Notes for June 23, 2020

Footnotes #401

Gutenberg 8.4 was released yesterday with some impressive enhancements included image editing, multi-block controls, and the enabling of the Block Directory.

The Block Directory has been a big-ticket item in the WordPress Roadmap and is powered by the Plugin Directory. 🔌

Ben Hoyt tweeted about two lightweight alternatives to Google Analytics that launched in the last year: GoatCounter and Plausible. 🐐

Cory Miller noticed the University of Wisconsin‘s Stevens Point campus has a free, self-paced tutorial for people creating their first WordPress website. Cory: “Whenever I see dedicated classes and learning materials at colleges and schools specific to WordPress it makes me smile.” 😃

Taco Verdonschot explains why the WordPress community is not just about the software and how this type of culture is sustained. If you are fairly new to the community, this is a good general take on it that may help you find the right places to dive in. 🙌

WebDevStudios has built a scaffolding tool that sets up everything you need to build Gutenberg blocks. Michael Joseph walks through the install and major parts of the tool. 🛠️

Brad Touesnard revised and updated a popular post that explains how to create SSL certificates for local development. Running HTTPS locally without problems has some nice upsides, like matching your local development environment with your production server. 💡

Smash Balloon, a social feed plugin for WordPress that has over a million users, has been acquired by Awesome Motive. 🎈

Apple recently announced WebP image support in Safari 14. That news led me to Johannes Siipola asking the first question to come to mind: is WebP really better than JPEG?

The answer may depend on whether you are using the reference libjpeg library or the improved MozJPEG encoder. 🤔

Wholesome Publishing is a new plugin that adds comments to Gutenberg blocks. You can also give any block a “draft” status so it won't appear in the front end — very handy! 💬

Tobias Ahlin has written an informative introduction to A/B testing 🧪 that also explains very clearly why testing matters:

“The more users you have, the more damage you can cause by shipping features that, despite your best intentions, happen to make the product worse for your average user.”

Joe Casabona has started a class called Podcast Liftoff. If you are interested in starting a podcast, get in there! David has signed up and can't wait to dive in. 🎙️

As Pedro Mendonça mentions on Twitter, the Translation Tools plugin for WordPress has been updated with its 1.1.0 release. It improves usability, shows the availability of all WordPress Locales, and includes theme and plugin translations for Locales without Language Packs. 🌐

Nathan Rice shares some wisdom gained from his experience of “starting over” 🏁 by transitioning from a developer role into management with StudioPress at WPEngine:

I’ve discovered a new passion, and while it may not be marathon coding sessions experimenting with the newest tech the world of JavaScript, it’s still a passion.

Different can be good.

Conference Updates


Video Picks

📹 Here's the video pick of the week:

  • If you missed this talk about prototyping projects with Anyssa Ferreira from WordCamp Europe 2020, it's a must-see. I love how Anyssa approached the topic and used examples that made things clear even to me. 👩‍💼

Podcast Picks

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

Notes for June 20, 2020

Footnotes #400

WordPress 5.4.2 is a security and maintenance release that rolled out on June 10. It features 23 bugfixes and enhancements. Make sure your sites are updated if that hasn't happened automatically. One maintenance update was also deployed back to versions 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3. 📦

Of note: In 5.4.2, there is only a brief window of time to publicly view a comment that's waiting for moderation after it's submitted. “This change prevents search engines from indexing URLs that may contain spammy messages,” according to JB Audras.

This comes in response to changes in 5.1 that added an “awaiting moderation” screen for new comments. This allowed spammers to get an indexable URL that contained their unapproved messages. 🙅💬

Gutenberg 8.3 has been released. It features a few additions to the design tools for blocks, including a new padding control on the cover block. This release consolidates a new organization of block categories that groups blocks into text, media, design, widgets, and embeds.

See our video pick below to learn more about what's been happening recently and what's coming up next for blocks.

Reflecting on the color of my skin, by Marques Brownlee is worth your time. 🧑🏾

PHP is 25! 🎂 The Register has a nice summary of its history that links to a 2017 talk given by Rasmus Lerdorf. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend this presentation, especially for developers.

JetBrains also has a PHP story worthy of your time with a timeline of important events.

The very first version of PHP was a simple set of Common Gateway Interface (CGI) binaries written in C. Originally used for tracking visits to Rasmus’s online résumé, he named the suite of scripts “Personal Home Page Tools” or “PHP Tools.” 🔨

Matt Shaw explains how the JavaScript FileReader API can be used to upload large files in chunks and avoid server limits. The API has major browser support now, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer 10.

Matt notes, “If you’re going to use something like this in a real app, you should definitely look up any security issues.” 🔒

ProcessKit has a free video course on automating processes in a service business. It explains how to create an efficient standard operating procedure (SOP) and automate project management using tasks. 🤖

An effort is underway in PHPCSStandards to encourage inclusive language and throw a warning when non-inclusive terms such as “whitelist/blacklist” and “master/slave” are found. ⚠️

No matter what your budget is, there's a lot to learn from Matt's Guide to Distributed Work Tools. 🛠️

ReviewSignal, already known for its WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks, recently added a separate performance analysis report for WooCommerce Hosting. Hosts specializing in WooCommerce — like GreenGeeks, Nestify, Pressable, Seravo, Servebolt, SiteGround, and Wetopi — are among those who participated in ReviewSignal's tests. 🚤

I won't spoil any of the results, but if you host WooCommerce or have sites with these hosting companies, take a look.

If you are looking for solid guidance on documentation writing, check this post featuring a video from speaker Daniele Procida. Daniele notes there are four kinds of docs: 1) learning-oriented tutorials, 2) goal-oriented how-to guides, 3) understanding-oriented discussions, and 4) information-oriented reference material. 📚

Timothy Vernon outlines how inlining your CSS can improve site performance. Lots of useful information here. 🏃

Timothy mentions that Chrome has a tool to find unused JavaScript and CSS; he also mentions Penthouse, which generates “critical CSS” for your webpages.

The WordCamp Europe team has shared a list of tips for designing an online WordCamp. 🏕️

🎙️📹 More and more posts are being written about good audio and/or video setups for working and broadcasting from home. We mentioned a guide for CEOs from Matt Mullenweg in our last issue. Here's two more that have been making the rounds:

  • Matt Stauffer publishes live streams and videos on YouTube and goes into his recommendations for webcam, audio, and video. (Prices range from free to a decent amount of money.) Matt says don't worry about quality too much: “Just get it out there! Worry about audio quality when you start to have enough listeners that they care.”
  • Olivier Lacan also has a good guide with side-by-side comparisons of webcams and lighting. A good tip: don't use embedded microphones if you can do help it.

It appears that we are close to seeing basic, extensible XML sitemaps functionality in WordPress core. 🧭

Preethi Sam shares some techniques for generating creative background patterns using gradients, CSS shapes, and even emojis. 👍

Here is some interesting advice about picking your tech stack — great for sharing and comparing notes. 👨‍💻

I appreciated the first point about going on what you know:

“Unless your product has deep technical requirements the only thing you should optimize for is how fast you personally can code. Don’t try something new. Don’t experiment. Write code.”

Stumbled on some interesting advice on picking your tech stack which I found worthy of sharing for conversation.

I appreciated the first point on going on what you know more times than not: “Unless your product has deep technical requirements the only thing you should optimize for is how fast you personally can code. Don’t try something new. Don’t experiment. Write code.”

Conference Updates


Video Picks

📹 Here's the video pick of the week:

  • During WordCamp Europe 2020 Matt Mullenweg had a discussion with Matias Ventura about the features coming to Gutenberg. The video presentation had a well-organized demo of some impressive tweaks and new features. In it, Matt also addressed some questions from the WCEU crowd, including his thoughts on WordPress's position in relation to Shopify.

Podcast Picks

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

Notes for June 19, 2020

Employment troubles at Longreads

Note: I don't often talk about employment issues. There are good and bad stories about employment nearly everywhere. I write about this one because it was quite public, and to do with one of the largest employers in our space — one often cited as a great place to work. I believe it merits deeper consideration.

Recently, Sari Botton and Soraya Roberts shared Twitter threads expressing their displeasure with the employment practices and culture at Longreads, which they say deteriorated over time as Automattic continuously cut funding and resources for the site. In the threads, they both say they resigned as long-term “permalancers” at Longreads in protest to their own and others' treatment there.

