Announcing VersionPress.com

I’m happy to announce that VersionPress is getting a sister project: VersionPress.com. It is a hosted WordPress platform (a managed WordPress host if you will) that takes the best ideas from VersionPress and packages them in an easy to use interface and adds things like backups, security and world-class infrastructure. It has full compatibility with WordPress plugins and doesn’t require Git so it’s a perfect place to host almost any WordPress site.

The platform will fully launch in July 2017 with pre-orders available today. Go check it out at https://preview.versionpress.com/.

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This is an exciting moment for us and also step in a new direction so let me share the full story with you.

VersionPress

We started working on VersionPress in 2014 to bring full version-control to WordPress. The benefits if this is achieved are immense: undo button for everything, the possibility to merge databases between environments (staging <-> live, developers between themselves, etc.), keeping track of who did what and many others. It feels almost magical.

We also learned that there will be two major challenges:

  1. WordPress plugins. They can do almost anything to the database and boy they do. Even those well-written must be explicitly supported and while we’re building an infrastructure for that in 4.0, it will take some time to cover a good portion of the current 50k+ WordPress plugins. (By the way, Mergebot, the other database merging solution, is also building their schemas; there is no easy way around it.)
  2. Hosts. Due to the way hosting services were historically built, it’s not safe for most of them to allow proc_open which VersionPress uses to interact with Git. Even then, some hosts have archaic versions of Git and other incompatibilities.

Over time, it became clear we needed our own environment to run VersionPress in. Also, a hosted service would provide resources to fund the development of the open source project and its long-term stability. So it became a no-brainer at some point.

VersionPress.com

Now, the idea was clear but there were some important things to consider:

  • VersionPress is not entirely production-ready yet and might not be for some time – it is a developer preview.
  • If we’re going to provide a managed service, it should be good overall, not just “WordPress + VersionPress preinstalled”.

We spent a lot of energy on this and these are the results:

  1. Staging is awesome on VersionPress.com and works with any site. You can not only easily create a safe environment to test your changes but they are then merged carefully back into production (that means you won’t lose any changes there). And if you’re not happy with the result, just click the undo button and the site is back to the previous healthy state.
  2. AWS-based infrastructure is built to make the sites run fast. For example, we only support fast technologies like HTTP/2, PHP 7 or nginx, all sites run in at least two Docker instances and auto-scale to more under load, images are automatically pushed to CDN, etc.
  3. The UX is centered around the needs of WordPress developers and agencies. For example, billing can be assigned to either the personal or agency account, or to the client, the app is mobile-friendly, built from the ground-up and supports features like collaborating on sites with your colleagues.

Availability

The platform will be generally available in July but to celebrate the occasion, we’re offering a limited amount of slots for pre-order at ~90% discount. If you think you would use the platform, don’t hesitate too much 😄.

To sum up:

  • VersionPress will always be a free and open source project. It is our idealistic effort to bring full version control to WordPress. I’d say we’re about half-way through: many years already invested in it but still a lot of work to come. Especially, WP plugins are a long-term challenge.
  • VersionPress.com is a hosted service, inspired by VersionPress but packaging also things like backup, security and scalable infrastructure. As VersionPress matures, it will start being deployed on the platform, combining the best of both worlds.

Thanks,
Borek

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