Yay!

 

We are so happy to have you on the VIP platform, and excited to help support you achieve your goals with WordPress.

Now that you’re launched, we’d like to walk you through some best practices for maintaining your website, and making the most of VIP support.

That’s it!

Once again, congratulations on your launch! We wish you a smooth ongoing journey in your VIP partnership, and remember: we’re just a support ticket away.

A dedicated point of contact

Every VIP client has a dedicated Relationship Manager (RM), to ensure you’re looked after. Your RM is a consistent point of contact at VIP that can help with matters that do not require a technical ticket.

Once your site launches, you’ll be introduced to your RM and an introductory call will be scheduled. During this call, you can agree upon a plan for ongoing communication as your partnership with VIP continues.

New site launches, theme switches, and domain switches

You might not be thinking too much about the next launch, while the celebratory cake from this one is still being eaten. But in the future, you might be considering a theme switch on your live site, switching to a different primary domain, or another site to launch.

If any of these are in the planning stages, please open a support ticket with VIP to keep us in the loop, and allow us to align resources to support your next big endeavour.

Further reading

Ongoing code review and automated scans

Clients on Full and Enhanced review levels will have the GitHub pull request workflow enabled. This protects the master branch from merges without VIP’s review. Pull requests against the master branch will surface in a queue for manual review by VIP engineers. VIP does not manually review third-party code on PRs in repos on the Enhanced review level.

If the changeset is larger than 1000 lines of code (PHP, JS, and SVG), it will need to be scheduled for a review. We recommend keeping PRs small by breaking them down into atomic commits.

For clients without manual review, we also recommend following a pull request workflow, although these PRs will not surface in the VIP review queue. PRs on any branch in a VIP repo will trigger the VIP code analysis bot to provide automated feedback.

Further reading

Accessing VIP support

Your support team is here to help, every step of the way.

Zendesk

VIP uses the Zendesk ticketing system for helping support clients with technical issues and launch planning.

Support tickets can be opened in one of these ways:

  • Log in to the Zendesk portal (access provided after kickoff call)
  • Submit tickets from “VIP” portal in the wp-admin of your site
  • Use the ? Support button in the lower left-hand corner of the VIP Dashboard
  • Email support@vip.wordpress.com

Tips for using Zendesk:

  • Keep each issue in its own ticket. This allows our team to effectively route your questions and can help avoid confusion where multiple issues and resolutions are being discussed in one ticket.
  • When you create a ticket, you’ll have the option of four different priority levels: low, normal, high, and urgent. Urgent tickets page the entire support team, so we appreciate that you use them sparingly for true emergencies like outages, time-sensitive security concerns, and workflow-blocking situations where the site isn’t functioning at all.
  • Access your existing tickets in the Zendesk portal.
  • Add additional stakeholders using cc field in the original email, or any subsequent responses.
  • Please follow our guidelines for opening a ticket, to help us reach a timely resolution.

Further reading

What’s next?

With the site now launched on VIP, we’d love to hear feedback on how the launch went through our anonymous post-launch survey.

If you require assistance after launch, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team via Zendesk. To help with that, we’ve provided links below on how to open a ticket with us using the general ticket guidelines.

Speak soon!

Further reading

Launching

1. Click the blue “Launch this site” button

When the site is ready to be launched, click on “Launch this site” on the left hand side of the application‘s VIP Dashboard.

This will begin the flow for the final launch steps, detailed below.

2. Add production domain

If the production domain was not added pre-launch, it can be added by clicking on “Launch this site” on the left hand side of the application‘s VIP Dashboard. If your production domain has been previously set, you will see a prompt to continue to the next step.

3. Set the primary domain

Using the VIP Dashboard, switch the convenience domain used during development to your production domain.

4. DNS Changes

With the TTL lowered, the production domain can now be pointed to VIP at your domain provider.

If the domain’s DNS is hosted with VIP, the DNS changes will have been made three business days prior to launch and the next button can be clicked to continue on to SSL provisioning.

5. Provision SSL

After the DNS has propagated, HTTPS everywhere is automatically turned on and the option to set HSTS will be made available. When using VIP’s default TLS option, Let’s Encrypt, HTTPS is automatically set everywhere. If the site requires HSTS headers, this can be activated during the SSL provisioning process as well.

