Podcast Episode

250 – Tools I Use to Manage My WordPress Sites


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Progress Bar is a simple progress bar shortcode that can be styled with CSS.

Tools I Use to Manage My WordPress Sites


GitHub App

  • Save changes as versions
  • Allows me to easily roll back to a previous version
  • Remove old legacy code and still have access to it later
  • Git Webinar Replay


MigrateDB Pro

  • Pulls in a copy of my live site to my local environment
  • Or I can push certain tables to my live site

Sublime Text

  • My text editor
  • Use it for making code changes
  • I open the entire wp-content folder so I can quickly navigate around my site


  • Preprocessor
  • Takes my Sass code and turns it into CSS

Call To Action

What are your must have applications? Leave a comment below!

Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode we are going to talk about the tools that I use and that I have on my computer to manage my Word Press websites. Hello everybody, welcome back to another episode of your website engineer podcast. My name is Dustin, again and today we will be talking about the tools that I use to manage my Word Press Website, before we get into that and before we dive into that as always let’s go ahead and look at the news that’s happening in the Word Press Space and let’s go ahead and dive right in.

The first thing I want to tell you about is the webinar that’s coming up on October 2nd. That is going to be at noon eastern time or eastern daylight time and the topic is yet to be determined. I just want to let you know that it’s coming and put that on your calendar so that you know that’s what the time period is going to be. So it’s going to be October 2nd at noon eastern and I’m juggling around a few different. I might do the presentation that I’m doing at the Financial Bloggers Conference this weekend. I might talk about SASS, which we’ll talk a little bit about in this program. Not like SASS like I’m a sassy person but SASS as in the architecture that allows you to write CSS, which is Custom Style Sheets, much, much quicker.

So I’m trying to juggle around how much time I’m going to have in the next couple weeks to put together a webinar but I just wanted to let you know that it is coming and I’ve got that on the radar. Another thing that is hot off the press and I mean hot of the press, it was released today as I’m recording it, all of a sudden I was refreshing one of my websites and I was like, “Whoa! When did Word Press 4.3 come out?” And it actually came out today, September 15th as I’m recording this and it is security release for all previous versions and it is strongly encouraged that it is updated and all of your sites are updated immediately.

There are three issues including two cross sites scripting vulnerabilities and a potential privloose escalation and so those three things are one of the big things you want to make sure that you are – that’s one of the main reasons to update to get rid of these vulnerabilities and there is also 26 bugs that were fixed and released in this version as well. So as always, go ahead and do a backup for your site and then do an update to Word Press 4.3.1 and if you do have Word Press minor updates turned on, it will have already updated probably by the time that you listen to this episode, you’ll already have Word Press 4.3.1.

So that is announcement number one, announcement number two is Jet Pack 3.7, that came out within the last week or so and it has a much simpler UI. It’s got support for development sites which is really nice and a lot more. Once you update and you go into the user interface, you’re going to find that it’s going to be much, much easier to navigate. Remember the old version, which old was like 3.6 which was just a few days ago, it has a big long list of all the modules and there’s getting to be a lot of modules within Jet Pack and so this one now has them broken into three columns. So it shows all of the plug-ins that are related to performance and security, it has all the ones that are traffic growth and then all the WordPress.com tools.

So performance and security are more like photon – protect a single sign on monitor vault press, those are some of the things that will help you keep your site secure and improve the performance. The second bundle is the traffic growth, so that’s like stats and sharing, publicized and stuff like that and then WordPress.com tools are how you manage multiple sites, your automatic updates, all your centralized posting, all that kind of stuff is built right in. So there’s three columns and then there’s like checkboxes – or not checkboxes but like radio buttons that it’s either active or deactivated, which is really cool. It looks pretty awesome and I’m excited to start using that on all of my sites.

