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.” 🥑

🧪 Here's a MySQL engine that's written in PHP for unit tests. 😲

—Hat tip to George Peter Banyard. 🎩

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.

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!
  • The next WordPress Mega-Meetup on Jan 19th has an “SEO/marketing” theme with Taco Verdonschot (From Yoast SEO), David Yarde, Gary Smith, and Valerie Pierce.


Podcast Picks

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

  • How I Built It: Joe Casabona has an entertaining conversation with Jennifer Bourn about her Profitable Project Plan venture and how she had to change it over the years. If you have any interest in selling courses or building a solution for others, I think this episode would also be helpful.
  • The Get Options Podcast: If you are in the mood for a “lighter” podcast, Adam Silver and Kyle Maurer share their predictions for WordPress in 2021, among other subjects.
  • Run With It: This is a new entrepreneurship podcast I'm trying out where the hosts Chris Justin and Eathan Janney share new business ideas and talk to established entrepreneurs. I especially recommend the “Is The Next Shopify A SaaS Boilerplate Service?” episode to start.

Notes for January 8, 2021

Built by WordPress — .com that is

Automattic enters the low-end website market

Automattic this week announced that it's “premium website building service” (which was in beta in fall 2020) is now officially accepting customer applications for “websites starting at $4,900 USD.”

The announcement describes a turnkey service with a personal touch:

“You’ll work with a dedicated engagement manager throughout the entire project, ensuring that your vision is carried through from start to finish — freeing you to focus on the other critical parts of your business.”

As you may imagine, reactions in the WordPress community were mixed.

This Twitter thread contains some of the more common, deeper concerns in the form of early hot takes: “It looks like they're about to compete with the agencies and devs that have made WordPress what it is over the years” (Chris Wiegman) and “This is the open source version of Amazon copying popular products and turning them into ‘Amazon Basics' to take profits away from vendors.” (Morten Rand-Hendriksen).

Matt Medeiros also gave his hot-take which was highly critical. Matt Mullenweg responded in the YouTube comments.

Others in the space simply had questions about the service, and Matt Mullenweg's answers to questions spanned the points people were asking about — from YouTube, to Twitter, and Post Status (see below). Matt admitted that “we don't have a PR agency” at Automattic, and it might be possible (as an observation) that some of the difficulty here might be related to communication and messaging.

Still others in their initial takes didn't see this as a large conflict or even as direct competition. Joe Casabona notes: “If you think you’re competing with Automattic for sub-$5,000 websites, you need to change your approach.” Joe concludes with this observation:

Automattic generally works within the constructs of their .com platform, and most of the moves… have focused on acquiring new users. This is another step in that direction. They see potential customers have a hard time getting their business up and running on .com, and lose those customers to Wix and Squarespace.

This point seems to be backed up by Matt Mullenweg himself in a Post Status Slack thread discussing the new service:

“The market for this is people who have more time than money, try to get started on .com, hit a wall and go to Wix or Squarespace / etc. will be referrals to external folks, and 100% certain this will drive more up-market consulting in the future that may be a better budget fit for folks in this room… but if they go to another platform altogether, there's no opportunities for them in the ecosystem down the road.”

Birgit Pauli-Haack notes: “Most agencies don't advertise around ‘WordPress' and most customers don't care about the CMS… We all market solutions, great designs, user experience, get-the-job-done kind of products and services. WordPress is just the means to an end.”

Focusing again more on conversations in Post Status that were not as public as ones on social media, Syed Balkhi shared his opinion about the larger ecosystems in play:

“Just to add another perspective to .com new services section… as Matt pointed out many other hosting companies offer this. GoDaddy, Bluehost, etc. This is a big pain point that we see from beginners who start with WordPress (whether .com or self-hosted) that they are unable to build what they had hoped for … and then eventually a portion of users give up and move on. Since Wix spends aggressively, it often ends up being a common alternative.”

“Once a user goes to Wix, they’re pitched with Services (Wix Partners). These partner / agencies pay Wix a referral fee. I was talking to one SMB web agency and they told me that Wix marketplace is their most lucrative lead source and they’ve built a multi-million dollar business around that.”

“As a WordPress company, we only win when WordPress wins. A user who stays with WordPress because of Bluehost web design services or the new .com service above, will eventually purchase premium themes, plugins, and even larger agency services when they can afford it. In my opinon Automattic launching this service will not negatively impact anyone and more likely it will positively impact the whole ecosystem.”

Chris Lema shares similar thoughts: “Competition is good because the more that people's websites are powered by WordPress, the more the WordPress economy grows – for everyone, not just”

Matt Mullenweg confirmed in Post Status conversations that this “very small experiment” is “not targeting or competing with WordPress VIP partners. As it's “hard to imagine a VIP client spending less than six figures a year, … I would say it's in a very different segment,” Matt said. Matt acknowledged that “the people building the site might also recommend the client purchase a premium theme or plugin where one is appropriate.”

Regarding the impact on smaller WordPress agencies and consulting companies, Matt seems to be taking a view that's the opposite of many of the first reactions in the larger WordPress community:

“I would be extremely surprised if this impacts anyone's consulting business, if you do have a current or potential client leave for it please let me know — it should be all new-to-WP users who wouldn't have been successful getting started.”

In addition, Matt mentioned he would “love to refer more work to agencies as well … what has made it tough in the past was people moving the referred clients off of .com 😕 Hope to figure out a better Shopify-like agency program this year.”

Matt estimates that Automattic captures less than 5% of the revenue in the total ecosystem which is “still smaller than the amount hosts like Godaddy and Bluehost make from WordPress clients.”

With similar programs at other hosting companies, what Automattic is doing here is nothing new. Questions could be asked about the messaging and details, and I think some in the community had some good questions. (For example, what is the general scope of the website build, and who exactly would be doing the building of the sites?)

I am not convinced, however, that this move by Automattic will negatively impact the WordPress freelancing scene. I say this as someone who has been freelancing with WordPress for over a decade and has done projects above and below $5k. Increasing competition within the market has been happening already, and Automattic really isn't a bigger name than some hosting companies. Based on feedback from clients, customers, and people outside the WordPress circle, I agree with Matt's take on Automattic's position.

That being said, I can't help but question if some of the information Matt was sharing couldn't have been rolled out with the announcement to the community targetting freelancers specifically. I know of one person mentioned above that said “Matt doesn't care” in the context of the WordPress community. I disagree with that. But I do hope to see more details through official channels and some details will depend on how big the “experiment” gets. I do encourage transparency so that in six months from now we can get some numbers on how many customers acquired and new sites built on

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!


Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts to listen to in the new year:

  • Do The Woo: Bob's end of the year episode starts with some insights into WooCommerce in 2021, followed by some Woo professionals with tips about building websites, services, and products in the Woo ecosystem.
  • Front End Happy Hour: This is a podcast featuring a panel of software engineers from Netflix, Twitch, and Atlassian talking over drinks about front end development. This episode has guests Ben Ilegbodu and Jason Lengstorf in a live conversation about design patterns from the 2020 QCon Plus conference.
  • Distributed: Matt Mullenweg had an excellent conversation with Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square. Learn how Jack approaches remote work and meetings.
  • Women in WP: Here's an informative interview with Cousett Hoover about moving into the role of teacher and how she empowers mothers to reach their “mompreneur goals.”

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.”

Upcoming Events 📆

  • Wordfest Live 2021: This 24-hour event is happening on January 21, 2021. The sixth and final round of speakers have been announced: Matt Cromwell, Anchen Le Roux, Topher DeRosia, Abha Thakor, Chris Butterworth, Cinthya Anand, Joe Casabona, and Lindsey Miller.


Video Picks

📹 Here is my video pick of the week:

  • Jason Lengstorf is on fire in this talk about the hazards of idolizing individual contributors. He asks, “What keeps the 10X developer stereotype alive?” What a company should want is to be a place that is:

    “full of people who get it, who are interested, who are engaged to have autonomy, who feel excited to work, who feel trusted to do great work every day, and who — because of all of that — have the ability to grow, excel, and then hire more people who they can teach to grow and excel.”

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts to listen to this week:

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.


Video Picks

📹 Here is my video pick of the week:

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts to listen to this week:

Notes for December 9, 2020

Footnotes #425

WordPress 5.6 (“Simone”) was released this week. Props to the all-female lead team and the 605 volunteer contributors. They collaborated on nearly 350 Trac tickets and over 1,000 pull requests on GitHub. 🙌

The 5.6 release has many enhancements, features, and bug fixes for users and developers. (See the WordPress 5.6 field guide for more details.) There's also the new Twenty Twenty-One default theme. The official guide to Twenty Twenty-One is a good resource if you want to catch up with the direction front-end development is heading in WordPress. 👩‍🎨

Timothy Jacobs has a nice summary of the REST API changes in this release.

