Notes for June 23, 2019

Footnotes

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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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


Joe Lambert compares 6 MVC frameworks for working with WordPress.


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


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


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

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

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

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

Notes for June 20, 2019

Footnotes

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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Your feedback is requested. 📣


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

Some helpful tips from Taru:

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes for June 13, 2019

Footnotes

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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

A few struck a chord with me:

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

Notes for May 31, 2019

Footnotes

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

📆 The schedule for 5.2.2 is:

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

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

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


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


Gutenberg plugins are maturing rapidly! 🌾 Some new examples:

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

Impressive! 👍


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Here are a few highlights:

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

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

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


Pantheon announced it has acquired Staging Pilot. 👩‍✈️

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

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


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


📺 Two recent videos worth watching/listening to:


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

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

Notes for May 17, 2019

Footnotes

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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

Notes for May 13, 2019

Footnotes

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Notes for May 3, 2019

Footnotes

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

Notes for April 26, 2019

Footnotes

After the WordPress 5.2 release was pushed back to early May and the first release candidate became available for testing, some detailed posts surfaced about 5.2 with some new and more in-depth analysis.

William Earnhardt addressed the accessibility changes developers should note. These include Post Formats in list tables, a change in the Archive Dropdown Widget, and some other small items.

There are also several improvements for developers touching on Privacy Policy pages and data exports.

Some other miscellaneous updates for developers:

👉🏻 A new wp_body_open Theme Hook that “[t]hemes are encouraged to begin using […] as soon as 5.2 is released.”
👉🏻 Login header adjustments.
👉🏻 A new category_list_link_attributes filter has been added to Walker_Category to allow customization of the HTML attributes.
👉🏻 Introduction of a new users_have_additional_content filter, which will enable plugins to run additional checks before a user is deleted.

The new Site Health Check feature has drawn a great deal of interest. It brings a new admin interface that helps users “self-service” their site. Tests are filterable so plugins/themes can add their own (direct/async) tests. 😷

Like many WordPress plugins, Site Health Check has a debugging information tab and a button to quickly copy non-sensitive information so you can easily paste it into, say, a support ticket or email.

Developers, be sure to check out the WordPress 5.2 field guide if you haven’t yet. 📔

To top it all off, the Gutenberg editor will now support GIPHY images, as of WordPress 5.2. Woot!


Chris Coyier shares his thoughts on how to improve WordPress comments. Chris has WordPress sites with a cumulative total of a few hundred thousand (generally high quality) comments, so he speaks with some authority on this subject.

Many of Chris’s suggestions are ones I like — HTML email formatting and some design love for the admin interface. Comments, unfortunately, seem unlikely to receive serious attention anytime soon. 🤐


Justin Tadlock posted an update about his focus and direction with Theme Hybrid as he limits his scope to a few key projects: “It’s hard to build truly great products when you can never focus on any given thing at a time.” ⌛

Newly released Exhale will be Justin’s flagship theme going forward, and he will be heavily invested in creating child themes for it. Older themes will get security and other urgent updates if needed. The Members plugin will be Justin’s flagship plugin project. 🛳️

Theme Hybrid will continue to offer both a Standard and Premium membership tier, but Justin is lowering the price for the Standard membership.


Registration is open for WPCampus 2019, which is happening July 25-27 in Portland, Oregon. 🎓


Here’s an excellent guide (in five languages) to help developers write better commit messages.


If you follow PHP development, you might be interested to know that a JIT (“just in time”) engine is coming to PHP 8. This change will present some challenges, but overall the benefit will be increased performance. ⏱️

There isn’t a lot of information about this right now, but there is a good discussion with Zeev Suraski, CTO & Co-founder of Zend and Derick Rethans in the latest episode of PHP Internals News. Their conversation provides an overview and some background regarding past efforts to get a JIT engine into PHP.

Speaking of PHP versions, here’s a nice updated list of what’s expected in PHP 7.4 near the end of 2019.


Jon Kantner tried going without CSS in all the major browsers and wrote about the experience. Why? “It’s a good way to check some accessibility standards. [….] And, like any tool we have in our set, leaning too heavily on CSS to handle the functionality and behavior of elements can lead to poor experiences.” 😖


HeroPress published Anyssa Ferreira‘s story this week, which involves Anyssa’s efforts to travel to WCUS from São Paulo, Brazil in 2015 and 2016. Anyssa was repeatedly denied a visa to enter the United States, even though she had received a scholarship to attend WCUS! 😠

This year Anyssa will be going to WCEU, no visa required.

Hopefully, something can be done to help clear barriers WCUS attendees may face, especially those who receive scholarships.


RafflePress is an upcoming product from Awesome Motive (makers of OptinMonster) that promises to provide a method “to easily create giveaways, contests and rewards” in WordPress. 🎫


Delicious Brains shared in a recent post how they replaced all of the jQuery with React in  WP Migrate DB Pro.


If you are a JavaScript developer, Sam DeSota‘s arresting post is worth a read: “Javascript debuggers are broken, and it’s our fault.” 💔


Ian Stewart talks about being a communication leader by using the elements of art and visual design:

Just like I can use these elements to create visual harmony and an effective design or piece of art, I can use these same elements to be a better leader in design.


WPGraphQL for ACF is a new plugin that allows you to interact with your Advanced Custom Field data using GraphQL Queries.


Here’s a good reminder from Ben Cullimore that designers should avoid the temptation to overuse icons and start with user needs.

