What is WordPress CLI?

Posted on: August 18th, 2022
By: Tadeo Martinez

WP-CLI is an interface that manages and interacts with WordPress sites via a command line; an alternative to the traditional WordPress admin interface.

WP-CLI has been around since 2011 and has steadily gained momentum among WordPress developers. But what exactly is it, and how can you use it?

At first glance, it’s hard to believe that using the command line to perform certain tasks is easier than using a graphical interface. 

To help you get started with WP-CLI, let’s see how it works and how it can speed up your workflow.

A brief introduction to WordPress CLI

WordPress CLI is a set of command-line tools for managing WordPress installations. 

It allows the WordPress admin users to perform different administrative tasks without a web browser. This management through the command line interface enables the users to manage their WordPress websites by executing a set of defined commands. 

The beauty of the WP-CLI is how it gives you direct control over your site. WP-CLI allows you to do everything you can do in the WordPress admin dashboard.

The scope of the tasks primarily includes upgrades, generating new content, managing plugins and themes, publishing new posts, taking database backups, and much more. 

How do you access it?

WP-CLI is a PHP script that interacts with WordPress installations. To use this tool, you must have SSH (Secure Shell) access to your WordPress hosting account. 

If you’re unfamiliar with SSH, don’t worry – it’s a secure way to connect to a remote server and execute commands. 

Once connected, you’ll need to navigate to the directory where WordPress is installed. For most people, this will be the /var/www/html directory. You can type in the following command to access the WordPress CLI: wp-cli.php.

When you’ve accessed the WordPress CLI, you can run various commands to manage your WordPress site. For example, you can use the ‘wp post’ command to create new posts or the ‘wp plugin’ command to manage plugins. To get a comprehensive list of available commands, simply type ‘wp –help’ into the CLI.

How does WordPress CLI work?

The WP-CLI provides complete access to your site — right at your fingertips. Commands are the bread and butter of WP-CLI. You can use dozens of commands to manage every aspect, which is not even considering custom commands.

With commands, you can do everything from installing WordPress to managing plugins to resetting passwords.

Commands in WP-CLI are structured as follows:

wp <command> <subcommand> <parameters>

Let’s break this down:

Wp – This is the main command you will use to access WP-CLI. It tells your server that you want to use WP-CLI.

<command> – This is the action you want to perform. For example, “plugin” is a command that lets you manage plugins.

<subcommand> – This optional parameter gives you more control over your running command. For example, “install” is a subcommand of the “plugin” command that lets you install plugins.

<parameters> – These optional parameters let you further customize the command you’re running. For example, if you were to install a specific plugin, you would specify the plugin’s name as a parameter.

WordPress CLI is particularly useful for managing large sites or for automating tasks. 

How is it different than FTP?

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a file transfer protocol that allows you to transfer files from your computer to your web server. WordPress CLI is a set of commands that lets you manage your WordPress site directly from the command line.

FTP requires you to use a client such as FileZilla or Transmit. WordPress CLI can be accessed directly from the command line or via SSH.

FTP is primarily used for transferring files. WordPress CLI can be used for tasks such as installing plugins, managing posts and users, taking backups, and much more.

In general, WordPress CLI is a more powerful tool than FTP. If you’re not a tech-savvy person, WP-CLI can be a bit daunting. Once you get the hang of it, it’s quite simple.

How is it related to SSH?

Secure Shell is a network protocol that supports secure communication between two devices. WordPress CLI (Command Line Interface) is a tool that lets you manage your WordPress site from the command line.

SSH and WordPress CLI are useful for managing a WordPress site, but they have different purposes. SSH is typically used for tasks requiring a high-security level, such as transferring sensitive data. On the other hand, WordPress CLI is often used for tasks that don’t require as much security, such as installing plugins or themes. 

While it is often used in conjunction with SSH to make website management easier. Using WordPress CLI and SSH allows website owners to save time and hassle while maintaining complete control over their site.

Perform complex tasks with WordPress CLI

The main purpose of using WordPress CLI is to perform complex tasks on your WordPress site quickly and easily. 

Some other core functions that WP-CLI can be used to complete are:

  • Installing a new/fresh WordPress installation
  • The ability to display all plugins and their status
  • Updating and installing WordPress plugins and themes
  • Uploading media files in bulk, instead of one at a time
  • Updating the core WordPress framework
  • Creating or changing user accounts and permissions
  • Easy search and replace functions within the database
  • Creating database backups and restoring existing databases

How does WordPress CLI speed up development/tasks?

WP-CLI can speed up development and tasks by automating repetitive actions. For example, if you need to create a staging environment for your WordPress site, you can use WP-CLI to duplicate your production site and database automatically. 

This saves you from manually exporting and importing files, which can be time-consuming. Additionally, WP-CLI can be used to automate tasks such as plugin updates and backups. This can save you time, as you don’t have to manually update each plugin or backup your site file by file. 

WP-CLI provides access to various advanced features, such as database migrations and code debugging. Developers looking to speed up their workflow can use the WordPress Command Line Interface (WP-CLI).

Get started with the WordPress CLI today

Speed, efficiency, and accessibility are all traits that any smart developer looks for in their tools. The WP-CLI offers all these features and more while enabling you to manage your WordPress site remotely.

For intermediate to advanced WordPress developers and users, WP-CLI provides a more efficient and flexible way to manage WordPress sites.

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