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. 👍


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


It’s been eight months since Gutenberg’s public launch. According to Leonardo Losoviz at Smashing Magazine, “it’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. ⚔️


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

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.


The 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

📹 Here is my current recommendation for video watching:

🎙️ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • Zac Gordon and Scott Bolinger chat on The Product Business podcast about static sites. Their discussion covers Gatsby 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

📣 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 Hübinger did a brief analysis on Twitter of those reporting the news and how many of them got who-owned-what wrong (“Automattic Owns WordPress”) — 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. 🚫🐂💩

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. ⌨️


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. 💤


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 – all completely unattended. 🛒

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 detail 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. 🔍


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. 😰


Aaron Powell shows off what CSS can do — 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. 🥵

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. ⏰

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. ☑️


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 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)

🎙️ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • ShopTalk digs into WordPress databases and hosting with Brad Touesnard 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.” 📉😞

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

📹 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.”

🎙️ 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.

Notes for August 9, 2019

Footnotes

Caldera has been acquired by Saturday Drive, the makers of Ninja Forms. Acquiring competitors can make sense in a consolidating market, but the Saturday Drive folks don’t have plans to blend the two products. Instead, they see Caldera as a developer-focused product and Ninja Forms as a more user-focused product.

I am a bit surprised by that, and I wonder if those plans will change over time. Building separate developer- and user-centric products might be a great challenge to take on, but to my mind both markets need to be served side-by-side, in one product.

Josh Pollock is joining Saturday Drive as the VP of Engineer Experience — a role I’m sure he will be great at. A few other folks who worked on Caldera Forms will be joining the new team as well. Congrats to everyone involved.


Sarah Gooding did a nice job summarizing the changes Jetpack is testing for paid block upgrades. It is controversial in the community as it fits within the gray zone of what should or should not be allowed. I appreciated Jeremy Herve’s comments to the post.

I think it’s fair to say I support good user experiences for paid upgrades in WordPress. I also support a level playing field where Jetpack or anyone else does not have special privileges on where and how to promote paid products. I think that’s obvious, but it can be easy to add drama to the situation. I trust the plugin team will help Jetpack fulfill both criteria, like they would for any other large player in the field.


John James Jacoby released the initial version of BerlinDB, a “collection of PHP classes and functions that aims to provide an ORM-like experience and interface to WordPress database tables.”

John touched on these concepts in his talk at WordCamp Europe about advanced database management for WordPress plugins. 🔌


The New York Times explains how they built a proprietary “collaborative editing CMS” for their newsrooms. It’s an impressive piece of software, but it’s a shame how much cool engineering goes into closed systems. Would the Times sharing this effort as an open-source project limit their business opportunities? 🤐


Grzegorz Ziółkowski tweeted to announce that “unifying text-based blocks” are in development for WordPress core. He also asked whether there is is a valid use case for centered or right-aligned lists in LTR languages.


Scott Bolinger rebuilt his WordPress blog in Gatsby and wrote about his experience, which was mostly positive. However, there was a learning curve with some challenges along the way, such as adding images to a page (“ridiculously difficult”) and forms.

Scott is also quick to point out that static sites aren’t suitable for all projects, especially those with “with complex relationships between users and other data.”

More from Scott: I have really been enjoying his new podcast for The Product Business. I’ve listened to every episode and gotten a lot from them.


In BuddyPress 5.0.0 you will be able to tidy your BuddyPress blocks in a separate BuddyPress block category.


Carolina Nymark announced the theme review team will require all themes to implement keyboard navigation in “five weeks time.” (This puts the deadline in early September.)

This new requirement goes beyond navigation menus: “All functionality should work using a keyboard only.” ⌨️

In Carolina’s announcement, there are some tips and resources to help theme developers comply with the new standard.


Dealing with dates in programming isn’t always straightforward, which is why I appreciated this reminder on how to take a timestamp and convert it into a formatted date in JavaScript. 📅


Gary Pendergast announced a “baby step” toward a better contributor experience in WordPress Core.

Custom Docker images are now available for running WordPress on PHP versions 5.2 to 7.3. These images aren’t intended for hosting Docker-based WordPress sites but instead should be used to create a local development environment for WordPress.


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here is my recommendation for video watching this week:

🎙️ Podcasts I’ve appreciated in the last few days:

  • Presentable is a new podcast hosted by Jeff Veen with a focus on design. I liked a recent episode with Mike Monteiro that tackles the problem of enforcing ethical standards in the design industry. (~45 minutes.)
  • The php[architect] podcast did an interview with Maura Teal of Pagely, who is also giving a talk at the php[world] conference.

Notes for July 31, 2019

Footnotes

WPCampus 2019 concluded this past weekend with a wide range of substantial talks and topics. Thanks to Pantheon, there was a live stream and live captioning. Videos will be posted online as in past years. 🎓

WPCampus 2020 will be held on July 16-20, 2020 at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA


Parents who are thinking about bringing their kids to WordCamp US will be pleased to learn the event will be offering free on-site childcare all day for children ages six weeks to 12 years. 👶🏕️

The childcare provider is “a licensed conference childcare service” that will allow parents to drop off and pick up their kids throughout the day as your schedule requires.

Speaking of WordCamps, tickets are now on sale for WordCamp Asia (February 21-23 2020).


If you use WooCommerce and are looking for product review plugins, Colm Troy has a big review of his picks for the best. His top pick is Judge.me, and he goes into great detail about its capabilities. 🏆

Not sure if reviews might be a good idea for your site at all? Troy has some good advice on that too.


In a world where “learn this programming language in a day or weekend” sells books and courses. Peter Norvig explains why this might not be a good idea. He shares a recipe for programming success that covers learning over years and decades.

It’s important to grasp fundamentals quickly today. Usually, you get on board with them fast, but it truly takes time and experience to gain mastery.


Jeffrey Carandang explains how to add custom Gutenberg block styles with ES6 and ES5 Javascript.


Here’s a nice “UI cheat sheet” for text fields from Tess Gadd. It covers text field anatomy, structure, icons, text field states, autoformat, touch targets, accessibility, and more.


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here is my recommendation for video watching this week:

  • Adam Culp on being a better software developer, in just 15 minues. It’s the kind of common sense wisdom that seasoned coders need to hear now and again. Are the things you know you should do the things you actually have adopted as a diciplined practice?

🎙️ Three podcasts I’ve appreciated in the last few days:

  • This “quick chat” (under 30 minutes) with Dianna Allen of Budget Meal Planner is a good one. Dianna started with a MailChimp newsletter and Wix website. Two months later she was on the Product Hunt homepage.
  • Matt Mullenweg and John Maeda discussed the design team’s workflow at Automattic, probably the largest remote team of designers that currently exists. John also talked about his life growing up and in school, where one teacher made a huge difference. (~30 minutes.)
  • The PHP Internals News podcast takes a brief (<10 minute) look into the deprecation of the curly brace syntax in PHP. (I didn’t even know this was a thing!) There’s also a longer episode devoted to testing PHP itself and how it’s improving. (<25 minutes.)

Notes for July 26, 2019

Footnotes

The call for speakers for the first WordCamp Asia 2020 has been announced, with only English speakers being accepted for the initial year. The deadline is September 25th. 🏕️


Denis Žoljom announced a new release of the Theme Sniffer plugin and the WPThemeReview coding standards. 👃

Theme Sniffer is a plugin that applies custom sniffs for PHP_CodeSniffer to verify that your theme adheres to WordPress coding conventions. Those conventions are specified by the official Theme Review Team coding standard, WPThemeReview.


If you build WordPress themes, check out this post on how to add and test skip links for accessibility.


Justin Tadlock showed off some work involving SVG background pattern options in the WordPress Customizer:


Jason Bahl has announced that WPGraphQL for Advanced Custom Fields will be available for free now. The plugin will also be submitted to packagist.org so it can be included in projects using Composer.

If you haven’t had the chance yet to listen to Jason on Syntax.fm, I highly recommend it.


J. Michael Ward has some ideas about the approaches you can take to structure your WordPress plugin projects. He shares including his coding philosophy with examples for plugin bootstrap files and class file organization.


David Ryan has written several tutorials to help developers get comfortable with WP-CLI and custom WP-CLI commands even if they haven’t worked much with the command line before.

Pascal Birchler‘s Introduction to WP-CLI is a great place to start learning WP-CLI too. 👨‍🏫


There’s a first time for everything, and Bolaji Ayodeji has written a short guide for a first-time setup of Git.


OSTraining has published a series of tutorials and a new book on CSS Flexbox. Their latest title is about local development with DDEV. 📚


Joshua Wold explains from a design perspective how WooCommerce widgets are being converted into Gutenberg blocks. A lot more work goes into this than you might think!


Back in 2000, Jacob Nielsen proposed that elaborate usability tests are a waste of resources. It’s often discussed and sometimes questioned advice, but Nielsen’s test data on testing is hard to dispute.

“The best results come from testing no more than five users and running as many small tests as you can afford,” he found. But, if you want to to discover all the usability problems, “you need to test with at least 15 users.” That said, “The ultimate user experience is improved much more by 3 studies with 5 users each than by a single monster study with 15 users.”

This more recent article from Nielsen is worth a read too if you are introducing changes to a user interface. “Any time you release a new user interface design, you’ll get complaints,” he warns.

