Notes for April 9, 2021

Footnotes #441

Matt Danner announced this week that iThemes has acquired Kadence WP and the team behind Kadence Blocks, a page-builder style block package. The acquisition also includes Kadence Theme, a WordPress theme “built for performance and easy development.” 💨

Matt admits the “themes” in iThemes have been lacking, but with this move “we’re making Kadence WP the official theme platform of choice for iThemes.” They “will finally sunset iThemes Builder and … legacy themes at the beginning of 2022.” 🎨

Existing Kadence WP customers won’t notice many changes, but Toolkit and Agency Bundle members automatically get a Kadence WP membership. This includes the Pro versions of Kadence Theme and Kadence Blocks, as part of their iThemes membership.


I'm really excited about this acquisition, and not just because of iThemes, but I'm using Kadence for my mental health startup. It's a great theme and block package.”

GravityView has acquired GF Entries in Excel, a plugin that exports Gravity Forms data into Microsoft Excel:

“We see major potential in this plugin and that’s why we reached out to the original author, Doeke Norg, to see if we could take over maintenance.”

There will be a planned pro version of the plugin, and it will be included in the GravityView All Access plan. 🔌

Helen Hou-Sandí recently streamed herself testing the full site editing feature in the latest version of Gutenberg. The video is over three hours long, and most of it contains her live comments as she uses the interface. I think this is very useful for someone like me who really hasn't played that much with FSE yet. It helps a lot to see a “common user” (what Helen calls herself in the feed) trying to navigate full site editing.

Helen's take on FSE:

“I think it’s a really compelling experience with a lot of potential! It’s still iterative software, and whatever the decision is about shipping it in core this round, I think it represents where we’re going in terms of web experiences, and I’m excited about it.”

If you are involved with FSE or want a preview, bookmark this. 📑

I want to see more videos of people using software and products they haven't used much before. This is an excellent means of feedback — especially since live events are still off the table. 👍

The most discussed story of the past week is Wix‘s marketing campaign against WordPress. If you have been on Twitter or Post Status Slack, you probably know many of the details by now.

Wix appears to have selected several “high level” WordPress users and community members via Twitter DM some time ago asking for their email addresses. Recently, the people who shared mailing addresses received headphones. Reactions to these gifts ran from thanks to surprise and amusement. Some of these people assumed Wix was trying to convince them to switch or just give them exposure. 🎁

QR codes on the shipped headphones brought the recipients to an unbranded website with video ads that were later shared on Wix's Twitter account. 🎧

Sarah Gooding has a good summary if you want to learn more.

The whole episode might have come to a head when Matt Mullenweg responded to the campaign in a blog post calling Wix “a roach motel” up to “dirty tricks.” He mentioned how Wix currently has no export feature:

“So if we’re comparing website builders to abusive relationships, Wix is one that locks you in the basement and doesn’t let you leave. I’m surprised consumer protection agencies haven’t gone after them.”

I found the whole episode rather interesting from social and marketing angles.

I agree with Tammie Lister who noted this negative campaign is being talked about a lot “because it's also one of the first times an outside company has … selected who they see as ‘influencers'” inside the WordPress community. Very often I see some members of the WordPress community get “exclusive” swag like caps and hoodies from WordPress companies. Very often it's the same people who publicly thank the gift-givers on Twitter.

It was also humorous timing for Gary Pendergast who is working on a “little project” that appears to export site data from Wix. 😆

I don't believe that all marketing is good or harmless. Headphones and ads aren't cheap, and I don't think this was a clear success for Wix in the long run. But we can check back in a year and see if this made any real impact.

Last week on the Post Status Excerpt podcast I made some comments on WordPress settings based on a tweet from Brian Krogsgard.

On that topic of setting screens, Fränk Klein reached out to me on Post Status Slack this week, and he told me there is currently a drive to remove at least some “clutter” from the settings pages as part of the full-site editing project. 🙏

Fränk — whose newsletter on Gutenberg and WordPress is worth your time — showed me these comments in the Gutenberg repo. His take:

“Overall, this and other simplifications are a part of why I am so excited for full-site editing. Even if it’s still early in its current form. But there’s just so much opportunity to get rid of all that old stuff in a way that doesn’t feel like artificially removing things.”

Josepha Haden Chomphosy has a new post about some updates to the roadmap and some high-level clarifications about Full Site Editing (SE). 📝

Some Highlights:

  • Full site editing “isn’t shipping as the full, default experience for users… this merge process won’t be an on/off switch. The focus now is not on a full and nuanced user experience, but more of an open public beta within WordPress 5.8.”
  • The first “go/no go date is next week.” On April 14 the Gutenberg plugin will ship v10.4 and shortly thereafter will be “the go/no go demo.”
  • Regarding the April 14th demo, those in attendance will include Matt Mullenweg, Matias Ventura, Helen Hou-Sandi, and of course Josepha. The agenda will include Matias showing the features intended for WordPress 5.8 followed by “discussions and implementation questions.”

This post along with other recent communications about FSE is gathering some discussion in Post Stack Slack.

Anne McCarthy is spearheading the FSE Outreach Program and would love to have people testing now rather than later:

“Much of the feedback that has already come up in the program has proved to be helpful for these decision points, so please don’t hold back/wait if you are interested and have time.”

While the support for FSE is positive overall and going in the right direction, there are some concerns in the community about the rollout's potential for drama and negative reactions in the larger web community. Reactions to the Gutenberg (Phase 1) release have provided some reasons for caution.

From what I can gather, a smooth transition and welcome reception is what everyone wants. I think the communication from the project leaders (such as the above post from Josepha) truly helps.

👉 If you want to see Full Site Editing demoed live by Anne McCarthy, join the WordPress Mega Meetup next Thursday (April 15th) at 6:30pm (David Bisset co-hosts that meeting).

Lisa Sabin-Wilson on the importance of data portability:

“Your data, your code, your progress belongs to you – you have worked too hard, and, in a lot of cases, paid too much money to allow a company to own your hard earned progress. Don’t get locked in by a company who does not have your best interests at heart.”

Chris Coyier has a nice piece on what words to avoid in educational writing. I know I’ve used some of these words before, and I’ll be careful to avoid them in the future. As Chris says, “these words might detract from the material.” 🤬

Frederick O’Brien warns against disposable design — a combination of unpleasant UX that follows unhealthy design fads, broken links, and quick fixes. 🗑️

Websites should last for years, so think about what your site will look like in 2, 5, or 20 years. 👴

Frederick also recommends modular thinking and designing for accessibility to be better equipped to adapt to evolving technologies.

Joy Shaheb explains every CSS background property and illustrates them with code examples. This might be handy for front-end developers and anyone who works with CSS. 🎨

Leonardo Losoviz explores why you might want to support “CMS-agnosticism” using the GraphQL API for WordPress plugin and the 91 PHP packages it contains. 📦

DigitalOcean is offering managed databases for MySQL that integrate with the WordPress 1-Click App in their marketplace. 🌊

I love this quote — and the whole blog post — from Jason Fried:

“Excitement is a fleeting moment, not a steady state.”

Not every software or product release has to wow or beat previous players. Sometimes work is “dull,” so appreciate the upswings. Finally, it's important to set healthy expectations for yourself and your users.

Congrats to WPGraphQL for passing 10,000 active installs on the repository since being added in November. 🙌

Silvestar Bistrović defines what it means to “audit CSS.” Then he digs deep into Chrome DevTools, which you can use to troubleshoot and monitor a variety of different things. Even if you are familiar with Dev Tools, this is worth a read — there's likely something here you've missed.

Among the items Silvestar mentions are the Specificity Visualizer that shows the specificity of CSS selectors in the codebase, the CSS Specificity Graph Generator, CSS Stats, and Project Wallace which allows you to “see previous states of your CSS code base and see how your code changes between states.” 👍

Last week we reported Getty Images‘ acquisition of Unsplash. Om Malik‘s analysis is worth mentioning too, and I share his concerns. It will be interesting to see if a service like the old Unsplash pops up now. 📸

Taylor Arndt is a blind WordPress developer who has launched a weekly podcast that takes on tech topics — and WordPress — from an accessibility perspective. Taylor also has some Udemy courses and tutorials on YouTube.

Topics cover how to build accessible websites from scratch and why some accessibility tools might be better than others.

I listened to an episode of Taylor's WordPress Wednesdays and enjoyed it very much. I look forward to hearing more and adding them to my Podcast Picks.

HeroPress is taking over the Hallways Chats podcast — we link to the latest episode below in our Podcast picks. Congrats to Tara Claeys and Liam Dempsey for 150 episodes!

Cate DeRosia writes that HeroPress will “build on their legacy and continue to grow Hallway Chats throughout the community, and we’re grateful to Tara and Liam that they’ve entrusted it into our care.”

Topher DeRosia debunked some common myths about eCommerce with Brian Krogsgard for Commerce Journey. 💥

If you know someone starting out with an online business who isn't sure how their traditional business experience translates — or if they have none — send them here.

Joost de Valk has started a conversation about developers testing their work with other developers' plugins in Post Status Slack. Joost wants to take on what he calls an “integration problem:”

“Every integration with another plugin we [at Yoast] add forces us to test the basic features of that plugin, with our plugin running, to see if we don’t break that plugin. So we’re testing their feature set. Other plugins do the same with us… I know of WooCommerce and Jetpack doing this with us to some extent. This feels incredibly wasteful.”

If you are a developer and a Post Status member, I suggest you check out his proposal and the responses so far. This is a very interesting line of thinking about developer cooperation. 🤝

GoDaddy has acquired the .Club domain extension.

Servebolt has launched a service called Accelerated Domains that is meant to “accelerate WordPress and WooCommerce sites by targeting key metrics. One of these is a site's “carbon footprint.”

“By caching at the Accelerated Domains edge and close to the visitor the website doesn’t use CPU to deliver the same page over and over again… [we are also] powered by renewable energy which means an even larger portion of the route from the visitor to the Servebolt Cloud is guaranteed green.”

I expect more hosts to promote “green” features like this as climate change policies starts to encourage higher efficiency.

Upcoming Events 📆

  • WordCamp Europe 2021 has announced it will take place online, June 7-10. 🏕️
  • WordCamp Centroamérica will take place for the first time between April 15-17. 🌎
  • WordCamp Greece is happening online on April 16 and is free to the public. 🇬🇷
  • Speak Up! Black Speakers in WordPress Workshop from WP Engine is accepting signups. It will kick off on June 5th to support “Black voices in the WordPress community” and elevate “community members to leadership roles.” 🧑🏾


Video Picks

📹 Here are my video picks of the week:

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts worth listening to that I've enjoyed lately:

  • How I Built It: A talk with Hazel Quimpo and Zach Tirrell about how they pivoted their business, The Events Calendar, which started as a company of 50 people focused on software for live events.
  • Audience: Matt Mederios talks with Michelle Frechette about building a community, different types of community engagement, and how to best use that engagement for the benefit of your listeners — and you.
  • Hallway Chats: Tara Claeys and Liam Dempsey have a conversation with Cate and Topher DeRosia. Get some background on them, the history in the community, and learn how HeroPress will be adopting the Hallway Chats podcast in the near future.

Notes for April 2, 2021

Footnotes #440

Milica Mihajlija takes on CSS performance and says the most straightforward approach is to keep it small. Compressing files can significantly improve speed, but removing unused code can too. Other methods include using efficient CSS animations and avoiding invisible text during font loading.

“CSS is critical to loading pages and a delightful user experience. While we often might prioritize other assets (such as script or imagery) as more impactful, we shouldn’t forget CSS.”

Notes for March 21, 2021

Footnotes #439

Substacking the Deck 🃏

Jared Newman notes over at FastCompany that “writers who crave independence should skip Substack.” He refers to several WordPress-powered alternatives, including Newsletter Glue “which lets me instantly send out WordPress posts as nicely formatted newsletters.” ✉️

Personally, I don't find Substack too appealing. It reminds me of Medium back in its early days — the hype and the idea of paying people to host exclusive content on the platform. That's great if it profits the platform, but owning your content is usually the best strategy for their users. What writer wants to give up that much control?

Ernie Smith tends to agree with that concern:

“…Substack is pre-paying some famous writers to join the platform without telling the public who got the money and admitting that the pre-payment amounts to editorial influence on the platform.”

Ernie also lists some alternatives to launching an email newsletter, including WordPress with Newsletter Glue or Newspack Newsletters from Automattic. Another reason he has for taking this route is the cost:

“The thing that newsletter creators should know about sending newsletters is that it’s actually very cheap to do.”

As I mentioned on Twitter, whenever experts and larger media outlets cover solutions and alternatives to startups that are gaining market share, if they mention WordPress that is a bigger win than bragging about WordPress powering nearly half the web or more than half of all CMS-driven sites.

People outside the WordPress bubble are more likely to understand, appreciate, and use WordPress if they see the problems it solves or the solutions it offers. That is better for WordPress's lifespan than (almost?) anything else.

Early information about the WordPress 5.7.1 maintenance release schedule has been published. A Release Candidate is set to come out on Wednesday, April 7th, 2021 with a final release likely on April 14th. 🔧

Anne McCarty, a member of the Developer Relations team at Automattic, explains how performance is measured and prioritized in each Gutenberg plugin release:

“With each release… a performance benchmark is run against the last few releases that compares different response times for a large post (~36,000 words, ~1,000 blocks).”

⌨️ Generally speaking, while the loading time of the editor is important, special attention is paid to typing speed:

“This is a far more important measure when it comes to user experience as this is what allows for the smooth experience when working in the editor.”

Caldera Forms, a WordPress form plugin, will be sunset at the end of 2021. Caldera's customers will be transitioned gradually to Ninja Forms. 🌆

Josh Pollock was the founder of CalderaWP and was the lead developer of Caldera Forms.

The WordPress Youth Events Working Group is reconvening and looking for volunteers to help build and grow. 🙋

Sandy Edwards generally leads the group and its meetings, but anyone can join — and if you can't attend, you can comment. Video creation, editing, and research are the main tasks they need help with.

There is a proposal from sarayourfriend for native TypeScript support in Gutenberg.

