The Dream Internship: Work at Automattic (Summer 2014)

Our company Automattic — which runs WordPress.com, Akismet, VaultPress, and many other services — is looking for a few stellar summer student interns, specifically to work with us on the WordPress.com VIP team.

WordPress.com VIP provides hosting and support for high-profile, high-traffic WordPress sites, including Time.com, FiveThirtyEight.com, qz.com, TechCrunch.com, Observer.com, GigaOM.com, etc.

We currently have two open (paid) intern positions. You’ll be working on a range of projects depending on your skills and passions, but here’s an overview:

Development Intern: This internship is all about making things. You’ll likely be working on WordPress plugins for large media companies, or working on core WordPress.com features and development.

Communications Intern: This internship is all about improving client communications. You’ll likely be writing case studies, interviews, launch posts and new feature posts for the VIP News site, in addition to helping organize our fall events.

Where will you be working you may ask? Anywhere! We are a distributed company and are happy if you work from wherever you are — as long as you have a good broadband connection. The internship runs 8-10 weeks between June 1st and August 1st, 2014, but we are flexible on the dates.

Interested? Write up a post on your WordPress blog and leave a comment on this post with a link to it telling us what you’ve done and what you’d like to work on — for example, a killer plugin or integration, a feature improvement, a case study, etc. Your comment and link will remain private to the VIP team.

Send in your internship application by May 1st, but the earlier, the better. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and we’ll get back to you!

Extreme Makeover, Data.gov Edition

Earlier this week, Data.gov relaunched with a beautiful new redesign. Behind it is a powerful CMS platform called WordPress. The previous version of the site ran on a mix of Drupal and other proprietary systems, but as Marion Royal points out in a blog post explaining the relaunch, development on the previous version of the site was done behind closed doors. Marion goes on to explain the open source ethos that was put into play with this update of the site:

Now we’re using open source systems, including WordPress and CKAN. Most importantly, the development is public from the beginning on GitHub so you can see how the site came to be, and will continue to grow. We’ve already had significant help from the open source community and look forward to more.

Data.gov is one of the most innovative initiatives inside of the federal government. A talented team of designers and developers are working hard to expose millions of pieces of government data from across the entire government so that citizens, along with government entities, can leverage that data for good. From the Data.gov website:

Data.gov is the home of the US government’s open data. You can find Federal, state and local data, tools, and resources to conduct research, build apps, design data visualizations, and more. The Data.gov team works at the U.S. General Services Administration, but the site itself is open source, and we’d love your help making it even better.

I have personally worked closely with many of the developers who helped to steer this project. I have been continuously impressed by their level of dedication to opening up government data and putting it into the hands of those who want to use it to make America a better place. I expect big things out of this team, and I believe that Data.gov — and other similar initiatives — can help redefine the way citizens view the work that the government does. It’s an exciting time to be working on these issues and I’m very excited to see WordPress at the center of the action in Washington, DC.

Data.gov on GitHub.

New Plugin: Comprehensive Sitemaps

Map of Boston by Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL

We’re excited to announce the availability of a new plugin for WordPress.com VIPs: Comprehensive Sitemaps.

All WordPress.com sites come with XML sitemaps built-in. These files are automatically generated, cached for a 24-hour period, and updated whenever a post is published, updated, or deleted—however, they are also limited to the 1,000 most recent posts.

With Comprehensive Sitemaps, you can now build and serve sitemaps encompassing all of your content, to help give search engines an extra boost when crawling your site. This is done by using sitemap indexes and breaking down the files into years, months, and days. Additional care was taken to optimize the plugin for quick and fast delivery (individual sitemap files are pre-generated), and the plugin smartly handles post changes by updating only the affected sitemap files, so you’re always serving up-to-date content.

The code was originally written by the development team at Metro UK. Here’s what Paul Kevan, a Metro engineer, had to say about the plugin:

The sitemap plugin spawned out of a requirement to maintain our indexing when migrating over from our in-house CMS to WordPress.com. The default plugins only output 1000 posts and considering the Metro site had over 300k posts, we were worried about the indexing drop when we not only moved hosting but also changed the structure of our permalinks.

