Note! With AAM v6.0.0 or higher, all AAM extensions are deprecated and replaced with standard WordPress plugins. In this article, you will learn the difference between legacy AAM extensions and why they are converted to normal WordPress plugins.
Advanced Access Manager (aka AAM), itself, is the free WordPress plugin that you can download from the official WordPress repository. It is a self-contained, well documented and tested solution that you can install and use out-of-box.
In addition to AAM plugin, a webmaster has the option to install AAM Extension, which is just a piece of code (split into several files), that you can download and place in a very specific folder on your website server. This code extends default AAM functionality with new features and possibilities. For example, the default AAM plugin allows you to manage access to any individual post, page, attachment of custom post type, however, with Plus Package extension you can also manage access to taxonomies and terms.
The original idea for the AAM extension was to give very specific, logically grouped, set of additional features that user can either download for free or through online store. Other words, you use only what you need and when you need it instead of installing a fully blown “pro” version that has way more than you will ever use. This way your website becomes lean, fast and simply “healthy”.
Reasons for this big change
The major problem with the nature of AAM extensions is that they have to be placed in a very specific folder outside of the normal /wp-content/plugins folder. Depending on the web server security policies and setup, it is not always the most convenient way because it might require manual installation.
In some instances it is even not possible to install AAM extension at all because hosting provider may not allow to place any files outside of the /wp-content/plugins and /wp-content/uploads folders. This is actually becoming a de-factor requirement for a lot of WordPress-managed hosting providers.
Finally, the life-cycle of all the AAM extension has to be managed on the Extensions Area which, down the road, was discovered to be confusing process for some of the customers that overlook installation instructions.
To solve these constains and inconveniences, the concept of AAM Extension becomes deprecated and already all premium extensions are converted to regular WordPress plugins that you can manage on the Plugins page /wp-admin/plugins.php. The upcoming AAM v6 completely ignores any AAM extensions that are located in the /wp-content/aam folder.
How to migrate?
The migration from extension(s) to the plugin(s) is straight forward. Both, from functional stand-point, are identical. In the past 8 months we were preparing this transition and implemented all necessary changes to make this process seamless for you.
First, you have to make sure that you updated AAM to the version 5.9.7. This version contains all the necessary UI elements to download AAM premium plugins.
Note! You have to have the valid and active AAM license in order to proceed with the migration. To find your current status of the license, go to License Page and enter your license key.
If you have the valid AAM license, you can go to the Extensions Area and initiate download as show on this short animation.
The final step is to go to your Plugins->Add New page and upload downloaded ZIP archive as new plugin.
Conversion of all AAM extensions to regular WordPress plugins is probably one of the biggest changes for AAM in the past 4 years however, it is one of the most important changes to keep AAM compliant with best practices.
The migration process is seamless because AAM extensions and plugins are identical from functional stand-point. You do not lose any data and they do not overlap. For example, if you have AAM Plus Package extension active as well as Plus Package plugin active, AAM automatically ignores extension and uses only functionality from the Plus Package plugin.