WP Engine Mercury: Building a WordPress Jet Engine

WP Engine MercuryPutting problem solving before technology often means figuring the technology out – sometimes as we go. From push notifications and search to standardizing local development, we’re most proud of contributions that advance markets and platforms, not just 10up.

Months ago, WP Engine, a market leader in managed WordPress hosting, reached out to us for candid feedback with an eye toward the platform’s future. The Labs team was determined to invent not only the future of WP Engine, but the future of WordPress hosting; to be as disruptive as WP Engine was in its earliest days. From better hardware and developer tools to bleeding edge performance technology, the vision was compelling, and it was clear that from CEO Heather Bruner to Founder & CTO Jason Cohen, they were all in.

Its 10up’s position that a rich, forward-looking ecosystem of managed hosting choices is vital to the success of a web platform; we’re only as strong as the weakest part of our stack. Membership, integrated social engagement – even e-commerce – are increasingly entangled with content and publishing, and there are, unsurprisingly, a dearth of hosted WordPress choices tackling these use cases. As the fail-whale oft-reminded us, these cases are very hard to scale, particularly with run-time languages like PHP atop traditional SQL databases. Just ask Facebook. (Actually: we did. Read on.)

WP Engine wanted to tackle this problem. They had us at “do you want to help us build it?”

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John Eckman

I’ll be headed to Atlanta today for Confab Higher Ed, where I’ll be speaking tomorrow on “Engineering Influence: Talking to Developers About Content.”  It’s part of the confab series of events which I’ve always found to be very well put together, and I’m proud to be part of it.

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Work/Life Balance at WordCamp Raleigh

WordCamp RaleighThis weekend I’m speaking at WordCamp Raleigh, at North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus. Centennial Campus is a research park and campus that is home to the NCSU School of Engineering along with the Hunt Library, ABB, and Broadband.com.

Saturday Afternoon, I’ll be presenting my talk, “The Art of Untethering: How Is Your Work/Life Balance?”, on the Power User’s Track.

In this talk, we will discuss what work/life balance is; how to see the warning signs that the paths are crossing; and how to maintain the balance so that both work and life are enjoyable and fulfilling.

Also in attendance, you’ll find 10up Web Engineer Amy Hendrix.

There are still tickets left, so come out to the Oak City this weekend and catch myself and Amy at WordCamp Raleigh.

10up Engineering Best Practices

At 10up, we build custom publishing experiences. We take great pride in all aspects of building websites, from user interaction design to code performance. Security, style, workflow, design patterns, performance, and even tools all influence that publishing experience. We use the term “engineer” rather than “develop” because of the amount of skillful strategy and true craftsmanship involved in what we build.

With over 90 full time employees, 10up has a diverse team of strategists, project managers, designers, and a few dozen incredibly smart, diverse engineers. Standardization in engineering is increasingly important with such a large team. Over the past few months we collaborated as a company to document how we engineer and why. We spent a great deal of time considering various things such as WP_Query performance recommendations, workflows to maximize efficiency, and tools we want to use and maintain as a team.

We are proud to open source our Engineering Best Practices as a public project on GitHub. WordPress is an open-source project and so are our Engineering Best Practices. We believe WordPress has continued to grow because of its embracement of open source philosophies. We want our Best Practices to follow that model. We know there are opportunities to keep improving, and want to welcome community contributions that are in tune with our philosophies.

10up Pumpkin

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10upper Gustave Gerhardt took the opportunity (and his handy Speedball linoleum cutters) to create a little pumpkin in honor of 10up and Halloween, including an LED to light it from the inside.

Hope you all are enjoying a Halloween heavier on treats than tricks!

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Meet ElasticPress

We are proud to announce the release of a new plugin, ElasticPress, to the WordPress community. The project started as an internal initiative to meet a particularly common yet difficult client request: improved WordPress search.

ElasticPress

ElasticPress integrates WordPress search with Elasticsearch which has become increasingly prominent powering search on major enterprise websites such as Github and WordPress.com. Elasticsearch is a scalable, peformant, and open source standalone search server based on a technology from Apache called Lucene. Besides being fast and scalable, Elasticsearch can do things like relevant results, autosuggest, geographic search, fuzzy matching, data weighting, and more.

ElasticPress ties your Elasticsearch instance to WordPress. It is a lightweight plugin that overrides the WP_Query object to return posts from Elasticsearch instead of MySQL. There are a number of special WP_Query parameters that the plugin supports to do things like meta, taxonomy, and author searches. ElasticPress can also handle cross-blog search on WordPress multi-site installations.

