Sail Knowledgebase

Using the Local WordPress Development Environment with Sail CLI

Local is a development tool by Flywheel and WP Engine, which allows users to run WordPress locally on their computers. In this guide you will learn how to use Local for your development needs, and ship to production with Sail CLI.

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Installing Local

You can get Local from the official website, it's available for Linux, macOS and Windows. Follow the on-screen instructions to install Local on your computer. You do not need a Local account to work with Local and Sail.

Create a Local site

Hit the Add Local Site button on the bottom-left corner of the Local user interface, and follow the on-screen instructions to create and start a new site. For this guide I created a site called sailboats.local:

Local Create New Site

After the services have been provisioned and the site is up and running, make note of the location of your local site, it's usually ~/Local Sites/sitename.

Create a new Sail project

Open your terminal at the location of the new Local site. Note that you can right-click the site name in the Local UI and hit the Open Site Shell item in the context menu. This will open the default system Terminal at the site location, as well as set up the terminal environment with the correct WP-CLI, PHP and other executables, which could be useful.

Before creating a new Sail project, you'll need to backup your wp-config.php file, so that you don't lose the database credentials. We recommend simply renaming it to .wp-config.local.php:

cd ~/Local\ Sites/sailboats/app/public
mv wp-config.php .wp-config.local.php

Then run sail init with the --force flag (since the directory is not empty):

sail init --force

Note that this will download a fresh copy of the application files from the newly created Sail project, potentially overwriting any files locally, so if you're working with an existing site in Local that is not blank, it is recommended that you copy all the files to a different directory first.

Dual wp-config.php

You'll notice that the production database credentials in wp-config.php are different from the ones you had locally in your .wp-config.local.php so you'll need a way to use both, to make sure both your production and local environments are loaded correctly.

We recommend simply including the local configuration file from your production configuration file, by adding the following code to the very top of your production wp-config.php:

// Load local development configuration file
if ( file_exists( __DIR__ . '/.wp-config.local.php' ) ) {
    require_once( __DIR__ . '/.wp-config.local.php' );

// Production config below this line

It is up to you how to name the local development configuration file, however please note that sail deploy by default will copy all the files in your Sail project directory to production, except any dot-files. This is why the recommended file name is .wp-config.local.php.

Getting WP-CLI to work with a local wp-config.php

WP-CLI has its own quite complex way of reading and loading the WordPress configuration file. Notably, it attempts to execute everything in wp-config.php except the last statement that loads wp-settings.php.

For WP-CLI to work correctly with a local configuration file that's being included from the production wp-config.php, it is recommended to not load wp-settings.php in a WP-CLI context. This can be done by checking the WP_CLI constant. Find the following line in your .wp-config.local.php:

require_once ABSPATH . 'wp-settings.php';

And replace it with:

if ( ! defined( 'WP_CLI' ) ) {
    require_once ABSPATH . 'wp-settings.php';

This way WP-CLI will work both in production, as well as your local environment.

Syncing the Database

Often times you'll want to copy the production database to your local environment. You can do this with Sail. Simply export the database from the production server:

sail db export

The database dump will be compressed by default. Uncompress it with gunzip and use WP-CLI shipped with Local, to import this database into the Local site:

gunzip .backups/2021-10-13-101625.sql.gz
wp db import .backups/2021-10-13-101625.sql

If the wp db import command is not working, it is likely that your current shell is not configured to the correct WP-CLI instance. Try and open a new one from the Local user interface by right-clicking the site name from the menu on the left and selecting Open Site Shell.

Replacing the domain name

The database export from production will have all links set to your production primary domain, which you can change to your local development domain with the WP-CLI search-replace command:

wp search-replace '' 'http://sailboats.local' --all-tables

If you're unsure what the production URL is, simply run wp option get home.

Deploying to production

When you're happy with your changes locally, you can deploy them to production with sail deploy, and quickly sail rollback if you made a mistake. You can learn more about deploying here.

While possible with sail db import, we do not recommend deploying the local database to production, as this may cause split-brain situations and has the potential for data loss.

If you're stuck and need help with your local development environment setup with Sail CLI, please visit the getting help section.