Notes for April 26, 2019

WordPress developers’ biggest (or most common) coding mistakes

David Bissett recently posed this question on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/dimensionmedia/status/1120702617133256704

@john-james-jacoby offered “Typos,” which probably wins for most common mistake. For most consequential, there are a lot of top contenders.

https://twitter.com/Rarst/status/1120702832485851142
https://twitter.com/philpalmieri/status/1120898858291269632
https://twitter.com/anyssaferreira/status/1120717940230426626
 
It’s a thread worth following.

Footnotes

It looks like WordPress 5.2 RC1 might be pushed ahead a bit. If that happens, we’ll be looking at a general release of 5.2 around May 7th. The decision is still up for discussion.

Meanwhile, Gutenberg 5.5 is out. Riad Benguella explains what’s new. 🆕


Yoast has announced an improved “Schema.org implementation” as a key feature of their upcoming 11.0 version. Edwin Toonen writes, “Yoast SEO will now output a lot more structured data about your website and how its pages fit together.”

After this announcement, Bill Erickson posted about using Yoast SEO Structured Data with Genesis. He dives into how both Genesis and the Yoast Schema work — and how to best use them together. 🤝


Felix Arntz digs into the “fatal error recovery mode” coming in WordPress 5.2. There are several ways developers can make their plugins respond to recovery mode, which provides an opportunity “to inform administrators about fatal errors on their site and allow them to …. access their backend and decide what to do about the problem” instead of getting the old WSOD. ⚠️

In related news, Jonathan Desrosiers talks about the block editor detection improvements in WordPress 5.2 that allow developers to execute code conditionally if the block editor is loaded.


The results from the 2018 Annual Meetup Survey are available! 📊

Some highlights, as of December 2018:

  • All WordPress chapter meetup groups: 691
  • All countries with chapter meetups: 99
  • New meetup groups joined the chapter: 166
  • New members joined: 106,409
  • Total members: 385,250
  • Total number of organizers: 2,061
  • Total number of events: 5,675

Over the past month, Envato has been running a series of tests for the default sort order across Envato Market. Results ranged from a 5% average increase on conversion to over 50% (on ThemeForest) for the best selling sort filter. 🧪

Based on data from this test and user tests with a group of authors and customers, Envato designed a new category page for WordPress.


Dumitru Brinzan wrote a PHP script that gathered and parsed public data in the WordPress plugin repo to take a closer look at trends in the 18,087 plugins added to the directory over the past three years. 🔌

If you want to create a plugin aimed at a specific audience, this kind of data is a great place to start. So is Jonathan Wold‘s followup to his first ecosystem plugin post, which focused on the “why?” question. His latest post focuses on the “how” and is written for developers and organizations. 👥


Here’s a lengthy but interesting article from Farnam Street about the “half-life of knowledge.” What do we do when we know the things we learn decay in their accuracy, relevance, and comprehensiveness? “[W]e rarely consider the half-life of information. Many people assume that whatever they learned in school remains true years or decades later.” ⏳

My best parts of this article concern “The Half-Lives of Careers and Business Models” and the burden of knowledge itself.


Matt Shaw takes a close look at Amazon SES and its two competitors, Mailgun and SendGrid, to see how they stack up as WordPress Transactional Email solutions. 📧


I’ve been following the Women in WP podcast and have enjoyed the first episodes. The latest episode contains an interview with Bethany Siegler of Unique Think. Bethany talks about her journey to WordPress and how she became a WordPress educator. 👩‍🏫


If you’re looking for new WordPress podcasts, check out the #PressForward Podcast. Supported by WP&UP and hosted by Nathan Wrigley, #PressForward’s weekly episodes focus on helping us maintain healthy minds, bodies, businesses, and skills in the WordPress community. 🎙️

I listened to the first episode with WP&UP founder Dan Maby and liked what I heard, but stats like this are alarming: 4.3% of the self-employed workforce in the UK has a diagnosed mental illness, according to the National Health Service (NHS). 😔

You can help the WP&UP project by taking their short 2019 Mental Health & Well-being Survey. Dan says they plan to open source the data, once it’s collected. The survey can be completed anonymously and should take no more than 3-4 minutes.


Speaking of the NHS, here’s a great article by Ben Cullimore about using icons well on the new NHS site by putting the user’s needs first. Ben is an interaction designer on the team that executed this project. ⚕️


Marco Almeida writes about his experience with one WordPress plugin reviewer and the rejection of one of his plugins. 🤼

He followed up on that post a short time ago:

I had a very civil and friendly chat with Mika Epstein over at the Making WordPress Slack channel… I still do not agree with the review team position and I don’t think the arguments given by the team fit into the “reserve the right to reject any plugin on any grounds we feel are reasonable” sentence. We agree to disagree.


There is a call for organizers for a potential WordCamp Asia. 🏕️📣


Notes for April 12, 2019

Footnotes

Gutenberg 5.5 and WordPress 5.2 RC are still scheduled for release on April 17. The release will introduce new short circuit filters to WP_Site_Query and WP_Network_Query.

🔤 WordPress 5.2 is ready to be translated on translate.wordpress.org.

📣 WordPress 5.2 will increase the minimum required PHP version to 5.6.20.

Finally, after three years without updates Dashicons are being updated! WordPress 5.2 will see some revisions to the existing icons and the addition of 13 new ones.


A new version of the WordPress Coding Standards (2.1.0) is out. All code sniffs are tested against PHP 7.4 (unstable) now. 👃


WPCLi v2.2.0 is scheduled for a Wednesday, April 24th release. This post offers a sneak peek of what’s ahead and some areas that still need help. 👀


The first 2.0 beta release for the “built on standards” WordPress theme WPRig is out the door. WP Rig v2.0 (beta 1) has a new build process, object-oriented PHP, modern CSS, and other new features.

Developers are asking for your help with testing, feedback, and improvements.


An SQL injection was discovered recently in the Duplicate Page plugin. If you have it installed, make sure you are using the latest version, which at the time of this writing is 3.4.

The Yuzo Related Posts plugin (60,000+ active installations) has a vulnerability that is actively being exploited in the wild. It has no current fix or patch, so you might need to remove and delete it. ⚠️


Rich Tabor announced that GoDaddy has officially acquired CoBlocks, ThemeBeans and Block Gallery. Rich was approached by GoDaddy “a few months ago,” and naturally it was a big decision Rich gave considerable time and thought.

ThemeBeans subscribers will continue to receive support and remote updates under their current license until April 8, 2020. All premium WordPress themes in the ThemeBeans inventory will be available for free on the GoDaddy GitHub.

Rich also announced that he too is joining GoDaddy as the “Senior Product Manager of WordPress Experience.” We’ll have an interview with Rich out next week.


There are signs of native img and iframe lazy-loading coming to the web — or least to Chrome 75. Addy Osmani at Google previews it in this blog post.

What browsers will follow suit? Some folks are already calling for a lazy-loading API in WordPress core.


Rob Hope interviewed Ghost founder John O’Nolan on the Yo! Podcast. Rob and John talk about Ghost as open-source publishing software as well as a platform that brings in revenue as a premium hosted SaaS business. 👻


securitycheckli.st is an excellent open source checklist of resources designed “to improve your online privacy and security” with reminders about password managers, freezing your credit, privacy-first software, and your physical work environment.


DrupalCon Seattle 2019 took place this past week. There is a quick roundup of the main highlights of the event and a video of Dries Buytaert‘s keynote. Dries focused his comments on contributor diversity in open source projects, which is a topic WordPress developers should find significant to them as well.

I highly recommend reading Dries’ thoughts on “The Privilege of Free Time in Open Source,” which was published shortly after his DrupalCon talk. Here’s a taste:

Open Source communities often incorrectly believe that everyone can contribute. Unfortunately, not everyone has equal amounts of free time to contribute… time inequality contributes to a lack of diversity in Open Source.