Acquired in 2014, Longreads is a popular website and platform for discovering high quality (and as the name insinuates) long-form content. The content has changed over the years but has included mixes of curated and original content.

After Automattic acquired Longreads, some members of the team, including founder Mark Armstrong, moved into other parts of the company’s editorial needs. Mark now manages Automattic PR (and is my own contact for Automattic news). However, they didn’t leave Longreads behind.

Automattic increased Longreads’ editorial budget to more than $130,000, according to comments from Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg in Post Status Slack. Matt said the strategy, “didn’t get the results they hoped for, so we had to start bringing it back to the normal range ($30k/mo),” which he says they implemented over the course of half a year.

Matt and Automattic’s official statement both say they continue to be committed to Longreads. However, it is clear that the 75%+ reduction in funding hit the Longreads team really hard.

Automattic is deeply committed to the future of Longreads. The current story fund is at $30,000 a month — this includes about $10,000 directly from readers, and an additional $20,000 in matching funds from Automattic. This will not change, and we will be sharing more details on how Longreads will move forward in the days to come.

Longreads underwent a difficult re-org earlier this year because its previous structure and model proved unsustainable. Over the past two years, during a period of aggressive growth and experimentation, editors and other contributors joined the team on a contract basis and their work was subsidized by Automattic beyond the story fund match.

We will continue to put reader subscriptions toward projects that tell powerful stories, and will focus in particular on those that also have long-term social impact.

In a tweet since the original critique threads, Sari Botton highlights seven total staff (in addition to herself) seeking work.

Soraya said the cuts came seemingly out of nowhere, “I didn't want more money. I just wanted to feel secure in my position. Instead, six months ago, out of nowhere, our budget was cut dramatically. We lost editors, fact-checkers, researchers, copy editors, basically everyone needed to produce great writing (+ podcasts).”

Soraya and Sari both square their critique directly on Matt Mullenweg’s control of the organization, citing several poor employment practices and how he “systematically decimated Longreads.”

Again in Slack, Matt responded in more depth to the threads:

I obviously disagree with Sari's allegations, and in fact there's a correction from the editor that she claims was fired. The accusation has thousands of likes, the correction has almost none… that is unfortunately how news works these days. I hope it's obvious because of Automattic's track record on these issues over the past 15 years, including structural aspects like being global, being distributed, doing hiring over chat, all the things we do to open up opportunity for the widest number of people possible. If you believe that the same organization that would advocate for global pay equity would broker discrimination of this type, I'm not sure what to tell you!

Funding journalism in 2020 is as hard as it’s ever been, and it’s never been easy. Longreads enjoyed a respite from traditional ad-driven, attention-seeking publications due to significant big-tech funding, reader funding, and a focus on in-depth pieces that aim for reading engagement over page views. Still, Automattic clearly felt that the increased budget was unsustainable, and despite apparent attempts to slowly adjust back to a smaller budget, you just can’t sugarcoat that degree of cuts.

Sari, Soraya, and several others were clearly caught off guard and soured on Matt and Automattic in the process.

These are difficult issues.

Automattic’s hiring, employment, and payment equity history do indeed speak for themselves. At the same time, as Sari and Soraya note, many Longreads “permalancers” were not protected under that same umbrella.

This is not unheard of in Matt’s sphere, though it is strange for a company acquired by Automattic — and Automattic has long sought editorial, marketing, and PR talent. The permalancer status and eventual cutoff from tools like Slack and email showcase how separated from Automattic Longreads contractors were.

When I speak of Matt’s sphere of employment, I mostly speak to the various people who work or have worked for him via non-Automattic avenues, like Audrey or direct contracting. Such employees have historically not had the same privileges as Automattic employees. Employees like former WP Tavern writer Jeff Chandler often cited a sense of employment isolation.

Additionally, I’ve known many people who have cited that working for Matt is a challenge. It is documented in Scott Belkin’s 2013 book, The Year Without Pants, and even nicknamed at least one practice of his as, “Mattbombing” — by coming in late in a process with a comment that upturns the entire plan for a team.

I don’t know of any CEO with as wide of an attention span as Matt. He runs Automattic, WordPress, Audrey, and other endeavors. Yet he also reads and interacts more in this ecosystem than anyone I know. Additionally, he has a ton of direct reports between A8C, the WordPress project, and elsewhere. I have long inquired about these direct reports — something he’s told me he’s worked to improve on.

Longreads contractors didn’t really work directly with Matt. Their distaste came from decisions that felt immediate, cutthroat, and discompassionate — whether intended or not. I believe these issues could be related. A team without the full privileges of Automattic, combined with being affected by seemingly rash decisions from top management, could easily spiral into an unhealthy workplace that does not look or feel like the one Automattic is frequently (and I think rightly) praised for.

I believe Matt and other Automattic management think deeply about creating a workplace that encourages employees, builds them up, and supports them deeply. However, even with our best intentions and great efforts, we can still fail to achieve these outcomes all the time.

It is clear to me that the Longreads team got a raw deal. Significant cuts may not have been avoidable in a corporate sense; even a well-funded tech company cannot ignore financial bleeding forever. But the timing was not good for the Longreads team, with at least some of the cuts coming during economic uncertainty.

Somewhere along the line, communication — at a minimum — failed here. I still believe Automattic is a great place for people to work, though, like all workplaces, it is far from perfect. I’m sure everyone involved here will learn from the experience. I hope Automattic HR is able to fully review this outcome to learn and improve team reduction practices in the future. I hate it for that team and their talents. I wish they could’ve had a much softer landing.

I think it's important to consider the difference between intentions and perceptions, and between plans and outcomes. I think Automattic, and ultimately Matt, are well intended as employers, and likely planned to accommodate a soft landing for reducing the Longreads budget. The perception internally at Longreads was quite different than those intentions, and the outcome was difficult and also a public affair that I'm sure everyone would've liked to avoid.

Notes for June 5, 2020

Footnotes #399


This is a tumultuous time for society. I have started and subsequently stopped writing several times this week, trying to better understand and somehow encapsulate what we’re seeing unfold. To consider how I, as a white man, can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

We have watched horrible videos of crimes spread like wildfire on social media. We’ve seen systemic prejudice manifest itself in statistic after statistic, proving the harder path people of color must walk all their lives. We’ve witnessed those sworn to protect the citizenry too often do the opposite. We’ve seen city, state, and federal forces violate protesters’ inherent constitutional rights to assemble peacefully.

George Floyd’s murder was a spark, a catalyst that shook millions and spurred them into action. To protest. To demand institutional reform and change. To demand justice for Floyd, for Breanna Taylor, for Stephon Clark, for Philando Castile, for Alton Sterling, for Walter Scott, for Tamir Rice, for Michael Brown, for Eric Garner, for untold more.

We can, and should, lean into this movement — not only for justice but for change. It’s the change we can all be a part of, especially those of us with a voice, or those of us with the capacity to otherwise help right wrongs that have been perpetuated for centuries.

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I have very few. I can listen. I have been listening. And I can not only stand in solidarity with the black community, but I can act in solidarity. I can take part in change that is needed. I can help uplift black voices. I can call out wrongdoing. I can continue to learn. Importantly, I can resist the temptation to “move on” when the dust settles, and instead make a persistent effort to do better.

How the tech community can provide support for Black Lives Matter. Practical advice by Jennifer Riggins.

Shannon Shaffer on fearing speaking up about diversity, inclusion, and racism.

Reflecting on the color of my skin, from Marques Brownlee.


On the recommendation of an architect-entrepreneur friend, I read The Win Without Pitching Manifesto, which is excellent overall but really, really good for agencies and service-oriented businesses. This quote from the book especially stuck out to me:

“Presenting is a tool of swaying, while conversing is a tool of weighing. Through the former, we try to convince people to hire us. Through the latter we try to determine if both parties would be well served by working together.”

Jetpack has added site scanning to its repertoire of paid services. For $7 per month, this adds to Jetpack's backups product as a service-oriented paid feature from Jetpack. I'm keenly watching to see where else Jetpack will go as they begin to roll out their monetization strategy, which was inevitable after spending years and millions of dollars developing the core product and user base.

I think there are several interesting ways they can take this strategy, particularly given their hosted computing capabilities, large network of sites for wrangling data, etc.