If you are aware of the recent jQuery changes in WordPress releases, then this post is worth a read. It covers how 5.6 includes a temporary downgrade path to run legacy jQuery on a site when needed. The juicy bit:

“[T]he first time a site visitor encounters an error caused by a now broken jQuery implementation, the plugin will facilitate an automated downgrade to a legacy jQuery version, and sends an email to the site administrator informing them of what has happened.”

🚣‍♂️ I also want to point out Helen Hou-Sandí‘s comment on Twitter:

“You know what’s funny about this release? The biggest impact I think I made (with help ofc) was not actually in the core software, but in the way themes are previewed on Check out the latest default theme — no more boat!”

BuddyPress 7.0.0 “Filippi” is out! New features include a UI for Member and Group types, new blocks, REST API improvements, and WP CLI support. ✨

Here's a piece from The Repository focused on Yoast and Whodunit and why they contribute to WordPress core as well as the features they’re pursuing.

Some notable stats are mentioned in this post where Jb Audras breaks out the companies that contributed the most employees to WordPress 5.5‘s development:

  • Automattic: 82 people
  • Yoast and Whodunit: 10 people each
  • Human Made, 10up and WP Engine: 8 people each
  • Google and rtCamp: 6 people each
  • WPMU DEV: 5 people
  • Bluehost, GoDaddy, iThemes, and Audrey HC: 4 people each

The next iteration of WordPress components/Gutenberg’s design is currently being explored under the codename “G2 Components.” There is a roadmap here and an open issue about how to best approach integrating this into Gutenberg.

This is certainly the cutting edge for WordPress, and I'm looking forward to learning more from Jon Quach (who has shared a few Twitch streams) and others who have been driving this project forward. 👍

🖥️ Over at the Automattic Design Blog, Filipe Varela covers some tips for looking and sounding a bit more professional on your video calls. Why bother? Filipe gets right to the point:

“Elevating the quality of your audio and video is a good way to eliminate all possible distractions and present yourself and your work in a more polished way.”

🤝 MailPoet and its team of eleven have been acquired by Automattic to join WooCommerce:

“WooCommerce stores can look forward to improved features to reach their customers in the near future. This is a natural continuation of WooCommerce functionality we added to MailPoet 3 years ago. Nearly a quarter of our users run WooCommerce stores already.”

The post from Kim Gjerstad goes on to note that MailPoet will “remain available on the plugin repository,” but there's no mention of any planned future updates at this time.

⚡ Jennifer Wong explores the power of web development outside tech circles:

“Even simple websites and apps go on to make a huge difference politically and socially. We, as website builders, have the benefit that even in a global pandemic, we’re able to organize and operate online.”

Cory Miller brought this article to my attention. It's about the late Tony Hsieh of Zappos, one of Cory's entrepreneurial heroes. In the article, Lindsay Blakely delves into hard topics, like Tony's battle with depression and substance abuse. 😫

How do you strike a balance between developing a winning growth strategy and keeping your mental health in check?” That is a question Cory discussed recently with Dave Vogelpohl on the Press This Podcast. 🎙️

I can't stress enough how important it is to have a support system, even if that's the last thing you think you want or need. If you don't have one, there are many people you can reach out to in the WordPress community and beyond. 🧡

Kellen Mace has launched Headless WP Rocks, a YouTube channel dedicated to building JavaScript apps powered by a headless WordPress backend.

The website has a form where you can sign up for email updates. 📧

If I had a nickel for every time I heard “PHP is dead” I'd be rich! Warrick Bayman seems just as frustrated:

“It isn’t dying and it isn’t reaching ‘end-of-life.' That’s it. No matter how much some people want it to go away, it isn’t going away. At least, not for a long time.”

It's a rant type of post but a reassuring one.

I'd say that with the recent release of PHP 8, things are getting even more interesting with the language, and there is no evidence that it's slowing down. 👨‍💻

“If PHP didn’t exist, what would be your primary coding language today?” I got a lot of interesting and some surprising answers to that question on Twitter. 🐦

Totaling up all responses, I got:

  1. Python 31%
  2. JavaScript 28%
  3. C / C# 15%
  4. Go 15%
  5. Perl 12%
  6. Ruby 10%
  7. Java 2% (4 responses)
  8. Typescript 2% (4 responses)
  9. Pascal <1% (1 response)
  10. Scala <1% (1 response)
  11. .NET <1% (1 response)
  12. Scratch <1% (1 response)

Bob Dunn asked Matt Mullenweg what can go wrong in an open-source project? 🤔

Anything involving the open-source business model makes interesting reading — and this piece from Joe Morrison (Aazavea) about the end of Mapbox GL JS as open source didn't disappoint.

⚰️ Joe claims open core is dead:

“I still believe open source software is a powerful force for good in the world… but I no longer believe venture-backed companies can responsibly pursue a strategy of giving away the software at the core of their value proposition.”

I'm not sure I agree with everything here, but there are some valid points in the non-WordPress examples Joe brings up.

The Knight Foundation is awarding a total of $2 Million (USD) to 24 newsrooms to upgrade their websites. Almost every winner chose WordPress.

As Steve Burge of PublishPress notes, 20 out of 24 recipients of these grants will be moving to WordPress or upgrading their WordPress platform. Automattic’s Newspack platform is involved with some of these projects.

We reached out to Steve for further comment, and he said:

It’s clear that newspapers are in crisis in America. Yes, they are squeezed by falling ad revenue, but there are other significant problems. Many papers have fallen into the hands of hedge funds that are bleeding them dry. The good news is that a lot of innovative people are successfully launching news start-ups, and almost all of them are doing it with WordPress.

Steve shared an article from the Los Angeles Times highlighting three small, locally-focused newsrooms that are doing great work with WordPress, although their platform isn't named in the article: Mississippi Today, The Oaklandside, and Votebeat. 🗞️

Rachel Zick shares how FiveThirtyEight managed to stay up during election week despite record traffic and page views. The numbers are impressive, even if the teams knew what they were up against ahead of time:

The site served “close to 1.3 billion pageviews from Monday-Friday during election week. On Tuesday night alone, their site served 132,000 requests per second, with WordPress VIP’s server response time staying flat at 144 milliseconds.💨

Chris Hartjes has a simple message for improving your coding skills: practice makes perfect.

“For me I think there is a tripod upon which all your programming outcomes rely on: operating systems, editor, and language features. By refining and practicing your use of these three things, you build a very stable platform to keep building your own higher-level skills and help other people get better.”

Upcoming Events 📆

  • State of the Word 2020: Matt Mullenweg announced that he will be streaming on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter on Thursday, Dec 17th, 2020 at 1600 UTC. Note: Post Status will have a live chat in our Slack channel (#events) during the presentation if you want to talk during the live broadcast.
  • Wordfest Live 2021: The second round of speakers has been announced: Cameron Jones, Shanta Nathwani, Imran Sayed, Marieke van de Rakt, Mary Job, Larry Swanson, Masni Mustafa, and Paul Lacey. This 24-hour event is happening on January 21, 2021.


Video Picks

📹 Here is my video pick of the week:

  • Allie Nimmons sits down with Tracy Levesque of Yikes Inc. to discuss starting a diverse agency. Lots of useful pointers here, as we all strive to keep in mind that diverse teams are big wins.

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts to listen to this week:

  • Do The Woo: Bob Dunn talks with James Kemp from IconicWP, Katie Keith from Barn2 Plugins and Ronald Gijsel from YITH. We get it hear how this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Sunday sales went for their popular WooCommerce plugin shops this year.
  • Matt Report has a nice solo episode on Salesforce acquiring Slack and #nocode tools.
  • How I Built It: Joe Casabona did a Season 9 Recap, so if you are new to his podcast this is a good episode to get a summary of the recent episodes and then listen to the ones you're most interested in.
  • WPMRR: In this episode, Joe Howard talks to Joe Simpson about making a name for yourself in a WordPress community that has gone full digital in 2020.
  • Gutenberg Changelog: In this latest episode Birgit Pauli-Haack and Mark Uraine discuss WordPress 5.6, Gutenberg 9.5, Global Styles and the State of the Word 2020.
  • Yoast SEO Podcast: The very first episode has Joost De Valk, Yoast founder and CPO join Christi Olson, Yoast's Head of Search for Global Media at MSFT Advertising to discuss their honest views on paid and organic SEM.
  • Press This: Cory Miller talks about Mental Health and Hyper-Growth Entrepreneurship with Dave Vogelpohl.