That’s simply because “users don’t like to learn different ways of doing things,” and there’s nothing you can do to change it! 😡

What you can do is reduce the amount of change you inflict on users at one time.


Greg Rickaby at WebDev Studios wants you to give AMP a second look if you tested it out and set it aside. Greg brings you up to speed on what’s new and aims to debunk a few common myths about AMP.


Scott Jehl shares the simplest way to load CSS asynchronously using a simple HTML approach: link to the stylesheet with the media type attribute set to print. Then use the onload to apply it to all media types once it’s loaded. Scott’s explanation and discussion of some alternative methods is outstanding. 👍


If you use or work with Microsoft Teams, then this new WordPress plugin from João Ferreira might be of some interest.


ServerPilot announced in June that they are launching a new hosting automation service called HostLaunch. It’s meant to be a “platform for operating a modern web hosting company.”

It’s a “customer-facing portal for your users to create their own accounts, log in, purchase servers, and manage their PHP and WordPress applications on those servers.”

HostLaunch plans to go live in August. 🛫


Laravel Vapor, a full-featured serverless management and deployment dashboard for PHP/Laravel powered by AWS, was recently announced. Features include on-demand auto-scaling with “zero server maintenance.”


Seth Godin discusses his picks for the five best books on marketing. 📚


Unraveling the JPEG is a deep (and nicely illustrated) dive into the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) image format from Omar Shehata at Parametric Press. 📸


If you like trying out new open-source CMS applications now and then, check out Django-based Wagtail, which Mozilla and Google are using. Wagtail is designed for headless deployments where the frontend pulls content from the CMS with GraphQL queries.


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here are my recommendations for video watching this week:

  • Shail Bala Tripathy explores how communities are built and what it takes to start a WordPress community from scratch. This is a talk Shail gave recently at WordCamp Kolkata 2019 where she has been a co-organizer.
  • Sam Singer, the Lead Software Engineer at TechCrunch, shows how their “Extra Crunch” feature was built using WordPress.
  • Alex Young has another “Crash Course” video, this time on headless WordPress with WPGraphQL, ACF, and React.

🎙️ Here are two new (to me) podcasts I’ve been listening to lately:

  • Fullstack Health is a new podcast focused on physical and mental health in the tech industry. The first episode includes a discussion with Jamund Ferguson and Kari Ferguson, co-organizers of the AnxietyTech conference.
  • This interview with WPEngine‘s Jason Cohen over at the Indie Hackers podcast offers a lot of insight. Jason talks about missteps, successes, and how it’s hard to learn from either of them as a founder. He also reveals that it took 2.5 years for WPEngine to reach 1,000 customers!

Notes for July 23, 2019

Footnotes

WordCamp US will soon be releasing its list of approved talks and speakers. They’ve also put out a call for volunteers. Helping out at WCUS is a great way to give back to the WordPress community, not to mention a fantastic way of networking with others. 🙋‍♂️

Meanwhile, WordCamp Asia has a “teaser site” online for 2020. It’s happening February 21-23 in Bangkok, Thailand. 🌏


If you are interested in usability testing for Gutenberg, several tests have been conducted already, and the results are available. Mark Uraine presented the highlights from the testing done in June, with videos included. There are usability test results from WordCamp Europe as well: parts one and two. 📝


Thanks to the work of Sergey Biryukov and others there appear to be new filters available in the media library dropdown for WordPress 5.3.


Sandy Edwards wrote the latest HeroPress article about the mostly unsung heroes of Kids’ Camps. Kids’ Camps and other youth programs are becoming more common at WordCamps and other WordPress events. Sandy spent weeks putting together a near-perfect timeline of all the related WordPress youth events from 2010 to the present. 🚸


Here’s a good post from Mike Pennisi where he argues the “web can’t survive a monoculture” — and that is what Chrome’s domination of the browser market means.

Mike says developers should help support other browsers like Firefox and WebKit. Developers should perform testing in all browsers too and be aware they have the power to prevent one from choking out the alternatives.


Joe Howard, the head buff at WPBuffs, talks about scaling WordPress maintenance tasks at the agency level. He covers “systemizing” everything — especially the boring stuff — documenting simple and complex tasks, and automating. 🤖


Here’s an eye-opening study from Princeton University that analyzed over 53,000 product pages from 11,000 shopping websites. What they found was 1,818 instances of dark patterns, which are user interface design choices that benefit an online service by coercing, steering, or deceiving users. 💩


Mary Ann Azevedo from Crunchbase makes the case that the WordPress hosting space may simultaneously be one of the most lucrative — yet underfunded — industries. 💸


The Washington Post is preparing for a “post cookie” ad targeting future by developing a first-party data ad targeting tool. It is able to tell what article a person is looking at, what position they have scrolled to on a page, and what URL they used to get there.


Lindsay Rogers Cook explains how the digital transition team at the New York Times created a program to help reporters “learn to love spreadsheets.”

If you want to encourage non-coders on your team how to be more fluent with data and numbers, this looks like a great model, including the attention given to data ethics. 🗃️

Speaking of data ethics, check out the Times’ Privacy Project if you haven’t yet.


Seth Godin discusses his picks for the five best books on marketing. 📚


Christopher Schmitt shows how placeholder text in forms is problematic for real-world use. He suggests a method that includes positioning the label element, so it overlaps the input field.


Jem Turner shares ten solid micro-optimizations for faster WordPress. Suggestions include reducing WordPress HTTP requests, reducing code size by removing duplicate functionality, and tidying up menus as well as wp_head(). 💨


Speaking of performance boosts, SpinupWP has published a terrific introduction to WordPress caching. After reading this, you should have a better understanding of how the various layers of caching play a role in speeding up WordPress page load times.


Tidy Repo made a speed comparison of 100 WordPress themes. The tests were limited to free themes in the WordPress repo, so popular commercial themes were not featured.

Because of the variables involved — including your hosting and installed plugins — I take these tests with a few grains of salt. The advice given at the end of the post is always good: “try to pick a theme that suits your needs.”


I found some of Andy Priestner thoughts as a UX consultant in the UK and former librarian insightful. Andy says the phrase “Ask for forgiveness, not permission!” translates into trying things out and seeing where they lead, but when it comes to users we should “Listen more, watch more!” 👂


Survey results from WordCamp Europe have been published. Notably, with “the help of a whopping 60 sponsors, [WCEU] gathered over €700,000,” and the “total revenue from tickets sold was a little over €130,000.” 🙌


Rachel Andrew recently wrote an excellent guide to CSS Margins, including some things I had forgotten.


Ionut Neagu reviews the redesign of Themeisle, including the pros and cons of the decisions that went into it. The design itself cost $10,000-$15,000. Commenting on that Ionut writes:

While the design itself is something almost impossible to track the ROI of, I believe that it’s worth the investment. Frankly, considering that it took us five years before deciding to redesign the site, the cost only represents less than 0.5% of the revenues.


Here’s a reminder that WPCampus 2019 is happening from July 25-27, and sessions will be live-streamed for free. 📹


WP Decoupled is a React theme boilerplate for WordPress, built with Next JS, Webpack, Babel, Node, Express, and WPGraphQL.


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here’s my recommendation for video watching this week:

  • Alex Young has a great tutorial that will get you up and running with Gutenberg Blocks using the new Advanced Custom Fields plugin update (5.8).

🎙️ Here are the podcasts I’ve been listening to lately:

  • Joe Howard, via Matt Report, shares the origin of WPBuffs and why it’s challenging to be in the 24/7 maintenance space. On his own WPMRR podcast, he also shares some great news about becoming a father and how that affects life — professionally and otherwise.
  • This extensive interview with Sara Golemon on the upcoming features of PHP 7.4 is a good listen for those writing any PHP or WordPress code.
  • Syed Balkhi, the founder of WPBeginner, is featured on the Elementor Blog podcast talking about his WordPress journey and sharing lessons from his acquisitions.
  • Women in WP interviews Michelle Ames about her role at GiveWP and as a WordCamp organizer.
  • Computer scientist and web standards pioneer Tantek Çelik is Jeffrey Zeldman’s guest on The Big Web Show #186.
  • If you use VSCode, this 20-minute Syntax podcast covers some helpful extensions and themes.
  • The latest Do The Woo podcast features topics such as WooCommerce Managed Hosting, CBD Products, and Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) with Christie Chirinos.

Notes for July 15, 2019

Footnotes

Gutenberg and Full Site Editing

Gutenberg 6.1 was released this past week, and it includes some significant interface enhancements you will notice right away. The most noteworthy is the introduction of motion/animation when you are reordering, adding, or removing blocks.

The image block link settings have been improved too, and REST API error messages now appear as notices. There is also a claim about performance: “typing is 30% faster on long posts.” ⌨️💨

The idea of Gutenberg growing to encompass the “full site editing experience” is getting more traction with this Github ticket submitted by Riad Benguella. ” Expanding the editor outside of post_content” may overlap with the role of “page builder,” by some definitions.

In that vein, Felix Arntz has created a Block Areas plugin that “allows you to define certain areas” anywhere on a WordPress site “that you can then edit like a regular post” using the Gutenberg editor.


Mel Choyce has shared some Gutenberg block directory and block management concepts for the WordPress admin interface and is asking for feedback.


