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Updates from every angle – Status update on AdRotate Pro

Over the last few months updating AdRotate Professional has not been as easy as it should be.
A ton of things have been going wrong with the update routine for many users. While for others it worked without a hitch. I’m one of those people where it usually works. So it’s a bit hard to find the problem. But here goes.
I took some more drastic measures to actually improve things and not just patch stuff up.

3 Major issues have come to light and have been fixed or will be fixed over the next few weeks.

WordPress changed things for updates

One big issues is WordPress itself. Internally WordPress changes things a lot. Also a while ago. These changes are usually not documented, and then result in all kinds of weird behavior. In this case, unreliable updates.

I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on and that took a while. Eventually I kind of fixed the update process with every update, but also broke it for others. I have released 3 or 4 updates that worked for me and some people who tested it, but the userbase at large still ran into many issues.

Version 5.7.2 finally fixes this. But if the update doesn’t work, how do you as a user get it, or even know about it… So, many people are stuck on version 5.2.1, 5.4.2 and 5.6.4. Updating is not that hard, but it’s not the one-click-dashboard-button-method they are waiting for…

If you’re stuck with an older version and no update is offered to you, get in touch. We’ll sort it out.

I have changed things for updates

The second issue is on my end. I have changed things as well. This created some issues around version 5.5-5.6 but were quickly resolved. Though not quite in the way I wanted it to. Meanwhile I added the possibility to check for updates for AdRotate Professional without a license. But this ended up causing issues on my server. Starting with version 5.7.3 this will be removed.

Another thing I added is an notification in your dashboard when updates are available. This works really well. It allows me to stop sending those annoying update emails for users of versions 5.7 and newer. yay!
But the “install update” button in that notification has a link generated by WordPress which expires after a few hours, causing people who click it the next day or so to see some dumb nondescript error… Version 5.7.3 will fix this, too.

AdRotate Geo kinda sucks right now

AdRotate Geo was created as a sort of courtesy and convenience to users with smaller websites so they don’t have to pay for a professional lookup service for Geo Targeting. This is still the idea of AdRotate Geo today. A bunch of people use it – Or try to anyway.

And this is the third issue. Banners telling you you don’t have lookups are kind of rampant right now. People see them more often than not. And when they should go away, they only stay away for a short while. This is really annoying and frustrating.
What makes this especially difficult is that it works for me, every, damn, time. Even when I log in to your website to troubleshoot it and try to set up AdRotate Geo. It usually works – For a while. Until it breaks again an hour or so later.

This makes finding the true cause of the problems really hard. And any fixes I apply either are hacky and stupid or break things in other areas.

Not a good experience.

APIs gonna change

The way things work today is that I developed an Application Programming Interface (API) for AdRotate Geo. And another for Updates. Both are developed independently from each other and have their own methods, quirks and shortcomings. On a smaller scale this kind of works and they’re not really related to each other.
What one API does, does not really concern the other.

However…

Turns out that if the Update API screws up, AdRotate Geo can’t validate your usage of it.
If AdRotate Geo keeps failing you, the Updates will not be as forthcoming as they should be.
You get the idea, it f*cking sucks.

Both API share a lot of their data to each other. And there is nothing wrong with that, but if one relies on the other they should work together, faster and generally be more in sync. Not fumble around with weird hacks and tweaks when something breaks, like they do now.

Over the past week I’ve written a lot of code for both AdRotate Geo and the Update API.
These new API largely use the same code for validating your site and license. All data, storage, requests and responses are matched up to use the same protocols, format and similar datasets, except of-course for the specific stuff relevant to each API. A new database has been designed and so far it seems that it’s going to work much better. Everything works much faster and more reliably already – And thats with the old APIs duct-taped and glued onto it.

I hope to phase those out over the next year.

You should update too

Updating a plugin usually involves going to your dashboard and clicking update. Simple as that.

However, if you use Premium Plugins (or themes) those easy updates are not always a given. I’ve always made it a point to provide updates for my larger and more popular plugins. I have invested a lot of time into making sure things work as easy as possible.

If automatic updates do not work you can always update the plugin yourself following a few easy steps.
And I made a guide for that – Upgrade AdRotate Pro to a newer version.

To know about updates you can follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Or subscribe to my blog for the latest blog posts.
I don’t post too much, but updates and important stuff always end up on there. Check out the “Follow & Connect” bit in the sidebars on the site.

Once enough people update their plugin the world will be a better place.

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