Back on WordPress.org (again)

It wasn’t too long ago that I moved to WordPress.org after an almost three-year absence, and then quickly moved back to WordPress.com. I had a lot going on and just wasn’t ready to take the plunge. Now, I am ready to take the plunge, and here I am, again.

I could re-hash all of the reason for why I want to be self-hosted on WordPress.orgĀ vs. staying on WordPress.com, but you should really just read the original post linked to above. Nothing has really changed except for the plugins used and how I’m hosted.

Rather than being hosted on DreamHost’s standard shared hosting service, I’m now on DreamPress, their managed WordPress hosting service. Think of it as a special server which only hosts WordPress and is therefore designed to serve every aspect of it as quickly and perfectly as possible. That is a severely watered down explanation of it, but I figured you could get all of the juicy details from the link. šŸ™‚

Plugin-wise, I’m starting out with Jetpack for tons of features, Akismet for anti-spam, VaultPress for backups, Google XML Sitemaps for sitemaps, and a few different plugins for security which I won’t be disclosing this time around. šŸ˜‰

Big thanks to Mike SchroderĀ and Mika EpsteinĀ for both occasionally encouraging me to go back to being self-hostedĀ and for essentially creating DreamPress, Zandy Ring for making sure that everything was moved properly, and Kathryn Presner, Caroline Moore, Lance Willett, and Ian Stewart for being totally cool with me occasionally ambushing them with theme questions.

Here’s to many more years self-hosted on WordPress.org, filled with the usual combination of fun, mistakes, and self-education.

Back on WordPress.com

WordPress MoveAfter ten days of blogging on WordPress.org, here I am, back on WordPress.com. It’s a decision made with both hope and regret, but one that I need to make in order to continue the work I started.

Over the past three years on WordPress.com, my ability to write code (PHP and JavaScript in particular) had degraded quite a bit. I had thought that by self-hosting my blog, I’d be more motivated to try new things, and force myself to learn as I inevitably broke things on my own blog. It turns out that such a tactic had the opposite effect. I had every intention to break things and learn, with daily plans even, but I was too timid to put my rusty skills to the test on a live blog.

Considering that, my main blog is now back on WordPress.com, but I’m keeping a few self-hosted test blogs around so I can break things and learn without fear. I still learned quite a bit in just ten days, like how to have a similar setup to WordPress.com, working with caching, choosing a stats program, and how to work with Genericons (which you can do on WordPress.com with certain themes). I even helped fix two bugs in the Authy plugin.

As for the rest of you still on WordPress.org, if you use Jetpack, I submitted a few bug reports and feature requests you might like. One of those might even be my first patch one of these days.

Back on WordPress.org

So, before I get too far into this post (or perhaps before I even start it), I should point out that there are essentially two recognizable types of WordPress. There’s the main one, WordPress.org, which is blogging software that you install on a hosting provider. You own it and manage it, so there are fewer restrictions, but there are more responsibilities. Then, there’s WordPress.com, a blogging service which offers you a free WordPress-powered blog with the option to purchase additional upgrades. Someone else manages it for you, so there are some restrictions, and additional features cost extra, but you don’t have to worry about anything (like features breaking, incompatibilities, downtime, etc). For a more in-depth analysis, please refer to this handy chart.

I used to blog with WordPress.org, but since joining AutomatticĀ about 3 years ago, I switched to WordPress.com, since WordPress.com is an Automattic product. It was great to get down in the trenches with our users and help to put out fires as I found them, but I found that my ability to code in PHP and JavaScriptĀ had degenerated quite a bit. There’s really no way to tweak a blog outside of CSS on WordPress.com, so no way eventually lead to no need, which lead to no want, which lead to a severe lack of practice and ultimately a loss of knowledge. Now that we have grown to 190 Automatticians, I figured there’s enough of us in the trenches on WordPress.com that I could go back to WordPress.org. Being back on WordPress.org frees me up to experiment with code again and break things on my blog, which I have been doing all weekend.

With the polite prodding of Mike Schroder over the years, I came back to my first-ever hosting provider, DreamHost. A lot has changed over the past nine years at DreamHost, all for the better. Resurrecting a nine-year-old dormant hosting account was no easy task, but Mika Epstein saved the day. It was like moving back into an old and much-loved home. Transferred a blog this size was rather rough and interrupted with frequent errors, but Michael Koenig of the WordPress.com Guided Transfer team had the magic touch and had my WordPress.com blog up and running on WordPress.org in a matter minutes. I don’t mean to sound like a commercial for one of our products, but the ability to sit back and let someone else who does this for a living (dozens of time a day) take charge of the whole situation is well worth the price.

There are a lot of handy built-in features on WordPress.com that are unfortunately left behind when you switch to WordPress.org, but it’s easy to either get them back or supplement them with something else. First, you’ll need Jetpack, which provides many of WordPress.com’s built-in features. Then, it’s just a matter of finding things to provide you with the security and reliability that WordPress.com is known for. Having talked with the folks behindĀ Sucuri several times, I went with them for security. They’re good people, and you can trust them with the safety of your site. I also locked this down a bit more with aĀ two-factor authentication plugin. Choosing what to use for reliable and automatic backups was an easy decision. I went with VaultPress, another Automattic product that’s well worth the price. Finally, you don’t have to worry about updates on WordPress.com, and you don’t have to on WordPress.org either, as long as you’re running the Automatic Updater plugin (from fellow Automattician Gary Pendergast).

In short, if you don’t like breaking things, stick to WordPress.com. If you want to experiment, WordPress.org is for you. DreamHost is great, and you’ll want to try Jetpack while securing everything with Sucuri, VaultPress, two-factor authentication, and the Automatic Updater plugin.

Tweet From Your Blog

Are you tired of your Twitter client, or do you just want to turn your blog into your own social media hub? Well, now you can Tweet from your blog!

Yes, I did mention this briefly in my earlier Timepiece post, but I figured it was so cool that I had to mention it again.

If you have a WordPress.com or Jetpack-powered WordPress.org blog with Publicize enabled, posts with no title (typical of the Aside post format) will be sent to your Publicize connections (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) with a 100-character excerpt and a link to your post. Of course, you know what that means, but I’ll say it again anyway. You can now Tweet from your blog!

Any untitled post will send the excerpt via Publicize, along with a link to the post to bring the discussion back to your blog.

If you have a blog, feel free to try it today! If you don’t, there has never been a better time to own and control your own content, and to break your reliance on other social networks.

Video

WordPress Development Visualized

If you ever wondered how much development activity WordPress has, check out this awesome gource-powered visualization of the road to WordPress 3.1, courtesy of Jon Cave. Needless to say, things get really exciting around 2005.