The Making of WordPress for iPad

Back in late February I met up with Raven Zachary and his team from Small Society as well as our own Matt Mullenweg, to figure out if we could get an iPad app for WordPress ready in less than 30 days.

We sketched out a rough plan that I captured from my iPhone:

Whiteboard sketch from initial meeting re: WordPress iPad app

We were committed to getting the app out for the iPad launch, and leveraged much of what was already in the popular WordPress for iPhone app functionality wise, but completely redid the UI and interactions for the iPad version. Matt Thomas who did a ton of great work on this app and redesigned, described the goals of the initial app like this:

So what’s new for the iPad? In order to ensure that using WordPress on your iPad would be a great experience from day one, we decided not to add any new features. Nada. This release is all about taking advantage of a huge 9.7″ touchscreen. Writing and editing posts is far easier than before. Skimming through your comments and moderating them is far faster than before. And using the app is simply more beautiful than before. “

And thankfully, after hundreds of trac tickets and around the clock testing, our universal iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch WordPress app is now available via iTunes:

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On a personal note, I’m excited to get my iPad tomorrow and ditch the simulator for a while 🙂 I’m eager to see what my usage patterns will be with a device that clearly falls in between my iPhone and MacBook Pro. I’m already seeing positive anticipation from top bloggers as well, such as Om Malik — and my hunch is that for content consumption and drafting of new content, this will be a killer device. And no question that for managing your WordPress site — managing comments, editing posts, and even writing some long form posts — this will be an experience unlike any other.

Working Automattic Style

Great piece in this month’s Inc. magazine by Matt: “The Way I Work: Matt Mullenweg”:

I travel a lot, but when I’m in San Francisco, I usually work from home. Everyone else works from home, too. We’re a virtual company. We recently got an office on Pier 38, a five-minute walk from my apartment. I’ll go to there once a week, usually Thursdays, and for board meetings, which happen about once every two months. We leased it so we wouldn’t have to keep borrowing conference rooms from our VC partners. It’s kind of sad; we have this great space right on the water — and six days a week, it’s empty. Of the 40 people working for the company, eight are in the Bay Area, but that’s just a coincidence. They could be anywhere in the world.

We all communicate using P2, something we launched that allows users to publish group blogs in WordPress. It’s a bit like Twitter, but the updates come in real time. With P2, we can share code and ideas instantly. There is a dedicated channel for each part of the company, and when there’s a new message, it shows up in red. It may be someone talking about development or what he or she had for breakfast. I also use Skype for one-on-one and mini group chats.

In my home office, I have two large, 30-inch computer monitors — a Mac and a PC. They share the same mouse and keyboard, so I can type or copy and paste between them. I’ll typically do Web stuff on the Mac and e-mail and chat stuff on the PC. I also have a laptop, which I have with me all the time, whether I’m going overseas or to the doctor’s office. I’m pretty rough on my laptops. I go through about two a year. I keep a server for my home network in the closet. I really enjoy computer networking. I sometimes do tech support for our employees who live in the Bay Area.

I know people I talk to are always fascinated by our organization and how we are setup and completely virtual. This piece provides a few more good insights as to how it all works.

New Hampshire Public Radio Interview on Iraq Trip

I had a great conversation with Virginia Prescott of NHPR’s Word of Mouth on the topic of “Rebuilding Iraq, Blog By Blog“:

In an effort to encourage Iraq to use social media to rebuild itself, the State Department sent representatives from Twitter, Google, YouTube and WordPress to Baghdad in late April. For five days, they visited universities, met with technology companies, and sat down with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani.

Raanan Bar-Cohen was there. He’s vice president of Automattic, which leads the WordPress open-source project, a blog-publishing tool. Raanan spoke with Word of Mouth about how he observed Iraqis using social networks during his visit.

You can listen to the interview (MP3) here.

P2: The New Prologue

Since we are very distributed company here at Automattic, we use lots of online collaboration tools including IRC, Skype, blogs, and wikis.  The other big thing we’ve been using internally is a WordPress theme called Prologue that we developed last year.

Prologue is essentially a group twitter theme, and we’ve been hard at work updating it ( we are calling the new version P2 ) to include ajax updates, growl-like notifications, threaded comments, and a few other really clever features.  It also looks great on the iPhone !

It’s available right now on, and will be available for self-hosted WordPress within a week or so.   Definitely worth checking out.

New Dashboard Live !

I’m writing this post from the all new dashboard.  If you are on, go check it out.  For those of you on self-hosted WordPress, the new UI will be part of the 2.7 release which is due out next week, and you can download 2.7 RC1 now and auto-update to the final version when it’s out ( auto-updating of the core is a new feature in 2.7 ).

I’m biased — but this new UI is simply breathtaking and clairvoyant in it’s intuitiveness — how you would expect to do things is now how things are done — a very zen-like experience !  And the feedback pouring in from bloggers on has been very positive.

And just a quick word on the pure launch logistics last night on – simply amazing.   When you take into consideration that we are completely virtual company and in multiple countries, a relatively small team, run a service in multiple data centers with nearly 5 million blogs, and you look at the sheer amount of work and coordination that it took – not to mention the technical skill – it was a thing of pure beauty to watch it all come together.   Everything happened in real-time, there was no down-time maintenance window, no launch and revert and postpone, and no 5am all-hands meeting.  Just a group of rockstar colleagues working in sync and getting things done – really impressive.

WordCamp Israel

Good morning from Tel-Aviv !

I’ll be attending WordCamp Israel in a couple of hours and giving a quick presentation as well. I’ll update this post later in the day with the slides and hopefully some video footage too.

update: Great seeing everyone and hope my presentation was helpful.  We don’t have the video yet, but below is the Keynote/PPT using Slideshare.  I also generally go more visual on the slides with a photo and just a word or two, but knowing that I was going to embed it, I made it a bit more verbose.

( Download PDF version of the presentation & a cool visual representation of the presentation by dibau naum h on flickr plus the WordCamp Israel 2008 flickr pool )

Also a few things people at WC Tel Aviv didn’t seem to know about that are helpful:

Thanks to Tal, Noa, Elad Salomons, and Itai Nathaniel and all the organizers and volunteers for a great WordCamp.

WordCamp Israel 2008

WordCamp Israel will be held this year on November 16th, 2008 (english language link).

Already 250+ people have registered and looks like it will be a great event. I plan on attending and helping out where I can.

The focus this year is:

…to discuss the usage of WordPress as a tool for social change and community involvement, and to strengthen the connection between the WordPress community and non-profits.

Additional goals of the conference:

  • To strengthen the ties between Israeli WordPress users
  • To grow the Israeli WordPress community
  • To increase people’s technical understanding of WordPress

As many of you know, these kinds of events are only possible with the hard work of volunteers and the generosity of sponsors. If you are interested in either drop a note to

[ WordCamp Israel ]


Exciting news – PollDaddy has joined the Automattic team.

The timing is great since the Automattic team is in the mountains of Colorado at our bi-annual company meetup, and we’ve all been able to get the know the talented PollDaddy team of Lenny and Eoin.

From my earlier days at I’ve known that polls were huge and that readers loved particiapting.  This has been echoed in the WordPress world with very popular WordPress plugins for polls.  I’m including my quick poll here:

As Matt mentioned in his blog post, in terms of integration, “we just enabled PollDaddy with 4.4 million blogs on and have also released the first version of their .org plugin.”

Check out the screencast below for how to add a poll on