Sometimes, there are updates/bug fixes made to the development version (which can be considered something between the current version and the next version that will be released) which would be pushed to the next version. This is usually done to allow test driving of certain features that were requested before finish changes are made to officially go live and various bug fixes.
In essence, the development version is the current official version + the extra changes (beta versions) that would never interfere with the current functionality.
Case Scenario #1
You’ve upgraded to the latest official version of Asset CleanUp. A feature that you long waited has been finally added to the development version and it needs extra testing and some UI touches before it goes live into the next official version (tag). If you’re keen to try it out, you can get the “Development Version” (current version + the beta changes). Once the new tag is released, you will see the notification to update within your Dashboard. Some people prefer to wait for the final version of that feature as they are not in a hurry, don’t need the extra feature immediately and don’t want to bother reinstalling the plugin. It’s up to each individual.
Case Scenario #2
You’ve upgraded to the latest official version of Asset CleanUp. There are some PHP notice errors (it’s very rare nowadays, but it can happen) that are reported to your error_log file which are related to one of the plugin’s files. You’re also using a plugin such as Error Log Monitor that reports all the errors in the Dashboard and it adds up to the list which is annoying. You want to avoid that and keep everything clean sooner (before the new tag release). You can check the “Development Version” which most likely has those errors removed. Usually, additions to this version are announced in the support tickets opened here: https://wordpress.org/support/plugin/wp-asset-clean-up/ – Moreover, all the changes can be tracked here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-asset-clean-up/#developers (“Developers” tab from the plugin’s page).
Why pushing new updates and bug fixes to the “Development Version” and not just release a new tag?
Usually, tags which are the official versions of the plugin are released after extensive testing of the new features and often the old ones that are related to the latest changes.
Everything is polished properly and then once it looks good, it’s officially launched. Sometimes, there are changes made to the plugin on a daily basis. If, for instance, a tag would be released every day, it could confuse users (some even complained of too many updates) and there isn’t enough time to test the new changes (e.g. in various PHP versions, hosting environments, all modern browsers, etc.).
That’s why many plugins and other software, in general, aren’t updated very often, but it takes a while before the next tag is released, especially if we’re talking about a new extensive feature that needs lots of debugging, etc. However, if you don’t mind getting a feature release earlier that doesn’t have (as an example) all the buttons nicely aligned or missing some things (e.g. extra documentation) and you want to give it a go, then you can go ahead and download the dev version.
What are the steps in upgrading the “Development Version” until the next tag is released?
- Go to https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-asset-clean-up/advanced/ and scroll to the bottom of the page. You will notice the “PREVIOUS VERSIONS” title and the “Development Version” already selected in the select drop-down. You can use the “Download” button.
- Deactivate & Delete the current version you have (no worries, all the settings and unload rules you have will be preserved).
- In your Dashboard, go to “Plugins” – “Add New” and upload the ZIP file you just downloaded. Activate the new plugin.