Notes for September 12, 2019


Anders Norén has shared some attractive mockups of the upcoming Twenty Twenty default theme. Twenty Twenty will be included in WordPress 5.3, which is due out in mid-November.

Anders notes that “Twenty Twenty is designed with flexibility at its core” and will include the typeface Inter, designed by Rasmus Andersson. Naturally, Twenty Twenty will fully support for the Block Editor, as well as matching editor styles.  It will be based on Anders' popular theme, Chaplin, “to speed up development.”

Initial impressions of Anders' theme preview in the WordPress community have been largely positive. Although all default themes have been well-built and each is best suited for a specific use-case, it has been a long time since I've seen so much excitement in anticipation of a core theme. 🤩

Google has officially released its Native Lazyload plugin for WordPress to take advantage of the Chrome browser's new native lazy-loading capabilities. For other browsers, there is JavaScript fallback.

Jon Henshaw explains how the plugin works, with this advice: “If the purpose of implementing lazy-loading is strictly for improving user experience, web developers may want to hold off on removing their JavaScript implementation until it's supported by the majority of browsers that visitors use to access their site.” 💤

🕰️ I think Pippin Williamson nails an important point about time on the Sandhills Development blog:

We recognize now more than ever that the single most valuable resource we each have is time. It’s not infinite and we must do whatever we can to help our team and our customers gain back more of their time.

Sophie Koonin listed “everything she googled in a week as a professional software engineer” in an attempt to dispel the idea that if you have to google things then you “aren't a proper engineer.”

I wish some people in the WordPress space would do this too. 💡

For those who have heard of Gatsby and are looking to get started with it, you might want to add Tori Pugh‘s five-minute Getting Started Using Gatsby guide to your reading list.

If you're still wondering why you should care about Gatsby, Delicious Brains explains “Why Gatsby Should Be on Your List of Things to Learn” in their lengthier tutorial for beginners.

Lee Butterman estimates that Let's Encrypt now provides SSL certificates “for almost 30% of web domains,” according to his analysis of 350 million SSL connections. If this is even roughly close to the true number, it is amazing. 😲

It’s been roughly one year since WP Engine acquired StudioPress, but according to Carrie Dils, “some people [feel] unsure about how to work with Genesis or best take advantage of new features.” Carrie shows off some the changes and how you can start using them as you customize or develop child themes.

The days of “like” counts and similar metrics for publishers might be coming to an end. Mike Allton notes this is the reality of social networking's evolution.

I think it's a good step in the right direction. 👍

WordSesh, a great virtual conference for WordPress, is happening again on September 25, 2019. Registration is free! 🎟️

This time around, WordSesh has been designed especially for attendees across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. 🌍

Restrict Content Pro Version 3.2 has been released with some big changes concerning Stripe, including Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) compliance.

It was nice to hear Carole Olinger has joined the WP&UP team as the “Head To WCEU” Crew Chief. 👏

Peter Suhm notes that Branch — a continuous integration service for WordPress developers — now supports WP Rig — “a modern WordPress starter theme.”

Google is making additional changes to “nofollow” links by splitting it into three declarations:

  1. rel=”sponsored”
  2. rel=”ugc”
  3. rel=”nofollow”

According to Google's Webmaster Central blog, “there’s absolutely no need to change any nofollow links that you already have,” but they do say that on March 1, 2020, nofollow becomes “merely a hint.”

There's a new, official Creative Commons plugin for licensing your content on your WordPress site. 🔌

After a conversation with Rachel Andrew, Chris Coyier put together some excellent suggestions about technical writing in a detailed post. Some key takeaways:

  • Make content scannable with thoughtful intros and outros while being mindful of the length and tone.
  • Relate new technologies to existing/well-known ones.
  • Write what’s personal and important to you.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here are my latest picks for video watching:

  • Here's a direct link to a video of the block editor “live demo prototype” from Matias Ventura. We mentioned his update in the last newsletter, but this is still my current WordPress video pick. Matias shows how block areas could be organized within the page. This may be the way WordPress content and page building will evolve in the future.

🎙️ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • BobWP hosted Topher DeRosia from BigCommerce on the always lively Do The Woo podcast. In this episode, Topher shares his experiences about entering the WordPress eCommerce space.

Notes for September 11, 2019


WordPress 5.2.3 is out. It's a security and maintenance release that includes 29 fixes and enhancements, including an update of jQuery for older versions of WordPress. ✨

The WordPress 5.3 release team has a new batch of focus leads, including Ian Belanger as Default Theme Wrangler and Anders Norén as Default Theme Designer. Anders will be designing the new Twenty Twenty theme, which will be released with 5.3 after WordCamp US in November.

This Dev Chat summary from Josepha Haden outlines the critical deadlines for keeping WordPress 5.3 development on track. ⏲️

There is a discussion unfolding at Make WordPress about the future design of the WordPress “About” page. Initial discussion points posted by Tammie Lister ask some good focusing, “what if” questions: What if the CSS system was rebuilt from the ground up using components? What if a unified style or theme for design was adopted? 🤔

Jean-Baptiste Audras started another discussion at Make WordPress about a possible frontend forms feature, possibly as a feature plugin. This would be a mechanism for handling the Privacy Data Requests introduced in WordPress 4.9.6. The next step will be to determine if Jean-Baptiste's existing plugin could be used as a base to build on.

If you use Twenty Nineteen or a child of it and you use custom CSS, be sure to check whether this upcoming change affects you.

Ross Wintle took a look at the positive side of tech communities. Ross says, “We need to tackle what’s bad in these communities. That’s SUPER important. But let’s also elevate, promote, shout about the good stuff.” 📣

If you know of anyone who wants to improve their JavaScript knowledge, Zac Gordon has a Bootcamp starting next week. He is offering monthly plans for his courses now too.

Nexcess and Liquid Web have established a “partnership.” That is an interesting word choice. What it means: “Liquid Web clients gaining access to the technology and scalability of Nexcess Cloud,” and “Nexcess clients obtaining access to Liquid Web plans and services.” 🤝

The companies will operate in a “largely separate” fashion, however. (Again, somewhat unusual wording there.)

Two projects from Bracketspace caught my eye recently. One is a custom notification plugin, and the other is — “an actual WordPress dashboard loaded” in your browser so you can quickly reference its interface elements for use in your plugins. 👍

If you are old enough to remember RSS readers (or old enough to appreciate RSS), then you might be interested in the “reboot” of NetNewsWire which is a free and open-source RSS reader for the Mac. 📰

Peter Wilson says WordPress might be making some changes soon to prevent search engines from indexing and crawling “sites with the ‘discourage search engines from indexing this site' option enabled.” Instead, they “will display an updated robots meta tag to prevent the site from being listed in search engines.”

Pantheon appears to have been working with Peter Suhm on integration with Branch, Peter's new Continuous Integration service.

If you missed our interview with Peter, you can learn more about him and Branch there.

Happy tenth anniversary to OSTraining! 🎂

OSTraining founder Steve Burge also announced the 3.0 beta for the Multiple Authors plugin is available for testing.

Initially, Multiple Authors was an extension for PublishPress built on the base of Daniel Bachuber‘s Co-Authors Plus and Bylines, which PublishPress acquired. Now, like its predecessors, Multiple Authors is a standalone plugin. 🔌

Trust, Growth, Inclusion: A Study of Women Engineers' Job-Search Priorities” is a whitepaper recently published by Automattic with the results of a user research study launched by their engineering hiring team. 👩‍🚀

The goal of the study was for Automattic to better understand how its approach to tech hiring resonates with women and non-binary folks who are experienced developers but may experience gender discrimination in the workplace.

A post at the Automattic Developers blog summarizes the study's key findings about the ways technical women navigate their careers, including some unanticipated and maybe surprising results. There's also a lot of detail given about changes Automattic has made or is making, based on what they've learned.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here are my latest picks for video watching:

🎙️ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • If you have ever thought about starting a podcast, then listen to Jeff Meyerson and Courtland Allen over at the Indie Hackers podcast. This episode (#114) contains enough tips about interviewing guests and the industry itself to get you started.
  • Roy Sivan is well known in the WordPress space, and now he's a guest on a recent episode of the Voices of the ElePHPant podcast.
  • is a new developer podcast. The first episode I listened to features a talk with Chris Ferdinandi about the damage modern “best practices” are doing to the web.
  • I always try to keep up with the Women of WP podcast, and the latest episode with Heather Acton of Helio Interactive didn't disappoint. It covers Heather's engineering background and how that translated into building a WordPress development business. There's also a video of the interview on the site. (~40 mins.)

Notes for September 3, 2019


WordPress 5.2.3 is slated for a September 4th release, according to a recent developer chat.

