The Plesk WordPress Toolkit 5.3 is Now Available

WordPress Toolkit update 5.3 blog Plesk Header

The first WordPress Toolkit release of 2021 is now publicly available — please welcome WordPress Toolkit v5.3  This release is focused on fixing issues reported by customers, improving performance, and making sure we can properly handle working with both outdated PHP versions and the latest PHP 8. 

Read on to learn what’s new:
 

Updated wp-cli & PHP 8 Support

 

PHP 8 was released two months ago, and already many of you trying to use it for hosting WordPress sites. So, to support this release, we needed to explore the outdated wp-cli component used for managing many aspects of WordPress sites. 

In v5.3 of the WordPress Toolkit, the team has updated  from the previously used (and quite outdated) version 1.4.0 to the latest available version 2.4.1, which finally allows WordPress Toolkit to manage sites working on PHP 8. Note that PHP 8 support in this  version is still kind of experimental (or “beta”, if you wish), so customers are advised to be more vigilant than usual when using PHP 8. As soon as  team announces full and proper PHP 8 support, we’ll immediately work on including the corresponding  update in WordPress Toolkit.

WordPress Toolkit 5.3 Plesk

Identifying Outdated and Unsupported Sites

 
Updating wp-cli resulted in certain unfortunate consequences: WordPress Toolkit now cannot manage sites working on PHP 5.2 (End of Life on 6 Jan 2011, 10 years ago) and PHP 5.3 (End of Life on 14 Aug 2014, 6 and a half years ago). To accommodate for this change, WordPress Toolkit can now identify websites using unsupported version of PHP and display corresponding information in the interface:
WordPress Toolkit Plesk v5.3
 
If your PHP version has reached End of Life but still supported by WordPress Toolkit, you will be notified about this as well:
 
WordPress Toolkit v5.3 Plesk blog

 

Since we’ve started to better differentiate between various site states, WordPress Toolkit now also properly notifies users if their WordPress version is way too old:
 
WordPress Toolkit v5.3 Plesk

 

We’ve also added an extra notification about outdated WordPress core, since some people have complained that existing notifications are not visible enough:
 
Plesk WordPress Toolkit 5.3

 

To avoid scaring users, WordPress Toolkit now tries its best to create screenshots even for sites with unsupported PHP or WordPress versions. We hope that seeing a site screenshot will help customers understand that the site itself is working fine, but WordPress Toolkit cannot manage it because it’s so ancient that it should be surveyed by a team of archeologists first.
 

New Autoupdate Defaults in WordPress 5.6

WordPress 5.6 has introduced new default settings for WordPress core autoupdates. New WordPress installations are now configured to automatically install both minor and major updates by default. Existing WordPress installations updated to v5.6 will keep their previous autoupdate settings.
 
WordPress Toolkit now supports this change, so when you install WordPress 5.6 or newer via WordPress Toolkit, the autoupdate settings will be automatically set to “Both major and minor updates“, as opposed to “Only minor updates” option, which was the default before v5.6.
 
 
Due to the new defaults mentioned above, we have also changed the way WordPress Toolkit manages WordPress core autoupdate settings. Previously WordPress Toolkit was using the WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE constant in wp-config.php file to help WordPress understand how it should behave. With changes brought in WordPress 5.6, we have decided to avoid using this constant and use the get_site_option( ‘auto_update_core_major’ ) parameter stored in the WordPress database instead. This parameter is utilized by WordPress itself when site admin switches between “major & minor” and “minor only” autoupdates in WordPress admin area. Using this parameter makes WordPress site management via WordPress Toolkit more natural, transparent, and non-obtrusive for advanced site admins.
 
Existing WordPress installations updated to v5.6 will keep the WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE constant in wp-config.php file until autoupdate settings are changed by the site admin. Note that WordPress Toolkit will still have to use the WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE constant if site admin decides to completely disable all autoupdates.
 
An additional fix related to WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE constant was also included in WordPress Toolkit v5.3: the constant is no longer added automatically when WordPress Toolkit checks for availability of updates. It can only be added if customer explicitly saves or changes autoupdate settings.

Cloning with defined DEFINER

 
WordPress Toolkit creates a database dump when it clones a site. In certain cases, this dump includes a defined DEFINER clause, which leads to failure of the cloning procedure. You can now rest easy that this problem is finally fixed.
 
Since every site is different, this may not be convenient for you. Therefore, it is possible to turn off the application of this fix by adding the following option to the config file:
 
fixDatabaseDumpDefiner = false

 

Upsell Links Configuration in cPanel

 
WordPress Toolkit on cPanel has two Deluxe upsell links: one in WHM, one in cPanel. Hosters can configure these links in Manage2 or modify WordPress Toolkit config file on the server. To make things easier, we have added the ability to customize these links on the global “Settings” screen in WordPress Toolkit. We’ve also updated the default WordPress Toolkit upsell link to make sure it is pointing to a proper destination.
 

 

For reference, here’s the priority of link customizations: links in UI overrule the links in config file, which overrule links provided by Manage2, which in turn take precedence over the default links shipped with WordPress Toolkit.

Research, Improvements, Bugfixes

 
Based on the research performed in December, we have increased the site list loading speed on Plesk. We have also tested the performance of Smart Updates and regular updates to better understand where and how we can improve our product. 
 
As for bugs, the v5.3 release includes a number of customer-requested bugfixes, particularly those that address cloning-related issues.
 

What’s Next? 

 
We’re also working on a number of exciting new features to continue improving the WordPress Toolkit, based on your feedback and usage. Have you got the latest version yet? What has been your experience with the Toolkit? Let us know in the comments or via your partner account manager!

The Plesk WordPress Toolkit 5.2 is Now Available

The Plesk WordPress Toolkit 5.2 is now publicly available! This release focuses on catching up on popular customer requests and fixing various nagging issues. The 5.2 update has something for everyone, so let’s take a look at what’s new!

