Whether you’re a novice website developer or a seasoned WordPress pro, you’ve probably searched high and low for new ways to make your development workflow easier and more efficient.

Maybe you’ve had trouble finding ways to iterate faster and experiment with new features safely, or you’ve had trouble getting all your tools integrated properly. Inevitably, the search for better developer tools and processes always seems to pick back up again.

Today, with the introduction of the WP Engine DevKit, that “never-ending” search is over. DevKit offers a hand-picked selection of best-in-class WordPress developer tools, including a local development environment, all made for building, debugging, and deploying your best digital experiences yet. Currently available as an open beta, DevKit is free to download and works with any WordPress environment (although it’s optimized specifically for the WP Engine Digital Experience Platform).

So what is DevKit exactly? WP Engine spoke with hundreds of customers to find out which pain points were most important for them to solve, and we used their feedback to create a unique set of tools with one goal in mind: help developers experiment and iterate digital experiences faster and more effectively. In that vein, we’ve included the following features in DevKit:

  • Container-based local development environment
  • SSH Gateway access
  • Seamless push and pull deployments
  • Genesis-specific functionality
  • Additional tools for building and debugging great WordPress projects faster, including xdebug, an email testing client, an HTTPS proxy and the ability to let others preview your local site via ngrok

With all of these tools integrated together under a single roof, developers can focus their time and energy on coding, creating faster development cycles, and maximizing productivity, instead of searching for software. DevKit provides a development environment and workflow where developers of any skill level can dive in and begin building their next project.  

Why Use a Local Development Environment?

Web developers have long used development environments as a place to make changes and add new features without them being reflected on the live version of their websites. A local development environment is simply a dev environment that lives on your computer. All of your WordPress files are stored on your device, and you don’t need an Internet connection to access the environment. Local development environments have become increasingly popular for a number of reasons:

  • Work offline – As mentioned above, your WordPress site lives on your local device, and you can work on it without being connected to the Internet.
  • Speed – Developing with a local environment is faster because you aren’t dependant on a network connection. Ultimately, this translates into faster development cycles and higher productivity.
  • Privacy by default – Developing locally means visitors can’t see changes you make to your site in real-time. The local environment acts as a barrier so you can test out new changes before deploying.
  • Experiment safely – Plenty of things can go wrong when you add new themes, plugins, or code to your site. Local environments allow you to test changes on a variety of browsers and screen sizes without breaking anything on your live site.

By offering a local development environment with DevKit, WP Engine gives all developers a great way to iterate on new projects and experiment with site building in a safe, easy-to-access environment.   

SSH Gateway

With the inclusion of SSH Gateway access, DevKit also makes it easy for WP Engine customers to perform tasks efficiently through a command line interface, which saves additional time and effort. While SSH Gateway is now available to all WP Engine plans, DevKit uses SSH Gateway for seamless deploys to WP Engine.

SSH stands for “Secure Shell” and is the authentication method two devices (computers, servers, or other Internet devices) use to communicate with one another. On the WP Engine platform, SSH Gateway access gives you the ability to connect remotely from your local machine to a container where your site’s content is hosted.

With SSH Gateway, you can simplify site management and administrative tasks, such as:

We included SSH Gateway access in DevKit because it provides developers an easy, secure interface to interact with a site’s files and content, and because the connection is managed and maintained by WP Engine, you can rest assured that no further steps are required to make sure the connection is secure and performant.

Push and Pull Deployments

Developers have options when making site changes, deploying them to production, and eventually releasing them to the end user. Whether you’re pushing changes from your local machine to your servers using push deployment or pulling files from the servers and applying changes locally via pull deployment, DevKit allows you to establish efficient and scalable communication between your local environment and the servers.

DevKit also allows users to utilize automated deployments through the WordPress Command Line Interface (WP-CLI). For an added level of efficiency, WP Engine customers can use SSH Gateway for automated deployments. This empowers developers to easily make changes directly to the development, staging, and production environments from their local machines,

Genesis for the Win

With Genesis-specific functionality added to DevKit, users can also take advantage of the most popular theme framework for building dynamic, great-looking WordPress sites. More than 1 million WordPress sites use Genesis as their foundation and thousands of designers and agencies rely on it as the way to build beautiful, secure, and future-proof WordPress themes.

With DevKit, developers can leverage specific Genesis CLI commands, allowing them to more efficiently communicate with their Genesis-based sites through local development and remote servers.

Get started today

If you’re ready to get started with DevKit today, make sure and check out our accompanying ebook: Maximizing Your Development Workflow With the WP Engine DevKit.

This guide offers an overview of all the features included in DevKit, with a specific focus on the Build phase, and it will help you gain a better understanding of what a modern development workflow entails. It will also help you determine the best way to leverage the tools found in DevKit to streamline your systems and build better digital experiences, starting today.

Stay tuned as we continue to iterate on DevKit and add additional developer tools to our platform. For more information about using a local development environment in WordPress, check out this webinar: Local Development in WordPress.