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!

VIP Feature: Even Easier Embeds

Did you know that users of the WordPress.com VIP platform can easily add embeds to their posts?

For VIPs, iFrames, Objects and Scripts can be easily inserted into posts using the text editor, no shortcode needed. We protect the embeds behind the scenes, so that users don’t have to worry about inserting unsafe code on their websites.

 

Also, embeds from YouTubeHuluInstagramVimeoBlip.tvCNNMoney videoDaily MotionGist or Rdio can be added in one line. Editors can simply copy the URL in the browser bar while they’re viewing a video or photograph, and paste it into the post editor on its own line. We’ll automatically handle embedding the content.

For more information, visit the embeds documentation page. Have questions about VIP? Don’t hesitate to contact us.

New Liveblog Add-On from WordPress.com VIP

We’re proud of our VIP Clients, many of whom report the latest and most important news as soon as it’s available. It was they who we thought of when we developed the new Liveblog Add-on.

We can’t wait for you to see it in action, either as an author, or a reader! To see what it will look like, take a look at the video we created for the Liveblog Add-on.

Here’s what makes the Liveblog Add-on 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.
  • There’s no need for a separate site dedicated to liveblogging: every post can be a liveblog, even existing ones.

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

If that’s not enough, we’ve also completely open-sourced the Liveblog code for self-hosted WordPress! You can find it in the WordPress.org plugin repository and on github.

Take a closer look:

Thanks to VIPs GigaOM and Local TV for their feedback and contributions during the beta testing phase for the plugin.

Developer Plugin v1.0: Helping WordPress developers develop

One of the great things about developing for WordPress is the number of tools available for developers. WordPress core ships with a bunch of useful features (e.g. WP_DEBUG) with many more built by the community (like our own Rewrite Rules Inspector and VIP Scanner) that make development and debugging a breeze. The hardest part is getting your environment set up just right: knowing what constants to set, what plugins to install, and so on.

That’s why we built-in the Developer plugin. It’s your one-stop resource to optimally configure your development environment by making sure you have all the essential settings and plugins installed and available.

If you’re a WordPress developer, we highly recommend installing this plugin in your development environment. You can download the plugin from the WordPress.org Plugins Directory or directly from your WordPress Dashboard (Plugins > Add New).

Here’s a quick walk-through:

If you’d like to check out the code and contribute, join us on Github; pull requests are more than welcome.

Are there any tools, tips, and tricks that you’re using that we’ve missed? We’d love to add them to the plugin. Let us know in the comments.

Cheezburger Network Open Sources Their WordPress Administration Panel

WordPress.com VIP Cheezburger Network, where you get your daily LOLz from one of their 50 popular sites like I Can Haz Cheezburger? and FAIL Blog, have shared the code of their WordPress theme administration panels.

Called CheezCap, it’s a simple library for easily creating custom admin panels.

Screenshot of CheezCap

Cheezburger Network uses a single shared theme across all their sites. In order to avoid having to create conditionals and other per-blog modifications in their theme, they developed CheezCap. Any of the administrators can update the options controlling the layout, design, colors, etc, without having to dig into the theme code.

When asked what motivates his engineering team to participate in the WordPress community, CTO Scott Porad replied:

I can say without hesitation that WordPress has had a hand in the success of Cheezburger. So, to the extent that we can help other people be successful with WordPress, we’re on board!

What I meant to say is… All aboard the WordPress Express! Choo Choo!

How to Evaluate Your Comment System Needs

We’re always looking for ways to improve your comments and help make your site more social.  If you run an active site, you’ve probably dealt with your fair share of commenting challenges: moderating large queues, filtering spam, and most importantly keeping your community engaged.  These days, there are several commenting solutions available to publishers.  Here’s our perspective on how to choose the one that’s best for you.

How easy is it to use?

Find the good stuff. There are tons of insightful comments that get lost in a sea of white-noise. You can help your readers find valuable comments with a rating mechanism like comment voting to sort the good stuff to the top. Anything that can help you determine the commenter’s reputation and credibility will help you get a quick overview of which comments are worth your time.

Stay organized and involved. Organization makes for better debates. With comment threading your replies will appear in just the right spot instead of at the bottom of a long, long list of comments. Email notifications for new comments and the ability to respond to comments via email, keep your commenters involved and they won’t miss a beat.

Are your comments social?

Know who you’re talking with. When your readers know their fellow commenters, they will automatically become more engaged.  Profiles, avatars, user descriptions, comment history, and Twitter integration makes it easy to get to know one-another.  Here’s an excellent example of a commenter profile.

Lower the barrier to participation. Tie in their existing profiles from WordPress.com, Twitter, or Facebook, so all they have to do is type their comment and hit submit. And it’s all about sharing, so you should also give your commenters a way to share their comments on Twitter and Facebook.

How easy is it to manage?

Moderation, moderation, moderation! A commenting solution with hardcore spam and moderation filters will help you manage your comments easily and keep it all in good order. Different admin privileges are helpful for assigning additional moderators to help manage your account.

Crowdsource it! Give your readers the ability to report abusive comments. Having the option to set filters to automatically remove problematic posts will let your readers help you keep the conversation classy.

Performance is key! Managing high comment volume can be a burden on your servers, especially if your traffic and comments are just starting to take off.  Hosted commenting solutions are a great way to alleviate the pain, so you can focus on more important things like your next post.

We offer a super-charged comment system called IntenseDebate that can be used on any website. We’ve identified and developed loads of features to increase comment activity, along with new ways to efficiently manage your comments. As a hosted commenting solution, IntenseDebate can help you optimize your site’s performance so your servers don’t have to do any heavy lifting when it comes to your comments. The features described above are just a few of the ways IntenseDebate can improve the discussion on your site, and we’re constantly working to bring more features into the mix.

To learn more about IntenseDebate have a look at the video below, check out IntenseDebate.com, or email me at michael@intensedebate.com.

WordPress Resources for Publishers

One of the biggest strengths of WordPress as a publishing platform is the depth of our community of consultants, developers, designers, and hosting providers. It can be tricky to figure out where to find pointers to awesome WordPress partners, so we’ve pulled together this mini-guide for publishers looking for help.

VIP Services: Hosting and Support
From the team that runs WordPress.com, at Automattic, we also offer VIP Services in the form of Hosting and Support. We’ve worked with more hosts than you can imagine, and in our opinion, the companies in our hosting directory represent some of the best and the brightest of the hosting world. If you’re a publisher with significant amounts of monthly traffic, VIP Hosting by WordPress.com is another option for your hosting needs. If you’d prefer to run WordPress on your own servers, but want some extra optimization, streamlining, or security help to future-proof your site for the traffic to come, you’ll want VIP Support.

CodePoet
CodePoet is a shortlist of WordPress consultants brought to you by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. As the world’s largest operator of WordPress blogs (over 16 million and counting), we receive a steady stream of requests from people looking for WordPress savvy web design and software development firms. In response we’ve started CodePoet, a directory of consultants who specialize in building beautiful and efficient WordPress sites.

WordPress for BlackBerry Beta Available Now

The beta version of WordPress for Blackberry, a native application, is now available for download.

Details about the beta and how to get involved in this Open Source project are available on the blackberry.wordpress.org site.

Below is also a quick video overview of the app:

[ Visit blackberry.wordpress.org ]