It's the end of another year, let's look back at 2017 and talk about our plans for 2018.
The two most significant things from us in 2017 were:
- Release of VersionPress 4.0 beta with support for WordPress plugins and themes.
- Introduction of VersionPress.com, a hosted platform that includes content merging (“staging that works”) and other productivity features.
4.0 is a significant update of VersionPress' internals to support plugin and themes in a flexible way. WordPress core itself is treated as a “plugin” and you can view its definitions on GitHub:
hooks.php. It's quite amazing that the entirety of WordPress can be described in a relatively few lines of code, and typical plugins are of course much smaller. Here is an example of WooCommerce definitions.
4.0 is currently in beta and the two key things remaining are:
- Implement some remaining issues and wrap up the final release
- Create an online repository for plugin definitions (#1243)
But even with that, we recommend you use 4.0-beta over 3.0 stable as it passes the same set of tests and is generally better prepared for the future.
While VersionPress remains the main thing we'd like to achieve in the long run (perfect database merging, selective undo, nice log of changes), it faces two tough challenges:
- Plugin definitions won't write themselves and there are many plugins and themes out there. Furthermore, some plugins do interesting things, sometimes in a good way and sometimes just because they are poorly coded. Supporting all this will be a long-term effort.
- VersionPress builds directly on Git and this piece of software is not commonly available on shared hosts.
Because we want to provide something that is useful today, we've created VersionPress.com. It's a fully hosted WordPress platform where we've implemented Git-like workflows without actually depending on Git or plugin definitions. The key feature is staging with content merging, which means that you can create a safe, separate environment, do your work there and then push to live almost effortlessly. We also care a great deal about the UX as we want to bring the productivity gains to a far greater audience than just developers.
VersionPress is not currently deployed on VersionPress.com due to its Developer Preview status (production-readiness is a number one priority on “.com”) but it's clearly a direction we're heading. The goal is to combine the user-friendliness of .com staging with the full powers of VersionPress in the future.
The platform has recently launched and if you join us early to help iron things out, we offer a lifetime discount of 50% as a way of saying thank you!
VersionPress in 2018
For us as a team, the overall goal is to improve workflows in WordPress. Making changes to your site and pushing them live should be a dramatically better experience than today. You should be able to undo anything, synchronize work with your colleagues, see what changed in a site, etc.
The open-source VersionPress is a technology that solves the problem via Git. For developers, it feels like magic, all the branching & merging / GitHub workflows are possible and to be able to version-control the site including database is very powerful. But it also comes at a cost, namely the problematic plugin support and hosting challenges.
That's why we now also work on a simplified content merging technology that is much more compatible and doesn't depend on Git directly. It is currently deployed on VersionPress.com but we'll also offer it for self-hosted sites later in 2018, and we'll be looking to partner with WordPress hosts to bring you much better staging via their existing platforms.
This will not happen overnight but our goal stays: to improve workflows for as many of you as possible, with a combination of an open source project and hosted solutions which each provides its own benefits. Let the stone age of workflows in WordPress end 😊.
Thanks everyone and a Happy New Year!