Footnotes #383

Updates Update

WordPress 5.4 Beta 2 is now available for testing. WordPress 5.4 is slated for release on March 31 and contains a number of user and developer enhancements, including updated block editor keyboard shortcuts, favicon handling, and some bugfixes. πŸ›

WordPress 5.4 also introduces apply_shortcodes() as an alias for do_shortcode().

A discussion of XML sitemaps in core has started with a focus on gathering more contributors around the feature plugin and soliciting feedback.


This is a big move for the platform, even if still in discussion. I’m worried about bloat and things already covered well in existing popular plugins. What are your thoughts? Let’s talk in the Club.

If you use the Demo Importer or a commercial theme from ThemeGrill, you should be aware of a security issue that can potentially let attackers wipe out your sites! There is an update available to address this exploit. 😲

Last month, the team at Wordfence revealed a similar issue in the WP Database Reset plugin.

Broad in the Theme

Iain Poulson explains the five ways you can create a plugin settings page: use the WordPress Settings API, a Custom Fields Framework, a code generator, the REST API, or VueJS/React. πŸŽ›οΈ

Mel Choyce explains how WordPress can safely introduce block dependencies into themes. If you plan on building themes in 2020 and beyond, keep your eyes on Mel's blog.

Ari Stathopoulos proposes a way to ease the transition to block-based themes from older themes that were never designed for the new editor. As you can imagine, moving from hardcoded PHP templates to a blocks structure is not an easy problem to solve, but Ari's suggestions and summaries of the discussions so far seem promising. πŸ‘

Vlad Olaru writes about his attempt to understand a WordPress theme’s role and responsibilities so that he can better understand how blocks relate to themes and to each other. He also considers the things themes have been doing in the past and what they've lacked.

It's a difficult post to summarize, but ultimately Vlad is trying to define what makes a “good” WordPress theme and who is responsible for good (and bad) experiences with themes:

“A good WordPress theme is like an onion: layers upon layers of tightly wrapped decisions and options, with a sweet, opinionated core, and some tears in your eye when you try to peel it apart.”

Chris Coyier has a well-written and complete guide to HTML data attributes. He explains what you can and shouldn't do, styling issues, and how to access data attributes in JavaScript. πŸ•

CSS Tricks has a nice guide focused on proper HTML for links and buttons as well.

Work Smart

Check out this impressive list of one-on-one meeting questions compiled by Vidal Graupera. If you work on a remote team, some of these questions might make meetings more helpful and productive. 🀝


This is an excellent, exhaustive list of questions to ask. It reminds me that good leadership is often about coaching, not bossing. And this book β€” The Coaching Habits β€” is a great read for this. (By the way, have you joined the #BookNook?)

I appreciate this post from Tiago Forte about taking “smart” notes. It's a deep post rather than a list of quick tips, so there's a lot to chew on.

As I continue to absorb it, here are two points that stand out: “Our tools and techniques are only as valuable as the workflow” and “Writing is not the outcome of thinking; it is the medium in which thinking takes place.” ✍️

Also if you aren't familiar with the Cornell Notes system, that might be worth a look as well.

Here are 101 tips for people attending conferences. This list is especially geared toward WordCamps, but much of it applies broadly to travel and conferences. ✈️

Buffer shared their State of Remote Work report which shares insights and data from over 3,500 remote workers. Among their findings, remote workers say they are happiest “when they spend more than 76% of their time working remotely.” Sadly, “a majority of organizations don’t pay for monthly expenses associated with remote work.” πŸ‘©β€πŸ’»


I’ve worked with remote teams since 2008, and a lot of these findings feel like an affirmation of things I've learned from that experience. However, there are big potential personal struggles that come along with the many upsides of remote work, namely social “isolation” and “not being able to unplug” — especially if 80% of your work time is at home. Regarding collaboration and communication, we had a hybrid team — half distributed, half in office. The consistent complaint from our remote team, no matter what we did, was always that they felt like they were out of the loop.

MonsterContracts offers contracts designed for WordPress freelancers, solopreneurs, teams and agencies who work with clients. I've seen a lot of polished contracts shared over the years, but this is the first I've seen it turned into a niche commercial legal service tailored to each specific case where a contract is needed. πŸ“ƒ


I love this offering as it fills a need for those just getting started with freelancing. I was privileged to work with Nathan at iThemes. He is an incredible teacher/coach/trainer/advisor. He’s got a polished process for how he’s run his agency for years and shares it broadly.

Chris Lema nails it again: how to respond to the question “Is that your BEST price?” from potential customers to your proposal.

Chris reminds us that someone out there will always present a cheaper price, so don't race to the bottom. πŸ’Έ His strategy of proposing three prices is well worth a look.

Nick Hamze shares some “weird” WordPress wallpaper (desktop and mobile) via his WeirdPress site. πŸ€ͺ


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

πŸ“Ή Here's the video pick of the week:

πŸŽ™οΈ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

  • How I Built It: Shannon Shaffer of Purple Finch Studios shares tips on systems and automation that she has put in place to make her team more efficient.
  • While this is an iOS development podcast, I recommend this episode of Under The Radar because it focuses on setting plans, goals, and guidelines. It's broadly useful, especially for developers and business owners.
  • A new developer branch of WPwatercooler has started. It's called Dev Branch.