Three months later, thanks in part to the plugin, we had fully reindexed the whole site in Google with only a few minor problems.

When the VIP team got in touch to discuss open sourcing the plugin, we were only too pleased to say “yes”. The Metro development team is able to be very lean thanks to the services of WP.com VIP and we were conscious that the best way to repay this was contribute back to the community.

We worked closely with Paul and Metro’s development team to get the plugin into a shareable state. Other VIPs like Maker Media and Service Partners like Alley Interactive and 10up also offered to help and contributed code that helped further clean up or optimize the code or introduce new features.

Installing the Plugin

The plugin needs to be installed via your theme code:

wpcom_vip_load_plugin( 'msm-sitemap' );

Setting up Sitemaps

Once you’ve committed the code change to activate the plugin, please open a ticket so that we can generate the sitemap for you. We need to run a one-time process to generate the full archive; it’s rather resource-intensive and something that we can help run in a smooth manner.

Note: if you’re using custom post types and want to include them in the sitemap, you need to explicitly include theme via the msm_sitemap_entry_post_type filter.

Follow Along

You can follow development on Github. If you come across problems, we ask that you first check the issues on Github and if the problem hasn’t already been reported, go ahead and create a new one. There are several fixes and improvements planned; pull requests are welcome and highly encouraged.

A big thank you to Metro UK for contributing this code back to the VIP community!

Map of Boston courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL.

WordPress Powers Health Care Reform

In March 2010, President Barack Obama signed landmark comprehensive health care reform known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and also known as ‘ObamaCare’.

Yesterday, a critical component of the legislation rolled out, giving American consumers the chance to purchase health policies on the open market by joining a pool of other buyers, which legislators and policy analysts believe will ultimately drive down the cost of health care for everyone. In some instances, these exchanges are being run by the states and in other cases, the federal government is administering the marketplace.

We were very excited to see that WordPress is the dominant content management system being used to power these exchange websites and as a result of this powerful platform, yesterday, millions of Americans from coast to coast researched their heath care options and began the open enrollment process.

Here are some great examples of WordPress being put to work behind large, enterprise-level websites who are dealing with complicated data structures, high traffic demands and of course, sensitive security.

Get Covered America

http://www.getcoveredamerica.org/

Get Covered Illinois

http://getcoveredillinois.gov/

HealthSource RI

http://www.healthsourceri.com/

New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange

http://www.nmhix.com/

Connect For Health Colorado

http://connectforhealthco.com/

Hawaiʻi Health Connector

http://www.hawaiihealthconnector.com/

Massachusetts Health Connector

https://bettermahealthconnector.org/

Maryland Health Connection

http://www.marylandhealthconnection.gov/

Hungry for more information? The Kaiser Family Foundation (powered by WordPress.com VIP) has a great resource on their new website. If you’d like to get in touch to find out more about hosting your website on WordPress.com VIP, you can contact us here!

The Liveblog Add-On: Now with Rich Text Editing!

It’s been just over a year since we launched our Liveblog Add-on. It’s been fantastically well-received by our VIPs who have used it to cover a wide variety of events, like Canada.com’s coverage of the Calgary Flames hiring Brian Burke, TechCrunch’s iPhone 5s launch coverage, and today, KDVR’s coverage of the disastrous flooding in Colorado.

Today, we’re very happy to announce that we’ve added rich text editing controls to the Liveblog Add-on. Sometimes known as WYSIWYG, you can now easily add to your liveblog updates with simple text formatting, such as bolds, italics, and links — all by pressing one button. These enhancements are already live and immediately available for our VIP Liveblog Add-on customers.

The new editor looks like this:

WYSIWYG Liveblog Editor

And here’s an image of the new editor in context, as well as highlights of recent Liveblogs from across WordPress.com VIP:

These enhancements were a joint project by WordPress.com VIP and X-Team, our newest Featured Partner.