I started to update the Jet Pack sites but I didn’t actually look at the control panels for them because there was no reason to change anything and now I’m really excited to go in there and start tinkering and playing with it because the interface does look so much better and it’s so much cleaner. I think it’s going to make people just figure out how to use Jet Pack easier than just be overwhelmed with all these different buttons and things to try and log when they first log in and try to turn things on. This makes it a lot much easier. Another thing that’s really nice is now there’s support for development sites and so if you ever tried to use Jet Pack on a development site, maybe on your local host or your local computer, it’s always going to give you an error because it cannot connect to the Jet Pack servers and the WordPress.com servers cannot connect to your local computer.

So now you basically have the ability to – it actually just helps you move from one site to another, it allows you to move your site by cloning your staging sites or moving it from staging to production and then Jet Pack asks you what you want to do. Would you like to move to a new address? Do you want to have a fresh connection? Is this a staging site? And now it allows – like once you answer that question it will sort itself out and know exactly how it’s supposed to work underneath the hood.

So that is really cool and then there are some other things that are working. You have now the ability to enable per post op out for subscriptions, there’s a new widget visibility rule that allows you to show or hide widgets based on your parent’s page. You can do that now. Sharing buttons are displayed on BB forum posts and more, so there was a lot of changes that were that I’m seeing there for the Jetpack update and there’s a link in the show notes to get all of the information there if you’re interested in reading all of the nitty-gritty little details.

The next thing on my list to share with you today is if you are interested in just seeing behind the scenes in my life – I know that I’ve said a couple times on my show before and I haven’t been very good about it of actually maintaining it but I do have website over at dustinhartzler.com and you can see daily updates. I’m trying to do a month long posting spree and right now it’s day 15 and I’ve done 14 days so far. I just got to do and complete today but it’s just giving me an opportunity to use our Word Press product just a little bit more. It’s on our WordPress.com site and I’ve been posting pictures from my last week when I was on vacation, I’ll probably be posting some this upcoming weekend when I’m at the Financial Blogger’s Conference, speaking there and so if you’re interested in seeing a little bit more behind the scenes of my life, go ahead and check that out at dustinhartzler.com.

Again like I said, it will be in Charlotte, North Carolina, if you are in that neck of the woods and you’re interested in hanging out or just grabbing a drink together or just doing something fun, just let me know or if you’re coming to the Financial Blogger Conference be sure to let me know. I will be there from Thursday the 17th – September 17th through September 20th. I fly out in the afternoon on the 20th and so if you’re interested in seeing me or hanging out in person, definitely reach out to me. You can either email me at dustinyourengineer.com or send me a message on Twitter at Dustin Hartzler.

The last thing I wanted to mention here – sorry the announcement section is going so long today but I just wanted to let you know that I am starting a rotation within automatic within Woo commerce. I’m doing a general Woo Commerce or general Woo support rotation, which is what it’s called and so I will be looking at and learning all about the plug-in Sensei, which is the e-learning platform that allows you to build courses and stuff like that and then the themes and stuff along those lines – Woo themes that are inside of Woo themes. So those are some things that I am going to be working on in the next couple months and what this means to you is I’m going to get a better handle on how some of the Woo products work.

The Woo Commerce, the Woo memberships, the subscriptions, all the stuff that works within Woo Commerce, I’m going to get a better feel for how that stuff works and then I’ll be excited to share that stuff with you on upcoming shows and so I’m a little bit intimated because I’ve been doing WordPress.com support for the last two years almost and so I know WordPress.com pretty much inside and out and now I’m taking a break from that and doing something completely different that now is going to have lots of variables because people have their own self hosted sites. They have their own themes. They have their other plug-ins and so there’s all kinds of things that could conflict with the different Woo products.

I’m excited about that and I’ll be sure to share more about that in an upcoming episode. Is there a plug-in for that? Yes, there’s always a plug-in for that and today I want to tell you about progress bar and this is a simple progress bar short code that can be styled within a Word Press site or can be styled within CSS, which is pretty cool. So what you basically do is you put in a short code and you say w-p-p-and-b and then progress equals 50 and it will show the progress bar at 50 percent. You know you can use this if you are writing a long blog post or maybe you have a form or you have several pages worth of content or copy and you just want to show the progress.

