New Embed for Getty Images

Getty Images, one of our Featured Partners, announced today that it is making its library of award-winning professional photographs available for free through a new embed feature. We are very excited to bring this embed to WordPress.com and wanted to make sure that our VIPs are also aware of this awesome new feature.

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As you know, Getty Images is also a Featured Partner and has built a VIP plugin that allows users to license and access images directly from the Editor. Unlike the free embed, this plugin requires a license to Getty Images.

For more information about the new embed feature, check out this post.

If you’d like more information about using this feature, visit our Getty Images embed support page.

Comprehensive Sitemap Plugin Enhancements

Some exciting development work from Michael Blouin, our VIP Intern Code Wrangler. Here’s what he’s been working on: 

A lot of upgrades have gone into Comprehensive Sitemap plugin recently, and here’s what’s new:

More Filters. We now have four new filters that provide a lot of similar functionality as is available on the regular WP.com sitemaps:

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  • `msm_sitemap_namespace` — Customize the namespace declaration for the sitemap during generation
  • `msm_sitemap_skip_post` — Allows a post to be skipped during sitemap generation
  • `msm_sitemap_entry` — Runs for each entry during generation. Allows you to customize every SimpleXMLElement before it is outputted.
  • `msm_sitemap_query_args` — Allows you to customize the WP_Query that is used to fetch the posts to be inserted in the sitemap.

No Sitemaps for Non-Public Blogs. Sitemaps are no longer generated or available on non-public blogs. The cron job itself is killed so it doesn’t suck up any resources and a nice 404 is given when the sitemap is requested. In the administration panel, the main sitemaps options and stats are no longer available when the sitemap is private (see screenshot):

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msmsitemap_changes2Admin Page Name Changed and Code Restructured. There is only one admin page and it lives in Tools->Sitemap. The code for the admin page has been greatly restructured and is now 314% better*.

The admin page now lives in msm_sitemap.php instead of the cron builder, where it didn’t really fit in with the rest of the functions on the block. In addition to fixing a number of translation problems we’ve also made it so that the action buttons and status text are customizable via actions and filters.

The admin page now has the following new filter and action:

  • `msm_sitemap_actions` — Allows actions to be registered for the admin page. This is how the `Generate Sitemaps` buttons and others are generated.
  • `msm_sitemap_action-$action` — This action (not a filter) is called when a pre-registered action is performed by a user. When you register an action via `msm_sitemap_actions` you provide a `$action` slug, which is used to generate the action name to be performed. If your action needs to print out a status message to the user it can use the new `Metro_Sitemap::show_action_message()` helper function.

Additional Stats Tracking. We now track the number of sitemaps that have been generated and the number of URLs indexed in each sitemap. This info is informative and helpful, and we may be able to present it in a pretty infographic in the future.

If you already have Comprehensive Sitemaps running on your blog you will have to regenerate your sitemaps for these new stats to update.

*approximate improvement, results may vary.

Thanks Michael! 

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 them 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.

“VIP Scanner” Plugin Updated with Exports and a Brand New Design

WordPress.com VIP themes and plugins represent over 5 million lines of code, with thousands more committed every day. Since we manually review all of this code, we try to make it as easy as possible for developers to double-check their code against the standards that we look for, streamlining the process for everyone.

Version 0.4 of the VIP Scanner is another step in that direction. We’ve refreshed the interface to make it easier to use: instead of choosing the theme and the type of review you want to run, we’ll automatically show you the results for the current theme. Issues are broken down by severity, with the most pressing issues at the top. And we’ve moved Notes (these are issues that you should be aware of, but are not strictly necessary to fix) to another tab to help reduce clutter.

We’ve also added the ability to export your VIP Scanner results, so you can submit them alongside your theme, to our team for review. We’ll be polishing this a bit more in future iterations, but for now it will simply download a Markdown formatted text file with the details of your review. If you’re using the VIP Theme Review scan, you’ll also be asked a set of standard questions, before you run the export, which will help us understand the thought process involved in building the theme. The answers to these questions will also be included in the export.

As always, pull requests are welcome over on Github.

Introducing: VIP Quickstart

One of the pain points we often see in the development process is getting a development environment set up. Today we’re introducing VIP Quickstart to fix that. The goal of VIP Quickstart is to provide an environment similar to what you would be deploying to on WordPress.com that’s also quick and easy to setup.

VIP Quickstart is a mix of Vagrant, Puppet, Bash scripts, and some PHP code that will help you quickstart your WordPress.com VIP development. The setup installs a base Ubuntu 12.04 box running PHP, Nginx, and MySQL. The WordPress installation will be WordPress multisite from the latest trunk build. It also includes the WordPress Developer plugin along with all the recommended VIP plugins and the VIP Shared Plugins repository. Finally, there are some WordPress.com customizations and WP-CLI.

