Notes for May 20, 2020

Footnotes #398

Markdown on Ice

Rich Tabor and Jeffrey Carandang have announced the release of Iceberg, which describes itself as a “beautiful, flexible writing editor for crafting posts with the WordPress block editor.” In other words, install the plugin and open the block editor to bring up a minimalist authoring environment that supports Markdown. ๐Ÿง

The Iceberg website has a live demo you can try, but if you want to see it being in WordPress, Brian Krogsgard posted a video with his thoughts about the Iceberg experience.

Iceberg has three price tiers: single site ($49 USD), unlimited sites ($99 USD), and lifetime ($199 USD). It's an impressive product, and I wouldn't be surprised if quite a number of WordPress professionals grab an unlimited license for multiple sites. I'm sure we'll see some enhancements to Iceberg down the road as well.

If you like using Markdown editors and posting to your WordPress sites remotely, check out iA Writer 5.5 for Mac and iOS. I like the copy that promotes its focus on WordPress integration:

“If you run a self-hosted site, you can publish straight to it using the slim IndieAuth plugin instead of the Swiss-Army-Knife that is JetPack.” ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ

If you like using Markdown editors and posting to your WordPress sites remotely, check out iA Writer 5.5 for Mac and iOS. I like the copy that promotes its focus on WordPress integration:

“If you run a self-hosted site, you can publish straight to it using the slim IndieAuth plugin instead of the Swiss-Army-Knife that is JetPack.” ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ

The Full Site Editing project (FSE) is on track to enter WordPress core later this year. That's going to mean a lot of changes for the Customizer and core Customize component. If you'd like to participate in a discussion about the road ahead with the component maintainers, join #core-customize in WordPress Slack at 16:00 UTC Thursday, May 28. ๐Ÿ’ฌ

Anne McCarthy posted a list of the many ways you can keep up with FSE as it speeds along. ๐Ÿ’จ

Automattic Invests in New Vector

“One thing WordPress and have in common is a strong, abiding belief in the open web, a rare thing in a world that is dangerously moving towards walled gardens” โ€” and that's why Automattic is hiring a Integrations Engineer after investing $4.6M in's parent company, New Vector.

Matrix is an open decentralized communications standard used by New Vector's chat app, Riot. On their blog, the Matrix team describes where this partnership might lead:

โ€œImagine if every WP site automatically came with its own Matrix room or community?ย  Imagine if all content in WP automatically was published into Matrix as well as the web? Imagine there was an excellent Matrix client available as a WordPress plugin for embedding realtime chat into your site?โ€

Natasha Lomas has a deep dive into this story at TechCrunch, noting Matt Mullenweg was an early supporter of Matrix via Patreon in 2017. They've been seeing their growth triple each year for the last two years. ๐Ÿ“ˆ

WooCommerce recently launched the WooCommerce Payment feature โ€” a native solution powered by Stripe. With it, you can control payments directly in the WordPress back end. It adds a new payment tab that lets you view charges, issue refunds, and deal with disputes. You donโ€™t have to connect to your Stripe account or any third-party site. ๐Ÿ›’

If you ever need to migrate from Shopify to WooCommerce, then this guide from Nexcess might come in handy. ๐Ÿšš

Joshua Strebel explains PHP workers and what they mean for WordPress hosting. He also shares some test results and what to take away from them. For example, “You want to tune the number of PHP workers to consistently use 80-100% of your available CPU capacity.” There are some good tips on general performance issues in this post too. ๐Ÿ‘ทโ€โ™€๏ธ

Birgit Pauli-Haack shared a big list of Women in WordPress to follow on Twitter. ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป

If you still visit Facebook, then this guide from Michele Butcher-Jones will help you find the better WordPress Groups on that social network. ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿคโ€๐Ÿง‘

Michele recently published an interview with Allie Nimmons, a Support and Customer Success Buff at WP Buffs and a GoDaddy Speaker Ambassador.

Maddy Osman shares some of the most interesting COVID-19 business pivots she has noticed lately “in hopes that they give you some ideas to help you prosper during this time.” ๐Ÿฆ 

I can speak from personal experience that I have taken advantage of recent changes and expansions online in the supermarket and restaurant industry. ๐Ÿฝ๏ธ

Dries Buytaert has been talking about the power of Open Source in the fight against COVID-19:

“In every crisis, Open Source has empowered organizations to do more with less. It's great to see this play out again. Open Source teams have rallied to help and come up with some pretty incredible solutions when times are tough.”

Github recently introduced CodeSpaces, which is described as “a full Visual Studio Code experience” in the browser. If you code on your iPad or tablet, this is might be something to take a closer look at.

Blocks and Themes

The Themes Review Team has been renamed the Themes Team. ๐Ÿ“›

WordPress 5.5 will include checks for PHP and WordPress core version requirements in the theme installer. Users won't be able to install themes whose requirements aren't met. ๐Ÿ™…โ€โ™‚๏ธ

BuddyPress 6.0.0 has been released. It includes new blocks for the block editor. ๐Ÿ“ฆ

GenerateBlocks, from the maker of GeneratePress, is a new plugin for building your own blocks inside WordPress using the block editor interface. It's versatile and “insanely lightweight” according to Brian Jackson of ForgeMedia and the Perfmatters plugin. ๐Ÿ”Œ

The ACF 5.9 beta is available for ACF PRO customers now. There's a lot coming in this release: a refreshed interface, a lot of new features (row duplication, block editor validation, quick delete), developer treats, and support for InnerBlocks.ย  ๐Ÿ†•

Upcoming Events

Take note that WPCampus 2020 Online has changed its dates to July 29-31. ๐Ÿ“…

Other event reminders:

  • WordSesh Americas 2020 is coming on May 27th. Registration is free and the lineup looks excellent.
  • The call for speakers for WordCamp US 2020 (October 27-29) has been extended. The new deadline to submit your application is Sunday, May 31, 2020, at 11:59 pm CT (UTC -5) / 4:59 am Saturday (UTC).
  • The JavaScript for WordPress event is happening from July 8 to 10th.
  • On Friday, 29 May 2020 Yoast will be hosting the YoastCon Webinar. This event will be 3 parallel sessions in separate zoom meetings with talks and sessions including a panel in each sessions that is going to review websites.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here's my video pick of the week:

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ This week's podcast and audio picks:

  • Gutenberg Changelog: A wide-ranging discussion around Gutenberg 8.1, upcoming WordCamps, full site editing, community contributions and active development.
  • Ladybug Podcast: Learn all about building developer communities with guest Kim Maida, Head of Developer Relations and Community at Gatbsy.
  • Matt Report: Matt devotes a solid half-hour to “two competing roles in our WordPress community” โ€” the builders/programmers and the implementers.

Notes for May 3, 2020

Footnotes #397


At this stage of the global shutdown, we're seeing many online products, particularly those related to eCommerce, sustain and even increase sales, as stores get themselves in better shape online. While some of the economy is slowly opening up, it's obvious many historically in-person businesses that need to change, and it's keeping sales up for part of the ecosystem. It does not appear to be an equitable distribution for the consulting space, which anecdotally from my observation looks like it's slowing in most cases.

I hope you'll read Justin Tadlock‘s excellent article on where Gutenberg went wrong, at least for theme developers. Philip Arthur Moore's follow-up is also a must-read. I think a drastic change in the developer ecosystem for themes is an unavoidable sacrifice from Gutenberg. Like I mentioned in a recent video, there is still an opportunity, but not the same opportunities.

Envato is embracing this shift from theme to block / page builder with its brand new template kits category. Don't underestimate this! Envato throwing their weight behind Elementor for an entire marketplace category helps cement Elementor as a top-tier participant in the presentation layer wars of WordPress.

I foresee significant market share adjustments for former big players in page building if Elementor keeps up this momentum โ€” perhaps to the degree of making it a two-player game between Elementor and Gutenberg. Where does that leave Divi, Beaver Builder, and others?