This problem has been brought up before in the WordPress space, but to hear it “from the top” of the Drupal community is heartening.

Jeff Geerling has a thoughtful post about some of Drupal’s recent successes and failures. Jeff’s post is another worthwhile read with a lot of clear parallels and relevance to WordPress.


Here’s a handy plugin called WooBuilder that creates WooCommerce product pages using Gutenberg.

Delicious Brains has a new post explaining how to decrease your site testing time with automated acceptance testing for WooCommerce.


The first WomenInWP online happy hour is happening on Friday, April 19th. Sign up and get more information here. 🥤


The General Services Administration (GSA) recently launched the U.S. Web Design System 2.0. USWDS is a library of code, tools, and guidance to help government teams design and build fast, accessible, mobile-friendly government websites. It already powers nearly 200 federal sites, and 2.0 introduces a powerful toolkit of new features.


Jeff Matson gives us a peek behind the curtains at NorthStack, which is a new managed application hosting service from the team at Pagely.

Make sure to check out NorthStack’s brand new documentation site.


Muhammad Muhsin shares some lessons learned from pairing Gatsby with WordPress and why he thinks the two platforms are a good match: “it has the effect of leveraging the best of both worlds – the power of the CMS that powers a third of all websites and the speed of a static site generator.”


The State of UX in 2019 is a report that isolates nine important themes the “design industry is writing, talking, and thinking about.” These are quite practical and challenging issues, like how to be more strategic at work with time restraints and how to “reach beyond our short-term goals and metrics to start discussions about the broader impact of our decisions.”

As the editors point out, The State of UX is not about “whether rounded corners and brutalist typefaces will be trending in 2019,” but there’s also a nice roundup of the “best of” examples in the highlights at the end. 🏆

If you haven’t caught up with it before, The State of UX is an important collection of wisdom and insight you’ll want to check up on every year.


If you speak at WordCamps, there’s a new policy regarding slides you should read. 🏕️

Keith Devon has some nice thoughts on the ROI from WordCamps and similar events.


Allie Decker has a great post regarding the value of community and its effect on your health and business. Allie doesn’t mention the WordPress community, but the implications — especially for freelancers — are clear: “Being alone too much is bad for your health,” and it’s “also bad for the health of your business.” 🤝


Justin Tadlock explains how to build a compelling business or agency landing page with Gutenberg and his newly released Exhale WordPress theme, which I really like.


Notes for April 7, 2019

Jetpack promotions in search, and fallout

In the last newsletter, I mentioned Jetpack’s search replacement for promotions as well as the discussion and fallout that followed. It escalated quite a bit, and then it got out of hand.

Jetpack has now removed the feature in version 7.2.1. Jesse Friedman said the following with the release:

Similar to buying a new phone or getting a new car, you don’t always learn about every single new feature on day one; instead you discover new things as you go. These hints are meant to help out in just that way.

However, we made a mistake, and we’re moving to correct it immediately. Our intention with these feature hints is to help you discover helpful features of Jetpack that you already have, right when you need them most. Today we’re correcting an error in judgement that resulted in the hints suggesting Jetpack features that actually required an upgrade. We’ve also made some design changes that make these feature hints less prominent. This way, you can choose to enable a feature of Jetpack that you already have installed, or you can quickly choose another great solution from the WordPress directory.

Joost de Valk created a Trac ticket for integrating something into core that would help folks identify existing solutions to the issues they search for in the plugins they already have. I like the principle of this idea and the mockup. If I have a concern about it, it would be that it may encourage plugin makers to move further down the path of “all-in-one” plugins with dozens of modules, to help site owners to rely entirely on their feature set.

The conversation on Joost’s ticket is productive. This issue of discovery and plugin notices is a problem in WordPress. Right now, it’s part of what makes the whole notifications system such a mess.

Honestly, I thought Jetpack’s idea was smart for feature discovery — though inappropriate for a promotional item. I would love to see this be a catalyst for further exploration of design solutions for all kinds of feature hints, upsells, and general notifications.

Perhaps out of an ugly situation, something good can come.

Changing the conversation

It’s been an intense week for the WordPress community. Jetpack’s search replacement for promotions has been a catalyst, but it’s not the root issue, in my mind.

There’s been an erosion of discourse in the community, and it needs to be fixed. At times, Post Status’s own Slack has been part of the problem.

Too many of us are forgetting that behind the various entities in our ecosystem, there are people. People who work hard, have good intentions and care for the WordPress project and the web more broadly.

There are plenty of opportunities for critique, concern, questioning, and discourse. But it’s imperative that we mutually respect one another and don’t discard the value individuals bring to the ecosystem — even when we disagree with decisions being made.

At times, I’ve failed as a moderator, and I’m sorry for that. We can all do better.

I made some changes in Slack, and I have more changes in how Post Status will fit into the broader community coming.

The #club channel in Slack is optional, and the general channel is #announcements only. I also did some other cleanup and reminded everyone of the community conduct policy (pinned in Slack).

Large open source communities like the WordPress one have many challenges. People have too often burned out and left when they feel like they are excluded or not heard.

I don’t know the best way to move forward as a broader community, but I know some of the things I can do to make Post Status more inclusive, more engaging, and more community-oriented — so that’s what I’ll do.

Footnotes

It’s certainly been a whirlwind of news this week involving Pipdig, a UK-based theme and plugin shop, and one of their plugins: Pipdig Power Pack, also known as P3. A lot of the controversy can be traced back to this blog post from Wordfence describing code that would give the developer “administrative access to sites using the plugin, or even delete affected sites’ database content remotely.” (Among other disturbing things.) 😶

Jem Turner independently discovered what P3 was doing when a client complained that her website “was behaving oddly.”

Pipdig wrote a response on their official blog, noting they will be “seeking legal advice for the untrue statements and misinformation” which they claim have “damaged [their] good name.”

Wordfence did a follow-up post after Pipdig’s response and dug into the issue more deeply in a podcast. There is more to follow on Twitter, including some indications that Pipdig is still using their problematic code.

Rarst has also put together a Twitter Moment with various bits of coverage and relevant events.

One lesson to be drawn from the flurry of hot and confused reactions of developers and Pipdig customers is that many WordPress users don’t know (and probably don’t care) what their theme or plugin is doing under the hood. Developers should treat these users with respect and not expect them to understand technical matters quickly on their own.

Mark Jaquith has created a “P3 Neutraliser” plugin that “will prevent the P3 plugin from updating or phoning home.” 🔌


Carole Olinger wrote a touching, personal post about taking a step back from the WordPress community for physical and mental health reasons.

There’s a lot you can unpack here, but the primary takeaway here is that Carole is making herself a fantastic example for others. Nobody should feel ashamed for taking time for self-care.


On a recent episode of the BoldLife podcast, Sandy Edwards had a great conversation about kids and training WordCamp Organizers to host Kids Camps. 🏕️


Gary Pendergast doesn’t believe React makes WordPress development more difficult:

If you’re new to web development, React is just as easy as anything else to start with… There’s still a lot of work to do to make web development something that anyone can easily get into. I think React is part of the solution to this.

Gary mentions TestPress in this post, a tool he has been tinkering with “to help deal with the difficulties of contributing to WordPress.” It’s not finished but worth a look. 👀


A new version of Gutenberg landed this week with foundational work and UI explorations related to the block-based widgets screen.

There is also a new, built-in, static Gutenberg Playground for testing in a WordPress agnostic context.

There’s also an open invitation for a volunteer designer to help design an interface for installing blocks from within the editor.


WordPress 5.2 brings some accessibility changes to the markup for some of the tabs in the admin area so assistive technologies will react to them correctly.


