Notes for December 23, 2020

Footnotes #426

The State of the Word in 2020

On Thursday, December 17th, Matt Mullenweg broadcasted his State of the Word 2020 address. Normally, of course, this would have happened in a stage at WordCamp US — but for the first time, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was pre-recorded and broadcasted over Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

This year's State of the Word can be broken up into two parts: 1) Matt's presentation with slides and 2) the customary Q&A session following. Taking Matt's presentation first, I feel it's a lot like his previous State of the Words. Matt started by summarizing the highlights of the latest WordPress releases, including proudly (and rightfully so) highlighting that over 40 women and non-binary people formed 100% of the leadership for the WordPress 5.6 release.

Matt also noted WordPress's increased market share over the past year. (It's currently at 39.3% of the top 10 million sites.) In fact, this is the fastest year WordPress has grown since it's growth has been measured. The three reasons why WordPress grew so much are:

  • Lockdowns — People simply had more space and time to be online, focus on reading and writing blogs and content.' 🔒
  • eCommerce — Many people moved to or expanded their online stores and shopping experiences. This spike boosted WordPress but also WooCommerce which generated $20 billion in sales, which was “double from the previous year.” (Note: it's unclear where that number comes from or what exactly it represents.) 🛒
  • Economic Uncertainty — Many people became entrepreneurs to supplement their income, and WordPress was a fast and relatively practical vehicle to accomplish that. 💸

Next, a pre-recorded video was presented by Joen Asmussen, who is one of the designers working on Gutenberg. This video offers a preview of the progress of the FSE (Full Site Editing) project with a demo of the Site Editor in beta. The Site Editor allows WordPress users to edit and have greater creative control over a theme. It opens the door to edit and design elements that normally would require editing a template or having a template builder with settings for site titles, taglines, navigation elements, and even the 404 page.

Matt's part of the State of the Word was informative, especially if you have just been casually following updates. There were no surprises or special announcements, not that I think anyone was expecting any. If you are deep in the WordPress community and only had a few minutes, I think the Full Site Editing demo would be the thing to focus on.

While the entire State of the Word was about the same length as previous years' (about 90 minutes), thanks to the editing of the pre-recorded video, Matt's presentation took only 25 minutes. This left more time for a greater number of questions and a greater variety of the types of questions being asked.

Matt commented to me: “I really appreciated being able to see people in their own environment and have a bit more time to work on the answers. And more space for more of them!”

Since this was the first virtual and pre-recorded State of the Word, you may be wondering if the questions Matt fielded were cherry-picked. That was not the case. For the record, I've been told by Andrea Middleton that all submitted questions were addressed, however, they “did leave out a support question, and in the case of the person who sent in more than one question, the first one received was answered.” All these questioned submitted by community members were answered in alphabetical order based on the questioner's first name. Not all questions were answered by Matt. Andrea Middleton, Josepha Haden, Jonathan Desrosiers, and others replied too.

There were definitely pros and cons to having Q&A done in this manner, which the circumstances necessitated. I don't think a live Q&A via Zoom or similar platforms would have worked, nor would a non-edited video allow for so many questions. Far more questions were fielded than any State of the Word has covered in the past.

It was good for the community to see Matt doesn't have all the answers but will refer to others. It's also great that the questions were not restricted to people who happened to be in the first row during a live State of the Word. On the other hand, I do like some unpredictability in the questions being directed at Matt. That is something that only a live event can offer.

Speaking as an event organizer, I could see a hybrid form of the State of the Word being adopted in the future once in-person conferences are safe to hold once again. There are likely some good lessons to be learned from this year's approach. (For example, I'm hearing reports of a sub-par automated live captioning experience that was improved when the video was made live.)

One more thing: I've been told that the State of the Word video will be published in a blog post where people can ask more questions, including inquiries about the content of the slide presentation as well.

The most important message for me personally to get out of State of the Word 2020 is this: despite tremendous hardships on a global scale, WordPress continues to grow, and its contributors, volunteers, and community members remain a strong force. We got through the year together, and we'll continue to adapt and grow in 2021. 🤗

“It turns out that collaborative editing for platforms like WordPress is a very cool feature but an incredibly difficult technical challenge.” Steve Burge over at the PublishPress blog has a detailed take on the future of Google Docs style editing in WordPress. 📝

Matias Ventura has written a comprehensive status update for Gutenberg Phase 2: Full Site Editing. Matias describes the current state of all the primary projects and then explains how they fit together. If you haven't been keeping up on the progress toward full site editing (FSE), this is a good post to catch you up. 👍

Related: the FSE outreach program is starting up soon to help test and get feedback. 📣

Victoria McCullough announced for Automattic that they've “joined several of [their] peer companies” to launch Internet Works — a coalition dedicated to working with Congress “to promote the benefits of Section 230, a provision of the Communications Decency Act.” ⚖️

Also known as the CDA and first established in 1996, Section 230 guarantees immunity for online publishers from liability for any third-party content, allowing them to operate as “safe harbors.”As Wikipedia notes,

Coupled with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998, Section 230 provides internet service providers safe harbors to operate as intermediaries of content without fear of being liable for that content as long as they take reasonable steps to delete or prevent access to that content.

The peers Automattic is joining are Cloudflare, Dropbox, eBay, Etsy, Glassdoor, GoDaddy, Medium, Nextdoor, Patreon, Pinterest, Reddit, Snap Inc., Tripadvisor, Vimeo, and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Automattic's full press release is here. 📰

Kelly Dwan has written a script to automate a series of screenshots in each of WordPress's admin color schemes. 📸

LearnDash LM co-founder Justin Ferriman shares his advice for those who are starting an online course or membership business:

“Making $$$ is priority #1 in entrepreneurship. Full stop. It's not about greed, it's about validation. Validating your idea, your position, and your message. If you're not making $$$ then one of those is not working and you need to fix it.”

I caught this announcement from Steve Grunwell that Nexcess is partnering with Branch for better deployment of WordPress sites. 🤝

WooCommerce released version 3.0.0. of its popular Storefront theme. The highlight of this release appears to be the removal of the big admin notice presented to the user after installing the theme. 🙈

The new version can be downloaded from and GitHub. 🏬

Matt Brown from Vimeo defends PHP against two types of critics: those who view old PHP code as legacy code, and those who think PHP can't be “redeemed” at all:

“I'm here to tell you that [PHP] can [be redeemed], and Vimeo’s continued success with PHP is proof that it’s a great tool for fast-moving companies in 2020. 💨

At first glance, CSS seems straightforward, but Tim Severien dives into what makes CSS hard to master:

“I worry that the way we think about CSS might affect how beginners perceive the language. If they are taught that CSS is easy, they might be discouraged from seeking help when they struggle or just blame the language. Admitting you struggle with something is difficult enough. Let’s not make it worse for them.”

Suzanne Scacca shares some thoughts on how to design a simple UI when you have a complex solution: if the backend is very complex, it may “infect” the frontend. If it's “too complicated to navigate or too convoluted to understand, users will revolt and flee en masse.” 🏃

Some other key tips:

  1. Figure out your users’ goals so you can design a user-first UI.
  2. Evaluate the competition's products to create your MVP.
  3. Introduce complexity incrementally and confirm with user testing.

Github has published its annual State of the Octoverse, which looks at its communities and user activity in 2020. Even if you aren't a Github user, it's interesting to see what a vast piece of the developer community is doing on the platform. 🐙

Some quick highlights:

  • There are 56 Million+ total developers on GitHub.
  • 60 Million+ new repositories were created in the last year.
  • JavaScript and Python were the top two most popular languages, while PHP came in at number 6.

Austin Parker hits a nerve with a bluntly titled post, “Virtual Events Suck” where he lays out all the reasons why the majority of online conferences offer a subpar experience. I agree with him on most, not all, points — and I think this is a good read for anyone planning on volunteering or organizing a virtual event of any size — but especially larger ones.

Austin does offer some potentially helpful insights that might help virtual events “not suck.” Not having a single track is one suggestion. Not having sponsor booths at all (and perhaps trying commercials instead), producing high-quality videos if you pre-record, and offering something that YouTube doesn't. 📺

Most important of all, “figure out why your audience is there, work for them.”

