Coming up on January 22 is the world premiere of this unique 24-hour global celebration of WordPress. WordFest aims at “bringing our community together in a safe environment.”
With nearly 50 international speakers giving talks, workshops, and socials scheduled to cover all time zones there is something for everyone. Remote working and mental health will be among the themes covered.
You should register for free right now!
Gutenberg 9.7 was released this week with numerous updates and improvements. ✨
One of the more prominent features allows a user to drag block patterns from the block inserter to the desired position directly on the canvas.
This release also changes how reusable blocks are shown and edited in the editor. It “solv[es] some of the old issues around block inspector, and block toolbars for the reusable blocks.”
Finally, with block variations, the editor controls will correspond to the selected block variation, displaying its icon and description in the block interface.
Events Calendar was acquired by Liquid Web this week. 🤝
The entire Events Calendar team is staying on board and will be transferred to Liquid Web. According to Reid Peifer via Post Status Slack, this is “about 50 people, leaving Modern Tribe with a headcount of 74.”
Events Calendar has over 800,000 active installs. The acquisition is also said to include Promoter, WPSandbox, and Loxi.
Customers can expect the same level of service, “plus more new features in the future.”
Here's a very cool technology that came to light this week: a neural network called DALL·E that creates images from text captions. It can interpret a wide range of image descriptions in natural language, like “an armchair in the shape of an avocado.” 🥑
The New York Times has published a story that says JetBrains is under investigation by United States intelligence agencies and private cybersecurity consultants concerning the SolarWinds breach that recently took place.
It's a very odd and still developing story. 🔍
Matt Mullenweg shared his annual “What's in My Bag” post but with a different twist this year:
“I want to share the apps and pandemic purchases that were meaningful to me, along with a few words on each… I went down a #vanlife rabbit hole and ended up camping and working remotely a decent chunk of the year.”
Well, I now know what foot cream Matt uses. That makes my week. 🦶
Christina Garnett has written an introduction to community building. ♥️
This is a great description of the foundations:
“For other marketing efforts, you have to develop your tech stack…. For community, you have to develop your heart stack.”
Discussion and feedback are requested on children’s privacy protection in WordPress through the lens of COPPA. 🚸
Here's a handy tool for front-end developers: cubic-bezier.com previews and compares CSS animations, slows them down, and even adjusts them visually. It gives you the ability to copy-paste a CSS snippet to plug into your project. ✂️
For example, if you use the popular Moment.js on your site, this “is the first one Lighthouse points out as having a few better options.”
I enjoyed this post from Eric Meyer on accessible Twitter content. (Spoiler: there isn't that much of it.)
Adrian Roselli has an excellent related article that Eric links to called “Improving Your Tweet Accessibility.”
Brad Touesnard looks back on the year 2020 for Delicious Brains:
- Challenges in hiring: “I started 2020 with two recruiters helping me with hiring, but it didn’t work out. I plan to try having someone help me again this year, but will probably try a part-time HR person to help with more than just recruiting. I’ve always had better success working with people on an ongoing basis.”
- “The pandemic definitely made hiring harder this year…. we were instantly no longer one of the few fully remote companies hiring.”
- Ended 2020 with 62% more new Twitter followers than the year before.
- “We experienced healthy growth again this year with total revenue up 19% over last year. This is a drop from last year’s growth rate, but I’m still very happy with it.”
Brad has a breakdown of all their products in his post, so if you own or develop for any of these, I would give it a read.
With another 2020 year-in-review, Vic Drover writes about his experiences over at Watchful, which is a service that monitors, updates, and secures your WordPress — and Joomla — websites.
🔌 Vic goes into details of the business and when it comes to premium plugin updates for WordPress:
“The new auto-update feature in WordPress core does not include premium plugins…. we added support for some premium plugin updates from Elegant Marketplace… GiveWP and all of the plugins from Easy Digital Downloads…. and at the time of writing, we support updates for 144 premium WordPress plugins.”
If your company is new to using Github issues, here is a handy collection of issue and pull request templates.