TypeScript extends JavaScript by adding types. It's hoped this move might “encourage new contributions by community members in this space by lowering the learning curve and leveraging existing knowledge of statically typed languages.” 👍

Matt Mullenweg noticed the Ulysses App now has better support for WordPress. From the Ulysses blog:

The feature is pretty straightforward. You publish to WordPress… [A]fter your blog automatically notifies your subscribers, and the first reactions come in, you notice how you completely misquoted that celebrity you were so viciously attacking on her politics. You can now correct your mistakes inside Ulysses, and simply… publish again. Voilá — easy as that, no harm done.

Igor Benic offers some great tips for getting better as a WordPress developer. Excellent points about code reviews and just reading the available handbooks. Taking time to learn from others and building extensions for existing plugins are good ideas too. 💯

If you want to learn how a plugin has fared over time, take a look at Igor's project, It tells you the number of active installs for any WordPress plugin in the repo as of a date you specify.

Bridget Willard has published a book — How To Market Your Plugin. It gives developers a framework for marketing their WordPress plugins, with input from Chris Badgett, Anil Gupta, Devin Walker, Marc Benezekein, Adrian Tobey, and Veto Peleg. 📕

The results of WebAIM’s 3rd Survey of Web Accessibility Practitioners are available with some interesting highlights including:

  • 57% of respondents were male, 40% of respondents were female (5 times higher than the broader design/development field), and 3% non-binary, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming (twice as high as the broader design/development field).
  • 29% of respondents indicated having a disability (15 times higher than the broader design/development field).
  • The average reported salary was at least $73,000, notably higher than the broader design/development field. Salaries of web accessibility practitioners have increased steadily over time. 📈

Speaking of accessibility, Channing Ritter adds a new perspective to the design team at Automattic on the accessibility features available in the block editor. Channing is also a new core contributor, and her post provides some context for how these features were developed. 👍

Troy Dean shows off his studio and the equipment he uses for live streaming and recording. This is particularly interesting if you are doing the same thing or looking to increase the quality of your recordings or calls. 🎙️

I use and trust Backblaze so I was surprised to learn Ben Cox discovered Facebook tracking the names and sizes of his files when moving them to Backblaze's B2 bucket. 😦

The tracking pixel has since been removed, and even though I choose to believe this was accidental or an oversight, it's a reminder that tracking (even if you opt-out) is something you have to watch out for.

Joe Casabona asks where you draw the line between owning your platform and paying for a service:

“It took two kids and a pandemic to get me to actually pull the trigger and hire more people to do things I felt I could do myself. That change in thinking has also opened my eyes to the great services out there that that save me tons of billable hours.”

🔌 A few plugins appeared on my radar this week, and if you weren't aware of their existence either, they're worth a look:

The State of California is banning companies from using “dark patterns.” This might be the start of a larger movement to prevent sneaky and just plain bad design or UI decisions — like trying to cancel a subscription online only to find it's nearly impossible. 👏

About one out of every ten eCommerce websites uses dark patterns, a 2019 study found. 🤭

Upcoming Events 📆

  • WordCamp Europe 2021 has announced it will take place online, June 7-10, 2021. 🏕️
  • A Business Value Crash Course led by Cory Miller and Jeff Meziere on April 7th will help business owners work through some key steps to assess value and plan their next move. There's an impressive amount of information covered, along with a Q&A at the end of the workshop. 💥
  • Speak Up! Black Speakers in WordPress Workshop from WP Engine is accepting signups. It will kick off on June 5th to support “Black voices in the WordPress community” and elevate “community members to leadership roles.” 🧑🏾
  • WordCamp Greece is happening online on April 16 and is free to the public. 🇬🇷
  • OKC WordPress Meetup: Topher DeRosia talks about increasing conversions in your eCommerce store on March 23rd. 🛒


Video Picks

📹 Here are my video picks of the week:

  • The Web Agency Summit is wrapping up today, but you can still get in and see the recorded sessions over the next few weeks. The Summit ran from March 23-26 and featured Chris Lema along with many other speakers. ⛰️
  • Matt Mullenweg recently sat down with Inside writer Sheena Vasani to discuss distributed work, the future of WordPress, the state of Open Source, and how to be your most zen. 🧘‍♂️
  • Underrepresented in Tech: it's great to see Allie Nimmons and Michelle Ames start a vlog with the goal of “helping people find new opportunities in WordPress and tech.” 🤝
  • Alex Young reviews WordPress trends for freelancers and agencies.
  • Learn how to speed up your WordPress site with Cloudflare’s Automatic Platform Optimization (APO) plugin for WordPress. 🌩️

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts worth listening to that I've enjoyed lately:

Notes for March 16, 2021

Footnotes #438

wJosepha Haden shared her “early thoughts” 💭 on WordPress 5.8 planning, including this intention:

“For the release that includes full site editing, I would like to pause our cohort mentorship processes and replace it with a public coordination channel for the release squad that allows passive learning through observation and release squad transparency.”

Josepha recently published an outline of the communication work needed in the pre-merge period for Phase 2 of the Gutenberg project, which focuses on full site editing. There she notes, “Community readiness should be higher for full site editing than for the block editor” with “known (and unknown) gaps in knowledge we still need to bridge.”

One of the many effects of transparency and communication is community self-education. As Josepha notes, community readiness for full site editing is essential merging it with core WordPress. It will also have the effect of “raising awareness and increasing the skills of our community as we go.”

Josepha is also proposing a WordPress Project Handbook for contributors. It would share expectations for “how we, as contributors, work together, who we want to build our products for, and the WordPress interpretation of modern, open source best practices.”

Another post describes the next steps to add “non-negotiable guard rails” for the Theme Review team by specifying what will prevent a theme from being added to the repo.  Josepha anticipates a lot of change but thinks “we can get most of this work managed by early 2022.”

It's good to see these thoughts being posted on the official site. I can recall past criticisms (some balanced more than others) about communication around major WordPress initiatives, including the first release of Gutenberg itself. A high level of transparency and sharing is very welcome. 👍

The Gutenberg 10.2 release brings additions to Full-Site Editing (FSE) and Global Styles, along with editing experience improvements. ✨

This is clever: Justin Ferriman shows how you can create course certificates in LearnDash using the Gutenberg editor. Better yet it's backward compatible so existing certificates will not be impacted. 🎖️

I agree with Rich Tabor‘s take on Twitter:

“I enjoy seeing all the new and creative ways folks are leveraging Gutenberg outside of just content blocks. Focusing on jobs to be done (like we see here) is the way to go…”

BuddyPress has a security release that addresses 5 security issues that were reported privately to the team. Upgrade to 7.2.1 when you can. 🔒

Chris Lema talks about the advantages of second-movers or those who enter a market late. Their customers can be serviced better, product gaps can be seen more easily, and it's cheaper to acquire customers. 🥈

Chris describes WPForms and Ninja Forms as second-movers, both of which do very well in the WordPress space:

“When you don't enter a market as a pioneer… you can enjoy several advantages that aren't available to the first movers. The second mover advantage eliminates the high costs and risks of finding product market fit. The truth is that you don't have to be first to find success.”

Chris also has a guide to choosing the right WordPress form plugin. 🦮

You can now accept credit card payments through Stripe using the free version of Easy Digital Downloads. However, there is an additional 2% fee per transaction processed vs. no fee with the paid versions. 💳

In this release, Easy Digital Downloads also includes the ability to accept payments via Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Microsoft Pay.

Dumitru Brinzan writes about the “WordPress Web Hosting” page on the website.

He has some disagreements with Matt Mullenweg's recent description of the hosting page as “editorially-driven” and at high risk of “bribery or conflict” if it was placed under the control of another group.

Ionut Neagu notes that he has made another “small acquisition in the WordPress space” with WP Cloudflare Page Cache:

“We're still looking to acquire plugins, SaaS, or media products in WP or financial space, generating around $20k per month.”

Joe Dolson explains why accessibility overlays should not be welcome. ⛔

Overlays are software that, typically by using JavaScript, attempts to automatically resolve accessibility issues on a site. As Joe points out:

“Using an overlay takes away choices and decision making… the development team doesn’t learn anything from the process. In order to make their next site accessible, they pay the overlay company more money; and this cycle has no end.”

This Overlay Fact Sheet provides a good start. It explains what overlays are, along with the pros and cons of using them. Ultimately, “while the use of an overlay may improve compliance with a handful of provisions in major accessibility standards, full compliance cannot be achieved with an overlay.”

Greg Rickaby recounts how WebDevStudios used Next.js to build a 1,000-page Headless WordPress website. He covers the challenges, successes, and tools that were used to test and do UI/UX reviews.

Greg also covers how his team handled the massive number of redirects because many URLs changed in the process. This particular topic “doesn’t get enough attention among the development community, but it’s really important.”

In the end, Greg notes that they “took all the lessons we learned and poured them into our Next.js WordPress Starter, an open-source project which we plan to use on future Headless WordPress projects.”

WordPress will again apply for the Season of Docs, a Google program that offers open-source projects an opportunity to improve their documentation. 📝

Justin Ahinon explains in this post how mentors and projects are needed, so if you have ideas he would love to hear from you.

Ebonie Butler writes about her experience contributing to the latest version of WordPress and what that personally meant to her:

“As a black woman, it is always an obstacle to get involved in a space where there is either no one or very few people who look like you… it is important for me to never waste my time if the space that I am trying to contribute to doesn’t make space for me. In terms of WordPress, an amazing initiative was started by Josepha Haden Chomphosy to make the WordPress 5.6 team an all women & non-binary release squad… and I took this opportunity to raise my hand to be involved.”

Here's a recent guide to Advanced Custom Field and ACF blocks from Iain Poulson, who says he realized while writing “how vital [ACF] is for WordPress development.”

Rene Morozowich has an excellent guide to the Elementor page builder with a pre-recorded version of a presentation on YouTube and also a recording of a live presentation.

A needed conversation about safety at conferences — especially for women — has been taking place. Laura Kalbag explained why she doesn't feel safe at conferences and what might be done to improve safety. 🦺

The number one thing we (especially men) can do to help:

“Pay attention to the people in the room who may feel vulnerable and step in if they are being faced with any questionable behaviour.”

Michael Beckwith created a WordPress plugin to bring blogrolls back — this time in blocks. 🔌

Dan Hacks compares REST with GraphQL and gRPC in this guide to each with their pros and cons. Dan shows how each would be used in the typical case of retrieving a user.

Harmony Romo shares a general overview of the financial health of the WordPress Foundation and its subsidiary, WordPress Community Support (WPCS), as of the beginning of 2021:

“Due to the many cancellations in 2020, the program did lose money. However, many vendors offered balances on account which can be used towards future in-person events. WPCS has approximately US$305K in prepaid expenses as of 1/1/2021 (US$170K of which relates to WC Asia).”

Here are some JavaScript ES2021 features worth knowing, plus some practical examples. 👨‍🏫

HTTPWTF looks at the quirks and history of the HTTP protocol, from the unpatched bugs to the happy accidents. 🐛

If you host domain names at Namecheap, be aware the company is switching domain privacy service providers from WhoisGuard to Withheld for Privacy.

Mario Peshev explains what technical debt is, the types of technical debt, and how assessing code quality is critical to preventing or resolving technical debt: 🏋️‍♂️

“Having a product that is poorly built can be unstable, unable to grow over time, and can keep you limited. You are paying more to just sustain the lifestyle of this specific product instead of investing in business growth.”

Robin Rendle at discusses how enhancements to your software product, like adding a dark mode, can expose “radioactive styles” in your codebase: ☢️

“…the design of your color system shows you where your radioactive styles are… shows you how things are tied together, and what depends on what. Sure, we wanted dark mode to look great. But we also wanted to make sure that dark mode doesn’t slow us down by introducing even more problems than we already have.”

Kudos to the Ghost team on the release of version 4.0. (The newest features added seem to pivot slightly toward memberships.)

Founder John O'Nolan has an interesting Twitter thread with some personal reflections about the launch and eight years of software development with Ghost. 👻

Andrew Owen has some advice for continuous learning in the engineering and web development fields without burning out. 😫

Here's one of his tips I've always tried to follow: “If you’re wanting to stay in software for the long haul, then I’d recommend a different approach from chasing the hype. Try to find the fun in software development.”

Ian Miell explains when it's best to interrupt a developer or engineer There is even a formula in the post embedded in a spreadsheet. 🛑

Upcoming Events 📆

  • A Business Value Crash Course led by Cory Miller and Jeff Meziere on April 7th will help business owners work through some key steps to assess value and plan their next move. There's an impressive amount of information covered, along with a Q&A at the end of the workshop. 💥
  • Speak Up! Black Speakers in WordPress Workshop from WP Engine is accepting signups. It will kick off on June 5th to support “Black voices in the WordPress community” and elevate “community members to leadership roles.” 🧑🏾
  • The Web Agency Summit is happening on March 23-26 featuring Chris Lema and other speakers. It's a free online event focused on “how to scale your web agency or freelance business.” Learn how to attract “high-paying clients and [build] recurring revenue.” ⛰️
  • WooCommerce Live Africa plans to host their first online meetup event on March 18 from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM GMT +1. 🌍
  • WordCamp Greece is happening online on April 16 and is free to the public. 🇬🇷
  • OKC WordPress Meetup Topher DeRosia talks about increasing conversions in your eCommerce store on March 23rd. 🛒

Notes for March 11, 2021

Footnotes #437

WordPress 5.7 was released on schedule on Tuesday with 66+ enhancements and 126+ bug fixes.

This release was made with the work of more than 481 volunteers. Of these, 129 are first-time contributors to WordPress core. 🙌

The 5.7 release was named “Esperanza” after Esperanza Spalding, “a modern musical prodigy” who I'm overjoyed to add to my playlist. 🎶

If you haven't read the 5.7 field guide, now's a good time. If you are a developer, be sure to check out the upcoming plans for full site editing and Gutenberg.

