WordPress.org

Ready to get started?Download WordPress

WordPress Planet

March 06, 2015

WPTavern: Insight Into WordPress Communities Around The World

KInsta WordPress Communities Featured Image

One of the greatest things about WordPress is its diverse community throughout the world. Kinsta has published a fantastic and inspirational post that looks at up and coming WordPress communities in 5 continents and 17 countries.

My favorite story is Juanfra Aldasoro, co-organizer of WordCamp Buenos Aires, describing how the WordPress community in Argentina was organized. In 2007, Buenos Aires hosted the first WordCamp outside the US. Despite hosting a few more WordCamps, the community lacked organization. Aldasoro explains how celebrating WordPress’ 10th anniversary brought the right group of people together:

When WordPress turned 10, in May of 2013, thanks to a banner in the Codex site we created a celebration meetup. More than 20 people showed up, and the good thing was that we were a bunch of geeks on the same track. We had the people but we were lacking an organization. The ones interested in having an organized community kept in touch, we formed WordPress Argentina (@wpargentina) and during 2014 we started to hold more formal monthly meetups.

One of the things I noticed is that several of the people featured in the article use Facebook groups for communication. Although a number of US based WordPress meetups use Meetup.com, in other countries, Facebook appears to be the dominant way to communicate and organize members.

Meetups are grassroots efforts that help WordPress reach every corner of the globe. As Matt Mullenweg said during his 2014 State of The Word presentation, “Organizing a meetup is one of the hardest things to do in terms of contributing to WordPress. Every single month, you have to come up with new stuff.” Those who help maintain community as a pillar of WordPress’ success are helping to maintain its growth and popularity.

It’s exciting to think about the enormous amount of WordPress education, contributions, and learning that takes place across the world everyday, thanks in large part to people like those featured in the article. It’s wonderful to see so many WordPress communities around the world growing in size to the point of  having their own WordCamps.

If you’re having trouble organizing a WordPress meetup in your area, let us know in the comments. Thousands of people across the world access the Tavern on a daily basis and we might be able to help connect you to others in your area.

by Jeff Chandler at March 06, 2015 05:16 AM under wordcamps

Matt: Kanye on Color

Speaking of color masculinity, here’s Kanye on creativity, society, and color from his 2008 FADER interview:

I feel like all the words are in you, you’re just blocking yourself, you’re blocking your creativity. Society has put up so many boundaries, so many limitations on what’s right and wrong that it’s almost impossible to get a pure thought out. It’s like a little kid, a little boy, looking at colors, and no one told him what colors are good, before somebody tells you you shouldn’t like pink because that’s for girls, or you’d instantly become a gay two-year-old. Why would anyone pick blue over pink? Pink is obviously a better color. Everyone’s born confident, and everything’s taken away from you. So many people try to put their personality on someone else.

by Matt at March 06, 2015 04:19 AM under Asides

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 182 – John James Jacoby Talks BuddyPress, bbPress, and GlotPress

John James Jacoby is nearly halfway through his six month development cycle on BuddyPress, bbPress, and GlotPress. So, Marcus Couch and I invited him on the show to give us an update on how things are progressing. On average, WordPress Weekly is an hour-long. This episode however, is two hours and nine minutes, but is filled with deep conversations surrounding each project.

In this episode, we learn the history of BuddyPress and how its connection to WordPress MU (WordPress Multisite), influenced the project’s direction. Jacoby explains what GlotPress is and why its a cornerstone of the WordPress project. We discuss the future of comments on the web and the role bbPress can play in turning things around. Last but not least, we discuss whether Jacoby’s successful crowdfunding campaign has opened the door for others who need funding to work on open source projects.

Plugins Picked By Marcus:

BuddyPress Identicons automatically replaces default avatars with GitHub-style identicons. Each member’s identicon is likely to be unique, because it’s generated from a hash of their username.

BuddyPress Cover Photo allows users to upload a cover photo to their profile.

Friends For bbPress allows users to add friends in bbPress forums. This plugin creates a section on each user’s profile page that contains their friends.

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, March 11th 9:30 P.M. Eastern

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Itunes: Click here to subscribe

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via RSS: Click here to subscribe

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Stitcher Radio: Click here to subscribe

Listen To Episode #182:

by Jeff Chandler at March 06, 2015 01:22 AM under jjj

WPTavern: Wocker: Create a Docker-Based WordPress Development Environment in 3 Seconds

docker-wordpress

If you haven’t caught on to the Docker craze, it might be time to see what it’s all about. Fans of the open source container technology appreciate that it’s lightweight, super fast to boot up, and easy to share containers through the Docker Hub.

Docker standardizes an app platform and its dependencies so you can hand the box over to another party without worrying about conflicting dependencies or differences between machines. While virtual machines can be rather weighty with an application plus an entire guest operating system, Docker is much lighter, containing just the application and its dependencies.

Introducing Wocker

Vagrant 1.6.0, released last May, introduced support for Docker-based development environments, enabling Vagrant to manage them within Docker-powered Linux containers, instead of virtual machines.

WordPress developers who want to incorporate Docker into their workflow now have a new tool at their disposal. Wocker is a Docker-based rapid development environment of WordPress.

If you already have Vagrant, VirtualBox, and the vagrant-hostsupdater plugin installed, then getting started with Wocker takes next to no time. Simply clone the Wocker repository:

$ git clone https://github.com/wckr/wocker.git && cd wocker

Then run vagrant up. You can now navigate to your Wocker development site at: http://wocker.dev/. Here you’ll find the latest version of WordPress installed with the default theme active.

wocker

Running a new Wocker container takes just three seconds:

core@wocker ~ $ wocker run --name wp

The tasks of creating a new container, restarting a stopped container, or shutting down, can all be done in a matter of seconds with Wocker commands.

Kite Koga on Creating Wocker

Japanese WordPress developer Kite Koga created Wocker to speed up his own development. Koga is also the organizer of the upcoming WordCamp Kansai 2015.

“I used to use MAMP and VCCW for developing on WordPress,” Koga said. “MAMP is simple and easy but I have to download or copy WordPress core and create a database every time. VCCW is a great tool, and I still use it now and then. It has a lot of options and functions but takes awhile to provision.”

Koga also experimented with using VVV before creating Wocker. “Maybe VVV is good for developing WordPress core, but I feel it’s not fit for developing on WordPress. It takes too long to provision every time,” he said.

“Ultimately, I found that Docker was a good choice for me,” Koga said. “Once I have a Docker image, it takes only three seconds for every new WordPress container. However, Docker is a little tricky, and the command line is complex. Therefore, I made the Wocker command line to run containers and sync files with local more easily.”

Wocker is intentionally simple and limited to just a handful of options, as Koga’s primary objective was to make it super fast to create a new WordPress development environment. One drawback is that you cannot run two or more containers at the same time, but it takes just seconds to switch between containers.

Koga summarized the main reasons that he opted to use Vagrant to manage Docker deployments:

  1. I could write some provision scripts in the Vagrantfile, so users only have to do `$ vagrant up`
  2. It was easier to map hostnames to IP addresses.
  3. Vagrant with CoreOS was simpler to manage Docker images and containers than boot2docker.
  4. To sync files between local machine, virtual machine, and the Docker container was tricky, so I made Wocker commands to make it easier.

If you want to test out Wocker and find that it’s not for you, it’s easy and fast to uninstall. Simply run $ vagrant destroy to remove the Wocker folder, and your local machine will always be clean.

I tested Wocker and found that it was insanely fast to create new containers (as well as restart existing ones), a task for which I would require an extra utility (such as Variable VVV) to perform with VVV. If you find VVV to be too slow and want to check out an alternative, Wocker provides a faster way to set up simple development environments.

by Sarah Gooding at March 06, 2015 12:52 AM under wordpress development environment

March 05, 2015

WPTavern: WordCamp Europe Now Taking Applications for 2016 Host City

wceu-volunteers

Organizing an event the size of WordCamp Europe is a year-round endeavor. The 2015 event is just four months away, speaker applications are closed, and the organization team is already asking for applications for the next host city. So far, the camp has been held in Leiden and Sofia, and will come to Seville in June.

Applying to host WordCamp Europe is similar to applying to be an Olympic city. Local WordPress communities in potential host cities must submit applications, including a budget and a convincing plan. Organizers scrutinize the applications for the following factors:

  • Preparation of the budget and venue research
  • Strength of the local WordPress community
  • The merits of the new location, as compared to the previous year
  • Affordability for attendees
  • Potential travel difficulties

This year Seville, Spain was selected as the host city after a short bidding process. WordCamp Central requested the event be scheduled earlier in the year to avoid calendar conflicts. This was an unusual turn of events but organizers are committed to re-instituting a public bidding process for all future events.

