June VIP Roundup

There are lots of summer launches across the VIP family to celebrate, including Rolling Stone, Civil‘s First Fleet, and top Venezuelan news site La Patilla. A bigger, better, and bolder WordCamp Europe brought news of the next steps and roadmap for the Gutenberg project. And we released the first building block in our focus on empowering developers on VIP, the VIP CLI.

Read on for June highlights from across the enterprise WordPress community, including a look ahead at must-attend summer and fall events including ONA and WordCamp for Publishers.

June brought one of our favorite events of the year, SRCCON 2018

Gutenberg News and Notes
The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0.

  • There are now 14,000 sites actively using Gutenberg. That’s according to WordPress.com co-founder and Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg, who shared the Gutenberg Roadmap as part of his keynote at WordCamp Europe. Watch the main keynote and Q&A, or read a summary and transcription.
  • As of June 21st, the Gutenberg plugin is at version 3.1, and includes a tips system for new users, improvements to the block sibling inserter, and much more as detailed in Matias’ latest What’s New post.
  • The public version of our Gutenberg Ramp plugin is now available (Lobby post for VIP clients). We created this version for anyone in the community with sites hosted elsewhere who want to take advantage of the same functionality we created for our users on the VIP platform (Lobby post about using Ramp on VIP Go). The plugin allows users to turn Gutenberg on for certain post IDs, page IDs or content text, making it easier to test and activate Gutenberg at your own pace, instead of flipping the switch site-wide in one go. We have lots of additional resources as well, including how-to videos and TestGutenberg.com where you can experiment with the latest version.
  • 10up published the results of a Gutenberg usability test, including heatmaps and verbatims from participants.

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • Earlier this month we released VIP CLI, a new and direct way for developers to interact with their applications hosted on the VIP Go platform. (Lobby post, announcement post)
  • The new automated build and deploy workflow for VIP Go means you no longer have to manually build, commit, and push your code (Lobby post).
  • We profiled agency partner Big Bite Creative in our latest Six Questions With…. Read all about their origin story, their values, and the impressive work they’re doing in enterprise application development using Gutenberg and React Native.
  • Our latest technical integration, LaterPay, is now available as a WordPress plugin (Lobby post).
  • Jetpack 6.2 has been deployed to all VIP Go sites. (Lobby post, announcement post). Jetpack 6.3 beta launched July 5 and is open for user testing (Lobby post).
  • SketchPress is 10up’s new library of WordPress admin interfaces, symbols, and icons aimed at saving designer’s time when wireframing. 10up also created Simple Podcasting, an intuitive and lightweight plugin that includes beta support for Gutenberg. Check out what went down at their annual summit in this video.
  • Alley joined the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) annual meeting to present their work with Freer|Sackler including TMS Connect, which allows museums to synchronize their collections and objects into WordPress, and an Alexa Skill that works with their VoiceWP plugin.
  • Big Bite Creative redeveloped PMC’s recent acquisition Sourcing Journal, integrating Vamp footwear and Rivet denim as well.
  • Siobhan McKeown of Human Made spoke on the Yonder podcast about hiring remote workers.
  • Inpsyde implemented an encryption feature in their plugin BackWPup Pro to make backups GDPR Compliant.
  • Reaktiv Studios wrote a prediction for the future of Gutenberg (tl;dr the ‘Gutenlook’ takes over the world).
  • rtCamp launched leading Venezuelan news site lapatilla.com on VIP this month, as well as helping LaterPay complete their VIP technical integration.
  • XWP launched AMP Plugin Release v1.0-alpha1, which includes “support for core themes, a big update to the compatibility tool and extended Gutenberg support! 🎉”
The Big Bite Creative team in their natural habitat. Read more on Big Bite in our partner profile.

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

It’s hard to be transported to another world when you can still smell the salmon you had for dinner earlier that night.

Jonathan Crowell argues the trick to VR for marketers is creating a truly immersive experience.

One unintentional consequence of the tool is that advertisers will now be able to see what kind of ads their competitors are running.

Facebook released a new feature that allows users to see all active ads a Page is running. Twitter followed suit with its new Ad Transparency Center.

Humans like to test the limits of the technology, to stump it, break it, and get it to do things it wasn’t designed to do.

Nicholas Diakopoulos discussed the potential implications of using AI to help with interviews.

 

Upcoming Events

  • #NABJ18, hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists, goes down Aug. 1-5 in Detroit. This year’s theme is “Driving Journalism, Technology & Trust.” Drawing over 3,000 journalists, media executives, PR professionals, and students, this annual convention is part conference, part job fair and features special events with Tyler Perry, KEM, Tamar Braxton, and more.
  • Tickets are still available for the second annual WordCamp for Publishers, Aug. 8-10 in Chicago. This is a community-run event with organizers volunteering from Alley, Mother Jones, PMC, Dow Jones, iOne Digital, Hand Built, and here at VIP. The sessions listing is now available on the site and there are topics of interest to engineering, product, and editorial teams, with speakers from national media organizations, niche publications, and agencies. Last year’s event produced incredibly useful talks and materials, and this year’s is sure to offer the same.
  • We’re looking forward to seeing you at #ONA18, the Online News Association’s annual conference, Sept. 13-15 in Austin. Look for our booth at the Midway! Our own Steph Yiu will be hosting a Table Talk and speaking with New York Times’ Senior Editor Hamilton Boardman in a session titled “OMGWTFBBQ: Breaking News Without Breaking Your Site.”
  • Press on: Moving Forward Together” is the theme for this year’s Asian American Journalist Association conference, slated for Aug. 8-11 in Houston. #AAJA18 offers workshops with major cable news outlets; a screening of Crazy Rich Asians, and the second annual Story Slam. See the full schedule here.
  • Look out for WordCamps this month in Poland, Spain, Japan, Costa Rica, India, Australia and the US: WordCamp Central has the full schedule. Or for your viewing pleasure at home, the videos from last month’s WordCamp Europe are starting to appear at WordPress.TV.

