JetPack to Hell

My struggles with WordPress' official megaplugin JetPack.

saturn devouring his son

Several times in comments on other blogs and forums I’ve given my opinion about JetPack, that official Automattic megaplugin that they basically promote as the all-do-it-all wonder. But my opinion of it can also be summed up in a very basic way: I hate it.

The rationale is that I think that the beauty of using free software like WordPress is achieving independence from third-party services: to have everything under your control, that works by itself and where you don’t depend on anyone, and JetPack ruins precisely all that, outsourcing features to a WordPress.com account that should come included in the core WordPress software.

Even so, I was using this plugin, simply because it offers many interesting functions and I thought it was more convenient to install a single plugin that did everything than installing several plugins that did each of those things separately. Also, I believed, JetPack used the resources from WordPress.com and not those of the hosting itself, so it shouldn’t affect the load of the blog.

That’s how it was until I read this post on Ayuda WordPress (in Spanish) where they include JetPack in the list of “plugins that you should NOT install”, talking precisely of its high resource consumption. Indeed, JetPack wasn’t the light feather that I thought but it turned out to be a slow and gluttonous monster like I had never seen. An analysis with P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) resulted in this graph:

P3 JetPack

JetPack accounted for no less than 75% of the load of all plugins. Astonishing.

In any case, how much was that plugin doing? I remember that when I first installed it I used practically all the modules, but as time went by I gradually disabled those that I was no longer considering essential. When I saw the graph, I took another look at the active modules and I realized that I was only using 4 (yes, only 4 took 75%, imagine if all are used o_O), and all of them are dispensable:

  • Statistics: I admit it, a very good module, the same one that is integrated into WordPress.com and which was previously known as WordPress.com Stats before being merged into JetPack. However, I don’t use to look at the stats frequently and I already have the StatCounter and Google Analytics scripts integrated into the theme (which I don’t look at either), so a third statistics system was unnecessary.

  • Gravatar Hovercards: It was so that when placing the pointer over the avatar of a commentator, their Gravatar profile would be displayed. Silliness.

  • Improved distribution: Supposedly it alerts search engines when you publish an article on your blog, in order to speed up indexing and improve rankings. In my case, since I launched the blog I personally sent the sitemaps to Google and Bing, and every time I write something I also publish the link on Google+ and Twitter. In short, another uneeded module.

  • Contact form: This was, in fact, almost the only reason I installed JetPack in the first place. I find it baffling how a CMS as powerful as WordPress cannot include a simple contact form by default and it’s necessary to resort to plugins to use it. Even Automattic, having created one, preferred to integrate it into a plugin rather than into the system itself. First it was with the Grunion Contact Form plugin which worked like a charm. It was small, easy to use, with the right features, and it just worked. Then unsurprisingly they integrated it into JetPack and I had to install the superplugin to continue using it, and here is where I ended up, 75% load just for a stupid contact form mostly used by HOYGANs.

As it was, it was clear what I had to do: JetPack had to go to hell immediately. The only issue was finding a replacement for the contact form module.

I was surprised at how difficult it was to find a form plugin that would do what I was looking for. All I wanted was a simple form, with the most basic fields and maybe a simple captcha so that my email wouldn’t get inundated with spam, but it seemed that plugin developers considered it a waste of time to create something so elementary and preferred loading their forms with all sorts of options that kept taking a big slice on P3’s pie; nowhere near as big as JetPack, but obviously bigger than they should. Other very simple ones that I found hadn’t been updated for years or directly didn’t work (this is in fact the fault of certain server configurations of mine that for now it’s not necessary to detail).

Finally, after a lot of searching without finding anything that satisfied me, and since what I needed was something without many features, I just began writing a plugin by myself and shortly after I already had something functional, which is what there’s now in the Contact tab. Problem solved without nonsense of megaplugins, and the difference in P3’s graph is now brutal:

P3 JetPack

The contact form no longer even appears, the impact of plugins fell from 47.9% to 18.1%, and the biggest chunks in the pie now correspond to Wordfence and Better WP Security; but being security plugins it’s more understandable. I’d also like to see if I can optimize them a bit, but the point is that now I can say: JetPack, go to hell.

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