Local by Flywheel Review (Formerly Pressmatic): My Favorite Development Tool

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Update 12/1: Pressmatic has now been acquired by Flywheel and has been renamed to Local. As the software in the current state is essentially the same, this review is being edited to reflect the current name. The best news is, Local is now free (I can only assume that a premium version will come in the future).

Update 10/2: The launch discount for Pressmatic (now Local by Flywheel) has now ended.  Because of high demand, I have worked with Clay to offer an exclusive discount to my readers.  The following link will automatically apply a 10% discount, and will appear as a coupon code upon checkout:
10% Off Pressmatic

Update 7/4: Some have voiced concerns about the pricing of Pressmatic.  Personally, I feel the pricing is accurate with as much time as it saves, as well as being a one-time purchase with lifetime support and updates; rather than a yearly license like many other tools.  Nonetheless, I brought these concerns to Clay and he has decided to offer a limited time discount on Pressmatic for $99.  He didn’t say how long he was going to offer it, but I would snatch it up before he raises the price back up.

Since the early builds, I have had the pleasure of testing Local.  For those unfamiliar with Local, it is a tool for creating local development environments, primarily for WordPress; created as Pressmatic by Headway Themes founder, Clay Griffiths, and now is owned by Flywheel and rebranded as Local.  As a user of both VVV and DesktopServer, I wasn’t sure if there was much need for me to even bother with yet another way to create local environments.  The same tools that I have been using for years still work just fine.  What possible reason would I have to switch? Well, I was wrong.  Local is the new king in town.

Is switching worth the effort?

It’s always fun playing with a new tool that hasn’t even been released yet.  While new and shiny is great, I have a specific workflow already with VVV.  When first presented with Local (formerly Pressmatic), I didn’t care about it much.  I thought it was great that a new product was entering the space, but it just really didn’t fill a need that wasn’t already taken care of by my existing solutions.

Over time, I watched Local (formerly Pressmatic) evolve and began to see more and more value in it.  It was becoming far more than just a tool to create development sites; it was beginning to resolve issues that I didn’t even consider.

After plenty of poking and prodding, I decided to give Local a solid shot.  After playing with it for a bit, I was quite impressed with the perfect balance of simplicity and the developer tools that I love.  That’s when I decided to start using Local full time.

The simplification of complex tasks

When configuring development environments, there are certain tasks that irritate me.  Often times, it requires something like editing configuration files, (un)installing packages, or at the very least restarting the container.  For me, any slight deviation in my time can completely throw me off my groove.

One of the best features I love about Local is that it is built with the advanced user in mind.  While anyone can spin up a WordPress development environment with Local, the ability to change things within your environment on the fly is where it really shines.

Need to change your PHP version?  Nginx to Apache?  Even the domain of your development site?  Pressmatic makes each one of these tasks as simple as clicking a button or selecting a drop down.  I have never seen a local development tool as simple and configurable as Pressmatic.

Sharing sites is dead simple

If you’re like me, you always have your client approve your work before delivery.  Usually this involved me either deploying to a remote server, or loading a local server on my machine which I had to reconfigure every time.  Nobody has time for that.

With Local, I can easily create sites and when ready, show them to my clients with a single click.  When done, all I have to do is turn the feature off.  Clients can view my local environment at any time, without the need to interrupt my workflow.  I seriously can’t get enough of this feature.

Did I mention easy testing on multiple devices?

There are quite a few different tools out there for testing on multiple devices.  It always seems that regardless of how carefully I check things with the iOS simulator or various other emulation tools, something is always slightly off.  There just truly isn’t a replacement for testing your code on the physical device.  Well, Local solves that problem.

Remember when I said I can’t get enough of the feature that lets you share your sites?  Along with that feature is the ability to send a text message containing the link to your environment.  Send a text, click, test, done.

Templates, exports, and duplication

We all have our go-to plugins that we use.  Installing them every time, activating license keys, etc. becomes old very quickly.  That’s where templates come in handy.  Any site created in Local can instantly be turned into a template.  Once a template is created, it’s as simple as selecting that template when creating a new site.  Now I just need to figure out what to do with all of this time I’m saving.

Sites can be exported at any time into an easy to manage package.  Not only does the site export include your files and database, but it also includes any configurations you have made.  Personally, I like keeping backups of my client’s sites in a few different locations for safe keeping, and Pressmatic allows me to back up more than I have ever before.  Along with their files and database, I now have backups of any custom Apache or Nginx configuration changes that I have made as well.