WordCamp Europe to Pilot New Organizer Mentorship Program

For months in advance, an all-star lineup of WordCamp organizers from around Europe put their heads together, sharing their experiences to plan the best event possible.

“Organizing WordCamp Europe is both a pleasure and a challenge,” co-organizer Petya Raykovska told the Tavern. “What’s great about it is that you get to work with experienced WordCamp organizers from across Europe. Each organizer brings their own knowledge and perspective to the organizing team which makes it a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow.”

The event has traditionally highlighted the diversity of the European WordPress community and its attendees’ eagerness to connect beyond boundaries.

“It’s a challenge because each of us has our own way of doing things and we have to learn how to listen to each other and compromise,” Raykovska said. “And, of course, there are all of those idioms that don’t cross language and cultural barriers!”

New WordCamp Europe organizers should be equipped with a solid grasp of diplomacy and the ability to work with others across cultural differences.

This year the current organization team plans to experiment with a mentorship program that would prepare the next crop of organizers to take the helm in 2016.

“We’re introducing a new process that we hope will help not only find the best team for next year, but will also be a pilot for a mentorship program for future WordCamp Europe (or any large 600+ people WordPress event) events,” Raykovska said.

“So what we want to do in 2015 is choose the team for 2016 and get them to work with us for the 2015 edition, so they can get to know what it takes, get introduced to the processes, work closely with the existing team and monitor what’s required of the local team.”

Current organizers are prioritizing mentoring new additions in order to create a seamless transition from one organizational team to the next. Instead of learning the ropes at the last minute, new organizers will have the opportunity to see how it works without all of the pressure.

“We believe it will be highly beneficial for them and will ensure smooth sailing for next year’s organisation,” Raykovska said.

by Sarah Gooding at March 05, 2015 07:32 PM under WordCamp Europe

WPTavern: New Theme Development Company Makes First Sale Minutes After Being Approved on ThemeForest

Warriors Of Code is a new WordPress theme development shop in Australia. An employee who goes by the name Genesisfan on Reddit, published a post explaining how the company recently had its first theme accepted on ThemeForest and was willing to answer questions others had about the experience. According to the post, he spent the better part of six months with a designer he hired while working a full-time job developing Broadsword.

BroadSword Single Page ViewBroadSword Single Page View

When asked what he thought of the ThemeForest submission and review process, he responded, “We were pleasantly surprised with how quickly they turned around our review, and the level of detail they provided in their soft rejection. Aside from some technicalities that we’d missed (being more specific about what features we supported), the biggest issue was that we were missing some data validation in our files. Make sure you use the esc_ and sanitize_ functions provided by WordPress!”

Once the issues were addressed, ThemeForest approved the submission and the team made its first sale within minutes of it going live. When asked what makes their theme different in the marketplace, he responded, “We kept the theme options to a minimum. We were both pretty tired of themes that include a thousand options and tend to be more like frameworks than standalone themes.”

Based on stats that highlight how well ThemeForest is doing, it’s not surprising that Warriors of code made their first sale within minutes of going live. However, the company used social media to its advantage, so it’s possible one their followers purchased the theme based on tweets. In fact, the company explains how they handled promotion:

Regarding promotion, we’ve been tweeting it out and liking the facebook page we’ve set up and luckily, it’s now trending on ThemeForest. It helps that I’m on the east coast of Canada and my partner is in Sydney, Australia, so we’re able to pretty much cover comment replies quickly at any time of the day. I think that goes a long way to helping promote a positive vibe about the theme.

After 24 hours, the company has six sales at $43 each. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s a start. The big takeaways is that ThemeForest reviews are catching insecure coding practices and making the first sale is a quick endeavor, especially if you already have a social media presence. The company answers several other questions related to the experience.

We know that in this instance, ThemeForest did its job to discover insecure coding practices during reviews. It’s also refreshing to hear from an up and coming theme company that they’re tired of theme options. I haven’t used their product so I can’t confirm if its claims are true, but it’s a step in the right direction to see other ThemeForest sellers make such statements in public.

by Jeff Chandler at March 05, 2015 07:33 AM under warriors of code

Matt: WIRED Re-launch

There’s the smart publishers, and then there’s the ones going out of business. WIRED is one of the smart ones, and just launched an awesome redesign on WordPress. From their editor-in-chief:

Back in 1994 we launched Hotwired, the first site with original editorial content created for the web. It was a digital home for reporting on the future of science, business, design, and technology. You’ve come to trust us over the past two decades, but our growth online has sometimes come too quickly and with some pain. When I took over as editor in chief in 2012, WIRED had an archive of more than 100,000 stories. That’s good! But they were spread out over more than a dozen different databases, sections, and homepages tenuously connected by virtual duct tape and chewing gum. The cleanup process—onerous and without a shred of glamour—took almost 15 months. But finally, last year, our engineers rolled out a newly unified site architecture built atop a single streamlined WordPress installation. And you didn’t notice a hiccup. Maybe you saw that pages loaded a touch faster. Stories looked more WIRED.

The story of the engineering behind it from Kathleen Vignos is also cool:

The redesign gives us the third incarnation of our Curator application, which started years ago as a separate Groovy on Grails application maintained by a single Java developer. Curator once consumed articles from 35 different blogs for curation on our homepage. When we migrated our 17 active WordPress blogs into one WordPress install, we also rewrote Curator in Cake PHP to match our WordPress PHP backend. After this, anyone on our team could maintain Curator—but the architecture remained the same and lived outside of WordPress. Using this version of Curator, our web producer team manually constructed the homepage throughout each day as various stories were ready to be promoted.

Our new and improved Curator is now a custom WordPress plugin—and it’s artificially intelligent! This allows our homepage and section landing pages to be both automated and curated at the same time. Stories flow through automagically based on editorial criteria, but editors can take control of the flow by locking stories in certain slots in our card system. This means our homepage and section landing pages are constantly changing with new stories all day long.

Curator sounds cool, as does the coming “longform feature article builder.”

by Matt at March 05, 2015 02:36 AM under Asides

WPTavern: Ninja Forms 2.9 Ships With Major Performance Improvements

Ninja Forms Featured Image

Ninja Forms 2.9 is available and features an improved user experience along with major performance enhancements. One of the biggest performance problems 2.9 solves is handling large forms. Prior to 2.9, users had to edit a php.ini file to handle the increased amount of server resources needed to process long forms, something many shared webhosts don’t allow. According to Kevin Stover, lead developer of Ninja Forms, 2.9 not only solves this problem, but the form builder is more efficient overall.

In our local tests, a 578 field form was 12.8mb and took 33.52 seconds to load. (It also occasionally crashed our browser.) In version 2.9, the same form was only 1.2mb and took only 1.41 seconds to load. We call that progress.

The user experience is vastly improved compared to earlier versions of the plugin. Now when you edit an existing form or want to create a new one, you’re taken to the form builder instead of a page filled with confusing settings. After installing Ninja Forms, it took less than five minutes to recreate the Tavern’s contact form.

Ninja Forms 2.9 User InterfaceNinja Forms 2.9 User Interface

A small but noticeable change is that, when you create a new form without a submit button and save it, a model window pops up reminding you to add one. Or, you can let Ninja Forms add it automatically. It’s hard to make a form useful without a submit button!

Ninja Forms 2.9 Submit ButtonNinja Forms 2.9 Submit Button Reminder

One of the major changes to the form building experience is configuring fields. In previous versions of Ninja Forms, all of the configuration options for fields were in view which felt overwhelming. In Ninja Forms 2.9, field options are hidden behind drop down menus that are closed by default. This allows you to configure them at your own pace.

Ninja Forms 2.9 Field SettingsNinja Forms 2.9 Field Settings

Overall, Ninja Forms 2.9 is a solid release and offers a better experience than its predecessors. I found it easier to build forms without having to rely on documentation. Stover says this release, “lays the groundwork for even better stuff to come down the road.” You can download Ninja Forms free from the WordPress plugin directory.

