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April 10, 2020

BuddyPress: BP Beta Tester 1.1.0

Hi BuddyPress contributors,

We’ve just updated the plugin to help you test BuddyPress beta & RC releases. From now on, when testing BuddyPress pre-releases, you’ll find a new section into the plugin’s administration screen called “What to expect from next release?” as shown below.

By clicking on the “our Development Blog” link you will be headed to the development notes of the BuddyPress next release. It’s a good way to know about the important changes the BuddyPress final release will bring.

It’s the right time to play with this plugin! BuddyPress 6.0.0-beta1 has been released a few days ago. Once again thanks in advance for testing it: it’s an important stage of the development process for us.

Finally props to @iamthewebb for contributing to this new version of BP Beta Tester.

by Mathieu Viet at April 10, 2020 04:05 AM under contributors

April 09, 2020

WPTavern: Fighting the Stay-At-Home Boredom: Time to Create Rather Than Consume

A common theme among my friend groups is the utter boredom of being under stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of me wants to tell folks that there has never been a greater time in human history to find something to do at home. There is a plethora of content available at the touch of a finger or even voice command.

We have built a system, the web, that provides education, entertainment, and art at near-instantaneous speeds. Our WordPress community is a large part of that human endeavor.

Perhaps the problem lies with our consumerist culture. With large social media networks effectively taking over the web, the trend seems to suggest that people spend their free time glued to their mobile devices, consuming content created by others. Now that many are home full time, it is easy to grow tired of consuming content that would normally be reserved for free time at all hours of the day.

When asking what the elders in my family did in their free time decades ago, before modern technological advances, I noticed a different trend. They created music. On my grandmother’s side of the family, that musicality in our genes produced Hank Williams. On my grandfather’s side, we had The Tadlock Quartet, a little-known gospel group. If our family had a motto, it would be: if you don’t sing or play an instrument, you are not a Tadlock.

I have an uncle who is a painter and magician. Some of my cousins are in a band. My sister creates vases, tabletops, and other pieces out of broken glass when she’s not chasing her two-year-old. My father is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrument musician. I could go on listing the art that my family creates.

Maybe I was fortunate to grow up in an artistic environment. That artistry has never been about fame and fortune. Most of my family will never reach stardom. However, we continue creating because it is simply a part of who we are.

I also reminisce over my childhood years. I grew up in a lower-middle-class household. We did not have the luxury of the internet. We could not afford cable or satellite television. The only channels on the tube were 8, 12, 20, and sometimes 32. It was the era of the Saturday morning cartoon block, which I gladly awoke to every weekend with my off-brand cereal.

Like many kids of my generation, I had a video game console and a handful of games. But, there are only so many times you can play through The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time before finding something else to do.

Most of my childhood was spent creating things. I ran several issues of a homemade video game magazine, painstakingly drawing all the artwork by hand. Fortunately, my uncle had a printer and scanner so that I could make copies. I wrote short stories, crafted screenplays, and filmed movies on a borrowed camcorder. I built tree forts that probably would not have passed any level of building safety codes, but my friends and I survived.

I had about a three-year stint in the mid-’90s in which I fashioned myself a songwriter, following in my father’s footsteps (he has never sold a song but continues writing music to this day). I do not think I wrote anything other than love songs. What else would a 12-year-old boy write about? My only experience with love was a peck on the cheek from a previous girlfriend. Despite my naivete in matters of the heart, the human soul knows what it needs, and I expressed that through lyrics in the style of whatever boyband was popular in the given month. My music was not Grammy-worthy material, but it was deeply human.

As I grew into adulthood, I did not stop creating. My journey into the world of WordPress began only because I wanted to share my writing. Eventually, I learned to create a new type of art: WordPress plugins and themes.

Over my near-15 years of working with WordPress, my primary interest became more about building things that would help others to create. Even today, as a writer for the Tavern, my hope is to spark discussions and response articles that others create on their own blogs. This should never be a one-way discussion.

Like many others, I recently found myself in a position with “nothing to do.” For the previous several months, I had been working on a plugin development book during my free time. Suddenly, I found myself with an empty calendar for an entire weekend. No social gatherings. No book chapters due. That meant putting my artist hat firmly back on my head. It was time to enjoy the act of creation for the sake of it, which led to a new plugin.

It felt good to once again create something with no expectations. I was not getting paid to build this project. I wanted neither fame nor fortune. What I needed was a moment to express an idea.

The act of creating art is a primal part of our nature. The plugin was my modern-day equivalent of sitting around the campfire and crafting a story of slaying a great beast that happened upon the village.

