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Introducing .dev domains for staging sites

As WordPress continues to evolve, so does the very large library of plugins and themes to further what you can do with a WordPress install and engage your audience(s). In recent years, the dawn of “visual composers” has opened up a whole new realm of theme editing and site creation with the WordPress platform, making it even easier to get started online. Long gone are the days of writing custom code or hiring a developer, and the flexibility of WordPress continues to progress like never before.

WP Stagecoach has some exciting news to make the staging experience even easier. Starting with WP Stagecoach plugin version 1.4.27, all new staging sites will be created using a .dev subdomain.

You may be wondering what this means for you, and how it may impact your use of WP Stagecoach and staging sites in general. With this in mind, we thought we’d give you a little more background on the decision behind this change.

What is a .dev domain?

.dev is a top-level domain name operated by Google. Much like you have .com, .net, .org and many other top-level domain names, .dev functions very much in the same way, with a couple of advantages. Anyone can register a .dev domain, and depending on the type of website or business you manage, it might even be a relevant choice for your domain name over the many alternatives.

.dev domains are typically created for developers, and development environments. You shouldn’t notice any real differences from day to day use, however all .dev websites are required to provide SSL Certificates to ensure the safety of you and your users. With every .dev website that’s launched, you help move the web to an HTTPS-everywhere future (don’t worry, WP Stagecoach automates this for you).

Why is WP Stagecoach switching to .dev?

We want to make the process of creating a staging site as painless and stress free as possible. As Premium themes and plugins become commonplace on most WordPress installs, this can introduce complexities around licensing and the domains in which you can use the theme or plugin with. For example, some premium themes or plugins limit the amount of activations by domain name, whereby you can only install their product on x amount of domains. It might be that you need to pay additional licensing fees to activate their product on additional WordPress installs.

When using WP Stagecoach to create your staging site, we host a copy of your live site on our own web hosting infrastructure. This means you don’t take up web hosting space on your own web hosting services. It also allows you to isolate web hosting issues when troubleshooting, and it provides an extra layer of security protection. During the creation process of your staging site, you are given the option of defining a custom subdomain where your staging site will live on WP Stagecoach – for example; mysite.wpsc.dev.

Prior to switching to the .dev top-level domain name, staging sites were created using a .site or .com domain name. Although in the majority of cases this presents no difference to the process and experience of using your staging site, it can be confusing to the licensing and activation systems of your premium themes and plugins. As a result, you may occasionally find the premium theme or plugin requesting a license upgrade due to detecting a new subdomain with your WP Stagecoach staging site.

Luckily, most premium themes and plugins automatically register .dev domains as staging sites for licensing purposes, meaning you won’t need to upgrade your license and pay additional fees. We’d suggest checking with the theme or plugin developer to make sure.

How do I get a .dev domain?

We released a new version of the WP Stagecoach plugin – version 1.4.27. All new and future staging sites will be created using your custom defined subdomain with our new .dev domain name. You won’t be able to convert existing staging sites using our previous domain name, but you can delete and re-create your staging site in just a couple of clicks.