clock Last Modified: Oct 4, 2018

Presslabs development guidelines

Developing on our Presslabs platform is no different than developing on a regular WordPress website if you keep an eye on a few caveats. Make sure you are familiar with software development good practices on distributed systems.

Developing on the Presslabs platform is no different than developing a regular WordPress website, with a few caveats required by software development good practices on distributed systems. We consider software version control to be the central point of good software development. For this reason, we use the Presslabs-provided Git repository as the source of truth when it comes to a website’s code.

Find out more about Git-driven development, development – stage – production environments basics and benefits of dev sites on our blog.

Feature Development and Deploying

From the WordPress perspective, it’s recommended to develop features as separate plugins and to keep ONLY the things which are related to formatting and displaying content inside the theme.

From the git perspective, it’s recommended that you keep each feature as a separate branch.

There are many articles around the web about git workflows, but there is one we’d like to mention in particular. Briefly, you should have branches for each feature, and after you ended testing you merge that branch with master.


You can debug and look for errors using the error log console in the Logs section of our dashboard. Fatal errors give you a request_id which you can look up in the error log. Also, the PHP function error_log logs directly to the console.

For debugging purposes, we recommend the following plugins:

  • Query Monitor - monitors any queries that your pages generate, load times and resources;
  • Rewrite Rules Inspector - for inspecting your rewrite rules
  • What The File - adds an option to your toolbar showing you which files and template parts are used to display the page you’re currently viewing
  • Crontrol - allows you to create new cron jobs, as well as edit, delete and immediately run any cron events.

Since social media sites are today’s go-to channels for sharing content, make sure you check out our tips and tricks for using the Facebook Debugger.

Useful Plugins

Regarding image optimizations plugins, check our blog articles: WordPress Image Optimization Plugins that Actually Work and Hottest WordPress Image Optimization Services Compared.

We also debate the Pros and Cons of Comment Systems for WordPress Sites.

Make sure you also check out our list of banned plugins, detailing the reasons we do not allow them on our platform.

Development Life Cycle

Each site hosted by Presslabs has a git repository associated with it.

In addition, we offer free development sites, in order to simplify the process of developing new features for our customers. Your development site can be set up in two ways:

  • the production and development site are located on separate repositories
  • the production and development site are located on the same repository, but on different branches.

You can ask our Support team to set your development site the way you prefer it.

Depending on your chosen development site setup, there are two recommended development life cycles. Both underline that you should firstly make changes on a local environment, or on your development instance, but only after proper testing, and then push them to the live site.

In this way, you ensure that if something happens, it will happen to the dev site and not the live one.

Case 1: The production and the development sites are on separate repositories

Each repository comes with a Vagrant file for local development. You can follow these steps to set up the Vagrant environment corresponding to your site. This way, you can develop and test locally, and, when you are satisfied, merge the code with the master branch and push it to the live site.

Like we said earlier, pushing to a site’s git master branch means deploying it to live, and each site comes with its own git repository. We will use this to our advantage to create the well-known development pipeline: local - staging - production. In order to do this, you need two Presslabs sites, one for production (site) and one for staging (dev-site), while following these steps (replace site and dev-site with the corresponding IDs from your Presslabs account):

  1. Clone the site

    git clone -o prod
    cd site
  2. Add stage remote

    git remote add stage
    git fetch stage
  3. Push master by default to stage

    git config branch.master.remote stage
  4. Create the feature branch

    git checkout -b feature-name

    Now, you can develop the new feature locally and test it on the Vagrant setup described above.

  5. Merge the feature branch into master and push it to staging when ready

    git checkout master
    git merge feature-name
    git push stage

    Now, you can test your changes on the staging site (dev-site), which is identical with the production site from the environment point of view (caching, security restrictions etc.).

  6. Push the changes to live when ready

    git push prod

Following this guideline, you can always push where you want to by using git push prod and git push stage.

Also, if you update plugins directly on production, you can always create a local production branch with git checkout -b production prod/master and merge it with your local master. This way you can merge remote changes from production or stage with local ones.

Case 2: The production and development site are on the same repository, but on different branches

This development site setup means that you can have 2 branches on the same repository: master (which is connected to the live site) and develop (connected to the development site).

Step 1: Switch to develop branch

Clone your code locally:

git clone
cd site

Switch to the develop branch:

git checkout develop

Ensure you have all the changes from the repo:

git pull origin develop

Step 2: Do the code changes that you want to do and test them on the local environment. When everything is ready and working as expected on the local environment, you can push these changes to the development site.

Here’s how to do it:

Check out the changes that have been made

git status

You can ignore from this list the wordpress folder, as that is only used for your local setup.

You can also ensure you’re on the develop branch, so you won’t send the changes directly into production:

git branch

Prepare all changes from the entire wp-content folder to be sent to the development site

git add -A wp-content/

-A means that you’ll also add the files that need to be removed ( e.g. in case you have deleted some files that are not needed). In case you want to send for testing only one file, then you should only add that file. For example:

git add wp-content/themes/yourthemename/style.css

Now that the modified files are added, you need to commit them:

git commit -m "Here's the commit message"

In the commit message, it’s good to say what you have changed, in order to have an easy way to revert, if needed.

The final step is to get the changes pushed

git push origin develop

After this command is executed, you can check how everything looks on the dev site:

Step 3. If everything is OK on the dev site, then you can push the changes in production:

First, switch to the master branch:

git checkout master

Then, ensure you have all the changes:

git pull origin master

Merge the changes from develop into master:

git merge develop

Then, push all the changes to the production site:

git push origin master