Top Cloudfest Hackathon Results You Need to Know [Video]

Top Cloudfest Hackathon Results You Need to Know - Plesk

Over 90 contributors, fueled by pizza and coffee, produced mind-blowing results at the fourth edition of Cloudfest Hackathon. Our Pleskians contributed to many of the seven projects, with CTO Jan Löffler as team captain for the “Hack My Hoster” project. Here’s a closer look at our accomplishments this year.

Hack my Hoster – Jan Löffler from Plesk

How secure is your hosting provider? Who leads as a role model and who falls behind? The target of this project was to protect the customers of the most popular hosting companies against hackers. How? By revealing security vulnerabilities and pushing the liable providers to fix them before being exploited.

Jan and his team reviewed and tested settings for web server, PHP and database. Also, they reviewed and tested SSL certificates, and checked password security and authentication methods. In the end, they performed own scripted intrusion tests and uploaded Malware to test security scanners. Then, Jan presented how the different hosters performed in the tests.

We were happy to find two role models in this category: HostPress and Kinsta. Because the ways in which they protect their customers exceeded our expectations. As a result, the team stated they would like to team up with these hosting companies to offer an even better solution. And Jan went on to give his CloudFest keynote in front of 100s of hosters about better protecting their customers.

Domain Connect DNS Provider – Arnold Blinn, GoDaddy

Domain Connect is an open standard that makes it easy for a user to configure DNS. This is for a domain running at a DNS provider to work with a service running at an independent service provider. During previous CloudFest hackathons, this team worked on sample implementations and third-party integrations – including a full Plesk implementation in 2018.

But this year, Arnold and his team worked on a DNS Provider Library. So proof of concept implementations for cPanel, Bind and PowerDNS have been built on top of this.

Domain Connect Panel at Cloudfest 2019

Moreover, a Domain Connect panel took place with Arnold, our Jan Loeffler, Pawel Kowalik and Kellie Peterson. While representing Plesk, IONOS, and Automattic, they explained why Domain Connect is important to simplify DNS management for website owners. And how easy it was to implement it for their companies.

ID4me Plugin Fiesta – Pawel Kowalik, IONOS

ID4me is a new open digital identity service providing seamless user onboarding and authentication. They return control over digital identities back into the hands of users via an independent SSO solution. During the hackathon, this identity service was implemented for 12 client integrations, including Plesk, and two authority services. But it was 11 that ended up having a working solution.

The protocol has thus been proven and tested for interoperability. Besides IONOS, GoDaddy, OpenXchange and many others, Plesk will support login via ID4me similar to “Login with Facebook” or Google.

Application <=> Server Management Protocol (ASMP) – Alain Schlesser, Bright Nucleus

The ASMP protocol tries to enable management operations. Because they want to bridge the gap between applications and the server environment they run on. This keeps the initiative and responsibility with the application owner, while keeping the hoster’s full control of the actual implementation.

During the hackathon, the working group started work on an RFC and fleshed out an Open API 3-specification. Additionally, they did a proof of concept. Resulting in a PHP client library, a PHP sample server, and a WordPress plugin complete with docker setup. In order to run end-to-end tests with this new protocol.

Finally, several big players have stated their interest in this protocol, with the two biggest CMS systems on the application side, and Plesk/cPanel as well as major hosts like GoDaddy on the server side.

Hoster wtf – Marc Nilius from WP Wartung 24

The end-user hosting experience can vary dramatically, especially in the shared hosting environment. Most hosting companies have individual configuration backends as well as different configuration or infrastructure stacks. It can become quite challenging for an end-user to find the best hosting partner according to their individual needs.

So Marc’s team, which I had the pleasure to be a part of, established a list of quality criteria. So that we could test different hosting packages. The focus was set on easy registration and onboarding, end-user support and technical requirements (for CMS).

During the hackathon, we tested seven international and German hosting providers specialized in managed WordPress hosting. Marc briefly presented the results and showcased some true “Hoster wtf” issues we discovered during testing. The mid-term goals are to first add a ranking to the criteria list. Then, to provide a comparable list of shared hosting plans and providers. As well as to offer additional help for configuration pitfalls for these hosts.

Cloudfest Hackathon 2019

We’ll keep a close eye on these five projects to see what more comes out of them. Meanwhile, we look forward to the fifth Cloudfest Hackathon in 2020! See you there?

