Notes for December 6, 2019

Footnotes

Gutenberg 7.0 ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ด was released at the end of November. It included “a big number of fixes and enhancements to the Navigation block,” which is now stable. There are new APIs allowing the internationalization of strings, a new Card component, and a few other enhancements.


For Black Friday, Yoast released an update that placed an animated banner on the dashboards of all WordPress admin pages where it was installed. This resulted in some negative feedback and discussions about ad policies from plugin companies. Yoast was updated a short time later with the banner removed, and CEO Marieke van de Rakt issued an apology on Twitter.

Several consequences of this event have been positive:

  • There was a pull request on the WordPress.org Plugin Directory Guidelines Github repo, which was closed two days later after some significant discussion.
  • The WP Notify project (which will be meeting again in January) got some attention.
  • Timothy Jensen released a plugin that “organizes admin notices for a cleaner administrative experience.”

It's not related to the dashboard ad fiasco, but Yoast released a well-made and (I think) entertaining video ad.


The draft guidelines for plugins submitted to the Block Directory are available for discussion according to a recent post on the Plugins Team site.

Currently, blocks can be submitted to the directory using the regular plugin submission form. However, you must make it clear that itโ€™s a block in the description and/or your correspondence.


Matt Mullenweg noted that with the recent acquisition of Tumblr, the total number of Automatic employees is now at 1,146. ๐Ÿ“ˆ


Scott Bolinger posted a proof of concept for fetching new WordPress posts dynamically on a static Gatsby site “using Apollo and a dateQuery.”


Jean-Baptiste Audras shared his new Contextual Adminbar Color plugin which helpfully differentiates your WordPress instances (e.g., production versus staging) with color schemes and even favicons. ๐Ÿญ


Jeffrey Carandang updated his guide for choosing the perfect Gutenberg plugins and themes.

In addition to being the author of the EditorsKit plugin, Jeffrey also shares Gutenberg tips and tricks on Twitter. ๐Ÿฆ


PHP 7.4 was officially released on Thanksgiving Day (US). As Joe Watkins notes on Twitter, PHP 7.1 is no longer supported, and the branch is closed for modification. If you are on 7.1, consider upgrading.


If you use WordPress on mobile, there is a call for testing WordPress for iOS 13.8 and another call for the Android version. If you can help out, their teams will appreciate it.


Aaron Parecki shares an extensive list of home automation tools with the goal of having “everything running locally, without relying on cloud services.” ๐Ÿค–


Josh Comeau has a three-part series about his experience as a remote worker and finding his first remote job.

If you are thinking about going remote or if you want to improve how you work remotely, then Josh has some informed takes for you to ponder.


Writing open source software and staying sane while at it” is sage advice from Sebastian De Deyne. ๐Ÿคช

Some highlights: Write your library's docs as soon as possible, spy on others in the same ecosystem, and tag stable versions early.

The best tip for me: Don't overcomplicate! If you don't need a feature, don't build it.


Gijo Varghese shares how he made WordPress faster with 1KB of JavaScript. His method involves using a preloader script called Flying Pages when the browser is idle. ๐Ÿ›ซ


Here is a great reminder from Lucy Greco that adding people with disabilities to your team improves that team's perspectives and decision-making processes: “Just thinking about someone you know can improve the product.” ๐Ÿค”

If disability is just a concept about an imaginary person who is not represented on your team or in your day-to-day associations, that is likely to be a large limit on your thinking and creativity.


Mary Fernandez at OptinMonster shares some HubSpot data related to the question, “Should blog comments be allowed?” ๐Ÿ—ฏ๏ธ

Bear in mind this is data for over 100,000 blog posts. Mary concludes, “the data shows that blog comments are not correlated with increased traffic.”


BackendlessConf is a free-to-attend online conference dedicated to the frontend. It's happening on December 14 and has a great list of speakers. ๐Ÿ“…


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my latest picks for video watching โ€” all WordCamp US 2019 videos:

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:


Notes for November 26, 2019

Footnotes

A tentative schedule for major WordPress releases in 2020 and 2021 has been posted by Francesca Marano. ๐Ÿ“…

Tentative is the key term here, as “the exact dates will be confirmed only when the release cycle kicks off.” At the time of this writing, here are the version numbers and the “potential” release dates:

  • 5.4: March 31, 2020
  • 5.5: August 11, 2020
  • 5.6: December 8, 2020
  • 5.7: March 9, 2021
  • 5.8: June 8, 2021
  • 5.9: September 14, 2021
  • 6.0: December 7, 2021

Joost de Valk has an analysis of CMS market share numbers from W3Techs. Joost's key findings are:

  • WooCommerce‘s market share is three times as big as Shopify, but Shopify is growing.
  • If current trends continue, Shopify, Joomla, SquareSpace, and Wix will be in the #2, #3, #4, and #5 positions. Drupal will drop from #3 to #6, despite promising results from a recent Drupal business survey.
  • Outside WordPress, the open-source CMS market share is decreasing. ๐Ÿ“‰

Congrats to HeroPress on its recent five year anniversary! ๐ŸŽ‚

Topher DeRosia reflected on how it has changed him by “chang[ing] the way I look at the world, and the people in it.”


Renato Alves shared on Twitter that the BuddyPress team has added basic support for the Groups component to the BuddyPress GraphQL schema, which is available on GitHub. Now it has “all the goodies” you needย  “to get groups, or a group, delete/update/create, pagination, and permissions.”


Chris Coyier reviews some approaches to removing unused CSS from a site, and he recommends starting with a look at “coverage” in Chrome's DevTools. PurifyCSS, UnusedCSS, and PurgeCSS are also addressed. ๐Ÿšฟ


Check out this console cheat sheet for JavaScript developers. ๐Ÿ‘€ Very handy!


It's that time of year again, and you are invited to take the 2019 State of JavaScript survey. ๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ

You can view the information gathered by the last survey here.


WP&UP (along with GreenGeeks as sponsor) is holding a summit to bring together charitable organizations and funds in the WordPress community.

This event should generate some great conversations! Spots are limited, but you can register now for free.

The event will feature nine sessions, with thirteen speakers, starting at 13:00 UTC, on December 3, 2019. ๐ŸŽŸ๏ธ

Speaking of WP&UP, check out Michelle Ames post on "Post-WordCamp Emotions."


Steve Burge has another post on Google Docs-style editing in Gutenberg, this time dealing with the YJS framework.

Steve's post includes a video of him talking with Kevin Jahns, Michael Meyers, and Fabian Franz from the Tag1 Consulting team. YJS already has a live demo you can try, and it's been deployed for some of Tag1's clients, including a network of Drupal sites.


Over at The Correspondent, Jesse Frederik and Maurits Martijn claim”the new dot com bubble” is upon us, and “it's called online advertising.” ๐Ÿ’ธ

This is a lengthy but fascinating deep dive into online advertising's beginnings, Google Ads vs. traditional ads, and the effectiveness of online ad campaigns.


Milled is a search engine for email newsletters.

Almost all newsletters (except this one, of course) appear very similar to me, especially eCommerce newsletters. If you need some inspiration to help you stand out of the pack, Milled might be worth a look. โœจ


From Chris Stokel-Walker, this is a fascinating look at the team that powers VLC media player, which still has millions of users.


Sadly, the agency that manages the .org domain registry has sold it to a private equity firm, which will likely drive up prices for non-profits. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

A number of news sites are covering this story, but Kieren McCarthy's take at The Register is exceptionally thorough.


Ron Soak, a Senior Data Analyst with Xero, shares some insights on the good, bad, and ugly (but significant) effects Microsoft has had on "the world of data." (Good = SQL Server, Bad = Excel, and Ugly = Access.)


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my latest picks for video watching:

  • More WordCamp US 2019 videos are appearing on WordPress.tv, including this one that includes Olivia Bisset explaining how it will be vital for the next generation to use WordPress followed by a panel that includes her, Dina Butcher, Ema DeRosia, Emily Lema, Sophia DeRosia, Natalie Bourn, and Nathan Ingram.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • In the latest Distributed podcast, we get an inside view of the Grand Meetup, Automattic’s annual week-long all-staff event.
  • Syntax hosted by Wes Bos and Scott Tolinski has two good, recent episodes: one is focused on general problem solving, which is great for developers who deal with bugs daily; the second is full of tips for writing good CSS.
  • Matt Medeiros interviews Jordan Gal (co-host of the Bootstrapped Web podcast) on his journey with CartHook.
  • The Ladybug Podcast covers conference talks, including the courage to speak and how to prepare for talks.
  • If you want to hear about the CMS landscape in 2019 beyond WordPress, then this casual discussion on a recent ShopTalk Show is perfect.