Maybe you are trying to raise money for a certain event, maybe you’re trying to raise $1000 for something and you’ve raised $52 and so you can put like your percentages, .052 or whatever, like you can put all of that in there to kind of show the progress of your goal. So I think that’s a really cool thing if you’re using that or if you have any reason to need a progress bar be sure to check out the show notes for that or just search for progress bar in the WordPress repository.

Today I was kind of struggling for a topic. I just came off vacation, I’m leaving in two days for another trip and it’s like what should I talk about? And I thought I had some different ideas that were running through my head but I didn’t have time to really sit down and research them and this was one I had written down on my dry erase board that I wanted to share because it’s changed quite a bit in the last few years. It seems to change every once in a while and that is the tools that I use to manage my Word Press sites. So I have several sites that are out there, the most famous one or the one that I use regularly and this is all set up exactly this way, it’s foryourwebsiteenginner.com and then I have a few other sites that are kind of smaller sites that I’m running for either friends or they’re kind of my side projects that need to be updated or I’m working on.

Some of them I’m actually just playing with the Woo Commerce plug-ins to try and figure out how these work and how I can use them to create like a free membership model for different things. I’ve got some different sites but in general these tools that I’m going to talk about and there’s one – let me see here, there’s one, two, three, four, five, six, these are the tools that I use every single day or every single time I’m trying to update my website. That’s not trying to make update changes like to adding a blog post or adding a new webinar, whatever in the Word Press dashboard, this is what I use when I update my sites, my theme files or my plug-ins or stuff along those lines.

Let’s go ahead and dive right into these. The very first tool that I use is Desktop Server and that is the way and that’s the software, it costs a $100 per year and it allows me to run Word Press locally on my computer, makes it so nice when you don’t have to work off another server. Working directly on the server when you’re updated plug-ins and updating code and stuff like that, it really takes a lot longer because it takes a while for the code to actually be pushed to the server and then for it to refresh every single time. It’s honestly just a little bit of a pain and I’m an impatient person, so I like running everything locally right here on my desktop.

It allows you to easily create new sites like I just created one today for my Woo rotation and now I got like all the Woo plug-ins that I may have to support, is all running on a local site so I can start working with customers and trying to figure out what issues they may be having and how we can help to resolve them. So Desktop Server is a must have plug-in or must have product and it works on both Mac and PC and you can use it – I run it for local sites and then I use the local sites to update my plug-ins. So every time that a new plug-in comes out – Jetpack 3.7 came out, I ended up updating it on my local site and then I clicked around to make sure everything looked good and it was working fine and then I went ahead and pushed that change out and I’ll talk about how I do that in a second.

I also update all of my code right there within my local site and so I have the ability to go in and I can make adjustments to my theme or I can tweak different things and then I can save that right there within Sublime Text, which I’ll talk about in a second and then I can push that out to my server as well. You may be thinking okay Dustin, how are you doing this? And the way that I do this and this is the best way that I have found and I have really struggled on this for six months until I found the perfect solution that worked for me and what that is is I actually use the Git Hub App and I use that app because it gives me the ability that every time I make changes to my website locally, I can track those changes within Git Hub.

Git Hub or Git is a version control system and it always me to easily maintain my website and be able to roll back code if necessary. For example, when I updated to Jetpack 3.7, after clicking around on my local site I can push that live to my website, I can save it as a version in Git Hub or within the Git Hub app and then if I’m looking around on my main site if there seems to be a problem somewhere, if it looks like oh, that broken maybe I need to revert that and I need to go back to version 3.6.2 or whatever it was, then I just can click a button easily and it can roll back that change.

