Using Pagelines Platform Pro and Jetpack together

We took a look at the free version of Platform Pro a few months ago and were impressed with the features and customization options enough so that we bought it. So we recently built a traditional blog for a client with the commercial version of Platform Pro.  We also looked at Jetpack plugin when it first came out a few weeks ago but were turned off by some bugs typically found in a version 1.0 product. Pagelines  So we decided to take a second look at both Platform Pro and Jetpack at the same time. These are not meant to be full reviews but provide some key insights in a short amount of space.

Platform Pro
During the process of customizing our client site we were reminded of how powerful Platform Pro can be but there are a ton of options to look through. One of the most powerful features allows users to select what kind of modules show up on each type of page (home, blog, individual posts, etc.).

For us, this process became be downright confusing when we had to figure out which page type we were modifying. We had to keep refreshing the published page to see which page type we were editing at the moment. It’d be great if there was a preview or explanation of which page type was being currently edited.

We also wish there was a simple footer module that could be used instead of 3 or 5 column design that forces the user to show extra content when it may not be needed or desired.

Also as we mentioned in our previous review, some similar options are saved into two different pages. For example the social network features of the theme appear in three separate pages: global options (footer Twitter feed), Template Setup (post/page sharing buttons), and Header and Nav (Social Network profile URLs). Our suggestion would be to perhaps keep these fields on their current pages but also add a new page that has all the social media features on one page.

Platform Pro when it was first released was great for its time but the complexity of the theme panel is starting wear us down even after we’ve used it on several sites. Call us hypercritical but if we’re confused, imagine what a new WordPress user could feel like. We hope the next major revision of Platform Pro improves the grouping of menus/options and provides a more intuitive way to build page types.

When we were first tried Jetpack, we didn’t try the bundled Twitter widget so this was a good time for us to try it out.

Some people once seeing it on their site may be disappointed that there’s not much options for color styling. The Twitter Widget looks very plain and boring but heck it works without very little effort or configuration. We’re using the standalone version of the widget, here on our site on our sidebar, so you can see it’s very plain-jane.

If you want something that’s slicker and customizable with colors, we’d recommend the Twitter Goodies Widget by NetWebLogic. It’s a bit more effort to customize the color but it maybe worth the effort to some.

Here’s a tip for Jetpack (and Sharedaddy stand-alone) plugin users who are using Platform Pro. If you enable Shareadaddy to show sharing buttons on the home page, your sidebar widgets may wrap to the bottom of the page into the footer area. And it currently doesn’t show the share buttons on the home page anyways so selecting it doesn’t work in the first place. To fix the sidebar from appearing in the footer, you need to set the display to show only “Posts and pages only.” See the screenshot below.

Wordpress jetpack sharedaddy index

Get it: Platform Pro theme / Jetpack plugin

New WordPress All-in-One Plugin JetPack: Our Review

Well, it’s only been about 8 hours since Automattic released an arsenal of all-in-one WordPress plugins called Jetpack. After trying them out for the past few hours, we’ve arrived at this conclusion: If you add these to existing live sites, you may run into some compatibility issues with existing plugins.

Example #1: On one of our sites running Platform Pro theme, the sidebar disappeared entirely. We had to delete the cache in WP Super Cache to get the sidebar back.

Example #2: We also had one site running the popular Sociable for WP 3.0 plugin, which seemed to cause problems with the ShareDaddy module (for obvious reasons) with the end result of missing icons. In the end, we turned off Jetpack on all our sites until we know things are ironed out.

Our Conclusion
It’s interesting that Matt & company have chosen to go the “shotgun” approach route to extending WordPress’ functionality right after the 3.1 release. Some of the plugins aren’t new to the community – for example “After the Deadline” has been around in stand-alone form for a while. We’re not surprised that when someone “mixes” (installs) a lot of new functionality into an existing WordPress installation, there are some hiccups, especially if you have other plugins running. I am sure the WordPress crew tested it as much as possible, but there’s nothing like code in the “wild,” as they say.

Update: If you’re using the Sharedaddy module either alone or with Jetpack, be sure to check our tips and tricks for it here…

Update 2: If you’re having problems activating Jetpack – getting an error message connecting with, check out a great debugging thread at which includes many fixes and workarounds.