Notes for November 22, 2019

Footnotes

This month the “People of WordPress” spot honors Kim Parsell, who was also known as #wpmom before she passed in 2015. If you are relatively new to the WordPress scene, take a moment to read about Kim and get to know her a bit. ๐Ÿ•ฏ๏ธ

Topher DeRosia is celebrating five years of HeroPress, which continues to tell the stories of people in the WordPress community who have felt they're on the outside.

WP&Up announced #DoSummitGood, an online summit for this #GivingTuesday. The summit will bring together “the ‘for good' entities within the WordPress space.” Check out the speakers, which include Topher, Cory Miller for WP&UP, Marieke van de Rakt for Yoast's Diversity and Care Funds, and others.

Yoast announced its Yoast Care (Community Appreciation REwards) fund a while back โ€” it's a program that rewards people for their voluntary contributions to WordPress. Yoast recently spoke with Georgia Castro, their first recipient, about her contributions. ๐Ÿ’


The WordPress community noticed that celebrity Christine Teigen tweeted a video of her “first site update” post using WordPress. She appeared to be using a branded admin theme and Advanced Custom Fields appeared to be installed.


BaseCamp (re)launched a free version of its service for “freelancers, students, families, and personal projects.” ๐Ÿ•๏ธ


If you are a Github user, you may have seen these announcements recently. The most applicable to many developers is likely to be the GitHub mobile apps currently in beta.

The company also released it's State of the Octoverse. 10 million new users joined the site in 2019, and 44% more developers created their first repo in 2019 compared to 2018.

Helen Hou-Sandi of 10up shared the release of Github Actions for WordPress. These are some really valuable workflow enhancements, like enabling easy deployment to the WordPress plugin repo. This is a super helpful and significant contribution by team 10up.


Stack Overflow notes in a recent post that it is “recalculating reputation” and introducing “an improved question asking experience” that rewards people who good questions. ๐Ÿ™‹


Wordfence published a comprehensive whitepaper analyzing WP-VCD, which is the name for an intensifying malware campaign that is spread via โ€œnulledโ€ or pirated plugins and themes. โ˜ ๏ธ


WP Remote has been acquired from maekit by BlogVault. Here's what that will mean for existing customers.

The original WP Remote tool and features were built by Human Made and acquired by maekit in 2017.ย  BlogVault's announcement says the current version of WP Remote “will be discontinued and retired on 31st January 2020” to be “replaced by BlogVaultโ€™s website management features.”

Existing users also have the option to migrate directly to BlogVault's site management service.

I talked to Akshat Choudhary, the founder of BlogVault, about this acquisition at PressNomics. He told me he wanted to acquire WP Remote the first time around, but it didn't work out. I think he'll do really well by this tool, and BlogVault will be the right home for folks still using and relying on WP Remote's functionality.

 


Here's an extensive summary of the recent Accessibility Scotland 2019 event from Claire Brotherton. The talks at this conference covered a wide range of topics from accessibility and ethics to AI and the challenge of maintaining privacy.

Have you ever wondered how those of us who work in technology can help make it more accessible and ethical? You should, and this is a great place to start finding answers. ๐Ÿ™‹

Claire also has a great deep dive into Twenty Twenty.


Igor Beniฤ‡ closely examines the useful ServerSideRender Gutenberg Component. Igor says, “When I want to convert a shortcode used to display dynamic content, I tend to go for this component.”


Ashley Rich explains what a load balancer does and then asks if using one is overkill in your WordPress hosting setup. ๐Ÿคน


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my latest picks for videos worth watching:

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Some recent podcasts of note:


Notes for November 16, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.3 “Kirk” became available last week with the new default theme, Twenty Twenty, and a host of new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements for the block editor.

Hot on its heels, here's Gutenberg 6.9. ๐Ÿ“ฆโœจ

New things to note:

  • An “experimental block pattern API” along with other APIs.
  • Themes can now define custom gradient presets.
  • Support for loading block templates from themes.
  • A ResponsiveBlockControl element.

Here are two interesting proposals and posts on the future of WordPress themes based on what we've seen from Gutenberg so far:

Rich Tabor updated his post on the future of themes and notes “the definitive end of WordPress themes as we know them today is coming.” Rich thinks that might be a good thing.

Mike Schinkel has a “modest proposal.” What if, “starting with [WordPress] version 6.0 maybe โ€” the WordPress team chose to actually deprecate themes?” What if themes were replaced with modules and components as “first-class extensions?” ๐Ÿค”


Steve Burge offers some insightful thoughts on collaborative editing in Gutenberg and what that might be like in the future.ย ๐Ÿ”

Steve notes that it might be quite a challenge when this feature is tackled in “Stage 3” of the Gutenberg project. He notes Google and CKEditor needed servers and SaaS to make it work:

The WordPress team are in a similar situation… they need to find a solution that runs on almost any server.


WooCommerce 3.8 is live. It has been in development since August 2019 and contains 516 commits by 28 authors. “This version represents a move towards smaller, stable, and more frequent WooCommerce releases” and contains a new suite of product blocks. ๐Ÿ›’

Speaking of WooCommerce, I found this article about setting up an online takeout ordering system using the Liber restaurant WordPress theme, WooCommerce Product Table, and some other helpful WooCommerce plugins. ๐Ÿฅก


bbPress 2.6.0 is out after only six years (years?!) of development. John James Jacoby explains the reason for this timeframe was mainly because there are only far “less than part-time folks” actively working on the project. bbPress is installed on “over 300k sites, each with their own thousands of users.”

This release addressed 420 tickets via 1,737 individual code commits. Impressive! ๐Ÿ‘


WP-CLI 2.4.0 is out, and it supports PHP 7.4. It works great with WordPress 5.3's improvements to “properly deal with large images” by keeping track of “the original source images … so you can safely rebuild your thumbnails without losing quality.”


The latest release of Gravity Forms adds support for osDXP and includes several enhancements and bug fixes.


We will be doing more in-depth notes on some of the talks from WordCamp US after we can link to the processed videos on WordPress.tv. In the meantime here are some reviews, summaries, and reflections on WordCamp US that are worth a read:

  • I enjoyed Bob Dunn's thoughts from the heart about the event and the community. โค๏ธ
  • Matt Medeiros has a transcript of the whole State of the Word.
  • Olivia Bisset wrote about Matt's State of the Word to share her perspective as a young woman involved with WordPress. ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป
  • Jilt covered some conference talk highlights and reflected on the team bonding experience in St. Louis. ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿคโ€๐Ÿง‘
  • Christie Chirinos wrote about the event, including the Community Track and WCUS workshops. Both were new additions this year.
  • GiveWP wrote about some new features they debuted at WCUS. They also discuss the Open documentary and the diversity workshop. ๐ŸŽฌ
  • Ben Pines from Elementor shares four things he took away from WCUS.
  • WP Hive has a good summary of the whole event with nicely organized links to the talk sessions on the WCUS website.
  • Maddy Osman shares what she learned as a first-timer at WCUS, including the value of researching attendees you want to meet ahead of time, using calendars and alarms, and giving back.
  • Jamie Wedholm has a summary of her experience as a WordCamp US organizer and the challenges of designing iconic event graphics.
  • Of course, Post Status had a summary of Matt Mullenweg's State of the Word up moments after Matt finished giving it. ๐Ÿ’จ

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my latest picks for videos worth watching:

  • Matt Mullenweg's State of the Word (and the questions he fielded from the audience) is up now on WordPress.tv.
  • Women In WP had some great interviews with women at WordCamp US. There is an audio-only version.
  • Plesk has a brief (~40 second) video on how things looked at WordCamp US Contributor Day last Sunday.
  • WordCamp US set the stage for the release of the film Open: The Community Code. This film shows the community behind WordPress, and it was also shown during Matt's State of the Word.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ WordCamp US and the trip to St. Louis kept me busy, but I managed to listen to a couple of podcasts recently:

  • Pressing Matters has a chat with James Kemp about transitioning from selling his WooCommerce plugins on CodeCanyon to his own website.
  • Kyle Maurer shares his experiences with Bob Dunn about family podcasts and the art of interviewing.

Notes for October 25, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.3 RC2 is out of the gates with ten bug fixes and some improvements to the new About page.


WordCamp US is next week. We (Brian and David) will be there. Please come up to us and say “hi!” if you see us. We might also have conversations on and off camera with some of our Post Status members. ๐Ÿ•๏ธ

This year's WCUS looks like a different conference I predict it will have an overall less anxious and calmer atmosphere compared to 2018 when the release of WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg stirred things up. The welcome addition of a Community Track and Kid's Camp are great to see. Make sure to check out the schedule. ๐Ÿ‘ˆ

We will have our press badges (yes, WordCamp US has press badges this year), and we will have full coverage of the conference highlights, including Matt Mullenweg‘s State of the Word shortly after. So watch your inboxes!