Honey Code is a new Gutenberg Syntax Highlighter Block from Chris Kelley. It handles syntax highlighting quite nicely. ✨


Ryan Welcher from 10up introduced SlotFill — “a modernized take on classic interface ‘hooks and filters’ in WordPress” that extends Gutenberg’s interface.

Slot and Fill are a pair of React components that allow developers to inject items into predefined spaces. Together they are “a pattern for component extensibility.”

Ryan shows how SlotFill allowed 10up “to maintain the classic editor UI conventions” for their Distributor plugin in Gutenberg.

Demo plugins are available, and SlotFill has been officially added to the next WordPress core release.


More WCEU Recaps

Here’s an excellent WordCamp Europe contribution day recap from the Make WordPress Design team. I appreciate seeing how the discussion about Gutenberg and interaction resulted in designers opening issues in Github.

Codeable had a nice recap as well and an interesting post about quickly taking professional photos of their team — 34 portraits in less than 2 hours with no studio. 🤳


Only “Mostly Uninstalled”

If you use or have ever used Zoom on for MacOS, you should be aware of a vulnerability that allows a malicious website to enable your camera without your permission. Even if you’ve uninstalled Zoom, you are still vulnerable. 😲

To paraphrase Miracle Max, there’s a big difference between mostly uninstalled and all uninstalled.

On Sunday, July 14, a fix from Zoom was released, so manually update your app!

Apple even stepped in to remove the local server Zoom installs (Yikes!) in a silent update. (Thank you, Apple!) 🙏

Developers can learn a few things from this incident. At the very least, uninstalling and deleting an app or plugin should remove all traces of your code. Also, decisions that ignore the end user’s best interest will come back to haunt you. 👻


Cash on the Mail

In 2017, WPForms acquired WP Mail SMTP, and recently a Pro version was announced. The Pro features include integration with Outlook 365 and Amazon SES, along with email logging and notification management.

If you are looking for MailChimp alternatives, then give this post from Victor Zhou a read. Victor explains how moving froim Mailchimp to Sendy cut his costs “by 100x.” 💸


Developer Tools

Check out this project from Roots called Bedrock — “WordPress boilerplate with modern development tools, easier configuration, and an improved folder structure.” 🛠️

Bedrock is inspired by Heroku‘s Twelve-Factor App methodology, including Scott Walkinshaw‘s WordPress specific version.

I’m sure many developers can relate to Khaliq Gant saying he’s “not really a good web developer” — he’s “just good at Googling things.”

That’s not self-deprecation because, as Khaliq points out, it takes a solid base of knowledge and training to know what questions to ask. Then you have to assess the answers you get and come to the right conclusions in your own coding decisions.

The ability to self-educate is essential, especially in a field that changes quickly. 👩‍🏫


Here’s a WordPress plugin that can generate a child theme based on the Genesis Sample theme with WP-CLI.


Zach Leatherman offers some insight into font loading strategies as he explains how CSS-Tricks (poweredby WordPress) optimizines the open license fonts they use.

If you’ve struggled with page loading times due to custom fonts, this is a must-read. ⏳

If you’re looking for an opinionated presentation of the best open source web fonts, Chad Mazzola has it. The font examples use text and color better than any other font demo I’ve seen.


Your Feedback is Requested

👉 Andrea Middleton is collecting topic suggestions from WordPress contributor teams for the WordPress User and Developer Survey, which didn’t happen last year. The survey’s goal is to gather the information that will help inform contributor work in the coming year.

👉 The official WordPress Hosting Team is asking for feedback about the recommended minimum PHP requirement, based on four questions for developers:

  • How has the PHP minimum requirement bump affected you?
  • What should the next PHP minimum recommendation be and why?
  • What common issues do you foresee having with the sites that you host with the next PHP bump?
  • What versions of PHP should we target with a Servehappy warning banner?

Allez a11y!

The WordPress theme review team will start implementing a new accessibility-related guideline every other month and teaching theme authors how to tackle each issue. That’s great news! 🙌


WordPress profiles now include some additional fields that contributors can use to share how much time they dedicate to the WordPress project.


Video and Podcast Picks

📹 Here’s my recommendation for video watching this week:

  • The “Cost of JavaScript 2019” video (and blog post) from Addy Osmani at the PerfMatters Conference 2019 shows the main costs of processing JavaScript are download and CPU execution time.

🎙️ Here are the podcasts I’ve been listening to lately:

  • The latest Distributed podcast features Matt Mullenweg interviewed by Mark Armstrong. I heard some things in this discussion that I can’t recall hearing anywhere else. Matt tells the story of the pre-Automattic and early Automattic days, including the very first WordPress meetup. Even if you aren’t too interested in distributed work, this one’s worth your time.
  • The Voices of the ElePHPant podcast spoke with Sebastian Grodzicki about serverless PHP.
  • I started listening to the Ladybug Podcast with Kelly Vaughn, Ali Spittel, Emma Wedekind, and Lindsey Kopacz. My first episode was this one dealing with how to balance side projects.
  • This short Syntax podcast episode covers the question “what is a headless CMS?” and of course mentions how WordPress fits in.
  • This recent C2C Podcast interviews Tessa Krissel about the Pantheon Heroes project which focuses on giving back to Pantheon’s community. I’m listening to a recent episode focused on Asana at the moment. The very latest episode features Andrea Middleton on WordPress meetup groups and how diverse communities interact and thrive.
  • If you enjoy or are thinking about picking up the php[architect] magazine, their companion podcast is a good one to keep up with too. Their latest episode touches on serverless PHP and other subjects, like how to securely manage keys, secrets, and passwords.

Notes for July 5, 2019

Summer Roundup

Keeping Up with Gutenberg 🚧

Gutenberg 6.0 is out with significant enhancements to the column layout block, widgets block, and block group functionality, among other things.

Felix Arntz explains how to leverage the power of Custom Elements in Gutenberg. Like many popular, component-based JavaScript frameworks, Custom Elements bring Web Components to WordPress — standardized “browser APIs that allow you to define your own HTML tags, reusable and self-contained.” ⚙️

If you are a developer and unfamiliar with Custom Elements or Web Components, give Felix’s article a read. Even if you aren’t planning on any Gutenberg development anytime soon, this is a good one for keeping up.

I’m not sure I would call this the “ultimate” list, but Kevin Muldoon does have an impressive list of Gutenberg block plugins and add-ons, as they’re accumulating quickly. Check in to see if you’ve missed anything.


Everyone’s Going Local 🏠

Josh Koenig announced the first release of Pantheon Localdev, a local dev app for the Mac (Windows and Linux “coming soon”) that is built on top of Docker and Lando with a GUI for working on sites and deploying to Pantheon.

This announcement follows the launch of a similar tool from WPEngine called DevKit. Add to this the existence of Local by FlyWheel (recently acquired by WPEngine), and it’s not surprising that conversations started appearing on Twitter about the necessity of these “custom dev tools” and how they might lock users into these hosts. 🔒

Morten Rand-Hendriksen posed the idea of a single, standard tool for deploying code to WordPress sites, and an interesting discussion ensued. I don’t see this happening anytime soon — at least from the major hosts as they battle it out — but it’s something I would like to see someday.

While it doesn’t have a local development app, LiquidWeb is partnering with WPMerge and Affiliate WP to add them to their managed hosting bundles for WordPress and WooCommerce at no extra charge.

A tool for merging staging and production site databases like WPMerge is a must-have for eCommerce sites.


Kudos 👏

Peter Suhm was selected to join the 2019 TinySeed accelerator. Peter wrote on his blog he will now be able to work full time on Branch. 🌱

Scott Bolinger reminds us Why We Build Products. One reason: “making money while you sleep is an amazing feeling.” 💸


WordPressed for the First Time 🎸

Rolling Stone just launched daily updated music charts that are powered by WordPress. Aaron Jorbin reached out to me to confirm that the internal team at PMC did this project along with the team at Yikes!.

Aaron noted that “from [the] WordPress side, there weren’t too many challenges… Primary development took about a month, and then there were about two months of small bug fixes while all the data pieces came together.”

If you want to dive into this more, you can check out the methodology behind the rankings, and there is also a FAQ.

Fortune.com was relaunched this past week, and as Digital Editor Andrew Nusca pointed out, it too is running on WordPress. 💵


Losing Your Head 🗣️

Dan Fries thinks the future of websites is “headless CMS.” He explains what counts as headless and the pros and cons of different headless solutions.

Dan notes WordPress and other platforms “account for more than 60% of all web content platforms,” but their problem “is their relative lack of flexibility” because “the front and back end functionalities are deeply coupled.” 🔗

If you want to take WordPress headless with a React frontend, check out Frontity‘s 1.0 release.

A couple of “features” stand out:

100/100 Lighthouse score: Frontity is optimized to get the maximum score in Lighthouse, including performance, SEO and accessibility. Theme developers start with 100/100 and they just need to maintain it while they add features to their theme.

Perfect accessibility: as part of our mission to make building websites with WordPress and React easier and more accessible, we also want to develop the framework focused on this aspect. Frontity is accessible by default and will provide tools that let the developers know if they break it.


New Tools 🛠️

WPOnion is a framework that “helps developers build custom meta boxes and custom fields in WordPress.” The documentation goes into further detail, stating its support for not only post_meta but also term_meta, user_meta, comment_meta, settings pages and custom tables.

