The Jetpack Extension in WordPress Toolkit

WordPress Toolkit 4.5 is finally introducing the ability to purchase Jetpack plans through Plesk. This feature is the result of a lengthy collaboration between us and Automattic (owners of WordPress). It has actually been many months in the making. The key fact is that now any user has access to WordPress Toolkit can purchase Jetpack. And not just server administrators.

Note: To disable this ability on the server, add jetpackPluginUpgradeEnabled = false to your panel.ini file. This information is also available directly in the Release Notes. Also keep in mind that you can’t resell Jetpack licenses at the moment. We may work on it in the future – let’s see how it goes.

However, to purchase Jetpack, users first need to install it on a website and activate it. We’ve added a special checker that lets you know what you need to do from a user perspective:

jetpack 1 - upgrade checklist

After that, you can purchase Jetpack by clicking Upgrade on the Plugins tab of the website card:

jetpack extension in WordPress Toolkit - plugin upgrade

Alternatively, you can click Upgrade in the Plugins installation dialog:

jetpack 3 -plugins and themes

Either action will take you to our Online Store, where you can purchase one of Jetpack plans and wait for an email from Automattic that confirms the plan activation. The confirmation process usually takes just a couple of minutes. But if you’re really impatient, you can click the Refresh icon to make WordPress Toolkit check the current status of your purchase.

Jetpack has four plans

  • Free
  • Personal
  • Premium
  • Professional

You can find the details of what’s included in each tier here. Due to some technical limitations, you can only upgrade Jetpack by purchasing a new plan and cancelling the current one. Don’t worry, we’ll be fixing this inconvenience in the near future.

Introducing Jetpack through WordPress Toolkit is pretty huge because finally end-customers can benefit as well as server admins. Moreover, the Jetpack extension has opened some doors, technically speaking, which should help us develop similar end-customer products in the future.

The feature will be enabled for retail customers hosting Plesk on Digital Ocean first. In fact, we’ve already started the rollout process. We’ll make it available for everyone in due time, after we’ve made 100% sure that all the parts of this complex integration equation are working as intended when live.

We’re looking for some early feedback so let us know what your Jetpack experience is like below!

The WordPress Toolkit 4.4 Update

WordPress Toolkit 4.4 Update - Plesk

We’ve just released two WordPress Toolkit updates at the same time: v4.3.5 and v4.4.0 – for different Plesk versions. WordPress Toolkit 4.3.5 is a “maintenance only” fork of WordPress Toolkit for Plesk Onyx 17.0 and 17.5. Meanwhile WordPress Toolkit 4.4 is available for Plesk Onyx 17.8 and Obsidian 18.0.

WordPress Toolkit 4.4 is where we’re introducing the most changes to the product. The new functionality helps us spend less time supporting old Plesk versions. Thus allowing us to use newer, better technologies in order to work faster and more efficiently than before.

WordPress Toolkit 4.4 UI and Settings Redesign

We had to make sure WordPress Toolkit GUI is not using any Plesk-specific frontend code, so it can work as a product separate from Plesk (spoiler alert!). Plugins, Themes, and Sets tabs are now using the Plesk UI Library, as well as the WordPress Toolkit Settings screen.

The changes are relatively minor and don’t introduce new features or possibilities. However, they do make our interface faster, more responsive, and more consistent. This gives us a great base for doing the actual redesign of old WordPress Toolkit screens. Which is something we’re planning to do next year.

WordPress Toolkit 4.4 UI and Settings Redesign Plesk

We’ve also modified the presentation of WordPress Toolkit Settings. Previously, they appeared as a form on a separate navigation tab, which was inconsistent with the rest of the interface. To address this, we moved the Settings tab contents to a separate screen, which you open by clicking the Settings button next to the WordPress Toolkit title.

the WordPress Toolkit title - Plesk

Installing Sets on Existing Sites

Plugin/Theme Sets should be addressing new WordPress sites pre-populating with a bunch of out-the-box plugins and themes. However, some time ago hosters have flagged another important case. When a user migrates their existing site, their new hoster wants to enrich it with their own plugins and themes.

