WordPress Planet

February 25, 2021

WPTavern: Bluehost Misuses WordPress Trademark, Reigniting Controversy Over Recommended Hosts Page

Bluehost was called out this week for misusing WordPress’ trademark, as the WordPress Foundation prohibits its use in advertising. The company has been featured on WordPress’ recommended hosting page for the past 16 years, as one of a handful of hosts that have been arbitrarily selected based on an incomplete list of criteria.

The wording of the ad in this instance, “There is a reason WordPress officially recommends Bluehost more than any other hosting service,” was a visceral reminder to the hosting community of being excluded from the benefits that listing confers.

In response to the issue, WordPress’ Executive Director, Josepha Haden Chomphosy scheduled a call with Bluehost to find a resolution. She provided the following statement after the call:

This was flagged to me on Twitter, and I immediately reached out to learn more. Bluehost removed the ad proactively, and they scheduled a call with me and a representative of Automattic to understand the concerns being raised. As Matt mentioned, commercial use of the WordPress trademark is permitted, and Automattic can sub-license that use.

From a WordPress project standpoint, Bluehost was swift to respond to this issue, and took immediate steps to better understand how the trademark and logo are allowed to be used. When mistakes like this happen, we ask companies to keep us informed about how the issue is resolved, and Bluehost has agreed to do that.

Bluehost has not yet responded to our request for comment.

In the meantime, the incident reignited the controversy that has plagued WordPress’ recommended hosting page for years. Continuing the conversation that started on Twitter, members of the Post Status community pressed for more clarification in the club’s #hosting channel.

In response to claims that inclusion on the page is a closed process, and that the selected hosts haven’t changed in three years, Matt Mullenweg offered what is perhaps the most forthcoming response the community has seen on this topic:

When the list is open, anyone can apply. I take 100% responsibility for the editorial, though in the past and future will have people help with testing hosts, and collating all the threads in the forums. I also get a fair number of people emailing me directly feedback about the hosts listed, and how the host follows up is part of my evaluation.

It’s true the list of hosts hasn’t been changed in a while. The current list is all in good standing. I stand by the long-term behavior and service of every company linked on that page. It is past-due for open applications again, but I have prioritized other work on .org.

No one can pay to be on the page, and there are no affiliate payments made for customers sent from that page. It’s free, opinionated, and editorially driven. I do believe it drives many millions of year in business, which is why the potential for things like bribery or conflict is high if it were open to a larger group deciding who’s on there.

The hosting recommendations page exists to reduce barriers for new users looking to get started with WordPress without having to shop around among thousands of hosts. WordPress.org is not transparent about who makes the decisions regarding recommended hosts or what criteria is used. Because it benefits a select few very large companies who have dominated the recommendations for years with few changes, rumors abound.

Mullenweg’s response confirms that currently there is no “pay-to-play” type of arrangement, but he did not say if this has always been the case. In the beginning, this page was called “WordPress Hosting Partners” and included the following text: “Signing up through this page will help us finance WordPress.org’s operations through partner deals.” That wording was changed in April 2005 to remove the reference to partners. However, previous versions of the page from years ago include what appear to be tracking or affiliate links for the hosts listed. For example, a version of the page from 2007 includes the following links:

According to the Internet Archive, 2009 was the last year that tracking ID’s were appended to the links on the recommended hosts page. A few examples from that year include:

The copy on the page hasn’t changed much over recent years. It currently gives the following criteria to be listed but it doesn’t specify why only three companies meet these standards:

We’ll be looking at this list several times a year, so keep an eye out for us re-opening the survey for hosts to submit themselves for inclusion. Listing is completely arbitrary, but includes criteria like: contributions to WordPress.org, size of customer base, ease of WP auto-install and auto-upgrades, avoiding GPL violations, design, tone, historical perception, using the correct logo, capitalizing WordPress correctly, not blaming us if you have a security issue, and up-to-date system software.

With such a diverse hosting ecosystem supporting WordPress users around the world, it’s difficult to understand why there aren’t more companies included among these listings. The era when tracking links were included on this page was a different time before many things were formalized, but the community could stand to receive a transparent history of this page.

“To my knowledge, no one has ever paid to be on that page, and certainly no one has ever approached me about doing so,” Josepha Haden Chomphosy said when asked about the process for getting listed.

Thousands of volunteer contributors are continually building and improving this software. It’s only natural that the community is curious about who is benefiting from the project’s hosting recommendations and the nature of those arrangements. Mullenweg estimates the impact of that page as “many millions per year in business,” but the process surrounding the selection of hosts is closed and not clearly outlined.

Following the incident with Bluehost, Mullenweg briefly elaborated on why Bluehost retains its position on the page despite some people reporting poor service:

Regarding Bluehost or other large hosts, there is an aspect of WordPress Utilitarianism, any business will have some unhappy people, but a small % gets to a high absolute number at scale. I try to look at hosts that are doing the most good for the most number of people. Will definitely keep an eye on if anything with their approach to WP customers post-merger, but they also have a lot of good karma built up over a very long period of time. Bluehost, for example, does the best job I’m aware of in keeping the largest number of WPs on the latest version, and deploying updates incredibly fast. (If another host does more, please let me know! GD I think has more sites, but fewer on latest version.)

Another point of contention that regularly pops up is Automattic’s exclusive commercial license for using the WordPress trademark. Mullenweg clarified why the company is in possession of this exclusive right after Automattic donated it to the foundation. He confirmed that Bluehost was not given permission to run the ad with the trademark:

A common misunderstanding is that there is no commercial use of the WordPress trademark allowed. As some know, the trademark was originally held by Automattic, which donated it to the Foundation, and in return got an exclusive commercial license back. That commercial use can be sub-licensed by Automattic, and has been in the past. The ad that is bugging everyone was not approved, as far as I’m aware, and that will resolve once everyone has had a chance to talk to each other. Automattic can lose its commercial license to the trademark if it is not a good steward. This license is a bit of an accident of history, but also an entirely fair criticism of Automattic having a special privilege to commercial use of the WordPress trademark (because it’s true, vs most of what the company gets accused of). This happened in 2010, and the growth of WP and the WP ecosystem has been incredibly strong since then so I think the idea of a for-profit and non-profit complementing each other has proven successful, and I think better than either would have done on their own.

Mullenweg seems to recognize the friction that trademark matters can create in the community and said that he would change the naming of WordPress.com if he could go back in time.

“If I could wave a magic wand and go back to 2004, though, it would be nice if .com and .org had distinct names ‘before the dot,’ as it can be a source of confusion,” he said.

These things can certainly be changed in the present but not without a severe blow to the benefits of Automattic’s special privilege of commercial use. It would also impact the company’s millions of users who call WordPress.com their home on the web.

In the interest of eliminating some of the confusion regarding conflicts of interest and commercial use of the trademark, a continual movement towards transparency will be required. WordPress.org’s recommended hosts page is overdue for an update. Ideally, this page will provide clear guidelines about the process and criteria for inclusion before opening up applications again.

by Sarah Gooding at February 25, 2021 04:06 AM under hosting

February 24, 2021

WPTavern: Build a Full WordPress Site via Block Patterns With the Hansen Theme

Earlier today, the WordPress theme directory welcomed its fourth block-based theme. Built by UXL Themes, Hansen is one of the more stylish projects capable of working with the site editor in the Gutenberg plugin. The theme author also stepped it up a notch and included several block patterns.

I have written about how patterns will be a game-changer. I have talked about the need for a UI overhaul to better expose them to users. And I have proposed that theme authors use the pattern system instead of templates, allowing users to build out full sections of their sites at the click of a button.

UXL Themes has done just that. Most patterns that we have seen thus far have been built primarily for post or page content. The Hansen theme takes that idea a step further and creates patterns for different site sections.

Want to try a different look for the header? Just remove the old one and swap in another header pattern.

Inserting the dark header pattern.

How about changing the look of your blog posts page? The theme comes with two and three-column patterns for outputting the latest posts.

Inserting a two-column blog posts pattern.

It also packages a Content and Sidebar pattern that is more suitable for single posts and pages.

I am still undecided on whether the patterns or template parts system is the ideal solution for this. Right now, patterns have a cleaner UI overall and can be categorized. Template parts might be easier to switch, but there is no way to group them (e.g., header templates, footer templates, etc.). Regardless of what becomes the de facto standard in the long term, we need more theme authors like UXL Themes experimenting with these concepts, seeing what works, and gathering user feedback.

The theme does not add much in the way of content patterns. However, it does include one named “2 Columns of Text and a Full-Width Cover.” While it is a bit of a mouthful, the name does fully describe what it does. This is also the pattern in use for the homepage in the theme’s demo. However, the demo has a slight modification, adding a custom latest posts section.

Hansen content-related pattern.

Hansen is more than just its patterns. The theme generally looks pretty good too. It has a bit more pizazz than we have seen from some other block-based experiments. Like the recently-released Phoenix theme, developers are becoming more comfortable moving beyond the bare-bones block-based designs from previous months.

These themes are obviously not on par with what one could build on more mature systems. However, Gutenberg’s FSE system is inching forward. The theme authors who are experimenting now are paving the way for the next generation of themes, which I am excited to see.

The Hansen theme also includes several block styles. Most are geared toward blocks that users would typically use in the site editor. I have not seen such an approach in previous block-based themes.

Two of the styles are for mobile navigation. The Mobile Friendly style displays a horizontal nav menu on desktop while switching to a hamburger-flydown on mobile devices. The Mobile Style alternative retains the mobile layout on all screen sizes.

There is a Box Shadow style for the Query Loop block, which adds a shadow to each post. In the future, I hope to see WordPress provide box-shadow options for this instead of themes relying on block styles. Nevertheless, it is a welcome addition for the moment.

Box Shadow style for the Query Loop block.

The No Bottom Margin style allows users to remove bottom margin from Columns. I assume the theme author used this to address the common issue of nested blocks and their bottom margins adding on top of each other. I do not like this as a style because it gives the user the responsibility of fixing a design issue that should be taken care of under the hood. Generally, the problem stems from tackling spacing in design using a bottom margin instead of a top margin. It can be corrected in either case, but going with a top-margin approach is easier.

Outside of that one stylistic issue, the other downside to the theme is that it is not well-suited to long-form content out of the box. The content area stretches too wide for the default font size, making for uncomfortable reading. The theme includes a Narrow Width style for the Group block that corrects this. However, it would ideally be the reverse, with the content defaulting to a narrower width. Whenever a user wants to write a long-form blog post, they would need to wrap it in a Group block and apply the Narrow Width style. The more common use case should be the default.

Overall, I love the experimentation. Hansen is one of the best themes for playing around with the site editor in Gutenberg right now.

by Justin Tadlock at February 24, 2021 10:21 PM under Reviews

WordPress.org blog: Did You Know About Reusable Blocks?

Created by Joen Asmussen, @joen

The WordPress block editor (a.k.a. Gutenberg) comes with a feature called “reusable blocks.” They are blocks, saved for later, edited in one place.

Have you ever wanted to:

  • Re-use the same snippet of text across posts and pages?
  • Save complex layouts to spare you having to copy/paste from one post to another?

Reusable blocks can do these things.

Like templates, you mean?

Not quite. Think of reusable blocks as snippets of globally synchronized content that are personal to you. You can edit all your reusable blocks in one place, and any post or page you inserted that block into, get the updated version as well. 

Where you might use templates to structure your website, you can use reusable blocks to structure your content. For example:

  • A testimonial on your homepage and your product page.
  • A “this post is part of a series” box that you insert part-way through your article.
  • A “Follow me on social media” section you can weave into the prose of your popular article.
  • Complex but static blocks, such as a “Subscribe to my newsletter” box, a contact form, a survey, quiz, or polls.

Key properties are that reusable blocks are unbeatable when you want to reuse a snippet of content, edit it in one place, and have the changes propagate to every instance.

Show me how

To create a reusable block, open the block editor and create the content you want to reuse:

Now select the content you want to turn into a reusable block, then click the three-dot “More” menu and choose “Add to Reusable blocks.”

Voilà, you’ve now created a reusable block. From now on, you can find this block, and any other you create, in the “Reusable blocks” tab in the block library:

This is also where you can insert the newly created block on any of your posts or pages.

Where do I edit my existing reusable blocks?

