Upgrading OpenMRS has always been simply replacing the old war file with the new version. The system goes through the update automatically. If everything is fine one is presented with the login screen with the system upgraded to the newer desired version.
I reckon the process is pretty much the same for reference application. However, since a particular version of refapp app consist of a particular platform war version and particular modules versions how would this process be like? For example, I was upgrading from refapp 2.8.0 to 2.11.0 which runs on platform 2.3.2. I replaced the war file without replacing the modules, this did not work as expected because the browser did not display any progress as always the case after clicking the green arrow. Initially I thought maybe something was interrupting the process, so I tried several times with the same result. Eventually I decided to include all modules which were formally running on refapp 2.8.0. This created a lot of issues related to context refresh error (mostly caused by inability to inject/create beans). So, I replaced all modules that are bundled with 2.8.0 with their respective upgraded versions in 2.11.0. This seems to work, also there was no any update process, that is I was taken straight to the login page. As a result I am not sure what was going on with the update process seemingly stuck initially.
The question I am posing is, is there a standard guideline for upgrading the reference application? If there isn’t maybe it is time to create one for different environments namely, docker, openmrs sdk, and plain old native tomcat/mysql installation.