Sally Strebel, co-founder of Pagely, opens up space via HeroPress for a lot of insight and reflection based on her experiences with sexism in the corporate world — even at WordCamps:

“I had to make the conscious choice to decide if I wanted to be right or be successful. I chose to focus on success and also I didn’t get here alone. Many wonderful men and women helped. I had to laser focus on my goal which was to provide the best hosting experience regardless of minor annoyances along the way.”

🚧 Sally also offers some ways for women to deal with these potential barriers and roadblocks:

“If there’s not room for you at a table, figure out something else. Perhaps, kindly discuss the observation, or create your own table. Life’s too short to be unhappy in someone else’s world. Create your own and invite others. WordPress is a great place to do that.”

🗣️ Frederick O’Brien shares insights and reference materials that can help developers make their websites more voice-accessible:

“Developers, designers and writers alike should be prepared for the possibility that their work will not be seen or clicked at all — it will be heard and spoken to.”

Jo Franchetti, a Developer Advocate from Microsoft, came up with an inventive way to better communicate with her mother, who is hard of hearing, while she visits her with her mask on. It's effectively a way to live caption yourself. Very cool! The demo is impressive. 😷

Command Line Interface Guidelines is an open-source guide to help developers write better command-line programs. 👩‍💻

Upcoming Events 📆

  • Wordfest Live 2021: The third, fourth, and fifth round of speakers have been announced including Jamie Hill, Robbie Adair, Nestor Angulo Ugarte, Angela Jin, Sabrina Zeidan, Graham Armfield, AmyJune Hineline, Amanda Gorman, Simon Kelly, Naomi C. Bush, Arun Bansal, Nidhi Jain, Nicole Osborne, Leonardo Losoviz, Camber Clemence, and Chris Ford. This 24-hour event is happening on January 21, 2021.

Notes for December 9, 2020

Footnotes #425

WordPress 5.6 (“Simone”) was released this week. Props to the all-female lead team and the 605 volunteer contributors. They collaborated on nearly 350 Trac tickets and over 1,000 pull requests on GitHub. 🙌

The 5.6 release has many enhancements, features, and bug fixes for users and developers. (See the WordPress 5.6 field guide for more details.) There's also the new Twenty Twenty-One default theme. The official guide to Twenty Twenty-One is a good resource if you want to catch up with the direction front-end development is heading in WordPress. 👩‍🎨

Timothy Jacobs has a nice summary of the REST API changes in this release.

If you are aware of the recent jQuery changes in WordPress releases, then this post is worth a read. It covers how 5.6 includes a temporary downgrade path to run legacy jQuery on a site when needed. The juicy bit:

“[T]he first time a site visitor encounters an error caused by a now broken jQuery implementation, the plugin will facilitate an automated downgrade to a legacy jQuery version, and sends an email to the site administrator informing them of what has happened.”

🚣‍♂️ I also want to point out Helen Hou-Sandí‘s comment on Twitter:

“You know what’s funny about this release? The biggest impact I think I made (with help ofc) was not actually in the core software, but in the way themes are previewed on Check out the latest default theme — no more boat!”

BuddyPress 7.0.0 “Filippi” is out! New features include a UI for Member and Group types, new blocks, REST API improvements, and WP CLI support. ✨

Here's a piece from The Repository focused on Yoast and Whodunit and why they contribute to WordPress core as well as the features they’re pursuing.

Some notable stats are mentioned in this post where Jb Audras breaks out the companies that contributed the most employees to WordPress 5.5‘s development:

  • Automattic: 82 people
  • Yoast and Whodunit: 10 people each
  • Human Made, 10up and WP Engine: 8 people each
  • Google and rtCamp: 6 people each
  • WPMU DEV: 5 people
  • Bluehost, GoDaddy, iThemes, and Audrey HC: 4 people each

The next iteration of WordPress components/Gutenberg’s design is currently being explored under the codename “G2 Components.” There is a roadmap here and an open issue about how to best approach integrating this into Gutenberg.

This is certainly the cutting edge for WordPress, and I'm looking forward to learning more from Jon Quach (who has shared a few Twitch streams) and others who have been driving this project forward. 👍

🖥️ Over at the Automattic Design Blog, Filipe Varela covers some tips for looking and sounding a bit more professional on your video calls. Why bother? Filipe gets right to the point:

“Elevating the quality of your audio and video is a good way to eliminate all possible distractions and present yourself and your work in a more polished way.”

🤝 MailPoet and its team of eleven have been acquired by Automattic to join WooCommerce:

“WooCommerce stores can look forward to improved features to reach their customers in the near future. This is a natural continuation of WooCommerce functionality we added to MailPoet 3 years ago. Nearly a quarter of our users run WooCommerce stores already.”

The post from Kim Gjerstad goes on to note that MailPoet will “remain available on the plugin repository,” but there's no mention of any planned future updates at this time.

⚡ Jennifer Wong explores the power of web development outside tech circles:

“Even simple websites and apps go on to make a huge difference politically and socially. We, as website builders, have the benefit that even in a global pandemic, we’re able to organize and operate online.”

Cory Miller brought this article to my attention. It's about the late Tony Hsieh of Zappos, one of Cory's entrepreneurial heroes. In the article, Lindsay Blakely delves into hard topics, like Tony's battle with depression and substance abuse. 😫

How do you strike a balance between developing a winning growth strategy and keeping your mental health in check?” That is a question Cory discussed recently with Dave Vogelpohl on the Press This Podcast. 🎙️

I can't stress enough how important it is to have a support system, even if that's the last thing you think you want or need. If you don't have one, there are many people you can reach out to in the WordPress community and beyond. 🧡

Kellen Mace has launched Headless WP Rocks, a YouTube channel dedicated to building JavaScript apps powered by a headless WordPress backend.

The website has a form where you can sign up for email updates. 📧

If I had a nickel for every time I heard “PHP is dead” I'd be rich! Warrick Bayman seems just as frustrated:

“It isn’t dying and it isn’t reaching ‘end-of-life.' That’s it. No matter how much some people want it to go away, it isn’t going away. At least, not for a long time.”

It's a rant type of post but a reassuring one.

I'd say that with the recent release of PHP 8, things are getting even more interesting with the language, and there is no evidence that it's slowing down. 👨‍💻

“If PHP didn’t exist, what would be your primary coding language today?” I got a lot of interesting and some surprising answers to that question on Twitter. 🐦

Totaling up all responses, I got:

  1. Python 31%
  2. JavaScript 28%
  3. C / C# 15%
  4. Go 15%
  5. Perl 12%
  6. Ruby 10%
  7. Java 2% (4 responses)
  8. Typescript 2% (4 responses)
  9. Pascal <1% (1 response)
  10. Scala <1% (1 response)
  11. .NET <1% (1 response)
  12. Scratch <1% (1 response)

Bob Dunn asked Matt Mullenweg what can go wrong in an open-source project? 🤔

Anything involving the open-source business model makes interesting reading — and this piece from Joe Morrison (Aazavea) about the end of Mapbox GL JS as open source didn't disappoint.

⚰️ Joe claims open core is dead:

“I still believe open source software is a powerful force for good in the world… but I no longer believe venture-backed companies can responsibly pursue a strategy of giving away the software at the core of their value proposition.”

I'm not sure I agree with everything here, but there are some valid points in the non-WordPress examples Joe brings up.

The Knight Foundation is awarding a total of $2 Million (USD) to 24 newsrooms to upgrade their websites. Almost every winner chose WordPress.

As Steve Burge of PublishPress notes, 20 out of 24 recipients of these grants will be moving to WordPress or upgrading their WordPress platform. Automattic’s Newspack platform is involved with some of these projects.

We reached out to Steve for further comment, and he said:

It’s clear that newspapers are in crisis in America. Yes, they are squeezed by falling ad revenue, but there are other significant problems. Many papers have fallen into the hands of hedge funds that are bleeding them dry. The good news is that a lot of innovative people are successfully launching news start-ups, and almost all of them are doing it with WordPress.

