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.

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 endeavor.

Further reading

Ongoing code review and automated scans

Clients on Application Support will have the GitHub pull request workflow enabled. Pull requests against the master branch with the [VIP] Review Request label will be surfaced in a queue for manual review by VIP.

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

For clients without Application Support, 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 our support address

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 your feedback on how the launch went through our anonymous survey. This survey will be sent to you via Zendesk after your launch is complete.

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.

Further reading

Launching

1. Click the “Launch your app” button

When the site is ready to be launched, click “Launch your app” 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 “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. In this step, the self-launch tool will perform a search-replace on your database.

After this step is complete, you may QA your site using a modified local hosts file.

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. Click the next button to continue to SSL provisioning.

5. Provision SSL

Menu to add TLS certificate

HTTPS is enabled on your site by default, whether you use VIP’s default TLS option from Let’s Encrypt or a custom certificate. If you would like your site to also be configured for HSTS, please let us know, and we will enable it for you.

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 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 self-launching your application on VIP using a set of tools that put you in control of your launch. If you are interested in self-launching, please talk to your Launch TAM. We do not currently support self-launching for multisites.

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 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 self-launch tool to complete the steps outlined above (Launching).

Overview of the VIP Dashboard

The VIP Dashboard is our interactive web interface developed for managing and launching applications with VIP. We have developed a self-launch tool section within the Dashboard to support site launches. Please open a support ticket with VIP at least one week before launch to have this feature enabled for your site.

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 self-launch tool.

Further reading

Preparing for launch

Complete code reviews

VIP’s priority is to ensure that your site is reliable, which means we care about its performance and security. Code review is a key component of ensuring your site is secure and performant.

We offer both automated scans and manual reviews to provide feedback to clients:

  1. Automated scans: When you open a PR in the GitHub, your entire codebase will be automatically scanned against VIP Coding Standards by the VIP Code Analysis bot. If you have questions about how to address specific errors or warnings, you can open a Zendesk ticket with our team.

  2. Manual code review: For clients with Application Support, you may request specific developer feedback on your code (including themes and custom plugins) by adding the “[VIP] Review Request” label to your PR. Before adding the label, ensure that you’ve addressed as many errors and warnings from the automated scan as possible. If the changeset is larger than 1000 lines of code, it will need to be scheduled for a review. Where possible, we recommend keeping PRs small by breaking them down into atomic commits. Please allow for 10-15 business days in your project timeline to complete the first and subsequent review cycles.

Prior to launch, clients will want to ensure that feedback has been provided and that you have resolved any concerns.

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 ensure everything is set up for your sites and ready to go for launch.

Map domains

Domains 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 TSL/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.

VIP also supports the use of a custom certificate instead of a Let’s Encrypt certificate, but only VIP can install it. 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 provide your TAM at least 5 business days’ notice for when you plan to launch your site. The supported VIP site launch hours are Monday to Thursday, 9:00 am – 8:00 pm (09:00 – 20:00) UTC. Launching during this time provides the most support coverage to help ensure any issues you may encounter during the launch can be discovered and fixed as quickly as possible.

Top-Tier Support

The VIP team

The 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

Public traffic hitting the cache layer fronting VIP's core infrastructure.VIP 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.

Traffic spikes are also no concern. VIP’s architecture scales up and down automatically to meet your needs.

Our world-class architecture is matched with the same top-tier support engineering you’ve come to expect. We’re always just a support request away.

Additional resources:

Debugging

VIP Go combines new access to debugging tools to use while you develop your site. You’ll have a full New Relic account for your sites so you can get instant, real-time looks at your code’s efficiency and performance.

You can also use built-in analysis tools to find under-performing plugins, pages, or queries. Paired with the front-end page speed analysis of your choice, and you have unparalleled insight into your site’s performance.

On VIP you’re also empowered to respond to errors without having to ask about them in support tickets. You can get and use the information you need to solve problems with your sites faster and with fewer tickets.

Of course, if you do run into a problem you can’t solve, VIP’s support staff are here to assist you.

