Footnotes #456

Issue #456

“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals.”

Jean Vanier, Community And Growth


Thinking about WordPress history lately in terms of business and product acquisitions, key investments and hires … it says A LOT about the energy in this community.

There’s another kind of energy too. Anyone can acquire it, but we don’t have a tracker for it. I feel it in the goodwill that exists in so many relationships in this space … young and old ones. New connections being made all the time… It’s something we should all value and want to protect.

I’ve been thinking about the role of empathy in marketing. You really have to start there… thinking about your people. The health of our community has a lot to do with being able to talk with each other… and for our regard for each other that goes beyond the surface of business and tech.

Last but not least in this newsletter are important discussions about the need for greater inclusion, the harm of predatory behavior, and the health of the planet we share. The good we have is always fragile. Knowing this feeds a sense of immense responsibility in me and the rest of us at Post Status.

We hope it does for you too.

— Cory Miller

Join me as I take a big dose of my own advice and just #ClickPublish for 30 days. Write. Click that Publish button. Today. Now! I’ve created a new Slack Channel at Post Status called #clickpublish. Come join us! 📝

📉 Is Growth in Active Installs of WordPress Plugins Declining?

Along with some other people, I have been intensely watching the active install growth charts on the plugin repository for a variety of plugins for the past few months. Many plugins in the repository have shown a significant drop in that area this year. 

Our investigation indicates this is a broad trend since about May or early June 2021 when some of the most popular and well-known plugins’ active install growth (as reported by began pointing generally downward. Often we see negative percentages, which seems to suggest the plugins are being removed from WordPress sites.


🎙️ Post Status Excerpt (No. 17) — Acquisition Tracker, WordPress 5.8 and #ClickPublish


In this episode of Post Status Excerpt, David Bisset and Cory Miller chat about how the new Post Status Acquisition Tracker is a window into significant moments and trends in WordPress history. With WordPress 5.8 released this week, it will be interesting to see how theme developers react and adapt to it in the coming months and years. It seems some people aren’t happy about a certain change to the Media Library

Also covered in this episode: On the eve of WordFest 2021, David notes Elementor‘s fifth anniversary and how they might be installed on about 12% of all WordPress sites. Cory shares the #ClickPublish movement he’s started on Post Status Slack.Every week Post Status Excerpt will brief you on important WordPress news — in about 15 minutes or less! Learn what’s new in WordPress in a flash. ⚡

Browse our archives, and don’t forget to subscribe via iTunes, Google Podcasts, YouTube, Stitcher, Simplecast, or RSS. 🎧

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WordPress 5.8 “Tatum” was released as planned this past Tuesday. Matt Mullenweg was the lead on this release. There were 530 volunteers along with 320+ tickets on Trac and over 1,500 pull requests on GitHub.

Courtney Robertson has a good summary of the features in WordPress 5.8 from the perspective of those who have client websites, and it’s written in such a way that you could share it with some of those clients. Carlo Daniele also has an excellent breakdown (down to the block level). For developers, of course, the WordPress 5.8 field guide will be good to examine if you haven’t already. 📑

This release also included the launch of the pattern library, where you can save your favorite patterns to your account. A recent update noted, “Work is now beginning on the next milestone, which will enable patterns to be submitted by anyone, similar to the Theme and Plugin Directories.”

With the new pattern library, the new widget screen, and full site editing advancements going into 5.8, it will be a key milestone in the Gutenberg era. The impact this release will have for theme builders will be felt for years to come. Themes might not be the future of WordPress, but they still play a big part in the current economy and are still the very first step for many people choosing to go with WordPress as a solution.

How and when theme builders as a whole adapt and we reach a tipping point remains to be seen. Traditional themes work fine with 5.8, so the transition time between traditional and “full block” themes as the norm may be gradual. In any case, WordPress 5.8 will likely be the spark that many will use to prepare for the future — learning about themes.json for starters.

Change resistance can have benefits. Some non-block updates in 5.8 were quickly noticed by some users, as seen in this example of one person who was dismayed by the loss of infinite auto-scrolling images in the media library — and another commenter provided a way to get it back.

Onward and upward to WordPress 5.9! 🦸

Tammie Lister has started a lexicon to help “define and collate links” related to “themes and the new functionality in WordPress as full site editing happens.”🔖

BuddyPress 9.0 “Mico” was released a day before WordPress 5.8 with 10 new blocks. It was a short time frame development cycle, so kudos to the team for pulling it off. 🙌

I’m excited to see the block editor used in BuddyPress, which should allow for more flexible design choices.