WordPress 5.3 will follow WordCamp US with an anticipated release date of November 10th. It “will polish current interactions and make the UIs more user-friendly.” 🌟

WP-CLI 2.3.0 was recently released. Alain Schlesser describes it as an “unspectacular” version because the “previous release was very taxing.” Nevertheless, I'm enjoying new features like the media fix-orientation command. Also new and useful: the ability to skip through groups of tables using wildcards (e.g., 'wp_post*') with the --skip-tables flag for search-replace.

The stable release of the WordPress AMP plugin is out, according to Pascal Birchler. 🔌

In an informative Twitter thread, Jonathan Sampson breaks down precisely what gets downloaded and what else happens when you launch Google Chrome for the first time — on Windows. There's nothing earth-shattering, but it's good to know what browsers are doing these days.

Jonathan did the same analysis for Firefox, Opera, Brave, and other browsers.

The New York Times did a brief interview with Matt Mullenweg that's focused on his plans for Tumblr. Matt said bringing RSS feeds back to Tumblr is “high on [his] list” of priorities.

Matt Shaw summarizes for Delicious Brains why most WordPress email plugins suck: “they simply don’t do enough to alert you of potential issues and don’t give you a way to rectify them.” 📧

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here is my latest pick for video watching:

  • If you are a freelancer, then I suggest you check out this talk from Nathan Ingram about the things he wishes he had known about freelancing when he started. The video is from WordCamp Atlanta, but Nathan delivered the same presentation this past weekend in Orlando too. It was highly recommended and well-attended at both conferences.

🎙️ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • Kirill Zubovsky‘s Smash Notes podcast has an interview with Jason Schuller. Jason talks about about his career path from Boeing to starting his theme shop, Press75, through to its sale. There's some fascinating historical perspective on the early days of WordPress and how-to advice about gaining community support for a business even if you don't know anyone.
  • Olivia Bisset is a 14-year-old working in the WordPress space. She will be speaking at WordCamp US this year about the ways we can best “embrace the next generation.” Cal Evans recently interviewed Olivia on the Voices of the ElePHPant podcast, which is devoted to interviews with people in the PHP community.

Notes for August 26, 2019


📆 The proposed schedule for WordPress 5.3 development is currently:

  1. Beta 1: 23 September 2019
  2. Release Candidate: 15 October 2019
  3. General Release: 12 November 2019

In a recent chat summary, I discovered some interesting items that are being merged into Gutenberg. With these changes, you're going to see a “typewriter experience” and a “help panel” when you insert blocks.

Andrey Savchenko announced that wp_timezone() is coming to WordPress core. Andrey says it's “a game changer for the Date/Time component” in WordPress. ⏱️

Kent C. Dodds explains what JavaScript features you should be familiar with when you're learning and using React. Kent covers array methods, promises, async/await, template literals, and more.

If you work with WooCommerce but aren't familiar with the developer chats, you can read summaries of them at 🛒

Here's a reminder that the recently launched WooCommerce 3.7  requires at least PHP 5.6.20 and WordPress 4.9. It also ships with Product Blocks 2.3 for the WordPress Block Editor and comes with new features for stores running WordPress 5.1 and higher.

The WooCommerce Admin plugin was updated recently and is expected to be merged into WooCommerce 3.8. You can get it from the plugin repository or GitHub if you want to try it out or provide feedback.

Storefront, a popular theme for WooCommerce, was recently updated to 2.5.3.

Sandilya Kafle added an update about the Trusted Author Program, which was “an attempt to streamline the review process for authors who are consistently able to show they can to produce high quality code and themes.” 🌟

One of the program's goals was to reduce “gaming [reviews] by the use of multiple accounts,” but Sandilya notes that authors were still seen using multiple accounts. In addition, the Trusted Author Program revealed that not all of its members “were highly familiar with the requirements.”

Sadly it looks like this experiment has come to an end, and the Trusted Author Program program has been shut down. All submitted themes will be reviewed from the top of the queue, and theme submissions with 3+ distinct issues will be rejected. The one-theme-at-a-time and only one-submission-per-month rules still stand.

Ben Gillbanks is building a lightweight plugin called “Toolbelt” that is inspired by Jetpack but designed for speed, simplicity, and privacy. 🧰

If you haven't seen the logo for WordCamp Asia, it's an excellent example of simple branding for a conference. There's also a good article here about the thinking and ideas that were used to come up with the logo.

With Managed MySQL now available at Digital Ocean, Erika Heidi took the opportunity to write a tutorial on how to install WordPress with a managed database and Ubuntu 18.04. 💧

An affiliate payouts service is coming soon to AffiliateWP, and Pippin Williamson says it took the “last year” to build it. He shows off the process in a recent post.

Existing tools that try to handle processing affiliate payouts have been, according to Pippin, “significantly lackluster or come with certain undesirable requirements.”

10up has made some improvements to its Distributor plugin, a solution that makes it “easy to syndicate and reuse content across WordPress-powered websites.” Helen Hou-Sandi describes some impressive performance gains and new support for “filtering the content available from external connected sites.”

StudioPress announced the release of Genesis 3.1, which requires WordPress 5.0+, PHP 5.6+, and an HTML5 Genesis child theme. You can read the full changelog, and developers can read the details about all the new features in the Genesis developer documentation.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here are my current recommendations for video watching:

  • Muhammad Muhsin‘s talk from the 2019 JavaScript for WordPress Conference entitled “ServerSide React for WordPressis now online.
  • I have been enjoying the recording of Zac Gordon's live stream series where he learns Gatsby by working through the official tutorial.

🎙️ Here's a recent podcast worth listening to:

  • Static websites are all the rage, but if you want a perspective from outside the WordPress community, then Scott Bolinger‘s conversation with Jack McDade, the CEO of Statamic, is worth a listen over at The Product Business. They touch on the pros and cons of using WordPress versus static alternatives.

Notes for August 20, 2019


Matt Mullenweg blogged about some of the reactions to the news that Automattic is acquiring Tumblr. Many commentators focused on the purchase price (now estimated to be about $3 million) and the $1.1 billion Verizon paid for it a few years ago.

Matt thinks people are missing the real story. He says he respects Verizon and appreciated their interest in “finding a new home for Tumblr instead of shutting it down.” Other companies could have outbid Automattic, but they probably would have chopped Tumblr up for parts.

Kudos to both parties for preserving and continuing to invest in Tumblr. 👍

Matt Whiteley shows how to synchronize your Advanced Custom Fields color palette with your Gutenberg color palette. 🎨

It's been eight months since Gutenberg's public launch. According to Leonardo Losoviz at Smashing Magazine, “it’s only a matter of time until its most outstanding issues have been dealt with, and the user experience becomes truly pleasant.”

In this article, Leonardo reviews Gutenberg's growth since its launch and speculates where it is heading.

Timi Wahalahti started a conversation about handling conflicts of interest in the WordPress community. ⚔️

WebKit recently released its tracking prevention policy, which defines covert tracking as a type of malware it will “do its best to prevent.” 👏

It will be interesting to see how adtech companies and those who rely on covert tracking will respond.

August 19th was the 28th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee‘s release of the World Wide Web's codebase in 1991. He is currently the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium. In July,

Vanity Fair published an in-depth, retrospective essay about Berner-Lee in July. It focuses on the regrets he has, as well as his efforts to encourage decentralization and protect privacy.

The initial meeting for the “WP Notify” project will take place on Monday, August 26th.

WP Notify aims to create “a fundamental mechanism” in WordPress core for “sending notifications to users to give them feedback about state changes in the system.”

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here is my current recommendation for video watching:

🎙️ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • Zac Gordon and Scott Bolinger chat on The Product Business podcast about static sites. Their discussion covers Gatsby and the role of WordPress relative to static site generators. (~60 minutes)
  • I don't mention the Core Intuition podcast often because it focuses on indie and iOS development, but a recent episode features a discussion of Automattic‘s acquisition of Tumblr from a unique perspective outside the WordPress bubble. The hosts are Daniel Jalkut and Manton Reece, who runs (~60 minutes)

Notes for August 16, 2019


📣 Following the news of Automattic‘s purchase of Tumblr on Monday, here are some of the best reactions to it in and outside the WordPress community:

  • The Vergecast (a podcast produced by The Verge) interviewed Matt Mullenweg. With a few exceptions, it mostly goes over what we already know, as Matt isn't releasing new information until the deal is completed in another month or two. Worth a listen.
  • Robert Jacobi says, “everyone should have seen this [acquisition] coming.” He believes it's part of a “larger plan to go toe-to-toe with the SAAS site builders like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Facebook, etc.” With Gutenberg, it will be possible now to “integrate [its] atomic data across a social platform as well as a CMS.”
  • Mathew Ingram asks if WordPress + Tumblr can create something that could go head-to-head with Facebook and Twitter. Will independent journalists see it as an alternative to social networks?
  • Angela Watercutter points out that “moderation is key,” and “what made Tumblr such a haven in its heyday was that it felt like a place where freak flags waved proudly and everyone felt supported.” Could Tumblr be that again, even without the adult content?
  • Ryan Sullivan thinks the Tumblr purchase is a “good thing” that can bring WordPress “into the same conversations as other major social platforms.”
  • Caspar Hübinger did a brief analysis on Twitter of those reporting the news and how many of them got who-owned-what wrong (“Automattic Owns WordPress”) — which I found a little amusing.