Steve shared an article from the Los Angeles Times highlighting three small, locally-focused newsrooms that are doing great work with WordPress, although their platform isn't named in the article: Mississippi Today, The Oaklandside, and Votebeat. 🗞️

Rachel Zick shares how FiveThirtyEight managed to stay up during election week despite record traffic and page views. The numbers are impressive, even if the teams knew what they were up against ahead of time:

The site served “close to 1.3 billion pageviews from Monday-Friday during election week. On Tuesday night alone, their site served 132,000 requests per second, with WordPress VIP’s server response time staying flat at 144 milliseconds.💨

Chris Hartjes has a simple message for improving your coding skills: practice makes perfect.

“For me I think there is a tripod upon which all your programming outcomes rely on: operating systems, editor, and language features. By refining and practicing your use of these three things, you build a very stable platform to keep building your own higher-level skills and help other people get better.”

Upcoming Events 📆

  • State of the Word 2020: Matt Mullenweg announced that he will be streaming on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter on Thursday, Dec 17th, 2020 at 1600 UTC. Note: Post Status will have a live chat in our Slack channel (#events) during the presentation if you want to talk during the live broadcast.
  • Wordfest Live 2021: The second round of speakers has been announced: Cameron Jones, Shanta Nathwani, Imran Sayed, Marieke van de Rakt, Mary Job, Larry Swanson, Masni Mustafa, and Paul Lacey. This 24-hour event is happening on January 21, 2021.

Notes for December 3, 2020

Footnotes #424

The official release of WordPress 5.6 is just days away — December 8, 2020. Until then, you are encouraged to test Release Candidate 3, which is now available. 📦

Gutenberg 9.5 has been released, with a focus on full-site editing and global styles. As Nik Tsekouras explains, fonts are now supported in the Code Block, and the full height alignment control is available in more blocks. ⬆️

If you are interested in what's coming up this month in Gutenberg, Anne McCarthy will catch you up on the highlights: Full Site Editing (Milestone 1), Global Styles, and the Widget Screen whose development was mostly paused in November. ✨

Kjell Reigstad over at ThemeShaper shows how to build a single-page block-based theme. He describes the experience positively:

“This exercise made me truly excited about the future of theming. It took very little time to assemble the boilerplate necessary to get started, and I constructed most of the theme the editor itself. I imagine whole process will only get faster (and the boilerplate will be whittled down further) as full-site editing progresses.”

If you haven't read Kjell's thoughts in an earlier post about Seedlet, I would suggest you take a look at that too. Seedlet is a typography-led theme “built for the future of block-based theming.” Kjell has put together a child theme that maps many of Seedlet’s CSS variables to Global Styles values. 🌱

😷 How can the WordPress community return to hosting safe, in-person events? A discussion is underway, thanks to Angela Jin 💬

If you've been living in a communication blackout or a cave without wi-fi, you might have heard that Salesforce announced their purchase of Slack for $27.7 billion. Something I wasn't aware of is that Slack might have been ripe for the taking. Entering 2020, it had lost around 40% of its value since it went public. 😯

Although there's no impact on WordPress or the tech world in general at this time, many people in the WordPress community do use Slack. Of course, many people have opinions about this acquisition.

Eric Karkovack writes about the hidden benefits of raising your prices. Of course, “the first thought is usually of the extra cash it can bring in,” but there's a lot more that can happen too.

For starters, it might cut out problematic (or just bad) clients. There is also the potential to avoid less desirable projects. 👍

Eric Bailey offers some tips for creating an eco-friendly website: “Most of our crimes occur before the last mile, and it’s up to us as responsible designers and developers to do the hard work.” 💦

Eric suggests checking to see if a more efficient server can handle a task as opposed to a client device. You might consider building a static site (or as close as you can get to static) and not overcomplicating your JavaScript.

Chris Coyier has made an open source microsite showcasing coding fonts. ⌨️

Laura Coronado shares a WebDevStudio client success story that involved a startup, mySongbird, which aims to be “the ultimate destination for viewing live streaming musical performances.” Laura's post briefly goes through two phases of the project.

mySongbird’s services have transitioned to Maintainn, and the project is being hosted on Pagely. 🎶

Joe Casabona shows how you can use an iPhone 12 Pro Max as an overhead camera for live streams. 📱

Allie Nimmons of WP Buffs and Michelle Ames from GiveWP have built Underrepresented in Tech, a tool intended to highlight underrepresented people‘s skills and specialties first and foremost as a hiring or recruiting factor.

Explaining how this project got started, Allie said:

Michelle and I have both been outspoken advocates for diversity. I am a person of color and a member of the LGBTQ community. Michelle is disabled and older than someone you would normally see in the tech space. We have a really tight friendship, and the tool came out of just wanting better for each other and for our other friends. We got a generous sponsorship from Gravity View + Gravity Forms and built the database ourselves using their software.

We have people like Maddy Osman, Chris Lema, and Joe Howard in the database already, and it's growing every day. Adding a profile or searching the database are the main ways people can help. We take in-kind sponsorships, but at this point, getting the word out and growing the database is most important.

Underrepresented in Tech looks like it will be a valuable tool for meetup organizers, WordCamp speaker organizers, and anyone who wants to add more diversity to their event. I highly recommend you check this out and spread the word.

We wish every success to Allie and Michelle, and no doubt we'll see the site grow. 🙌

Zeeshan Haider Shaheen demonstrates how to host multiple WordPress websites on a single DigitalOcean droplet using Apache. 💧

Multidots built a WordPress plugin that enables users to easily place comments inside the WordPress Gutenberg Editor. Anil Gupta told Post Status:

“Our goal is to enrich the publishing experience for publishers in WordPress. Content collaboration in WordPress is critical for organizations where multiple people review content before publishing. The ability for inline commenting on content drafts inside Gutenberg editor saves time and makes the feedback-review process more streamlined and seamless for content publishers.”

This is certainly by the looks of it a well-polished plugin even for an initial release, and I plan on trying it out myself. On their website they note more features coming down the road: “The next release of this Google Docs-style Gutenberg block commenting plugin will be a more optimized version with far more enhanced commenting features.” 💬

I enjoyed these recent comments Travis Weston made about “clean” PHP code:

“You have to go out of your way to write clean PHP… that’s not to say it’s hard to write clean PHP, just that it requires you to take steps that you aren’t forced to take by the language.” 🧼

John Saddington interviewed Andy McIlwain, a developer in the WordPress community. Andy offers some team-building advice:

“I’m freshly in the middle manager phase of my career, just starting to build a team of my own… My top piece of advice? Embrace the flexibility that naturally comes with community management.” 💪

In case you need them, John Blackbourn has put together JSON schemas for WordPress core PHP objects and REST API responses. 👨‍💻

Andrew Rhyand has found a way to allow developers to safely access the WP_Query class from front-end JavaScript. He notes on Twitter: “Query anything you want from a single REST API endpoint!” 👏

Yoast SEO has improved its integration for Elementor with their latest 15.4 release. ✨

Is it better to load your fonts from Google Fonts or a CDN? Find out with Simon Wicki. 💨

Just for fun, Kjell Reigstad has made a WordPress plugin that can turn your images into a (rough digital approximation) of a photocopy. 🔌

WordPress folks will get a kick out of this recent CommitStrip comic. 😆

Notes for November 24, 2020

Footnotes #423

We are inching closer to the December 5th release date for WordPress 5.6! 🎁

This pending release will introduce a new user interface to make it easier to opt-in to automatic updates for major versions.

There have been some major Core auto-updates UI changes and miscellaneous developer changes to take note of as well.

The WordPress 5.6 Field Guide 📖 has been published ahead of the 5.6 release with everything everyone, from developers to new users, might need to know:

“As a user, you’ll see automatic updates for major core releases (opt-in), external authentication to the REST API via newly introduced Application Passwords, PHP 8 support, the latest and greatest features in the block editor, and a new AAA-ready default theme. As a developer, you’ll see 85 enhancements and feature requests, 201 bug fixes, and more!”

Joost de Valk has released his fourth biannual analysis of the CMS market share numbers provided by W3Techs. There are two winners: “WordPress (and WooCommerce “within” it) and Shopify.” 🏆🏆

WordPress is the #1 CMS with a 39.0% market share, 4.2% higher than November 2019. Shopify is growing in its #2 position after overtaking Joomla, but that's “only” 3.1% of the market. 📈

Amazingly, WordPress's growth is still accelerating through a global pandemic and politically unstable year.