Hosters told us that they mostly wanted this ability for the server administrator, because in 80-90% of cases, they are the one doing this. So now Sets addresses this request via the Install Set button on the drop-down for each set on the tab.

existing admin interface for working with sets - Plesk

Clicking the button next to the corresponding set opens a dialog window. There, you can select one or several sites for the set to be installed on. Installing the set takes some time, especially for multiple sites. So the installation task launches in the background asynchronously to avoid blocking admins from doing other stuff in the panel.

doing other stuff in the panel - Plesk

Action Notifications Behavior Change

Remember the floating thingies notifying you of the results of your actions? We decided to change the way these notifications behave if the action was successful. While working in WordPress Toolkit, you don’t want to see these notifications cluttering your screen.

Action notifications behavior change Plesk

So, we decided notifications of successful actions (the “green” ones) should automatically close after three seconds. All other notifications displaying errors or warnings will continue to behave as usual. This is because we believe it’s important that users notice them and explicitly acknowledge them by clicking close.

WordPress Toolkit 4.5 and Other Plans

As Plesk Obsidian marches through servers, we’re planning to create another “maintenance only” fork, this time for Plesk Onyx 17.8, sometime next year. Since this Plesk version still uses an outdated Plesk UI library, it prevents us from providing you with quality interface improvements. This release means only Plesk Obsidian will get all the new WordPress Toolkit features and changes. Both “maintenance only” forks will only receive critical security updates, so you should really update to Plesk Obsidian.

The team has also cleaned up several translations and a number of nagging customer bugs and issues – See our Changelog. Our next major release will be WordPress Toolkit 4.5 – out in January 2020. While it will obviously include customer features and bugfixes, we’re also planning to spend a lot of time on WordPress Toolkit for cPanel, working closely with the cPanel team. Stay tuned for the announcement next year!

There will even be more features our current WordPress Toolkit users should look out for. In the meantime, let’s give a big thanks to the team for all the WordPress Toolkit versions released this year. Six versions since the last major 4.3 release. We hope to stay as productive in 2020, and wish the same to you all!

We’d love to get your feedback on this latest release. Let us know what you like, or if you encounter any frustrations 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!

arrow icon - Plesk

Why our WP Toolkit now has Smart Updates powered by AI

Plesk WP Toolkit Smart Updates

More than 60k websites are victims of hacking every day. And since WordPress is the most popular CMS for building websites, it makes sense that these sites become the preferred target for malicious attacks. What about you – are you covered? Your current practices may be insufficient. Here’s where Smart Updates by AI come in. Available now on the latest WP Toolkit version.

Lack of WordPress updates: The danger is real

Each WordPress update contains important security notifications that make it harder for you and your sites to get hacked. But many users don’t keep WordPress up-to-date. Why? Wed can’t just nail it down to the WordPress community’s lack of care or effort to keep their sites secure and updated. Because that’s simply not true.

So, what is it that holds back certain updates? Well, web professionals and agencies alike know that every update implies the risk of breaking sites, causing downtime and making a lot of customers unhappy. And no one wants that!

Let’s cut out the middleman

Additionally, like many other administrative tasks, running WordPress updates is quite time-consuming. Especially if you do your best to mitigate potential risks. If you want to do it right, you need to:

  1. Create a back-up of your WordPress instances
  2. Copy WordPress to a test stage
    – because you should never apply changes to a production system!
  3. Run the update
  4. Test
  5. Push to production
  6. Test again
  7. Clean up
  8. Potentially more annoying stuff

There must be a simpler process, right? And there is folks! We thought of a smarter way to complete this important task while simplifying the lives of web professionals.

Introducing Smart Updates on Plesk’s WP Toolkit

Plesk Smart Updates powered by Deep Learning technologies makes it as easy as pie to stay secure and keep your WordPress sites up-to-date. Smart Updates run a staged simulation to analyze and verify the compatibility of each available update. It compares the before-after screenshots to check for differences, before applying the update to your production environment.

How Smart Updates works on WP Toolkit

Turn it on and let Smart Updates check whether the planned update will break your production site or is good to go. If an issue gets detected, WP Toolkit will send an Email comprising of an exact description of the issue and including corresponding screenshots.

It’s then completely up to you how you wish to proceed: apply the changes or simply reject them. Smart Updates will always send an alert in case of unwanted line breaks, missing pages or corrupt imagery and videos.

This feature is all part of the new Plesk Onyx update – generally available from April 10, 2018!