VIP News

Updates and features about our platform, services, and partners, as well as stories and events from across the enterprise WordPress community.

Preparing Plugins for the New WordPress Editor

Our team is excited to see Gutenberg’s full integration into WordPress on the horizon. Our clients, partners, and colleagues are […]

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Client Spotlight: Civil

Civil is a new platform using the blockchain to support, distribute and protect journalism. Last month, Civil launched its “First […]

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Some Thoughts on The Capital Gazette

Note: The following post was originally written and published for an internal audience here at WordPress.com VIP. Since Annapolis is […]

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June VIP Roundup

There are lots of summer launches across the VIP family to celebrate, including Rolling Stone, Civil‘s First Fleet, and top […]

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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!

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.