1) We don’t yet have a WordPress theme – how should we get started with WordPress.com VIP Hosting?
If you’re building a theme from scratch, we suggest using the WordPress default themes, Twenty Ten, Twenty Eleven, or Twenty Twelve, as they use the recent APIs, are cleanly coded, and provide a good foundation for your work. You should start your theme as a Child Theme instead of modifying Twenty Ten/Twenty Eleven/Twenty Twelve directly. All WordPress.com public themes are available at https://wpcom-themes.svn.automattic.com/.
2) We already have a theme on a self-hosted WordPress site. Will we be able to use it on VIP Hosting?
Yes, probably! As part of the setup process the VIP team will review your theme for any errors or code that needs to change to make sure it’s a good fit for our environment. We also require the use of GPL-licensed plugins and themes or 100% custom ones. If you’re not sure about what you’re using, just ask!
3) How long does the theme review process take?
Once you have your theme fully built and tested in your local environment, the theme is ready for us to review. We generally need 10-15 business days to do a full theme review. You’ll send it to us in an email as a zipped attachment.
4) Can we use X plugin?
Yes, probably! There are +23k WordPress plugins, and you can use most. We review each plugin to be sure it’s enterprise quality, secure, and will scale with your site’s traffic. Legacy methods of modifying database tables and manipulating the file system are also traits of plugins we try to avoid, and will work with you to use modern approaches such as Custom Post Types and in-memory file manipulations. We also have a bunch of popular plugins already pre-installed and ready for use. If you are interested in using a plugin that isn’t available as a pre-approved VIP plugin, we will review it for stability, performance, and security before it can be used on WordPress.com VIP.
We also recommend using existing WordPress functionality whenever possible instead of a plugin. If you are not sure if a function exists, try a quick search of a descriptive keyword/field name or similar on one of the many WordPress code documentation sites such as http://codex.wordpress.org/, http://phpdoc.wordpress.org/trunk/, http://wpseek.com/, or http://hitchhackerguide.com/function-filter-action-index/
5) Can we use X caching plugin?
You won’t need any caching plugins on WordPress.com VIP Hosting. WordPress.com employs multiple levels of caching automatically. For cases when you are sure that you cannot use a function that contains caching and need to do something that is resource intensive, you should implement some caching yourself using the WordPress cache.
6) How will we access our code?
All WordPress.com code is managed using the Subversion (SVN) revision control system. SVN is the only way to access and update code on VIP Hosting. After your theme has been reviewed, you will be able to use your WordPress.com username and password to access the code for your theme using Subversion. The VIP team will review and handle all deploys for your site, and your developers will get deploy notifications automatically.
7) How does staging work?
VIP clients for the most part have staging servers in-house. A few clients choose to use one of their VIP-package sites as a pre-production site, but any code must be tested and debugged prior and aligned with our coding standards. Think of this pre-production site as a way to test integrations with WordPress.com features that don’t have WordPress.org equivalents (via Jetpack or other plugins).
8) Can we have custom database tables on WordPress.com?
Themes and plugins should use the existing database tables and structure (no alterations). Custom Post Types, Custom Taxonomies, post meta, etc. are incredibly flexible as an alternative to custom database tables.
9) Can we use plugins or code that modify the filesystem?
For security and performance reasons we do not allow plugins or code that write directly to the filesystem. We’ll work with you to modify the code to avoid local file system manipulations.
10) How do we register user accounts?
By default, users registered through VIP-hosted websites are created as WordPress.com users, which means that the millions of users logged in to WordPress.com will also be logged in on your domain, making it easier for them to comment on your site. If you’d like to be able to query user data or create custom registration fields you’ll need to use a 3rd-party registration service.
11) Is WordPress.com VIP running stock WordPress, or are there tons of custom modifications?
WordPress.com is running mainly off core WordPress, but uses some alterations and optimizations which are unique to our large-scale environment, including a lot of very cool features built right in for all users. WordPress.com is constantly evolving, which means that VIP clients often have access to the latest features and WordPress releases well before the rest of the world. Easy-to-use shortcodes and other built-in features replace the need for many custom plugins.
Have a question that’s not answered here? Get in touch.