I’m glad to announce that WordPress Toolkit v5.0 is now available! This seminal release introduces major changes in the product, fully justifying the major version increase. Let’s learn what makes this release truly special.
Goodbye Onyx, Hello Obsidian
WordPress Toolkit 5.0 leaves Plesk Onyx behind, requiring Plesk Obsidian to work. This change was necessary because it was getting increasingly difficult to develop new things while having to drag along a bunch of legacy code required for WordPress Toolkit to work in Onyx 17.8. Full transition to Obsidian should allow us to avoid using many old crutches, making changes faster and with fewer bugs. It will also open a lot more UI/UX possibilities, allowing our design team to properly express their ideas.
Users on Plesk Onyx 17.8 will stay on WordPress Toolkit 4.x, receiving only critical security updates (if/when necessary). Updating to WordPress Toolkit 5.0 will require updating your Plesk installation to Plesk Obsidian. We’re also going to prepare a separate WordPress Toolkit 4.10.x release. That’s to show a special notification to users about updating to Obsidian if they want to get new stuff. Learn more about Plesk Onyx End of Life and its support policy update here.
New Website Management UI
The biggest in-product change in WordPress Toolkit 5.0 is the new UI for managing WordPress installations. It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words.
We wanted to avoid dramatic revolutions and evolve the UI naturally. Making it more convenient and usable without requiring users to re-learn it. To achieve this, we’ve taken our true and tried website card interface and replanted it on a different set of UI elements that are also used by Dynamic List in Plesk.
Our next step was moving the update functionality to the very front. Since keeping your site up-to-date is one of the most important things the site admin is expected to do on a regular basis:
Other tools were also reshuffled a bit and placed in the expected and convenient locations. We wanted to make sure users won’t be confused and lost trying to find what they need. In the end, we’ve got ourselves a new modern-looking yet familiar interface with improved focus on important things – performance and better responsiveness.
This might not seem like a huge change, but it’s a very important one for us. Our old UI was already quite good (so no need for a drastic redesign). But it used outdated technology that was, let’s say, on life support. It was time to move the UI to a different foundation, creating a new UI platform with a huge potential for improvements and integrations.
We’ve already toyed a bit with some interesting ideas that would fit nicely in the new interface. I’m going to show you a super-secret sneak peek into some of these ideas made possible by our new UI platform:
We’d love to explore these ideas (and many others) in the future, but this is a tale for another time (and another bunch of challenges we’ll have to solve eventually).
WordPress Toolkit Lite Update
The “Lite” version of WordPress Toolkit 5.0 (also called WordPress Toolkit SE on our website) was previously limited to owners of Plesk Web Admin edition and similar low-end Plesk editions. However, the “free” part of the WordPress Toolkit required a thorough review and redesign to make it acceptable for a larger audience.
After conducting the review, we’ve come to the conclusion that the changes were required on two fronts:
- Redesign the UI and UX of the whole process
- Change the contents of the Lite (free) feature list
Let’s start with the UI/UX redesign. The old “Lite” interface had a lot of visual glitches, bugs, and overall inconsistencies accumulated over the years. Case in point:
Our design team came up with a new unified approach that was positively received by pretty much everyone who saw it. Powered by the new UI library, this redesign significantly improves the WordPress Toolkit Lite experience, making it consistent, unobtrusive, and pleasant to look at. I’ll let the screenshots tell the story:
The same screen, but with Lite upsell elements highlighted:
Inside a paid feature screen:
As for the contents of the WordPress Toolkit “Lite”, we’ve come up with the following rules of thumb that should be logical, reasonable, and easy to understand for both hosters and end-users:
- Single-site operations available in the control panel or in WordPress itself should be free. Such features are either a mandatory baseline thing expected to “just be there”, or simply a nice bonus. They won’t push people to purchase paid WordPress Toolkit, but if they’re behind the paywall, it will annoy users (“I can do it in WordPress admin for free, why are you selling it?”).
- Mass operations should require a paid version of WordPress Toolkit. They are a matter of convenience not available in WordPress itself, and they are required for any large-scale business. This makes them high value for agencies and hosters.
- High-value operations like cloning or Smart Updates should also require a paid version of WordPress Toolkit. These features are critical for (semi-)professional level work and they are hard to carry out otherwise.
With this logic in hand, we’ve revised the list of “free” and “paid” features in WordPress Toolkit, coming to the following results.
Free and Paid Features
Features are available for free in WordPress Toolkit Lite:
- Management of Search Engine Indexing
- Debugging management
- Password Protection
- Update settings for individual sites
- Upload of plugins & themes on the plugins & themes management screen of a particular site
Feature only available in the full (paid) version of WordPress Toolkit:
- Mass update operations, including modification of update settings for multiple sites at once
We hope these changes will provide a better experience for all users, and we’re looking forward to introducing more features on both sides of the fence in the future.
WordPress Toolkit for cPanel and Future Plans
The team has been working on the cPanel release for more than a year, starting last September. I’m happy to say that the wait is over – WordPress Toolkit is finally available on cPanel! So, let’s go over the key points of this release.
WordPress Toolkit for cPanel is basically the same product, functionality-wise, just on cPanel. There are some minor discrepancies, but most of them will be either addressed in the next WordPress Toolkit releases or will have to wait until corresponding features are fully available in cPanel.
Unlike Plesk, WordPress Toolkit for cPanel is licensed on a per-account basis. Our first release is limited to a hand-picked selection of VIP partners, who will have exclusive access to WordPress Toolkit.
Speaking about the future, our next release will be a shorter one to coincide with the cPanel v92 launch. We’ll focus on supporting the alternative licensing model for the public WordPress Toolkit 4 cPanel launch, introducing CloudLinux support on cPanel, and adding things like localization support (again, on cPanel). WordPress Toolkit 5.1 will also include customer features and bug fixes for existing Plesk customers, so don’t worry about the Plesk side of things, we’ve got that covered as well.
…So, once again, I want to thank the whole WordPress Toolkit development team for their fantastic work. And also thank you for your attention. If you have anything you’d like to share with us, let us know in the comment section below. See you next time!