In fact, Local exports every setting you can possibly change in the UI too.  If I’m revisiting a client that hasn’t had work done in a while, I might not have their environment still on my machine.  With Pressmatic, that doesn’t matter because I have absolutely everything I need directly within the export file.

Extend all the things

In addition to using Local, I’ve dabbled with extending it as well.  Pressmatic is so easy to extend, anyone with basic JavaScript knowledge can do it.  If you have WordPress development experience, extending Pressmatic is even easier.  You’ll notice familiar things such as actions and filters all over the place.  Within about 30 minutes, I was able to create a basic extension with very minimal documentation at the time.

Because Local is ridiculously easy to extend, I suspect that various extensions will be popping up all over the place rather quickly.  I shouldn’t have to tell you why this is awesome.  Everything from custom Apache modules or PHP extensions could be installed as simply as downloading and enabling an extension.  We all love WordPress because of how easy it is to extend and community tools.  Local is no different.

More features I love

  • Easy on-click access to databases via Adminer
  • Automatic Sequel Pro connections
  • One-click Xdebug configuration for PHPStorm
  • Mailcatcher to test outgoing mail without flooding an inbox
  • Instant self-signed SSL certificates with one-click browser trusting
  • Automatic background updates
  • One-click terminal access, using either Terminal or iTerm
  • Instant multisite support

What I would like to see

While the export functionality makes it easy to export sites, I would like to see the ability to push and pull sites to and from production.  Local has already improved my workflow, and could do so further with this additional feature.

Instant conversion to/from WordPress multisite would be super cool to see.  Personally, I don’t have a whole lot of need for it, but I could see it being quite useful for those who do.

While you can create site templates with the push of a button, there aren’t any included by default.  Popular configurations (or even community templates) could be immensely valuable.

Overall thoughts

Overall, I’m quite impressed.  As the other folks at Rocketgenius know, I love doing things through a terminal and I’m stubborn in my old ways.  If it works, I typically don’t change it.  Well, I’m glad I gave Pressmatic a shot.  I am extremely impressed with the finished product and I can only imagine it will improve over time.

The development team is dedicated, and feedback is being provided daily by major players in the WordPress community.  Just as stubborn as I was about switching to Local, I feel like it would be just as hard, if not harder, to get me off of it.

Well done, Local. You’ve made a hell of a product and gained a fan for life.

Local is a tool that should be in every developer’s arsenal.  Grab a copy of Local and let me know what you think in the comments.  You might be impressed.

14 comments

  1. What options are available for deploying the site to the clients server? Right now I am using DesktopServer which has Direct Deploy and Quick Deploy. Also would I be able to use the destopserver sites I have now?

    1. In terms of deployment to a remote site, there doesn’t appear to be a one-click deployment. Although, there’s always the export functionality. From what I hear, support for popular import/export plugins is coming soon.

      In terms of moving from DesktopServer, you’ll likely need to manually move your files from one place to another. Yeah, it’s a bit of a pain but overall shouldn’t be too bad.

      1. I’m wondering if I can use ManageWP to clone the site and deploy it to production via the Ngrok integration, perhaps I’ll have time to check this out tonight.

        1. I suppose you could. The Ngrok integration has opened a ton of doors here. Let me know how it goes for you.

    2. I use UpdraftPlus – but instead of using their migration tool, just backup to dropbox and on the new install, use the same dropbox folder and restore the latest dropbox version – takes about 5 minutes.

    1. No clue. Not anything I’m aware of, at least. Based on the information that I do have, I wouldn’t be surprised it if was rather soon.

      1. Kobe/Jeff – I wrote to Clay regarding the Windows version and it’s supposed to land within the next 2 months. Unfortunately, the license needs to be purchased per platform, that was a major bummer.

  2. One reason that might push me over to using Pressmatic over my trusty and rusty Mamp Pro is Templates: having to install the same basic Plugins and Themes over and over again does get old pretty quickly.

    However, I’ve several cases where a content transfer from some live client site to a (local or remote) dev site using the brilliant Migrate DB Pro resulted in licences (Migrate DB Pro itself, ACF, Soliloquy, Admin Columns Pro) not working on the copied site. Does that work reliably with Pressmatic, or does one still have to re-enter the licensing informations?

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