Justin Tadlock announced the official 1.0 release of two feature projects for anyone building (and submitting) WordPress themes: Customize Section Button and Autoload.

Google‘s AMP for WordPress version 1.2 was released.

Thierry Muller outlined the XML Sitemaps feature proposal for WordPress core, which will include an API to make it fully extendable. 🗺️

Thierry also announced the developer beta release of the Google Site Kit plugin for WordPress.


That’s the Ticket 🎫

Jonathan Desrosiers posted a reflection on the WordPress triage team three months into its existence.

There’s a lot to take in here, but here’s one KPI: they closed more than half of the Trac tickets opened in roughly Q2 2019. 😅


Summer School 🏫

Jen McFarland and Brian DeConinck put together a summer news roundup for the WPCampus video podcast you can watch/listen to or read. 🎓

Among other things, they discuss WCEU and the upcoming annual WPCampus conference on July 25-27 at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

Registration will remain open until July 7. The schedule of speakers and sessions looks super!

Rather than spend money on swag this year, the conference organizers are donating (and encouraging others to give) to Free Geek, a local charity for digital inclusion. 🎁

📚 There will not be a quiz, but here’s some educational reading you or someone you know may appreciate:


Giving Back 💝

HeroPress is keeping a list of scholarships that are available to the WordPress community.

It’s great to see a company like Sentry start a program like Sentry for Good. The goal is to amplify “the voices of non-profits, open-source tools, and educational institutions” by blogging about the way they use Sentry, or by sponsoring their Sentry account.


Podcast Roundup 🎙️

WP&UP has Cory Miller as a trustee now. Cory has been sharing his mental health story for many years now at conferences, and he noted it is part of his “life mission” to “obliterat[e] the stigma of mental health.” 💥

Dan Maby, WP&UP’s CEO, shared that Cory “has been a personal inspiration,” and it was “his WordCamp Denver talk back in 2015″ that led Dan to open up about his own “personal mental ill health, leading “to the development of WP&UP.”

Cory was on the WP&UP podcast recently, and it is worth a listen if you haven’t heard his story yet. 👍

Substack shared a growth masterclass with Judd Legum, who runs one of the most successful one-person newsletter businesses on their service. (This is a brief “popup podcast” episode you can listen to or just read the highlights.)

Judd’s secret is not volume or withholding content for paying subscribers; it’s about adding value.


Long Time Running 🏃

Enjoy reading “HTML is the web” from Pete Lambert which has a quality developer rant in it. Even if you code in React, “if you’re making websites, then the most important thing you’re making is HTML. HTML is the Web.”

Remember that time MooTools almost broke the web? Don’t miss another fantastic historical essay from Jay Hoffman about the olden days of JavaScript frameworks before jQuery. 🐮

Jay did a Cake Panel recently and answered a lot of great questions about his work and the many hats he wears. 🍰

Martin Tournoij makes an excellent case for why he’s still using jQuery in 2019.

Preethi Shreeya considers the things that give products longevity and asks whether “eternal design” is possible with software.


Inquiring Minds 👀

A recent Twitter thread and blog post from Remy Sharp takes on Disqus as a Trojan horse for Facebook and all sorts of tracking scripts after he took a look at his blog’s source code: 🐴

Rand Fishkin wanted to know “How Much of Google’s Search Traffic is Left for Anyone But Themselves?

Answer: Somewhere south of 88%, as a conservative estimate. 📉

As Google directs more searches to its various (Alphabet) properties, the results left to everyone else is shrinking fast:

In 2019 Google sent ~20% fewer organic clicks via browser searches than they did in 2016.”


Don’t Need Another Hero ⚡

This article in Scientific American by Zeynep Tufekci brilliantly uses Game of Thrones‘ difficult translation to television to explain how its author, George R. R. Martin, understands “sociological storytelling” as very few screenwriters do. Martin treats all his characters as individuals who exist within social structures and historical contingencies that limit their possible actions and influence. Tufekci says we’re typically much more naive and idealize heroes, politicians, and industry leaders:

It’s reasonable, for example, for a corporation to ponder who would be the best CEO or COO, but it’s not reasonable for us to expect that we could take any one of those actors and replace them with another person and get dramatically different results without changing the structures, incentives and forces that shape how they and their companies act in this world.

(John Gruber made a similar point about Apple after Jony Ive‘s exit.)

Tufecki wants us to think more about how to build good teams and organizations — and the conditions that sustain them:

Well-run societies don’t need heroes, and the way to keep terrible impulses in check isn’t to dethrone antiheroes and replace them with good people.


Notes for July 1, 2019

Quick podcast: Matt Mullenweg on eCommerce, and changes for Post Status

You can listen to the Post Status Draft podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, and via RSS for your favorite podcatcher. Post Status Draft is hosted by Brian Krogsgard.

I talked to Matt Mullenweg for over an hour recently for his Publish Online session, and here I share about 8 minutes of our conversation, a part where we discuss eCommerce, and where WooCommerce currently fits into that world.

I also spend several minutes talking about big changes happening with Post Status. The rest will be available live July 8th and 9th at Post Status Publish or by recording for all members. Mark your calendar!

Notes for June 23, 2019

Footnotes

WordCamp Europe continues this weekend. You can watch the livestream and take in any track at WCEU’s YouTube channel. The Tavern (and David’s twitter feed) have some excellent coverage of the highlights so far. 🌍


Matt Mullenweg said the event had 3,200+ registrations and was the largest WordCamp to-date. The main hall looked massive. Kudos to everyone who helped plan and execute the event.

Val Vesa had a cool wide-shot of the keynote to see the size.

WordCamp Europe 2020 will be in Porto, Portugal, June 4th through 6th.


Josepha Haden posted some observations about WordPress contributor team structures, noting “that there are multiple paths to WordPress itself, and nearly as many paths to deciding how and when to get involved once you arrive.” Josepha also mentions self-selection, self-service training and selection, and closed selection as ways to form teams depending on the tasks involved.

If you are interested in governance and leadership in WordPress, Josepha’s post is worth reading in full. She is asking for additional feedback, especially any considered thoughts you may have about other paths to leadership in the WordPress project. 🗨️


Paul Redmond covers the art of debugging .gitignore and shares some tips, including the existence of a handy git command. “Although the check-ignore command is straightforward once you know about it, it’s a useful thing to learn to troubleshoot ignored files that shouldn’t be ignored quickly.” 🐛


Here’s a nice long (and updated) list of advanced JavaScript questions, compiled by Lydia Hallie. Test and refresh your knowledge or prepare for a coding interview.


Joe Lambert compares 6 MVC frameworks for working with WordPress.


Last week when I was complaining on Twitter about WordPress’s flows for editing already-published content, I was linked to Fabrica by Yes we work, tools built to help with that. It looks pretty slick. They initially built it for Jimmy Wales’ WikiTribune.


Unapp is a handy directory of “minimal and useful single-purpose apps.” (Tip of the hat to Tom McFarlin.) 📱


📺 I have two videos for you this week that are well worth a look:

  • Hakim El Hattab took a deep-dive into interface design at the CSS Day 2019 conference. This practical talk digs into several standard UI components, the problems that typically emerge around them, and how to use them properly.
  • Meanwhile, over at JSUnconf 2019 in Hamburg, Alex Lakatos demonstrated how to tackle performance debugging with the browser using Developer Tools.

🎙️ Here are the best podcasts I rounded up this week:

  • The WPMRR podcast hosts recently spoke with Kyle Maurer from Sandhills Development (the makers of Easy Digital Downloads) about marketing, corporate retreats, business models, and the release cycles of distributed software.
  • Two recent podcasts from Troy Dean at WP Elevation are solid. The first is an interview with Vova Feldman about Freemius. If you are in the plugin business, it’s very educational even though it’s a sales pitch for Freemius. The second episode worth hearing is this one with Vito Peleg about his new WP Feedback plugin.

Notes for June 20, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.2.2 Release Candidate 2 (RC2) is available for testing, with the final release scheduled for Tuesday, June 18 at 17:00 UTC. 🗓️


Automattic announced they would be adopting Alex Mills‘ plugins, including Regenerate Thumbnails. As many of you know, Alex (AKA Viper007Bond), passed away on February 27, 2019, after a two and a half year battle with leukemia. I think this will be a good home for Alex’s plugins.

A short paragraph about Alex will be added to their readme.txt files.


Jonny Harris, a WordPress core contributor, is looking for feedback on a feature plugin that gives REST endpoints to menus. This feature would be great for Gutenberg and headless WordPress sites. 🔌


Pascal Birchler has authored an extensive guide to operating WordPress from the command line with WP-CLI. Pascal introduces you to some of the basics before diving deep into commands with common use cases and even some ways to extend WP-CLI. 👨‍💻


WP Engine has launched DevKit, a desktop application that “combines a local development environment, SSH Gateway access, Genesis-specific functionality, easy deployments, and other best-in-class WordPress developer tools.”

DevKit is free and available in beta for Mac and Linux — but oddly, not for Windows.


Justin Tadlock sees an opportunity to improve the WordPress theme directory and decided to “strike while the iron is hot” — he has a proposal to create standardized packages for common theme features. These packages would be available from the official Theme Review GitHub account. 📦

The first package is already available. It’s a Pro/Upsell link theme standard for the WordPress Customizer.