Ghost 3.0, the open-source blogging platform founded by John O'Nolan, was released this week. The headline feature is a “new business model,” which aims to help writers use memberships and subscriptions to make a “sustainable living” as “independent publisher[s] in 2019.”

Ben Thompson has an interview with John that provides some of the backstory and deeper insights into Ghost's relation to WordPress. For example, John says, “We look at WooCommerce a lot in terms of business models.” ๐Ÿ‘ป


Medium announced it's changing how writers are paid: compensation will stem โ€œprimarilyโ€ from visitor reading time rather than claps.

Medium has reportedly “paid out more than $6 million in total to 30,000 writers” to date, which averages out to $200 per writer. ๐Ÿ’ธ


A new version of Firefox (70) is out, and Chris Mills covers all the developer-focused enhancements. Firefox has made tremendous advances in developer tools and features โ€” both in CSS and JavaScript โ€” and I've enjoyed using it for the past month as my default browser.

One of the things I miss from Chrome is the language translation feature, but Chris Smith notes that Mozilla is working on something similar to Google Translate. It will work locally and be more private.


Here's a pluginย that introduces GraphQL to BuddyPress. Nice! ๐Ÿ”Œ


Matt Shaw shows how WordPress handles HTML email and how plugins can supplement it. Matt says, “While WordPress core has a way to go before it has good support of HTML emails, plugin developers have helped to pick up some of the slack.”


Geoff Graham digs into the preview loading animation (with the WordPress logo) that came with the block editor in WordPress 5.0.


Faces of Open Source is a site that aims to photographically document the people “behind the development and advancement of the open-source revolution.” It highlights foundational figures and influencers from Unix, WWW, BSD, and other significant projects. ๐Ÿ“ธ


We've mentioned this viral post from Jason Grigsby before, which discusses how an HTML attribute could be worth $4.4M to Chipotle.

On a similar subject, now Adrian Roselli explains how Indiegogo left $18 million (USD) on the table last year due to incorrectly implemented labels on its payment form. ๐Ÿ’ธ

Adrian concludes this may explain whyย  “accessibility-related campaigns on Indiegogo consistently fail to make their goals.”


GoDaddy has announced it is releasing “an integration” with WooCommerce. This integration “reduces the typical four-step set-up process into one easy step” so that GoDaddy's WordPress users “can set up a fully-functioning eCommerce site in no time.”


Jon Christopher has a series running on his blog about rescuing a product. He examines improvements to the content on OrganizeWP's website in his latest post.


Marcelo Lebre explains why you should be working asynchronously. This post goes into detail about multiplexing, communication, and action, which are all vital to async work.

I'm not sure if I'm all-in with everything Marcelo says, but I'll agree that async work is an excellent way to get things done efficiently with fewer interruptions.


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my latest picks for video watching:

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ I've been busy preparing for WordCamp US and traveling to St. Louis, so I'm planning on catching up on podcasts during next week's journey. Here's one that's topping my list:


Notes for October 21, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.2.4 was released to address at least six security issues. ๐Ÿ”’

The first release candidate for WordPress 5.3 is available now, as well. ๐Ÿ

Remember, this release includes and fully supports PHP 7.4! More information about 5.3 continues to be published as we near its official release:

  • In September, the WordPress Accessibility team tested WordPress 5.3's Admin CSS changes against the Top 20 plugins on WordPress.org.
  • WordPress 5.1 introduced the compare_key parameter for WP_Meta_Query. Boone Gorges explains, “WordPress 5.3 expands the number of options available to compare_key, so that developers have access to meta-key comparison operators similar to those available for meta values.”
  • The PHP native JSON extension is required to run WordPress 5.3 and higher.
  • Jonny Harris reviews some new features and tweaks to Multisite and the Network Sites Screen.
  • Jonathan Desrosiers published some miscellaneous changes in 5.3 for developers.
  • Justin Ahinon shows how the new admin email verification screen works.

Automattic announced that Mark Davies (formerly of Vivint) is their new Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Current CFO Stuart West, who has been in this role since 2012, will remain at Automattic “in a new position.”


Want to know all about privacy with Firefox? This guide from Sven Taylor is incredibly comprehensive and gets deep into the browser's preferences and settings.

I've been enjoying using Firefox as my primary browser for about a month. ๐ŸฆŠ


The 10th Yoastcon is happening on April 24, 2020, in the Netherlands. It appears this SEO conference led by Yoast will be free. (Ticket information is forthcoming.) ๐ŸŽŸ๏ธ

In the past, this event has been recorded and live-streamed, but that hasn't been confirmed yet for 2020.


This week is “Digital Citizenship Week,” and Yvette Sonneveld has written a quality post on the role of open source in “good citizenship.” ๐Ÿ›๏ธ

As bloggers, we should consider what it means to write responsibly. As designers and developers, we can think more about the different people who are using our tools. As community members, we can equip those who may not have the privileges, skills, or abilities we take for granted.

Yvette also wrote another good post on the ways you can help younger people become informed digital citizens.


Sally Simms says the barrier to building things on the web is getting lower, which explains the popularity of the no-coding movement. ๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ’ป

Sally is excited by the trends she describes, but she is quick to point out that no-code is not about taking work and market share “away from developers.” However, Sally anticipates, “there will increasingly be times when you need someone who's great at no-code.”

On a similar note, Paul Jarvis shares how to run a $200k/year course with no-code tools. Some of the things he uses are a custom WordPress theme and the Restrict Content Pro plugin.


Bradley Taunt shows how to make tables responsive with minimal CSS. He also recommends this updated CSS Tricks post and this article on Tables, CSS Display Properties, and ARIA.


This week Meetup.com announced that it is going to charge event attendees a mandatory $2 fee to attend events, even if those events are free. Meetup.com is commonly used for local gatherings in the tech industry, including the WordPress community.

This change willย not affect members of the WordPress Meetup chapter, according to Andrea Middleton. Andrea notes that if a WordPress meetup group isnโ€™t in the WordPress chapter and wants to know more about joining, they should check out this page.

The Meetup.com page linked above is being updated periodically. They could be considering the negative backlash on this move, and there may be future updates to follow there.


Paul Calvano notes that the Chrome UX Report (CrUX) shows that about 5% of global traffic has a 3G connection type, and he shows where its coming from. ๐ŸŒ


Want to strengthen your JavaScript skills? Read this post by Tania Rascia on “Understanding This, Bind, Call, and Apply in JavaScript.” ๐Ÿ’ช

Simon Holdorf also has some ideas for helping you boost your skills as a front-end developer in 2020. Chris Coyier responded to Simon's post with additional learning projects that focus a lot less on JavaScript.


Manuel Matuzovic takes on accessibility and shares six things he checks on every website he builds. These include automatic tests, image descriptions, and keyboard navigation.


Daryl Koopersmith and Wilson Miner go into detail about designing accessible color systems. Using a “perceptually uniform color model” is vital to accessibility because color is subjective and very “hard to reason about.” ๐ŸŽจ


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my latest picks for video watching:

  • As a developer, I've been hearing about Webflow but haven't had time to dive into it. I found this (sponsored) video of Chris Coyier and Barrett Johnson: “Seven Things To Know about Webflow.”

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • Elementor interviewed Rand Fishkin, co-founder of MOZ. He talks about problems with growth hacking and his new enterprise, SparkToro.
  • Women in WP spoke with Tess Coughlan-Allen about her journey into WordPress and organizing WordCamp Europe.
  • If you haven't heard of Stephen Wolfram, add this episode of Distributed to your playlist. Matt has a great conversation with him on his “almost but not fully remote.” It turns out Stephen might have the oldest “remote” company in tech!

Notes for October 16, 2019

Footnotes

Quite a bit of developer information has been published on the upcoming WordPress 5.3 release this past week:

๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿป In WordPress 5.3, the version of Backbone bundled with WordPress will be updated from version 1.3.3 to 1.4.0 with a few noteworthy items for developers.
๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿป A new ability now exists to filter by nested fields in the REST API.
๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿป There is now a “show password” button on the WordPress login screen.
๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿป WordPress 5.3 introduces a new way to manage sizeable images by detecting big images and generating a โ€œweb-optimized maximum sizeโ€ for them. Along with this feature comes a new big_image_size_threshold filter.
๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿป The PHP 5.6 spread operator has been introduced to WordPress in several places.
๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿป The register_meta functions (including register_post_meta) now support the object and array data types.
๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿป New functions exist to add the UGC (user-generated content) attribute to links, and WordPress is adding it to comments. Now wp_rel_nofollow_callback() will be deprecated in favor of more generic callback function, wp_rel_callback().


