Host your own WordPress blog? Get a Jetpack
WordPress is, undoubtedly, the world’s best blogging platform. Jetpack makes it even better. It’s not so much a plugin as a mega-addon which adds a whole slew of new features to your self-hosted blog, and with the recent update it has gone from being nice to have to being an essential addition.
First and foremost, Jetpack integrates your self-hosted blog into the features available to regular wordpress.com users. You have to provide (or register) a username and password at that site, but it’s a small price to pay in return for what you get. Here’s a quick rundown.
- Email subscription to comments and posts
- wp.me shortlinking
- Enhanced submission of posts and comments to search engines
In addition, Jetpack adds a few features directly into WordPress itself. There’s a spelling and grammar checker, enhanced short-code embedding, Gravatar hovercards and even LaTeX markup. There’s also an integrated sharing tool which adds links to Twitter, Google+, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg, LinkedIn and more to your posts and pages. That one feature replaces a whole bunch of existing plugins for most users, right there.
Jetpack adds a few more Widgets to add to your sidebar. They all should be a part of WordPress’ default Widget set and it’s this which makes Jetpack an essential addon.
Jetpack gives us a long overdue RSS Links Widget that provides RSS links (with icon) for your Posts and (optionally) Comments. That’s a drop-in replacement for anyone who uses the old Meta Widget and wishes there was a way to take out the WordPress specific login/logout options.
We also get an Image Widget – finally a way to display images (with optional click-through link) without resorting to a Text Widget and hand-coded html!
The Twitter Widget is another Jetpack feature which replaces a host of existing plugins (or use of the Text Widget), with the added benefit that the Twitter stream inherits your theme’s styling automatically.
Finally, the Blog Subscriptions Widget provides a way for users to follow your blog posts by email. If you want to use your blog as an email newsletter, or provide this as an option, this is the best way to offer it.
Each one of these features would make Jetpack a handy plugin to install. Taken as a whole, it’s essential.