If you’re new to the Liveblog Add-on and are wondering what makes it special:

  • Post updates right from the front-end of your site (no need to use the /wp-admin dashboard)
  • Viewers of your Liveblog get new entries served to them instantly and automatically, without needing to refresh their browser.
  • Your authors can drag-and-drop photos right into the Liveblog area, without needing to navigate to separate browser tabs or windows.
  • Easily add to your liveblog updates with simple text formatting; bolds, italics, underlines, links, and more.
  • There’s no need for a separate site dedicated to liveblogging: every post can be a liveblog, even existing ones.
  • When your Liveblog is done, it’s archived so your readers can catch up whenever they would like.

If you’re interested in using the Liveblog Add-on as a WordPress.com VIP Hosting client, get in touch!

The White House launches Next.Data.Gov on WordPress

The White House just announced that they are launching a new generation of Data.gov, moving to a WordPress / CKAN based approach with their newest iteration called: Next.Data.Gov. Here’s a quick look at the new site:

Next.Data.Gov

Here’s more from the White House’s blog:

Last week, President Obama talked about the importance of opening government data to the American people, so entrepreneurs and business owners can use those troves of information to create jobs and solve problems that government can’t solve by itself. In remarks last Monday, he noted many examples of the Administration’s progress toward making that happen, saying:

“At Data.gov, you can search through and download more than 75,000 data sets – data on everything from what different hospitals charge for different procedures, to credit card complaints, to weather and climate measurements.”

And:

Scalable and Open Source: Next.Data.Gov was built using new tools. This project tapped into two very active open source projects: WordPress and CKAN. The content and community sections of Next.Data.Gov are powered by WordPress. The data catalog is powered by CKAN.

Building Next.Data.Gov Together: The Next.Data.gov interface launching today is an early peek at the future Data.gov experience. Because many of you depend on Data.gov for critical functions, Data.gov will be maintained in its current form and will remain fully accessible while the Data.gov team continues to iterate and improve upon Next.Data.Gov. Going forward, expect regular design and software updates.

Next.Data.Gov - mid-page screenshot

There is a ton of interesting data (the site notes 75,714 datasets) being ported into this site from across many key government agencies, including the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, whose website is also powered by WordPress. Visitors can also get access to data on education, energy, finance, global development, health, research and safety. As the White House’s blog post notes:

The team studied the usage patterns on Data.gov and found that visitors were hungry for examples of how data are used. The team also noticed many sources, such as tweets and articles outside of Data.gov featuring Federal datasets in action. So Next.Data.gov includes a rich stream that enables each data community to communicate how its datasets are impacting companies and the public.

Similar to NASA’s Data.NASA.gov project, WordPress is instrumental in bringing data closer to the public, and making it useful and beautiful, too.

Want more information about WordPress for government or enterprise sites? Contact WordPress.com VIP Services.

WordPress in Government Workshop

wp-in-government

A few weeks ago in Washington, DC, WordPress.com VIP hosted a half-day workshop focusing on WordPress in Government, which was co-sponsored by our friends at GovLoop.com. The workshop was a huge success and I wanted to take just a few moments to share with you some highlights from the day’s events.

First off, why government? WordPress powers close to 19% of the top 10 million websites on the planet and we’re seeing major growth in all areas. The government sector, from federal to the state level and all the way down to local cities and towns, is experiencing some major technology shifts which have led to big changes in the way average citizens relate to and get information from their government. It’s an exciting time to be a technologist or developer at any level of government and it’s leading to some really interesting opportunities for WordPress, as there’s real interest on the part of government to move towards open source software and the availability of responsive platforms that help deliver on-demand information and government services.

We wanted to showcase some of the innovation that’s happening with WordPress for the government sector, so we hosted a workshop at the District Architecture Center in Washington, DC. We gathered over 115 key technologists and decision makers who work inside and outside of the government to network and to hear some presentations about some innovative things happening with WordPress in government. The attendees represented a big cross-section of agencies and organizations and many discussions centered on what they’re currently doing with WordPress and how they plan to scale their platforms.

We had attendees from:

  • Department of State
  • Peace Corps
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Millennium/Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC)
  • National Cancer Institute
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • US Navy
  • U.S. Postal Service
  • Patent and Trademark Office
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Commerce
  • And more…
  • We’ve gotten some great feedback so far on the content of the event, and over the next few weeks we’ll be posting various presentations from the workshop here on VIP News so that you can learn more what’s happening with WordPress in government.