Jonathan Desrosiers has a breakdown of the changes in PHP 7.4 “that plugin and theme developers need to be aware of and should accommodate in their code.” โš ๏ธ


Dave Whitley outlines a proposal to standardize a type scale for WordPress: “By including other attributes like font weight and line height, we can create a reusable set of predefined styles for design and development.”


Eric Mann notes that “WordPress nonces are, admittedly, not numbers and not used once.” Since they're not “true nonces,” WordPress nonces “fall down horribly” and constitute a “fatal flaw” when developers use them to secure the admin. ๐Ÿ”“

Eric says we urgently need “true cryptographic operations,” and there's a possible path to that destination, but it is “incredibly steep.” It will require “a major paradigm shift in WordPress development” โ€” and developer education.

I want to also note some comments here from Andrew Nacin on Twitter: “…we shouldnโ€™t have called them nonces. But, time-based, stateless HMAC tokens are just as valid (and commonly used) for CSRF protection. The primary point of these tokens isnโ€™t to prevent a replay attack. Its only point is to guard against CSRF, and it does that well.”


According to a recent post on Google's official security blog, Chrome is being prepared to start blocking all mixed content. As of Chrome 79, the browser “will gradually move to block all mixed content by default.” It will auto-upgrade mixed resources to HTTPS, so sites will continue to work if their sub-resources are already available that way. ๐Ÿ”’


Chris Aniszczyk talks about open source gerrymandering by looking at a variety of different open-source and similar platforms to see how they are governed. ๐ŸŽฉ

Itโ€™s really important to note that there is a difference between open source and open governance, and you should always be skeptical of a project that claims itโ€™s truly open if only one for profit company owns all the assets and control.


Nikki Thomas shares how Modern Tribe tackles project definition with a few pointed questions. First, they ask who the users are, what their needs are, and why these needs exist. A project roadmap follows from the next two questions: “How will we build it? When will we have it done?”


Tobias Gรผnther explains some smart ways for developers to correct their mistakes in Git. ๐Ÿ˜Œ


As soon as I heard about WP FeedBack, I was wondering which hosting company would take advantage of it first. The answer came quickly as GoDaddy Pro announced a partnership with them this week. Their members can get WP Feedback for 50% off now.


Advanced Custom Fields version 5.8.5 is now available and contains a handful of bug fixes and improvements to solve various issues.


In a big win for accessibility, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear Domino's Pizza‘s petition on whether its website is accessible. The order to not hear the case keeps in place a January ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled that Dominoโ€™s and other retailers must make its online services accessible.

If your website isn't accessible (or you don't know if it is) now is the time to start sitting up in your chair and taking some long-overdue action.


WordCamp US will have a WordPress-themed game show Saturday morning (November 2nd). If you are attending WordCamp US, join the fun and help support the young people who are hosting it. It will be fun! ๐ŸŽ‰


Douglas Kendyson shows how to add Two-Factor Authentication to WordPress with the Nexmo Verify API.


Gilbert Pellegrom takes a look behind the scenes to see how Laravel Valet works and what is going on in the background when you run Valet commands.


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my latest picks for video watching:

  • If you weren't aware, WooSesh happened for two days this week. The event was live-streamed but WPSessions members will have access to the recordings. I listened to many of the talks and the quality of the talks was again very high.
  • The History of WordPress (in four minutes) was interesting to watch. This was used as part of the opening of WordCamp para Desarrolladores Sevilla 2019.
  • If you are interested in starting a podcast, Bob Dunn has a video walk through of the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin. Bob also had other great videos if you are thinking about podcasting.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • The CodePen podcast covers styles and methods of customer research โ€” and how it's been helping influence decisions at CodePen in this episode.
  • It was good to hear from Pippin Williamson again, this time on the Product Business podcast.
  • I enjoyed listening to Chris Lema talk about entrepreneurs and relating some sales tricks and patterns (particularly those used by the resort industry) on an episode of the Pressnomics podcast. ๐ŸŒด
  • Matt Medeiros talks to Rob Walling about TinySeed, funding for your business, and his views on WordCamps and WordPress.
  • The Ladybug Podcast is back, and I enjoyed this episode about defining design systems and how they can be built. ๐Ÿž

Notes for October 10, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.3 Beta 2 is now available with some further polishing of the block editor and Twenty Twenty, the next default theme to be shipped with WordPress. There are some accessibility bug fixes and enhancements to the interface changes introduced in 5.3 Beta 1. ๐Ÿ›

Of special note: the register_meta functions (including register_post_meta) now support the 'object' and 'array' data types. See Timothy Jacobspost for a code sample that registers a post meta field.

Also, 5.3 will introduce new functions to add the UGC (“User Generated Content”) attribute to links and implement it in user comments.


Anders Norรฉn has an update about the progress of Twenty Twenty: the Customizer can “automatically adapt all colors in the theme to maintain a high color contrast.” ๐Ÿ‘“

Anders reminds us that they “need all the help [they] can get with testing the theme in different browsers, on different devices, and in different languages.”


Yoast released its first “digital story” โ€” “Diversity, inequality, and prejudice; a sociological exploration.” Omar Reiss explains:

With these stories, we want to explore the possibilities the WordPress block editor has to offer for storytelling and creating rich interactive experiences.


๐Ÿ‘‹ Last week (September 27) was Brian Gardner‘s last day under contract with WP Engine and last day with StudioPress, but this is not a goodbye for Brian:

I hope to continue playing a role in its future and look forward to watching WP Engine and the StudioPress team as they move forward.


Automattic officially took ownership of Tumblr last week, so both communities should start looking for some changes soon. ๐Ÿ‘€

Two other investments and acquisitions in the open-source space might have caught your eye:

  • Gatsby has raised a $15M Series A funding round led by CRV “to drive the reinvention of website development.”
  • Vista Equity Partners has purchased Acquia (the commercial arm for the open-source Drupal project) “in a deal valued at $1 billion.” Dries Buytaert notes on his blog that “our deep commitment to Drupal, Mautic and Open Source will be unchanged” and “will in fact increase.”

Human Made has announced a new iteration of their “next-generation digital experience platform (DXP),” Altis 2.

Altis 2 features A/B testing, a new publication checklist workflow, enhanced privacy and GDPR compliance, cloud improvements, and more.

If you are still new to the term “DXP,” then I might suggest watching Karim Marucchi‘s talk, “What's All The Fuss About DXPs, and Why Should I Care?” in last week's WordSesh. The recorded video is available for members. ๐Ÿ“น


SearchWP 3.1 has been released with quoted phrase searches and “the ability to automatically suggest a revised search if the original search did not produce any results.” ๐Ÿ”


Jon Quach, a designer at Automattic, has written a proposal for creating new WordPress Style Guide resources. Jon suggests, “It might be helpful to improve the guide by building resources in a new open documentation site, one with features like instant copy/paste and code snippets where applicable.” โœ‚๏ธ


Felix Arntz has a detailed post on CSS Custom Properties and how to use them to improve UX for both website visitors and content creators. Felix is “looking forward to seeing this feature being leveraged by WordPress themes more” as “itโ€™s another important milestone for improving user experience across the web.”


Morten Rand-Hendriksen has a list of 10 trends he sees in the web community and where we are headed shortly. ๐Ÿ”ฎ


Multidots has released the Beta version of a script for converting HTML markup created in WordPress content with the “Classic” editor to Gutenberg Blocks. They are planning to add support for more HTML tags by improving the script, so “bug reports and any other contributions are welcome.”


Kjell Reigstad wrote a post for the Automattic Design blog about some of the challenges and benefits that come from working with WordPress. On the upside, Kjell reflects, “Designing in open source has been a refreshing return to that collaborative era in which I first got started.”


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my latest picks for video watching:

  • If you have an interest in design and have an hour to spare, this presentation from Luke Wroblewski might be worth a look. He focuses on user-centered design and reaching people more effectively on mobile.
  • This great video (~15 min) on why CSS is weird from Miriam Suzanne went semi-viral in the front-end circles this week.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • I have been catching up on episodes of the WPMRR WordPress Podcast. Check out Hans and Donata Skillrud talking about their Termageddon product, which auto-updates legal policies on websites. There's also Shane Bishop on the tech behind image optimization and Brian Richards on the work and strategies that go into online conferences like WooSesh.
  • Voices of the Elephpant recently hosted some well-known names in the WordPress community: Tom McFarlin, Bob Dunn, Roy Sivan, and Olivia Bisset. Oh yeah, and this guy too.
  • Wes Bos and Scott Tolinski cover some helpful tips for developing better habits, such as focusing on one project at a time and being more efficient with your time.
  • The Pressnomic Podcast interviewed Tessa Kriesel about her public speaking experience and how she copes with impostor syndrome.