Icons have their advantages, but Ben noticed in some of the use cases he shares that some icons do more harm than good. After lots of lab testing and pop-up sessions, his team ended up with a set of 11 icons that achieved everything they needed.


BuddyPress recently updated to version 4.3.0. It’s a security and maintenance release, so be sure to upgrade if you are using the plugin on any of your sites.


I recently stumbled across these WordPress-specific Nginx configuration templates and best practices. Good stuff!


Beaver Builder reports that they have crossed the 1,000,000 mark for installs! 👏

As Hashim Warren pointed out on Twitter, that is more than the entire user base of Squarespace.


Dumitru Brinzan examines the package size of major WordPress versions over the past decade and how they’ve grown over 600%. We’ve gone from 5.38 MB and 603 files to 38.0 MB and 1,713 files.

Dumitru also looks at the sizes and number of files of popular themes and plugins, including JetPack.

Noting that there “are appropriate tools for all tasks,” Dumitru believes that WordPress is no longer suitable “for the most basic of websites.” He illustrates this with the line “you don’t use a blowtorch to light a match.” 🔥

I do believe there are instances where additional complexities in software are required. On the other hand, many websites are bloated. JavaScript, images, and video can be optimized or removed. Bloat is often a result of pride and laziness in business decisions and development.


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

  • Matt Medeiros interviewed Craig Hewitt and Dave Rodenbaugh of RogueStartups. They discussed how business owners operating within the WordPress ecosystem and the SaaS world view “the economy of plugins” as opposed to “hosted software solutions.”
  • If you have a vested internet in podcasts, you might want to keep an eye on what the startup Luminary is doing, and how it may threaten independent podcasting. I recommend listening to this 30-minute segment of the Accidental Tech Podcast. (This is an Apple-based podcast, but this part doesn’t mention Apple.) There are some great insights here.
  • The WPMRR WordPress Podcast had a recent episode where Joe Howard and Christie Chirinos talk about the pros and cons of using open-source and closed platforms.
  • If you’re interested in content marketing, then you might enjoy WPElevation‘s interview with Kim Doyal. One of the lessons she shares: “Don’t charge into something new with the mindset of Ready, Aim, Fire. Instead, take your time with Aim, Ready, Fire.”

WordPress developers’ biggest (or most common) coding mistakes

David Bissett recently posed this question on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/dimensionmedia/status/1120702617133256704

@john-james-jacoby offered “Typos,” which probably wins for most common mistake. For most consequential, there are a lot of top contenders.

https://twitter.com/Rarst/status/1120702832485851142
https://twitter.com/philpalmieri/status/1120898858291269632
https://twitter.com/anyssaferreira/status/1120717940230426626
 
It’s a thread worth following.

Footnotes

It looks like WordPress 5.2 RC1 might be pushed ahead a bit. If that happens, we’ll be looking at a general release of 5.2 around May 7th. The decision is still up for discussion.

Meanwhile, Gutenberg 5.5 is out. Riad Benguella explains what’s new. 🆕


Yoast has announced an improved “Schema.org implementation” as a key feature of their upcoming 11.0 version. Edwin Toonen writes, “Yoast SEO will now output a lot more structured data about your website and how its pages fit together.”

After this announcement, Bill Erickson posted about using Yoast SEO Structured Data with Genesis. He dives into how both Genesis and the Yoast Schema work — and how to best use them together. 🤝


Felix Arntz digs into the “fatal error recovery mode” coming in WordPress 5.2. There are several ways developers can make their plugins respond to recovery mode, which provides an opportunity “to inform administrators about fatal errors on their site and allow them to …. access their backend and decide what to do about the problem” instead of getting the old WSOD. ⚠️

In related news, Jonathan Desrosiers talks about the block editor detection improvements in WordPress 5.2 that allow developers to execute code conditionally if the block editor is loaded.


The results from the 2018 Annual Meetup Survey are available! 📊

Some highlights, as of December 2018:

  • All WordPress chapter meetup groups: 691
  • All countries with chapter meetups: 99
  • New meetup groups joined the chapter: 166
  • New members joined: 106,409
  • Total members: 385,250
  • Total number of organizers: 2,061
  • Total number of events: 5,675

Over the past month, Envato has been running a series of tests for the default sort order across Envato Market. Results ranged from a 5% average increase on conversion to over 50% (on ThemeForest) for the best selling sort filter. 🧪

Based on data from this test and user tests with a group of authors and customers, Envato designed a new category page for WordPress.


Dumitru Brinzan wrote a PHP script that gathered and parsed public data in the WordPress plugin repo to take a closer look at trends in the 18,087 plugins added to the directory over the past three years. 🔌

If you want to create a plugin aimed at a specific audience, this kind of data is a great place to start. So is Jonathan Wold‘s followup to his first ecosystem plugin post, which focused on the “why?” question. His latest post focuses on the “how” and is written for developers and organizations. 👥


Here’s a lengthy but interesting article from Farnam Street about the “half-life of knowledge.” What do we do when we know the things we learn decay in their accuracy, relevance, and comprehensiveness? “[W]e rarely consider the half-life of information. Many people assume that whatever they learned in school remains true years or decades later.” ⏳

My best parts of this article concern “The Half-Lives of Careers and Business Models” and the burden of knowledge itself.


