I fell in love in a job interview

Or more specifically, I fell in love with a platform when I applied for a job at Pantheon.io.

So not really a person and it was more geek-love than anything else, so that’s why I’m sharing it here.

WordPress

No, I didn’t fall in love with WordPress just now, but we’ve had a great relationship for quite a while. Along the way we’ve had our ups and our downs, but our relationship has been mostly positive. WordPress has been a fantastic platform for freelancers and for small businesses alike. On a smaller scale, WordPress has worked very well, but it has not always had a workflow that was ideal for larger scale development in business.

Why?

Trust and Risk as the business grows.

Once a WordPress website is live with whatever custom plugins and theme were required to meet the business need, it must be treated as a “production” environment.

Do you trust your team to develop new code on the live website? Would it be worth the risk if the site went down?

If the answer is no, and it should be, then you need a development environment and you should probably have a test environment as well.

Integrated Development, Testing and Production WordPress Environments

Why you should care about this depends on what your personal role is within the business…

CEO

Worrying about your website is something you don’t want to do.

Unless you’ve put someone else in charge of this headache, then you are worrying about it yourself.

What kind of a CEO are you?

If you are the CEO of a startup, then you may have already experienced these pains. Especially if you are doing-it-all-yourself.

You’ve got your WordPress website live, but you need to make changes – perhaps a new plugin for sales? These days, you no longer have the time to do it yourself. You don’t really want to give out your production password to just anyone either, but if you don’t then you have to figure out how to get the new code installed.

Either path is really no good. You wish there was a way to give them a password to a dev site, then look at it almost as if it were live, then push it to production yourself.

If this is you, then this platform is something that you should investigate for yourself.

Are you a CEO that is over all that? Have you passed those sleepless nights to someone else? Congratulations. Seriously.

Don’t bother reading any more, just pass this information to that team and they will thank you for it.

Developer

Developers will love the versatility it offers with multiple methods for them to connect and contribute to the project.

What kind of developer are you?

Do you just want to connect via SFTP and upload files?

Just want to set up your editor and have it connect seamlessly?

Do you want to just upload the files and see the changes directly on the development server?

Are you a polished professional accustomed to using Git?

Do you want to use git and connect to a private repo, make changes locally, git push and have an already configured continuous integration service promote the code to the dev site?

Do you need to move the modified code to an up-to-date test environment based on the production site content to have internal stakeholders approve the changes?

Once you are ready for it to go live, do you have a strategy in place to move the new code to production while maintaining the content on your site?

Are you multi-hat-wearing polyglot technologist?

Sometimes you are the one in charge of everything. A lot of your time may be spent manually creating and destroying sites to try them out yourself or to pass off to another team member.

If you’ve done it once it might have been fun, but if you’ve done it twice you’ve thought about scripting at least part of it because who likes to do this mindless stuff and waste time that could have been spent on more worthwhile projects?

Oh, and would you also like a log of every single thing that changed along the way with git diffs, commit messages and the like? Including the auto generated moves between environments? Something with traceability?

Quality Assurance

As a QA stakeholder of a WordPress site, wouldn’t it be useful to easily test the latest WordPress upgrade on a test site before pushing it to production?

It’s usually such a hassle to create a test site and really know that the site will look and act correctly without testing at it in an almost-production environment.

Do you cringe when you hear that there is going to be a new WordPress theme or plugin that you have to test before it goes out?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could personally clear the cache on the test and production sites to be sure that the problem you are seeing isn’t related to cache? Of course you would.

Operations

Operations loves great SaaS offerings. They are usually easy to predict and manage. This one stands alone at the top of the class.

Breaking down a professional development workflow for non-developers can be a daunting task. Putting it all into an understandable UI that allows non-developers to manage part of that workflow is an accomplishment beyond compare.

With minimal training an operations team could manage everything necessary to work with an outside WordPress vendor. Create their account, give them the documentation link and send them on their way to code for you.

Forgot to Mentions

  • What if all of that and more was built into a SaaS offering that was easy to use?
  • What if it was possible to set up and manage a multi-dev environment so easily that it was only a footnote in this article?
  • What if you also had a speedy CDN to make your WordPress site load faster for the end user?
  • What if you only paid for what was in production and it may cost less than you are paying now to host a WordPress only server?

What if I told you that there where many, many, many features I didn’t cover?

  • Like all of this is also available for Drupal sites too
  • SSL
  • New Relic monitoring
  • Great documentation
  • Agency pricing
  • Don’t forget free dev and test sites, so you really can try it out before you spend anything.


Just so you know, I was serious when I said that I was investigating service offerings from Pantheon.io when I applied for a job there.

I’ve been in the Internet industry for more than 20 years. I knew I would write this unsolicited article after less than 20 minutes with the software.

In that first 20 minutes I was able to spin up dev and test WordPress sites, use my IDE to create a local copy, create a new theme stub and git push it. Pantheon.io rebuilt the dev site based on my changes and, using the UI, I pushed it to the test site where I could confirm the new theme was available to select in admin.

~ Brian