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January 17, 2019

WPTavern: WordPress.com Secures $2.4 Million in Funding from Google and Partners to Build a Publishing Platform for News Organizations

WordPress.com has announced plans to create a new, open source publishing platform that caters to small and medium-sized news organizations. The Google News Initiative has contributed $1.2 million towards the development of “Newspack” on top of WordPress.com’s infrastructure.

Automattic and Google have joined with other contributing partners from the broader world of journalism for a total of $2.4 million in funding for the first year of the project. These partners include The Lenfest Institute for Journalism ($400K), ConsenSys, the venture studio behind Civil Media ($350K), The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation ($250K), and an additional partner who will join later this month. Spirited Media and News Revenue Hub will also contribute to the creation of the platform.

Local news organizations are critical for a healthy democratic society, keeping the public informed about things happening close to home. The move to digital news consumption has forced consolidation in the news industry where larger players have come out ahead while smaller publications struggle to stay above water.

In a report called “The Expanding News Desert,” published in 2018, researchers at the University of North Carolina found that nearly one in five newspapers has disappeared during the past 15 years. Many others have become “ghost newspapers,” shells of what they once were – either absorbed by larger dailies that purchased them or suffering from a severely pared back newsroom that is unable to adequately cover local events.

WordPress.com has amassed an expert team to address this crisis in local news. The Newspack platform will cater to the technological and editorial needs of smaller newsrooms, with the monetization tools to make their work sustainable. WordPress.com is currently accepting applications for charter participants and plans to launch in beta near the end of July 2019.

Open Source Newspack Platform to Offer an Alternative to Expensive Proprietary CMS’s

The WordPress community has speculated widely about what shape Newspack will take, whether it will be like WordPress.com VIP tailored to publications or something similar to Jetpack with a curated set of tools that could be used by self-hosted sites through SaaS upgrades. According to WordPress.com president Kinsey Wilson, a former executive for NPR and The New York Times who joined Automattic in 2018, the platform may end up being a hybrid of approaches.

“It’s still very early in the process, but I expect elements of both VIP and Jetpack to inform this,” Kinsey said. “Newspack will be part of the WordPress.com platform, but we’re going to be working on a highly curated experience tailored to these news organizations, with individualized support available across editorial and business.”

The platform will support plugins that solve problems publishers experience at the local level and will also include Gutenberg-specific editorial tools.

“It will leverage Gutenberg,” Kinsey said. “A few examples of the tools that might be launched with Newspack include email integration for marketing and editorial; programmatic ad integration, analytics, real-time backups, and revenue generating tools for subscriptions and e-commerce. We hope to work closely with partners across the WordPress ecosystem for potential ways to work with services that are beneficial to news organizations.”

The most important distinction of the Newspack platform is that it will be open source. That also puts it directly in competition with proprietary CMS’s like Arc, Vox Media’s Chorus CMS, and MediaOS, that are prominent in the news industry right now. Instead of working together, larger media companies have opted to build their own CMS’s and many of them are also licensing enterprise versions to publishers or offering them as SaaS solutions.

I asked Kinsey if Newspack will be something news organizations could self-host or if it will be inextricably tied to WordPress.com’s infrastructure. WordPress.com is making it open in the sense that publishers will not be tied to using it forever if they want to their information and copy the same setup somewhere else.

“It is not only open source, it will be designed so that at any point in time any individual site or even a commercial competitor could capture an image of the setup and port it to another platform,” Kinsey said. “The value we offer is our knowledge of the news industry, our ability to keep pace with new requirements, and our ability to vet various plug-ins and open-source contributions to the project for security and interoperability — all at an attractive operating cost of between $1,000 and $2,000 per month. In addition, we hope to expose news organizations to a wider community of like-minded developers and to create an on-boarding system that simplifies the setup.”

Operating costs on proprietary platforms are much higher than what WordPress.com is planning for Newspack. Arc costs smaller publishers $10,000 per month in software licensing fees and can cost up to $150,000 monthly for larger publications. Vox media executives told the Wall Street Journal that the company “plans to sell Chorus at different pricing tiers depending on the demands of each customer with fees in the six and seven-figure ranges.” Small local news publications are often priced out of using a publishing platform like this.

“It breaks my heart how much of their limited resources these organizations still sink into closed-source or dead-end technology,” Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg said in a post introducing Newspack on his blog. “Open source is clearly the future, and if we do this right Newspack can be the technology choice that lasts with them through the decades, and hopefully our 15 years of growth lends some credibility to our orientation to build things for the long term.”

Google’s support of Newspack is in line with its history of building with and supporting open source projects. When asked for clarification on Google’s investment in the project, Kinsey said, “It is a donation that is intended to support work that otherwise would not likely find commercial support because of the relatively modest means of small digital publishers.”

WordPress.com’s Newspack announcement comes on the heels of the news of Digital First Media’s unsolicited $1.36 billion bid for Gannett. The future of local news is tenuous, as larger players in the industry press for more consolidation and cost-cutting journalism. In the same week, Facebook, who has had a hot and cold relationship with publishers, announced the company is investing $300 million to support local news.

In recognition of the dire situation facing many local newsrooms, the largest companies on the web are committing funds to help them find a sustainable business model. WordPress.com’s Newspack platform, with its affordable, open source alternative to proprietary systems, is positioned to make a strong impact during this seminal time in the evolution of the news industry.

“By itself, an open source CMS is not going to help news organizations remain independent,” Kinsey said. “However, by helping new, emerging organizations overcome the complexity and cost typically associated with technology deployment and instead allowing them to focus resources on journalism and smart business practices, we think we can help them become more sustainable.”

by Sarah Gooding at January 17, 2019 10:52 PM under wordpress.com

January 16, 2019

Matt: My TED Video on the Future of Work

I was thrilled to participate in TED’s new video series, The Way We Work, and not surprisingly I made the case that distributed work is where everything is headed.

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Why Working from Home Is Better for Business

This company is so dedicated to remote working that they literally don't have an office. Here's why a "distributed" workforce is better for business — and employees:

Posted by The Way We Work on Monday, January 14, 2019

It has over 130,000 views already! What I really love about this video in particular is that we get into the specifics of how a company can start to embrace a culture of letting employees work from anywhere, even if it started out as a traditional office with everyone in the same place. Automattic never started that way, so even as we’ve scaled up to more than 840 people in 68 countries, there’s never been a question — it’s now built in to our entire culture.

For distributed work to scale up, it’s going to require more CEOs, workers, and managers to test the waters. Any company can experiment with distributed work — just pick a day or two of the week in which everyone works from home, I suggest Tuesdays and Thursdays, then build the tools and systems to support it. Yes, that may require some shuffling of meetings, or more written documentation versus verbal real-time discussion. But I think companies will be surprised how quickly it will “just work.”

If the companies don’t experiment, workers may force them to do it anyway:

by Matt at January 16, 2019 08:32 PM under distributed work

WPTavern: WooCommerce Blocks is Now a Feature Plugin, Version 1.3.0 Introduces 6 New Blocks

WooCommerce Blocks 1.3.0 was released yesterday with six new blocks. Previously, the plugin allowed users to display a grid of products by category. The new version introduces a Featured Product Block with design options for customizing nearly everything about the display, including color overlay, price and description, text alignment, call-to-action button, and the product photo.