Why We Took Plesk to the Nordics #WCNordic

WordCamp Nordic

WordCamp Nordic was two years in the making and we were more than excited to be a part of this very first edition in Helsinki, Finland. There were many reasons why we sponsored and joined the event. Read on to find out.

Top Reasons We Sponsored the First WordCamp Nordic

WordCamp Nordic - Plesk Team
  1. Backing Open Source Projects
    We love open source because we get exposed to new and alternative concepts, techniques and approaches to solving problems. Plus, it helps create innovation opportunities.
  2. Investing in the WordCamp Community
    Being present in a first-time location creates opportunities to meet new people in a different region. If our contribution can help provide more of these events where people can strengthen relationships and create magic – then so be it.
  3. Supporting WordCamp Nordic Values
    We wanted to actively support this very first regional Nordic WordCamp which was a door-opener for more regional medium-sized WordCamps worldwide.
  4. Learning from industry professionals
    We weren’t there just to share our knowledge, contributions and resources. But also to learn from the WordPress experts about small business woes, hosting fears, developer tips, and more. All useful info we can share with our customers for a better WordPress and ultimate online experience.

Julius Haukkasalo on top business mistakes you can avoid

Julius Haukkasalo at WordCamp Nordic

As mentioned before, we were also at WordCamp Nordic to learn. And among the many talented individuals at the event, we discovered Julius. A business owner, who had a lot of wisdom to share on running a company. Especially useful for many of our Plesk customers, who also manage businesses themselves. Here are the top three tips we took from him.


  1. Don’t try to do it all alone


It’s easy to delegate the stuff you don’t like/care about. We all tend to do the stuff we’re best at. But if somebody can do 80% of what you do – delegate! You also need to prioritize yourself, your workload and how much you can take on while still being motivated and avoiding burnout. You are the most important resource for yourself and your company.

  1. Allow employees/colleagues to fail

Julius compared leading a team with raising a family. When his kids said they “don’t know how…”, or are “not good”, or “too small”, he figures it’s because he tried to protect them too much. Let your colleagues/employees make mistakes and learn.

  1. Don’t delay solving issues

If there is a conflict to solve, go for it without any delays. Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish when it’s about time to let your colleagues and employees do their own thing and when you are just being coward who tries to avoid conflicts.

Jonathan Sulo on WordPress plugins that hosters fear

Plesk at WordCamp NOrdic, Finland - Jonathan Sulo

One of our priorities at Plesk is speed and performance. So naturally, we had a lot of interest in Jonathan’s session – which was about plugins that drain performance and kill your database. So our hosting partners and customers would do well to stay away from plugins such as these to retain their clients.

He also suggested alternatives to use and some general usage and error-checking tips for WordPress plugins. We feel that the main point Jonathan made is that the most dangerous plugins are the ones you don’t update. Which we of course agree with 100%. Same goes for updating Plesk too.

Moreover, Jonathan believes it’s better to update and break the site than deal with the security risks of outdated software. He then went on to give us a checklist in order to add and run plugins the right way.

Adding plugins the right way

  • Think about whether you really need that plugin. Is it a must-have or nice to have?
  • Avoid plugins that “do it all”
  • Are there server-based or PHP functions or alternatives?

Running plugins the right way

  • Check out the plugin properly first
  • Only install from safe sources
  • Test before and after install
  • Activate for website or network
  • Delete plugins you don’t use
  • Scheduling: use server-based Cron (via control panel) & WP-CLI /usr/bin/php

Finally, he gave valuable advice within and outside WordPress, such as using WP-CLI and checking the error logs via your hosting provider.

Note: You can read our recommendations on WordPress plugins and backup solutions here.

Key Takeaways from our latest WordCamp Experience

Plesk at WordCamp Nordic - booth - support engineers, Francisco and Robert

Having our sales engineers, Francisco and Robert, on site was useful to gather info about the needs of the WordPress community. Plus get valuable feedback about the WordPress Toolkit and its features. A number of potential customers had technical queries about the software and its suitability for their projects – and we could easily answer.

We also seized the opportunity to connect with a few small to medium-sized partners and enhance our relationship with them. We’re looking forward to being present and doing more of this at more regional WordCamps like Latin America and SE Asia. And of course, hope for a 2020 edition of WordCamp Nordic!