To edit a reusable block, select it and make your edits. When you make an edit, the Publish button will have a little dot indicator:

This dot indicates you’ve made a global change that potentially affects posts beyond just the one you’re editing, the same as when you’re editing templates. This lets you confirm the change was intentional.

Another way to edit your reusable blocks is to click the global three-dot “More” menu and selecting “Manage all reusable blocks”:

This takes you to a section letting you edit, rename, export, or delete every reusable block you created. 

What else can I do?

Here are a couple of tips and tricks you can leverage to get the most out of reusable blocks.

Give them a good name

When you name a reusable block, you are essentially choosing your search terms, as the name is what you search for in the block library (or when you use the “slash command,” typing / in an empty paragraph):

Avoid names such as “Gallery” or “Image,” as that’ll be annoying when you just want to insert one of those. You can avoid that with a unique name, such as “My author biography.”

Insert in the best place of your content flow

One obvious benefit of reusable blocks is that they are just blocks, just like everything else in the block editor. That means you can insert it anywhere in your content. You might want your rich author biography to sit at the top or bottom of the post, but This post is part of a series box that might sit well two or three paragraphs not to disrupt the reading flow.

A design shortcut

Maybe you created a complex layout you’re happy with, a call to action with the right image and buttons, and it took a while to get it just right. Go on and save it as a reusable block: even if you mean to insert it only to convert it to a regular block, it might still save you a minute. 

To convert a reusable block to regular (blocks, select it and click the “Convert to regular blocks”:

Design by Beatriz Fialho.

Tip: You can also find some nice patterns on Gutenberg Hub or ShareABlock.

Take it with you

Need to move to another site? You can both export and import reusable blocks. Go to the Manage all reusable blocks section from the global three-dot “More” menu, hover over the block you want to export, and click “Export as JSON”:

The downloaded file can be imported on any WordPress 5.0 or newer website.

Try it

Create a draft post and play around with Reusable Blocks to see how you might start using them. You can always delete them when you’re done playing.

You can test importing and using a small reusable block I created as an example. It’s a “Further reading” block that shows the four latest posts from the category “Featured”:

It might work well as a highlight in an article, giving the reader something new to read or awareness of your other content.

The videos in this post show the reusable blocks flow in the upcoming WordPress 5.7.

Download the block from this gist, import it to your WordPress site, then customize to make it yours.

by Chloe Bringmann at February 24, 2021 07:17 PM under tutorials

February 23, 2021

WPTavern: WordPress 5.7 Lets Administrators Send Password Reset Links

It’s that time in the release cycle when all the dev notes are rolling out ahead of the next major update. These notes include technical summaries of all the goodies coming in the next release. If you haven’t been paying close attention, there are always a few happy surprises in there that pop up as conclusions to tickets that contributors have been working on for years.

The new password reset feature coming in WordPress 5.7 allows administrators to manually send a password reset link to users, resolving a five-year old ticket. Instead of having to instruct a user about where to go to click on the lost password link and follow the steps, this new feature lets administrators push a button in the admin to send the link. If you have ever had to support clients or a community of users who may not be very technically inclined, this new password reset feature will save lots of time in helping users regain access to their accounts.

The “Send password reset” link is available in several places. Administrators can find the link on the Users screen, as well as in the bulk actions dropdown menu.

It is also available on the individual user screen with a button and a note clarifying that this action will not change the user’s password or force the user to change it.

The password reset email notification includes the site name, username, a password reset link, and the IP address where the request originated:

This password reset request originated from the IP address [IPADDRESS].

There is an open discussion on the original ticket regarding whether this email notification should include the administrator’s IP address.

“The IP address (while fraught with privacy concerns) is the only thing validating that this email came from the website and is not a phishing email,” contributor Gabriel Mariani said. “Unless there is a better way to validate the authenticity of the email I’d say it would be worthwhile to keep it.”

Others see the IP address as useful only if a user is attempting to verify that it is their own IP address or collecting the information to prevent a phishing attack. Giving out the administrator’s IP address doesn’t seem pertinent to either of those concerns.

“I could use my phone to send a reset, and I would have no idea what my IP was,” Mika Epstein said. “And that can easily be faked. Omitting the IP actually reduces the data being sent out that could be used by bad-actors.

“I think it’s more likely we’d have a savvy bad actor than end users who would need to ask for a password reset but also know what a valid IP is and how to ask about it.”

This part of the email text may be iterated on in subsequent patches or future releases of WordPress. Check out the dev note for more discussion on this feature, along with information about further customizing the notification email.

by Sarah Gooding at February 23, 2021 10:38 PM under passwords

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.7 Release Candidate

The first release candidate for WordPress 5.7 is now available! 🎉

Please join us in celebrating this very important milestone in the community’s progress towards the final release!

“Release Candidate” means that the new version is ready for release, but with millions of users and thousands of plugins and themes, it’s possible something was missed. WordPress 5.7 is slated for release on March 9, 2021, but your help is needed to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.7 yet, now is the time!

You can test the WordPress 5.7 release candidate in two ways:

Thank you to all of the contributors who tested the Beta releases and gave feedback. Testing for bugs is a critical part of polishing every release and a great way to contribute to WordPress.

What’s in WordPress 5.7?

  • Robots API and Media Search Engine Visibility
  • Detect HTTPS support
  • Lazy-load iframes
  • jQuery migrate-related Deprecation notice clean-up
  • Admin color palette standardization
  • The newest version of the Gutenberg plugin

Plugin and Theme Developers

Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.7 and update the Tested up to version in the readme file to 5.7. If you find compatibility problems, please be sure to post to the support forums, so those can be figured out before the final release.

The WordPress 5.7 Field Guide will give you a more detailed dive into the major changes.

How to Help

Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages! This release also marks the hard string freeze point of the 5.7 release schedule.

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.

Props to @audrasjb for copy suggestions and @davidbaumwald for final review.

Test this test that
Catch everything that you can
Before it’s live…

by Ebonie Butler at February 23, 2021 09:07 PM under Releases

WPTavern: FSE Outreach Round #2: Building a Custom Homepage With Gutenberg’s Site Editor

Anne McCarthy announced the second round of testing for the Full Site Editing (FSE) Outreach program. The call for testing asks that users build a homepage from the Gutenberg plugin’s site editor. Feedback is open until March 5.

The first round of testing began in December 2020 and ended last month. Testers were able to identify several pain points with template-editing mode from the block editor. The program created actionable items that Gutenberg developers could work to improve.

This second round is similar. However, testing covers a much larger and more complex area. Users will be leaving the familiar block editor and moving to the site editor, which is still months away from being a viable product.

McCarthy listed a 22-step process for building out a homepage. While I followed it for the most part, I got bored before finishing. This is one of the reasons I make for a poor test subject. I like to explore and see what is possible on my own. If I have an idea, I want to attempt its execution. I primarily stuck to the overall script, even if it was a bit out of order.

Eventually, I created a custom homepage for a restaurant called The Grilled Cheese — I would definitely open this restaurant in the real world if I ever leave the WordPress community.

Custom restaurant homepage with sidebar.

It is reasonably simple. All told, it took me around two hours of playing around with various concepts before arriving at this stage. To build something I would be happy with would have taken a few more hours.

Overall, I felt limited in laying out my ideal homepage. Each step was an uphill battle against the tools. I could have built this in less than half the time with HTML and CSS. I could do the same and more with other modern page builder plugins for WordPress.

Before diving into the results of my test, I have some brutal honesty. TT1 Blocks, which is the theme used for FSE Outreach testing, is not up to snuff. The theme does not reliably handle the multitude of possibilities the site editor sets in the hands of end-users. This entire experience could be made smoother with a better theme. However, the choices are limited, and I am not sure if there is a better block-based theme to work with at this point.

There were so many inconsistencies between the site editor and the front end that there is little point in listing them all. Spacing was grossly off. I generally see that as a theme issue. I spent much of my time in trial-and-error mode, making an adjustment in the editor and refreshing to see the front-end result. Rinse. Repeat.

Identifying Pain Points

While this post is critical of the site editor, it does not mean the experience was altogether poor. Seeing the improvement every week gives me hope that WordPress will have a site editor that rivals anything on the market. Eventually. However, my goal here is to provide real feedback that the team can use.

Outside of the general spacing issues mentioned earlier, I identified several stumbling blocks while building a custom homepage.

Maximum Widths

When designing a full-site page via the site editor, one problem stood out more than most. WordPress lacks a well-rounded “max-width” system. As a user, I was left with few choices in setting the width of the content area of my homepage. Currently, theme authors can set custom content, wide, and full widths. However, this system is horribly limiting. There is not much theme authors can do with this, and this problem directly limits what users can do in both the block and site editors.

I have previously written about the need for a design framework, one that is customizable by theme authors. Tailwind CSS has a max-width system that offers a boatload of flexibility. WordPress needs to start borrowing ideas from these modern design frameworks.

Add Block Icon

Getting the “Add Block” icon to appear when hovering in between elements in the default content area was rough. I had to position my mouse in a perfect position for it to appear. It was an exercise in frustration where even the slightest movement caused the icon to once again disappear.

Locating the ‘Add Block’ icon.

Switching to Top Toolbar mode made this far easier. I am assuming the default block toolbar was hiding it to some degree. The problem with switching to this mode is that my toolbar-choice was not saved. Each time I returned to the site editor, I had to enable it once again.

Query Block

The most frustrating aspect of listing posts on a custom homepage was setting a limit. I wanted to set the number to three. However, the Query block has no option for doing this. Eventually, I created a faux limit using the category filter, choosing one that had just a couple of posts.

Update: It is possible to set a limit as noted by Nick in the comments. There is a “settings” icon in the toolbar for setting the number of posts per page, an offset, and max number of pages. I am unsure why these particular query settings are separate from the others in the sidebar. It makes more sense for them to be grouped together.

Limiting posts by using the Query block’s category filter.

Another confusing aspect of the Query block is the keyword filter. As far as I am aware, WordPress has never used the “keyword” terminology. Outside of SEO plugins, there does not seem to be any context for what this filter does. I am guessing it works like a search keyword.

Global Styles for All Blocks

When switching over to the Global Styles panel, I noticed that some blocks were missing when applying styles on the block level. In particular, I wanted to adjust styles for the Latest Comments block.

I suppose that only blocks with typography, colors, and other design-related options appear in the list. This will likely confuse end-users when the site editor lands in WordPress. All blocks should have style options that users can customize.

No Full-Width Columns

For the content of my homepage, I attempted to create a full-width Columns block. However, the two individual columns were limited in size despite taking up 66.67% and 33.33%, respectively.

Full-width columns not spanning the full area.

This seems like it is a theme issue. I would also argue that this is one of those times where having more direct control over the max-width would have helped. I really wanted something that was between the theme’s full and wide widths.

Featured Images

There is no way to set the size of the image output by the Post Featured Image block. The only way to get a uniform size at the moment is to pre-crop the images before uploading them to WordPress.

There is no reason this should not essentially be a variation of the Image block. The only thing featured images need that is different is the option to link to the post.

by Justin Tadlock at February 23, 2021 08:47 PM under gutenberg

WordPress Foundation: The Basic principles of Open-source Software

The WordPress Foundation aims to educate the public about WordPress and related open-source software (OSS). Towards that end, the WordPress Foundation created the Introduction to Open-source workshops, which shed more light on the potential of open-source software, particularly in countries where there is less participation in OSS projects. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these workshops have moved online. The WordPress Foundation hopes to see more open-source workshops held online this year to help spread awareness about the importance of open-source software.

What are open-source software and Free Software?

Open-source software is software whose source code is available for anyone to view, modify and enhance. Free software refers to software that complies with “four essential freedoms” – to use, study, modify and distribute software for any purpose without legal restraint. Open-source software is characterized by the public accessibility of its code, while free software focuses on the capabilities for using and sharing the software.

Advantages of Free and Open-source Software over Proprietary software

Proprietary software is distributed in executable files where the source code is encrypted and not available. Free and Open-source software enables users to read and modify the code, thus allowing a host of advantages such as little (or no) cost, faster distribution, greater customization, and easy availability of bugs and security patches, to name a few. 

The Introduction to Open-source workshops cover the difference between different software types, the history of open-source software, its advantages over proprietary software, and how this applies to WordPress. The workshop also explains the differences between free and Open-source software and highlights the different types of software licenses. 

Want to learn more about Free and Open-source software? Participate in an Introduction to Open-source workshop!

There are four ways you can participate in an Introduction to Open-source workshop! 