Here are Joost's predictions for the top five CMSes at the end of 2021 based on current trends:

  1. WordPress – 43.5%
    Shopify – 4.6%
    Wix – 1.8%
    Joomla – 1.7%
    Drupal – 1.3%

Tom McFarlin has shared a great tutorial centered on a mu-plugin that “demonstrate[s] how to add a custom view to the WordPress All Posts page based on a specified category.” 🔌

This is part of a series Tom is doing about useful tasks with taxonomies with code he's refactoring “into an object-oriented plugin that will serve as a utility plugin for taxonomies in general.”

This article by David Gilbert of Random Wire on Japanese web design has gone around for a while and is worth a read if, like me, you haven't seen it yet. 🗾

David asks why Japanese websites are so “different” compared to European and Western site design. I appreciated this feedback from Stephen Cronin when I shared the article on Post Status Slack:

“It's a very similar thing with Chinese web design. I taught IT in China back in 2006-2008 which included a little (Western) web design, but the sites the students were not so secretly browsing in class bore no resemblance to what was being taught! And they haven't changed that much since then, whereas Western web design has moved on a lot.

I think there's an element of what works in the West doesn't (and shouldn't) necessarily work elsewhere. We often map our ideas onto other cultures and think they are lacking somehow, but the more we can look at differences and try to understand them, the better!”

The RefactoringUI website has a post on learning to build your own color palette. Why would you want to do this instead of using a generator? 🎨

“Fancy color palette generators produce results…. This calculated and scientific approach to picking the perfect color scheme is extremely seductive, but not very useful.”

😶 “Mainstream social media is harmful because it puts a single company in control of the human social experience and places them in the role of cultural censor.”

If this statement strikes a chord with you, then you might want to dive into Milo Trujillo‘s exploration of decentralized architecture for social networks and the social implications of network design.

Milo tweeted that he's “reading lots about SSB, Cabal, Mastodon, Keybase, etc, but resources are scattered and I wanted to gather some comparative analysis.” 🐦

Chris Coyier considers how one might create an old-school webring today. 💍

Zander Nethercutt thinks we are optimizing ourselves to death. 💀

This is an interesting article that might require more focus than most non-technical writing on sociological topics, but I think Zander makes some good, albeit distressing points.

Will Millennials “remain the burnout generation,” as he thinks? 😫

If you had a “Yes or No” question to ask in your UI, would you use one checkbox or two radio buttons? ☑️🤔🔘

Sara Soueidan asked that question on Twitter and collected the responses in a blog post. She came up with a good answer to her great question: it depends! Sara reminds us,

“as with all user interfaces, nothing beats the input you can get from user testing and research. So hopefully the answers above can at least serve as a starting point in situations where you need more to make a decision.”

WP Mayor has gotten a new look with a new logo! 🧐🎩

Gabriella Galea goes into the thought process behind some of the design decisions and takes a look at the main plugins used on the new site.

I organized a “mega meetup” on Zoom in the past week. Over a month in the making, it represented at least eight WordPress meetups, and over 120 people showed up when it started.

Birgit Pauli-Haack was kind enough to write a fine summary, which includes a list of plugins that a panel recommended to anyone building a new WordPress site.

Thanks to GoDaddy Pro, who sponsored the event and provided prizes for the gameshows. Virtual meetups need more gameshows, in my opinion. [DB] 😃

Upcoming Events

  • There is a call for speakers for WordFest Live 2021 which happens online on January 22, 2021.

    The deadline for speaker submissions is November 18 at midnight UTC. Selected speakers will be notified by December 2. 📅

  • On December 10 at 19:30 UTC, Yoast partner and CTO Omar Reiss and blog team lead Willemien Hallebeek will be guests on the next Gutenberg Times Live Q&A. Omar and Willemien will take us behind the scenes of the making of the Open Source Story, a richly illustrated and interactive post about the nature of open-source software from a collaborative business point of view. Omar and Willemien will share how they built the Open Source Story with the WordPress block editor, explain their approaches, and answer attendees' questions. You can register here. 👈

Notes for November 20, 2020

Footnotes #422

🙋‍♂️ Hey Post Status members! We have created a new channel in our Slack: #gigs.

The #gigs channel is for you to post projects you'd like to refer others to — or projects where you need some paid assistance. If you want to tastefully advertise your particular talents and specialties, this is also the channel for that as well.

A new action wp_after_insert_post has been added to WordPress 5.6 to allow theme and plugin developers to run custom code after a post and its terms and metadata have been updated.

The 5.6 Release Candidate is available now and needs testing on its way out the door for a December 8 delivery of the final release. 🎁

The discussion Francesca Marano started about aligning the WordPress core release cycle with the industry-standard approach still needs more voices participating. 💭

🗣️ You are encouraged to share your feedback by November 30 on the standards for Learn WordPress workshop content too.

The newest iteration of the Gutenberg plugin for WordPress is out, and it seems to be a “tweak and polish” release. It delivers percentage widths for button blocks, social and font size change support, and API improvements. ✨

Helen Hou-Sandi explains the thought process behind recent advances in the way starter content is displayed in themes on the theme previewer site. Currently, these changes only affect three of the themes bundled with WordPress core.

Opening the discussion of where theme previews and demo content could go, Helen writes,

“It has long been my belief, which I think many share, that the theme previewer site in today’s context does a serious disservice to themes.”

It's true. WordPress could do so much better in this area. If you agree, give Helen's questions some thought and join the discussion. 💬

Gatsby recently chose headless WordPress for its blog. Senior Product Marketing Manager Hashim Warren explains why:

“WordPress enables us to have unlimited users (without paying a subscription per seat). WordPress also comes with powerful role-based permissions and has free plugins from services like Auth0 to unlock flexible security and authentication options.”

⚡ Speed and workflow also were factors too:

“Switching to WordPress dramatically sped up our content production time. We went from sometimes spending a full work day publishing content to just a few minutes.”

Ronald Huereca explains how to create a Gutenberg sidebar with a handy example.

The Court of Justice of the European Union has issued a decision that pre-checked boxes are not a valid way to show consent under GDPR. 👩‍⚖️

Termageddon is warning that “if you use pre-checked boxes on your website's forms, make sure to un-check them now!”

Firefox 83 has introduced an “HTTPS Only Mode” that works how you would expect:

“[It] ensures that Firefox doesn’t make any insecure connections without your permission. When you enable HTTPS-Only Mode, Firefox tries to establish a fully secure connection to the website you are visiting.”

It will be interesting to see if any other browsers add this feature as well. 🔒

Joe Casabona says virtual events are changing the WordPress event landscape. He notes some advances in virtual events this year and predicts more “mixed” (virtual and in-person) events after the pandemic is over. This is not just “virtual WordCamps” but something entirely new. 🏕️

Joe also shares what he misses about the hallway track which is hard to duplicate online but has real value:

“…I spend most of my time talking to people I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to meet. Hanging out in the hallway track, meeting people at booths, sitting at random tables during lunch. It’s this extrovert’s dream.”

Ibis is a handy and new-to-me PHP tool that helps you write eBooks in markdown and convert to PDF. 📗

There's a very interesting Twitter thread from Hassan El Mghairi on his 10 takeaways from a lecture given by Randy Pausch. Pausch was a renowned Computer Science professor who got cancer and decided to give one last lecture on time management before he passed away.

My favorite of Hassan's ten takeaways is this:

  • If it's urgent + important, do it now. 🏃‍♀️
  • If it's non-urgent + important, schedule a time to do it. 🗓️
  • If it's urgent + not important, try to delegate it. 👉
  • If it's non-urgent + not important, ignore it. 🙈

Here's a master list of landing page best practices, focused on how to optimize your pages for increased conversion. Each tip is from a professional in the field, and one of the names you might recognize is Thomas Griffin from OptinMonster. 🛬

Nice post here on Reddit from Mark Maunder the founder and CEO of Wordfence as he replies to the question of how people come up with their startup ideas:

“So my site was hacked. I used to be a hacker in the early to mid-90s and so it really pissed me off. I also worked in operations for big banks, Coca-Cola, and other big companies, so I knew about enterprise security, high performance, redundancy etc… So Kerry (my wife) and I dropped everything in 2011 and I spent 8 months writing the first version of Wordfence.”