Six Questions with Big Bite Creative

This post series profiles each of our featured partner agencies.

Big Bite Creative has been a WordPress.com VIP Partner since 2015 and has been building big with WordPress since 2011. They are based in the UK, and work with clients from around the world, like Penske Media Corporation, NewsCorpDMG Media and Metro UK.

What’s your agency’s origin story?

Big Bite was born in 2011 and we decided from day one that we were going to build the agency we wanted to be in the future: no shortcuts, lay the groundwork before we needed it, experiment and embrace what’s new. All three of us — Iain, Jason, and Mark — were working our first jobs in the industry. We were eager, a little naive, learning hard lessons fast, and quickly realizing that there was an opportunity to do things differently.

We wanted Big Bite to be a place where talent and ideas mattered more than background or fancy job titles and in 2012 we got the chance to really put that concept into practice. Our work with Elizabeth Weil, the Corporate Design & Development lead at Twitter, generated the interest of our first international clients like Netazine and a large project for Clicksco allowed us to start hiring new talent. Those new people, from experienced devs and designers to self-taught interns who are now permanent members of the team, kept pushing us onto bigger and better things. Soon a number of our clients were being acquired by Dropbox and we started peaking the interest of some of the biggest names in digital publishing.

As a WordPress.com VIP partner we’re regularly building innovative apps and doing high-traffic site migrations for the likes of DMG Media and Penske Media Corporation. We’ve won awards for our work and business, taken more prolific clients, and are pushing the future of WordPress with things like Gutenberg, but we’re still very much plugged into our local community. We’ve grown in size and grown up, but we’ve managed to keep what makes us unique intact and we’re very proud of that.

Pick three words that describe your agency culture.

  • Curiosity – Many of us started on this road by taking apart computers to see what made them work or by teaching ourselves to code. We decided early on to embrace curiosity and create space within the company for people to experiment, whether that was a fun project for the office, an open-source product for the web, or coming to grips with whatever promised to be the next big thing in our industry. It keeps things interesting, encourages creative thinking, and we can offer our clients work that’s built for the future rather than just being ‘on trend’.
  • Community – The web’s ability to transcend borders is amazing and is the reason a company like ours can have a global reputation without being based in London or San Francisco. But it’s also an ocean where it’s easy to find yourself adrift. We’ve always thought of community as our anchor and that’s only become more important as we’ve grown. We started by attending local industry events, then helped organize a few, and now we sponsor a new wave of them. Our team still collaborate on open source projects within the WordPress community and we’re as happy hosting barbecues for the our local creatives as we are to hop on a flight and share notes with our peers at events like WordCamp US.
  • Agility – Big Bite was never typical. We stayed local when the consensus was that you had to move to a big tech hub. We focussed on developing a small team with a depth of talent rather than mass hiring. We decided to grow slowly and keep control of our own agency in order to adapt to the changing industry. It allows us to think about the future and build for it in a way that a lot of bigger agencies struggle with, but it’s also helped define who we are, as well as the kind of forward-thinking businesses that work with us.

Tell us about a client project you are especially proud of.

We excited to be soon launching an internal news and comms app for one of the largest global financial institutions and their 200,000+ employees around the world. That’s a point of pride for us of course, but most interesting is how we did it.

We built it using the soon-to-arrive Gutenberg. Not only was getting the opportunity to work in an interesting new way a thrill, it allowed us to push what’s possible for a project on that scale and that level of complexity. We regularly deal with extremely high-traffic sites and apps, but this project required developing two apps for Android and iOS in React Native and also exploring building the product as a progressive web app (PWA). PWAs are still relatively new, only being supported by iOS 11.3 onward for example, but are sure to become a more and more important aspect of web development for global organizations in the coming years.

What are you most excited about in the WordPress community right now?

Honestly, just how much it’s grown and evolved. In some ways our story has mirrored WordPress’ in that way. Most of us have been a part of the WordPress community from back before we had our first jobs, before starting Big Bite. The fact that WordPress is increasingly the go-to solution for enterprise on the web is exciting, and a confirmation of our long-held belief in it as a platform. We’ve achieved a lot of firsts with WordPress, but we’re just as excited about what comes next. Our team is already building great things with Gutenberg, for example, and we’re excited to see what happens when the whole world realizes its potential.

What’s your favorite conference or event of the year, and why?

We’ve been attending the various WordCamp events around the world for years now and they never fail to be a fantastic opportunity to share notes, as well as a few drinks, with our peers and colleagues. That sense of community is often an inspiration, but this year’s WordPress.com VIP Workshop in Napa Valley was particularly poignant. Jason and Mark both turned 30 while we were out there. We celebrated with vineyard visits and hot air ballooning, but it was also powerful moment of reflection, looking out across these amazing views while taking stock of everything we’ve achieved both personally and with Big Bite.

Yet some of our favourite events of the year are the least dramatic. Our infamous Big Bite barbecues are informal affairs where friends, colleagues, and everyone from the local creative industries gather, rain or shine, to eat, drink, and relax. It’s rejuvenating and being able to offer that sort of thing for the people in our local community is a point of pride for us, plus it keeps our feet planted firmly on the ground.