Finally, bring some humor to your weekend with a little JavaScript and honking. ๐Ÿฆ†


Notes for September 30, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.3 Beta 1 is out, with the final release still slated for November 12, 2019. The announcement of the beta came with other news and details of interest to developers and users.

For starters, WordPress 5.3 has introduced a new screen that allows site owners to verify, change, or defer management of their current admin email address. ๐Ÿ“ง

There are also some welcome updates coming for the recently introduced Site Health feature.

Twelve releases of the Gutenberg plugin are included in the WordPress 5.3 release. Performance has been a focus, and now you should see a decrease of 1.5s in loading time for long and block-filled posts, compared to WordPress 5.2. ๐Ÿš„

Probably the most exciting thing about 5.3 is the introduction of the new Twenty Twenty default theme, which is based on Anders Norรฉn‘s Chaplin theme. I plan to take a deeper dive into it soon.

For those following accessibility developments in WordPress core, a new aria-current attribute will be included in WordPress 5.3.


The latest accessibility meeting notes here are important reading, but not for things that have to do with accessibility. Joe Dolson notes a more in-depth conversation is taking place about the difficulty they and other teams have had in making progress on tasks that “fall across other teams' responsibilities.” ๐Ÿ˜ฐ

Among the challenges facing core teams is the fact that many contributors to the project cannot plan their time effectively due to the lack of a structured release schedule. Read the entire summary and meeting transcript for further details.


Andrey “Rarst” Savchenko details an exciting and long-awaited improvement to the Date/Time component in WordPress 5.3, which was made possible by raising the required PHP version for WordPress core to 5.6. โŒ›

Andrey explains the Date/Time component previously relied on the “WordPress timestamp,” which caused many bugs and lacked “interoperability with upstream PHP or any external systems.” ๐Ÿ›

It is “impossible” to remove WP timestamps without breaking backwards compatibility, so while their use in core is deprecated and documentation is improved, Andrey doesn't recommend retrieving or localizing time with the WP timestamp.


Speaking of bugs, Jason Grigsby estimates that a bug in auto-complete on Chipotle‘s online order form could be costing the company $4.4 million annually. ๐Ÿ’ธ


Congratulations to WP Engine for ranking #22 on the “Great Place to Work” Best Workplaces for Women. ๐Ÿ‘


A new Theme Review Team structure has been announced. The team no longer has leads but instead has “representatives.” They will be adopting a flat team structure with loosely defined roles and responsibilities where individuals can contribute in the ways that matter most to them.


Thomas Park of Codepip explains how to query nearby locations in WordPress using geo coordinates. ๐Ÿ“

He shares some things he learned as he was developing Campus Arrival, a WordPress site that provides school-specific packing lists and now a feature to suggest nearby universities.


I was reminded recently of this WebPageTest tool that helps compare two mobile sites in a frame-by-frame manner to determine what is being loaded and how quickly (or slowly).

The cool part is that you can create a video from the filmstrip and share it! I noticed this while reading a tweet from Marcus Hellberg about a comparison between his static blog on Gatsby and his WordPress blog hosted on WordPress.org. ๐Ÿ’จ


The second release candidate for BuddyPress 5.0.0 is now available for testing. Recent improvements include the way BP REST API Controllers are loaded inside BuddyPress component classes.


Roy Sivan briefly touches on the way Gutenberg projects fit into WebOps, which he defines as “the operations of building and maintaining a web project.” I'm noticing WebOps (and Gutenberg) being discussed more on technical blogs these days.


While it's not directly WordPress related, I enjoyed this post from MailPoet on their “continuous delivery” approach to development with weekly releases.

According to Tautvidas Sipavicius, the benefits of continuous delivery include team happiness, better quality code, faster debugging, cheaper development, and faster time-to-market.


Iain Poulson takes us back through the events leading to the demise of Jigoshop, a WordPress eCommerce plugin created by Jigowatt back in 2011. Later that year WooThemes forked Jigoshop to build WooCommerce. ๐Ÿ›’

Sadly, some sites still use Jigoshop today. Iain notes, “If you have clients that are using Jigoshop for eCommerce, now might be a good time to reach out and let them know a change is recommended.”


Paypal will no longer be returning processing fees (2.9% + $0.30) when you refund charges to a customer. This new policy goes into effect starting October 11, 2019. For many people, it's a deal-breaker on using PayPal. ๐Ÿ’”


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my latest picks for video watching:

  • Cory Miller has been busy since he stepped away from iThemes. His latest interview with Andrea Middleton is about community leadership lessons taken from global WordPress events like WordCamps.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • Women in WP talks to Kate Toon about moving from her corporate job in the “big city” to the world of professional SEO copywriting.
  • Derek Rethans chats with Andreas Heigl about his work moving the PHP Documentation project from SVN to GIT.
  • The first episode of the Pressnomics podcast has an excellent interview with Jake Goldman and Zach Brown of 10up. Their thoughts on AI and machine learning in the WordPress space are unique and worth a listen.
  • A recent episode of How I Built It features Ajay Goel. Ajay built GMass, a Gmail extension that allows you to send mass mail merge campaigns from Gmail with automatic follow-up emails.

Notes for September 21, 2019

Footnotes

Automattic has announced it closed a new $300 million Series D funding round. This development puts the company at a post-round valuation of $3 billion. That is three times Automattic's value following its last fundraising round in 2014. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ“ˆ

Matt Mullenweg spoke to Romain Dillet at TechCrunch about this development and his vision for WordPress:

What we want to do is to become the operating system for the open web… The problem weโ€™re trying to solve is likely multigenerational. It can take the rest of our lives, and we need to pass it on to the generation that comes after to continue to work on it.


The latest Gutenberg 6.5 update brings a social links block to the editor, support for local auto-saves (handy!), captions for cover blocks, updates to the navigation block, and more. There's also a new, experimental feature for installing non-local blocks right from the block inserter. ๐Ÿงช

This version of Gutenberg will be included in the upcoming WordPress 5.3 release in November.


The release candidate of BuddyPress 5.0.0 is available for testing. Mathieu Viet also takes time to introduce the bp.apiRequest() that helps you start using the BuddyPress REST API.


Ashley Rich compares Digital Ocean, Google Cloud, and AWS for hosting WordPress sites way you might with SpinupWP or ServerPilot and their forthcoming HostLaunch platform.

Digital Ocean won the matchup, but all three platforms were are pretty close, and the data collected is worth a look. ๐Ÿ†


If you have heard the term “serverless,” but not much else, then John Demian‘s brief guide will help you get up to speed.

John describes serverless hosting as “an event-based system for running code.” In other words, services “create business logic without caring about any servers. You're abstracting away the infrastructure altogether.”

Static websites on S3, serverless databases like DynamoDB or Aurora Serverless, and “running code without managing servers with Lambda” are all excellent examples.


Congrats to Justin Tadlock for joining WP Tavern as a full-time writer. I am glad he's found this great new opportunity to return to his journalistic roots. ๐Ÿ“ฐ

I owe much of my success in this space to Jason's teaching and look forward to his future posts.


Human Made has built a “Publication Checklist” plugin that “provides a framework for building out pre-publication checks with [the] flexibility to fit your [WordPress publishing] workflows.” ๐Ÿ”Œ


Joe Watkins cuts right to the point about the importance of funding open source projects your company relies on:

Making monetary contributions or approaching your employer with a request to make monetary contributions to projects that your income or business relies upon is the right thing to do, and in some cases necessary for the ongoing health of the project.


Marc-Alexandre Montpas at posted an excellent and detailed dissection of the WordPress 5.2.3 security release on the Sucuri blog. ๐Ÿ”’


Adam Silver covers the pros and (mostly) the cons of tooltips. Adam recommends that we “do the hard work, so users donโ€™t have to.”

If you think people might need the clarification a tooltip provides, you should give them the tooltip content in a more direct way.

(Those blue tooltips in WordPress never sat well with me, TBH.)


Rachel Andrew at Smashing Magazine explores the use cases where you might encounter overflow in your web designs. Rachel explains how CSS has evolved to create better ways to manage and design around unknown amounts of content.


