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There was a news item today possibly of interest to those who self-host WordPress: Automattic unveiled the Jetpack plugin. I hadn't heard of it before, but going off the announcement and the site FAQ, it looks as if it's going to provide multiple bits of functionality in one package (WP.com Stats, Twitter widget, shortcodes, etc).

My issue is wondering whether this might be overkill. Wouldn't it make more sense to use a few small specific plugins that do what you need, rather than installing some big assembly when you only have a few specific needs?

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You make a great point about overkill. Dreamhost, one of the Jetpack partners already creates a bloated Wordpress automatic install with themes and plugins most people will never use –  Ray Mitchell Mar 10 '11 at 15:48

4 Answers 4

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Hi @Grant Palin:

I think the decision is your own. As said Automattic is merging its plugins into JetPack and encouraging users with older versions to upgrade. If you want to continue using those plugins you likely will not have a choice but to upgrade to JetPack with the alternate being to switch to other plugins.

I do expect the JetPack to be of high quality given the paid staff of Automattic maintains it. And as a counter to the "overkill" concerns I'd rather have fewer plugins listed in my plugin directory (fewer to update, fewer to have to understand, etc.) so I'd prefer to use JetPack instead of individual ones if I wanted to use more than one of the enclosed features because there is almost no overhead of significance to having the other functionality installed; certainly very little additional overhead on page load.

However, at the time I write this, you cannot use JetPack on localhost. This makes using it for a professional solution that requires development, testing staging and live servers for deployment not really an option (vs. just by a blogger for their own blog.) If they do not address this limitation (which they might) I expect we might see people forking the functionalities in JetPack.

In summary, Caveat emptor.

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I do my development on an external server, mostly. But occasionally I do use my laptop's local services (e.g., if I know ahead of time that I'm going to be working without good internet service). So yeah, that would be annoying. :) –  Dougal Campbell Mar 11 '11 at 18:23
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Good counter to my concerns, re. quality and reduced plugin count. The lack of offline support does give me pause. –  Grant Palin Mar 18 '11 at 4:44

As pointed out in a recent blog post, only two of Jetpack's eight main features require WordPress.com interaction. The rest can be installed as discrete plugins.

If you accept that you should not install plugins for features you don't use, it makes sense to me to install jetpack when you would like to take advantage of WordPress.com's wicked fast and flexible stats systems, or it's shortlinks, in addition to a handful of its other services; otherwise, if you are trying to use just one or two of WordPress.com's other services like Gravatar or After The Deadline, it's probably best to install those as discrete plugins.

The eight total features are:

  • Stats^
  • WP.me shortlinks^
  • Sharedaddy
  • Twitter
  • Widgets
  • Gravatar
  • Hovercards
  • After The Deadline
  • Shortcode embeds
  • LaTeX

^ requires a WordPress.com account

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In what sense of "overkill" are you questioning? The Jetpack FAQ states:

Some of these features use the powerful WordPress.com cloud, others are popular features provided for the convenience of not having to install and manage several separate plugin installations.

With that said, you are stil free to choose whatever plugins you like for your Wordpress installation. You are not required to utilize Jetpack unless you want to take advantage of the plugins that were developed for Wordpress.com. Using it depends on what your needs really are and what value it brings.

Automattic is slowly moving those plugins to Jetpack, and any plugins by Automattic you have installed now will prompt you to upgrade to the Jetpack version. You could probably also avoid moving to the Jetpack if you don't ever upgrade those plugins.

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I'm referring to the fact that it looks like multiple plugins in one. At the moment, only the shortcodes aspect appeals to me, as I already use plugins to handle other functionality. So should I install Jetpack just to be able to use one feature, or would I be better looking for a single plugin for the task? –  Grant Palin Mar 10 '11 at 20:35
    
If you aren't using certain modules, then the only 'wasteage' is going to come from a few if/then statements to decide that it doesn't need to load the not-enabled modules. Basically, using JetPack will add a tiny amount of extra code (versus installing indivual plugins), but it won't be enough to really notice. –  Dougal Campbell Mar 11 '11 at 18:20
    
You can actually disable certain plugins if you install Jetpack. If you install Jetpack and go to its configuration settings in the administrative sidebar, you can deactivate whichever plugins you like by clicking on the "Learn More" button on each individual component. –  Matt Chan Mar 14 '11 at 13:46

If you're going to use more than, say, three of the features in Jetpack, then I'd install it. Each individual feature can be independently disabled if you prefer. I use about half of Jetpack's functionality. Obviously there's going to be bits you don't need. I don't need the shortcodes, for example, since I use oEmbed (built into WordPress).

The advantage of Jetpack is that it brings (or will bring) feature parity between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. A lot of times, when users switch from com to org, they miss some of the built-in plugins that com has, like the shortcodes, or latex support, etc. Jetpack provides those same features in one easy-to-manage package, and could make transitioning users from com-to-org much simpler.

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