Dev Spotlight: Felix Arntz on Coding and Contributing to the WordPress Core

Plesk interviews Felix Artnz

After Felix Arntz gave his latest speech at WCLDN regarding contributing to the WordPress Core, I had a sit with him. Mostly to chat about what keeps him going. He’s a freelance backend developer, based in Germany. And for many years, he’s been implementing client solutions and plugins that majorly focus on Multisite environments.

This month, Yoast started sponsoring him part-time to contribute to the WordPress Core. Which lets him spend even more time coding for the open-source-project he’s deeply committed to. Besides this, you’ll also find him involved in Multisite, Capabilities and Post Thumbnails. Moreover, he writes plugins and libraries, focusing on developing clean and sustainable solutions. Here’s what we learned from Felix last weekend.

Felix Arntz Q&A

WordPress is free for us and allows us not only to publish content but also to make a living out of it. And even get in touch with awesome people from all over the world. It’s important to give something back in whatever dimension that’s possible for you, as an individual, in whatever area works best for you.

Definitely overcoming the feelings about being “rejected”. For example, when people closed tickets I opened or didn’t accept my suggestions. It’s important to step back and ask yourself why this make you feel frustrated.

Maybe this won’t make a lot of sense to you. But when you write a unit test in WordPress, you don’t need to clean up after yourself. Because WordPress does it for you. It’s not very well-documented, so a lot of people don’t know – unfortunately.

They clean up after themselves and write tons of additional code which is absolutely unnecessary. It’s not important because it doesn’t break anything. But it just kind of bugs me. Yes, a useless thing, which bugs me. (laughing).

Patience. At first, I was very annoyed because many things took a lot of time. I was like, “come on, it’s not that hard to fix!” But when I got my committer access to WordPress core and did my first commit, that was the moment when it clicked.

I was kind of anxious when I was about the hit the “Enter” button for the very first time. Did I do everything right? Would my decision break WordPress? I know my colleagues have similar attitudes too.

Everybody wants to be 100% sure the code they’ll commit will work – and not break anything. I understood then why (good) things may take time and why not everything I had pushed for previously got merged as quickly as I wanted it to.

That’s a very easy question: going to my first WordCamp! One of the best decisions I ever made, to be honest. In my talk I said I regret that I didn’t to that 2 years earlier.

However, it was definitely outside of my comfort zone, because I wouldn’t say I was much of a people person. I didn’t know anybody. But it immediately worked for me. I already met the first cool people of this community on the plane – which was amazing! (laughter).

I really like Sublime Text, which I use as a code editor. It’s a very basic tool but I love how fast it is. This is way more important to me than additional features other editors would provide me with. Well, I argue about that sometimes with people. (Laughter).

WP Query Monitor is a great Developer Tools panel for WordPress. And then some automation tools like Gulp and a lot of testing tools. If I counted them all, it would take us some time. (Laughter)

Coding standards and well, design patterns. Basically more abstractions in the code base. And making it maintainable. Because to be honest, maintaining it is terrible at the moment.

I’ve been holding off learning JavaScript for some time now. Even if my focus is PHP, and if it will probably stay that way, I still really wanna learn and understand JavaScript. And enable myself to create some cool stuff in Gutenberg. And maybe help out in the Gutenberg team at some point.

I didn’t start learning it yet, but I definitely will! Now that we’re talking, I seriously think I’m gonna start tomorrow by learning React and then dive into Gutenberg. (Laughter)

I decided not to go down the business road. Because I love coding. And when you run a business, you do this part that you really enjoy less and less. I just wanna code (Laughter)

I’ve been a freelancer for some years now and I try to automate my workflow as much as possible. So I think I would probably use any tool that would help me doing so. Why not a server management platform like Plesk? I must confess, that I haven’t used Plesk’s control panel so far. And I don’t know that much about it. But that’s nothing we can’t change!

Lots of things music-related: listening, writing and producing music, playing the piano, going to concerts. And I love playing soccer. Oh and of course – travelling the world with WordCamps!

Catch Felix’s WCLDN Talk on WP Core if you’ve missed it

You can very well get familiar with the technical bits of WordPress core contribution during a WP Contributor Day. But you don’t normally get deep insights if you’re interested in finding your spot in a core contributor team.

Felix’s talk is for those who want to contribute as efficiently as possible and deal with roadblocks with less frustration. He showcases the benefits of contributing, recommends how to build trust, and gives insights on which traits are particularly valuable to have. It’s more than just code-writing. It’s building long-term relationships and making significant impacts. WPTV Talk coming soon! Meanwhile, check these slides here.