(And the sixth: Ask yourself a question and answer it) What will change the way you work most in the near future?

Right now that’s Gutenberg, no question.

We feel like we’ve already begun proving its potential with our recent work, but we know there’s so much more that can be done with it. Our clients are already realizing that embracing something new, especially with all of Gutenberg’s benefits, ensures they’re ready for the future instead of playing catch up. The ability for us to provide clients with blocks means that we can offer them more control over their content. It offers a flexibility that stops changing parameters or requirements derailing projects. It also means that clients don’t have to come back to us for every little change, saving them time and money, while we get to work on the next big thing.

Thank you, Big Bite Creative!

More on Big Bite:

Agency focus and specialties

  • Native Mobile Apps – React Native
  • Progressive Web Apps (PWA) – React
  • API/CLI driven WordPress Migrations
  • Migrations to the new Gutenberg Editor
  • AMP Integration
  • Liveblog Integration

Currently working with: Penske Media Company, NewsCorp, DMG Media, Metro UK

Agency highlights

  • Currently launching a news and comms app for one of the largest financial institutions in the world
  • Won ‘Best Lifestyle, Sports, & Entertainment App’ at the 2017 European Digital Media Awards for soccer news app 11vs11
  • Implementing ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 information security standards
  • Supporting local community events and industry meetups

Welcome LaterPay!

We are excited to announce our latest technical integration, LaterPay! LaterPay offers publishers a frictionless deferred payment approach to monetization that saves users time and increases conversions.

Instead of requiring upfront registration and payment – which derails over 98 percent of all intended purchases – LaterPay defers this process until customer purchases across websites reach a $5 threshold. With this approach, publishers can simultaneously expand existing subscription models, increase their paying customer base, and improve their user experience.

Publishers that integrate LaterPay on their VIP-hosted site can choose from a number of monetization solutions that best suit their needs. For instance, publishers can prompt users to purchase a specific article, timed access to content, or a full subscription. Single purchases and time passes complement the full subscription model by pulling new potential subscribers into the publisher’s ecosystem while generating incremental revenues.

LaterPay’s clients include leading German news site SPIEGEL online, news outlets like PC Games Hardware and KidsGo, and dozens of the top regional newspapers across Germany.

Laterpay CRO Hal Bailey
Laterpay CRO Hal Bailey at the VIP Workshop

At this year’s VIP Workshop in May, LaterPay CRO Hal Bailey shared his view of the current online monetization landscape in a joint session with TechCrunch’s Head of Product Nicole Wilke. Flip through the slides from their Rethinking Revenue presentation.

If you’re interested in using LaterPay, reach out to the VIP team, or fill out the form on the partner page. Installation details for current VIP clients are available in the Lobby post.

WordCamp Europe in Belgrade: bigger, bolder and better than ever

 

More than 2,000 WordPress users, designers, developers and entrepreneurs, from across Europe and beyond, gathered in the Serbian capital, Belgrade last week for what proved to be the biggest WordPress event in history.

WordCamp Europe, now in its sixth year, has become a fixture of the global WordPress calendar. Each event seems a little larger, a little more polished, and a little more mature than the last: and this year was no exception. Few of us knew much about Belgrade before we arrived; but we left with many fond memories of a unique and welcoming city.

With two tracks of uniformly excellent speakers over the two days, plus extended workshops and fringe events, it was impossible to see everything and everyone. But the two sessions which seemed to get most people talking were:

Both subjects represent significant evolutionary changes in what WordPress does, and how it does it. Inevitably, passions have been stirred: but those passions are the fuel which drives WordPress forwards.

I was struck to see both Matt and Alberto wasting no time in acknowledging and addressing the community’s concerns. The audience was left in no doubt about the depth of consideration and planning which has gone into both initiatives.

As in previous years, VIP’s agency and technology partners were highly visible at the event: in addition to those already mentioned, Human Made, 10up, Inpsyde and Yoast were all represented on-stage at various times. VIP has chosen these companies as partners because we believe they are at the top of their game. It’s great to see their talents also being recognised by the speaker selection processes for these events.

The main conference tracks were all live-streamed; and are now being edited for posting on WordPress.TV in due course. If you weren’t at the event – or even if you were! – you’ll be able to catch up on everything you missed on-demand shortly.

In keeping with tradition, the conference’s final act was the announcement of next year’s host city. WordCamp Europe 2019 will take place next June in Berlin: a city known for its creative community, in a country more devoted than most to the principles of the open web. It’s certain to be a great event.

If you can’t wait that long, the next major gathering will be WordCamp US, returning to Nashville, Tennessee in early December. But before then, there are dozens of smaller, local WordCamps happening all around the world: check out the full schedule at central.wordcamp.org.

Thanks to the organisers for the fantastic ‘aftermovie’, embedded above; and our fellow Automattician Clicky Steve for the featured image.

A Command Line Interface (CLI) for your VIP Sites

We’re excited to announce VIP CLI, a new and direct way for developers to interact with applications hosted on VIP.

We’re excited! We’re really looking forward to this CLI tool making our workflows much easier. We’re particularly pleased about the flexibility to adapt data sync to our sites, adding our own custom functionality to clean out our specific production credentials, production options, and change things up.
– Bob Kirkemo, Lead Software Developer with VIP Client
Digital First Media

Control vs power

We’re creating the preeminent platform to empower WordPress developers and accelerate our client’s business. The faster developers can deliver value, the faster the business can differentiate in the market.

