Hey there, Pro Sites user!

tl;dr version: WP Ultimo aims to achieve the same goal as Pro Sites – allow you to create a network of premium sites – and can serve as a replacement. However, it does things a bit differently from what you might be used to, so it’s important to check that out and this post might help you. Also, we are working on a migration tool and there’s a form below where you can signup to be notified when it’s out.

Introduction

Hey there,
My name is Arindo and I’m the creator of WP Ultimo.

If you clicked the link at the top of our main page, it probably means that you ended up in our site because of the recent announcement WPMUDEV made about setting 90% of their plugins free, including Pro Sites.

We are getting a lot of questions from Pro Sites users and I think it is a good idea to have a centralized place (this post) with the answers.

Let’s get started:

First of all, what is WP Ultimo?

WP Ultimo is a WordPress multisite plugin that allows you to create a network of Premium Sites. Its value proposition is the same as Pro Sites: you can create different subscription tiers and have customers pay you a recurring fee to have a site hosted in your Multisite network.

In fact, WP Ultimo was created after I needed a solution for a premium network I was building and found that Pro Sites didn’t quite work for the specific requirements of my project. Instead of trying to adapt Pro Sites, I decided to build my own solution from scratch.

This was 2.5 years ago and that codebase is now WP Ultimo.

How do WP Ultimo and Pro Sites compare?

There is quite the feature overlap between Pro Sites and WP Ultimo, despite the difference in approach.

The folks at WPMUDEV kept Pro Sites fairly slim, delegating additional features to separate plugins. Although this made sense for them at the time, it increases the overhead immensely since maintaning a lot of tiny plugins can be very, very time-consuming.

We are a small team of four people, so we have opted to reduce overhead as much as possible. As a result, many of the features that needed additional plugins to be installed are available inside WP Ultimo’s core plugin. We delegate to add-ons just the features that only a minor share of our user base will ever need.

Quick Feature comparison (with links for documentation, when available):

  • Blog Templates: Available in WP Ultimo core with a different name, Site Templates – documentation
  • Domain Mapping: Available in WP Ultimo core – documentation
  • Coupons – Available in WP Ultimo core.
  • Setup Fees – Available in WP Ultimo core, you can also set up different setup fees for each plan.
  • Subscription Management – Available in WP Ultimo core – documentation
  • Payment Gateways: WP Ultimo supports PayPal, Stripe and Manual by default, with an add-on to add WooCommerce and WooCommerce Subscriptions as a payment method as well (which basically makes all the WooCommerce gateways available for WP Ultimo use). – documentation.
  • Add Ads to free plans: Available on WP Ultimo via a free add-on called WP Ultimo: Ad Injector – documentation.
  • White-labeling Plugins and Themes: Available on WP Ultimo via our premium add-on called WP Ultimo: Plugin and Theme Manager – documentation.

In which aspects do WP Ultimo and Pro Sites differ?

As I said in a previous topic, WP Ultimo was born out of a specific set of requirements I had for a project of mine. As a result, I made some decisions that make WP Ultimo and Pro Sites extremely different in some points and this might be a deal-breaker for you.

Signing up

Pro Sites keeps most of its signing-up/upgrading/paying stuff on the front-end. This was something I wanted to avoid as much as possible since my customers would have access to the wp-admin panel and I wanted my registration pages to be independent of the theme I was using on the main site.

As a result, WP Ultimo registration page is located outside the front-end, but not really on the back-end. Our sign-up process is also divided into separate steps. Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like, and you can check it live on our demo network.

WP Ultimo using the default Pricing Table layout

Customer Account Management

Our customer account management screens are not located on the front-end, but rather on the back-end. We add a new admin page called Account where the customer can see its Billing History, update credit card info, etc.

Contact Point of a Subscription

Pro Sites attaches the subscription to a site, rather than to the user. This means that each pro site = one subscription, even if they belong to the same user.

WP Ultimo does things differently, attaching the subscription to the user instead.

This means that a user can’t have more than one subscription at the moment (this is something we are planning to add on our 2.X releases). That being said, you can allow multiple sites to be created under a single subscription, varying the number of allowed sites in each plan. Something like the following:

  • Plan A: Free – Allows for 1 site to be created;
  • Plan B: $9,99 – Allows for 3 sites to be created;
  • and so on up to unlimited sites.

Are there things WP Ultimo can do that Pro Sites wasn’t able to do?

In the past two and a half years we added a bunch of cool features to WP Ultimo that makes it really unique. Some of these include:

  • Domain Mapping integration with Managed WordPress hosting providers: WP Ultimo automatically adds mapped domains to the admin panels of WP Engine, Cloudways, cPanel, RunCloud, Closte and more when a new domain is mapped, so you don’t have to do it manually. In some cases, we’ll even trigger SSL certificate fetching for you – documentation.
  • Webhooks: WP Ultimo has a powerful Webhook system that allows you to integrate your network with a number of different services. We even offer direct integration with Zapier, which opens your network to some 1000+ apps and services available in their platform. documentation (webhooks) and documentation (integrating with Zapier).
  • The ability to allow your customers to register custom domains on signup – documentation – Only available via OpenSRS now, but we’ll be adding more resellers in the future.
  • Support for WooCommerce and WooCommerce Subscriptions as payment gateway options – documentation.
  • Create powerful Admin Pages to help your customers using your favorite page builder: WP Ultimo has a handy add-on called Admin Pages Creator, which basically allows you to add fully customized Admin Pages to your customers’ dashboard using Elementor, Beaver Builder, and Brizy templates – documentation.
  • Two different Admin Themes to customize the dashboard experience of your customers: Check Material WP and PRO.