As Justin tweeted, his goal is to “cover a few common features where we have vastly different implementations.” He decided to “start with an easy one where [he] already had some existing code.”


Thierry Muller has a proposal too — for the XML Sitemaps Feature Project. It’s “a collaboration between Yoast, Google” and other contributors.

As Thierry describes it, “The goal of the proposal is to integrate basic XML Sitemaps in WordPress Core and introduce an XML Sitemaps API to make it fully extendable.”

Your feedback is requested. 📣


For a few hours on Tuesday, June 11th, technical issues with WordPress VIP hosting resulted in some prominent and apparently “headless” sites showing the default WordPress Twenty Seventeen theme. 🧯


If you’ve been working with HTML for very long, you probably know a lot of hex color codes, but do you know how to read them? Josh Kennedy created an animated guide that dissects hex codes to make them easier to read and understand.


Leszek Swirski offers some advice about code caching for JavaScript developers to improve startup time on commonly visited sites. Leszek focuses on caching in Chrome/V8, but most of his examples probably apply to other browsers as well.


Addy Osmani, an engineering manager at Google, shares how Chrome will support  font-display in Google Fonts.


👉 Love this! Mariko Kosaka created a one-page primer, Keeping Scroll Fast, in the form of a short ‘zine or “drawsplainer.” Mariko explains browser compositing and how fast scrolling may be impeded.


Prisma and other contributors created howtographql.com, a free and open-source tutorial for learning GraphQL “from zero to production.” I found it in a newsletter for women and non-binary coders from Veni Kunche that’s worth a look as well.


🔎 SearchWP can intercept relationship field searches with Advanced Custom Fields (ACF).


There’s been a lot of talk about the benefits of remote work, but Taru Bhargava covers some of the downsides that are more common than you may think:

Managing a healthy lifestyle is tough in general, but with a remote lifestyle, the chances of slipping are that much greater. That’s why it is essential to put in extra efforts to bring a mind and body equilibrium.

Some helpful tips from Taru:

  • Make sure to locate and address your personal issues
  • Set and optimize your working schedule
  • Set up a separate remote ‘working space’
  • Prioritize overall health
  • Connect with the outside world
  • Invest in self-care

How about changing the color in your code editor for a change of pace? Rainglow.io has over 320 color themes created by Dayle Rees for a variety of apps from Sublime to Slack. 🍭


A proposal for a WordCamp Central America has been published. It’s a great plan (along with a WordCamp South America) that I fully support. 👍


The latest version of WP Offload Media offers a long-awaited “offload existing media items in the background” feature. The new implementation is not only much more convenient, but it also gets started far more quickly, especially with large Media Libraries.


Olivia Ng shares her favorite CSS guides, cheat sheets and tools on CodePen.


As WordCamp US prepares to announce its speakers, the organizing team wrote about the evolution of their selection process and how they used it for this year’s lineup.

There was a limit on the number of sessions that could be submitted by applicants this year. This restriction lowered the review workload while raising the quality of the submissions.


The first State of CSS 2019 survey results (based on over 10,000 respondents) have been released. Some highlights:

  • Sadly, gender diversity wasn’t well represented by the survey respondents. Those who identified as female came just under 10%.
  • VS Code was the most popular text editor by far, followed by Sublime Text.
  • Over 90% use Chrome as the main browser work is done in during initial development, with Firefox taking second place with over 50%. The numbers are much closer between the two browsers when it comes to testing.

📺 I have two videos for you this week that are well worth a look:

  • Kat Marchán spoke to developers about Tink at the JSConf EU 2019 conference in Berlin. Tink is “a package unwinder for JavaScript brought to you by npm itself.” It aims to redefine package management for web development as the npm ecosystem has outgrown its original scope.
  • Meanwhile, over at JSUnconf 2019 in Hamburg, Alex Lakatos demonstrated how to tackle performance debugging with the browser in devtools.

🎙️ Here are the best podcasts I rounded up this week:

  • David Perell interviewed Matt Mullenweg, and their discussion ranged over many great topics: open-source thinking, what Matt thinks of Ben Thompson‘s Stratechery, writing, and how communication platforms fuel human evolution. 🧠
  • The C2C Podcast talked with Karan Malhi about being a member of the Apache community and how a company should “build a community for developers instead of the community builder like we usually do.” 👷‍♀️
  • Matt Medeiros chatted with Matt Wondra about Automattic‘s entry into remote working software with Happy Tools. Learn how a company exclusively focused on WordPress itself is branching out and treating this project internally. 🧰
  • If you’re looking for some briefer episodes, I recommend #PressPause, a WordCamp-focused mini-series WP&UP‘s #PressForward podcast has started with WPMU Dev. They’re interviewing WordCamp attendees every weekday ahead of WordCamp Europe. Each episode is about 15 minutes in length. 🏕️

Notes for June 13, 2019

Footnotes

Joost de Valk publicly announced he is stepping down from his role as Marketing Lead, a position he held for about six months. Joost will return to Yoast in the role of Chief Product Officer.

Joost gave more than one reason for making this move but emphasized “feeling left out of all the decisions” that would make him useful as a marketing lead:

I’ve not encountered (or been brought into) any discussions about our product vision… I was expecting there to be some backchannels where these discussions were had and these decisions were made, turns out these simply don’t exist.

Joost says the decision-making process (including Matt Mullenweg‘s involvement in it) should be “opened up.”

As strides are being made in improving communication and leadership, it’s hard to say this isn’t a step backward for WordPress. 😔


Chris Lema is hosting a virtual summit for companies “trying to hit the one million dollar milestone” on June 18th. He is joined by Carrie Wheeler (COO, Liquid Web), Nathan Ingram (iThemes), Chris Teitzel (Founder/CEO, Lockr), and others. 💲


If you’d like to get started leading WordPress teams, then check out the material Josepha Haden posted to “help Team Leads get going.”

As she notes in the post, this is a public call for comments and questions, so it’s a great way to provide feedback on one form of leadership in the WordPress space. 💬


John Bogna covers a type of accessibility that isn’t discussed very often — financial accessibility:

The sheer mental stress of poverty utterly changes our relationship to technology… research has shown that just being poor puts people in a state of chronic stress and impedes their ability to make decisions.


We’re happy to hear that Jason Bahl is now going to be working on GraphQL for WordPress full time. The project is picking up steam, and I’m expecting significant updates soon. 🚂


Kjell Reigstad, a designer at Automattic, has developed an experimental WordPress plugin for design testing in wp-admin.


Wordup is an extension for Visual Studio Code that makes it easy to develop, manage and export WordPress plugins or themes. 🔌


Ryland Goldstein nicely summarizes the core problems with Medium. Most people think it’s the “paywall,” but that is an optional feature selected by authors. The real reason why “Medium sucks,” says Ryland, comes down to “slimy business tactics” and “terrible user experience.” 🤢


Bill Erickson walks us through the basics of setting up an AMP site. Along the way, he provides some handy helper functions to make AMP site development a bit easier.


Many media organizations are devoting significant resources to focus on privacy. For example, The New York Times is launching an ongoing examination of privacy that will unfold over several months. They already have some interesting takes on the ways information is exchanged in several industries. 🕵️


Thomas Lombart laid out the “soft skills” that every developer should have. Some of the highlights include:

  • Be curious. Always learn new things. Learning publicly is even better.
  • Be creative and proactive. Take the lead of topics and keep the big picture in mind.
  • Be egoless. Don’t make fun of others, accept criticisms with kindness.
  • Know how to communicate. Listen to others and learn how to be understood.
  • Help others. You’ll be more trustworthy.

I also appreciate the point of not being shy about setting boundaries: “You should know when to say no to something.” 🙅‍♀️


If you’re interested in a “barebones” approach to building a WordPress theme, then take a look at this tutorial written by Adam C. Hodson. ☠️

Adam says his advice is intended for people who are new to WordPress, and his template is just a starting point: “Feel free to expand on it and modify it as you see fit.”


CheckoutWC demonstrates how to add a Shopify style checkout to WooCommerce using their plugin. CheckoutWC is a paid plugin I’m not familiar with or endorsing, but I’m very interested in the differences in user experience shown between the two platforms. 🛒


GiveWP has a useful infographic that breaks down the differences between many online fundraising solutions. This comparison will be a huge time saver if you need to select one for your fundraising campaign or a client’s.


Sarah Chima has written an excellent article for developers about local storage — what it is and JavaScript methods can be used to manipulate it. 🗄️


Monica Lent shares seven absolute truths that she “unlearned” as a junior developer. 🧙‍♀️

A few struck a chord with me:

  • “I’m a senior developer” — Truth: “Not all experience is created equal… job titles don’t ‘make’ you anything.”
  • “Everyone writes tests” — Truth: “Loads of companies and startups have little or no tests. In addition, no company has a perfect tech setup.”
  • “Code quality matters most” — Truth: “When it comes to coding ‘good enough is good enough,’ but code quality is still important.”

Ryan Sullivan reviews some of the best WordPress plugins for site backups. Ultimately Ryan recommends Blogvault, but there are a variety of good options out there, and many of the plugins Ryan covers would be good choices, depending on your needs.

