Do WordPress users need Jetpack?

Automattic, the people behind WordPress have announced JetPack. In essence, it’s a plugin for self-hosted WordPress owners that adds functionality that WordPress.com bloggers have had for a while.

That sounds a good thing, right?

Well, most of the plugins (bar one) are available separately from Automattic and, this way, you can at least only install the components you actually need (reducing bulk and load on your installation).

Here’s a run down of what Jetpack adds and where else, if possible, you can get the same functionality from…

  • WordPress.com stats – site stats delivered from WordPress.com. This is no longer available as a separate plugin.
  • Twitter Widget – the plugin library is chock full of Twitter widgets and general plugins. However, Automattic have their own Twitter widget named Wickett Twitter Widget which, looking at the code, looks pretty much to be the same plugin!
  • Gravatar Hovercards -various blogs have posted about how to add these to your WordPress blog yourself (as I have done). Alternatively, download a plugin from the directory.
  • WP.me shortlinks – a way of adding the WP.me URL shortener to your blog. As far as I can tell, this is not available as a separate plugin.
  • Sharedaddy – a social sharing tool. There are various alternatives, or you can download Sharedaddy from the plugin directory.
  • LaTeX – let’s you mark up your posts with the LaTeX markup language which is perfect, for example, for complex mathematical equations. Download from the plugin directory.
  • After the Deadline – adds advanced spell check and grammar checking facilities. Download from the plugin directory.
  • Shortcode Embed – puts LOADs of useful shortcodes to your fingertips, including video embedding. However, I suspect there are few of these that can’t be found elsewhere in other plugins. Instead of bulking up your site with shortcodes that may not be used, why not just install plugins to add those that you need?

From what I can tell, the only feature that you can’t get elsewhere is “WP.me shortcuts” (a feature I’d like!).

So, the answer is to install those that you want separately? It would be, but there’s a dark cloud in the Jetpack FAQ

As we upgrade each of our individual plugins to be a part of Jetpack, we’ll prompt you to switch over to the new, Jetpack-powered version.

Oh. You’re going to be forced to install all of them as Jetpack.

I don’t get it. What’s the point of Jetpack? Ok, so they’ve bundled a number of (their) plugins together – but isn’t the joy of WordPress plugins that you can mix and match as you choose from different authors, getting each just the way you need it?

This post has been updated from the original, as I thought that individual components of Jetpack couldn’t be deactivated, which would have lead to more serious concerns. After further testing, however, I’ve found that this is not the case.

Posted by David Artiss

Enterprise Happiness Engineer for the WordPress VIP team at Automattic. Gamer, film lover and general fan of all things Marvel, Star Trek and Star Wars. Failed comedian. Writer for The Big Tech Question. World's Greatest Grandma.

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