I’ve done a Webinar replay; there will be a link to it in the show notes on how to use Git and what Git is versus Git Hub and all that kind of stuff. That was a couple years ago, so go ahead and check that out. Now you maybe thinking how do I get to that? How do I push that code – where does that go from when it goes from Git Hub and how does it get to my server? I use a service called the – the third service I use is called Deploy HQ and it’s a free service for one website. If you have multiple websites, it costs a little bit per month but since I’m only using it on one site, that’s the only configuration that I need. I’m able to set this up and it basically watches my Git Hub repository and pushes all my changes to live server.

So I updated to Jetpack 3.7 and then from there all I have to do, once I save that as a version in Git Hub, then all of a sudden as soon as I commit that and save it as a version, it’s going to take just the changes of the code or the code that’s been changed and push that to my live server. So that means that it’s going to deploy much faster because it’s pulling the code that has changed. It doesn’t have to delete the entire plug-in and then re-upload all the plug-in; it’s just making the incremental changes that it’s made, which is really pretty cool.

Deploy HQ is something that you can set up once and then you can forget about it and it just automatically just watches it and then it sends you an email once the deploy has happened. Usually since it’s only a few files that have changed when you update a plug-in, you get an email a few seconds later that says, you’re site has been updated to the latest version and then if you go to your live set in the plug-in section you can go ahead and refresh that and you can see your plug-ins have been updated. I like to update each plug-in separately and then save each plug-in as a version and then that way in case something happens I can revert.

I had an instance a few weeks ago where I went to my main page of my website and it was broken, like the images on the front, there was something that I had done that I had broken on my own website. So then I went to and I just reverted where that change happened and then it was back to exactly how it was. Now I still need to go in and de-bug and figure what change I made but it gives you that ability to easily roll back to a previous version. I also like using Git Hub because it allows me to remove legacy code. I used to always just comment stuff out like oh I may need this later in the future, now I just comment this out and if I ever need it I can just go get it back, uncomment it and now if you remove it, you can just uncomment, you can take out the code that you don’t need, you can say I removed the code to display the portfolio or whatever it is and give it a very descriptive name so you can find it later and then you can save that in Git and save that as a version and then you can go back and get that code or you can just copy and past it and use it later, which is pretty cool.

So, Desktop Server, Git Hub app and Deploy HQ, that’s pretty much like the three main ones that I use when I update a plug-in, it goes into Git Hub and saves as a version and then automatically goes to Deploy HQ. Now what happens if I want to work locally on my site and I want to make sure that all my stuff that’s on my live site is on my local site so I can start tweaking and playing with things?

That’s where Migrate DP-Pro comes into play and that is a premium plug-in. I think it costs $100 per year for up to ten sites maybe. Basically what this does is it always me to suck in the content, basically pull all the content from yourwebsiteengineer.com and pull it on to my computer. Typically when I write my show notes, when I do my new webinars, all that stuff, I just do it right within the live site. There’s not a lot of sense to make those drafts on a local site and then push it to a live site and so I just do it onyourwebsiteengineer.com. I do all the edits, everything that I need over there and then once a month or so I probably will suck in all the data.

Now if I really wanted to do some advance customizations to some of my posts, say for example, I’m re-working the way the theme works and I want to change maybe all of the H2s to H3s inside my blog post or something goofy like that. I could pull in my website from my main site, pull it locally and then from the local environment I can make all the changes and then I can push all those changes back out to my website. So I could do it that way if I wanted too, like I could edit locally and then push it live or I could edit live and pull it to the local environment and from the local environment that’s where I could do some changes if I wanted too.

So that’s what Migrate DP-Pro does. I use Sublime Text and that is just my text editor. The one little hack that I like to do with this is I actually will open up the wp-content folder inside of Sublime Text, so when I do it that way then I can search through the plug-ins. I can see much used plug-ins, I can see uploads, I can see themes and so I can basically get to anything that I want very, very quickly from within Sublime. I don’t have to actually have – I don’t have to open up another window within Sublime to get to different things. Sublime has a really quick short-cut, I believe it’s Command P and that gives the ability to like if I know that I need to update index.php, I can go Command P and I can go index.php and then I’m right there. I can see that version. I can get right in there and start editing.