Notes for December 3, 2020

Footnotes #424

The official release of WordPress 5.6 is just days away — December 8, 2020. Until then, you are encouraged to test Release Candidate 3, which is now available. 📦

Gutenberg 9.5 has been released, with a focus on full-site editing and global styles. As Nik Tsekouras explains, fonts are now supported in the Code Block, and the full height alignment control is available in more blocks. ⬆️

If you are interested in what's coming up this month in Gutenberg, Anne McCarthy will catch you up on the highlights: Full Site Editing (Milestone 1), Global Styles, and the Widget Screen whose development was mostly paused in November. ✨

Kjell Reigstad over at ThemeShaper shows how to build a single-page block-based theme. He describes the experience positively:

“This exercise made me truly excited about the future of theming. It took very little time to assemble the boilerplate necessary to get started, and I constructed most of the theme the editor itself. I imagine whole process will only get faster (and the boilerplate will be whittled down further) as full-site editing progresses.”

If you haven't read Kjell's thoughts in an earlier post about Seedlet, I would suggest you take a look at that too. Seedlet is a typography-led theme “built for the future of block-based theming.” Kjell has put together a child theme that maps many of Seedlet’s CSS variables to Global Styles values. 🌱

😷 How can the WordPress community return to hosting safe, in-person events? A discussion is underway, thanks to Angela Jin 💬

If you've been living in a communication blackout or a cave without wi-fi, you might have heard that Salesforce announced their purchase of Slack for $27.7 billion. Something I wasn't aware of is that Slack might have been ripe for the taking. Entering 2020, it had lost around 40% of its value since it went public. 😯

Although there's no impact on WordPress or the tech world in general at this time, many people in the WordPress community do use Slack. Of course, many people have opinions about this acquisition.

Eric Karkovack writes about the hidden benefits of raising your prices. Of course, “the first thought is usually of the extra cash it can bring in,” but there's a lot more that can happen too.

For starters, it might cut out problematic (or just bad) clients. There is also the potential to avoid less desirable projects. 👍

Eric Bailey offers some tips for creating an eco-friendly website: “Most of our crimes occur before the last mile, and it’s up to us as responsible designers and developers to do the hard work.” 💦

Eric suggests checking to see if a more efficient server can handle a task as opposed to a client device. You might consider building a static site (or as close as you can get to static) and not overcomplicating your JavaScript.

Chris Coyier has made an open source microsite showcasing coding fonts. ⌨️

Laura Coronado shares a WebDevStudio client success story that involved a startup, mySongbird, which aims to be “the ultimate destination for viewing live streaming musical performances.” Laura's post briefly goes through two phases of the project.

mySongbird’s services have transitioned to Maintainn, and the project is being hosted on Pagely. 🎶

Joe Casabona shows how you can use an iPhone 12 Pro Max as an overhead camera for live streams. 📱

Allie Nimmons of WP Buffs and Michelle Ames from GiveWP have built Underrepresented in Tech, a tool intended to highlight underrepresented people‘s skills and specialties first and foremost as a hiring or recruiting factor.

Explaining how this project got started, Allie said:

Michelle and I have both been outspoken advocates for diversity. I am a person of color and a member of the LGBTQ community. Michelle is disabled and older than someone you would normally see in the tech space. We have a really tight friendship, and the tool came out of just wanting better for each other and for our other friends. We got a generous sponsorship from Gravity View + Gravity Forms and built the database ourselves using their software.

We have people like Maddy Osman, Chris Lema, and Joe Howard in the database already, and it's growing every day. Adding a profile or searching the database are the main ways people can help. We take in-kind sponsorships, but at this point, getting the word out and growing the database is most important.

Underrepresented in Tech looks like it will be a valuable tool for meetup organizers, WordCamp speaker organizers, and anyone who wants to add more diversity to their event. I highly recommend you check this out and spread the word.

We wish every success to Allie and Michelle, and no doubt we'll see the site grow. 🙌

Zeeshan Haider Shaheen demonstrates how to host multiple WordPress websites on a single DigitalOcean droplet using Apache. 💧

Multidots built a WordPress plugin that enables users to easily place comments inside the WordPress Gutenberg Editor. Anil Gupta told Post Status:

“Our goal is to enrich the publishing experience for publishers in WordPress. Content collaboration in WordPress is critical for organizations where multiple people review content before publishing. The ability for inline commenting on content drafts inside Gutenberg editor saves time and makes the feedback-review process more streamlined and seamless for content publishers.”

This is certainly by the looks of it a well-polished plugin even for an initial release, and I plan on trying it out myself. On their website they note more features coming down the road: “The next release of this Google Docs-style Gutenberg block commenting plugin will be a more optimized version with far more enhanced commenting features.” 💬

I enjoyed these recent comments Travis Weston made about “clean” PHP code:

“You have to go out of your way to write clean PHP… that’s not to say it’s hard to write clean PHP, just that it requires you to take steps that you aren’t forced to take by the language.” 🧼

John Saddington interviewed Andy McIlwain, a developer in the WordPress community. Andy offers some team-building advice:

“I’m freshly in the middle manager phase of my career, just starting to build a team of my own… My top piece of advice? Embrace the flexibility that naturally comes with community management.” 💪

In case you need them, John Blackbourn has put together JSON schemas for WordPress core PHP objects and REST API responses. 👨‍💻

Andrew Rhyand has found a way to allow developers to safely access the WP_Query class from front-end JavaScript. He notes on Twitter: “Query anything you want from a single REST API endpoint!” 👏

Yoast SEO has improved its integration for Elementor with their latest 15.4 release. ✨

Is it better to load your fonts from Google Fonts or a CDN? Find out with Simon Wicki. 💨

Just for fun, Kjell Reigstad has made a WordPress plugin that can turn your images into a (rough digital approximation) of a photocopy. 🔌

WordPress folks will get a kick out of this recent CommitStrip comic. 😆


Video Picks

📹 Here is my video pick of the week:

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts to listen to this week:

Notes for November 24, 2020

Footnotes #423

We are inching closer to the December 5th release date for WordPress 5.6! 🎁

This pending release will introduce a new user interface to make it easier to opt-in to automatic updates for major versions.

There have been some major Core auto-updates UI changes and miscellaneous developer changes to take note of as well.

The WordPress 5.6 Field Guide 📖 has been published ahead of the 5.6 release with everything everyone, from developers to new users, might need to know:

“As a user, you’ll see automatic updates for major core releases (opt-in), external authentication to the REST API via newly introduced Application Passwords, PHP 8 support, the latest and greatest features in the block editor, and a new AAA-ready default theme. As a developer, you’ll see 85 enhancements and feature requests, 201 bug fixes, and more!”

Joost de Valk has released his fourth biannual analysis of the CMS market share numbers provided by W3Techs. There are two winners: “WordPress (and WooCommerce “within” it) and Shopify.” 🏆🏆

WordPress is the #1 CMS with a 39.0% market share, 4.2% higher than November 2019. Shopify is growing in its #2 position after overtaking Joomla, but that's “only” 3.1% of the market. 📈

Amazingly, WordPress's growth is still accelerating through a global pandemic and politically unstable year.

Here are Joost's predictions for the top five CMSes at the end of 2021 based on current trends:

  1. WordPress – 43.5%
    Shopify – 4.6%
    Wix – 1.8%
    Joomla – 1.7%
    Drupal – 1.3%

Tom McFarlin has shared a great tutorial centered on a mu-plugin that “demonstrate[s] how to add a custom view to the WordPress All Posts page based on a specified category.” 🔌

This is part of a series Tom is doing about useful tasks with taxonomies with code he's refactoring “into an object-oriented plugin that will serve as a utility plugin for taxonomies in general.”

This article by David Gilbert of Random Wire on Japanese web design has gone around for a while and is worth a read if, like me, you haven't seen it yet. 🗾

David asks why Japanese websites are so “different” compared to European and Western site design. I appreciated this feedback from Stephen Cronin when I shared the article on Post Status Slack:

“It's a very similar thing with Chinese web design. I taught IT in China back in 2006-2008 which included a little (Western) web design, but the sites the students were not so secretly browsing in class bore no resemblance to what was being taught! And they haven't changed that much since then, whereas Western web design has moved on a lot.

I think there's an element of what works in the West doesn't (and shouldn't) necessarily work elsewhere. We often map our ideas onto other cultures and think they are lacking somehow, but the more we can look at differences and try to understand them, the better!”

The RefactoringUI website has a post on learning to build your own color palette. Why would you want to do this instead of using a generator? 🎨

“Fancy color palette generators produce results…. This calculated and scientific approach to picking the perfect color scheme is extremely seductive, but not very useful.”