Tumblr wasn't the only acquisition this week! Zero BS Marketing, a company of two people, announced they were joining Automattic. 🚫🐂💩

This means Zero BS CRM will be getting better through deeper integrations with WordPress and help and support across the board, from product development to usability and design.

Gutenberg 6.3 has been released with several new accessibility features, including “Navigation Mode” which is loaded by default. Navigation mode “allows you to move from block to block” with the Tab key, and the arrow keys let you navigate between blocks. ⌨️

Chrome now has native lazy-loading for images and IFrames. There are already several good explanations of how this works and how to adjust your markup.

An initial Trac ticket for lazy loading in WordPress core exists, and it was mentioned in a recent WordPress core JavaScript developer meeting. 💤

If you've seen but avoided the current, heated CSS-in-JS discussions, then this balanced roundup from Chris Coyier might be just the thing for you.

WooCommerce Assistant is a WooCommerce extension that reduces “manual work by automating several routine tasks.” By setting up some simple rules, you can schedule sales, tweak prices, and run clearance events – all completely unattended. 🛒

I learned about this extension when I stumbled on this recent story about its development by Slava Abakumov. Slava and Gregory Karpinsky “were working on the same project and […] started seeing certain areas of site management” that could be optimized. The number of times the plugin had to be rewritten sounds frustrating.

Vincent Courson from the Google Search Outreach team, explains in detail how Google Search recovered from some significant indexing issues following a massive outage. In the end, even the biggest companies have big challenges. Google's apparent transparency here is refreshing. 🔍

Jeff Matson shows off his recreation of the Twenty Nineteen WordPress theme, this time done in Gatsby (complete with working comments). He says: “It serves as an example of how you can use Gatsby for a frontend with a headless WordPress site running WPGraphQL as a backend.”

Jeff works for NorthStack, who promotes the concept in more detail here.

Andrea Middleton covers how WordCamp organizers can address the panic and anxiety of “the event is right around the corner!” period. Stay calm, analyze risks, gather data, and identify your options. 😰

Aaron Powell shows off what CSS can do — most of us probably had no idea! Two examples: keylogger (a little bit scary) and user tracking (not very scary, but still interesting).

Hard Lessons Earned

Julio Biason shares the things he has learned “the hard way” in 30 years of software development and many other areas of life and work. 🥵

Here's some good advice about how to do hard things, from David MacIver.

Product Hunt ran a survey about the dark side of remote work, and unsurprisingly the nearly 9,000 responses drive home how hard it can be to avoid anxiety, stress, and depression if you are working on your own. Nearly 3/4ths of the respondents said they had suffered some type of compromised mental health from the remote nature of their work. The lessons drawn and advice given in this article match up with Viktor Petersson's reflections on a decade of remote work.

Key takeaway: you've got to maintain a strict schedule, including your sleep schedule. ⏰

Perfection is not possible in anything, including life balance. Andrew Askins explains how he is running a company with ADHD, and again a key point is organizing your time: prioritize obsessively. ☑️

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here is my recommendation for video watching this week:

Chris Lema has a walk-through video about his experiences with Strattic, a WordPress based static site host, as well as Stackbit, Netlify, and Forestry. He also shows how third-party SaaS solutions can integrate membership, basic eCommerce, and newsletter signups.

Chris's demo is an excellent way to learn about some new technologies on the horizon. However, the number of hoops one has to jump through to create a simple site with them seems like a sizeable barrier. It will be interesting to see if a hosting company can crack this. (~12 minutes)

🎙️ Here are some recent podcasts worth listening to:

  • ShopTalk digs into WordPress databases and hosting with Brad Touesnard whose company Delicious Brains is behind the WP Migrate DB Pro plugin. (~60 minutes)
  • Speaking of Brad, he has another interview with Scott Bolinger on The Product Business podcast about his early work, investment tips and mistakes, and what makes a profitable enterprise.
  • The WPCampus podcast is back with Maryann Reissig joining Jen McFarland and Brian DeConinck to discuss the highlights of WPCampus 2019.
  • The Women in WP podcast interviewed Michelle Schulp about the definition of design, creative passions, and why design is about defining problems and finding solutions.
  • The most recent Matt Report has Matt Medeiros sharing his experiences of launching Conductor to $4,000 in sales on day one, “only to watch it slowly plateau and fall short to bigger trends in the market.” 📉😞

Notes for August 12, 2019


Several proposals that appeared on Make WordPress over the past week have started some good discussions:

  • Ian Dunn proposed a policy of support for the last six versions of WordPress with auto-updates that bring unsupported sites to the oldest supported version. Ian says his proposal “contains a careful roll-out plan” and “would not be a sudden and un-communicated change.” It's a productive conversation with talk of an option for site admins to opt-out of the update with clear instructions 30 days in advance.
  • Andrew Nacin shared a reminder worth repeating: “WordPress only supports the latest major version. To be exceptionally clear, this has essentially always been the policy.”
  • Heather Burns noted the privacy team is engaged in a discussion of the possibility of creating a consent and logging mechanism for WordPress, most likely as a feature plugin.
  • Jonathan Bossenger proposed a “Feature Project” called “WP Notify,” which addresses the lack of a fundamental mechanism for sending notifications to users to give them feedback “about state changes in the system.” Admin notices, in a nutshell, haven't been cutting it.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here is my recommendation for video watching this week:

  • Chris Coyier recorded his talk “I Guess We're Full Stack Developers Now.” It covers “the breadth of what front-end developers are able to do and are being asked to do,” which has widened to the point that Chris thinks it's become “full-stack development.”

🎙️ Here's an insightful recent podcast:

  • Indie Hackers interviewed Ben Tossell on his work with the “no-code platform” It's a good look into the “build without code” community.

Notes for August 9, 2019


Caldera has been acquired by Saturday Drive, the makers of Ninja Forms. Acquiring competitors can make sense in a consolidating market, but the Saturday Drive folks don't have plans to blend the two products. Instead, they see Caldera as a developer-focused product and Ninja Forms as a more user-focused product.

I am a bit surprised by that, and I wonder if those plans will change over time. Building separate developer- and user-centric products might be a great challenge to take on, but to my mind both markets need to be served side-by-side, in one product.

Josh Pollock is joining Saturday Drive as the VP of Engineer Experience — a role I'm sure he will be great at. A few other folks who worked on Caldera Forms will be joining the new team as well. Congrats to everyone involved.

Sarah Gooding did a nice job summarizing the changes Jetpack is testing for paid block upgrades. It is controversial in the community as it fits within the gray zone of what should or should not be allowed. I appreciated Jeremy Herve's comments to the post.

I think it's fair to say I support good user experiences for paid upgrades in WordPress. I also support a level playing field where Jetpack or anyone else does not have special privileges on where and how to promote paid products. I think that's obvious, but it can be easy to add drama to the situation. I trust the plugin team will help Jetpack fulfill both criteria, like they would for any other large player in the field.

John James Jacoby released the initial version of BerlinDB, a “collection of PHP classes and functions that aims to provide an ORM-like experience and interface to WordPress database tables.”

John touched on these concepts in his talk at WordCamp Europe about advanced database management for WordPress plugins. 🔌

The New York Times explains how they built a proprietary “collaborative editing CMS” for their newsrooms. It's an impressive piece of software, but it's a shame how much cool engineering goes into closed systems. Would the Times sharing this effort as an open-source project limit their business opportunities? 🤐

Grzegorz Ziółkowski tweeted to announce that “unifying text-based blocks” are in development for WordPress core. He also asked whether there is is a valid use case for centered or right-aligned lists in LTR languages.

Scott Bolinger rebuilt his WordPress blog in Gatsby and wrote about his experience, which was mostly positive. However, there was a learning curve with some challenges along the way, such as adding images to a page (“ridiculously difficult”) and forms.

Scott is also quick to point out that static sites aren't suitable for all projects, especially those with “with complex relationships between users and other data.”

More from Scott: I have really been enjoying his new podcast for The Product Business. I've listened to every episode and gotten a lot from them.

