Automated builds in Wordpress

By Alexander van Noord on

When you are working on a project with several developers you want to have an easy way to integrate each others work.

When working with Wordpress though, there is one thing that's hard to integrate: the database. All the settings and content it contains are tightly coupled with your code—though it is not under version control.

That's why you can also just script everything you need in the database. With an automated build you drop all database tables and rebuild them from code. It will give you a clean sheet when you need it. And it will be a lot easier to integrate your work with others.

This article will give you some building blocks you need to start automating your Wordpress websites.

Getting Wordpress

Of course we need Wordpress. The latest Wordpress is always available as a Tarball. As of this writing the latest version is 3.3.1. You can download and unpack it with:

$ curl -V0
$ tar -xf latest.tar.gz
$ rm latest.tar.gz

Installing Wordpress

To install Wordpress you can use the following code. At a minimum you have to include the following—where WP_DIR is just a constant to your Wordpress directory:

define('WP_INSTALLING', true);

require(WP_DIR . 'wp-load.php');
require(WP_DIR . 'wp-admin/includes/upgrade.php');
require(WP_DIR . 'wp-includes/wp-db.php');

    'My Wordpress from the commandline', // Title of your blog
    'admin', // Username to make
    '', // E-mail address of user
    true, // Whether your site is public
    null, // Deprecated
    'password' // Password of new user

// Setting the base urls
update_option('siteurl', 'http://localhost/my-wordpress/');
update_option('home', 'http://localhost/my-wordpress/');

With this you don't need the browser to install Wordpress. You can just run this script in your terminal:

$ php build.php

Uninstalling Wordpress

For a proper build you also have to uninstall Wordpress if it is already installed. Therefore add the following to build.php.

function uninstall_wordpress() {
    global $wpdb;

    $wpdb->query('SET foreign_key_checks = 0');
    $tables = $wpdb->get_results('SHOW TABLES', ARRAY_A);

    foreach($tables as $table) {
        $table = current($table);
        $wpdb->query("DROP TABLE IF EXISTS $table");

    $wpdb->query('SET foreign_key_checks = 1');

if (is_blog_installed()) {

Start with a clean install

Wordpress adds some default posts and comments as a starting point. You might also want to remove these in your build:

function remove_default_wp_content() {
    global $wpdb;

    $wpdb->query('TRUNCATE TABLE `wp_posts`');
    $wpdb->query('TRUNCATE TABLE `wp_comments`');
    $wpdb->query('TRUNCATE TABLE `wp_links`');

General settings

See for all the options the wp_options table.

update_option('blogdescription', 'My Automated Wordpress');
update_option('posts_per_page', 6);

update_option('permalink_structure', '/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/');

// Flush the rewrite rules for the permalinks
global $wp_rewrite;

Switching themes

Set the theme to: my_theme

update_option('template', 'my_theme');
update_option('stylesheet', 'style.css');
switch_theme('my_theme', 'my_theme');

Activating plugins

Also make sure to check out the wp_options table, and possibly other tables, for the settings you might want to configure for your plugins.

activate_plugin(WP_DIR . '/wp-content/plugins/my-plugin/my-plugin.php');

Adding posts and pages

Both posts and pages can be inserted with the same function: wp_insert_post. For pages you should set the post_type to page.

    'post_type' => 'post',
    'post_title' =>  'Lorem ipsum',
    'post_status' => 'publish',
    'post_content' => 'Lorem ipsum..'