Envira Gallery acquired the juggernaut of WordPress and photography โ€” Imagely. Imagely is the owner of NextGEN Gallery. I learned that while NextGEN is still significantly larger in terms of active websites, Envira counts nearly two-thirds of its installs as paying customers, whereas NextGEN has fewer than 15% of its active sites are using the paid product. It'll be interesting to see how Envira does with this huge opportunity to convert those non-paying customers.

Finally, I hope you'll check out my latest on YouTube where I talk about the need for an improved new user experienceย in WordPress.

WP Engine has announced Genesis Pro, a product that provides professional-quality blocks and page layout tools for Gutenberg. It has been released first as an add-on for WP Engine customers but is coming to all StudioPress customers later this year.

According to David Vogelpohl on the StudioPress blog, this release “doesn't affect existing Genesis customers and does not require that your site be hosted on WP Engine … to use” it. ๐Ÿ› ๏ธ

Genesis Pro is an impressive new offering for WordPress, but there has been some talk in Post Status‘ #club Slack channel about the potential impact on independent developers who are trying to build and release blocks of their own.

Cody Landefeld shares some tips to help increase your mobile conversion rate for eCommerce. Cody dives into the details of speeding up your mobile site โ€” including your product videos โ€” building trust, and having a clear call to action. ๐Ÿ“ฃ

Oyetoke Tobi Emmanuel demonstrates how to automate front-end application testing with Selenium, a popular testing tool for web apps. As an example, Oyetoke takes you through the steps to automate testing for a simple Svelte to-do app using Node and Selenium. Even if you're more familiar with different tools and techniques, you will get the gist with this guide. ๐Ÿงช

In a recent interview, Michele Butcher-Jones talked with Katie Richards, a Community Coordinator at Pantheon, about how she got involved with WordPress and what open source means to her.

Mark Jaquith wrote a WordPress/Jetpack Driver for Laravel Valet.

An article from AdAge asks some business leaders what brands should be doing in such uncertain times, especially when many organizations are struggling to stay profitable. Syed Balkhi had this to say:

“In these times, it's important to lead by example โ€” offer work-from-home, spread medically correct information, and stay indoors. Your brand will be remembered as a responsible and flexible one, and you will build goodwill for the future.”

Felix Arntz, a WordPress core contributor, moved to San Francisco just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Some readers of Post Status will be able to relate to Felix's story. ๐Ÿ˜ท

Alex Denning noticed searches for “WordPress” went up 52% in April, compared to the previous month.” Alex also notes there's been about a 20% “bump in WordPress searches with high purchase intent in the last month.” ๐Ÿ“ˆ

Chris Lema shares his evaluation of WordPress caching plugins. He lists his top three after a close look at this crowded field, including Cache Enabler, Comet Cache, Hyper Cache, W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket, and WP Super Cache. ๐Ÿ”Œ

Carl Alexander is building a serverless DevOps platform for WordPress, which he is calling Ymir โ€” you can watch a video explaining it further.

Carl compares his project to Laravel Vapor because “Ymir isnโ€™t a WordPress host. You will have full access and control over everything. Youโ€™ll also be responsible for your AWS bill.”

There's no release timeline yet, but this does sound promising. ๐Ÿ‘

The Google Podcasts Manager was released last week โ€” a new tool to help podcasters gain insights into the evolving habits of podcast listeners “so they can better understand their audiences and reach them across Google products.”

I am not deep in the Google ecosystem, but if you are in the podcast space this might be worth a look. ๐ŸŽค


Podcast Picks

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that I enjoyed:

Footnotes #396


Through my new physical goods venture (TheVidaBars) I dug into sales tax with Avalara. Talking with my rep this morning, I asked about trends in eCommerce. He shared this post on COVID's sales impact as they are seeing it through their platform โ€” so interesting! The top categories? Home fitness and home learning. By the way, if your clients need to know about Nexus in each state, here's an amazing concise guide.


I really want to dig into doing more short-form videos for Post Status. I started with a quick video about page builders and Gutenberg, and how I think the relationship between them may work going forward.

WordPress Strong is so great. Just go and watch it. And thanks to Zack from GravityView for making it happen. ๐Ÿ’ช

WordPress 5.4.1 dropped this week. It's a short-cycle security and maintenance release focused on seven security issues that affected WordPress 5.4 and earlier versions. If you havenโ€™t yet updated to 5.4, all WordPress versions since 3.7 have also been updated. ๐Ÿ”’

The latest version of the Gutenberg plugin (8.0) has some interesting enhancements and useful bug fixes:

  • To allow users to browse and insert block patterns, a new tab-panel interface has been added to the Block Inserter.
  • There is now a collapsible dropdown list of formatting options for inline formatting.
  • The Code Editor now uses a monospace font for the title, and the editor resizes to the viewport.

For a quick overview of the current contributor efforts, Josepha Haden has assembled a great summary of the projects at within the first quarter of 2020. ๐Ÿ™

๐Ÿ›’ย Two big developments in the eCommerce space are worth your attention:

  • FedEx and BigCommerce have formed a partnership that (among other things) will give BigCommerce merchants enhanced shipping capabilities.
  • Shopify released a new mobile shopping app that allows users to easily buy products from merchants using Shopify. (TechCrunch has some background information.) In development since 2018, the “COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis” moved this project to launch sooner than planned.

I really like the site redesign at WPBuffs. Joe Howard explains why it was needed and what went into it in terms of time and costs. ๐Ÿ‘ทโ€โ™€๏ธ

Joe says 90% of the redesign came together in about two months using Elementor, and the entire cost came in at around $20k (USD) for “new branding (logo, patterns, fonts, complete brand guide) AND new website design delivered via Adobe XD and original designs for every team member.”

๐Ÿซย Cory and partner Jeff Meziere just soft-launched the Business Value Academy to help entrepreneurs focus on building profitable, healthy and valuable businesses. They have a free webinar coming up on Thursday (May 7) where they'll be sharingย theirย Business Value Mindset.


Most entrepreneurs (including me)ย focus solely on top and bottom lines but don't think about the value of the business they are building. Jeff and I believe that focusing on building a valuable business is next-level entrepreneurial thinking and strategy โ€” something we both didn't think about until our deals were underway.ย 

Carl Alexander tells the story of how he and Adam Wathan wrote a book in markdown. Carl built a markdown-to-PDF app for this project. ๐Ÿ“—

The BuddyPress 6.0 release candidate is out. BuddyPress 6.0.0 is slated for release on Thursday, May 14. ๐Ÿ“…

๐Ÿค”ย Tom Fanelli shares what he thinks are the most significant challenges facing WordPress:

  • Unreliable hosting that doesn't scale efficiently.
  • A disconnect between hosting capacity and actual demand at the level of people visiting a site. Tom predicts “Hosting companies that donโ€™t offer efficient customer service or page speed optimization” won't be able to deal with performance problems higher up the stack.
  • A lack of innovation, combined with under-funding, which “go hand-in-hand.”

Tess Gadd shares a UI cheat sheet for form dropdowns for front-end developers, including different states, what the placeholder should say, when and when not to use a dropdown, accessibility checklists โ€” and more. This is great information to know even if you don't build forms very often. ๐Ÿ‘

Carl Tashian shares some helpful SSH tips and tricks โ€” including five different ways to add a second factor to your SSH connections and how to share a remote terminal session with a friend without using Zoom. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

Tony Perez is concerned the open web is dying, and the pandemic is “the perfect event to push the pendulum out of balance” when it comes to privacy, autonomy, and openness. ๐Ÿ˜จ

I am a bit more optimistic about Apple and Google‘s partnership for contact tracing, at least in the short term, but I agree the web isn't nearly as open as it should be, and more companies and governments are taking more control from users.

WP&UP is now Big Orange Heart ๐Ÿงก โ€” Dan Maby announced their rebranding and pivot to serve the larger (now much larger) Remote Working community.

Not everyone is happy that ICANN has decided to block the sale of the .org TLD and Public Interest Registry (PIR), but those in the not-for-profit community likely agree it “is reasonable, and the right thing to do.” ๐Ÿ˜…

The specific reasons and rationale behind this decision are worth a read.

