WordPress recently released 2.3.3 as an urgent security fix for 2.3.2. Rather than wiping all non-configured files from my development site, extracting the replacement files from the tarball, and re-uploading said files by FTP, I used the fast and precise approach: Only upload changed files.
This assumes that you're only updating to the latest revision (e.g. 2.3.2 to 2.3.3), not a new minor or major release.
- Get the latest tarball (or zip file) from the WordPress download page
- Go to the tags view of WP source control and click the version to which you are upgrading (here, 2.3.3)
- Scroll down and hit "View changes..."
- Change the upper field to your currently installed version (here, tags/2.3.2)
- Click "View changes"
Now you have a list of what files changed between the two releases — these are the files you need to extract from the tarball on top of your existing files. You can also view source on the files listed, see what specific lines changed, etc. In the case of the 2.3.3 release, only 5 files changed.
Some folks are going to complain that I could do this all automatically by doing a SVN checkout from WP's Trac to my dev site. And that's great! If you write about how to do that, I'll link to it for sure. But this here post is about dipping a toe into version control, not committing to it whole-heartedly.