Sets for Resellers

Allowing resellers to have their own sets is the most popular feature request in the WordPress Toolkit section of Plesk Uservoice. It’s requested not only by legit resellers but also by those who are using reseller accounts as limited Plesk server administrator accounts. Anyway, this feature is finally here:

Here’s what you need to know about this feature:

  • Resellers get the same default sets as server administrators.
  • Resellers can only access and manage their own sets.
  • Customers of resellers can see the sets of their resellers when installing WordPress. They do not see server administrator sets.
  • The global option “Allow customers to use sets when they install WordPress” will also affect reseller sets. If this option is switched off, resellers’ customers won’t see any sets when installing WordPress.
  • Reseller service plans actually include additional services with automatic installation of WordPress (alone or with any of the reseller sets).

Theme Activation in Sets

Another thing that’s been requested a lot recently is the ability to choose which theme should be activated in a set when this set is installed on a WordPress site. This feature allows hosters and web studios to provide more turnkey added value in their WordPress service offerings. So we made it happen.

As a reminder, you can install sets in one of the following ways:

  1. Provision a subscription-based on a service plan with a specific Additional Service that installs WordPress with a particular set.
  2. Install a set together with WordPress when you install a new WordPress site.
  3. Install a set on an already existing WordPress site via Sets tab functionality.

All these ways are available both via GUI and CLI. Your selection of a particular theme that should be activated in a set will be applied regardless of which way the set is installed.

Important notes:

  • This is not the final UI we’re aiming at. We’re planning to redesign the whole Sets tab next year to make it more convenient and user-friendly, and this feature will be a part of the redesign.
  • This ability is also available as a new operation of the –sets CLI command. Usage example: plesk ext wp-toolkit –sets -operation activate-theme -set-id ID -theme-id THEME_ID
  • By the way, plugins in a set can also be configured to be activated or deactivated upon the installation of the set. Since plugins are activated by default, the activation feature is more of a deactivation feature, so it’s not as important (most people would like their plugins to be active right away). Anyway, it was easy to do, so we threw it in as a bonus.
  • Activating and deactivating plugins in a set via CLI is also supported.

Pending Smart Update Notification

Looking at Smart Updates, cPanel team has noticed that there’s no way for users to learn that Smart Updates wasn’t applied automatically due to some issues and that they needed user attention. This happens because WordPress Toolkit is not yet integrated with email notifications in cPanel (something we’re planning to remedy soon). 

It also became clear that the problem is bigger than this. Users who’ve launched Smart Updates but closed the Update window without making a decision could also forget that they needed to either apply the update or reject it. To fix this problem, we have added a visual marker notifying about a pending Smart Update on a site card:

This notification will be displayed whenever there’s a finished Smart Update test run that needs to be reviewed and either applied or rejected by the user. To open the Smart Updates window, users will be asked to click on the Check Updates button.

WordPress Toolkit Deluxe Dashboard… Lite

After the introduction of the second licensing type in WordPress Toolkit for cPanel, we realized that there’s no quick and convenient way for the server admin to check who exactly has access to the paid WordPress Deluxe features. Depending on how the hoster’s packages and feature lists are organized in WHM, this task can range from trivial to quite challenging. 

To make things a bit easier, we’ve added a very basic screen that lists all accounts on a server with access to WordPress Toolkit Deluxe. It can be accessed via a link on the Settings screen:

Lo and behold, this might be the simplest WordPress Toolkit screen in the product history:

Depending on user feedback, we might improve this list, including stuff like redirects to cPanel of a particular user account, and so on. For now, it does what it intends to, and we hope it will prove useful.

Underscore in Slugs

WordPress Toolkit had a long-lasting issue with plugins and themes that use underscore symbol in their slugs (technical names / IDs). Specifically, it was not possible to upload, install, or update any plugin or theme with such a symbol in its slug through WordPress Toolkit. 

For a time, this was not deemed to be a real issue since WordPress directory maintainers do not usually assign slugs with an underscore to submitted plugins and themes, so this symbol is not typically used in such context. 

However, over the years we have discovered that there are several popular plugins that feature underscore in their slugs (js_composer is the biggest culprit). The time has finally come, and we have updated a number of internal WordPress Toolkit routines to properly work with plugins and themes that have slugs with underscore symbol.

Site List Expanding Changes

In WordPress Toolkit 5.0 we have introduced a new list-based interface for sites, which brought not only new features but also new issues with it. 

One particular issue happened when users installed a new site. The interface for managing this site was often collapsed by default even if it was the only site in the list. We’ve investigated the behavior of our new list UI and introduced a number of changes in WordPress Toolkit 5.2. Now, the following logic is used:

  • After a site is installed, it is expanded by default, regardless of how many sites are in the site list.
  • After a clone is created, it is expanded by default, regardless of how many sites are in the site list.
  • If a user only has one site, it should always be expanded by default.

This is just the beginning, though. We continue to look into improving the collapse/expand behavior further in our next releases. In particular, we’d like to remember the user’s choice (which site was expanded, and which was collapsed) and improve the performance of the site list when it has a lot of sites. Both items might seem obvious but are far from trivial in terms of implementation. Therefore they will take some time to address.

CentOS 8 & CloudLinux 8 support

WordPress Toolkit v5.2 supports CentOS 8 and CloudLinux 8 on both Plesk and cPanel. Note that the CloudLinux team has not officially announced CloudLinux 8 support for Plesk and cPanel, but WordPress Toolkit works fine on it, as far as we can tell.

Web Server Rules Description

WordPress Toolkit adds specific rules to web server config files when it applies certain security measures. If you look at these rules, it’s not apparent who added them and why. To make things more transparent for admins, we have added short descriptions for each rule right in the webserver config files (except for IIS, where it’s not so easy). 

It’s a small change, but we’d like to think it can help users better understand the value brought by WordPress Toolkit and help debug things if something goes wrong.

Research, Improvements, and Bugfixes

During this release, the team did a lot of research on topics we’d like to address in the future. Here are some of the things we’ve investigated:

  • How to properly clone and copy the content of a specific WordPress site if another WordPress is located inside the first site’s subdirectory.
  • How to properly clone and copy the Elementor plugin.
  • What are the most frequent and important issues with cloning functionality?
  • Why Smart Updates sometimes provide false negatives on websites with a large number of posts.
  • How we can ship a specific version of the UI library in WordPress Toolkit for Plesk.
  • How broken WordPress Toolkit will be after we perform a very belated and very major wp-cli update.
  • What issues related to PHP module requirements might turn up if WordPress Toolkit is using ea-php or alt-php when installed in cPanel working on CloudLinux 6 & 7.
  • How to improve site list performance and WordPress Toolkit performance in general on cPanel.