Matt Shaw takes a close look at Amazon SES and its two competitors, Mailgun and SendGrid, to see how they stack up as WordPress Transactional Email solutions. 📧


I’ve been following the Women in WP podcast and have enjoyed the first episodes. The latest episode contains an interview with Bethany Siegler of Unique Think. Bethany talks about her journey to WordPress and how she became a WordPress educator. 👩‍🏫


If you’re looking for new WordPress podcasts, check out the #PressForward Podcast. Supported by WP&UP and hosted by Nathan Wrigley, #PressForward’s weekly episodes focus on helping us maintain healthy minds, bodies, businesses, and skills in the WordPress community. 🎙️

I listened to the first episode with WP&UP founder Dan Maby and liked what I heard, but stats like this are alarming: 4.3% of the self-employed workforce in the UK has a diagnosed mental illness, according to the National Health Service (NHS). 😔

You can help the WP&UP project by taking their short 2019 Mental Health & Well-being Survey. Dan says they plan to open source the data, once it’s collected. The survey can be completed anonymously and should take no more than 3-4 minutes.


Speaking of the NHS, here’s a great article by Ben Cullimore about using icons well on the new NHS site by putting the user’s needs first. Ben is an interaction designer on the team that executed this project. ⚕️


Marco Almeida writes about his experience with one WordPress plugin reviewer and the rejection of one of his plugins. 🤼

He followed up on that post a short time ago:

I had a very civil and friendly chat with Mika Epstein over at the Making WordPress Slack channel… I still do not agree with the review team position and I don’t think the arguments given by the team fit into the “reserve the right to reject any plugin on any grounds we feel are reasonable” sentence. We agree to disagree.


There is a call for organizers for a potential WordCamp Asia. 🏕️📣


Notes for April 12, 2019

Footnotes

Gutenberg 5.5 and WordPress 5.2 RC are still scheduled for release on April 17. The release will introduce new short circuit filters to WP_Site_Query and WP_Network_Query.

🔤 WordPress 5.2 is ready to be translated on translate.wordpress.org.

📣 WordPress 5.2 will increase the minimum required PHP version to 5.6.20.

Finally, after three years without updates Dashicons are being updated! WordPress 5.2 will see some revisions to the existing icons and the addition of 13 new ones.


A new version of the WordPress Coding Standards (2.1.0) is out. All code sniffs are tested against PHP 7.4 (unstable) now. 👃


WPCLi v2.2.0 is scheduled for a Wednesday, April 24th release. This post offers a sneak peek of what’s ahead and some areas that still need help. 👀


The first 2.0 beta release for the “built on standards” WordPress theme WPRig is out the door. WP Rig v2.0 (beta 1) has a new build process, object-oriented PHP, modern CSS, and other new features.

Developers are asking for your help with testing, feedback, and improvements.


An SQL injection was discovered recently in the Duplicate Page plugin. If you have it installed, make sure you are using the latest version, which at the time of this writing is 3.4.

The Yuzo Related Posts plugin (60,000+ active installations) has a vulnerability that is actively being exploited in the wild. It has no current fix or patch, so you might need to remove and delete it. ⚠️


Rich Tabor announced that GoDaddy has officially acquired CoBlocks, ThemeBeans and Block Gallery. Rich was approached by GoDaddy “a few months ago,” and naturally it was a big decision Rich gave considerable time and thought.

ThemeBeans subscribers will continue to receive support and remote updates under their current license until April 8, 2020. All premium WordPress themes in the ThemeBeans inventory will be available for free on the GoDaddy GitHub.

Rich also announced that he too is joining GoDaddy as the “Senior Product Manager of WordPress Experience.” We’ll have an interview with Rich out next week.


There are signs of native img and iframe lazy-loading coming to the web — or least to Chrome 75. Addy Osmani at Google previews it in this blog post.

What browsers will follow suit? Some folks are already calling for a lazy-loading API in WordPress core.


Rob Hope interviewed Ghost founder John O’Nolan on the Yo! Podcast. Rob and John talk about Ghost as open-source publishing software as well as a platform that brings in revenue as a premium hosted SaaS business. 👻


securitycheckli.st is an excellent open source checklist of resources designed “to improve your online privacy and security” with reminders about password managers, freezing your credit, privacy-first software, and your physical work environment.


DrupalCon Seattle 2019 took place this past week. There is a quick roundup of the main highlights of the event and a video of Dries Buytaert‘s keynote. Dries focused his comments on contributor diversity in open source projects, which is a topic WordPress developers should find significant to them as well.

I highly recommend reading Dries’ thoughts on “The Privilege of Free Time in Open Source,” which was published shortly after his DrupalCon talk. Here’s a taste:

Open Source communities often incorrectly believe that everyone can contribute. Unfortunately, not everyone has equal amounts of free time to contribute… time inequality contributes to a lack of diversity in Open Source.

This problem has been brought up before in the WordPress space, but to hear it “from the top” of the Drupal community is heartening.

Jeff Geerling has a thoughtful post about some of Drupal’s recent successes and failures. Jeff’s post is another worthwhile read with a lot of clear parallels and relevance to WordPress.


Here’s a handy plugin called WooBuilder that creates WooCommerce product pages using Gutenberg.

Delicious Brains has a new post explaining how to decrease your site testing time with automated acceptance testing for WooCommerce.


The first WomenInWP online happy hour is happening on Friday, April 19th. Sign up and get more information here. 🥤


The General Services Administration (GSA) recently launched the U.S. Web Design System 2.0. USWDS is a library of code, tools, and guidance to help government teams design and build fast, accessible, mobile-friendly government websites. It already powers nearly 200 federal sites, and 2.0 introduces a powerful toolkit of new features.


