The Handy Person’s Guide to Manual SPLOT Updating

You’re tooling along in your Model T SPLOT on the Internet Superhighway, and the tire goes flat, needing an update. Are you gonna wait for a tow truck, a helpful stranger to stop and help, or get out the jack to do it yourself?

I’ve seen in most cases, that people who have gone through all the steps to set up a SPLOT site in WordPress quite often are still driving the original version installed. There was nothing wrong with that, until last December, for sites where themes are automatically updated. The parent themes that TRU Writer and TRU Collector are based on were both updated by their developer.

Some of the updates were to add some Gutenberg capability (which has no effect on these), but a few other display changes had the ill-fated effect to break the child SPLOT themes. The fixes were not too difficult to change. But since the child themes are ones manually uploaded, there only way to get them changed is with some changing of lug nuts and lifting the site up on the jack (metaphor fail is happening now).

It was a situation we had hoped the one-click cpanel installers at Reclaim Hosting would manage for sites created there, but apparently there is an Installatron bug stopping the updates from being triggered (have no fear, Tim is on it!).

I’ve tried a few different approaches to this update issue, none has been idea. One was the WP-Pusher plugin route, which actually works, but I think almost no one besides me has tried.

As much as I want a more automated way to do this, I think it’s still worth knowing how to get the wrench out when you need to, if anything, to understand what is happening when it is done for you.

Having written all the steps, and noting the complexity, I insert a shrug here, as I expect most readers will glaze over in horror at the idea of replacing server files.

public domain image from the US Library of Congress

The Plugin Way

If you add one of the SPLOT themes to a site through the WordPress dashboard, the recommend route is via downloading a ZIP version of the theme from it’s home in GitHub – that’s the green Clone or Download button from one like https://github.com/cogdog/tru-collector.

In the WordPress dashboard, under Appearance -> Themes you can add a new theme by uploading a zip file, activating, and off you go to the SPLOT races.

That is unless you try to repeat that step as an update- you cannot do it the same way in native WordPress.

That’s where the Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades plugin comes in handy; it overcomes this limitation and let’s you update an uploaded theme with a new zip version.

There is a hitch.

Always.

So if you did install this theme from Reclaim Hosting, it’s in a directory of your site named tru-collector. But when you download the theme from GitHub, it comes as a file named tru-collector-master.zip and when uploaded, WordPress will think it’s a new theme name tru-collector-master.

Mayhem and confusion will follow. The newly added theme likely will work, but you will have lost all your settings. You may curse SPLOTs and me.

So a trick is needed.

Once you have a downloaded copy of tru-collector-master.zip on your own computer, expand the zip. Rename the directory tru-collector-master to be tru-collector. Then Compress, zip again. When you upload the theme as tru-collector.zip with the Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades plugin, your site will be updated. Joy will be shouted.

But wait, what if you don’t know what it’s secret name is in your WordPress site? Get your sleuthing hat on.

In Appearances – > Themes hover over the icon for TRU Collector and click Theme Details. The clue is in the URL, if you see:

http://*****.*****/wp-admin/themes.php?theme=tru-collector

You will have to change the name of the zip file. If it says

http://*****.*****/wp-admin/themes.php?theme=tru-collector-master

you do not.

Is this a trick that will impress your friends and family? Likely not.

The Roll Up Your Sleeves and Upload Way

This is the way me and your grandpa set up themes in the early oughts. We did it my shovels and file transfer protocol. I’m not sure how many people even know how to use ftp/sftp to move files to their domain.

But it can also be done via cpanel using the File Manager tool.

Either way, you have to know/remember where your SPLOT is installed in your hosting directory. In the Reclaim Hosting cpanel, first to to My Applications and find your SPLOT. Click the wrench icon for settings, then the Files & Data tab below.

Finding the installation location for a Reclaim Hosting installed WordPress site

Below the password and database prefix settings, you will see a list of all the installed WordPress files. At the top of the list is the directory location you need to start your file uploading expedition.

Finding the directory location of the installed WordPress files

Now you could write this down on a piece of paper (and you will need to do that, or remember it, if you are fishing through the directory structure with an ftp/sftp tool). But in cpanel, if you click that link, it will take you right there in the cpanel File Manager.

Smart, eh?

This is where you chose to install the site when you first made it; likely somewhere in your home or public_html directory it another directory named for your domain/subdomain.

If you get there, you will see the root level of your WordPress install. You are close to the right place.

I’m in the bowels of my domain, inside the main directory of a WordPress install. Kind of homey.

We need to drill down a bit more. First double-click wp-content to go down one level, then themes to go one more. Now you will see a list of directories for your theme.

Double click the one that matches the SPLOT theme you are updating. You are looking now at all the theme files.

The contents of the TRU Writer theme directory

You can use the Upload button to upload the new theme files. It does not let you upload directories, so a slightly tedious way is to open each directory, and upload it’s appropriate files, including the main theme file.

Or you can go up one level to the themes directory, and upload a zip file containing all the theme files. Again, you want to make sure that the ZIP name and the directory it creates match the name of the theme directory currently in place. Once the ZIP file is there, use the File Manager options for Extract, to expand all the files on the server.

Greasy Hands and Bruised Knuckles

Just writing this sounds maybe more complex than it really is. For the first time doing this, maybe it’s worth downloading or duplicating the existing theme directory first. Or if things get messed up, know how to contact your web host support and request a restore from the backup.

As much as it would be nice to have this all shiny one button click update, I always see value in doing it directly, just to have a better understanding of all the working parts in your site.

I’m probably out there on the edge of the bell shaped distribution curve on this preference.

I’m hopeful the Reclaim Hosting updater script will eventually kick into gear, that’s likely the route with the fewest pot holes.

Updates (on updating!)

I should have known they would fix it quickly. It looks like Tim Owens has fixed the Reclaim Hosting cpanel installer scripts to that new sites created with their one-click installs are both getting the newest version of TRU Writer and TRU Collector (I have confirmed this on my own testing), but also, that existing sites installed this way would get automatic updates.

As if you need another reason to be hosting with Reclaim Hosting… there it is.


Featured Image: Added SPLOT logo to public domain image Chamlee [fixing tire] from the Library of Congress. The funny thing was when I went there to look for images, I got this one on a server error message. It is perfect.

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