I would also make sure your host is doing regular backups, so you are double covered. ⏮️


Josh Pollock covers some TypeScript basics for WordPress developers by walking through the ways you could use TypeScript to display posts. He also compares TypeScript to PHP.


📺 I only found one video worth watching this past week, but it’s a big one:

  • “The Economics of Open Source” was an outstanding talk given by C J Silverio at the recent JSConf EU 2019. Who really owns open source and how organizations aren’t acting in your best interest are subjects that touch all WordPress developers. C J’s talk focuses on JavaScript package management, but most of what he says applies to the WordPress space.

🎙️ I’ve had less time for podcasts lately, but here are some standouts:

  • Elliot Condon (from Advanced Custom Fields) appeared on the Pressing Matters podcast to discuss plugin development, becoming a father, running a business, and Gutenberg.
  • WP Press This covers ways a developer can get started contributing to WordPress Core, featuring core committer Anthony Burchell.

Notes for May 31, 2019

Footnotes

This week (May 27) marked the 16th anniversary of the first version of WordPress (0.7), and the core team published the release agenda for WordPress 5.2.2.

📆 The schedule for 5.2.2 is:

  • Release Candidate 1: Monday, June 3, 2019
  • Release Candidate 2: Monday, June 10, 2019
  • Final release: Thursday, June 13, 2019

If you are thinking about dipping your toes into Vue JS and you’re already comfortable with jQuery, then “Making the Move from jQuery to Vue” by Raymond Camden over at CSS Tricks should be right up your alley. Raymond offers some helpful examples that show how you would approach everyday tasks in both languages.

If React is more of your concern, Ben Gillbanks has a great list of paid and free tutorials for React.


If you’ve ever wondered what goes into being a release manager for PHP, this interview with Peter Kokot explains.


Gutenberg plugins are maturing rapidly! 🌾 Some new examples:

  • Grids is a “layout builder” that lets you visually define layouts. You can specify a section for blocks just by dragging its margins.
  • Automattic too is experimenting with a “full site editing” plugin for Gutenberg that looks like a page builder.
  • Álvaro Trigo announced the release of the official fullPage.js plugin for Gutenberg, which allows you to create a fullscreen slider with your theme.
  • The Gutenberg Block Kit was launched on Glitch this week. Glitch gives you a full JavaScript development environment right in your browser, so you can quickly prototype and build any block you want.
  • Elliot Condon explains how to build a custom slider block for Gutenberg in just 30 minutes using Advanced Custom Fields.

Impressive! 👍


The Genesis 3.0.0 Beta is out, with the final release planned for June 19th. Some highlights of the new version include internal integration with the Google AMP spec and a great deal of code cleanup. 🧹


Scott Bolinger discusses the AppPresser team’s experience with the WooCommerce REST APIa great read for developers building WooCommerce apps.

Scott addresses several potential problems when it comes to more advanced (and not so advanced) functions. The API doesn’t support the WooCommerce cart, and you’ll have to roll your own way of handling variable products. 🛒


HTML’s tabindex attribute is frequently misused. Scott O’Hara explains how to use it properly — and why it matters: “It can also be easily abused by people who are often trying to do the right thing but don’t quite understand the undesired impact the attribute can have on accessibility when misused.”


The GDPR became official twelve months ago, so how has it played out? According to data on cases and fines released by the European Data Protection Board, there have been €55,955,871 in penalties — but almost all of it (€50 million) was a single fine for Google. There were 144,376 complaints, and a third of the cases are still ongoing. 😲


Chris Arter has written a “middleware helper” that allows you to write simple checks with the WordPress REST API.


Matias Ventura writes about visualizing the user interface as a reflection of the application’s state, using motion as a critical concept. There’s a good video demo showing an improved user experience for the WordPress block editor.


Sarah Drasner made a CSS Grid generator tool. It’s awe-inspiring and useful: you can designate rows, columns, gaps, and units. Then you can drag them to create child containers in dynamic layouts.


Yoast SEO 11.3 is out with some bug fixes and enhancements. As soon as WordPress 5.3 comes out, Yoast will go back to supporting the two most recent versions — starting with WordPress 5.2 and 5.3.


Caillie West published the results of Delicious Brains‘ first-ever WordPress developer industry report. Over 420 WordPress developers provided a lot of data you can review quickly in some pretty graphs. 📊

Here are a few highlights:

  • A little over half (52.5%) of respondents live in North America, and 33.6% live in Europe.
  • Almost half (47.8%) of respondents work for themselves full-time. Those employed with a company made up 32.7%, while 18.3% are doing double-duty.
  • Most of the respondents (58.4%) work remotely.
  • 16.6% make between $55,000-$75,000 annually from web development work. Incomes on either side of that range are pretty evenly dispersed.

Adrian Roselli has a proposal to increase the overall accessibility of the WordPress ecosystem. It involves Automattic building a dedicated accessibility team and additional training for employees and volunteers. Adrian says it’s not a massive hurdle:

The process is not complex and recruiting participants can be easy when partnered with disability organizations.


Pantheon announced it has acquired Staging Pilot. 👩‍✈️

Staging Pilot is a service that helps you set up a server (while installing WordPress if you wish) by installing all the required software automatically, including PHP, database services and the web server itself. Staging Pilot also makes it very easy to manage multiple websites on a single instance of your server.

Tools like Staging Pilot that interact with independent hosting platforms (see SpinUpWP, which just launched) are attracting more attention from developers and larger companies alike.


Here’s a WordPress plugin that “encourages commenters to re-phrase toxic comments to be kind instead” using Google’s Perspective API.


📺 Two recent videos worth watching/listening to:


🎙️ I had a decent amount of time to listen to podcasts this week, including a few that are new to my rotation. Here are the best “new to me” podcasts I’ve found:

  • WPandUP‘s #PressForward podcast had an episode with a lot of insight on the importance of sleep. In another recent episode, Carrie Dils talked about on her turbulent year and significant life changes in 2018. The latest episode features Corey Miller on the subject of being open about depression.
  • Speaking of Carrie,  she had a great chat with Tonya Mork about balancing the human costs of automation on the latest Office Hours podcast. An important takeaway from Tonya: “From the customer point of view, when we go too far with automation, it can isolate them to where they don’t see the humanity in your business.”
  • Miriam Goldman, an organizer of WordCamp Ottawa and lead developer at Pondstone Digital Marketing, was featured on the BoldLife podcast. Want to increase diversity in your speakers and attendees at WordPress events? Miriam’s experience and advice on this subject are well worth your time.
  • Women in WP talked with Mary Job about the growing Nigerian WordPress community.
  • In a “hasty treat” (read: short episode) of Syntax, Wes Bos and Scott Tolinski talk about why it’s good as a developer to know your weaknesses — including how and when to address them.
  • I’ve been trying to fill the void of WordPress development podcasts, so I checked out the Pressing Matters show. I highly recommend it! The latest episode considers how developers and small plugin companies should decide what features to focus on and how to keep track of customer feedback and requested features.
  • The relatively new Yo! podcast is very entertaining. It’s an interview show with Rob Hope, who is (among other things) the creator of onepagelove.com. He has already talked with some people you know, like John O’Nolan, founder of Ghost. The latest episode with Steve Schoger is worth a listen. They discuss reacting to pricing complaints, marketing channels, and viral design tip Tweets.

Notes for May 17, 2019

Footnotes

Mika Epstein has published a proposal to modify the WordPress plugin guidelines. 🔌

Mika’s plan covers several areas but focuses on advertising and the clutter of the WordPress dashboard:

Our understanding is that a cluttered and unmanageable Dashboard upsets users, making it harder for them to do what they want. This behavior, if enacted by all plugins, could cause WordPress irreparable harm.

Mika is inviting everyone to review and comment on this proposal. If you have a WordPress plugin in the repo, then you should probably check this out — especially if your plugin adds messaging or advertisements in the admin.


The WordPress theme review team is adopting a new policy: Trusted Authors “will need to review [one] ticket a month to be able to have their themes set live.” 🎫

Some folks have chimed in on this policy, including Justin Tadlock. It appears there aren’t enough volunteers to review all the incoming themes. Will this new policy increase the number of reviewers and maintain a high standard of quality reviews? We will soon find out.

Speaking of themes and Justin Tadlock, Theme Hybrid has just released Unravel, the first official child theme for Exhale. Brian has been using the Exhale theme with Gutenberg layouts for undervulcan.com. 🌬️


Danny Cooper talks about some common mistakes in submissions to the WordPress.org theme directory. Danny, who has reviewed over 100 themes, discusses naming issues, unescaped output, untranslatable text, prefixing, licensing, and other potential pitfalls.


WordPress.com is preparing a feature for subscriptions (donations and recurring payments) on WP.com sites. 💳

Automattic Happiness Engineer Maria Górska posted a link on Twitter for the beta program sign up form and is looking for feedback, especially from “independent content creators on what features they would be interested in.”

🎩 Hat tip to Travis Northcutt for sharing this in Post Status Slack.

Some people noted a recent pull request with a couple of screenshots that introduces a membership button block to Jetpack. It “essentially will be a recurring donation button.” The initial commits for this feature came about a year ago, but there’s been a lot of recent activity around it.

A membership block appears in the changelog for Jetpack 7.3 too.


