The commercial plugin ecosystem is broken and those of us that rely on premium plugins are left working around the myriad licensing platforms and schemes at play, and not all of them are created equal. Some will let you activate your license on multiple domains, some attempt to whitelist known development domains, and others are more limited.

In any case, attempting to manage plugin updates across multiple environments and development machines is a major hassle. It may be a little dramatic to call it “License Key Hell,” but the frustration is real.

Current approaches to working around licensing issues involve:

  • Hoping the vendor’s licensing system supports multiple activations
  • Manually downloading releases and installing them in testing environments before updating production
  • Buying a separate license for each environment

How Crate Can Help

Crate attempts to bypass the licensing issues altogether by turning your WordPress site into a decentralized plugin repository and allowing staging and development sites to install and update plugins directly from the production site.

Every new plugin release is cached as it becomes available, ensuring any version your site ever knows about can be installed on a connecting site. This allows uninstalled updates available on production to be installed in other environments and tested before deploying the new release to production.

The best part is that everything is completely automated. Licenses are activated in production as vendors intended and even if their licensing systems are too limited to provide multi-environment activations, you still receive updates and never have to leave the WordPress admin panel.

Flowchart demonstrating current plugin update flow
Flowchart demonstrating plugin update flow with Crate
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Built by the team at Cedaro, namely Brady Vercher, Brody Vercher, and Luke McDonald. We release quality, open-source tools for WordPress on GitHub and build themes and plugins for bands and musicians at AudioTheme and