In BuddyPress 5.0.0 you will be able to tidy your BuddyPress blocks in a separate BuddyPress block category.

Carolina Nymark announced the theme review team will require all themes to implement keyboard navigation in “five weeks time.” (This puts the deadline in early September.)

This new requirement goes beyond navigation menus: “All functionality should work using a keyboard only.” ⌨️

In Carolina's announcement, there are some tips and resources to help theme developers comply with the new standard.

Dealing with dates in programming isn't always straightforward, which is why I appreciated this reminder on how to take a timestamp and convert it into a formatted date in JavaScript. 📅

Gary Pendergast announced a “baby step” toward a better contributor experience in WordPress Core.

Custom Docker images are now available for running WordPress on PHP versions 5.2 to 7.3. These images aren’t intended for hosting Docker-based WordPress sites but instead should be used to create a local development environment for WordPress.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here is my recommendation for video watching this week:

🎙️ Podcasts I've appreciated in the last few days:

  • Presentable is a new podcast hosted by Jeff Veen with a focus on design. I liked a recent episode with Mike Monteiro that tackles the problem of enforcing ethical standards in the design industry. (~45 minutes.)
  • The php[architect] podcast did an interview with Maura Teal of Pagely, who is also giving a talk at the php[world] conference.

Notes for July 31, 2019


WPCampus 2019 concluded this past weekend with a wide range of substantial talks and topics. Thanks to Pantheon, there was a live stream and live captioning. Videos will be posted online as in past years. 🎓

WPCampus 2020 will be held on July 16-20, 2020 at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA

Parents who are thinking about bringing their kids to WordCamp US will be pleased to learn the event will be offering free on-site childcare all day for children ages six weeks to 12 years. 👶🏕️

The childcare provider is “a licensed conference childcare service” that will allow parents to drop off and pick up their kids throughout the day as your schedule requires.

Speaking of WordCamps, tickets are now on sale for WordCamp Asia (February 21-23 2020).

If you use WooCommerce and are looking for product review plugins, Colm Troy has a big review of his picks for the best. His top pick is, and he goes into great detail about its capabilities. 🏆

Not sure if reviews might be a good idea for your site at all? Troy has some good advice on that too.

In a world where “learn this programming language in a day or weekend” sells books and courses. Peter Norvig explains why this might not be a good idea. He shares a recipe for programming success that covers learning over years and decades.

It's important to grasp fundamentals quickly today. Usually, you get on board with them fast, but it truly takes time and experience to gain mastery.

Jeffrey Carandang explains how to add custom Gutenberg block styles with ES6 and ES5 Javascript.

Here's a nice “UI cheat sheet” for text fields from Tess Gadd. It covers text field anatomy, structure, icons, text field states, autoformat, touch targets, accessibility, and more.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here is my recommendation for video watching this week:

  • Adam Culp on being a better software developer, in just 15 minues. It's the kind of common sense wisdom that seasoned coders need to hear now and again. Are the things you know you should do the things you actually have adopted as a diciplined practice?

🎙️ Three podcasts I've appreciated in the last few days:

  • This “quick chat” (under 30 minutes) with Dianna Allen of Budget Meal Planner is a good one. Dianna started with a MailChimp newsletter and Wix website. Two months later she was on the Product Hunt homepage.
  • Matt Mullenweg and John Maeda discussed the design team’s workflow at Automattic, probably the largest remote team of designers that currently exists. John also talked about his life growing up and in school, where one teacher made a huge difference. (~30 minutes.)
  • The PHP Internals News podcast takes a brief (<10 minute) look into the deprecation of the curly brace syntax in PHP. (I didn't even know this was a thing!) There's also a longer episode devoted to testing PHP itself and how it's improving. (<25 minutes.)

Notes for July 26, 2019


The call for speakers for the first WordCamp Asia 2020 has been announced, with only English speakers being accepted for the initial year. The deadline is September 25th. 🏕️

Denis Žoljom announced a new release of the Theme Sniffer plugin and the WPThemeReview coding standards. 👃

Theme Sniffer is a plugin that applies custom sniffs for PHP_CodeSniffer to verify that your theme adheres to WordPress coding conventions. Those conventions are specified by the official Theme Review Team coding standard, WPThemeReview.

If you build WordPress themes, check out this post on how to add and test skip links for accessibility.

Justin Tadlock showed off some work involving SVG background pattern options in the WordPress Customizer:

Jason Bahl has announced that WPGraphQL for Advanced Custom Fields will be available for free now. The plugin will also be submitted to so it can be included in projects using Composer.

If you haven't had the chance yet to listen to Jason on, I highly recommend it.

J. Michael Ward has some ideas about the approaches you can take to structure your WordPress plugin projects. He shares including his coding philosophy with examples for plugin bootstrap files and class file organization.

David Ryan has written several tutorials to help developers get comfortable with WP-CLI and custom WP-CLI commands even if they haven't worked much with the command line before.

Pascal Birchler‘s Introduction to WP-CLI is a great place to start learning WP-CLI too. 👨‍🏫

There's a first time for everything, and Bolaji Ayodeji has written a short guide for a first-time setup of Git.

OSTraining has published a series of tutorials and a new book on CSS Flexbox. Their latest title is about local development with DDEV. 📚

Joshua Wold explains from a design perspective how WooCommerce widgets are being converted into Gutenberg blocks. A lot more work goes into this than you might think!

Back in 2000, Jacob Nielsen proposed that elaborate usability tests are a waste of resources. It's often discussed and sometimes questioned advice, but Nielsen's test data on testing is hard to dispute.

“The best results come from testing no more than five users and running as many small tests as you can afford,” he found. But, if you want to to discover all the usability problems, “you need to test with at least 15 users.” That said, “The ultimate user experience is improved much more by 3 studies with 5 users each than by a single monster study with 15 users.”

This more recent article from Nielsen is worth a read too if you are introducing changes to a user interface. “Any time you release a new user interface design, you'll get complaints,” he warns.

That's simply because “users don't like to learn different ways of doing things,” and there's nothing you can do to change it! 😡

What you can do is reduce the amount of change you inflict on users at one time.

Greg Rickaby at WebDev Studios wants you to give AMP a second look if you tested it out and set it aside. Greg brings you up to speed on what’s new and aims to debunk a few common myths about AMP.

Scott Jehl shares the simplest way to load CSS asynchronously using a simple HTML approach: link to the stylesheet with the media type attribute set to print. Then use the onload to apply it to all media types once it's loaded. Scott's explanation and discussion of some alternative methods is outstanding. 👍

If you use or work with Microsoft Teams, then this new WordPress plugin from João Ferreira might be of some interest.

ServerPilot announced in June that they are launching a new hosting automation service called HostLaunch. It's meant to be a “platform for operating a modern web hosting company.”

It's a “customer-facing portal for your users to create their own accounts, log in, purchase servers, and manage their PHP and WordPress applications on those servers.”

HostLaunch plans to go live in August. 🛫

Laravel Vapor, a full-featured serverless management and deployment dashboard for PHP/Laravel powered by AWS, was recently announced. Features include on-demand auto-scaling with “zero server maintenance.”

Seth Godin discusses his picks for the five best books on marketing. 📚

Unraveling the JPEG is a deep (and nicely illustrated) dive into the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) image format from Omar Shehata at Parametric Press. 📸

If you like trying out new open-source CMS applications now and then, check out Django-based Wagtail, which Mozilla and Google are using. Wagtail is designed for headless deployments where the frontend pulls content from the CMS with GraphQL queries.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here are my recommendations for video watching this week:

  • Shail Bala Tripathy explores how communities are built and what it takes to start a WordPress community from scratch. This is a talk Shail gave recently at WordCamp Kolkata 2019 where she has been a co-organizer.
  • Sam Singer, the Lead Software Engineer at TechCrunch, shows how their “Extra Crunch” feature was built using WordPress.
  • Alex Young has another “Crash Course” video, this time on headless WordPress with WPGraphQL, ACF, and React.

🎙️ Here are two new (to me) podcasts I've been listening to lately:

  • Fullstack Health is a new podcast focused on physical and mental health in the tech industry. The first episode includes a discussion with Jamund Ferguson and Kari Ferguson, co-organizers of the AnxietyTech conference.
  • This interview with WPEngine‘s Jason Cohen over at the Indie Hackers podcast offers a lot of insight. Jason talks about missteps, successes, and how it's hard to learn from either of them as a founder. He also reveals that it took 2.5 years for WPEngine to reach 1,000 customers!