To learn more about James Laws, Co-founder of WP Ninjas and his company, listen to episode 179 of WordPress Weekly. In the show, we discuss some of the improvements that made it into Ninja Forms 2.9.

by Jeff Chandler at March 05, 2015 12:32 AM under ninja forms

March 04, 2015

WPTavern: BuddyPress 2.3 Development Kicks Off, Contributors Prioritize Work on New APIs

buddypress-wall

The BuddyPress 2.3 development cycle is now in full swing, following a successful 2.2.1 maintenance release that broke the plugin’s one-day download record with more than 10,000 downloads in just 24 hours. More minor fixes are on deck for inclusion in the forthcoming 2.2.2 release.

This week contributors identified priorities for new features and improvements to work on for the 2.3 development cycle. Updates to BuddyPress’ existing APIs and work on the following new APIs commenced this week:

New APIs would make it possible for BuddyPress developers to build extensions that bring in more exciting features, such as a core-supported way to manage media/user galleries, local avatar management, invitation capabilities for groups, sites, blogs, docs, etc. The APIs give developers a way to custom tailor those experiences for their communities.

While none of these APIs and improvements are yet guaranteed to make it into 2.3, contributors have hammered out the tickets they will be investing in during the next three months. The official release is currently targeted for the end of May, 2015. To follow progress on tickets for the 2.3 milestone, check out the roadmap on BuddyPress trac.

by Sarah Gooding at March 04, 2015 10:10 PM under member types API

Post Status: Adii Pienaar is making a WordPress comeback with stake in Obox

Adii Pienaar has been largely away from the WordPress community for much of the last year and a half. He’s one of three co-founders of WooThemes and was instrumental in their growth and success they achieved from 2008 until his departure in late 2013.

Today, Adii is making the second step of his WordPress comeback. In addition to Receiptful — his new eCommerce receipts product — he’s taking on an advisory role with Obox, to go along with a cash investment in the company.

Obox is based in Cape Town, South Africa — where Adii and WooThemes are also based. Obox has been around the block as well.

They were founded in 2009 and are lead by brothers Marc and David Perel. Obox has experienced times of great success — peaking as a team of 8 in 2012 — and also years where they’ve scaled back in response to more competition and watering down of the WordPress theme market.

Before Adii left WooThemes, he had numerous conversations with Obox about an acquisition, but the parties could never agree on the specifics.

Adii now owns a 30% stake in Obox

David Perel showed Adii some screenshots of Layers while they were wrapping up development of the new product. Adii was intrigued and they started once again talking about joining forces, except this time the direction changed; they started talking about what it would look like for Adii to join Obox.

Adii has made a cash investment in the Obox team, in return for a 30% stake in the company. The investment gives Obox a valuation in the millions of dollars, “but less than $10 million.”

The cash from Adii’s investment is largely going to be used for operating expenses for the Obox team as they create the business model around Layers. Obox has also beefed up their team by acquihiring Calyx, a two man Cape Town agency.

According to David, “Every cent Obox raises and makes will go into Layers.”

Roller coaster ride

Adii has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride since his departure of WooThemes. I’ve heard both Adii and his cofounders (Magnus Jepson and Mark Forrester) describe their split as a divorce. It was a hard time.

The split was complete, and Adii released all ownership of the company for an amount he has confirmed on Mixergy was seven figures. He tells me that he has been fully paid for his shares.

With cash in hand, Adii had room to take some risks, and with that risk came a mixture of successes and failures. His first foray into another product was Public Beta, which had many iterations before he ultimately deemed it a lost cause.

His latest startup seems to have traction; Receiptful has had a successful launch, is getting nice adoption, and is expanding to multiple eCommerce platforms after an initial WooCommerce-only launch.

Time heals all wounds, and it appears Adii’s relationship with WooThemes is also mended. They even blogged about Receiptful recently on the main WooThemes blog.

Renewed passion for WordPress

Both Receiptful and the Obox investment show renewed passion for WordPress, as well as a sign of Adii getting back to his roots and what he knows best. With the launch of WooCommerce, Adii spearheaded what became a huge success during his time at WooThemes; and WooCommerce has only further grown since his departure.

Adii hopes to take what he’s learned — both at WooThemes and with his adventures since — to his role at Obox.

One of the biggest challenges within WordPress is the disconnect between how developers and end-users use it, which makes building great WordPress products really hard. It’s also something that we encountered often at Woo and instead of truly tackling the problem we leaned towards building tools for developers.

Layers is different in that sense, because it’s focused on the (end-)user experience from the ground up. I couldn’t be more excited to work with David & Marc to grow Layers, as they’re fanatical about UX and it’s my belief that they’ll finally make progress to closing the gap between a developer tool and end-user product.

And in terms of the commercialisation of Layers… Well, let’s just say that I see opportunities and patterns that were prevalent in WooCommerce’s early days too…

A new step for a dynamic WordPress figure

Adii was a huge and dynamic figure in the early days of WordPress’ commercial product space. He’s always made bold decisions — some good and some not so good.

He has a penchant to make quick decisions and he iterates at a rapid pace; to some it can be off-putting, but for finding a hit it can be hugely important. In contrast, the Obox team makes calculated risks. While they’ve done a great deal of interesting work and experimentation on their own, they have largely stuck with the theme business while some of their early theme competitors rotated toward plugins and other verticals.

I believe that the combination of Adii and the Perel brothers will make for a compelling trio of leadership at the helm for Obox. Their Layers launch certainly made waves, and their next steps will be hugely important for the future of a company that has gone all in on a product without a monetization strategy.

You can read the official announcement on the Obox blog.

by Brian Krogsgard at March 04, 2015 03:56 PM under Business owners

WPTavern: WordPress Plugin Directory Launches New Design

The WordPress.org Meta team is on a roll this month. Following the successful launch of the new theme directory, the plugin directory is getting the same treatment with a fresh coat of paint and a set of brand new features.

Browsing the official plugin directory is now similar to searching via the admin plugin browser. Having all of this code on hand made it easier for the meta team to replicate the experience in the directory.

wordpress-plugin-directory

In addition to the new design, the directory includes a new section for logged-in users to manage favorited plugins. Previously, users had to navigate to their own profile pages to access this information. With more than 36,000 listings in the directory, favorites are becoming an important feature for users who want to keep track of plugins they use frequently.

plugin-favorites

The “Popular” section seems to be populated by extensions with the highest number of active installs. It would be helpful to be able to further sort popular plugins based on different criteria, i.e. the most-favorited plugins and those with the highest ratings.

Beta Testing is a new section which you may recognize from the WordPress admin. It lists all the feature plugins that are currently under consideration for inclusion in core at some point in the future. This more prominent display will help users discover the plugins, resulting in an increase in feedback for contributors.

Users can also now search for plugins based on author, keyword, or tag. Searching is lightning fast, but it could be improved with filtering options to further narrow down the results.

Although individual plugin pages did not receive a design update, they now reflect more accurate data with the number of active installs for each plugin. This provides plugin authors with a better understanding of how many sites are actively using that functionality, as opposed to just having downloaded it once and then uninstalled it.

The new design is more visually-oriented than the previous one, making it easier for users to quickly scan through a long list of results. It is now more important than ever for developers to prioritize plugin branding if they want their work to stand out in the official directory.

In his announcement about updates to the plugin directory, WordPress.org contributor Scott Reilly said that a backend reimplementation of the directory is on the roadmap for a future update. If you find a bug in the current implementation, feel free to open a ticket on meta.trac.

by Sarah Gooding at March 04, 2015 09:25 AM under wordpress plugin directory

Matt: WordPress iOS WYSIWYG

It’s been a long road, but the WordPress mobile apps are finally making some major strides. WordPress iOS version 4.8 includes a visual editor so you won’t see code anymore when blogging on the go. (For anyone curious at home, WordPress originally shipped with WYSIWYG in version 2.0, and it was highly controversial at the time.)

by Matt at March 04, 2015 04:31 AM under Asides

Akismet: February 2015 Stats Roundup

February was another slow spam month for Akismet. We didn’t even hit 200 million comments on any day this month. You can see the daily breakdown of the spam and ham comments Akismet caught in the graph below:

graph of akismet spam and ham daily stats February 2015

The busiest day was the first of the month, with about 178 million spam comments — and the slowest day was the 18th with about 106 million.

ohio state football fieldThe total number of spam messages caught this month was 4,090,182,500. To visualize this, let’s say each spam is represented by one blade of grass in a football field — to commemorate the football season ending this February.

How many football fields would it take to cover that much spam? Twelve and a half.

How about the real comments? We got a total of 131,465,000 of those this month. And if each one were represented by a blade of grass, they would take just under one half of a football field to account for. As always, real comments account for much much less than spam comments — about 3% this month.