Sarah Gooding observes that Envato has passed $1 billion in community earnings after 14 years of being in business. 💰

Sarah also gets into the controversy over Envato Elements, its subscription service which isn't sitting well with developers and authors who mainly sell their work on Envato Marketplace.

Has someone recreated Slack inside a shared Google Sheet? It's hard for me to tell if this is real. Regardless, check out the site as it's pretty amusing. 😆

Yoast has created a page dedicated to educating people about open source — what it is and how it provides “better solutions and a more inclusive society.”

This is a seriously detailed page including bios and snippets of information, some of which predate the modern era. Reading it feels like walking through the exhibits of a large museum with many different periods represented in its wings. 🏛️

Good news: GitHub has reinstated the YouTube video downloader youtube-dl that the RIAA claimed was a piracy tool. 👏

More importantly, GitHub is formalizing a policy to evaluate complaints and also establishing and donating $1 Million (USD) to an open-source developer defense fund for developers fighting “unwarranted DMCA Section 1201 takedown claims.” ⚖️

There is a call for speakers for WordFest Live 2021 which happens online on January 22, 2021. 📅

Notes for November 16, 2020

Footnotes #421

🎁 Our big list of Black Friday & Cyber Monday WordPress Deals is back — and bigger than ever!

Check out the long list of hosting, deployment tools, SaaS, themes, and plugins. 🔌🔌🔌


Request for Comment on Comments

Previously we've mentioned Jeremy Felt‘s ideas for how WordPress comments should work. They're really good, simple steps forward, and this is how we should be thinking about a core feature that ought to make WordPress shine.☀️

Now Chris Coyier has shared his comment wishlist for WordPress, and the top items are the following:

  • a logged-in user should own (or edit) their own comment,
  • there should be a “social auth for comments” so you don't have to enter a name/email all the time,
  • an HTML tag whitelist,
  • previewable comments,
  • an overall better visual appearance,
  • and replies should show parent comment(s) by default.

I had my own recommendations for comments back in 2014. Last year I was on the hunt for a way to make live conversations well-integrated into WordPress. Think P2/O2 style setup but integrated into an existing site.

If anything, this kind of functionality has become more important to have while WordPress has drifted away from it as a former core competency. 💬

When John Blackbourn made a semi-tongue-in-cheek suggestion for a plugin that will email you regularly about draft posts you haven't published, David Artiss took him seriously and built a plugin that does exactly that. Draft Concluder (what a great name!) will send an email to every user who has outstanding drafts. 📝✉️

David says his work on this plugin led him so deep into WordPress, he's probably the only person to know some of the things he learned. He is already planning his next project, to revisit one of his existing plugins and rewrite it. 👏

Leonardo Losoviz has written a step-by-step guide on using Rector and GitHub Actions to downgrade a WordPress plugin by coding it with PHP 7.4 and deploying it to PHP 7.1. 👇

The 2020 Web Almanac’s Markup chapter is available now with some interesting statistics based on the analysis of over 7 million web pages. Find out what HTML elements and markup are being used the most, and which aren't. 📊

You may be surprised to learn script is #6, and there is a lot of obvious waste. Mathias Bynens points out “many bytes are being collectively wasted just by writing unnecessary HTML.”

I tend to think overall the quality of HTML is improving, although the size of web pages themselves is another matter. 🏋️‍♀️

Google has provided a target date in May 2021 for when “Core Web Vitals” will be an official ranking factor in Google search results. 🎯

They recommend doing a sitewide audit of your pages. Identify where there is room for improvement, and then use tools like Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse to help fix improve the page experience.

This is certainly an important search algorithm update, so if you rely on SEO, take a close look at this. Sarah Gooding‘s article on this at the Tavern is a good place to start. 🍻

10up has announced some updates to its ClassifAI plugin, which augments WordPress sites with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology. 🧠🤖

The new release adds automated text scanning of uploaded images, including screenshots, using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. By storing scanned text in WordPress, content editors can search the contents of screenshots and other images to add that plain text into the main content of a post.

According to Jeff Paul at 10up, this technology might come in handy if you were affected by  Facebook and Instagram dropping support for open embeds.

I've received a lot of pings on Post Status Slack about the Biden-Harris Transition Website. It uses WordPress and is hosted by Automattic. WPTavern noticed as well. 🙌

🧡 There is a call for speakers for WordFest Live 2021 which happens online on January 22, 2021. 📅

Scott Bolinger explains the difference between WordPress options and transients, which is useful to understand if you are a WordPress developer:

“Transients expire, options don’t. Use transients for a single value you only need temporarily, use options for persistent values that can change.”

Notes for November 6, 2020

Footnotes #420

📣 If you'd like your discount sale promotion to be included in our Black Friday and Cyber Monday WordPress Deals for 2020, please submit the details here by Nov. 11, 2020. 🎁

WordPress 5.6 Beta 3 is available for testing. It includes newly added block patterns for the Twenty Twenty and Twenty Nineteen themes. WordPress 5.6 is still slated for release on December 8. 📅

Speaking of core updates, something unusual happened last Friday. The auto-update system for WordPress updated some sites from version 5.5.2 to version 5.5.3-alpha due to an error in the Updates API caused by the 5.5.3 release preparations. Fortunately, the 5.5.3-alpha version was “functionally identical” to 5.5.2 since no development work had been started on 5.5.3.

Jake Spurlock goes into more detail about the error. 😯

If your site was auto-updated, the default “Twenty” themes and the Akismet plugin may have been installed. 👀

All current WordPress sites should be updated to the proper 5.5.3 version. ⬆️

bbPress 2.6.6 is a minor release that's available now.

It fixes some PHP warnings and notices, “some output formatting bugs and improves a few different moderator experiences,” according to John James Jacoby. 🐛

The URL migration is complete and should help address some “significant SEO problems.” 🔧

The structure has changed from to

Some very good news from Maarten Botterman, ICANN‘s Board Chair: ICANN has voted to reject the sale of the .ORG registry to private equity firm Ethos Capital.

This is a major victory for the millions of nonprofits, civil society organizations, and individuals who use the .ORG extension for their sites. 😀

Uncanny Owl, the Toronto-based parent company for the Uncanny Automator plugin, has joined the WPBeginner Growth Fund. 🤝

Syed Balkhi details how the plugin works — “Zapier for WordPress” — and explains why he felt it was wise to take an investment stake and partner with the Uncanny Owl team. 🦉

What is the most effective way to reuse code within a single or multi-block plugin? Leonardo Losoviz has the answer. 👨‍💻

Spearhead is a beautiful “blank canvas” WordPress theme that was originally developed for the Spearhead podcast. Designed by Cece Yu and others, it is the first theme on to support dark mode. 🕶️

The theme should be coming soon to 👍

Suzanne Scacca offers suggestions for designers to get some value out of designs “that didn't make the cut.” Suzanne's advice:

Try putting them aside in “a dedicated folder” to use for another project. You could even “templatize your unused designs… to exponentially increase your profits by selling them over and over again.” 🎨

Notes for October 29, 2020

Footnotes #419

WordPress 5.6 Beta 2 is available for testing. WordPress 5.6 is still slated for release on December 8. 📅

In the meantime, you will want to upgrade to WordPress 5.5.2, which was released on Thursday. It features 14 bug fixes and 10 security fixes. 🔒

The 2020 WordPress Annual Survey is open — please take it. ☑️

The results from the 2019 survey have been shared, and there's a lot to learn from them. What is striking is that very few people took the 2019 survey — only about 6,000 compared to 45,000 responses to the first survey of this kind back in 2015!

6,000 people cannot possibly represent the diversity of the WordPress community, so please take the survey this year.

Allie Nimmons started a conversation about the lack of questions concerning languages, ethnicity/race, and disability. This too is disappointing and needs to change. We need more and better information about the WordPress community every year, so the questions must be broad and inclusive of all its members.

