Fixer theme live preview DOES NOT WORK, NO WORK AROUND

I have an existing WP site using a child theme of WP TwentyFourteen. The site runs on hardware owned by my company in a colocation facility and I have root access to it.

I want to be able to re-theme the site in the background (which may take a few hours).
Every time I want to edit the Fixer child theme, it insists on being activated, which then trashes my live site.

I did a support chat (don't recall with who). Support person first recommended creating a whole new private site by copying the current site. While I can do that, I think that will take a bunch of hours.
Support person then recommended Develop Themes Behind the Scenes , which has links to a bunch of theme switcher plugins, some of which are still current. I also did some searching for this type of plugin.

I will be doing new menus and some new pages for the new theme anyway, so it looks likely that I can work without changing the settings and pages that the current live theme is using.

So far I have tried:
* 'theme per user' - does not support child themes, which is why I want the plugin.
* 'theme test drive' - turning on upfront still trashed the live site
* 'WP theme test' - seems to work except bbPress Forums List quick code does not work at all and bbPress Topics lose all formatting on the topic text and do not display any comments at all, so I can't use this one either
* 'Advanced theme switcher' - turning on upfront still trashed the live site

Is there a theme switcher/previewer plugin that works with the Upfront theme builder? By 'works' I mean it leaves undisturbed a non-Upfront theme while configuring a new Upfront-based theme in the background.

  • Adam Czajczyk

    Hello Art,

    I hope you're well today and thank you for your question!

    The "live preview" for any of Upfront themes would only be possible with Upfront parent theme active and that is active only if any of the child themes is active. That sounds somewhat confusing so let me give an example:

    - the Twenty Sixteen theme is active
    - Fixer preview doesn't work
    - the Scribe theme is active (or any Upfront theme other than Fixer)
    - the Fixer preview kind of works.

    I wrote "kind of" because the "live preview", just like a "customize" option enables... Upfront editor for active theme. So in case above it would enable Upfront on "Scribe" theme.

    This is a bug and has already been reported to the developers. I hope they'll be able to release the fix soon but I'm not able to give any ETA and I apologize for the trouble that it's causing.

    I have added your thread to the bug report in order to be informed once a solution comes out and to pass that information to you.

    Kind regards,
    Adam

  • Art

    Hello Adam,
    If I am reading your answer correctly, the Fixer 'live preview' only gives a preview if another Upfront child theme is active, but the bug reported is that the preview is always for the active Upfront child theme instead of the one desired.

    It looks to me like fixing the above bug does not address my problem.

    I want the live preview for Fixer to work even for an active non-Upfront theme or child theme, because I want to do a migration from a non-Upfront theme to an Upfront Child theme.

    Right now I would have to put the Upfront theme builder in the "talented but doesn't play well with others" category.

    I am now looking at what I have to do to setup an alternate site to do the Upfront migration on. This is more painful than I would like...

    Kind Regards,
    Art

  • Dimitris

    Hey there Art,

    hope you're doing good and don't mind chiming in!

    As the "preview" option is kind of buggy, this won't resolve your issue as you want to edit the theme rather than simply preview it, is that right? I guess that this won't be possible for any WP theme as to use any theme options or builder the theme should be active, that's why my colleagues proposed the "theme-switcher" type of plugins.

    The best possible way to proceed with that, it could be a staging environment, meaning an exact copy of the current site in another folder/destination in the same server. You could then build this freely, having all the necessary content in place and test this under the same "production" server.

    Another solution for that, could be a multisite installation and Cloner plugin as described in a nice article from our blog here https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/set-up-staging-site-cloner/

    Warm regards,
    Dimitris

  • Art

    Hi Dimitris,
    I am doing quite well now, thanks!
    While it is true that a "preview" option does not work for absolutely all cases, it can work well for what I want to do.
    I am re-doing the landing page and its main menu. I am also doing a few new pages as well as a fresh theme.
    None of this involves a need to edit existing elements of the current website.
    Complications I want to avoid in doing a clone site:

    • Our site is self hosted on our hardware and I am the root admin. We have private areas that need to stay private, so I would have the added complication of cloning on our hardware. If I clone on the same machine I either have potential mysql db conflicts if I use the same db name or problems with changeover to go live if I use a different db name.If I clone on a different machine I have the problem of giving access to the site to WPMU DEV for support or to anyone else to look at it before going live, since the most straightforward machine for me to use for that is internal to our network.
    • Our actual WP site is in a sub-folder of the site's root folder, and getting the re-directs working again properly is something I did not look forward to. That was enough of a pain when setting up the current site 2 years ago.
    • I have a fair amount of anti-splog stuff built into our current site since a bbPress forum is part of it. This complicates the process of creating a clone and then either going live with the clone, or copying back the relevant changes from the clone (with all the possibilities of missing something in the process).

    Therefore I have been doing the site update in the background using the 'WP theme test' plugin and the Avada theme, which has back end site editing with similar capabilities to the Upfront front end editor. Avada has the other advantage of being bbPress compatible, so I can see and customize the forum look-and-feel in the background as well.
    I still look forward to getting the MediaWiki part of our site converted over to the 'Wiki Pro' plugin and having just one db with a wiki that has the same theme as the rest of our site. While that part of the site update is not as urgent, I do want to get it done as promptly as possible. I am aware of the MediaWiki 'Export Pages' and have found a Perl conversion script to WP. Whether it converts to WP using 'Wiki Pro' or not remains to be seen. I would like to keep our Wiki pages' revision histories, but that is not essential. If the script doesn't work I will fall back to simply hand copying (ugh) because the wiki is not huge (yet).

    Cheers,
    Art

  • Adam Czajczyk

    Hello Art!

    Thank you for this additional explanation!

    In that case the "live preview" may be indeed handy I think. One important thing to note though is that unlike Avada's "backend editing capability" Upfront doesn't support backend editiong. A "live preview" would then only let you see but not edit the design.

    Also, while the fact that using "live preview" with any Upfront theme enabled launches Upfront Editor on a currently active theme is a bug, the fact that "live preview" for Upfront themes does require Upfront parent (therefore any Upfront child theme) to be active may not be possible to override. This is because of how Upfront scripts are working: no Upfront theme will work without Upfront being active.

    After reading your recent post, I think that the staging site would still be the best solution here. I understand that due to the hardware access limitations that can get a bit complex but if it's not a WordPress Multisite you can actually use just a sub-folder of your current site and the same database.

    You stated that using the same database can lead to potential issues: if you use different table prefix in "wp-config.php" file for your staging site there should be no issues at all. Personally, I run two sites (that I use for testing stuff) under the same domain with the same database that way and experience no issues related to that at all. In the past, I hosted over 10 sites with a single database that same way.

    As for URL's conflicts. When you setup a staging site in a sub-folder you will not need to set redirects most likely as long as you update database to use proper URL's (relevant for that sub-folder where the site is installed). This can be updated "back and forth" easily with this script:

    https://interconnectit.com/products/search-and-replace-for-wordpress-databases/

    Best regards,
    Adam