Full documentation and usage instructions for the plugin are on Github. ElasticPress requires WP-CLI as it is preferable to handle things like bulk indexing through PHP CLI.

Please reach out on Github with any questions. We are happy to help and greatly appreciate contributions.

10up takes WordCamp San Francisco 2014

WordCamp San Fransisco was the first WordPress conference, has historically remained the largest (certainly on the North American continent), and is home to WordPress co-founder and project lead Matt Mullenweg’s annual State of the Word address.

In 2012, we brought the “whole team” out (all 14 of us), and watched with delight as our own Helen Hou-Sandi was called out in the State of the Word as a rockstar. In 2013, we decided that taking a team of ~35 was neither logistically practical nor a great way for us to focus on team building, so we brought a contingent of 8, and were proud to showcase four speakers and see  Drew Jaynes called out as a rockstar.

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WordCamp San Francisco 2014 is this weekend, and this time you’ll find a dozen (12) 10uppers roaming the conference. This year we’re proud to have 5 speakers participating:

  • On Saturday, Helen Hou-Sandi connects her training as professional musician with her career as a code poet.
  • Kicking off Sunday, Paul Clark inspires us by reminding how web publishing and WordPress can save lives and move governments.
  • The three “WordPress in Context” lightning talks on Saturday feature 2 10uppers – and one 10up alumnus! 10up CEO John Eckman and Senior Engineer Rachel Baker are joined by former Engineering Director (now a leader in the university system) Jeremy Felt.
  • Finally, our Creative Director, Taylor Aldridge, joins a set of Saturday lightning talks on Design & Business.

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Jon Bellah

This week I’ll be representing team 10up at CSS Dev Conf in New Orleans. I’m honored to be speaking alongside industry luminaries like Chris Coyier, Dan Cederholm, and Rachel Nabors. On Monday afternoon, I present Embracing Performance Optimization, an essential ingredient for great user experiences. I’ll cover optimization of the critical rendering path, elimination of unnecessary roundtrips, and leveraging caching… And since it is CSS Dev Conf, I’ll dive deep into the keys to CSS performance.

10up Returns to Seattle GiveCamp

Seattle GiveCamp

Redmond, Wa

Speaking

This weekend over 200 Volunteers  and 28 Non-Profit Organizations are expected to gather on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Washington for the annual Seattle Givecamp, a weekend-long “hackathon” style event where software developers, website wonks, project managers and designers donate their time to design and build solutions for non-profit organizations in need. From health and wildlife outreach programs to community food coalitions, participating non-profits submit technology projects that require assistance they don’t have funding or expertise to carry out. Volunteers will gather on Friday to learn about each Organizations’s Project, form teams, and spend the rest of the weekend (often working through the night) hacking together solutions.

On Saturday morning I will be returning for a 3rd year to lead a workshop for participating organizations and volunteers on how to better leverage WordPress on their projects during the weekend and beyond. Many of the participating organizations are either already using WordPress, or have identified their project as requiring a WordPress component. In my session I will cover a variety of WordPress topics ranging from how to start using WordPress for the first time, to using some it’s more advanced APIs, to simple every day tips and tricks. The session will be Saturday morning at 10:30am and is open to the general public.

For more information about Seattle GiveCamp visit http://seattlegivecamp.org/ and follow them on Twitter @SeattleGivecamp. Best of luck to all the project teams this weekend, and if you’re in the Seattle area I hope to see you there!

Double Days of Discourse in Dallas

I’m proud to be joining my fellow 10uppers for not one, but two WordPress-focused conferences in Dallas, Texas this weekend!

Scott Kingsley Clark, Lead Developer of the Pods Framework for WordPress, will kick things off with several talks on Friday at PodsCamp, which focuses on the flexibility and varying use cases for the Pods plugin.

If Scott doesn’t collapse from exhaustion after giving four talks, he’ll join Corey Ellis, Jon Bellah, and myself at WordCamp Dallas the next day. Come say hello between sessions, or join us at one of our talks listed below!

Between the four of us, there’s content for WordPress developers of all skill levels: Corey will dig into WordPress themes for those just getting started. I’ll cover the benefits and trade-offs of several WordPress career tracks, while Jon will bring your development skills to the next level for high-performance sites. Want to know how to quickly extend WordPress to manage almost any type of content? Any of Scott’s talks at PodsCamp will fit the bill!

PodsCamp Dallas — October 3, 2014

Scott Kingsley Clark will be presenting four (yes, four!) talks on the popular Pods plugin:

WordCamp Dallas — October 4, 2014