2019 Survey Highlights:

  • One big takeaway from the 2019 results is that (at least 6,000) WordPress users are working on more complex sites with greater efficiency: “The number of professionals who report providing a heavily customized experience to clients has increased substantially, while at the same time the amount of time reported on creating those sites has decreased.”
  • Just over three-quarters (76%) of Professionals use WordPress as a CMS, significantly more than in 2016 (73%).
  • Significantly fewer respondents feel WordPress is as good as or better than its competitors (76%) compared to 2016 and 2017 (82% and 83%, respectively).
  • More than three-quarters (78%) of Users say a lot of custom work has been done to their WordPress installation. Like the Professional groups, 4% say everything on the site has been customized.
  • Nearly half (49%) of the Professionals say it takes 20-60 hours to launch their typical WordPress project. The proportion of Professionals who say it takes more than 200 hours to launch has significantly declined from 6% in 2016 and 2017 to 4% in 2019.
  • Half (50%) of the Pro Freelancers and Hobbyists feel “not at all comfortable” working with React.
  • A significantly higher proportion of Professionals (20%) feel “very comfortable” with WordPress REST APIs compared to Pro Freelancers/Hobbyists (13%)

Omar Reiss at Yoast has assembled a “WordPress and PHP 8 compatibility report.” WordPress developers should take note, and it's also a good general resource for any PHP developer. The report covers some possible breaking changes and compatibility challenges. 💔

Isn't WordPress already compatible with PHP 8? Omar advises caution:

“[My team] is highly doubtful. It’s really not possible to tell. […] [T]he sheer amount of breaking changes and the type of changes included in PHP 8, plus some added complexities in cross-version tooling, make this compatibility challenge a different beast from what we’ve seen before.”

It sounds like Yoast is making progress preparing for PHP 8, and they (along with the whole community) will be keenly interested in reactions to this report.

Akismet turned 15 years old this week. 🎂

500 billion spam comments and trackbacks have been blocked since October 2005!

notes, “That’s an average of a thousand spam per second, every second, since before Twitter existed.” 😮

ZDNet reports job listings for entry-level PHP developer roles have increased a massive 834% since January 2020, making it the fastest-growing tech job across the industry, according to Indeed‘s data. 👨‍💻

Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land explains how Google indexes passages within a page's content and what it means for your SEO.

Google recently announced its move into indexing specific sections of content on web pages. This will affect 7% of search queries across all languages when it's rolled out globally. 🔍

Composer 2.0 was released on the 24th. This new version is reported to be faster, use less memory, and it's packed with many new features. (Note there are some possible backward compatibility breaks.) 🎹

I enjoyed these “Ten Commandments” of navigating code reviews. They're from Angie Jones, a Senior Developer Advocate at Applitools.

“Thou shalt not take it personally” and “Thou shalt be willing to compromise” are my favorite “commandments,” but all of them are good. 👩‍⚖️

Benedict Evans took a brief but deep dive into the story of eCommerce growth during the pandemic. He also looks at how traditional shopping and online advertising are changing. 🛒

“How do people decide what to buy online, when a shop can’t show it to them? It seems to me that pretty much every part of that question is being reset this year. [….] The Covid lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 are catalysing and accelerating all sorts of changes — we’re getting five years of adoption in a few quarters, and five years of inevitability in the back of the neck.”

There are great visuals and important data points here alongside some good, open questions.

The popular free software project “youtube-dl” was removed from Github following a legal notice from the Recording Industry Association of America claiming it violates U.S. copyright law.

Youtube-dl is “a powerful general-purpose media tool that allows users to make local copies of media from a very broad range of sites.” Journalists in particular make use of it in their work.

While not WordPress-related, the journalism angle and the Streisand Effect of the RIAA's attempt to kill an open-source project hold a lot of fascinating lessons.

Some of the ways the code has been shared are insanely smart too. 🤔

Here's a nifty web tool to easily create an emoji or letter-based SVG favicon.

Also clever: a tiny javascript library that makes DOM elements draggable and movable. 🖱️

Here is some exciting information about the CSS image() function which is a new W3C spec feature.

Although it's not well-supported in browsers yet, the CSS image function will give us more control over image loading in CSS. It will even be possible to crop images via CSS and load an image type based on browser support. ✂️

Keanan Koppenhaver shows how GitHub Actions can help make “FTP as a deployment mechanism” both an automatic and repeatable process to make deploys go much more smoothly. 🚚

Manos Psychogyiopoulos shares the story of how he started using WooCommerce and why:

“As a WooCommerce developer, I believe that our biggest strength is our WordPress technology and community heritage.”

There is currently a discussion unfolding about the benefits of aligning the WordPress release cycle with the “industry standard.”💭

Francesca Marano recaps some conversations that have been happening in Slack and on blogs about the release cycle with a call for feedback. 💬

Notes for October 21, 2020

Footnotes #418

Gutenberg 9.2 has been released. This is the final release to make it into WordPress 5.6 Beta, which also came out this week. ✨

Featured items in the Gutenberg release include:

  • Support for video subtitles.
  • The ability to transform multiple selected blocks into a columns block.
  • Background patterns in cover blocks.
  • Various enhancements and bug fixes.

Meanwhile, WordPress 5.6 is set to be released with a new default theme, an auto-update option for major releases, and increased support for PHP 8.

Sadly what isn't coming in 5.6 is the Widgets screen as block-based widgets have been deferred to 5.7. Josepha Haden Chomphosy says the team “will continue working on the Widgets screen, and will keep the new screen as the default option when using the Gutenberg plugin to encourage more feedback.”

Chrome 86 is hiding full URLs, and slugs are no longer visible by default — they're only visible on hover. Remkus de Vries “finds it annoying as hell” (I agree!), and he shows you how you can turn this feature off. 😠

PushEngage, the maker of push notification software with “over 10,000+ customers in 150+ countries,” has joined Awesome Motive. 🙌

Awesome Motive founder and CEO Syed Balkhi notes in the press release:

“I first started using push notifications over 3 years ago and quickly realized that the click rate, engagement, and opt-in rate is significantly higher than my email newsletter or any other engagement channel.”

There is a free plan for PushEngage, and Syed hints at integration with other Awesome Motive products: “you can expect to see easier workflows to set up highly personalized push notifications campaigns.”

Eric Karkovack‘s list of WordPress plugin pet peeves made my neck sore from nodding in agreement so much! Eric, you had me at “an endless barrage of notifications.” 🔌🤯

I enjoyed this recent interview with Hichame Assi, the new CEO of Envato who is replacing co-founder Collis Ta’eed.

Hichame was CEO of HotelsCombined for 10 years and is a prior ThemeForest customer. 🏨

Daniel Lee has published a quick and straightforward guide to setting up WordPress in Docker. 🐳

Here's a great primer from Ido Shamun for developers on the different types of browser storage. It includes details on the localStorage API, IndexedDB API, cache, and URL storage. 👩‍💻

Some brief takes from Sarah Bird, CEO of Moz, on emerging SEO industry trends cover five “under-rated yet crucial parameters.” 📏

Marketers should monitor all five to make sure their brand has positively influenced their customers: keywords, external links, differentiation, omnichannel communication, and outcome alignment.

A recent interview with Patrick Pulvermüller, the president of Partners Business at GoDaddy, explains GoDaddy's relationship with WordPress and how WordPress professionals can build lucrative careers. 💸

Em Lazer-Walker has an interesting post suggesting how game design could be used to make virtual events more social. 🎮

New to me: PlacePress is a WordPress plugin described as an “elegant mapping solution for public historians, urbanists, and other humanities researchers.” 🗺️

Fränk Klein has a new online video course about WordPress Unit Testing. It's described as a “step by step roadmap for learning WordPress unit testing in a weekend, starting from scratch.”

I plan on diving into this over the holidays, and other developers may want to as well. 🤿

📅 Conference and Event Updates

  • WordFest Live 2021 is a 24-hour festival, celebrating all that is WordPress. Registration is now open, as well as a call for speakers and sponsors. Organized by Dan Maby, Michelle Frechette, Hauwa Abashiya, Paul Smart, and Cate DeRosia, this free event aims to raise awareness as well as funds for Big Orange Heart.  BOH is a UK-based charity that promotes positive well-being and mental health within remote working communities. 🧡
  • There are upcoming WordCamps, all being held online, for Bulgaria (October 24), Finland (November 12), and México (November 25-28). 🌐

Notes for October 16, 2020

Might as well go for the gusto?

WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy has submitted a ticket to make a change on the WordPress hosting page:

I would like to update the final sentence in the second paragraph.