Since many people in the WordPress community use Github, it was interesting to note Github's announcement that they plan to add support for a Dependency Graph for Composer-based PHP projects. ๐Ÿ“Š


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my latest picks for video watching:

  • As usual, Chris Coyier delivers an entertaining talk, this time at Front Conference Zurich, by explaining how to think like a front-end developer. Chris explores this role through his own experiences, but he also draws on many conversations with other successful frontend developers.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • Rob Hope on the Yo! Podcast talks with Gilbert Pellegrom from Delicious Brains. Gilbert is the man behind the popular Nivo Slider jQuery plugin.
  • The newest episode of the Matt Report showcases James Laws sharing how Ninja Forms started and his take on the WordPress ecosystem today.
  • A reminder that a new podcast โ€” PricingWP โ€” has been launched. PricingWP is โ€” surprise! โ€” a show focused on pricing WordPress products and services. It starts off with an interview with Jonathan Stark.
  • Scott Bolinger has been publishing some great interviews! Some focus on development, and others are aimed at entrepreneurs. Some are a mix of both, like the latest with Chris Coyier. Two good ones: Derrick Reimer on validation of product ideas and Jason Lengstorf asking, “Should developers learn the newest thing?” (I like the part where they ask if you even need to know HTML and CSS anymore.)
  • Our own Brian Krogsgard makes an appearance on Do The Woo, with a review of Shopify and other aspects of eCommerce. Brian also talks about the possibility of the WooCommerce marketplace beingย  transformed into a subscription service, eventually.

Notes for September 12, 2019

Footnotes

Anders Norรฉn has shared some attractive mockups of the upcoming Twenty Twenty default theme. Twenty Twenty will be included in WordPress 5.3, which is due out in mid-November.

Anders notes that “Twenty Twenty is designed with flexibility at its core” and will include the typeface Inter, designed by Rasmus Andersson. Naturally, Twenty Twenty will fully support for the Block Editor, as well as matching editor styles.ย  It will be based on Anders' popular theme, Chaplin, “to speed up development.”

Initial impressions of Anders' theme preview in the WordPress community have been largely positive. Although all default themes have been well-built and each is best suited for a specific use-case, it has been a long time since I've seen so much excitement in anticipation of a core theme. ๐Ÿคฉ


Google has officially released its Native Lazyload plugin for WordPress to take advantage of the Chrome browser's new native lazy-loading capabilities. For other browsers, there is JavaScript fallback.

Jon Henshaw explains how the plugin works, with this advice: “If the purpose of implementing lazy-loading is strictly for improving user experience, web developers may want to hold off on removing their JavaScript implementation until it's supported by the majority of browsers that visitors use to access their site.” ๐Ÿ’ค


๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธ I think Pippin Williamson nails an important point about time on the Sandhills Development blog:

We recognize now more than ever that the single most valuable resource we each have is time. Itโ€™s not infinite and we must do whatever we can to help our team and our customers gain back more of their time.


Sophie Koonin listed “everything she googled in a week as a professional software engineer” in an attempt to dispel the idea that if you have to google things then you “aren't a proper engineer.”

I wish some people in the WordPress space would do this too. ๐Ÿ’ก


For those who have heard of Gatsby and are looking to get started with it, you might want to add Tori Pugh‘s five-minute Getting Started Using Gatsby guide to your reading list.

If you're still wondering why you should care about Gatsby, Delicious Brains explains “Why Gatsby Should Be on Your List of Things to Learn” in their lengthier tutorial for beginners.


Lee Butterman estimates that Let's Encrypt now provides SSL certificates “for almost 30% of web domains,” according to his analysis of 350 million SSL connections. If this is even roughly close to the true number, it is amazing. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ


Itโ€™s been roughly one year since WP Engine acquired StudioPress, but according to Carrie Dils, “some people [feel] unsure about how to work with Genesis or best take advantage of new features.” Carrie shows off some the changes and how you can start using them as you customize or develop child themes.


The days of “like” counts and similar metrics for publishers might be coming to an end. Mike Allton notes this is the reality of social networking's evolution.

I think it's a good step in the right direction. ๐Ÿ‘


WordSesh, a great virtual conference for WordPress, is happening again on September 25, 2019. Registration is free! ๐ŸŽŸ๏ธ

This time around, WordSesh has been designed especially for attendees across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. ๐ŸŒ


Restrict Content Pro Version 3.2 has been released with some big changes concerning Stripe, including Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) compliance.


It was nice to hear Carole Olinger has joined the WP&UP team as the “Head To WCEU” Crew Chief. ๐Ÿ‘


Peter Suhm notes that Branch โ€”ย a continuous integration service for WordPress developers โ€” now supports WP Rig โ€” “a modern WordPress starter theme.”


Google is making additional changes to “nofollow” links by splitting it into three declarations:

  1. rel=”sponsored”
  2. rel=”ugc”
  3. rel=”nofollow”

According to Google's Webmaster Central blog, “thereโ€™s absolutely no need to change any nofollow links that you already have,” but they do say that on March 1, 2020, nofollow becomes “merely a hint.”


There's a new, official Creative Commons plugin for licensing your content on your WordPress site. ๐Ÿ”Œ


After a conversation with Rachel Andrew, Chris Coyier put together some excellent suggestions about technical writing in a detailed post. Some key takeaways:

  • Make content scannable with thoughtful intros and outros while being mindful of the length and tone.
  • Relate new technologies to existing/well-known ones.
  • Write whatโ€™s personal and important to you.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my latest picks for video watching:

  • Here's a direct link to a video of the block editor “live demo prototype” from Matias Ventura. We mentioned his update in the last newsletter, but this is still my current WordPress video pick. Matias shows how block areas could be organized within the page. This may be the way WordPress content and page building will evolve in the future.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • BobWPย hosted Topher DeRosia from BigCommerce on the always lively Do The Woo podcast. In this episode, Topher shares his experiences about entering the WordPress eCommerce space.

Notes for September 11, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.2.3 is out. It's a security and maintenance release that includes 29 fixes and enhancements, including an update of jQuery for older versions of WordPress. โœจ


The WordPress 5.3 release team has a new batch of focus leads, including Ian Belanger as Default Theme Wrangler and Anders Norรฉn as Default Theme Designer. Anders will be designing the new Twenty Twenty theme, which will be released with 5.3 after WordCamp US in November.

This Dev Chat summary from Josepha Haden outlines the critical deadlines for keeping WordPress 5.3 development on track. โฒ๏ธ


There is a discussion unfolding at Make WordPress about the future design of the WordPress “About” page. Initial discussion points posted by Tammie Lister ask some good focusing, “what if” questions: What if the CSS system was rebuilt from the ground up using components? What if a unified style or theme for design was adopted? ๐Ÿค”


Jean-Baptiste Audras started another discussion at Make WordPress about a possible frontend forms feature, possibly as a feature plugin. This would be a mechanism for handling the Privacy Data Requests introduced in WordPress 4.9.6. The next step will be to determine if Jean-Baptiste's existing plugin could be used as a base to build on.


If you use Twenty Nineteen or a child of it and you use custom CSS, be sure to check whether this upcoming change affects you.


Ross Wintle took a look at the positive side of tech communities. Ross says, “We need to tackle whatโ€™s bad in these communities. Thatโ€™s SUPER important. But letโ€™s also elevate, promote, shout about the good stuff.” ๐Ÿ“ฃ


If you know of anyone who wants to improve their JavaScript knowledge, Zac Gordon has a Bootcamp starting next week. He is offering monthly plans for his courses now too.


Nexcess and Liquid Web have established a “partnership.” That is an interesting word choice. What it means: “Liquid Web clients gaining access to the technology and scalability of Nexcess Cloud,” and “Nexcess clients obtaining access to Liquid Web plans and services.” ๐Ÿค

The companies will operate in a “largely separate” fashion, however. (Again, somewhat unusual wording there.)


Two projects from Bracketspace caught my eye recently. One is a custom notification plugin, and the other is wpadmin.bracketspace.com โ€” “an actual WordPress dashboard loaded” in your browser so you can quickly reference its interface elements for use in your plugins. ๐Ÿ‘


If you are old enough to remember RSS readers (or old enough to appreciate RSS), then you might be interested in the “reboot” of NetNewsWire which is a free and open-source RSS reader for the Mac. ๐Ÿ“ฐ


Peter Wilson says WordPress might be making some changes soon to prevent search engines from indexing and crawling “sites with the ‘discourage search engines from indexing this site' option enabled.” Instead, they “will display an updated robots meta tag to prevent the site from being listed in search engines.”


Pantheon appears to have been working with Peter Suhm on integration with Branch, Peter's new Continuous Integration service.

If you missed our interview with Peter, you can learn more about him and Branch there.


Happy tenth anniversary to OSTraining! ๐ŸŽ‚

OSTraining founder Steve Burge also announced the 3.0 beta for the Multiple Authors plugin is available for testing.

