Flo Launch Plugin

The Flo Launch plugin allows you to safely test drive any theme, plugin or a new idea on your blog , while visitors still see the default site.

There are plugins that do a similar job. One of them is the Theme Test Drive WordPress plugin. But that plugin does not allow to customize any existing pages, menus or widgets without users noticing that. Therefore we had to come up with a solution for that – Flo Launch plugin.

Below is a video that shows how it works:

Installation

Through server:

  1. Unzip and Upload all files to a sub directory in “/wp-content/plugins/”.
  2. Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ menu in WordPress.

Through admin:

  1. Upload the zip and activate plugin.
  2. Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ menu in WordPress.
The main steps you should go through when working with this plugin:

1) Install this plugin
2) Make a Database backup
3) Enable the test mode.
A very important thing to know is that the plugin functions based on cookies. That means the test mode is activated only in the browser where the ‘Enable Test Mode’ button was clicked.
4) While the test mode is activated install and activate your new theme and plugins.
And then set up your test website as you wish.
5) When you think that the test site is done, you can publish it. And the test site will become available to everybody.

Previous steps explained in details:

After the plugin is activated, a new option page in the WP dashboard will appear under the Settings menu:

option-page2

Before beginning using the plugin we strongly recommend to make a Database backup, just in case something wrong happens. There is a button for that as you can see in the image above. At the moment there are known issues when creating backup for large databases. Therefore if you get an error message, then try creating the backup using other tools. Some other tools we recommend are PhpMyAdmin(if your hosting provides such option) or the Backupbuddy plugin.

If the backup is ready, you can go to the next step and enable the Test Mode by clicking on the ‘Enable test mode’ button. You must be aware that it may take a while until the test mode is created and enabled(especially if the database is large) – the progress will be indicated like in the image below.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 11.49.23 AM

When the test mode is enabled, the page will be refreshed and new options and messages will be available. On the plugins’s options page you should have a message that the ‘Test Mode’ is activated, and options to disable the test mode or to publish the test site:

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.06.27 PM

When you are on any other page in the WP dashboard, there will be a sticky message at the top that reminds that you are working in  test mode:

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.09.06 PM

And when you are checking the website in the front end, there will be a message for 3 seconds at the top of the screen that reminds that you are watching the test site.

A very important thing to know is that the plugin functions based on cookies. That means the test mode is activated only in the browser where the ‘Enable Test Mode’ button was clicked. If you want to test in a different browser, then you have to log in using that browser and click the button again. Or use some URL parameters to quickly enable or disable the test mode in any browser. For that we’ve added support for 2 URL parameters:

  • To enable the test mode in any browser just add the ‘?flo_test_mode=1‘ to the URL.  i.e. if your domain name is example .com, then to activate the test mode use the following URL: example.com?flo_test_mode=1
  • To disable the test mode in any browser just add the ‘?flo_disable_test_mode=0‘ to the URL.  i.e. if your domain name is example .com, then to deactivate the test mode use the following URL: example.com?flo_disable_test_mode=0

When you think you are ready to make the test site publicly available, you can click on the ‘Publish Test site button’

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.22.24 PM

It is important to know the following details about adding content to your new sites when using the Flo Launch plugin:
When adding content there are 2 options:
1. Add content to both sites when working on updates. Why? Because you have separate databases, the content should be uploaded to both. This is only relevant for those that will continue to blog and update the old site whilst working.
2. Add content to the new site. You can add content to the new site, without adding content to the old site. Why? Because when launching the new site, you will be using the its database and files.
DO NOT upload content only to the old site. If you do so, you will lose this content upon launching the new site. The image below explains that:
Flo TestDrive Infographic new

Also please be careful on which environment you are working, test or live site, to not mess things up.

If you have any questions please let us know by submitting a ticket . But in case you have problems or errors the ticket should  contain the WordPress and Hosting login information .

P.S.  The plugin can be downloaded from here.