Jeff Matson gives us a peek behind the curtains at NorthStack, which is a new managed application hosting service from the team at Pagely.

Make sure to check out NorthStack’s brand new documentation site.


Muhammad Muhsin shares some lessons learned from pairing Gatsby with WordPress and why he thinks the two platforms are a good match: “it has the effect of leveraging the best of both worlds – the power of the CMS that powers a third of all websites and the speed of a static site generator.”


The State of UX in 2019 is a report that isolates nine important themes the “design industry is writing, talking, and thinking about.” These are quite practical and challenging issues, like how to be more strategic at work with time restraints and how to “reach beyond our short-term goals and metrics to start discussions about the broader impact of our decisions.”

As the editors point out, The State of UX is not about “whether rounded corners and brutalist typefaces will be trending in 2019,” but there’s also a nice roundup of the “best of” examples in the highlights at the end. 🏆

If you haven’t caught up with it before, The State of UX is an important collection of wisdom and insight you’ll want to check up on every year.


If you speak at WordCamps, there’s a new policy regarding slides you should read. 🏕️

Keith Devon has some nice thoughts on the ROI from WordCamps and similar events.


Allie Decker has a great post regarding the value of community and its effect on your health and business. Allie doesn’t mention the WordPress community, but the implications — especially for freelancers — are clear: “Being alone too much is bad for your health,” and it’s “also bad for the health of your business.” 🤝


Justin Tadlock explains how to build a compelling business or agency landing page with Gutenberg and his newly released Exhale WordPress theme, which I really like.


Notes for April 7, 2019

Jetpack promotions in search, and fallout

In the last newsletter, I mentioned Jetpack’s search replacement for promotions as well as the discussion and fallout that followed. It escalated quite a bit, and then it got out of hand.

Jetpack has now removed the feature in version 7.2.1. Jesse Friedman said the following with the release:

Similar to buying a new phone or getting a new car, you don’t always learn about every single new feature on day one; instead you discover new things as you go. These hints are meant to help out in just that way.

However, we made a mistake, and we’re moving to correct it immediately. Our intention with these feature hints is to help you discover helpful features of Jetpack that you already have, right when you need them most. Today we’re correcting an error in judgement that resulted in the hints suggesting Jetpack features that actually required an upgrade. We’ve also made some design changes that make these feature hints less prominent. This way, you can choose to enable a feature of Jetpack that you already have installed, or you can quickly choose another great solution from the WordPress directory.

Joost de Valk created a Trac ticket for integrating something into core that would help folks identify existing solutions to the issues they search for in the plugins they already have. I like the principle of this idea and the mockup. If I have a concern about it, it would be that it may encourage plugin makers to move further down the path of “all-in-one” plugins with dozens of modules, to help site owners to rely entirely on their feature set.

The conversation on Joost’s ticket is productive. This issue of discovery and plugin notices is a problem in WordPress. Right now, it’s part of what makes the whole notifications system such a mess.

Honestly, I thought Jetpack’s idea was smart for feature discovery — though inappropriate for a promotional item. I would love to see this be a catalyst for further exploration of design solutions for all kinds of feature hints, upsells, and general notifications.

Perhaps out of an ugly situation, something good can come.

Changing the conversation

It’s been an intense week for the WordPress community. Jetpack’s search replacement for promotions has been a catalyst, but it’s not the root issue, in my mind.

There’s been an erosion of discourse in the community, and it needs to be fixed. At times, Post Status’s own Slack has been part of the problem.

Too many of us are forgetting that behind the various entities in our ecosystem, there are people. People who work hard, have good intentions and care for the WordPress project and the web more broadly.

There are plenty of opportunities for critique, concern, questioning, and discourse. But it’s imperative that we mutually respect one another and don’t discard the value individuals bring to the ecosystem — even when we disagree with decisions being made.

At times, I’ve failed as a moderator, and I’m sorry for that. We can all do better.

I made some changes in Slack, and I have more changes in how Post Status will fit into the broader community coming.

The #club channel in Slack is optional, and the general channel is #announcements only. I also did some other cleanup and reminded everyone of the community conduct policy (pinned in Slack).

Large open source communities like the WordPress one have many challenges. People have too often burned out and left when they feel like they are excluded or not heard.

I don’t know the best way to move forward as a broader community, but I know some of the things I can do to make Post Status more inclusive, more engaging, and more community-oriented — so that’s what I’ll do.

Footnotes

It’s certainly been a whirlwind of news this week involving Pipdig, a UK-based theme and plugin shop, and one of their plugins: Pipdig Power Pack, also known as P3. A lot of the controversy can be traced back to this blog post from Wordfence describing code that would give the developer “administrative access to sites using the plugin, or even delete affected sites’ database content remotely.” (Among other disturbing things.) 😶

Jem Turner independently discovered what P3 was doing when a client complained that her website “was behaving oddly.”

Pipdig wrote a response on their official blog, noting they will be “seeking legal advice for the untrue statements and misinformation” which they claim have “damaged [their] good name.”

Wordfence did a follow-up post after Pipdig’s response and dug into the issue more deeply in a podcast. There is more to follow on Twitter, including some indications that Pipdig is still using their problematic code.

Rarst has also put together a Twitter Moment with various bits of coverage and relevant events.

