Footnotes #432

๐Ÿงช WordPress 5.7 Beta 1 is now available for testing. It includes several enhancements such as lazy-load iframes, ongoing cleanup after the update to jQuery 3.5.1, and a new Robots API. Improvements to the block editor are in there too, of course. Finally, there is a very helpful streamlining of migrations from HTTP to HTTPS:

“Switching a WordPress site from HTTP to HTTPS has proven to be a pain for all involved. While on the surface, the Site Address and WordPress Address have to be updated, content with embedded HTTP URLs remains unchanged in the database.

With this release, migrating a site to HTTPS is now a one-click interaction. URLs in the database are automatically replaced when the Site and WordPress Address are both using HTTPS. Also, Site Health now includes an HTTPS status check.”

WordPress 5.6.1 is also available now. It features 20 core bug fixes, plus seven more in the block editor. ๐Ÿ“ฆ

What if WordPress core committers who no longer actively participate in core development received an emeritus status?๐Ÿค”

Josepha Haden Chomphosy has proposed how this might benefit WordPress in several ways.

๐Ÿค Joining some recent #club conversations in Post Status‘ Slack, Matt Mullenweg responded to a question involving acquisitions:

Automattic is also an active buyer and investor โ€” happy to bring the entire team on if the best path is acquisition, and we have a few of those coming up soon, or also more than happy to support the business staying independent and invest in its growth. We've invested over 40M in independent companies in the past year.”

On the criteria for investing in companies, Matt said he and Automattic look for businesses aligned with their primary goals:

“It needs to be WordPress related and help make the web a better place… Automattic's goal differs from WordPress' by two words: To democratize publishing and commerce. I personally would like to do both. Core does not provide any commerce tools directly, but provides the best platform on the web to build on top of.”

A new version of WooCommerce Blocks is out, and as noted in these release notes, this release includes small tweaks and bug fixes worthy of an update. โœจ

There's been a lot of discussion around Josepha Haden‘s post about the “Big Picture Goals” for 2021. Check up on the discussion there in the comments if you haven't seen it yet. To recap the intentionally broad and incomplete focal points, they are:

  • Full Site Editing: This goal targets giving users the ability to edit all elements of a site using Gutenberg blocks. This is marked as MVP for the Gutenberg plugin by April 2021, with its first release in core slated for WordPress 5.8. (In the ensuing discussion, Josepha responded to Joost de Valk and Frank Klein asking for clarification about the precise definition of MVP status.) ๐Ÿ“
  • LearnWP: This goal aims at regular publication of new workshops and lesson plans at while maintaining a high pass rate on workshop quizzes to establish learner success and comprehension. ๐Ÿ“š
  • Contributor Tools: here the goal is to decrease the manual overhead of maintenance work for teams through better tooling. ๐Ÿ› ๏ธ

๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Bob Dunn has a great post based on a recent doo_theWoo podcast episode with Mary Job. mary explains how the 2020 pandemic has affected Nigeria from the standpoint of a WooCommerce site builder:

“So definitely a lot of people are moving their businesses online, even over here. And then over here, itโ€™s more difficult because off the top of my head, I would say about 75% of the civil services, the government services are offline.”

๐Ÿ”™ Andy Fragen announced in Post Status Slack that he has begun work on a feature plugin for testing automatic rollback of a plugin or theme update failure:

“Activating the plugin will result in the creation of a zip file of the currently installed plugin/theme. An unzip process only happens during an update failure. An update failure can be simulated using a filter.”

There will be messaging in the event of an error and successful or unsuccessful rollback.

This is a feature plugin based on the PR for #51857. ๐Ÿ”Œ

David Mainayar aims to get PeachPay to be a competing “one-click checkout” solution for WooCommerce. ๐Ÿ‘

Genesis Shapers team member and developer Nahuai Badiola has announced the launch of OsomPress, a new theme shop for Genesis child themes.

OsomPress's flagship theme product is the Uprising Theme.

Uprising allows you to add attractive built-in block patterns and block collections to group page sections and layouts that share their appearance. ๐ŸŽจ

Brent Roose has a preview of what to expect in the upcoming release of PHP 8.1:

  • Array unpacking with string keys
  • A new array_is_list function
  • Enums (Enumeration types)

The RFC is still under discussion on enums, but the proposal to them has been received with enthusiasm. If you're unsure about the value they add, you can read about them here.

He also shares breaking changes and deprecations. ๐Ÿ’ฅ

Brad Williams from WebDevStudios shared their 2020 year in review, and it's notable how much they have given back to the community.

The company contributed more than 1400 hours for Five for the Future, took on nine more employees, held eight Lunch and Learns, provided 3,432 continuing education hours for staff, and collectively gave each other 27,694 tacos. ๐ŸŒฎ

They've been busy!

๐Ÿ’จ If you are looking for a positive Gutenberg experience, then check out this blog post. In it, Valentina Orlandi explains why WP Rocket chose Gutenberg and how the performance of their site improved.

“We asked the agency in charge of developing the theme to find a way to load CSS and JavaScript files from a block on demand. Meaning, the files are loaded only when the block is included on the page…. We then improved the system to automate it as much as possible.”

David Bisset asked for unpopular opinions about WordPress on Twitter and got some interesting responses that are, by turns, entertaining, insightful, challenging, and even deep. ๐Ÿฆ

๐Ÿ‘ Check out the new California DMV Virtual Office website from 10up, which got high praise from Sallie Goetsch:

“My BFF, who is 70 and technically challenged, just used it and said “After 3 bewildering attempts to renew my REAL ID this time I was able to do it and not even take a long time.”