Francesca Marano interviewed two Yoast employees who were deeply involved with this release: Tim Hengeveld served as the Design focus lead and Sergey Biryukov as the Core tech lead. 🙏

WordPress publishes nearly 80 packages to npm now. Greg Ziółkowski explains the latest changes to the process: when trunk is closed or in feature-freeze, you can use package distribution tags to get the future development version of a package you need. 📦


npm install @wordpress/components@next

Read Greg's post at Make WordPress Core for more details about the overall strategy for how WordPress uses npm and to share your feedback.

Bob Dunn, based on survey results and feedback from his outstanding podcast guests, tells us how 2020 played out for WooCommerce businesses.

Some businesses did better than others, and some store owners saw trends like “people requesting free or discounted rates due to being hit hard by the pandemic.” At least one started their business because of the pandemic.

It's good to see that, by far, most survey respondents did as well or better than previous years, with the largest group reporting, “I was lucky, it was amazing.” And, for the most part, few or no major changes needed to be made to their business operations.

Bob also has an updated guide for WooCommerce extension developers that is worth checking out as well. 👍

Steve Burge and his team have taken ownership of the Simple Tags plugin.

It has been renamed to TaxoPress and has a new website. The plugin has been in existence for over a decade and has over 80,000 users. 🔌

Ashley Rich over at SpinupWP breaks down all you need to know about caching and WordPress including the different caching layers and common pitfalls. 🕳️

Developer Olga Gleckler was recently featured in the People of WordPress segment on It's a good piece of writing and worth a read:

“I traveled through a very uneven path, with a lot of obstacles and noise, but for me, it’s like a kaleidoscope where a little turn presents a new picture, a new “ah-ha” moment, new excitement after seemingly pointless efforts.”

Alex Denning took a deep dive into the advertising campaigns of some WordPress businesses, inspired in part by recent events involving Elementor and Bluehost.

Alex looks at the different ads WordPress businesses are running and considers why they might be taking these approaches, with some input from the business owners.

Alex recommends re-targeting ads because the:

“give you the opportunity (once you’ve collected the appropriate consent) to show display ads [,…] reminding the visitor about your product and giving them the chance to come back.”

While ads aren't the only marketing channel at your disposal, they are a “reasonable marketing channel to consider if you’re doing $10k+/month, or if you have a big pile of other people’s money to spend. Re-targeting ads are the possible exception.” 🎯

It's up for debate right now how much demand there will be for headless WordPress. Jason Bahl identifies a key barrier:

While much of WordPress was built with decoupling in mind, the WP REST API and Gutenberg were not.

As a result, decoupled application developers interacting with WordPress are limited in what they can achieve.

Jason also offers three possible ways forward and explains how WPGraphQL can help. 👨‍💻

WPCampus is asking for feedback to make decisions about future events. They're aiming to hold their annual conference a month or two later in the year than they usually have, in August or September. 👩‍🎓

Scott Bolinger explains how he made a plugin (available to the public) that saves checkout form values in WooCommerce. 🛒

Brian Henry announced in Post Status Slack this week that he wrote a plugin to add a “view diff” link to review plugins before installing updates:

“It uses git diff via proc_open which might not be available everywhere. (Dependencies can be removed with a library, but this was quick and easy.) I've only installed it on one live site, so tread carefully. It uses PHP7.4, WPCS, PHPStan, and some PHPUnit.”

Kealan Parr relates what “every developer” must know about encoding and Unicode. This is a good overview of why we need encoding, what problems it solves, and what happens when it goes wrong. 🤯

I enjoyed reading these tips from The Leaf Node on how to craft effective landing pages along with some common mistakes to avoid. 🍂

Some high-profile acquisitions to happen recently, first in the hosting space: InMotion Hosting announced its acquisition of, a provider of “affordable and high-performance” unmanaged VPS Hosting.” Mike Demo comments on the deal: “InMotion now has an EU data center with an extensive OpenStack offering to give site owners more flexibility.”

In the cryptocurrency and commerce space, PayPal has bought Curv, a company that specializes in security infrastructure for digital assets. 🔒

Here's our wacky story of the week: Ben Stokes bought 300 emoji domain names from Kazakhstan and built an emoji email address service which has made him $1000 in a week. Come to learn about the weird world of emoji domains, and stay for the interesting story of this “tiny project.” 🤡

I ran across this week, a tool that compresses and compares images with different codecs in your browser.

Notes for March 1, 2021

Footnotes #436

The Gutenberg 10.1 release is out with visual enhancements for reusable blocks, improvements to Full Site Editing, widget and navigation screens, and global styles. ✨

Anne McCarthy has an overview of the current core editor improvements that impact front-end performance and speed. 💨

It may be on its way out of WordPress, but the jQuery 3.6.0 release is out with some good bug fixes and improvements. 🐛

Elementor in the room 🐘


A recent conversation in Post Status Slack centers on Elementor. The company targeted “full-site editing” in some of its Google ads.

Community member Birgit Pauli-Haack is the publisher of Gutenberg Times and a contributor to Gutenberg. She noted on February 25:

Elementor is targeting “WordPress Full Site Editing” for their ads, and also runs an ad “Frustrated with WordPress? Use Elementor.”

To be fair, companies often buy competitors' keywords for ads. It's the wording that seems to criticize WordPress itself that has not gone over well.

🍻 On March 1, Sarah Gooding reported on the story and Slack discussion at the WordPress Tavern and Elementor representative Ben Pines joined Post Status Slack. Pines has claimed his company is merely advertising for a generic feature set when it refers to “full site editing” in ads.

Matt Mullenweg publicly reached out:

“I think Elementor would be successful even if you didn't look at the names and features Gutenberg is launching, then try to co-opt them in your marketing. Full site editing was not a widespread generic industry term inside or outside of the WP community before we announced it… It's not a trademark thing, just a common decency thing.”

Ben offered to get on a call with Matt. He also stressed that at Elementor, they “believe in WordPress and … fully support the project.” They believe “like WordPress, in democratizing the web and adding value to the community, working together to do so.”

At Make WordPress Core there is a discussion taking place about dropping support for Internet Explorer 11 in core. IE 11's usage is very low by several measures. It would be a great benefit to developers to let it go.

Some concerns remain “for those who are unable to upgrade, like financial institutions and education sectors, and those who rely on IE11 for screen readers.”

What do you think? Make your comment by March 18th. 💬

Atlas SShRugged 🤷‍♂️

Right before the DE(CODE) 2021 conference, WP Engine founder and CTO Jason Cohen announced WP Engine's new Headless WordPress service, which is called Atlas. A new developer relations team “with focus on headless WordPress” — Matt Landers, William Johnston, and Nate Archer — was also announced in a blog post.

During the first session at DE(CODE) 2021 on Thursday, Jason explained how Atlas works:

“WPEngine has the entire stack for headless, so instead of piecing together various technologies, all the pieces are all in the same place for one price and one support team to call.”

Atlas allows developers to choose any JavaScript framework, it auto-deploys from Github, and it provides scripting and CLI tools.

Jason said Atlas uses Server-Side Rendering (SSR) to make WordPress “as fast as static” content management systems. He also emphasized the mission of WPEngine is to make WordPress the “number one headless CMS in the world.”

More details and commentary will be forthcoming, I'm sure. But I doubt WP Engine will be the only hosting company in the Headless WordPress space. I think back to Matt Mullenweg's comments recently on a Clubhouse call and during 2020's State of the Word. Back then Matt gave the impression that headless was not the next “big thing” for WordPress.

Time will tell. In the meantime, you might enjoy this older Post Status Draft podcast episode about headless WordPress. 🗣️🪓

📝 Back in 2015, Helen Hou-Sandí created a small plugin. It allows users to add a revision note inside WordPress when they update a post. Now Helen has demonstrated how to adapt an old plugin to the block editor, using her Revision Notes plugin:

“I’m going to explain the process of achieving the final code, first demonstrating what most people will need, then what I actually did because of some specific UX needs, and then dissect the revision bug and things I tried that didn’t work out.”

It's a great and needed tutorial. 👍

A rising tide lifts all hosts 🛥️

More WordPress news on the hosting and eCommerce front: GoDaddy has launched new WooCommerce extensions, which according to the press release are from GoDaddy's recent acquisition of SkyVerge. These extensions “increase the value of GoDaddy's WooCommerce plugins from $3,000 to nearly $6,000 worth of premium extensions.”

Chris Lema, who works for a competitor to GoDaddy, observes this is a welcome addition to the eCommerce hosting space:

“This isn't a zero sum game. The more companies thinking about bundling, the more companies trying to create a complete solution for merchants, the more people out there trying to make it easier, the better it is for everyone.”

It's certainly no surprise that hosting companies are continuing to promote their eCommerce capabilities — particularly with WooCommerce. Last year saw the largest yearly recorded growth in WordPress and WooCommerce. WooCommerce sites are the fastest-growing type of WordPress site according to W3Techs — unless you count Elementor:

W3techs CMS Marketshare 2021

W3techs CMS Marketshare 2021.

Andrea Middleton shares what she feels are some missed business opportunities in the WordPress space.

Because WordPress is open source, any solution or features a third-party developer sells can be added to WordPress Core. That means it's important for third-party businesses not to monetize access to their software. Instead, they should:

“…monetize something that makes the software more powerful for [their] customers. What you’re selling should be so valuable that your customers would still pay you for it, even if your plugin or theme were merged into Core.”

What doesn't tend to work? “Companies that make brash, unsubstantiated business claims and regularly trash-talk competitors… do not flourish in WordPress.” 🤬

Leonardo Losoviz asks, should WordPress should have a GraphQL API in core? Would WordPress be better off with both REST and GraphQL APIs for developers to choose from?

💬 Tell us what you think or jump right into the discussion in our #development channel.

Listing some of his favorite WordPress tools, Austin Gil says “a lot of folks talk trash about WordPress,” but it's still “pretty darn great.” 🤨

“…for the folks that like to hate on WordPress because that’s the ‘cool’ thing to do, just stop. It may not be the best tool for every single thing, but it does what it does really well.”

Brad Dickason argues speed and responsiveness are the ultimate “killer features” that ultimately made the iPhone a success at launch.

Speed in checkouts, in virtual reality, and design tools are examples Brad uses. With any product, we should keep in mind what we are trying to sell to the world. It may save people time, money, or help them solve a problem.

Very true: “Introducing friction or delay during the most important flow of your product will drive people crazy.” 🤪

At some point, you want to hide information or an element on a page. Kitty Giraudel explains all the right (and wrong) ways to do it — and when you should do it — with HTML or CSS.

The WebAIM Million is an annual accessibility analysis of the top 1,000,000 home pages. The most recent results are from February 2020, and one might expect another report soon.

Some significant numbers that likely haven't changed dramatically are not good ones:

“users with disabilities would expect to encounter detectable errors on 1 in every 14 home page elements with which they engage.” 😯

Here's a nifty font tool that uses Machine Learning: generates font pairings to your specifications with a single click. 🤖

🎨 Lukas Oppermann writes about the more and less well-known benefits of design systems:

“Knowing the benefits can be useful when you try to convince your management that a design system is not a waste of money. Or when you want to convince your designers that it will not replace the creative part of their job.”

Chloe Chamberland has the skinny about a vulnerability discovered in User Profile Picture, a plugin installed on over 60,000 sites. 🔌

A patched version of the plugin (2.5.0) was released by its vendor, Cozmoslabs, on February 18.

Sarah Gooding reported on accessibility consultant Joe Dolson and how he detected suspicious review activity for the AccessiBe plugin at Joe's discovery led to the removal of at least 33 reviews.

Accessibility plugins that offer “quick fix” solutions are usually frowned on in the accessibility community. Paying for reviews certainly isn't helping AccessiBe's image in this case either. 👎

Iain Poulson shares how Delicious Brains built an Elementor addon for WP Offload Media, and some tips on how to use it. ☁️

Mike Jolley explains how he created a login system for a ReactJS app using WordPress and WP GraphQL. Mike described his work as:

“a GraphQL mutation which accepts login credentials and logs users in using a custom cookie, and we’ve set CORS headers so the browser allows the cookies to be used…. we can now hook this up to a login form in the React app.”

Here's an interesting look at how deaf people are adapting sign language to accommodate limitations of video communication while working from home.

As you might guess, Zoom fatigue has been a thing deaf people have been coping with for a long time. Why? Close attention to non-verbal visual cues is essential for reading lips and signing. 🧏

The first peer-reviewed theory of Zoom fatigue pinpoints “non-verbal overload” as its most likely cause. 😫

Caroline Criado Perez, the author of Invisible Women, gave an insightful interview at Caroline's book explores how many common objects and technologies are designed for and by men. This “impacts not just the comfort, but also the safety, of women worldwide.”

On a similar note, gender-inclusive language is about more than comfort and personal preferences. I found this “how-to” guide by Enfys Book educational, and you may too. 👩‍🎤

Stephanie Eckles shared the release of the a11y-color-tokens package. It “generates accessible complementary text or UI colors as Sass variables and/or CSS custom properties from your base color tokens.”

At the time I write this, it seems Firefox might be replacing Google Analytics code with a shim — “a fake no-op GA (rather than outright blocking it) in strict tracking protection.”

Google Fonts now supports open source icons, starting with the Material Design icon set. 👍

They've “also created an entirely new icon for Google Fonts itself.” In my view, this change makes another Google product logo unrecognizable. 🤷‍♂️

WP Lookout has added a new feature that will try to detect and notify you when a plugin has been marked as “closed” in the plugin directory. 🔌

Founder Chris Hardie says they're also noting plugins that have been in the news. The news sources to be considered “consistently provide thoughtful and in-depth coverage of noteworthy happenings in the WordPress ecosystem.”

They are Post Status, WP Tavern, the Wordfence vulnerabilities blog, and the iThemes vulnerability roundup blog. 😊

Upcoming Events 📆

  • Speak Up! Black Speakers in WordPress WorkshopWP Engine is accepting signups for this event which will kick off on June 5th to support “Black voices in the WordPress community” and elevate “community members to leadership roles.”
  • Web Agency Summit is happening on March 23-26 with Chris Lema and others. It's a free online event focused on “how to scale your web agency or freelance business.” Learn how to attract “high-paying clients and [build] recurring revenue.”

