Testing Early Versions of WordPress Releases



In the couple of months or so before a major release, the WordPress team will release several beta and release candidates for that major release. But, how can you test those versions with your website, themes and plugins? Well, the answer is pretty simple.

Hey there and welcome to WordPress Wednesday!

So the last couple of times we’ve been talking about what’s coming with WordPress 5.3. Obviously it hasn’t been officially released, so how am I seeing these changes and showing them to you?

Well, the answer is that I’m testing it with early versions of the release. Usually with the WordPress development cycle, with major releases there are about 3 to 4 beta releases and about 3 to 4 release candidate versions out there.

And this is for developers to test their plugins and themes and websites with and, you know, sometimes for people just to play around with. All the while, the development team is looking for those bugs and issues that are popping up.

So you might be wondering how can you test those early versions of WordPress. And honestly, the answer is pretty easy. One thing you can do is to go to WordPress, look around for the beta or release candidate releases, and then download those and install them on your website.

But there is an easier option out there for you that is just as simple as updating WordPress.

Before we get to that though, I want to offer a give of caution. If you are going to test an early version of a WordPress release, you should be doing it on a development site and not a live site.

Those early releases aren’t official releases. They’re not complete and something could break. After all, that’s the reason they put it out there — for testing. And you don’t want your live site to be broken. So make sure you have a development or staging website set up first, and then do the steps I’m about to show you.

All right, now let’s get started.

All right, so I’m here in a test site that I’ve just set up. This is a fresh install of WordPress. And I’m going to go into Plugins -> Add New. I’m going to search for the WordPress Beta Tester. I’m going to install it. And then going to activate it.

And then we’re going to go over to Tools and we’re going to go to its settings page. And here you have two options. The first is you can sort of get the release candidates and early versions of the point releases, so like 5.2.4, 5.2.3, those types of releases. And that would be the point release nightlies.

Or you can get the bleeding edge nightlies. And these are the ones that are your release candidates and beta versions of the major releases like 5.3, 5.2 and what not.

So we’re going to go in here and then go over and we’re just going to update it normally like we would WordPress. Hit Update Now.

And boom, there we go. We have 5.3 beta or release candidate 3. Very cool, as you can see down here 5.3. And yeah, there we go. That’s how you can easily test these release candidates and beta versions of WordPress.

So there you have it. That is how you can test early versions of WordPress with your website to see if anything is going to break before you even update to the official release. And again, make sure you’re doing this in a development environment.

If you have any questions about this, feel free to leave them in comments below or you can reach out on social media. I’ll do my best to answer them.

And until next time, happy WordPressing!

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