Have you met WCMIA’s youngest ever speaker, Miles Lifton?

Wordcamp Miami: Plesk talks about the youngest WCMIA speaker Miles Lifton

A brief intro about this next impressive speaker and he takes the stage. About 4 feet tall, exuding all this techy confidence. So you know he’s done this before – been on stage, talking about what he does best. Oh, and by the way, he’s 11 years old. This is the third time Miles Lifton has spoken about code at a WordCamp, and his second time at WCMIA. “As you guys just heard, I’m Miles Lifton” he begins. And that was it – he had us all engaged.

Who’s Miles Lifton?

Miles Lifton is a young student from Florida who lives for tech. He believes there’s room for tech in everyone’s life, no matter their background, and no matter their age. With a few years’ tech experience under his belt, he specializes in Python, but can also code in at least 5 more programming languages. He says he’s here to show how a user-driven business model profits any business. Oh, and did we mention Miles is 11 years old? Yeah, we still can’t believe it.

Miles explains how WordPress shaped the Web

In his Wordcamp Miami talk, Miles Lifton chose to describe how WordPress has affected the internet over time. The creation of WordPress happened at just about the same time as the internet boomed.

With the web growing at a much faster rate than ever before, in came a platform that was going to streamline it all and act as a building block. So if you thought it was the web that contributed to the growth of WordPress, think again. It was actually vice versa. Yeah, I was surprised too!

Why Miles chooses WordPress over any other

Miles shows that WordPress is used by over 75 million websites worldwide, with over 59.9% of the market share. And its closest competitor, Joomla!, only has about 6.6%.

It’s open source, which according to Miles is much better than proprietary. He tells us all that this is the reason WordPress is so amazingly easy to use. Because it’s continually being built by its users. Whatever users need, they can have. Just like JetPack and BuddyPress. Anyone can contribute, anyone can use it.

WordPress is completely plugin-based and the simplicity makes building websites fast. Even leaving the possibility of temporary websites to emerge. Because where before this took days or months, now it takes minutes and it respects the four freedoms.

But overall it’s just simple and user-centric. On that note, check out the WP Toolkit we’ve created to simplify the lives of WordPress users. But one of the things Miles Lifton loves the most about the WordPress project is Freedom zero, the fact that you can use it for anything that you want.

Why Miles so believes in the WordPress model

In his talk, he showed case studies of successful companies, like Chipotle, using the user-driven business model. Just like WordPress does.

He went into the deep questions we should ask ourselves when we’re involved in any project or business – how open are we to user input? Does my product suit my needs or my customers’? Am I willing to change to suit my market’s needs? How do I capitalize on my competitors’ failures?

Miles’ goal was to simply highlight the benefits of a business letting go of the reins a little bit and letting the users take over to a certain degree. “No, I don’t have a business”, he says, “this is purely observational”. But he’s 11.

Chatting to Miles

Plesk chatting to Miles Lifton at #WCMIA

When we asked about what he thought about the future of the internet he felt that there will be a shift from professional to pure entertainment. And companies will use it in this way. Listening to him talk about his research and observations on the matter and what will happen with social media and BuddyPress was really impressive.

Us Pleskians have been blown away by this dude. And so was the whole community. He’s wise beyond his years. And he was able to answer every question thrown at him, whether techy or opinion-based.

I had a minute to speak with him and told him I have never seen such a young speaker at a WordCamp in Europe so far. He’s smart and responded confidently.

Plesk supports the new Kid Camps

We need more kids like Miles in tech and in WordPress. So this took me to my conversation with Sandy Edwards who was running the 5th annual Kids Camp at WordCamp Miami. While homeschooling her own son for 3 years, Sandy became passionate about ensuring equal opportunities of employment for kids after high school. In a job that makes sense for them.

Kids Camp this year divided itself into two age categories. The 6 to 13 year-olds learned to build their own blogs and post content with WordPress. While the teens built a simple store with WP. They learned valuable coding, designer and marketing skills. Potentially prepping them not just to build a store, but also turn it into a real business.

Plesk gives a drone prize to kids at WCMIA - WordCamp Miami
Drone prize Plesk awarded the kids at the event

This year, WCMIA’s motto was “WordPress of the Future”. Well, we can tell that the future of WordPress lies in the hands of those smart kids and it’s endearing to see fellow WP community members put a lot of effort and passion into empowering them.

