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What's new Plesk Onyx WordPress Toolkit 2.0

By Jamin Andrews
What's new Plesk Onyx WordPress Toolkit 2.0

The WordPress Toolkit was first introduced in Plesk 12.5 and has become one of the most used and valued Plesk extension. With WordPress Toolkit 2.0 we see some amazing changes that simplify and assist rapid development, deployment and management of WordPress instance.

With almost 80% of new sites being developed being WordPress its no wonder a lot of focus has been placed on tools which help WordPress users.

"The ultimate tool to build, manage and secure your Website in one place!"

Some key features in the new WordPress Toolkit 2.0 include:

  • Faster and Simpler Deployment
  • Clone
  • Sync
  • WordPress Debug Management
  • Better Auto Update Control
  • Migration of Remote  Single WordPress instance
  • Site Indexing
  • Plesk Resellers
  • WP-CLI
  • API RPC + CLI Support

Faster and Simpler Deployment

Plesk 17.5 WordPress Toolkit 2.0 WordPress Installer Screenshot
The one-click installer makes installing WordPress simpler than ever before, Plesk now uses the WordPress.org repo and always downloads the latest version of WordPress. This means that you're always guaranteed to be installing the latest version. The installer does everything from start to finish including, creating a DB with a DB user, creates an admin account in WordPress and initialises WordPress so that it’s fully ready for use out of the box.

Clone a WordPress instance

Plesk 17.5 WordPress Toolkit 2.0 Clone Screenshot
Cloning an existing WordPress instance is time consuming and not a easy task with a lot of manual copying of files, creating of new databases and then manual command line actions to change site urls in database. With WordPress Toolkit 2.0 you can now create a clone of any WordPress instance to any domain or any subscription in Plesk.

The WordPress files and database are both cloned and the site URLs in the database are changed automatically. You have the same admin access credentials just accessing a different DB and new DB user, all automatically changed in wp-config.php. If you are cloning to a subdomain and it doesn’t exist in Plesk yet, it will be created with all correct DNS records. Multisite instances can also be quickly cloned, but there are some limitations on subdomains located on Windows hosting.

The WordPress Clone feature in the new Toolkit is the single biggest time saving addition in this update, using the clone feature with the new sync feature rapid development and debug on a WordPress site has become simpler and quicker. 

Data Synchronisation - Sync

Plesk 17.5 WordPress Toolkit 2.0 Sync Screenshot

In the development lifecycle process, it can be a challenging exercise to synchronise changes from your dev site to production. Within WordPress Toolkit 2.0 you have the ability to synchronise modified data between two WordPress instances. If you have several WordPress instances on your server, you can copy the modified data between these instances.

Not only can you chose what domains or sub domains you wish to sync changes to you can also select the sync options, either Files only, Files and Database or Database only. You also have options with your database sync to choose which database tables to copy. Options include Full database sync which is all tables or only selected tables or new tables.  Files that are present on target but missing on source are not removed by default and as a safe guard the target instance is put into maintenance mode during the sync.

WordPress Debug Management

Debugging Websites can be time consuming and tricky, from the initial cloning of your production site to creating your dev environment and then manually changing the right WordPress files to display the right debug information. You also need to manually edit wp-config.php and remember what to edit. WordPress Toolkit 2.0 solves this problem by allowing you to manage all important debug options on a per instance basis from the GUI.

Debugging a WordPress site is as simple as cloning your production site and create a dev environment and turn on debugging from within Plesk Toolkit. The options below allow you to manage the native WordPress debugging tools, enabling and disabling these tools in the wp-config.php file:

  • WP_DEBUG - Enable the main debug mode in WordPress
  • WP_DEBUG_LOG - Save all errors to the debug.log file inside the wp-content directory.
  • WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY - Show debug messages inside the HTML pages
  • SCRIPT_DEBUG - Force WordPress to use the non-minified versions of core CSS and JavaScript files. This is useful when you are testing changes made to .js and .css files.
  • SAVEQUERIES - Save database queries to an array that can be displayed to help analyse them. Note: that this will have a noticeable impact on the performance of your site, so it is not recommended to leave this option enabled when you are not debugging.

You can also activate and deactivate each option individually as well. For more detail on Debugging_in_WordPress, click on the link to WordPress.org article to for more information on these options.

Work better, faster and safer!

WordPress AutoUpdates

There has been a lot of confusion around the way WordPress Toolkit set its auto updates, in the past if you enabled auto updates in WordPress Toolkit, major and minor updates would be installed automatically, If you disabled auto updates in WordPress Toolkit only minor WordPress updates will be installed automatically which is the default WordPress behaviour.

In WordPress Toolkit 2.0 this is solved by the introduction of a clearer auto update settings for major and minor WordPress releases using the native WordPress commands like wp_auto_update_core.

So now you can choose to do major and minor updates or just minor updates or disable all automatic updates if you have an external update management system.

Migration of Remote Single WordPress instance

Plesk 12.5 WordPress Toolkit 2.0 Single WordPress Migration Screenshot
Migrating clients from other providers can be reasonably tricky with the latest update to Migration Manager your customers WordPress website can be migrated to your infrastructure or server with only FTP login. All the WordPress files and database are migrated and the site is automatically added to WordPress Toolkit. To migrate you simply click on Website Importing Option and then add FTP credentials.

Site Indexing

When developing a new site and your Website isn't yet ready for public viewing, or simply creating a clone site for debug purposes, you do not want Google or other web crawlers to find it and index it in their search results. Plesk now allows you to index or not index your site by adding the "noindex, nofollow" tags to your website's header and adds the Disallow directive to the virtual robots.txt file.

Password Protection 

Enable password protection to your staging site, allowing your team to develop and review your site before going live.

"We want to handle the stuff that we know so that people who want to use WordPress could focus on their actual end-goal: making the Website and creating content."
          - Plesk Development Team

Plesk Resellers

Plesk Resellers now have the ability to manage all their clients WordPress instances from their single reseller login. This eliminates the reseller having to login to each of their clients WordPress instances to manage them and can be done from their WordPress Toolkit access.

WP-CLI

The previous version of the WordPress toolkit used a patched version of the WP-CLI which mean for the more advanced user you had little to no access directly to the WP-CLI commands. Now with WordPress Toolkit 2.0 this problem is solved with direct access to WP-CLI. You can run any available WP-CLI command for any given WordPress instance from a shell terminal.

What's next?

Like everyone we are always eager to see what's next, never satisfied we are always wanting more. ;) Talking to the Plesk team about their vision and future plans I am here to tell you there are some exciting things on the cards.
Backup is going to be a big focus which should assist in workflow for updates and management of WordPress sites and this is just one of the amazing features they are working on.  There's also the ability for other extensions to talk directly with the WordPress Toolkit via the included API, so that third parties can extend the functionality even further. We look forward to seeing what's possible.