This month was unusually low in spam numbers not only compared with last month (with a 14% decrease in volume), but also since last year — decreasing by 38% compared with February 2014.

We missed only about 1 in every 10,917 spam comments this month — not bad!

Your own blog’s stats may have followed a similar pattern of decreased spam activity this month. If you are ever finding that the spammers are winning and more comments than usual are getting through Akismet’s filters, please feel free to reach out and let us know. We’re happy to look into it and help restore order :)

This post is part of a monthly series summarizing some stats and figures from the Akismet universe. Feel free to browse all of the posts in the series.


by Valerie at March 04, 2015 01:03 AM under Monthly Roundup

March 03, 2015

WPTavern: Jason Schuller’s Pickle Theme Re-Imagines WordPress as an Invisible CMS

pickle-preview

Last week Jason Schuller launched his Pickle WordPress theme on Pickle.pub and the product is now available on Creative Market. Pickle is a restaurant theme that is packaged with a custom admin design to provide a seamless content-editing experience.

Schuller’s decision to re-enter the WordPress theme market following the sale of Press75 came after several years of experimenting with alternative publishing platforms. In an interview with the Tavern last year, he expressed dissatisfaction with trying to make WordPress do what he wanted, which caused him to consider abandoning the platform entirely.

Schuller found himself chronically at odds with WordPress’ limitations for scaling its complexity backwards to provide a more simplified publishing experience. Pickle was born out of this frustration. The theme reimagines the WordPress admin as an extension of the front-end design, with no abrupt transitions for editing content.

pickle-admin

Targeting a Wider Market Beyond WordPress

At first glance, it might appear that the restaurant niche is a relatively small and limited market for a WordPress theme developer. However, if you check out Pickle.pub, you’ll find no mention of WordPress among Pickle’s features. Schuller is intentionally marketing it to a larger potential customer base that includes anyone looking to build a simple restaurant website.

“I’m not really advertising Pickle as a WordPress theme,” Schuller told the Tavern. “Essentially, my approach was to use WordPress to create my own custom CMS for minimalist restaurant websites.”

In the future he plans to release more options, styles and add-ons for the product. Currently, all of Pickle’s functionality is packed into the theme, but Schuller is not overly concerned about data portability in this instance.

“That data (in my opinion) is exclusive to what I’m doing with Pickle,” he said. “In other words, I’m not concerned with my users even knowing that it’s powered by WordPress.

Schuller is hoping to attract two different markets: customers who know they want WordPress and those who just know they want a business website and don’t care what software it uses.

“It shouldn’t matter to new users if it’s a WordPress solution,” he said. “But at the same time, freelancers who work with WordPress and have clients in the restaurant industry might be attracted by Pickle because it is a WordPress solution. I’m hoping to target both ends of the spectrum.”

This time around in the WordPress theme business, Schuller is venturing into the frontier where customers aren’t already convinced of a favorite CMS. Pickle was intentionally designed to make WordPress, and all its complexity, effectively invisible. This is one of the reasons the theme does not currently support the use of 3rd-party plugins.

At Odds with WordPress Theme Development Best Practices

WordPress core doesn’t make it easy for developers to heavily customize the admin. This will soon change when the WP REST API lands in core; Schuller is open to updating Pickle to use the API once it’s no longer under heavy development.

“Once the REST API lands in core, there would be no reason for me not to change my approach,” he said. “But for today, a little custom CSS and PHP will do just fine.”

Pickle is Schuller’s attempt at testing the waters for the possibility of other niche admin designs in the future. A hosted version is also set to launch within the next month. “If all goes well, I’ll probably create more niche solutions from the simple HTML templates I’ve been releasing on Leeflets,” he said. These include other one-page designs for things like newsletters, biographies, galleries, and landing or product pages.

“If that’s something I do end up doing, I would probably create some sort of admin theming plugin in order to eliminate duplicating the work each time,” Schuller said. “I could see the result of that being its own product as well for WordPress.”

At the moment, he is not prioritizing putting the functionality into a plugin. However, the way Pickle is built is at odds with WordPress theme development best practices of separating plugin functionality from the theme’s design.

If a major release of WordPress causes a break in Pickle, it’s not in a plugin where one could easily disable the functionality. A breaking change could possibly effect the site’s frontend design, without an update to Pickle. If the product were packaged as a theme plus plugin combination, users would be in a better position for updates from both core and Pickle.

Schuller contends that WordPress theme developers should have the option to add features in a more modular fashion:

I realize that my approach for Pickle specifically probably isn’t the way most “WordPress” developers would have done it. The important thing is that I finished it, and the idea is out there regardless of how it was engineered.

I’ve always felt that a good CMS should reflect the functionality you need for any given project. For instance, we shouldn’t assume that all themes should support links, comments, widgets, etc., or even posts for that matter. Some themes/users might only need “pages” which means that most of the admin menus in WordPress could and maybe should be hidden in that case. We have to manually add “theme support” within theme functions for features like “post thumbnails”, so why isn’t that the case for everything else?

After years of frustration with “the WordPress way,” Schuller is going his own way this time around. He finds himself at friction with WordPress best practices and the ability to serve a larger market of people who don’t care if a site is built on WordPress.

“To be honest, I really wasn’t concerned about what the WordPress developer community would think about how I engineered Pickle,” he said. “I know there are probably so many ways I could have done it better, or hired someone else to do it better for me.”

In creating Pickle, Schuller consciously chose to ignore his fear of the doing_it_wrong() brigade in order to deliver a product that he believes will be simple for customers to use.

When I got started with WordPress back in 2007, I had no clue what I was doing, but I was creating things and putting them out there as I learned, which is how I grew Press75. Somewhere along the way, I became much too concerned with how the WordPress community might perceive what I was making and that’s when my business started to decline.

Instead of just being happy making things I was passionate about, I became obsessed with perfection and making sure everyone was going be happy with what I made. I’m not going to make that same mistake again. It’s so much more important to put your work out there (even if it’s not perfect) than to never put it out there at all in fear that someone might not agree with the way you did it.

Could business be as simple as building products that make both you and your customer happy? Do all WordPress sites need a long-term plan for data portability and separation of theme and plugin functionality?

Re-Imagining WordPress as an Invisible CMS

The invisibility of the traditional admin in the Pickle theme is a tribute to WordPress’ flexibility as a CMS. However, the lack of theme/plugin functionality separation is my primary objection to how it’s built, as it may make it difficult for the user to keep pace with core updates. This could potentially become a security issue.

Schuller’s approach for one-page designs may not conform to best practices but it once again begs the question: how can we erase the separation between editing experience and the display of content? Many users find the native customizer in its current state to be too clunky to adequately handle this in an elegant way.

While I don’t fully support the approach that Schuller took with building Pickle, I agree with the basic premise of pushing the boundaries to simplify WordPress for the user. Pickle is inspirational, despite its technical drawbacks. It is a groundbreaking example of a WordPress-powered content editing experience that is perfectly tailored to the frontend design. It’s a design-specific theme that doesn’t require a heavy page builder or multiple sub-panels of customizer options.

Not everyone agrees on the best way to make the WordPress editing experience better while moving theme development forward. The platform needs people who are dissatisfied with the status quo to spearhead new, unorthodox ways of solving problems. However, it also needs the folks who have managed to keep inspiration alive for years, while working on the less glamorous tasks of contributing to core and establishing standards to make it better for everyone.

As niche admin designs become common, the answer to the question of “What does WordPress look like?” will get fuzzy and difficult to define. A more modular approach to theming WordPress as a whole will make it easier for developers to sift out the functionality that users don’t need on basic websites. Finding a happy balance here will be critical for the platform to continue its reputation as a user-friendly CMS.

by Sarah Gooding at March 03, 2015 11:51 PM under Themes

WPTavern: There Can Only Be One Sticky Post

Sticky Posts Poll Featured Imagephoto credit: Free Thinking at the Sage, Gateshead(license)

Last month, we polled our readers to find out how many use the sticky posts feature in WordPress. Out of 322 votes, 66% said no while 34% said yes.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

Use cases included, featuring content in a slider, portfolio sites, and using it on a directory site. For those who sticky one post at a time, I discovered a convenient plugin that removes the sticky flag from previous sticky posts. There Can Be Only One, developed by Alex Jones, ensures that only one sticky post is published at a time.