Some of these research tasks resulted in an immediate item resolved in the 5.2 release. Such was the case for cPanel performance research. The team has significantly improved the performance right away in v5.2 and identified several good improvement opportunities for the upcoming WordPress Toolkit 5.3 release. 

Future Plans

Our next major release will be out in January 2021. As mentioned above, we’ll continue our efforts to fix and improve existing functionality. WordPress Toolkit 5.3 will have an increased focus on improving our cloning feature, updating wp-cli utility to the latest version, and improving site list performance on both cPanel and Plesk. 

We’re still looking into what else we fit into the next release, so expect some surprises later down the road. Thanks for reading and see you next year!

Setting up Your Ideal Web Development Environment With Plesk Essentials

Morning beverage ready. Mail and calendar checked. Daily meeting with the team done – It’s time to start your engines and crack on with your project. If you’re familiar with this sequence, it’s because you’re also immersed in the web developer’s everyday routine.

Carrying out your daily tasks might be an easy-peasy chore. But when it comes to beginning a new project from scratch. And setting up your web development environment, you might need to add on a few more steps. Before starting cooking up a new project, you must have all the ingredients sorted. That is, for example, prepare all the data and tools you’ll need along the way.

And indeed, there’s a significant amount of web development tools out there. But what tools are suited to web developers? How do you decide which ones to have in your toolbox? In this article, we’ll bring you some prime extensions and toolkits that will make your web development experience even better. Let’s get ready to know some of Plesk’s essentials for web development, DNS, security, SEO, server, and backup.

Organizing Your Toolbox

At Plesk, our goal is to make web development simple and easy. And its integrated platform with full development and deployment capabilities allows you to build, secure, and run servers and websites. But if what you want to know is how to level up your skills with great tools, here are some excellent examples. Let’s dig deeper:

DNS, Security, and Web Plesk Extensions for Web Developers

Plesk DNSSEC

The DNSSEC acronym stands for Domain Name System Security Extensions. It’s a set of DNS protocol extensions that sign DNS data to secure the domain name resolving process.

The Plesk DNSSEC extension helps make the Internet safer. Let’s see what it allows you to do:

  • Configure the settings used for key generation and rollover.
  • Sign and unsign domain zones according to the DNSSEC specifications.
  • Receive notifications related to DNSSEC records and keys.
  • View and copy DS resource records and DNSKEY resource record sets.

Docker

Docker is a handy software technology that provides containers. That means an extra layer of abstraction and automation of operating-system-level virtualization. As a flexible Plesk tool, Docker can help you perform a wide variety of tasks. But that’s not everything. Docker also removes the obstacles to adapt to new technologies digitally as it uses existing technologies. This way, it acts as an assistant between different operating systems and developers.

The extension also frees applications from system infrastructure. Allowing expansion in capacity through collaboration. Here’s more of what you can achieve with Docker for Plesk:

  • On-demand access to a vast range of modern technologies.
  • Upload a custom image or choose one from a catalog.
  • Deploy and manage Docker containers straight from the Plesk interface.
  • Install Docker containers locally or to a remote node registered in Plesk.

Web Presence Builder

If you’re a beginner in web development, Web Presence Builder is the right tool for you. It doesn’t require great HTML knowledge or graphic design skills. This tool helps you create professional-looking websites not bad, huh?

Web Presence Builder also provides a simple visual editor and a broad set of templates for different websites. Pick a page design that you like and your content template. And then add your text to the pages and publish the website. Here’s what you can do with this tool:

  • Create web pages.
  • Add a wide variety of content (text, images, video, scripts, and more).
  • Edit website settings (website name, keywords, icons, and so on).

Joomla! Toolkit

Up next it’s the Joomla! Toolkit. A complete toolkit to power Joomla! websites. With this toolkit, you can mass-manage, secure, and automate all your instances, extensions, and templates running on a server managed by Plesk. All from one single entry point. Here’s more:

  • One single dashboard to control, maintain and monitor all your instances.
  • One-click installer to download, initialize, and configure Joomla! from start to finish.
  • It hardens your site against all types of cyberattacks with its robust security scanner.

Plesk WordPress Toolkit

As a developer, you’re probably craving lots of features and intelligent tools that make your daily workload easier to digest. Well, we’re proud to say that our beloved Plesk WordPress Toolkit is definitely one of them. With this toolkit, you can focus on core tasks and automate the mundane ones. And substantially increase productivity, security, and efficiency too.  

The Plesk WordPress Toolkit is by far the most complete tool for WordPress admins seeking pre-configured solutions for the best possible performance. As well as an intelligent tool that helps to always keep their WordPress sites secure and up-to-date without breaking a live site. In case you’re not falling yet, here’s why using this tool is not only a smart idea but also a rewarding experience: 

  • Manage all WordPress sites on the server simplifying admin tasks.
  • Install, activate, update, and remove plugins and themes from one single dashboard.
  • Keep the highest level of security selectively securing websites.
  • Clone and stage websites to simulate changes before going live. 
  • Synchronize the changes between files and databases of different sites.
  • Optimize SEO for higher traffic and manage WordPress search engine indexing.

Smart Updates

A great addition to the Plesk WordPress Toolkit is the Smart Updates feature. This power-tool combo automatically updates WordPress core, plugins, and themes using AI. Here’s more:

  • Smart Updates clones and simulates your WordPress updates before performing them.
  • It mitigates the risk of hacked sites by running updates in a secure staging environment without affecting production. 
  • You can activate Smart Updates in WordPress Toolkit with a switch, as well as automate update analysis email notifications.

SEO, Backup, Cloud, and Server Plesk Extensions for Web Developers

SEO Toolkit

Along with the performance, a thought-out SEO strategy is fundamental to improve your search engine rankings. And with better rankings, more visibility, traffic, and conversions. 