Version 1.3.0 also introduces a Hand-Picked Products block that displays a grid of manual selections that can be ordered in different ways. Other new blocks include the following, which display as a grid and can be filtered by category:

  • Best Selling Products block
  • Top Rated Products block
  • Newest Products block
  • On Sale Products block

WooCommerce Blocks is also now a feature plugin, which means that after it is more polished and tested, the plugin can be considered for merge into WooCommerce core. WooCommerce Blocks 1.4 is expected the last week in January with improvements to the Featured Product block and a new Products by Attribute block.

In December 2018, WooCommerce published usage data that indicates 40% of users who could be considered “established business owners” also have a brick-and-mortar location, and 27% host events in physical locations. This means that many WooCommerce store owners have multiple channels for selling their products. The data also showed that large stores don’t always turn to big companies to handle their website development needs.

Based on that usage data, blocks have the potential to greatly improve the site management experience for many WooCommerce store owners who want to market to different audiences beyond their physical stores. Blocks enable them to easily swap out featured products and customize promotions on products that are selling well in their stores. All of these actions are quick to configure inside the new editor with a live preview. The sooner this feature plugin lands in WooCommerce core, the easier it will be to make these kinds of quick updates. Store owners with sites running on WordPress 5.0+ can take advantage of these blocks now by installing the plugin.

by Sarah Gooding at January 16, 2019 08:11 PM under woocommerce

WPTavern: CoBlocks Adds Row and Columns Page Building Blocks for Gutenberg

CoBlocks, one of the earliest block collections for Gutenberg, has added new page building blocks and tools in the latest 1.6 release. ThemeBeans founder Rich Tabor and plugin developer Jeffrey Carandang partnered together on this iteration of CoBlocks to bring users new Row and Columns blocks and a Typography Control Panel.

The Row and Column blocks are resizable and can be dragged to new positions.

After selecting the Row block, users can choose the number of columns and then a layout for the row.

These row layouts can also be adjusted from inside the row toolbar or inspector sidebar panel, which includes responsive media query controls.

The Row and Column blocks also come with fine-grained controls for adjusting background and text color, width, margin, and padding.

Version 1.6 also includes a new Typography Control Panel with support for Google fonts. Users can customize the fonts with built-in controls for line-height, letter-spacing, font-weight, and text-transform properties. It also supports customizing fonts for the core heading, paragraph, and button blocks.

The video below shows a quick demo of column layouts and nested row blocks in action, as well as a few other blocks in the collection. Tabor said the team has more blocks in development that are geared towards full page layout and design. They are also working on a more advanced Google Maps block, feature blocks, and image cards.

The Gutenberg team has been discussing a “section” block since February 2018, where columns blocks could be placed inside the more generic section container. It’s on the roadmap for Phase 2 but contributors are taking their time to carefully define how this block will work. In the meantime, plugin developers have created their own versions of sections.

CoBlocks is currently setting the bar for Gutenberg-powered layouts. When WordPress core gets deeper into site building, this plugin’s user-friendly approach to rows and columns should provide some inspiration for creating an intuitive page building experience.

by Sarah Gooding at January 16, 2019 01:49 AM under gutenberg

January 15, 2019

WPTavern: WordPress Support Forums Add @mentions with Auto-complete

The WordPress Support forums have been updated to include Twitter/GitHub style auto-completion for usernames. As users begin typing @username in the forum’s TinyMCE editor, it will begin to suggest usernames, narrowed further by characters typed. Hitting tab or enter will complete the username and link it to the user’s profiles.wordpress.org page. This will trigger a notification for the user.

A similar feature was implemented on WordPress trac three years ago. This initial version of @mention auto-complete for the support forums works in a similar way in that it completes a partial search query from a known set of usernames. In this case it only includes thread participants. In order to make the auto-complete scale for WordPress.org’s 10+ million registered users, it does not perform site-wide username lookups or include moderators, plugin reps, or theme reps who have not yet commented on the thread.

The @mentions have been implemented across all WordPress.org forums. Any issues with the feature can be reported on trac by re-opening the original ticket or creating a new one. Daniel Iser commented on the ticket that he is working on getting this feature working for bbPress during the first half of this year.

by Sarah Gooding at January 15, 2019 06:12 PM under support forums

Matt: Journalism and Newspack

WordPress.com is partnering with Google and news industry leaders on a new platform for small- and medium-sized publishers, called Newspack. The team has raised $2.4 million in first-year funding from the Google News Initiative, Lenfest Journalism Institute, Civil funder ConsenSys, and the Knight Foundation, among others. We’re also still happy to talk to and engage other funders who want to get involved — I’d love to put even more resources into this.

It’s been a difficult climate for the news business, particularly at the local level. It also breaks my heart how much of their limited resources these organizations still sink into closed-source or dead-end technology. Open source is clearly the future, and if we do this right Newspack can be the technology choice that lasts with them through the decades, and hopefully our 15 years of growth lends some credibility to our orientation to build things for the long term.

Here’s Kinsey in Nieman Lab:

The goal is to both make sure that the catalog of publishing tools as well as business tools they need to be able to run what one hopes is a sustainable news operation are addressed simultaneously. It’s not simply a CMS for a newsroom, but a full business system that enables publishing and monetization at the same time.

Nieman Lab interview

As you have come to expect from Automattic, everything will be open source and developed to the same standards WordPress itself is. We’re working with Spirited Media and the News Revenue Hub on the platform, and we will likely look for even more partnership opportunities from across the WordPress ecosystem. If you’d like to invest or get involved, drop us a line at newspack@automattic.com.

by Matt at January 15, 2019 01:03 AM under local news

January 14, 2019

WPTavern: WPCampus Selects Tenon LLC for Gutenberg Accessibility Audit, Completed Report Expected in February

WPCampus announced that Tenon LLC, a leading accessibility firm founded by Karl Groves, has been selected to perform its Gutenberg accessibility audit. More than $10,000 has come in through WPCamps’ crowdfunding campaign. Shortly before WordCamp US 2018, Automattic pledged to fund the remainder of the audit. The final cost for the chosen vendor is $31,200.

A diverse committee of WordPress, accessibility, and higher education professionals evaluated seven proposals before selecting Tenon LLC. The company’s Tenon API delivers advanced reporting that assists clients in understanding which issues to prioritize first in the process of building more accessible experiences. The Access Monitor plugin for WordPress is an example of a tool built using this API. Site administrators can use it to identify and tackle accessibility issues with the help of automated testing.

WPCampus will leave its crowdfunding campaign open until Friday, February 8 to allow more community participation. The organization plans to deliver a progress update on Thursday, January 31, and is aiming to complete the audit by late February. A public report of the findings will be published as a resource that anyone can access.

by Sarah Gooding at January 14, 2019 05:20 PM under wpcampus

January 12, 2019

Matt: Thirty-Five

What a year.

First, it feels amazing to write this inside of the new Gutenberg block editor in WordPress 5.0. It was a labor of love for so many and the next chapters are going to be even more exciting.

The best part of the last year was growing closer to my friends and loved ones — I don’t know if it’s externally perceptible but my heart feels a lot more open.

I’ve found a good balance with meditation, work, sleep, fasting, eating, and reading that gives me a lot of joy, energy, and feels like a combination I could sustain the rest of my life.

Reading in particular was a highlight as I finished 38 books, which is the most in a year since I started tracking, and so many of them were truly excellent I’m going to do another post just on books. I will give a special call out to The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu. Leaving my Kindle Oasis at an airport ended up being a blessing in disguise as I started using the Kindle app on my iPhone a lot more and that’s become my new favorite habit. (And the physical Kindle was returned!)

It was a strong travel year, covering 126 cities, 20 countries, and 377k miles. I especially enjoyed visits to Tulum, Iceland, Bodrum, Tonga, Kauai, Lanai, and Courchevel. I finally checked off my bucket list item to become scuba certified and had an amazing opportunity to swim with humpback whales.