๐Ÿ•๏ธ Two WordPress events should be on your radar:

  • Tickets for WordCamp Europe 2020 are available online now. The virtual event is happening June 4-6 with an online Contributor Day followed by two days of programming.
  • WordCamp US 2020 announced this week they are going virtual. They are still planning on offering “many of the WCUS events that youโ€™ve come to know and love, including sessions and workshops, Contributor Day, State of the Word, a hallway track, and more exciting ways to connect and celebrate WordPress!” The call for speakers has been extended to May 31st.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my video picks of the week:

  • Ronnie Burt at WordCamp Atlanta 2019 discusses the requirements of a Privacy Policy and how to use the new built-in WordPress privacy tools. โš–๏ธ
  • These two videos (first, second) from Freemius cover the “Dos And Donโ€™ts” of renewal discounts for WordPress plugins and themes. ๐Ÿ’ฒ

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that I enjoyed:

Notes for April 27, 2020

Footnotes #395

Frontity has closed a โ‚ฌ1M funding round led by Automattic. Frontity promotes its framework as “the easiest way to create lightning-fast websites using WordPress and React.” โšก

Reyes Martรญnez said the company is not developing a business model now but is focusing on making the project sustainable. The Frontity framework will “always remain open source” with “possible monetizations to generate revenue in the future and add value to the community.”

Possibilities they're thinking about include “a hosting solution, premium support, or a marketplace of paid themes.”

Dave Ryan has started a project called Chatterbox that lets you use WordPress blocks to show conversations from chat threads inside app and device wrappers. ๐Ÿ”Œ

Chatterbox can be used for “demos of chatbots, publishing chat records in news stories, and it could be a fun way to add a striking visual display to conversations.”

Channing Allen has an interesting post at Indie Hackers about the ways businesses and founders are figuring out how to build and ship products for the quarantined market. ๐Ÿ”

“Conditions of life are quickly changing. And with each change, new problems arise. Every problem, in turn, is a lock waiting for some entrepreneur's key. Founders who pay close attention and move fast will capitalize.”

Dashicons โ€” which currently weigh in at 303 icons in a single, compiled sprite โ€” may be nearing the end of their useful life. As Joen notes, “The block editor uses SVG icons directly, and the rest of WordPress uses the Dashicons icon font.”

Moving forward, an “ultimate” (as in final) release has been proposed. It will “wrap up existing requests (adding 36 new icons),” stop taking new requests, and “focus future efforts on the new Icon component.” โš™๏ธ

In case you missed it in March, I highly recommend your read Josepha Haden‘s post on the value of a leader who is open and always looking to improve. ๐Ÿ‘

Ryan McCue mentioned on Twitter that he built an Unsplash integration with the WordPress Media Library in a couple of hours using the Asset Manager Framework.

The AMF provides a framework for replacing the contents of the core media library with assets from an external provider. ๐Ÿ—„๏ธ

The Block Lab team behind the Block Lab plugin will be joining WP Engine. The plugin itself is not going over to WP Engine, but the plan is to build something new there and give Block Lab users the option to migrate down the road. The team will continue to support and maintain Block Lab Pro “on their own time.” ๐Ÿงช

WooGraphQL adds WooCommerce support and functionality to your WPGraphQL server. You can query products, product variations, customers, coupons, orders, and refunds in addition to manipulating customer session data. Future features will include payment processing and “administrator mutations.” ๐ŸงŸ

StarterBlocks is a recently released WordPress plugin that provides “700+ pre-made templates” in the editor. ๐Ÿ

Anne Martinez wrote a quickstart guide for speeding up WordPress. It's intended for your clients or WordPress users who are not developers. It covers the basics โ€” things that commonly slow down a WordPress site, along with topics like caching, optimization, CDNs, and making an action plan. ๐Ÿ’จ

Peter Tasker, a PHP and JavaScript developer in Canada, revised and updated his outstanding article on how to create custom WordPress Editor Blocks โ€” in 2020. I recommend reading or bookmarking Peter's post if you might be building blocks in the future. ๐Ÿ”–

Brandon Ernst at Freemius looks at trends and data to get an idea of how the Coronavirus might be affecting WordPress plugin and theme shops.

Brandon notes “there was a 19.84% growth in plugin downloads on the repository from February to March 2020.” ๐Ÿ“‰

There is a lot here that will be of interest to developers and business owners.

Michael Lynch warns that Stripe might be “silently recording your movements on its customers' websites.” ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ

Stripe has publicly stated that they use your customer data exclusively for fraud protection and diagnostics, and Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison responded to Michael's article. This might be a case where things should have been spelled out earlier, but there's still a lot to learn from their exchange.

I learned about the input type="color" interface element from Christian Heilmann in this post where he talks limiting the colors available in a color picker to a palette taken from an image. Front-end developers or UI builders, this is worth a read. ๐ŸŽจ

Likely in response to Amazon and the COVID-19 pandemic, Google has now made it free to list and sell products. Of course, ads are still not free. ๐Ÿ›’

98.css is a library for building interfaces that look like Windows 98. Just what you always wanted, right? ๐Ÿ™ˆ

Maybe a little more useful: pattern.css is a library to fill your empty background with beautiful patterns.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here is my video pick of the week:

  • An informative talk from Victor Ramirez at WordCamp Atlanta 2019 about managing many custom Enterprise plugins in the “Age of Gutenberg.” Victor also takes a peek at pitfalls to avoid when you're trying to work within an organization that never did remote work before but worked with multiple outside agencies.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

Notes for April 18, 2020

Footnotes #394


Sometimes I wonder if giving up the simplicity of web development was worth what we gained. The time spent wrangling build tools adds up, and creates dozens of layers of dependencies, each with varying philosophies and practices on updates and backward compatibility. If you're working on a site for the first time in a few months, be prepared to spend just as much time updating the various build tools, processes, and underlying software, as doing the actual work. It makes me sad, and it makes me feel like we let something go that we should not have.

JetPack has announced that its search service is available as a separately priced package. It was only available in the past as part of the Jetpack Professional plan at $29 per month.

Pricing for Jetpack Search depends on how many records (posts, pages, products, and custom post types) you have in your database. Starting at 100 records, the cost is $5 per month, and scaling up to millions of records, it runs to $200+ per month. ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿง


Pricing is hard for any service. What Jetpack has created is totally reasonable, but will definitely be a burden for some. Records can add up fast, especially for a site that values advanced search in the first place. I look forward to seeing Jetpack search in action, and it's packing a lot of punch.

Ben Martin, who is Sucuri‘s Remediation Team Lead, breaks down the way dedicated credit card swiping malware works within WordPress. ๐Ÿ’ณ

This is not common, but as Ben points out, we can expect more of it:

“With WooCommerce recently overtaking all other eCommerce platforms in popularity, it was only a matter of time before we started seeing attackers target this platform more frequently.”

Here are some tips for saving money on international payments as a remote freelancer. Jurn discusses the options and suggests looking up your bank's exchange rate. ๐Ÿ’ธ

Once you know the numbers for your own bank you can compare them to well-known online payment providers and see what's best in your situation.

Matt Mullenweg says there are five levels of autonomy that define how distributed companies evolve:

  • 0 – a job that cannot be done unless youโ€™re physically there.
  • 1 – no deliberate effort to make things remote-friendly.
  • 2 – theyโ€™ve accepted that work is going to happen at home for a while, but they recreate what they were doing in the office in a โ€œremoteโ€ setting. (Many businesses now find themselves in this position.)
  • 3 – the company begins to benefit from being remote-first (distributed with planned meetups) so teams can break bread and meet each other in person a week or two every year.
  • 4 – “things go truly asynchronous.”
  • 5 – “Nirvana! This is when you consistently perform better than any in-person organization could.” ๐Ÿง˜

The WordPress Documentation team is applying to participate in Googleโ€™s Season of Docs, an initiative (now in its second year) that aims to improve open-source documentation.

Jon (Kenshino) says there is a need for mentors “who are well acquainted or want to be well acquainted with WordPress' Documentation needs and projects.” ๐Ÿ“„

If youโ€™re interested, reply in the comments. Projects will be discussed once a team is formed.