One lesson to be drawn from the flurry of hot and confused reactions of developers and Pipdig customers is that many WordPress users don’t know (and probably don’t care) what their theme or plugin is doing under the hood. Developers should treat these users with respect and not expect them to understand technical matters quickly on their own.

Mark Jaquith has created a “P3 Neutraliser” plugin that “will prevent the P3 plugin from updating or phoning home.” 🔌


Carole Olinger wrote a touching, personal post about taking a step back from the WordPress community for physical and mental health reasons.

There’s a lot you can unpack here, but the primary takeaway here is that Carole is making herself a fantastic example for others. Nobody should feel ashamed for taking time for self-care.


On a recent episode of the BoldLife podcast, Sandy Edwards had a great conversation about kids and training WordCamp Organizers to host Kids Camps. 🏕️


Gary Pendergast doesn’t believe React makes WordPress development more difficult:

If you’re new to web development, React is just as easy as anything else to start with… There’s still a lot of work to do to make web development something that anyone can easily get into. I think React is part of the solution to this.

Gary mentions TestPress in this post, a tool he has been tinkering with “to help deal with the difficulties of contributing to WordPress.” It’s not finished but worth a look. 👀


A new version of Gutenberg landed this week with foundational work and UI explorations related to the block-based widgets screen.

There is also a new, built-in, static Gutenberg Playground for testing in a WordPress agnostic context.

There’s also an open invitation for a volunteer designer to help design an interface for installing blocks from within the editor.


WordPress 5.2 brings some accessibility changes to the markup for some of the tabs in the admin area so assistive technologies will react to them correctly.


Bethany Heck and Joshua Goldenberg, two well-known designers, have joined the Automattic Design team. Their hiring follows the recent announcement of Jeffrey Zeldman joining the Automattic “Special Projects” team.


In case you were avoiding the web on April Fool’s Day, here’s something that was announced that isn’t a joke: Cloudflare announced Warp, which is a VPN “for people who don’t know what V.P.N. stands for.”

Warp automatically adds encryption from your device to the edge of Cloudflare’s network with the free “basic version.” You can upgrade to the Warp+ premium service for faster performance.


WPCampus 2019 will take place from July 25-27 in Portland, Oregon. The call for speakers is open until May 3. WPCampus is a great place to learn and share expertise relevant to Accessibility and WordPress in Higher Education. 🎓


After coming back from WordCamp Miami 2019, Andy McIlwain shares his process for covering conferences and producing useful content from them.


Ben Nadel shared his “opinionated” Git Cheat Sheet — a nice reference post if you want to grow your “git mental model.”


John Blackbourn updated his documentation for wp_mail() usage on Github. It now includes emails for personal data requests (4.9.6+) and the fatal error handling coming in 5.2.


Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist for Amazon Web Services, is looking for a WordPress Engineer.


If you’re a fan of Justin Tadlock‘s WordPress themes, like I am, then you might be interested in version 1.0 of Exhale. Justin says on his blog that Exhale is “a culmination of everything [he’s] learned about designing and developing WordPress themes over the last decade-plus.” 🌬️


Rich Tabor shows how you can conditionally load front-end JavaScript for Gutenberg blocks. Rich walks you through some checks for specific blocks on a page using methods drawn from his own plugins.


You may recall that Newspack, a “custom news vertical on WordPress.com dedicated to addressing the needs of digital news sites,” was announced in February. This week they announced 12 initial publishers to help shape the new platform. 📰

After the pilot, newsrooms will re-launch with Newspack this fall, and up to 50 more will come on board in a second phase. By 2020, “the Newspack service will be available commercially from WordPress.com with an expected cost starting at $1,000 a month.”


Congrats to Tom McFarlin on joining WebDevStudios (WDS) as a Senior Backend Engineer. Tom notes that PressWare isn’t going anywhere, and there won’t be a change regarding his blogging or podcasting schedule.


Carly Ayres has some good advice about when and how to pull the plug on a creative project. Carly explains how to “recognize the warning signs” and act, but also how to “carve out time for yourself to contemplate everything you’ve experienced.” 🤔

If you are trying to decide the best time and way to close a passion project, take a few minutes to read this.


Notes for March 29, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.2 Beta 1 has been released. The highlights include:

  • Significant performance improvements to the block editor.
  • New blocks for RSS, search, calendar, tag cloud, and more.
  • A new block management tool to switch blocks on and off.
  • Phase one of the Site Health Check. For the first time, “WordPress will catch and pause the problem code, so you can log in to your Dashboard and see what the problem is.” 😷

Everyone is encouraged to test out the beta as soon as possible.


There was a lot of chatter in Post Status Slack and on Twitter this week about the way Jetpack and WooCommerce are handling tracking and also feature nags within the WordPress dashboard.

Mehul Gohil tweeted a screenshot for how Jetpack is inserting a nag to use their CDN depending on the search performed by the user, and the nag looks like an installable plugin, but in reality it’s an extension for an existing plugin.

This and some other things got the attention of community members and the plugin team. I don’t know exactly where things are headed from here or whether change will be required, but Jetpack is, in my opinion, stretching the limits of what WordPress plugins should be doing in the dashboard — and are setting the example for others, perhaps with not as good of intentions, to follow.


Since PHP 5.6 or higher will be required as of WordPress 5.2, Gary Pendergast reviewed some of the relevant WordPress Coding Standards and proposed a few changes to them, including anonymous functions and namespaces.


