WordPress Jetpack is showing up on many WordPress installs now. In fact, if you use BlueHost for your hosting and install WordPress with SimpleScripts, Jetpack is installed automatically for you.
At first glance, it looks like a bundle of plugins. But it’s really much more than that.
So what is Jetpack?
I get a lot of questions from readers about Jetpack, so when I was at WordCamp San Francisco last weekend my mission was to dig in and get the scoop.
I had the opportunity to talk with Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress and co-founder of Automattic about it at Wordcamp San Francisco last week. I got the strategy and vision behind it from Matt, and then talked to some of the Automattic engineers for a demo and deeper dive.
As you may know, there are two ways you can run WordPress – WordPress.com or self-hosted from WordPress.org. See my article WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – which one should I choose? for details on the differences between the two.
Matt explained that the idea behind Jetpack was to bring the coolest features available in WordPress.com and make them available to anyone using WordPress, even if they are hosting it themselves. He has a vision of “closing the gap” between WordPress.com and WordPress.org functionality and ease of use.
Video Tour of Jetpack
WordPress Jetpack Functionality
So what kinds of functionality does Jetpack bring to self-hosted WordPress users? Here are the plugins that are part of Jetpack now:
- WordPress.com real-time stats – Simple, concise site stats with no additional load on your server.
- Shortlinks – WP.me-powered shortlinks for all of your Posts and Pages for easier sharing.
- Social Media Sharing – Sharedaddy plugin to share content with Facebook, Twitter, and many more.
- Spell and grammar checking – After The Deadline adds spell, style, and grammar checking while you edit
- Twitter integration – Display the latest updates from a Twitter user inside your theme’s widgets
- Gravatar Hovercards – Show a pop-up business card of your users’ gravatar profiles in comments
- Shortcode Embeds – Easily embed videos and more from sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and SlideShare.
- LaTex – Mark up your posts with the LaTeX markup language, for complex mathematical equations.
And there are others on the way. You can individually turn on or off these features too, depending on which ones matter to you.
The feature I’d really like them to bring over from WordPress.com is the ability to post to your blog via email.
It’s possible to set up on your own self-hosted site, but it is very complex and limited. I’d like to see it work Posterous – they have made it super easy to post all types of media to your blog via email.
The Problem with WordPress Plugins…
One of the great things about WordPress plugins is that you can extend the functionality of your blog to do almost anything. There are over 15,000 plugins available for WordPress as I write this. But if you’ve worked with WordPress for very long, you know this diversity and power comes with some problems.
Anyone can write a plugin, and many times plugins conflict with each other, break when a new version of WordPress comes out, or introduce a security risk. Some WordPress experts even suggest that you avoid using plugins altogether.
When I talked with the Automattic team they told me one of the reasons for Jetpack was to provide a rich set of functionality with Plugins that you can trust, that work together and are updated with each new version of WordPress. They are also coming up with core groups of contributors for other important plugins to make sure they are managed and updated properly too.
Jetpack and SmallBiz
We tested Jetpack with our SmallBiz WordPress Theme and everything works great. So if you are using SmallBiz, don’t hesitate to fire up Jetpack, and turn on or off the features you want!
So what about you. Are you using Jetpack? What is your favorite plugin that you wish was included?
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