What is WordPress Jetpack? A Deep Dive at WordCamp SF

by on August 17, 2011 · 16 comments

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.

WordPress Jetpack Plugin

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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Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, the SmallBiz WordPress Theme and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 279 articles on Expand2Web

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura August 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Okay, so I thought Jet Pack was a new hosting platform or something. Thanks for the explanation. I look forward to trying it out.

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Julie Larson August 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Thank you for explaining JetPack, Don!!! ;)

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LaRea August 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I just watched the video and I am going to try it right now :)

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Don Campbell August 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm

My pleasure guys – I was a little fuzzy about it until I asked the Automattic team at WordCamp. Thanks for stopping by!

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Jen Adams August 25, 2011 at 10:56 am

I’ve been trying to use the JetPack stats, but it keeps telling me no data is available for my site. I’ve reinstalled, but to no avail, even though I know there is traffic due to ad response metrics. Been combing through the forums, and no fixes seem to appear. Any ideas, or anyone else having this problem?

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Don Campbell August 25, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Jen, you have logged in and connected Jetpack using your WordPress.com login, right?

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Jen Adams August 25, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Yes, I’ve installed it on two blogs and it works on one but not the other. Absolutely at a loss, so any help is appreciated.

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Health Coach November 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Thanks for the explanation. This came preinstalled on a blog I had built for me and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep it or not.

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Geoff June 26, 2012 at 4:13 am

Hey Don -
I’m a little late to the Jetpack party, but what is your recommendation in terms of tying a site to a wordpress.com account. More specifically, if we are using the Smallbiz theme to build a network of sites in a related niche but targeting different locations, should we have a wordpress.com account for each site, or can we use jetpack across several self hosted domains with just 1 .com account?
Thanks in advance…

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Don Campbell June 27, 2012 at 10:05 am

That’s a good question Geoff. Ideally, you would have a WordPress.com account for each “person” – you would not want to combine and use one account for many businesses. If they are owned and operated by the same person then it would be fine.

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Blaine July 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I’ve been drastically limiting the amount of plug ins I used on the small biz theme. Simple is better was my thoughts but this looks pretty nice.

Thanks for opening my eyes to another great tool Don! I think I’m going to like this.

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Edille August 7, 2012 at 8:26 am

I only need the wordpress stat so I don’t have choice but to install the jetpack plugin and disable all features except wordpress stats.

Thanks for sharing.

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Usman July 1, 2013 at 5:34 am

Really!!

Jetpack makes the blog to fly.

But most of the features are not needed so must be disabled for website performance.

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Keith Davis July 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Hi Don
Loved the video – great sound quality.

Keep seeing Jetpack mentions all over the web and I’ve thought about giving it a go.
Don’t they also have their own comments system and a lightbox facility?

Might be tempted to give it a try.

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Karan Singh March 15, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Seems to be a good news for Wordpress users, The Pack combines the power of so many different Wordpress plugin into one plugin and also uses the power of Wordpress.com cloud servers. This is really awesome. Going to Jet Pack my blog now.

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Mehreen Ali Syed April 15, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Before that I was too a bit skeptical at first, but everything has worked out with no problems. I use Jetpack from last 3 years on my website http://dailynewscompany.com I always go with jetpack plugin, and i suggest this plugin to all wordpress user.

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