The VIP platform allows companies to run sites confidently in the face of remarkable traffic levels while maintaining a strong security posture and remaining performant, all without an in-house Systems and Operations team. Until now, the tradeoff has been that our team has handled the control of your site on your behalf, as well as relaying information as requested.

In contrast, roll-your-own cloud hosting provides a lot of raw power to development teams, but requires dedicating company time and energy to architecting and operating the infrastructure. On a hosting platform designed and operated in-house, everything can be done by your team but everything has to be done by your team.

Power and tools

When we talk to our client developers, they tell us they want more direct ways to work with their sites and applications, and more immediate methods of feedback. They want the best of both worlds: our hands-on support when they need it, and direct access when they don’t. We agree. We are determined to meet our clients’ developers on their own terms, and deliver the access and control they demand while retaining the benefits of a fully managed platform.

When you want direct assistance, we will anticipate it and be there for you. And when you don’t, you should be able to proceed smoothly and without extra steps or encumbrances. We think about the latter as empowerment… and empowerment is a key focus as we develop the VIP Platform and tooling.

Any time we can get something done ourselves rather than fire up a ticket, it saves us time and keeps our team’s heads in what we’re doing. I’m excited to see VIP keeping a focus on enabling us to tackle more tasks ourselves.
– Erick Hitter, Principal Software Developer at VIP Partner Alley

CLI: The first building block

We wanted our first tool to address as broad a range of developer scenarios as possible, and the obvious answer was to build a command line interface (CLI) tool. Many developers are familiar with issuing CLI commands in a terminal, and using those commands to script interactions with WordPress sites via the official WP CLI tool, so we knew we were working with an established paradigm.

This week, we’re proud to release VIP CLI, and the first commands you can run with it, including triggering a data sync to synchronise data from your production environment to non-production environments, facilitating faster debugging and QA. To get started, please read our documentation for installation instructions.

Below you can see a video of the tool in action:

What’s coming

We know that using a CLI tool is not for everyone, so we have a web-based dashboard in the works. Watch this space.

Please get in touch if there’s anything you want to discuss about the VIP developer experience, or anything we can help with.

Jumpstart your Testing and Transition Plans with Gutenberg Ramp

Introducing Gutenberg Ramp, a plugin to help you complete your testing plans ahead of time and transition smoothly to the new editor, code named Gutenberg, coming to WordPress 5.0.

Gutenberg itself is available as an actively developed plugin today, and is at version 3.0.1 currently. You can use Ramp along with the Gutenberg plugin to enable the new editor selectively by post ID (load only for specified posts) and post type (load only for specified post types), rather than all at once. We hope this makes it easier for you to get more hands-on experience in your own code base with all of the great features the Gutenberg project is producing ahead of WordPress 5.0. As always, we recommend you do your testing in a development environment.

Note: VIP Clients will follow a slightly different procedure for using Ramp and Gutenberg on VIP Go. Feel free to reach out to the VIP team if you need help getting it going.

While the Gutenberg editor will at some point become the default editor for WordPress, it is currently available as a plugin, and will continue to be available that way until it is merged in to WordPress 5.0 as part of the core software. To help you with a smooth transition, we plan to keep it in sync with WordPress 5.0, so that Ramp will work on both the plugin version of Gutenberg which you’d be using today and will continue to iterate, and the version that will be merged in to core as part of WordPress 5.0.

This video shows how you can use the UI to selectively enable the new editor:

We developed the initial version of this simple tool to help our clients selectively test their customizations, workflows, and plugins with Gutenberg in their development and production environments, well ahead of Gutenberg’s integration and release. It also allows for a more granular transition to the new editor, so that as specific post types and customizations pass testing, or as teams complete their workflow updates, the new editor can be turned on selectively and persistently.

We added some additional elements to create the public version, including a user interface, to account for a variety of hosting environments where it might be used.

We welcome your reports and proposed contributions via the GitHub repository.

Other helpful links:

Note: VIP Clients will follow a slightly different procedure for using Ramp and Gutenberg on VIP Go. Feel free to reach out to the VIP team if you need help getting it going.

 

May VIP Roundup

There’s been a lot to celebrate in the enterprise WordPress world this month: WordPress celebrated its 15th birthday, Gutenberg introduced its plugin API, AMP for WordPress introduced Native AMP, and we hosted our seventh annual VIP Workshop!

May’s update contains a host of new releases, partner updates, and envy-inducing summer event opportunities. Scroll on down for all that, plus a spotlight on Stand Up To Cancer and exciting news about our participation in WAN-IFRA.

Gutenberg News and Notes
The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0

Gutenberg plugin v3.0 is out as of this week, with a long list of great enhancements including support for child blocks, updates to the block library, and opt-in registration for presentational styles. This followed on v.2.9 which, among other updates, introduced the new Plugin API.

Gutenberg and the Ramp plugin are now available on VIP Go (Lobby post for VIP clients and partners)! The latest Gutenberg plugin is available and defaulted to “off.” It’s easy to selectively enable it with a single line of code added to your theme. Remember that Gutenberg is still in active development and subject to regular updates and changes. We will be releasing a public version of the Ramp plugin shortly.