  1. You can attend the Introduction to WordPress workshop from the comfort of your home! Learn WordPress now features an Introduction to Open-source video workshop that you can watch at your convenience. 
  2. Community members can also now host or participate in Introduction to Open-source workshop discussion groups in the Learn WordPress meetup group for a global audience. Sign-ups are now open for the following two discussion groups:

If you would like to host an Introduction to Open-source discussion group for a global audience, please apply to become a discussion group facilitator. 

  1. WordPress Meetup groups worldwide are also encouraged to organize an Introduction to WordPress watch party + discussion group (based on the Learn WordPress workshop on Introduction to Open-source) as part of their meetup (it does not need any prior approval). 
  2. Lesson plans for the Introduction to Open-source workshops are available! Meetup group organizers can plan their live open-source workshop based on the lesson plans. 

The WordPress Foundation invites community members across the world to join these open-source workshops and to organize workshops and discussion groups in their communities to help spread our mission of serving the public good with the help of Open-source software.

Meetup groups organizing Introduction to Open-source workshops will be featured on this website. All you need to do is to reach out to us with a brief write-up about your workshop along with pictures, and we’ll publish them here!

by Hari Shanker at February 23, 2021 12:58 PM under open source

Matt: Invest Like the Best and Building Worlds

On a Founder’s Field Guide episode with Patrick O’Shaughnessy we had an interesting conversation that covered a lot new ground, including an idea I’ve been playing around with on, as Patrick put it:

The idea from @photomatt that the best companies are those that build intricate worlds (in the same way that J. R. R. Tolkien came up with the elvish language) will always stick with me.

We also covered the pendulum of centralization and decentralization, current challenges facing the internet, and being a connoisseur of things overlooked. You can check out the episode on Apple, Google, Spotify, Overcast, and Pocket Casts.

I’ve been impressed by the audience of this podcast, a lot of people I admire reached out after this episode.

by Matt at February 23, 2021 05:10 AM under Asides

February 22, 2021

WPTavern: Native Lazy Loading Support for iframes Coming To WordPress 5.7

Felix Arntz, a WordPress core committer and developer programs engineer at Google, announced upcoming support for lazy loading iframes. The feature is included in the latest WordPress 5.7 beta and will officially ship next month to the larger community.

WordPress has supported lazy loading for images since version 5.5. However, support for iframes was not included in the initial feature set. Browser support for iframes was widespread at the time. However, it had not yet been formalized as part of the HTML Living Standard. Soon thereafter, it was added to the HTML spec, and discussion began anew for adding support into WordPress.

Unlike images, many users are likely unaware that they are using iframes. The primary use case for iframes is with embed blocks or the auto-embed system for users who are on the classic editor. For example, whenever a user adds a YouTube video to their blog post, the underlying code outputs an iframe.

Source code of YouTube embed shows iframe.

These iframes add weight to the page size and hamper loading time.

The opposite of lazy loading is eager loading. This is the default on the web, which loads all resources in bulk. This also often leads to slow-loading webpages when they contain many images or iframes. Lazy loading only loads the image and iframe sources when they appear in a site visitor’s viewport. This speeds up the initial load time of pages.

WordPress will only add the loading="lazy" attribute if an explicit width and height are set for the iframe. This is to avoid the page-shifting effect that happens when the iframe comes into view. Arntz wrote about this effect extensively when he announced support for image lazy loading. The same issue applies to iframes.

“A common user experience problem in modern websites is so-called layout shifting, often caused by slow-loading media resources like images,” he wrote. “By default, only after an image is loaded, the browser can layout the page correctly, which results in the content e.g. below the image to shift. This issue can be easily resolved by providing width and height attributes on img tags, as the browser will use them to determine the aspect ratio of the image so that it can infer the page layout ahead of actually loading the image.”

There are cases where WordPress will not add the loading attribute, even for oEmbed providers that it supports. The iframe content is not supplied by WordPress. The third-party providers create the HTML and send it back to the individual WordPress site. It is up to those third parties to follow best practices for adding width and height attributes.

“Since WordPress cannot guess the dimensions of the embedded resource, the loading="lazy" attribute will only be added if the oEmbed iframe tag comes with both dimension attributes present,” wrote Arntz.

Currently, the filter applies to the post content, excerpt, and text widgets. Perhaps WordPress will extend this to comment text one day.

Potential Problems With Ads

MaAnna Stephenson, the owner of BlogAid, brought up a concern for users who display ads on their site. There may be scenarios where lazy loading is banned in advertising terms or has a technical conflict.

“Has this been tested with folks who run ads on their site using an ad agency like Mediavine and AdThrive?” she asked. “They cannot have iframes lazy loaded, as the ads use iframes and they have their own lazy load mechanism for delivery.”

The problem is that there is no ideal way to exclude every advertising service and to distinguish them from other types of iframes. From a technical standpoint, it needs to be an all-or-nothing feature.

Handling ads falls squarely into plugin territory. Arntz covered such use cases in the post. Developers can disable lazy loading for iframes wholesale or target specific iframes with basic PHP. It would only take a few lines of code to build a plugin for specific ad services.

Jeff Starr also has a plugin for disabling lazy loading altogether named Disable Lazy Load. That could serve as a stopgap solution until something more specific to users’ needs comes along.

by Justin Tadlock at February 22, 2021 10:44 PM under WordPress

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.6.2 Maintenance Release

WordPress 5.6.2 is now available!

This maintenance release includes 5 bug fixes. These bugs affect WordPress version 5.6.1, so you’ll want to upgrade.

You can download WordPress 5.6.2 directly, or visit the Dashboard → Updates screen and click Update Now. If your sites support automatic background updates, they’ve already started the update process.

WordPress 5.6.2 is a small maintenance release focused on fixing user-facing issues discovered in 5.6.1. The next major release will be version 5.7, currently scheduled for release on March 9, 2021.

To see a full list of changes, you can browse the list on Trac, read the 5.6.2 RC1 post, or visit the 5.6.2 documentation page.

Thanks and props!

The 5.6.2 release was led by @desrosj. Special props to @isabel_brison and @talldanwp for helping to prepare the block editor related fixes, and @audrasjb and @sergeybiryukov for helping with other release related tasks.

Props to everyone who helped make WordPress 5.6.2 happen:

aaronrobertshaw, Addie, André Maneiro, archon810, Ari Stathopoulos, bartosz777, Bernhard Reiter, Daniel Richards, David Anderson, dbtedg, glendaviesnz, hmabpera, ibiza69, Isabel Brison, Jason Ryan, Jb Audras, Juliette Reinders Folmer, Kai Hao, Kerry Liu, Konrad Chmielewski, Jorge Costa, magnuswebdesign, Marius L. J., Matt Wiebe, Mukesh Panchal, Paal Joachim Romdahl, Prem Tiwari, Q, Riad Benguella, Robert Anderson, roger995, Sergey Biryukov, Sergey Yakimov, Steven Stern (sterndata), Takashi Kitajima, tonysandwich, worldedu, Yui.

by Jonathan Desrosiers at February 22, 2021 03:35 PM under Releases

February 19, 2021

WordPress.org blog: Reflecting on Gutenberg’s 100th Release

1.0 to 10.0

Gutenberg 10.0 released this week, February 17, 2021, marking the 100th release of the Gutenberg plugin; the 100th release of a journey that started more than four years ago when Matt announced the project at WordCamp US 2016. 

Where We Started

The past four years have not always been an easy journey. Shipping something this impactful is not easy, and there was precedent for keeping the editor as it was: WordPress had already tried to replace TinyMCE a couple of times already. What would be different this time around? The worry was “not much” and initially, very few people actively joined the project.

Six months later came WordCamp Europe 2017 and the first release of the plugin. The editor was nowhere close to being usable, but it “clicked” for some. The reactions to the presentation were hopeful, but afterward, there was a lot of pushback.

Gutenberg was (and is) an audacious project. With a project this big it attracted a lot of attention, and it became difficult to discern constructive debate from mere opposition. We each come with our context, and some people had a fixed idea about what they wanted for the project. Some wanted to reuse an existing page builder, others wanted to revive the Fields API project, some wanted it to be front-end-first, others wanted it just to replace the classic editor’s content area, some wanted it to be in Vue.JS, others wanted no change at all. With a product used by 40% of the web, you hope to find consensus, and when compromises have to be made, it can be difficult for those involved to avoid feeling that their voice is being ignored.

We have also made quite a few mistakes: stability wasn’t great in some releases, performance suffered in others, and accessibility as well. But we kept pushing forward, using feedback to improve the editor and the project in all aspects until its first inclusion in WordPress 5.0, and we’re still working to improve it today.

Where We Are

It’s a delight to see some people who strongly disagreed with the initial vision or approach to Gutenberg gradually come to enjoy using the editor and join the project to carry on its vision. Others might still not like it; some won’t ever use it. One thing is certain; we’ll continue doing our best to push forward, improve what’s already shipped, and ship new exciting features. We’ll continue making mistakes and hopefully continue learning from them.

Wednesday marked the 100th release of Gutenberg, and while that looks remarkable on the outside, the release itself holds what all the other releases did. It holds improvements to the existing features, it fixes bugs that users reported, adds new features, and it highlights experiments with new ideas.

What is remarkable about the release is the people. The ones who were with us from the start, the ones who were with us but left, the ones who joined in our journey, everyone who helped along the way, everyone who provided feedback, everyone who got their hands dirty, and everyone who tried to use this editor, extend it and provide ideas.

Thank you all.

by Riad Benguella at February 19, 2021 06:34 PM under Gutenberg

WPTavern: Taking on the Major Players, Plausible Analytics Offers an Alternative, Privacy-Conscious Stats Service

Plausible Analytics is not new on the scene. The two-person, EU-based team behind the company has been trying to carve its slice of the analytics pie against players like Google Analytics and WordPress.com Stats for nearly two years.

The self-funded and bootstrapped company is starting to gain a small foothold. It has been an uphill climb to get to usage on over 10,000 websites. Now, it is reaching out directly to the WordPress community with its Plausible Analytics plugin.

Plausible Analytics is a simple, open-source, lightweight (< 1 KB), and privacy-friendly alternative to Google Analytics,” said co-founder Marko Saric. “We don’t use cookies or track any personal data, but we still aim to give you as a site owner interesting and useful insights so you can improve your efforts.”

The company’s service is built on an open-source philosophy, possibly making it an ideal partner for WordPress. The source code for the analytics service is licensed under the AGPL version 3.0 and is publicly available on GitHub.

Users have two options for running Plausible Analytics. The first route is to use the company’s cloud-based service, similar to other stats-based services. The other is to self-host the code.

For the cloud service, there is a monthly, tier-based fee. Up to 10,000 pageviews runs $6 per month. Each level increases based on the number of views a site — you can also hook up multiple sites — receives. Users can knock 33% off the price by paying yearly, which puts the starting tier at $4 per month. Plausible also offers a 30-day free trial.

“It’s definitely a challenge to go against free products and a product as dominant as Google Analytics, but it does feel like the times are changing,” said Saric. “An increasing number of people are becoming aware that free means that you may be paying with something else such as the data of your visitors in the case of Google Analytics.

“With Plausible, you own your site data. We don’t share it with any third parties, and we don’t use it for any other purpose. As we don’t make money by selling your data, we need to charge a subscription fee to pay our costs and salaries so we can continue working on the product. We have tried to keep the prices as fair and affordable as possible starting at $4/month. We do have a free as in beer self-hosted version too for those who like to manage their own server infrastructure.”

For the self-hosted version, which might appeal to the DIY crowd in the WordPress world, Plausible is designed to run via Docker. Saric said you should have a basic understanding of the command-line and networking. The server must have a CPU with x86_64 architecture and support for SSE 4.2 instructions.

“Everything else really depends on how popular your site is and how much traffic you get,” said Saric. “But you should be able to run Plausible for a site that gets tens of thousands of monthly visitors even on the lowest Digital Ocean droplet.”

As of the latest plugin release, self-hosted support is built directly into it too.

How Plausible Analytics Works

Realtime stats from Plausible Analytics.

The service is much like any other analytics product. You sign up. The site gives you a JavaScript snippet, which you place in your site’s header. Of course, this is automatically taken care of via the plugin.

The service feels much like a stepping stone between what you might get between WordPress.com Stats and Google Analytics. It is a middle ground that shows promise for a young product. However, the interface feels easier to navigate and make sense of than either service. Plausible has plenty of room for growth, which makes it promising to see what the team has accomplished at this stage.