Bethany Heck and Joshua Goldenberg, two well-known designers, have joined the Automattic Design team. Their hiring follows the recent announcement of Jeffrey Zeldman joining the Automattic “Special Projects” team.


In case you were avoiding the web on April Fool’s Day, here’s something that was announced that isn’t a joke: Cloudflare announced Warp, which is a VPN “for people who don’t know what V.P.N. stands for.”

Warp automatically adds encryption from your device to the edge of Cloudflare’s network with the free “basic version.” You can upgrade to the Warp+ premium service for faster performance.


WPCampus 2019 will take place from July 25-27 in Portland, Oregon. The call for speakers is open until May 3. WPCampus is a great place to learn and share expertise relevant to Accessibility and WordPress in Higher Education. 🎓


After coming back from WordCamp Miami 2019, Andy McIlwain shares his process for covering conferences and producing useful content from them.


Ben Nadel shared his “opinionated” Git Cheat Sheet — a nice reference post if you want to grow your “git mental model.”


John Blackbourn updated his documentation for wp_mail() usage on Github. It now includes emails for personal data requests (4.9.6+) and the fatal error handling coming in 5.2.


Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist for Amazon Web Services, is looking for a WordPress Engineer.


If you’re a fan of Justin Tadlock‘s WordPress themes, like I am, then you might be interested in version 1.0 of Exhale. Justin says on his blog that Exhale is “a culmination of everything [he’s] learned about designing and developing WordPress themes over the last decade-plus.” 🌬️


Rich Tabor shows how you can conditionally load front-end JavaScript for Gutenberg blocks. Rich walks you through some checks for specific blocks on a page using methods drawn from his own plugins.


You may recall that Newspack, a “custom news vertical on WordPress.com dedicated to addressing the needs of digital news sites,” was announced in February. This week they announced 12 initial publishers to help shape the new platform. 📰

After the pilot, newsrooms will re-launch with Newspack this fall, and up to 50 more will come on board in a second phase. By 2020, “the Newspack service will be available commercially from WordPress.com with an expected cost starting at $1,000 a month.”


Congrats to Tom McFarlin on joining WebDevStudios (WDS) as a Senior Backend Engineer. Tom notes that PressWare isn’t going anywhere, and there won’t be a change regarding his blogging or podcasting schedule.


Carly Ayres has some good advice about when and how to pull the plug on a creative project. Carly explains how to “recognize the warning signs” and act, but also how to “carve out time for yourself to contemplate everything you’ve experienced.” 🤔

If you are trying to decide the best time and way to close a passion project, take a few minutes to read this.


Notes for March 29, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.2 Beta 1 has been released. The highlights include:

  • Significant performance improvements to the block editor.
  • New blocks for RSS, search, calendar, tag cloud, and more.
  • A new block management tool to switch blocks on and off.
  • Phase one of the Site Health Check. For the first time, “WordPress will catch and pause the problem code, so you can log in to your Dashboard and see what the problem is.” 😷

Everyone is encouraged to test out the beta as soon as possible.


There was a lot of chatter in Post Status Slack and on Twitter this week about the way Jetpack and WooCommerce are handling tracking and also feature nags within the WordPress dashboard.

Mehul Gohil tweeted a screenshot for how Jetpack is inserting a nag to use their CDN depending on the search performed by the user, and the nag looks like an installable plugin, but in reality it’s an extension for an existing plugin.

This and some other things got the attention of community members and the plugin team. I don’t know exactly where things are headed from here or whether change will be required, but Jetpack is, in my opinion, stretching the limits of what WordPress plugins should be doing in the dashboard — and are setting the example for others, perhaps with not as good of intentions, to follow.


Since PHP 5.6 or higher will be required as of WordPress 5.2, Gary Pendergast reviewed some of the relevant WordPress Coding Standards and proposed a few changes to them, including anonymous functions and namespaces.


Here’s a sad but needed assessment from Max van der Schee: Why the adoption of Web Accessibility keeps failing.

While many rules for accessibility are easy enough to adopt in your code, there’s no hard stop if those rules are left out or miswritten. Your site still functions normally.

To help developers and designers attend to accessibility rules, Max shares a useful extension for Visual Studio Code called Web Accessibility. It gives feedback on what to change in your code to make it more accessible.


WordCamp for Publishers will be held in Columbus, Ohio on August 7-9. This is a community-organized event bringing together folks who use WordPress to manage publications. 📆

Speaking of conferences, the call for proposals for WPCampus 2019 conference will be opening soon.


Topher DeRosia explains how to fix common errors and shares some general debugging tips for WordPress. These are fundamentals worth sharing with new WordPress site owners.

Topher recommends a user activity logging plugin like WP Stream. 🧾


Ryan Sullivan reviewed the six most widely used WordPress form plugins. He identifies all the things you should expect from custom forms, and then he digs into the details of the top six. Unlike a lot of reviews, Ryan picks a winner. Of course, the best plugin is the one the best fits your particular needs. ☑️

Not to be overlooked is relative newcomer HappyForms, a strong and unique new contender in the custom form space from Theme Foundry. We’ve reviewed it in the past.

Congrats to WPForms, which turned three years old recently. Syed Balkhi briefly notes what’s coming up next for the plugin.


Genesis Explained, written by Nick Croft, is now up-to-date for Genesis 2.9, which was released a few weeks ago. If you or your team needs to get a handle on Genesis quickly, start here.


Kirtan Gajjar has a sweet post on automated WordPress code review and deployment using GitHub Actions. Three actions have been released:

  • PHPCS Code Review – Run PHPCS code review on pull requests.
  • Deploy WordPress – Deploy a WordPress site using PHP’s Deployer.org.
  • Slack Notify – Send a notification to a Slack channel.

Andrey Savchenko released a new version of Laps, which is a plugin that shows performance information about WordPress page loads. Laps 3.3 adds plotting for early SQL queries and individual plugin load tracking on WordPress 5.1.


Pantheon recently announced their “Deploy Heroically” program that honors people contributing to the open web. They are taking new applications from “heroes” now. 🦸


Jeffrey Zeldman recently let slip that the popular A List Apart blog migrated over to WordPress and will relaunch on April 11th. Previously the site was operating on “an aged, semi-bespoke version of ExpressionEngine 2.x.”

Speaking of A List Apart, Jeremy Wagner has a great post there on writing “responsible JavaScript.” Some quick advice includes not “letting frameworks force you into unsustainable patterns” and not thinking of JavaScript as the solution to “all your layout woes.” 👍


Getting reviews from clients is tough, and Matteo Duò explains how to pull it off with a deep dive in 950+ popular WordPress plugins.

The average percentage of users who leave a review for a WordPress plugin is only 0.20%!

Matteo offers some good suggestions about what you can do as a plugin author/developer to increase your odds of getting good reviews.


Andrew Taylor, a Developer Programs Engineer at Pantheon, shares how to connect GitLab and Pantheon to streamline Drupal and WordPress workflows.


Thomas Griffin is closing a chapter in his life as a developer and takes time to share some unusually open reflections on his personal growth. Many business owners start with the pure passion of “just coding a plugin.” Later, with success, their leadership role can eclipse the value of their direct involvement in coding. It’s a big transition and, as Thomas writes, “bittersweet.”

Change requires looking up to look forward. So often we’re comfortable with a present locked in the past that it comes as a shock that where we’ve been is not where we’re going. 🚶‍♂️

As Thomas puts it,

Sometimes, we want a particular chapter to keep going. We get engrossed in the story and forget that stories need breaks. We become so enthralled with what’s happening that we forget to actually consider where the story is going.


Morten Rand-Hendriksen demonstrates a simple way to add SVGs to custom WordPress (Gutenberg) blocks using SVGR.


Scott Bolinger released a new WordPress plugin called Popup Zen. 🧘 Scott explains the thinking and history behind it here on his blog.

