WPSiteSync, a content syncing plugin from the team behind DesktopServer, has discontinued support for its free, core plugin and commercial extensions. The plugin lets users sync specific content, such as posts, pages, featured images, and taxonomies, without having to migrate the entire database. Commercial extensions allowed users to sync things like WooCommerce products, Gutenberg blocks, EDD product information, custom post types, Beaver Builder projects, and more.
It has been nine months since the WPSiteSync plugin was updated and more than a year since a major release. After six years, the ServerPress team has published a statement explaining their reasons for shutting down:
After a lot of consideration and discussion, we have concluded that we will no longer be updating WPSiteSync and its Premium Extensions. This was a difficult decision for us to make as we know that many of you rely on it in order to enhance your WordPress Workflow. The decision was made due to the fact that with each extension being dependent on the code of the plugin that it supports, we could not keep up with their changes as we enhanced our library, and frankly, there was not as much demand for it as we had hoped. Additionally, we found that our time supporting WPSiteSync took away from our ability to move our flagship product, DesktopServer, forward.
The ServerPress team plans to integrate some of WPSiteSync’s functionality into its DestopServer product and is making the current iteration of the plugin and all of its commercial extensions available for free on GitHub.
PublishPress founder Steve Burge, whose business followed a similar monetization path, commented that WPSiteSync chose “an honorable and honest way to end the commercial life of a WordPress plugin.” He said his company considered a similar set of features “but it seemed as daunting as they describe.”
The free core with commercial extensions business model can work well, but it can also stretch a development team thin if they are also responsible for a flagship product on top of maintaining such a diverse set of extensions. Keeping up with changes in Gutenberg, WooCommerce, Beaver Builder, EDD, and many other fast-moving plugins is an ambitious endeavor. It’s easy to see how the support and maintenance of these extensions could become untenable.
“Just as an example, the Advanced Custom Fields extension might take X number of hours to code and then they might make one small change in how it writes to the database and then our extension would lose its functionality,” ServerPress Operations Director Marc Benzakein told the Tavern. “This often meant that instead of continually sticking with a production schedule, we would have to change our focus to support the ACF plugin. The more plugins WPSiteSync supported, the more untenable it became and the more man-hours it took to support it.”
Benzakein also said another reason ServerPress decided not to sell is because they are exploring the idea of approaching it from a more manageable direction, to have WPSiteSync features available as an integration into their other workflow tool.
WPSiteSync has hovered at approximately 3,000 active installs for the past two years. Putting the plugin and extensions on GitHub gives WPSiteSync and its extensions the opportunity to be forked and supported by a new team with more incentive and resources. Shutting down may be disappointing for current users and customers, but, after so long without updates, it’s better that the software is officially released to the public for a chance at new life.
Customers who purchased WPSiteSync’s “Premium Bundle” within the last 30 days can request a refund.
“We will support our current customers as far as we can,” Benzakein said. “By and large the plugin and its extensions still work and the core plugin, which is available on the repo, will likely continue to work for some time as well.”
I’m not really sorry to hear this. WPSiteSync is certainly an interesting idea but as you point out it’s got to be tough keeping track of frequent, major plugin changes. Syncing databases is extraordinarily difficult.
Perhaps the ServerPress team will put some effort into updating their much more interesting (and in my opinion much more useful) DesktopServer app. It hasn’t been updated at all since 2019, and there hasn’t been a significant update for much longer.
I’ve finally had to make the switch to Local by Flywheel. Local’s a fine, workaday local environment, but DesktopServer Pro was always quicker. I used it daily for more than 10 years as my main development and troubleshooting/rescue/repair platform.