I am a firm believer that every human has the capacity to create some form of artwork. A novel. A dance. A song. I have seen farmers with gardens so well-tended they would make you weep. I have watched a man with an intellectual disability hand-build intricate birdhouses. I have sat in astonishment, listening as a friend’s mother put together an entire piano arrangement after hearing a song only once.

For the same reason, I am proud to be a part of the WordPress community. I am surrounded by artists in their own right daily. We create software that allows others to share their creations.

When someone tells me they are bored during this social quarantine, I break out my speech about using this moment to create something. Anything. It does not need to have value to others. It should simply be an expression of one’s self. If they follow through, I give them a speech about building a site with WordPress to share what they have built.

No, now is not the time for boredom. It should be a time of pure creation.

Create a shop with WooCommerce for those handcrafted items you have been wanting to build for years. Build up your inventory right now so that it is ready to ship after the pandemic has passed. Write an e-book and sell it via Easy Digital Downloads. Start a local fundraising effort to help those in need in your neighborhood with the Give WP plugin. Create a new forum with bbPress on your favorite TV series or some other topic that piques your interest. Start a regular ol’ WordPress blog and share your thoughts during this time.

Use this brief moment in history to create something new. Whether it is a side hustle, a new business, or poetry, just create. Then, of course, share it via your WordPress website.

by Justin Tadlock at April 09, 2020 08:11 PM under Opinion

April 08, 2020

WPTavern: WordCamp Europe 2020 Is Moving Online This Summer

On Monday, the WordCamp Europe team announced it would hold its annual event online from June 4-6. The move comes after initially postponing this year’s physical event because of the COVID-19 pandemic currently sweeping the globe. Like many other events, the organizing team is in the process of switching gears and moving everything to work over the internet.

WordCamp Europe 2020 Online will hold a virtual contributor day on June 4. The last two days of the event will consist of live-streamed sessions and workshops for half days. The team is still working out the details and will keep everyone updated when possible.

The reopening of the event to a virtual audience was met with enthusiasm when the team announced it on Twitter.

Last month, the organizers delivered the news that they would be postponing the 2020 physical event. “The decision to postpone WCEU 2020 was not made lightly, as each member of the organising team is deeply invested in the event, but it was made collectively,” wrote the team on the WordCamp EU blog. “[The community] is, by far, the most heartbreaking part of a cancellation: the fact that we won’t get to gather together in person, to connect, share knowledge and inspire one another during our sessions, hallway tracks, and dinners.”

The organizers are rebooting the physical WordCamp EU event for 2021. Last month, the team confirmed June 3-5 for next year’s event. It will take place at the Super Bock Arena (Pavilhão Rosa Mota) in Porto, Portugal.

For those who purchased tickets to the 2020 event, they should have already received a refund or get one by April 10. Organizers are in the process of contacting sponsors to discuss refunds and getting involved in the online event.

The silver lining in this news is that everyone can attend WordCamp EU at no cost, albeit virtually rather than in person.

Based on the size of the event, WordCamp EU will be the standard that many other events and meetups will likely want to emulate and build upon. It will be a test of how the WordPress community can come together and show the world that we can continue doing great things during uncertain times.

Given that the current virus outbreak will likely continue through the summer, everyone in the WordPress community should mark this event on their calendars. Make social plans with the people who love the same software. It is free, and you are probably going to be home anyway. I look forward to an exciting event from the European WordPress community.

To stay up to date on WordCamp EU or contact the team, follow its social networking accounts:

by Justin Tadlock at April 08, 2020 07:18 PM under WordCamp Europe

HeroPress: Embrace Who You Are and Others Will Follow

Pull Quote: No one is excluded from carving their place in the WordPress industry.

Wondering how a university drop out with ADHD and a criminal record found a spot in the WordPress community? Read on to see why it’s often your “faults” that can make you a major asset to any product team.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a knack for spotting an opportunity to make money. Even as an industrious seven-year-old, I knew that if I spent my birthday money on a value-size container of gumballs, I could sell them off to my classmates for a profit.

Soon, every school recess and bus ride was a chance to make a sale and as I grew, so did my appetite for the hustle. Eventually, I replaced gumballs with mowing lawns and later, importing and reselling electronics. As long as there was a demand, nothing was off-limits.

At this point, you may be expecting the rest of my story to go something like “serial entrepreneur switches to digital products, joins the WordPress community, and lives happily ever after,” right?