Notes for February 25, 2021

Footnotes #435


How Am I Bluehost to Live Without You?

Morten Rand-Hendriksen noticed Bluehost appeared to be violating the WordPress Foundation‘s Trademark Policy by using the WordPress logo in an ad. A day later, Josepha Haden acknowledged the tweet and said she had been “checking for context.” Josepha later mentioned having a call with Bluehost.

As you may know, Bluehost has been featured on the recommended hosting page at for a long time. It's one of the very few hosts that have been selected for that level of endorsement by Matt Mullenweg.

In the #hosting channel on Post Status Slack, Matt stated that the list on the recommended hosting page “is open” and that “anyone can apply, no one can pay to be on the page.”

Matt also said, “I take 100% responsibility for the editorial… I also get a fair number of people emailing me direct feedback about the hosts listed, and how the host follows up is part of my evaluation.”

While the current list is in “good standing,” Matt acknowledges the recommended hosts haven't changed in a while:

“It is past-due for open applications again, but I have prioritized other work on .org.”

Regarding the WordPress trademark itself, Matt summarized its history:

“The trademark was originally held by Automattic, which donated it to the Foundation, and in return got an exclusive commercial license back. That commercial use can be sub-licensed by Automattic, and has been in the past.”

Apparently “Automattic can lose its commercial license to the trademark if it is not a good steward,” although the odds of this happening while Matt is still in charge are probably slim to none.

Returning to the Bluehost ad, it seems the ad was “not approved” and has been dropped. The issue might be resolved soon, following further discussion between Automattic and Bluehost.

Notes for February 17, 2021

Notes for February 12, 2021

Footnotes #433

Current Releases

WordPress 5.7 Beta 2 is now available for testing. 🧪 The current target for the final 5.7 release is still March 9, 2021. 📅

There are two new Post Parent related functions in WordPress 5.7:

  • get_parent_post() is a template tag that accepts a Post ID or a WP_Post object and retrieves the parent WP_Post object for the given post.
  • has_parent_post() is a conditional tag that accepts a Post ID or a WP_Post object and returns true if the post has a parent, false if there's no parent.

9️⃣9️⃣ Version 9.9 of the Gutenberg plugin is out — its 99th release!

What's New: Custom colors for social icons, a redesigned options modal (now called “preferences”), text labels in the block toolbar,  automatic dark mode, bug fixes, and miscellaneous tweaks and improvements. ✨

WooCommerce 5.0 has been released 📦 with a lot of bug fixes and improvements to the Admin.  The product review count is fixed, legacy reports are deprecated, and prefixed CSS variables are added to the stylesheet.

The biggest change might be the shift to the WordPress versioning schema:

“This means that although we’re releasing version 5.0 (which usually means a backwards compatible breaking release under Semver), we will maintain backwards compatibility.”

The Big 4-0

According to W3Techs, WordPress has reached 40% of the top 10 million websites globally. It holds 64.3% of the total CMS market share. 📈

Growth in 2020 was 4.3%, exceeding the growth rate for every previous year. Since the beginning of 2021, WordPress has outpaced the growth of Shopify and Squarespace as well, which are the only other platforms in the top ten that are growing. 🛒

WooCommerce also seems to be among the “fastest-growing content management systems” too, although this definition can be a little confusing since it's a plugin for WordPress.

As Joost de Valk joyfully observed, Yoast has crossed the 300 million downloads milestone on 😲

Dancing with the Parse

WordPress VIP has acquired, making it another part of the Automattic family. is a “content analytics company” with 50 employees. 🤝

According to Sara Fischer in Axios, this is the first large enterprise software acquisition for Automattic, although no financial terms have been disclosed at the time of this writing.

Co-founder Sachin Kamdar notes, “whether you’re running WordPress or not, will continue to get active, CMS-agnostic development and support.”

The other co-founder, Andrew Montalenti, made his first comment on Matt Mullenweg's blog back in 2012 as part of a (still ongoing) conversation about distributed teams. Matt remembered this and included it with his post about the acquisition. 💬

Change the Rhythm, Keep the Pulse

Continuing the conversation about WordPress release cycles, Josepha Haden put forward some ideas for making releases easier.

Although the “roadmap for [2021] promised four major releases, as well as any follow-up minor releases,” there have been “flags … raised about how we can accomplish that.” Josepha believes “4 major releases is not a viable plan in 2021” based on current people resources. 🚩

Josepha shared what she sees as the main challenges, including contributor fatigue and burnout. 😫 There's also this widely under-appreciated fact:

“Currently, only a small number of active contributors can do the administrative work required during a release, and they split that responsibility across releases for the year. The onboarding process for contributors with that skill set is lengthy, and the main mechanism we use to recruit and start training them (our in-person events) is not available.”

Frankly, I'm impressed the releases for WordPress were as big and frequent as they were in 2020, given the extra stress and roadblocks caused by the global pandemic. 😷

We might be seeing some adjustments now and throughout 2021. Personally, I don’t care too much about the timing as much as quality and predictability. Releases should be easier for everyone involved.

This is a vital post to absorb — and to follow for the comments.

WP Engine has hired WPGraphQL creator and maintainer Jason Bahl as a Principal Software Engineer.

Jason formerly worked at Gatsby. He says this move “will actually strengthen the WordPress + Gatsby integration” and “allow WPGraphQL to grow and mature faster than ever before.” Jason will be part of a larger team that WP Engine has put together.

“WP Engine pays my salary,” Jason writes, “and in exchange I will be maintaining WPGraphQL and helping grow the headless WordPress ecosystem, reducing friction in many different ways.”

WPGraphQL will continue to be operated and maintained as a free, open-source community plugin.

Content Bot that claims to be the first WordPress AI Content Plugin.

Nick Duncan shared on Twitter how this new product is generating $260 MRR so far, which is a nice start. 💸

Nice tips here from Chris Bongers on how to use WebP images despite a few browsers still not supporting it. 🖼️

This is a security nightmare: a researcher managed to breach over 35 major companies' internal systems (including Microsoft, Apple, PayPal, Shopify, and more) in a software supply chain attack. 😱

The attack comprised uploading malware to open source repositories including PyPI, npm, and RubyGems, which then got distributed downstream automatically into many companies' internal applications. The attack vector leveraged a unique design flaw of the open-source ecosystems called dependency confusion.

Thankfully this breach was performed by a white hat security researcher — not a criminal — but the researcher believes there are more vulnerabilities more to discover. 💦

Steve Burge interviewed Johannes Benz, the Managing Director of Raidboxes, a fast-growing WordPress hosting company. Based in Germany, they are doubling every year and adding nearly 1,000 customers per month. 💻

GoDaddy Pro has been making some improvements and changes to their “Hub” interface, which offers measurable value to freelancers and agencies using it:

People who use the Hub report saving, on average, three hours each month for every site they’re maintaining for clients.

Matt Shaw helpfully compared Amazon SES, SendGrid, Mailgun, and Sendinblue in terms of features, costs, and their ability to integrate with WordPress. 📧

I highly recommend this article from Jennifer Bourn on how to manage conflicts with freelance clients.

Jennifer covers some typical approaches to conflict management and how to handle client conflict “like a professional.” That means the conflict must be handled quickly and follow steps of listening, acknowledging, showing empathy, stating the facts, explaining the solution, and remaining firm. 👩‍💼

Another good tip: move all communication about the conflict away from email because “the intention and meaning of your words can be misinterpreted. Instead, get on a video chat or a phone call with your client so your client can see, hear, and interact with you face-to-face.”

Jennifer notes conflict isn't always a bad thing: “When you collaborate with a client to overcome a conflict, it will strengthen the relationship and show that if any problems arise in the future, the client can rely on you to listen, evaluate, take action, and deliver a solution with grace.” 👍

💎 Some real gems here from Andy Bell on what you can do with CSS right now that you might not be aware of yet. Masonry layout, the :is selector, logical #CSS functions for sizing, and more.

Also worth a look is Thomas Steiner showing how the color-scheme CSS property and the corresponding meta tag make it possible for a page to use the theme-specific defaults of the user agent stylesheet. 👨‍🎨

It appears that the UK Treasury is exploring an online sales tax.

In 2020, 46% more money was spent online in the United Kingdom than in 2019, and “Ecommerce now accounts for about 30% of overall retail sales in the UK, up from about 20% a year ago.”

Amber Wilson wants us to help grow the IndieWeb with Webmentions:

“With webmentions, each person owns their own data and each person can communicate with others. Webmentions are basically a way to display on your personal site ways that others have interacted with your content.”

🎵 I asked the Post Status community this week what “pleasant and calming” music they enjoy having on in the background when they code or want to be productive and stay focused:

  • Cory Miller: “I have been listening to bilateral music for a couple of weeks now (even on Zoom meetings) and can't live without it … this is the best I've found (by a clinician) and just finished buying out the store.”
  • Courtney Engle Robertson recommends and to pretend that your home is a coffee shop.
  • Kim Coleman shared a “floating through space” playlist on Spotify.
  • Jon Bossenger: “Besides freeCodeCamp Radio, I stumbled across this on Spotify when looking for streaming background music and find it works very well for focus at work. For those of us who like working to music of the heavier variety, I recently was shared this 10-hour track on YouTube of progressive metal made by a game engine.”
  • Corey Maass shares a “Quantum Focus” channel on YouTube.
  • Doug Cone: “I love for the less musical background noise. You can also use it to block specific frequencies which is cool.”
  • Jason Coleman: “I'm a fan of this: ‘The Slow Rush in an Imaginary Place' mix of Tame Impala.”
  • Matt Mullenweg suggested we check out Endel for “personalized environments that help you focus and relax.” 🧘

Upcoming Events 📆

  • WordCamp India 2021 is still taking place — this is the final weekend, February 13-14.
  • There is a WordPress “Mega Meetup” coming up on February 18th at 6:30 pm (ET). It will be focused on static sites, Elementor, and overall site performance. The speakers are Michelle Keefe, Maciek Palmowski, and Bud Kraus.
  • The WordCamp for Publishers meetup is February 23rd from 4-6 pm ET and is hosting a panel on “Career Growth and Development in WordPress and Beyond.”
  • Coming up on March 4th is DE{CODE}WP Engine‘s virtual developer conference.

Notes for February 4, 2021

Footnotes #432

🧪 WordPress 5.7 Beta 1 is now available for testing. It includes several enhancements such as lazy-load iframes, ongoing cleanup after the update to jQuery 3.5.1, and a new Robots API. Improvements to the block editor are in there too, of course. Finally, there is a very helpful streamlining of migrations from HTTP to HTTPS:

“Switching a WordPress site from HTTP to HTTPS has proven to be a pain for all involved. While on the surface, the Site Address and WordPress Address have to be updated, content with embedded HTTP URLs remains unchanged in the database.

With this release, migrating a site to HTTPS is now a one-click interaction. URLs in the database are automatically replaced when the Site and WordPress Address are both using HTTPS. Also, Site Health now includes an HTTPS status check.”

WordPress 5.6.1 is also available now. It features 20 core bug fixes, plus seven more in the block editor. 📦

What if WordPress core committers who no longer actively participate in core development received an emeritus status?🤔

Josepha Haden Chomphosy has proposed how this might benefit WordPress in several ways.

🤝 Joining some recent #club conversations in Post Status‘ Slack, Matt Mullenweg responded to a question involving acquisitions:

Automattic is also an active buyer and investor — happy to bring the entire team on if the best path is acquisition, and we have a few of those coming up soon, or also more than happy to support the business staying independent and invest in its growth. We've invested over 40M in independent companies in the past year.”

On the criteria for investing in companies, Matt said he and Automattic look for businesses aligned with their primary goals:

“It needs to be WordPress related and help make the web a better place… Automattic's goal differs from WordPress' by two words: To democratize publishing and commerce. I personally would like to do both. Core does not provide any commerce tools directly, but provides the best platform on the web to build on top of.”

A new version of WooCommerce Blocks is out, and as noted in these release notes, this release includes small tweaks and bug fixes worthy of an update. ✨

There's been a lot of discussion around Josepha Haden‘s post about the “Big Picture Goals” for 2021. Check up on the discussion there in the comments if you haven't seen it yet. To recap the intentionally broad and incomplete focal points, they are:

  • Full Site Editing: This goal targets giving users the ability to edit all elements of a site using Gutenberg blocks. This is marked as MVP for the Gutenberg plugin by April 2021, with its first release in core slated for WordPress 5.8. (In the ensuing discussion, Josepha responded to Joost de Valk and Frank Klein asking for clarification about the precise definition of MVP status.) 📝
  • LearnWP: This goal aims at regular publication of new workshops and lesson plans at while maintaining a high pass rate on workshop quizzes to establish learner success and comprehension. 📚
  • Contributor Tools: here the goal is to decrease the manual overhead of maintenance work for teams through better tooling. 🛠️

🇳🇬 Bob Dunn has a great post based on a recent doo_theWoo podcast episode with Mary Job. mary explains how the 2020 pandemic has affected Nigeria from the standpoint of a WooCommerce site builder:

“So definitely a lot of people are moving their businesses online, even over here. And then over here, it’s more difficult because off the top of my head, I would say about 75% of the civil services, the government services are offline.”

🔙 Andy Fragen announced in Post Status Slack that he has begun work on a feature plugin for testing automatic rollback of a plugin or theme update failure:

“Activating the plugin will result in the creation of a zip file of the currently installed plugin/theme. An unzip process only happens during an update failure. An update failure can be simulated using a filter.”

There will be messaging in the event of an error and successful or unsuccessful rollback.

This is a feature plugin based on the PR for #51857. 🔌

David Mainayar aims to get PeachPay to be a competing “one-click checkout” solution for WooCommerce. 🍑

Genesis Shapers team member and developer Nahuai Badiola has announced the launch of OsomPress, a new theme shop for Genesis child themes.

OsomPress's flagship theme product is the Uprising Theme.

Uprising allows you to add attractive built-in block patterns and block collections to group page sections and layouts that share their appearance. 🎨

Brent Roose has a preview of what to expect in the upcoming release of PHP 8.1:

  • Array unpacking with string keys
  • A new array_is_list function
  • Enums (Enumeration types)

The RFC is still under discussion on enums, but the proposal to them has been received with enthusiasm. If you're unsure about the value they add, you can read about them here.