Here’s a sad but needed assessment from Max van der Schee: Why the adoption of Web Accessibility keeps failing.

While many rules for accessibility are easy enough to adopt in your code, there’s no hard stop if those rules are left out or miswritten. Your site still functions normally.

To help developers and designers attend to accessibility rules, Max shares a useful extension for Visual Studio Code called Web Accessibility. It gives feedback on what to change in your code to make it more accessible.


WordCamp for Publishers will be held in Columbus, Ohio on August 7-9. This is a community-organized event bringing together folks who use WordPress to manage publications. 📆

Speaking of conferences, the call for proposals for WPCampus 2019 conference will be opening soon.


Topher DeRosia explains how to fix common errors and shares some general debugging tips for WordPress. These are fundamentals worth sharing with new WordPress site owners.

Topher recommends a user activity logging plugin like WP Stream. 🧾


Ryan Sullivan reviewed the six most widely used WordPress form plugins. He identifies all the things you should expect from custom forms, and then he digs into the details of the top six. Unlike a lot of reviews, Ryan picks a winner. Of course, the best plugin is the one the best fits your particular needs. ☑️

Not to be overlooked is relative newcomer HappyForms, a strong and unique new contender in the custom form space from Theme Foundry. We’ve reviewed it in the past.

Congrats to WPForms, which turned three years old recently. Syed Balkhi briefly notes what’s coming up next for the plugin.


Genesis Explained, written by Nick Croft, is now up-to-date for Genesis 2.9, which was released a few weeks ago. If you or your team needs to get a handle on Genesis quickly, start here.


Kirtan Gajjar has a sweet post on automated WordPress code review and deployment using GitHub Actions. Three actions have been released:

  • PHPCS Code Review – Run PHPCS code review on pull requests.
  • Deploy WordPress – Deploy a WordPress site using PHP’s Deployer.org.
  • Slack Notify – Send a notification to a Slack channel.

Andrey Savchenko released a new version of Laps, which is a plugin that shows performance information about WordPress page loads. Laps 3.3 adds plotting for early SQL queries and individual plugin load tracking on WordPress 5.1.


Pantheon recently announced their “Deploy Heroically” program that honors people contributing to the open web. They are taking new applications from “heroes” now. 🦸


Jeffrey Zeldman recently let slip that the popular A List Apart blog migrated over to WordPress and will relaunch on April 11th. Previously the site was operating on “an aged, semi-bespoke version of ExpressionEngine 2.x.”

Speaking of A List Apart, Jeremy Wagner has a great post there on writing “responsible JavaScript.” Some quick advice includes not “letting frameworks force you into unsustainable patterns” and not thinking of JavaScript as the solution to “all your layout woes.” 👍


Getting reviews from clients is tough, and Matteo Duò explains how to pull it off with a deep dive in 950+ popular WordPress plugins.

The average percentage of users who leave a review for a WordPress plugin is only 0.20%!

Matteo offers some good suggestions about what you can do as a plugin author/developer to increase your odds of getting good reviews.


Andrew Taylor, a Developer Programs Engineer at Pantheon, shares how to connect GitLab and Pantheon to streamline Drupal and WordPress workflows.


Thomas Griffin is closing a chapter in his life as a developer and takes time to share some unusually open reflections on his personal growth. Many business owners start with the pure passion of “just coding a plugin.” Later, with success, their leadership role can eclipse the value of their direct involvement in coding. It’s a big transition and, as Thomas writes, “bittersweet.”

Change requires looking up to look forward. So often we’re comfortable with a present locked in the past that it comes as a shock that where we’ve been is not where we’re going. 🚶‍♂️

As Thomas puts it,

Sometimes, we want a particular chapter to keep going. We get engrossed in the story and forget that stories need breaks. We become so enthralled with what’s happening that we forget to actually consider where the story is going.


Morten Rand-Hendriksen demonstrates a simple way to add SVGs to custom WordPress (Gutenberg) blocks using SVGR.


Scott Bolinger released a new WordPress plugin called Popup Zen. 🧘 Scott explains the thinking and history behind it here on his blog.

“It’s a popup plugin for people who hate popups.”

I thoroughly enjoyed Scott’s reasoning for why he created Popup Zen and what his primary goals were. I think what he’s created is very tasteful, after testing it myself.


Here’s all you (probably) need to know about hyphenation in CSS, thanks to Richard Rutter of Clearleft.


Sugar Calendar hit version 2.0 recently. There are some new event management interfaces, enhancements to the recurring events feature, an extended API, and some new user capabilities. 📅


The video of Joshua Strebel‘skeynote at WordCamp Phoenix 2019 is available now. Joshua’s talk is focused on “Bias and Self Delusion,” and it offers some fascinating insights and important lessons learned from his ten years as CEO of Pagely.


WPTranslationToday is happening again on May 11th. Naoko Takano notes that the team is looking for live-stream speakers. If you are a developer, translator, or locale manager you can share your knowledge and help with WordPress’s globalization. 🌐


Ana Tudor explains a handy CSS trick for blurring the border of an element. She also shows how to “extend support so it works cross-browser.”


Fast Company published a great feature on John Maeda, who is head of inclusion and computational design at Automattic.

John says “design is not that important,” which probably will seem strange and slight controversial at first read, especially since the WordPress community puts such a heavy stress on design lead development. Maeda’s point is that designers should focus on being good teammates rather than leaders. Why? 🤔

Worrying too much about whether design has enough influence over a product or a company distracts from the real vision: making great products that solve people’s problems.


