If you work with WordPress regularly, there’s a good chance you’ve used FTP to update your site’s files. There are numerous FTP clients available that allow you to use FTP with your WordPress site. This article discusses a fantastic FTP client: Transmit 5, and how it can make your FTP experience better, even enjoyable. This post is not sponsored content, we’re just really big fans of the software! Note: Transmit 5 is available for macOS only.
Wait, what is FTP?
For the uninitiated, FTP, or File Transfer Protocol is a method of communication and transfer used to move and change files between computers. This amounts to you moving or editing files that come from a web server that holds all of your website’s files. While most modern operating systems include some way of utilizing FTP by default, the experience is definitely sub-optimal. As a result, most users end up getting an FTP client, which is software that allows you to use FTP and has its own interface for doing so.
Using FTP to interact with your WordPress site
While everyone’s use case and workflow may vary, there are a few common situations that involve using FTP when working with your WordPress site. While you could edit most of the files via the WordPress File Editor (Appearance–>Editor), doing this is usually dangerous and slower than editing the files on your computer and moving the changes to your web server. WordPress actually added some native features that make the process of editing these files online a bit safer, but in general, I’d recommend you edit your files via FTP since this gives you more control over the process and you can edit/download any files you need to.
If you’re developing your own custom theme, creating a child theme, or making your own plugin, you’ll need a way to interact with the theme/plugin’s files. Using FTP allows you to fully edit any file associated with any theme/plugin you need to work with quickly and easily.
Often times changes may be set up in a staging (development) environment. This is done to ensure changes can be tested without affecting a live (production) site. In many workflows, changes made to the staging site need to be deployed (or “pushed”) to the live server from the staging server. A common way of deploying changes is to use FTP to move those files between the two servers.
Removing remote files
Sometimes you may find certain files exist on your remote web server that shouldn’t and need to be removed. Using FTP can make that process really simple. A common example: You’ve pushed some changes to your live site but you accidentally uploaded a file that should’ve been deleted.
In the event that you need to edit your wp-config.php settings, using FTP is the only way to do this. This is an advanced step and should only be attempted if you’re sure what you’re doing.
It is important to note that just because you can edit any file in your WordPress site doesn’t mean you should. Make sure you fully understand what files you’re editing and never edit core WordPress files.
How Transmit fits in
Transmit is a fantastic FTP client and one of the best available for macOS. It can not only work with FTP connections but also SFTP, WebDAV, Amazon S3 and more. No matter what type of hosting you have, Transmit can interact with your web server to help you download/upload files to that server. You can even use it to pull files from your cloud storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, Onedrive, etc).
Transmit allows you to setup various Servers to quickly connect to them as needed. This means you won’t have to type in a password and server details every time you want to connect. Optionally, you can also do a “Quick Connect” where you just enter in a few details and don’t worry about saving them for later. So if you work with a WordPress site often, you can easily save its connection settings to allow you to get to it fast and easy later.
By default, once you’ve connected to a remote server, you’ll have your local folder on the left and your remote folder on the right. So the left side shows files on your computer and the right side shows files on your remote server. This is called “Dual Pane” mode and it gives you a nice way of viewing the files in both of your chosen locations. You right upload files and/or folders on the local side to the corresponding location on the remote site.
Sometimes, you may want to do a synced change such as moving all files that have been changed recently. Transmit has a fantastic sync feature that syncs the given directory that you are viewing.
For instance, if you were making some theme updates you likely updated several files and can’t remember the name of each one. So you use Transmit to automatically sync files that have a different file size by opening up the theme folder in both the left/right panes, and then opening the sync menu (Cmd+Shift+P or click the sync button in the top right corner: ).
In addition to syncing and viewing files, you can also view information about them or alter their permissions with ease. To get started, you’ll need to click the orange inspect icon, which is right next to the sync button. This pane can show you all kinds of useful information, including permissions, current owner/group, and more. For those who aren’t super familiar with setting permissions, you can use the GUI to edit these instead of having to enter octal values (although you can enter those if you’re familiar with doing so).
The Difference is in the Speed
If you’ve ever used an FTP client in the past, you may wonder: What’s the big deal? To me, the most notable thing is the speed of transfers. No matter if you’re working with small or large files, Transmit will speedily download/upload them with ease. The program is incredibly fast and stable, which is ideal when you’re working on a project or task that is time sensitive. I know I can rely on Transmit being fast and easy to use, which makes things like syncing changes or downloading a bunch of plugins a breeze.
Do you have a WordPress site that is running on AWS? Transmit will be able to provide what is perhaps the fastest and best downloading experience when interacting with items in Amazon S3. I was amazed by how quickly it was able to download both big files and groups of smaller files without breaking a sweat.
Frequently I need to pull down the latest version of the theme I’m working on. Having a super fast way to sync that information and quickly push changes in bulk is a godsend on busy days. For me, I enjoy using Transmit 5 as a compliment to Coda 2 (a text editor and other Panic product) so I can do bulk changes over FTP and then still work with other files that aren’t being handled by Transmit.
Like all Panic software, Transmit has a one-time license fee of $45, which entitles you to all updates for the current major version of Transmit. So when Transmit 6 comes out, that will likely be a paid upgrade. However, the likelihood of a new version of Transmit coming out anytime soon is remote (and frankly unnecessary, the current version is fantastic). This means that you can throw down $45 and get a ton of use out of the software. Major bang for your buck.
Transmit 5 is available for purchase at https://panic.com/transmit.
At $45, Transmit 5 is a complete steal and can be a boon for those who work with their WordPress site’s files remotely. From the syncing features to the intuitive interface, it is a fantastic product that’s only going to get better over time. For a developer or designer who works with WordPress, this is one of the most useful apps that money can buy. You can give the software a 7 day trial for free at https://panic.com/transmit.
Note: This post is not sponsored or endorsed by Panic, Inc.