I’m constantly trying to improve my WordPress development environment. It’s a conundrum I’ve been battling with since I began developing websites with WordPress. How do you reliably make local updates to a website, publish those updates online to a staging website for client review, and then publish them live to production when they are approved?

There’s No Right Answer

There’s isn’t a good solution to this problem. The following process is what I typically use, and it’s by no means the best. Hopefully you can provide some ideas to improve it.

Local (Development)

A localhost development environment is used for development of new features. I use the following software in this localhost environment to automate my workflow:

  • MAMP Pro — Manages localhost LAMP web server, allowing me to create a new host URL for ever site I work on. For example: localhost.site1, localhost.site2, localhost.site3, etc.
  • Sequel Pro — I use this for fast, easy SQL database changes.
  • CodeKit — Automatically compiles my pre-processed LESS to CSS, minify’s my JavaScript, optimizes my images, and provides live browser reloads when I hit save inside my editor.
  • Coda 2 — My web development editor of choice


Once I have my localhost updates ready for client feedback, I use localtunnel to publish the changes to a staging URL for feedback.

Productive (Live)

Once the changes are approved, I typically create a publishing routine on the fly that may include:

  • Plugin installations (and un-installations)
  • Isolated SQL updates to migrate any changes to the database
  • File deployments using Beanstalk SVN for reliable publishing (not SFTP)

The Dilemma

This process works well, but it could be much better. In most cases live updates will continue to happen inside WordPress during the development process. For this reason a MySQL dump will not work to deploy database updates from local to production, as so many dev’s out there seem to suggest. So the problem remains:

How do you reliably publish updates (files + database) to a live WordPress website without conflicting post ID’s?

What’s Your Process?

How do you publish WordPress site updates from local to live? Is there a way to automate this push and pull process? If there is let me know, it’s been an itch I’ve haven’t been able to scratch for some time now.