Mark Jaquith has updated his Page Links To plugin. Now at version 3.1.0, it fully supports the block editor as well as the classic editor. 🔗


Do you think procrastination is about laziness and lack of self-control? Charlotte Lieberman explains in The New York Times why that’s not true. This article also has some excellent tips for finding healthier ways to manage the feelings that typically trigger procrastination. 😴


If you follow AMP-related news, then you might have heard that Google is creating “dedicated placement” in search results for AMP Stories. AMP Story creators will soon be able to embed new types of content — specifically Twitter posts, Google Maps, and YouTube videos.


Google is launching Portals — a navigation system for Chrome that seeks to replace iframes. Portals may not gain traction, but it does seem like an improvement on iframes, which everyone seems to hate. 😠


Alicja Snarska tells the story of how her dream job at Microsoft turned into a nightmare. I came away from this article appreciating the value of life/work balance more and a workplace where you are respected, even if it’s on a distributed team and your employer is not in the Fortune 100.


Pavel Ciorici explains why WPZoom was delisted from Google search results and what it took to get relisted. 😖 The problem was a backlink in the footer of WPZoom themes. Some advice from Pavel:

  • Only use the footer backlinks with the “nofollow” attribute.
  • Don’t use words other than your brand on the anchor text for the link.
  • Monitor your website for negative SEO and harmful backlinks. Take appropriate action right away.

Many US government sites use Drupal, but the State Department appears to have switched to WordPress. It uses the Underscores theme, along with the Yoast and Gravity Forms plugins.


Here are two useful posts from Brent Roose about PHP topics. The first article covers the upcoming enhancements in PHP 7.4, and the second article reflects on how far PHP and PHP frameworks have come:

PHP isn’t just WordPress anymore… WordPress isn’t in any way representative of the contemporary ecosystem.


If you use the Give plugin, make sure you upgrade to the latest version (2.4.7+) due to a recently discovered vulnerability noted at the Sucuri blog by Antony Garand. 🔓

I enjoy how Sucuri breaks down the timeline from the discovery of vulnerabilities to their resolution while explaining the code that’s involved. These post-mortems are always great learning opportunities for developers.


In the world of front-end development, fluid typography has a lot of promise. Brian recently asked on Twitter why more WordPress themes don’t take advantage of elements like VH and VW. Ana Cirujano answered and pointed to “The State of Fluid Web Typography” by Matej Latin.

Matej says there are four reasons why fluid web typography isn’t widely used by designers yet:

  • Proper responsive web design/development is still confusing and complicated.
  • Web typography still isn’t perceived as necessary by many designers/developers.
  • Potential accessibility problems.
  • Fluid web typography can be very tricky.

If you do any work with typography or front-end development, this is a good read. 🗛


A new version of Gutenberg was released. It will be part of WordPress 5.2.1, which is close to a first release candidate. Improvements to Gutenberg include the ability to set different widths for each column in the columns blocks, improved usability of the group and columns blocks, accessibility fixes, and key “writing flow” bug fixes.

Do you want your sites in a multisite network to share reusable Gutenberg blocks in a “hub-and-spoke style?” Richard Tape has a plugin for that. 🎡

Milana Cap announced that the developer’s handbook for the block editor is “finally home” together with the rest of WordPress’s developer documentation. 📚


Improvements related to image processing and resizing after uploading could be coming to WordPress 5.3. Andrew Ozz pointed out that fixing several “stalled” tickets “will greatly improve user experience, especially when uploading large images or the server is slow/busy.” ⌛


Software partially raised me, and it’s such a patient teacher.

Paul Ford at WIRED writes why he still loves tech despite it being a difficult industry to take proud in. If you grew up in the 1990s and 2000s with technology and gadgets central to your growth, you probably will relate to this piece.


May 16th was Global Accessibility Awareness Day, with many public events taking place. You can find more accessibility events, sites, and information via the official Twitter account, @gbla11yday.


The Frontity framework’s public beta has been released. Here’s the Quick Start Guide if you want to give it a try. For a quick overview of Frontity, check our interview with Reyes Martinez if you haven’t seen it yet.


🎙️ Here are some podcasts I’ve been listening to lately:

  • Matt Mullenweg started a new one called “Distributed,” which aims to explore “the benefits and challenges of distributed work.” The first episode is an interview with Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork.
  • A recent episode of the WPMRR WordPress Podcast includes the keynote panel from WordCamp Lancaster. Participants included Beth Soderberg, Joe Howard, Lee Drozak, and Tara Claeys. Their topics included freelancing on the side until you can quit your 9-5, balancing work and life, the importance of boundaries, and why failing faster is the key to success.
  • If you are looking for some analysis of tech industries beyond WordPress, then I recommend Episode 170 of Exponent. I always enjoy Ben Thompson‘s high-energy discussions and in-depth analysis. This episode does a great job of explaining what makes Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft unique in their recent marketing for growth in the Enterprise space.

Notes for May 13, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.2 was released as scheduled on Tuesday. Thanks to Site Health, PHP Error Protection, and the minimum PHP version bump (to 5.6.20), this has been one of the best-received updates that I can remember. 🤗

There were over 327 volunteer contributors, with about 109 individuals who contributed to WordPress core for the first time with this release (h/t Aaron Jorbin). 👏

Ella van Durpe noted on Twitter that only four out of the 60 noteworthy contributors on the WordPress 5.2 credit page are women. As part of the core team, Ella asked what she can do to help others contribute. A positive discussion ensued, and several people took her up on her offer. 🤝

Scott Arciszewski notes that WordPress 5.2 has improved signature verification for updates. Plugin developers can begin migrating their custom cryptography code away from mcrypt and towards libsodium.

Check out what Catalin Cimpanu at ZDNet has to say about 5.2’s security improvements as well.

Boone Gorges covers the changes to setup and usage of post globals in get_the_content() and related functions.


ReviewSignal has published the 2019 version of the WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks report. It focuses only on performance, not features or anything else about the hosts that were tested. 💨

The tests are not (and never have been) sponsored, but a participation fee is involved now. For transparency, “All fees paid will be documented publicly for posterity.”


Advanced Custom Fields version 5.8.0 is available now. This release contains the long-awaited PHP-based framework for developing Gutenberg custom block types.

Many people are already publishing some demos on Twitter using the new PHP method, which seems sure to open up more developer interest in blocks and the Gutenberg editor in general.


WPMU DEV is retiring the vast majority of its premium plugins and has moved them to Github. It looks like the number of people using these plugins has reached the point where supporting and continuing to develop them wouldn’t make sense financially. 💸


Developers looking for an excellent introduction to web components should check out a recent post on the CSS Tricks website. Caleb Williams wrote this detailed and easy to follow guide.


The 4th WordPress Translation Day will take place on May 10th-11th, depending on your time zone. The event will be live-streamed, and a schedule has been posted. There is also a great deal more information and background on the event itself on the Make WordPress.org site.


The 2019 State of the Merchant Report has been released by eCommerceFuel whose annual reports always provoke new insights. If you are involved in the eCommerce space,  take a look at these survey results from 400+ merchants with revenues over $1M. 🛒

One of the most exciting findings is that organic traffic is still the top source of customers for almost half of all stores: “The evil trifecta of Amazon, Google and Facebook is coming to steal your free, organic traffic … but thankfully not as fast as you thought.”


Michael has been strategizing ways to fund his Print My Blog plugin with donations and asked himself why he should expect people to donate since he had never given to a plugin developer himself. Michael looks at the reasons for not giving: lack of awareness, selfishness, laziness, and perhaps the fact that “we have it ingrained in our culture that usually you pay for physical things, but immaterial things are usually free.”

These are all barriers that can be overcome by relatively simple actions from plugin developers want to attract donors. 🎁


Stefan Judis has a comprehensive post on HTTP headers, and I recommend it for any web developer. Stefan dives into using HTTP headers to build sites that are safe, affordable and respectful.


Wholegrain Digital and Susty WP have issued a “Sustainable Web Manifesto” which you can sign to declare your commitment to creating a greener web. They’re right; it matters: “If the Internet were a country, it would be the 6th largest polluter,” edging out Germany by a large margin, just counting C02 emissions. 🏭


Wow. It took USD 98,653 to operate Unsplash for one month (February 2019), up from USD 17,658.62 in April 2016. 😮


The Code Company explains why they don’t recommend WooCommerce for large (50+ orders a week) eCommerce projects. They discuss database structure, costs, scaling, and the store administrator experience. 👎


WebDevStudios released a collection of abstract classes, interfaces, and traits to promote object-oriented programming practices in WordPress.


Cory Miller recently published a video introducing Leader Huddles, a “monthly facilitated peer groups for leaders.” Cory also has a newly released talk with Matt Medeiros on building a podcast audience.


Brian Gardner summarizes a recent Genesis Shapers meeting, which involves many well-known influencers in the WordPress community. At the latest meeting, the group discussed the challenges posed by Google AMP and its importance to those who are using Genesis to build sites for clients. Most participants said they hadn’t seen much demand for AMP.


WPCampus released the results of the much-awaited Gutenberg accessibility audit. Tenon LLC conducted the tests and produced the report at the cost of $31,200. On top of donations raised by WPCampus, Automattic covered about two-thirds of that total.

