Jetpack 5.4 was released yesterday with many small enhancements to existing modules and an expansion of features for users on the paid plans. A new date picker field is available for the Contact Form, allowing administrators to request additional information such as project timelines, event reservations, or any other date-related data.
This release also fixes a bug with Jetpack’s Comments module where the form had whitespace beneath it when displayed in some themes. It now has a set default height, which will expand automatically as commenters are typing.
A few other other improvements for all Jetpack users include the ability for third-party plugin and theme authors to add new menu items to the WordPress.com toolbar, connection process updated to allow for more users, improved display of Facebook embeds, and a better migration process for Widget Visibility rules when switching to the new WordPress Image Widget. Check out the full list of changes in the plugin’s changelog.
New Features for Jetpack Personal, Premium, and Professional Plans: Welcome Screens and Search Module in Beta
The plugin will soon be introducing a new Jetpack Search module for users on its Professional plan, the top tier that caters to those who need more business and marketing tools. Version 5.4 adds the architecture for the feature, which is powered by Elasticsearch and runs in the WordPress.com cloud. Users who want to participate in the beta can enable the feature at Settings > Traffic on WordPress.com and then add the new Search widget within wp-admin.
WordPress’ native search function is notoriously slow and often provides poor and inadequate results for sites with large amounts of content. Jetpack’s new Search module aims to deliver faster, more relevant results using the same powerful infrastructure that runs Jetpack Related Posts and the search on hundreds of WordPress.com VIP sites. In July 2017, WordPress.com’s data.blog reported that its network averages 23 million actions per day that trigger indexing of 75 million Elasticsearch documents into hundreds of indices.
Jetpack Search boasts a zero configuration setup, real-time indexing (WordPress.com’s VIP indices have a one-second refresh rate), and the flexibility for developers to create custom Elasticsearch queries.
The Jetpack Professional plan’s $299/year price point is highly competitive for access to a hosted Elasticsearch engine. Ordinarily, developers looking for the most economical way to implement Elasticsearch on a WordPress site will have to host and manage their own instances on Amazon AWS or other cloud services. This often comes with more ongoing maintenance and setup.
Most managed WordPress hosts do not have a hosted Elasticsearch solution built into their plans. Earlier this year 10up launched ElasticPress.io to fill this need for for enterprise clients. The service starts at $299/month for up to 20GB of storage and unlimited Elasticsearch bandwidth and goes up to $999/month for more resources. WordPress.com VIP also offers Elasticsearch for their customers on plans ranging from $5,000 – $25,000 per month. Access to WordPress.com’s Elasticsearch infrastructure is arguably the highest value addition to Jetpack’s commercial plans to date.
The Jetpack team is still working on the documentation for the new Search feature and has not published the specifics of the Elasticsearch resources and limits for Jetpack Professional subscribers. More information should be available once the feature is out of beta but current customers can test it after updating to Jetpack 5.4.