FooEvents, a ticket system for WooCommerce, has added Zoom integration. If you are a company thinking about selling virtual tickets to online events, check it out. ๐ŸŽŸ๏ธ

Juan Hernando notes the WordPress editor uses Noto โ€” a Google font โ€” and argues it shouldn't be in core. ๐Ÿ”ค

I recently stumbled upon this nice-looking Flip counter plugin in JavaScript.

It's good for countdowns, showing products sold or remaining โ€” anything worth counting. ๐Ÿง›โ€โ™‚๏ธ

The call for speakers for WordCamp US 2020 (October 27-29) has been EXTENDED! The new deadline to submit your application is Sunday, May 31, 2020, at 11:59 pm CT (UTC -5) / 4:59am Saturday (UTC). ๐Ÿ•๏ธ

Remember: the JavaScript for WordPress event is happening July 8-10th, and April 27-May 1st are the dates for the WP Feedback Online Summit.

Here's a nice method of using CSS to set text inside a circle, thanks to Kerry Smyth.

You may also enjoy this tutorial from Anna Prenzel explaining how to create a particle trail animation in JavaScript. ๐ŸŒ 

A recent newsletter covered speaker tips for virtual events and how in-person conferences might look for the next few years. ๐Ÿ”ˆ

If you want to compose email newsletters with buttons, horizontal rules, footers and headers that will look good to all your readers, you'll want to bookmark Mark Robbins‘ new library for “good email code” at ๐Ÿ“ง

You can simply copy the code there and paste it in your emails. Mark's detailed explanations will teach you why it's good code and the rationale behind it.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here is my video pick of the week:

  • You can watch all the presentations from the recent online virtual WordPress WPBlockTalk now, including some updates on Gutenberg features and roadmap discussions from Matt Mullenweg, Ana Claudia Alfieri, Matias Ventura, and Ellen Bauer.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

Notes for April 17, 2020

Footnotes #393

Lazy loading images is part of WordPress as of 5.5-alpha. Andrew Ozz is asking plugin authors who implement lazy-loading to update their code to make use of this new core functionality. ๐Ÿ’ค

Iain Poulson explains how to identify SQL queries that are causing bottlenecks and demonstrates some quick fixes and other ways to accelerate query execution time. ๐Ÿ’จ

โœ’๏ธ Zara Cooper has written a “practical guide to writing technical specs” โ€” highly recommended for developers:

“By writing a technical spec, engineers are forced to examine a problem before going straight into code, where they may overlook some aspect of the solution.”

Yoast has a blog post in their developer portal about new features in the upcoming version (14.0) of their plugin. Some of these include moving all metadata from wp_postmeta to custom tables, changes in the Schema API, and “opening up a set of new API surfaces.”

Denis ลฝoljom, an Automation representative on the Theme Review Team, has written a proposal to use GitHub for code review for themes submitted to ๐Ÿ’ก

If you like to follow front-end development news and trends, then this list of RSS feeds from Louis Lazaris might be worth checking out. ๐Ÿ

If you use VSCode, this impressive list of customizations from Silvestar Bistroviฤ‡ of his (364!) code settings is worth your time. ๐ŸŽš๏ธ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

We're wishing Tony Perez all the best as he leaves GoDaddy and explores full-time work on his projects CleanBrowsing (a DNS-based content filtering service) and ColdPath (a security consulting company). ๐Ÿ›…

I recently stumbled on rclone, which is a command-line program to sync local files and directories with cloud storage providers like Google Drive, Amazon Drive, S3, Dropbox, Backblaze B2, and many more. โ˜๏ธ

Here's an interesting tutorial from Nico Martin on how to create scheduled push notifications in the browser with the Notifications API โ€” in combination with the Push API and the HTTP Web Push Protocol. I don't care for push notifications in my browser, but scheduled ones for a limited purpose (like an online event) makes sense. ๐Ÿ–๏ธ

Blessing Krofegha demonstrates how to build a web app with a headless CMS and React. He doesn't mention WordPress, but it's applicable โ€” and worth reading if the general concept interests you.

The call for speakers for WordCamp US 2020 (October 27-29) has been issued. The deadline to submit your application is Friday, April 17, 2020,ย at 11:59 pm CT (UTC -5) / 4:59am Saturday (UTC). ๐Ÿ•๏ธ

Speaking of conferences, mark your calendar for the JavaScript for WordPress event happening July 8-10th. Also mark April 27 to May 1st for the WP Feedback Online Summit.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here is my video pick of the week:

  • If you're a freelancer or small business/agency, you might want to check out the replays from this past weekend's Remote Control Summit.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

Notes for April 10, 2020

Footnotes #392

WordPress 5.4 (“Adderley”) was released on March 31st.

The visual editor in this version includes the new Social Icons and Buttons blocks, gradients in the Buttons and Cover block, and improved streamlining of various workflows including multimedia placement. The editor experience itself is loading 14% faster, and time-to-type is 51% faster.

Developers: There are two new actions that let you add custom fields to menu items. โœจ

You can get a good technical overview of the WordPress 5.4 field guide.

Kelly Dwan created and shared some new admin color schemes inspired by the Adderley release. Kelly included a high contrast option that “should pass WCAG 2.1 level AAA for color contrast.” ๐ŸŽจ

If you are not fond of the new default to full-screen mode for the block editor in WordPress 5.4, Jean-Baptiste Audras explains what you can add to functions.php to disable it.

โœ’๏ธ Garrett Hyder has written a proposal for a WP Consent API and a Consent API as a feature plugin. As Garrett explains:

“A standard way for WordPress core, plugins, and themes to obtain consent from users should be established to provide a consistent and stable experience for administrators, developers, and users of all kinds.”

Strattic has announced support for the popular Gravity Forms plugin. Almost everything you can do in Gravity seems to be supported with a few exceptions. I hope to hear more about the technical details and other work that goes into supporting plugins on static sites. ๐Ÿ”Œ

BuddyPress 6.0.0 Beta 1 is out with some great new enhancements and features, including the first BuddyPress Blocks for the block editor and a completed BuddyPress REST API.

JC Palmes shares great tips for working remotely with kids at home and shares some helpful YouTube channels and resources. Remember:

“IT IS NOT EASY. You will need a LOT of PATIENCE and TRY to remember that theyโ€™re your kids and you LOVE them.”

As a father working from home with three children in my house, I sympathize. ๐Ÿšธ

Cloudflare has introduced for Families, an easy way to “to add a layer of protection to your home network and protect it from malware and adult content.”

Josh Comeau noticed that networks are slower now, thanks to everyone working from home now. Perhaps we should be accepting newer image formats with better compression, such as Webp? Josh says WebP, in particular, is “annoying” and not yet fully supported, unfortunately. ๐Ÿคฆ

Elementor has launched an “Experts Network” that allows members to collaborate and grow their businesses through portfolios they can share with Elementor “peers” (developers, designers, and marketers). It's an interesting move, especially now as it will be getting harder for agencies and freelancers to find work.

Matt Danner explains some ways iThemes is helping during this difficult time. They will have videos and posts dedicated to different types of websites throughout April, a free trial for their training subscription, and a 30% discount on their products. Don't miss this and other discounts we've rounded up for you.

Gus Luxton talks about some easy ways you can improve the security of your SSH model without needing to deploy a new application or make any huge changes to user experience. ๐Ÿ”’

If you or someone you know is using the Contact Form 7 Datepicker plugin, take note that Wordfence discovered a stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the plugin, which appears to be installed on over 100,000 sites. To be clear, Contact Form 7 itself is not affected by this vulnerability, but if you do have this additional plugin extension, you may want to remove it from your site(s).