Notes for July 23, 2019


WordCamp US will soon be releasing its list of approved talks and speakers. They've also put out a call for volunteers. Helping out at WCUS is a great way to give back to the WordPress community, not to mention a fantastic way of networking with others. 🙋‍♂️

Meanwhile, WordCamp Asia has a “teaser site” online for 2020. It's happening February 21-23 in Bangkok, Thailand. 🌏

If you are interested in usability testing for Gutenberg, several tests have been conducted already, and the results are available. Mark Uraine presented the highlights from the testing done in June, with videos included. There are usability test results from WordCamp Europe as well: parts one and two. 📝

Thanks to the work of Sergey Biryukov and others there appear to be new filters available in the media library dropdown for WordPress 5.3.

Sandy Edwards wrote the latest HeroPress article about the mostly unsung heroes of Kids' Camps. Kids' Camps and other youth programs are becoming more common at WordCamps and other WordPress events. Sandy spent weeks putting together a near-perfect timeline of all the related WordPress youth events from 2010 to the present. 🚸

Here's a good post from Mike Pennisi where he argues the “web can't survive a monoculture” — and that is what Chrome's domination of the browser market means.

Mike says developers should help support other browsers like Firefox and WebKit. Developers should perform testing in all browsers too and be aware they have the power to prevent one from choking out the alternatives.

Joe Howard, the head buff at WPBuffs, talks about scaling WordPress maintenance tasks at the agency level. He covers “systemizing” everything — especially the boring stuff — documenting simple and complex tasks, and automating. 🤖

Here's an eye-opening study from Princeton University that analyzed over 53,000 product pages from 11,000 shopping websites. What they found was 1,818 instances of dark patterns, which are user interface design choices that benefit an online service by coercing, steering, or deceiving users. 💩

Mary Ann Azevedo from Crunchbase makes the case that the WordPress hosting space may simultaneously be one of the most lucrative — yet underfunded — industries. 💸

The Washington Post is preparing for a “post cookie” ad targeting future by developing a first-party data ad targeting tool. It is able to tell what article a person is looking at, what position they have scrolled to on a page, and what URL they used to get there.

Lindsay Rogers Cook explains how the digital transition team at the New York Times created a program to help reporters “learn to love spreadsheets.”

If you want to encourage non-coders on your team how to be more fluent with data and numbers, this looks like a great model, including the attention given to data ethics. 🗃️

Speaking of data ethics, check out the Times' Privacy Project if you haven't yet.

Seth Godin discusses his picks for the five best books on marketing. 📚

Christopher Schmitt shows how placeholder text in forms is problematic for real-world use. He suggests a method that includes positioning the label element, so it overlaps the input field.

Jem Turner shares ten solid micro-optimizations for faster WordPress. Suggestions include reducing WordPress HTTP requests, reducing code size by removing duplicate functionality, and tidying up menus as well as wp_head(). 💨

Speaking of performance boosts, SpinupWP has published a terrific introduction to WordPress caching. After reading this, you should have a better understanding of how the various layers of caching play a role in speeding up WordPress page load times.

Tidy Repo made a speed comparison of 100 WordPress themes. The tests were limited to free themes in the WordPress repo, so popular commercial themes were not featured.

Because of the variables involved — including your hosting and installed plugins — I take these tests with a few grains of salt. The advice given at the end of the post is always good: “try to pick a theme that suits your needs.”

I found some of Andy Priestner thoughts as a UX consultant in the UK and former librarian insightful. Andy says the phrase “Ask for forgiveness, not permission!” translates into trying things out and seeing where they lead, but when it comes to users we should “Listen more, watch more!” 👂

Survey results from WordCamp Europe have been published. Notably, with “the help of a whopping 60 sponsors, [WCEU] gathered over €700,000,” and the “total revenue from tickets sold was a little over €130,000.” 🙌

Rachel Andrew recently wrote an excellent guide to CSS Margins, including some things I had forgotten.

Ionut Neagu reviews the redesign of Themeisle, including the pros and cons of the decisions that went into it. The design itself cost $10,000-$15,000. Commenting on that Ionut writes:

While the design itself is something almost impossible to track the ROI of, I believe that it’s worth the investment. Frankly, considering that it took us five years before deciding to redesign the site, the cost only represents less than 0.5% of the revenues.

Here's a reminder that WPCampus 2019 is happening from July 25-27, and sessions will be live-streamed for free. 📹

WP Decoupled is a React theme boilerplate for WordPress, built with Next JS, Webpack, Babel, Node, Express, and WPGraphQL.

Video and Podcast Picks of the Week

📹 Here's my recommendation for video watching this week:

  • Alex Young has a great tutorial that will get you up and running with Gutenberg Blocks using the new Advanced Custom Fields plugin update (5.8).

🎙️ Here are the podcasts I've been listening to lately:

  • Joe Howard, via Matt Report, shares the origin of WPBuffs and why it's challenging to be in the 24/7 maintenance space. On his own WPMRR podcast, he also shares some great news about becoming a father and how that affects life — professionally and otherwise.
  • This extensive interview with Sara Golemon on the upcoming features of PHP 7.4 is a good listen for those writing any PHP or WordPress code.
  • Syed Balkhi, the founder of WPBeginner, is featured on the Elementor Blog podcast talking about his WordPress journey and sharing lessons from his acquisitions.
  • Women in WP interviews Michelle Ames about her role at GiveWP and as a WordCamp organizer.
  • Computer scientist and web standards pioneer Tantek Çelik is Jeffrey Zeldman’s guest on The Big Web Show #186.
  • If you use VSCode, this 20-minute Syntax podcast covers some helpful extensions and themes.
  • The latest Do The Woo podcast features topics such as WooCommerce Managed Hosting, CBD Products, and Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) with Christie Chirinos.

Notes for July 15, 2019


Gutenberg and Full Site Editing

Gutenberg 6.1 was released this past week, and it includes some significant interface enhancements you will notice right away. The most noteworthy is the introduction of motion/animation when you are reordering, adding, or removing blocks.

The image block link settings have been improved too, and REST API error messages now appear as notices. There is also a claim about performance: “typing is 30% faster on long posts.” ⌨️💨

The idea of Gutenberg growing to encompass the “full site editing experience” is getting more traction with this Github ticket submitted by Riad Benguella. ” Expanding the editor outside of post_content” may overlap with the role of “page builder,” by some definitions.

In that vein, Felix Arntz has created a Block Areas plugin that “allows you to define certain areas” anywhere on a WordPress site “that you can then edit like a regular post” using the Gutenberg editor.

Mel Choyce has shared some Gutenberg block directory and block management concepts for the WordPress admin interface and is asking for feedback.

Honey Code is a new Gutenberg Syntax Highlighter Block from Chris Kelley. It handles syntax highlighting quite nicely. ✨

Ryan Welcher from 10up introduced SlotFill — “a modernized take on classic interface ‘hooks and filters' in WordPress” that extends Gutenberg's interface.

Slot and Fill are a pair of React components that allow developers to inject items into predefined spaces. Together they are “a pattern for component extensibility.”

Ryan shows how SlotFill allowed 10up “to maintain the classic editor UI conventions” for their Distributor plugin in Gutenberg.

Demo plugins are available, and SlotFill has been officially added to the next WordPress core release.

More WCEU Recaps

Here's an excellent WordCamp Europe contribution day recap from the Make WordPress Design team. I appreciate seeing how the discussion about Gutenberg and interaction resulted in designers opening issues in Github.

Codeable had a nice recap as well and an interesting post about quickly taking professional photos of their team — 34 portraits in less than 2 hours with no studio. 🤳

Only “Mostly Uninstalled”

If you use or have ever used Zoom on for MacOS, you should be aware of a vulnerability that allows a malicious website to enable your camera without your permission. Even if you've uninstalled Zoom, you are still vulnerable. 😲

To paraphrase Miracle Max, there's a big difference between mostly uninstalled and all uninstalled.

On Sunday, July 14, a fix from Zoom was released, so manually update your app!

Apple even stepped in to remove the local server Zoom installs (Yikes!) in a silent update. (Thank you, Apple!) 🙏

Developers can learn a few things from this incident. At the very least, uninstalling and deleting an app or plugin should remove all traces of your code. Also, decisions that ignore the end user's best interest will come back to haunt you. 👻

Cash on the Mail

In 2017, WPForms acquired WP Mail SMTP, and recently a Pro version was announced. The Pro features include integration with Outlook 365 and Amazon SES, along with email logging and notification management.

If you are looking for MailChimp alternatives, then give this post from Victor Zhou a read. Victor explains how moving froim Mailchimp to Sendy cut his costs “by 100x.” 💸

Developer Tools

Check out this project from Roots called Bedrock — “WordPress boilerplate with modern development tools, easier configuration, and an improved folder structure.” 🛠️

Bedrock is inspired by Heroku‘s Twelve-Factor App methodology, including Scott Walkinshaw‘s WordPress specific version.

