Local Lightning Now in Public Beta with Major Performance Improvements

Flywheel put its new Local Lightning app into public beta this week. The app is an improved version of the company’s local WordPress development tool, formerly known as Pressmatic before Flywheel acquired it from Clay Griffiths and renamed it to “Local by Flywheel.”

Since its acquisition in 2016, Local has gained many fans, particularly developers who had grown tired of debugging local development environments. Local has proven to be a reliable app that saves many wasted hours. It also allows developers to quickly switch between PHP and MySQL versions as well as Apache and nginx.

Overall, Local users enjoy the app’s features but have found performance to be a continual issue. Users reported having one-minute page loads in the backend, on small, uncomplicated sites. These speed issues began to drive users away from Local to other products, as many found that working locally was slower than creating a test site with their hosting companies.

Even booting up the app can be abysmally slow, as demonstrated in a video Griffiths shared announcing the Local Lightning beta:

Local lightning comparison

“To chart a more reliable and powerful path forward, we’re rebuilding Local’s core architecture and moving away from virtualization in favor of native, system-level software to run WordPress locally,” Griffiths said.

The new Local Lightning app reduces system requirements and the minimum disk space requirement has decreased by more than 18GB. Griffiths also reports that the download size for Local is 50% less than before.

Local is also now available on Linux, thanks to the new architecture in the updated app. Linux availability has been a frequent request since Local was originally launched.

Local Lightning and Local by Flywheel have been developed as two separate applications in order to allow users to migrate their sites at their own pace. They can also run alongside each other and are named differently. “Local by Flywheel” is now the old version and the new Local Lightning app is simply known as “Local.” Users can migrate their sites by exporting from the old version and dragging them into the new app for automatic import. The beta is lacking some features that were previously available, including hot-swapping development environments and support for Varnish HTTP Cache. Griffiths’ team is working on restoring feature parity with the original app.

When asked in the product’s forums about the general release date, a Flywheel representative said that it “will definitely be by the end of the year.” Users who want to join the public beta can download the latest version for Mac, Windows, or Linux from the Local Lightning announcement post.

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11 Comments


  1. I’ve been solely using Local for local WordPress development for about a year now (big fan), and just installed the Local Lightning to test it out.

    Well, it indeed is lightning. I’ll just wait for the stable release to port all my workflow to the lightning though.

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    1. What do you use to move changes up to servers? I’ve always wondered what people were using to send differences up.

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      1. I have a VPS hosting service and my codebase is on Github. When I push changes to Github, my VPS server syncs with the Github.

        If I was using the Flywheel as a hosting service, syncing things would be even much easier with Local. I’m actually considering my hosting to them too.

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      2. After creating a site in Local, I hop onto the site via SSH, and setup Wordmore. Then I can do `wordmove push –all` or `wordmove pull –all` to sync with my server.

        NOTE: If you’ve never setup Wordmove inside Local before, I have a whole series of steps I work through to get RVM (Ruby Version Manager) working so I can `gem install wordmove`. However, I’ve codified that setup, so it’s a part of my process whenever I create a new site with Local.

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  2. So, is Local a LAMP-type development environment now?

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    1. Yeah, they moved from VirtualBox with the new version, and it is much faster (but not very stable currently).

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  3. I’ve been using Local by Flywheel for a time now. I really love the easiness.

    I’m just sorry that this new version is no longer compatible with older versions of Mac OS X, like El Capitan (which is 4 years old!). If it’s compatible with Windows 7 (which is 10 years old!), Why isn’t it compatible with a newer Mac OS?!

    Unexpected and, for me, unfair to those who have older machines that are perfectly fit for development.

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    1. If Microsoft no longer support Windows 7 (all be it security patches will stop Jan 2020) and Apple no longer support anything earlier then High Sierra – then why should developers offer official support for the platforms?

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      1. Thanks so much for the awesome write-up! We’re so excited for this new approach for Local 🎉
        Cant wait to see what y’all do with it 🥳

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  4. I found Local to create GIANT invisible files eating up my hard disk space. For that reason, I moved away from it to MAMP. If this new version eliminates that problem (was it caused by Virtual Box?), then I might move back.

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    1. From what I’ve experienced so far, LL is a huge improvement on LbF. Sure, they haven’t got all the features of LbF ported over yet, but I for one would find it hard to go back to using a VirtualBox version.

      It makes several things much easier when working in a distributed LAN environment and with multiple local sites (ie, when the server is on a different machine to the one you are working from).

      It’s definitely quicker and takes up less space. 🙂

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