Here are some of the presentations from the event (we’ll be adding more as they become available):

You can read through some of the tweets and real-time reaction that was taking place through the event on Twitter (see below). #WPGov tweets can be found here, and thanks again to GovLoop.com for partnering with us on the event.

Here are some pictures from the workshop:

If you have any questions about WordPress inside your government agency, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Read more about WordPress in Government.

Now live: WordPress.com VIP Search

WordPress’s standard search features are capable and easy to use, but when you’re developing search-driven web applications with WordPress, you need a tool ready-made for that purpose. That’s why today we’re introducing our new WordPress.com VIP Search add-on, and are excited to debut it as part of the relaunch of the Kaiser Family Foundation here on WordPress.com VIP.

WordPress.com VIP Search is a new premium service for our Cloud Hosting customers that delivers the features and flexibility of the powerful elasticsearch software—all hosted, managed, and supported by the WordPress.com VIP team.

With VIP Search enabled, your search results will be more relevant and timely out of the box—but the real benefit is that developers can leverage this new functionality to deeply customize your search results, including support for faceted search. With faceted search features, your users can filter search results on your sites however you’d like—by type of content, category, tag, author, date ranges, and more.

Give it a try right here on vip.wordpress.com, or check out the beautiful redesign of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s website developed by our partners at Alley Interactive. And if you’d like more info on VIP Search, get in touch!

kaiser-family-foundation-search

Now Hiring: Join the WordPress.com VIP team as a VIP Wrangler!

Automattic is growing, and WordPress.com VIP is growing, too! We’re looking for a few good VIP Wranglers to join our team, and we’d love for you to be a part of what we have planned next.

Through our WordPress.com VIP program, we provide support, hosting, training, and other services to some of the biggest and best WordPress sites on the web. Our VIP Wranglers are responsible for providing support to all of our customers, building and shaping our products, and just generally Making Stuff Go.

On the WordPress.com VIP team, you’ll be a part of a team who has deployed more than 100,000 commits, develops cool products like  Liveblog for WordPress, educates clients and partners through exclusive training, and who gets together several times a year to powwow on our team roadmap and go race car driving.

IMG_1041

Here are some skills that will come in handy for a VIP Wrangler:

  • Advanced proficiency with WordPress. Low-level language or systems experience a plus, but not required.
  • A strong understanding of the Web including HTTP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Must be comfortable working primarily in a customer-facing role, including providing support and training.
  • You enjoy collaborating with other developers, reviewing code, and making recommendations on technique or approach.
  • Great troubleshooting skills. Must be able to take big problems and break them down into manageable pieces with elegant solutions—and importantly, keep our customers apprised of progress throughout.
  • The ability to iterate and ship ideas quickly, with loose (at best) direction.

All jobs at Automattic require:

  • Great communication skills. We’re a distributed team, so frequent and clear written communication is a must.
  • Self-driven work ethic. You need to be a self-starter who loves taking initiative and seeing things through to completion.
  • Curiosity and the desire to learn.Our business is changing and growing fast, who knows what will be the skills of tomorrow? Flexibility is key.

Where in the world are we looking to hire VIP Wranglers? Anywhere! Automattic is a distributed company and that means this job will come to you, wherever you live!

Ready to go VIP? Join our team! If you’d like to be considered for this fulltime position, read more and apply for VIP Wrangler!

WordPress.com VIP at SXSW

Headed to SXSW? We’d love to see you there.

We’ll be co-hosting a party on Sunday night with Sailthru:

logoSailthru and Automattic present
Party for the People
benefiting charity:water
March 10 at 7pm, Stubb’s BBQ
Event Page

Automattic will also be hosting a Happiness Bar at the SXSW Trade Show. Stop by to pick up some swag, chat about WordPress, get technical support, or meet some of our colleagues.

And finally, members from the WordPress.com VIP team will be there! We’d love to catch up with you in person. If you or your colleagues will be at SXSW, be sure to let us know.

See you there!