Carolina Nymark is looking for feedback — especially from WordPress theme authors — to help improve the theme directory requirements. She asks, “What would make it easier for you to submit themes? What requirement would you like to change or remove?” 💬

Carolina also has a proposal for updated theme directory requirements.

Francesca Marano describes some proof-of-concept work being done with WordPress updates, and she’s asking for feedback. A proof of concept has been created that can be found in a draft PR. 💬

With the release of WordPress 5.8, block templates have been on the minds of some developers. Rich Tabor has a great guide to building your first block template, and it explains how to leverage template parts within block templates. 🦮

For Rich this is clearly the dawn of full site editing:

“Block templates are absolutely how most of us will interface with templated content within WordPress in the future. Having the ability to natively edit a template provided by a theme, plus maintain that template even after switching themes, is honestly a game-changer.”

It appears that WPBeginner has launched a new plugin called Comment Moderation Role. It allows you to give users admin access only to the comment moderation screen. 🔌

“Unlike the WordPress default settings, a comment moderator is not required to be able to author posts, so you can keep your content secure.”

Marcus Kazmierczak continues to dive deep into how WordPress 5.8 introduces a new and easier way to load block assets only when needed. He shares a test-block example. 👍

Version 0.8 of the GraphQL API for WordPress is now available. This is a big release with potential for “breaking changes,” so be careful if you are updating. In 0.8, the codebase was refactored to enable extensions, further satisfy the GraphQL specification, complete the GraphQL schema, and support WordPress 5.8.

🤝 WordPress Jobs: The Post Status Job Board

💼 There are currently 22 Active Job Listings on the Board. We don’t have space for them all here, so be sure to check online too.

☀️ Employers: Get your job opening in front of many of the best and brightest members of the WordPress community. List your job opening with Post Status today. (Get a 20% discount as a Post Status Club Member!) »

Current Listings:

LionSher Technologies has announced the acquisition of the following plugins from Lever Technology: PDF Embedder, Google Apps Login, Google Drive Embedder, Google Apps Directory, Google Profile Avatars, and All-In-One Intranet. 🔌

LionSher has flown under the radar for a while in the WordPress community, starting with the purchase of Envira Gallery and Soliloquy from Awesome Motive and then in May 2020 purchasing Imagely, the owners of NextGEN Gallery.

Every time we reset the counter on the Post Status Acquisition Tracker, we notice how deals of all kinds and sizes are happening in the WordPress space — on almost a weekly basis these days!

Elementor celebrated its fifth birthday last month and published a blog post of milestones they’ve reached. They claim that “5% Of All Websites Are Built With Elementor” with 8 million “active installs.” 🎂

If that’s accurate it would mean Elementor is installed on 12-13% of all WordPress sites, a figure that W3Techs seems to back up with their numbers. (WooCommerce and WPBakery are the only two WordPress plugins listed with larger numbers). Achieving this within just 5 years is remarkable.

Congrats To InstaWP for hitting 1,000 websites in fewer than 15 days after launching. InstaWP lets you spin up a WordPress test site very quickly. Founder Vikas Singhal promises more features (like reserving sites and mapping domain names) in the near future. 🙌

After Automattic announced it was buying Pocket Casts last week, Joe Casabona explained why he thinks this is a great move. 🎙️

Personally, I think it’s nice to see Automattic taking ownership, and I don’t think this particular move will harm podcasters’ freedom as one might argue that Spotify is doing. It will take a while to see what happens with this acquisition, but it’s easy to imagine posting a podcast on and finding it published more easily on Pocket Casts.

Some Tumblr news this week: Ilya Kaminsky has been brought on board with Automattic to work on Tumblr as Director of Engineering, Ads. Automattic credits a new partnership with Hunt Club for the hire, no doubt one of several sources for talent in a competitive hiring market.

In addition, Tumblr announced Post+ which allows creators to get paid by charging a subscription for their blogs. Matt Mullenweg says he disagrees with people who say not much has been done with Tumblr since 2019. He pointed out, “[I]t’s true a lot of the work has been behind the scenes, but that gives us a great foundation for new launches now.”

It appears some in the Tumblr community aren’t taking this announcement well with Amanda Silberling stating, “It’s not a question of whether or not it’s valuable to support creators, but rather, whether Tumblr is capable of hosting such a service.” I believe it can, and more importantly, it probably must.