End-users can enjoy the typical stats they are accustomed to seeing and break them down by time frame. Referrer, page, country, and device data are all there. Users can also set up goals, get email reports, and hook up to the Google Search Console.

The downside to the Plausible Analytics WordPress plugin is that it is a bit bare-bones at the moment. It is merely a settings screen and integration layer between the site and service.

Plugin settings screen.

It is missing the make-or-break feature of a built-in analytics page. Many users are accustomed to accessing their stats directly from within WordPress.

“Yes, that’s the main thing we want to fix with the WordPress plugin,” said Saric. “We’ve introduced several features to make the plugin useful for WordPress sites, such as excluding admin users from being counted by default, the option to track 404 error pages, and clicks on external links. We also have an easy way to run our script as a first-party connection from your subdomain, so you get more accurate stats compared to Google Analytics which is blocked by many browsers and extensions.”

The team is currently working on an API for Plausible and on an embedded mode. Before introducing stats into the WordPress UI, they must complete these features.

Privacy-First Solution

Website owners and visitors are becoming much more privacy-conscious than in years past. In light of the GDPR and related legislation from around the world, companies like Plausible Analytics must navigate this new landscape while still providing the data that users need.

“Plausible was built as a response to GDPR, other privacy regulations, and cultural changes over the last few years,” said Saric. “Our mission is to reduce corporate surveillance by providing an alternative web analytics tool which doesn’t come from the ad-tech world.”

Plausible Analytics does not track individuals, and its data is aggregate-only said Saric. The service also does not rely on cookies or local storage, and there is no cross-site or cross-device tracking.

“We minimize any data collection in general, and whatever we do track is kept fully secured, encrypted, and hosted on a server in the European Union to ensure it is being covered by the strict laws on data privacy,” he said. “We’re very transparent in all the data we collect. We have an in-built feature that we recommend site owners use to open up their stats to the public and share it on their site to be fully transparent so their visitors and anyone else can view the data that they have access to.”

The Future of Plausible Analytics

The team recently introduced UTM tag support and custom events, allowing users to track whatever they want. Saric said that it is now possible to follow the full journey from an ad-click all the way to conversion on users’ sites.

“The next step for the WordPress plugin is to add the default out-of-the-box integration with popular third-party plugins to support event tracking for things such as contact forms and eCommerce,” he said. “This will make it a more convenient experience for WordPress users so they can get started tracking custom events without any manual configuration being required.”

All other features are done in the open on the project’s GitHub repository and its roadmap. The plugin is also open to community involvement on a separate repo. Saric credits community member and WordPress developer Mehul Gohil with help on the plugin.

by Justin Tadlock at February 19, 2021 05:03 PM under Plugins

February 18, 2021

WPTavern: WordPress.org Removes Fake Reviews for AccessiBe Plugin

After noticing suspicious review activity for the AccessiBe plugin, accessibility consultant Joe Dolson reported the fake reviews to WordPress.org’s plugin team. The reviews were removed in under 48 hours, thanks to Dolson’s detailed research.

At the time of reporting, Dolson found 31 five-star reviews, 2 four-star reviews, and 2 one-star reviews. After putting these into a spreadsheet, he found certain correlations among the first 11 five-star reviews:

  1. All eleven user accounts I viewed had a common pattern of registration and use: between zero and 3 support topics raised and 4-7 reviews over the last 18 months.
  2. Every one of these eleven accounts had at least one point of overlap with another user in that group. That is, for each plug-in or theme interacted with by one of the accounts, at least one of the other accounts also interacted with that plug-in or theme.
  3. Multiple accounts had submitted one-star reviews on another plug-in, and in a quick assessment of other one-star reviews on that plug-in, I quickly found another account that had also submitted a five-star review on AccessiBe.

Approximately 33 reviews were removed from the AccessiBe plugin’s page after the report. Plugin team member Mika Epstein said that the team “passes the reports to a volunteer who is amazing at hunting down VPNs and IPs for that.” She also recognized Dolson’s legwork and reporting as being instrumental in this particular case.

Dolson allowed me to view his spreadsheet, where he logged URLs for each suspected fake review, along with dates and reviews left on other plugins. These were not saved to the Internet Archive, but Dolson said they were all “pretty generic,” and that each one was a one-sentence review. The user profiles still appear to be there but do not have any activity listed.

“As a WordPress plugin author myself, I find the investment in falsifying positive reviews irritating,” Dolson said. “What some of us work for, they are simply buying – the appearance of a good product without the labor of winning customer opinion.

“I found the evidence of a hatchet job conducted systematically against another plugin chilling, however.”

The AccessiBe plugin is active on approximately 3,000 sites. Accessibility advocates have long held a certain amount of animosity towards the way its creators market the plugin as a quick fix solution, claiming it helps “mitigate the risk of lawsuits.” AccessiBe also has a well-documented history of paying for positive press. Dolson and others deeply involved in WordPress accessibility keep tabs on the plugin, which is how he came across the suspicious activity.

Soliciting paid or fake reviews is not a new infraction, and it has been explicitly forbidden in the directory’s guidelines for years. This falls under guideline #9: Developers and their plugins must not do anything illegal, dishonest, or morally offensive, which includes “Creating accounts to generate fake reviews or support tickets (i.e. sockpuppeting).”

Fake and paid reviews are a blight on any marketplace, and pop up now and then on the theme and plugin directories due to the power of WordPress.org as a distributions channel for freemium products. It makes it more difficult for the consumer to get an accurate understanding of the quality of the the product, but it’s not always easy to identify who commissioned the fake reviews.

Any user can help ensure the plugin directory has fair and honest reviews by flagging those that look suspicious. In the sidebar of individual review posts, logged-in users can flag a post for consideration. WordPress.org doesn’t often announce when it takes action to remove reviews but should confirm having received the report. In a rare case like this, Dolson’s writeup gives the wider community a glimpse into what it takes to track down fake reviews and get them cleaned up.

by Sarah Gooding at February 18, 2021 11:10 PM under Plugins

WPTavern: GermanThemes Releases Block-Ready GT Basic WordPress Theme With Custom Patterns

Today, GT Basic became the second theme from GermanThemes to go live in the WordPress theme directory. Like the company’s previous theme, GT Ambition, it is built around the block editor. It also introduces several custom block patterns.

The theme will not knock anyone’s socks off with its artistic merit. GT Basic is very much business in the front and business in the back, so it will not immediately appeal to everyone. However, it has everything you need and none of the things you don’t for setting up a WordPress website.

Out of the box, it is an architecturally-sound business theme. Its layout, structure, and typography make for a well-rounded design applicable to nearly any site. With a few modifications via the customizer, users can personalize it.

Its open-canvas feel gives ample room for using the entire content area for building custom page layouts, which is what business site owners should be looking for. The theme’s typography is on-point, creating a comfortable reading atmosphere for long-form content. It could serve well for a general blogging theme.

The theme is ripe for the possibility of child themes. These types of well-designed themes from a purely structural standpoint leave plenty of room for customization. GT Basic has just the right amount of visual options for users to put their unique spins on it. However, there is a lot of room for design-savvy people to do more.

About the Theme

GT Basic is, well, a basic theme. It is kind of there in the name. However, it includes enough options to make it more visually palatable. A few color and font changes could spice things up — the theme offers a range of system and Google font-family choices.

Modifying the theme’s typography and colors.

The theme also manages to not make a complete and utter mess of the customizer. GT Basic neatly tucks all of its options under a custom panel named Theme Options. Even its “theme links” section is in there. It is refreshing to see a theme not regurgitate pro links and single-use sections across the entire customizer controls frame. You will rarely see me use emoji, but the theme author deserves one on this point alone: 👏.

Where the theme gets things right is its support of the block editor. It does not try to do too much, relying on the core block styles as a foundation. It then tacks on a mere 46kb of additional CSS, unminifed, which is almost unheard of in today’s theme market.

Block design in the cafe demo for the theme.

GT Basic is one of the few themes I have seen that adds a custom block editor sidebar panel. Instead of going the page template route, it adds a full-width option, a method I have preferred over the years. It also has settings for users to disable the title and remove white space at the end of the content area.

The biggest downside to the theme is that the blog/posts page and archives display the full post instead of excerpts. It is one of my pet-peeves with theme design. Users should at least have the option to switch to an excerpt view.

The other cringe-worthy feature is the automatic output of the featured image alongside the full post content. This creates the dreaded double featured-image effect if the user also uses the same image within their post content. Again, a simple option to disable this would suffice.

Block Patterns

Inserting GT Basic’s portfolio block pattern.

I am a sucker for block patterns. Throw a few in any theme, and I will install it and see what I can build. The pattern system remains one of my favorite features of WordPress. It is also one of the areas where business themes can make their mark.

GT Basic includes four patterns for users:

  • Hero Section
  • Services
  • Call to Action
  • Portfolio

It does not take much to create unique layouts by mixing and matching two or more of them.

Thomas Weichselbaumer, the founder of GermanThemes, announced the adoption of block patterns in August 2020. He introduced block patterns across GermanThemes’ product line shortly after WordPress 5.5 introduced the feature.

GT Basic’s patterns would be more appealing if they included imagery and a spectrum of colors. The pattern layouts are designed well, but they lack the visual umph that inspires users. This is a missed opportunity to showcase how useful the patterns are. However, the theme author has built a few demos that could serve as inspiration.

by Justin Tadlock at February 18, 2021 10:52 PM under Reviews

February 17, 2021

WPTavern: Ask the Bartender: Frustrations and Finding the Right WordPress Block Plugins

Hello. I always supported the idea of a WordPress block editor as a whole, but lately, I’m a bit frustrated in that there are some blocks I need with urgency to work on a (non-visitor editable) wiki-like site (mostly a Tabs block, a Countdown block, an Accordion/Toggle block, a Table of contents block and a Footnotes block) and have not had luck finding appropriate plugins. I can name a long list of the specific problems I have with the ones available right now…


Andrés’ question spanned another 400 words or so. The following summarizes the problems he has run into:

  • Block collection plugins cover some but not all use cases.
  • Seemingly suitable blocks have too few or too many options.
  • Few blocks can be converted to other block types.
  • Many block plugins have not been updated in a while, causing fear of abandonment.
  • No way to batch convert blocks if a better plugin is found.
  • Need a footnotes block.

I do not necessarily see most of these as block-related problems. It can be tough to find that sweet spot, fine-tuning your WordPress site with just the right tools.

When I first began using WordPress in 2005, I hit these same sorts of problems. And they were problems throughout my career as a developer. I would find a plugin that would do almost what I wanted. I would find another that would add way too many unnecessary features. Often, nothing seemed to exist that was perfect for my needs. This was the sole reason I jumped into development — if you want something done right, do it yourself. I wanted my WordPress site to work according to my own strict specifications. No one else would do it for me, and I was a starving college student who could not afford to hire a developer. It left me little choice other than putting in the time and effort to make it happen.

While I am not suggesting that you must go down the path that I once did, it is always an option worth exploring. Many great developers began with this same type of frustration. They had a problem and needed a fix for it.

Open-source is about giving and taking. When you cannot pay it forward in terms of code, feedback is always welcome. That is one reason I like to highlight these questions. Even when I do not have the answer, maybe someone else will. Perhaps your requests will spark an idea for one of the many developers who read WP Tavern.

I definitely do not have all the answers to this laundry-list of questions. It is a broad subject that will take a community to solve.

Many of your issues might be handled by nothing more than having a conversation with the developers behind the block collection plugins you are using. Step one is to start a dialogue with them. I bet most are willing to listen to your ideas on how they can improve their products as long as you address them constructively.

Try One-Off Block plugins

Installing a single-use block from the editor.

The future of using blocks is going to be far more about finding and installing individual blocks rather than collections. WordPress has done its users a disservice by not actively promoting these one-off block plugins. We are over two years into the block editor and still do not have a block directory and management screen built directly into the software. Sure, users can search via the block inserter directly from the editor, but it does not replace a full management experience.

This missing feature has helped spur massive library plugins, which have become the de facto method that most users find new blocks. Far too many plugin developers are following the Jetpack model of packaging them all together. Without full block management baked into core, this trend will only continue. At this point, it may be hard to break from the mold.

However, you can still find a listing of available single-use blocks from the block directory on WordPress.org, at least the ones that plugin authors have appropriately tagged.