Automattic releases JetPack plugins for self hosted WP sites

Automattic has just released a swiss army knife of plugins for WordPress self hosted sites called Jetpack. It includes traffic stats, a Twitter Widget, Gravatar Hovercards, URL shortener, social network sharing buttons, LaTeX for mathematicians/scientists, grammar/spell checker, and other shortcodes.

You’ll need to have or create a to activate it’s features. Here’s a screenshot once it’s installed, activated, and hooked up to Click for larger size screenshots.

We activated the share feature on our site…

…and it seems to have some hiccups with an older WordPress theme and possible conflicts with another plugin.

Below is the “After the Deadline” plugin settings for proof reading.

Stay tuned for a full review later today.

Get it: Jetpack

The hardware behind revealed

After the widely covered DDoS attack on hosted blogs and Automattic’s efforts to thwart it; Matt Mullenweg in email to customers (and blog post), reveals the computing power behind’s infrastructure, “for we’re now at 8,921 CPU cores across 2,475 physical processors, 8,200 gigabytes of memory (RAM).”

He continues, “We’ve changed how we’ve done storage, but now that layer includes on its own 1.3 terabytes of RAM, 1.3 petabytes of storage, and 8.9 terabytes of solid state disks. (Plus Amazon S3, which we use as backup to our internal systems.) Also, we’re adding new servers constantly. :)”

Use WordPress to track projects and communicate better

Originally published at our sister site:

We’re big fans of Basecamp (a relatively minimalist project management web app) around here but it can get pricey if you start adding a lot of projects. We also use Twitter a lot around here.

That’s why when we ran across Automattic’s P2 theme we were thrilled. It’s a WordPress theme that includes extra functionality to combine the fast communication of Twitter and threaded messaging of Basecamp. There’s a main column where you can post your latest activity or start a message thread. Below that update area are previous conversations in a threaded view.

We were even more thrilled when we found Templatmatic’s GTD theme which adds more features like tagging posts and ability to add file attachments. This theme also adds an option to hide all the messages if a user is not logged in so it’s not exposed to the public.

These two themes aren’t going to replace Basecamp or compete with in terms of features but if you’re tired of having to search your emails for status reports and “what’s next”, then give either system a try. The only thing missing is that you can’t title your posts right now but you can filter by parent posts. You’ll need a self hosted WordPress blog site so unfortunately this won’t work if you have a hosted blog.

If you want to get some more mileage from your new “intranet”, I recommend adding these sidebar widgets to either theme to make them go further: first add the Login with Ajax plugin – so you can quickly login from the sidebar. The Tag Cloud widget is also great so users can filter messages by tags.

Also consider adding the default calendar widget to see a quick visual calendar. And finally you can add important URLs (example: logins to other systems) via the text widget or blogroll to the sidebar.

Get it: Templatmatic’s GTD theme | Original P2theme

Update: We’ve released our own special remix of GTD/P2 called P2 Reloaded

Quest for the best WordPress survey tool

We wanted to title this post “Survey of the WordPress surveys” but thought we were being too smart for our own good Let’s proceed!

As many of you know, we’re currently running a survey based contest to gauge the state of themes for the WordPress community. Here’s a quick break down of our experiences so far with four survey tools.

It’s a survey/poll company owned by Automattic. The site is a standalone web application like Survey Monkey so you can use it on virtually any website. Since the service is owned by Automattic, you’d think it would play nice with WordPress self hosted site. Yes and no, unfortunately right now the WordPress plugin would only see polls not surveys that were created in the web site. So we were stuck  using an iframe embed tag. A drawback to this method is there is no way to set the width of the content in the iframe so there are ugly scroll bars on the post. Update: we were given instructions on customizing the width and style of surveys by the friendly support folks at Automattic and found a “how-to” tutorial as well.

On the authoring front, Polldaddy is the slickest tool out there similar to Wufoo forms with a lot of Ajax drag and drop features. Results get saved into a database and you can receive notifications via email. There are also data filters available to help you create reports.

