I am very pleased to announce that the next update to the ‘WP Cloud Server’ plugin has been released. Since early January we have been working extremely hard on the next major update which includes some major changes. If you have been following the releases of the plugin you will notice that this release is another major update, taking the plugin to version 2.0.0.
Releasing a major update so quickly is not normal, but I felt that it was warranted. I’ll take a moment to explain the reason behind it!
One of the issues that I have been facing is how to contain all of the functionality needed to create and manage your Cloud Servers inside the constraints of the WordPress Admin Dashboard, and still keep everything uncluttered, intuitive, and accessible.
In the end I took the decision that it wasn’t possible! It wasn’t an easy decision and I might be proved wrong! But I decided that in order to achieve what I want from the ‘WP Cloud Server’ plugin over the coming months I needed to break from the confines of the standard WordPress look and feel.
So. The first major feature of the new plugin is the new user interface. It has been completely reworked to offer a much more user-friendly layout, and now includes a new setup wizard that makes it easier to get started!
New Setup Wizard
The setup wizard takes you through some simple steps to get everything up and running. The process starts by providing a summary of the steps involved and then leads you through a step-by-step process.
The step-by-step process prompts you to enter three pieces of information.
- DigitalOcean API Key
- ServerPilot Client ID and API Token
- Public SSH Key
Entering all of the above data would configure the plugin to use ServerPilot, DigitalOcean, and allow login over SSH using a public key.
The good thing about the setup wizard is that each setting is optional. If you just want to use the plugin with the DigitalOcean service then just enter the DigitalOcean API, and ignore the ServerPilot settings!
New User Interface
This is the biggest change in this version of the plugin, and the feature that I am the most excited about, because it opens incredible possibilities for future additions and enhancements!
The new user interface has been designed to be bright and spacious, with a left-hand menu that improves navigation between pages. Some pages will instantly display their content without having to be reloaded.
Where appropriate some pages will have horizontal tabs that group together data that is relevant to the main page.
New WordPress Menu
The WordPress Dashboard menu now includes the five options listed below
- Module Overview
- Managed Servers
- Cloud Servers
- Server Templates
- General Settings
These options have been chosen to make using the plugin more logical. Let’s take a closer look at the each menu.
This was labelled ‘All Modules’ in previous versions of the plugin, but ‘Module Overview’ captures it’s role better. It is the place to go to see the status of all modules and API connections, to change API settings, to view the modules event log, and to view the debug data when ‘Debug Mode’ is enabled.
This section is where you can create and manage cloud servers that are connected to a service like ‘ServerPilot’, which manages installing the servers software, installing WordPress, and performing updates, etc.
This section is where you can create and manage standalone servers, such as a server hosted with ‘DigitalOcean’.
One of the powerful features of the ‘WP Cloud Server’ plugin is the ability to sell Web Hosting Plans by integrating with the popular ‘Easy Digital Downloads’ plugin.
A new meta box allows the module to be selected, then the server or template to be chosen, and finally a plan name to be entered.
When a customer purchases the plan the template is used to build the server on the fly, and to notify of any server management service to install WordPress, etc.
This section allows you to create ‘templates’ for both ‘managed servers’ and ‘Cloud Servers’.