“It’s a popup plugin for people who hate popups.”

I thoroughly enjoyed Scott’s reasoning for why he created Popup Zen and what his primary goals were. I think what he’s created is very tasteful, after testing it myself.


Here’s all you (probably) need to know about hyphenation in CSS, thanks to Richard Rutter of Clearleft.


Sugar Calendar hit version 2.0 recently. There are some new event management interfaces, enhancements to the recurring events feature, an extended API, and some new user capabilities. 📅


The video of Joshua Strebel‘skeynote at WordCamp Phoenix 2019 is available now. Joshua’s talk is focused on “Bias and Self Delusion,” and it offers some fascinating insights and important lessons learned from his ten years as CEO of Pagely.


WPTranslationToday is happening again on May 11th. Naoko Takano notes that the team is looking for live-stream speakers. If you are a developer, translator, or locale manager you can share your knowledge and help with WordPress’s globalization. 🌐


Ana Tudor explains a handy CSS trick for blurring the border of an element. She also shows how to “extend support so it works cross-browser.”


Fast Company published a great feature on John Maeda, who is head of inclusion and computational design at Automattic.

John says “design is not that important,” which probably will seem strange and slight controversial at first read, especially since the WordPress community puts such a heavy stress on design lead development. Maeda’s point is that designers should focus on being good teammates rather than leaders. Why? 🤔

Worrying too much about whether design has enough influence over a product or a company distracts from the real vision: making great products that solve people’s problems.


Starting with WordPress 5.2 there’s a new functionwp-body_open() — that will be used to trigger a wp_body_open action. You can use this action to add something directly inside the body of a page, like a script tag.


Hats off to WordCamp Miami, which announced they had more women speaking than men in their 2019 gathering. I’m not sure if this is a first for a large WordCamp, but it’s good to see diversity moving forward in this space. 🎩


Notes for March 22, 2019

Footnotes

Gutenberg 5.3 is out with some fancy new features. Now there’s a block management modal window that allows users to enable and disable blocks, and the Cover Block can contain other blocks nested inside it.


The PHP minimum version bump is happening! As noted in this Trac ticket, WordPress’s support for PHP 5.2 – 5.5 officially ends now, and the minimum required PHP version is 5.6.

As Scott Arciszewski explains, the impending release of WordPress 5.2 is great news for WordPress security. Another recent commit “adds a pure PHP implementation of the cryptographic functions supported in PHP 7.2+” and “provides the necessary backwards compatibility required to support signature verification and other security features going forward across all supported PHP versions.”

Gary Pendergast wrote a series of tweets about WordPress 5.1’s upgrade notice:

WordPress folks are doing our part to help clean up the ancient PHP installs that are still running a large percentage of the internet, and we’re find that this isn’t an insurmountable problem…. It just requires a bit of patience and empathy to solve.

WordPress 5.2 goes a long way to deliver this much-needed spring cleaning. 🧹


It looks like Github is testing a feature that will allow users to contribute to projects on behalf of organizations.


Jilt released transactional email support, in a big feature release. I’ve been working part-time with Jilt and it was fun to see this finalized and launched. Between transactional email support, support for WooCommerce subscriptions and membership emails, and a big project that’s being developed right now, there’s a lot of game-changing stuff that make Jilt really worth exploring, if you ask me… it’s much more than abandoned carts these days.


Felix Arntz explains how the Fatal Error Protection feature had to be dropped from WordPress 5.1 due to several security concerns. It appears error protection is here to stay, however, and Felix goes into detail about the completely new approach that had to be taken to revamp the feature. He’s asking for feedback from the developer community. 🗨️

Felix also writes about two new proposed web standards, Feature Policy and Reporting API. The Google team has been working on two plugins to bring support for these two new APIs to WordPress.


If you are using the Easy WP SMTP plugin, make sure you upgrade to the latest version since a vulnerability was discovered recently. 🔒


I enjoy articles that make meaningful comparisons between WordPress and less well-known CMSes. In a worthwhile review, Leonardo Losoviz puts October CMS in the spotlight. October is five years old, free, and open source.


The new version (3.0) of SearchWP has been released, and it brings a few big changes: a rebuilt settings screen, integration of extensions, first-party Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) support, and support for Gutenberg blocks.


Muhammad Muhsin wrote a tutorial about porting the Twenty Nineteen WordPress theme to Gatsby. Gatsby is currently a very popular (and fast) React-based static site generator.

In a similar vein, here’s an article about someone migrating from Medium to Gatsby that I enjoyed this week.


Ronald Huereca has announced he has taken over the development of the WP Plugin Info Card plugin.

Meanwhile, the Dark Mode plugin has been put up for adoption by Daniel James. 🌃


For those who may not be aware of its existence, Theme Sniffer is a plugin that uses custom sniffs for PHP_CodeSniffer to statically analyze themes. It will verify if a theme adheres to WordPress coding conventions and check theme code for PHP version compatibility.


Chris Ashton writes about using the web for a day on Internet Explorer 8, including Google, Amazon, YouTube, and Gmail. IE8 traffic is suspicious enough that YouTube didn’t trust it. Chris’s big takeaway:

If today’s websites are totally unusable in IE8, then websites in ten years’ time are likely to be about as unusable in today’s modern browsers — despite being built upon the open technologies of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.


Sigle is a free “decentralized and open source blog maker” I stumbled upon recently and found interesting as another approach to simple blogging. Sigle uses Blockstack to keep your blog “decentralized,” but it can be configured to use your own storage.


PostCSS is a tool for transforming CSS with JavaScript plugins. Emmanuel Yusufu has written a nice introduction and tutorial if you want to dive in.


The next WordSesh event is Wednesday, May 22, 2019, and a call for speakers is open. The speaker application deadline is Friday, April 19.


Tom McFarlin shared a common set of steps you can use when you include custom templates in WordPress plugins.


On May 19th, Marcel Bootsman will start his walk to WordCamp Europe in Berlin. He will be walking more than 730km to raise funds for Donate WC, an organization whose goal is to get more people to WordCamps with community-curated travel grants. 🚶

You can support Marcel and Donate WC by donating as well.


Here’s a great read from Charlotte Cowles on the psychological trap of freelancing, and how hard it is to get out of the “time is money” mindset. Two good points: (1) Figure out what you’re willing (and can afford) to outsource versus what you’d rather do yourself, and (2) give yourself permission to just relax without worrying about how to improve your productivity.


Finally, some numbers from the 11th WordCamp Miami 2019 which happened this past weekend:

  • Over 900 people attended, including kids and parents.
  • For the first time in WordCamp Miami history, more women than men spoke at the conference, which had over 70 speakers.
  • A one-day kid’s summer program will be announced soon, expanding on the Kids’ Panel and Kids’ Camps that already have been a part of the event for over six years.
  • WordCamp Miami was live streamed, and the recorded videos will be uploaded to wordpress.tv shortly, including a special series of keynotes/interviews with John James Jacoby and Josepha Haden.

Notes for March 15, 2019

Footnotes

Your Message is Medium’s

In yet another example of the importance of content ownership, there is drama in the land of Medium and one of the publications on the platform, Hacker Noon. 🎭

Hacker Noon has been planning to leave Medium since Medium’s revenue model changed last year, but Hacker Noon made some poor decisions around how to get contributor copyright to enable their exit. Medium responded with a big Nope! — and a valid defense of their rights to Hacker Noon contributors’ writing — but this message also clearly demonstrated why Medium is a dangerous place to publish:

And while Hacker Noon may appear to be an independent website, it is not. It is a container that exists on the Medium.com infrastructure, much like a Facebook page.

There appear to be communication mistakes on both sides, but the moral of the story is the same: there is no substitute for owning your content.