Struggling with key government sites is not part of a good day for anyone, especially people with disabilities, language or cultural barriers, and so on. Usability and accessibility are truly vital.

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐ŸŽ“ WPCampus has announced a new planning blog. Director and founder Rachel Cherry writes:

“After five years of the same overall planning process, things have changed. And our planning methods became less effective. Itโ€™s time to try something new in how WPCampus organizes and fosters our community, its events, and its initiatives.”

I think this is a great move and helps keep things transparent, as Rachel mentions in the post.

There is also a call for organizers for WPCampus 2021. ๐Ÿ‘ˆ

๐ŸŽฏ Eric Karkovack explains why focusing on long-term goals is so difficult:

“Running a business often means dividing your focus… The irony is that long-term goals are what ensures that your design business will still be around years from now. Thatโ€™s why itโ€™s crucial to dedicate some time and energy towards maintaining them.”

๐ŸŽ„ Joshua Strebel shares how Pagely takes two weeks of company-wide downtime for Christmas and New Years' โ€” without causing any disruption for customers:

“We start communicating with our customer base in October about our upcoming holiday hours and offer assistance to prepare โ€“ encouraging customers to engage with us now to prepare for later.

We feature our closure dates on our newsletter and pretty much all other announcements up until the time weโ€™re out.”

Pagely also reduces the number of on-call shifts over the break to about three shifts per employee that are selected to fit their holiday schedule

The result:

“We cut actual SupportOps hours worked by 75% for 2 weeks and still responsibly addressed all our customer support obligations. Support load was down by approx 59% during this time as clearly we were not the only ones on vacation.”

Cosima Mielke shards some useful tools and resources for remote workers. This list deserves a look โ€” there are some unique things on it that I haven't seen before.

For example, Big Timer is a “bold yet minimalist” timer that counts down the remaining minutes right in your browser window โ€” and even if you accidentally close the browser tab or need to restart your device. โฒ๏ธ

Two good posts this week dig into the challenges of “developer relations” and how this role can be improved. ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ’ป

These tips from Nader Dabit include how to build bridges and not be married to a specific technology:

“Learn to be curious about competing technologies than the one you are most comfortable with. Many times you'll find that you either can learn a lot from their way of doing things or that you like their way of doing things so much better that you change your specialty.”

Sarah Drasner relates her experiences at Netlify and some of the issues she sees contributing to FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) about Developer Advocates:

“I didnโ€™t see Developer Advocacy downplayed until underrepresented people started participating, and I believe unconscious bias played a part in why it went from peak technical to non-technical.”

๐Ÿ”  Simon Hearne shows how you can avoid layout shifts caused by web fonts:

“…we need to prevent the layout shift by letting the browser render in a fallback system font if it doesnโ€™t get the web font in time, then optimize our fonts to try to get them to the browser before it needs them.”

A good post making the rounds this week argues for the benefits of RSS and why people might still prefer it.

Although “RSS may appear to some to have fallen by the wayside as content is increasingly siloed into only being available on a specific platform,” there is still great value in the freedom and control it offers:

Having only the content I want to see only be shown when I want to see it with the freedom to jump between readers as I please, all with no ads…

Definitely my definition of a good user experience. ๐Ÿ‘

Here are some tips on best practices from WPML for translating your plugin or theme and reaching a much wider audience through the repository. ๐Ÿ’ฏ

Congrats to Envira Gallery Lite (a photo gallery plugin for WordPress with a pro version) for crossing 3 million downloads in the repo. ๐Ÿ™Œ

Altis DXP had its first birthday in 2020. In its first year of existence, it has powered 27 billion page requests and welcomed 18 partners. ๐ŸŽ‚

If you are a HomeBrew user, version 3.0 has been released. The most significant changes since 2.7.0 are official Apple Silicon support and a new bottle format in formulae. ๐Ÿพ

Upcoming Events ๐Ÿ“†

  • There is a WordPress “Mega Meetup” coming up on February 18th. It will be focused on Elementor and the overall performance of your site with speakers Michelle Keefe, Maciek Palmowski, and Bud Kraus.
  • WordCamp India 2021 is still taking place over three weekends from January 30 to February 14, 2021.
  • Coming up on March 4th is DE{CODE} โ€” WP Engine‘s virtual developer conference.


Video Picks

๐Ÿ“น Here are my video picks of the week:

Podcast Picks

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Here are a few podcasts to listen to that I heartily recommend:

  • WP Briefing: A new and brief (under 15 minutes) podcast for a more “official” source of insight into WordPress Core. Its hosted by Josepha Haden and will include in all its episodes: “an easy-to-digest overview of a cool WordPress philosophy, a highlight of a community success story or a noteworthy contributor, and a small list of big things to know about (or do) in the coming weeks.”
  • How I Built It: Joe Casabona talks to Amber Hinds about making accessibility less daunting through her agency and their new plugin, Accessibility Checker.
  • Matt Report: Matt talks about what he calls “Founder marketing” and the state of podcasting.
  • Do The Woo: A fun chat with Noรซlle Steegs from covers doubling down on learning WordPress and WooCommerce at the same time, starting her own store, transitioning to working with an agency as a freelance developer, and more.