The problem with content management in WordPress

…is actually managing the content.

We use RAMP to allow content owners to move content themselves from a staging site to the live site, on our intranet. Over the last few months we’ve given RAMP a very thorough workout and it has been pretty painful, to be honest.

Sometimes RAMP is completely amazing, don’t get me wrong. I have gotten elbow deep in the code and have written several add-ons to customize it for our site. It’s pretty amazing in what it does, but there are some painful issues.

The biggest one is speed. RAMP will fail if you try to move too many pages in one batch (I think I attempted about 300 of a CPT once and that didn’t work), even if they’re fairly simple.  So to RAMP 300 pages you had better set aside a few hours depending on how complex the pages are, because you are going to be doing batches, and each batch is going to take a while.

Next after that is complexity. Our last content deploy included a deep tree of about 80 pages. Because RAMP won’t move a page unless its parent is present at the remote host, deploying a deeply nested batch of pages for the first time has to be planned carefully. Our business users aren’t ready to take that on, and may never be. To plan for this deploy I did a dry run on our QA hosts to find problems in advance. To get it fully sorted and planned took a couple of days.

Finally there is the GUI. The process of selecting the right set of pages can be tedious. There are several obvious improvements that could be made to it.

One other thing: it’s clear to me that Crowd Favorite considers RAMP to be somewhat of an afterthought right now. I doubt they will ever release the new version they’ve been mentioning for the last couple of years. To get attention in the support forums I have had to email the support address directly; I don’t think they’re actually monitoring the support forums. [1] They did a great job of helping me once I got someone’s attention but overall I do not have a warm fuzzy feeling.

It’s all a shame, because there’s a need for a user-friendly tool to move content in a granular fashion. Our situation cannot be unique. With some work RAMP could be modernized and improved.

Anyway, I am always on the lookout for a RAMP replacement. Stuff I have looked at includes:

  • VersionPress – this is not exactly for moving content, although it could work, and isn’t mature enough
  • WPSiteSync – promising, but not mature enough, and sounds just as slow since it goes over http
  • Content Staging –  reviews lead me to believe it is not mature or sophisticated enough

We often talk about writing our own, but I am extremely reluctant to do it. It is, no doubt, a very tough nut to crack and that’s why so few people have been able to crack it.

So – what have I missed? Is there a viable alternative to RAMP for a big, fairly complex, very custom site?

 

[1] update: it looks like the RAMP support forums are actively being attended again.

 

 

3 thoughts on “The problem with content management in WordPress

  1. Great summary of the current challenges. Content migrations are something we’ll probably focus on more with VersionPress once the core technology stabilizes a bit. It’s a common use case so it makes sense to optimize for it.

    Thanks for the write-up!

  2. What is the reason for having two (probably separate) WordPress systems? Is RAMP operating on the WordPress REST API?

    1. David – we give the content owners a place to stage content (new, and updates to existing) where those changes won’t be seen, then give them a way to push changes to the live site without developer intervention.

      RAMP significantly predates the REST API; it runs over xml-rpc.

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