😶 “Mainstream social media is harmful because it puts a single company in control of the human social experience and places them in the role of cultural censor.”

If this statement strikes a chord with you, then you might want to dive into Milo Trujillo‘s exploration of decentralized architecture for social networks and the social implications of network design.

Milo tweeted that he's “reading lots about SSB, Cabal, Mastodon, Keybase, etc, but resources are scattered and I wanted to gather some comparative analysis.” 🐦

Chris Coyier considers how one might create an old-school webring today. 💍

Zander Nethercutt thinks we are optimizing ourselves to death. 💀

This is an interesting article that might require more focus than most non-technical writing on sociological topics, but I think Zander makes some good, albeit distressing points.

Will Millennials “remain the burnout generation,” as he thinks? 😫

If you had a “Yes or No” question to ask in your UI, would you use one checkbox or two radio buttons? ☑️🤔🔘

Sara Soueidan asked that question on Twitter and collected the responses in a blog post. She came up with a good answer to her great question: it depends! Sara reminds us,

“as with all user interfaces, nothing beats the input you can get from user testing and research. So hopefully the answers above can at least serve as a starting point in situations where you need more to make a decision.”

WP Mayor has gotten a new look with a new logo! 🧐🎩

Gabriella Galea goes into the thought process behind some of the design decisions and takes a look at the main plugins used on the new site.

I organized a “mega meetup” on Zoom in the past week. Over a month in the making, it represented at least eight WordPress meetups, and over 120 people showed up when it started.

Birgit Pauli-Haack was kind enough to write a fine summary, which includes a list of plugins that a panel recommended to anyone building a new WordPress site.

Thanks to GoDaddy Pro, who sponsored the event and provided prizes for the gameshows. Virtual meetups need more gameshows, in my opinion. [DB] 😃

Upcoming Events

  • There is a call for speakers for WordFest Live 2021 which happens online on January 22, 2021.

    The deadline for speaker submissions is November 18 at midnight UTC. Selected speakers will be notified by December 2. 📅

  • On December 10 at 19:30 UTC, Yoast partner and CTO Omar Reiss and blog team lead Willemien Hallebeek will be guests on the next Gutenberg Times Live Q&A. Omar and Willemien will take us behind the scenes of the making of the Open Source Story, a richly illustrated and interactive post about the nature of open-source software from a collaborative business point of view. Omar and Willemien will share how they built the Open Source Story with the WordPress block editor, explain their approaches, and answer attendees' questions. You can register here. 👈


Video Picks

📹 Here are my video picks of the week:

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts to listen to this week:

  • WPMRR: In this episode, Joe and Christie ask if your business should get political and discuss Expensify’s political move during the recent election, why society benefits from staying out of politics, the political roots of every business, and how WordPress remains a political space.
  • PHP Internals News: This recent episode has guest Larry Garfield discussing a new RFC he's proposing related to PHP's Short Functions.

Notes for November 20, 2020

Footnotes #422

🙋‍♂️ Hey Post Status members! We have created a new channel in our Slack: #gigs.

The #gigs channel is for you to post projects you'd like to refer others to — or projects where you need some paid assistance. If you want to tastefully advertise your particular talents and specialties, this is also the channel for that as well.

A new action wp_after_insert_post has been added to WordPress 5.6 to allow theme and plugin developers to run custom code after a post and its terms and metadata have been updated.

The 5.6 Release Candidate is available now and needs testing on its way out the door for a December 8 delivery of the final release. 🎁

The discussion Francesca Marano started about aligning the WordPress core release cycle with the industry-standard approach still needs more voices participating. 💭

🗣️ You are encouraged to share your feedback by November 30 on the standards for Learn WordPress workshop content too.

The newest iteration of the Gutenberg plugin for WordPress is out, and it seems to be a “tweak and polish” release. It delivers percentage widths for button blocks, social and font size change support, and API improvements. ✨

Helen Hou-Sandi explains the thought process behind recent advances in the way starter content is displayed in themes on the theme previewer site. Currently, these changes only affect three of the themes bundled with WordPress core.

Opening the discussion of where theme previews and demo content could go, Helen writes,

“It has long been my belief, which I think many share, that the theme previewer site in today’s context does a serious disservice to themes.”

It's true. WordPress could do so much better in this area. If you agree, give Helen's questions some thought and join the discussion. 💬

Gatsby recently chose headless WordPress for its blog. Senior Product Marketing Manager Hashim Warren explains why:

“WordPress enables us to have unlimited users (without paying a subscription per seat). WordPress also comes with powerful role-based permissions and has free plugins from services like Auth0 to unlock flexible security and authentication options.”

⚡ Speed and workflow also were factors too:

“Switching to WordPress dramatically sped up our content production time. We went from sometimes spending a full work day publishing content to just a few minutes.”

Ronald Huereca explains how to create a Gutenberg sidebar with a handy example.

The Court of Justice of the European Union has issued a decision that pre-checked boxes are not a valid way to show consent under GDPR. 👩‍⚖️

Termageddon is warning that “if you use pre-checked boxes on your website's forms, make sure to un-check them now!”

Firefox 83 has introduced an “HTTPS Only Mode” that works how you would expect:

“[It] ensures that Firefox doesn’t make any insecure connections without your permission. When you enable HTTPS-Only Mode, Firefox tries to establish a fully secure connection to the website you are visiting.”

It will be interesting to see if any other browsers add this feature as well. 🔒

Joe Casabona says virtual events are changing the WordPress event landscape. He notes some advances in virtual events this year and predicts more “mixed” (virtual and in-person) events after the pandemic is over. This is not just “virtual WordCamps” but something entirely new. 🏕️

Joe also shares what he misses about the hallway track which is hard to duplicate online but has real value:

“…I spend most of my time talking to people I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to meet. Hanging out in the hallway track, meeting people at booths, sitting at random tables during lunch. It’s this extrovert’s dream.”

Ibis is a handy and new-to-me PHP tool that helps you write eBooks in markdown and convert to PDF. 📗

There's a very interesting Twitter thread from Hassan El Mghairi on his 10 takeaways from a lecture given by Randy Pausch. Pausch was a renowned Computer Science professor who got cancer and decided to give one last lecture on time management before he passed away.

My favorite of Hassan's ten takeaways is this:

  • If it's urgent + important, do it now. 🏃‍♀️
  • If it's non-urgent + important, schedule a time to do it. 🗓️
  • If it's urgent + not important, try to delegate it. 👉
  • If it's non-urgent + not important, ignore it. 🙈

Here's a master list of landing page best practices, focused on how to optimize your pages for increased conversion. Each tip is from a professional in the field, and one of the names you might recognize is Thomas Griffin from OptinMonster. 🛬

If you ever wanted to know what makes up some of the markup behind WordPress revision pages and other change tracking tools, then this article at CSS Tricks by John Rhea of the Undead Institute is worth a read. 🧟‍♂️

Nice post here on Reddit from Mark Maunder the founder and CEO of Wordfence as he replies to the question of how people come up with their startup ideas:

“So my site was hacked. I used to be a hacker in the early to mid-90s and so it really pissed me off. I also worked in operations for big banks, Coca-Cola, and other big companies, so I knew about enterprise security, high performance, redundancy etc… So Kerry (my wife) and I dropped everything in 2011 and I spent 8 months writing the first version of Wordfence.”

Sarah Gooding observes that Envato has passed $1 billion in community earnings after 14 years of being in business. 💰

Sarah also gets into the controversy over Envato Elements, its subscription service which isn't sitting well with developers and authors who mainly sell their work on Envato Marketplace.

Has someone recreated Slack inside a shared Google Sheet? It's hard for me to tell if this is real. Regardless, check out the site as it's pretty amusing. 😆

Yoast has created a page dedicated to educating people about open source — what it is and how it provides “better solutions and a more inclusive society.”