I was a few feet from Adam Gazzaley when he took this photo.

I also had lots of opportunities to practice patience, weathered a torrent of personally-directed criticism across every medium, and had a few months that were the hardest I’ve worked in my career. With the benefit of a little distance, though, those things don’t loom as large. I learned a ton — often the hard way but often that’s what it takes — and discovered I had some additional gears that can kick in when needed.

As I pass solidly into my mid-thirties, I don’t have any drastic shifts on the horizon but I am looking forward to continuing to strengthen the habits I’ve been able to develop this past year.

Other years: 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35.

by Matt at January 12, 2019 12:12 AM under Asides

January 11, 2019

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 342 – GitHub, Commercials, and Governance

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I discuss what’s new in WordPress 5.0.3. We share insight into a new feature in WordPress 5.1 that will protect users from fatal errors or more commonly known as the white screen of death.

We discuss the WordPress Governance Project and WordPress’ leadership overall throughout the past few years. Near the end of the show, we share our opinions on WordPress.com’s new marketing campaign.

Stories Discussed:

WordPress 5.0.3 Maintenance Release

GitHub Announces Free, Unlimited Private Repositories

WordPress 5.1 to Replace “Blogging” References with “Publishing”

WordPress Governance Project Flagged as Unsanctioned, First Meeting Set for January 15

WordPress.com Launches New “Do Anything” Marketing Campaign

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, January 16th 3:00 P.M. Eastern

Subscribe to WordPress Weekly via Itunes

Subscribe to WordPress Weekly via RSS

Subscribe to WordPress Weekly via Stitcher Radio

Subscribe to WordPress Weekly via Google Play

Listen To Episode #342:

by Jeff Chandler at January 11, 2019 10:18 PM under wordpress.com

WPTavern: WordPress 5.1 to Introduce New White Screen Protection Feature, Beta 1 Now Available for Testing

WordPress 5.0.3 was released this week with more than a dozen fixes related to the block editor. The automatic background update has gone out and 23.2% of sites are currently running on 5.0+, with 47.2% hanging back at 4.9. Meanwhile, work on WordPress 5.1 charges forward and Beta 1 is now available.

One of the projects Matt Mullenweg identified for 2019 was to merge the Site Health Check plugin into core to assist with debugging and encourage “good software hygiene.” The Site Health Check project, formerly called “ServeHappy,” began with the goal of helping users get their sites running on supported versions of PHP but has evolved to include other aspects of site maintenance and debugging.

WordPress 5.1 brings one of the most exciting aspects of the Site Health Check project into core. It introduces a new white screen of death (WSOD) protection feature that catches fatal errors so that users can still log into the admin to attempt to resolve the issue. In the past, non-technical users would have to contact their hosting companies or FTP into their files to try to fix plugin or theme compatibility issues by turning things off.

In preparation for WordPress’ highly anticipated minimum PHP version increase, 5.1 will display a warning and help users upgrade their version of PHP. The minimum will be bumped to 5.6 in April and, depending on feedback, will be bumped again to 7.0 in December 2019.

“This project benefits not just WordPress users, but also the surrounding PHP ecosystem as a whole,” Jenny Wong said in the notes she published from the Site Health Check Project review at WCUS 2018. “Our hope is that this will prompt a lot of PHP updates across the web.”

If you want to take advantage of more features from the Site Health Check plugin, you can install it from WordPress.org and visit the Dashboard > Health Check for a detailed overview of your site. It also has a very handy troubleshooting mode that enables a vanilla WordPress session, where all plugins are disabled, and a default theme is used, but only for your user. This works without disrupting the way the site displays to visitors.

WordPress 5.1 also introduces some updates for developers, including the ability to replace the cron system with a custom cron handler, set a custom location for WP_DEBUG_LOG, a new wp_blogmeta table, and a few other changes. 

WordPress 5.1 is currently slated for release on February 21. The upcoming release is a big step on WordPress’ journey to becoming even more user-friendly. The idea that users will never again be locked out of their sites due to a WSOD is a major enhancement that will greatly improve the way they interact with WordPress’ plugin system. It also makes the prospect of installing new themes and plugins less daunting for non-technical users.

by Sarah Gooding at January 11, 2019 09:17 PM under WordPress

Dev Blog: WordPress 5.1 Beta 1

WordPress 5.1 Beta 1 is now available!

This software is still in development, so we don’t recommend you run it on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with the new version.

There are two ways to test the WordPress 5.1 beta: try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (you’ll want to select the “bleeding edge nightlies” option), or you can download the beta here (zip).

WordPress 5.1 is slated for release on February 21, and we need your help to get there. Here are some of the big items to test so we can find as many bugs as possible in the coming weeks.

Site Health Check

Site Health Check is an ongoing project aimed at improving the stability and performance of the entire WordPress ecosystem. The first phase of this project is included in WordPress 5.1. 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 (#44458). Before, you’d have to FTP in to your files or get in touch with your host.

Additionally, in April 2019, WordPress’ will increase its minimum supported PHP version to 5.6. To help you check if you’re prepared for this change, WordPress 5.1 will show you a warning and help you upgrade your version of PHP, if necessary.

For Developers

  • The Cron system can now be more easily replaced with a custom cron handler (#32656).
  • When starting cron under PHP-FPM, the connection will return a response immediately, even for long running cron jobs (dev note).
  • WP_DEBUG_LOG can be set to a custom log location (#18391).
  • Introduced the wp_blogmeta table (#37923).
  • Added LIKE support to meta_key comparisons in WP_Meta_Query (#42409).

There have been over 360 tickets closed in WordPress 5.1, with numerous small bug fixes and improvements to help smooth your WordPress experience.

Keep your eyes on the Make WordPress Core blog for more developer notes (which are assigned the dev-notes tag) in the coming weeks detailing other changes in 5.1 that you should be aware of.

How to Help

Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages!

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.


Miss my haiku?
I will have plenty for you
in the coming weeks.

by Gary Pendergast at January 11, 2019 12:58 AM under Releases

WPTavern: Jetpack 6.9 Introduces New Blocks for Subscriptions, Related Posts, and Tiled Galleries

Jetpack 6.9 was released today with three new blocks for the editor. Subscriptions, Related Posts, and Tiled Galleries are now available as blocks under Jetpack in the block inserter tool.

New blocks in Jetpack: Related Posts, Subscription Form, and Tiled Galleries

The most exciting thing for both Related Posts and the Subscription form is that they can now be placed anywhere within post or page content with a live preview. Previously these modules were limited to wherever the theme placed them, or widgetized areas in the case of the Subscription form. Below is an example:

Join 42,895 other subscribers

Tiled galleries can now easily be inserted, manipulated, and previewed in the new editor with all of the same features they had before. Styles and link settings for the galleries can be found in the block sidebar, but they are somewhat limited when compared to other plugins like Block Gallery. Now that the Jetpack team has the basic block in place, they can easily update it with new features.

Users will need to have their Jetpack accounts connected to WordPress.com to access any of these new blocks, but they will all work on the Free plan.

If you have been missing Jetpack shortlinks since Gutenberg was released, you will be pleased to find that Jetpack 6.9 brings them back under a new Jetpack icon at the top right of the block editor. Clicking on it reveals Jetpack’s publicize options as well as the shortlink.