I'm sure many developers can relate to Khaliq Gant saying he's “not really a good web developer” — he's “just good at Googling things.”

That's not self-deprecation because, as Khaliq points out, it takes a solid base of knowledge and training to know what questions to ask. Then you have to assess the answers you get and come to the right conclusions in your own coding decisions.

The ability to self-educate is essential, especially in a field that changes quickly. 👩‍🏫

Here's a WordPress plugin that can generate a child theme based on the Genesis Sample theme with WP-CLI.

Zach Leatherman offers some insight into font loading strategies as he explains how CSS-Tricks (poweredby WordPress) optimizines the open license fonts they use.

If you've struggled with page loading times due to custom fonts, this is a must-read. ⏳

If you're looking for an opinionated presentation of the best open source web fonts, Chad Mazzola has it. The font examples use text and color better than any other font demo I've seen.

Your Feedback is Requested

👉 Andrea Middleton is collecting topic suggestions from WordPress contributor teams for the WordPress User and Developer Survey, which didn't happen last year. The survey's goal is to gather the information that will help inform contributor work in the coming year.

👉 The official WordPress Hosting Team is asking for feedback about the recommended minimum PHP requirement, based on four questions for developers:

  • How has the PHP minimum requirement bump affected you?
  • What should the next PHP minimum recommendation be and why?
  • What common issues do you foresee having with the sites that you host with the next PHP bump?
  • What versions of PHP should we target with a Servehappy warning banner?

Allez a11y!

The WordPress theme review team will start implementing a new accessibility-related guideline every other month and teaching theme authors how to tackle each issue. That's great news! 🙌

WordPress profiles now include some additional fields that contributors can use to share how much time they dedicate to the WordPress project.

Video and Podcast Picks

📹 Here's my recommendation for video watching this week:

  • The “Cost of JavaScript 2019” video (and blog post) from Addy Osmani at the PerfMatters Conference 2019 shows the main costs of processing JavaScript are download and CPU execution time.

🎙️ Here are the podcasts I've been listening to lately:

  • The latest Distributed podcast features Matt Mullenweg interviewed by Mark Armstrong. I heard some things in this discussion that I can't recall hearing anywhere else. Matt tells the story of the pre-Automattic and early Automattic days, including the very first WordPress meetup. Even if you aren't too interested in distributed work, this one's worth your time.
  • The Voices of the ElePHPant podcast spoke with Sebastian Grodzicki about serverless PHP.
  • I started listening to the Ladybug Podcast with Kelly Vaughn, Ali Spittel, Emma Wedekind, and Lindsey Kopacz. My first episode was this one dealing with how to balance side projects.
  • This short Syntax podcast episode covers the question “what is a headless CMS?” and of course mentions how WordPress fits in.
  • This recent C2C Podcast interviews Tessa Krissel about the Pantheon Heroes project which focuses on giving back to Pantheon's community. I'm listening to a recent episode focused on Asana at the moment. The very latest episode features Andrea Middleton on WordPress meetup groups and how diverse communities interact and thrive.
  • If you enjoy or are thinking about picking up the php[architect] magazine, their companion podcast is a good one to keep up with too. Their latest episode touches on serverless PHP and other subjects, like how to securely manage keys, secrets, and passwords.

Notes for July 5, 2019

Summer Roundup

Keeping Up with Gutenberg 🚧

Gutenberg 6.0 is out with significant enhancements to the column layout block, widgets block, and block group functionality, among other things.

Felix Arntz explains how to leverage the power of Custom Elements in Gutenberg. Like many popular, component-based JavaScript frameworks, Custom Elements bring Web Components to WordPress — standardized “browser APIs that allow you to define your own HTML tags, reusable and self-contained.” ⚙️

If you are a developer and unfamiliar with Custom Elements or Web Components, give Felix's article a read. Even if you aren't planning on any Gutenberg development anytime soon, this is a good one for keeping up.

I'm not sure I would call this the “ultimate” list, but Kevin Muldoon does have an impressive list of Gutenberg block plugins and add-ons, as they're accumulating quickly. Check in to see if you've missed anything.

Everyone's Going Local 🏠

Josh Koenig announced the first release of Pantheon Localdev, a local dev app for the Mac (Windows and Linux “coming soon”) that is built on top of Docker and Lando with a GUI for working on sites and deploying to Pantheon.

This announcement follows the launch of a similar tool from WPEngine called DevKit. Add to this the existence of Local by FlyWheel (recently acquired by WPEngine), and it's not surprising that conversations started appearing on Twitter about the necessity of these “custom dev tools” and how they might lock users into these hosts. 🔒

Morten Rand-Hendriksen posed the idea of a single, standard tool for deploying code to WordPress sites, and an interesting discussion ensued. I don't see this happening anytime soon — at least from the major hosts as they battle it out — but it's something I would like to see someday.

While it doesn't have a local development app, LiquidWeb is partnering with WPMerge and Affiliate WP to add them to their managed hosting bundles for WordPress and WooCommerce at no extra charge.

A tool for merging staging and production site databases like WPMerge is a must-have for eCommerce sites.

Kudos 👏

Peter Suhm was selected to join the 2019 TinySeed accelerator. Peter wrote on his blog he will now be able to work full time on Branch. 🌱

Scott Bolinger reminds us Why We Build Products. One reason: “making money while you sleep is an amazing feeling.” 💸

WordPressed for the First Time 🎸

Rolling Stone just launched daily updated music charts that are powered by WordPress. Aaron Jorbin reached out to me to confirm that the internal team at PMC did this project along with the team at Yikes!.

Aaron noted that “from [the] WordPress side, there weren't too many challenges… Primary development took about a month, and then there were about two months of small bug fixes while all the data pieces came together.”

If you want to dive into this more, you can check out the methodology behind the rankings, and there is also a FAQ. was relaunched this past week, and as Digital Editor Andrew Nusca pointed out, it too is running on WordPress. 💵

Losing Your Head 🗣️

Dan Fries thinks the future of websites is “headless CMS.” He explains what counts as headless and the pros and cons of different headless solutions.

Dan notes WordPress and other platforms “account for more than 60% of all web content platforms,” but their problem “is their relative lack of flexibility” because “the front and back end functionalities are deeply coupled.” 🔗

If you want to take WordPress headless with a React frontend, check out Frontity‘s 1.0 release.

A couple of “features” stand out:

100/100 Lighthouse score: Frontity is optimized to get the maximum score in Lighthouse, including performance, SEO and accessibility. Theme developers start with 100/100 and they just need to maintain it while they add features to their theme.

Perfect accessibility: as part of our mission to make building websites with WordPress and React easier and more accessible, we also want to develop the framework focused on this aspect. Frontity is accessible by default and will provide tools that let the developers know if they break it.

New Tools 🛠️

WPOnion is a framework that “helps developers build custom meta boxes and custom fields in WordPress.” The documentation goes into further detail, stating its support for not only post_meta but also term_meta, user_meta, comment_meta, settings pages and custom tables.

Justin Tadlock announced the official 1.0 release of two feature projects for anyone building (and submitting) WordPress themes: Customize Section Button and Autoload.

Google‘s AMP for WordPress version 1.2 was released.

Thierry Muller outlined the XML Sitemaps feature proposal for WordPress core, which will include an API to make it fully extendable. 🗺️

Thierry also announced the developer beta release of the Google Site Kit plugin for WordPress.

That's the Ticket 🎫

Jonathan Desrosiers posted a reflection on the WordPress triage team three months into its existence.

There's a lot to take in here, but here's one KPI: they closed more than half of the Trac tickets opened in roughly Q2 2019. 😅

Summer School 🏫

Jen McFarland and Brian DeConinck put together a summer news roundup for the WPCampus video podcast you can watch/listen to or read. 🎓

Among other things, they discuss WCEU and the upcoming annual WPCampus conference on July 25-27 at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

Registration will remain open until July 7. The schedule of speakers and sessions looks super!

Rather than spend money on swag this year, the conference organizers are donating (and encouraging others to give) to Free Geek, a local charity for digital inclusion. 🎁

📚 There will not be a quiz, but here's some educational reading you or someone you know may appreciate:

Giving Back 💝

HeroPress is keeping a list of scholarships that are available to the WordPress community.

It's great to see a company like Sentry start a program like Sentry for Good. The goal is to amplify “the voices of non-profits, open-source tools, and educational institutions” by blogging about the way they use Sentry, or by sponsoring their Sentry account.

Podcast Roundup 🎙️

WP&UP has Cory Miller as a trustee now. Cory has been sharing his mental health story for many years now at conferences, and he noted it is part of his “life mission” to “obliterat[e] the stigma of mental health.” 💥

Dan Maby, WP&UP's CEO, shared that Cory “has been a personal inspiration,” and it was “his WordCamp Denver talk back in 2015″ that led Dan to open up about his own “personal mental ill health, leading “to the development of WP&UP.”