WordPress celebrated the 17th anniversary of its first release on May 27th. 🎉

Matt Mullenweg recalls, “The main feedback we got at the time was that the blogging software market was saturated and there wasn’t room or need for anything new.” He notes that 38 releases later, WordPress continues to press forward.

WordPress is approaching 37.2% of the CMS market share according to W3Techs. (The .2% is growth up from about 36.9% since the end of May.) 📈

Just for kicks, check out the post that announced the first public release of WordPress. XHTML 1.1, “Highly Intelligent Line Breaks,” and “Manual Excerpts” were the headliners.

🍰 Congratulations to Yoast on their tenth anniversary! 🔟

🌊 The Gutenberg 8.2 🇮🇹 release includes block pattern categories, cover block content alignment, and an improved editing flow:

“The editing flow is a constant priority for the project, and Gutenberg 8.2 introduces several enhancements to improve the writing experience. Copying, cutting, and pasting single blocks is now much easier. You can also split out of captions and button blocks using ‘Enter' to continue your writing.”

Carrie Dils dives into full site editing in WordPress now with this Getting Started guide.

To experiment with the existing and planned features coming to Gutenberg in the near future, you'll start by downloading and installing the latest version of the Gutenberg plugin on a development site. Next, enable “Full Site Editing” under plugin settings. ⬇️

💶 TechCrunch‘s Connie Loizos took an interesting look at how Automattic pays its remote employees in different locations and currencies. When asked if Automattic pays employees based on their geography and its related cost of living, Matt said:

“[W]e aim to pay the same rates for the same roles, regardless of geography. Automattic currently has folks in over 75 countries. Sometimes this puts us above or below what may be the market rate for a role in a given area.”

Over at his blog, Matt shared his online streaming setup. If you have some cash to burn (or if you are a CEO) then you might be interested in some of his picks.

No matter what your budget is, there's a lot to learn from Matt's Guide to Distributed Work Tools. 🛠️

Ashley Rich and Brad Touesnard have put together a setup guide for Ubuntu 18.04 to “run WordPress fast.” Chapter one explains how to set up a secure virtual server on DigitalOcean. 💨

The 2020 Stack Overflow Developer Survey results have been published. WordPress doesn't seem to fare well in these surveys, although that might be due to the lack of WordPress developers taking them.

Notably, while WordPress was ranked the most “dreaded” platform, it also ranked high in the “most popular platforms” category. 😕

With BuddyPress 6.0.0 released on May 14, the invitation is out for contributors to 7.0.0’s kickoff. Just reply to the call for tickets — as WordPress does before each release. 🙋‍♂️

Here's an attempt by Joshua Thijssen to list all 150+ Amazon Web Services with clear descriptions of what they do. 🤯

Conference Updates

📻 If you are interested in learning how to start a podcast, Joe Casabona has a new course devoted to this subject. It is a paid course, but the initial lessons are available for free as a preview. Joe covers selecting a good topic, getting your gear, recording, and launching your show.

Gravity Forms has released a Product Roadmap to its customers as well as the ability to vote and provide feedback on ideas as they pass through the stages of “under consideration,” “planned,” and “launched.” They also recently unveiled a new Community section of their site for third-party developers who are “creatively extending the power and reach of” Gravity Forms. 🚌

Jeffrey Nolte has the skinny on Google's “core web vitals” — the metrics Google considers “essential” for “a healthy site” today. 📈

“You’re not really a developer. Sooner or later people are going to realize you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just not good enough.”

If you've ever had those thoughts, you are not alone, says Landon Schropp. This is an encouraging and insightful post that young people just starting to code may need to hear as well as “mature” coders. 👨‍👧

If you've ever thought about live streaming yourself developing or coding on a platform like Twitch, then check out this blog post at AcAdamy. The advantages are accountability, community and networking, a rapid feedback loop, a higher impact, it's fun, and you could earn some money. 👩‍💻


Video Picks

📹 Here's the video pick of the week:

  • Matt Medeiros has a great video overview of GeneratePress‘s new GenerateBlocks plugin. 🔌

Podcast Picks

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

  • Core Intuition: Daniel Jalkut and Manton Reece talk about the open web and Automattic's strategic investment of almost $5M into New Vector. 💸 :
  • WPCoffeeTalk: Michelle interviewed Amy Hall, who is very knowledgeable about MailChimp and email marketing. 📧
  • The WPMRR WordPress Podcast: Ben McAdam returns as a guest and speaks about managing during the pandemic. There's also some information on the Build Scale Sell Summit and the benefits of virtual summits. ⛰️
  • How I Built It: John Vuong offers advice for forging better relationships through communication with current and potential clients. 🤝

Notes for May 20, 2020

Footnotes #398

Markdown on Ice

Rich Tabor and Jeffrey Carandang have announced the release of Iceberg, which describes itself as a “beautiful, flexible writing editor for crafting posts with the WordPress block editor.” In other words, install the plugin and open the block editor to bring up a minimalist authoring environment that supports Markdown. 🐧

The Iceberg website has a live demo you can try, but if you want to see it being in WordPress, Brian Krogsgard posted a video with his thoughts about the Iceberg experience.

Iceberg has three price tiers: single site ($49 USD), unlimited sites ($99 USD), and lifetime ($199 USD). It's an impressive product, and I wouldn't be surprised if quite a number of WordPress professionals grab an unlimited license for multiple sites. I'm sure we'll see some enhancements to Iceberg down the road as well.

If you like using Markdown editors and posting to your WordPress sites remotely, check out iA Writer 5.5 for Mac and iOS. I like the copy that promotes its focus on WordPress integration:

“If you run a self-hosted site, you can publish straight to it using the slim IndieAuth plugin instead of the Swiss-Army-Knife that is JetPack.” 🇨🇭

If you like using Markdown editors and posting to your WordPress sites remotely, check out iA Writer 5.5 for Mac and iOS. I like the copy that promotes its focus on WordPress integration:

“If you run a self-hosted site, you can publish straight to it using the slim IndieAuth plugin instead of the Swiss-Army-Knife that is JetPack.” 🇨🇭

The Full Site Editing project (FSE) is on track to enter WordPress core later this year. That's going to mean a lot of changes for the Customizer and core Customize component. If you'd like to participate in a discussion about the road ahead with the component maintainers, join #core-customize in WordPress Slack at 16:00 UTC Thursday, May 28. 💬

Anne McCarthy posted a list of the many ways you can keep up with FSE as it speeds along. 💨

Automattic Invests in New Vector

“One thing WordPress and have in common is a strong, abiding belief in the open web, a rare thing in a world that is dangerously moving towards walled gardens” — and that's why Automattic is hiring a Integrations Engineer after investing $4.6M in's parent company, New Vector.

Matrix is an open decentralized communications standard used by New Vector's chat app, Riot. On their blog, the Matrix team describes where this partnership might lead:

“Imagine if every WP site automatically came with its own Matrix room or community?  Imagine if all content in WP automatically was published into Matrix as well as the web? Imagine there was an excellent Matrix client available as a WordPress plugin for embedding realtime chat into your site?”

Natasha Lomas has a deep dive into this story at TechCrunch, noting Matt Mullenweg was an early supporter of Matrix via Patreon in 2017. They've been seeing their growth triple each year for the last two years. 📈

WooCommerce recently launched the WooCommerce Payment feature — a native solution powered by Stripe. With it, you can control payments directly in the WordPress back end. It adds a new payment tab that lets you view charges, issue refunds, and deal with disputes. You don’t have to connect to your Stripe account or any third-party site. 🛒

If you ever need to migrate from Shopify to WooCommerce, then this guide from Nexcess might come in handy. 🚚

Joshua Strebel explains PHP workers and what they mean for WordPress hosting. He also shares some test results and what to take away from them. For example, “You want to tune the number of PHP workers to consistently use 80-100% of your available CPU capacity.” There are some good tips on general performance issues in this post too. 👷‍♀️

Birgit Pauli-Haack shared a big list of Women in WordPress to follow on Twitter. 👩‍💻

If you still visit Facebook, then this guide from Michele Butcher-Jones will help you find the better WordPress Groups on that social network. 🧑‍🤝‍🧑

Michele recently published an interview with Allie Nimmons, a Support and Customer Success Buff at WP Buffs and a GoDaddy Speaker Ambassador.