To maximize site security, VIP recommends activating HSTS headers on the site.

Testing your site

After the site is launched and showing at the correct production domain, VIP recommends to start testing both the back-end and front-end of the production site, for quality assurance. A list of recommended areas to test can be found in the documentation detailed below.

During this time, you may also want to check your New Relic subaccount to monitor for any performance changes during launch.

If all QA checks pass, launching with VIP is now complete.

Congratulations!

Further reading

Getting started

This guidebook describes the final steps of launching your application on VIP using a new set of tools that put you in control of your launch. We’re in an invitation-only beta period for this functionality, but if you haven’t heard from us and you’re interested, please talk to your Launch TAM.

What does the self-launching tool do?

  1. Ensures you have a primary domain set up for your production environment
  2. Switches to the primary domain, taking care of any search and replace through content to ensure links and media references remain consistent
  3. Guides you through DNS changes
  4. Automatically provisions Let’s Encrypt TLS certificates, if you’re using these

This guide will take you through what you need to do to ensure you are setup for a smooth launch process (Preparing for Launch), and then step you through using the launch tool to complete the steps outlined above (Launching).

Overview of VIP Dashboard

The VIP Dashboard is our interactive web interface developed for managing and launching applications with VIP. We have developed a launch wizard section within the Dashboard to support site launches for those who have been invited to use this feature.

If you have an application with VIP, you can access the VIP Dashboard here: https://dashboard.wpvip.com/

Please proceed to the next page to begin preparing for your launch using the launch wizard.

Further reading

Preparing for launch

Complete code reviews

Clients on Full or Enhanced code review levels will want to ensure that VIP’s theme and/or plugin review has been completed, and the PR workflow has been enabled.

If not receiving a manual code review, clients will want to ensure that VIP’s automated scan feedback on the codebase has been received, and any concerns have been addressed.

Final import

If a final database and/or media import is required before the launch, it should be performed at least 1 business day before the launch steps are performed. If a 1-business-day editorial freeze is not possible, and double-posting new content is not possible, please work with your TAM to schedule an import closer to your launch time.

Lower TTL

If DNS records already exist on the primary domain, the domain’s TTL (Time To Live) should be lowered as far as possible at least 24 hours prior to launch. This will ensure that downtime is minimized when the DNS is pointed to VIP.

DNS changes (if hosting with us)

If the site’s DNS is hosted by VIP, please share this information with us at least three business days in advance of launch, so that we can make sure everything is set up for your sites and ready to go for launch.

Map domains

If this is a new site, the domain can be mapped at any time. If you will be migrating the site from someplace else, we recommend mapping the domain at least 24 hours before the launch.

Domains can be mapped to the environment via the VIP Dashboard. Start by clicking “Domains” in the left sidebar. After selecting the correct environment, click the blue + circle on the right hand side to add the new domain to this environment.

Be sure to input the domain exactly as you’d like it to appear in a user’s address bar — with or without the www. Both versions will automatically work, with our platform redirecting to the one you specify here.

Configure SSL

VIP requires that all sites have valid SSL certificates. We provide Let’s Encrypt certificates by default, which requires no additional cost or action from your side, and VIP will own the renewal process. Whole-site HTTPS is also enabled for all sites by default.

Custom certificates can also be installed on your domain prior to beginning the launch process. If providing a custom certificate, please reach out to your Technical Account Manager at least 3 days before launch.

Testing your site

Before launch, ensure the site is fully tested. This should involve walking through all the functionality in the wp-admin, as well as monitoring PHP and query performance in the linked New Relic sub account.

Further reading

A site needs to be working as expected, with no launch-blocking bugs, at least 2 business days before the scheduled launch. If there are outstanding issues, or critical bugs are still being worked on within 2 business days before the launch, we recommend rescheduling the launch.

Schedule your launch

We want to ensure your launch goes as smoothly as possible. Please let your TAM know with at least 5 business days’ notice when you plan to launch your site. We recommend launching sites Monday to Thursday, 9am-8pm UTC, to ensure a smooth launch.

