Footnotes #419

WordPress 5.6 Beta 2 is available for testing. WordPress 5.6 is still slated for release on December 8. 📅

In the meantime, you will want to upgrade to WordPress 5.5.2, which was released on Thursday. It features 14 bug fixes and 10 security fixes. 🔒


The 2020 WordPress Annual Survey is open — please take it. ☑️

The results from the 2019 survey have been shared, and there's a lot to learn from them. What is striking is that very few people took the 2019 survey — only about 6,000 compared to 45,000 responses to the first survey of this kind back in 2015!

6,000 people cannot possibly represent the diversity of the WordPress community, so please take the survey this year.

Allie Nimmons started a conversation about the lack of questions concerning languages, ethnicity/race, and disability. This too is disappointing and needs to change. We need more and better information about the WordPress community every year, so the questions must be broad and inclusive of all its members.

2019 Survey Highlights:

  • One big takeaway from the 2019 results is that (at least 6,000) WordPress users are working on more complex sites with greater efficiency: “The number of professionals who report providing a heavily customized experience to clients has increased substantially, while at the same time the amount of time reported on creating those sites has decreased.”
  • Just over three-quarters (76%) of Professionals use WordPress as a CMS, significantly more than in 2016 (73%).
  • Significantly fewer respondents feel WordPress is as good as or better than its competitors (76%) compared to 2016 and 2017 (82% and 83%, respectively).
  • More than three-quarters (78%) of Users say a lot of custom work has been done to their WordPress installation. Like the Professional groups, 4% say everything on the site has been customized.
  • Nearly half (49%) of the Professionals say it takes 20-60 hours to launch their typical WordPress project. The proportion of Professionals who say it takes more than 200 hours to launch has significantly declined from 6% in 2016 and 2017 to 4% in 2019.
  • Half (50%) of the Pro Freelancers and Hobbyists feel “not at all comfortable” working with React.
  • A significantly higher proportion of Professionals (20%) feel “very comfortable” with WordPress REST APIs compared to Pro Freelancers/Hobbyists (13%)

Omar Reiss at Yoast has assembled a “WordPress and PHP 8 compatibility report.” WordPress developers should take note, and it's also a good general resource for any PHP developer. The report covers some possible breaking changes and compatibility challenges. 💔

Isn't WordPress already compatible with PHP 8? Omar advises caution:

“[My team] is highly doubtful. It’s really not possible to tell. […] [T]he sheer amount of breaking changes and the type of changes included in PHP 8, plus some added complexities in cross-version tooling, make this compatibility challenge a different beast from what we’ve seen before.”

It sounds like Yoast is making progress preparing for PHP 8, and they (along with the whole community) will be keenly interested in reactions to this report.


Akismet turned 15 years old this week. 🎂

500 billion spam comments and trackbacks have been blocked since October 2005!

notes, “That’s an average of a thousand spam per second, every second, since before Twitter existed.” 😮


ZDNet reports job listings for entry-level PHP developer roles have increased a massive 834% since January 2020, making it the fastest-growing tech job across the industry, according to Indeed‘s data. 👨‍💻


Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land explains how Google indexes passages within a page's content and what it means for your SEO.

Google recently announced its move into indexing specific sections of content on web pages. This will affect 7% of search queries across all languages when it's rolled out globally. 🔍


Composer 2.0 was released on the 24th. This new version is reported to be faster, use less memory, and it's packed with many new features. (Note there are some possible backward compatibility breaks.) 🎹


I enjoyed these “Ten Commandments” of navigating code reviews. They're from Angie Jones, a Senior Developer Advocate at Applitools.

“Thou shalt not take it personally” and “Thou shalt be willing to compromise” are my favorite “commandments,” but all of them are good. 👩‍⚖️


Benedict Evans took a brief but deep dive into the story of eCommerce growth during the pandemic. He also looks at how traditional shopping and online advertising are changing. 🛒

“How do people decide what to buy online, when a shop can’t show it to them? It seems to me that pretty much every part of that question is being reset this year. [….] The Covid lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 are catalysing and accelerating all sorts of changes — we’re getting five years of adoption in a few quarters, and five years of inevitability in the back of the neck.”

There are great visuals and important data points here alongside some good, open questions.


The popular free software project “youtube-dl” was removed from Github following a legal notice from the Recording Industry Association of America claiming it violates U.S. copyright law.

Youtube-dl is “a powerful general-purpose media tool that allows users to make local copies of media from a very broad range of sites.” Journalists in particular make use of it in their work.

While not WordPress-related, the journalism angle and the Streisand Effect of the RIAA's attempt to kill an open-source project hold a lot of fascinating lessons.

Some of the ways the code has been shared are insanely smart too. 🤔


Here's a nifty web tool to easily create an emoji or letter-based SVG favicon.


Also clever: a tiny javascript library that makes DOM elements draggable and movable. 🖱️


Here is some exciting information about the CSS image() function which is a new W3C spec feature.

Although it's not well-supported in browsers yet, the CSS image function will give us more control over image loading in CSS. It will even be possible to crop images via CSS and load an image type based on browser support. ✂️


Keanan Koppenhaver shows how GitHub Actions can help make “FTP as a deployment mechanism” both an automatic and repeatable process to make deploys go much more smoothly. 🚚


Manos Psychogyiopoulos shares the story of how he started using WooCommerce and why:

“As a WooCommerce developer, I believe that our biggest strength is our WordPress technology and community heritage.”


There is currently a discussion unfolding about the benefits of aligning the WordPress release cycle with the “industry standard.”💭

Francesca Marano recaps some conversations that have been happening in Slack and on blogs about the release cycle with a call for feedback. 💬


📅 Conference and Event Updates

  • WordFest Live 2021 will debut on January 22, 2021 as a 24-hour festival, celebrating all that is WordPress. Registration is now open, as well as a call for speakers and sponsors. Organized by Dan Maby, Michelle Frechette, Hauwa Abashiya, Paul Smart, and Cate DeRosia, this free event aims to raise awareness as well as funds for Big Orange Heart.  BOH is a UK-based charity that promotes positive well-being and mental health within remote working communities. 🧡
  • Two upcoming WordCamps both being held online: Finland (November 12), and México (November 25-28). 🌐

DAVID'S PICKS 📬

Video Picks

📹 Here are my video picks of the week:

    • Matt Mullenweg had a “fireside chat” with Scott McClelland at Houston NEXT. Matt shares his insights on how distributed work is good for business.
    • Steve Zehngut presented five reasons to move to headless WordPress at WordCamp Los Angeles 2020, now available on WordPress.tv.

Podcast Picks

🎙️ Here are a few podcasts to listen to this week:

  • Matt Report: Matt Medeiros talks about funding a WordPress podcast and how it's taken him eight years to get to “roughly $15-20k a year” through his  “side-hustle of WordPress content creation.”
  • WPCoffeeTalk: Michelle Ames interviews Caylin White, a marketer and artist who works at GoWP.
  • Techmeme Ride Home has an interview with Joshua Schachter, founder of del.icio.us, which back in its day was one of the first social sites. Anyone who remembers Web 1.0 fondly will appreciate this.