New Jetpack icon menu

Jetpack is constantly evolving its admin menu and user flows. This release brings changes to various screens, including a new “My Plan” section in the Jetpack dashboard, as well as a reorganization of the sections and cards under Jetpack > Settings. It also improves the notices displayed to users who have not connected their WordPress.com accounts.

by Sarah Gooding at January 11, 2019 12:14 AM under jetpack

January 10, 2019

WPTavern: Google Launches Opensource.dev as an Introduction to Open Source

Google has launched a new educational site at opensource.dev that offers a succinct and approachable introduction to open source software and licensing. WordPress is cited as one of the more well-known examples in the opening paragraphs:

It’s in your phone, your car, your TV, and your wifi-connected light bulbs. Open source components enable engineers to build on the work of a global community of developers to deliver better products faster and at lower cost. Linux, the Apache web server, Android, Firefox, and WordPress are examples of open source projects you may have heard of.

Google relies heavily on open source for both internal tools and consumer-facing products. A few of the company’s more widely used open source projects include Android, Chromium, Chromium OS, Go, and Material Design icons, but there are also many smaller projects. Google has created more than 2,000 open source projects in the last decade, which you can browse through using a fun, interactive explorer.

The new Opensource.dev site gives an important nod to Open Source Initiative (OSI) as the maintainer of the Open Source Definition (OSD) and the globally-recognized authority on open source licensing.

Google and many other OSI sponsors and affiliates recognize the OSD as the definition of open source and OSI’s authority as the maintainer of the OSD. Licenses which do not comply with the OSD might still provide access to the source code, but they’re not “open source”.

The site ends with a solid list of curated links to important open source organizations, foundations, and other resources for further exploration. Overall, opensource.dev provides a nice summary that answers the question, “What is open source?” It’s a resource agencies and freelancers might consider sharing with clients who are new to the concept.

by Sarah Gooding at January 10, 2019 07:53 PM under open-source

January 09, 2019

WPTavern: Elementor Acquires Layers WP to Expand Compatible Theme Options for Users

Elementor has acquired Layers WP, a WordPress site builder that was previously marketed as an all-in-one theme solution for getting a business online. Layers co-founders David and Marc Perel identified Gutenberg as the main reason for the sale in their farewell announcement:

With the arrival of Gutenberg we realized that a big change was required for Layers to keep pace. A massive investment of time and money was needed so we had to assess the best way forward. Having spent all of our 20’s working 18 hour days to build beautiful WordPress products we reached a point where we felt it best to partner with another company to try take Layers to the next level.

Elementor is the leading WordPress page builder, with more than a million active installations. CMO Ben Pines said they estimate that number to be closer to 2 million, based on the daily install rate. The company has grown from 6 employees to 55 since it launched in June 2016.

Elementor was well-prepared for Gutenberg’s inclusion in 5.0. While other page builders are still considering how to move forward with the new editor, Elementor released its Elementor Blocks for Gutenberg plugin in October 2018, making it possible for users to insert any Elementor template into Gutenberg with one click.

In the past, Layers didn’t meet the requirements for being listed in the WordPress.org themes directory, because the team decided not to follow best practices for keeping plugin and theme functionality separate. In 2016, Perel said they were opting to maintain Layers as a hybrid product, a theme that included plugin-like functionality, in order to keep third-party conflicts to a minimum, which he said also lessened their support burden. This prevented the product from receiving greater exposure on WordPress.org. As larger page builders began to dominate the market, Layers failed to gain the traction it needed to compete. Add Gutenberg to the mix and Layers’ founders were in need of an exit.

“We feel that this acquisition has come just at the right moment when WordPress itself is going through a huge amount of change,” Perel said. “With the release of Gutenberg and the new built-in post editor we realized that much of Layers would need to change in order to keep pace with the new look of WordPress and feel that Elementor is the best company to respond to the shifting tide of the industry.”

Layers’ Theme Collection Is Now Free and Fully Compatible with Elementor

Elementor has released all 11 of Layers’ themes for free and Ben Pines said they are considering listing them on WordPress.org to make it easier for users to find them and stay updated. All of the themes have been updated to be fully compatible with both Gutenberg and Elementor. Existing Layers’ customers will receive two months of support before support is handed over to the Layers user community.

“Updating themes for compatibility is no easy matter, and we get thousands of requests asking for a theme that is compatible with Elementor,” Pines said. Finding a theme that is fully compatible with the page builder can be challenging. Pines said users often decide to use Elementor first and then look for a theme. There’s even a Facebook group called Elementor + Which Theme? with more than 2,400 members.

“Themes still pose an issue for users,” Elementor’s head of business development, Zvi Shapira, said. “We saw value in continuing the Layers project, and not leaving thousands of Layers users without a home. Layers is a well worthy project, and offering a theme that is compatible with Elementor and Gutenberg for free for our users and for all WordPress users has great value.”

Pines identified Layers’ advanced Customizer panel as one of its chief selling points. Along with the acquisition, all of the Layers Pro features, such as resizing the logo, customizing buttons, and styling menus, are now rolled into the free version.

Gutenberg is forcing some consolidation among page builders, as smaller operations struggle to keep pace with the technical updates required. Gutenberg is expected to standardize a way of layout building further along in the site customization phase. Pines said his team isn’t worried about how that will impact Elementor, even if core ends up overlapping with some of the solutions they offer in the plugin.

“I really don’t know if there will be an impact and of what sort,” Pines said. “It’s like the blocks we developed for Gutenberg. We adapted to provide our users with the maximum flexibility.” The plugin ensures that users don’t have to choose between using Gutenberg and the page builder. Acquiring Layers’ theme collection means Elementor users no longer have to look so hard to find a compatible theme.

“Our hope is that Layers themes will help less tech-savvy users manage the entire site design hassle-free,” Pines said.

by Sarah Gooding at January 09, 2019 11:29 PM under page builders

Dev Blog: WordPress 5.0.3 Maintenance Release

WordPress 5.0.3 is now available!

5.0.3 is a maintenance release that includes 37 bug fixes and 7 performance updates. The focus of this release was fine-tuning the new block editor, and fixing any major bugs or regressions.

Here are a few of the highlights:

For a full list of changes, please consult the list of tickets on Trac, changelog, or read a more technical summary on the Make WordPress Core blog.

You can download WordPress 5.0.3 or visit Dashboard → Updates on your site and click Update Now. Sites that support automatic background updates have already started to update automatically.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to WordPress 5.0.3:

Aaron Jorbin, Alex Shiels, allancole, Andrea Fercia, Andrew Nevins, Andrew Ozz, Birgir Erlendsson (birgire), bobbingwide, Csaba (LittleBigThings), David Binovec, David Herrera, Dominik Schilling (ocean90), Felix Arntz, Gary Pendergast, Gerhard Potgieter, Grzegorz (Greg) Ziółkowski, Jb Audras, Job, Joe McGill, Joen Asmussen, John Blackbourn, Jonathan Desrosiers, kjellr, laurelfulford, Marcus Kazmierczak, Milan Dinić, Muntasir Mahmud, Nick Halsey, panchen, Pascal Birchler, Ramanan, Riad Benguella, Ricky Lee Whittemore, Sergey Biryukov, Weston Ruter, and William Earnhardt.

by Jonathan Desrosiers at January 09, 2019 06:56 PM under 5.0

January 08, 2019

WPTavern: WordPress 5.1 to Replace “Blogging” References with “Publishing”

WordPress 5.1 will replace the “Happy blogging” language in wp-config-sample.php with “Happy Publishing.” The next major release also cleans up a few other “blog” references by replacing them with the word “site.” A lot of tutorials and documentation will need to be updated. WordPress contributors are continuing to fine-tune the wording in various files to reflect its expanded capabilities as a publishing platform.

