VersionPress 1.0 Sees the Light of Day

Version Control Featured Image
Version Control Featured Image

In mid 2014, Borek Bernard and Jan Voráček from the Czech Republic, launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund the development of VersionPress. VersionPress is a version control plugin for WordPress. It keeps the whole site in a Git repository enabling things like site-wide reverts, safe updates, and easy staging. Despite not reaching their funding goal, the team pressed on and has released the first stable version to early backers of the project.

I’ve been excited to try VersionPress ever since I learned about it last year. After downloading 1.0, I uploaded it to my test site hosted on BlueHost which is optimized for WordPress. When activated, it will go through a checklist to make sure the server meets the minimum requirements. The minimum requirements are as follows:

  • PHP 5.3
  • Execute external commands
  • Git 1.9+ installed
  • Write access on the filesystem
  • db.php hook
  • Not multisite
  • Standard directory layout
  • .gitignore
  • .htaccess or web.config support

Unfortunately, I’m unable to use VersionPress on my hosting account because it doesn’t have Git 1.9+ installed. I contacted BlueHost to see if it can be installed on the server and it can’t. If I want to use Git, I’d have to upgrade to a VPS or Dedicated hosting plan.

VersionPress Needs Git
VersionPress Needs Git

If Git 1.9+ is not installed on a majority of shared webhosting servers, that’s a huge audience unable to use VersionPress. To be fair, functionally similar plugins such as Revisr and Gitium also require Git to be installed on the server. I asked Bernard why Git is needed to use the plugin, “To use Git was an important decision that enables all the nice things VersionPress provides but it also means that Git is required on the server, currently. In the future, we plan to relax this requirement but for version 1.0, Git is required,” Bernard said.

VersionPress is only available through the Early Access Program which is a cross between early access, crowd-funding, and a standard support plan. The team plans on releasing a new version approximately every three months.

To say that I’m disappointed is an understatement. My excitement for VersionPress to be the undo button for WordPress is tempered due to not being able to use it on a live site. I could run Git on my local server, but I want to see how it works in a live environment. Although managed WordPress hosting has become a popular option, the majority of sites on the web use shared hosting. Hopefully, the team can come up with a way to use its plugin without Git being required on the same server where VersionPress is installed.

If you know of a shared webhosting company that runs Git 1.9+ on its servers, tell us about them in the comments.


17 responses to “VersionPress 1.0 Sees the Light of Day”

  1. How much is your shared hosting? You can get a VPS from Digital Ocean with (likely) much better dedicated resources for $5/mo and use whatever version of git you want.

    • All I know is that the Tavern uses the optimized for WordPress hosting plan on BlueHost and it doesn’t allow Git to be installed on the server. I can’t just move hosting plans because it’s not my site :)

      • Loganyott is 100% right here. Optimizing your own VPS (droplet) on Digital Ocean and self-hosting your own WordPress is the only way to go. I am amazed WP Tavern isn’t doing this already.

  2. What is strange is that usually, the problem on shared hosts is that they don’t want to enable `proc_open()` (the “Execute external commands” item in the checklist) because of possible security issues. However, your host has that enabled but say that they can’t / won’t install Git? Not sure why they wouldn’t…

  3. lol…after doing a quick tweet with a hint to @mediatemple who I use, they apparently read that and replied: “We got the hint =) Working on getting 1.9+

  4. But generally, you’re right that the lack of support of shared hosts is a big issue and we know that. It’s just a question of resources — to run on shared hosts we would need to implement parts of Git in pure PHP which is doable but can easily be a couple of man-months of work. That time is competing with all the other things we need to work on so it’s just about that.

    BTW, if anyone in the community wanted to create Git client in PHP and make themselves famous, we wouldn’t be angry :) I think it would make for a great student’s project.

    • I don’t know if you would want to spend time on that, though. The vast majority of users who have their WP site on shared hosting are not using any type of VCS. Since that really is the main point of the plugin, from what I can see, to integrate with Git, not sure why that would be something worth pursuing.

      By the way, there are many Git clients and wrappers for PHP:

      • Those are just wrappers, they still require Git on the server and proc_open() or similar.

        As for the first paragraph, the beauty of VersionPress is that the user doesn’t need to have a clue what Git or VCS is, for them VersionPress is just a table of changes and an undo button for them. So the common shared hosting scenario is certainly worth pursuing.

  5. I know WPEngine uses Git. Anyone have any luck getting VersionPress running on that environment?

    • WPEngine already has staging and versioning that actually is already tied into git. So doing so would be on the redundant side.

  6. Long ago I installed git on BlueHost… but then was largely thwarted from using ti because of the non-interactive shell, don’t know if it’d work with VersionPress or not.


    Regardless, the better solution really is to give up on bargain basement shared hosting. Suffering shared hosting to save less than $100/year seems crazy in hindsight for all but the most unimportant of sites.

  7. Hello,

    VersionPress is an excellent choice for people, actively developing their websites. I share the same enthusiasm for the plugin, as Jeff. The official CentOS repository is providing Git 1.7, which is the reason why most hosting providers are using the older release (if offering Git on shared hosting at all) and there is no information on when this will be updated to a newer version.

    We have been working with the VersionPress developers and we have compiled the required Git 1.9.4 on all our WordPress plans. The VersionPress users can install and use the plugin without any issues for test or production websites. PM me if I can be of any assistance for the installation, I would be happy to help!

    Best Regards,

    Daniel Lee


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