Will we see Miles again anytime soon?

He told me he’d absolutely love to apply for a talk at WordCamp Europe in 2019. He’d already had that in mind this year, but it proved difficult due to time conflicts.

When we asked him whether he has his own business going, with all this knowledge he has, he said not yet. But he’s already planning to. We’re pretty sure, we’re gonna hear about this bright mind again in the near future.

What you may have missed at last weekend’s Cloudfest Hackathon

This year, the intention behind the Cloudfest Hackathon was for the big guys to contribute to the open source communities. The pitched projects were across different CMS – WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, and involved diverse companies. The participating developers and sys-admins were free to choose which projects they wanted to contribute to. And so the event began!

The Cloudfest Hackathon Event

Cloudfest Hackathon event location 2018 - Plesk sponsors

Inside Europa-Park in Rust, the Cloudfest Hackathon kicked off with a casual get-together lunch. And with the presentations of the open source projects by host Jeffrey Hardy, it was time to hack! It was also time to repeatedly hear the most used expressions in the development world: “But it works on my machine”, “Must be a bug” or “This worked earlier!”

Some were more prepared than others – check out these guys’ matching hackathon wardrobe and hairstyles. We take the Cloudfest Hackathon coordination very seriously around here.

Though it was clear that most people are used to collaborating together on projects remotely, it still seemed like an overall amazing experience to bring everyone together and create some great code with those like-minded people, in person.

Plesk Team on Projects 1 and 5

Pleskians at Cloudfest Hackathon 2018 - Plesk people post

Here at Plesk, we’re very supportive of open source projects. So we were more than happy to help co-organize the event and be part of a great sponsor list. That way, attendees could go without having to worry about accommodation and travel expenses. Our fellow Pleskians participated in developing 2 out of 6 proposed projects. Project 1: “Automated security check for WordPress plugins” and Project 5: “Domain Connect Example DNS Provider”.

Cloudfest Hackathon 2018 - Project 1 - Plesk
Cloudfest Hackathon 2018 - Project 5 - Plesk

For project 1, we built a simplified command line tool to extract security reports out of the RIPS static analyzer. Then it sends them to given email addresses to integrate them into CI tools or extension pipelines. Just like the WordPress plugin repository SVN. As for project 5, I’ll let our CTO, Jan, tell you all about that:

Project insights from David and Arnold – CMS Garden and GoDaddy

I got the chance to chat with two iconic people behind the projects ideas we got involved in – David Jardin (CMS Garden) and Arnold Blinn (GoDaddy).

David met the founders of a German startup who located an important safety gap in Joomla core with a security scanner tool they had developed. The Joomla community strived to implement the tool into the Joomla extensions directory to use it for plugin and core review. Today, 30% of all websites run on WordPress and David’s passionate about making the web a safer place. That’s why he suggested working on this project for the WordPress CMS, as well during the Cloudfest Hackathon.

One of Plesk’s main goals is to make the web a safer place and ease the workload that comes with managing WordPress and Joomla! sites. Find out more about the toolkits we developed to facilitate your working life by clicking below.

Project number 5 was already a huge success during last year’s Cloudfest hackathon. Arnold explained that Domain Connect is an open standard that makes it easy for a user to configure DNS for a domain running at a DNS provider to work with a Service running at an independent Service Provider. The user can do so without understanding any of the complexities of DNS. This project is very valuable and it’s kind of surprising that it has not been initiated and realized years ago. This project had the most contributors by far with up to 12 people working on it at the same time.

The result was a step higher than we thought

The Cloudfest Hackathon lasted 3 days with 55 coders working on 6 different projects until the late evenings. This edition had brilliant minds behind it like Timo Kargus, David Jardin, Sabrina Waltz and our CTO Jan Löffler.

Plesk at Cloudfest Hackathon 2018 - I'm a nerd - get over it

This team managed to create a unique and inclusive setting for innovative projects and brilliant code in a laid-back atmosphere that we won’t easily forget. And they happily confirmed that the new open-source thinking everyone brought to the Cloudfest Hackathon was a huge success.

The idea is to move further in this direction and to aim for more participants and open source projects across different CMS next year. Cloudfest’s organizer team will soon be in the early planning stages for 2019’s edition. And we can tell you now – us Pleskians will be involved in one way or another. Stay tuned.