If you’re like me, you’ve been a passionate WordPress developer hosted by yourself for a long time. But there is a managed host that is constantly moving forward to provide solutions to common publishing challenges: WP Engine .
WP Engine is not your typical basic WordPress managed hosting provider. Instead, they are developer-oriented and work hard to provide powerful features and services that you might commonly want on WordPress.com or when you are self-hosted.
In this tutorial, I will introduce you to the many benefits of hosting your sites on the WP Engine and its new automatic migration tool that makes getting started with them as simple as ever. Alternatively, if you want, you can also watch a recent WP Engine webinar covering some of these same issues: Your Workflow, Your Way and / or read their recent report (pdf) .
I highly recommend the webinar if you want to go into more detail about the concepts I’m reviewing here. Product Technical Manager Taylor McCaslin and Operations Engineer Anthony Burchell do an excellent (and entertaining) job of explaining the pros, cons, and scenarios useful to many of WP Engine’s unique and powerful features for developers.
WP Engine Background
WP Engine is a leading provider of managed hosting for WordPress. The company powers thousands of websites and applications integrated into the WordPress platform, providing a fast, reliable and secure web experience. All levels of users, including bloggers, marketers, SMEs, and large corporations, rely on the WP Engine platform to keep their websites up and running. Founded in 2010, WP Engine is based in Austin, Texas, and has offices in San Francisco, California, San Antonio, Texas, and London, England.
I first learned about WP Engine from my colleague Justin Carder, who runs a popular local news blog in Seattle’s emerging downtown Capitol Hill. He has directed the CHS blog for several years on WP Engine with great consideration.
Similarly, I started working with WP Engine when I launched Flee the Jungle , my Amazon shopping alternative earlier this year. Two of my own tutorials emerged from this experience:
- An upcoming Envato Tuts + tutorial on building geo-local sites for Flee the Jungle that take advantage of some of the powerful features of WP Engine
- Use the WP Engine copy site feature to quickly and easily deliver my Knowledge Base tutorial to customers
I stayed at Flee the Jungle during development and had a great experience using the WP Engine Automated Site Migration Plugin.
In addition to excellent documentation and a regularly updated blog describing new features and services, WP Engine also runs TorqueMag , an editorially independent voice for the WordPress developer community.
While this tutorial is sponsored by WP Engine , I am a bit more biased as a satisfied user, advocate, and affiliate. I regularly recommend the company’s services to people for great WordPress hosting. I have had a handful of communication experiences with your staff this year, and they seem like great people. They offer proactive monitoring and are always helpful. You can also hear it from the way Taylor and Anthony guide you through the webinar.
Just a reminder, if you have questions or comments about the tutorial feel free to post them below in the comments. You can also follow me on Twitter and send me a message there.
Prices and plans
Before getting started, you may want to visit WP Engine to sign up for their service; if at any time during the first 60 days you want to get a refund, just ask them; satisfaction is guaranteed They have a useful price calculator to guide you in choosing the best plan for your needs:
Solving WordPress Developer Challenges
Let’s start with some of the unique features that make WP Engine such a powerful service for WordPress editors and developers alike.
At WP Engine, we aspire to be the preferred WordPress platform for developers. We’ve put together a set of the best development tools to help you work quickly and efficiently, tools that make your life as a developer easier and save you time at every stage of the development process.
Development environment and workflow
Developing your site locally is best practice, and to support this, WP Engine is working in a roaming environment that will allow for local testing that can be sent directly to your production hosting platform. Meanwhile, they offer the WP Engine Mercury Vagrant , or HGV, environment that allows you to build a site locally and put it into production without too much disruption – the site will look and behave the same way when you move from local to active.
Mercury Vagrant (HGV) is a kind of Swiss Army Knife. The best feature is that you can test HHVM and PHP environments side by side. This is great for testing plugin compatibility and the like with ease. HGV currently has a stack very similar to the software stack used by WP Engine. The main difference is that HGV uses PHP-FPM, while the WP Engine stack uses Apache2 and mod_php.
Soon, you will have a fully supported roaming solution for local development with the WP Engine platform.
Collaborate and stay in control with Git Push
Another gap in the WordPress feature set is that it lacks built-in integration for theme source code control, plugins, and other customization. WP Engine was the first managed WordPress hosting provider to enable Git integration for custom deployments.
You can configure Git Push in your User Portal and use Git to send it to your production and staging area.
Test and share your work with trial sites
WordPress has always lacked useful staging capabilities. He is often forced to make changes to live production with one hand on the mouse, while crossing his fingers with the other.
WP Engine offers built-in stage sites, and they’re free. Within your WP Engine account, you can run as many test sites as you like at no additional cost. A staging site is a standalone clone of your live production site that can be easily created to test plugins, themes, and custom code.
You can also copy the trial site back to the live site at any time after making changes; this facilitates your development and testing workflow. Each WordPress installation on WP Engine can have its own test site.
WP Engine has created a series of functions that make it easy to create and work with your clients. For example, you can share your test site with your clients; It is password protected so that only authorized people can see it. Once approved, you can press it live.
You can even change the granularity of your database migration when copying in stages, selecting only specific tables to test or undo new features.
Develop in production
For new sites, it is often easier for WordPress developers to work in their live production environment.
Some say that developing in production is really the only way to show the true environment and how it will behave in nature, but sometimes it is faster, right? Additionally, a live site can be accessed from anywhere, giving you the ability to check it on different devices, screen sizes, form factors, what do you have, to see how it looks.
WP Engine provides password protection for any of your sites so you can develop new sites and hide them from everyone in the world except your customers and your test team. You can share the password protected site with whomever you choose.
One-click backup and restore
WP Engine essentially offers Time Machine for WordPress. You can create snapshots of your live site at any time, and the WP Engine will also do it every day in the background. You can always go back to any of these snapshots, either to undo the live production change you just made or to get back the theme you were using for two weeks.
One-click access to easy backups and restores during the development process can turn a massive error into a minor setback.
WP Engine‘s daily automatic backups are stored in separate locations on your site and replicated three times in the cloud for a redundant backup system. And restoring old snapshots can be done with a single click.