He also shares breaking changes and deprecations. 💥

Brad Williams from WebDevStudios shared their 2020 year in review, and it's notable how much they have given back to the community.

The company contributed more than 1400 hours for Five for the Future, took on nine more employees, held eight Lunch and Learns, provided 3,432 continuing education hours for staff, and collectively gave each other 27,694 tacos. 🌮

They've been busy!

💨 If you are looking for a positive Gutenberg experience, then check out this blog post. In it, Valentina Orlandi explains why WP Rocket chose Gutenberg and how the performance of their site improved.

“We asked the agency in charge of developing the theme to find a way to load CSS and JavaScript files from a block on demand. Meaning, the files are loaded only when the block is included on the page…. We then improved the system to automate it as much as possible.”

David Bisset asked for unpopular opinions about WordPress on Twitter and got some interesting responses that are, by turns, entertaining, insightful, challenging, and even deep. 🐦

👍 Check out the new California DMV Virtual Office website from 10up, which got high praise from Sallie Goetsch:

“My BFF, who is 70 and technically challenged, just used it and said “After 3 bewildering attempts to renew my REAL ID this time I was able to do it and not even take a long time.”

Struggling with key government sites is not part of a good day for anyone, especially people with disabilities, language or cultural barriers, and so on. Usability and accessibility are truly vital.

👩‍🎓 WPCampus has announced a new planning blog. Director and founder Rachel Cherry writes:

“After five years of the same overall planning process, things have changed. And our planning methods became less effective. It’s time to try something new in how WPCampus organizes and fosters our community, its events, and its initiatives.”

I think this is a great move and helps keep things transparent, as Rachel mentions in the post.

There is also a call for organizers for WPCampus 2021. 👈

🎯 Eric Karkovack explains why focusing on long-term goals is so difficult:

“Running a business often means dividing your focus… The irony is that long-term goals are what ensures that your design business will still be around years from now. That’s why it’s crucial to dedicate some time and energy towards maintaining them.”

🎄 Joshua Strebel shares how Pagely takes two weeks of company-wide downtime for Christmas and New Years' — without causing any disruption for customers:

“We start communicating with our customer base in October about our upcoming holiday hours and offer assistance to prepare – encouraging customers to engage with us now to prepare for later.

We feature our closure dates on our newsletter and pretty much all other announcements up until the time we’re out.”

Pagely also reduces the number of on-call shifts over the break to about three shifts per employee that are selected to fit their holiday schedule

The result:

“We cut actual SupportOps hours worked by 75% for 2 weeks and still responsibly addressed all our customer support obligations. Support load was down by approx 59% during this time as clearly we were not the only ones on vacation.”

Cosima Mielke shards some useful tools and resources for remote workers. This list deserves a look — there are some unique things on it that I haven't seen before.

For example, Big Timer is a “bold yet minimalist” timer that counts down the remaining minutes right in your browser window — and even if you accidentally close the browser tab or need to restart your device. ⏲️

Two good posts this week dig into the challenges of “developer relations” and how this role can be improved. 👩‍💻

These tips from Nader Dabit include how to build bridges and not be married to a specific technology:

“Learn to be curious about competing technologies than the one you are most comfortable with. Many times you'll find that you either can learn a lot from their way of doing things or that you like their way of doing things so much better that you change your specialty.”

Sarah Drasner relates her experiences at Netlify and some of the issues she sees contributing to FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) about Developer Advocates:

“I didn’t see Developer Advocacy downplayed until underrepresented people started participating, and I believe unconscious bias played a part in why it went from peak technical to non-technical.”

🔠 Simon Hearne shows how you can avoid layout shifts caused by web fonts:

“…we need to prevent the layout shift by letting the browser render in a fallback system font if it doesn’t get the web font in time, then optimize our fonts to try to get them to the browser before it needs them.”

A good post making the rounds this week argues for the benefits of RSS and why people might still prefer it.

Although “RSS may appear to some to have fallen by the wayside as content is increasingly siloed into only being available on a specific platform,” there is still great value in the freedom and control it offers:

Having only the content I want to see only be shown when I want to see it with the freedom to jump between readers as I please, all with no ads…

Definitely my definition of a good user experience. 👍

Here are some tips on best practices from WPML for translating your plugin or theme and reaching a much wider audience through the repository. 💯

Congrats to Envira Gallery Lite (a photo gallery plugin for WordPress with a pro version) for crossing 3 million downloads in the repo. 🙌

Altis DXP had its first birthday in 2020. In its first year of existence, it has powered 27 billion page requests and welcomed 18 partners. 🎂

If you are a HomeBrew user, version 3.0 has been released. The most significant changes since 2.7.0 are official Apple Silicon support and a new bottle format in formulae. 🍾

Notes for January 28, 2021

Footnotes #431

🗓️ WordPress 5.6.1 maintenance release has a release schedule:

  • Release Candidate: Available Now.
  • Final release: Wednesday 3 February 2021.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy shares the big picture goals for the year, which include Full Site Editing in Core.

Referring to the overall roadmap for Gutenberg, Josepha noted “Much of that roadmap is on a multi-year timeline, and it can be hard to know what’s next with such a distant North Star.” As near-star goals, she highlighted Full Site Editing, LearnWP, and contributor tools.”

Josepha also stressed these are broad, incomplete targets with lots of supporting pieces, like translations and accessibility. 🌟

The WP Buffs has made its first acquisition: WP EZI. 👏

Allie Nimmons explains how this came about and what's next:

“…WP Buffs purchased WP EZI for 5-figures. This included 65 active subscriptions and 343 total customers… WP Buffs won’t be making any changes to WP EZI’s services or branding at all, at least not right now. The only change that’s being made: WP EZI will stop selling new care plans.”

Joe Howard commented: “Just from a financial standpoint, we had bandwidth to be able to afford a purchase that will pay us back within 9-12 months.”

🎙️ There is also a WPMRR podcast episode with Joe and WP EZI founder Paul Tselekidis.

The WordPress maintenance space isn't something that comes to mind often when I'm thinking of business acquisitions, so it's good to see it growing in value. 📈

🚫 Mika Epstein reminds WordPress plugin developers they must not interfere with or change the defaults of WordPress's update settings:

“You may offer a feature to auto-update, but it has to honor the core settings. This means if someone has set their site to “Never update any of my plugins or themes” you are not to change those for them unless they opt-in and request it.”

Exception: Plugins that have the express purpose of managing updates are allowed to do that. 🔌

🏗️ Steve Benjamins from SiteBuilderReport shares some trends and market share data from 2020 for web builders.

  • Market Share: Wix and Squarespace continue to be the market leaders, although their share of the market fell to 53% from 56% in 2019. 📉
  • While Wix has the highest total market share, Squarespace has the highest market share of the top 1 million websites. Impressively, 2.5% of Webflow websites are in the top 1 million.
  • Shopify has the largest app store, and in 2020 it grew faster (46%) than any other eCommerce builder. 📈

Steve's definition of a website builder is a no-code, drag-and-drop tool with hosting baked into it. By that definition, “WordPress is not a website builder, it's a CMS.”

With full-site editing in place as early as this June, and many managed WordPress hosts should fit the definition of a builder for many of its users — without being contained by it.

🛒 Commerce Journey

Check out our latest Webinar Replay featuring Patrick Rauland: Tips for Building Cost-Effective Ecommerce Sites with WooCommerce. And if you missed it, here's the video with Ana Nunez explaining How Vida Bars Hit 6 Figures in 9 Months … in a Pandemic. ✨

📧 Be sure to subscribe to the Commerce Journey newsletter for our latest content and a roundup of the best eCommerce reading from around the web.

Terence Eden tells a story that shows how simple HTML can be quite effective.  If you want to connect people to vital information even if the technology they're using is terrible, less is definitely more. 🤔

Eric Karkovack asks if high-quality and free WordPress themes are a thing of the past:

“Right now, the WordPress theme landscape is so filled with bloat and obnoxious sales pitches that it’s hard to see how anyone benefits… Free themes have a role to play. While a new user could certainly opt for one of the default themes that come bundled with WordPress, it’s also crucial to offer choice. Unfortunately, the amount of quality free options is lacking.”

Eric has another good post that explains why Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) can fall short along with some suggested alternatives:

“2FA Doesn’t necessarily need to be a requirement… but for most sites, you may consider going with stringent password requirements instead. Also [offering choice allows users] to choose the flavor that works best for them.”

Twitter has acquired Revue, a small company whose service lets you build newsletters from your social media, RSS feeds, and other sources. Matt Mullenweg noted that Automattic was the largest investor in Revue. 🗞️

Isobel Weston revisits the accomplishments of EasyWP, Namecheap‘s managed WordPress hosting service that launched in 2017.

It's great to see how they're giving back to the community. EasyWP is active as a sponsor of WordCamps all over the world. 🏕️

Leonardo Losoviz describes how to implement a GraphQL server with components in PHP.

He starts by defining components, and then he describes “the architectural design of the GraphQL server in PHP GraphQL by PoP, which uses components as a data structure instead of graphs.”

I've always enjoyed a developer's take on key subjects, and Tom McFarlin is an old pro at dispensing this type of wisdom. Tom recently compiled a rundown of material regarding privacy he has covered in both 2019 and 2020 that is worth a look. 🔒

🇺🇸 Peter Slutsky over at WordPress VIP tells the story of their involvement in the Biden-Harris transition website and who they worked with:

“In the weeks leading up to the election, WordPress VIP joined forces with Wide Eye Creative and the transition’s digital team led by Andrew Nacin. Everyone recognized the site’s pivotal role on the global stage which created enormous pressure to get every detail exactly right.”

Speaking of government sites, we shared the news last week about the new using WordPress. On Twitter, Andrew Nacin recently confirmed his involvement, which shouldn't come as a surprise to some in the WordPress community.

Fast Company‘s Lilly Smith told the story in detail with Nacin as a source. Among the many revelations in this article, we learn the “team built the site in six weeks, a process which Nacin says would normally take six months.” ⏩

🛠️ Kat Shaw has compiled a super list of accessibility tools:

“They are not replacements for manual a11y reviews, though some will guide you through a manual a11y audit.”

It's an impressive list and worth bookmarking. 📑

🔈 Elisa Edelberg reminds us that audio descriptions are required by law in certain industries, like higher education in the United States:

“Private and public colleges that receive federal funding must comply with the Rehabilitation Act. Colleges that receive state funding must comply with local state laws, too (often called mini-508s). All colleges provide a public accommodation and must comply with ADA requirements.”

Google claims they have found a privacy-friendly substitute for cookies, although there is reason to doubt it will ever be implemented. 🍪

Wordfence has published its 2020 WordPress Threat Report. 😨

Last year Wordfence blocked “90 billion malicious login attempts from over 57 million unique IP addresses” and “4.3 billion attempts to exploit vulnerabilities from over 9.7 million unique IP addresses.” 🛡️

Jamie Indigo has written a technical SEO guide to Lighthouse performance metrics. Jamie offers some instructions for testing your performance and understanding the metrics behind Lighthouse's Performance score. is a nice tool if you need to optimize JPEGs in a pinch. Your images don't leave your device — it's all done in the browser. 👍

Unless you were living under a rock this week, you probably know there was a significant event involving hedge funds, Reddit, and Gamestop. 🤯

It's an ongoing story, and I won't even begin to try to explain it, but Ian Welsh has an opinionated overview, and so does Akash Painuly with this tweet. Akash gets right to explaining what a short trade is if you're not familiar with the concept.

Read this tweet from Josh Gross for the backstory — it goes back about a year! 🐦

Upcoming Events 📆

  • There is a free webinar today (January 29th) on the subject of WordPress's Full Site Editor and themes. It will be hosted by Carolina Nymark, Ari Stathopoulos, Anne McCarthy, and Birgit Pauli-Haack.
  • WordCamp India 2021 will take place over three weekends from January 30 to February 14, 2021!
  • Coming up on March 4th is DE{CODE}WP Engine‘s virtual developer conference.


Video Picks

📹 Here are my video picks of the week:

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts to listen to that I heartily recommend:

  • How I Built It: Joe Casabona talks to Alex Price about pitching yourself or your agency — especially during a pandemic when you likely aren't in the same room with your potential client.
  • WomenInWP: An excellent conversation with Lisa Sabin-Wilson (Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder of WebDevStudios). On leading a company during the pandemic: “The most important thing when you are leading a group of people is to try to put yourself in their position.” 🧡
  • Do The Woo: “Ten Things I Wish I Knew When Starting My eCommerce Business” features Christine Chirinos from Nexcess/Liquid Web and Dave Rodenbaugh from dropping many knowledge bombs in this episode. 💣

Notes for January 22, 2021

Footnotes #430

Executive Code

When President Joe Biden took office this week, the official White House website was completely replaced — and it's still using WordPress. Of course, this sparked a public conversation (and also some private ones) about the theme and plugins the revamped site is running, among other technical details.

One of the first things noticed was the addition of a dark mode, a high-contrast mode, and a large text mode along with other improvements aimed at inclusivity and accessibility. Prominently displayed on the site is an accessibility statement from the administration that they plan on working toward compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1, level AA criteria.

In terms of performance and page load, the site also appears to do well in Lighthouse scores — according to Wes Bos and some of the replies to his tweet.

Like others, I noticed a “hidden message” in the site source code for any developers interested in working in the Biden administration.

Unsurprisingly, the White House site uses a custom theme. The first plugin many spotted was Yoast in the sitemap index XML file. I also noticed fairly quickly the use of Bootstrap at the same time others confirmed the use of Sass and jQuery. The Rest API appears to be locked down.

Dave Amirault, Pagely Director of Marketing, and Jeff Matson documented many of the things that I discovered about the site as well. Check out their post, as it's a nice collection of observations and theories — although not everything on their list is accurate. For example, I've been hearing from reliable sources that the site does not use the TablePress plugin. 🔌

I also observed is using WordPress multisite, primarily for the separate language versions of the site. (Currently, these are Spanish and English.)