Cory was on the WP&UP podcast recently, and it is worth a listen if you haven't heard his story yet. 👍

Substack shared a growth masterclass with Judd Legum, who runs one of the most successful one-person newsletter businesses on their service. (This is a brief “popup podcast” episode you can listen to or just read the highlights.)

Judd's secret is not volume or withholding content for paying subscribers; it's about adding value.

Long Time Running 🏃

Enjoy reading “HTML is the web” from Pete Lambert which has a quality developer rant in it. Even if you code in React, “if you’re making websites, then the most important thing you’re making is HTML. HTML is the Web.”

Remember that time MooTools almost broke the web? Don't miss another fantastic historical essay from Jay Hoffman about the olden days of JavaScript frameworks before jQuery. 🐮

Jay did a Cake Panel recently and answered a lot of great questions about his work and the many hats he wears. 🍰

Martin Tournoij makes an excellent case for why he's still using jQuery in 2019.

Preethi Shreeya considers the things that give products longevity and asks whether “eternal design” is possible with software.

Inquiring Minds 👀

A recent Twitter thread and blog post from Remy Sharp takes on Disqus as a Trojan horse for Facebook and all sorts of tracking scripts after he took a look at his blog's source code: 🐴

Rand Fishkin wanted to know “How Much of Google’s Search Traffic is Left for Anyone But Themselves?

Answer: Somewhere south of 88%, as a conservative estimate. 📉

As Google directs more searches to its various (Alphabet) properties, the results left to everyone else is shrinking fast:

In 2019 Google sent ~20% fewer organic clicks via browser searches than they did in 2016.”

Don't Need Another Hero ⚡

This article in Scientific American by Zeynep Tufekci brilliantly uses Game of Thrones‘ difficult translation to television to explain how its author, George R. R. Martin, understands “sociological storytelling” as very few screenwriters do. Martin treats all his characters as individuals who exist within social structures and historical contingencies that limit their possible actions and influence. Tufekci says we're typically much more naive and idealize heroes, politicians, and industry leaders:

It’s reasonable, for example, for a corporation to ponder who would be the best CEO or COO, but it’s not reasonable for us to expect that we could take any one of those actors and replace them with another person and get dramatically different results without changing the structures, incentives and forces that shape how they and their companies act in this world.

(John Gruber made a similar point about Apple after Jony Ive‘s exit.)

Tufecki wants us to think more about how to build good teams and organizations — and the conditions that sustain them:

Well-run societies don’t need heroes, and the way to keep terrible impulses in check isn’t to dethrone antiheroes and replace them with good people.

Notes for July 1, 2019

Quick podcast: Matt Mullenweg on eCommerce, and changes for Post Status

You can listen to the Post Status Draft podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, and via RSS for your favorite podcatcher. Post Status Draft is hosted by Brian Krogsgard.

I talked to Matt Mullenweg for over an hour recently for his Publish Online session, and here I share about 8 minutes of our conversation, a part where we discuss eCommerce, and where WooCommerce currently fits into that world.

I also spend several minutes talking about big changes happening with Post Status. The rest will be available live July 8th and 9th at Post Status Publish or by recording for all members. Mark your calendar!

Notes for June 23, 2019


WordCamp Europe continues this weekend. You can watch the livestream and take in any track at WCEU's YouTube channel. The Tavern (and David's twitter feed) have some excellent coverage of the highlights so far. 🌍

Matt Mullenweg said the event had 3,200+ registrations and was the largest WordCamp to-date. The main hall looked massive. Kudos to everyone who helped plan and execute the event.

Val Vesa had a cool wide-shot of the keynote to see the size.

WordCamp Europe 2020 will be in Porto, Portugal, June 4th through 6th.

Josepha Haden posted some observations about WordPress contributor team structures, noting “that there are multiple paths to WordPress itself, and nearly as many paths to deciding how and when to get involved once you arrive.” Josepha also mentions self-selection, self-service training and selection, and closed selection as ways to form teams depending on the tasks involved.

If you are interested in governance and leadership in WordPress, Josepha's post is worth reading in full. She is asking for additional feedback, especially any considered thoughts you may have about other paths to leadership in the WordPress project. 🗨️

Paul Redmond covers the art of debugging .gitignore and shares some tips, including the existence of a handy git command. “Although the check-ignore command is straightforward once you know about it, it’s a useful thing to learn to troubleshoot ignored files that shouldn’t be ignored quickly.” 🐛

Here's a nice long (and updated) list of advanced JavaScript questions, compiled by Lydia Hallie. Test and refresh your knowledge or prepare for a coding interview.

Joe Lambert compares 6 MVC frameworks for working with WordPress.

Last week when I was complaining on Twitter about WordPress's flows for editing already-published content, I was linked to Fabrica by Yes we work, tools built to help with that. It looks pretty slick. They initially built it for Jimmy Wales' WikiTribune.

Unapp is a handy directory of “minimal and useful single-purpose apps.” (Tip of the hat to Tom McFarlin.) 📱

📺 I have two videos for you this week that are well worth a look:

  • Hakim El Hattab took a deep-dive into interface design at the CSS Day 2019 conference. This practical talk digs into several standard UI components, the problems that typically emerge around them, and how to use them properly.
  • Meanwhile, over at JSUnconf 2019 in Hamburg, Alex Lakatos demonstrated how to tackle performance debugging with the browser using Developer Tools.

🎙️ Here are the best podcasts I rounded up this week:

  • The WPMRR podcast hosts recently spoke with Kyle Maurer from Sandhills Development (the makers of Easy Digital Downloads) about marketing, corporate retreats, business models, and the release cycles of distributed software.
  • Two recent podcasts from Troy Dean at WP Elevation are solid. The first is an interview with Vova Feldman about Freemius. If you are in the plugin business, it's very educational even though it's a sales pitch for Freemius. The second episode worth hearing is this one with Vito Peleg about his new WP Feedback plugin.

Notes for June 20, 2019


WordPress 5.2.2 Release Candidate 2 (RC2) is available for testing, with the final release scheduled for Tuesday, June 18 at 17:00 UTC. 🗓️

Automattic announced they would be adopting Alex Mills‘ plugins, including Regenerate Thumbnails. As many of you know, Alex (AKA Viper007Bond), passed away on February 27, 2019, after a two and a half year battle with leukemia. I think this will be a good home for Alex's plugins.

A short paragraph about Alex will be added to their readme.txt files.

Jonny Harris, a WordPress core contributor, is looking for feedback on a feature plugin that gives REST endpoints to menus. This feature would be great for Gutenberg and headless WordPress sites. 🔌

Pascal Birchler has authored an extensive guide to operating WordPress from the command line with WP-CLI. Pascal introduces you to some of the basics before diving deep into commands with common use cases and even some ways to extend WP-CLI. 👨‍💻

WP Engine has launched DevKit, a desktop application that “combines a local development environment, SSH Gateway access, Genesis-specific functionality, easy deployments, and other best-in-class WordPress developer tools.”

DevKit is free and available in beta for Mac and Linux — but oddly, not for Windows.

Justin Tadlock sees an opportunity to improve the WordPress theme directory and decided to “strike while the iron is hot” — he has a proposal to create standardized packages for common theme features. These packages would be available from the official Theme Review GitHub account. 📦

The first package is already available. It's a Pro/Upsell link theme standard for the WordPress Customizer.

As Justin tweeted, his goal is to “cover a few common features where we have vastly different implementations.” He decided to “start with an easy one where [he] already had some existing code.”

Thierry Muller has a proposal too — for the XML Sitemaps Feature Project. It's “a collaboration between Yoast, Google” and other contributors.

As Thierry describes it, “The goal of the proposal is to integrate basic XML Sitemaps in WordPress Core and introduce an XML Sitemaps API to make it fully extendable.”

Your feedback is requested. 📣

For a few hours on Tuesday, June 11th, technical issues with WordPress VIP hosting resulted in some prominent and apparently “headless” sites showing the default WordPress Twenty Seventeen theme. 🧯

If you've been working with HTML for very long, you probably know a lot of hex color codes, but do you know how to read them? Josh Kennedy created an animated guide that dissects hex codes to make them easier to read and understand.

Leszek Swirski offers some advice about code caching for JavaScript developers to improve startup time on commonly visited sites. Leszek focuses on caching in Chrome/V8, but most of his examples probably apply to other browsers as well.

Addy Osmani, an engineering manager at Google, shares how Chrome will support  font-display in Google Fonts.

👉 Love this! Mariko Kosaka created a one-page primer, Keeping Scroll Fast, in the form of a short ‘zine or “drawsplainer.” Mariko explains browser compositing and how fast scrolling may be impeded.

