VIP News

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

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.

Six Questions with XWP

This post series profiles each of our featured partner agencies.

XWP has been a WordPress.com VIP Partner since 2013 and have been building big with WordPress since 2009. Their earliest at-scale WordPress gig was a 50 brand migration with Rogers Media, followed by 9 more years of leading the industry.

XWP team at work

What’s your agency’s origin story?

In the beginning there was XHTMLized…

Some companies are born in a moment, and others emerge over time. XWP is one of the latter. Part of the X Company family, we started as the WordPress team within X-Team, one of our sister companies. 2014 was when we officially spun into our own company with our first major project being the high-stakes migration of 15 News Corp Australia properties to WordPress. This project set the standard for the type of work we would pursue and excel at over the next 4 years: complex, business-centric engineering for high-traffic websites. The News Corp Australia project also established something fundamental to who we are now as a group of people: a team committed to contributing to the Open Web and the Open Source Community. Translating the work we do with clients back in to WordPress was something kicked off with News Corp Australia, and has been something we have brought to every project and client relationship since.

Today, we continue to adhere to the characteristics of our earliest projects. We take on projects that are complex, interesting, and reciprocally valuable to the WordPress ecosystem. Our remote team has grown from the original 8 to 45 and now covers 14 different countries across 6 continents.

Pick three words that describe your agency culture.

  • People (are of the Highest Value): We treat them with care, respect, and generosity, always.
  • Visionary: We believe in the Open Web and its undeniable value to humanity. We work to ensure it has the strongest possible future and look for opportunities to break new ground on open source projects.
  • Best Practices: We champion development best practices in the community and bring this commitment to our clients and projects.

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

We’ve been incredibly fortunate to work on some very cool projects with some very cool companies. One recent project that stands out was a front-end performance engagement we did with Heavy.com. Our engineers were given the ultimate brief: “Make it blazing fast!”. The team seriously went to the next level in diagnosing, building, and testing and have achieved results on low-speed devices/connections that the majority in the industry didn’t think was even possible. It was very fun to see this project unfold and very rewarding to hear of the impact it’s made on the client’s business.

Our partnership with Google is also worth mentioning. We’ve worked with them on a couple of projects, including the Coding Standards project Tide. More recently we’ve worked with them on AMP and its intersection with WordPress. Not only are we bringing the latest of AMP to the WordPress plugin, but we’ve been able to technically contribute directly to the AMP Project, engage and educate the WordPress community on AMP, and even present on the work at this years AMPConf.

XWP Engineer Thierry Muller sharing on the AMP Plugin at AMPConf 2018 in Amsterdam.

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

We shared this question with the whole team. 🙂 Their responses can be best summarised under: Gutenberg, Tide (Coding Standards), and the impact of Design.

  • Gutenberg: I dare anyone to suggest Gutenberg is not the biggest deal in WordPress this year. Its impact seeps through every layer of WordPress. It will change the editing experience for all, small blogs to big media. It will change how developers, of themes and plugins, architect their work. It will change transform the entire site building experience for WordPress users in years to come. It’s bold, ambitious, and convinces us that WordPress has an important role to play in the Open Web for next 15 years of its life.
  • Tide (Coding Standards): Coding best practices have alway been a core part of who we are. We’re excited that code quality, and general coding standards, is receiving even more attention by the community. Our contribution through this with Tide reflects the importance we place on this and our commitment to helping the community in this area.
  • Impact of Design: Over the last year we have deepened our appreciation for UX and design-led projects. The understanding of the user experience and allowing it to influence product development is something we believe is really going to unlock the potential of WordPress even further. It’s been inspiring to see these kind of practices in those working on WordPress Core.

We’ve been seeing amazing work from the team tackling Gutenberg, design support for major Core focused initiatives, and organizational changes for how design and development can work together. – Joshua Wold

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

This is a great question and the responses from the team have been interesting. The big theme though is something along the lines of “whatever event is next”. This sounds a lot like a cop-out answer, but the reason is we are a remote company and there are only a couple of cases where 2 or more people live and work in the same city. Events for us represent opportunities to get together and get some face time with friends. Connecting with the open source community IRL is fantastic as well, but time together with colleagues is something we enjoy finding excuses for.

With that said, we are big fans of LoopConf, with its deep dive focus on engineering, and WordCamp for Publishers, launched just last year, with its focus on an industry we work closely with.

(And the sixth: Ask yourself a question and answer it) What does “building a better web” practically look like?

Our company call-to-arms is “Let’s build a better web”. It’s unpacked further in the statement “We work for a future where the open web is more performant, secure, reliable, and accessible.

The application of this could be as simple as that when we work for our clients, we adhere to best practices and ensure we build the best possible version of what can be built. We do do this, but “building a better web” is even more than that. Just as we go deep on the work we do for clients and partners, we look for opportunities to go wide and influence the standard of the whole internet. If we can improve that standard by even a small percentage, how many lives and businesses will be positively impacted. Two current examples of this kind of work are Tide and our work on the AMP project. Tide will help improve the quality of code across the entire WordPress ecosystem (that’s 30% of the web) and AMP represents a widely used standards based technology.

Building a better web means adhering to best practices ourselves and lowering the barrier of entry to best practices for everyone else.

Thank you, XWP Team!

More on XWP:

Agency focus and specialties

  • Experience with largest enterprise-level platform migrations to WordPress
  • Collaborative and caring approach
  • Custom workflow development
  • Enterprise-level engineering
  • Code audits
  • Developer training
  • Ongoing support

Currently working with: NewsCorp Australia, Heavy, Rogers, Fairfax Media, Google, Beachbody, Rolling Stone, Automattic, Variety

Agency highlights

  • WordPress Core Lead Developers and Project Leads
  • Specialists in complex, at-scale, never-been-done-before WordPress engineering
  • Lead advocates on the WordPress Coding Standards Project
  • Contributors to the AMP project

Free Gutenberg How-To Videos

In our last Gutenberg update, we shared our high level recommendations to help enterprise WordPress users fully embrace the block while planning for WordPress 5.0 and the new Gutenberg editor. That included an initial set of Gutenberg educational videos we’ve developed exclusively for VIP clients and their teams.

Today we’re releasing a second set of videos that are available for anyone to use. These are aimed at helping you convert current customizations including things like ACF codes and shortcodes, and build block templates to get your sites running Gutenberg well before WordPress 5.0 ships.

Register for free and watch them at: https://vipgutenberg.com

Here are the topics covered in the new videos:

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

These videos are the culmination of weeks of research with our clients. VIP went to some of the biggest enterprise users of WordPress and asked “What are your questions about Gutenberg? What do you loath to explore about the new editor?” Their answers drove a curriculum exploring how to convert custom content to Gutenberg and access control with user permissions.

As we mentioned in our previous update, we’re also developing a plugin to help make it easy to test and implement Gutenberg at the Page and Post level. We’ll have updates on that soon.

In the meantime, if you’re a VIP client and you have questions about rolling Gutenberg out on your sites, get in touch with our Support team.

If you’re not currently on VIP and are feeling less than ready to embrace block-based life, drop us a note.

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.