“As of this commit, WordPress is no longer a simple blogging platform,” Gary Pendergast wrote in the commit message. “It’s now a comprehensive publishing solution.”

This commit signifies the end of an era, which actually ended a long time ago but is now formally recognized in the software’s language. WordPress can still be used for blogging, but it’s so much more dynamic. These days, successful blogs can easily transition into e-commerce stores or online magazines without having to migrate to a new platform.

With Gutenberg now in the hands of millions of users, publishing different types of content is becoming more accessible for those who don’t know how to code. The new era of “Happy Publishing” in 2019 will bring even more progress on that roadmap, enabling users to have a more unified editing experience for other aspects of content management, including widgets and menus.



by Sarah Gooding at January 08, 2019 11:44 PM under News

WPTavern: GitHub Announces Free, Unlimited Private Repositories

GitHub users no longer have to pay to keep code private. The company is now offering unlimited private repositories to Free account users, with up to three collaborators. Developers have different reasons for wanting to keep their code private – it may not be ready, they may be working on a side project, or may just be starting out in their coding journey. GitHub now makes it possible for users with free accounts to do that work in private, without having to upgrade to a Pro account for $7/month.

This change brings the code hosting site more in line with competitors like GitLab.com, which allows for unlimited private projects and collaborators, and Bitbucket, a platform that has offered this for much longer. Bitbucket was actually GitLab’s inspiration for this model.

GitHub’s announcement was well-received but for many who have already moved to GitLab, this news come too late. Some are also wary of giving GitHub access to their private projects after Microsoft acquired the company for $7.5 billion last year. However, GitHub seems to be focusing its efforts less on monetizing the small fish and more on evolving the company’s Enterprise offering. It has combined its Business Cloud and Enterprise products into one unified “GitHub Enterprise” product that starts at $21/user/month.

“At GitLab we think that repositories will become a commodity,” GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij said in reaction to GitHub’s announcement. “I think Microsoft will try to generate more revenue with people using Azure more instead of paying for repos. We’re focusing on making a single application for the entire DevOps lifecycle that can replace a lot of other tools.”

Every inch given in this space makes code sharing platforms more competitive. In terms of private repositories, GitHub has come close to offering what its smaller competitors have been giving away for free for a long time. If GitHub were to add Continuous Integration (CI) for free users to match GitLab’s free tier, for example, it might capture even more of the market. Different features sway different types of users to adopt one platform or another and eventually some of those turn into paying customers.

For existing GitHub Free users, unlimited private repositories means the opportunity to keep their incomplete projects out of the public eye, instead of having people stumble on them and wonder why they don’t work as expected. It also frees up a few more dollars for Pro users who want to downgrade to Free accounts.

by Sarah Gooding at January 08, 2019 06:46 PM under gitlab

Dev Blog: The Month in WordPress: December 2018

New features, a big event, and important announcements marked December as a milestone month for the WordPress community.


Release of WordPress 5.0

On December 6 WordPress 5.0 was released. This release includes the much anticipated new block editor as the default editing experience. While some users have chosen to continue using the Classic Editor on their sites, many site owners have quickly upgraded to this latest version.

Two security and maintenance releases came out over the course of the month, with the latest update providing a huge boost to performance and stability.

The new version of WordPress comes a new default theme: Twenty Nineteen. This theme is designed to highlight how the block editor can be used.

Want to get involved in developing WordPress Core? Follow the Core team blog and join the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Gutenberg Phase 2

The next phase of Gutenberg is being decided, starting with widgets, which will make it easier for users to customize their sites. This will be done with features being added to the Gutenberg plugin.

Want to get involved in develop the future of the WordPress dashboard? Follow the Core team blog and join the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

9 Projects for 2019

WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg outlined 9 projects for the year 2019. These projects range from creating a block for navigations menus, porting all existing widgets into blocks, forming a triage team to tackle open issues on Trac and more.

A status update for porting existing widgets to blocks has been posted by Mel Choyce.

WordCamp US 2019 Dates announced

WordCamp US 2019 will be held during Nov. 1-3, 2019, in St Louis, Missouri. It will be one of our largest events of the year and will feature Matt Mullenweg’s annual State of the Word address.


Further Reading:

If you have a story we should consider including in the next “Month in WordPress” post, please submit it here.

by Aditya Kane at January 08, 2019 09:18 AM under Month in WordPress

January 07, 2019

WPTavern: WordPress Governance Project Flagged as Unsanctioned, First Meeting Set for January 15

The WordPress Governance Project is a new community initiative, led by Rachel Cherry and Morten Rand-Hendriksen, that will host its first meeting Tuesday, January 15 2019.

The purpose of the project is to address two objectives:

  1. The governance of the WordPress open source project and its various community components, and
  2. WordPress’ role in the governance of the open web including representation in forums where decisions about the web platform and the Internet are made.

Hendriksen advocated for open governance when he introduced the project at WordCamp US in his presentation, Moving the Web forward with WordPress. He discussed how the decisions made for WordPress’ future affect a large portion the web. The project will first look at WordPress’ internal governance structure and then move into the second aspect of getting WordPress a seat at the table in important discussions affecting the broader web.

Contributors on the project are aiming to propose a governance model for WordPress at or before WordCamp Europe 2019 or the Community Summit, if one is planned for 2019. The group plans to research existing governance models from corporations, government, and the open web community and submit their proposal to WordPress’ current leadership for consideration.

WordPress Governance Project Seeks to Change Leadership Structure, Rand-Hendriksen Says Status Quo is “Not Tenable”

The governance project has piqued the public’s interest but some have found its objectives confusing. It is not clear what actions will be within the realm of possibility with the current benevolent dictator model WordPress has used. Part of the scope of the project is to “propose a leadership and governance model for the WordPress open source project and its communities.”

The idea of governance means different things to audiences across cultures. The second aspect of the project that aims to get WordPress a seat at the table seems more feasible and more likely to be well-received by the project’s leadership. It might make more sense to split up the two objectives into different projects. WordPress’ internal governance and its role in the greater web are very different topics, but the project’s creators seem to view them as inseparable.

Matt Mullenweg hasn’t joined in the Twitter conversation about governance but he did address the topic on a recent Post Status podcast episode.

“When he was talking about open governance, my take was that he was talking about getting WordPress a seat at the table, and discussing these regulation changes and et cetera happening,” Mullenweg said. “I think the example last year was that there was this meeting at 10 Downing Street. Who was there? Was WordPress represented?

“And he started talking about the Web Foundation, and I began thinking, “Wow, WordPress only represents a third of websites, and not even, really. It’s a third of the top 10 million. Another foundation like the Web Foundation actually might be a better vehicle to try to advocate on the open Web as a whole, versus just the people who happen to be using a single CMS.”

When asked more about WordPress’ leadership structure, Mullenweg reviewed the different approaches he has taken with the project. In 2018, the expression of his BDFL-style leadership was manifestly more overt than previous years, which may have influenced or even inspired the creation of the WordPress Governance Project.

“There’s been a lot more leaders, but I would actually argue the point that WordPress has always been sort of my vision being set, or even my direct leadership,” Mullenweg said. “There was a good four or five years there where the leadership structure, because we’ve experimented with lots of different – we don’t call it governance – but essentially leadership structures in WordPress. For a while, we had kind of the … It wasn’t a committee approach, but essentially like the lead developers consensus approach. We did that for a few years.