Post Status Live is coming to you on April 10th! ๐Ÿ“บ

Cory Miller will be talking about recurring revenue, sales in a downturn, managing people, and the ups and downs of agency life. You can sign up for free here! ๐Ÿ‘ˆ


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here is my video pick of the week:

  • The recorded talks from last weekend's WordCamp San Antonio are available now. Start with Jocelyn Mozak‘s keynote about her experiences with WordPress and what she appreciates most about it. There are a number of developer talks that I appreciated as well.
  • WPBlockTalk recently took place โ€” a one-day conference focused on Gutenberg and the block editor. I managed to sneak a peek into a few of these talks, and I was especially impressed with the progress and discussions around full-site editing. It might be coming “in a few months” before we're able to seriously start testing it. You can view the entire recording and schedule on this page on their site.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

Notes for March 27, 2020

Footnotes #391


Itโ€™s been a heck of a week. While nationalism seems to be rising from a political perspective, I canโ€™t help but feel an increased sense of global togetherness at a human level. We are all in this together. No country is spared. No country is immune.

Nations worldwide are organizing various relief packages to help families and corporations handle the sudden economic shock โ€” a completely separate endeavor from the massive demands on healthcare systems.

The Tax Foundation โ€” who has a nice WordPress site, Iโ€™ll add โ€” has a handy guide for how each country is handling COVID-19 related relief programs.

The US just signed into law the CARES Act, in which Americans can see exactly whatโ€™s in the $2 Trillion package by reading the bill directly. I read the bill, and the Tax Foundation summary is a very good companion to better understand it.

Many of your businesses (incorporated or sole proprietors) in the US may have access to some of the Paycheck Protection Program funds. There are several caveats, but affected businesses will be able to both receive loans and also later apply for forgiveness of some expenditures, like those related to payroll or office rent. I hope anyone who is interested in these loans is careful though โ€” there are no sure things here yet and more guidance is both necessary and pending. Itโ€™s a step, though.

Many, many people have been laid off, furloughed, lost hours, or otherwise had wages reduced. And weโ€™re early in this. Some of us in the webspace have been affected already. Most of us (directly or our businesses) will eventually feel it, to some degree โ€” though there might be a delay versus businesses completely shut down due to the response to COVID.

Itโ€™s an important time to be in a community, to know youโ€™re in this with other folks, to share your experiences with trusted friends, and to let others help when and how they can.

Good will come of this experience. We donโ€™t see it all today, but it will come. Until then, stay strong and I am hopeful for each of your safety and well-being.

WordPress 5.4 RC 4 was released a few days ago. Expect to see the final release on March 31. If you want to catch up on all the changes, check out the official field guide. ๐Ÿ•

Gutenberg 4.7 has been released. Highlights include the Block UI redesign and new APIs โ€” including an API to register custom Block patterns from themes and plugins. The API is still a work-in-progress and may change before entering WordPress Core. โœจ

Yoast is offering a new online training course focused on the WordPress block editor. This is more than just a blog post โ€” it's very well done and will “hand guide you through the process of creating a post with the block editor through practical screencasts, PDFs and assignments.” โœ‹

Juliette Reinders Folmer notes that some updates are proposed for implementation in WordPress Coding Standards 3.0.0:

“With the change to PHP 5.6 as the minimum PHP version for WordPress Core, and with the outlook of a minimum version of PHP 7.x in the (near) future, even more interesting language features will soon become available for use in WordPress Core, plugins and themes.”

This weekend marks one of the first WordCamps that have transitioned from an in-person event to a virtual one: WordCamp San Antonio. All speakers will be live streaming, and there's a rumor that there might be a “gameshow” event to cap off each day. Tickets are free. ๐Ÿ“บ

WPCampus 2020 is making that transition too โ€” they have decided to become a virtual event. WPCampus 2020 Online will be July 15-17. The in-person event in New Orleans will be postponed to 2021. ๐Ÿ•๏ธ

The call for speakers for WordCamp US 2020 (October 27-29) has been issued. ๐Ÿค™

Brad Williams, John James Jacoby, and Justin Tadlock on April 22 for a special AMA on WordPress Plugin Development with Post Status partner Cory Miller. Our guests are the co-authors of the upcoming 2nd edition of Professional WordPress Plugin Development, 2nd Edition, which will be coming out in May. ๐Ÿ“—

The webinar will happen on Apr 22 at 11:00 AM CST. You can register here »

Rahul Bansal and Joel Abreo of rtCamp share lessons from their fully-office to fully-remote transition. ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ’ป

“The bedrock of remote work is mutual trust…. along with async communication.”

If you are a business owner or agency going through a similar transition, you'll want to read this.

Big news! Github has acquired npm, Inc. the company behind the Node package manager registry. ๐Ÿ“ฆ

Github claims npm will “always be available and free.” They will integrate GitHub and npm to “improve the security of the open-source software supply chain.”

Sadly, I'm already hearing of layoffs from npm โ€” but that could be related to COVID-19, not the acquisition.

Pantheon shared how they are supporting organizations on the COVID-19 front line. If you host with them, this is especially recommended reading. ๐Ÿ™

Convesio, a new WordPress hosting company, explains how they raised over $1M from 850 investors using Wefunder for their campaign. They also discuss the challenges ahead, and how they are planning for 2020. ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ

If you develop Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) then this announcement from WebKit about third-party cookie blocking may have appeared on your radar recently. Now, Aral Balkan says he believes Apple is “killing” offline web apps in the name of privacy. It seems others agree. โšฐ๏ธ

Delicious Brains shared some great ideas they had for adding more creativity and context with testimonial styling at SpinupWP. ๐Ÿง 

A new version of the Perfmatters WordPress plugin was released recently and features an entirely rewritten form submission process for the Script Manager. ๐ŸŽ›๏ธ

Google has published 7.0, which includes schemas for Coronavirus special announcements, Covid-19 Testing Facilities and more. ๐Ÿฅ

Emma Goto has some great notes on how to take smart notes as a developer. Emma's tips are based on the Zettelkasten method and Sรถnke Ahrens book, How to Take Smart Notes. ๐Ÿ—’๏ธ


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here are my two video picks of the week:

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

  • How I Built It: Nathan Ingram talks about managing client relationships and a new project he recently launched to help freelancers.
  • Geek 2 English: The second episode of this new podcast from SiteGround has Cal Evans looking at what a plugin is, what it does, and what site owners need to know before installing one.
  • WPMRR Podcast: The latest episode includes advice for remote work drawn from guests on previous episodes.
  • #PressForward Podcast: Kathy Zant reflects on a stressful time in her life and how it forced her to re-evaluate the way that she approaches her work and life, a method she calls a “Hacker Mindset.”

Notes for March 23, 2020

Footnotes #389

WordPress 5.4 RC2 is available now with the final release still on target for March 31. ๐Ÿ“…

Eileen Violini reports on the progress being made toward block-based themes.

Jb Audras has an update about progress toward auto-updates for themes and plugins.

Earlier this week Cory Miller sat down with Dr. Sherry Walling to discuss her tips and advice for managing fear, anxiety and uncertainty.

Some highlights:

  • Get some big deep breaths โ€” Four slow seconds in, four slow seconds out. ๐Ÿ˜ค
  • Refocus on gratitude โ€” What are you thankful for? ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป
  • Have your inner voice of worry make an appointment โ€” Put it on a schedule thatโ€™s not 24/7. Listen to it; itโ€™s there to protect you, but once its time is up, move on. ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ
  • Connect with others daily โ€” Social distancing doesnโ€™t mean losing connection. Do lunch or a snack or a quick break. Try virtual coworking. ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป
  • Have playtime โ€” Maybe that's Legos, cooking, or pulling out your old musical instruments. ๐ŸŽบ
  • Get your heart rate up with exercise โ€” Like a family dance competition, yoga, or pushups. ๐Ÿคพโ€โ™€๏ธ
  • Limit your news consumption to 15 minutes a day. ๐Ÿ”‡
  • For single people living alone and missing physical touch: Find a soft comfortable and perhaps heavy blanket, take a hot bath. ๐Ÿ›€
  • For entrepreneurs: Remember, you canโ€™t do everything yourself and you canโ€™t fix everything by yourself. In fact, weโ€™re all in this together, especially your team. โ€œLeadership means you're hosting the conversation. You're listening. you're engaging, it doesn't mean that you are the ultimate decider.โ€ ๐Ÿ‘‚

Today Cory's friend and psychologist Dr. Nick Wignall is also offering Office Hours and Q&A.