This is a seriously detailed page including bios and snippets of information, some of which predate the modern era. Reading it feels like walking through the exhibits of a large museum with many different periods represented in its wings. 🏛️

Good news: GitHub has reinstated the YouTube video downloader youtube-dl that the RIAA claimed was a piracy tool. 👏

More importantly, GitHub is formalizing a policy to evaluate complaints and also establishing and donating $1 Million (USD) to an open-source developer defense fund for developers fighting “unwarranted DMCA Section 1201 takedown claims.” ⚖️

There is a call for speakers for WordFest Live 2021 which happens online on January 22, 2021. 📅


Video Picks

📹 Here are my video picks of the week:

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts to listen to this week:

  • Women in WP: This episode features an interview with Jodie Riccelli, Director of Business Development at WebDevStudios. She has over twenty years of sales and marketing experience and is a WordCamp organizer and speaker.
  • The C2C Podcast: The latest episode has an interview with Tessa Kriesel (Head of Developer Community at Twitter) who shares what the “3 step model to building trust” process looks like and why building trust is so important in any community.
  • Kitchen Sink: In a recent episode of this WordPress podcast, Adam Silver interviewed a great member of the WordPress community, Jessi Gurr.
  • WPMRR: Learn how to get podcast sponsorships and higher audience engagement while gaining some fascinating behind-the-scenes views of audio engineering as Joe Buff sits down with Bradley Denham, founder and CEO of Record Edit Podcast.
  • PHP Internals News: Through a series of brief clips from previous interviews, Derick Rethans relates what things were proposed to be included in PHP 8.0 but didn't make it.

Notes for November 16, 2020

Footnotes #421

🎁 Our big list of Black Friday & Cyber Monday WordPress Deals is back — and bigger than ever!

Check out the long list of hosting, deployment tools, SaaS, themes, and plugins. 🔌🔌🔌


Request for Comment on Comments

Previously we've mentioned Jeremy Felt‘s ideas for how WordPress comments should work. They're really good, simple steps forward, and this is how we should be thinking about a core feature that ought to make WordPress shine.☀️

Now Chris Coyier has shared his comment wishlist for WordPress, and the top items are the following:

  • a logged-in user should own (or edit) their own comment,
  • there should be a “social auth for comments” so you don't have to enter a name/email all the time,
  • an HTML tag whitelist,
  • previewable comments,
  • an overall better visual appearance,
  • and replies should show parent comment(s) by default.

I had my own recommendations for comments back in 2014. Last year I was on the hunt for a way to make live conversations well-integrated into WordPress. Think P2/O2 style setup but integrated into an existing site.

If anything, this kind of functionality has become more important to have while WordPress has drifted away from it as a former core competency. 💬

When John Blackbourn made a semi-tongue-in-cheek suggestion for a plugin that will email you regularly about draft posts you haven't published, David Artiss took him seriously and built a plugin that does exactly that. Draft Concluder (what a great name!) will send an email to every user who has outstanding drafts. 📝✉️

David says his work on this plugin led him so deep into WordPress, he's probably the only person to know some of the things he learned. He is already planning his next project, to revisit one of his existing plugins and rewrite it. 👏

Leonardo Losoviz has written a step-by-step guide on using Rector and GitHub Actions to downgrade a WordPress plugin by coding it with PHP 7.4 and deploying it to PHP 7.1. 👇

The 2020 Web Almanac’s Markup chapter is available now with some interesting statistics based on the analysis of over 7 million web pages. Find out what HTML elements and markup are being used the most, and which aren't. 📊

You may be surprised to learn script is #6, and there is a lot of obvious waste. Mathias Bynens points out “many bytes are being collectively wasted just by writing unnecessary HTML.”

I tend to think overall the quality of HTML is improving, although the size of web pages themselves is another matter. 🏋️‍♀️

Google has provided a target date in May 2021 for when “Core Web Vitals” will be an official ranking factor in Google search results. 🎯

They recommend doing a sitewide audit of your pages. Identify where there is room for improvement, and then use tools like Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse to help fix improve the page experience.

This is certainly an important search algorithm update, so if you rely on SEO, take a close look at this. Sarah Gooding‘s article on this at the Tavern is a good place to start. 🍻

10up has announced some updates to its ClassifAI plugin, which augments WordPress sites with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology. 🧠🤖

The new release adds automated text scanning of uploaded images, including screenshots, using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. By storing scanned text in WordPress, content editors can search the contents of screenshots and other images to add that plain text into the main content of a post.

According to Jeff Paul at 10up, this technology might come in handy if you were affected by  Facebook and Instagram dropping support for open embeds.

I've received a lot of pings on Post Status Slack about the Biden-Harris Transition Website. It uses WordPress and is hosted by Automattic. WPTavern noticed as well. 🙌

🧡 There is a call for speakers for WordFest Live 2021 which happens online on January 22, 2021. 📅

Scott Bolinger explains the difference between WordPress options and transients, which is useful to understand if you are a WordPress developer:

“Transients expire, options don’t. Use transients for a single value you only need temporarily, use options for persistent values that can change.”


Video Picks

📹 Here are my video picks of the week:

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts to listen to this week:

  • Women in WP: This episode features an interview with Dee Teal, project manager with Human Made. Part of the discussion gets into how to work with large global teams. 🌐
  • Syntax: I enjoyed this particular episode where Scott Tolinski and Wes Bos talk with Josh Comeau about coding with your voice. 🗣️
  • Gutenberg Changelog: Birgit Pauli-Haack and Mark Uraine discuss what’s new with Gutenberg in Gutenberg 9.3. They also review the upcoming Block Editor in WordPress 5.6. 📦
  • Billable Hours: This episode has Peter Suhm talking with Birgit Pauli-Haack about Gutenberg and agencies — how they should think about Gutenberg and what the future of the project will look like for them. 🔭

Notes for November 6, 2020

Footnotes #420

📣 If you'd like your discount sale promotion to be included in our Black Friday and Cyber Monday WordPress Deals for 2020, please submit the details here by Nov. 11, 2020. 🎁

WordPress 5.6 Beta 3 is available for testing. It includes newly added block patterns for the Twenty Twenty and Twenty Nineteen themes. WordPress 5.6 is still slated for release on December 8. 📅

Speaking of core updates, something unusual happened last Friday. The auto-update system for WordPress updated some sites from version 5.5.2 to version 5.5.3-alpha due to an error in the Updates API caused by the 5.5.3 release preparations. Fortunately, the 5.5.3-alpha version was “functionally identical” to 5.5.2 since no development work had been started on 5.5.3.

Jake Spurlock goes into more detail about the error. 😯

If your site was auto-updated, the default “Twenty” themes and the Akismet plugin may have been installed. 👀

All current WordPress sites should be updated to the proper 5.5.3 version. ⬆️

bbPress 2.6.6 is a minor release that's available now.

It fixes some PHP warnings and notices, “some output formatting bugs and improves a few different moderator experiences,” according to John James Jacoby. 🐛

The URL migration is complete and should help address some “significant SEO problems.” 🔧

The structure has changed from to

Some very good news from Maarten Botterman, ICANN‘s Board Chair: ICANN has voted to reject the sale of the .ORG registry to private equity firm Ethos Capital.

This is a major victory for the millions of nonprofits, civil society organizations, and individuals who use the .ORG extension for their sites. 😀

Uncanny Owl, the Toronto-based parent company for the Uncanny Automator plugin, has joined the WPBeginner Growth Fund. 🤝

Syed Balkhi details how the plugin works — “Zapier for WordPress” — and explains why he felt it was wise to take an investment stake and partner with the Uncanny Owl team. 🦉

What is the most effective way to reuse code within a single or multi-block plugin? Leonardo Losoviz has the answer. 👨‍💻

Spearhead is a beautiful “blank canvas” WordPress theme that was originally developed for the Spearhead podcast. Designed by Cece Yu and others, it is the first theme on to support dark mode. 🕶️

The theme should be coming soon to 👍

Suzanne Scacca offers suggestions for designers to get some value out of designs “that didn't make the cut.” Suzanne's advice:

Try putting them aside in “a dedicated folder” to use for another project. You could even “templatize your unused designs… to exponentially increase your profits by selling them over and over again.” 🎨


Video Picks

📹 Here is my video pick of the week:

  • WPMRR: Joe Howard interviewed Ahmed Khalif of Hear Me Out! — a place where hearing people can learn how to connect and engage with deaf people better.  Joe and Ahmed discuss the level of accessibility needed for content in the deaf community and ask what makes a website more accessible. They get into the importance of alt text and descriptions in images, how to possibly improve WordCamp conferences, and the value of optimizing podcast websites with good transcripts. A podcast version is available too.

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts to listen to this week:

  • React Podcast: In this episode teacher and accessibility advocate Marcy Sutton illuminates the value of accessibility on the web, describes her favorite tools and services, and explains our need to “shift left” — ensuring that accessibility becomes a part of the planning phase instead of a “nice to have” item tacked onto the development phase.
  • Indie Hackers: Rob Walling and Courtland Allen discuss the state of SaaS in October 2020, and they do mention WordPress and certain plugins several times in the discussion.
  • Voices of the ElePHPant: Consultant CTO, software engineer, and community advocate Steve McDougall and Michael Lochemem are interviewed on two interesting episodes. Michael has some worthwhile takes on functional programming in PHP.
  • Billable Hours: Welcome this new podcast “for WordPress agencies and freelance shops covering business, workflow, and the tech behind it,” started by Peter Suhm. The latest episode is a talk with Joe Howard on recurring revenue and how you might be able to implement a plan to achieve regular income.