Maddy Osman shares some of the most interesting COVID-19 business pivots she has noticed lately “in hopes that they give you some ideas to help you prosper during this time.” 🦠

I can speak from personal experience that I have taken advantage of recent changes and expansions online in the supermarket and restaurant industry. 🍽️

Dries Buytaert has been talking about the power of Open Source in the fight against COVID-19:

“In every crisis, Open Source has empowered organizations to do more with less. It's great to see this play out again. Open Source teams have rallied to help and come up with some pretty incredible solutions when times are tough.”

Github recently introduced CodeSpaces, which is described as “a full Visual Studio Code experience” in the browser. If you code on your iPad or tablet, this is might be something to take a closer look at.

Blocks and Themes

The Themes Review Team has been renamed the Themes Team. 📛

WordPress 5.5 will include checks for PHP and WordPress core version requirements in the theme installer. Users won't be able to install themes whose requirements aren't met. 🙅‍♂️

BuddyPress 6.0.0 has been released. It includes new blocks for the block editor. 📦

GenerateBlocks, from the maker of GeneratePress, is a new plugin for building your own blocks inside WordPress using the block editor interface. It's versatile and “insanely lightweight” according to Brian Jackson of ForgeMedia and the Perfmatters plugin. 🔌

The ACF 5.9 beta is available for ACF PRO customers now. There's a lot coming in this release: a refreshed interface, a lot of new features (row duplication, block editor validation, quick delete), developer treats, and support for InnerBlocks.  🆕

Upcoming Events

Take note that WPCampus 2020 Online has changed its dates to July 29-31. 📅

Other event reminders:

  • WordSesh Americas 2020 is coming on May 27th. Registration is free and the lineup looks excellent.
  • The call for speakers for WordCamp US 2020 (October 27-29) has been extended. The new deadline to submit your application is Sunday, May 31, 2020, at 11:59 pm CT (UTC -5) / 4:59 am Saturday (UTC).
  • The JavaScript for WordPress event is happening from July 8 to 10th.
  • On Friday, 29 May 2020 Yoast will be hosting the YoastCon Webinar. This event will be 3 parallel sessions in separate zoom meetings with talks and sessions including a panel in each sessions that is going to review websites.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here's my video pick of the week:

🎙️ This week's podcast and audio picks:

  • Gutenberg Changelog: A wide-ranging discussion around Gutenberg 8.1, upcoming WordCamps, full site editing, community contributions and active development.
  • Ladybug Podcast: Learn all about building developer communities with guest Kim Maida, Head of Developer Relations and Community at Gatbsy.
  • Matt Report: Matt devotes a solid half-hour to “two competing roles in our WordPress community” — the builders/programmers and the implementers.

Notes for May 3, 2020

Footnotes #397


At this stage of the global shutdown, we're seeing many online products, particularly those related to eCommerce, sustain and even increase sales, as stores get themselves in better shape online. While some of the economy is slowly opening up, it's obvious many historically in-person businesses that need to change, and it's keeping sales up for part of the ecosystem. It does not appear to be an equitable distribution for the consulting space, which anecdotally from my observation looks like it's slowing in most cases.

I hope you'll read Justin Tadlock‘s excellent article on where Gutenberg went wrong, at least for theme developers. Philip Arthur Moore's follow-up is also a must-read. I think a drastic change in the developer ecosystem for themes is an unavoidable sacrifice from Gutenberg. Like I mentioned in a recent video, there is still an opportunity, but not the same opportunities.

Envato is embracing this shift from theme to block / page builder with its brand new template kits category. Don't underestimate this! Envato throwing their weight behind Elementor for an entire marketplace category helps cement Elementor as a top-tier participant in the presentation layer wars of WordPress.

I foresee significant market share adjustments for former big players in page building if Elementor keeps up this momentum — perhaps to the degree of making it a two-player game between Elementor and Gutenberg. Where does that leave Divi, Beaver Builder, and others?

Envira Gallery acquired the juggernaut of WordPress and photography — Imagely. Imagely is the owner of NextGEN Gallery. I learned that while NextGEN is still significantly larger in terms of active websites, Envira counts nearly two-thirds of its installs as paying customers, whereas NextGEN has fewer than 15% of its active sites are using the paid product. It'll be interesting to see how Envira does with this huge opportunity to convert those non-paying customers.

Finally, I hope you'll check out my latest on YouTube where I talk about the need for an improved new user experience in WordPress.

WP Engine has announced Genesis Pro, a product that provides professional-quality blocks and page layout tools for Gutenberg. It has been released first as an add-on for WP Engine customers but is coming to all StudioPress customers later this year.

According to David Vogelpohl on the StudioPress blog, this release “doesn't affect existing Genesis customers and does not require that your site be hosted on WP Engine … to use” it. 🛠️

Genesis Pro is an impressive new offering for WordPress, but there has been some talk in Post Status‘ #club Slack channel about the potential impact on independent developers who are trying to build and release blocks of their own.

Cody Landefeld shares some tips to help increase your mobile conversion rate for eCommerce. Cody dives into the details of speeding up your mobile site — including your product videos — building trust, and having a clear call to action. 📣

Oyetoke Tobi Emmanuel demonstrates how to automate front-end application testing with Selenium, a popular testing tool for web apps. As an example, Oyetoke takes you through the steps to automate testing for a simple Svelte to-do app using Node and Selenium. Even if you're more familiar with different tools and techniques, you will get the gist with this guide. 🧪

In a recent interview, Michele Butcher-Jones talked with Katie Richards, a Community Coordinator at Pantheon, about how she got involved with WordPress and what open source means to her.

Mark Jaquith wrote a WordPress/Jetpack Driver for Laravel Valet.

An article from AdAge asks some business leaders what brands should be doing in such uncertain times, especially when many organizations are struggling to stay profitable. Syed Balkhi had this to say:

“In these times, it's important to lead by example — offer work-from-home, spread medically correct information, and stay indoors. Your brand will be remembered as a responsible and flexible one, and you will build goodwill for the future.”

Felix Arntz, a WordPress core contributor, moved to San Francisco just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Some readers of Post Status will be able to relate to Felix's story. 😷

Alex Denning noticed searches for “WordPress” went up 52% in April, compared to the previous month.” Alex also notes there's been about a 20% “bump in WordPress searches with high purchase intent in the last month.” 📈

Chris Lema shares his evaluation of WordPress caching plugins. He lists his top three after a close look at this crowded field, including Cache Enabler, Comet Cache, Hyper Cache, W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket, and WP Super Cache. 🔌

Carl Alexander is building a serverless DevOps platform for WordPress, which he is calling Ymir — you can watch a video explaining it further.

Carl compares his project to Laravel Vapor because “Ymir isn’t a WordPress host. You will have full access and control over everything. You’ll also be responsible for your AWS bill.”

There's no release timeline yet, but this does sound promising. 👍

The Google Podcasts Manager was released last week — a new tool to help podcasters gain insights into the evolving habits of podcast listeners “so they can better understand their audiences and reach them across Google products.”

I am not deep in the Google ecosystem, but if you are in the podcast space this might be worth a look. 🎤


Podcast Picks

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

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:

Notes for April 27, 2020

Footnotes #395

Frontity has closed a €1M funding round led by Automattic. Frontity promotes its framework as “the easiest way to create lightning-fast websites using WordPress and React.” ⚡

Reyes Martínez said the company is not developing a business model now but is focusing on making the project sustainable. The Frontity framework will “always remain open source” with “possible monetizations to generate revenue in the future and add value to the community.”

Possibilities they're thinking about include “a hosting solution, premium support, or a marketplace of paid themes.”

Dave Ryan has started a project called Chatterbox that lets you use WordPress blocks to show conversations from chat threads inside app and device wrappers. 🔌

Chatterbox can be used for “demos of chatbots, publishing chat records in news stories, and it could be a fun way to add a striking visual display to conversations.”

Channing Allen has an interesting post at Indie Hackers about the ways businesses and founders are figuring out how to build and ship products for the quarantined market. 🔐

“Conditions of life are quickly changing. And with each change, new problems arise. Every problem, in turn, is a lock waiting for some entrepreneur's key. Founders who pay close attention and move fast will capitalize.”

Dashicons — which currently weigh in at 303 icons in a single, compiled sprite — may be nearing the end of their useful life. As Joen notes, “The block editor uses SVG icons directly, and the rest of WordPress uses the Dashicons icon font.”