More advanced Stuff:

  • Support to Template Overrides: With WP Ultimo, you can replace the default HTML templates for the signup flow with your own versions without needing to worry about changing core plugin files – documentation.
  • Search and Replace API: You can also annotate site templates with placeholders like {{site_name}} and use the Search and Replace API to auto-populate those placeholders with information provided by your customer right after sign-up, automatically – documentation.

Do you have plans to build a Migrator?

Yes, we are already working on it and WPMUDev offered to help us in this endeavor. Be sure to leave your email on the form below and we’ll let you know as soon as we finish it =)

Additional Resources

Here are some links that might help you get your head around WP Ultimo and make an informed decision about wether our not WP Ultimo is the right tool for your project.

If you still have questions and want to chat with us directly, click here and say hi!

Comments are also open, so feel free to leave your question down below, if you prefer.

We’re here to help =)

Release Notes – WP Ultimo 1.2.1

Hi, everyone. Here are the release notes for version 1.2.1. It addresses some flaws on our previous release and implements some cool new features. Let’s see what’s new:

 

Subscription Filtering

We hope that your network grows and grows and as that happen, the number of subscribers on your service will reach large numbers, making it extremely difficult to find a specific subscription on the current version. Version 1.2.1 addresses that by adding a simple but elegant search input on the Subscriptions page. All the searching is done via ajax, so no page redirects needed!

General Improvements

We revised the whole domain mapping functionality, caching relevant things in order to improve performance. The permissions system was revised to prevent one user that has a subscription from being able to access the Account page of another site he or she was invited to. The site template thumbnail scraper was optimized and is now 50% faster than the previous versions. The bug on the “display on the pricing tables” option in the plan edit page was also fixed.

 

Improvements and changes to the Signup Flow

Template Filtering

The template selection filter now fully supports responsive design, turning into a select box on resolutions under 780px.

Payment Step

After the release of the last version, we discovered that WordPress has some consistency issues with session handling across different environments. That made impossible for us to keep the payment step as a feature since WP Ultimo would try to charge a unlogged user, and there was no way of knowing if the session would be kept and therefore if the gateway redirect would be successful or not.

The “Payment Integration Needed” screen, however, was redesigned to have a look and feel similar to the rest of the signup flow, so that transition now seems much more natural. This new design is being applied to all error screens of WordPress as well.

 

Terms of Use

The Terms of Use of your site also makes use of this new design, offering a much better reading experience to your user compared to the white screen with zero formatting used before. You can also edit your Terms using a full-fledged WordPress text editor.

Rollbacks

Other than the removal of the payment step, as mentioned before, we also had to remove SSO from this version due to unsolved issues. SSO is the part of Domain Mapping that handles cross-domain logins, meaning it is responsible for keeping you logged if you go from networkdomain.com to a mappeddomain.org, on your network. We are still working on a solution for this, but as of now, version 1.2.1 does not contain SSO, so if you go from the network domain to a mapped domain, you might be asked to log in again.

 

Next Steps

As we discussed on the previous release, we are now going to focus on developing new gateway integrations, add-ons and etc. Our top priority is delivering on Plugin and Theme sales on our WP Ultimo: Plugin and Theme Manager, but we will also start to work on other time-consuming integrations such as a Pro Sites Migrator and a WooCommerce integration.

We also changed the design of our documentation site and created a forum for the growing community that is being built around WP Ultimo. Visit our “Say Hello” post and tell us a bit about yourself!

 

Complete Changelog – Version 1.2.1 – 26/05/2017

– Fixed: Template categories sometimes appearing two times;
– Fixed: Not being able to remove items from pricing tables for plans;
– Fixed: Pagination on Subscriptions page take status into consideration now;
– Fixed: Weird redirects when enabling domain mapping;
– Fixed: Mercator error message being displayed even when the enable domain mapping option was deactivated;
– Fixed: WordPress Overwrite options on WP Ultimo Settings – Network not saving properly;
– Fixed: Prefixed the bootstrap classes we use;
– Fixed: Problem with template selection with resolutions under 780px and console messages;
– Fixed: Removed the payment step due to login inconsistency across different environment;
– Improved: Added a new style to the WP Error page to make it more consistent with the rest of the plugin, including the “Payment Required Needed”;
– Improved: Switched screenshot scraper from file_get_contents to cURL for a 50% performance improvement;
– Improved: Added a more robust capabilities system to limit access to the Account page;
– Improved: Custom domain meta box now gives an error if the user tries to input a domain already being used in the network;
– Added: Shortcode wu_plan_link added to be used in custom pricing tables, use with plan_id and plan_freq;
– Added: Template selector turns into a select-box on resolutions under 780px;
– Added: Admins can search subscriptions on the subscriptions List Table – with ajax;
– Added: Terms of Service now can be set using a full-fledged editor, with prettier exhibition on the front-end;
– Issues: Removed SSO temporarily in order to prevent bugs from redirect loops until we can find a solution to the issues we are having with it.