The testing was done using WordPress 5.0.3, and the report acknowledges that several accessibility issues have been addressed in subsequent releases. However, the 329-page long-form technical report — along with the 34-page executive summary — clearly concludes that “Gutenberg has significant and pervasive accessibility problems, the likes of which amount to a step backwards for users with disabilities over the legacy editor.” 😞

Rachel Cherry, director of WPCampus and one of the original proponents of the audit, shared some helpful responses to the report on Twitter over the past weekend and called for constructive engagement: “If you’d like to help remediate these issues, I recommend joining the WordPress design, core, core-editor, and, of course, the accessibility team.”

The positive effects of Tenon’s audit are already being felt, and meaningful discussion of the findings began, only hours after its release, in several official WordPress Slack channels. Tickets based on issues noted in the report have already been created, and of some of them have been resolved. 🎫

A free webinar to discuss the audit results will take place Monday, May 13, 2019, at noon CDT. There’s no cost to attend, but you must register. 🖥️

If you are interested in accessibility with other CMS platforms, Accessibility Talks had a lively discussion that included Rachel Cherry among the speakers. One topic they deliberated is how accessibility is impacted by taking a traditional versus headless approach.

Finally,  there’s a new desktop app called Koa11y that anyone can use to discover accessibility problems in web pages. Check it out on GitHub. It looks impressive. 👍


🎙️ I’ve been out of town recently, so I haven’t had the chance to listen to many podcasts. There have been a few standouts, however, that I’ve got queued up to listen to next:

  • If you’re looking for a great one-on-one interview with a fantastic designer, you must listen to Jeffrey Zeldman talk with Mina Markham on The Big Web Show. Mina is best known for her work on the Hillary Clinton UI pattern library “Pantsuit.”
  • The latest episode of Hallway Chats with guest Carrie Dils covers Carrie’s work with WordPress and her career as an instructor and freelance coach. Congrats to Tara Claeys and Liam Dempsey for making it to the 100th episode mark.
  • Aaron Campbell, security expert and the head of WordPress Ecosystem at GoDaddy, is a guest on the latest BoldGrid “BoldLife” podcast. Aaron talks about the Open Web and the role WordPress plays in it. 👐

Notes for May 3, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.2 is still (at the time of this writing) slated to arrive next Tuesday (May 7th). In the meantime, the second release candidate is out. We covered a lot of developer information for 5.2 in last week’s notes, but there’s still more to add:

👉 The latest version of Gutenberg (5.6) is out, and its changes will roll out with WordPress 5.2. (You can see them now if you’re using the Gutenberg plugin.) It brings some improvements to button block focus states and theming, and block mover controls for full- and wide-aligned blocks.

👉 Heather Burns shared some information about the privacy updates coming in 5.2. The privacy team shipped 15 bug fixes and nine enhancements, including the introduction of new privacy policy page helpers which Heather says was “the biggest win.” Now themes can easily style the Privacy Policy page.


I appreciated this post from Josepha Haden on “Fostering Collaboration Across Cultures.” There are some excellent tips for both team members and team leaders here.

Stereotypes can hinder communication, and I think even with the WordPress community being open and relatively peaceful, we are all human beings and all of us need to be aware of how we communicate with other teams. If you want to reflect on some higher level communication concepts, take some time out for this.

Josepha also published a final post for the WordPress 5.0 retrospective, documenting the results from the survey. Some key takeaways:

  • Two subjects dominated the suggestions for things to start doing in future releases: communication practices and documentation practices.
  • The most requested things to stop doing were mostly directed at leadership regarding communication (e.g., making decisions in private), process (e.g., releases immediately before significant events and holidays), and community (e.g., letting a feature focus consume the entire project.)
  • There was a lot of agreement about what went well, and many suggested changes have already been put into practice.

WPCampus released the accessibility audit of Gutenberg that was conducted by Tenon, starting in late 2018. You can read the 34-page Executive Summary. 💦

WPCampus explains, “This report is best understood as a snapshot of the state of the editor in early 2019.” They note that many of the accessibility issues the report documents have been or are currently being dealt with by the WordPress Accessibility Team and Gutenberg contributors. For that reason, Tenon’s report should be read “as a reference document for measuring continuing progress toward accessibility.”

To help improve Gutenberg based on their findings, Tenon opened 90 issues on GitHub. Six have already been closed as of this writing.


Steph Yiu (from WordPress VIP) relates her experience at the Poynter Institute’s Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. Steph says she was able “to participate in sessions on being a change agent, negotiating as a woman, promoting diversity in leadership, and personal career development.” 🙋

Thanks to its distributed and open culture creed, WordPress VIP has been a good fit for Poynter’s program.


Nevena Tomovic, business development manager at Human Made, is asking for your feedback in a survey that “aims to identify essential skills for a modern digital career, as perceived by the diverse WordPress community.” Nevena is planning on presenting the survey results at WordCamp Europe in Berlin.


Gravity View announced a diversity grant for PressNomics 2019. If you “identify as a woman or as part of an underrepresented group in the tech industry,” you may qualify. For those who are eligible, apply as soon as you can! If you don’t think you qualify, then help spread the word. 🗣️


Yoast SEO 11.1 is officially out. This release features schema improvements for videos and images along with better language support for German.


ThemeIsle just launched Blocks Animation, which allows you to add CSS animations to any Gutenberg Block.


K. Adam White shows off an experiment to make it easier to load and “hot reload” JavaScript blocks and plugins in Gutenberg.


A feature plugin for WooCommerce is out with a new dashboard where store owners can manage and monitor all key reporting metrics. Gary Murray highlights the key features of WooCommerce Admin, and it’s planned to be a part of the WooCommerce core.


Mandy Jones explains how to write digital product store newsletters. “Your mailing list is a digital portal – a direct line to your audience,” so use it well.

Mandy shows how to craft meaningful messages, personalize the experience, and explains the standard structure for digital product newsletters.


Ever wonder if Google and Gmail are mishandling your email? I’m beginning to wonder that myself after reading this analysis by Tomaž Šolc entitled “Google Is Eating Our Mail.” 🍽️


I stumbled on this post from Phil Sturgeon — an interesting explanation of RPC, REST, and GraphQL:

Every API in the world is following some sort of paradigm, whether it knows it or not. They will fall under RPC, REST, or a “query language.”

“Even if you are confident you understand the difference,” Phil says you probably are in the 99% who doesn’t.

If you work with these technologies, give Phil’s post a read.


Zac Gordon has another new book coming out from OSTraining. Javascript Explained will be released around July 1st.


Carl Alexander continues his deep dev dives into the WordPress admin with this new post about building admin pages for special situations. Carl has some outstanding code examples — if you want to see improvements that you can make to the admin page system, bookmark this one. 🔖


Creative Commons has launched its search engine, which indexes over 300 million images with CC licenses or in the public domain. 📷

CC Search is a new service that has been designed to offer an easy way to search the Commons’ archive of images drawn from the Cleveland Museum of Art, Bēhance, DeviantArt, 3D designs from Thingiverse, and 15 others. (The biggest collection, by far, is from Flickr.)

More collections will be added, with priority given to significant archives like Europeana and Wikimedia Commons. (Europeana was part of the beta and the old version.) 🖼️


If you want to improve the accessibility of your work, always ensure navigation menus and links have accessible, descriptive names that make sense. Some useful tips from Hidde de Vries. 🏷️


I was surprised to see the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is now on Github, mainly because of the massive amount of code involved. This migration started in 2016 and slowly reached completion in early 2019. 👴


Here’s an in-depth look at the native image lazy-loading (for images and iframes) that is coming to Chrome — and hopefully the other major browsers.


Here’s a WordPress plugin to register custom taxonomies on your entire multisite network from Harvard University‘s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Arman Zakaryan (Director of Hosting Operations at Amazon) and Michael Martin (Pagely) talk about Amazon Aurora and how it can increase capacity on production workloads with WordPress sites.


Nieman Journalism Lab reported on a really unfortunate turn of events for The Correspondent, apparently from their own communication failures. Managing expectations in a highly successful crowdfunded project must be as perilous as it is difficult — and therefore essential — to prioritize. 😓


🎙️ Here are a few podcasts I’ve enjoyed recently:

  • If you’ve ever been overloaded with work, then you’ll appreciate this conversation with Paul Lacey on the subject of dealing with overload, the limits of your mental bandwidth, and when to consider getting professional help. The previous episode with Laura Nelson and Phil Morrow is next on my playlist, and it covers anxiety.
  • Voices of the ElePHPant podcast is an interview podcast focused on the PHP community. Usually, the episodes are shorter than 30 minutes, so they are easy to consume. Several episodes I’ve listened to lately involve some great women in the community: Olivia Liddell, Amrita Jain, and Kat Zień.
  • The Women in WP team spoke with Bethany Siegler about her journey to WordPress and how she became a WordPress educator.
  • Dave Rupert and Chris Coyier on ShopTalk cover a lot of topics: styling Gutenburg blocks, Firefox empathy, and the general state of web browsers in 2019.
  • If you are into JavaScript and front-end development (and shorter podcasts), then a recent Syntax episode might be perfect for you. It covers some new CSS functions, Houdini CSS, and PWAs.
  • On the Wordfence podcast, Mark Maunder chats with Jon Brown (CEO of 9seeds) about running an agency and remote work. There’s also the usual security news and trends to catch up on.