“Even from the beginning it wasn’t just me. It was me and Mike Little, so it’s never been solo. Then we went to where the release lead was the final decider, including over me, so that was probably, I don’t know, 3.9 to 4.7 maybe, that included overruling me as project lead for what was in the release or not, and that was to try to give a little more autonomy and flexibility to release leads. But the big change was a few years ago I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to take back over core WordPress development,’ and that was to try to make some of these big changes happen. So right now it is much more of a benevolent dictator model, although both of those words are questionable. But, I don’t see that as the permanent forever structure.”

Mullenweg may not be able to sustain this level of involvement in core leadership indefinitely, with all of his other responsibilities at Automattic. He said he is open to WordPress empowering other leaders in the future.

“I’m not saying it always has to be me, but what I want is a strong, opinionated, thoughtful leader setting a bold direction, taking experiments and being willing to fail, comfortable with failure, is I think what you need to create great software,” he said.

Brian DeConinck, a WordPress developer who has recently been a vocal critic of the project’s leadership, called for more transparency around the decision-making process in his initial thoughts on the governance project.

“Matt is the central figure of the WordPress project,” DeConinck said. “He’s been a guiding force since the beginning. Without a doubt, he’s an important and valued member of our community. I don’t imagine governance as a means of usurping him.

“But should there be a single human face at the head of a project and a community at this scale? When people are critical of decision-making, having Matt at the center makes it easy to make criticism needlessly personal. This dynamic is hard on Matt and others in the project leadership, and ultimately toxic for the community.”

DeConinck said in order for the governance project to be successful he thinks it needs to be international, multicultural, and multilingual, with diverse voices, as well as clear mechanisms for WordPress users to provide feedback. He outlined a detailed list of success criteria that hasn’t officially been embraced by governance project as it has yet to hold its first meeting.

DeConinck’s suggestions are incompatible with the current BDFL-style leadership, as he claims that “feedback from a community of millions of users can’t adequately be processed and acted upon by a single individual listening and making decisions for the project.” WordPress has risen to become a dominant force on the web during the past 15 years under this style of leadership. Any meaningful proposal of change to the leadership structure will need to demonstrate how the new model can continue to enable WordPress to make rapid progress and maintain its relevance on the web.

WordPress Governance Project Flagged as Unofficial and Removed from WordPress.org

Earlier this morning, WordPress Community Team representative Francesca Marano posted a notice on behalf of the governance project’s leadership to announce that the project has been removed from WordPress.org.

“Concerns have been raised about the posting of news about the WordPress Governance Project on make.wordpress.org and use of the #community-team Slack channel giving the impression the project is sanctioned as an official WordPress project,” Marano said. “It has not received such sanctions from WordPress leadership.”

“We went through what we believed were the appropriate channels for launching the project through the Community group (ie speaking to group members, asking for access to the Make blog, coordinating with the team and others to find a meeting time which didn’t collide with others, etc),” Morten Rand-Hendriksen said. “We were later informed the project was not sanctioned by WordPress leadership and therefore cannot use the Make blog or Slack.” He would not comment further on what transpired or the communication his team received.

For the time being, it looks like the governance project will need to prove its worth independently before being officially adopted by WordPress. Many other community-led efforts and tools have followed this same process before coming under the umbrella of core.

The project now has its own dedicated website at wpgovernance.com and a Slack instance at twgp.slack.com. The first meeting was set for January 8 but has been postponed to January, 15, 1600 UTC to allow participants to sign up at the new Slack workspace.

by Sarah Gooding at January 07, 2019 07:49 PM under WordPress Governance Project

January 04, 2019

WPTavern: Beaver Builder Doubles Down on Serving Power Users in Response to Gutenberg

At WordCamp US I had the opportunity to chat with Beaver Builder co-founder Robby McCullough about how the page builder is navigating the Gutenberg era. The proliferation of blocks for the new editor has made it easy for non-technical WordPress users to add things like pricing tables, maps, tabs, accordions, and other UI elements. Future iterations of Gutenberg will soon tackle layouts. These improvements to core will radically change how page builder products are marketed to WordPress users.

“One of the decisions we made in response to the news of Gutenberg early on is that we wanted to double down on our professional power users,” McCullough said. “It took us a long time in our growth as a business to figure out who our customers were. We realized there were two distinct camps: one that was like a do-it-yourselfer type, someone who maybe had a small business or a hobby website who wanted to use WordPress but wasn’t familiar with writing code. The other was more of a freelancer – maybe a one or two person agency, people who were building lots of websites and had development and frontend skills. We see that as the space where we want to live now. We’re hoping to continue solving problems and making the experience better for folks with a few more skills in their tool belts.”

Following up with McCullough later, he said that applying this new direction to Beaver Builder is already translating into the features they are prioritizing for the plugin.

“For example, in our latest major release, we added percent, em, rem, and viewport-based units for things like font sizes, margins, and padding,” McCullough said. “Without a basic understanding of CSS, this feature wouldn’t be too helpful. We also added dozens of pre-built row templates. So, instead of creating single-page designs, our goal was to create a modular system of rows that can be mixed and matched to build out sites. We’re working to build features that better enable folks who build lots of websites.”

In the interview below we discussed the current integration between Gutenberg and Beaver Builder. McCullough said his team is considering bringing blocks into Beaver Builder or bringing Beaver Builder content into Gutenberg; both are possibilities. His team has been waiting to see how quickly the community adopts Gutenberg before making any major decisions.

“My hope is that there’s still going to be a place for page builders, Beaver Builder and everyone in this space, to have a little bit more agility,” McCullough said. “We can see Gutenberg kind of be like Instagram in that it’s going to appeal to a mass audience. We like to live in the Photoshop space where you’re going to get a lot of fine-tuned controls, solving problems and creating features that are going to help people build websites every day.”

by Sarah Gooding at January 04, 2019 08:20 PM under page builders

January 03, 2019

WPTavern: WP Storybook: A Handy Reference for WordPress React UI Components

LUBUS, a web design agency in Mumbai, has published a site called WP Storybook that offers an interactive way to explore various WordPress React components. It allows developers to browse and search UI components and see a live preview of the component next to example source code.

Wp storybook

WP Storybook lets you view different states for various UI components and even test them on different viewports. The development team at LUBUS is adding more as they discover them while building projects with Gutenberg using reusable components. Their goal in publishing the project is to help developers work faster by making components easier to discover and reference.

LUBUS’ roadmap for WP Storybook includes the following:

  • Add as many possible components and cases as possible
  • Capability to view and copy the example source
  • Playground to test out various props and options using knobs addon
  • Categorize components into groups for better discoverability
  • Recipe stories showcasing composing of various components

If you want to contribute to WP Storybook or log an issue, the code is open source (MIT license) on GitHub.

by Sarah Gooding at January 03, 2019 11:51 PM under react

WPTavern: WordPress.com Launches New “Do Anything” Marketing Campaign

Hilde Lysiak reports on local news in her community on her WordPress.com-powered Orange Street News website

WordPress.com is kicking off 2019 with a new national marketing campaign that features 14 entrepreneurs, writers, and non-profit organizations who are using the platform to make a big difference for their communities. The campaign is focused around the question: “What Would You Do If You Could Do Anything?”

WordPress.com published its inaugural ‘Anything Is Possible’ List, which includes 10 mini-documentaries ranging from 1 minute to 1:44. A few of the stories highlighted include Congolese-American sisters operating a successful hair salon in NYC, a 12-year-old journalist running her own online publication, a blogger who went viral and published her own book, and a non-profit fighting misinformation and extremist narratives. Each is presented more in depth on a new Do Anything campaign site that was launched today.