Initially, Multiple Authors was an extension for PublishPress built on the base of Daniel Bachuber‘s Co-Authors Plus and Bylines, which PublishPress acquired. Now, like its predecessors, Multiple Authors is a standalone plugin. ๐Ÿ”Œ


Trust, Growth, Inclusion: A Study of Women Engineers' Job-Search Priorities” is a whitepaper recently published by Automattic with the results of a user research study launched by their engineering hiring team. ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿš€

The goal of the study was for Automattic to better understand how its approach to tech hiring resonates with women and non-binary folks who are experienced developers but may experience gender discrimination in the workplace.

A post at the Automattic Developers blog summarizes the study's key findings about the ways technical women navigate their careers, including some unanticipated and maybe surprising results. There's also a lot of detail given about changes Automattic has made or is making, based on what they've learned.


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my latest picks for video watching:

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • If you have ever thought about starting a podcast, then listen to Jeff Meyerson and Courtland Allen over at the Indie Hackers podcast. This episode (#114) contains enough tips about interviewing guests and the industry itself to get you started.
  • Roy Sivan is well known in the WordPress space, and now he's a guest on a recent episode of the Voices of the ElePHPant podcast.
  • devMode.fm is a new developer podcast. The first episode I listened to features a talk with Chris Ferdinandi about the damage modern “best practices” are doing to the web.
  • I always try to keep up with the Women of WP podcast, and the latest episode with Heather Acton of Helio Interactive didn't disappoint. It covers Heather's engineering background and how that translated into building a WordPress development business. There's also a video of the interview on the site. (~40 mins.)

Notes for September 3, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.2.3 is slated for a September 4th release, according to a recent developer chat.

WordPress 5.3 will follow WordCamp US with an anticipated release date of November 10th. It “will polish current interactions and make the UIs more user-friendly.” ๐ŸŒŸ


WP-CLI 2.3.0 was recently released. Alain Schlesser describes it as an “unspectacular” version because the “previous release was very taxing.” Nevertheless, I'm enjoying new features like the media fix-orientation command. Also new and useful: the ability to skip through groups of tables using wildcards (e.g., 'wp_post*') with the --skip-tables flag for search-replace.


The stable release of the WordPress AMP plugin is out, according to Pascal Birchler. ๐Ÿ”Œ


In an informative Twitter thread, Jonathan Sampson breaks down precisely what gets downloaded and what else happens when you launch Google Chrome for the first time โ€” on Windows. There's nothing earth-shattering, but it's good to know what browsers are doing these days.

Jonathan did the same analysis for Firefox, Opera, Brave, and other browsers.


The New York Times did a brief interview with Matt Mullenweg that's focused on his plans for Tumblr. Matt said bringing RSS feeds back to Tumblr is “high on [his] list” of priorities.


Matt Shaw summarizes for Delicious Brains why most WordPress email plugins suck: “they simply donโ€™t do enough to alert you of potential issues and donโ€™t give you a way to rectify them.” ๐Ÿ“ง


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here is my latest pick for video watching:

  • If you are a freelancer, then I suggest you check out this talk from Nathan Ingram about the things he wishes he had known about freelancing when he started. The video is from WordCamp Atlanta, but Nathan delivered the same presentation this past weekend in Orlando too. It was highly recommended and well-attended at both conferences.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • Kirill Zubovsky‘s Smash Notes podcast has an interview with Jason Schuller. Jason talks about about his career path from Boeing to starting his theme shop, Press75, through to its sale. There's some fascinating historical perspective on the early days of WordPress and how-to advice about gaining community support for a business even if you don't know anyone.
  • Olivia Bisset is a 14-year-old working in the WordPress space. She will be speaking at WordCamp US this year about the ways we can best “embrace the next generation.” Cal Evans recently interviewed Olivia on the Voices of the ElePHPant podcast, which is devoted to interviews with people in the PHP community.

Notes for August 26, 2019

Footnotes

๐Ÿ“† The proposed schedule for WordPress 5.3 development is currently:

  1. Beta 1: 23 September 2019
  2. Release Candidate: 15 October 2019
  3. General Release: 12 November 2019

In a recent chat summary, I discovered some interesting items that are being merged into Gutenberg. With these changes, you're going to see a “typewriter experience” and a “help panel” when you insert blocks.


Andrey Savchenko announced that wp_timezone() is coming to WordPress core. Andrey says it's “a game changer for the Date/Time component” in WordPress. โฑ๏ธ


Kent C. Dodds explains what JavaScript features you should be familiar with when you're learning and using React. Kent covers array methods, promises, async/await, template literals, and more.


If you work with WooCommerce but aren't familiar with the developer chats, you can read summaries of them at woocommerce.wordpress.com. ๐Ÿ›’

Here's a reminder that the recently launched WooCommerce 3.7ย  requires at least PHP 5.6.20 and WordPress 4.9. It also ships with Product Blocks 2.3 for the WordPress Block Editor and comes with new features for stores running WordPress 5.1 and higher.

The WooCommerce Admin plugin was updated recently and is expected to be merged into WooCommerce 3.8. You can get it from the plugin repository or GitHub if you want to try it out or provide feedback.

Storefront, a popular theme for WooCommerce, was recently updated to 2.5.3.


Sandilya Kafle added an update about the Trusted Author Program, which was “an attempt to streamline the review process for authors who are consistently able to show they can to produce high quality code and themes.” ๐ŸŒŸ

One of the program's goals was to reduce “gaming [reviews] by the use of multiple accounts,” but Sandilya notes that authors were still seen using multiple accounts. In addition, the Trusted Author Program revealed that not all of its members “were highly familiar with the requirements.”

Sadly it looks like this experiment has come to an end, and the Trusted Author Program program has been shut down. All submitted themes will be reviewed from the top of the queue, and theme submissions with 3+ distinct issues will be rejected. The one-theme-at-a-time and only one-submission-per-month rules still stand.


Ben Gillbanks is building a lightweight plugin called “Toolbelt” that is inspired by Jetpack but designed for speed, simplicity, and privacy. ๐Ÿงฐ


If you haven't seen the logo for WordCamp Asia, it's an excellent example of simple branding for a conference. There's also a good article here about the thinking and ideas that were used to come up with the logo.


With Managed MySQL now available at Digital Ocean, Erika Heidi took the opportunity to write a tutorial on how to install WordPress with a managed database and Ubuntu 18.04. ๐Ÿ’ง


An affiliate payouts service is coming soon to AffiliateWP, and Pippin Williamson says it took the “last year” to build it. He shows off the process in a recent post.

Existing tools that try to handle processing affiliate payouts have been, according to Pippin, “significantly lackluster or come with certain undesirable requirements.”


10up has made some improvements to its Distributor plugin, a solution that makes it “easy to syndicate and reuse content across WordPress-powered websites.” Helen Hou-Sandi describes some impressive performance gains and new support for “filtering the content available from external connected sites.”


StudioPress announced the release of Genesis 3.1, which requires WordPress 5.0+, PHP 5.6+, and an HTML5 Genesis child theme. You can read the full changelog, and developers can read the details about all the new features in the Genesis developer documentation.


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my current recommendations for video watching:

  • Muhammad Muhsin‘s talk from the 2019 JavaScript for WordPress Conference entitled “ServerSide React for WordPressis now online.
  • I have been enjoying the recording of Zac Gordon's live stream series where he learns Gatsby by working through the official tutorial.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here's a recent podcast worth listening to:

  • Static websites are all the rage, but if you want a perspective from outside the WordPress community, thenย Scott Bolinger‘s conversation with Jack McDade, the CEO of Statamic, is worth a listen over at The Product Business. They touch on the pros and cons of using WordPress versus static alternatives.

Notes for August 20, 2019

Footnotes

Matt Mullenweg blogged about some of the reactions to the news that Automattic is acquiring Tumblr. Many commentators focused on the purchase price (now estimated to be about $3 million) and the $1.1 billion Verizon paid for it a few years ago.

Matt thinks people are missing the real story. He says he respects Verizon and appreciated their interest in “finding a new home for Tumblr instead of shutting it down.” Other companies could have outbid Automattic, but they probably would have chopped Tumblr up for parts.

Kudos to both parties for preserving and continuing to invest in Tumblr. ๐Ÿ‘


Matt Whiteley shows how to synchronize your Advanced Custom Fields color palette with your Gutenberg color palette. ๐ŸŽจ


It's been eight months since Gutenberg's public launch. According to Leonardo Losoviz at Smashing Magazine, “itโ€™s only a matter of time until its most outstanding issues have been dealt with, and the user experience becomes truly pleasant.”