If you don’t need the flexibility of a full web host, you may consider getting a free blog on

should be updated to read

If you need expert support, and a powerful hosting platform that grows with you, is the easiest way to create a free website or blog.

What Josepha proposes is factually correct, but it is a significant shift to call a host when it certainly does not offer the full capacity of traditional WordPress hosts and a self-hosted WordPress site. Also, this verbiage appears on the .org side of things. The hosting page has a history of a lot of drama, but I think this wording is both interesting and perhaps worthy of further conversation.

Notes for October 9, 2020

Footnotes #416

Cloudflare has implemented an Automatic Platform Optimization for WordPress. It includes improvements in speed for sites that might be slowed down a bit by plugins or hosting limitations effectively creating a “zero-config edge HTML caching solution.” Garrett Galow explains:

“Our testing … showed a 72% reduction in Time to First Byte (TTFB), 23% reduction to First Contentful Paint, and 13% reduction in Speed Index for desktop users at the 90th percentile, by serving nearly all of your website’s content from Cloudflare’s network.”

There is a more technical post that goes into more detail.

This optimization costs $5/month for customers on the Free plan and is included, at no additional cost, in the Professional, Business, and Enterprise plans. It will work both with and without the Cloudflare for WordPress plugin. 🌩️

iThemes has announced its acquisition of WPComplete, an easy-to-use, interactive course completion plugin for WordPress. 👏

Bob Dunn has announced the launch of, a website to connect the WooCommerce builder community:

“I believe that there is a need for a central location to help connect those who build WooCommerce sites, products and services. These people are the ones that drive the community and can benefit from being connected through insights, perspectives and communication.”

The Do the Woo podcast will continue to run as it has. 🤘

Helen Hou-Sandi revisits “starter content” which had its beginnings in WordPress 4.7:

“We will want to strike a balance between showing users what they can do and adding too many individual pieces of content that have to be tracked down and removed if they don’t want it…For a future release, we should start exploring what it might look like to opt into importing starter content into EXISTING sites.”

Demo content importers exist for many commercial themes, but outside of a good experience with BuddyBoss (which helps you easily remove the demo content), the demo content is usually hard to configure and harder to remove. I would welcome a stabilization of sorts from WordPress Core for themes.

A long-standing goal of the WordPress project is to be compatible with new versions of PHP on release day. There's a call right now for both manual and automated testing to ensure the core codebase is ready for PHP 8.0. 🤙

Even though WordPress 5.6 will add support for PHP 8.0, “no changes will be made to the minimum required version of PHP at this time.”

Chris Coyier has a new and lengthy but highly consumable essay on the subject of “The Widening Responsibility for Front-End Developers.” Chris touches on the increasing burdens of the role as well as its joys:

“Being a front-end developer puts us on the front lines between the thing we’re building and the people we’re building it for, and that’s a place some of us really enjoy being.”

Ali Spittel acknowledges writing blog posts can be “pretty tricky” and has shared what I think is some great advice for writing posts. Ali covers everything from finding a topic, writing a first draft, revisions, visuals, and publishing. ✍️

Ali includes some encouraging words if you are holding yourself back from writing. Maybe you don't think of yourself as an “authority.” Ali says go right ahead:

“If you have a blog post that contains mostly correct information, or at least your interpretation of the topic, then you're experienced enough.”

Timi Wahalahti has created a plugin that lets back end users choose a post from any site in a WordPress Multisite network through an ACF field. 🔌

Sami Keijonen shows how to use WordPress and Eleventy together with the block editor “as usual” on the back end but with the front end served by Eleventy. 💡

The main reasons for doing this, according to Sami, are “Security. Scale. Performance.” He also notes, “I have been playing around with WordPress for a long time. It saves me back-end developing time. I’ve been pretty happy about block editor myself.”

So if you're getting comfortable with Gutenberg and want a fast front end, this is an option.

Jean-Baptiste Audras released a small WordPress plugin called Image Licensing Schema that allows WordPress site administrators to enjoy the benefits of a new Google Images feature. The plugin gives “you an easy way to manage your structured data for Google Images.” 📷

GitHub is changing the default branch name on all new repositories from master to main. Mike McBride shows how to update some (or all) of your existing repositories to use “main” (or another term of your choice) as well.

Dōvy Paukstys' Redux interface framework recently surpassed one million active installations. 👏

Redux is one of the first popular Gutenberg-related WordPress plugins that added a library of blocks and block templates to WordPress.

Joe Casabona‘s WPYearInReview project has met its crowdfunding goal. 🥳 This content project will feature a video tutorial series, an interview series with WordCamp speakers, and an eBook that goes over how WordPress and its ecosystem has changed in the last year.

Congrats to Joe for coming up with this idea and executing on it, as well as everyone in the community who backed it. Looking forward to seeing the results! 🙌

Application Passwords are scheduled to be shipped along with WordPress 5.6, and if you have any input to offer, now's the time to add your two cents.

Application Passwords make it easy to revoke any individual application password or completely void all of a user’s application passwords. It's also an easier way to request API credentials and allow for an “interactive authentication flow” with 2FA or reCAPTCHA protecting your users' accounts. 🔒

According to Sourcegraph, a company specializing in universal code search, developers are managing 100x more code now than they did in 2010. 🤭

Josh Comeau demonstrates what he calls “an elegant solution to a tricky modern layout” — a full-bleed layout using CSS Grid.

Call a Vulnerability a Vulnerability

Roger Montii reporting for SEJ looks at an Authenticated Stored XSS vulnerability in the WPBakery Page Builder plugin. The vulnerability was discovered by Wordfence and fixed through their collaboration with WPBakery in a recent update. 🍰

Vulnerabilities happen — all the time, and in major plugins. Having them discovered by the good guys and handled this well is how open source is supposed to work — the code and the community. So I think in this case the story is being a little overblown, and the real issue is what Roger notes at the end of his article:

Unfortunately, WPBakery’s changelog does not reflect the urgency of the update because it does not explicitly say that it is patching a vulnerability. The changelog refers to the vulnerability patches as improvements.

Don’t hide security and bug fixes in your changelogs, and be responsible by letting your customers know about the problem — and the solution.🔒

📅 Conference and Event Updates

  • Join Virtual CFO Jeff Meziere and his partner, Cory Miller, on October 13th as they talk about a framework to better forecast your business cashflow. This webinar is especially timely and relevant for agencies looking to ensure they have cashflow for their business in the peaks and valleys of the pandemic. You can RSVP for this event here.
  • WooSesh will be back again on October 13 and 14th. Chris Lema, Greta Galubauskaitė, Luke Cavanaugh, and Christie Chirinos are among the many great speakers taking the stage.
  • WP Agency Summit is taking place from October 12 to 16th. It's a free virtual conference that will share “strategies for lead generation, sales, project delivery and a lot more that helps you grow your WordPress agency or freelance business.”

Notes for October 2, 2020

Decisions have consequences

Sarah Gooding has reported at WPTavern that the W3C and the agency it selected to redesign its website, Studio 24, dropped WordPress from consideration in a selection process that has ended with Craft CMS as the winner.

First off, kudos to Craft CMS. I haven't had a chance to give it a try yet, but I've heard good things about it. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't seem to have the flexibility and ecosystem of WordPress, but it does have strengths inaccessibility. Craft describes itself as “commercial open source,” which means it isn't open source, although its core code is available on Github.

I'm fine with the “right tool for the job” approach to projects like this, even if it means using non-open source technology. What concerns me most is Marie Manandise‘s statement for Studio 24:

“In this case, we felt working with a smaller CMS development team would be a more effective way to tackle specific accessibility concerns as we could have a direct conversation with the developers who set out the development roadmap of their CMS.”

This made me stop and think. Is the development roadmap for WordPress (or more specifically Gutenberg and the editor) and the way decisions are being made in those areas — for example, the sudden decision to make editing editor pages full-screen by default — having unintended consequences? Like repelling developers, agencies, and their clients who might otherwise prefer WordPress?

We should take note: decision-makers were considering WordPress with the Classic Editor in this case, but they “didn’t want to be left relying on [it because] there is a real risk [it] will be unmaintained in the near future,” according to the selection report.