There are no options to configure. Simply install, activate, and configure which post you want to sticky. When using this plugin, you no longer have to remove the sticky flag from the previous post which saves time and effort. There Can Only Be One is Jones’ first plugin submitted to the plugin directory and he’s interested to hear any feedback or suggestions you have to improve it.

by Jeff Chandler at March 03, 2015 10:04 PM under there can be only one

WPTavern: WordCamp St. Louis, MO, March 14th-15 Will Have a Kids Camp

WordCamp St Louis 2015 Featured ImageWordCamp St. Louis, MO, takes place on March 14th-15th on the campus of Washington University. Tickets are still available for $25 which covers both days and gets you a T-Shirt, access to events, the after party, and community day.

The event features two days of learning about WordPress with four tracks of sessions. Two tracks are dedicated to developers while the other two are devoted to users. In a stroke of luck, the first day of WordCamp takes place on Pi Day, which means free Pi pizza for attendees.

After learning about WordPress on Saturday, folks can immediately apply their knowledge and help others on Sunday which is Community Day. Community day is similar to a WordPress contributor day in that there will be plenty of opportunities to learn, network, and share information. The schedule for community day looks like this:

  • Keynote by a well-know member of the WP community
  • Kids Camp a class geared towards 8-13 year olds, however, any age is welcome to attend (space permitting). Parents must be present for children under 13 and all attendees must bring a laptop. Up to 3 children under the age of 18 can attend without charge for each paid adult (parent) ticket.
  • Hackathon help developers, designers, and other attendees on creating or improving local organization’s presence on the web (the list of specific organizations will be announced later, if you know of someone who might benefit drop us a line)
  • All-day happiness bar: come and learn with the best!
  • Give back to Core: members of the plugin and theme review team as well as core contributors will be on hand to help you give back to the global WordPress community.

Kids Camp takes place on community day from 9am to noon and will cover the basics of setting up a site and what it means to publish to the web. The class is geared towards 8-13 year olds, but any age is welcome to attend. Parents or legal guardians must be present for children under 12 and all attendees must bring a laptop. Also on Sunday, Mika Epstein will give a keynote presentation that explains how to fit into the WordPress community by being true to yourself.

I will be in attendance so if you see me, please stop and say hi as I’d love to chat with you. If you’re going to WordCamp St. Louis, let me know in the comments.

by Jeff Chandler at March 03, 2015 08:29 AM under wordcamps

March 02, 2015

WPTavern: ThemeConf: A New Conference for Designers, Themers, and Front-End Developers

theme-conf

Designers and front-end developers who work with open source software have an exciting new event to look forward to in the UK this summer. ThemeConf was announced today – a brand new conference created to help themers, designers, and front-end developers recharge their batteries with a variety of unique sessions on the world of themes.

The event will be hosted in Keswick, England, June 18-19th at the Alhambra Cinema, one of Britain’s oldest cinemas. Automattic is ThemeConf’s first sponsor and three of the company’s employees are organizers for the event, including Tammie Lister, Jack Lenox, and David Murphy.

“Jack always had the idea for a conference like this; he also wanted something in his local area,” Lister said. “I also wanted a conference that is theme focused. We all started talking over a Christmas meetup and this is what happened from that.”

Exploring the Future of Theming Beyond Specific Platforms

The conference will focus on theming for open source applications such as WordPress, Drupal, Ghost, and Joomla. Themers of all experience levels are welcome, as are front-end developers who are interested in theming. The topics for the first year will be focused around the future of theming.

“We hope to bring a wide range of talks under that banner,” Lister said. “We are currently curating our schedule, but it’s shaping up to be really interesting and diverse. We are planning on making it a place themers can go to get inspired.”

In selecting the sessions, organizers hope to further delve into the technologies and styles, beyond specific platforms, to explore the future of theming. They also plan to incorporate talks on performance and user experience.

Jack Lenox wants to focus the event around some of the most recent and significant shifts in theming and front-end development. “These go beyond the platform,” he said. “From REST APIs, to new design directions and into the burgeoning ecosystem of the new JavaScript tools such as React – tools that allow us to build engaging, human user experiences alongside a REST API.”

As one platform cannot possibly hold a monopoly on technical innovation, it’s important for designers and developers to venture outside the bubble of their primary platform in order to stay on the cutting edge. ThemeConf organizers are aiming to facilitate cross-platform collaboration and knowledge sharing to help attendees explore a wide range of topics.

The event will be non-profit, with any proceeds going into the next year and/or donated to the local area. The 101-year-old Alhambra Cinema is an intimate venue that will be limited to 150 attendees. If you’re interested in exploring the future of theming with other fans of open source in Keswick, make sure to sign up for the ThemeConf newsletter.

by Sarah Gooding at March 02, 2015 11:13 PM under theming

WPTavern: It’s Time For WordPress to Automatically Update Themes, Plugins, and Core by Default

Over the weekend, the WordPress plugin directory implemented a major change that better reflects how popular a plugin is. The number of total downloads has been replaced with the number of active installs. While the numbers are not exact, they’re close enough to give people insight into usage.

Active SitesActive Sites

When it comes to reporting WordPress plugin security vulnerabilities, this is a welcome change. The active install numbers give the media a better idea on how many sites are potentially at risk. In addition to knowing the active installs for a given plugin, we can also see a breakdown of which versions are used.

Using Outdated Versions of Plugins

With Jetpack, we see that nearly 40% of sites use the latest version while the other 60% use an older version.

Active Plugin VersionsActive Plugin Versions

Yoast SEO is split down the middle with 50% of sites using the latest version and the other combined 50% using an older version.

YoastSEO Plugin Version BreakdbownYoastSEO Plugin Version Breakdbown

 

Only a quarter of the sites using Contact Form 7 are using the most recent version, while nearly 75% combined are using an outdated version.

For other plugins, the trend is the same. A majority of sites are using older versions of plugins. For all of the effort that goes into informing users to keep sites up to date as a bare essential security practice, these are sobering statistics.

Time to Auto Update All The Things

While I realize there isn’t always an immediate need to update a plugin unless it’s a security release, it’s a good idea to keep them updated regardless. These statistics indicate that the only way to keep as many sites as possible updated is to forcefully turn on automatic updates for major releases, minor releases, plugins, and themes.

A move like this would likely generate a lot of push back, especially from those who already don’t like WordPress’ current implementation since there’s not an option in the WordPress backend to configure them. However, the numbers indicate that millions of sites are running outdated code by choice which is unacceptable.

Safety First auto Updatesphoto credit: Rescue device(license)

The WordPress development team is in a position to help make the web safer for everyone. If all it takes to get people to support automatic updates for themes, plugins and core, is to add some UI to the WordPress backend to configure them, then so be it. I think it’s a small price to pay to quickly improve the situation and move in the right direction.

While I don’t like having my hand held by software to keep things up to date, it appears as though there is no other choice. Automatic updates to minor releases is a good first step, but it needs to auto update everything because leaving the responsibility up to users is clearly not working.

by Jeff Chandler at March 02, 2015 10:24 PM under updates

WPTavern: Chris Wiegman, Former Lead Developer of iThemes Security, Joins 10up

iThemes Security Featured ImageChris Wiegman, the creator of Better WP Security, has announced that he’s moved on from iThemes to join 10up. In late 2013, iThemes acquired Better WP Security and changed its name to iThemes Security. As part of the deal, Wiegman was brought on board to continue developing the plugin.

Wiegman Moves From Products Back to Client Work

Joining 10up gives Wiegman the opportunity to take what he’s learned from developing iThemes Security and apply it to client sites. He notes two huge reasons for the move: burnout and losing focus on why he was developing the product.

To put it simply I was bored and burned out with the plugin. If I’m really going to be honest this was the case when I sold it to iThemes in 2013 and at the time I truly believed that working on it full-time would somehow renew my interest but that wasn’t the case. This is not to say I didn’t have a passion for it but just that I really wanted to work on other things and not just the plugin.

This is an interesting move, because generally I see a lot of WordPress consultants branch away from client work to focus on products. In this case, a product driven developer has decided to go back to client work for the variety and educational opportunities it offers.

The Future of iThemes Security

Since its creation, Wiegman has been the face of Better WP Security and iThemes Security. iThemes CEO, Cory Miller, has this to say about Wiegman’s work.

We thank Chris Wiegman for his contribution to iThemes Security (formerly known as Better WP Security) and his time at iThemes. We hope to make him proud of leaving such an awesome project in our hands. We are committed to making iThemes Security the easiest tool to allow people to protect and secure their WordPress websites.