Notes for October 29, 2020

Footnotes #419

WordPress 5.6 Beta 2 is available for testing. WordPress 5.6 is still slated for release on December 8. 📅

In the meantime, you will want to upgrade to WordPress 5.5.2, which was released on Thursday. It features 14 bug fixes and 10 security fixes. 🔒

The 2020 WordPress Annual Survey is open — please take it. ☑️

The results from the 2019 survey have been shared, and there's a lot to learn from them. What is striking is that very few people took the 2019 survey — only about 6,000 compared to 45,000 responses to the first survey of this kind back in 2015!

6,000 people cannot possibly represent the diversity of the WordPress community, so please take the survey this year.

Allie Nimmons started a conversation about the lack of questions concerning languages, ethnicity/race, and disability. This too is disappointing and needs to change. We need more and better information about the WordPress community every year, so the questions must be broad and inclusive of all its members.

2019 Survey Highlights:

  • One big takeaway from the 2019 results is that (at least 6,000) WordPress users are working on more complex sites with greater efficiency: “The number of professionals who report providing a heavily customized experience to clients has increased substantially, while at the same time the amount of time reported on creating those sites has decreased.”
  • Just over three-quarters (76%) of Professionals use WordPress as a CMS, significantly more than in 2016 (73%).
  • Significantly fewer respondents feel WordPress is as good as or better than its competitors (76%) compared to 2016 and 2017 (82% and 83%, respectively).
  • More than three-quarters (78%) of Users say a lot of custom work has been done to their WordPress installation. Like the Professional groups, 4% say everything on the site has been customized.
  • Nearly half (49%) of the Professionals say it takes 20-60 hours to launch their typical WordPress project. The proportion of Professionals who say it takes more than 200 hours to launch has significantly declined from 6% in 2016 and 2017 to 4% in 2019.
  • Half (50%) of the Pro Freelancers and Hobbyists feel “not at all comfortable” working with React.
  • A significantly higher proportion of Professionals (20%) feel “very comfortable” with WordPress REST APIs compared to Pro Freelancers/Hobbyists (13%)

Omar Reiss at Yoast has assembled a “WordPress and PHP 8 compatibility report.” WordPress developers should take note, and it's also a good general resource for any PHP developer. The report covers some possible breaking changes and compatibility challenges. 💔

Isn't WordPress already compatible with PHP 8? Omar advises caution:

“[My team] is highly doubtful. It’s really not possible to tell. […] [T]he sheer amount of breaking changes and the type of changes included in PHP 8, plus some added complexities in cross-version tooling, make this compatibility challenge a different beast from what we’ve seen before.”

It sounds like Yoast is making progress preparing for PHP 8, and they (along with the whole community) will be keenly interested in reactions to this report.

Akismet turned 15 years old this week. 🎂

500 billion spam comments and trackbacks have been blocked since October 2005!

notes, “That’s an average of a thousand spam per second, every second, since before Twitter existed.” 😮

ZDNet reports job listings for entry-level PHP developer roles have increased a massive 834% since January 2020, making it the fastest-growing tech job across the industry, according to Indeed‘s data. 👨‍💻

Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land explains how Google indexes passages within a page's content and what it means for your SEO.

Google recently announced its move into indexing specific sections of content on web pages. This will affect 7% of search queries across all languages when it's rolled out globally. 🔍

Composer 2.0 was released on the 24th. This new version is reported to be faster, use less memory, and it's packed with many new features. (Note there are some possible backward compatibility breaks.) 🎹

I enjoyed these “Ten Commandments” of navigating code reviews. They're from Angie Jones, a Senior Developer Advocate at Applitools.

“Thou shalt not take it personally” and “Thou shalt be willing to compromise” are my favorite “commandments,” but all of them are good. 👩‍⚖️

Benedict Evans took a brief but deep dive into the story of eCommerce growth during the pandemic. He also looks at how traditional shopping and online advertising are changing. 🛒

“How do people decide what to buy online, when a shop can’t show it to them? It seems to me that pretty much every part of that question is being reset this year. [….] The Covid lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 are catalysing and accelerating all sorts of changes — we’re getting five years of adoption in a few quarters, and five years of inevitability in the back of the neck.”

There are great visuals and important data points here alongside some good, open questions.

The popular free software project “youtube-dl” was removed from Github following a legal notice from the Recording Industry Association of America claiming it violates U.S. copyright law.

Youtube-dl is “a powerful general-purpose media tool that allows users to make local copies of media from a very broad range of sites.” Journalists in particular make use of it in their work.

While not WordPress-related, the journalism angle and the Streisand Effect of the RIAA's attempt to kill an open-source project hold a lot of fascinating lessons.

Some of the ways the code has been shared are insanely smart too. 🤔

Here's a nifty web tool to easily create an emoji or letter-based SVG favicon.

Also clever: a tiny javascript library that makes DOM elements draggable and movable. 🖱️

Here is some exciting information about the CSS image() function which is a new W3C spec feature.

Although it's not well-supported in browsers yet, the CSS image function will give us more control over image loading in CSS. It will even be possible to crop images via CSS and load an image type based on browser support. ✂️

Keanan Koppenhaver shows how GitHub Actions can help make “FTP as a deployment mechanism” both an automatic and repeatable process to make deploys go much more smoothly. 🚚

Manos Psychogyiopoulos shares the story of how he started using WooCommerce and why:

“As a WooCommerce developer, I believe that our biggest strength is our WordPress technology and community heritage.”

There is currently a discussion unfolding about the benefits of aligning the WordPress release cycle with the “industry standard.”💭

Francesca Marano recaps some conversations that have been happening in Slack and on blogs about the release cycle with a call for feedback. 💬

📅 Conference and Event Updates

  • WordFest Live 2021 will debut on January 22, 2021 as a 24-hour festival, celebrating all that is WordPress. Registration is now open, as well as a call for speakers and sponsors. Organized by Dan Maby, Michelle Frechette, Hauwa Abashiya, Paul Smart, and Cate DeRosia, this free event aims to raise awareness as well as funds for Big Orange Heart.  BOH is a UK-based charity that promotes positive well-being and mental health within remote working communities. 🧡
  • Two upcoming WordCamps both being held online: Finland (November 12), and México (November 25-28). 🌐


Video Picks

📹 Here are my video picks of the week:

    • Matt Mullenweg had a “fireside chat” with Scott McClelland at Houston NEXT. Matt shares his insights on how distributed work is good for business.
    • Steve Zehngut presented five reasons to move to headless WordPress at WordCamp Los Angeles 2020, now available on

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts to listen to this week:

  • Matt Report: Matt Medeiros talks about funding a WordPress podcast and how it's taken him eight years to get to “roughly $15-20k a year” through his  “side-hustle of WordPress content creation.”
  • WPCoffeeTalk: Michelle Ames interviews Caylin White, a marketer and artist who works at GoWP.
  • Techmeme Ride Home has an interview with Joshua Schachter, founder of, which back in its day was one of the first social sites. Anyone who remembers Web 1.0 fondly will appreciate this.

Notes for October 21, 2020

Footnotes #418

Gutenberg 9.2 has been released. This is the final release to make it into WordPress 5.6 Beta, which also came out this week. ✨

Featured items in the Gutenberg release include:

  • Support for video subtitles.
  • The ability to transform multiple selected blocks into a columns block.
  • Background patterns in cover blocks.
  • Various enhancements and bug fixes.

Meanwhile, WordPress 5.6 is set to be released with a new default theme, an auto-update option for major releases, and increased support for PHP 8.

Sadly what isn't coming in 5.6 is the Widgets screen as block-based widgets have been deferred to 5.7. Josepha Haden Chomphosy says the team “will continue working on the Widgets screen, and will keep the new screen as the default option when using the Gutenberg plugin to encourage more feedback.”

There is a call for testing the WordPress for iOS 16.0 app. There are numerous updates to the block editor and reader. 📱

Chrome 86 is hiding full URLs, and slugs are no longer visible by default — they're only visible on hover. Remkus de Vries “finds it annoying as hell” (I agree!), and he shows you how you can turn this feature off. 😠

PushEngage, the maker of push notification software with “over 10,000+ customers in 150+ countries,” has joined Awesome Motive. 🙌

Awesome Motive founder and CEO Syed Balkhi notes in the press release:

“I first started using push notifications over 3 years ago and quickly realized that the click rate, engagement, and opt-in rate is significantly higher than my email newsletter or any other engagement channel.”