Moving forward, an “ultimate” (as in final) release has been proposed. It will “wrap up existing requests (adding 36 new icons),” stop taking new requests, and “focus future efforts on the new Icon component.” ⚙️

In case you missed it in March, I highly recommend your read Josepha Haden‘s post on the value of a leader who is open and always looking to improve. 👍

Ryan McCue mentioned on Twitter that he built an Unsplash integration with the WordPress Media Library in a couple of hours using the Asset Manager Framework.

The AMF provides a framework for replacing the contents of the core media library with assets from an external provider. 🗄️

The Block Lab team behind the Block Lab plugin will be joining WP Engine. The plugin itself is not going over to WP Engine, but the plan is to build something new there and give Block Lab users the option to migrate down the road. The team will continue to support and maintain Block Lab Pro “on their own time.” 🧪

WooGraphQL adds WooCommerce support and functionality to your WPGraphQL server. You can query products, product variations, customers, coupons, orders, and refunds in addition to manipulating customer session data. Future features will include payment processing and “administrator mutations.” 🧟

StarterBlocks is a recently released WordPress plugin that provides “700+ pre-made templates” in the editor. 🏁

Anne Martinez wrote a quickstart guide for speeding up WordPress. It's intended for your clients or WordPress users who are not developers. It covers the basics — things that commonly slow down a WordPress site, along with topics like caching, optimization, CDNs, and making an action plan. 💨

Peter Tasker, a PHP and JavaScript developer in Canada, revised and updated his outstanding article on how to create custom WordPress Editor Blocks — in 2020. I recommend reading or bookmarking Peter's post if you might be building blocks in the future. 🔖

Brandon Ernst at Freemius looks at trends and data to get an idea of how the Coronavirus might be affecting WordPress plugin and theme shops.

Brandon notes “there was a 19.84% growth in plugin downloads on the repository from February to March 2020.” 📉

There is a lot here that will be of interest to developers and business owners.

Michael Lynch warns that Stripe might be “silently recording your movements on its customers' websites.” 🕵️

Stripe has publicly stated that they use your customer data exclusively for fraud protection and diagnostics, and Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison responded to Michael's article. This might be a case where things should have been spelled out earlier, but there's still a lot to learn from their exchange.

I learned about the input type="color" interface element from Christian Heilmann in this post where he talks limiting the colors available in a color picker to a palette taken from an image. Front-end developers or UI builders, this is worth a read. 🎨

Likely in response to Amazon and the COVID-19 pandemic, Google has now made it free to list and sell products. Of course, ads are still not free. 🛒

98.css is a library for building interfaces that look like Windows 98. Just what you always wanted, right? 🙈

Maybe a little more useful: pattern.css is a library to fill your empty background with beautiful patterns.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here is my video pick of the week:

  • An informative talk from Victor Ramirez at WordCamp Atlanta 2019 about managing many custom Enterprise plugins in the “Age of Gutenberg.” Victor also takes a peek at pitfalls to avoid when you're trying to work within an organization that never did remote work before but worked with multiple outside agencies.

🎙️ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

Notes for April 18, 2020

Footnotes #394


Sometimes I wonder if giving up the simplicity of web development was worth what we gained. The time spent wrangling build tools adds up, and creates dozens of layers of dependencies, each with varying philosophies and practices on updates and backward compatibility. If you're working on a site for the first time in a few months, be prepared to spend just as much time updating the various build tools, processes, and underlying software, as doing the actual work. It makes me sad, and it makes me feel like we let something go that we should not have.

JetPack has announced that its search service is available as a separately priced package. It was only available in the past as part of the Jetpack Professional plan at $29 per month.

Pricing for Jetpack Search depends on how many records (posts, pages, products, and custom post types) you have in your database. Starting at 100 records, the cost is $5 per month, and scaling up to millions of records, it runs to $200+ per month. 🔍🧐


Pricing is hard for any service. What Jetpack has created is totally reasonable, but will definitely be a burden for some. Records can add up fast, especially for a site that values advanced search in the first place. I look forward to seeing Jetpack search in action, and it's packing a lot of punch.

Ben Martin, who is Sucuri‘s Remediation Team Lead, breaks down the way dedicated credit card swiping malware works within WordPress. 💳

This is not common, but as Ben points out, we can expect more of it:

“With WooCommerce recently overtaking all other eCommerce platforms in popularity, it was only a matter of time before we started seeing attackers target this platform more frequently.”

Here are some tips for saving money on international payments as a remote freelancer. Jurn discusses the options and suggests looking up your bank's exchange rate. 💸

Once you know the numbers for your own bank you can compare them to well-known online payment providers and see what's best in your situation.

Matt Mullenweg says there are five levels of autonomy that define how distributed companies evolve:

  • 0 – a job that cannot be done unless you’re physically there.
  • 1 – no deliberate effort to make things remote-friendly.
  • 2 – they’ve accepted that work is going to happen at home for a while, but they recreate what they were doing in the office in a “remote” setting. (Many businesses now find themselves in this position.)
  • 3 – the company begins to benefit from being remote-first (distributed with planned meetups) so teams can break bread and meet each other in person a week or two every year.
  • 4 – “things go truly asynchronous.”
  • 5 – “Nirvana! This is when you consistently perform better than any in-person organization could.” 🧘

The WordPress Documentation team is applying to participate in Google’s Season of Docs, an initiative (now in its second year) that aims to improve open-source documentation.

Jon (Kenshino) says there is a need for mentors “who are well acquainted or want to be well acquainted with WordPress' Documentation needs and projects.” 📄

If you’re interested, reply in the comments. Projects will be discussed once a team is formed.

FooEvents, a ticket system for WooCommerce, has added Zoom integration. If you are a company thinking about selling virtual tickets to online events, check it out. 🎟️

Juan Hernando notes the WordPress editor uses Noto — a Google font — and argues it shouldn't be in core. 🔤

I recently stumbled upon this nice-looking Flip counter plugin in JavaScript.

It's good for countdowns, showing products sold or remaining — anything worth counting. 🧛‍♂️

The call for speakers for WordCamp US 2020 (October 27-29) has been EXTENDED! The new deadline to submit your application is Sunday, May 31, 2020, at 11:59 pm CT (UTC -5) / 4:59am Saturday (UTC). 🏕️

Remember: the JavaScript for WordPress event is happening July 8-10th, and April 27-May 1st are the dates for the WP Feedback Online Summit.

Here's a nice method of using CSS to set text inside a circle, thanks to Kerry Smyth.

You may also enjoy this tutorial from Anna Prenzel explaining how to create a particle trail animation in JavaScript. 🌠

A recent newsletter covered speaker tips for virtual events and how in-person conferences might look for the next few years. 🔈

If you want to compose email newsletters with buttons, horizontal rules, footers and headers that will look good to all your readers, you'll want to bookmark Mark Robbins‘ new library for “good email code” at 📧

You can simply copy the code there and paste it in your emails. Mark's detailed explanations will teach you why it's good code and the rationale behind it.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here is my video pick of the week:

  • You can watch all the presentations from the recent online virtual WordPress WPBlockTalk now, including some updates on Gutenberg features and roadmap discussions from Matt Mullenweg, Ana Claudia Alfieri, Matias Ventura, and Ellen Bauer.

🎙️ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

Notes for April 17, 2020

Footnotes #393

Lazy loading images is part of WordPress as of 5.5-alpha. Andrew Ozz is asking plugin authors who implement lazy-loading to update their code to make use of this new core functionality. 💤

Iain Poulson explains how to identify SQL queries that are causing bottlenecks and demonstrates some quick fixes and other ways to accelerate query execution time. 💨

✒️ Zara Cooper has written a “practical guide to writing technical specs” — highly recommended for developers:

“By writing a technical spec, engineers are forced to examine a problem before going straight into code, where they may overlook some aspect of the solution.”

Yoast has a blog post in their developer portal about new features in the upcoming version (14.0) of their plugin. Some of these include moving all metadata from wp_postmeta to custom tables, changes in the Schema API, and “opening up a set of new API surfaces.”