Organic search can become your primary source of clicks, traffic, and revenue for your business. With the SEO Toolkit, you get all the tools you need to give your customers a chance to find you online. And help them pick your website over those of your competitors. We’re listing some reasons why you should use SEO Toolkit for your website:

  • Track SEO KPIs and check your website’s Visibility Score to measure your success.
  • Site Audit analyzes your site and gives you tips on how to enhance optimization.
  • SEO Advisor provides you a to-do list to improve your performance based on your Site Audit and Visibility Score.
  • Log File Analyzer will crawl your site and pages to help search engines rank and index them accordingly.
  • Check each of your keyword’s performance and compare it directly to your competitors’.

Google PageSpeed Insights

As explained above, one of the main worries for web developers is site performance. Because after all the work you’ve put into your web development, you just want it to work smoothly and without any issues. But don’t panic – Here’s what you need to know to achieve good visibility in search engines. 

First of all, you need to create websites that are fast, useful to your visitors, optimized for all traffic, and most importantly, mobile-friendly. And secondly, you should monitor your sites with tools like Google PageSpeed Insights. It will help you analyze your website’s content and its performance to suggest specific improvements. Here’s how the PageSpeed Insights extension works:

  • Analyzes the performance of websites hosted on your Plesk server.
  • Assigns every website a desktop and mobile score depending on its performance.
  • Generates a report based on the results of the analysis and displays suggestions to optimize your websites’ performance.
  • Provides links in the extension UI to the suggested tools aimed at improving websites’ performance (for example, the mod_pagespeed Apache module).
  • Gives already compressed files to reduce the size of static files (free API key required).
  • Installs the mod_pagespeed Apache module and lets you configure it for your needs.

Plesk Cgroups Manager

Often, web developers suffer what’s known as the ‘noisy neighbor’ problem. For those who aren’t familiar with this concept, this issue occurs when a website on a shared hosting consumes all system resources and disrupts the performance of other websites.

To avoid this common problem, we recommend using the Plesk Cgroups Manager extension. This solution helps you deliver reliable and continuous availability. The Cgroups Manager lets you control the amount of CPU, RAM, and disk read/write bandwidth resources each subscriber or tier of subscribers gets. You can use Plesk Cgroups to:

  • Prevent consuming of resources of your server by some of the subscriptions on your shared environment.
  • Automatically set a limit of resource consumption, monitor it, and send email notifications when it exceeds a certain level.
  • Set limits at two levels – subscriber service plan level or subscriber level.

Backup to Cloud Pro

Last but not least, we find the Backup to Cloud Pro extension. This solution is for all web professionals that want to set up different backup schedules to the cloud effortlessly. What’s more, it allows you to focus on more exciting and innovative tasks as it automates your backup management. It’s easy to set up and you can secure your domains with Google Drive, Amazon S3, DropBox, DigitalOcean Spaces, and Microsoft OneDrive:

  • Back up the entire server, individual user accounts with websites or individual subscriptions.
  • Schedule backups.
  • Restore data from backup archives.

CyberDeals Sale – 50% Off Selected Plesk Extensions and Toolkits

Thank you for reading up to this point – As a reward, we want to share with you a sneak peek of what’s coming soon this November. From Friday 27th until Monday 30th, we’re giving 50% off all the extensions listed in the article as part of our CyberDeals sale. So if you don’t want to miss out on these unbeatable offers, stay on the lookout for new updates. And catch them before they fly! 

Performance and Security Enhancements in WordPress 5.5 Release

More than 800 volunteers helped to make the release of WordPress 5.5 “Eckstine” possible. Performance and security enhancements take the top spot in this release. In this blog post, we want to highlight some of the long awaited features:

The New Sitemap

WordPress 5.5 is capable of creating an XML sitemap without the need of a plugin. This new feature should help you to enhance the SEO Score for your website by providing a list of all your URLs to search engines. You can find it under: https://<your-domainname>/wp-sitemap.xml.

Enhanced Speed

When it comes to page load times, lazy loading is a handy tool. It tells your browser when to load which resource while your visitors scroll through the page. This allows you to reduce the initial load time of your page while not compromising on your image selection.

Automated Plugin and Theme Updates

While it is common for the WordPress core to do automated updates, this feature is now also available both for Themes and Plugins in WordPress 5.5. This feature is opt-out, which means you need to manually activate it per plugin or theme in your WordPress Dashboard.

Block Patterns

Following the tradition, the new WordPress release also includes the latest changes to the Gutenberg Editor. Newly introduced is the Block pattern feature. It allows you to easily reuse a combination and layout of various Gutenberg blocks. With this change, the Gutenberg Editor catches up with sitebuilder plugins like Elementor.

Goodbye jQuery Migrate

Ever wondered why there is always that message about jQuery Migrate in your browser console? Following the recommendation of the jQuery team, the jQuery Migrate plugin was removed from the WordPress core. In the upcoming releases of WordPress, we see an update of jQuery and jQuery UI. 

Keep In Mind Before You Update

Benefit from all the features of the new WordPress 5.5 release but keep in mind to not simply hit the update button inside your WordPress instance. Especially due to the removal of the jQuery Migration code, it might lead to unwanted issues on your website. Our recommendation is to:

  1. Create a 1-to-1 staging environment of your website.
  2. Do the update on the stage.
  3. Check for errors and issues.
  4. Fix if needed.
  5. Repeat step 1-4.
  6. Update your live website with the fix.

Or, use Smart Updates and let Plesk automate your update process. Learn more about how you can optimize processes and your revenue with Smart Updates in this article.

Already running the latest WordPress release? Let us know your experience in the comments below!

Discovering the Plesk WordPress Toolkit: Behind the Scenes

It goes without saying that WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world today. In fact, 37,8% of all websites use WordPress as a CMS. And considering that in 2020 there are over 1.7 billion active websites globally, almost 40% is quite an impressive figure (right?) That said, it’s no wonder why WordPress also dominates application installations in Plesk, such as our beloved WordPress Toolkit.

Additionally, this month we’re celebrating Plesk WordPress Toolkit has reached more than 1,600,000 WordPress websites throughout all Plesk versions and platforms. And we’re proud to say that for us, this milestone is huge. But, of course, this doesn’t end here. We’re looking forward to increasing this number and continuing its development by addressing our users’ needs. So, if these numbers have stumped you, read the rest of the article for more interesting facts.