If only there were something better… 🤔

Owen Williams posted both Hacker Noon’s bad email and Medium’s bad response on Twitter.


WordPress 5.1.1 is out as a security and maintenance release. 🔒
The vulnerability fixed in the 5.1.1 is detailed by Simon Scannell of RipsTech, who discovered it.

5.1.1 also includes a new button that hosts can enable to encourage site owners to upgrade  PHP to new versions, presumably in preparation for the minimum PHP version bump coming in WordPress 5.2.


10up just released Github Actions for WordPress plugins. This is a really awesome looking toolset to make the Github to WordPress flow much simpler.


There’s a proposal for a new type of plugin for JavaScript-only single blocks. The aim is for people to be able to search for blocks and install them directly from the Gutenberg editor.

I think this is an exciting concept. There is a danger of people installing a block for one blog post — to then be ignored forever. I’m not sure how much of a risk this truly is, but I think it could happen.

I also wonder how much it could bring in conflicting styles in content. There’s plenty to think through — technically as well as UX-wise, but I like that the discussion is happening. The proposal is from Alex Shiels.


Google is sponsoring a Season of Docs to bring technical writers and open source communities together for a time of learning and documentation writing. 📄

Applications open in early April. There could be some excellent opportunities here for the WordPress community.


I’m thankful for David Bisset, a valuable contributor to Post Status. This week, he’s working hard on WordCamp Miami. 🌴

As part of that effort, he wrote a post about what makes a successful WordCamp, as they head into their second decade of hosting.

So if it’s not profits or spending money how do you define success? As an organizer sometimes you do these events for so long that question fades and it doesn’t regularly get the time it deserves. So think about it in terms of an attendee – what makes you look back on it event months or years later after you attend something and associate that with positive thoughts? For everyone it’s different but WordCamp Miami believes that it boils down to two main things: meeting new people and learning new things. That sounds like such a basic answer, but in the end it is THAT basic.

It’s a great post with insights into what makes an event a success.

Also from WordCamp Miami: MyTalk.Rocks is a fun and simple app to give feedback to speakers. 🤘


The Theme Sniffer plugin adds “custom sniffs” to PHP CodeSniffer to analyze themes for PHP version compatibility and report whether they follow WordPress coding conventions.

Released by the WordPress theme review team, Theme Sniffer should come in handy to you theme devs. 👃


Freemius CEO and cofounder Vova Feldman shares what others can learn from Freemius’ recent experience with a significant security vulnerability.

Also from Freemius: how Brexit may affect theme and plugin sellers.


Sucuri released the Hacked Website Report 2018, which has some interesting findings. 🛡️

While “WordPress infections rose from 83% in 2017 to 90% in 2018,” there was also “a decline in the number of outdated, vulnerable versions of WordPress at the point of infection.”

The main source of vulnerable code is “poorly configured plugins,” not WordPress itself, as the core “auto-updates [continue to have] a material impact” on security.

Check out WPVulnDB‘s plugin for scanning WordPress for known vulnerabilities. Hat tip: WPCampus. 🎩


Panic, makers of Coda, are re-imagining the Mac-centric code editor. I admit I still use Coda 2 because it never stopped working, and it’s what I was set up on. I’m looking forward to seeing what they are building now. (It will not be called Coda.)


SiteGround CEO Tenko Nikolov writes about Spain’s massive growth in the WordPress community and SiteGround’s involvement there:

In 2018, Spain was the second most active country for local WordCamps, bested only by the US. Taking into consideration the population of the two countries, Spain actually had almost twice as many events per capita last year. When SiteGround launched its Spanish operations in 2015, there were only 3 WordCamps in Spain, including WCEU, and 9 meetup groups with 10,017 members in total (according to WordCamp Central registration). Fast forward to 2018 and we count 10 local WordCamps and 52 meetup groups with 24,862 members. This is an amazing 150% increase in membership and over triple the number of events!

It’s incredible how much growth has occurred in the WordPress community around the world. I like seeing focused campaigns like this, where a particular country and culture are the beneficiaries.


As a “design experiment,” Automattic has released an “Open Web Meditation” in the form of an animated video describing the differences between open and closed platforms. I’m not sure what the intention is or who the audience may be, but it’s relaxing to watch. 🧘


Sarah Drasner over at CSS Tricks reminds us, “nothing in tech stays in one place, and the single most valuable skill you can possess to remain employable over time is learning how to learn.”


Notes for March 8, 2019

Footnotes

The User Switching plugin from John Blackbourn is ten years old now, with an active user base of 100,000 sites. John shares some thoughts about what has changed with the plugin over the years. 👥

John says the plugin is “about as close to complete as I’ll ever get with any piece of code,” although he still has a future update planned that’s related to WooCommerce.


Notes for March 1, 2019

Footnotes

We’re sad to report that Alex Mills passed away on Wednesday evening. His loss is felt deeply and widely in the community and to his friends and family.

Many people know about Alex from his software, his responsibilities at Automattic on the Jetpack team, and his long-time involvement in the WordPress community.

Stephane Daury offered a better picture of Alex’s life than I ever could.

Matt Mullenweg shared some pictures of Alex over the years.

Alex’s popular Regenerate Thumbnails WordPress plugin recently passed 10 million downloads, with over one million active installs.

There’s no doubt that Alex’s influence and work will live on for a long time to come. Rest in peace, Alex.


The results of a site building study conducted at the end of December were published on Make WordPress.

Sarah Semark explains one of the key findings is that “the way WordPress’ theming system works doesn’t match the way people think about building a site.” 😕


If you have ever been curious about MODX, then check out Marc Jenkins’ post which offers a good introduction to the latest version (“Revo”) that’s aimed at WordPress developers.


Joost de Valk brings us up to speed about the things he’s been doing since he was appointed Marketing and Communications Lead for WordPress. Quick wins included updating the roadmap page, removing mentions of jQuery and other libraries from the features page, and fixing the broken testimonials page.

Joost also discusses team processes, SEO, and analytics. 📈


Zac Gordon recently announced the launch of Gatsby Themes, which is intended to be a home for “popular WordPress themes that have been ported to Gatsby.” Twenty Nineteen is one of the first themes ready for use with Gatsby, a static site generator that’s often paired with a headless CMS.

Gatsby is quickly becoming a fixture in the JavaScript and React community for its performance benefits, and it seems to be spreading into the WordPress space as well.


Michelle Schulp has launched a spirited new blog dedicated to the challenge of freelancing and trying to stay healthy: “This blog is a story of that constant journey: a little creativity, a dash of rebelliousness, and a ton of not taking myself too seriously.” 😅


Jetpack 7.0released in early February, introduces a new GIF Block to help you quickly search and add GIFs from Giphy to your posts.


Igor Benić has a handy list of podcasts that WordPress developers should listen to — and yes Post Status Draft is on the list! 🎧

Igor also has a post going into detail about the Gutenberg Component Modal and the options it provides to developers.


Bob Dunn has a helpful guide to selling eBooks on your WordPress site using Easy Digital Downloads.

Bob gets into sales tactics you’ve got to think through if you’re getting started with eBook sales. He stresses the importance of free downloads, reviews, recommendations, thanking your readers, and social sharing incentives. 📚


Hussain Thajutheen has shared a WordPress auth app he built with React and WordPress JWT. Hussain bootstrapped this project with Create React App.


“Identifying the Stakeholders of WordPress” is a thoughtful document produced by the WordPress Governance Project that takes on “the task of identifying the personas making up the WordPress user base.” 👥

Morten Rand-Hendriksen explains the thinking behind the equation of “users” with “stakeholders” as the logical implication of WordPress’s mission of democratized publishing.


WP-CLI‘s PHP Requirements Strategy, for the time being, will be to maintain backward compatibility for at least a year “whenever WordPress Core raises the PHP minimum version requirement past WP-CLI.”