Nick Adams, former COO of WP Buffs, has transitioned into the role of CEO there. Joe Howard is staying on as CIO (Chief Innovation Officer) and will be handling WPMRR (the virtual summit, community, and podcast) and advancing the acquisition unit. 👏

Nandini Diagarajan explores the things you should know before taking over an online community. This advice could apply to communities formed around products, plugins, and even events in the WordPress space.

This is recommended reading for anyone taking over as community manager or acquiring a popular plugin or company. 👍

Ollie Rozdarz gets into detail about experiments performed last year with the onboarding flow. 🧪

📆 Upcoming Events

  • Gutenberg Full-Site Editing: Unlocking Agility for Enterprise WordPress: WordPress VIP is holding a webinar on Full Site Editing on July 29th (10 AM PT / 1 PM ET / 5 PM UTC) led by Tess Needham, David Bowman, and Jameson Proctor. The goal is to demonstrate Full-Site Editing as an asset to your teams. Discover what WordPress VIP learned from implementing FSE.
  • The 2021 WPMRR Virtual Summit: An online conference (September 21-23) that’s 100% focused on helping you make monthly recurring revenue work for your WordPress business. Hosted by Joe Howard and Brian Richards. Register here.
  • WordCamp Nicaragua: Takes place from August 6-7. 🇳🇮 Register here.
  • WordCamp Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil: Convenes for two days, August 11-12. 🇧🇷 Register here.

It appears Google has stopped displaying the AMP label for AMP pages listed in the Google mobile search results. It’s not clear if this will “influence searchers” as Barry Schwartz thinks it will, but it’s an interesting move considering Google’s mobile search results had displayed variations of AMP labels since AMP launched in 2016. 🔍

Firefox 90 will no longer support the FTP protocol. I know this will make things more secure, but the old-timer in me misses when I could visit FTP sites in a browser! 👴

Vitaly Friedman explains in Smashing Magazine how to use filters properly — and why it’s important:

“[N]ever freeze the UI on a single input, provide text input fallback and never auto-scroll users on a single input.”

Greg Hunt shared in Post Status Slack that he’s released a small utility plugin that adds your defined sidebar widget areas as standard WordPress menu items which would be “mostly useful for creating mega menu style dropdown menus.” 🔌

Wordfence reports that the official SendGrid for WordPress plugin is vulnerable to authorization bypass if run in multisite. The plugin is no longer maintained and no longer downloadable from the plugin repo, but it is reported to have 100,000+ active installs. 🔓

Hat tip to Prashant Baldha who digs deeper into the vulnerability on his blog. 🎩

Kevin Powell refers to a lot of helpful CSS resources and experts in this humble post. If you are looking to further expand your CSS knowledge, this is worth a read. 👑

Justin Ferriman notes the “importance of taking care of your mental health as an entrepreneur isn’t discussed enough” as he shares how he relieves stress. 🥊

“The body and mind are connected… most of the time my mind is taking care of my body, but every so often my body has to take care of my mind to relieve that time under tension.”

Marieke van de Rakt via HeroPress writes about finding her place at Yoast. At one point, she writes, she felt she wouldn’t be taken seriously: “People outside of Yoast often assumed that I was Joost’s assistant or his secretary.” 🙋‍♀️

Marieke’s path might inspire others with the value of steady work and learning:

“In 2015, I started talking at conferences. Over time, I got more comfortable and less insecure. I was more confident that I knew what I was doing. Working hard and studying a lot pays off.”

Even after assuming the role of CEO, Marieke still had to deal with the prejudiced assumptions of people who believed she only got the job by being married to the founder. She was also the only woman on the board and management team.

Under Marieke’s leadership, Yoast has hired more women and others from underrepresented groups. Her story should inspire other companies to do the same.

Timi Wahalahti believes that the WordPress community does not talk about the climate emergency enough, which we completely agree with. Timi lists some suggestions “to start the conversation.” 🚨

Even if you don’t completely agree with these ideas, it’s worth seriously considering what we can do to reduce waste at events and also on our sites. ♻️

Meanwhile, over in Post Status Slack, Steve Burge pointed out that for PublishPress‘s YouTube channel he “found and interviewed several WordPress people [who] are really focused on environmental issues: Tim Frick, Tom Greenwood, Hannah Smith, Phil Sturgeon, Yanir Seroussi, and Johannes Benz.”

Those are really great talks, and you can find even more over at the PublishPress blog. 🌍

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