Footnotes #396


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

🛒 Two big developments in the eCommerce space are worth your attention:

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

I really like the site redesign at WPBuffs. Joe Howard explains why it was needed and what went into it in terms of time and costs. 👷‍♀️

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

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


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

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

The BuddyPress 6.0 release candidate is out. BuddyPress 6.0.0 is slated for release on Thursday, May 14. 📅

🤔 Tom Fanelli shares what he thinks are the most significant challenges facing WordPress:

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

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

Carl Tashian shares some helpful SSH tips and tricks — including five different ways to add a second factor to your SSH connections and how to share a remote terminal session with a friend without using Zoom. 😲

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

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

WP&UP is now Big Orange Heart 🧡 — Dan Maby announced their rebranding and pivot to serve the larger (now much larger) Remote Working community.

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

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

🏕️ Two WordPress events should be on your radar:

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

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here are my video picks of the week:

  • Ronnie Burt at WordCamp Atlanta 2019 discusses the requirements of a Privacy Policy and how to use the new built-in WordPress privacy tools. ⚖️
  • These two videos (first, second) from Freemius cover the “Dos And Don’ts” of renewal discounts for WordPress plugins and themes. 💲

🎙️ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that I enjoyed: