The DevTeam Alpha News Aggregation service has sourced the following article originally published on WP Engine:

The best plugin manager for WordPress just got even better. WP Engine’s Smart Plugin Manager—the only comprehensive plugin manager for WordPress—now has several new features that make it even easier for site developers to take advantage of the massive plugin ecosystem available for WordPress sites.

Launched in 2019, Smart Plugin Manager takes the headache out of plugin maintenance by automatically checking plugins for updates and then initiating those updates overnight or on a weekly basis, whichever frequency best fits your workflow. The tool also employs machine learning in the form of visual regression testing to ensure all plugin updates are completed successfully, without causing unintended consequences that could result in downtime or lost traffic.

Since its launch, Smart Plugin Manager has safely conducted more than one million plugin updates for WP Engine’s customers—that includes 13 million screenshots, taken for 3,000 customers over the past six months—all of whom are enjoying the latest features of the plugins they already use.

Smart Plugin Manager has also saved countless hours of developer time. With plugin maintenance under control, developers are able to focus their talents on more valuable projects, rather than the weekly, sometimes daily routine that goes into keeping plugins up-to-date.

Based on requested customer feedback, Smart Plugin Manager was updated a few months after it was launched to include new options for individual plugin updates, updated email notifications, and enhanced user controls. After another round of discussions with customers to determine how we could make Smart Plugin Manager even better, we’re excited to announce the release of several new features that provide significant user experience and functionality enhancements, helping you launch faster, and keep your site more secure.

We’re also excited to announce that all WP Engine Premium and Enterprise plans now come with one Smart Plugin Manager license at no extra cost! These licenses are good in perpetuity, for the life of the account, and offer unrestricted access to this powerful plugin management solution.

“Our customers are seeking to differentiate their brands through next-level digital experiences, which increasingly rely upon animation or other types of dynamic content,” said Laura Kelso, VP of Product at WP Engine. ”With the latest features added to Smart Plugin Manager, and specifically our new screenshot engine, we’re able to freeze animation frames, ensuring we are comparing site elements at the exact same moment before and after an update. This yields more accurate test results and much shorter maintenance windows, which is a win-win.”

See below for a full list of all the recent updates to Smart Plugin Manager:

Simplified onboarding experience: We’ve simplified the Smart Plugin Manager onboarding experience with an intuitive guide that walks you through easy steps to quickly connect your sites and configure all your settings.

Weekly update frequency: Now you can configure Smart Plugin Manager so it runs updates weekly rather than daily. This allows updates to better fit the wide variety of maintenance schedules and, for agencies, it allows them to consolidate reporting for their clients.

Bulk settings: With this enhancement, Smart Plugin Manager customers can adjust settings once and have the changes update across multiple sites (e.g., notification preferences, automatic rollbacks, time zones). This translates into a significant user experience improvement and big-time savings, especially for agencies that manage a large number of sites or accounts.

Git-based support: For custom plugins hosted in GitHub, GitLab, or BitBucket, Smart Plugin Manager will update and ensure updates aren’t overwritten, which significantly reduces the DevOps burden (as custom plugin testing can now be automated) and provides additional peace of mind that your updates are exactly the ones that should be there.

Single site settings: The latest version of Smart Plugin Manager gives you the ability to exclude specific site pages or objects from visual regression testing as well as the ability to exclude specific plugins from updating, enabling deeper customization at the page level.

VRT + screenshot engine enhancements: Smart Plugin Manager’s new screenshot image-taking engine speeds up and improves the accuracy of visual regression tests for before and after screenshots. To make it even better, we added logic to freeze screenshots, resulting in more accurate tests for pages with animation.

SEO tag change detection: We made Smart Plugin Manager even smarter across the board, but particularly when it comes to protecting your site’s SEO rankings. Smart Plugin Manager now protects your site’s or page’s SEO rankings by performing “smart” comparisons of SEO tags before and after a plugin update. If material changes to the SEO rankings are detected, the site is automatically rolled back and you are notified.

Learn more about Smart Plugin Manager 

For Premium accounts requiring more than the single Smart Plugin Manager license included with their plan, multi-pack licenses are available for purchase. Smart Plugin Manager is currently available as an add-on for Start Up, Growth, and Scale plan types.

If you’d like to learn more about Smart Plugin Manager or see it in action, make sure and watch “The Future is Now! Using Machine Learning To Automate Plugin Updates + Secure Your Site,” which was presented at WP Engine Summit/2020 by Annan Patel, Senior Manager of Product Management at WP Engine. Click here for access to all of the sessions from Summit/2020.

You can also check out this white paper, which details why keeping plugins up-to-date is so important as well as how Smart Plugin Manager automates this process and makes it easy for you to rest easy, knowing your plugin maintenance is under control.

Interested in other WP Engine add-ons? Check out Global Edge Security, Application Performance Monitoring, and GeoTarget.

Learn more about WP Engine by visiting their website.