Well, there are a lot more twists and turns before that since my hustling did end up getting me into a lot of trouble. My WordPress origin story includes a tale of how I escaped government spies in China, served a prison sentence in Kansas, and ultimately turned my mixed bag of (decidedly non-technical) business and people skills into a marketing position at Sandhills Development.

Tyler Lau with Alain Schlesser at the Open Film premiere at WCUS 2019 in St.Louis.

Jack of all trades, master of fun

One of the many reasons I’m always on the lookout for new projects and business opportunities is my Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a diagnosis I received nearly 14 years ago. As the only child of a divorced couple, all the attention was on me, but I couldn’t seem to keep my attention on anything.

Luckily, the disorder that made me a restless child has made me a creative and adaptable adult. In my current role, I’m a marketing relationship builder at Sandhills Development, a plugin company with a portfolio of brands including AffiliateWP, Easy Digital Downloads, and Restrict Content Pro. Unlike most people at Sandhills who focus on one or two of our products, my role spans across all our digital properties.

Not only am I representing a portfolio of products, but for each, my tasks involve post-sales communication, partnership, and affiliate development, B2B sales, and event marketing. Behind the scenes, I also organize our company retreats, book WordCamp travel arrangements, and even helped open two Sandhills breweries in Kansas. That’s right, we branched out of tech into beer!

In a way, I’m the people person at Sandhills Development and the face of the company to many in the WordPress community. In an industry built by programmers and developers with outstanding focus and attention to detail, someone with ADHD wouldn’t seem like a natural fit. And yet, the WordPress community really is one of those places where everyone can find the right spot for their unique mix of skills. For me, my skill was people, and that has translated into a slew of responsibilities.

Chatting with sponsors at WordCamp Seattle 2019

Relationship-building as a career

On paper, there isn’t much that qualifies me to work for a tech company. Most of my previous experience was in the restaurant industry, something I’m still quite passionate about. That’s probably why I am always in charge of food at our company retreats. In fact, even though I was far from a Luddite, nothing on my CV pointed to a career in tech. And yet, that fast-paced, customer-facing service industry environment has actually prepared me the best for everything I’ve taken on since.

When I’m at events on behalf of Sandhills, I’m meeting people from all over the world and developing personal and professional relationships with them, all while managing the logistics of event marketing. As an extrovert, I love it and I couldn’t imagine a job that didn’t involve relationship-building.

Understanding people and being able to operate in any setting isn’t just an asset to grow a company, it can also be key to surviving in precarious environments. While my social tact is useful for making friends and building community in the WordPress space, at one point in my life, it was necessary for survival. Like the time I went to prison.

The true meaning of freedom

In the WordPress community, the concept of freedom comes up often. The GPL, free software, open-source communities…These are all fundamental values on which WordPress is built. Practically speaking, anyone can launch a company, become a freelancer, work remotely, or be their own boss to gain more freedom in their work and life. This is particularly appealing to me as someone who has never fit into the traditional work mold and as someone who now values my freedom more than ever.

With attendees at WordCamp Ann Arbor 2019

Six years ago, my inner opportunist got me into trouble with the law selling marijuana. It was a quick way to make good money and after dropping out of college following a brain aneurysm, I needed capital to fund my first startup. Between my shifts as a waiter, I worked on prototypes for my first product. The company was growing fast and to protect my patents and take R&D to the next level, I had to work really hard.

Everything came to a screeching halt when I went to prison. If you’re wondering if prison is like TV shows and movies, the answer is both yes and no. It’s harder in a lot of ways but my spirit never broke. Meeting other inmates reminded me that I was in a much better situation than most. I was educated, well-off, loved, and knew I had a future once I was released.

Many inmates never graduated from high school and are completely computer illiterate. While on the inside, I taught science, math, writing, reading, and social studies. But still, I know many of them will struggle to get the mental health support and the job training they need to thrive after they serve their sentence. There’s more to freedom than just being on the outside. You also need a sense of agency and enfranchisement. As for me, my sense of purpose and my support network were plenty to keep me going and I was ready to take on my next (legal) business challenge as soon as I could.

With sponsors and organizers at WCUS 2019 in St. Louis

Your past doesn’t define you but you can choose to embrace it

I’m an outlier in many ways. From the day I was born, I was political. My father is a semi-dissident Chinese visual anthropologist and my mother is an art professor who left her home country of Japan to break from traditional Japanese gender roles. If you’re familiar with the history between these two nations, you’ll know a relationship between their citizens is rare and discouraged. I inherited a lot of that fearlessness, although I’m not sure if it’s nurture or nature. Most of my childhood was split, either following my father around the world, as he documented Chinese communities, or growing up as one of few Asian-Americans living in small-town Kansas.