The site does have its critics. Robert Jacobi notes that the site at launch apparently isn't “fully functional if an ad blocker is running” although this isn't completely confirmed yet.

As far as who or what agency was responsible for building the new WordPress site, there has been no official confirmation at the time of this writing. However, if you look at some comments on Twitter and in other spots, fingers point to 10up. 🙌

WooCommerce core and “related ecosystem plugins” appear to be transitioning away from semantic versioning and adopting WordPress versioning. 5️⃣.0️⃣

According to Allen Smith, this transition will begin with WooCommerce 5.0, which will be a non-breaking change.

Mika Epstein explains why the plugin emails sent to developers (who have plugins in the repo) are anonymous. The bottom line: plugin reviewers were finding themselves targeted in rather terrifying ways, including death threats and credible threats against their safety at upcoming WordCamps. 😲

Mika explains how bad this got for our volunteer reviewers:

“2019 was the worst year on record for categorical abuse of the members of the team. It’s difficult to express without violating confidence (and in some situations, legal cases still pending) exactly how bad… Because of the attacks on people’s safety and out of a desire to protect their health and well being, we have chosen to make all emails from the Plugin Review Team anonymous.”

The fact that these completely appropriate steps needed to be taken — and that some plugin developers were making threats — predictably brought sadness and some rage to our community, which I share. 😡 Brad Williams summarized my feelings well:

“I honestly can't believe the WordPress plugin review team is still voluntary. Think about how big an industry premium plugins have become and free plugin listings are (for most) a requirement to gaining users and promoting their paid products and services.”

It's fine to be passionate about your plugin and your products — many people make a living off of their plugins in the repo. But not treating others with common decency and going so far as to criminally threaten to harm people is completely unacceptable. 🙅‍♂️

🏆 Chris Lema shares why Liquid Webbuilt him a better review plugin” for WooCommerce:

“We built a WooCommerce extension that would help store visitors evaluate the reviewer and understand the context. And that's what makes the plugin better than the other ones out there. We took our inspiration from UnderArmour.”

Leonardo Losoviz thoughtfully explores the question of whether the GraphQL API for WordPress plugin establishes a bridge between the two paradigms:

Can the WordPress philosophy that depends on server-side architecture co-exist with a JavaScript-based query language that passes data via an API?

More fundamentally, Leonardo notes how WordPress represents the prioritization of user needs over developer convenience while a GraphQL server can prioritize certain behaviors over others. 👩‍💻

Lewis Warren explains what SVG files are, what they're used for, and why developers should be using them:

“SVGs are easier to manage, will improve the load speed of your web pages, and won’t require an update every time a new resolution display splashes onto the market with a higher PPI (pixels per inch). Additionally, you can animate and make modifications to the styling of your SVGs without needing or knowing how to use [an app].”

🛒 If you build WooCommerce sites or have products and services for WooCommerce, please spend a few minutes filling out this survey from Do The Woo to let them know how 2020 played out for you.

Nice to see Jetpack listens to feedback — and criticism. 🙂

GiveWP has over 100,000 users now, and on February 5th at noon Pacific Time they are holding an “online gathering” of music and giveaways. 🎵

Drew DeVault believes that “open source means surrendering your monopoly over commercial exploitation.” 💡

With all the talk about Full-Site Editing (FSE) coming to WordPress, you may want to read Fränk Klein's post on what he learned from building a full-site editing theme. 🎨

Fränk believes “The introduction of Full-Site Editing in WordPress will be a shift as profound as the addition of the Block Editor.”

For those following accessibility news, WCAG 3 is in the works. Shawn Lawton Henry and Jeanne Spellman explain what to expect from it.  They discuss the new approach WCAG 3 represents and the ways it differs from WCAG 2.

Wilco Fiers also has an excellent take on what to expect from the first public working draft.

Malte Ubl, an engineer at Google, has some tips for optimizing image loading in 2021. He demonstrates eight techniques in the form of annotated HTML “to make it easy for folks to reproduce the results.” 💨

🔒 Restrict Content Pro has acquired Skillful Plugins, a company that has been building Restrict Content Pro plugins for some time, including the Restrict Content Pro – Avatax plugin and the View Limit plugin. Started by Tanner Moushey, Skillful Plugins is the product arm of his digital agency, Mission Lab.

AJ Morris comments for Restrict Content Pro:

“we’ve gone in and canceled any existing recurring plans for existing customers. Skillful Plugin Customers are likely Restrict Content Pro customers as well and may already have an existing plan with us that includes these plugins. If they do not have an existing plan, we’ll be offering them a special offer.”

Ben Sibley shares his top picks for the best bbPress-supporting forum themes for WordPress in 2021. 👑

A member of the WordPress community, Dan Beil, passed away recently. Michelle Schulp has a touching post about Dan, and she invites you to share your memories of him. 🧡

Notes for January 14, 2021

Footnotes #429

Hitting 6 Figures in eCommerce Sales in 9 Months In a Pandemic

It can be done — it has been done — by Ana Nunez, founder of

Come listen in as Cory talks to his business partner Ana about how she juggled a full-time gig, two kiddos as a single parent, and got her Masters Degree while launching this awesome business.

The Vida Bars project was born out of Ana's personal mission to create hair products that are free of harsh chemicals and have a minimal impact on the environment.

Register now to join Ana and Cory on January 19, 2021 at 11:00 AM Central Time (in the US and Canada). This free webinar comes to you from Commerce Journey. 🛒

A good, free theme is hard to find

Post Status' Slack space sprouted some conversations this past week worth noting in our #club channel. One, in particular, started about the recommended hosting page and led into this observation about themes, the theme directory, and builder plugins by Matt Mullenweg:

[P]retty much everyone who motivated is able to get a site going and they have a ton of options from decent providers to do so. The wall is after that: themes and the balkanization from non-G[utenberg]-based site builder plugins. The .org theme directory is particularly bad when you compare it to any half-decent commercial theme marketing page, or the designs available on other site building services or Themeforest directories. The .org theme directory rules and update mechanism have driven out creative contributions, it's largely crowded out by upsell motivated contributions.

Next, Joost de Volk commented on the obsolescence of the volunteer model for the .org repositories:

I think that due to the reach a theme or plugin that becomes popular quickly commands, monetization is a necessity to be able to properly “support” such an endeavor. I think the community also “demands” a certain stability and a certain level of support that is simply unfeasible to expect from any non paid contributor. Because has no way of doing that monetization “on platform.”

…Somehow we’re still trying to convince ourselves that we’re “volunteers,” which is simply not true. In almost all cases, companies are “volunteering” their employees to work on stuff. Whether that’s plugins, themes or WordPress core. There are absolutely still a lot of people that are volunteering time, and those people are a very important aspect of our community that we should make sure not to lose, but without paid contributors, no release would ever happen.

Finally, Eric Karkovack noted it's “hard to find an actual ‘free' theme that isn't just a locked-down version of something premium in the .org directory.” He agreed with Joost that the volunteer model “is very much outdated,” and he thinks “a new user would be overwhelmed by choice and disappointed in what they find.”

There's no doubt there is room for improvement in the theme directory, and some movement is being discussed and pressed forward in at least one respect — better theme previews. But at the end of the day, finding quality themes in the theme directory can be challenging, and we need to think about the underlying motives that bring people there. As Matt says, the directory could provide a better experience for contributors — and also theme creators and vendors. 🎨

Infosec of State

Among the alarming events still unfolding in the United States, there have been two political and security-related stories touching WordPress.

First, there was the notice Monday afternoon of President Donald Trump’s biography on the State Department website showing the president’s “term ended” on January 11. Since the site runs on WordPress, some people assumed this was a hack of WordPress itself and therefore an indication of some defect in the software. According to Christopher Miller for Buzzfeed and widely reported on, the truth appears to be this was not a hack but something “likely caused by a disgruntled staffer.” 🔓

Second, and more widely noticed, was the news that the Parler social network was “leaking data” and was hacked. (Parler is shut down at the time of this writing.)

Some sources reported a top comment on the Reddit thread about this story in r/ParlerWatch points to a third-party WordPress add-on for Twilio, a cloud communications platform, as the culprit for the wide-open vulnerability that led to the hack.

However, the idea that WordPress was ever powering the social engine of Parler isn't accurate, according to Parler CEO John Matze. Back in November, Matze disputed the rumors that his social media site was hacked at all, and he said “we do not use WordPress products, nor WordPress databases.”

John Feminella has a good Twitter thread I'll point to on this story. It appears Parler used WordPress for their marketing site — and maybe their eCommerce site, although that wasn't verified before Parler was taken offline. 🤨

Eric Karkovack explains an ethical dilemma he sees for WordPress plugin developers: should plugin users be notified if automatic plugin updates are turned on? Eric says yes they should:

“I’d still argue that the ethical thing to do is to tell users about these types of changes. Or, at least make an honest effort to do so…. Any channel of communication that connects developers to users is game.”

Even when it comes to the interests of plugin and theme developers, Eric says “the better path may be to encourage automatic updates” which can build trust. 🤝

Francesca Marano has a recap of the conversation about the proposal to align the WordPress release cycle with the industry standard.

Adding a “Feature Freeze” period was the most popular suggested solution, allowing contributors to focus on features first and defect work later, without doing the defect work in the Beta phase, which should be reserved for testing. 🥶

I recommend reading the full post for more details.

SearchWP 4.1 is out. The biggest changes involve how comments are handled, a refactored Indexer, some search algorithm improvements, and bug fixes. 🔍

Alex Denning has a prediction I feel is insightful: “competition for WordPress products is going to get significantly more intense, and we need to start looking at product categories with much more sophistication.”

I tend to agree with his assessment that “positioning within a WordPress plugin niche is going to be more important than ever.” 🔌

While the WordPress space is big enough for many competitors within a niche, Alex thinks it will be outside niches where the biggest growth potential lies:

“We’re starting to see this already… Human Made’s Altis Digital Experience Platform is an enterprise-friendly layer built on top of WordPress. The copy for Altis is all about what it can do for its target audience, and the WordPress part is secondary.”

Kyle Van Deusen measures how much faster Gutenberg and the WordPress editor (and also Oxygen) are than the Elementor page builder. However, performance might not matter as much as you might expect:

“While I do have the ability to preview both tablet in mobile from the back end of WordPress inside Gutenberg— what I see is far from reality… and with Gutenberg, I feel like I’m constantly needing another plugin to achieve the functionality I need.”

Wordfence has disclosed two vulnerabilities in Orbit Fox by ThemeIsle, a WordPress plugin used by over 400,000 sites. 🦊

Also, if you are using the e-signature plugin, apparently used by some customers on Pagely, you may want to upgrade as soon as possible.

The State of JavaScript 2020 has been published with a wide variety of survey results from nearly 20,000 participants. Results inside salary, work experience, familiarity with JavaScript features, frameworks, tools used, resources, and opinions.

Front-end developers will likely want to examine this report deeply. 🤓

PublishPress published a 2020 year in review. While some ventures didn't reproduce that many results, overall the key metrics grew by 100% this year:

“COVID-19 definitely had an impact – we saw a big slowdown in growth during March and April… Even though revenue grew much faster in some months than others, customer growth was very steady.”

December 31 was the day Flash officially “died.” 💀

Out of all the posts I've read about Flash, this eulogy post from Mike Davidson is the most relatable for me. He takes you back to the early days with a video of Macromedia Flash 2.0 in 1997 that gave me flashbacks.

Flash has received a lot of hate and negativity in recent years, but at one time it was the best way to experiment and present interactive media and video on the web. Matt notes how:

“Flash showed us where we could go, without ever promising that it would be the long-term solution once we got there… forever remembered for pushing us further down this windy road of interactive design, lighting the path for generations to come.”

If you are trying to choose between the popular and similarly matched GeneratePress and Astra themes, then this post from Matteo Duò might help you understand their differences. 🤔

Button Buddy is a tool Stephanie Eckles created that lets you learn what it takes to ensure your buttons or button-style links have accessible contrast. 🔲

TabFS is a browser extension that mounts your browser tabs as a filesystem on your computer. (It supports Chrome and Firefox.) If you are a little creative and a browser power user, there is some power and potential here. 💪

Two interesting things I've seen this week powered by Raspberry Pi computers: an open-source intercom for kids and a Covid-19 ventilator. 😲

Here's a very cool technology: a neural network called DALL·E that creates images from text captions. It can interpret a wide range of image descriptions in natural language, like “an armchair in the shape of an avocado.” 🥑

There are some very good (and some funny), recent Twitter threads here full of people sharing their “WordPress stories.” Thanks to John James Jacoby for asking! 😄

Kathryn Marr interviewed Aveling/Ray, about their work with actor Nick Offerman and the Offerman Woodshop collective's online store. Find out how it was built, what it was like to work with Nick, and why his collective chose WordPress and WooCommerce. 👍

🛒 Commerce Journey

Upcoming Webinar:
Tips for Building Cost-Effective Ecommerce Sites with WooCommerce Expert Patrick Rauland 📅 Tuesday, January 26 @ 11AM CST.

Join Cory Miller and Patrick Rauland. Patrick is obsessed with eCommerce. He’s used WooCommerce as a customer, worked for WooCommerce support, developed core functionality in WooCommerce itself, led three releases, and helped plan the annual WooConf. Patrick creates courses for LinkedIn Learning /, and runs an online conference for WooCommerce developers and store owners called WooSesh. Join the conversationRegister Free Today!

📧 Be sure to subscribe to the Commerce Journey newsletter for our latest content and a roundup of the best eCommerce reading from around the web.

Notes for January 8, 2021

Footnotes #428b

WordFest Live 2021 🧡

Coming up on January 22 is the world premiere of this unique 24-hour global celebration of WordPress. WordFest aims at “bringing our community together in a safe environment.”

With nearly 50 international speakers giving talks, workshops, and socials scheduled to cover all time zones there is something for everyone.  Remote working and mental health will be among the themes covered.

You should register for free right now!

Gutenberg 9.7 was released this week with numerous updates and improvements. ✨

One of the more prominent features allows a user to drag block patterns from the block inserter to the desired position directly on the canvas.