Rebecca Gill offers some COVID-19 communication suggestions for your clients.

๐Ÿ•๏ธ The call for speakers for WordCamp US 2020 (October 27-29) has been issued. ๐Ÿคž has a growing directory of virtual WordPress meetups and conferences.

๐Ÿค™ If you are a meetup or conference organizer, please reach out to David Bisset and he'll add your event to the list.

Gutenberg Hub recently launched a collection of block templates with 100 section templates spread over 12 section types. Just copy and paste them into the editor.

Many companies and individuals โ€” both inside and outside the WordPress space โ€” recently offered reduced or free versions of their products. ๐ŸŽ

  • Igor Beniฤ‡ made his WordPress developer course for free using this link for a limited time.
  • The Events Calendar folks are making Promoter free through June 1, 2020. This is an automated email marketing tool for events.
  • Mendel Kurland is opening his time to help anyone with WordPress and WooCommerce sites.
  • is offering 50% off of all its products.
  • ElegantMarketplace is offering a 25% discount on everything until March 22nd.
  • Yoast is currently offering its All-Around SEO Training course for free.
  • Jeseph Meyers is offering “WordPress, PHP, CSS and other work for free (small projects, significant discount for large projects) to any small business through the end of April, no strings attached.”
  • Angela Bowman is offering LearnDash and membership plugin install services.
  •, a mobile app theme, is 70% off. Discount code: STAYSAFE.
  • Elegant Modules is offering a 60% discount on products which include modules for Gutenberg and several page builders.ย Discount code: HELPING2020.
  • Chris Lema is offering his eBooks for 90% off.
  • SliceWP is offering a free one year premium license over the next two months. Discount code: TOGETHER.
  • WP Trads has kindly made the French translation of the WordPress extension of LMS Learndash available for free.
  • WPOwl is offering your first month of hosting for ยฃ1. Discount code: COVID19.
  • Rough Pixels has set up a 50% discount on any purchase. Discount code: RP50.
  • Zoom is temporarily offering a free version of their pro tier for K-12 schools.
  • Sling TV is offering free streaming for some content โ€” including youth programming. (Great if your kids are home while you are working at home too.)

๐Ÿ“ฃ Some companies are currently hiring, such as Pagely. Make sure to check out the Post Status Job Board for open positions as they emerge.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Check our continuously updated “discounted tools” page on Post Status for more special offers as they are being shared with us. If you have something to share, let us know.

Also, be sure to check out the Post Status Deals page.

Working from home, running online meetups, and teaching remotely have been hot topics lately. I enjoyed Benedikt Lehnert‘s take on suddenly working from home:

“Working remotely is much less scary than it may feel like at first. Itโ€™s much less about the tools than it is about the people.”

Check out too โ€” a directory of products for remote workers. ๐Ÿ› ๏ธ

The Clone Page Tree plugin adds an action to the page row actions for duplicating the entire hierarchy of parent and child pages. ๐ŸŒณ

Wordfence has launched Fast or Slow, which was born from the idea “to develop a way to measure real-world performance from around the world, and an easy way to read and interpret the results.” ๐Ÿ’จ

This free online service provides you with an overall score of your site's performance along with a summary and breakdown of factors impacting performance.

I took a few moments to kick the tires, and I was impressed with the information I got. It was easy to see the differences visible to visitors in the United States versus those in Brazil, India, or South Africa.

Drupal‘s founder and project lead, Dries Buytaert, asks, “Isย  open source is recession-proof?” Looking back over the past, Dries think open source “will continue to grow and win.” He is “optimistic” it “will continue to grow and expand, and that it can help many individuals and organizations along the way.” โœŒ๏ธ

Ben Pines of Elementor suggests four ways to prepare for the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on your business:

  • Keep expenses to a minimum.
  • Sort and prioritize your portfolio.
  • Learn new skills.
  • Find alternate ways to connect with clients.


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here's the video pick of the week:

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ With everyone that has happened, I haven't had time for many podcasts. But here is one I recommend this week:

Notes for March 18, 2020

Notes for March 13, 2020

Footnotes #388

WordCamp Updates

WordCamp Europe is the latest (and the largest) WordCamp to be canceled due to COVID-19. ๐Ÿฆ 

Angela Jin has posted a list of WordCamps that have been canceled or postponed. As WordCamp organizers make further announcements, this list will continue to be updated.

Lindsey Miller noted in Post Status Slack that WordCamp Kent is still happening on May 30-31, but it “will be completely virtual.” (At the time of this writing, their website hasn't yet made this official with an update.)

My Default

The second release candidate for WordPress 5.4 is available now. The release is still targeted for March 31st.

Riad Benguella announced that fullscreen mode will be activated by default in the visual editor starting with this release:

“Note that for now, thatโ€™s a local setting, which is why itโ€™s going to reset when your preferences do, including incognito mode. Future releases will store the setting in the WordPress database.”

This late change generated a lot of questions and pushback, especially after Matt Mullenweg took responsibility for it as his decision. ๐Ÿ—ฏ๏ธ

Personally, I found the experience to be jarring after my site auto-updated to the latest beta release. I might get used to it, but I right now I feel something is missing in fullscreen mode, and it wouldn't be my default choice.

An Admin After My Own Cart

WooCommerce 4.0 was released this week with over 740 commits from 21 contributors. This includes the new version of the Admin interface, which is a “first step towards a more modern JavaScript-driven experience.” ๐Ÿ›๏ธ

Note that this is a “major release” and not fully backward-compatible with previous WooCommerce versions.

Bob Dunn has a good overview of the highlights of the 4.0 release including the new Admin.

Block Test Patterns

Rich Tabor explains why block patterns are the future of page building in WordPress. He also describes what a Block Patterns API may look like. ๐Ÿ—๏ธ

Right now you can copy whole templated sections of block patterns from Munir Kamal‘s block template library at Gutenberg Hub and paste them in any site's block editor. There's a Chrome browser extension to make it easier to use the block template library inside WordPress.

Justin Tadlock has a great post on Munir's work over at the Tavern.

Nick Hamze has a nifty Chrome extension too โ€”Detective Wapuu โ€” for identifying blocks on any site you visit. ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ is using block patterns in a templated Page Layouts feature now.

Beta Quarantine

Shopify is giving its employees a nice stipend for office equipment while they work from home. ๐Ÿ˜๏ธ

The Canadian company already has over a thousand remote employees, but starting March 16, the whole company (~5,000 people) will be in their home offices to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

While a $1,000 stipend sounds really nice, an unexpected transition to remote work for whole teams that may have no experience with it will probably require some careful management.

, Director of People Operations at Human Made, offers some really good advice about keeping your people happy and effective when they're suddenly working from home.

As always, good, proactive communication is key. Assume best intentions, be open and transparent, and know the signs of burnout. ๐Ÿ˜ซ

Jeff Matson examines the benefits and drawbacks of WordPress' open source ecosystem, including the dangers of a “nulled” copy of a theme or plugin whose licensing has been stripped. โš–๏ธ

If you are interested in how the Just In Time (JIT) compiler works in the upcoming release of PHP 8, read this very accessible post from Nรญckolas Da Silva. โฐ

Matt Shaw explains why delivering WordPress media directly from S3 is a bad idea. Try using WP Offload Media to deliver assets via Amazon CloudFront instead. โ˜๏ธ

Due to recent changes in certain browsers, Barry Pollard advises “setting width and height attributes on your images to prevent layout shifts and improve the experience of your site visitors.” ๐Ÿ“

Josepha Haden hopes to see “a release squad comprised entirely of people who identify as women” by the end of 2020:

“Weโ€™ll be able to increase the number women who have that experience and (hopefully) become returning contributors to Core and elsewhere.”

If you can help realize this goal, please read this post and join in the comments.


