied to plugin updates in the 4.2 release, but themes still lag behind. For example, when you update a theme, WordPress lets you know exactly how hard it is working behind the scenes to make that happen:
Downloading update from https://downloads.wordpress.org/theme/cover.1.6.4.zip…
Unpacking the update…
Installing the latest version…
Removing the old version of the theme…
Theme updated successfully.
Shiny Updates hides the ugly parts of updates in favor of making the process appear more effortless. Instead of taking the user to a new screen, updates happen in the background without the need to refresh the page.
The project is currently a feature plugin in development for WordPress core, led by Konstantin Obenland. In a recent status update Obenland said that the new version of the plugin aims to extend shiny updates to all aspects of updates, installs, and deletes for plugins and themes in WordPress.
Version 2 of the plugin currently offers the following:
- Deleting single plugins, bulk updating, and bulk deleting plugins from the plugin page.
- Shiny plugin installs from the plugin install screen: multiple actions can be queued up.
- Shiny theme installs, updates, and deletes, multiple queue-able, including multisite.
Development for the Shiny Updates project is happening on GitHub where the team is collaborating on design and UX improvements. One of their goals, according to the most recent update, is to refine the user experience by “improving perceived performance and limiting confusing notifications.”
Update All the Things
WordPress’ update process is somewhat fragmented when there are multiple updates available for core, plugins, and themes on the update-core.php screen. Shiny Updates contributors are exploring a button that would “update all the things” in one pass. The dedicated issue on GitHub has 28 comments of discussion and design mockups for what an “Update All” process might look like.
In addition to adding an Update All functionality, contributors are also working on the following issues:
- Development for bulk plugin action notifications
- Design for updating themes from the theme card (on top of from details modal)
- Another round of user tests to get more feedback on the new flows
When asked whether Shiny Updates will be ready for inclusion in the upcoming 4.5 release, Obenland said, “Even though we’re fairly far into what we want to accomplish with v2, there are still a good number of tasks outstanding.
“I’m going to reach out to the a11y group for a review soon and have already gotten in touch with a few core committers to have the JS part reviewed,” he said. “We’re also in the process of running more user tests for the new flows. So the decision deadline next week just comes a little too early.”
At this time, WordPress 4.6 is a more likely target for including Shiny Updates in core. If you want to assist the team in getting it ready, install the feature plugin from the official directory or via the Beta Tester plugin. Testing version 2 should include both plugin and theme installation, update, and delete actions on both single and multisite installs. Testers can report any bugs to the project’s GitHub issues queue.