#wcbos: Enterprise Publishing on WordPress.com VIP

WordPress.com is an “awesome blogging platform,” according to Chris Murray of Oomph. WordPress.com is “get started writing or blogging”, not “get started worrying about technology.” WordPress.org requires downloading the software, installing, and configuring. This gives you more flexibility, but it also means it’s more complex. Entreprise customers are somewhat in a lurch choosing between standard WordPress.com and WordPress.org because the former isn’t flexible enough and the latter has the potential of too many headaches.

WordPress.com VIP is the “best of both worlds.” Customers don’t have to worry about keeping servers up, but they have more of the flexibility that comes with installing new plugins, etc.

WordPress.com VIP clients include:

  • CNN
  • Dice.com
  • RIM
  • NBC Sports
  • VentureBeat

To think about the different types of hosting offerings, a typical basic dedicated server includes hardware, network connectivity, and electricity. Managed services include all of that, plus take care of your basic LAMP stack. WordPress.com VIP cares about everything plus WordPress, including caching, load balancing, upgrades and functionality.

When working with WordPress.com VIP, the process is probably a little different:

  • Any custom code needs to happen in the theme layer.
  • You need a great developer to work with (in-house or third-party).
  • Highly collaborative approach. As a developer, you can actually interact with folks at WordPress.com. You can pitch ideas and ask for feedback on the best way to do it.
  • Theme submission is a process with WordPress.com VIP. All code is reviewed line by line for best standards, security, and performance. Once the theme is approved, they’ll set up a Subversion repository for your theme.
  • Deployments are done with the WordPress.com VIP team.

Code is a little different too:

  • When you’re writing code for the WordPress.com VIP environment, someone is always reviewing. It makes you think more about whether you’re doing it the right way. The focus is on beautiful code.
  • Need to follow WordPress Coding Standards.
  • Plugins are included in your theme’s functions.php file.
  • Security and performance is the number one concern with the WordPress.com VIP team, things like sanitizing input fields and ensuring database queries are performant.

When it comes down to it, the biggest different between WordPress.com VIP and self-hosted: you (have to|get to|learn how to) do it right.

Q&A

Q: How do you do staging?

Chris: Often we’ll have a staging server in-house that’s client facing and/or use one of our five sites with the standard package as the pre-production site.

Q: Could you explain more about the lack of network admin?

Chris: WordPress.com is a multisite network in itself, so they don’t give you super admin access. If you want to set up a new blog, it’s a more involved process including requesting the site, configuring everything, submitting a theme for review, etc.

Q: Is customer code required to be licensed under the GPL?

Chris: I’m not sure. Licensing is definitely something to be discussed.

Q: What types of things does VIP support?

Chris: VIP support offers lots of support including theme reviews, plugin reviews, data migration. They don’t write code for you however. Any custom development should be done in-house or with a contracter.

Chris: “Working with the VIP team has added tons and tons of knowledge to my team.”

Other questions:

  • Is WordPress.com VIP running stock WordPress, or are there tons of custom modifications?
  • If VentureBeat were to install a new plugin, would other WordPress.com VIP clients be able to access it?
  • What things can be done to expedite the deployment process? Are there any common gotchas?
  • How do new features get requested if lots of clients want it?

Q&A: Rusty Lewis on CMN’s new business model

Q&A: Rusty Lewis on CMN’s new business model. It just hit me: College Publisher inadvertently made it cost-effective to hire a developer and host it yourself. Student publications who don’t, and instead pay $2K/year for a terrible CMS while also donating their advertising revenue to CMN, aren’t long for this world. I can’t believe College Publisher would stick this to 80% of their clients.

Back on WebFaction

After just a few months of administering my own Slicehost machine, I decided yesterday to move all of the personal sites I manage back to WebFaction. For personal stuff, I decided I need to focus more on publishing and less on figuring out why my memory usage is so high. Or, in the case of yesterday, why there were approximately 124,000 more rows in the posts table than there should be. Culprit: Core Control plugin for WordPress.

WebFaction is also significantly cheaper than Slicehost. Their basic plan starts at $9.50/month; I’ve been paying $32.50 for a 384 MB slice I hardly used.

For now, I look forward to having a super fast publishing platform where I can focus on the words and images instead of the technology.

New host and registrar

After a few weeks and a couple hundred dollars, I’ve finally transferred all of my domains to Namecheap and web projects to Web Faction. Previously, I was with 1&1 but intermittently ran into frustrations, including a limitation on the length of a CNAME and not being able to add SPF records, that pushed me to switch. I’m already having a lot of fun; Web Faction is wickedly quick (relatively, I suppose) and has one click installers for a number of content management systems and frameworks. This means that I’ll get to hack together a Django-powered blog in the near future without having to figure out how to configure Django on a server (although I suppose that would be the logical next step). Before a full transition to Django, because it’s going to take a lot of building to get to my desired feature set, I’m looking forward to experimenting with and integrating Laconi.ca and MediaWiki into my personal web presence.

If you’re thinking about moving to Web Faction and are feeling generous, add “?affiliate=dbachhuber” to the end of the signup URL. It’s guaranteed to help a starving innovator out.