Leonardo Losoviz writes about new PHP 5.x and 7.x features that will soon be available to WordPress developers. WordPress’s minimum PHP requirement is planned to be raised to version 5.6 in April 2019 and 7.0 by December 2019.


Pressnomics 6 has been announced and is scheduled to take place on September 11-13, 2019. Tickets are on sale now. 🎟️


Aaron Jorbin shares his thoughts about the beta version of the WordPress iOS mobile app that integrates with Gutenberg now: “The responsiveness of the editor is amazing, and the ability to move blocks up and down makes editing inside the mobile app much easier,” but it still has a “long way to go.” 🛣️


Notes for February 22, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.1 “Betty” was released yesterday with many new features and enhancements. First and foremost are WordPress’s first Site Health features, significant performance improvements (especially in the editor), and numerous developer features. Developers, make sure you check out the field guide. 📕

This release had contributions from 561 different people, and Jon Desrosiers points out that 231 (41%) of these were contributing to their very first WordPress release. As a result, 5.1 will surpass 4.4 as the release with the highest total number of contributors.

Looking forwardWordPress 5.1.1 will be a “short-cycle maintenance release” and a “2-week minor release” with the following schedule:

  • March 4, 2019: 5.1.1 RC
  • March 7, 2019: 5.1.1 Release Date

BuddyPress 4.2.0 is out. This important maintenance and security release addresses a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in addition to a privilege escalation vulnerability.


Michelle Schulp is leading an iThemes training webinar, “How To Speak Unicorn!” 🦄

If you want to learn more about design terminology and design thinking, check in with Michelle on March 7th.


Jeffrey Zeldman announced on Twitter that he is now the Creative Director of “a Special Projects team” at Automattic. (And yes, he’s doing the initial support rotation that all Automattic employees do when they are hired.)


Drupal founder Dries Buytaert shared some photos of himself and Matt Mullenweg visiting the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Belgium. If antique printing presses excite you, you could easily get lost for a day in a place like that. It looks like they currently have a special exhibit on the early modern social media experience. 👹


ReplyBox is a “simple, honest comment system” with no ads or tracking scripts that aims to become a faster alternative to Disqus. It has a WordPress plugin but can be added to any site with a simple HTML/JavaScript snippet.


If you have an interest in mental health, then Matt Medeiros‘ interview with Dan Maby about WP&UP is recommended listening. Dan notes how difficult it is to support mental health in the WordPress community and addresses the organizational and financial challenges that face a non-profit like his.

Another recommended podcast episode is this episode of IRL on the subject of decentralization. IRL’s guests are Eugen Rochko of Mastodon — an ad-free alternative to Twitter — and Justin Hunter of Graphite docs, a decentralized alternative to Google Docs.


PublishPress announced they have acquired Press Permit. Both plugins are known for their focus on publishing, and their aim together is “to create a set of powerful publishing tools that are useful to larger organizations, magazines and newspapers.” Newspack‘s ecosystem is  mentioned as a target market. 📰

PublishPress owner Steve Burge reflects on this and other recent acquisitions as a positive health indicator for mature open source projects.


Marieke van de Rakt, the new CEO of Yoastwrote about the recent drama surrounding some old tweets from Yoast founder Joost de Valk.

“Yoast has a female-friendly atmosphere,” Marieke writes, describing her vision for events like YoastCon: “I am hopeful we can create an atmosphere at conferences that is friendly for all people, regardless of their gender.”


Congratulations to Gary Pendergast who recently made his 1,000th commit to WordPress Core! 🙌 (Tip of the hat to Aaron Jorbin).


Chris Hardie has built an open source tool to migrate Flickr photo collections to WordPress. 📸


Notes for February 15, 2019

Footnotes

📝 Some noteworthy items from the latest weekly WordPress developer meeting:

  • WordPress 5.1 RC1 is already out with RC2 either “late this week or early next week.” The final version is on target for 2/21.
  • WordPress 5.1.1 will probably be released two weeks after 5.1 with 5.2 coming in “maybe late April.”
  • There is a proposal to shorten the release cycles for WordPress to a time-based schedule instead of feature-based releases. After some discussion, Josepha Haden suggested an official proposal should be posted on Make WordPress Core. Jonathan Desrosiers volunteered to help produce the first draft.
  • Discussion of features for 5.2 included Gutenberg performance and UX improvements, core widgets converted to blocks, PHP Fatal Recovery (WSOD), and Site Health Check.

Want to use Express to build a Node.JS server to proxy the WordPress REST API? Josh Pollock shows how you how.

Express is a JavaScript routing system that is very popular for server-side JavaScript applications. I learned a few things about it from Josh’s post.


⚛️ In a recent update, Atomic Blocks added a pricing table block that allows you to show your product lines in columns with images and separators.


Christie Lenneville and Patrick Deuley explain how white space “killed” an enterprise app, and how you can increase data density without diminishing design aesthetics.

Here’s a good thought: “Enterprise designers can take a lot of great cues from consumer design, but functionality must always be our primary concern.”


🎙️ Podcast of the week: Jason Barnard interviews Joost de Valk. They talk about Google’s investment in WordPress, among other things.


Katie Horne shares some advice from CEOs leading remote workforces. Katie covers the things they wish they’d known earlier, along with the pros and cons of remote team management. If you work on a remote team, this is a great post.

Key point: it can be hard to see the contributions made by remote employees, but they should be recognized in the same way traditional employees are.


Matt Shaw compares WordPress with Statamic, which has been around since 2012. Statamic has a strictly file-based architecture instead of a database. There are some excellent core features, and Statamic is easy to use, but the financial costs might be a barrier to many people.


🤔 What should you take into consideration if you are building a new WordPress theme in 2019? Jo Murgel‘s thoughts on this topic are a terrific place to start.


Query Monitor 3.3 is out with new features like a “related hooks” section for each panel, debugging of wp_die() calls, support for debugging JavaScript translation files, and the ability to move the panel to the side of your window.


ManageWP has launched an early opt-in access program that allows customers to test out new features and provide feedback.


📅 The WooCommerce Subscriptions Schedule plugin is now available from Shop Plugins. It allows store owners to create schedules for subscription renewals.


Collins Agbonghama tells the latest story over at HeroPress. Collins says WordPress saved his life by giving him a means of support in Nigeria when he didn’t have anything else. Collins now lives on the revenue his plugins generate.


🎓 WP Campus is still looking for a venue (preferably a college or university campus) to host their 2019 conference. Hosting WP Campus is a big opportunity to invest in higher education and edutech. Bring a great conference to your city! The deadline for venue applications is looming.


ThemeIsle just released Blocks CSS: CSS Editor for Gutenberg Blocks which allows you to add Custom CSS to any Gutenberg Block.


Facundo Corradini talks about four core concepts that he believes, if taught correctly, would save us from 99% of the problems we typically have with CSS: block formatting context, box model, stacking context, and the cascade — especially specificity.


Leonardo Maldonado explains why he thinks why GraphQL is the future of APIs.

Leonardo has another interesting post on how to write your first React hook.


🎬 Here’s a fine selection of GitHub Actions developers have shared. (Actions is still in beta.)


Notes for February 8, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.1 is on track for its scheduled release on February 21.

Beta 3 is available now.


Gutenberg 5.0 was released this week. This release is the first without support for WordPress versions older than WordPress 5.0.

Part of the 5.0 (and next) release of the Gutenberg plugin includes “deprecating many of the PHP functions provided by core.”

As part of the “widgets 2 blocks” project, this release introduces an RSS block along with an Amazon Kindle Embed Provider block.

