When updating addons for a big patch, there's some important safety precautions you should be aware of. Most importantly, stick to the major websites that host addons, such as Curse Gaming, WoW Interface, and WoWUI. Sure there's still a potential for addons hosted on these sites to have a virus or key logger, but it's a safer bet than a random website. And to be on the safe side only download addon updaters from their hosted websites, and try to avoid addons with executable files in them. Also it's not a bad idea when doing a major update to run a virus scanner afterwards. There are some pretty good free ones, and as far as paid scanners go I recommend NOD 32. It has a small memory footprint and doesn't bog down your system while still offering protection. (Just my personal preference, I'm not affiliated with them in anyway.) Finally, before doing a major addon update it's a good idea to make a backup of your addon and WTF folders. Even if these backups aren't compatible, they're still useful in keeping track of what addons you used, and how you had them configured.
While we learned at BlizzCon that there shouldn't be any major compatibility issues, updating addons for the new patch is a good time to do some housekeeping. Look through your addon folder and see if there's some you don't use and can toss out. Also take a look at competitor addons to see if there are any new features you might like. You might be missing out on a new favorite because you were stuck in a rut. If you're not completely happy with your interface now is a good time to rebuild it, a few weeks before Wrath hits, so that everything's tuned perfectly for your adventures in Northrend.
Time to Update
Now that we've trimmed the fat and checked out new alternatives we're ready to update. The safest bet here is to do it by hand, which of course is a big task when you're an addonaholic. That's where updaters step in to help you out. I regularly used the Ace Updater, which is unfortunately no longer in development. The Ace Updater was a labor of love by its authors, it worked for Ace addons only, and while it had its quarks, it got the job done pretty darn well. They have now partnered with Curse Gaming and endorse their addon updater, so that's what I'm test driving for today. Mac OSX players will have to wait a little longer; a compatible program is being made, but isn't released yet.
So what's the early verdict on the Curse Client? Good but not ready for prime time. The Curse Client is now getting the full attention of its developers and is an ongoing project. This is good news as it has a lot of potential to be a great tool to addon users and developers alike. It's usable with every addon hosted by Curse, not just Ace addons, but if your favorite addon's author doesn't upload to Curse you're out of luck.
So far with my short time testing it, there are a few main problems with the Curse Client that keep it from being the perfect updating solution. First, it won't automatically update all your addons for you, forcing you to update each yourself, unless you're a premium member. I know bandwidth for hosting all these addons isn't cheap, but the whole point of one of these updaters is automation. If it takes an ad banner inside the client to give us that option I'll deal. (Just make sure the ads don't contain key loggers.) Premium membership starts at $2.99 a month with plans that reduce the starting price as you prepay, with the longest being $19.99 a year. Not expensive by any means, but do we really need yet another subscription service? Ultimately that's up to you to decide. I will say though that I applaud Curse for having an addon author's reward program, and subscribing to the premium Curse Client supports that program. It would be nice to know how much of the subscription income goes toward that program as that could be a deciding factor for signing up.
Another issue I encountered with the Curse Client happened when an addon is spread over multiple folders; the automatic updating was a little wonky. Sometimes it works, and sometimes just the main addon folder is updated. Finally, some addons just didn't show up in the client. At first I thought this problem was just limited to addons not hosted by Curse, but after some detective work I realized that wasn't the case. It's still a mystery! More testing is needed. Next I'm going to try rebuilding my addon folder solely using the Curse Client to see if performance is improved. (Keep your fingers crossed!)
Despite the flakiness encountered, the Curse Client is still a helpful tool in our interface arsenal, and I recommend giving it a shot. I really think (and hope) that as more people use it and give feedback it'll improve just as the Ace Updater did. If it doesn't improve all is not lost as there are still a few alternatives out there, such as the WoW Interface UI Manager and WoW UI Updater. Expect to see those featured soon, and another look at the Curse updater a few months down the road. Have fun with patch 3.0 and look for my BlizzCon interface wrap up and analysist later this week!