There is a free plan for PushEngage, and Syed hints at integration with other Awesome Motive products: “you can expect to see easier workflows to set up highly personalized push notifications campaigns.”

Eric Karkovack‘s list of WordPress plugin pet peeves made my neck sore from nodding in agreement so much! Eric, you had me at “an endless barrage of notifications.” 🔌🤯

I enjoyed this recent interview with Hichame Assi, the new CEO of Envato who is replacing co-founder Collis Ta’eed.

Hichame was CEO of HotelsCombined for 10 years and is a prior ThemeForest customer. 🏨

Daniel Lee has published a quick and straightforward guide to setting up WordPress in Docker. 🐳

Here's a great primer from Ido Shamun for developers on the different types of browser storage. It includes details on the localStorage API, IndexedDB API, cache, and URL storage. 👩‍💻

Some brief takes from Sarah Bird, CEO of Moz, on emerging SEO industry trends cover five “under-rated yet crucial parameters.” 📏

Marketers should monitor all five to make sure their brand has positively influenced their customers: keywords, external links, differentiation, omnichannel communication, and outcome alignment.

A recent interview with Patrick Pulvermüller, the president of Partners Business at GoDaddy, explains GoDaddy's relationship with WordPress and how WordPress professionals can build lucrative careers. 💸

Em Lazer-Walker has an interesting post suggesting how game design could be used to make virtual events more social. 🎮

New to me: PlacePress is a WordPress plugin described as an “elegant mapping solution for public historians, urbanists, and other humanities researchers.” 🗺️

Fränk Klein has a new online video course about WordPress Unit Testing. It's described as a “step by step roadmap for learning WordPress unit testing in a weekend, starting from scratch.”

I plan on diving into this over the holidays, and other developers may want to as well. 🤿

📅 Conference and Event Updates

  • WordFest Live 2021 is a 24-hour festival, celebrating all that is WordPress. Registration is now open, as well as a call for speakers and sponsors. Organized by Dan Maby, Michelle Frechette, Hauwa Abashiya, Paul Smart, and Cate DeRosia, this free event aims to raise awareness as well as funds for Big Orange Heart.  BOH is a UK-based charity that promotes positive well-being and mental health within remote working communities. 🧡
  • There are upcoming WordCamps, all being held online, for Bulgaria (October 24), Finland (November 12), and México (November 25-28). 🌐


Video Picks

📹 Here are my video picks of the week:

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts for this week:

  • Distributed: in episode #25, Matt Mullenweg chats with Davit Baghdasaryant on the science of sound. Davit is CEO of Krisp, a company that makes an AI-powered noise cancellation app. (If you prefer to read this interview, there's a transcript.) 🎧
  • Women in WP: Megan Rose takes the spotlight and shares how she got to be a WordCamp speaker and organizer. We get her origin story making websites for her Neopets as a kid. 😸
  • Hallway Chats: I've been on a streak with this podcast lately and really enjoyed the latest episode with Chris Ford. Chris is a hybrid project manager and designer at Reaktiv, a WordPress VIP partner. (If you prefer to read this interview, there's a transcript.) 👍
  • Do The Woo: Bob interviewed Igor Benic, a developer at Grow Development. 🌱
  • Delicious Brain Waves: This is a new podcast from Delicious Brains with an excellent first episode with host Brad Touesnard talking with Pete Tasker, the lead developer of WP Migrate DB Pro, about rebuilding the UI for that plugin in React. 🔌

Notes for October 16, 2020

Might as well go for the gusto?

WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy has submitted a ticket to make a change on the WordPress hosting page:

I would like to update the final sentence in the second paragraph.

If you don’t need the flexibility of a full web host, you may consider getting a free blog on

should be updated to read

If you need expert support, and a powerful hosting platform that grows with you, is the easiest way to create a free website or blog.

What Josepha proposes is factually correct, but it is a significant shift to call a host when it certainly does not offer the full capacity of traditional WordPress hosts and a self-hosted WordPress site. Also, this verbiage appears on the .org side of things. The hosting page has a history of a lot of drama, but I think this wording is both interesting and perhaps worthy of further conversation.

Footnotes #417

⚠️ Starting on October 24th, you will no longer be able to automatically embed Facebook and Instagram content in WordPress using the default methods due to a breaking change in the Facebook API. 💥

This post from WPBeginner explains how you may be able to resolve the problems this situation creates. To say this is a pain in the butt for many people (whether they use WordPress or not) is probably an understatement. ☹️

🧪 Helen Hou-Sandi announced that WordPress core is now running automated tests using GitHub Actions as a runner, in addition to the existing Travis CI and Appveyor runs.

Helen explains where this testing is headed next and shares how people contributing to core will benefit:

“By switching to Github Actions, we are able to take advantage of a unified interface, inline annotations for linting issues in pull requests, the broader open source ecosystem building and using Actions including existing work in Gutenberg, and free availability for public repositories.”

If you have a product or service company and are thinking about promoting a Black Friday deal, Alex Denning has some good advice.

Alex suggests focusing “on putting together a great sale package, rather than a headline discount.” It's best to communicate your sale clearly and early to take advantage of “The Craze,” and that means you should begin your sale the week before Black Friday. 🦃🎄

Yoast has entered a partnership with SEMrush. SEMrush is a large provider of SEO tools and powers some features that are already found in Yoast SEO 15.1. 🤝

I spotted this tweet from Joost de Valk sharing research from a post by eMarketer where they found signs eCommerce is “jumping ahead by two years” because of COVID. 🏃‍♂️

🏬 The article is worth a read, but I'm also noting Joost's thoughts on what he thinks this growth means:

“more [brick and mortar] stores will go bankrupt, commerce will change, and city centers along with it. It also means that if you want to keep your local stores, you have to buy from them NOW, either online or offline.”

Lainey Feingold makes the case that the proposed Online Accessibility Act legislation working through the US Congress is bad for digital inclusion.

Right now disabled people can now file lawsuits about websites and apps that aren't accessible to them, but the new law would require people with disabilities to go through the US Department of Justice first, before any private legal action. ⚖️

As Lainey explains, this would slow down progress toward a remedy and probably result in sites and apps that don't get fixed. Instead of pretending it is about accessibility, the proposed law “should be called a bill to limit web accessibility coverage and lawsuits.” 👎

Joe Casabona shares his landing page checklist which includes the essentials: headline + text, 2 CTAs, a bio + photo, trust logos, testimonials, long-form text, an email subscription form (or special content in exchange for an email address), and FAQs. 🛬

Here is a nice plugin from Kailey Lampert that checks for the existence of “do not publish” in the post title and stops the post from being published if that text is found. 🙅‍♀️

Neale Van Fleet shows off a nice trick for making a realistic motion blur in CSS in between transitions.

Sucuri has found some malware that can disable security plugins to avoid detection. 😨

This is really devious! Luke Leal explains:

“If a user tries to reactivate one of the disabled security plugins, [the Malware] will momentarily appear to activate only for the malware to immediately disable it again. This behavior will prevail until the malware is fully removed from the compromised environment.”

Roel Magdaleno has created his first npm CLI command for getting statistics about plugins and themes at 📈

Great Twitter thread here from Chris Herd on lessons learned from speaking to over 1,000 companies over the past 6 months about their plans for remote work. 👩‍💻

Just one sample: “Headquarters are finished: companies will cut their commercial office space by 40-60%.” 😮

If you have ever had a problem with dates and MySQL, then you might have had a WTF MySQL moment. 🤯

Salvatore Sanfilippo has a brief but insightful take on “the open source paradox,” which is “the proportionality between the money people give you for coding something, and the level of demand for the quality they can claim to have about your work.”

On the one hand, “[t]he real right you have, and often don’t exploit, is that you are the only one that can decide about the design of your software.” You don't have to take every contribution and pull request.

On the other hand, if someone shows you a defect, don't make the mistake “of reducing the interaction to a vile matter of money. You are doing work for free, they are risking their asses deploying what you wrote, you both care about quality.” 🤗

Leonardo Losoviz has shared his discovery of Rector and transpiling in PHP. 🐘

A transpiler is “a type of translator that takes the source code of a program written in a programming language as its input and produces an equivalent source code in the same or a different programming language.”

Leonardo notes that “by transpiling, we can use modern PHP features (such as union types, typed properties, and arrow functions) in themes and plugins, and release them for PHP 7.1.”