Additional resources:

More Plugins

On VIP you can use a wide variety of popular plugins not previously available on WordPress.com VIP. Use Yoast SEO to bring viewers to your site and increase their engagement. And Advanced Custom Fields Pro can be installed to facilitate site building, with some setup considerations. Install and use any plugin available to any WordPress site, or write your own.

You can also use large, established PHP and JavaScript libraries and include them in your theme. All we ask is that you keep them up-to-date.

Instanced WordPress

Having your own WordPress installation gives you full control over user accounts and user metadata. You can onboard and offboard users to your site as needed. If your organization uses Single Sign-on you can now expand that to your WordPress site.

On VIP Go, there’s less overhead to load since your environment runs your code, and your code only. All the code we run to optimize your site is publicly-available so you can install it in your local environment and get ahead of any surprises in production.

Additional Resources

Commit, Review, and Deploy

Using GitHub for development gives you more flexibility in the commit process than ever before. You can use Git to create infinite local branches for specific feature updates. You can also test changes in a local environment that matches your production configuration and discuss them with your team through pull requests before you merge.

When you file a pull request to your production branch, our automated review tools will give you a quick first pass to look for blocking issues you can correct right away. Then, if you choose to request a review from VIP, our team utilize GitHub’s code review tools for it. Your team can use these same tools, and even hook up your own continuous integration system for even more robust testing and internal review of your code.

Once you merge the pull request, the code is live on your site within seconds. Emergency deploys and reverts are also completely within your power. No more guessing. You’re in control.

Additional Resources

Git and GitHub

GitHub is a software development collaboration platform that enables your team to use powerful workflows, and manage local environments that resemble production. We’ll host the repository for you, and add your existing GitHub users so you can commit your code.

Git-based repositories allows more robust testing on local and true preproduction environment. With VIP’s data syncing from production, you can make sure those environments always have fresh data. 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, implement automated testing and build processes with continuous integration, and use webhooks to receive notifications or configure further automation.

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

Additional Resources

Your Migration

We moved everything so you don’t have to. Your VIP Go site has all your database, media, theme, plugins, users, and custom settings from WordPress.com. All you need to do is prepare for the final upgrade.

Your theme and plugins also moved to VIP Go. Now you have a GitHub repository dedicated to your code and your code only. It automatically deploys to your site and is managed by your team. We update WordPress Core for you so you can focus on making your application work best for your users.

Additional Resources

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
  • Staging environments and seamless 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
  • All the same top-tier support you have always enjoyed

We expect you’ll have lots of questions. The following pages cover your migration. We have advice on how to test and verify your content on the new site and detail about how the platform delivers performance and scale. And there’s also a tour of new features to help you manage your site, and an overview of how code deployment and review works.

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 repository will be provided after the kickoff call). Child environments track different branches of the repository and auto-deploy.

Each site repository utilizes 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

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 local 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.

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.

When you open a Pull Request (PR) for your codebase in GitHub, we offer both automated scans and manual reviews to our customers.

This process is the same for both your initial codebase review, and for ongoing PR reviews.

  1. Automated scans: When you open a PR in the GitHub, your entire codebase will be automatically scanned against VIP Coding Standards by the VIP Code Analysis bot. If you have questions about how to address specific errors or warnings, you can open a Zendesk ticket with our team.
  2. Manual code review: For clients with Application Support, you may request specific developer feedback on your code (including themes and custom plugins) by adding the “[VIP] Review Request” label to your PR in master. Before adding the label, ensure that you’ve addressed as many errors and warnings from the automated scan as possible. If the changeset is larger than 1000 lines of code, it will need to be scheduled for a review. Where possible, we recommend keeping PRs small by breaking them down into atomic commits. Please allow for 10-15 business days in your project timeline to complete the first and subsequent review cycles.

We also encourage you to run the PHP_CodeSniffer tool in your local development environment or code editor, allowing you to fix errors as you code and develop to VIP best practices.

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.

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