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Trevor Stone's Journal
Those who can, do. The rest hyperlink.
WordPress: URIs Check In, But They Can't Check Out 
10th-Nov-2015 12:06 am
daemon tux hexley
I just spent a bunch of time reading old arguments about whether WordPress should support root-relative URIs to assets and content. It boils down to:
Web developer: Relative URIs would make it much easier to test my site on a different host before I make the changes live.
WordPress developer: Absolute URIs everywhere is better than relative URIs everywhere because there are cases where relative won't work.
Web developer: Yeah, but absolute URIs make testing and migration a pain in the ass.
WordPress developer: Just edit /etc/hosts to think that your live webserver runs on your workstation. Or run a find and replace on the SQL export of your database.

There's also, apparently, config values for base URLs, but just setting those on a site you're trying to migrate apparently doesn't have any effect because the real problem is that WordPress stores internal links as URLs. The proper solution would be for all links to other WP content to be stored as a reference, then turn references into URLs at render time. This, for example, is the approach of every wiki system: [topic] turns into a link to http://example.org/wiki/Topic

Unfortunately, this isn't the sort of problem you realize WordPress has until you've already built a site and need to move it around (like, say, to the production server) and you discover that you've just built your site on a platform that doesn't prioritize release processes. But by then, the cost of rebuilding on some other system is probably much higher than doing something hacky and limping along on a platform with dorky production hygiene.

Update: The handy wp-cli command line utility can do a global search and replace for your host name:
wp search-replace badidea.example.com bettername.example.com
Of course, if you've got a post like "Update your old links; we're no longer badidea.example.com" then it'll say "we're no longer bettername.example.com." But at least this is an automatable process.
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