WordPress block directory.

I recommend testing these blocks before diving into a library-type plugin. There is always the risk of developer abandonment — there is nothing you can really do about that when it comes to any type of plugin other than supporting the authors.

The block directory’s problem is that it has only a little over 120 blocks — like I said, WordPress has not done enough to promote it. This means there is not enough competition to drive innovation and bring clear winners to the forefront. Some of the blocks are hit-or-miss projects. I know this does not breed confidence, but I can say from experience that I always loved user feedback as a developer. It is the lifeblood of any project. Give the plugins a test. Even if you do not like or use them, send your feedback over to the developers.

The following is a short, not comprehensive, list of some single-use blocks that may be appropriate for you:

Footnotes Block Plugin

I feel your frustration about footnotes. WordPress lacks this feature that any decent desktop-level writing software has. From past experience earning my B.A. in English, footnotes were a core part of the experience. It baffles me that the most-used CMS in the world has yet to add even a basic version of footnotes to its toolset.

Fortunately, other like-minded people want to see footnotes in WordPress. Ella van Durpe has a draft of a footnotes feature on the Gutenberg repository. This is an ongoing, three-year discussion. There is no reason to believe it will be baked into core soon, but it is reason enough to be hopeful.

The Academic Blogger’s Toolkit plugin supports footnotes. It has not been updated in a year and could be overkill for what you need. However, it would not hurt to give it a test run.

Several footnote plugins in the directory should work fine with the block editor. The standard method employed by many of them uses a ((double-parentheses)) to add footnotes from within the editor. Those notes are then parsed before being displayed on the front end.

That is not my style. I prefer the visual separation of the references and the footnotes in both the editor and the front end. The great thing about the block editor is that you can manually build footnotes without a plugin. Or, at least you can create almost-footnotes.

Cathy Meder-Dempsey, a genealogist and blogger for Opening Doors in Brick Walls, has an exhaustive tutorial on manually adding references and a footnotes section with the block editor. It is not a perfect solution and works best when you have only a few footnotes. This is because the reference links jump to the overall footnotes section rather than the individual notes. It is a quick solution in a pinch.

This post is a part of the Ask the Bartender series. If you have a question about WordPress, feel free to shoot it over. Your question could be featured next.

by Justin Tadlock at February 17, 2021 10:34 PM under gutenberg

WPTavern: Gutenberg Plugin Marks 100th Release with 10.0

Gutenberg 10.0 was released today as the 100th iteration of the block editor since the project began four years ago. Although 10.0 may seem like a big number, it’s just another incremental step forward in terms of new features, improvements, and bug fixes.

Version 10.0 introduces a new dynamic pages block for building navigation menus. It can be added inside a Navigation block or used on its own.

Sometimes when you’re clicking around inside block editor content, it’s hard to select the parent block with nested blocks. This release makes the parent block selector visible and offset in the block toolbar. An easier way to select the parent block will become even more important as the quote block is on track to get nesting support with paragraph, heading, list, and code blocks allowed as children.

Version 10.0 adds a darker social links state for dark themes, brings block patterns to the inserter for template parts and other non-root level positions, and improves keyboard navigation in the block patterns inserter. The plugin also introduced dozens of improvements and new features to the experiments in progress for the site editor, full-site editing architecture and blocks, as well as the navigation and block-based widgets screens.

Riad Benguella marked the 100th release milestone with a few reflections from his unique vantage point as a technical lead on the project. He commented on the friction and pushback that contributors had to navigate in Gutenberg’s earlier days:

With all the attention that the project received, it became difficult to discern constructive debate from mere opposition. We each come with our own context, and some people had a fixed idea about what they wanted for the project. Some wanted to just reuse an existing page builder, others wanted to revive the Fields API project, some wanted it to be front-end-first, others wanted it to just replace the content area of the classic editor, some wanted it to be in Vue.JS, others wanted no change at all. With a product used by 40% of the web, we need to find consensus, and when we make compromises it can be so difficult for those involved to avoid the feeling that their voice is being ignored.

He admits that the project made a few mistakes along the way with sub-par stability on some releases, and performance and accessibility issues. In spite of all the difficulties contributors encountered, they have been able to win over many users who were initially not excited about the block editor.

“It’s a delight to see some people who had very strongly disagreed with the initial vision or approach to Gutenberg gradually come to enjoy using the editor and join the project to carry on its vision,” Benguella said. “Others might still not like it, some won’t ever use it. One thing is certain though, we’ll continue doing our best to push forward, improve what’s already shipped and ship new exciting features; we’ll continue making mistakes and hopefully continue learning from them.”

The block editor has opened up a whole new category of tools for people building WordPress sites, even before full-site editing makes its debut. In the comments of the release post, Gutenberg users mentioned the themes and plugins that have helped them ramp up into delivering sites built 100% with the block editor.

“When I first looked at Gutenberg I hated it,” web developer John Brown said. “Now, two years on, do a mix of Gutenberg and Kadence Theme and blocks and you can build virtually anything.

“The sites we have converted from other page builders to Gutenberg work just fine and we get great statistics on GTMetrix, Pingdom and Google Page Speeds.

“I will say, you need to learn how to use it, but when you get your head around it, you can make anything that a client needs.”

Another user who adopted the editor in the early stages said he has reached the point where he can build sites without having to use a lot of extra tools.

“I started using Gutenberg at 2.0 and never looked back since then,” software engineer Orlando Alonzo said. “Now I’m starting to produce full sites with nothing more than GeneratePress Premium and Gutenberg.”

Version 10.0 marches forward with the same pioneering experimentation in the full-site editing (FSE) project that has brought the editor to the stable state it’s in today. Contributors are aiming for an MVP for FSE in April, with version 1 in core in WordPress 5.8, expected June 2021. Check out the 10.0 release post for the full details on FSE progress and other improvements to the editor.

by Sarah Gooding at February 17, 2021 09:43 PM under gutenberg

BuddyPress: BuddyPress 7.2.0 Maintenance Release

Immediately available is BuddyPress 7.2.0. This maintenance release fixes six bugs mainly related to issues when the BP Nouveau Template Pack is used with the Twenty Twenty-One WordPress theme. For details on the changes, please read the 7.2.0 release notes.

Update to BuddyPress 7.2.0 today in your WordPress Dashboard, or by downloading from the WordPress.org plugin repository.

Many thanks to 7.2.0 contributors 

iamthewebbvapvarun & imath

by Mathieu Viet at February 17, 2021 08:01 PM under releases

February 16, 2021

WPTavern: Phoenix, a Block-Based WordPress Theme With a Sidebar

Earlier today, the Phoenix theme was merged into the WordPress Theme Experiments repository on GitHub. Like all themes in the repo, it is not meant for use on a live site. It is a project to test new ideas for the upcoming Full Site Editing (FSE) system.

Imran Sayed of Codeytek Academy created the theme and is hosting a live demo. Those who want to give it a test drive can grab the code from GitHub.

Until now, every block-based theme I have seen has been missing a left or right sidebar. I am a fan of the open-canvas format that focuses on content, hiding the often-frivolous widgets that only detract from the important bits. However, sidebars are sometimes useful and even necessary.

When I refer to a “sidebar,” I am not talking about the dynamic sidebar system of widgets that we have all come to love or hate since WordPress 2.2. That system no longer exists in the world of FSE. The site editor merely has a concept of templates and template parts, which are containers for blocks. It is up to the theme author to give some default structure, even building template parts that work like sidebars.

A sidebar in the Phoenix theme literally means a block area on the side of the page.

It is such a simple idea, one that is nearly as old as blogs. It hardly seems something worth getting excited about, but I have been waiting a while to see a block-based theme with a sidebar. The feature further legitimatizes the path that WordPress is heading down. The greater theme development community needs to see these simple architectural ideas put into action. They need to see someone saying, “Hey, here’s how you do this simple thing you’ve been doing for a decade in this new system.”

Phoenix only adds a sidebar on the front page, but this is a start.

The theme is also more ambitious than some previous attempts by mixing static and dynamic features on the front page. Phoenix includes a header area with the standard site title and a nav menu. Below that, it adds a static hero section that users can customize.

Front page hero section.

It then uses the Columns block to split the content and sidebar. On the left, the theme uses the Query block to list the latest posts. On the right, it adds a sidebar template part.

Latest blog posts section next to sidebar.

The footer design is also bold in comparison to some other block-based themes so far. It has a full-width Cover block, which is followed by a group of columns, which is basically what a footer sidebar is.

Large footer area with columns.

Again, these are basic concepts that theme authors have been doing for ages. The idea behind many of these experimental themes is to start testing how to make them a reality using blocks. By the time the site editor lands in WordPress, theme authors can build upon these initial techniques and create more complex layouts.

This is especially the case with front-page design. If there is one area that has created roadblock upon roadblock when developing traditional themes, it has been the front page. Whether through custom options pages, the theme customizer, widgets, or a host of other solutions, nothing has stuck for well over a decade now. While the single post template is arguably the most important view on a WordPress website, it is the front page design that draws in the average user. It is also one of the biggest points of failure after users install a theme. That carefully-crafted front page in the demo looks nothing like what the users see on their own sites.

Phoenix is a step in the right direction because it shows how to mix these basic elements. Because it is a block-based theme, end-users have instant visual feedback in the site editor if they want to customize it.

The next step is for more themers to get involved in the Theme Experiments project. Start exploring more complex ideas and layouts. Use this moment to share knowledge and build upon the work that so few others are doing right now.

Phoenix is by no means a perfect theme. The front end and the site editor are not a one-to-one match at this point. Everything that looks wrong with it in the editor highlights just how far we have left to go.

I am carefully maintaining hope while being a realist about where FSE will be in 2021. This is a year for exploration. Perhaps we will have a few breakout themes that push the envelope toward the end of the year, but it all starts with experimental projects like Phoenix.

by Justin Tadlock at February 16, 2021 11:07 PM under Themes

WPTavern: Easy Digital Downloads 3.0 Now in Public Beta

Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) is coming up on a major milestone with version 3.0 in active development, a huge undertaking spanning nearly three years. The first beta was released today with one of the most extensive and technically detailed beta testing guides I’ve seen for a major plugin update.

Version 3.0 will migrate the bulk of EDD data out of WordPress core tables to custom database tables. During the lifespan of this nearly 10-year old plugin, practices have changed regarding the use of custom tables and the coming update will bring improvements to performance and data structures. Testers can download it from GitHub and go through the data migration process. The beta testing guide specifies a list of seven tables to check after migration to ensure there are no issues with data transfer or backwards compatibility.

The release post noted that the order refund functionality is still in development and will not yet be ready for testing until the beta 2 release.

EDD first came on the scene in 2012. Inspired by Jigoshop and WooCommerce’s successes with the “extensions marketplace” business model, EDD creator Pippin Williamson has prioritized extensibility from the beginning. There are now more than 102 official extensions and themes, and hundreds more third-party extensions. Anytime EDD core moves forward with major changes, the wide community of extensions is a critical consideration.

For this reason, EDD is pursuing a strategy of releasing a series of updates to as many extensions as possible that contain compatibility with 3.0. The announcement lists eight extensions, including Stripe Gateway, Software Licensing, PDF Invoices, Commissions, and others which have been updated and can be used in testing.

EDD is also encouraging third-party developers to check out the 3.0 code base and ensure compatibility ahead of the official release. WordPress freelancers and agencies who have clients using EDD will want to test out the 3.0 beta 1 ahead of time to find any concerns with data migration that would prevent their clients from having a smooth transition when the official release drops.

by Sarah Gooding at February 16, 2021 11:03 PM under easy digital downloads

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.7 Beta 3

WordPress 5.7 Beta 3 is now available for testing! 🗣

This software is still in development, so it’s not recommended to run this version on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with it.

You can test the WordPress 5.7 Beta 3 in two ways:

  • Install/activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (select the Bleeding edge channel and the Beta/RC Only stream)
  • Direct download the beta version here (zip).

The current target for final release is March 9, 2021. That’s just three weeks away, so your help is vital to making sure that the final release is as good as it can be.

