This week marks the launch of DesktopServer v3.8 which will also be the final release in the v3.x line as we will be completely focused on the development and release of version 4.0. Our original plan was to develop v3.7 and leave it at that, because it was high time we updated the PHP and MySQL. But as often happens with software development, and because we knew where we were going with v4.0, we took a little “peek down the rabbit hole” and decided to stick a foot in by adding a few more really cool features that will help you through the v3.x to v4.0 evolution. Specifically, v3.8 will come with the ability to utilize customized plugins.
While most of DesktopServer looks essentially the same, we thought that for this update, we’d cover a bit about the plugin implementation along with ways that you (Yes YOU) can get involved!
The Design-Time, Runtime Paradigm
One of the major new features introduced in DesktopServer version 3.8 comes from the future: DesktopServer 4.0’s support for global plugins. While not as robust as the yet-to-be seen 4.0 API, DesktopServer 3.8 promises to deliver new and innovative workflows to localhost development via “design-time” (vs “runtime” plugins). The concept of runtime vs design-time is not new and existed long ago in more traditional desktop development environments such as Visual Basic, C++, Delphi, and Smalltalk.
The fact is that some WordPress plugins are just not meant for the web or simply too disruptive to be left in the hands of end users but yet they can greatly speed the development process. Leaving them present on live sites could pose a security risk, inhibit performance if activated, or just plain muck up the admin menus in an already long list of runtime plugins. Whether they are plugins to ease migration (i.e. WP Migrate DB) or to set up user roles and capabilities (i.e. Members & Roles plugin) to logging deprecated notices (i.e. Log Deprecated Notices Extender). These plugins are best left to experienced developers and not in the hands of end users.
To speed development, DesktopServer 3.8 introduces a new folder alongside the already popular blueprints folder, titled “ds-plugins”. You can think of the folder like the WordPress’ “mu-plugins” folder that you can turn on or off from the DesktopServer start option. Once activated in DesktopServer, a plugin can be immediately accessible in all of your development environments without the need for further installation or activation. Since they are not a part of your document root, you needn’t worry about ever accidentally deploying them or having to remember to deactivate them.
It should be noted that like mu-plugins, ds-plugins will not throw activation and deactivation events. Well behaved plugins should refrain from unnecessarily writing to the local development database and therefore not all WordPress plugins are suitable for the ds-plugins folder. Current WordPress plugins aren’t aware of the extended DesktopServer API either; but DesktopServer Premium does come shipped with some powerful plugins that already illustrate its useful capabilities. And this is just the beginning!
Plugins currently included with DesktopServer Premium (more to come):
Airplane Mode – Andrew Norcross’ already popular WordPress’ plugin provides the control of loading external files when developing locally. Especially useful if your Internet connection isn’t reliable. Once activated, it prevents WordPress from “phoning home” to reduce load time and avoid pesky update notices.
Bypass Login – Password managers can’t cope with ever changing domain names (or their copies). This plugin eliminates the need to know administrator or user credentials; without disturbing WordPress’ login page. Just hovering over the login form presents a hidden combo box of the first 100 users and their roles (administrator, author, editor, subscriber, etc.) to take you to the dashboard in just one click.
Coda Support – DesktopServer’s original WYSIWYG feature for Coda has been rewritten as a Premium plugin to enable working on theme files directly and to view style.css changes in real-time.
Dreamweaver Support – For Premium users only, this plugin automatically creates Adobe Dreamweaver project files to immediately open your WordPress creations in Dreamweaver and enables Dreamweaver’s “Design View” WYSIWYG modes for direct theme file editing.
ServerPress.com is just getting ready to extend DesktopServer’s capabilities and each 3.8 plugin will be forward compatible with our upcoming 4.0 architecture. Expect to see more powerful design time plugins coming soon!
All of these plugins can be activated or deactivated from within DesktopServer. Once you have installed or upgraded DesktopServer v3.8 and opened it up, you’ll notice that the Start Services Screen looks a little different.
Additionally, we’ve made changes to the “Sites” screen. Previously, clicking on the “Sites” button from within DesktopServer would bring you to the standard Xampp localhost page. We have cleaned that up and improved it to be able to see in which directory your site resides, visit the local site, go directly to the Dashboard, or access the database through phpMyAdmin.
As we continue to work on v4.0, we know you’ll be excited about the changes we’ve included in v3.8 while getting a good taste of where we’re going. The face of local development is about to change; it’s going to make life much easier and allow you to save time to an even greater extent.
Local Dev has a new paradigm and the team here at ServerPress is thrilled to be leading the charge! We’re even more excited that you’re along for the ride!
DesktopServer version 3.8.0 Change Log
- Prevents lockup with All-In-One-WordPress-Security tables; omits scrubbing
- Sharing optimizations for faster performance and compatibility (Premium)
- New DesktopServer Plugin Architecture and global “Developer Plugins”
- Improved sortable and customizable developer sites localhost page
- Official support for SSL enabled connections (Premium only)
- Added .css files to file scrubbing, fixes Headway cache.
- Resolves xDebug compatibility issue on Windows.
- Upgrade to phpMyAdmin to version 4.4.6
- Upgrade to MySQL version 5.6.24
- Upgrade to PHP version 5.5.24
- Includes WordPress 4.2.2
- Includes Plugin – Airplane Mode
- Includes Plugin – Dreamweaver Support (Premium only)
- Includes Plugin – Coda WYSIWYG Support (Premium only)
- Includes Plugin – Bypass Login (Premium only)
Update from ServerPress.com
Thanks to the new website, you can find the upgrade for v3.8 in your Account. Just login and head over to Accounts and then click on the Download tab and you will find the updated version. For new installations, please follow the “Install and Upgrade Steps” section on the Installing DesktopServer page.
As you can see just from the change log, v3.8 is a substantial update over the current v3.6.5. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for any reason, should you run into any snags!