One project or one customer, even a well-known one, doesn't spell doom or imply WordPress hasn't made great leaps of progress in areas such as accessibility — it has. However, negative perceptions of the decision-making processes in any open source project are a warning sign that shouldn't be ignored.

Notes for October 1, 2020

Footnotes #415

Congrats to Francesca Marano who is now the WordPress core team lead at Yoast! In her new role, Francesca expects to

“…contribute all my time to WordPress, a platform that gave me a lot, personally and professionally, and do it with some of the best minds in the community.”

This is a tremendous gain for all of us. 🙌

Joost de Valk has proposed a font enqueue API for WordPress core. 🔡

Explaining why we should implement .wp_enqueue_font, Joost writes:

“Building this so that fonts are always loaded the same way allows us to continuously improve the way we load fonts as the standards evolve.”

Speaking of fonts, the WordPress Themes Team has built an easy-to-use implementation of locally hosted webfonts that themes can start using now:

“Google fonts have been used as a way for themes to provide more appealing typography options. They are widely used and though there were always privacy and tracking concerns, we could not remove the exception until we had a viable alternative for theme-authors.”

Leonardo Losoviz explains how you can show documentation to the user directly in the WordPress editor using Markdown. He claims that using Markdown instead of HTML is easier, and there are other benefits.

Stressing that “localization for documentation is mandatory,” Leonardo also shows how you can translate documentation into your users' languages while using Markdown. ⬇️

If you live in the EU, you might know about Google’s current search preference menu auction. It appears to have been dropped recently from DuckDuckGo. 🦆

DuckDuckGo has explained why this move — and the whole idea of the search preference menu — is a problem.

Cory Miller shares his sympathy for people “starting new projects or businesses,” which he compares to “rolling a snowball uphill.” It's hard work to maintain patience and focus in a “grind” or struggle state without seeing big results. ❄️

“We know the tipping point, the catalytic moments will come, just not when,” so we just have to “keep pushing.”

This is a good reminder for business owners and entrepreneurs right now.

There’s a new version of the WooCommerce Blocks plugin available now. Version 3.5.0 is mostly a bug fix release with some enhancements for payment methods. 🛒

I sometimes find general tech sector articles worthwhile reading, but this one raised my eyebrows.🤨

While I always take survey data with a grain of salt, I don't think it's unreasonable to predict the majority of businesses expect IT budgets to grow or remain steady in 2021, driven by a big increase in remote workers. 👩‍💻

Joe Casabona has a new book out for those just starting on the path to learning HTML and CSS. He talks about what it was like “re-learning” them:

“There are a lot of colloquialisms in web development. I didn’t realize it until my copy and tech editors pointed out that terms I thought were common make no sense to beginners.”

Notes for September 25, 2020

Notes for September 21, 2020

SkyVerge & GoDaddy

The team at SkyVerge is joining GoDaddy in a full company acquisition. All SkyVerge extensions and Jilt will go under the GoDaddy umbrella. In the announcement from SkyVerge, they gave a hint as to what is next: “While we’ll be building something new at GoDaddy, everything we’ve already built is a big part of that.”

So, it looks like we should expect a new offering from GoDaddy in the coming months. SkyVerge was making about $350k per month at the end of 2019, and likely had an increase in revenue due to COVID, like many WordPress product businesses did. I do not know the purchase price, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't at minimum $10m, and I would easily believe a number as high as 4-5x annual revenue.

They are bringing on the single largest independent WooCommerce focused company with a broad portfolio of popular extensions, an independently valuable product in Jilt for automated eCommerce email, and a bunch of talented people.

GoDaddy will be able to leverage those existing extensions in their eCommerce hosting packages without having to worry about the underlying licensing fees. Jilt, or perhaps some underlying engineering, could be catered to GoDaddy customers in certain tier packages. And who knows what they are working on, but I'm sure it will be a huge value add for GoDaddy eCommerce customers.

To date, there is still no real fully hosted WooCommerce option. With the right spin, I still consider this a highly valuable market if it can be offered for the right price.

I contracted with the SkyVerge team for about a year and enjoyed doing so. This is one of the best-run small businesses in the industry. I think there are folks at SkyVerge who could easily be groomed into important managerial roles at GoDaddy.

I'm really, really happy for SkyVerge, and GoDaddy is smart to acquire them. At the last Pressnomics, I sat and listened to a handful of GoDaddy folks digging for as much info as they could get out of the team under an Arizona sunset. It was all just casual conversation, but I could tell GoDaddy was very interested and knew just how valuable SkyVerge could be as part of their portfolio. Now, here we are.

Notes for September 16, 2020

Footnotes #413

Entrepreneurship and mental health may have a lot of overlap. Dr. Sherry Walling is working with Dr. Michael Freeman to understand the mental health needs of entrepreneurs in a new research project you can help them with. 🧡

They have put together a 4-minute anonymous survey and are trying to get it in front of as many people as possible. Ultimately, they need 1,000 entrepreneurs to respond. Please share it and take a minute to complete it. 🙏

The Gutenberg 9.0 release is out with a focus on navigation screen improvements. It has a new look and supports drag and drop inside the list view now. The query block has gained search, filtering by author and support for tags. 🆕

BuddyPress 6.3.0 is out with some bug fixes, so make sure you are updated. According to the latest dev chat notes, we might see a 7.0 release in October. 🍂

Thierry Muller has a proposal to opt-in to large image previews by default when the “Search Engine Visibility” setting is turned on in WordPress.

That would allow search engine results “to display large images resulting in an enhanced user experience and CTR (click-through rate).” 🖼️

As noted by M Asif Rahman, the WordPress Plugin Directory now has a release confirmation mechanism for new commits. Following a commit that updates a plugin's stable tag value, the committer receives an email with a link they must click to confirm the release. 🔌

Ryan Welcher announced in Post Status Slack the launch of the GoodFirstBugs Twitter bot that finds issues tagged as “Good First Issue” in Gutenberg as well as Core Trac tickets. It's a pretty great concept, and I would love to see more people spread the word about it. 🐛

HeroPress has some insightful lessons learned by Tijana Andrejic as she breaks down the five things that helped her start a freelance career. Some good advice for beginners: question your motives, develop your WordPress skills, and plan ahead.

Tijana also shares some tactics that helped land her first freelancing job, but in a twist of sorts she decided to pursue a completely different path:

“It’s just important to stay focused on your goals and to be open to new opportunities… If you were wondering why I’m not a freelancer anymore, this is where the answer lies. By constantly being interested in different opportunities, I realized that freelancing is not the only way to achieve my goals.”

Never assume your current goal is your ultimate destination. 🥾

Dave Rupert writes about the value of browser diversity and narrows down his feelings about it to two major value propositions:

👉 Browser diversity keeps the web slow deliberately.
👉 Browser diversity fosters consensus and cooperation over corporate rule.

While the slowness has downsides, it also has benefits. Dave concludes:

“If we do see a major reduction in browser diversity, I think we lose the intentional slowness and the cooperation mechanisms we have in place. Who knows what will happen, but my hope is that just like iron can sharpen iron, maybe chromium can sharpen chromium.”

Lars Wikman shows how you can use CSS to track users that have JS disabled, and asks if this is “evil.” 😈

“The ugly side is that there are things that you can do to indicate every single link your users hover, even if they are blocking all JS. You can absolutely use this to do things I consider somewhat of an overstep that are probably just table stakes in the analytics space.”

Iain Poulson walks through development environment setups for WordPress — how to install WordPress locally, wrangle the database, and start debugging. It's nice a comprehensive guide for anyone starting out or retooling. 👩‍💻

Now that Restrict Content Pro has been sold to iThemes, the transition team that will be working on it has been introduced by AJ Morris. 👍

Github CLI 1.0 is now available. With it, you can “run your entire GitHub workflow from the terminal, from issues through releases.” 🔧

After years in the making with funding by the Google News Initiative, The Membership Guide has been released by The Membership Puzzle Project and The Lenfest Institute. 🗞️

The Membership Guide offers best practices, case studies, and practical advice for creating and maintaining relationships and memberships with readers. While this material is geared toward online journalism that engages its audience as a community of supporting members, it has a lot of clear relevance to open source communities, writers and publishers, as well as digital product owners.