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Automattic Releases wp-now: A Local Development Environment Powered by WordPress Playground

Automattic has published a new project called wp-now that creates a local development environment in seconds. The tool is a NodeJS app that is powered by WordPress Playground, an experimental project that uses WebAssembly (WASM) to run WordPress in the browser.

wp-now allows developers to quickly spin up a new WordPress site with their chosen theme and then open it in the browser automatically logged in as admin without having to enter any credentials. It uses the SQLite Database Integration plugin for its database and developers can quickly swap out versions of PHP and WordPress for testing.

Automattic software engineer Antonio Sejas explained how it works:

When you use wp-now from a directory, we create a php-wasm instance, download the selected WordPress version and mount the necessary directories in a virtual file system (VFS). Then, we initiate a NodeJS express server that listens and proxies all requests to the php-wasm. As a result, wp-now can easily log you into WordPress automatically, activate plugins and themes, and automatically configure your WordPress site.

wp-now can be installed directly from npm. It works across all platforms (Mac, Linux, and Windows). Although it doesn’t support custom domains or SSL yet, Automattic has it on the roadmap. wp-now contributors are also looking at auto detecting when a file is modified and automatically refreshing the browser, importing a database from another WordPress site, and adding a deploy feature for SSH/SFTP hosting, among other features.