Do Anything is WordPress.com’s first large-scale national brand campaign. It will debut TV, print, and digital advertising spots in The New Yorker and on TV networks, including The History Channel, CNN, and National Geographic. WordPress.com will also be running ads on podcasts, including The Daily and NPR. The new 30-second TV ad was created by Interesting Development, an agency based in New York.

Much like gym memberships, WordPress.com tends to see more action at the beginning of a new year with 20% more sites are created in January than the average, according to Mark Armstrong at Automattic. The timing for the campaign is aimed at tapping into the motivation that millions of users have for starting a new business or blog at this time of year.

In 2016, Automattic started hiring for more marketing positions as an answer to Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Web.com, EIG, and Godaddy, competitors that Matt Mullenweg identified as having spent over $350M in advertising that year. In 2017, the company created five commercials, its first ever TV spots, as part of a series called “Free to be.” Many found the commercials to be confusing and the messaging wasn’t clear.

By contrast, the 2019 “Do Anything” campaign is much better at demonstrating what people can do with WordPress. “As we share new work with the world we realize that some things will hit and some things will miss,” Automattic’s SVP of Brand, Michelle Broderick said. The company has continued to evolve its marketing based on feedback. This particular campaign was directly inspired by the people who are making things happen with WordPress.

“We were inspired by the people who use WordPress to imagine a better world,” Broderick said. “We saw everyone from bloggers to business owners to scientists to politicians using WordPress to share their story.”

The new TV spot is an improvement over previous campaigns in terms of communicating a clear message, but it doesn’t carry the same authenticity as the mini-documentaries. Each one is relatable and inspiring in telling the stories of people who have already answered the question “What would you do if you could do anything?” Many of those who were featured have carried on with their dreams through perseverance, despite tragedy and struggle along the way. The documentaries are more poignant than the TV spot, which has the added constraint of having to capture the viewer’s attention with a shorter amount of time.

The “Do Anything” campaign as a whole is a good representation of the power of WordPress and should also help boost name recognition for the software in general. Broderick said Automattic is expecting tens of millions of impressions across TV, print, digital, and podcasts. The campaign is aimed at the American market but Armstrong said they hope to branch out into international markets in the future.

by Sarah Gooding at January 03, 2019 08:05 PM under wordpress.com

January 02, 2019

HeroPress: YOU Make The Difference

Pull Quote: WordPress still attracts the same types of people. Those who are brave, who are kind, who are looking to the future.

“A place is only as good as the people you know in it. It’s the people that make the place.”

― Pittacus Lore, I Am Number Four

This quote is a large part of the space WordPress holds within me.

Coming from a career in Civil Engineering and a background of Industrial Technology WordPress as a software drew me as a tool. It was a means to an end. I wasn’t blogging, I wasn’t looking to create an online voice, I was looking to build something and I needed a tool.

I was good at learning software, had used over a dozen very complicated systems by that point in my life, so I found WordPress and started learning it too.

A very melodramatic discovery story of WordPress for a HeroPress piece, I know.

The truth is I probably wouldn’t have stuck around were it not for the people. The story has evolved for me over the years but that’s the beginning. The beginnings are usually far less romantic than the endings in any story.

So why was I looking for a tool? Well, that’s a bit better of a story.

Looking For A Tool

I’ll prep you with the fact that I was driven, opinionated, blunt, and defensive. I had spent my college years and first years in my chosen career in a male-dominated industry. I learned how to navigate and thrive and took a job at a very large Engineering firm. About a year in I was granted a fantastic opportunity to work on a small startup team that was doing amazing work in 3D scanning.

Being a startup team demanded that we produce more and more work to determine the viability of the investment the firm was making in my boss’s plans. As we worked on landing deals that required overnight travel and training that required days away it brought to the surface a reality that wasn’t so good for me. As the only woman on the team, I doubled the travel budget. They needed two of everything for me since I couldn’t bunk up with my male coworkers.

The next months were a perfect storm of events. I made an opinionated comment to a division supervisor that was above my pay grade which enhanced my visibility as a problem. Then I got pregnant.

You can’t walk around 3D scanning a PVC manufacturing facility while with child. They also don’t make maternity coveralls.

I was officially dead weight. I lost the pregnancy and became depressed, anxious. It was easy for them to let me go then, I had stopped being productive. I found out a couple weeks after losing my job I was pregnant again. Talk about a whirlwind.

My husband was in the process of changing careers from Retail to Healthcare and maternity leave is not something you like to bring up on an interview, so I decided to find something to do from home. I started a local family newsletter and decided to create an online marketplace for moms who craft out of their homes, like a local Etsy. This is where my search for a tool began.

Starting Again

A few months later, with no WordPress experience other than what I managed to rake together while I was learning and building, I got a job at WPMUDEV doing product support. I needed the extra cash so my other projects took a backseat and I was soon completely engulfed. Through that job, I came to learn about the ecosystem that was WordPress. I had no idea that there was a place that existed outside of the corporate universe that could exist without sexist politics, hierarchy, and status quo. It was mind-blowing.

I was so hungry for people to interact with after being in such a team-oriented environment for so long. I loved working with others and I felt very alone until I found this great group of people. And oh what joy when I found it! I was a new mom at home with a baby trying to learn how to handle that new space in my life. My husband had completed a successful career change and we had moved. I had another baby. I met my friend Mason and we started a business together. I lost another pregnancy.

In the space of two short years, my life had completely turned upside down and landed me in the place that would help me survive it all.

You see, without the people, I wouldn’t have made it. I wouldn’t have been able to navigate the overwhelming waters that surrounded me outside of my day to day work. The people who befriended me, who were kind to me, who made jokes with me, who valued my contribution and intelligence without ever having set eyes on me, those were the people who kept me sane. They let me see I didn’t need to be defensive, that I didn’t have to be sorry about being opinionated, that I was different and that I should lean into that.

When I left product support to work with Mason at, what was formerly called, WP Valet it was yet another major shift in my life. The product space was so different than the agency space and I quickly adapted to the new pace. There was a rush of excitement while learning new things and applying skills that had laid dormant for some time. My father was a Navy man and an entrepreneur and shaped so much of how I applied myself, now I was in a place to push myself even further and define my own path. I was spoiled by my first interactions at WP Valet with developers like Zé Fontainhas and Mario Peshev. The whole thing was thrilling!

And Then I Went To WordCamp

My first WordCamp was WordCamp Miami 2013. It was probably the first time I’d traveled alone in some time and I was meeting my work family for the first time. On top of that, I was in MIAMI, so it was bound to be a great trip. I got to meet David Bisset and Lisa Sabin Wilson that year, and so many other wonderful people. I was on cloud 9, each and every personality was inspiring to me, all so different than what my former colleagues and field specialists were like. To top it off I walked into my first talk at a WordCamp, Pippin Wilson was talking about how developers should share code. I was beside myself, sharing your code and supporting each other? Not cutthroat over projects and billable hours?! I was swooning over the idea of ‘community’ and what I had stumbled into.

Needless to say, I left 100% hooked on my path. WordPress was my life from that time on.

We as people have long-tailed stories that weave and zigzag and turn back on themselves. We are products of ALL the things going on in our lives at any given moment. Without the personal struggles and the professional push, I would not have been able to value the community as much as I do. The overlapping of personal and professional trials and successes are what gives depth to our experiences. Their overlapping is what colors the story of our lives.

Fast forward a few years through a cross-state move, speaking selections, the birth of another child, a company expansion, another pregnancy loss, a company rebranding, a company restructuring, a return to school for Yoga training, and all the other things life throws in your path with family and work and here I sit typing my story at my counter while my middle child hums ‘Mamma Mia’ next to me. I am forever grateful for the life that I’ve been able to live through a whole new career in WordPress.