Starting with WordPress 5.2 there’s a new functionwp-body_open() — that will be used to trigger a wp_body_open action. You can use this action to add something directly inside the body of a page, like a script tag.


Hats off to WordCamp Miami, which announced they had more women speaking than men in their 2019 gathering. I’m not sure if this is a first for a large WordCamp, but it’s good to see diversity moving forward in this space. 🎩


Notes for March 22, 2019

Footnotes

Gutenberg 5.3 is out with some fancy new features. Now there’s a block management modal window that allows users to enable and disable blocks, and the Cover Block can contain other blocks nested inside it.


The PHP minimum version bump is happening! As noted in this Trac ticket, WordPress’s support for PHP 5.2 – 5.5 officially ends now, and the minimum required PHP version is 5.6.

As Scott Arciszewski explains, the impending release of WordPress 5.2 is great news for WordPress security. Another recent commit “adds a pure PHP implementation of the cryptographic functions supported in PHP 7.2+” and “provides the necessary backwards compatibility required to support signature verification and other security features going forward across all supported PHP versions.”

Gary Pendergast wrote a series of tweets about WordPress 5.1’s upgrade notice:

WordPress folks are doing our part to help clean up the ancient PHP installs that are still running a large percentage of the internet, and we’re find that this isn’t an insurmountable problem…. It just requires a bit of patience and empathy to solve.

WordPress 5.2 goes a long way to deliver this much-needed spring cleaning. 🧹


It looks like Github is testing a feature that will allow users to contribute to projects on behalf of organizations.


Jilt released transactional email support, in a big feature release. I’ve been working part-time with Jilt and it was fun to see this finalized and launched. Between transactional email support, support for WooCommerce subscriptions and membership emails, and a big project that’s being developed right now, there’s a lot of game-changing stuff that make Jilt really worth exploring, if you ask me… it’s much more than abandoned carts these days.


Felix Arntz explains how the Fatal Error Protection feature had to be dropped from WordPress 5.1 due to several security concerns. It appears error protection is here to stay, however, and Felix goes into detail about the completely new approach that had to be taken to revamp the feature. He’s asking for feedback from the developer community. 🗨️

Felix also writes about two new proposed web standards, Feature Policy and Reporting API. The Google team has been working on two plugins to bring support for these two new APIs to WordPress.


If you are using the Easy WP SMTP plugin, make sure you upgrade to the latest version since a vulnerability was discovered recently. 🔒


I enjoy articles that make meaningful comparisons between WordPress and less well-known CMSes. In a worthwhile review, Leonardo Losoviz puts October CMS in the spotlight. October is five years old, free, and open source.


The new version (3.0) of SearchWP has been released, and it brings a few big changes: a rebuilt settings screen, integration of extensions, first-party Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) support, and support for Gutenberg blocks.


Muhammad Muhsin wrote a tutorial about porting the Twenty Nineteen WordPress theme to Gatsby. Gatsby is currently a very popular (and fast) React-based static site generator.

In a similar vein, here’s an article about someone migrating from Medium to Gatsby that I enjoyed this week.


Ronald Huereca has announced he has taken over the development of the WP Plugin Info Card plugin.

Meanwhile, the Dark Mode plugin has been put up for adoption by Daniel James. 🌃


For those who may not be aware of its existence, Theme Sniffer is a plugin that uses custom sniffs for PHP_CodeSniffer to statically analyze themes. It will verify if a theme adheres to WordPress coding conventions and check theme code for PHP version compatibility.


Chris Ashton writes about using the web for a day on Internet Explorer 8, including Google, Amazon, YouTube, and Gmail. IE8 traffic is suspicious enough that YouTube didn’t trust it. Chris’s big takeaway:

If today’s websites are totally unusable in IE8, then websites in ten years’ time are likely to be about as unusable in today’s modern browsers — despite being built upon the open technologies of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.


Sigle is a free “decentralized and open source blog maker” I stumbled upon recently and found interesting as another approach to simple blogging. Sigle uses Blockstack to keep your blog “decentralized,” but it can be configured to use your own storage.


PostCSS is a tool for transforming CSS with JavaScript plugins. Emmanuel Yusufu has written a nice introduction and tutorial if you want to dive in.


The next WordSesh event is Wednesday, May 22, 2019, and a call for speakers is open. The speaker application deadline is Friday, April 19.


Tom McFarlin shared a common set of steps you can use when you include custom templates in WordPress plugins.


On May 19th, Marcel Bootsman will start his walk to WordCamp Europe in Berlin. He will be walking more than 730km to raise funds for Donate WC, an organization whose goal is to get more people to WordCamps with community-curated travel grants. 🚶

You can support Marcel and Donate WC by donating as well.


Here’s a great read from Charlotte Cowles on the psychological trap of freelancing, and how hard it is to get out of the “time is money” mindset. Two good points: (1) Figure out what you’re willing (and can afford) to outsource versus what you’d rather do yourself, and (2) give yourself permission to just relax without worrying about how to improve your productivity.


Finally, some numbers from the 11th WordCamp Miami 2019 which happened this past weekend:

  • Over 900 people attended, including kids and parents.
  • For the first time in WordCamp Miami history, more women than men spoke at the conference, which had over 70 speakers.
  • A one-day kid’s summer program will be announced soon, expanding on the Kids’ Panel and Kids’ Camps that already have been a part of the event for over six years.
  • WordCamp Miami was live streamed, and the recorded videos will be uploaded to wordpress.tv shortly, including a special series of keynotes/interviews with John James Jacoby and Josepha Haden.

