Footnotes #406

As the WordPress 5.5 release date (August 11) approaches, more news about it has emerged.

Justin Ahinon lists nineteen miscellaneous developer-focused changes to themes, taxonomy, comments, and more. Some of these changes may have escaped your attention, like the way updating a plugin or theme by uploading a ZIP file works. ๐Ÿ—๏ธ

Jonathan Desrosiers noted in the comments that a separate post will be coming out to explain changes to wp_cache_get_multiple().

Developers should also check up on the changes to WordPress React components in addition to this update about Opcode Cache invalidation.

The proposed Block Directory, another new feature coming in WordPress 5.5, has had its guidelines revised. Of note: “This set of guidelines would not apply to general plugins that happen to include blocks โ€” plugins in the main plugin directory need only follow the standard plugin guidelines.”

Finally, there's a brief mention of some new block tools: Custom Line Heights and Custom Units. ๐Ÿ“

Munir Kamal has written up a comparative examination of “HTML Bloat” in Gutenberg and Elementor. Munir created two versions of the same page layout in both Gutenberg and Elementor to compare the amount and quality of the code they each generate. Munir's collection and presentation of the data from this experiment are well done. ๐Ÿ‘

Of course, while the amount of markup and JavaScript (which affects page load, among other things) is an important factor it's not the only factor in page bloat. I've seen some responses to Munir's results from Elementor users, and to be fair, some of their arguments are valid. It's also impressive how far Gutenberg has come in a relatively short time. ๐Ÿ‹๏ธโ€โ™€๏ธ

Over in SpinupWP‘s impressive and broadly useful documentation pages, there's a great new mini-tutorial on the best way to set up scheduled events in WordPress.ย  It also explains why the default WP-Cron configuration is truly “terrible.” โฐ

TLDR: For something more reliable than WP-Cron, you might want to consider something like a Unix cron in conjunction with WP-CLI.

Helen Hou-Sandรญ has written a thoughtful piece on some valuable things software teams can learn from music masterclasses. As I learned from Helen, masterclasses are when musicians perform a piece for an established artist, and the master artist gives them feedback in front of an audience. ๐ŸŽป

Helen touches on managing feedback in group settings, arriving prepared, and cross-discipline knowledge. Her points on feedback are the ones I liked the most: “Not only does feedback need to be inclusive of a group while also targeted to each individual; it needs to be clearly contextualized.”

Bonus: Relax and listen to a 45-minute Bach cello suite in a masterclass at the end of the post. ๐ŸŽผ

Bing recently launched its first official plugin for WordPress that “enables automated submission of URLs from WordPress sites to the Bing index.”

In their announcement, they note the plugin “detects both page updates and new pages” created in WordPress and automatically submits the URLs behind the scenes to their Bing Webmaster Tools API. ๐Ÿ”

Congrats to the Paid Memberships Pro team โ€” their plugin recently passed 100,000 active installs! ๐Ÿ‘

Human Made‘s latest Word on the Future newsletter discusses the rise of Content as a Service (CaaS) and asks whether this trend is going to edge WordPress and other traditional CMS platforms out of the market. CaaS “is the ability of a CMS to allow content to be created and managed in one place, and then be distributed to a variety of channels โ€“ apps, websites, social media, VR and IoT touchpoints, etc.,.. โ€“ via API.”

Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE) is not a new concept, but it has never been easy to do. Gartner reports 80% of marketers “will continue to struggle to seamlessly connect more than three channels of the customer journey” through to 2022. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

Nathan Baschez wrote an insightful business-related post on the “lifecycle of a business.”

According to Nathan, businesses often are born simple, grow complex, and then die of something he calls โ€œComplexity Convection.โ€ Nathan argues this is a natural process that drives many companies up-market and leaves them open to disruption. โšฐ๏ธ

Applying his theory to WordPress and other CMS platforms, Nathan writes:

Wix and Weebly were created as simpler alternatives to WordPress and Drupal. Now, theyโ€™re the complex ones. The market is being invaded by new entrants like Universe and Carrd. Some people even use Notion to build websites! And, for the ultimate simplicity, thereโ€™s always No website needed! Just the nav.”

Add this to the list of crappy things in 2020: Ben Martin at Sucuri shares another newly discovered variation of a credit card swiper he found on a WordPress WooCommerce site. ๐Ÿ’ณ

Ben says, “2020 appears to be the year of the credit card swiper, and more and more of this malware seems to be targeting WordPress.” ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Tom McFarlin reminded me that Alain Schlesser has an excellent guide to WP-CLI. This would be a good primary reference point to bookmark if you haven't seen it.

Alain's guide includes some great links to tutorials, other guides, and it explains how to search for third-party packages you can use with WP-CLI. ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป

Here's a closer look at named parameters in PHP 8.

Native iframe lazy-loading is now an HTML standard and is currently supported in Chrome. As the name implies, this technology defers loading offscreen iframes until a user scrolls near them. ๐Ÿ’ค

For example, by default, the Facebook Like plugin (using their JavaScript SDK) pulls in ~215KB of resources to embed their “like” button in a page. 197KB of this is JavaScript. Now that code doesn't have to load until you scroll and see it:

“The plugin may appear at the end of an article or near the end of a page, so loading it eagerly when it's offscreen may be suboptimal.”

KPIs for WordPress Agencies with Virtual CFO Jeff Meziere

๐Ÿ”‘ Join co-founders Jeff Meziere and Cory Miller as they walk through the Key Performance Indicators for professional service companies, particularly agencies.

Jeff Meziere is a CPA, as well as a Virtual CFO. Sign up and bring your questions! There will be a live Q&A session at the end. ๐Ÿ“ˆ

Conference and Event Updates

  • ๐Ÿ’ผ WPMRR Virtual Summit (September 23rd and 24th). Free, online. The focus will be “100% focused on helping you make monthly recurring revenue work for your WordPress business.โ€ Scroll down the homepage where they publicly list the MRR (monthly recurring revenue) numbers from the speakers who will be participating! ๐Ÿ’ธ
  • ๐Ÿ”Œ Gutenberg Times Live (August 6, 7:00 PM EST) Free webinar. Kelly Dawn, Alex Shiels and Samuel โ€œOttoโ€ Wood will discuss how the Block Directory works and how to get your single block plugin into the Block Directory in light of the submission guidelines currently in place.
  • ๐Ÿ•๏ธ WordCamp Europe 2021 (TBD, Online). Ticket Sales are not open yet, but the Call for Organisers is. Looking ahead with hope to an in-person WCEU in 2022, the Super Bock Arena (Pavilhรฃo Rosa Mota) in Porto, Portugal has been booked for June 2 โ€“ June 4, 2022.
  • ๐Ÿ˜ขย WordCamp US 2020 has been cancelled. You can read the organizers' response to questions about their decision not to hold an online event as originally planned in April. Online conference fatigue and doubt about their ability to meet community goals were among the reasons given for the cancellation.


Podcast Picks

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are some good podcasts I enjoyed recently:

  • Voices of the ElePHPant: An interview with WordPress developer Kim Cottrell about her career and growth, DevOps, and Lando.
  • Distributed Podcast: Matt had a nice chat with Wherewithall founder Lara Hogan on management and leadership. Learn what BICEPS stands for! ๐Ÿ’ช