[The Hub] Make The Hub *Do*, not just *Show*

Hi guys,

We are in the process of migrating just shy of 100 sites from InfiniteWP to WPMU, and while there are a massive number of benefits and advantages to WPMU, there are also a number of fundamental features that it is lacking that prevent us from fully switching across.

The actual time involved in that migration aside (as I know the migration tool is still under development), even if we had all the sites across, I would still need to continue using IWP alongside WPMU anyway.

1. As mentioned in a separate feature request, WPMU lacks the ability to actually log us into the WP installs it manages.
o IWP uses a security token that functions independently of password changes (just as long as the user account isn’t deleted). Something like this on WPMU would be a huge time saver.
o Also, if I have a staff change, I don’t want to change 100 different website logins... I just want to reset my WPMU password and move on with life.

2. For plugin/theme updates, a single “UPDATE EVERYTHING” button is a little too all encompassing.
o A more granular selection process (picking and choosing what plugins/themes to update, what sites to update, and setting certain plugins as ‘IGNORE’ would be a huge benefit).
o We have some themes that, for one reason or another, need to be very carefully updated because there needed to be changes to core theme files (Child themes can’t do everything, alas), while others have specific processes for updating their theme’s bundled plugins (such as Avada). This requires a scalpel, not a hammer.

3. Configuration options for the white labelling (Ultimate Branding, Login Messages) all currently need to be done on a site by site basis within that sites admin portal.
o This is a fundamental feature that should be built right into The Hub. We need central management of white label settings that can be applied to all managed sites at the click of a button.
o I love the idea of being able to customise certain settings on a per site basis (like custom links to client reports and such), but at least allowing templates to be applied and customised is a must here.
o Advanced features, such as variable/customisable fields we can set that allows bulk configuring unique customisation in a single template (e.g. “add link to myclientreports.com/%clientname%/) or something witty and fanciful like that would be neat as “one day” features, but that is a very niche ‘feature request on a feature request’ scenario for another day. In the meantime, just give me a single console where I can customise/hide/brand all the sites without needing to redo it 100 times.
o Please note that I am aware there is an export/import config feature, however this is still far more time consuming than having the config automatically pushed out for all new installs. Also, it means that any changes need to be re-exported and re-imported 100 times rather than just done once and replicated automatically.

4. For security changes, The Hub lists issues that have been detected, but clicking the option to change them takes you to the WP Admin portal for the client (which you then need to manually log into), where you then need to change the settings.
o Why can’t I just click fix right there? Why can’t I see all the sites at once that have these issues and batch fix them from The Hub as well?
o Furthermore, if WPMU recommends changing security keys every 60 days, why isn’t there an option that says “do this for me” and it just schedules it (either per site or across the board – preferably without ever needing to leave The Hub).

5. For Snapshot Pro, I want to be able to prevent users from messing about with this, and I need to be able to configure backup settings at a global level.
o I need to be able to say “backup all of these sites here on this schedule on this storage platform”.
o Per site quota management and features like that are great features, but I can live without them for now as long as I can actually make global backups with granular control over restoration (from The Hub) for either files or the database.
o While we’re on the topic though, the ability to either restore to a second database and swap the WP install over to that or (replicate the existing database to a different db name before restoring) would be freaking incredible… But, I digress.

6. For the ‘in WP Admin’ management, it is great that you can select which user accounts can see/access all of the WPMU apps, but the additional time involved in first creating a custom user specifically for this purpose is quite the pain in the neck.
o An option for when installing WPMU on a site to have it create a new user account and linking WPMU to that would save a lot of effort here (preferably with a preconfigured username/email and a random strong password – or even one that was somehow disabled from direct login and only accessible via The Hub… See Point 1).
o Of course, there would need to be options on how to handle the situation should the account already exist (such as ‘If this account already exists, convert it to a WPMU management account’) or something to that avail… but there are plenty of other ways to handle this… such as having it that the account it creates is actually using a <YourWPMUalias>@wpmudev.org as the email, where any account notices pipe directly into your WPMU install and can be seen in The Hub, but that may be a bit excessive (cool, but probably excessive).

7. Essentially, this all comes down to a single point that applies to a lot of things: “allow me to do it in The Hub – rather than just direct me elsewhere from The Hub”.
o WPMU is a great plugin suite, but it feels like the transition to plugin *management* suite is still very much in progress.
o To allow us to replace IWP (and to fully compete against others such as iThemes and ManageWP), there needs to be more ‘central hub management’ in your ‘central hub management’ tool.

TL;DR: Please make The Hub *do*, not just *show* :slight_smile:

P.S. The Feature Requests forum (https://premium.wpmudev.org/forums/forum/feature-suggestions) is currently quite the unruly beast. Please allow filtering (per app/feature status), sorting (popularity/recent updates) and a ‘suggest merge’ option for related or duplicate requests, as well as adding "The Hub" as an available option in the product selection dropdown when submitting requests (i.e. this request is for Product -> Other -> typed answer: "The Hub").

There are probably several of these points that have been made before, but I have no reasonable manner in which to find and vote for them. Sadly, having 455 pages of requests is just a swarm of incoherent voices that doesn’t help anyone.

Thanks and kind regards,
Adam

  • Adam Czajczyk
    • Support Gorilla

    Hello theProduct

    I hope you're well today and thank you for your post.

    That's a piece of a detailed and important feedback on The Hub, I appreciate it a lot! You're right that some of those features has already been requested but still - your post puts them "in a context" so that's very valuable for us.

    The Hub is one of our flagships and we're constantly working on improving it - that means making it faster and more stable and adding new tools/features. There's quite a big "to do" list for it already and even more ideas being considered/planned so you surely gonna see a lot of handy stuff there over time (though they may come "gradually").

    I'm not referring to the details, especially to those specific features/solutions that you have described here, because not being a developers, I simply just don't feel like I'm able to asses/estimate what would need to be done from the technical point of view and how much effort or time would it take. I hope that makes sense :slight_smile:

    However, I have passed your entire message directly to our The Hub team as I believe they'll find it very inspiring and helpful.

    Thank you for your great feedback again!

    Best regards,
    Adam

  • theProduct
    • Flash Drive

    Hi Adam Czajczyk and Ash,

    No worries - I was a little worried that some of the suggestions might come across as a bit harsh, which I was really hoping wouldn't be the case. I love what you guys are trying to do here and can't wait to see some of these features integrated as I think they'll have a much wider impact across the board on how people use WPMU.

    I definitely agree that a gradual approach here is important, as there is a crap-load to absorb there, with multiple suggestions building on each other as prerequisites ('you can't build the top floor while you're still getting your foundations sorted', and all that).

    My team and I have already started testing out a number of the different plugins in WPMU, and we're already seeing worlds of potential, but until some of these foundations are built in, rolling them out to client sites en mass isn't really a feasible option at the moment.

    Never the less, we'll keep testing and prodding - and using things where we can... just (somewhat frustratingly) still alongside our existing management platform :slight_smile:

    Thanks,
    Adam

  • Predrag Dubajic
    • Support

    Hi Adam,

    We have some improvements already in the works and you should like what our devs have done in the next release :slight_smile:

    There's always room for improvement so more things are to come, and as (our) Adam mentioned already, this post has been forwarded to our HUB team so they can give it a good read :slight_smile:

    Best regards,
    Predrag

  • Jaxom
    • Dragon Rider

    Hi theProduct

    I was a bit surprised by No 2 on your list as you can decide what does and does not get updated automatically on all accounts on the Hub.
    We have clients that do and do not pay for our Support service so it was an absolute requirement of the hub to only update what I tell it to and it does just that.

    Liked the rest of it and can see them making the hub even better.

    Jaxom

    • theProduct
      • Flash Drive

      Hi Jaxom,

      As mentioned In the Hub, I can see the options for:

      - Individual (per plugin / per theme) update buttons under each individual site
      - "Update Everything" buttons on both the Plugins and Themes tabs of each site (although it's a little ambiguous if they update just the items on that tab or 'everything' for that site, so I haven't tried that yet)
      - A single global 'update everything' button

      There is some granularity here, but nothing compared to what I currently have in IWP. Granted, when I click the global "Update Everything" button, I can deselect individual sites, but I can't say "update the plugins for these sites, but not the themes", I can't say "update all the plugins on all the sites - except for XYZ Specific plugin on any site".

      I still prefer to update themes like Avada and plugins like WooCommerce manually, as additional post-upgrade steps are required to make sure that they haven't imploded into a fiery ball of sadness and despair. There are also sites where I had to modify core theme files, so I need to re-apply those modifications after a theme update happens, or other plugins that I simply want to wait a few more days before I update them due to a compatibility issue or the like.

      Of course, these limitations are them compounded by the first issue on my list, but that kinda goes without saying at this point :stuck_out_tongue:

      • Jaxom
        • Dragon Rider

        Hi theProduct

        I agree with One, it would be nice to directly login from the dashboard.
        I also agree it is never a good idea to just update Woo Commerce and I have it unchecked in the hub for that reason.
        I do have to ask though, why if you had to edit core theme files, they are not in a child theme and therefore it is not an issue when the parent theme updates.

        Jaxom

      • Patricia BT
        • Connector

        I might have not understood you well, but that's what I do under "configuration" tab of Automate, you can switch off the plugins or themes you want not to be updated. This must be done under each site however.

        I must say I didn't see it in the beginning, as under Automate, we first see logs, and must click on Configuration ... it's easy to miss that tab

  • Patricia BT
    • Connector

    Wooow this is a great post, with a lot of things I didn't even think of, even though I use The Hub.

    Something has not been mentioned: Translations updates!

    When I update everything, or everything on a given site, from The Hub, I always find out in the site dashboard that translations have not been updated, even though they appear there as available updates.

    Is the English-speaking world forgetting than more than 50% of WordPress installations are in another language? https://wordpress.org/about/stats/#locales
    and a lot of plugins are translated and regularly updated https://translate.wordpress.org/

    Almost every time a plugin gets an update, I get translation update as well for the languages installed on my or my client sites.

    Please make that The Hub update process take translation updates into account.

    • Patricia BT
      • Connector

      just to show... in The Hub, it shows plugins and themes are updated (automate), and all green, but there is no icon for translations, and indeed, connecting to the site dashboard, plugin translations are available....
      (for info InfiniteWP takes translation updates into account)

  • djohns
    • Slave to Beagles

    Great suggestions theProduct!

    1+ for "A more granular selection process" - have an old plugin version that has features that were dropped in a later version. The old version works fine and I don't want it updated.

    Also 1+ for more granular theme updates and automatically having security keys changed on schedule.

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