He also explains that while Wiegman is no longer with the company, iThemes will continue to develop the plugin, “One benefit of iThemes having been around for seven years now, with a 20-plus person team, is having ‘bench strength’ or rather, people who are able and available to take over projects such as iThemes Security in the event someone moves on to another opportunity.”

Chris Jean along with Aaron Campbell will take over development of iThemes Security. Campbell will work with Jean to create a strong roadmap and assist in its future development. “The present and the future is bright for iThemes Security,” Miller said.

by Jeff Chandler at March 02, 2015 08:10 PM under ithemes security

WPTavern: WordPress Version Stats Updated: More Than 1/3 of Sites are Running WordPress 4.1

Over the weekend, WordPress lead developer Andrew Nacin announced a major update to WordPress version stats for PHP, MySQL, and WordPress. While the stats page looks much the same as before, more sophisticated methods of collecting and processing the data have been put in place, thanks to the efforts of WordPress.org contributor Dion Hulse. The results are a dramatic shift in the data reported.

wordpress-stats

More Than 1/3 of Sites Running on WordPress 4.1

One of the most notable differences is the percentage of sites that are running the latest version of WordPress. Things are not quite as grim as previous stats indicated. Prior to the update, WordPress was reporting fewer than 10% of sites running on 4.1. After eliminating data for sites that are no longer online, the new data shows roughly 36% of sites running on the latest version.

Andrew Nacin explained how the new stats are collected and interpreted into the updated pie chart:

Thousands of new WordPress sites come online every day. Some others, though, stop pinging over time. The new data only reflects sites that have pinged api.wordpress.org within the last few months. There were also plenty of other inconsistencies in the data that we’ve been able to resolve, which has resulted in numbers we feel are more consistent and accurate.

Other major shifts in the data demonstrate that there are very few sites still lingering on WordPress 3.0, which was released in June 2010. Sites running on 3.0 were previously reported as 16.06% but are now ringing in at just 2.27%.

The same goes for PHP 5.2 usage, which was previously reported at an alarming 31.76%. More accurate data puts this figure at 16.60%. This is likely due to eliminating sites that haven’t pinged api.wordpress.org within the last few months.

While the PHP version usage outlook is no longer as bleak as previous data indicated, Nacin said it isn’t enough to change the minimum required for WordPress core:

One-sixth of all sites running PHP 5.2 is still many millions of sites. If we move the PHP minimum version too early, we risk stranding millions of installs on older versions of WordPress.

So, I wish to note that this does not change our calculations for keeping PHP 5.2 as the minimum for WordPress core — we had these numbers available to us when preparing our 2015 plans.

The new stats are a welcome update to many involved in supporting and updating WordPress sites, but several commenters requested a more detailed cross of PHP version as compared to the WordPress version that sites are using.

WordPress developer Josh Pollock commented on the announcement post with the same question: “Is there anyway we can see PHP/MySQL versions broken down by what WordPress version they are running on? It would be interesting to see what percentage of users running an EOLed version of PHP are choosing to stay on old WordPress versions of their own accord/lack of action.”

I checked with Andrew Nacin, who confirmed that this data is available and will be made public at some point in the future. “We’re still working on ensuring the numbers are stable,” he said. “They’re pretty predictable: older WP versions have more people on older PHP and MySQL versions. Newer WP versions have less.” There’s currently no set timeline for delivering the additional stats, but WordPress.org contributors have more data in the works.

WordPress is Urging Hosting Companies to Use More Recent Versions of PHP

The WordPress project continues to work with hosting companies to urge them to update their PHP version offering to 5.4+. This is a slow but necessary process before WordPress can raise the minimum required PHP version, which Nacin said is ultimately part of the plan:

PHP 5.2 is at about 16% for all installs right now. It’s at about 10% for installs running WordPress 4.1, but because 4.1 is such a large part of the pie (36%), it’s the WP version with the most PHP 5.2 installs.

Our goals remain the same: priority 1 is to update old WordPress installs, priority 2 is to update old PHP and MySQL. Only once the numbers drastically move as a result of our efforts would any minimum requirement change. We cannot risk abandoning so many users on older WordPress and PHP versions.

Ensuring the accuracy of WordPress usage stats is a major milestone. At the moment, the number of users on PHP 5.2 is far too high to consider a minimum requirement change any time soon. However, Nacin said that hosts have so far been very responsive to WordPress’ urges to update PHP versions. “Right now we’re still primarily in a research phase, but hosts have been very receptive and proactive in this area.”

by Sarah Gooding at March 02, 2015 07:31 PM under wordpress stats

Joseph: WIRED on WordPress

WIRED.com has merged into one WordPress install:

Our redesign is here thanks to a big under-the-radar project in March 2014, when we migrated 17 active WIRED blogs into a single WordPress install. If we did our jobs right, you barely noticed that happen.

No doubt that this was a big job. Good to see it all come together, making their content easier to manage.

Unfortunately their new design includes the super annoying trend of covering up the text I was reading when I scroll up on the site:

wired-menu

This makes the reading experience really painful.

by Joseph Scott at March 02, 2015 04:32 PM under WordPress

Matt: Pink and Blue

A June 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” Other sources said blue was flattering for blonds, pink for brunettes; or blue was for blue-eyed babies, pink for brown-eyed babies, according to Paoletti.

Did you know pink and blue implying gender is relatively new, and all babies used to just wear white dresses?

by Matt at March 02, 2015 04:06 PM under Asides

March 01, 2015

Matt: Text as Interface

Great piece by Jonathan Libov on text-based messaging interfaces for everything in the future, it’s like the command line has come alive again.

by Matt at March 01, 2015 05:11 PM under Asides

Matt: Watching Television

It wasn’t that long ago, in the grand scheme of things, that I didn’t have any TV shows I was actively watching. Life has been busier than ever, but I’ve started catching up with shows instead of movies when flying. I’ve been blown away by the high quality of storytelling  in the medium of television right now.

So I find myself actively watching a few different shows:

  1. House of Cards (new season out today!).
  2. True Detective.
  3. Scandal.
  4. Blacklist.
  5. Empire.
  6. West Wing.

There are some guilty pleasures in there, and there are probably a dozen shows that friends have recommended to me as amazing that I’ve never even started. (Hence West Wing, I’m watching it for the first time, somewhere in Season 4.)

This is the first time I’m watching things that are still “on” versus something like Firefly or Sopranos which are complete already. There’s definitely something fun about discussing the latest developments with other people who are also caught up, in the zeitgeist, and the anticipation of new episodes coming out, like what I imagine it must have been like with serialized novels back in the day.

by Matt at March 01, 2015 03:43 AM under Asides

February 28, 2015

Matt: Writing code is like solving a Rubik’s cube

Ben Dwyer on why writing code is like solving a Rubik’s cube.

by Matt at February 28, 2015 04:55 AM under Asides

Post Status: The most popular WordPress plugins

WordPress has long had download counts for core WordPress, plugins, and themes.

But downloads counts are deceiving. They count downloads, but are not representative of actual active installs.

Recently — in my Club member newsletter — I noted that it is past time to get data for actual installs, versus download counts. There is a private beta program on WordPress.org that offers just that, and at least some of the new stats are launching very, very soon (edit: the initial changes are now live).

The new plugin stats pages will show four new charts, visible to plugin authors:

  • New installs per day
  • Updates per day
  • Active installs per day
  • Active versions

Most importantly, the “active installs per day” chart shows us — with much greater precision than we previously had — how many actual websites are running any plugin available on WordPress.org.

For the beta period, utilizing a non-public query string parameter, I was able to see these stats publicly for any plugin on the repo. That query string parameter has now changed, so the data is no longer publicly visible.

These stats are partially launching very shortly, to highlight the active installs for plugins as well as the breakdown of active versions. Active install counts will replace the download count in the right column.

You can see an example of what the new public stats from the WordPress Importer plugin look like, which will be visible to users. Plugin authors will see a slightly different view that contains the additional stats:

wordpress-importer

Click to view full size

 

The most popular WordPress plugins

I took some time to look through the most popular WordPress plugins I could think of, as well as other notable plugins. What follows are some of the numbers I recorded, which were noted in the charts as being recorded February 24th.

Once this data goes live, the counts will be revised to round with less detail, and for installs over 1 million, will simply say “1 Million+”.