It’s pretty quick and I use that. Once I make all the changes, then those changes get saved in Sublime Text, I save them, I make sure they look good on my local site and then I save them as a version within Git Hub and then it does the same thing. As soon as I save it as a version; I Deploy HQ automatically and push it out to my website. There’s no extra moving pieces, I don’t have to update my local site and then go over and use an FTP editor and upload my changes like it just all kind of works and flows.

The last tool that I use and I use this one pretty regularly when I’m working with CSS or SASS, I use Code Kit, it’s called a preprocessor and basically what this does is it takes my SASS code and turns it into CSS. So the way that I’ve built my theme for yourwebsiteengineer.com is I actually have three or four different style sheets, there might even be six. I’ve broken them into different things like I’ve got a style sheet for forms and I’ve got a style sheet for different things, some are theme related, some are like styling for plug-ins and miscellaneous and stuff like that.

With SASS, basically I can have six different files and then with the preprocessor or code kit, any time that I save any of those SASS files, it will automatically compile a new style.css, which that is the main file that you need for you theme. So every time that I do that, it renders a new file for me and then I have the ability to just save and update the style.css file, which makes it pretty nice and pretty convenient.

So those are the tools that I use. I hope that this is helpful and I know it’s a little bit of a geekier show because this is kind of behind the scenes how I keep websites updated; this is both keeping plug-ins updated and updating code. This gives me the ability to do things once. The only thing that I don’t track within my local ecosphere that I got set up is I don’t track the Word Press versions and so I actually have to do a manual – like I update Word Press to Word Press 4.3 on my local server. I make sure that all works and then I have to go over to my live server and update to Word Press 4.3.

The main reason that I do this and I could manage all this through Git and Git Hub and all that kind of stuff but the main reason I do that is because on Flywheel, they manage the Word Press version number or the version, so even if I click the button inside of my Word Press dashboard it’s not going to update. I actually have to on Flywheel you have to into the Flywheel dashboard and update your site if you want to update it before they automatically update the site. For a while I was tracking my Word Press updates, so I would update it on my local site and then push it and then it wouldn’t update on my local – it wouldn’t update on Flywheel because it wasn’t set up to do that.

So that’s the only reason I don’t do that otherwise you could this entire things, you could version control, Word Press as well and that would automatically update and what not. So those are the tools that I use, Desktop Server, Git Hub app, Deploy HQ, Migrate DB-Pro, Sublime Text and Code Kit are the six tools, the six pieces of software that seems like is always open. Well Deploy HQ isn’t always open but the other five, the other four are usually open when I’m trying to make some sort of change or do some edits to a website.

So that’s the content that I wanted to share with you this week on yourwebsiteengineer podcast. So do you have some sort of favorite tool that helps you in your development flow? Feel free to comment on the show notes for episode number 250 and just let me know what works for you, what kind of flow works for you and again there will be links in the show notes for the webinar replays that kind of highlight my work flow. It’s kind of outdated but I’m using the Git Hub app instead of the Bit Bucket app and everything else is pretty much the same since then. So go ahead and check those out and until next week we’ll talk to you then. Take Care.

    • scottperezfox

      Great episode Dustin. I’m a little behind on episodes (and on my WordPress development workflow), but I will certainly refer to this when I muster the bravery and dedicated time to redesign my own site. I hope to implement a much smarter workflow involving A.) Local development via MAMP Pro (which I am already familiar with), B.) Git/GitHub, and C.) LESS or SASS. B and C will be completely new to me, with A probably having to muddle through as an amateur!

      I’ll check out some of your videos and other resources. Will keep you updated on progress!

      Oct 4, 2015
      • Dustin Hartzler

        That’s a lot of learning 🙂

        Be sure to tackle one piece of the puzzle at a time and learn it well before moving on to the next piece.

        Oct 9, 2015