Jetpack is nothing if not a fairly divisive plugin in the WordPress community. At this point I’m sure we’ve all had more than a couple of conversations about its positive features and its more frustrating ones. With Jetpack 2.0, though, the new Photon feature may prove to be one of the more impressive offerings of the bunch for users and developers.
Photon, when enabled, will filter through the site’s content and, if the images are local to the site, pass them off to WordPress.com and serve them via their content delivery network. So, for example, the post image above would be served from the following URL: http://i0.wp.com/original-image-url.png?resize=600.
For the average WordPress user, getting this going only takes them installing Jetpack and turning this feature on. I’m not familiar with every CDN service out there, but this sounds like the easiest free way anyone can serve up their images from a CDN. Less taxing on the site’s host, likely faster page loads, and all without the user needing to learn a lot about the service or the setup process.
If that were all Photon were, I think it would be an interesting addition…
If that were all Photon were, I think it would be an interesting addition, particularly as a one point oh. But the feature also brings with it an API that theme and plugin developers can take advantage of. The Photon API wasn’t directly linked in the Jetpack announcement post, but is something every developer should have a peak at.
For sites running Jetpack Photon, there are a number of GET query arguments available. For instance, set the width, height, or cropping dimensions of the image. Filters, brightness and contrast controls, and image smoothing are available too. Given that Jetpack has seen the pickup that it has in the WordPress community (albeit mostly due to inclusion in hosting packages) the use of the Photon API could be a solid option for developers looking to do interesting things with a site’s images. It’s not a given for every site, but just about as close to a given as we have right now.
Photon is certainly not the best CDN option available for WordPress — heck, it only handles images for one thing. But it will probably lead to many WordPress users getting started with content delivery networks, which is a great thing.
And with the API available for developers, Photon is now the one piece of Jetpack I’m most interested in seeing grow over time.