Some Highlights

Since Beta 2, 27 bugs have been fixed. Here is a summary of some of the included changes:

  • Adjusted color contrast on various admin buttons to improve accessibility and readability (#52402)
  • Several fixes for the Twenty Twenty-One theme (#52287, #52377, #52431, #52500, #52502, #52412)
  • Replaced editor typeface with system fonts to improve privacy and performance (#46169)
  • Added i18n support to register_block_type_from_metadata function (#52301)
  • Media upload errors are now more accessible (#47120)
  • New filter to modify how pagination links are rendered when using paginate_links function (#44018)

How You Can Help

Watch the Make WordPress Core blog for 5.7-related developer notes in the coming weeks, which will break down these and other changes in greater detail.

So far, contributors have fixed 171 tickets in WordPress 5.7, including 64 new features and enhancements, and more bug fixes are on the way.

Do some testing!

Testing for bugs is a vital part of polishing the release during the beta stage and a great way to contribute. ✨

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

Props to @audrasjb and @lukecarbis for your peer revisions.

Finish line ahead
Defects in focus
We are almost there…

by Ebonie Butler at February 16, 2021 09:25 PM under Releases

WPTavern: Video: Matt Mullenweg and Josepha Haden Chomphosy Join WordCamp India for Fireside Chat

If you are living in part of the world where the polar vortex has plunged the weather into record-cold temperatures, you might enjoy this fireside chat from WordCamp India 2021. The event was held online over the span of three weekends from Jan 30 to Feb 14. Matt Mullenweg and Josepha Haden Chomphosy joined organizers over the weekend for an invigorating conversation about India and the global WordPress community.

One of the opening questions from the audience was about the growth of newsletter services like Substack, which seem no different from a WordPress-powered blog with emailing features. The audience asked how WordPress can help people who want to start their own newsletter service.

Mullenweg said that although “pretty much everything is possible in WordPress,” some things require putting together many different plugins and might have a higher barrier to entry:

I think there’s two ways we can address that. One is by education. People can actually get through a lot steps if there is a good guide. A great guide around how to build something just like Substack on your WordPress blog where you own everything would be really valuable and popular. Second, when we make that guide we will probably see some steps that we could eliminate or smooth, friction points which we could make easier for people to get through. Whenever we see something like a Substack pop up on the market, I think it’s a great moment for reflection to see where can that educate us to where we can improve our own product, plugins, and educational material.

Mullenweg also shared that Automattic has just made “a pretty large investment” in Titan, a company based in India, which he said will be a big part of how WordPress.com offers email going forward.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy gave an update on what’s next for in-person events, which may resume later in 2021 if things go well:

In the short term, the future of WordCamps is very careful. There’s an ongoing conversation about how we can bring everybody back together in a way that keeps us connected and provides all of that normal WordPress feeling but also is incredibly safe. It’s hard. There’s a lot of unknown stuff, but the success with the vaccinations we have seen so far is really heartening. Fingers crossed we can start allowing quite small in-person events starting in Q3 of 2021.

Haden Chomphosy also indicated that hybrid events may be here to stay, streaming to an online audience with captioning and translation available when possible, to make in-person events more accessible:

We can, with a little bit of pre-planning and with a little bit of intention, make sure that our events, even if they are in person, have an online component that helps to make sure the education that we’re trying to provide there gets to as many people as possible without having that barrier to entry of having to physically go to a place and pay your time to get there and pay your money to get there. I’m hoping that we see a little more consistent planning about that in our in person events so we can keep offering a more global mindset to our events overall.

She touched on the topic of training and education, noting that WordPress’ 0-101 level content is somewhat lacking. This critical “make or break” onboarding stage could be improved for many users.

They also discussed the need for attracting a younger generation of contributors that WordPress veterans can mentor to infuse new life into the project. Check out the recording below.

by Sarah Gooding at February 16, 2021 03:11 AM under News

February 15, 2021

WPTavern: Newspack Newsletters Now Live in the WordPress Plugin Directory

Automattic released its Newspack Newsletters project to the WordPress plugin directory earlier today. It is the first Newspack-related plugin the company has made available outside of GitHub or its custom platform.

Newspack is primarily a service geared toward small and medium-sized publications. Its goal is to work with news industry leaders to create a platform for bringing WordPress to more newsrooms worldwide. El Soberano, a Chilean news publication, became the first site to launch on the service in October 2019. Earlier this month, Newspack showcased 60 sites running on the platform.

The platform is more than one theme, plugin, or service. The code is open-source, available on GitHub, and free for anyone to use via self-hosted WordPress. Each plugin is built based on feedback between publishers and the Newspack development team to solve real-world problems for publications.

The downside? Until now, the various Newspack plugins have all been hosted on GitHub, which is a developer-centric platform.

Small newsrooms may not have an onboard developer or IT team. The discoverability of necessary plugins will often happen through WordPress.org. With Newspack Newsletters landing in the plugin directory, it could be an indication of things to come.

The Newspack team should not stop with their first plugin. The entire suite of tools should be available through the plugin directory. The Newspack Blocks plugin could have uses outside of news sites. Many users might find value in its Post Carousel block or various patterns. The Newspack Content Converter bulk-converts classic WordPress posts to the block system. Even the Newspack theme and its child themes should have a home on the official WordPress theme directory.

“We are planning to release the Newspack Content Converter on WordPress.org next, which is expected to happen in the next two months,” said Newspack lead Jeff Rabb. “Newspack has used this plugin on nearly every site we’ve launched to convert massive archives to Gutenberg, and we suspect this functionality will be very useful to the community. Several of Newspack’s blocks are already available on WordPress.org through the WordPress.com Editing Toolkit. The toolkit plugin includes the Blog Posts and Post Carousel blocks, both of which originate from the Newspack Blocks plugin. We’ll continue to examine whether other products our team is developing may be of wider use to the community, and release on WordPress.org as appropriate.”

How the Plugin Works

Newspack Newsletters launched in July 2020. The plugin initially integrated with Mailchimp. However, the team has since added Constant Contact support. It also requires integration with Mailjet Markup Language (MJML) for transforming the HTML from WordPress into responsive markup for email clients.

After installing the plugin, users must set up the API keys from the third-party services they are using. Steve Beatty has a complete walkthrough of the process in the following YouTube video:

The plugin adds a new post type for managing newsletters. It works much the same way as any other post or page. When adding a newsletter, users are initially presented with four layout options:

  • Breaking News: Displays the latest blog post and a message afterward.
  • Daily/Weekly: Lists the latest posts from the blog and a section for sharing curated links from around the web.
  • Daily/Weekly (No Images): An alternate version of the Daily/Weekly layout without post featured images.
  • Support: A template for asking readers to support the publication.

Of course, these are only starting points. Users can begin from any of these four templates or wholly from scratch. The plugin also provides an option for saving newsletters as custom layouts.

Selecting a layout from the newsletter screen.

While the plugin works similarly to posts and pages, it does limit the available blocks to those more suitable for emails. This subset includes text-based blocks like Paragraph, Heading, Quote, and List. It also supports few design-type blocks, images, and the plugin’s Post Inserter block.

The user experience is straightforward. Newsletter-specific settings are in the sidebar panel. One of the simple-but-useful features is a “Styling” tab that allows users to make wholesale font and color changes for a single newsletter.

Creating and sending a test newsletter.

Users can even send a test email before publishing to make sure everything is in order. This feature also makes it easy to test on a local machine before deciding if the plugin is worth using in production.

Newsletter viewed via Gmail.

Usage of the ads system was not immediately apparent. It was not until I ran a test email from the Edit Newsletter screen that I realized that the ad I had created was attached to the end of the email. Even after figuring this out, I still felt a disconnect between how ads worked for newsletters. There is a sidebar setting for disabling ads on the Edit Newsletter screen. Perhaps I am missing something, but ad placements should be a block the user can insert into the content canvas.

Despite feeling at odds with the ads system in the plugin, the overall experience was mostly smooth. The plugin is not overly complex, which can sometimes be the case when a developer attempts to add too many features. Newspack Newsletters has managed to hit that Goldilocks zone that should go over well with the average end-user.

by Justin Tadlock at February 15, 2021 11:17 PM under Newspack

February 12, 2021

WPTavern: WordPress Contributors Discuss Scaling Back Releases: “4 Major Releases Is Not a Viable Plan in 2021”

WordPress contributors are considering scaling back the planned number of releases in 2021. In a post titled “Making WordPress Releases Easier,” WordPress’ Executive Director, Josepha Haden Chomphosy summarized three years of research on reducing the effort required to have a successful WordPress release:

From my research, the work to automate what we can (and potentially get the project ready for more releases per year) would take 3-4 dedicated developers who are proficient in our backend tools/infrastructure, at least a project manager, 1-2 internal communications people, and probably a year or more of work (if we had all the resources, and they were working at full capacity). This means that 4 major releases is not a viable plan in 2021.

Haden Chomphosy cited a number of challenges, including update fatigue, risk of contributor burnout, a lengthy onboarding process for contributors skilled at doing the administrative work required during a release, and a lack of seasoned core developers to keep the process moving efficiently. She identified a few improvements that could be made in the short-term to improve the experience (mentorship, triage, feature proposals, and better product/processes) but other necessary updates to automation and scaling contributors could take a year or more of work.

The post is open for feedback but the decision to scale back the releases seems to have already been made. Ryan McCue, Director of Product at Human Made, commented with concerns about altering the predictability of WordPress releases and introducing what seems like a last minute change:

The predictability of the release calendar was a major step forward for the project, and for companies and teams (including mine) building on top of core. We have intentionally planned and structured our year ahead with this calendar in mind. Obviously, due to the tentative nature, we weren’t expecting dates to be final, but the overall picture seemed to be fairly clear with smaller shifts expected.

Whether WordPress does one release or twelve a year doesn’t matter hugely to me, but ensuring it’s predictable matters hugely for our planning, communication with clients, and for our day-to-day processes. Seeing this change pretty last moment is not encouraging, and is going to have real repercussions for us.

I sympathise with and understand the limitations of capacity and overhead of releasing more often, but changing this plan needs to be clearly communicated upfront, and with a clear plan that isn’t going to change again.

Haden Chomphosy responded with clarification on the conclusion communicated in her post. Without in-person events, contributors have struggled to keep the project moving at the same pace as before. She said the previous schedule had been made without much input from the contributors who are the most impacted.

“Perhaps the more appropriate way to have stated my conclusion would have been: ‘Barring any major changes to the available contributors and global circumstances, I don’t see how we can ship four releases this year without creating undue strain on the team who currently runs those processes,'” Haden Chomphosy said.

Component maintainers and theme/plugin developers participating in the conversation also confirmed that WordPress’ frequent updates have posed a challenge and that the risk of burnout is real. Entering into year two of a global pandemic has undeniably impacted contributors’ availability and momentum, and Haden Chomphosy’s post seeks feedback on a way forward that will avoid putting WordPress’ dedicated contributors under additional strain.

After this post was published, the release schedule for 2020/2021 was updated to show that release dates for WordPress 5.8 and beyond are yet to be confirmed.

Some stakeholders will undoubtedly be disappointed with the current lack of certainty on release dates for the upcoming year, but the conversation is still open and changes will be communicated as soon as contributors find an acceptable way forward.

by Sarah Gooding at February 12, 2021 11:09 PM under WordPress

WPTavern: Design Lab Releases Artpop, a Block-Ready WordPress Theme

Perhaps the fates have stepped in to prove a point. After I wrote a 2,000-word piece on the lack of quality themes in the theme directory, they decided to send a message. Not once, but twice this week, a new WordPress theme has managed to catch my eye. My rational mind knows that it was just a weird twist of timing, but I am not discounting the supernatural.

Design Lab’s sixth theme, Artpop, went live in the theme directory this week. It is marketed as a block-ready WordPress theme for blogs, portfolios, businesses, and WooCommerce shops. For the most part, it has a clean and open design that provides users a lot of wiggle room to build out pages with the block editor.

Simplicity is the name of the game, and Artpop has it in spades. It adds just enough small touches to make some elements pop. Of course, I am a fan of the blockquote style, which is one area that theme authors can leave their signature:

Blockquote design.

The theme is not without a few design issues. The typography does not lend itself well to long-form content, despite being pushed as a blogging theme. With a 760px-wide content area and 16px font-size, comfortable reading is thrown out the window. Sure, it looks good in the demo, but it is not practical in the real world.

Where the theme gets things right is its coverage of block styles. End-users can put together custom layouts that do not look broken. After two years of the block editor being in core, this should be the standard experience with all themes, but I cannot stress how much it isn’t.