Notes for March 15, 2019

Footnotes

Your Message is Medium’s

In yet another example of the importance of content ownership, there is drama in the land of Medium and one of the publications on the platform, Hacker Noon. 🎭

Hacker Noon has been planning to leave Medium since Medium’s revenue model changed last year, but Hacker Noon made some poor decisions around how to get contributor copyright to enable their exit. Medium responded with a big Nope! — and a valid defense of their rights to Hacker Noon contributors’ writing — but this message also clearly demonstrated why Medium is a dangerous place to publish:

And while Hacker Noon may appear to be an independent website, it is not. It is a container that exists on the Medium.com infrastructure, much like a Facebook page.

There appear to be communication mistakes on both sides, but the moral of the story is the same: there is no substitute for owning your content.

If only there were something better… 🤔

Owen Williams posted both Hacker Noon’s bad email and Medium’s bad response on Twitter.


WordPress 5.1.1 is out as a security and maintenance release. 🔒
The vulnerability fixed in the 5.1.1 is detailed by Simon Scannell of RipsTech, who discovered it.

5.1.1 also includes a new button that hosts can enable to encourage site owners to upgrade  PHP to new versions, presumably in preparation for the minimum PHP version bump coming in WordPress 5.2.


10up just released Github Actions for WordPress plugins. This is a really awesome looking toolset to make the Github to WordPress flow much simpler.


There’s a proposal for a new type of plugin for JavaScript-only single blocks. The aim is for people to be able to search for blocks and install them directly from the Gutenberg editor.

I think this is an exciting concept. There is a danger of people installing a block for one blog post — to then be ignored forever. I’m not sure how much of a risk this truly is, but I think it could happen.

I also wonder how much it could bring in conflicting styles in content. There’s plenty to think through — technically as well as UX-wise, but I like that the discussion is happening. The proposal is from Alex Shiels.


Google is sponsoring a Season of Docs to bring technical writers and open source communities together for a time of learning and documentation writing. 📄

Applications open in early April. There could be some excellent opportunities here for the WordPress community.


I’m thankful for David Bisset, a valuable contributor to Post Status. This week, he’s working hard on WordCamp Miami. 🌴

As part of that effort, he wrote a post about what makes a successful WordCamp, as they head into their second decade of hosting.

So if it’s not profits or spending money how do you define success? As an organizer sometimes you do these events for so long that question fades and it doesn’t regularly get the time it deserves. So think about it in terms of an attendee – what makes you look back on it event months or years later after you attend something and associate that with positive thoughts? For everyone it’s different but WordCamp Miami believes that it boils down to two main things: meeting new people and learning new things. That sounds like such a basic answer, but in the end it is THAT basic.

It’s a great post with insights into what makes an event a success.

Also from WordCamp Miami: MyTalk.Rocks is a fun and simple app to give feedback to speakers. 🤘


The Theme Sniffer plugin adds “custom sniffs” to PHP CodeSniffer to analyze themes for PHP version compatibility and report whether they follow WordPress coding conventions.

Released by the WordPress theme review team, Theme Sniffer should come in handy to you theme devs. 👃


Freemius CEO and cofounder Vova Feldman shares what others can learn from Freemius’ recent experience with a significant security vulnerability.

Also from Freemius: how Brexit may affect theme and plugin sellers.


Sucuri released the Hacked Website Report 2018, which has some interesting findings. 🛡️

While “WordPress infections rose from 83% in 2017 to 90% in 2018,” there was also “a decline in the number of outdated, vulnerable versions of WordPress at the point of infection.”

The main source of vulnerable code is “poorly configured plugins,” not WordPress itself, as the core “auto-updates [continue to have] a material impact” on security.

Check out WPVulnDB‘s plugin for scanning WordPress for known vulnerabilities. Hat tip: WPCampus. 🎩


Panic, makers of Coda, are re-imagining the Mac-centric code editor. I admit I still use Coda 2 because it never stopped working, and it’s what I was set up on. I’m looking forward to seeing what they are building now. (It will not be called Coda.)


SiteGround CEO Tenko Nikolov writes about Spain’s massive growth in the WordPress community and SiteGround’s involvement there:

In 2018, Spain was the second most active country for local WordCamps, bested only by the US. Taking into consideration the population of the two countries, Spain actually had almost twice as many events per capita last year. When SiteGround launched its Spanish operations in 2015, there were only 3 WordCamps in Spain, including WCEU, and 9 meetup groups with 10,017 members in total (according to WordCamp Central registration). Fast forward to 2018 and we count 10 local WordCamps and 52 meetup groups with 24,862 members. This is an amazing 150% increase in membership and over triple the number of events!

It’s incredible how much growth has occurred in the WordPress community around the world. I like seeing focused campaigns like this, where a particular country and culture are the beneficiaries.


As a “design experiment,” Automattic has released an “Open Web Meditation” in the form of an animated video describing the differences between open and closed platforms. I’m not sure what the intention is or who the audience may be, but it’s relaxing to watch. 🧘


Sarah Drasner over at CSS Tricks reminds us, “nothing in tech stays in one place, and the single most valuable skill you can possess to remain employable over time is learning how to learn.”