In this episode, John James Jacoby and I discuss Panethon’s acquisition of StagingPilot and why regression visual testing will likely become a standard feature across managed WordPress hosts if it’s not already. I rant about the size of text on so many sites being too large and having to shrink the site down to 80-90% in order for it to be manageable. We celebrate WordPress’ 16th birthday, discuss what happens to unloved patches, and GitHub’s Sponsors tool.
Robots, Autopilot, and The Holy Grail of WebOps
WordPress Turns 16
New GitHub Sponsors Tool Draws Concerns from Open Source Community
Automattic Acquires Prospress, the company behind WooCommerce Subscriptions
EPISODE 354 – Pantheon Acquires StagingPilot Transcript
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Panethon, a managed host geared towards Drupal and WordPress sites, has acquired StagingPilot. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Nathan Tyler, founder of StagingPilot, and his brother Phil Tyler will be brought into the company.
StagingPilot is a four year old company that runs a barrage of visual regression tests on WordPress sites before they’re automatically updated.
StagingPilot creates a copy of the site and places it into a staging environment. The service then conducts a number of tests that include, checking for visual errors, a white screen of death, and elements on a page disappearing. A number of snapshots are created along with a detailed report on the errors that are discovered.
Josh Koenig, Co-Founder and Head of Product at Pantheon, says the acquisition puts the company within reach of the ‘Holy Grail’ of WebOps.
“Once you have a hundred sites (or heck, even twenty), the grind of keeping up with routine updates can be daunting,” Koenig said. “Our existing WebOps tools let our customers automate a lot of that maintenance, but building and managing that automation is on them. We want our users to automate their operations, not operate their automation.”
Pantheon plans to integrate StagingPilot into its offerings in three phases. First, it will migrate StagingPilot’s technology into its existing managed updates feature and extend it beyond WordPress to support Drupal.
Then, the company plans to fully integrate the service with its organizational features providing substantial benefits to agency partners or those who manage many sites.
The third phase looks to take advantage of services such as Google’s applied learning machines to create AI-driven testing.
Out-of-the box, WordPress only updates minor versions automatically and leaves major updates, plugins, and themes up to the user. One of the most common fears of enabling auto-updates is having something on the site break.
Often, the process of testing updates is left up to the consultant or whoever manages the site. Depending on the size or number of sites being managed, it can become a major time suck.
Hosting companies like Pantheon with StagingPilot, LiquidWeb, and others are easing the fear of auto updates in general and saving people a lot of time by using automatic visual regression testing.
To learn more about StagingPilot and to see Nathan demo the service in-person, check out this episode of WPshowandtell hosted by Jason Tucker.