Mel Choyce has an update about the current progress of this effort to port core WordPress widgets to Gutenberg blocks. 🚧


Announced at YoastCon, Yoast SEO is working with Bing and Google to allow live indexing of WordPress sites running their plugin. Live indexing means every time you publish, update, or delete a post the change will be reflected “almost instantly” in Bing and Google’s indexes.


Tina Daunt over at the Huffington Post has a fascinating article about “the secret history” of Kubrick with comments from its designer, Michael Heilemann. Kubrick is probably still the most recognized WordPress theme, assuming you are old enough to remember it. 🧓🏽


WP Acceptance is a “team-centric tool” written by 10up for reliable, scalable acceptance tests. It’s available in beta.


WPCampus Online happened last week on January 31st and featured a lot of great speakers and slides. If you missed out or want to revisit the conference, the website has links to slides and speaker information on their schedule page. All sessions were recorded and will be available soon.

For those interested specifically in the WPCampus Gutenberg Accessibility Audit check out this presentation. 🎓


The Corporate Takeover Of The Cathedral And The Bazaar

Morten Rand-Hendriksen has a thought-provoking post that started as a Twitter thread. Morten’s subject is Open Source and equity. According to Morten, the assertion “decisions are made by those who show up” should be changed to “decisions are made by those who CAN AFFORD to show up.” 💰

What this means for the open source industry is an important question.


PublishPress has a handy new add-on that allows you to define tasks that backend users need to complete before they publish. This is a nice (and possibly the first) example of a plugin taking advantage of Gutenberg’s pre-publish panel.


Cloudflare.design is a slick tool for exploring and creating color palettes. You can upload an image to extract a palette, and you can export finished palettes as JSON, CSS, SASS, or a JavaScript theme file. 🎨


There’s a fine post on the WordCamp Miami 2018 site about the impact of WordCamps. Based on the responses from attendees, it’s evident that community events like WordCamps are an “important source of education, inspiration, and support for their local communities.”

WordCamp Miami 2019 just released all its tickets. A tentative schedule for the conference (March 15-17) is available too. 📆

Speaking of conferences, Zac Gordon recently announced the second annual JavaScript for WordPress Conference will be taking place July 11-13th, 2019. Zac is looking for speakers as well as sponsors to keep the conference free for attendees. 🎁


If you are looking for some new podcast material, Venture Stories has an interview with Matt Mullenweg and Andreas Klinger about the benefits, drawbacks, and future of distributed teams.

If you’re looking for a new podcast, I’ve been enjoying the format and “new user” angle of “Hello, WP!” recently.


Wordfence has announced Wordfence Central, a free “central panel” to manage the security of all your WordPress sites in one place. You need to set up an account and give it access to your WordPress installations.  There’s an option to use two-factor authentication that should not be overlooked. 🔐


There is a call for testing of WordPress for iOS 11.7. New features include added support for password autofill, and the app now saves your draft automatically before showing you a preview of it.📱


Carl Alexander is releasing a book on object-oriented programming and WordPress next month. 📔


Autocomplete for usernames is a new feature of the WordPress Support Forums. It’s a lot easier now (and quicker) to direct communication in the forums. 👋


According to W3Techs, WordPress recently hit 33% of the web and 60% of the CMS market share.


Are you wondering if you should upgrade your Flickr account? You have a little more time to decide now. The original deadline Flickr announced for deletion of photos has been extended to March 12th. 📷


Justin Tadlock addresses the subject of “advanced starter themes” in WordPress today — do we need them? This comes in response to Carolina Nymark in a recent Twitter thread.

Notes for February 2, 2019

Footnotes

WordPress 5.1 reached Beta 3 this week, but sadly the PHP error protection handler slated for this release will be held for WordPress 5.2 instead. Some potential security issues cropped up in the implementation, and the team wanted to play it safe — good call. 👍

WordPress 5.1 will include Multisite support for site metadata. Felix Arntz dives into the details


Congrats to Alex Mills whose long time My Regenerate Thumbnails WordPress plugin passed 10 million downloads. 🎆


Joost de Valk, who recently took up the new role of Marketing Lead for WordPress, breaks down some of W3Techs‘ market share data and shares some important trends he’s spotted. 📊 A key takeaway:

“On the whole, Open Source market share is growing, but really only because of WordPress and a tiny bit of help from Prestashop. I think this is worrying. We’re losing diversity in the CMS market, and with it, we’re losing open source alternatives.”

The latest WordPress Marketing Team meeting notes include the news that WordPress has reached a 33% market share — a third of the web. We also learn Joost is initiating “a redesign for the WordPress showcase” that will be done by Pragmatic and include case studies that agencies can tag to better display their work.


“I believe that with clear communication and expectations, I can foster an environment of open participation and respectful collaboration.” That’s the TLDR from Josepha Haden‘s leadership philosophy, which is worth reading fully.


SpinupWP, a “modern server control panel” from the team at Delicious Brains, recently launched its public beta. The service allows you to connect your DigitalOcean account (or any other provider), spin up a server, install and manage WordPress sites.


Brian Gardner recaps a recent meeting of the newly formed “Genesis Shapers” concerning Genesis‘ strategic direction and roadmap. There are some good questions and insights about who uses Genesis, how their work is understood and named, and whether Genesis is or is not a “front-end framework.”


WPCampus Online 2019 has come and gone, but you can view presenters’ slides, and video will be available soon. There was quite a lot of material related to Gutenberg, dubbed “Gute” or “Gutes” in WPCampus chats.

The Gutenberg Accessibility Audit presentation by Rachel Cherry and Brian DeConinck is essential viewing. It contains the interim results of ongoing testing from the audit, which is being done by Tenon. (The presentation video is available now.)

According to the audit so far, “the technical accessibility is really good.” It’s “accessible usability” where the greatest problems lie. Gutenberg is difficult to use with a keyboard, screen reader, or voice software. Take note of the “homework” assignment at the end of the slides: it’s called “a thousand tabs of death.” ☠️ (Nice Philip K. Dick reference.)

Rachel and Brian stressed how the goal of the report is not to make decisions for institutions. It’s intended to help them make more informed decisions.


A recent episode of The Rework Podcast digs into the story behind Basecamp‘s well-established blog (Signal vs. Noise) moving from Medium to WordPress.

Speaking of Medium, some folks are reporting the company appears to be cutting off its APIs. 🔪


Here’s something handy:complete list of all Google search operators and their functionality from Joshua Hardwick. Included are some tips to help you do useful things like determining how often your competitors are publishing new content and finding sites linking to your competitors. 🔍


The axiom that advises us to “move fast and break things” might be coming to the end of its useful life, according to Hemant Taneja. To better assess the social impact of startups’ technology, Hemant proposes eight questions “every company must be able to answer—and every venture capitalist should be asking.” ⚖️


Andy Adams has launched an ebook that might be perfect for someone you know who is just getting started in freelancing, especially in the WordPress space. Sage advice: “Successful freelancers are particular about the projects they take – or more importantly – the ones they avoid.”


I stumbled upon an interesting Gravity Forms plugin called Fillable PDFs. The recent 2.0 release gives you the ability to map Gravity Forms fields to PDF templates. 🤩


Human Made has released a video entitled “WordPress Block Editor Solves Client Challenges.” It features K. Adam White (senior developer) and Libby Barker (project manager) explaining how they worked with clients on Gutenberg projects, well before the WordPress 5.0 release.


WordPress designers and developers can learn a lot from Annika Oeser‘s insights about the new Drupal admin UI.


Ben Sibley at Complete Themes noticed that WordPress (sporting the 2016 default theme) appeared on HBO’s True Detective Season 3.


