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If I write a private plugin, is there any way to use the WordPress auto-update mechanism to update it?

I want to encapsulate the functionality, but it's specific to my own 5 or so blogs, so it's not a good candidate for the public plugins resource. But I love the easy-updating mechanism.

Is there a way to do this?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 23 down vote accepted

Looks like the applicable code is in wp-includes/update.php, wp_update_plugins():

$to_send = (object) compact('plugins', 'active');

$options = array(
    'timeout' => ( ( defined('DOING_CRON') && DOING_CRON ) ? 30 : 3), 
    'body' => array( 'plugins' => serialize( $to_send ) ),
    'user-agent' => 'WordPress/' . $wp_version . '; ' . get_bloginfo( 'url' )

$raw_response = wp_remote_post('http://api.wordpress.org/plugins/update-check/1.0/', $options);

It specifically checks api.wordpress.org. Technically speaking it would be possible to pass a key inside $to_send to delegate the check, but to my knowledge that is not a supported feature.

If you hook into set_site_transient_update_plugins you could add your own package details into this variable. It looks like those values will be trusted when you run the plugin updater. See wp-admin/update.php and wp-admin/includes/class-wp-upgrader.php. Given the code in these two functions, I think it would be possible to inject your own update server, you just need to look at how the package details are formatted and match that.

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This plugin does it for you:

Automatic Updates For Private And Commercial Plugins

Since time immemorial, only plugins hosted in the official WordPress.org plugin directory have supported automatic updates. Now, I’ve written a PHP library that you can use to add automatic update capabilities to any plugin. Public, private and commercial plugins alike – all can now enjoy the benefits of automatic update notifications and one-click upgrades.

GitHub repository

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Oh. My. Days. This looks good :) –  TheDeadMedic Dec 12 '10 at 20:02
You may also be interested to manage the plugins on your side ... maybe with the package wp-update-server, written by the same author ;) github.com/YahnisElsts/wp-update-server By using this server, you can secure your plugins, as described here: w-shadow.com/blog/2013/03/19/… –  SimonSimCity Jul 9 '14 at 7:32

I'm looking into the same thing. A couple of links that I've found that might be helpful:

The first is some info and pointers to the upgrades API. The second is a code snippet showing how to actually request info from the API.

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@Dougal - Nice links! –  MikeSchinkel Oct 21 '10 at 8:53

I believe this was discussed as a filterable option on the wp-hackers mailing list back in the day. It was never resolved, IIRC. I think the relevant discussion was in this thread:


...but I could be wrong.

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Easier to read thread: wordpress-hackers.1065353.n5.nabble.com/… –  brasofilo Sep 22 '13 at 3:58

you can use this commercial plugin: http://autohosted.com/ no limitation and have several other feature you might need:

  • No monthly charge
  • Unlimited use
  • Easy integration with Themes and Plugins
  • Authentication by domains, keys, & roles
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