Protected Embeds

Before your upgrade, you’ll want to figure out how to handle embeds going forward. The Protected Embeds feature from WordPress.com is not available out of the box on VIP Go, but your team has a few options for moving forward with embeds. Any existing embeds will continue to work as expected.

  1. Most common embeds like Twitter or Youtube should just work if you put a link to the desired content on a line by itself.
  2. For embeds that are common on your site, you can register a custom embed handler.
  3. If you’d like to maintain the ability to embed arbitrary code, there is a plugin that offers a similar experience to Protected Embeds.

Top-Tier Support

The WordPress.com VIP team stands ready to assist you. Fast responses are paired with the knowledge and skills you need to help you with your questions and any problems you might encounter.

You’ll hear regularly from our account managers, who understand your business and help you find the solutions that are right for you and your sites.

Have any questions regarding your upgrade to VIP Go? Please submit a support ticket. We’ll be happy to help.

Bulletproof Architecture

VIP Go has next-level caching to keep your sites snappy. Our custom-made Anycast network serves static content to your viewers from datacenters located all over the world, and Varnish serves pages quickly.

Get a traffic spike? No sweat. VIP Go’s architecture scales automatically to meet your needs, and scales back down when the rush is over.

Our world-class architecture is matched with top-tier support engineering. VIP’s staff has the most WordPress expertise you can find in a single place, and we’re always just a support request away.

Debugging

VIP Go combines new access to debugging tools when you develop your site with the power and access of New Relic, available as part of your hosting. Get instant, real-time looks at your backend efficiency and performance.

Use the built-in WordPress analysis tools to find underperforming plugins, pages, or queries, and pair that with the front-end page speed analysis of your choice for unparalleled insight into your site’s performance.

You can now see site errors without having to ask in a support ticket, and use that information to solve problems with your sites faster and with fewer support round-trips necessary to get the data you need.

And if you run into a problem you can’t solve, WordPress.com VIP support staff are here to assist you.

More Plugins

A new host of frequently-requested plugins are now available on WordPress.com VIP for the first time. Use Yoast SEO to bring viewers to your site and increase their engagement. Advanced Custom Fields Pro is now available for your site building needs, with some setup considerations.

You can now use large, established PHP and JavaScript libraries and include them in your theme. We’ll require that you keep them up-to-date, and occasionally may request you use them in specific ways.

Instanced WordPress

Having your own WordPress instance gives you full control over user accounts and user metadata. You can onboard and offboard WordPress users to your site whenever you need to. Single Sign-On solutions are now available to sync your company’s existing user systems to your site.

There’s far less code loading on your instance that you can’t see. Most of VIP Go’s loaded code is publicly-available, so there’s no “black box” feeling and fewer surprises when you deploy.

Additional Resources

Commit, Review, and Deploy

Using GitHub for development gives you more flexibility in the commit process than ever before. Branch your development as you need to, just like you would any other project. Local environments match your VIP environment much more closely, for more accurate local development.

File a pull request to your production branch when you are ready for review. Our automated review tools will give you a quick first pass to look for blocking issues you can correct right away. Optional continuous integration is available, so you can run additional automated tests or static asset builds.

We’ll take a look at your code submission, and offer any feedback necessary using GitHub’s code review tools. Feedback is line-specific, and no longer requires review tickets lacking full context.

When the review is complete, you get to choose when the code deploys. No more guessing when the code will go live—we’ve put it completely in your hands. And emergency deploys and reverts are completely within your power and handled case-by-case.

Additional Resources

  • VIP-Coding-Standards – A set of rules for PHP_CodeSniffer so you can pre-scan your code submission for review blockers.

Git and GitHub

VIP Go uses code repositories powered by Git and GitHub, with new, powerful workflows available to match. We’ll host the repository for you, and add your existing GitHub users so you can commit your code.

This new process supports staging environments and true preproduction instances with data syncing, so you can test your changes before pushing them live. Preproduction instances don’t wait for code review and deploy automatically, so you can iterate and test with more agility.

You’ve got access to most GitHub features, as well. You can use GitHub’s code review tools for your own processes, and webhooks to receive commit and deploy notifications anywhere that can use them.