Denis Žoljom, an Automation representative on the Theme Review Team, has written a proposal to use GitHub for code review for themes submitted to 💡

If you like to follow front-end development news and trends, then this list of RSS feeds from Louis Lazaris might be worth checking out. 🍝

If you use VSCode, this impressive list of customizations from Silvestar Bistrović of his (364!) code settings is worth your time. 🎚️😮

We're wishing Tony Perez all the best as he leaves GoDaddy and explores full-time work on his projects CleanBrowsing (a DNS-based content filtering service) and ColdPath (a security consulting company). 🛅

I recently stumbled on rclone, which is a command-line program to sync local files and directories with cloud storage providers like Google Drive, Amazon Drive, S3, Dropbox, Backblaze B2, and many more. ☁️

Here's an interesting tutorial from Nico Martin on how to create scheduled push notifications in the browser with the Notifications API — in combination with the Push API and the HTTP Web Push Protocol. I don't care for push notifications in my browser, but scheduled ones for a limited purpose (like an online event) makes sense. 🖐️

Blessing Krofegha demonstrates how to build a web app with a headless CMS and React. He doesn't mention WordPress, but it's applicable — and worth reading if the general concept interests you.

The call for speakers for WordCamp US 2020 (October 27-29) has been issued. The deadline to submit your application is Friday, April 17, 2020, at 11:59 pm CT (UTC -5) / 4:59am Saturday (UTC). 🏕️

Speaking of conferences, mark your calendar for the JavaScript for WordPress event happening July 8-10th. Also mark April 27 to May 1st for the WP Feedback Online Summit.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here is my video pick of the week:

  • If you're a freelancer or small business/agency, you might want to check out the replays from this past weekend's Remote Control Summit.

🎙️ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

Notes for April 10, 2020

Footnotes #392

WordPress 5.4 (“Adderley”) was released on March 31st.

The visual editor in this version includes the new Social Icons and Buttons blocks, gradients in the Buttons and Cover block, and improved streamlining of various workflows including multimedia placement. The editor experience itself is loading 14% faster, and time-to-type is 51% faster.

Developers: There are two new actions that let you add custom fields to menu items. ✨

You can get a good technical overview of the WordPress 5.4 field guide.

Kelly Dwan created and shared some new admin color schemes inspired by the Adderley release. Kelly included a high contrast option that “should pass WCAG 2.1 level AAA for color contrast.” 🎨

If you are not fond of the new default to full-screen mode for the block editor in WordPress 5.4, Jean-Baptiste Audras explains what you can add to functions.php to disable it.

✒️ Garrett Hyder has written a proposal for a WP Consent API and a Consent API as a feature plugin. As Garrett explains:

“A standard way for WordPress core, plugins, and themes to obtain consent from users should be established to provide a consistent and stable experience for administrators, developers, and users of all kinds.”

Strattic has announced support for the popular Gravity Forms plugin. Almost everything you can do in Gravity seems to be supported with a few exceptions. I hope to hear more about the technical details and other work that goes into supporting plugins on static sites. 🔌

BuddyPress 6.0.0 Beta 1 is out with some great new enhancements and features, including the first BuddyPress Blocks for the block editor and a completed BuddyPress REST API.

JC Palmes shares great tips for working remotely with kids at home and shares some helpful YouTube channels and resources. Remember:

“IT IS NOT EASY. You will need a LOT of PATIENCE and TRY to remember that they’re your kids and you LOVE them.”

As a father working from home with three children in my house, I sympathize. 🚸

Cloudflare has introduced for Families, an easy way to “to add a layer of protection to your home network and protect it from malware and adult content.”

Josh Comeau noticed that networks are slower now, thanks to everyone working from home now. Perhaps we should be accepting newer image formats with better compression, such as Webp? Josh says WebP, in particular, is “annoying” and not yet fully supported, unfortunately. 🤦

Elementor has launched an “Experts Network” that allows members to collaborate and grow their businesses through portfolios they can share with Elementor “peers” (developers, designers, and marketers). It's an interesting move, especially now as it will be getting harder for agencies and freelancers to find work.

Matt Danner explains some ways iThemes is helping during this difficult time. They will have videos and posts dedicated to different types of websites throughout April, a free trial for their training subscription, and a 30% discount on their products. Don't miss this and other discounts we've rounded up for you.

Gus Luxton talks about some easy ways you can improve the security of your SSH model without needing to deploy a new application or make any huge changes to user experience. 🔒

If you or someone you know is using the Contact Form 7 Datepicker plugin, take note that Wordfence discovered a stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the plugin, which appears to be installed on over 100,000 sites. To be clear, Contact Form 7 itself is not affected by this vulnerability, but if you do have this additional plugin extension, you may want to remove it from your site(s).

Post Status Live is coming to you on April 10th! 📺

Cory Miller will be talking about recurring revenue, sales in a downturn, managing people, and the ups and downs of agency life. You can sign up for free here! 👈


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here is my video pick of the week:

  • The recorded talks from last weekend's WordCamp San Antonio are available now. Start with Jocelyn Mozak‘s keynote about her experiences with WordPress and what she appreciates most about it. There are a number of developer talks that I appreciated as well.
  • WPBlockTalk recently took place — a one-day conference focused on Gutenberg and the block editor. I managed to sneak a peek into a few of these talks, and I was especially impressed with the progress and discussions around full-site editing. It might be coming “in a few months” before we're able to seriously start testing it. You can view the entire recording and schedule on this page on their site.

🎙️ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

Notes for March 27, 2020

Footnotes #391


It’s been a heck of a week. While nationalism seems to be rising from a political perspective, I can’t help but feel an increased sense of global togetherness at a human level. We are all in this together. No country is spared. No country is immune.

Nations worldwide are organizing various relief packages to help families and corporations handle the sudden economic shock — a completely separate endeavor from the massive demands on healthcare systems.

The Tax Foundation — who has a nice WordPress site, I’ll add — has a handy guide for how each country is handling COVID-19 related relief programs.

The US just signed into law the CARES Act, in which Americans can see exactly what’s in the $2 Trillion package by reading the bill directly. I read the bill, and the Tax Foundation summary is a very good companion to better understand it.

Many of your businesses (incorporated or sole proprietors) in the US may have access to some of the Paycheck Protection Program funds. There are several caveats, but affected businesses will be able to both receive loans and also later apply for forgiveness of some expenditures, like those related to payroll or office rent. I hope anyone who is interested in these loans is careful though — there are no sure things here yet and more guidance is both necessary and pending. It’s a step, though.

Many, many people have been laid off, furloughed, lost hours, or otherwise had wages reduced. And we’re early in this. Some of us in the webspace have been affected already. Most of us (directly or our businesses) will eventually feel it, to some degree — though there might be a delay versus businesses completely shut down due to the response to COVID.

It’s an important time to be in a community, to know you’re in this with other folks, to share your experiences with trusted friends, and to let others help when and how they can.

Good will come of this experience. We don’t see it all today, but it will come. Until then, stay strong and I am hopeful for each of your safety and well-being.

WordPress 5.4 RC 4 was released a few days ago. Expect to see the final release on March 31. If you want to catch up on all the changes, check out the official field guide. 🐕

Gutenberg 4.7 has been released. Highlights include the Block UI redesign and new APIs — including an API to register custom Block patterns from themes and plugins. The API is still a work-in-progress and may change before entering WordPress Core. ✨

Yoast is offering a new online training course focused on the WordPress block editor. This is more than just a blog post — it's very well done and will “hand guide you through the process of creating a post with the block editor through practical screencasts, PDFs and assignments.” ✋

Juliette Reinders Folmer notes that some updates are proposed for implementation in WordPress Coding Standards 3.0.0:

“With the change to PHP 5.6 as the minimum PHP version for WordPress Core, and with the outlook of a minimum version of PHP 7.x in the (near) future, even more interesting language features will soon become available for use in WordPress Core, plugins and themes.”

This weekend marks one of the first WordCamps that have transitioned from an in-person event to a virtual one: WordCamp San Antonio. All speakers will be live streaming, and there's a rumor that there might be a “gameshow” event to cap off each day. Tickets are free. 📺

WPCampus 2020 is making that transition too — they have decided to become a virtual event. WPCampus 2020 Online will be July 15-17. The in-person event in New Orleans will be postponed to 2021. 🏕️

The call for speakers for WordCamp US 2020 (October 27-29) has been issued. 🤙

Brad Williams, John James Jacoby, and Justin Tadlock on April 22 for a special AMA on WordPress Plugin Development with Post Status partner Cory Miller. Our guests are the co-authors of the upcoming 2nd edition of Professional WordPress Plugin Development, 2nd Edition, which will be coming out in May. 📗

The webinar will happen on Apr 22 at 11:00 AM CST. You can register here »

Rahul Bansal and Joel Abreo of rtCamp share lessons from their fully-office to fully-remote transition. 👨‍💻

“The bedrock of remote work is mutual trust…. along with async communication.”