From our latest partner profile with rtCamp

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • In May, we had the distinct pleasure of hosting clients, partners, special guests, and Automatticians for our seventh annual VIP Workshop in Napa, California. Watch dozens of the sessions including speakers from Airbnb, Google, Cloudinary, the VIP team, our agency partners, and many more on this YouTube playlist. You can also read the recap and flip through many of the decks from the presentations.
  • WordPress 4.9.6 privacy and maintenance release was deployed in late May. This included new tools to support GDPR compliance. (Lobby post, official announcement post, update guide). Jetpack 6.1 privacy and maintenance release also went out in May (Lobby post).
  • Alley had a major presence at the American Alliance of Museum’s MuseumExpo 2018. Tom Harrigan spoke with the Freer Gallery of Art’s Courtney Dawn about using Alexa apps to augment museum collections. Pattie Reaves shared a post on rethinking accessibility for maximum benefit.
  • Peter Wilson from Human Made posted a thorough look at how they overhauled the edit screen for client Fairfax Media from the ground up with the WordPress REST API. Rian Rietveld wrote a piece on best practices for automating accessibility testing during development. Their team also celebrated WordPress’s 15th birthday by adding up their cumulative years of WordPress experience. Any guesses?
  • XWP announced initial support for AMP Native is now available in v0.7 of the AMP for WordPress plugin. Congrats to everyone who contributed to the project! Thierry Miller gave a talk at Google I/O alongside Google’s Albert Medina on building progressive websites in WordPress. Luke Cabris appeared on the WP Bosses podcast.
  • Read the latest edition of Six Questions, our partner profile series, to learn how rtCamp is strengthening WordPress training in educational institutions, part of a virtuous cycle that will keep the enterprise ecosystem strong. And check out their brand new office.
  • Trew Knowledge just released version 2 of its GDPR plugin, which helps a Controller, Data Processor, and Data Protection Officer (DPO) with compliance. It’s reached over 100,000 downloads and is now available in 11 languages.
  • 10Up is conducting a usability study for professional writers with Gutenberg. Their New Relic for WordPress plugin added support for the REST API. Anthony Garand contributed a bug fix for lazy loading to Jetpack 6.1. In the spirit of data privacy, they updated the popular Restricted Site Access plugin with more granular site security permissions. And in July, CEO John Eckman is speaking about CMS for higher education at WP Campus 2018 in St. Louis.
  • The Inpsyde team is growing. This month they welcomed two new employees, project manager Rich Winterstetter and developer Cristiano Baptista, and also released BackWPup 3.5 with the long-desired restore feature.
  • Communication Arts featured Hello Design’s work on the new Tillamook Cheese website, which shows how their famous cheese sauce comes together.
  • Skyword v.2.4.5 became available in May, adding integration with Co-Authors Plus and other enhancements(Lobby post).
  • Playbuzz v.1.1 is now available, including shortcode support and bug fixes. For information on updating, check out the Lobby post.
  • Apester v.2.1 is available, which brings functional and performance enhancements(Lobby post).

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“How important is privacy to the on-line community?”

This Wall Street Journal time capsule from 1996 shows we’ve been grappling with the same privacy questions for over 20 years. And that ‘online’ used to have a hyphen.

“Ad exchanges used by many news sites reportedly saw an immediate drop in demand of between 25 and 40 percent.”

The Columbia Journalism Review analyzed the initial effects of GDPR on publishers.

“Cameron, for example, a musician and video game enthusiast, put it succinctly when he suggested that “news should come looking for me, I shouldn’t go looking for it.”

Nieman Lab published a story on recent research studying the information intake behavior of so-called news avoiders.

Launch Spotlight: Stand Up To Cancer

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C’s) mission is to raise funds to accelerate the pace of groundbreaking translational research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C brings together the best and the brightest researchers and mandates collaboration among the cancer community. By galvanizing the entertainment industry, SU2C has set out to generate awareness, educate the public on cancer prevention, and help more people diagnosed with cancer become long-term survivors. All of us across Automattic are particularly proud to power SU2C’s digital platform in their pursuit of scientific breakthroughs.

Upcoming Events

  • We are proud to participate this week as a lead sponsor in The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)’s World News Media Congress in Cascais, Portugal. WAN-IFRA’s 80 member publisher associations represent 18,000 publications in 120 countries. VIP recently joined WAN-IFRA as members and we’re excited to partner with an organization passionate about media freedom and a sustainable news industry.
  • Next week, we will be in Boston to attend and support Forward, the brand storytelling conference hosted by VIP partner Skyword. Keynotes include author and entrepreneur Westley “Wes” Atendi Omari Moore; comic book author and artist Lynda Barry; CMO of Eastern Bank, Paul Alexander; and Storynomics founder Paul McKee.
  • WordCamp Europe is almost here! This year it goes down June 14-16 in Belgrade. Lots of folks from across the VIP family are contributing as speakers and organizers, including folks from Human Made, 10up, and XWP in addition to a strong showing from across Automattic. Check out #WCEU to follow along.
  • SRCCon takes place June 28-29 in Minneapolis, and they just released round two of tickets. Now in its fifth year, SRCCon attracts an eclectic mix of over 300 journalists, technologists, newsroom leaders, and others working to change journalism for the better. We’re thrilled to support it and think you should jump on those tickets.
  • The second annual WordCamp for Publishers will be August 8-10, 2018 at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago. Tickets are still available, and if you haven’t bought one yet, watch the videos from last year and you will see why this is such a special event. Applications for travel scholarships opened this week, and close June 15. If you know someone early in their career or who doesn’t have the means to get there, encourage them to apply!

Six Questions with rtCamp

This post series profiles each of our featured partner agencies.

rtCamp has been a WordPress.com VIP Partner since 2016 and has been building big with WordPress since 2009. They are based in India, with a subsidiary in the US, but work with clients from around the world, like HCL, PMC, NewsUK and IndianExpress.