We take care of the repository setup and billing, so you don’t have to—it’s all included with VIP.

Your Migration

Everything you need to move to VIP Go is already in the right place. We’ve moved your database content, theme files, and users, so you don’t have to. All you need to do is test and prepare for final upgrade steps.

We did have to make some changes to your theme in the process. They are all documented in your new theme repository, hosted on GitHub.

Some of your plugins have been replaced with newer versions than were available on WordPress.com. You’ll also notice that plugins now reside in the plugins directory, instead of in your theme itself. New plugins you need should be installed the same way.

Additional Resources

  • vip-go-skeleton – This GitHub repository is the basis for all VIP Go site installations and demonstrates the new structure for installing themes and plugins.

Welcome!

We’re thrilled to share our custom-built, best-in-class platform with you. With it, you now have access to the latest benefits, features, and services we want all VIPs to enjoy, including:

  • Git-based code review and deployment on your terms
  • Staged environments and heavy duty data syncing
  • The flexibility to run the plugins and libraries you choose (such as ACF Pro and Yoast)
  • Instant, real-time performance views with New Relic and additional tools
  • And lots more, all with the same top-tier support you have always enjoyed

We expect you’ll have lots of questions. The topics below cover your migration and where to find everything (don’t worry – it’s done already!), a tour of all the new things you’ll find on Go, highlights of how the platform delivers performance and scale, an overview of how your new code deployment process works, and where to go for next steps.

Feel free to flip through it in sequence, or skip around as you see things that interest you. And as always, we’re here to help.

How code is deployed on VIP

Each production environment tracks the master branch of a GitHub repository (access to this repo will be provided after the kickoff call). Child environments track different branches of the repo, and auto-deploy.

Each site repo utilises a webhook on GitHub that is triggered by pushing code to a branch. The GitHub webhook notifies the VIP Platform that new code should be deployed, the VIP Platform determines which applications and environments the code should be deployed to (if any). The VIP Platform then updates the code available to each affected environment. The deployment process generally takes less than 10 seconds from code push to completed deployment.

Deployments and code review

For sites on Full or Enhanced code review levels, the master branch will auto-deploy to the environment until the initial code review is complete. After that point, deployments to master will follow the GitHub Pull Request workflow.

For sites not receiving manual code review, the master branch will always auto-deploy to the environment. VIP recommends always following a PR workflow to enable the VIP code analysis bot to provide automated feedback.

Automated build and deploy process

VIP’s automated build and deploy process can automatically transpile/concatenate/minify/optimize your JavaScript, CSS, and static assets (almost anything except PHP) and deploy it your site, using a Continuous Integration (CI) or Continuous Delivery (CD) service like Travis CI or CircleCI.

This means the working branch can remain clean — with only source files — and the CI/CD service can manage the build and deployment process for you.

Please note that the automated build and deploy process is not available for all clients. If in doubt, please open a ticket with the VIP team for further advice.

Further reading

Tools for VIP development

VIP offers several tools on the platform to assist development and monitoring. Additionally, the VIP team monitors all sites on the platform, and will proactively notify clients about issues.

The VIP dashboard

The VIP dashboard gives clients a window into their sites hosted on VIP. Here, recent repo activity can be viewed, and database syncs can be performed from production environments to child environments. Please note that the database can only be synced from production to child environments, and not the other way around. For this reason, we’d recommend always authoring content in the production environment.

VIP CLI

VIP CLI is the command line interface for VIP. It can be used to interact with VIP applications, query information about applications, and perform actions like syncing data from production to development environments.

Query monitor

Query Monitor (QM) is available by default on all production and development sites, and can be enabled for any role via code.

New Relic

New Relic is used to monitor the PHP (WordPress) code and browser performance of sites or applications. Access to New Relic is available at no charge for VIP clients.

Further reading

How to use PHP_CodeSniffer during VIP development

PHP_CodeSniffer (aka PHPCS) is a tool that will help you write VIP approved code by ensuring it meets VIP coding standards. Running this tool in your development environment or code editor allows you to fix the errors as you code, helping you develop to VIP best practices, and saving time during review.