This week the Google Search On event took place, and several improvements and changes to search were presented by the company. Edwin Toonen has a summary here. Speaking of search, you can now hum a tune to search for a song. That's nuts. 👩‍🎤 🎵

📅 Conference and Event Updates

  • WooSesh took place this week on October 13 and 14th. The videos will be available soon for WPSession members.
  • WP Agency Summit also happened this week from October 12 to 16th. Videos are available until the 18th, after which you have to pay to access them.


Video Picks

📹 Here are my video picks of the week:

If you want to build WordPress communities, two new videos on are essential viewing:

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts for this week:

  • Distributed: in episode #24, Matt Mullenweg chats with Reena Merchant about user experience and trusting ourselves.
  • Hallway Chats: I enjoyed this interview with Emily Hunkler who is director of growth at GoWP. Emily talks about her $20/day travel blog and some other interesting life stories. (If you prefer to read this interview, there's a transcript.)
  • Sucuri Sit-Down: Justin Channell sits down with Sucuri analyst Antony Garand to talk about cross-site scripting and WordPress plugin vulnerabilities.

Notes for October 9, 2020

Footnotes #416

Cloudflare has implemented an Automatic Platform Optimization for WordPress. It includes improvements in speed for sites that might be slowed down a bit by plugins or hosting limitations effectively creating a “zero-config edge HTML caching solution.” Garrett Galow explains:

“Our testing … showed a 72% reduction in Time to First Byte (TTFB), 23% reduction to First Contentful Paint, and 13% reduction in Speed Index for desktop users at the 90th percentile, by serving nearly all of your website’s content from Cloudflare’s network.”

There is a more technical post that goes into more detail.

This optimization costs $5/month for customers on the Free plan and is included, at no additional cost, in the Professional, Business, and Enterprise plans. It will work both with and without the Cloudflare for WordPress plugin. 🌩️

iThemes has announced its acquisition of WPComplete, an easy-to-use, interactive course completion plugin for WordPress. 👏

Bob Dunn has announced the launch of, a website to connect the WooCommerce builder community:

“I believe that there is a need for a central location to help connect those who build WooCommerce sites, products and services. These people are the ones that drive the community and can benefit from being connected through insights, perspectives and communication.”

The Do the Woo podcast will continue to run as it has. 🤘

Helen Hou-Sandi revisits “starter content” which had its beginnings in WordPress 4.7:

“We will want to strike a balance between showing users what they can do and adding too many individual pieces of content that have to be tracked down and removed if they don’t want it…For a future release, we should start exploring what it might look like to opt into importing starter content into EXISTING sites.”

Demo content importers exist for many commercial themes, but outside of a good experience with BuddyBoss (which helps you easily remove the demo content), the demo content is usually hard to configure and harder to remove. I would welcome a stabilization of sorts from WordPress Core for themes.

A long-standing goal of the WordPress project is to be compatible with new versions of PHP on release day. There's a call right now for both manual and automated testing to ensure the core codebase is ready for PHP 8.0. 🤙

Even though WordPress 5.6 will add support for PHP 8.0, “no changes will be made to the minimum required version of PHP at this time.”

Chris Coyier has a new and lengthy but highly consumable essay on the subject of “The Widening Responsibility for Front-End Developers.” Chris touches on the increasing burdens of the role as well as its joys:

“Being a front-end developer puts us on the front lines between the thing we’re building and the people we’re building it for, and that’s a place some of us really enjoy being.”

Ali Spittel acknowledges writing blog posts can be “pretty tricky” and has shared what I think is some great advice for writing posts. Ali covers everything from finding a topic, writing a first draft, revisions, visuals, and publishing. ✍️

Ali includes some encouraging words if you are holding yourself back from writing. Maybe you don't think of yourself as an “authority.” Ali says go right ahead:

“If you have a blog post that contains mostly correct information, or at least your interpretation of the topic, then you're experienced enough.”

Timi Wahalahti has created a plugin that lets back end users choose a post from any site in a WordPress Multisite network through an ACF field. 🔌

Sami Keijonen shows how to use WordPress and Eleventy together with the block editor “as usual” on the back end but with the front end served by Eleventy. 💡

The main reasons for doing this, according to Sami, are “Security. Scale. Performance.” He also notes, “I have been playing around with WordPress for a long time. It saves me back-end developing time. I’ve been pretty happy about block editor myself.”

So if you're getting comfortable with Gutenberg and want a fast front end, this is an option.

Jean-Baptiste Audras released a small WordPress plugin called Image Licensing Schema that allows WordPress site administrators to enjoy the benefits of a new Google Images feature. The plugin gives “you an easy way to manage your structured data for Google Images.” 📷

GitHub is changing the default branch name on all new repositories from master to main. Mike McBride shows how to update some (or all) of your existing repositories to use “main” (or another term of your choice) as well.

Dōvy Paukstys' Redux interface framework recently surpassed one million active installations. 👏

Redux is one of the first popular Gutenberg-related WordPress plugins that added a library of blocks and block templates to WordPress.

Joe Casabona‘s WPYearInReview project has met its crowdfunding goal. 🥳 This content project will feature a video tutorial series, an interview series with WordCamp speakers, and an eBook that goes over how WordPress and its ecosystem has changed in the last year.

Congrats to Joe for coming up with this idea and executing on it, as well as everyone in the community who backed it. Looking forward to seeing the results! 🙌

Application Passwords are scheduled to be shipped along with WordPress 5.6, and if you have any input to offer, now's the time to add your two cents.

Application Passwords make it easy to revoke any individual application password or completely void all of a user’s application passwords. It's also an easier way to request API credentials and allow for an “interactive authentication flow” with 2FA or reCAPTCHA protecting your users' accounts. 🔒

According to Sourcegraph, a company specializing in universal code search, developers are managing 100x more code now than they did in 2010. 🤭

Josh Comeau demonstrates what he calls “an elegant solution to a tricky modern layout” — a full-bleed layout using CSS Grid.

Call a Vulnerability a Vulnerability

Roger Montii reporting for SEJ looks at an Authenticated Stored XSS vulnerability in the WPBakery Page Builder plugin. The vulnerability was discovered by Wordfence and fixed through their collaboration with WPBakery in a recent update. 🍰

Vulnerabilities happen — all the time, and in major plugins. Having them discovered by the good guys and handled this well is how open source is supposed to work — the code and the community. So I think in this case the story is being a little overblown, and the real issue is what Roger notes at the end of his article:

Unfortunately, WPBakery’s changelog does not reflect the urgency of the update because it does not explicitly say that it is patching a vulnerability. The changelog refers to the vulnerability patches as improvements.

Don’t hide security and bug fixes in your changelogs, and be responsible by letting your customers know about the problem — and the solution.🔒

📅 Conference and Event Updates

  • Join Virtual CFO Jeff Meziere and his partner, Cory Miller, on October 13th as they talk about a framework to better forecast your business cashflow. This webinar is especially timely and relevant for agencies looking to ensure they have cashflow for their business in the peaks and valleys of the pandemic. You can RSVP for this event here.
  • WooSesh will be back again on October 13 and 14th. Chris Lema, Greta Galubauskaitė, Luke Cavanaugh, and Christie Chirinos are among the many great speakers taking the stage.
  • WP Agency Summit is taking place from October 12 to 16th. It's a free virtual conference that will share “strategies for lead generation, sales, project delivery and a lot more that helps you grow your WordPress agency or freelance business.”


Video Picks

📹 Here are my video picks of the week:

  • PublishPress has a great interview with Zack Katz of GravityView about values-driven WordPress businesses. 👍
  • If you missed the Jamstack Conf “Fireside Chat” with Chris Coyier, Matt Mullenweg, and Matt Biilmann — who coined the term”Jamstack” and is the CEO of Netlify — then you missed a hot, fiery debate. 🔥  “In reality, the Jamstack by default is performance first,” Matt B. said. Then he made a case for Jamstack as a better security and performance approach than LAMP. Matt M. bragged about WordPress's market share and rejected Matt B's comparison. He went as far as saying, “JamStack is not intellectually honest in its marketing.” No matter your position, this is worth a watch and should be up on the JamStack Conf YouTube feed any day now. Richard McManus has a good writeup you can read in the meantime.

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are two podcasts for another crazy week:

  • Women in WP: This latest episode welcomed guest Maja Loncar, a GoDaddy employee with over 15 years of overseas experience in communications, marketing, branding, and events management. The group discussed ethics, contributing, and community.
  • Hallway Chats: Here's a great interview with Winstina Hughes who is a speaker, a WordPress Meetup co-organizer, and the past organizer of WordCamp NYC 2018. I hope to hear from Winstina on more podcasts! Her story shows how WordPress and its community can be tremendously positive. (If you prefer to read this interview, there's a transcript.)