Summer Roundup

Keeping Up with Gutenberg 🚧

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

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

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

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

Everyone's Going Local 🏠

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

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

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

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

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

Kudos 👏

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

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

WordPressed for the First Time 🎸

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

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

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

Losing Your Head 🗣️

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

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

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

A couple of “features” stand out:

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

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

New Tools 🛠️

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

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

Google‘s AMP for WordPress version 1.2 was released.

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

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

That's the Ticket 🎫

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

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

Summer School 🏫

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

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

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

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

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

Giving Back 💝

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

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

Podcast Roundup 🎙️

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

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

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

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

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

Long Time Running 🏃

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

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

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

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

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

Inquiring Minds 👀

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

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

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

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

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

Don't Need Another Hero ⚡

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

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

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

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

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