Site Staging

GABE:
We’ve talked a bit about dev workflows and staging areas- For years I’ve been doing dev/staging on one server and then moving to live. Recently I’ve been making a move toward using a local dev environment. I’m now building sites on my laptop, and moving them to a staging server before I take them live. This was inspired by WP Engine (affiliate link!), where a staging server is provided with each account, along with controls to copy the site back and forth between the two.
What I want is a smooth workflow for local development -> push to staging (so client can look and play) and then move to live when applicable. I also want to be able to to copy Live to Staging to do updates and maintenance, and then copy back.

Anyone care to elaborate on their process, including services and tools that play crucial roles?

TERI:

I have also recently moved to local development. I started using Sass (love it!!) and it makes things so much faster and easier – but you pretty much have to do local development.

When I was getting set up with that I was looking at my options for a possible XAMPP replacement. Not that I have any problems with it – just looking – but I ran across DesktopServer (http://serverpress.com/products/desktopserver/). This is cool stuff. It runs on top of XAMPP Lite and it has local one-click WordPress install.

If you use Dreamweaver, it also has integration with that, including Live View (in the paid version, of course). The paid version also has integration with InfiniteWP, ManageWP, and BackupBuddy, “Direct Deploy WordPress to Live Server,” and many other features. I haven’t paid for the pro version yet but I sense it coming soon considering it’s only $50. Oh, and it works on Mac and Windows.

BTW, if anyone is interested in using Sass or LESS and you’re on Windows, check out Prepros (http://alphapixels.com/prepros/). It’s just like CodeKit for the Mac. There’s even a Chrome extension for automatically updating the CSS in your browser when you save.

MARK:
Thanks for sharing, Teri!

I was checking out Prepos the other week and have been thinking about using it.
Right now, I use command line Compass/SASS with LiveReload. It basically accomplishes the same thing, but I like the idea of an all-in-one tool and if it’s really a Codekit clone, then it sounds worthwhile to try.
I’m curious about what other people come up with for this as well. My workflow for the past year+ has been local development with XAMPP, BackupBuddy to move site to server when ready, FTP to keep up-to-date. I let my DBs get out of sync from that point forward.
Coincidentally, former Seattle WordPresser Jeremy Green wrote about a tool to handle the DB site of things yesterday on his blog. WP Migrate DB Pro does sound pretty useful.
I’ve also been starting to get the basics of git and GitHub down. I know some hosts (like WP-Engine) support using git for everything so that may be an option, but only on certain hosts.
TAYLOR:
I use a similar workflow, except instead of BackupBuddy and FTP, I’ve shifted over to Git. Cloning a repo to a live site works like a charm. I use this method: http://joemaller.com/990/a-web-focused-git-workflow/ just slightly modified. Using Git has been a huge help in working w/a team.

Haven’t found a good DB method (though I’ll be checking out Migrate DB Pro), so I’ve just been updating tables manually. Haven’t had to sync again, so it’s worked out alright.
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