If you are a business owner or agency going through a similar transition, you'll want to read this.

Big news! Github has acquired npm, Inc. the company behind the Node package manager registry. 📦

Github claims npm will “always be available and free.” They will integrate GitHub and npm to “improve the security of the open-source software supply chain.”

Sadly, I'm already hearing of layoffs from npm — but that could be related to COVID-19, not the acquisition.

Pantheon shared how they are supporting organizations on the COVID-19 front line. If you host with them, this is especially recommended reading. 🙏

Convesio, a new WordPress hosting company, explains how they raised over $1M from 850 investors using Wefunder for their campaign. They also discuss the challenges ahead, and how they are planning for 2020. 🗺️

If you develop Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) then this announcement from WebKit about third-party cookie blocking may have appeared on your radar recently. Now, Aral Balkan says he believes Apple is “killing” offline web apps in the name of privacy. It seems others agree. ⚰️

Delicious Brains shared some great ideas they had for adding more creativity and context with testimonial styling at SpinupWP. 🧠

A new version of the Perfmatters WordPress plugin was released recently and features an entirely rewritten form submission process for the Script Manager. 🎛️

Google has published 7.0, which includes schemas for Coronavirus special announcements, Covid-19 Testing Facilities and more. 🏥

Emma Goto has some great notes on how to take smart notes as a developer. Emma's tips are based on the Zettelkasten method and Sönke Ahrens book, How to Take Smart Notes. 🗒️


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here are my two video picks of the week:

🎙️ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

  • How I Built It: Nathan Ingram talks about managing client relationships and a new project he recently launched to help freelancers.
  • Geek 2 English: The second episode of this new podcast from SiteGround has Cal Evans looking at what a plugin is, what it does, and what site owners need to know before installing one.
  • WPMRR Podcast: The latest episode includes advice for remote work drawn from guests on previous episodes.
  • #PressForward Podcast: Kathy Zant reflects on a stressful time in her life and how it forced her to re-evaluate the way that she approaches her work and life, a method she calls a “Hacker Mindset.”

Notes for March 23, 2020

Footnotes #389

WordPress 5.4 RC2 is available now with the final release still on target for March 31. 📅

Eileen Violini reports on the progress being made toward block-based themes.

Jb Audras has an update about progress toward auto-updates for themes and plugins.

Earlier this week Cory Miller sat down with Dr. Sherry Walling to discuss her tips and advice for managing fear, anxiety and uncertainty.

Some highlights:

  • Get some big deep breaths — Four slow seconds in, four slow seconds out. 😤
  • Refocus on gratitude — What are you thankful for? 🙏🏻
  • Have your inner voice of worry make an appointment — Put it on a schedule that’s not 24/7. Listen to it; it’s there to protect you, but once its time is up, move on. 🗓️
  • Connect with others daily — Social distancing doesn’t mean losing connection. Do lunch or a snack or a quick break. Try virtual coworking. 👩‍💻
  • Have playtime — Maybe that's Legos, cooking, or pulling out your old musical instruments. 🎺
  • Get your heart rate up with exercise — Like a family dance competition, yoga, or pushups. 🤾‍♀️
  • Limit your news consumption to 15 minutes a day. 🔇
  • For single people living alone and missing physical touch: Find a soft comfortable and perhaps heavy blanket, take a hot bath. 🛀
  • For entrepreneurs: Remember, you can’t do everything yourself and you can’t fix everything by yourself. In fact, we’re all in this together, especially your team. “Leadership means you're hosting the conversation. You're listening. you're engaging, it doesn't mean that you are the ultimate decider.” 👂

Today Cory's friend and psychologist Dr. Nick Wignall is also offering Office Hours and Q&A.

Rebecca Gill offers some COVID-19 communication suggestions for your clients.

🏕️ The call for speakers for WordCamp US 2020 (October 27-29) has been issued. 🤞 has a growing directory of virtual WordPress meetups and conferences.

🤙 If you are a meetup or conference organizer, please reach out to David Bisset and he'll add your event to the list.

Gutenberg Hub recently launched a collection of block templates with 100 section templates spread over 12 section types. Just copy and paste them into the editor.

Many companies and individuals — both inside and outside the WordPress space — recently offered reduced or free versions of their products. 🎁

  • Igor Benić made his WordPress developer course for free using this link for a limited time.
  • The Events Calendar folks are making Promoter free through June 1, 2020. This is an automated email marketing tool for events.
  • Mendel Kurland is opening his time to help anyone with WordPress and WooCommerce sites.
  • is offering 50% off of all its products.
  • ElegantMarketplace is offering a 25% discount on everything until March 22nd.
  • Yoast is currently offering its All-Around SEO Training course for free.
  • Jeseph Meyers is offering “WordPress, PHP, CSS and other work for free (small projects, significant discount for large projects) to any small business through the end of April, no strings attached.”
  • Angela Bowman is offering LearnDash and membership plugin install services.
  •, a mobile app theme, is 70% off. Discount code: STAYSAFE.
  • Elegant Modules is offering a 60% discount on products which include modules for Gutenberg and several page builders. Discount code: HELPING2020.
  • Chris Lema is offering his eBooks for 90% off.
  • SliceWP is offering a free one year premium license over the next two months. Discount code: TOGETHER.
  • WP Trads has kindly made the French translation of the WordPress extension of LMS Learndash available for free.
  • WPOwl is offering your first month of hosting for £1. Discount code: COVID19.
  • Rough Pixels has set up a 50% discount on any purchase. Discount code: RP50.
  • Zoom is temporarily offering a free version of their pro tier for K-12 schools.
  • Sling TV is offering free streaming for some content — including youth programming. (Great if your kids are home while you are working at home too.)

📣 Some companies are currently hiring, such as Pagely. Make sure to check out the Post Status Job Board for open positions as they emerge.

👉 Check our continuously updated “discounted tools” page on Post Status for more special offers as they are being shared with us. If you have something to share, let us know.

Also, be sure to check out the Post Status Deals page.

Working from home, running online meetups, and teaching remotely have been hot topics lately. I enjoyed Benedikt Lehnert‘s take on suddenly working from home:

“Working remotely is much less scary than it may feel like at first. It’s much less about the tools than it is about the people.”

Check out too — a directory of products for remote workers. 🛠️

The Clone Page Tree plugin adds an action to the page row actions for duplicating the entire hierarchy of parent and child pages. 🌳

Wordfence has launched Fast or Slow, which was born from the idea “to develop a way to measure real-world performance from around the world, and an easy way to read and interpret the results.” 💨

This free online service provides you with an overall score of your site's performance along with a summary and breakdown of factors impacting performance.

I took a few moments to kick the tires, and I was impressed with the information I got. It was easy to see the differences visible to visitors in the United States versus those in Brazil, India, or South Africa.

Drupal‘s founder and project lead, Dries Buytaert, asks, “Is  open source is recession-proof?” Looking back over the past, Dries think open source “will continue to grow and win.” He is “optimistic” it “will continue to grow and expand, and that it can help many individuals and organizations along the way.” ✌️

Ben Pines of Elementor suggests four ways to prepare for the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on your business:

  • Keep expenses to a minimum.
  • Sort and prioritize your portfolio.
  • Learn new skills.
  • Find alternate ways to connect with clients.


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here's the video pick of the week:

🎙️ With everyone that has happened, I haven't had time for many podcasts. But here is one I recommend this week:

Notes for March 18, 2020

Notes for March 13, 2020

Footnotes #388

WordCamp Updates

WordCamp Europe is the latest (and the largest) WordCamp to be canceled due to COVID-19. 🦠

Angela Jin has posted a list of WordCamps that have been canceled or postponed. As WordCamp organizers make further announcements, this list will continue to be updated.

Lindsey Miller noted in Post Status Slack that WordCamp Kent is still happening on May 30-31, but it “will be completely virtual.” (At the time of this writing, their website hasn't yet made this official with an update.)