Plugin Downloads Active Installs
Contact Form 7 24.304 million 6.3+ million
Akismet 28.128 million 6.2+ million
WordPress SEO 15.928 million 3.7+ million
Jetpack 14.587 million 3.7+ million
WordPress Importer 9.635 million 3.4+ million
Google Sitemap Generator 16.477 million 3.4+ million
All In One SEO 21.853 million 3.1+ million
WP Super Cache 6.869 million 1.7+ million
Tiny MCE Advanced  4.788 million 1.4+ million
NextGen Gallery 11.991 million 1.3+ million
Google Analytics for WordPress 8.159 million 1.2+ million
WooCommerce 6.445 million 1.2+ million
Hello Dolly 510,136 1.1+ million
WP Page Navi 5.432 million 1.1+ million
W3 Total Cache 4.491 million 970,000+
WordFence 4.828 million 710,000+
Better WP Security 4.259 million 600,000+
WPTouch 6.743 million 410,000+
bbPress 1.741 million 250,000+
MailPoet 3.447 million 230,000+
The Events Calendar 1.438 million 230,000+
BuddyPress 2.647 million 150,000+
WP eCommerce 3.009 million 80,000+

As you can see, the data is incredibly insightful, especially compared to the public download stats. However, beware that there is not a guarantee of accuracy here, and in fact you should know that in some instances, the team knows the data isn’t reporting properly, especially for plugins with more installs.

Contact Form 7 and Akismet are by far the most popular WordPress plugins, with over six million active installs each. I included most of the plugins from the Popular page on the repo, plus some additional notable plugins.

There are also a number of outliers, where the discrepancy between downloads and active installs is huge. I believe this is largely due to plugins with long histories that were once immensely popular but have since faded in popularity.

The download count keeps old plugins relevant far longer than if active installs were the prominent number.

Compared to BuiltWith data

How accurate is this data? Well, one smell-test we can give it is to compare it to other potentially inaccurate data. From my research, BuiltWith is doing one of the best jobs around of accurately checking site data. Go ahead and input your domain to BuiltWith and see how accurate it is for you.

So, if we compare this same plugin list to BuiltWith data for “the entire Internet” — as they segment based on site rankings — then we can get a feel for how well the WordPress.org number and theBuiltWith number get along.

In this table, I link to the BuiltWith page so you can get more information if you like. Do note that some plugins aren’t available on BuiltWith, so are in the list but don’t have information.

Plugin BuiltWith Active Installs
Contact Form 7 594,677 6.3+ million
Akismet 166,791 6.2+ million
WordPress SEO 2.602 million 3.7+ million
Jetpack 1.629 million 3.7+ million
WordPress Importer n/a 3.4+ million
Google Sitemap Generator n/a 3.4+ million
All In One SEO n/a 3.1+ million
WP Super Cache 991,729 1.7+ million
Tiny MCE Advanced n/a 1.4+ million
NextGen Gallery 977,343 1.3+ million
Google Analytics for WordPress 871,144 1.2+ million
WooCommerce 685,937 1.2+ million
Hello Dolly n/a 1.1+ million
WP Page Navi 585,809 1.1+ million
W3 Total Cache 571,864 970,000+
WordFence n/a 710,000+
Better WP Security n/a 600,000+
WPTouch (Pro Data only) 15,696 410,000+
bbPress 126,081 250,000+
MailPoet 149,018 230,000+
The Events Calendar 56,095 230,000+
BuddyPress 76,853 150,000+
WP eCommerce 58,115 80,000+

Data Accuracy

There are zero instances from this list where BuiltWith shows more sites than WordPress.org using a plugin. That is a confidence enhancing note, as WordPress.org should be much more fully comprehensive.

There are some instances, especially with plugins that are on the backend, or have limited front-end visibility, where the numbers don’t line up too well.

However, for the highly visible plugins, the WordPress.org data feels good to me, in comparison to BuiltWith.

The team working on the new stats has less confidence in the numbers as the numbers get higher. So for plugins with well beyond a million installs, they have reason to believe adoption may be different than what is reflected in the stats.

How stats are collected

WordPress.org collects this data via the update checks that a WordPress install performs.

There are a couple of caveats to consider for the WordPress.org data:

  • The numbers could include (and therefore inflate numbers) non-public (dev and staging environments) domains. According to Andrew Nacin, the team does exclude sites with “localhost”, “.dev”, “.local” and “other telltale signs of local development and staging sites, like IP addresses.”
  • The numbers don’t include websites that have, via code, turned off update checks.
  • Some data is making more sense as it is collected. Now that it’s a few months old, they are able to make better determinations about what is accurate and what is not.

Keep in mind the percentage of installs that wouldn’t be included in these checks is minimal. Also, unfortunately, a large percentage of folks just don’t keep dev or local installs of their websites, so those numbers probably do not inflate the totals as much as you may think either — though I’m guessing on that front.

For the accuracy of the numbers, the team has seen some discrepancies, where one graph shows data that should also impact another, but it does not. They’re working to resolve these issues still.

This data is important

The team working on this project has been deciding on which stats pages to showcase for the general public, and which to show to plugin authors.

The active install data is important, and it needs to be public for users, in addition to plugin authors. If we can ensure that the data is even remotely accurate, it is far superior to using download counts alone.

Download counts give legacy plugins too much clout in the repo, and also make misinformation all the more likely.

A prime example is that of Slimstats, which had the recent security breach. That plugin has over 1.3 million downloads. But when I looked at the stats, there were only 100,000 or so active installs.

Yet, when tech blogs covered the security breach of the plugin, they largely cited “over a million” installs at risk. This is bad for WordPress and it’s unnecessary. We can fix it. We have the data.

Lead developer Dion Hulse also had this to say about the progress of the stats pages, when I notified him that I had access to these numbers:

The current beta stats page was put together as a trial to find what data plugin authors wanted (We’ve been in touch with a few who have provided great feedback in the past on the stats).

Based on what they have learned, they are launching the active install numbers and active version chart, and will follow up with a future launch for the plugin author only stats. The plugin author stats are going to go live with the notice that they may not be totally accurate, and they may change over time as the team continues to analyze the data.

WordPress is open source, and has absolutely massive adoption across the web, as we all know. It is therefore a source for what’s become a multi-billion dollar industry. WordPress.org and those that hold the keys to the website have great power.

Changes to the website and how themes, plugins, and any other potentially business-centric data make a difference to real businesses.

All those businesses have signed up for this (being involved with the WordPress project), and therefore any risks associated, but in my mind this data — especially of active installs — brings welcome sunlight to a murky plugin landscape.

I’m glad I was able to see this data. I’m very pleased that the active install numbers are replacing the download counts. WordPress itself will be better for it.

by Brian Krogsgard at February 28, 2015 02:38 AM under Everyone

WPTavern: Time To Abolish Post Specific Metaboxes in The WordPress Post Editor

WP Metabox Featured Imagephoto credit: packing up(license)

I’ve used WordPress to write about WordPress for more than seven years, it’s how I make a living. Recently though, writing in WordPress feels more like being a data entry specialist. I guess in some ways, it’s not surprising considering that’s exactly what I’m doing.

The post editor is more or less a pretty user interface that enables me to add data to a database. I think the feeling is stronger if you write in WordPress every day as it’s an endless cycle of filling in text areas, fields, uploading media, and clicking the publish button. Many of these tasks take place within their own metabox which is something that detracts from a seamless experience. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to try something different.

Many of the posts I write post consists of content blocks such as: blockquotes, media, etc. Thinking about how I create content in WordPress, the conceptual post editor proposed in 2013 makes complete sense. Instead of a full-blown TinyMCE editor, I could select from a set of established content blocks. In addition to the content block idea, some of the metaboxes are integrated into the editor.

ContentEditingProposalProposal To Revamp The Post Writing/Editing Interface

The publish, categories, and tags metaboxes are integrated into the editor. It probably wouldn’t take too much effort to add a way to feature an image. I don’t know how usable this interface is, but I’d love to give it a try for a few months. The more metaboxes that disappear, the less I feel like I’m hitting switches and turning knobs before clicking the publish button. By having some of these tasks integrated into the editor, I think it’ll provide a better publishing experience.

I probably wouldn’t be able to get rid of all the metaboxes because of the plugins I use. However, I’m most interested in an interface that consists of less scrolling, searching, etc., that gets me to the publishing stage quicker without feeling like a data entry specialist.