I even recreated the “creative” homepage design that ships with the pro version of the theme to see how easy it was. If you would rather work with premade layouts, the upgrade is a mere $30. However, if you know your way around the block editor, you can definitely build the layouts yourself.

Editing creative-style Artpop Pro homepage design.

This is the direction that theme design should be going. Provide all the capabilities in the free product. Upsell the added value of having all these extra layouts/patterns premade and available at the click of the button.

By default, the homepage displays a five-post grid. A large featured post sits in the middle while the others are aligned on either side of it. This unique layout was what immediately drew me into the theme.

Grid-style featured posts.

Users can also choose a carousel of featured posts instead of the grid via the customizer. I am typically not a fan of slider-like sections. However, carousels, where it is clear there are extra posts to view, are sometimes an exception to the rule.

Carousel-style featured posts.

After working with block-based themes and the site editor so much over the past few months, these customizer settings feel ancient — both from a developer and end-user viewpoint. It reminds me to applaud theme authors for the years of work they have put into non-optimal systems. There will be a day when adding these types of layouts do not require nearly as much effort.

The one annoyance with the homepage options is that the theme author created a separate “Homepage” panel, which can easily be confused with the existing core “Homepage Settings” section. There is no good reason to not combine these two and free up some room in the customizer.

I would also like to see just a general cleanup of the theme’s customizer integration. The theme does not have many options, but it has nearly a dozen top-level sections, consuming precious real estate in the customizer.

The biggest downside to the theme is that it adds a customizer control that prints “Try Artpop Pro / Need more options?” to every section it adds. This is in addition to its two top-level upsell sections. The thing that makes it worse, however, is that it is broken. The “Try Artpop Pro” text is meant to be linked, but the theme has a bug that outputs the text followed by a broken link tag, which is only visible in the source code.

There really is no need for 10 upsell links in the customizer, even if eight of them are broken. The theme is nice enough on its own. The links just degrade it.

Aside from a few annoyances, the theme is worth exploring for those in the market for something new. While it is a freemium product, users can get a lot of mileage out of it without upgrading.

by Justin Tadlock at February 12, 2021 06:49 PM under Reviews

WPTavern: Elementor to Roll Out Significant Pricing Hike for New Customers

Earlier this week, Elementor announced a significant pricing hike coming in March 2021 for new customers:

On March 9th, 2021, Elementor will be adding new Studio and Agency Pro subscription plans and adapting the Expert plan, to best accommodate users’ growing needs. These changes will only apply to new purchases. If you’re on an existing active subscription plan, nothing changes for you.

The most radical change is coming to the Expert plan, which previously offered 1,000 sites for $199/year. The plan has been pared back to support 25 sites. Users who need support for 1,000 websites will need to purchase the Agency plan at $999/year, a 400% increase on the price for what was previously offered under the Expert plan.

Elementor emphasized that customers with an existing active subscription will not be affected by the pricing changes. The company is also giving customers a chance to purchase the current Expert plan ($199/year for 1,000 sites) before it is discontinued before March 9, 2021. Existing customers on the Expert plan have the option to upgrade to the Agency plan at a 50% discount (valid from March 9, 2021 until June 9, 2021).

Over the past 48 hours, Elementor’s announcement has received 270 comments primarily from disgruntled customers. Some of them are opposed to the pricing hikes and others are unclear about what it means for their subscriptions long term. Elementor representatives’ responses to questions on renewal have been studiously unclear.

One customer points out that the announcement does not explicitly say that existing subscriptions will retain the legacy pricing past the end of the billing period for this year. It does not state that existing active subscriptions will remain at the same price indefinitely, nor does it specify a term after which the pricing will go up.

Elementor Evangelist Ben Pines, head of the company’s web creator program, has left the question regarding renewals open, saying he “cannot see into the future.” Customers were left wondering whether the lack of clarity on the future of renewals is a foreshadowing of prices going up after the current billing year.

“No one can predict the future, and offering a lifetime price guarantee is irresponsible for any future-facing company,” Pines told the Tavern. “What we can guarantee for sure is the extent to which we value user loyalty. This is why they have never experienced any price change in 4.5 years. We value our users’ trust, and have taken every step to ensure that our loyal users’ active subscriptions are not affected.”

The company has not confirmed whether existing active subscriptions will be guaranteed the lower pricing forever and reserves the right to eliminate legacy pricing at any point in the future.

In the announcement, Pines said the pricing model for Elementor Pro has hardly changed since it was introduced in 2016 and that it is time to update it to best accommodate customers’ evolving needs. Elementor is now installed on more than 7 million websites and caters to a wide community of users with varying levels of expertise. The new plans have access to 24/7 live chat support and a handful of other benefits, but many customers participating in the comments said they do not require chat support.

The upcoming pricing hike has heightened tensions for customers who feel the dramatic increase is unjustified for the software in its current state. They cited usability issues, persistent bugs, and performance problems that remain unfixed. Additional support features do not make the higher prices more compelling for this segment of the company’s customers.

Some who were disturbed by the radical price increase called for the company to consider creating a middle ground offering for the updated Expert tier.

“I agree that 1,000 websites for $199 is low,” one customer commented. “Many small people will never create 1,000 websites. What bothers me is $199 for 25. Would it be more reasonable if it was $199 for 50, to have some middle ground? Or maybe you do not want the little people around any more.”

A handful of customers commenting were unfazed, noting that anyone who builds 1,000 websites using Elementor and cannot afford $1 per work order should reconsider their business model.

Pricing changes can be a major source of friction for existing customers, as GitLab recently discovered when dropping its Bronze/Starter Tier and imposing a 5x price increase on those features in a higher tier. Although the immediate impact of pricing increases will primarily hit new customers, it’s the existing customers who have been paying for subscriptions for years who have the strongest opinions on the changes.

Raising prices to introduce more value for customers or to account for the increased support burden is a natural evolution for companies that experience rapid growth over a short period of time. Getting existing customers to lock in their auto-renewals by offering legacy pricing is also a strategy for ensuring a more predictable financial future for the company. But Elementor’s lack of clarity regarding term length for the discounted renewal pricing is the primary reason for all the agitation in the comments on the announcement.

by Sarah Gooding at February 12, 2021 04:58 AM under Elementor

February 11, 2021

WPTavern: WP Feedback Rebrands To Atarim, Moves To a Full SaaS Model

Earlier this week, WP Feedback founder Vito Peleg announced the company was changing its brand to Atarim. After 18 months since its launch, it would also be moving toward a complete Saas (Software as a Service) model.

WP Feedback was created as a standalone plugin. The goal was to provide a visual feedback tool that agencies and developers could use to communicate with clients rather than spending time deciphering unclear emails, chat messages, and phone calls.

“Starting as a freelancer and then an agency owner myself, it was always a huge pain to get clients to provide me with the content and design feedback I needed,” said Peleg. “And this led to us building a tool for us that worked extremely well with our workflow, which led to the decision to take this to the market.”

However, over time, the product evolved into something bigger.

“As we started gaining traction, I always kept a pulse on our users (now with over 5,000 freelancers and agencies), and it became clear that a standalone plugin, while it did do the trick, was simply not enough — especially for those that manage multiple websites and clients at the same time,” said Peleg. “It solved a huge part of the problem, but not the workflow in its entirety. There was a clear demand for us to build a centralized area to gather all feedback so we then created our Agency Dashboard — a cloud-based application that allowed our users to gather all the requests from different clients and websites to manage them in a single place.”

Peleg said the Agency Dashboard revealed a more complex problem in the industry. Agencies were patching together several different tools to provide various aspects of their services. These tools were leading to unnecessary friction and slowing down jobs, often adding weeks of additional time.

The team tackled more than they had initially bargained for. In 18 months, they added over 150 features to the WP Feedback platform. Peleg said the project has helped agencies and developers reduce between 50% and 80% of the previous time delivering projects and supporting clients.

In 2020, the WP Feedback’s users marked over 100,000 tasks as complete. Peleg calculates this has saved the industry over five years of unnecessary back and forth.

“The name WP FeedBack continued to position us as what version 1.0 was — a basic visual feedback plugin,” he said. “So along with version 2.0 that is releasing this week, I decided it’s a great opportunity to revamp the whole experience with a rebrand, repositioning, and a whole bunch of new ways that users can use our software to improve their lives.”

Peleg said that nothing is really changing for existing customers other than having access to more tools. It should be a smooth transition for them. The goal now is to attract new customers.

“I also hope that this transition will allow our industry to see the new reality we’re creating for delivering website projects and why it’s insane that a 5-6 days project still takes 6-8 weeks to complete,” he said.

How the Service Works

Atarim Agency Dashboard.

There are two sides to Atarim. One is a client-interface plugin installed on each project website; the other is the Agency Dashboard.

“The plugin’s role is to provide a simple experience for clients to provide the content you need, approve the designs and request ongoing support,” said Peleg. “Allowing to visually click any part of the website (including in the wp-admin screens) and just leave a comment. The agency will get an automated screenshot, the screen size, browser version, and a button that will take them directly to the request, logged in, with one click.”

Freelancers or agencies work from within the Agency Dashboard. This serves as a central location for all of the work that happens around client websites.

Technically, WP Feedback has already been a SaaS product with an accompanying plugin since launching its central dashboard early in the product’s history. Version 2.0 completes the transition from a plugin to a full-on SaaS. Feedback and other data are no longer saved to the client websites. Instead, they are hosted via Atarim.

“Over time, we noticed that it created unwanted bloat to the websites that were using our tools extensively, so off-loading all the data and loading it from our side, was the natural route,” said Peleg. “But since this is how the platform was initially built, this was a massive undertaking that I’m very happy that we finally completed.”

The client-interface plugin is built for WordPress. However, the technology stack behind the new Atarim Agency Dashboard is on Laravel and React. The team thought it would be the best framework for speed and to work with as the company continues to scale.

“I’ve been using WordPress myself for more than a decade — so it really comes naturally to me by now,” said Peleg. “The SaaS world is a different animal.”

“One of the biggest challenges was transitioning everything we have built, to be pulled from the cloud as opposed to being stored locally on the client’s site. The ‘cloud migration’ project, as we called it internally, has been a year-long endeavor that, whilst it was developed constantly, was pushed back by our need to support our existing users, our growth, COVID-19, and all the other fires that happen when you’re running a startup.”

by Justin Tadlock at February 11, 2021 09:54 PM under News

WordPress.org blog: People of WordPress: Pooja Derashri

WordPress is open source software, maintained by a global network of contributors. There are many examples of how WordPress has changed people’s lives for the better. In this monthly series, we share some of the amazing stories that are lesser-known.

Pooja standing in a banner

Pooja Derashri shares the story of how she went from being an introvert from a small village in India to becoming a developer and working on international projects, thanks to the WordPress community. 

As her interest grew, Pooja started following some WordPress-based groups on Facebook, where she first heard about conference-style WordPress events known as WordCamps. She later joined her first WordCamp in Ahmedabad, India. This three day event in 2017 opened up a new world—the WordPress community—and what would become a life changing moment. “WordCamp Ahmedabad has one of the best WordPress communities in India,” she said, “and everyone, including organizers and attendees were so humble and welcoming.”

The thirst for learning

A fascination with how things worked and a desire never stop learning were traits that shone through in Pooja from a young age. She moved from Banera, a rural village in India, to a nearby city, where she lived with her uncle while completing her higher education. With her enthusiasm for learning, she decided to become an engineer. When thinking back on that time she says, “Being from a rural background, people in my village tended not to be keen on the idea of sending their girl child to another city for further studies. Fortunately, that was not the case for me because my parents were immensely supportive of me and my interests. They’ve always encouraged me to believe in myself and fulfill my dreams. With their support, I pursued my engineering in electronics and communication.”

Discovering the opportunities in web development 

On completing her engineering training, Pooja was not sure what to do next. One of her friends suggested that she should explore web development. The idea intrigued her, and she sought out learning resources to study. She also secured an internship as a PHP Developer to give herself the chance to learn alongside professionals in the field.

Getting started with WordPress

“I found WordPress surpassed other platforms. The vast knowledge base made it easy for me to learn.” – Pooja

This internship led Pooja to her first job where she discovered a range of content management systems. Her view of the opportunities offered by these systems changed when the manager assigned her a small project using the WordPress platform. 

She recalls: “I found WordPress surpassed other platforms I had worked on earlier. The vast knowledge base made it easy for me to learn.” She soon became comfortable managing WordPress, working with plugins and themes, and wanted to learn it more in-depth.