Biggest WordPress Toolkit Feature Releases in 2020

Plesk WordPress Toolkit is one of our most treasured products. It might be because its all-in-one solution handles all WordPress installations from one single dashboard. And because it simplifies your daily workload and makes your life as a WordPress user much easier. While making sure your site is updated and protected against cyber threats. We understand – we love it too!

Whereas other abnormalities are still striking in 2020, our super team behind the WordPress Toolkit strives to deliver an enhanced product on every release. Let’s remember the major updates since the beginning of this year:

Developing WordPress Toolkit for cPanel

Whilst 2019 releases were mainly focused on radical improvements to our premium Smart Updates, 2020 has been the year for developing WordPress Toolkit for cPanel. In fact, we had a very good start with this ambitious project. And by the 4.8 release, we had made WordPress Toolkit on cPanel almost feature complete. Nonetheless, we still need to be patient before WordPress Toolkit for cPanel is available for the public. But we can assure you that the finish line is closer every day.

CLI for Smart Updates

After adding CLI for existing features such as cloning and data copy early this year – find out more here, the time for Smart Updates arrived. In WordPress Toolkit 4.8 we added the first part of Smart Updates CLI, allowing hosters to enable and disable Smart Updates on a site.

Website URL Update

One of the frequent cases our partners encounter is the migration of websites to their servers by customers. WordPress stores the website URL in its database – and sometimes, in the configuration file. Therefore, such migrations require some manual tinkering to make the website work as usual. To help users, we added the ability to perform this action with a couple of clicks straight from the WordPress Toolkit user interface. This feature is called “Update Site URL.”

Disable wp-cron.php Execution

To facilitate the ability to disable wp-cron.php, we added a one-click switch on each website’s card. Turning the switch on will automatically create a scheduled task that runs wp-cron.php every 30 minutes. And it will also disable the default wp-cron execution by adding a specific line to wp-config.php file. Pretty useful indeed.

Default WordPress Installation Language

Finally, in 2020 we also delivered this quite handy functionality. Now, server administrators can open global WordPress Toolkit settings and choose a language that should be selected for all WordPress installations on the server by default. Users installing WordPress can choose a different language if they want, obviously.

Did You Know? – The Team Behind It All

All these great achievements wouldn’t have been possible without our technical team. And to recognize their hard work and commitment throughout these years, we want to dedicate some time to them. So, let us introduce you to Andrey Kugaevsky, Product Manager at Plesk – aka the WordPress Paladin. Even though we’re sure you’ve probably heard Andrey before in one of our official Next Level Ops Podcast or read one of his articles in our blog.

Andrey and his team sweat their work out to make WordPress Toolkit the star of the show. With that in mind, we’re inviting you to meet the team behind our beloved product. Let’s hit the play button:

Your Feedback is Also Essential

And of course, our technical team wouldn’t be able to achieve such great achievements if it wasn’t because of our users’ contributions. There are different ways you can use your voice and help Andrey and his team to make the WordPress Toolkit even better. Our Program Managers are in permanent contact with support teams for gathering information before choosing a new product feature for implementation. And for some top features, they test hypotheses on-site or create surveys and send them to customers for review.

If you have feedback on WordPress Toolkit or ideas on how to improve it, making it more useful to you and your clients, you can check out this article to find out more about how to contribute.

Get Started with Our Current Offers

Now that you know a little bit more about what’s going on behind closed doors, you may want to give Plesk WordPress Toolkit a try. Currently, we’re offering 6 months free for WordPress Toolkit on a yearly subscription, including remote management for agencies. Additional details about these offers can be found here.

Or if you’re already familiar with our product and your curiosity got you this far, why don’t you tell us your experience with Plesk? You can let us know in the comments below. We’re all ears!

Announcing Plesk WordPress Toolkit 4.8 Release

Plesk WordPress Toolkit 4.8 is the fourth major WordPress Toolkit update in 2020. In this release, we focused on several customer-requested features. Including Smart Updates CLI, new notifications for outdated plugins, choosing the default WordPress installation language, and more. Read on to learn what’s new in this release.

Find out more about Plesk WordPress Toolkit

Choosing the Default WordPress Installation Language

When users install WordPress via WordPress Toolkit, there’s some magic happening behind the scenes. In particular, we are selecting default WordPress language based on the language of the user who is getting this WordPress installation. So, for example, if my Plesk is switched to Italian when I install WordPress, it will offer Italian as the default WordPress language. If the server admin is using Plesk in English and installs WordPress for a user whose Plesk is in German, the default WordPress language selected on the installation form will be German.

Apparently, either this logic doesn’t work all the time (although we weren’t able to conclusively confirm this). Or some people simply want to use a very specific language by default in all cases. The request from several customers was heard loud and clear. So we delivered this functionality in WordPress Toolkit 4.8. Now server administrators can open global WordPress Toolkit settings and choose a language that should be selected for all WordPress installations on the server by default. Users installing WordPress can choose a different language if they want, obviously.

Let’s take a closer look:

To return the old behavior which selected the language automatically, simply choose the “Same as user language” option (it’s right on top of the list of languages). Oh, and if you’re wondering what’s “Deutch (Österreich)” on the screenshot above, and why you can’t find this language in Plesk, here’s the answer: we’re taking the list of languages from WordPress itself. And it’s bigger than the list of languages supported by Plesk.

Adding CLI for Smart Updates

We’re slowly but surely adding CLI for existing features. And this time it’s Smart Updates feature that gets some love. WordPress Toolkit 4.8 adds the first part of Smart Updates CLI, allowing hosters to enable and disable Smart Updates on a particular site. The second part of Smart Updates CLI will come later. And it will include the ability to fetch Smart Update procedure status and confirm or reject the update.