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here's the video pick of the week:

  • Women in WP spoke with Birgit Pauli-Haack about her history as a developer and her involvement with many Gutenberg-related aspects of the WordPress community. ๐ŸŒŸ

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

  • Solopreneurs will benefit from this episode of the Matt Report featuring Cory Miller and Brian Krogsgard on a key question: When is it a good time to get outside help with your startup? You can also learn “how the sausage is made” at Post Status. ๐ŸŒญ
  • Don't forget to check out Cory Miller's conversation with Ken Wallace on Masterminds: what they are, how they work, and the good they can do for you.
  • This episode of Pressing Matters has Elliot Condon in for a deep dive into Advanced Custom Fields blocks. ๐Ÿคฟ

The rubber band recession

I am not a professional analyst of the economy. But even for the professionals, there are significant uncertainties. I donโ€™t mean to strike fear with this post. I mean to encourage preparedness โ€” or at least as much as we can in the short time we have available. Please do not take my words as gospel or financial advice.

The economy is screeching to a (temporary) halt. This happens. Economic systems go through periods of expansion and contraction.

Typically, real impacts on economic productivity are gradual with periodic spikes based on fear and uncertainty, often as triggers are hit, and the worst is finally realized. (Think of the mortgage and real estate fallout of the last global financial crisis, for example.)

Even in times of extreme economic stress, the world keeps spinning, businesses operate as long as they can, and everyone adjusts.

This time, in many countries around the world, the rapid expansion of COVID-19 cases has brought economies to a halt. Immediately. And completely. Entire cities on lockdown. Full travel bans. Every store closed. Europe is in the throes of crisis just as much of Asia is getting a grip on the worst of it. From the metrics I've seen, the United States is two weeks away from what Italy is going through now.

This creates an immediate and crushing stoppage to regular economic activity.

Corporate debt is at record levels, and these shocks to regular money flows could easily force a whole bunch of businesses into insolvency without significant and imminent intervention. Even with temporary debt forgiveness, real cash flow could be cut in half โ€” or more โ€” for many types of businesses.

I do not mean to spread fear, but the web industry is not immune! It is an important time for every one of us โ€” employer, employee, and self-employed โ€” to consider our capacity to manage our lives in case we lose some, or all, income for a period of time.

The real impact on business could be significantly different depending on your line of business. I fear that consulting agencies are at the greatest risk, as a non-core expenditure simply gets โ€œput on holdโ€ until more certain times.

But subscription businesses are hardly an exception. Will people keep spending as normal on plugin licenses, SaaS products, and support? I donโ€™t know. Thereโ€™s a chance that people stuck at home get to work online or via entrepreneurship endeavors. That is what kickstarted many of the businesses thriving in the WordPress ecosystem today โ€” people who began their own business in the depths of a recession.

Could this happen today? Yes. But WordPress today is different than WordPress twelve years ago. Weโ€™re a more mature space. The companies are less flexible. We donโ€™t benefit as much from the exponential growth of a nascent web platform on its way to being a standard technology. Weโ€™re more susceptible to global contraction, I believe.

We must plan. Consider our reserves. Discuss things openly and honestly with our teams. Do not panic, but do not ignore the threat of severe and rapid global economic contraction.

I believe the recessionary effects have a good chance of being like a rubber band. If you can survive the cash crunch from halted economic activity, the likelihood of business activity returning to some level of normalcy is quite high after a few months of virus wrangling. I pray Iโ€™m right.

Iโ€™m trying to prepare myself for a rubber band recession. A deep hit, and a rapid bounce back. Itโ€™s certain we will see some lasting effects, but I believe the worst is about to hit us very quickly โ€” as income streams dry up and the world hits pause.

Notes for March 12, 2020

The Power of Small Peer Groups

In the latest episode of Post Status Draft, I talk with Ken Wallace of Mastermind Jam about… Masterminds!ย  We cover what they are, how they work, and the benefits they have for entrepreneurs and other professionals. Check it out!

Here are our own notes on the ways Masterminds and small peer groups have helped us.


While the small groups I've been a part of and facilitated for more than 9 years have not been traditional “masterminds,” they have exponentially and positively changed and improved my life.

Entrepreneurship, in particular, is a lonely gig.

Since 2011, I don't go it alone … I go together … with a group of like-minded peers on similar journeys with the same values, meeting regularly, consistently.

Three benefits of peer groups:

  • Learn and Grow, Together
  • Camaraderie and Connection
  • Support and Encouragement

Keys to successful peer groups:

  • Meet regularly. Have a schedule, and then start on time, end on time, every time!
  • Have a designated member-moderator or facilitator. Someone must be tasked with wrangling invitations, schedules, agendas, and keeping the group on track.
  • Have an agenda. The basic one I use reviews highs and lows, successes and struggles since the last meeting, and then we look ahead to the next meeting.
  • Mutually agreed upon expectations:
    • Show up.
    • Trust and respect others.
    • Absolute confidentiality.
    • Share parallel experiences rather than offer advice.


I second what Cory says. I've been in a Mastermind for years. While the core group has been just me and one other person, we've had 1-2 others rotate in and out for 1-2 year stints. It's been incredibly helpful. Planning for the “end of life” of a Mastermind is really good advice because change is inevitable. We essentially evolved ours to a two-person weekly meeting, which I still love, but it's not the same format as the 3-4 person Mastermind that we used to have. We just evolved it to something new.

Notes for March 10, 2020

Events and Cancellations this Week

๐ŸŽ“ The call for WPCampus 2020 session proposals closes at midnight tonight! This summer the conference is coming to New Orleans at Tulane University from July 15-17, 2020.

๐Ÿ“š This Friday at 12pm CST, Cory is hosting the first Post Status Book Nook discussion. Sign up on Zoom and join our #BookNook Slack channel if you haven't yet.

๐Ÿฆ  WordCamp Postponements and Cancellations

Several more WordCamps have announced cancellations and postponements due to COVID-19, including WordCamp DC, WordCamp Jacksonville and WordCamp New York.

WordCamp San Antonio and WordCamp Europe are currently still on, but keep an eye out for changes at any events you are planning to attend.

Notes for March 9, 2020

The Text Renaissance and the Eighth Death of Blogging

The always-interesting Venkatesh Rao has a fascinating and (for him) relatively brief take on the present moment as a “text renaissance” for the web and online publishing. It's a good thought-provoking post about the implications of several new tools and platforms rooted in old methods and ideas for publishing written content:

  • Roam โ€” a hypertext idea-organizing and publishing platform Vannevar Bush would love, since it seems to fulfill the vision of a “Memex,” as Sarah Constantin beautifully explains.
  • Substack โ€” a freemium subscription-based content blogging and email newsletter alternative to WordPress+Mailchimp+Membership system “Frankenblogs.”
  • Threaded Twitter โ€” a “user-pioneered hack-turned-supported feature that has wonderfully revitalized the platform.”
  • Gatsby, Jekyll and static websites.

Gatsby gets a lot of praise from Rao, especially in connection with WordPress. He sees Gatsby as the first “real, serious alternative” to WordPress, so he expects it will disrupt the entire ecosystem. As part of that disruption, Rao predicts the “8th death of blogging,” in the sense that blogging โ€” like a cat โ€” will have at least nine lives. It keeps dying and coming back.

I'm not sure why Jekyll and other static site generators were mentioned alongside Gatsby. Since Jekyll produces static HTML and Gatsby outputs a single-page, dynamic React app, they are fundamentally different. I don't see static site generators as game changers the way Gatsby probably will be. Static has always have been around; WordPress can be used as a static site generator. But Gatsby offers a way to decouple your front-end from your back-end and still dynamically push and pull content and other data from it.

I've mostly seen Gatsby as a boon for performance because you're not constantly re-rendering pages and throwing lots of queries at the database. But beyond that, Gatsby seems like yet another turn of the crank in the endless cycle of shiny new things that keep developers interested in their work. Accessibility, usability, and sustainability remain uninteresting and unimportant because you can't usually throw them at clients as the latest sexy thing to invest in.