Some rtCampers at WordCamp Pune 2017

What’s your agency’s origin story?

The idea of rtCamp was conceived in 2006. It all started with blogging; Rahul (rtCamp’s founder) loves writing.

In 2007, Rahul came across WordPress and immediately fell in love with both the software and the community. The line soon blurred between writing articles and writing code. After all, “Code is Poetry!”.

Rahul’s first blog, Devil’s Workshop, grew over the next few years into one of India’s top blog networks. The blog had full time authors, editors and more than hundred guest bloggers working through a transparent revenue sharing model.

When the ripples of the 2008 recession hit India, Rahul started teaching WordPress to friends in need of jobs and finding freelancing gigs for the entire group. The idea took off and rtCamp was formally incorporated in 2009.

The objective of rtCamp, from the start, was to build a sustainable business that pursued excellence and put its people above all other things in open source technologies. We believe strongly in the quality we deliver. Our challenge though, that persists even today, is grappling with the perception of cheap labour and bad quality associated with the region.

Fortunately, rtCamp has been growing at a steady pace since 2009. We currently have a team of over 60 rtCampers, a substantial part of which is working remotely at any given time.

We are proud to be able to work with some of the largest brands in publishing, ecommerce and in the startup space, with clients from every continent (except Antarctica 🐧)

“Good Work by Good People” – rtCamp summarized in one line!

Pick three words that describe your agency culture.

  • Excellence– With everything we do, we are constantly challenging ourselves to find new and better ways to do it. We believe perfection is endless journey and no matter how well you do it now, you will find something to improve later.
  • Equality– “rt” in rtCamp stands for “Round Table.” This philosophy of treating everyone with dignity, respect and equality is echoed in everything from our hiring process, to HR policies and team events.
  • Good Karma– We believe in the clichéd power of doing good in every situation. One of the practical ways we do this is by putting our employees’ and clients’ interests above all else.
“Can you do it better?” – a simple question reminds goes long way in delivering excellence!

Tell us about a client project you are especially proud of.

We have two projects we’d love to share.

One of our earliest projects was migrating multiple sites for Geometric Global, now part of HCL, from Microsoft Sharepoint to a WordPress multisite and multilingual setup. We are especially proud of this project because it involved guiding a large enterprise to an open source platform, and it was way back in 2012!

Another milestone was the optimization and development of Vanguard Nigeria – one of biggest news site in Nigeria. We were drawn to this project because of the challenge involved with delivering a stable publishing solution for a large scale traffic within the constraints of technology infrastructure available in Nigeria such as very low Internet speed and majority of traffic flowing through Opera Mini. To us, Vanguard is great example of the democratization of publishing.

What are you most excited about in the WordPress community right now?

Being a company that is so closely tied to WordPress, we also find it hard not be excited for Gutenberg. The sheer scale and ambition of the project is a humbling reminder of the amazing WordPress community that we are a part of. We are actively involved in Gutenberg through our fields middleware project, educating users through 1-on-1 calls and moving our own website to Gutenberg.

Above all, we are really excited about the efforts of the local and international WordPress community in education. We are particularly pumped that students get to experience the amazing values that WordPress and the open source software movement at large stands for – inclusivity, transparency, collaboration.

Over the past couple of years, rtCamp has been working with our local university and institutions to introduce WordPress and other FOSS (free and open-source software) into the curriculum of engineering students degree program.

What’s your favorite conference or event of the year, and why?

Though we participate in events around the world, some of the most exciting developments are happening in the smaller events closer to home. For example, we were recently part of a FOSS meetup in a large university in our city. There were about 300 students from around the state, eager to learn more about how they can make a career in WordPress and open-source technologies. We love being a part of smaller, more student-focused events like these.

Our team also really looks forward to a few WordCamps. Over the years, we have met and built relationships with several WordCamp US and WordCamp Europe attendees. We also have some great memories being a part of WordCamp Mumbai and WordCamp Bangkok. Each of these events have given us the opportunity to interact with people from all types of backgrounds, skill sets and cultures.

rtShirt – rtCamp T-shirt

Ask yourself a last question, and then answer it: What do you look to do over the coming year?

Even though WordPress is now used by 30% of the web, we feel that it is still underrepresented within large enterprises. So we are working on some engineering and marketing initiatives to increase WordPress adoption.

More specifically, we’re focusing efforts on promoting WordPress training within educational institutions. We believe this will be a virtuous circle with WordPress adoption in enterprise: greater demand for WordPress will mean increased need for talented engineers, and increased availability of talented engineers will make it easier for enterprises to adopt WordPress.

The way we say it internally – it’s “WordPress in Education and Enterprises” year!

Thank you, rtCamp team!

More on rtCamp:

Agency focus and specialties

  • Discovery and Strategy
  • Content Migration
  • Custom Publishing Workflow
  • User Experience
  • API integrations
  • WooCommerce Specialist
  • Code Review

Currently working with: NewsUK, HCL, PMC, Vanguard, The Indian Express, Rotimatic, NJ Advance Media, Isha

Agency highlights

  • WordPress Solutions for Publishers and Marketing teams
  • WordPress Core Contributions
  • eCommerce – mostly using WooCommerce
  • Staff Augmentation and Training
  • Spreading WordPress in Education

Highlights from the 2018 VIP Workshop

“There’s no path ahead of me, but behind me I can make a path.”

