Ever heard of „cowboy coding“? More or less, we’ve all done it – no time for planning, let alone test website changes, each new upload messing up your CSS, installing an incompatible plugin, doing everything „live“ and visible immediately for all your website visitors to see. After all this, you end up hoping you had a backup.
How about if you could create a development copy of your website for testing purposes with a click of a button? Or be able to quickly publish the new version of the site and replace the old one? That is exactly what Joomla and WordPress users can do with our new Staging feature, allowing clients to easily create staging copies of their sites directly from the cPanel.
The daunting task of website testing:
If you have ever attempted to create a development version of a website for testing purposes, you probably know that this is not an easy task. Most of the sites and popular open source applications (WordPress, Joomla!, Magento, SMF and many others) nowadays are URL dependent. This means that if your main WordPress site is accessible at:
and you want to create a staging copy of the site at:
you will have to reconfigure the WordPress application to use the new address.
This is a relatively easy task for default sites that don’t use many extensions or custom themes. However, you still have to create a new database for the new site, copy the existing files, import a backup of the DB, create a new sub-domain, etc. Once you complete all of these steps you must replace all instances of domain.com with staging.domain.com.
This is a cumbersome task and it really is frustrating to deal with unimportant and unrelated sub-problems when in reality your goal is to simply create a testing copy of your site. It gets even more complicated when you have many extensions because some of them may also rely on an exact URL to work as expected. Finally, the most unpleasant part is that you have to follow the very same process again whenever the testing site has to be published and made publicly available.
What is SiteGround Staging and how does it work?
A System Administrators’ rule of thumb says that if you have to do a task more than once, it should be automated. Here at SiteGround we believe that this is especially valid for services that directly affect our clients. Our Staging tool allows you to create development copies of your WordPress and Joomla! website directly from cPanel. It does all the magic for you and the final result is a completely separate clone version of your main site.
The most important thing is that the tool actually doesn’t replace your „live“ domain with the new one for staging. To be able to do this we created a special Apache module which virtually routes the requests to the correct address. This allows you to concentrate on editing and experimenting with your test site version, without having to think about „how“ to do it. Once you are happy with the results, you can push the staging version of your site live with a single click. Just to be on the safe side, we also do automatic backups each time you upload a staging version to production.
Right now, the SiteGround Staging tool is available to clients on Semi-dedicated hosting plan only and supports Joomla! and WordPress websites, but we plan to add support for other popular web applications as well. If you are a Semi-dedicated client and need to create a development copy of your site, you can do it right now from your cPanel -> Staging tool.
To illustrate the benefits of the new staging tool, we also drew a funny infographic that you can also brag with in front of your geeky friends. Also, feel free to share your opinion about the new feature in the comments below, we will be glad to hear what you think.