Pooja soon joined WPVibes as its first team member. Being part of a new startup gave her a lot of experience and a chance to be involved in new processes. As the company expanded they started providing custom plugin development services per the client’s requirement and created some free and paid plugins. Pooja said, “We found it very exciting and productive. Today, we are a team of 10.”

Encouragement from the WordPress community

Contributing to WordPress increases your knowledge

At the event, she was able to listen to speakers from India and abroad, many of whom shared their journey with WordPress and how it had changed their lives. “One of the most inspiring sessions was by Rahul Bansal,” she said. “He talked about contributing to WordPress and giving back to the community. He also explained how contributing to WordPress can help you to enhance your knowledge. It inspired me to contribute to WordPress.”

The WordPress community of Ahmedabad continued to inspire Pooja and her husband Anand Upadhyay, and they later started a Meetup group in their home city of Ajmer as part of their contribution to the community. They continue to be involved in supporting local users through the Ajmer Meetup.

Pooja with a WordCamp Ahmedabad badge

At the next WordCamp Pooja attended, she joined its contributor day, which brings users together to give back to the open source platform and global community. Most of the contributors she met were interested in giving time to the WordPress CMS. She decided to venture into a different path and took her first steps by joining the WordPress TV group, where you can explore videos from WordPress events across the world. She also discovered the joy of translating into her local language, and is a Polyglot contributor for the Hindi language.

In 2019, she was selected as a volunteer for WordCamp Asia in Bangkok, Thailand, and it became an impetus to become even more involved with the community. She was very excited about this role, and to be part of her first WordCamp outside India. Sadly, due to the global COVID pandemic, the event had to be cancelled. Her enthusiasm has not diminished and she is eagerly waiting to support in-person WordCamps in the future and meet even more members of the global community.

Her determination to be part of making WordPress and sharing skills has only increased, which has led to contribute to the WordPress Training team. This team manages lesson plans and prepares content to support people who are training others to use WordPress. The team recently joined a few other teams to launch Learn WordPress, which brings learning materials together for users of all levels, and Pooja contributed to two different teams during the project.

Message to the WordPress Community

Pooja is eager to share her belief in the power for good in the WordPress community. “There is a huge community to help you with your learning, so start learning and try to give back to the community. It doesn’t matter if you are not comfortable with programming, there are many different ways in which you can contribute.” 

“What I have learned in my life is that it doesn’t matter from where you came and what background you have. All that matters is your hard work and positive attitude towards life.”

Read more stories in the People of WordPress series.


Thanks to Abha Thakor (@webcommsat) and Nalini Thakor (@nalininonstopnewsuk) for writing this story, and to Surendra Thakor (@sthakor), Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune), Meher Bala (@meher), Chloé Bringmann (@cbringmann), Olga Glekler (@oglekler), Christopher Churchill (@vimes1984), Larissa Murillo (@lmurillom), and Yvette Sonneveld (@yvettesonneveld) for work on the series this month. Thank you also to Pooja Derashri (@webtechpooja) for sharing her #ContributorStory.

HeroPress logo

This post is based on an article originally published on HeroPress.com, an initiative focused around people in the WordPress community created by Topher DeRosia.

by webcommsat AbhaNonStopNewsUK at February 11, 2021 09:30 PM under People of WordPress

WPTavern: WordPress Passes 40% Market Share of Alexa Top 10 Million Websites

WordPress has passed 40% market share of all websites, up from 35.4% in January 2020, as measured by W3Techs. These numbers are derived from the Alexa top 10 million websites, along with the Tranco top 1 million list. By W3Techs’ estimates, every two minutes, another top 10m site starts using WordPress.

Among the top 1,000 sites, WordPress’ market share is even higher at 51.8%, and captures a staggering 66.2% for new sites. In tracking the growth rate over the past 10 years, W3Techs shows WordPress sloping steadily upwards.

Matthias Gelbmann, CEO of W3Techs parent company Q-Success, explained the reasons behind this methodology:

The reason why we don’t count all the websites, is because there are so many domains that are unused or used for dubious purposes. We want to exclude the many millions of parked domains, spam sites and sites that simply have no real content. We are convinced that including all trash domains would make our statistics a lot less useful, as millions of them just run some software stack that auto-generates useless content.

In order to measure the “meaningful web,” W3Techs’ methodology excludes sites with default content pages displayed by Apache, Plesk, and cPanel, expired domains, and account suspended pages. It also excludes sites with the default WordPress message (“Hello world! Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!”).

In January, Squarespace overtook Drupal and Wix to become the 4th most popular CMS with 2.5% market share, trailing Joomla (3.4%), Shopify (5.3%), and WordPress (64.3%). Although most open source CMS’s are now in a gradual decline with proprietary competitors rising, WordPress remains a beacon of free software that continues to sustain its incredible growth.

In a time when some projects are abandoning open source principles when convenient for their business models, WordPress’ success has proven that an unwavering commitment to user freedoms does not have to be at odds with a thriving commercial ecosystem. These user freedoms are fiercely protected by the project’s leadership and passionate community of contributors. As a result, WordPress’ GPL licensing now underpins a multi-billion dollar economy of services, hosting companies, and entrepreneurs who have built their livelihoods using WordPress.

Every year I wonder when the project’s growth might slow down, but end up refreshing W3Techs’ site obsessively for a week in anticipation of another major milestone, as WordPress hovered at 39.9%. Naysayers love to claim that hordes of people will stop using WordPress when major, ambitious changes are proposed. But if W3Techs’ growth tracking is any indication, new website creators and those climbing the ranks to the Alexa top 10 million have not yet gotten tired of being greeted by the message: “Hello world! Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!”

by Sarah Gooding at February 11, 2021 04:38 AM under w3techs

February 10, 2021

WPTavern: GoDaddy Launches the Hub, a New Site, Project, and Client Management Experience for Web Professionals

On Monday, GoDaddy officially launched the Hub by GoDaddy Pro, a dashboard that brings together all of its products, pro-specific tools, and solutions. The experience is geared toward website developers and designers, creating a central location to manage their client work.

GoDaddy Pro is not a new service by GoDaddy. The hosting company launched its initial beta in 2015. However, GoDaddy Pro is now offering a fresh experience powered by the Hub. According to Adam Warner, the Global Field Marketing Sr. Manager at GoDaddy, the Hub is being built in collaboration with real-world web designers and developers from their Customer Advisory Board.

The Hub is at hub.godaddy.com. Existing GoDaddy Pro users can opt-in to the new Hub experience. However, they may continue using the legacy experience at pro.godaddy.com. They can also jump between both as needed. Eventually, the Hub will completely replace the legacy experience.

The Hub home screen.

“You can manage all your client projects, sites, and GoDaddy products from within the Hub,” said Warner. “Your clients’ WordPress sites don’t have to be hosted at GoDaddy. The Hub works with all web hosts. You can run one-click WordPress updates, security checks, backups, and other bulk site maintenance work within the Hub. We’ve seen users save an average of three hours per month, per site.”

The Hub allows web developers to access their clients’ GoDaddy products without needing to pass around credentials. Developers can also send a pre-loaded shopping cart or purchase products on their clients’ behalf.

“This makes it easier, and faster, to get a new project up and running,” said Warner. “You don’t have to worry about your client buying the wrong hosting plan or domain. Project management is integrated into the Hub, so you can keep track of client communications and ensure you’re delivering projects on time.”

Part of this journey began when GoDaddy acquired ManageWP and brought its team over in 2016. The acquisition was anything but popular at the time.

“We built the first version of our GoDaddy Pro site management tools on top of ManageWP Orion,” said Warner. “We added new GoDaddy-specific features, like allowing clients to grant delegated access to manage their GoDaddy products. We also included some premium addons for free on GoDaddy-hosted websites. Just like with ManageWP, sites managed in the Hub can be hosted anywhere, not just at GoDaddy.”

The Hub has an interface that feels more Average Joe than tech savant. I half expected to see call-to-action buttons littering the screen, funneling users to every conceivable GoDaddy product, but none were found. Expectations from the GoDaddy of 10 years ago still linger and die hard. However, the company continues to move beyond its old reputation with its free tools and more recent willingness to give back to the open-source community, including its contribution to Five for the Future.

Running a site security check.

“My goal in joining GoDaddy in 2018 was, and still is, to continue my participation in the WordPress and wider web designer and developer (WD&D) communities in order to listen and return feedback internally on how we can best support freelancers in starting, growing, and streamlining their businesses,” said Warner. “GoDaddy Pro (the legacy tool) already existed when I joined GoDaddy, and my mission was to spread the word and offer suggested enhancements based on real-world conversations with freelancers and their specific needs.”

Creating clients, projects, and sites from within the interface is simple. Performance and security checks went well for the one site I have connected. The tests seemed to be spot on in comparison to other tools I have used.

Site performance check.

GoDaddy Pro membership is free. However, the Hub will have premium site maintenance tools in the future. Automated security checks, performance checks, backups, and uptime monitoring are currently free. There is no timetable on when they will be behind a paywall. Some of the premium features will have a downgraded free option when the switch is flipped.

“While some adjacent programs (e.g. GoDaddy Reseller program, Pro subscription) may have associated costs or fees, GoDaddy Pro’s integrated project management, site management, and client management tools are free,” said Warner.

The commitment to offering the management tools for free is undoubtedly a good thing. Thus far, I like what I am seeing with the new Hub experience.

by Justin Tadlock at February 10, 2021 10:31 PM under godaddy

February 09, 2021

WPTavern: Gatsby Launches New WordPress Integration, Expanding Support for Headless Architecture

The Gatsby source WordPress plugin, Gatsby Cloud’s official WordPress integration, has been marked stable as of v4 and has been released to the public. The plugin sources data from WordPress for headless setups that use Gatsby on the frontend. It is a complete rewrite of Gatsby’s previous source plugin and works in combination with the WPGatsby plugin to integrate content preview and incremental builds from Gatsby Cloud. 

After going into public beta last year, the new source plugin was updated to enable the following:

  • Users add a WPGraphQL-enabled endpoint to gain access to WordPress content in Gatsby’s data layer for use in React templates
  • Optimizes links and images within the content HTML with gatsby-image and gatsby-link
  • Restricts image processing and optimization to images referenced in published content, so large media libraries don’t slow down build times
  • Automatically enables access to data from any WPGraphQL extension, integrating the site with other WordPress plugins

WPGraphQL is required as part of the setup. It turns any site into a GraphQL server, making the content easier to fetch. For the past 18 months, Gatsby has supported the development and maintenance of WPGraphQL to a stable 1.0 release. WP Engine recently hired its maintainer, Jason Bahl, to continue funding the project and expand on its own headless WordPress initiatives. This ensures that WPGraphQL will continue to have a strong future for use in decoupled projects.

“During the beta period, we were excited to see developer teams we admire adopt the Gatsby WordPress integration for their projects,” Gatsby marketing manager Hashim Warren said. “Teams from Facebook, Bluehost, and Apollo used Gatsby’s WordPress integration to create accessible, scalable, and easy-to-update web experiences.” All of these sites and more were using Gatsby + WPGraphQL in production before the new Gatsby Source WordPress plugin was officially stable, so it has been tested extensively during the beta period.

The rewritten plugin is better at bridging the gap to make Gatsby frontends less of a trade-off for developers who are working with editorial teams. It improves build times to be under 10 seconds for medium-sized sites.

The complexity of editing and rebuilding Gatsby sites has been one of the chief deterrents for content creators adopting headless architecture. It imposes a more complicated workflow that the Gatsby Cloud product is designed to fix. This is how Gatsby monetizes its WordPress integration – by making the workflow more like what traditional WordPress provides out of the box.

In recruiting potential headless customers, Gatsby emphasized the lower hosting costs of its stack. Gatsby Cloud is free for small, personal sites but limits users to 100 Real-Time Edits/month. In fact, all of the commercial plans have upper limits on the number of editors and how many times users can perform real-time edits.

Decoupled architecture still falls squarely within the realm of developers. Gatsby’s Cloud product is one way that developers who choose Gatsby for the frontend can make their sites more user-friendly for editorial teams. Developers who are interested in exploring the new integration can get a quick start by checking out Gatsby’s official WordPress starter.

by Sarah Gooding at February 09, 2021 11:52 PM under WPGraphQL

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February 25, 2021 08:00 AM
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