Despite a large amount of discussion surrounding the proposal, the concept lost steam. Although I’ve never used it, I feel like I’d prefer it over the current editor. It’s anyone’s guess if we’ll ever see the post editor undergo a major change, but if it did, this is the direction I’d like to see it go.

by Jeff Chandler at February 28, 2015 02:28 AM under post editor

WPTavern: SIDEKICK Adds Support For WordPress Multisite, Launches Partnership With MediaTemple

SIDEKICKFeaturedImage

SIDEKICK has announced that its voice-guided WordPress training video plugin now supports WordPress Multisite. According to SIDEKICK Co-founder, Ben Fox, WordPress Multisite has been one of the most requested features from users. Users can now:

  1. Easily auto activate your SIDEKICK license across all sites on your network
  2. Set a Walkthrough to auto-start the first time a new user logs into any site on your network
  3. Enable and disable walkthroughs and walkthrough categories network wide from one screen

SIDEKICK has a support article that goes into more detail on how to activate Multisite.

Challenges Encountered

SIDEKICK’s Chief of Technology and Product Development, Bart Dabek, describes the most challenging aspect they encountered adding Multisite support, “The biggest challenge was incorporating our API and building out the relationship between the super admin setup page and individual sites. Once that relationship was established, it was easy to pull in settings from the network settings and assign them to individual sites.”

“Some things to keep in mind with our particular situation is, keeping authentication details within the super admin account so that if our sessions expire, the system can automatically log back into our API and continue to auto activate SIDEKICK on new sites without the need for the super admin to do anything. It’s something developers will have to consider if they’re dealing with an API on this level,” Dabek said.

Free Genesis Walkthroughs

If you use SIDEKICK with the Genesis Framework by StudioPress, you’ll see 30 free Genesis walkthroughs. As long as you’re using a Genesis powered theme, you’ll see the videos appear in the SIDEKICK drawer. The walkthroughs were created by Web Savvy Marketing, a WordPress development agency that specializes in Genesis themes.

MediaTemple Learns From GoDaddy’s Mistake

The basic student plan offered by SIDEKICK priced at $5 per month, is available for free to MediaTemple customers. In addition to 30 Genesis walkthroughs,  customers gain access to 160+ WordPress walkthroughs. We’ve received a few reports from readers that SIDEKICK has been activated on every site on MediaTemple without an opt-in notice, similar to what happened to GoDaddy customers late in 2014. However, this isn’t the case.

Email send to MediaTemple Customers about SIDEKICKEmail send to MediaTemple Customers about SIDEKICK

MediaTemple emailed customers on February 23rd announcing the partnership and included directions on how to activate the plugin. It appears as though the company learned from GoDaddy’s mistake.

How to turn on SIDEKICKHow to turn on SIDEKICK

Around the same time the email went out to customers, the company sent out a press release to the media with the same information.

MediaTemple SIDEKICK press releaseMediaTemple SIDEKICK press release

Multisite support gives network administrators the ability to easily provide access to an educational tool. Through strategic partnerships with SIDEKICK, MediaTemple, and GoDaddy, customers have an easy way to learn the ins and outs of WordPress.

While some don’t like the approach taken by SIDEKICK, it’s another option to those who find it difficult to use the WordPress Codex or other educational resources.

by Jeff Chandler at February 28, 2015 12:42 AM under sidekick

February 27, 2015

WPTavern: Clean Up WordPress with the New WP-Sweep Plugin

clean-up

After years of creating new content, changing themes, and adding and removing plugins, a WordPress installation can become littered with unused, orphaned, and duplicated data. Not every plugin properly extricates itself and its data from your site when you uninstall.

Lester Chan‘s new WP Sweep plugin was designed to perform housekeeping on WordPress installations. Chan is a prolific plugin developer, who created his first plugin in 2003 shortly after WordPress was forked from b2. He now has 24+ plugins listed in directory.

WP-Sweep’s distinguishing characteristic is that it uses proper WordPress delete functions as much as possible instead of running direct delete MySQL queries. This method is in direct contrast to similarly purposed plugins such as WP-Optimize, which has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times.

What can WP-Sweep clean?

WP-Sweep uses WordPress delete functions, such as wp_delete_post_revision(), delete_post_meta(), wp_delete_comment(), etc. to clean up the database. It can perform sweeps of all of the following:

  • Revisions
  • Auto drafts
  • Deleted comments
  • Unapproved comments
  • Spammed comments
  • Deleted comments
  • Orphaned post meta
  • Orphaned comment meta
  • Orphaned user meta
  • Orphan term relationships
  • Unused terms
  • Duplicated post meta
  • Duplicated comment meta
  • Duplicated user meta
  • Transient options

WP-Sweep can be found under the tools menu after you install it. It will give you a full overview of items that can be cleaned up.

wp-sweep

Scroll further down and you’ll see reports for comments, users, terms, and options. Certain sweeps have extra instructions to consider before using, i.e unused terms: “Note that some unused terms might belong to draft posts that have not been published yet. Only sweep this when you do not have any draft posts.”

One user tested the plugin and reported a savings of 23.5% on database size. He also reported a bug, which Chan promptly fixed.

Chan plans to continue to develop the plugin and is considering adding unused options to the sweeps in a future version. If you want to use the plugin to clean up your website, you are strongly advised to make a backup of your database first, as the actions it performs are irreversible. Check out WP-Sweep on WordPress.org and favorite it for the next time you need to do some database housekeeping.

by Sarah Gooding at February 27, 2015 10:03 PM under wordpress database

WPTavern: WordPress Theme Review Handbook Updated to Include Design Recommendations

photo credit: Artist's Room - (license)photo credit: Artist’s Room(license)

The new design of the WordPress Theme Directory is a welcome change on WordPress.org. Faster browsing and filtering means users can more easily sort through the thousands of available options. While the directory includes many beautiful, high quality themes, it often requires sifting through hundreds to find that diamond in the rough.

One of the reasons for the glut of lackluster and uninspired new theme submissions is a lack of design feedback from the Theme Review team. Reviews have traditionally focused primarily on the code quality of themes and often neglect major design issues with new submissions.

During the team’s meeting this week, contributors discussed ways to encourage more design feedback on submissions to the directory. WordPress.org theme author Kelly Dwan broached the topic in a recent post about ways to get designers involved during the review process:

If we tell people that they don’t need to be expert developers to review themes, and that this is a good way to learn better coding practices, why don’t we do the same with design? Good design is just as subjective as code standards (in that the basics aren’t, but people like to argue about it anyway).

The quality of code in the theme repo is improved by the review process, so we should encourage design reviews to increase the quality of design, too.

Her post included practical suggestions for updating the theme review handbook to provide better guidance on how to offer design feedback. This is one way that designers can contribute on WordPress.org, even if they’re not comfortable helping with the code review aspect of the process.

New Design Recommendation Added to the Handbook

Mel Choyce, Design Engineer at Automattic, volunteered to start filling out the design section of the Theme Review Handbook with recommendations. “Theme authors are never exposed to design guidelines before uploading their themes, unlike code guidelines,” she said. This is something the team is currently working to change.

The design recommendations so far are formatted to help the theme author think more critically about design decisions. Instead of taking a hard line about subjective aspects of design, the recommendations invite the designer to consider the theme from a user’s perspective. A few examples include:

  • Can you tell if the theme has an ideal audience in mind?
  • Is the type large enough to comfortably read?
  • Body text should generally be 14px or larger on desktop, unless using a font with a generous x-height.
  • Are the header and body fonts easy to read?
  • Is there enough difference between headers and paragraphs to distinguish them from each other?
  • Do paragraphs have enough line-height? If you squint your eyes, can you still see some space between lines?
  • A good rule of thumb is 1.3-1.4 on headers, and 1.4-1.6 on body text.
  • Is the color contrast high enough? Is the type readable against its background?
  • Do the details (drop shadows, gradients, etc.) distract at all from the content?

Encouraging more design feedback is difficult without offering reviewers the tools to so with confidence. The art of offering design feedback is tricky and it requires diplomacy to do it in a way that doesn’t crush the spirit of a fledgling theme author.

A basic set of guidelines is a valuable resource that team members can refer to during the review process. If theme authors are open to the recommendations, the quality of their designs can be significantly improved for future submissions.

by Sarah Gooding at February 27, 2015 08:52 PM under theme review team

WordPress Planet

This is an aggregation of blogs talking about WordPress from around the world. If you think your blog should be part of this send an email to Matt.

Official Blog

For official WP news, check out the WordPress Dev Blog.

Subscriptions

Last updated:

March 06, 2015 07:15 AM
All times are UTC.