But since a free account at Polldaddy was limited to 10 questions and 100 surveys, we decided to give some 3rd party plugins a try.

WP Survey And Quiz Tool
This one seemed a little buggy with WP 3.0.5. We saved some questions and when we returned back it, it had disappeared. Setting up contact/user ID questions are separate from setting up the questions so there was a little bit of a disconnect for us. We gave up on this one for now.

WordPress Simple Survey

The name almost belies actual usability. This one has the most minimal GUI to setup questions and answers. They need to be setup in text boxes. It has scoring formula to keep track of answers. Could be very powerful if you’re willing to invest the time into it. But it was a little too much for us.

Survey Me

After Polldaddy, we were thought this one had the most potential.

The authoring portion is not slick without drag and drop features but it saves you a few steps by adding contact fields at the top of all new surveys. For new survey it starts you with 10 questions. You have your choice of check boxes, text, long text, radio buttons, and even a recapthcha module.

To add  a new field or resorting the order, you have to type in the new questions or type a new sort number to the new field module and then save the form for the changes to take effect. To sort the order, you have to type in a number into each module. We were excited to use this plugin but it currently doesn’t save results right now within our WP 3.0.5 setup. Update: the developer let us know that a space in the form name was preventing the save. We will give it another try.

In the end, even with the aesthetic problems with using an iframe embed, we decided to stick with Polldaddy until we find something better. But if you’re looking for commercial support and more comprehensive data reporting, Polldaddy maybe the best option for now. Update: since the nice support person at Automattic helped us out even with a free account so we’ll be sticking with Polldaddy for awhile.

Get it: Polldaddy | WP Survey And Quiz ToolWordPress Simple SurveySurvey Me now offering premium themes

If you’re using, meaning your blog is hosted by Automattic / WordPress, then you have two new theme choices as of today. These two new premium themes will set you back around $50-70.

If you’re on your account, head over to Appearance -> Themes and you’ll see choice one is  “Headlines” by WooThemes.

It’s probably suited for for newspaper/magazines with a very clean layout with two columns, choice of 15 duo-tone color schemes, featured post, and previous posts and thumbnails. This one will set you back $45 for a life-time license.

The second one is “Shelf” by Theme Foundry. This one looks beautiful – it’s designed for posting your latest photo, music track, and thoughts.

This one is price interestingly at $68 – close to $70. We’d be curious to see how many takers there would be at that relatively higher price point. I think this is definitely a test to see what the upper end of consumer appetite (or tolerance) is for a cool looking theme. Consider that self hosted WordPress themes range any where from $20 to $80 or more.

It’d be interesting to be a fly on the wall to listen to the royalty negotiations between Automattic and the theme publishers.  The varying price and starting with only two themes right now indicates that it’s experiment and Matt Mullenweg himself confirms the experimental status thought in a blog posting at Themeshaper. TechCrunch estimates that Automattic brings in around $1 million dollars a month – most of it from premium service so we’re guessing this new theme model may become an important revenue stream in the long run.

In that posting, Matt also says this “premium theme” project was a long time in the making with code licensing compliance issues being worked out by the major theme studios. He also reveals that an internal team at Automattic worked to bring 29 new/redesigned themes to last year. He ends with a note that 2011 should bring a “significant number” of new themes – both free and premium.

More: Official Post | TechCrunch

Automattic sites reach 500 million visitors per month

We’re seeing signs of serious traction for WordPress. According to Quantcast (a website popularity tracking service), and it’s family of websites under the Automattic umbrella have reached 500 million unique visitors per month.


Yikes! That’s in the realm of Google, Yahoo, and MSN. But the overhead at Automattic is a fraction of the other companies with only 75 employees versus the other mega corporations numbering in the tens of thousand. Goliaths meet our David.

We can’t help trying to corollate this spike with Microsoft recently switching their personal blogging users over to WordPress in late November. If you look on the graph above, Automattic’s traffic doubled in November/December. Coincidence? Probably not.

For the infrastructure geeks, we were blown away that Microsoft would convert those blogging users over to WordPress which usually runs on the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) system which is one of their biggest threats in terms of server technology.

This ranking would not include self hosted web sites.

See it: Quantcast