Updates will be pushed out on Github. You can always make sure you’ve got the latest version of Quickstart by running the VIP init script that’s included. If you’re already familiar with Vagrant, all the built in Vagrant commands will still work as well.

What’s Next

Currently we’re working on a Windows installer that should be available shortly. After that the plan is to add support for PHPMyAdmin along with some other tools. We want to include any tools that make sense for WordPress development in general and VIP specifically, so if you’ve got ideas we’d love to hear them.

In the future, issues involving local development environments will be unsupported unless you’re using Quickstart.

Follow Along

You can follow development on Github. If you come across problems, we’d 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. As always, pull requests are welcome.

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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!

PublishThis and Brow.si Join the VIP Featured Partner Program

We’re excited to welcome the latest partners – PublishThis and Brow.si - to our Featured Partner Program. Since the Partner Program started, we’ve focused on finding smart and innovative technology providers that are building cool tools for our VIPs. With PublishThis and Brow.si, we’re bringing the latest in content marketing and mobile web experience into our WordPress.com VIP platform.

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PublishThis makes curating, discovering and distributing content a breeze. With PublishThis, WordPress.com VIP customers can easily package and share content and even find new ways to monetize existing content.  Learn more >>

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Brow.si is reinventing mobile browsing. It dynamically adds powerful features and functionalities to your WordPress.com VIP site inside the mobile browser that’s designed to deliver a better mobile experience and increase user engagement. Learn more >>

Janrain, Shoplocket, and Storify Join the WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner Program

We’re excited to share the news today that Janrain, Shoplocket, and Storify have all joined our Featured Partner Program. Now nearly 30 partners strong, the Featured Partner Program helps WordPress.com VIP customers work seamlessly with other technology providers to make their WordPress websites best-of-breed.

We’ve worked closely with our friends at Janrain, Shoplocket, and Storify to integrate their services directly into our WordPress.com VIP platform, and provide a one-click activation experience for our users. And because we’ve done deep testing and code reviews on each integration, you get the same level of performance, stability, and security that you’ve come to expect from WordPress.com VIP.

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Janrain Capture provides turnkey user registration and social profile storage through their User Management Platform. With Janrain Capture, WordPress.com VIP customers can collect and store rich social profile data in Janrain’s hosted user profile system and offer a personalized experience on their sites. Learn more »

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ShopLocket is the easiest way to sell products from your WordPress.com VIP website. No storefront to set up and no upfront or monthly fees. With ShopLocket, you can start selling on your WordPress.com VIP site in minutes. Learn more »

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Storify is the best way to collect media from social networks and enrich your blog posts with tweets, YouTube videos, Instagram photos and more. Create live, multimedia social stories that engage your audience. Learn more »

Ad Code Manager v0.4: Easier Configuration for Google AdSense and Doubleclick For Publishers Async

Ad Code Manager is a plugin designed to help you deal with ad codes, those short snippets of Javascript used to display advertisements on your website. Yesterday, Rinat Khaziev of Doejo, Jeremy Felt of 10up, and I released version 0.4.

This release incorporates the following:

  • Streamlined configuration for Doubleclick for Publishers Async and Google AdSense. Check out the configuration guide for more details.
  • Faster, cleaner JavaScript thanks to Jeremy Felt and Carl Danley.
  • New filter ‘acm_output_html_after_tokens_processed’ for rare cases where you might want to filter html after the tokens are processed.

Ad Code Manager v0.4 is already installed on WordPress.com VIP, and available to download for WordPress.org installs. Please report any bugs, feature requests, or questions in the WordPress.org forums. Or fork the plugin on Github and follow our development blog to help with future improvements.

Oscar Night with the WordPress.com VIP Liveblog Plugin

One of my favorite parts of watching live television events is the second screen experience — the running commentary from liveblogs and Twitter that stream onto my phone or laptop.

The staff at National Post were totally on top of this Sunday night, creating an incredible multimedia liveblog experience for The Oscars. Using our Liveblog Plugin, they pulled together a collage of smart (and funny!) commentary, beautiful images, YouTube clips, tweets, and even animated gifs.

We also enjoyed following along Caroline Westbrook’s liveblog on metro.co.uk’s site as she authored an impressive 150 updates over the course of the night  — pulling together a mix of tweets, videos, photos, and updates.

Not familiar with how the WordPress.com VIP Liveblog Plugin works? Take a look at this video. It’s super easy, featuring content insertion from the front-end of the site, and drag-and-drop image uploads.

The Liveblog Add-On is $500 USD per month, with an annual subscription, for VIP SaaS Hosting clients. This includes unlimited liveblogs, and an unlimited number of users visiting, viewing, and receiving updates — all powered by our massive WordPress.com cloud infrastructure. If you’re interested in using the LiveBlog plugin or learning more, please get in touch.