Here’s the brief usage info for the current CLI command:

plesk ext wp-toolkit --smart-update

    -instance-id INSTANCE_ID|-main-domain-id DOMAIN_ID -path PATH

    [-format raw|json]

Arguments:

instance-id: WordPress installation ID

main-domain-id: Main domain ID

path: The relative path from the domain's document root directory. Example: /subdirectory

format: Outputs the data in a particular format. By default, all data is shown in the raw format. Supported formats: json, raw

Inability to Update Paid Plugins or Themes Notification

You probably remember that in WordPress Toolkit 4.7 we added support for updates of paid plugins and themes. Announcing this change, I’ve mentioned a disclaimer. It’s about WordPress Toolkit not letting users know about certain plugins & themes requiring a license for automatic updates. Starting with WordPress Toolking 4.8, users will be notified about this. That’s if WordPress Toolkit can’t update a plugin or theme and we suspect that it’s because its license is missing.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to notify users about this before the update. So we had to settle for the post-factum message.

Our Research

We’re always researching various things when working on a release. But these activities are never mentioned outside the team for some reason. And I figured it’s time to have a quick glimpse into our investigations. 

Here are some of the more interesting things we looked into:

  • Which issues prevent us from properly supporting CloudLinux on both Plesk and cPanel (spoiler: mostly panel-related things).
  • What is the performance impact of running Smart Updates on dozens of sites simultaneously (spoiler: could be worse).
  • Whether WordPress Toolkit is compatible with the so-called “Must-Use” plugins (spoiler: not really).

We’ll continue our research efforts in WordPress Toolkit 4.9. And I will continue keeping you in the loop.

What’s On the Future

We fixed several customer-reported bugs in WordPress Toolkit 4.8. And we improved product reliability in several places. Our bug-fixing activities will continue in WordPress Toolkit 4.9, alongside with internal improvements. 

During the 4.8 release, we also made WordPress Toolkit on cPanel almost feature-complete. Adding the Data Copy feature, enabling the rest of the security checkers, and so on. We still have quite a lot of things to do before WordPress Toolkit for cPanel is available for the general public. But the finish line is getting closer every day. Besides cPanel stuff, bugfixes, and improvements, WordPress Toolkit 4.9 will also include a couple of customer features. We’re looking at candidates right now. And I think our Uservoice voters should be quite happy with our choices. 

Thank you for reading up to here. And thanks to the whole team for their hard work. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to improve our beloved WordPress Toolkit. See you next time!

Why Smart Updates Has Jumped in Value

How Smart Updates makes you money and saves time - Plesk

Our development team put lots of effort into the new features of WordPress Toolkit 4.3, which mostly benefit our Smart Updates users. Thanks to our new algorithm, we can reduce the time all updates take. Moreover, new checks and a more transparent process have improved your user experience and stopped the Smart Updates blackboxing! But more importantly, Smart Updates is essential to:

  • Prevent WordPress hacking
  • Save you time
  • Earn you money

Since Smart Updates is so important, now more than ever, we’re giving new users a special offer “first month free” offer to try it out.

New Smart Updates for WordPress Toolkit

Keeping your WordPress up-to-date is the most efficient way to protect it against automated hacking. A hacking attack usually exploits known security breaches in older versions of WordPress and plugins. So that’s why it’s crucial to keep your WordPress, themes and plugins always updated. The top benefit you get with Smart Updates is the Automated updates by AI.

New Smart Updates for WordPress Toolkit - October 2019

Not only does it perform updates on your behalf, but also ensures your updates do not break the live site. How? By using an algorithm that you set. If it is not met, the site does not update until you accept manually. Don’t worry there is also an option to update manually if you wish to retain control.

Find out more about how AI handles Smart Updates right here. 

Plus, we’ve also enhanced the reliability and performance of Smart Updates for the WordPress core, plugins and themes. When we launched Smart Updates for WordPress in March 2018, we whitelabeled the API from Perfect Dashboard, which we now deprecated. What this means is that we can now offer you a free month of auto-updates & AI-powered regression testing tools! Click below to get yours.

Make Money & Save Time with Smart Updates

Save Time and Make Money - Smart Updates - Infographic 2019

Statistically, there can be up to four WordPress updates a month on average. That means that keeping one website updated with the proper procedure takes 8 hours per month. This is super time-consuming, not to mention boring. Manual updating and testing websites will eventually take a toll, if it hasn’t already. But not with Smart Updates, this then just takes minutes.

You can earn 160% more, working 90% less

Assuming the hourly rate is €20 per hour, the cost of keeping the website up-to-date would add up to €160 monthly. Consequently, in order to generate a reasonable margin, the total cost for updating a simple WordPress website properly is €250 for the customer.

With Smart Updates, keeping one website updated via automation takes 40 minutes a month (versus 8 hours). That means that you can provide the service of the same, or even better, quality while working 90% less. Because now, based on the same hourly rate, your website updates are maintained for just €13.33 a month. Therefore, a web professional can still charge €250 per month and boost their margin by almost 160%.

The second opportunity here is of course, keeping the same margin, but offering the same service at a much more affordable price. This in turn makes you more competitive in your market and opens up many more prospects. Those who previously couldn’t afford manual updates, but can now afford automated ones.

How to Activate Smart Updates for WordPress Sites

Go to WordPress Overview and activate the Smart Updates switch. That’s it! It’s all you need to do because everything is now in that single switch on the main card of each WP Instance.

We plan to introduce more Smart Updates enhancements further down the line. Even more importantly, one of the changes should dramatically change your Smart Update experience and make it more transparent. So try Smart Updates for WordPress while offer still lasts.

How do you think Smart Updates would benefit you? Let us know in the comments below.

WordPress Toolkit 4.3 Reveals Radical Improvements to Smart Updates Premium

WordPress Toolkit 4.3 Reveals Radical Improvements to Smart Updates Premium - Plesk

We’re happy to announce WordPress Toolkit 4.3 is now publicly available. This release focuses on radical improvements to our premium Smart Updates. Namely user experience, checks, and more usability features like sitemap and switch.

New Smart Updates User Experience

The main complaint about Smart Updates was that it worked as a black box. It took its time to clone and analyze the site (performance was also addressed in WordPress Toolkit 4.2). Also, after analysis, users wouldn’t get any proper info, which understandably made you doubt us. Therefore, the main way to combat this issue was full process transparency.

Upon performing the cloning and the subsequent analysis, Smart Updates will show our users all the details. The Website Summary tab will list pages checked and mention all issues found, while also informing users what it was looking for. You can even download a full test summary as a text file – Handy for update issues you want to investigate further. While the forecast tells you if the update is safe to execute or not.

