Footnotes

📣 Following the news of Automattic‘s purchase of Tumblr on Monday, here are some of the best reactions to it in and outside the WordPress community:

  • The Vergecast (a podcast produced by The Verge) interviewed Matt Mullenweg. With a few exceptions, it mostly goes over what we already know, as Matt isn’t releasing new information until the deal is completed in another month or two. Worth a listen.
  • Robert Jacobi says, “everyone should have seen this [acquisition] coming.” He believes it’s part of a “larger plan to go toe-to-toe with the SAAS site builders like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Facebook, etc.” With Gutenberg, it will be possible now to “integrate [its] atomic data across a social platform as well as a CMS.”
  • Mathew Ingram asks if WordPress + Tumblr can create something that could go head-to-head with Facebook and Twitter. Will independent journalists see it as an alternative to social networks?
  • Angela Watercutter points out that “moderation is key,” and “what made Tumblr such a haven in its heyday was that it felt like a place where freak flags waved proudly and everyone felt supported.” Could Tumblr be that again, even without the adult content?
  • Ryan Sullivan thinks the Tumblr purchase is a “good thing” that can bring WordPress “into the same conversations as other major social platforms.”
  • Caspar Hübinger did a brief analysis on Twitter of those reporting the news and how many of them got who-owned-what wrong (“Automattic Owns WordPress”) — which I found a little amusing.

Tumblr wasn’t the only acquisition this week! Zero BS Marketing, a company of two people, announced they were joining Automattic. 🚫🐂💩

This means Zero BS CRM will be getting better through deeper integrations with WordPress and help and support across the board, from product development to usability and design.


Gutenberg 6.3 has been released with several new accessibility features, including “Navigation Mode” which is loaded by default. Navigation mode “allows you to move from block to block” with the Tab key, and the arrow keys let you navigate between blocks. ⌨️


Chrome now has native lazy-loading for images and IFrames. There are already several good explanations of how this works and how to adjust your markup.

An initial Trac ticket for lazy loading in WordPress core exists, and it was mentioned in a recent WordPress core JavaScript developer meeting. 💤


If you’ve seen but avoided the current, heated CSS-in-JS discussions, then this balanced roundup from Chris Coyier might be just the thing for you.


WooCommerce Assistant is a WooCommerce extension that reduces “manual work by automating several routine tasks.” By setting up some simple rules, you can schedule sales, tweak prices, and run clearance events – all completely unattended. 🛒

I learned about this extension when I stumbled on this recent story about its development by Slava Abakumov. Slava and Gregory Karpinsky “were working on the same project and […] started seeing certain areas of site management” that could be optimized. The number of times the plugin had to be rewritten sounds frustrating.


Vincent Courson from the Google Search Outreach team, explains in detail how Google Search recovered from some significant indexing issues following a massive outage. In the end, even the biggest companies have big challenges. Google’s apparent transparency here is refreshing. 🔍


Jeff Matson shows off his recreation of the Twenty Nineteen WordPress theme, this time done in Gatsby (complete with working comments). He says: “It serves as an example of how you can use Gatsby for a frontend with a headless WordPress site running WPGraphQL as a backend.”

Jeff works for NorthStack, who promotes the concept in more detail here.


Andrea Middleton covers how WordCamp organizers can address the panic and anxiety of “the event is right around the corner!” period. Stay calm, analyze risks, gather data, and identify your options. 😰


Aaron Powell shows off what CSS can do — most of us probably had no idea! Two examples: keylogger (a little bit scary) and user tracking (not very scary, but still interesting).


Hard Lessons Earned

Julio Biason shares the things he has learned “the hard way” in 30 years of software development and many other areas of life and work. 🥵

Here’s some good advice about how to do hard things, from David MacIver.

Product Hunt ran a survey about the dark side of remote work, and unsurprisingly the nearly 9,000 responses drive home how hard it can be to avoid anxiety, stress, and depression if you are working on your own. Nearly 3/4ths of the respondents said they had suffered some type of compromised mental health from the remote nature of their work. The lessons drawn and advice given in this article match up with Viktor Petersson’s reflections on a decade of remote work.

Key takeaway: you’ve got to maintain a strict schedule, including your sleep schedule. ⏰

Perfection is not possible in anything, including life balance. Andrew Askins explains how he is running a company with ADHD, and again a key point is organizing your time: prioritize obsessively. ☑️


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here is my recommendation for video watching this week:

Chris Lema has a walk-through video about his experiences with Strattic, a WordPress based static site host, as well as Stackbit, Netlify, and Forestry. He also shows how third-party SaaS solutions can integrate membership, basic eCommerce, and newsletter signups.

Chris’s demo is an excellent way to learn about some new technologies on the horizon. However, the number of hoops one has to jump through to create a simple site with them seems like a sizeable barrier. It will be interesting to see if a hosting company can crack this. (~12 minutes)

🎙️ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • ShopTalk digs into WordPress databases and hosting with Brad Touesnard whose company Delicious Brains is behind the WP Migrate DB Pro plugin. (~60 minutes)
  • Speaking of Brad, he has another interview with Scott Bolinger on The Product Business podcast about his early work, investment tips and mistakes, and what makes a profitable enterprise.
  • The WPCampus podcast is back with Maryann Reissig joining Jen McFarland and Brian DeConinck to discuss the highlights of WPCampus 2019.
  • The Women in WP podcast interviewed Michelle Schulp about the definition of design, creative passions, and why design is about defining problems and finding solutions.
  • The most recent Matt Report has Matt Medeiros sharing his experiences of launching Conductor to $4,000 in sales on day one, “only to watch it slowly plateau and fall short to bigger trends in the market.” 📉😞