My Default

The second release candidate for WordPress 5.4 is available now. The release is still targeted for March 31st.

Riad Benguella announced that fullscreen mode will be activated by default in the visual editor starting with this release:

“Note that for now, that’s a local setting, which is why it’s going to reset when your preferences do, including incognito mode. Future releases will store the setting in the WordPress database.”

This late change generated a lot of questions and pushback, especially after Matt Mullenweg took responsibility for it as his decision. 🗯️

Personally, I found the experience to be jarring after my site auto-updated to the latest beta release. I might get used to it, but I right now I feel something is missing in fullscreen mode, and it wouldn't be my default choice.

An Admin After My Own Cart

WooCommerce 4.0 was released this week with over 740 commits from 21 contributors. This includes the new version of the Admin interface, which is a “first step towards a more modern JavaScript-driven experience.” 🛍️

Note that this is a “major release” and not fully backward-compatible with previous WooCommerce versions.

Bob Dunn has a good overview of the highlights of the 4.0 release including the new Admin.

Block Test Patterns

Rich Tabor explains why block patterns are the future of page building in WordPress. He also describes what a Block Patterns API may look like. 🏗️

Right now you can copy whole templated sections of block patterns from Munir Kamal‘s block template library at Gutenberg Hub and paste them in any site's block editor. There's a Chrome browser extension to make it easier to use the block template library inside WordPress.

Justin Tadlock has a great post on Munir's work over at the Tavern.

Nick Hamze has a nifty Chrome extension too —Detective Wapuu — for identifying blocks on any site you visit. 🕵️ is using block patterns in a templated Page Layouts feature now.

Beta Quarantine

Shopify is giving its employees a nice stipend for office equipment while they work from home. 🏘️

The Canadian company already has over a thousand remote employees, but starting March 16, the whole company (~5,000 people) will be in their home offices to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

While a $1,000 stipend sounds really nice, an unexpected transition to remote work for whole teams that may have no experience with it will probably require some careful management.

, Director of People Operations at Human Made, offers some really good advice about keeping your people happy and effective when they're suddenly working from home.

As always, good, proactive communication is key. Assume best intentions, be open and transparent, and know the signs of burnout. 😫

Jeff Matson examines the benefits and drawbacks of WordPress' open source ecosystem, including the dangers of a “nulled” copy of a theme or plugin whose licensing has been stripped. ⚖️

If you are interested in how the Just In Time (JIT) compiler works in the upcoming release of PHP 8, read this very accessible post from Níckolas Da Silva. ⏰

Matt Shaw explains why delivering WordPress media directly from S3 is a bad idea. Try using WP Offload Media to deliver assets via Amazon CloudFront instead. ☁️

Due to recent changes in certain browsers, Barry Pollard advises “setting width and height attributes on your images to prevent layout shifts and improve the experience of your site visitors.” 📐

Josepha Haden hopes to see “a release squad comprised entirely of people who identify as women” by the end of 2020:

“We’ll be able to increase the number women who have that experience and (hopefully) become returning contributors to Core and elsewhere.”

If you can help realize this goal, please read this post and join in the comments.


Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here's the video pick of the week:

  • Women in WP spoke with Birgit Pauli-Haack about her history as a developer and her involvement with many Gutenberg-related aspects of the WordPress community. 🌟

🎙️ Here are some podcasts I've listened to recently that are worth your time:

  • Solopreneurs will benefit from this episode of the Matt Report featuring Cory Miller and Brian Krogsgard on a key question: When is it a good time to get outside help with your startup? You can also learn “how the sausage is made” at Post Status. 🌭
  • Don't forget to check out Cory Miller's conversation with Ken Wallace on Masterminds: what they are, how they work, and the good they can do for you.
  • This episode of Pressing Matters has Elliot Condon in for a deep dive into Advanced Custom Fields blocks. 🤿

The rubber band recession

I am not a professional analyst of the economy. But even for the professionals, there are significant uncertainties. I don’t mean to strike fear with this post. I mean to encourage preparedness — or at least as much as we can in the short time we have available. Please do not take my words as gospel or financial advice.

The economy is screeching to a (temporary) halt. This happens. Economic systems go through periods of expansion and contraction.

Typically, real impacts on economic productivity are gradual with periodic spikes based on fear and uncertainty, often as triggers are hit, and the worst is finally realized. (Think of the mortgage and real estate fallout of the last global financial crisis, for example.)

Even in times of extreme economic stress, the world keeps spinning, businesses operate as long as they can, and everyone adjusts.

This time, in many countries around the world, the rapid expansion of COVID-19 cases has brought economies to a halt. Immediately. And completely. Entire cities on lockdown. Full travel bans. Every store closed. Europe is in the throes of crisis just as much of Asia is getting a grip on the worst of it. From the metrics I've seen, the United States is two weeks away from what Italy is going through now.

This creates an immediate and crushing stoppage to regular economic activity.

Corporate debt is at record levels, and these shocks to regular money flows could easily force a whole bunch of businesses into insolvency without significant and imminent intervention. Even with temporary debt forgiveness, real cash flow could be cut in half — or more — for many types of businesses.

I do not mean to spread fear, but the web industry is not immune! It is an important time for every one of us — employer, employee, and self-employed — to consider our capacity to manage our lives in case we lose some, or all, income for a period of time.

The real impact on business could be significantly different depending on your line of business. I fear that consulting agencies are at the greatest risk, as a non-core expenditure simply gets “put on hold” until more certain times.

But subscription businesses are hardly an exception. Will people keep spending as normal on plugin licenses, SaaS products, and support? I don’t know. There’s a chance that people stuck at home get to work online or via entrepreneurship endeavors. That is what kickstarted many of the businesses thriving in the WordPress ecosystem today — people who began their own business in the depths of a recession.

Could this happen today? Yes. But WordPress today is different than WordPress twelve years ago. We’re a more mature space. The companies are less flexible. We don’t benefit as much from the exponential growth of a nascent web platform on its way to being a standard technology. We’re more susceptible to global contraction, I believe.

We must plan. Consider our reserves. Discuss things openly and honestly with our teams. Do not panic, but do not ignore the threat of severe and rapid global economic contraction.

I believe the recessionary effects have a good chance of being like a rubber band. If you can survive the cash crunch from halted economic activity, the likelihood of business activity returning to some level of normalcy is quite high after a few months of virus wrangling. I pray I’m right.

I’m trying to prepare myself for a rubber band recession. A deep hit, and a rapid bounce back. It’s certain we will see some lasting effects, but I believe the worst is about to hit us very quickly — as income streams dry up and the world hits pause.

Notes for March 12, 2020

The Power of Small Peer Groups

In the latest episode of Post Status Draft, I talk with Ken Wallace of Mastermind Jam about… Masterminds!  We cover what they are, how they work, and the benefits they have for entrepreneurs and other professionals. Check it out!

Here are our own notes on the ways Masterminds and small peer groups have helped us.


While the small groups I've been a part of and facilitated for more than 9 years have not been traditional “masterminds,” they have exponentially and positively changed and improved my life.

Entrepreneurship, in particular, is a lonely gig.

Since 2011, I don't go it alone … I go together … with a group of like-minded peers on similar journeys with the same values, meeting regularly, consistently.

Three benefits of peer groups:

  • Learn and Grow, Together
  • Camaraderie and Connection
  • Support and Encouragement

Keys to successful peer groups:

  • Meet regularly. Have a schedule, and then start on time, end on time, every time!
  • Have a designated member-moderator or facilitator. Someone must be tasked with wrangling invitations, schedules, agendas, and keeping the group on track.
  • Have an agenda. The basic one I use reviews highs and lows, successes and struggles since the last meeting, and then we look ahead to the next meeting.
  • Mutually agreed upon expectations:
    • Show up.
    • Trust and respect others.
    • Absolute confidentiality.
    • Share parallel experiences rather than offer advice.


I second what Cory says. I've been in a Mastermind for years. While the core group has been just me and one other person, we've had 1-2 others rotate in and out for 1-2 year stints. It's been incredibly helpful. Planning for the “end of life” of a Mastermind is really good advice because change is inevitable. We essentially evolved ours to a two-person weekly meeting, which I still love, but it's not the same format as the 3-4 person Mastermind that we used to have. We just evolved it to something new.