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
- .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.
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.