WordPress Version Control With VersionPress

By Mark Gavalda Updated on August 28, 2018

WordPress has been offering a feature called Post Revisions for quite some time, for 6 years to be exact, it was first introduced in the 2.6 “Tyner” release. It’s a great way to “go back in time” and instead of having to correct your errors or remove additions to the content one by one you can just start over either from the beginning or from a certain point. Developers use something similar when working on larger projects, it’s called version control and WordPress (the project) itself is taking advantage of one such system (SVN) to help organize the simultaneous work of hundreds of coders. Up until now, that is the extent of which WordPress version control has existed.

WordPress Version Control with VersionPress

VersionPress would extend the feature that Post Revisions provide to the whole WP installation: files and database included!

As the authors eloquently put it: “This enables things like site-wide reverts, easy staging, efficient backups, and more.” For example, the ability to revert to a point before an update, if that particular update (either to the core, a plugin or a theme) broke something, with one click, is a feature that I think most people would certainly use. Combine that with an easy to use testing and staging area and you have a winner.

There are two problems with VersionPress though: it’s not yet available and it’s possible that it will never be if its crowdfunding campaign isn’t successful, which unfortunately I doubt it will be as the two guys behind the project from the Czech Republic, Borek Bernard and Jan Voráček, would like to raise $30,000 before the end of June. That’s a mere two weeks away and the project is currently only 9% funded.

The second problem is probably part of the reason it hasn’t received a lot more support so far: the owners still haven’t decided about the licensing yet! In our opinion if you’re building something for WordPress (and open source in general) then you really don’t have much of a choice but to make it GPL and use one of the increasingly popular revenue models when it comes to OS projects: charge for support, or develop paid addons, or create a professional service (in this case an off-site backup server maintained by the guys behind VersionPress would make sense), etc. The list is long and these models have already proven in the past.

Update: VersionPress is now GPL.

We’d love to pledge our support but in the project’s current form we can’t. What do you think?

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  1. Gravatar for this comment's author
    Borek Bernard June 14, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Hi Mark,

    it’s Borek, VersionPress creator here. Great to see your interest in the project, we’re glad you like the idea and I’d like to comment on some of the things mentioned in the post.

    1) As for the crowd-funding campaign, we have basically just started (the first visitors apart from friends saw the site on Thursday evening) so the current level is probably just about expected. However, it’s true that the goal is relatively ambitious so we’ll certainly need to get more people involved and possibly some larger sponsors joining in. We’ll do our best to make the campaign successful!

    2) As for the licensing, we’re doing some more research on this as we speak and really hope to get this sorted soon. We get it’s important for some of our supporters and we might be even shooting ourselves in the foot if GPL is really the only way to go (we get mixed advice on this – some people say we definitely can use whichever license see fit, and many plugins do that, some say VersionPress must be GPL-compatible). We’re delaying the final decision because the worst thing that could happen is that we announce GPL today, don’t think it through enough and then find out that this model doesn’t work for us for some reason. That would be a huge mistake so are very careful about this, even though we know we’re getting some bad press for this. But we’re working on that issue, no doubt about that.

    Anyway, I’m glad you at least like the promise of VersionPress, we find it exciting too :) So hopefully, we’ll get a chance to fully build it.

    Many thanks,

    1. Gravatar for this comment's author
      Mark Gavalda June 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      Hey Borek,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Believe me I understand your concerns about licensing, I’ve been in your shoes in the past. However please don’t forget that the largest businesses built on (or around) WordPress are all GPL compatible and they’re million dollar businesses: WooThemes and WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, Gravity Forms – just to name a few.

      We’d love to see your plugin join that prestigious list, I’m sure you can make a hefty profit with a great plugin like VersionPress even if it’s truly open source. I’ll keep an eye on VP and please do let us know when you reached a final decision, we, at Kinsta, would love to chime in on your fundraising!


      1. Gravatar for this comment's author
        Borek Bernard June 16, 2014 at 3:07 pm

        Hi Mark,

        we have some good news to share today: http://versionpress.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/announcing-full-gpl-licensing/

        It was also your article that made us decide on this matter rather quickly so I’d like to thank you, I’m sure this is a move in the right direction.


        1. Gravatar for this comment's author
          Mark Gavalda June 16, 2014 at 3:17 pm

          That’s awesome, good luck with the project!!

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