-Kōtarō Takamura

Last week we at VIP had the distinct pleasure of hosting clients, partners, special guests, and Automatticians from across the company for our seventh annual VIP Workshop. It’s a few days spent focused on connecting with each other and sharing the work we do, with WordPress at the center and the heart.

The quote kicking off this post came from advice given to VIP CEO Nick Gernert. It relates to the challenges and triumphs of the enterprise WordPress community, and the way that the necessary work of breaking new ground so often opens up new pathways for many others to follow.

If there’s one theme at the heart of so many of the talks, and the conversations they sparked, it was the importance of keeping the pursuit of real connection at the center of your strategies and plans. For anyone who has spent any amount of time in the WordPress community, that’s not at all surprising and serves as a reminder of the path we make.

If you weren’t able to join us, you can watch video from over a dozen of the sessions on this YouTube playlist, and flip through many of the decks from the presentations on the Workshop site.

Whether it was your first time or your seventh time participating in the VIP Workshop, thank you for joining us! Special thanks to all of the speakers who shared broad overviews, deep dives, case studies, flash talks, best practices, and so much more with us. Their experience, insights, and hard work, combined with an outstanding roster of clients, partners, and others in the community is what makes this event magical.

If you want to know what VIP and this community is up to on a regular basis, follow our Monthly Roundups on VIP News, and please contribute to them so that we can all stay connected. Drop us a note to tell us about you and your team’s latest big releases and small victories.

April VIP Roundup

When you scroll through the list of updates from April, the projects, tools, and releases just keep coming. To highlight just a handful, there’s Gutenberg development and prep work in progress all over including at rtCamp and 10up, Alley‘s new feature rollouts for Kaiser Family Foundation, a new plugin from Human Made, and big updates to our Liveblog and Co-Authors Plus plugins.

We also cheered VIP client Explore Parts Unknown for taking home a Webby in a category near and dear to our hearts, Website Best Practices. And we welcomed Yoast as an official VIP technical integration. Read on for all of this and lots more.

Chris Scott introduces BigWP NYC at USA Today’s NY offices

Gutenberg News and Notes
The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0

  • As we have shared in previous updates, we’re developing a plugin to help make it easy to test and implement Gutenberg at the Page and Post level, and so that teams can plan their own smooth transitions. We’ll have more to share on that soon!
  • We’ve released a second round of educational videos at Vipgutenberg.com, covering hands-on topics like converting shortcodes and ACF fields to blocks, and access control. These are free and available for everyone. Get the full details including a list of topics in this week’s spotlight, further down in this post.
  • As one of our BigWP flash talks, Andrew Fleming from the Dow Jones Media Group shared the story of how their publication Moneyish is approaching the transition to Gutenberg. You can view a highlight now, and the full video of Andrew’s talk is coming soon.
  • You can share the Gutenberg content creation experience with colleagues easily by sending them to our Testgutenberg.com site, which has been updated with the latest version of the plugin.
  • rtCamp has been focusing on all things Gutenberg over this month: They formally released their Fields Middleware project that makes registering fields for Gutenberg blocks less repetitive (GitHub here). They wrote about their experience of moving their website to Gutenberg. And Daniel Bachhuber gave a technical introduction for the WordPress community in North Jersey.
  • Daniel Bachhuber has also been extremely active in the community in helping collect and curate plugin readiness research and leading the development of a migration guide. If you’re interested in either of these initiatives, jump in and help.
  • Special thanks also to 10up for their work identifying and addressing plugin compatibility issues.
  • Keep up with everything having to do with Gutenberg at VIP and a list of helpful resources in this regularly updated doc.

News and Releases
Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • Exciting updates on VIP plugins Liveblog and Co-Authors Plus! Both released updates this month, version 1.8 and 3.3 respectively. Liveblog introduced media library integration and enhancements to the editor interface, which VIP clients can read more about on this Lobby post. Co-Authors Plus v3.3 establishes a new foundation for development, reflecting months of work from 30 contributors across VIP, our clients, and partners (Lobby post).
  • We shared an update on our plans and preparations for implementing the GDPR‘s principles in this helpful Lobby post.
  • We’re thrilled to welcome SEO household name Yoast as an official VIP technical integration.
  • WordPress 4.9.5 security and maintenance release came out on April 3 (Announcement post, Lobby post for VIP clients.) Version 4.9.6, focusing on privacy and personal data tools in support of GDPR, is already in beta.
  • Jetpack 6.0 was deployed to VIP Go (Announcement, Lobby), bringing new privacy-related tools and settings among other enhancements.
  • PHP 7.2 was rolled out across VIP Go in early April as well (Lobby post.)
  • Watch highlights from April’s excellent BigWP NYC talks in this playlist. In addition to Andrew’s mentioned above, we had Paul Schreiber from FiveThirtyEight on the importance of U2F security keys, Bradford Campeau-Laurion from Alley with a proof of concept for using WP_Query to source remote data on the Hachette Book Group project, and Kevin Langley from Human Made with highlights from the Fairfax Media case study.
  • We couldn’t be more proud of VIP client Explore Parts Unknown for their Webby win! They took home the People’s Voice award in Website Best Practices, defined as “an industry benchmark for the most current, innovative, and advanced practices in web development.” Kudos to the team at ANML for the beautiful design.
  • Go in depth with XWP in the latest edition of our partner profile series, Six Questions. XWP is currently recruiting beta testers for the next release of the WordPress AMP plugin.
  • 10Up released ElasticPress 2.5 with a new faceting widget to make it easy to filter content and support Elasticsearch 6.2. Their popular container-based environment, WP Local Docker, now bundles WP Snapshots for really streamlined team-based development; they also added some detailed tutorials to make it even easier. Pete Nelson shared his slides and code tests from a talk on custom roles and capabilities for publishers, including tips for Gutenberg.
  • rtCamp’s Joel Abreo conducted a session titled “WordPress: An Overview of the Ecosystem & Opportunities” as part of FOSSMeet 2018, a two-day conference at the College of Engineering in their home city of Pune.
  • Alley launched two new features for the Kaiser Family Foundation last month, both hosted on VIP. The KFF State Data tool now allows users to create, share and download Custom Data Reports, whilst Pre$cription For Power is a searchable database allowing people to investigate the relationships between patient advocacy groups and Big Pharma.
  • The latest “Inside Inpsyde” features Tobias Zimpel on the challenges of remote work.
  • Human Made built a new plugin for SquareOffs, a social voting poll that helps publishers receive direct feedback from their audiences.
  • Aaron Jorbin created Cafe.com/100 in 2.5 days thanks in large part to open-sourced code from Human Made and Alley. The CAFE 100 is a group of one hundred change-makers taking action to address some of the most pressing problems in America and around the world.
  • Hello Design was nominated for a Webby for their work on the Electric Daisy Carnival event app.
  • Chris Ford of Reaktiv Studios joined the OfficeHours.FM podcast to share how she uses automation tools to save time on web development projects.
  • Trew Knowledge cooked up a fresh UX design for Chef’s Plate, an eco-friendly Canadian meal kit delivery service.