You Make The Difference

I am grateful for every soul I have met. I had the privilege to work with and become friendly with some of the nicest and most genuine people I will ever meet online and face to face. The ecosystem of WP has changed a lot over the years as most ecosystems do, but it still attracts the same types of people. Those who are brave, who are kind, who are looking to the future. My world is so much bigger because of all you. Thank You  🙂

The post YOU Make The Difference appeared first on HeroPress.

by Kimberly Lipari at January 02, 2019 08:15 PM

December 27, 2018

Matt: Democratize Publishing, Revisited

During my State of the Word Q&A I received some blogging homework from Toru Miki, a WordPress contributor based in Tokyo. He asked me to revisit the WordPress mission, “Democratize Publishing,” and reflect on what that mission means to me today. So here you go, Toru:

For many years, my definition of “Democratize Publishing” has been simply to help make the web a more open place. That foundation begins with the software itself, as outlined by the Four Freedoms:

0. The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.

1. The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish.

2. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.

3. The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions, giving the community a chance to benefit from your changes.

In 2018, the mission of “Democratize Publishing” to me means that people of all backgrounds, interests, and abilities should be able to access Free-as-in-speech software that empowers them to express themselves on the open web and to own their content.

But as Toru noted in the original question, “Democratize Publishing” has come to mean many things to many people in the WordPress community. That’s one reason I like it. The WordPress mission is not just for one person to define.

So I’d like to ask everyone: What does “Democratize Publishing” mean to you?  

by Matt at December 27, 2018 12:06 AM under Asides

December 24, 2018

Matt: Sponcon Posts

I found this post by Taylor Lorenz describing how aspiring influencers are posting fake, unpaid sponsored content to raise their status or hoping to nab a real sponsorship is totally bananas.

by Matt at December 24, 2018 04:08 PM under Asides

December 21, 2018

WPTavern: WordPress Designers Explore Ideas for Moving Navigation to a Block Interface

Creating a block for navigation menus is one of the nine projects Matt Mullenweg identified for 2019 that will make a big impact for WordPress users. It’s also one of the most challenging from a UI perspective. At WordCamp US’ contributor day, the design team explored ideas for what a navigation block might look like in the new editor.

The team’s designs for a navigation block are still in the rough sketches stage, but it’s interesting to see different approaches as the project develops.

“If the Nav block could live in a container block (columns perhaps), then the settings for it could be tweaked in the sidebar,” XWP designer Joshua Wold said. “A further problem comes up when you try to figure out how much of the design of the nav should be controlled by the theme vs the Gutenberg editor.”

This is an important question  that will need to be answered in the near future – not only for navigation but also more broadly for the future of the role of themes in WordPress. We will be exploring this in more depth in future posts.

Designer Mel Choyce and Riad Benguella (one of the leads for Gutenberg phase 2), are currently soliciting ideas from the wider WordPress community about how the project should tackle the upcoming customization focus.

One of the chief complaints about the first phase of the Gutenberg project was the lack of public discussion about the goals and the process of creating the editor. The Gutenberg team’s willingness to collate ideas across multiple mediums demonstrates a strong effort to seek out more diverse perspectives for phase 2. Ideas have already started rolling in.

“Rather than starting with the back-end UI, we can start with the front-end result and build a UI to make the building of that front-end possible without messing up the accessibility and resilience of the root HTML document,” Morten Rand-Hendricksen said. “At the root of this would be CSS Grid as the main layout module to allow drag-and-drop style block layouts without making changes to the HTML source order.”

Many of the ideas that are coming in so far relate more broadly to site customization. These include questions about what role the Customizer will play and requests for features like creating custom widths on the fly and the ability to drag content across columns. If you have ideas about how navigation can be implemented in a block, take some time before the end of the year and drop your comments on the make/design post or write your own post and leave a link for others to share feedback.

by Sarah Gooding at December 21, 2018 11:52 PM under navigation

Matt: Seneca on Friendship

But nothing delights the mind so much as fond and loyal friendship. What a blessing it is to have hearts that are ready and willing to receive all your secrets in safety, with whom you are less afraid to share knowledge of something than keep it to yourself, whose conversation soothes your distress, whose advice helps you make up your mind, whose cheerfulness dissolves your sorrow, whose very appearance cheers you up!

You can read On Tranquility of Mind online for free here or I enjoyed this edition from Penguin.

by Matt at December 21, 2018 08:55 PM under Asides

WPTavern: 9 Year Old Shares his Journey Learning React

If learning React is among your New Year’s goals, here’s some inspiration from nine-year-old Revel Carlberg West. The video below is a recording of his presentation at the React NYC meetup. West describes how he learned basic HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and then moved on to learn React using the CodeSandbox online code editor. He also gives a live demo of React Hooks in action, a new feature that Sophie Alpert and Dan Abramov introduced at React Conf 2018. The code for West’s traffic light demo is available on CodeSandbox if you want to follow along.

by Sarah Gooding at December 21, 2018 07:59 PM under react

December 20, 2018

WPTavern: WordPress 5.0.2 Released with Performance Gains of 330% for Block-Heavy Posts

WordPress 5.0.2, the of first of two rapid releases following 5.0, is now available. Sites with automatic background updates enabled should already be on the latest version.

This release addresses performance issues, one of the chief complaints for users who have adopted the block editor. It brings 45 improvements to the editor, with 14 of those related to performance and 31 bug fixes. According to Gary Pendergast, “the cumulated performance gains make it 330% faster for a post with 200 blocks.”

This maintenance release also fixes 17 editor-related bugs in the default WordPress themes as well as internationalization issues related to script loading.

Overall, 5.0.2 updates have gone smoothly, with the exception of a few conflicts with a handful of plugins. Most notably, WooCommerce store administrators found that the Orders tab had disappeared after their sites updated. WooCommerce has fixed the issue in a quick patch release (version 3.5.3) that was pushed out this morning.

NextGEN Gallery creator Erick Danzer also reported a minor issue with the Classic block that prevents users from editing galleries via the placeholder the plugin had added. A fix for that issue should be forthcoming in an update to the plugin.

by Sarah Gooding at December 20, 2018 09:14 PM under WordPress

WPTavern: Gutenberg-Inspired Jenga Game “Gutenblox” Now Available for Sale

photo credit: XWP

XWP’s Gutenberg-inspired Jenga sets were arguably the most innovative swag at WordCamp US this year, but there weren’t enough to go around. Gutenblox, fondly dubbed “the Other Block Building Interface,” is now available on its own website where anyone can buy a set.

The Gutenblox.fun store is running on BigCommerce with the new Twenty Nineteen theme active. It includes the rules of the game, cleverly adapted to the concept of Gutenblox:

Blocks treat Paragraphs, Headings, Media, etc. all as components that strung together make up the tower. Replacing the traditional concept of board games, Gutenblox is designed with progressive enhancement, meaning as new blocks are added to the top of the tower, they are backward compatible with all legacy content (although the legacy structure may become unstable as new blocks are added on).

We hope to offer rich value to players who will start with the foundation of a stable, accessible, and secure architecture, and then use a simple drag-and-drop method for modification.

If you’re looking for a last-minute holiday gift or birthday gift for a friend who loves WordPress, Gutenblox is fun option. It also helps support a good cause. XWP is donating all profits from the sales of the game to the WordPress Foundation.

by Sarah Gooding at December 20, 2018 05:02 PM under gutenberg

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January 18, 2019 06:00 AM
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