This release also changes how reusable blocks are shown and edited in the editor. It “solv[es] some of the old issues around block inspector, and block toolbars for the reusable blocks.”

Finally, with block variations, the editor controls will correspond to the selected block variation, displaying its icon and description in the block interface.

Events Calendar was acquired by Liquid Web this week. 🤝

The entire Events Calendar team is staying on board and will be transferred to Liquid Web. According to Reid Peifer via Post Status Slack, this is “about 50 people, leaving Modern Tribe with a headcount of 74.”

Events Calendar has over 800,000 active installs. The acquisition is also said to include Promoter, WPSandbox, and Loxi.

Customers can expect the same level of service, “plus more new features in the future.”

Here's a very cool technology that came to light this week: a neural network called DALL·E that creates images from text captions. It can interpret a wide range of image descriptions in natural language, like “an armchair in the shape of an avocado.” 🥑

The New York Times has published a story that says JetBrains is under investigation by United States intelligence agencies and private cybersecurity consultants concerning the SolarWinds breach that recently took place.

In this follow-up post to JetBrains' initial response, Maxim Shafirov states, “To date, we have no knowledge of TeamCity or JetBrains having been compromised in any way.”

It's a very odd and still developing story. 🔍

Matt Mullenweg shared his annual “What's in My Bag” post but with a different twist this year:

“I want to share the apps and pandemic purchases that were meaningful to me, along with a few words on each… I went down a #vanlife rabbit hole and ended up camping and working remotely a decent chunk of the year.”

Well, I now know what foot cream Matt uses. That makes my week. 🦶

Christina Garnett has written an introduction to community building. ♥️

This is a great description of the foundations:

“For other marketing efforts, you have to develop your tech stack…. For community, you have to develop your heart stack.”

Discussion and feedback are requested on children’s privacy protection in WordPress through the lens of COPPA. 🚸

Here's a handy tool for front-end developers: previews and compares CSS animations, slows them down, and even adjusts them visually. It gives you the ability to copy-paste a CSS snippet to plug into your project. ✂️

Google’s Lighthouse is now recommending JavaScript library alternates.

For example, if you use the popular Moment.js on your site, this “is the first one Lighthouse points out as having a few better options.”

Lighthouse's recommendations might affect WordPress sites using other JavaScript libraries, so I will not be surprised to see more feedback about it soon.

I enjoyed this post from Eric Meyer on accessible Twitter content. (Spoiler: there isn't that much of it.)

Adrian Roselli has an excellent related article that Eric links to called “Improving Your Tweet Accessibility.”

Brad Touesnard looks back on the year 2020 for Delicious Brains:

  • Challenges in hiring: “I started 2020 with two recruiters helping me with hiring, but it didn’t work out. I plan to try having someone help me again this year, but will probably try a part-time HR person to help with more than just recruiting. I’ve always had better success working with people on an ongoing basis.”
  • “The pandemic definitely made hiring harder this year…. we were instantly no longer one of the few fully remote companies hiring.”
  • Ended 2020 with 62% more new Twitter followers than the year before.
  • “We experienced healthy growth again this year with total revenue up 19% over last year. This is a drop from last year’s growth rate, but I’m still very happy with it.”

Brad has a breakdown of all their products in his post, so if you own or develop for any of these, I would give it a read.

With another 2020 year-in-review, Vic Drover writes about his experiences over at Watchful, which is a service that monitors, updates, and secures your WordPress — and Joomla — websites.

🔌 Vic goes into details of the business and when it comes to premium plugin updates for WordPress:

“The new auto-update feature in WordPress core does not include premium plugins…. we added support for some premium plugin updates from Elegant Marketplace… GiveWP and all of the plugins from Easy Digital Downloads…. and at the time of writing, we support updates for 144 premium WordPress plugins.”

If your company is new to using Github issues, here is a handy collection of issue and pull request templates.

Button Buddy is a tool Stephanie Eckles created that lets you learn what it takes to ensure your buttons or button-styled links have accessible contrast. 🔲

Gravity Forms has released their latest 2.5 beta for testing with themes and custom addons.

The 2.5 version will include a new form editor, drag-and-drop column controls, increased accessibility, updates to markup and styles, and increased theme integration.

On theme integration, the release post says “[our] team is working with a wide assortment of theme developers to help ensure that 2.5 will work with many popular WordPress themes straight out of the box.” 📦

Users hanging on to Lightroom version 6.0, officially Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC 2015, might be forced to jump on the subscription bandwagon or find another solution soon. 🖼️

Shawn Hooper notes that WPML REST API v1.1 has been updated, fixing a few bugs. 🐛

Eric Karkovack shares the challenge of switching from a page builder to the WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor: “Want similar functionality? It's hit or miss… by default, Gutenberg isn’t meant to provide all of the same functionality as a page builder.”

Two critical steps are 1) having a plan and 2) a development/staging environment:

“A staging area allows you to create an exact duplicate of your production website and test out the necessary changes. It can act as a proving ground of sorts for custom blocks. This prevents any unanticipated problems from bothering your users.”

In the end, Eric concludes “moving over to Gutenberg may be the most future-friendly solution. Under the right circumstances, that alone will make it worth the effort.” 👍

Chris Lema looks back on 2020 and shares seven things he learned:

  1. It's easy to focus on my own frustrations and forget to check in with my friends.
  2. Pushing hard can have negative team consequences.
  3. Complex products are tough and require a lot of attention.
  4. Timing the selling of one house and buying another is work.
  5. When deciding where to live, my highest value is on friendship.
  6. Buying companies is a constant and iterative process.
  7. More sleep and getting on the scale regularly really helps.

Although these are the summaries, I encourage you to read Chris's post for his reflections on the details and the “whys.” I share Chris's viewpoint on health — mental and physical. 💯

Michelle Schulp adopted “I Am Enough” as her 2020 guiding words. Now, in her reflections back on the past year, she writes this phrase “seemed like it was perfectly suited to combat the waves of crushing stress, disconnection, and exhaustion that encompassed the global state of Pandemic life.” But is it ever enough? “Instead of measuring ourselves against infinity and constantly falling short, why don’t we change the metric?”

I'm sure many of us can relate to some of Michelle's thoughts:

“The journey of belonging is full of paradoxes… The global pandemic has offered us all a rare chance to slow down, move purposefully, and become attuned with who we are. I hope that some of you out there can choose to embrace the paradoxes in your life as well, as we all look forward to the day we can Belong together again.”

Michelle's post is somewhere between a moment of Zen and a self-examination session. 🧘

Two interesting things I've seen this week powered by Raspberry Pi computers: an open-source intercom for kids and a Covid-19 ventilator. 👩‍💻

TabFS is a browser extension that mounts your browser tabs as a filesystem on your computer. (It supports Chrome and Firefox.) If you are a little creative and a browser power user, there is some power and potential here.

Upcoming Events 📆


Video Picks

📹 Here is my video pick of the week:

  • Knowledge Project: Matt Mullenweg and Shane Parrish cover turnarounds, how environments affect performance, the pros and cons of distributed work, uncovering your lacunae, mental models, and patterns of decision making. (This is also available as a podcast.) Matt notes: “Proprietary software is an evolutionary dead end. You can think of open source packages like genetic alleles that have a higher fitness function, and eventually become the fittest organism. The longer I spend watching mega-trends in technology, the more I see that pattern everywhere, from encyclopedias to cryptocurrencies.”

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Holidays and New Years usually stall podcast schedules, but here are a few I'm recommending this week:

  • Matt Report: A 2020 Year in Review episode, where Matt comments on his move to Castos and Easy Support Videos.
  • Postlight Podcast: Matt Mullenweg talks to Gina Trapani and Paul Ford about the expansion of WordPress and his love for open source. He shares controversial opinions on open source and explains why we’ll all be headed there in the future.

Notes for December 31, 2020

Footnotes #428

Jean-Baptiste Audras shared some fascinating stats and colorful charts on core contributions focusing on people and companies who contributed to the WordPress 5.6 release. You may recall it was directed by a 100% female Release Squad. Some highlights:

  • 605 people contributed to WordPress 5.6. Of these, 236 (39%) had never contributed to WordPress source code before. 🙌
  • Of the 57 countries represented by contributors to 5.6, the US once again had the largest number (121), followed by India (46) and then the UK (24). 🌏
  • Of the 57 companies that contributed to WordPress 5.6, Automattic had by far the most contributors, with 70 people credited. Yoast is still the second biggest contributor with 16 people. 10up came third with 8 people. Then we have a group with 5 contributors each: Human Made, GoDaddy, WP Engine, and rtCamp. Google closed the lead group with 4 contributors.

I also took note of this comment on Twitter by John James Jacoby:

“Automattic's ability to devote more staff resources to navigate the growing complexity of teams, processes, history, and initiatives gives them a disproportionate advantage when it comes to influencing the future of WordPress.”

Mathieu Viet has a summary of BuddyPress updates and activity in 2020. Some highlights:

  • 9 releases (3 more than in 2019)
  • 2 major releases (1 more than in 2019)
  • 7 minor releases (2 more than in 2019)
  • Fixed 186 tickets, it’s 62% more than in 2019.

Notably, the “[m]ost important spike for 2 years happened in 2020 for the 7.0.0 releases” — 34,236 downloads on December 11. And with more than 1.25 million downloads as of December 28, BuddyPress enjoyed a growth rate of 23% compared to 2019. 📈

Could being a “happy” developer depend on where you live? That's the question that seems to arise from Honeypot‘s Developer Happiness Index, which Hélène Le Gascoin, Hayley Kuhl, and Emma Tracey break down for us. 😃

Overall, the Nordics are at the top of the index:

“when looking at average developer happiness per country, Nordic countries dominate the rankings: Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden all take a place in the top ten. Canada ranks joint 8th with Germany and is the only non-European [country] among the top [ten].”

Based on this analysis, developers with happy jobs tend to have stable leadership, high personal autonomy, and a sense of self-determination and achievement:

“Work-life balance is the most important predictor of developer career happiness… developers in Northern Europe are most satisfied with their work-life balance — they also work the shortest hours.”

A look at the HTTPArchive‘s data for images shows that as of October 2020, 10.6% of the web was using native image lazy loading. 💤

That number was only 1.5% in July!

As Rick Viscomi, who brought this to my attention, commented:

“This appears to be entirely driven by WordPress at 28.9% of WP pages, which makes up [over] one-third of the web.”

If you are trying to choose between the popular and similarly matched GeneratePress and Astra themes, then this post from Matteo Duò might help you understand their differences. 🤔

🧪 Here's a MySQL engine that's written in PHP for unit tests. 😲 (Hat tip to George Peter Banyard.)

Nate Arnold recently developed a WordPress theme for headless WordPress projects and wrote up a simple explanation of the decisions that were made after implementing the theme on a few JAMstack projects.

WPForms published their year in review for 2020, and they have been quite busy! They passed 4 million active installs and 56 million downloads for the year. 💨

Angela Jin shares a few lessons learned in her ongoing quest to build empathy:

“During difficult conversations, especially with people you care about, it may be instinctual to want to make things better.”

But instead of trying to help, sometimes it's better simply to empathize by “saying something along the lines of, ‘Gosh, that seems so difficult, and I can see why you are feeling this way. Thank you so much for sharing with me.'” 🤗

December 31 is the day Flash officially “dies.” 💀

Out of all the posts I've read, this eulogy post from Mike Davidson is the most relatable for me. He takes you back to the early days with a video of Macromedia Flash 2.0 in 1997 that gave me flashbacks. :

Flash has received a lot of hate and negativity in recent years, but at one time it was the best way to experiment and present interactive media and video on the web. Matt notes how:

“Flash showed us where we could go, without ever promising that it would be the long-term solution once we got there… forever remembered for pushing us further down this windy road of interactive design, lighting the path for generations to come.”

Hashim Warren, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Gatsby, thinks SEO will drive serverless website adoption in 2021:

“Marketers will discover that you have two options: pay a lot monthly and spend a lot of time speeding up your WordPress or Drupal site. Or you can adopt a new stack that’s less expensive, more resilient, and more performant.”

Hashim says the “shift is already happening” but predicts May 2021 will be the real trigger because “That’s when Google will update its website ranking algo to factor in a page’s Core Web Vitals.”

I'm sure many of us in the WordPress community will have different opinions about Hashim's predictions, and 2021 is bound to have surprises for us. Yes, there's growth in serverless, but I am skeptical there will be a huge rush to headless and serverless WordPress or alternatives to it.

Will SEO and marketing professionals converge with developers in seeing performance as a top priority that “their good-enough traditional CMS” can't deliver any other way? There are a lot of assumptions behind that imagined scenario. 🤨

Pierre Saïkali explains that if you're relying on the WooCommerce Action Scheduler library, you can hook on action_scheduler_failed_execution or action_scheduler_failed_action to log or intercept any failed or timed-out action. ⏳

Syed Balkhi, co-founder of Awesome Motive has another insightful year in review for 2020. This year Syed has included more personal information like falling victim to a scam, along with his travel adventures and experiences with burnout. Some highlights from the WordPress-related items:

  • The Awesome Motive team is fully distributed and composed of 140+ remote workers in 27 countries.
  • WPForms was Zapier’s 6th fastest growing app in 2020 alongside Facebook, Zoom, and Webflow.
  • WP Mail SMTP is used by over 2 million websites and is currently in the top 20 most popular WordPress plugins of all time.

Syed notes that he practices gratitude 🙏 every day, but “2020 has been a challenging year…” Reflecting on it, Syed writes:

“I don’t think I would be able to keep my sanity if I didn’t start doing this daily exercise. Before you go to bed, take a deep breath and reflect on all that you’re grateful for.”

Elijah Mills from Oxygen Builder shared some stats from 2020 in our Post Status Slack:

  • 29 releases this year (including alpha, beta, and RC versions) with 8 final versions released.
  • Introduced 8 new features and 90 bug fixes, tweaks, or enhancements. ✨
  • Around 22,000 messages hit the support inbox! 62% were resolved in the first reply. The average handle time in Help Scout was 5 minutes. 92% had great ratings. 👍
  • Oxygen Builder's Facebook group gained 7,838 members and had 21,992 posts with 172,479 new comments in total. 😯

Elijah's takeaway from that Facebook stat:

“This year I learned that our Facebook group appears to be relieving a large portion of our support burden as our user base continues to grow. Most easy questions are asked there and solved in minutes rather than ending up in our inbox.”