Media and Marketing Notes
Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“For news organizations, the GDPR may actually prompt a return to first principles, where a focus on quality content beats adapting to the latest social media algorithm.”

Susan McGregor, Assistant Professor at Columbia School of Journalism and Assistant Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, in a Columbia Journalism Review article summarizing a report on the impact of Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation.

“Accessibility should be as important to your ongoing practice as good writing and content.”

Robert Stein, EVP and Chief Program Officer, American Alliance of Museums, at Museums and the Web 2018 in Vancouver. He spoke alongside Seema Rao, principal, Brilliant Creative Studio, in a talk titled, “To Journey In Twitter Canoes: Methods To Understand The Mechanisms And Meaning In Twitter Conversations.

“My numbers are lower, but in the long run more meaningful (interaction, retention rates/dwell times, uniques and so on).”

Esra Dogramaci, Senior Editor, Digital at Deutsche Welle, in ‘Metrics that matter,’ notes from her talk at the International Journalism Festival.

Spotlight: Gutenberg educational videos

We asked some of the biggest enterprise users of WordPress what they most wanted to know about the new Gutenberg editor. These videos, which include both overview and hands-on material, are the result. The topics listed below are available for anyone to view, whether or not you’re a VIP client. Register for free and watch them at www.vipgutenberg.com

Converting Custom Content to Gutenberg

  • Shortcodes to Blocks
  • ACF Fields to Blocks
  • CMB2 to Blocks

Access Control & User Permissions

  • Controlling access to blocks
  • Controlling access to blocks based on user roles
  • Creating Block Templates
  • Applying User Roles to Block Templates

There are additional videos available on the site as well, which will appear automatically for VIP clients.

Upcoming Events
We can’t wait to see many of your at our favorite event of the year, WordPress VIP Workshop, May 14-17 in Napa Valley, California! Joining the keynote and session leads, our recently announced line up of Flashtalks feature agency partners Dekode, Alley Interactive, 10up, rtCamp, and XWP on topics ranging from AMP to IoT. Take a look at the complete session list for more details. Attendees, look out for an email with travel instructions and make sure you’ve accepted the invite to our Slack channel to get this party started.

  • We are excited to participate in Brand Marketing Summit as a silver sponsor, May 30-31 in San Francisco. Designed to create the Chief Marketing Officer of the future, tracks include the science of storytelling, personalizing customer journeys and the next generation of social media. It’s not too late to register, and VIP clients and friends can use this discount code: VIP300
  • We hope to see you in Boston for Forward, the annual brand storytelling conference from technical partner Skyword, June 14 in Boston. Forward is adding an optional “Storynomics” seminar this year taught by Robert McKee, whose former students include 63 Academy Award winners (and Jimmy Fallon).
  • WordCamp Europe is just around the corner, June 14-16 in Belgrade. Our own Simon Dickson will be reprising his role as MC, and the schedule of speakers is chock full of folks from across the VIP extended family. Organizers recently released a fresh batch of tickets. They also compiled these tips for a night out on the town in Belgrade, in case you like to plan ahead.
  • SRCCon returns for its fifth year, this time in Minneapolis June 28-29. VIP is thrilled to sponsor and we always seek to send as many folks as we can to this event, which attracts over 300 journalism-technologists, newsroom leaders, and others working to change journalism for the better. Sound like your people? Here’s more about how to attend.
  • We are excited to support ONA Insights: Revenue and Engagement, a one-day deep dive into audience engagement for digital journalists, newsroom leaders, managers, executives and entrepreneurs. It all goes down in Toronto on May 11 at the Globe and Mail Headquarters.

Ready to get started?

Drop us a note.

No matter where you are in the planning process, we’re happy to help, and we’re actual humans here on the other side of the form. 👋 We’re here to discuss your challenges and plans, evaluate your existing resources or a potential partner, or even make some initial recommendations. And, of course, we’re here to help any time you’re in the market for some robust WordPress awesomeness.