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.