But maybe there is another upside. Rao is thinking about Gatsby in a way I hadn't considered โ€” as a way to present writing in new ways:

I see several promising young writers already moving away from the blog as the main vehicle for online written expression, and building bespoke sites with weirder, more experimental structures, using Gatsby and its kin as the foundation.

Rao didn't provide examples for that, but it made me think of some of the things The Correspondent is trying on their own membership-oriented CMS, as well as some what-ifs, like what if you could make WordPress more like Roam? One of the interesting things about the idea of a renaissance โ€” a rebirth โ€” is that it means going back to forgotten sources in “the early history of digital text, rediscovering old, abandoned ideas, and reimagining the bleeding edge in terms of the unexplored adjacent possible of the 80s and 90s.” Maybe it's also a way to get off the platform and applications cycle โ€” “commodify the back end, transform and retransform the front end,” as Alex Danco puts it โ€” and actually make some qualitative progress with tools for written expression.


Notes for March 6, 2020

Footnotes #386

โœจ The upcoming WordPress 5.4 release has a lot going into it:

  • A brand-new, officially supported, npm-based scaffolding package for blocks!
  • New gradient theme APIs that allow your theme to use gradients as backgrounds in the Cover and Buttons blocks.
  • Changes to DOM structure on the block editor. Jorge Costa explains the markup and style changes.
  • REST API changes include taxonomy โ€œORโ€ relation support in WP_REST_Posts_Controller along with selective link embedding.
  • Privacy features have been updated. The Personal Data Export tool now includes Session Tokens, Community Events Location, and Custom User Meta.
  • Check out the WordPress 5.4 Field Guide for a deeper dive.

๐Ÿ˜ท The COVID-19 virus is taking a toll on communities and markets worldwide. After the cancellation of WordCamp Asia, we know the WordPress community is not immune.

The livestream that was held partly in place of the cancelled event went on as expected, and you can review the recorded presentations now. (It was done via Crowdcast, so you'll need to click “Join the Livestream” and then select the talk you want to hear from the list near the top left under “Schedule Session.”)

There has been a lot more talk about remote communications an alternative to travel for conferences and business. Zoom has gained more new users in the first months of 2020 than all of last year.

Wordfence CEO Mark Maunder has explained why his company is taking a pause on WordCamps for the time being, and why he is suggesting that WordCamp Europe be cancelled along with “all other WordCamps globally in 2020” until the situation has improved.

At the time of this writing, WordCamp Europe is still moving forward as planned, and they are keeping their site updated with the latest coronavirus news.

Several other WordCamps and community events have been postponed, including WordCamp Geneva and the WordCamp Retreat in Soltau.

Want to learn how to take your in-person event online? Get Cory's take as he joins Brian Richards of WPSessions for a 60-minute Q&A about high-impact ๐Ÿ’ฅ virtual events on March 11, 2020, at 11 a.m. CST.

Joost de Valk has a proposal for improving SEO on WordCamp sites so more of them can be indexed by Google. Judging by the response so far to this tweet, it looks like this is a common problem for WordCamp organizers.

Johnny Harris asked why WordPress core doesn't support the WebP image format, and the reason might be related to Safari not supporting it. ๐Ÿค”

Bowe Frankema made some interesting predictions about Elementor‘s plans after securing $15 Million (USD) in funding. Bowe thinks the future for WordPress businesses is not selling one-off services: “Recurring revenue is key… look to the cloud to offer up your own recurring revenue SaaS or WaaS solutions.” โ˜๏ธ

Vlad Olaru wrote a lengthy post on “complex global systems” in block-based websites. People have very different expectations about what it will mean to transition to a block-based WordPress ecosystem, and I appreciate how Vlad has taken up this difficult topic. Unexplored challenges await. ๐Ÿ‰

๐Ÿฅซ Nick Hamze made a great point about developers dogfooding their own Gutenberg blocks:

“…the best you can hope for now is that someone will have a simple blog rocking a Twenty-something theme with a vanilla set of blocks. If we arenโ€™t excited to build with blocks, how the heck can we get other people excited?”

Chris Coyier updated his advice on where to learn WordPress theme development nowadays.

Jason Coleman posted an update about his growing Paid Memberships Pro business, which raked in $810,000 last year and is currently at $3,000,000 in all-time sales. ๐Ÿ“ˆ

“By sharing our story, I hope others can learn what to expect when launching a WordPress plugin or a paid support plan around an open-source project.”

James Huff reminded folks on Twitter that neither WordPress nor offers phone support. If anyone claims to offer such support, it is a scam. ๐Ÿšจ

โค๏ธ WP&UP, a registered UK charity that supports and promotes positive mental health within the WordPress community, could use your help with a few easy things you can do to support their mission.

A product or service giveaway, a fundraiser, some proceeds of sales on eBay, Amazon Smile ( โ€” and direct donations โ€” are all very welcome.

The Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AG WG) has published a First Public Working Draft of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2.


Podcast Picks of the Week

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

Notes for February 29, 2020

Footnotes #385

The latest beta of WordPress 5.4 has been released, and more information is being shared about developer-focused changes. This version will introduce new hooks to add custom fields to menu items. ๐Ÿ†•

Also, auto-update functionality for themes and plugins may be coming in WordPress 5.5. There's much work still to do, but the animations and screenshots in this post by Jean-Baptiste Audras indicate how it may work in the theme and plugin admin screens.


Ryan McCue shared this paper about Let's Encrypt SSL ๐Ÿ›ก๏ธ usage that has some interesting figures:

  • Squarespace has 4.9M sites using Let's Encrypt for SSL (97% of their customers) and Automattic has 4.3M sites, or 96% of the total.
  • Both are significantly ahead of Wix (3.9M sites, 85%) in their Let's Encrypt deployments.

We often share items about accessibility, which has been a consistent effort for WordPress, but if you wonder how Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly are faring with it, read this review from Terrill Thompson.

Carolina Nymark noted only 11 themes in the theme directory add custom block styles. No themes use the server-side rendering for block styles added in 5.3. Carolina is right: “theme authors need to adopt this faster.”

Riad Benguella presents some performance improvement and monitoring techniques that can be used in any React/Redux application, based on his work and observations with Gutenberg. ๐Ÿ’จ

Suzanne Scacca shows how to create booking widgets that collect appointments (and revenue) for your clients using the Amelia booking plugin. Her tips about automation are quite insightful too. ๐Ÿ“…

If you attended WordCamp US last year, please fill out this survey to let them know about your experience and what you want to see this year in St. Louis. ๐Ÿ•๏ธ

A critical security update was recently issued for Duplicator that Wordfence reported as affecting over a million WordPress sites. ๐Ÿ”“

Duplicator users should update to version 1.3.28 as soon as possible.

Are you working in a โ€œfeature factory?โ€ โ€œJust sitting in the factory, cranking out features, and sending them down the line?โ€ ๐Ÿญ

John Cutler explained what signs to look out for three years ago, and now he's reprising that post with the lessons he has learned since then.

The Smithsonian has released 2.8 million images into the public domain with the launch of a new open-source platform called Open Access. ๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ

It appears Google users in the UK will be losing EU data protection

Here is a Chrome and Firefox extension that โ€œcleansโ€ URLs by removing parameters such as Google AnalyticsUTM parameters. ๐Ÿšฟ

I forgot how UTM refers to Urchin โ€” Analytics' predecessor, acquired by Google in 2005.

If you try to keep up with podcasting, then this article from Tom Webster is a must-read. Tom talks about the newly formed Podcast Academy and shares some market survey data.

Notably, Americans over the age of 12 who listen to podcasts each month grew from 17% in 2015 to 32% in 2019. ๐ŸŽ™๏ธ


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ“น Here's the video pick of the week:

  • Beth Livingston, Jessi Gurr, Mickey Mellen, and Nathan Ingram led an interesting discussion on the business panel at WordCamp Birmingham 2019.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

  • Mixergy interviewed Pagely co-founder Sally Strebel about “the crazy hours” it took in the early days “to make this business happen.”
  • Bill Jones shares his knowledge about user-centric data, privacy strategies, the GDPR, and more on the Press This podcast.