15 Comments


  1. It all sounded great until:

    “Additionally, if you’re actively using the plugin, it will make your backups enormous, due to all the extra tables in your database.”

    I test out plugins and new themes on a local setup using XAMPP

    Only takes a few minutes to set up a new WordPress install and no problem if it all goes wrong.

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    • Do you find it easy to create an exact clone of your server environment, database and files on your local test site?

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      • I’ve only tried to create a clone once by downloading the database and replacing the URLs with the local URL and it was fairly successful.

        Do you have any suggestions on how to do it more efficiently Sarah?

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        • I guess that’s the point of this plugin ;) No downloading anything or replacing URLS. It instantly duplicates your entire setup so you can test things. You can always delete your sandbox when finished, if you’re worried about large backups.

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          • This is an amazing plugin – possibly the most useful in creating a site. The backup issue is not important since you should not be keeping your sandbox, only use it when you need it, especially since some of the security plugins get strange in the sandbox, so I turn those off for testing. When you are ready, delete the sandbox, and drop the tables from you DB – all easy to do!

  2. Ted Clayton

    I installed & activated Sandbox on my localhost WAMP (WAMPServer) server. I have a test-site with 430 posts and 260 categories.

    But, Sandbox was not too happy. It issued 2 errors, in the early steps described above by Sarah. They were:

    Warning: array_slice() expects parameter 1 to be array, null given in C:\wamp\www\wp3\wp-content\plugins\sandbox\admin-table.php on line 122

    This message appeared at the top of the opening screen, after “Sandbox” was initially select in the Admin menu bar.

    Fatal error: Call to undefined function sandbox_edit() in C:\wamp\www\wp3\wp-content\plugins\sandbox\admin-menu.php on line 29

    This message was appended to the “Of course I’ve backed up my site!” reminder, in the second screen, which is produced after pressing the Add New [Sandboxes] button, in the first screen.

    These issues could very well be simply minor matters associated with the localhost environment. I have not looked at the scripts, but may be able to this evening.

    Interesting tool. In a localhost [I am hopeful that], time-out & loading issues may be either absent, or ‘freely’ resolvable.

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  3. How does this compare to creating another database and cloning the site into a sub-directory on the same server? I maintain a pretty large development account and regularly have multiple test WordPress installations in separate directories. Works, but rarely an identical environment to where the final site is to be installed. This sounds interesting – will have to try in my copious free time (whenever I get some!)

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  4. I love the simplicity of Sandbox. Thanks for writing about it, Sarah!

    I wanted to quickly create, modify, and checkpoint clones of an existing WordPress site, and developed an approach based on the Duplicator WordPress plugin for backups: http://gear11.com/2014/01/wordpress-docker/ Duplicator provides the same kind of “2-clicks” approach as Sandbox, but the cloning process also requires a Linux server (or local virtual machine if you run Windows or Mac) on which to execute the copy. The payoff is that once you are past the setup, you can quickly spool up a clone of any site just based on the Duplicator backup package.

    I’ll have to work hard to get it down to “2-clicks”, but Sandbox provides good inspiration.

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    • Duplicator is awesome! And I’ll be testing Sandbox plugin as its something many people need (including us, developers) and I like to make my life easier. Duplicator became my best friend last year, hopefully Sandbox (or a similar but superior plugin) will do the same this year :) A much needed feature.

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  5. I would worry that as it is using the same database, that if the copied tables of the sandbox were to get corrupted while testing, that the entire database might corrupted as well. Yeah, having a backup is good, but if it’s a particularly large database, say in the GB range, restoration can be quite time consuming if restoring from an offsite backup. Having gone through something like that with a cloud hosting situation, I’d have to say I’ll pass on it for any production website that has a database of around 200MiB or more in size. I can see the appeal for a small established website or a startup to test different iterations quickly.

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  6. Matt

    A nice idea. The execution still needs work. The v1.0 issues will get sorted out and for free I can’t complain (too much).

    For this type of work, this is the only plugin I’ve come to trust:
    WP Migrate DB Pro – https://deliciousbrains.com/wp-migrate-db-pro/

    It also handles Media especialy well. :-)

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  7. I use WP Migrate DB Pro for creating / syncing dev and live versions of sites. Very handy plugin.

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  8. I suggest a glowing border around the page when in sandbox mode.

    We have had one total failure while using it, when we had the sandbox sign up in admin, but our changes were published. In fact it appears at the moment that the sandbox just does not prevent changes to the home page widgets at all, but since we are in our fine tuning stage for a release today that ticket has been deferred to next cycle. It is a great plugin, and WordPress is better for it, but be careful as you get used to it.

    Kurt

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