In this article, Leonardo reviews Gutenberg's growth since its launch and speculates where it is heading.


Timi Wahalahti started a conversation about handling conflicts of interest in the WordPress community. โš”๏ธ


WebKit recently released its tracking prevention policy, which defines covert tracking as a type of malware it will “do its best to prevent.” ๐Ÿ‘

It will be interesting to see how adtech companies and those who rely on covert tracking will respond.


August 19th was the 28th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee‘s release of the World Wide Web's codebase in 1991. He is currently the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium. In July,

Vanity Fair published an in-depth, retrospective essay about Berner-Lee in July. It focuses on the regrets he has, as well as his efforts to encourage decentralization and protect privacy.


Theย initial meeting for the “WP Notify” project will take place on Monday, August 26th.

WP Notify aims to create “a fundamental mechanism” in WordPress core for “sending notifications to users to give them feedback about state changes in the system.”


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here is my current recommendation for video watching:

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • Zac Gordon and Scott Bolinger chat on The Product Business podcast about static sites. Their discussion coversย Gatsbyย and the role of WordPress relative to static site generators. (~60 minutes)
  • I don't mention the Core Intuition podcast often because it focuses on indie and iOS development, but a recent episode features a discussion of Automattic‘s acquisition of Tumblr from a unique perspective outside the WordPress bubble. The hosts are Daniel Jalkut and Manton Reece, who runs micro.blog. (~60 minutes)

Notes for August 16, 2019

Footnotes

๐Ÿ“ฃ Following the news of Automattic‘s purchase of Tumblr on Monday, here are some of the best reactions to it in and outside the WordPress community:

  • The Vergecast (a podcast produced by The Verge) interviewed Matt Mullenweg. With a few exceptions, it mostly goes over what we already know, as Matt isn't releasing new information until the deal is completed in another month or two. Worth a listen.
  • Robert Jacobi says, “everyone should have seen this [acquisition] coming.” He believes it's part of a “larger plan to go toe-to-toe with the SAAS site builders like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Facebook, etc.” With Gutenberg, it will be possible now to “integrate [its] atomic data across a social platform as well as a CMS.”
  • Mathew Ingram asks if WordPress + Tumblr can create something that could go head-to-head with Facebook and Twitter. Will independent journalists see it as an alternative to social networks?
  • Angela Watercutter points out that “moderation is key,” and “what made Tumblr such a haven in its heyday was that it felt like a place where freak flags waved proudly and everyone felt supported.” Could Tumblr be that again, even without the adult content?
  • Ryan Sullivan thinks the Tumblr purchase is a “good thing” that can bring WordPress “into the same conversations as other major social platforms.”
  • Caspar Hรผbinger did a brief analysis on Twitter of those reporting the news and how many of them got who-owned-what wrong (“Automattic Owns WordPress”) โ€” which I found a little amusing.

Tumblr wasn't the only acquisition this week! Zero BS Marketing, a company of two people, announced they were joining Automattic. ๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ‚๐Ÿ’ฉ

This means Zero BS CRM will be getting better through deeper integrations with WordPress and help and support across the board, from product development to usability and design.


Gutenberg 6.3 has been released with several new accessibility features, including “Navigation Mode” which is loaded by default. Navigation mode “allows you to move from block to block” with the Tab key, and the arrow keys let you navigate between blocks. โŒจ๏ธ


Chrome now has native lazy-loading for images and IFrames. There are already several good explanations of how this works and how to adjust your markup.

An initial Trac ticket for lazy loading in WordPress core exists, and it was mentioned in a recent WordPress core JavaScript developer meeting. ๐Ÿ’ค


If you've seen but avoided the current, heated CSS-in-JS discussions, then this balanced roundup from Chris Coyier might be just the thing for you.


WooCommerce Assistant is a WooCommerce extension that reduces “manual work by automating several routine tasks.” By setting up some simple rules, you can schedule sales, tweak prices, and run clearance events โ€“ all completely unattended. ๐Ÿ›’

I learned about this extension when I stumbled on this recent story about its development by Slava Abakumov. Slava and Gregory Karpinsky “were working on the same project and […] started seeing certain areas of site management” that could be optimized. The number of times the plugin had to be rewritten sounds frustrating.


Vincent Courson from the Google Search Outreach team, explains in detailย how Google Search recovered from some significant indexing issues following a massive outage. In the end, even the biggest companies have big challenges. Google's apparent transparency here is refreshing. ๐Ÿ”


Jeff Matson shows off his recreation of the Twenty Nineteen WordPress theme, this time done in Gatsby (complete with working comments). He says: “It serves as an example of how you can use Gatsby for a frontend with a headless WordPress site running WPGraphQL as a backend.”

Jeff works for NorthStack, who promotes the concept in more detail here.


Andrea Middleton covers how WordCamp organizers can address the panic and anxiety of “the event is right around the corner!” period. Stay calm, analyze risks, gather data, and identify your options. ๐Ÿ˜ฐ


Aaron Powell shows off what CSS can do โ€” most of us probably had no idea! Two examples: keylogger (a little bit scary) and user tracking (not very scary, but still interesting).


Hard Lessons Earned

Julio Biason shares the things he has learned “the hard way” in 30 years of software development and many other areas of life and work. ๐Ÿฅต

Here's some good advice about how to do hard things, from David MacIver.

Product Hunt ran a survey about the dark side of remote work, and unsurprisingly the nearly 9,000 responses drive home how hard it can be to avoid anxiety, stress, and depression if you are working on your own. Nearly 3/4ths of the respondents said they had suffered some type of compromised mental health from the remote nature of their work. The lessons drawn and advice given in this article match up with Viktor Petersson's reflections on a decade of remote work.

Key takeaway: you've got to maintain a strict schedule, including your sleep schedule. โฐ

Perfection is not possible in anything, including life balance. Andrew Askins explains how he is running a company with ADHD, and again a key point is organizing your time: prioritize obsessively. โ˜‘๏ธ


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here is my recommendation for video watching this week:

Chris Lema has a walk-through video about his experiences with Strattic, a WordPress based static site host, as well as Stackbit, Netlify, and Forestry. He also shows how third-party SaaS solutions can integrate membership, basic eCommerce, and newsletter signups.

Chris's demo is an excellent way to learn about some new technologies on the horizon. However, the number of hoops one has to jump through to create a simple site with them seems like a sizeable barrier. It will be interesting to see if a hosting company can crack this. (~12 minutes)

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • ShopTalk digs into WordPress databases and hosting with Brad Touesnardย whose company Delicious Brains is behind the WP Migrate DB Pro plugin. (~60 minutes)
  • Speaking of Brad, he has another interview with Scott Bolinger on The Product Business podcast about his early work, investment tips and mistakes, and what makes a profitable enterprise.
  • The WPCampus podcast is back with Maryann Reissig joining Jen McFarland and Brian DeConinck to discuss the highlights of WPCampus 2019.
  • The Women in WP podcast interviewed Michelle Schulp about the definition of design, creative passions, and why design is about defining problems and finding solutions.
  • The most recent Matt Report has Matt Medeiros sharing his experiences of launching Conductor to $4,000 in sales on day one, “only to watch it slowly plateau and fall short to bigger trends in the market.” ๐Ÿ“‰๐Ÿ˜ž

Notes for August 12, 2019

Footnotes

Several proposals that appeared on Make WordPress over the past week have started some good discussions:

  • Ian Dunn proposed a policy of support for the last six versions of WordPress with auto-updates that bring unsupported sites to the oldest supported version. Ian says his proposal “contains a careful roll-out plan” and “would not be a sudden and un-communicated change.” It's a productive conversation with talk of an option for site admins to opt-out of the update with clear instructions 30 days in advance.
  • Andrew Nacin shared a reminder worth repeating: “WordPress only supports the latest major version. To be exceptionally clear, this has essentially always been the policy.”
  • Heather Burns noted the privacy team is engaged in a discussion of the possibility of creating a consent and logging mechanism for WordPress, most likely as a feature plugin.
  • Jonathan Bossenger proposed a “Feature Project” called “WP Notify,” which addresses the lack of a fundamental mechanism for sending notifications to users to give them feedback “about state changes in the system.” Admin notices, in a nutshell, haven't been cutting it.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here is my recommendation for video watching this week:

  • Chris Coyier recorded his talk “I Guess We're Full Stack Developers Now.” It covers “the breadth of what front-end developers are able to do and are being asked to do,” which has widened to the point that Chris thinks it's become “full-stack development.”

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here's an insightful recent podcast:

  • Indie Hackers interviewed Ben Tossell on his work with the “no-code platform” Makerpad.io. It's a good look into the “build without code” community.