Getting Started with WP-CLI: The Command Line Tool for WordPress

Getting Started with WP-CLI: The Command Line Tool for WordPress

Whether you manage a single WordPress site or a network of sites, leveraging the command line can seriously improve your workflow. WP-CLI is a powerful command line tool that allows you to manage and interact with WordPress in an efficient, automated way right from the terminal. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll walk through the basics of using WP-CLI to simplify WordPress management and development.

What is WP-CLI and Why Should You Use It?

WP-CLI (pronounced “”wipe-lee””) stands for WordPress Command Line Interface. It allows you to manage your WordPress sites through the command line rather than the traditional admin dashboard.

Some key benefits of using WP-CLI include:

  • Increased efficiency – Many tasks can be automated and handled faster through the command line.
  • Developer-friendly – WP-CLI integrates nicely into developer workflows.
  • Time savings – Manage multiple sites or complex tasks without clicking around the admin.
  • Custom scripting – Create your own commands and tools to customize WP-CLI.

While the WordPress admin dashboard provides a convenient graphical interface, WP-CLI unlocks the real power of WordPress, especially for developers and agencies managing multiple sites.

Getting Started with WP-CLI

To start using WP-CLI, you’ll first need to install it on your machine. Then you’ll configure it to connect with your WordPress site(s).

Installation and Setup

WP-CLI can be installed on Linux, macOS, Windows, and cloud hosting platforms. The official WP-CLI installation guide covers various installation methods including:

  • Installing on shared hosting via SSH
  • Installing on VPS or dedicated hosting
  • Using installation frameworks like Docker or Composer

We recommend following the guide specific to your hosting environment. Generally the process involves downloading the wp-cli.phar file and making it executable on your system.

Connecting to Your WordPress Site

Once WP-CLI is installed, you’ll need to connect it to your live WordPress site or local development environment.

For live sites, this usually involves SSH access and pointing WP-CLI to the correct directory where WordPress is installed. Local sites can be accessed directly from the terminal.

See the Configuring WP-CLI guide for details on establishing connections.

Essential WP-CLI Commands for Beginners

Now let’s look at some of the most common and useful WP-CLI commands to get started with. We’ll cover basic site management, automation/scripting, and best practices.

Basic Site Management

WP-CLI makes it quick and easy to handle many basic WordPress management tasks. Here are some examples:

# Install and update WordPress
wp core download --locale=en_US
wp core update 

# Manage plugins
wp plugin install <plugin-name>
wp plugin activate hello-dolly
wp plugin list --status=active

# Manage themes  
wp theme install twentynineteen --activate
wp theme delete twentytwenty

# Posts, pages and users
wp post create --post_title=""My New Post""
wp post list --post_status=draft
wp user create bob --role=author

When using commands that modify content or the database, be sure to have proper backups configured. Also reference the WP-CLI docs to use the best parameters for each command.

Automation & Scripting

One of the most powerful uses of WP-CLI is scripting tasks to automate your workflows. For example, you could write a Bash script to handle backups, plugin updates, or scheduled publishing.

Here’s a simple script to automate backing up a site’s database:


wp db export database.sql

# Email the backup file as an attachment 
mail -s ""Site Backup $(date)"" [email protected] -a database.sql

WP-CLI also supports tab completion for discoverability and creation of custom commands. The possibilities are endless!

Deep Dive into WP-CLI Functionality

Beyond the basics, WP-CLI provides advanced capabilities for interacting with the database, multisite management, development workflows, and more.

Database Manipulation

Commands like wp db query allow you to search, edit, and optimize the WordPress database directly from WP-CLI without needing phpMyAdmin. For example:

# Search posts containing 'hello'
wp db query ""SELECT ID FROM wp_posts WHERE post_content LIKE '%hello%'""

# Replace URL in wp_options
wp db query ""UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = replace(option_value, 'http://oldurl', 'http://newurl') WHERE option_name = 'home' OR option_name = 'siteurl';""

Of course, caution should be taken when modifying the database directly.

Development Workflows

For developers, WP-CLI integrates nicely into existing workflows:

  • Scaffold code for custom plugins and themes.
  • Manage multisite networks efficiently.
  • Import/export data for staging sites.
  • Integrate with version control systems like Git.
  • Implement CI/CD pipelines with continuous deployment.

WP-CLI is a developer’s best friend for supercharging WordPress development!

Security and Troubleshooting

Like any powerful tool, WP-CLI also comes with certain security considerations. Using the --allow-root flag, exposing database credentials, or storing API keys in config files can all potentially lead to vulnerabilities if not properly secured.

It’s also worth learning general CLI security practices as well as how to debug and troubleshoot issues in WP-CLI. The support forums are a great resource for this.

Beyond the Basics: Using WP-CLI Like a Pro

Once you’ve mastered the basics, there are ways to unlock even more potential from WP-CLI. You can explore advanced features, optimize your workflows, and take full advantage of this powerful tool.

For instance, staying up-to-date with WordPress news and hosting trends is essential. Consider checking out WordaThemes for the latest updates on WordPress, including why it no longer supports Internet Explorer. Additionally, you might want to explore high-quality hosting options like WP Engine to enhance your website’s performance and reliability.

By integrating these insights into your WP-CLI practices, you can truly use it like a pro.

Extending WP-CLI with Custom Commands

The custom commands feature lets you create your own WP-CLI commands tailored to your specific needs. This allows practically infinite possibilities for new functionality.

For example, you could generate a custom wp audit command that performs security checks and generates a report. The WordPress ecosystem is full of awesome custom command packages to tap into.

Integrating WP-CLI with Other Tools

In professional workflows, WP-CLI compliments other tools nicely:

  • Integration with version control (Git, SVN) helps track changes and coordinate team collaboration.
  • CI/CD pipeline tools like Jenkins can utilize WP-CLI for automated testing, deployment, and more.
  • Hosting platforms like WP Engine provide built-in WP-CLI access and tools.

The composable nature of WP-CLI makes it a great addition to any stack.

The Future of WP-CLI

Development on WP-CLI remains active, with new releases coming out every few months. The roadmap highlights upcoming improvements includingmigration and scaffolding tools, improved Git integration, and PHP 8 support.

The broader WordPress CLI ecosystem also provides many complementary tools like WP-CLI extensions and package indexes. The future looks bright for WP-CLI!

Get Started with WP-CLI Today!

We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible with WP-CLI. With a bit of practice, it can seriously boost your WordPress productivity and empower you to manage sites faster and more efficiently.

To recap, you can get started by:

  • Installing WP-CLI – Get it set up on your local machine or hosting.
  • Connecting to WordPress – Access your site(s) via SSH or directly.
  • Learning basic commands – Cover the critical basics like posts, plugins, etc.
  • Automate workflows – Write scripts for backups, publishing, updates, etc.
  • Integrate into development – Utilize for version control, CI/CD, etc.

The WP-CLI handbook provides much more in-depth”

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