PHPCS will provide messages with more information about any errors and warnings found in the codebase scanned.

When running PHPCS, ensure that the WordPress-VIP-Go ruleset is used. This is the ruleset used by VIP in all code review, including via the code analysis bot running in GitHub repositories.

Further reading

Local development for VIP sites

VIP sites run three codebases: WordPress core (tracking the most current version), the VIP Go mu-plugins, and the codebase from your specific site repo. Because of this, a variety of WordPress local development environments can be suitably configured for VIP Go development purposes.

The local development environment can be configured to replicate a VIP environment, including cloning of the GitHub repository. Please see our documentation (linked below) for step-by-step instructions.

Further reading

Code review

VIP’s priority is to ensure that your site is there when you need it, which means we care about its performance and security. Code review is a key component of ensuring your site is secure and performance. We offer both automated checks and manual reviews to clients.

VIP’s code review focuses on the performance and security considerations in PHP, custom JavaScript, and SVG files. We do not review HTML, CSS, SASS, many popular third-party JavaScript libraries, or built JavaScript files.

We’ll schedule an initial code review of the entire code base. You will continue receiving this feedback automatically on all pull requests to your GitHub repository.

We offer two levels of manual code review:

  • Full: A developer will read every line of your code, including themes and custom plugins.
  • Enhanced: Your theme and custom plugins are reviewed line-by-line. Third-party plugins will go through an automated scan (see below).

Automated checks: Even if you don’t receive manual review, your entire code base will be automatically scanned with VIP’s PHP CodeSniffer (PHPCS) standard with an initial report sent to your developers. VIP will answer any questions about specific errors or warnings if the client wishes to refactor the code.

Initial review

For clients on the Full or Enhanced levels of review, please allow for 10-15 business days in your project timeline to complete the first and subsequent review cycles. Please note, exact timeframe can vary depending on various factors – ask your TAM for more details. Before you submit your code for review, ensure it’s been thoroughly tested, scanned using PHPCS with the WordPress-VIP-Go ruleset, and as many errors and warnings as possible have been addressed.

Ongoing review

After the initial review, clients on the Full and Enhanced review levels will have a GitHub pull request workflow enabled. This protects the master branch from merges without our review. The pull request queue is intended to streamline faster deployments, therefore, PRs consisting of more than 1000 lines of reviewable code (PHP, JS, and SVG) will need to be scheduled, and follow the same process and timelines as the initial review.

For clients without manual review, we recommend following a similar workflow to enable the VIP code analysis bot to provide automated feedback.

We take code review seriously and understand that there may be many questions along the way. If you need assistance, please open a ticket and we’d be happy to provide guidance.

Further reading

The VIP platform

The VIP platform (also referred to in our documentation as VIP Go) has container-based infrastructure that allows clients to run core WordPress with custom themes and plugins on Automattic’s world-class hardware and network infrastructure.

On our platform, the codebase consists of core WordPress, a handful of platform-specific mu-plugins, and the client’s custom code. Media is served from the VIP Files Service, a globally distributed object store, and sites are cached on the edge with Varnish. VIP looks after hourly platform backups and 24/7 monitoring.

While your site is in development, it will use a convenience URL ending in .go-vip.net. The production environment tracks the master branch of the connected GitHub repository, which auto-deploys. VIP can also set up child environments for development purposes, which will track a specific branch in the same repo. We also encourage developing locally.

The VIP platform supports both single-site and multisite installations of WordPress.

Tools

VIP clients are offered a variety of tools:

  • Jetpack, VaultPress, and Akismet are connected by default to each VIP Go application.
  • Sites are connected to New Relic for application monitoring.
  • VIP clients can take advantage of supercharged search via Jetpack Search, powered by Elasticsearch.
  • Scanning for coding issues on each PR.

Further Reading

Ready to get started?

Drop us a note.

No matter where you are in the planning process, we’re happy to help, and we’re actual humans here on the other side of the form. 👋 We’re here to discuss your challenges and plans, evaluate your existing resources or a potential partner, or even make some initial recommendations. And, of course, we’re here to help any time you’re in the market for some robust WordPress awesomeness.