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Updating CommCare Content is the process of updating an installed application to a newer version of the application that has been released from CommCareHQ.

Note: Updating the CommCare software is different from updating a CommCare application!

There are two components to CommCare:

1- the CommCare software which is the the shell of the program. CommCare mobile client is the same for all projects.

2- the CommCare content which is often referred to as the "application" (forms, case management, multimedia, etc.)

These instructions are for the application content component. For instructions on updating the CommCare software, see this page.

Releasing New Versions and Updates

Once you have lots of versions they will all be listed under the Deploy section:

The main function to be aware of is the Released star. Once an application is "starred" it means that when a mobile worker updates the application on their phone, CommCareHQ will send the most recent starred version. If you put a "Star" next to the new version in CommCareHQ you should be able to update your phone without re-installing your application with these steps:

  • Make a new version of the application on CommCareHQ
  • Put a star next to the version
  • Update the mobile app (see below)

There are several other actions on this page:

  • View More - this button will allow you to see older versions, which are hidden by default.
  • Delete a Version - clicking on the "x" next to a build will delete it. Note that there is no way to "undo" it and there is no need to delete old versions since they will just be hidden as you make new versions.
  • Revert - this will restore your application on CommCareHQ to its state at the time of a version. For example, if you accidentally deleted a module, you can go revert to a version of the application that had the module.

When looking for updates, CommCare apps will look at the latest, released build. If an application is already updated to (or was installed with) the newest build which has been starred, it won't update, even if newer (unstarred) builds have been created. If the latest released build's version is lower than the installed build, an update will not occur. If, for example, the last release was version 70, the currently installed build is version 73 (for testing and development) and there exists a newer unstarred build 74, the app will not attempt to update. If 74 is released, the current build will update the next time it checks.

Update Options


CommCare can be configured to check for updates on a regular schedule. This is specified by the Auto Update Frequency setting in the CommCare Properties section of the settings UI. When set to auto-update, CommCare will attempt to check CommCareHQ for new resources on a daily or weekly schedule. This check occurs in the background, immediately after login. If updates are found, they will be downloaded and applied the next time the user logs in. Users can cancel updates being downloaded by navigating to "Settings -> Update App" on the mobile device.

If the app can't contact the server, it will try again on a future login.

Manual Update

A manual update can also be initiated from the CommCare mobile application. 

Updating CommCare on Mobile


How to update your app on your Android device:

1) Log into CommCare (it is not possible to update CommCare when using Demo mode)
2) From the CommCare home screen, open the menu by pressing the three buttons in the upper right-hand corner (or your phone's Settings button) 
3) Select Update App and CommCare will look for a new version, and download it if available
4) When the download is complete, select the "Update" button to complete the upgrade process and log you out of the app.
5) Once the app is updated, you will see a message that reads "App update was successful" and you can log in again to start using the new app version

See the video below for a demonstration of this process:

CommCare J2ME

Login as "admin" or a user with admin rights, and from the home screen navigate to Settings -> Check for Updates or in the login screen go to Options -> Tools -> Check for Updates


 Technical Details and Naming Conventions

When new features are added they are generally added to Major and Minor updates to CommCare. If an application on HQ is moved to a higher Minor or Major version number (1.2 -> 1.3 for instance), an application's resource files won't be able to be downloaded by an older version of CommCare.  

Advanced Software Upgrades

Since CommCare's resources are almost always included with the application files, upgrading CommCare often happens at the same time as the Application Resources are updated, and as such a full re-installation should be used to update both at the same time (see note below).  This method of upgrading is not fully supported, but can be used by experts.

In-Place Upgrade

In-Place upgrades basically involve installing the applicaiton onto the phone without first removing the old version. This is possible using the OTAPhone-to-Phone, and Memory Card installation techniques. It is never recommended unless you are using a completely offline deployment, or in specific future use cases where OTA installation is being used to manage remote upgrades.

The below are guidelines for the minimum that should be required when performing an upgrade. Keep in mind that the safest way to upgrade an app is to always follow the full re-installation instructions.

Major Version (1.N.N -> 2.N.N)

Major version bumps will first require the migration of your application's resources to the newest version using CommCare HQ. Once a build of the app is available on the newest version is available, you should follow the full re-installation instructions.

Minor Version (1.1.N -> 1.2.N)

Minor version bumps shouldn't require any changes to your application resources (although they will often permit you to include new features in them), simply create a new build with the existing resources and perform a full re-installation

Maintenance Version (1.1.1 -> 1.1.2)

Maintenance releases are generally designed to be safe for an in-place upgrade on top of the old app (generally in order to correct bugs with OTA upgrades, although this feature isn't widely usable yet). However, a full re-installation is still recommended.

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