Button Buddy is a tool Stephanie Eckles created that lets you learn what it takes to ensure your buttons or button-styled links have accessible contrast. 🔲
Gravity Forms has released their latest 2.5 beta for testing with themes and custom addons.
The 2.5 version will include a new form editor, drag-and-drop column controls, increased accessibility, updates to markup and styles, and increased theme integration.
On theme integration, the release post says “[our] team is working with a wide assortment of theme developers to help ensure that 2.5 will work with many popular WordPress themes straight out of the box.” 📦
Users hanging on to Lightroom version 6.0, officially Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC 2015, might be forced to jump on the subscription bandwagon or find another solution soon. 🖼️
Eric Karkovack shares the challenge of switching from a page builder to the WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor: “Want similar functionality? It's hit or miss… by default, Gutenberg isn’t meant to provide all of the same functionality as a page builder.”
Two critical steps are 1) having a plan and 2) a development/staging environment:
“A staging area allows you to create an exact duplicate of your production website and test out the necessary changes. It can act as a proving ground of sorts for custom blocks. This prevents any unanticipated problems from bothering your users.”
In the end, Eric concludes “moving over to Gutenberg may be the most future-friendly solution. Under the right circumstances, that alone will make it worth the effort.” 👍
Chris Lema looks back on 2020 and shares seven things he learned:
- It's easy to focus on my own frustrations and forget to check in with my friends.
- Pushing hard can have negative team consequences.
- Complex products are tough and require a lot of attention.
- Timing the selling of one house and buying another is work.
- When deciding where to live, my highest value is on friendship.
- Buying companies is a constant and iterative process.
- More sleep and getting on the scale regularly really helps.
Although these are the summaries, I encourage you to read Chris's post for his reflections on the details and the “whys.” I share Chris's viewpoint on health — mental and physical. 💯
Michelle Schulp adopted “I Am Enough” as her 2020 guiding words. Now, in her reflections back on the past year, she writes this phrase “seemed like it was perfectly suited to combat the waves of crushing stress, disconnection, and exhaustion that encompassed the global state of Pandemic life.” But is it ever enough? “Instead of measuring ourselves against infinity and constantly falling short, why don’t we change the metric?”
I'm sure many of us can relate to some of Michelle's thoughts:
“The journey of belonging is full of paradoxes… The global pandemic has offered us all a rare chance to slow down, move purposefully, and become attuned with who we are. I hope that some of you out there can choose to embrace the paradoxes in your life as well, as we all look forward to the day we can Belong together again.”
Michelle's post is somewhere between a moment of Zen and a self-examination session. 🧘
TabFS is a browser extension that mounts your browser tabs as a filesystem on your computer. (It supports Chrome and Firefox.) If you are a little creative and a browser power user, there is some power and potential here.
Upcoming Events 📆
- The WordPress Mega Meetup's “New Year, New Stuff” episode lands on January 19. This is a live gathering of multiple WordPress Meetup groups.
- Wordfest Live 2021 makes its debut on January 21 as a 24-hour event loaded with great speakers.
- WordCamp India 2021 will take place over three weekends from January 30 to February 14, 2021!
📹 Here is my video pick of the week:
- Knowledge Project: Matt Mullenweg and Shane Parrish cover turnarounds, how environments affect performance, the pros and cons of distributed work, uncovering your lacunae, mental models, and patterns of decision making. (This is also available as a podcast.) Matt notes: “Proprietary software is an evolutionary dead end. You can think of open source packages like genetic alleles that have a higher fitness function, and eventually become the fittest organism. The longer I spend watching mega-trends in technology, the more I see that pattern everywhere, from encyclopedias to cryptocurrencies.”
🎙️ Holidays and New Years usually stall podcast schedules, but here are a few I'm recommending this week:
- Matt Report: A 2020 Year in Review episode, where Matt comments on his move to Castos and Easy Support Videos.
- Postlight Podcast: Matt Mullenweg talks to Gina Trapani and Paul Ford about the expansion of WordPress and his love for open source. He shares controversial opinions on open source and explains why we’ll all be headed there in the future.