Prisma and other contributors created, a free and open-source tutorial for learning GraphQL “from zero to production.” I found it in a newsletter for women and non-binary coders from Veni Kunche that's worth a look as well.

🔎 SearchWP can intercept relationship field searches with Advanced Custom Fields (ACF).

There's been a lot of talk about the benefits of remote work, but Taru Bhargava covers some of the downsides that are more common than you may think:

Managing a healthy lifestyle is tough in general, but with a remote lifestyle, the chances of slipping are that much greater. That’s why it is essential to put in extra efforts to bring a mind and body equilibrium.

Some helpful tips from Taru:

  • Make sure to locate and address your personal issues
  • Set and optimize your working schedule
  • Set up a separate remote ‘working space'
  • Prioritize overall health
  • Connect with the outside world
  • Invest in self-care

How about changing the color in your code editor for a change of pace? has over 320 color themes created by Dayle Rees for a variety of apps from Sublime to Slack. 🍭

A proposal for a WordCamp Central America has been published. It's a great plan (along with a WordCamp South America) that I fully support. 👍

The latest version of WP Offload Media offers a long-awaited “offload existing media items in the background” feature. The new implementation is not only much more convenient, but it also gets started far more quickly, especially with large Media Libraries.

Olivia Ng shares her favorite CSS guides, cheat sheets and tools on CodePen.

As WordCamp US prepares to announce its speakers, the organizing team wrote about the evolution of their selection process and how they used it for this year's lineup.

There was a limit on the number of sessions that could be submitted by applicants this year. This restriction lowered the review workload while raising the quality of the submissions.

The first State of CSS 2019 survey results (based on over 10,000 respondents) have been released. Some highlights:

  • Sadly, gender diversity wasn't well represented by the survey respondents. Those who identified as female came just under 10%.
  • VS Code was the most popular text editor by far, followed by Sublime Text.
  • Over 90% use Chrome as the main browser work is done in during initial development, with Firefox taking second place with over 50%. The numbers are much closer between the two browsers when it comes to testing.

📺 I have two videos for you this week that are well worth a look:

  • Kat Marchán spoke to developers about Tink at the JSConf EU 2019 conference in Berlin. Tink is “a package unwinder for JavaScript brought to you by npm itself.” It aims to redefine package management for web development as the npm ecosystem has outgrown its original scope.
  • Meanwhile, over at JSUnconf 2019 in Hamburg, Alex Lakatos demonstrated how to tackle performance debugging with the browser in devtools.

🎙️ Here are the best podcasts I rounded up this week:

  • David Perell interviewed Matt Mullenweg, and their discussion ranged over many great topics: open-source thinking, what Matt thinks of Ben Thompson‘s Stratechery, writing, and how communication platforms fuel human evolution. 🧠
  • The C2C Podcast talked with Karan Malhi about being a member of the Apache community and how a company should “build a community for developers instead of the community builder like we usually do.” 👷‍♀️
  • Matt Medeiros chatted with Matt Wondra about Automattic‘s entry into remote working software with Happy Tools. Learn how a company exclusively focused on WordPress itself is branching out and treating this project internally. 🧰
  • If you're looking for some briefer episodes, I recommend #PressPause, a WordCamp-focused mini-series WP&UP‘s #PressForward podcast has started with WPMU Dev. They're interviewing WordCamp attendees every weekday ahead of WordCamp Europe. Each episode is about 15 minutes in length. 🏕️

Notes for June 13, 2019


Joost de Valk publicly announced he is stepping down from his role as Marketing Lead, a position he held for about six months. Joost will return to Yoast in the role of Chief Product Officer.

Joost gave more than one reason for making this move but emphasized “feeling left out of all the decisions” that would make him useful as a marketing lead:

I’ve not encountered (or been brought into) any discussions about our product vision… I was expecting there to be some backchannels where these discussions were had and these decisions were made, turns out these simply don’t exist.

Joost says the decision-making process (including Matt Mullenweg‘s involvement in it) should be “opened up.”

As strides are being made in improving communication and leadership, it's hard to say this isn't a step backward for WordPress. 😔

Chris Lema is hosting a virtual summit for companies “trying to hit the one million dollar milestone” on June 18th. He is joined by Carrie Wheeler (COO, Liquid Web), Nathan Ingram (iThemes), Chris Teitzel (Founder/CEO, Lockr), and others. 💲

If you’d like to get started leading WordPress teams, then check out the material Josepha Haden posted to “help Team Leads get going.”

As she notes in the post, this is a public call for comments and questions, so it's a great way to provide feedback on one form of leadership in the WordPress space. 💬

John Bogna covers a type of accessibility that isn't discussed very often — financial accessibility:

The sheer mental stress of poverty utterly changes our relationship to technology… research has shown that just being poor puts people in a state of chronic stress and impedes their ability to make decisions.

We're happy to hear that Jason Bahl is now going to be working on GraphQL for WordPress full time. The project is picking up steam, and I'm expecting significant updates soon. 🚂

Kjell Reigstad, a designer at Automattic, has developed an experimental WordPress plugin for design testing in wp-admin.

Wordup is an extension for Visual Studio Code that makes it easy to develop, manage and export WordPress plugins or themes. 🔌

Ryland Goldstein nicely summarizes the core problems with Medium. Most people think it's the “paywall,” but that is an optional feature selected by authors. The real reason why “Medium sucks,” says Ryland, comes down to “slimy business tactics” and “terrible user experience.” 🤢

Bill Erickson walks us through the basics of setting up an AMP site. Along the way, he provides some handy helper functions to make AMP site development a bit easier.

Many media organizations are devoting significant resources to focus on privacy. For example, The New York Times is launching an ongoing examination of privacy that will unfold over several months. They already have some interesting takes on the ways information is exchanged in several industries. 🕵️

Thomas Lombart laid out the “soft skills” that every developer should have. Some of the highlights include:

  • Be curious. Always learn new things. Learning publicly is even better.
  • Be creative and proactive. Take the lead of topics and keep the big picture in mind.
  • Be egoless. Don't make fun of others, accept criticisms with kindness.
  • Know how to communicate. Listen to others and learn how to be understood.
  • Help others. You'll be more trustworthy.

I also appreciate the point of not being shy about setting boundaries: “You should know when to say no to something.” 🙅‍♀️

If you're interested in a “barebones” approach to building a WordPress theme, then take a look at this tutorial written by Adam C. Hodson. ☠️

Adam says his advice is intended for people who are new to WordPress, and his template is just a starting point: “Feel free to expand on it and modify it as you see fit.”

CheckoutWC demonstrates how to add a Shopify style checkout to WooCommerce using their plugin. CheckoutWC is a paid plugin I'm not familiar with or endorsing, but I'm very interested in the differences in user experience shown between the two platforms. 🛒

GiveWP has a useful infographic that breaks down the differences between many online fundraising solutions. This comparison will be a huge time saver if you need to select one for your fundraising campaign or a client's.

Sarah Chima has written an excellent article for developers about local storage — what it is and JavaScript methods can be used to manipulate it. 🗄️

Monica Lent shares seven absolute truths that she “unlearned” as a junior developer. 🧙‍♀️

A few struck a chord with me:

  • “I'm a senior developer” — Truth: “Not all experience is created equal… job titles don’t ‘make' you anything.”
  • “Everyone writes tests” — Truth: “Loads of companies and startups have little or no tests. In addition, no company has a perfect tech setup.”
  • “Code quality matters most” — Truth: “When it comes to coding ‘good enough is good enough,' but code quality is still important.”

Ryan Sullivan reviews some of the best WordPress plugins for site backups. Ultimately Ryan recommends Blogvault, but there are a variety of good options out there, and many of the plugins Ryan covers would be good choices, depending on your needs.

I would also make sure your host is doing regular backups, so you are double covered. ⏮️

Josh Pollock covers some TypeScript basics for WordPress developers by walking through the ways you could use TypeScript to display posts. He also compares TypeScript to PHP.

📺 I only found one video worth watching this past week, but it's a big one:

  • “The Economics of Open Source” was an outstanding talk given by C J Silverio at the recent JSConf EU 2019. Who really owns open source and how organizations aren't acting in your best interest are subjects that touch all WordPress developers. C J's talk focuses on JavaScript package management, but most of what he says applies to the WordPress space.

🎙️ I've had less time for podcasts lately, but here are some standouts:

  • Elliot Condon (from Advanced Custom Fields) appeared on the Pressing Matters podcast to discuss plugin development, becoming a father, running a business, and Gutenberg.
  • WP Press This covers ways a developer can get started contributing to WordPress Core, featuring core committer Anthony Burchell.