WordPress Toolkit 4.3 - Smart Updates - test updates results ux

If at least one new issue is found during the test, Smart Updates warns you of the dangers. Hence, you should address issues before running the update – or, if they’re not serious, update anyway and fix them after.

What’s really cool about the new Smart Updates though, is it alerts you of site issues – even those unrelated to the update. The system may detect an issue before the update which then persists. The tool will tell you that although the update’s safe, the site has a pre-existing issue you should check. If Smart Updates finds issues on a page, you can switch to the Page Details tab to see what exactly is wrong on that page.

WordPress Toolkit 4.3 - Smart Updates - Test updates results - page details

As you can see, if a page has a new issue, you’ll get a red dot. The aspects with issues also have a red dot on the Page Details tab.

New Smart Updates Checks

As you can see from the above screenshots, the system is now also checking for PHP errors, warnings, or notices. Such issues typically indicate a broken plugin or a theme, so you shouldn’t take them lightly. Speaking of plugins, Smart Updates is also looking for any Plugin shortcodes on a page (WP-specific pieces of code that various plugins widely use).

When a shortcode is inserted in a post or on a page, WordPress dynamically replaces it with the corresponding content upon generating the page. This means if the actual shortcode appears on a page instead of the content, something went horribly wrong and the site admin needs to intervene.

Using Sitemap to Analyze Pages

The page limit is currently set to 30 URLs to avoid overloading both our screenshot-making service and the servers where Smart Updates is used. We’re now monitoring the Smart Updates load in order to fine-tune this limit. Meanwhile users can create a special custom sitemap that tells Smart Updates which pages to check. This is useful if you have a large site with over 30 URLs and you’re worried about certain pages more than others. (Docs for this feature are coming soon.)

The Smart Updates Switch and Screen

Before, you could only enable Smart Updates on the Updates screen, which you may have missed if you enabled auto-updates. So, to ensure Smart Updates is visible to everyone, we added a Smart Updates switch on the website card.

WordPress Toolkit 4.3 - Smart Updates - Switch screen

A red dollar sign appears if you have not purchased the feature. Server Administrators see the Upgrade button in the prompt, since they can install the license key in Plesk. Other users will be prompted to contact their server administrator to buy the feature.

The Updates screen also got some love when we trimmed off unnecessary descriptions of plugins and themes. Or rather moved them to small pop-up windows which you open by clicking ( i ) next to each plugin/theme. The current and available version of WordPress core, plugins, and themes also went into a separate column for better visibility.

WordPress Toolkit 4.3 Smart Updates - Updates Screen

Outdated PHP Notifications on WordPress Toolkit 4.3

You’ll see a warning if your PHP is earlier than 5.6 because these websites may not be manageable via WordPress Toolkit soon. We’re planning to update wp-cli soon, and the new version of this truly invaluable utility requires WordPress sites to use at least PHP 5.6.

Outdated PHP Notifications on WordPress Toolkit 4.3

More WordPress Toolkit 4.3 Stuff

This release also includes multiple smaller enhancements (see Release Notes), like the Smart Updates Results page. It used to open after following the link in the notification email, but it’s now branding-neutral. So hosters no longer need to worry about unexpected Plesk branding displayed in odd places.

The team has also fixed dozens of bugs, including a bunch reported by you – our users. Most were related to Smart Updates or the update procedure anyway.

We’re also currently running a 30 day free trial period for those who have not yet checked Smart Updates out.

Our next WordPress Toolkit release will be a small 4.3.1 update for last-day Smart Updates fixes and improvements. Our team will then focus on the changes we need to launch our remote initiatives. Such as WordPress Toolkit for cPanel, Remote Management functionality and other endeavours. So stay tuned for more WordPress Toolkit updates this Fall and join me in celebrating another impressive release. Cheers!

Remote WordPress Management Arrives With WordPress Toolkit 4.0 [ VIDEO ]

Remote WordPress Management

You’re about to experience a fundamental change to the world of WordPress Toolkit: the ability to manage remote WordPress sites. This feature is Remote WordPress Management – publicly available as part of the WordPress Toolkit 4.0 release. Let’s dive into the details so you can install it on your server today.

Not installed WordPress Toolkit yet? Watch the quick demo and get the new version right away.

Remote WordPress Management: Currently in Beta

As you can see from the demo above, all intended functionality is already there. But it may have bugs and few screens that need a UX polish. Since Remote WordPress Management is a beta feature, we’re providing it for free temporarily. Licensing will become available when the feature is 100% production-ready.

How to access Remote WordPress Management from WP Toolkit 4.0 - Plesk
How to add a Remote server with WP Toolkit 4.0 - Plesk

To avoid any unpleasant surprises, you’ll see the below notification the first time you open the ‘Servers’ tab. You’ll also get notified here with advance notice when licensing will be becoming available.

Remote WordPress Management Beta notice on WPTK 4.0

Remote WordPress Management Limitations

Remote WordPress Management Limitations
  • Remote Management is only available in Plesk 17.8 or later since it requires new WordPress Toolkit UI.
  • Remote servers can be Plesk, cPanel or no panel but must be Linux. Windows remote servers aren’t supported yet – but this might change depending on the amount of user requests.
  • In order to connect a remote server, you need to have root access to it. We know it’s a serious limitation, so we’re already prototyping a WordPress worker plugin you can install inside WordPress. This plugin will connect the WordPress site to a central WordPress Toolkit server, letting you manage the site without root access.
  • Installation and data copy features aren’t available yet but will be in time.
  • Since cloning isn’t available yet, Smart Updates aren’t either. This will change when cloning can also support remote sites.
  • A number of security measures that require modification of web server config aren’t available for remote installations. But we’re planning it for upcoming WordPress Toolkit updates.
  • Password protection feature is too deeply-integrated in Plesk right now, so it’s not available either.
  • Since we’re working with non-Plesk servers, nginx caching management is missing for remote installations. We’ll make it available for Plesk servers later, but non-Plesk servers may prove too difficult.
  • Database management is using a lot of Plesk-specific things, so we cannot provide it for remote sites at the moment.
  • Both File manager and Backup integration are linked to Plesk functionality. Making them available for remote sites means we need to implement both features from scratch. It’s a huge undertaking, so these two features will probably be the last to be available for remote sites.