Google has launched an “all-in-one site kit” plugin for WordPress. One may wonder if this will have any impact on third-party plugins that offer similar functionality. 😕


We want your feedback! Let us know what you like about Post Status, from this newsletter to our podcasts, among other things. Please take a few minutes of your time to share your thoughts with us through a brief survey. Help us give you, our members, the best possible experience this year. 🙏


Notes for February 1, 2019

Just another migration story

This past week it was necessary for me to spend time migrating a website and helping deploy a new design for it. It was a frustrating and humbling experience that also reminded me just how much of a challenge these things can be. It wasn’t even a particularly complicated website. I figure it’s worth sharing with you, as my pain points touched many parts of our industry.

The details of the site I moved aren’t very relevant. I was migrating from one host to another, and then I was deploying the new “design” — which was created by a third party consultant — in the new hosting environment. So the process was multi-stage:

  1. Move the existing site to the new host, and start the time clock. The snapshot of the database was essential to maintain since there is periodic eCommerce activity via GiveWP.
  2. Migrate the “new” site design, which consists of a new theme, new content (mostly on pages), and a lot of settings in different parts of the customizer, theme, and elsewhere.
  3. Point the domain to the new site to launch it, add SSL, and resync any lost orders. Audit and test everything.

I’m sure there were better ways to go about it, especially ones that do not require being put on the clock to maintain order history. Since I knew the sync would only include a handful of orders, I decided I was okay with the gap. Thankfully the fine folks at GiveWP gave me some advice on how to get things synced back up easily enough, as things played out.

Something I learned in this experience is to not underestimate the differences and quirks of the database environment from one host to another. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, but what seemed like a simple site to me ended up not being so simple to migrate. The database was reasonably large, with multiple table and collation types. That made it more difficult down the line when I was exporting from the old host and importing it to the new one.

Another lesson learned is just how painful it is to both work with and migrate a Divi-based website. After I successfully migrated the existing site, the new site was (most unfortunately) “built” with Divi. Gutenberg is like a fluffy cloud to Divi’s thunderstorm.

While the front-end editing may be okay with Divi (I didn’t spend much time with it), the back end modular views are a usability nightmare. Buttons have no tooltips to explain what they do, and there are settings and options everywhere. It took a good while to plant my feet trying to use it all. Thankfully, they do have import and export options, but you have to be careful. You can import theme settings, module settings (whatever that is), and the individual pages. So, I did exports/imports for every page of the website. Free plugin idea: create a bulk export of all Divi content, settings, and media. Make millions.

Once I got things moved over, tested, and felt like I had the news site mostly in order, it was reasonably straightforward to finish up. But what was “simple” ended up being a multi-day project.

As a side note, I tried using multiple tools to make things simpler. For one reason or another, things just didn’t like talking to each other very much, or the error messages for why something wouldn’t work were inconsistent. So whether I tried PhpMyAdmin, WP Migrate DB Pro, or WP CLI there seemed to be consistent problems. That isn’t to knock any of those tools, which work very well when the environments on both ends of a migration are compatible. For instance, because I didn’t have access to the consultant’s development environment, I used WP Migrate DB Pro and their media and files add-ons to successfully rip the entire site into a local install (Local by Flywheel) so that I could access everything.

I was able to get my database woes solved by asking supporters to help (duh). Pagely got me settled on the database front quite quickly, for which I’m thankful. After chiding me for not asking for help sooner, Joshua Strebel reminded me that companies are there to help their customers. Don’t be afraid to contact support. I would’ve saved myself more than a day.

My bad migration experience illustrates how painful fairly common tasks are likely to be for site owners with less institutional knowledge and fewer relationships than I have. As I became frustrated in my efforts, I was able to talk to a handful of experts who helped guide me along. Others might have given up.

The web — and migrating websites  is still a challenge. There is a lot that hosts, product companies, and especially consulting companies can still do to help improve the launch and migration experience for customers — from documentation to tooling.

This consultant was not unique, but they put absolutely no energy into how the website would go live. I’m sure the customer (the folks I was helping) did not think about the technical details of their launch either since they don’t know what they don’t know. The consultant should have been out front, asking “what is our launch plan?” If you don’t do that, you’re not finishing the job.

I have no idea if anything here will resonate with you or your business, but I touched pretty much every segment of the Post Status audience’s business model with this little project, so I thought I’d share the experience.

I am glad my first world problems brought some joy to some friends in Post Status Slack 🙂 — which is also where I got some much-appreciated help discovering my unknown unknowns.

Notes for January 31, 2019

Footnotes

Over the last weekend, as some of our members in the Post Status #club channel were noticing in real-time, WPML‘s website appeared to be hacked, and some of their customers were receiving disturbing emails. Someone claiming responsibility for the attack alleged an exploit in WPML’s plugin made it possible to compromise WPML’s site — and therefore any other site using their plugin. However, the official response on Twitter from WPML denied this and claimed a former employee was behind the attack. 🦹‍♂️

WPML has posted a full update on their blog, and they intend to pursue legal action. In the meantime, if you have a WPML account, you might want to change your password as soon as possible. 🔒


A variety of changes and additions are coming to WordPress 5.1 — developers take note:

  • New “short circuit filters” for WP_User_Query and count_users(). There’s also LIKE support for meta keys.
  • Some developer-focused changes to the Cron API, including new functions and filters that will make “writing a custom storage system for cron events […] substantially easier.”

Jonathan Desrosiers has a good summary of other changes coming in 5.1, which include the ability to set a file path value for WP_DEBUG_LOG.

There have been updates to Gutenberg as well. Version 4.9 brings improvements in performance and documentation, plus a whole range of bug fixes, accessibility updates, and enhancements.


The official Github blog has switched from Jekyll to WordPress, sporting a new .blog domain. While you’re checking it out, their annual transparency report for 2018 is worth reading.


CurateWP is a new commercial plugin from JR Tashjian that offers automatic and manual curation to “gather your greatest content and help your readers discover it.” It’s a pretty slick looking tool, and I’m looking forward to trying it out.


Brad Touesnard at Delicious Brains announced the release of the WP Offload SES plugin, which helps you offload your site emails to Amazon SES.

As Brad explains, with SMTP you may hit rate limits your site sents out a lot of transactional emails. Offloading the task to Amazon “means you’re using Amazon Web Services, one of the most reliable cloud platforms.” 📧


BigCommerce for WordPress 1.4 is out with an AJAX cart, an import batch setting, and a few other new features.


WP-dev-lib (WordPress Development Library) from XWP has reached its v1.0.0 release. These are tools used “to facilitate the development and testing of WordPress themes and plugins,” which XWP has made available to the public.


The official WordPress roadmap page has been updated. It’s a very broad statement of Matt Mullenweg’s 9 priorities and currently planned releases. It only goes to 5.2, which it says will be released sometime in 2019. 🗺️


BuddyPress developers will be interested in this BuddyPress User Profile Completion plugin that allows admins to decide what a complete profile means and then enforce it for all users.


Deborah Edwards-Onoro shares lessons learned from 12+ years of organizing meetup events. If you are running a meetup or want to run one, dedicate some time to Deborah’s experience.


Here’s a nice post from Zach Owen explaining how to find the right hook or filter for the task you’re trying to do.


After being appointed Executive Director of WordPress, Josepha Haden posted a personal introduction and asked for feedback on the main strengths and weaknesses of core contributors.

Joost de Valk also wrote about his new position as Marketing & Communications Lead.


Aaron Douglas relates some helpful tips about making the most of video calls. I tend to avoid them, but if I do find myself in a video conference, Aaron is right: make sure you make eye contact. Handwritten notes are an interesting suggestion for a way to stay engaged, but they can also keep you looking down too much. 🤙🏽


Congrats to Marieke van de Rakt who is the new CEO of Yoast! Marieke is the founder of Yoast Academy as well as the former Chief Strategy Officer at Yoast. In this new role, Marieke is replacing Yoast founder Joost de Valk as Joost starts “focusing mostly on software development” as the new Chief Product Officer for WordPress.