You might have noticed a recently updated feature on the Github homepage: a data-driven globe. 🌐

Tobias Ahlin explains what this new GitHub homepage actually represents and how they built that globe with WebGL. It's a five-part series, but only the first two posts are available at the time of this writing.

Upcoming Events 📆

  • Wordfest Live 2021 makes its debut on January 21 as a 24-hour event loaded with great speakers.
  • WordCamp India 2021 will take place over three weekends from January 30 to February 14, 2021!

Notes for December 23, 2020

Footnotes #427

Bug fixes and updates to the default Twenty Twenty-One and Twenty Nineteen themes are available now. 🐛

It's unusual for core themes to be updated outside of a core release, Jonathan Desrosiers explains, “but since a WordPress 5.6.1 fast-follow was ruled out,” the decision was made to do it now.

A new version of the Gutenberg plugin (9.6.0 🇨🇱) has been released with a focus on Full Site Editing and global styles. I especially like the new ability to drag blocks from the “inserter” into the block area.

If you want to learn more about current Gutenberg features and Full Site Editing, I had a nice conversation on the subject with Birgit Pauli-Haack on a recent WordPress Mega Meetup. 📺

Video subtitles are coming to the core WordPress editor. 📺

Anne McCarthy highlights another new feature you may have missed in the flurry of recent releases: “the ability to have descriptive text icons instead of an icon-only view of the Block Toolbar.”

Jonathan Desrosiers also has an update on how the WordPress core team is continuing the transition to GitHub Actions for automated testing:

“As of today, all repositories have been fully transitioned to GitHub Actions except the WordPress Coding Standards.”

Jonathan at the end of the post lists some next steps that lie ahead. 🧪

If you want a short education (and maybe a longer one) about Favicons, then this guide from developer Andrey Sitnik might be worth looking at. 📗

In a guest post with Mathieu Viet, Varun Dubey explains how his exceptional BuddyX BuddyPress theme made its way into the official theme directory. 🎨

Ben Myers dives deep into the three attributes that bring clarity to HTML elements in assistive technologies: aria-label, aria-labelledby and aria-describedby. 🤿

⚰️ Joanna Stern, who is Senior Personal Technology Columnist for The Wall Street Journal, has a thought-provoking column about end-of-life planning — for yourself and others — when there's a significant digital legacy:

“What happens to your Facebook and Google accounts—and other digital stuff—when you die? Nothing if you don’t make a plan.”

A WooCommerce Builder global meetup has been started for Woo professionals by Bob Dunn. If you create websites for clients with WooCommerce or build products and services specifically for WooCommerce, this meetup is for you. 🛒

🏊‍♀️ Allie Nimmons shares her experience as a member of the WordPress 5.6 release team, commenting on the “go-with-the-flow” attitude:

“The great thing, and frustrating thing, about contributing is how fluid it is. There is not a formalized process to join a team. There is no interview, no hard and fast steps. Just jump in… That simultaneously removes and creates a barrier for entry.”

Joe Buffs posted a year in review for WP Buffs covering “biggest screw-ups of the past year” as well as the “biggest successes.” The company had total revenue of $1,031,928, up almost 300% from around $376,000 in 2018. It's great to see such growth in a WordPress business like this one! 📈

Looking ahead, Joe mentions teams as the basis for WP Buffs' growth:

“We’re a customer-focused company. But our leadership is team-focused. If our managers can focus on their teams being happy, healthy and value-driven, we’ll crush it for our customers.”

Chris Klosowski shares some interesting stats from the team at Sandhills Development in 2020:

  • Commits: 4,303
  • Releases: 222
  • Avg Releases/week: 4.27

40% of the development team had props in a WordPress core release this year. 👍

“I don't know.”

Those three simple words might come hard for some people, but for Brian Muenzenmeyer this phrase comes easier. And that's OK. 🚶‍♀️

“I still walk alone sometimes, and that’s where I can do some of my best work. But I have a better awareness of what I don’t know, and a working realization that my team can go further together than one of us individually.”

Footnotes #426

The State of the Word in 2020

On Thursday, December 17th, Matt Mullenweg broadcasted his State of the Word 2020 address. Normally, of course, this would have happened in a stage at WordCamp US — but for the first time, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was pre-recorded and broadcasted over Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

This year's State of the Word can be broken up into two parts: 1) Matt's presentation with slides and 2) the customary Q&A session following. Taking Matt's presentation first, I feel it's a lot like his previous State of the Words. Matt started by summarizing the highlights of the latest WordPress releases, including proudly (and rightfully so) highlighting that over 40 women and non-binary people formed 100% of the leadership for the WordPress 5.6 release.

Matt also noted WordPress's increased market share over the past year. (It's currently at 39.3% of the top 10 million sites.) In fact, this is the fastest year WordPress has grown since it's growth has been measured. The three reasons why WordPress grew so much are:

  • Lockdowns — People simply had more space and time to be online, focus on reading and writing blogs and content.' 🔒
  • eCommerce — Many people moved to or expanded their online stores and shopping experiences. This spike boosted WordPress but also WooCommerce which generated $20 billion in sales, which was “double from the previous year.” (Note: it's unclear where that number comes from or what exactly it represents.) 🛒
  • Economic Uncertainty — Many people became entrepreneurs to supplement their income, and WordPress was a fast and relatively practical vehicle to accomplish that. 💸

Next, a pre-recorded video was presented by Joen Asmussen, who is one of the designers working on Gutenberg. This video offers a preview of the progress of the FSE (Full Site Editing) project with a demo of the Site Editor in beta. The Site Editor allows WordPress users to edit and have greater creative control over a theme. It opens the door to edit and design elements that normally would require editing a template or having a template builder with settings for site titles, taglines, navigation elements, and even the 404 page.

Matt's part of the State of the Word was informative, especially if you have just been casually following updates. There were no surprises or special announcements, not that I think anyone was expecting any. If you are deep in the WordPress community and only had a few minutes, I think the Full Site Editing demo would be the thing to focus on.

While the entire State of the Word was about the same length as previous years' (about 90 minutes), thanks to the editing of the pre-recorded video, Matt's presentation took only 25 minutes. This left more time for a greater number of questions and a greater variety of the types of questions being asked.

Matt commented to me: “I really appreciated being able to see people in their own environment and have a bit more time to work on the answers. And more space for more of them!”

Since this was the first virtual and pre-recorded State of the Word, you may be wondering if the questions Matt fielded were cherry-picked. That was not the case. For the record, I've been told by Andrea Middleton that all submitted questions were addressed, however, they “did leave out a support question, and in the case of the person who sent in more than one question, the first one received was answered.” All these questioned submitted by community members were answered in alphabetical order based on the questioner's first name. Not all questions were answered by Matt. Andrea Middleton, Josepha Haden, Jonathan Desrosiers, and others replied too.

There were definitely pros and cons to having Q&A done in this manner, which the circumstances necessitated. I don't think a live Q&A via Zoom or similar platforms would have worked, nor would a non-edited video allow for so many questions. Far more questions were fielded than any State of the Word has covered in the past.

It was good for the community to see Matt doesn't have all the answers but will refer to others. It's also great that the questions were not restricted to people who happened to be in the first row during a live State of the Word. On the other hand, I do like some unpredictability in the questions being directed at Matt. That is something that only a live event can offer.

Speaking as an event organizer, I could see a hybrid form of the State of the Word being adopted in the future once in-person conferences are safe to hold once again. There are likely some good lessons to be learned from this year's approach. (For example, I'm hearing reports of a sub-par automated live captioning experience that was improved when the video was made live.)

One more thing: I've been told that the State of the Word video will be published in a blog post where people can ask more questions, including inquiries about the content of the slide presentation as well.

The most important message for me personally to get out of State of the Word 2020 is this: despite tremendous hardships on a global scale, WordPress continues to grow, and its contributors, volunteers, and community members remain a strong force. We got through the year together, and we'll continue to adapt and grow in 2021. 🤗

“It turns out that collaborative editing for platforms like WordPress is a very cool feature but an incredibly difficult technical challenge.” Steve Burge over at the PublishPress blog has a detailed take on the future of Google Docs style editing in WordPress. 📝

Matias Ventura has written a comprehensive status update for Gutenberg Phase 2: Full Site Editing. Matias describes the current state of all the primary projects and then explains how they fit together. If you haven't been keeping up on the progress toward full site editing (FSE), this is a good post to catch you up. 👍

Related: the FSE outreach program is starting up soon to help test and get feedback. 📣

Victoria McCullough announced for Automattic that they've “joined several of [their] peer companies” to launch Internet Works — a coalition dedicated to working with Congress “to promote the benefits of Section 230, a provision of the Communications Decency Act.” ⚖️

Also known as the CDA and first established in 1996, Section 230 guarantees immunity for online publishers from liability for any third-party content, allowing them to operate as “safe harbors.”As Wikipedia notes,

Coupled with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998, Section 230 provides internet service providers safe harbors to operate as intermediaries of content without fear of being liable for that content as long as they take reasonable steps to delete or prevent access to that content.

The peers Automattic is joining are Cloudflare, Dropbox, eBay, Etsy, Glassdoor, GoDaddy, Medium, Nextdoor, Patreon, Pinterest, Reddit, Snap Inc., Tripadvisor, Vimeo, and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Automattic's full press release is here. 📰

Kelly Dwan has written a script to automate a series of screenshots in each of WordPress's admin color schemes. 📸

LearnDash LM co-founder Justin Ferriman shares his advice for those who are starting an online course or membership business:

“Making $$$ is priority #1 in entrepreneurship. Full stop. It's not about greed, it's about validation. Validating your idea, your position, and your message. If you're not making $$$ then one of those is not working and you need to fix it.”

I caught this announcement from Steve Grunwell that Nexcess is partnering with Branch for better deployment of WordPress sites. 🤝

WooCommerce released version 3.0.0. of its popular Storefront theme. The highlight of this release appears to be the removal of the big admin notice presented to the user after installing the theme. 🙈

The new version can be downloaded from and GitHub. 🏬

Matt Brown from Vimeo defends PHP against two types of critics: those who view old PHP code as legacy code, and those who think PHP can't be “redeemed” at all:

“I'm here to tell you that [PHP] can [be redeemed], and Vimeo’s continued success with PHP is proof that it’s a great tool for fast-moving companies in 2020. 💨

At first glance, CSS seems straightforward, but Tim Severien dives into what makes CSS hard to master:

“I worry that the way we think about CSS might affect how beginners perceive the language. If they are taught that CSS is easy, they might be discouraged from seeking help when they struggle or just blame the language. Admitting you struggle with something is difficult enough. Let’s not make it worse for them.”

Suzanne Scacca shares some thoughts on how to design a simple UI when you have a complex solution: if the backend is very complex, it may “infect” the frontend. If it's “too complicated to navigate or too convoluted to understand, users will revolt and flee en masse.” 🏃

Some other key tips:

  1. Figure out your users’ goals so you can design a user-first UI.
  2. Evaluate the competition's products to create your MVP.
  3. Introduce complexity incrementally and confirm with user testing.

Github has published its annual State of the Octoverse, which looks at its communities and user activity in 2020. Even if you aren't a Github user, it's interesting to see what a vast piece of the developer community is doing on the platform. 🐙

Some quick highlights:

  • There are 56 Million+ total developers on GitHub.
  • 60 Million+ new repositories were created in the last year.
  • JavaScript and Python were the top two most popular languages, while PHP came in at number 6.

Austin Parker hits a nerve with a bluntly titled post, “Virtual Events Suck” where he lays out all the reasons why the majority of online conferences offer a subpar experience. I agree with him on most, not all, points — and I think this is a good read for anyone planning on volunteering or organizing a virtual event of any size — but especially larger ones.

Austin does offer some potentially helpful insights that might help virtual events “not suck.” Not having a single track is one suggestion. Not having sponsor booths at all (and perhaps trying commercials instead), producing high-quality videos if you pre-record, and offering something that YouTube doesn't. 📺

Most important of all, “figure out why your audience is there, work for them.”

Sally Strebel, co-founder of Pagely, opens up space via HeroPress for a lot of insight and reflection based on her experiences with sexism in the corporate world — even at WordCamps:

“I had to make the conscious choice to decide if I wanted to be right or be successful. I chose to focus on success and also I didn’t get here alone. Many wonderful men and women helped. I had to laser focus on my goal which was to provide the best hosting experience regardless of minor annoyances along the way.”

🚧 Sally also offers some ways for women to deal with these potential barriers and roadblocks:

“If there’s not room for you at a table, figure out something else. Perhaps, kindly discuss the observation, or create your own table. Life’s too short to be unhappy in someone else’s world. Create your own and invite others. WordPress is a great place to do that.”

🗣️ Frederick O’Brien shares insights and reference materials that can help developers make their websites more voice-accessible:

“Developers, designers and writers alike should be prepared for the possibility that their work will not be seen or clicked at all — it will be heard and spoken to.”

Jo Franchetti, a Developer Advocate from Microsoft, came up with an inventive way to better communicate with her mother, who is hard of hearing, while she visits her with her mask on. It's effectively a way to live caption yourself. Very cool! The demo is impressive. 😷

Command Line Interface Guidelines is an open-source guide to help developers write better command-line programs. 👩‍💻

Upcoming Events 📆

  • Wordfest Live 2021: The third, fourth, and fifth round of speakers have been announced including Jamie Hill, Robbie Adair, Nestor Angulo Ugarte, Angela Jin, Sabrina Zeidan, Graham Armfield, AmyJune Hineline, Amanda Gorman, Simon Kelly, Naomi C. Bush, Arun Bansal, Nidhi Jain, Nicole Osborne, Leonardo Losoviz, Camber Clemence, and Chris Ford. This 24-hour event is happening on January 21, 2021.