Everything else is already there, so check out the feature, spread the word, and let us know what you think.

More WordPress Toolkit 4.0 Updates

Smart Updates

One of the problems we’ve had with the Smart Updates feature was that the update procedure itself acted like a black box for the users. Some reported staring at the screen for a half hour thinking nothing was happening, wondering if the system still worked. We have hopefully improved this now since WordPress Toolkit 4.0 displays the steps the Smart Updates procedure has taken.

Smart Updates and WordPress Toolkit 4.0

This only works for a single site update, since we’re still trying to figure out how to properly display the multi-step progress for several sites at once without making a mess in the UI. At least now you’ll know which steps are taking so long!

New User Interface is Everywhere

Now all the WordPress Toolkit functionality links in the Websites & Domains screen lead to the new interface. Because they previously were not. And yes, we’d love to show WordPress Toolkit 4.0 site cards directly on the Websites & Domains screen – we’re working on that. 😉

New User Interface in WPTK 4.0

Database Server Info added to Database Tab

Yes, although this change does improve your life, it is a small change. However, the overall product experience is comprised of these small experiences. So it’s important for us to keep the product polished and make sure it doesn’t feel sloppy.

Add database server info to database tab in WPTK 4.0

Cloning and Data Copy Improvements

You can now see the physical path of a WordPress site when you clone it or copy data from one site to another. This is useful in the rare case where your domain’s document root is pointing to another domain document root, so you need to be sure you’re not unexpectedly overwriting any data.

Cloning and data copy improvements

Also, WordPress Toolkit can now prevent users from trying to clone their WordPress site to a destination where another WordPress site already exists. Or a site into itself. We’re not exactly sure why somebody would do that, but we’re sure they won’t succeed.

Cloning in WordPress Toolkit 4.0

WordPress Toolkit 4.1 Plans

Finally, I want to thank every person who actively participated in making this release see the light of day: Alexey B, Aleksey F, Aleksei V, Vladimir B, Igor L, Sergey S, Evgeny P, Igor L, Olga K, Nikolai T, Dmitriy M, Stas M, Lana K, Natalia A, Katerina S and Evgeny B.

Our obvious focus for the next major release is to gather the feedback on the Remote Management functionality and see what users are asking for. Besides that, we’ve got a few more surprises up our sleeves, so stay tuned for the imminent April release!

Give us feedback on Remote WordPress Management in the comments below!

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Why WordPress?

Why WordPress?

Is a WordPress site really going to be that much better than the one you’ve been using happily for so long? Well, we think it will. We think that a WordPress CMS is going to be one of those things that you switch to and then later wonder how you ever did without it. We’ll show you why we think that and show you examples of some great sites that rely on WordPress too, so you can decide for yourself.

If you’re like most people, then any time you hear the name ‘WordPress’ you immediately think that it’s going to be about someone’s blog. Well, it’s true that WordPress was mostly used for blogging in the beginning, but it’s evolved into something that’s a lot more sophisticated than just a home for an online diary.

The clue to its power now is in the letters CMS, or content management system. It’s going into something quite versatile, and that versatility is what accounts for its popularity. It’s been estimated that a little over 32 per cent of all the websites in existence use WordPress. Bloomberg, Sony, The New Yorker, Disney, Target, BBC America, Plesk, cPanel and many more have come to depend on its long list of features, robustness, and excellent scalability. High recommendation indeed!

WordPress costs you nothing

That’s right. You don’t pay one solitary nickel for WordPress. And you can install it, alter it, bend it to whatever shape you need too, and nobody will take exception to your behavior. Of course, there are still costs. you still have to pay for a domain name and the usual hosting service, but then so does everyone. That’s the kind of thing you expect to have to do if you want to make a home on the web. When someone types www. followed by the name of your site then they’re directed to the place all your stuff is held. So, it’s not surprising that somebody has to provide the “warehouse” for all your files and that you have to pay to rent that space. But WordPress, the bit that tells the server how all of that stuff should be organized, is free

WordPress is infinitely adaptable

If you want to design a website for yourself from the ground up, then WordPress will let you do just that. But if you don’t, then you can choose from literally thousands of pre-made designs that serve a whole host of different functions. These vary from free to modestly priced, and the beauty of all of them is that you don’t need to be a techie to get your site up and running and looking good. A lot of the WordPress features are designed to be very intuitive, so you are just dragging and dropping items to get the look and functionality that you want.

As well as themes you can also pick up plugins to add even more functionality to your site. You can add analytics, contact forms, membership areas, galleries… the list goes on. Some of these are free, and some you have to pay for.

WordPress is SEO friendly

We could explain SEO, but to avoid losing you in a fog of technobabble, let’s just say that WordPress has been written in such a way that makes Google and other search engines really appreciate it. Which means that WordPress sites has all the chances to rank high in Google and Bing search results. But if that natural search engine friendliness isn’t enough for you, you can also pick up SEO plugins that help to boost your site even more.

Managing WordPress is simple

WordPress has an admin dashboard that makes installing updates for plugins and themes nice and easy. It will tell you any time a new version of WordPress is released, and you just need to click a button to have it installed. Keeping all your stuff safe from hackers and backed up is easy if you install any of WordPress backup plugins. This will let you download your site for safekeeping or save it to the cloud, whatever you prefer. WordPress mobile apps are available to help you manage your site or sites when you’re out and about.

WordPress was designed with safety in mind

Part of the reason why so many of those big corporations (that we mentioned earlier) use the WordPress CMS is that it was designed to be safe and secure. The big players can’t afford to have security breaches or unstable systems, so they’re only going to trust a platform that’s solid. So, we have to conclude that if it’s solid enough for them, then it’s solid enough for you!

That said, there’s always more that you can (and should) do to keep safe. For extra security, you could use something like Sucuri. It’s good for defending against brute force attacks and keeping malware at bay.

WordPress is happy to handle a variety of Media Types

WordPress has a media uploader built into the system so it’s easy to upload pictures, video, and audio. And you can also embed YouTube videos, Tweets, Soundcloud audio and insert Instagram images thanks to the platform support for oEmbed.