I’ve never fit in, and yet this is what makes me able to adapt to most situations and relate to just about anyone. I embrace my eclectic, dissonant past and see beauty in the person those experiences shaped me to be. Now, I’m able to put those skills to good use in the WordPress community and beyond. Regardless of your level of physical ability, your struggles with mental health, your upbringing, and even your run-ins with the law, no one is excluded from carving their place in the WordPress industry.

The post Embrace Who You Are and Others Will Follow appeared first on HeroPress.

by Tyler Lau at April 08, 2020 09:00 AM

WordPress.org blog: People of WordPress: Mario Peshev

You’ve probably heard that WordPress is open source software, and may know that it’s created and run by volunteers. Enthusiasts share many examples of how WordPress has changed people’s lives for the better. In this monthly series, we share some of those lesser-known, amazing stories.

Computer science in the nineties

Mario Peshev

Mario has been hooked on computers ever since he got his first one in 1996. He started with digging into MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 first and learned tons by trial and error. Following that adventure, Mario built his first HTML site in 1999. He found development so exciting that he spent day and night learning QBasic and started working at the local PC game club. Mario got involved with several other things related to website administration (translating security bulletins, setting up simple sites, etc) and soon found the technology field was full of activities he really enjoyed.

The Corporate Lifestyle

Mario started studying programming including an intensive high-level course for C#, Java development, and software engineering, and eventually got a job in a corporate environment. He soon became a team lead there, managing all the planning and paperwork for their projects.

But he continued freelancing on the side. He grew his own network of technical experts through attending, volunteering at, and organizing conferences. He also ran a technical forum and regularly spoke at universities and enterprise companies.

Remote Working and Business Opportunity

The combination of a high workload and a daily three-hour-long commute made Mario’s life difficult. Many of his friends were still studying, traveling or unemployed. The blissful and calm lives they lived seemed like a fairy tale to him. And even while both his managers and his clients were abroad, he was unable to obtain permission to work remotely. 

So Mario decided to leave his job and start freelancing full time. But he found he faced a massive challenge. 

He discovered Java projects were pretty large and required an established team of people working together in an office. All job opportunities were on-site, and some even required relocation abroad. Certified Java programmers weren’t being hired on a remote basis. 

As Mario had some PHP experience from previous jobs, he used this to start his freelance career. For his projects, he used both plain PHP and PHP frameworks like CakePHP and CodeIgniter. 

For a while, Mario accepted work using commonly known platforms including Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress. In addition, he worked on PHP, Java, Python and some C# projects for a couple of years, after which he decided to switch to WordPress completely.

Building products

One of his projects involved a technically challenging charity backed by several international organizations. Unexpected shortages in the team put him in the technical lead position. As a result, Mario found himself planning the next phases, meeting with the client regularly, and renegotiating the terms. The team completed the project successfully, and after the launch, a TV campaign led millions of visitors to the website.

As a result of the successful launch, this client invited Mario to participate in more WordPress projects, including building a custom framework.

“I wasn’t that acquainted with WordPress back then. For me, a conventional person trained in architectural design patterns and best practices, WordPress seemed like an eccentric young hipster somewhere on the line between insane and genius at the same time. I had to spend a couple of months learning WordPress from the inside out.”

Mario Peshev

As his interest in WordPress grew, Mario stopped delivering other custom platforms, and converted clients to WordPress. 

European Community

Mario presenting to an audienceMario presenting at a WordCamp

For Mario, one of the key selling points of WordPress was the international openness. He had previously been involved with other open source communities, some of which were US-focused. He felt they were more reliant on meeting people in person. With events only taking place in the US, this made building relationships much harder for people living in other countries.

While the WordPress project started out in the US, the WordPress community quickly globalized. Dozens of WordCamps and hundreds of Meetup events take place around the globe every year.  All of these events bring a wide variety of people sharing their enthusiasm for WordPress together.

For Mario, the birth of WordCamp Europe was something magical. The fact that hundreds, and later on thousands, of people from all over the world gathered around the topic of WordPress speaks for itself. Mario has been involved with organizing WordCamp Europe twice (in 2014 and 2015). 

“There’s nothing like meeting WordPress enthusiasts and professionals from more than 50 countries brainstorming and working together at a WordCamp. You simply have to be there to understand how powerful it all is.”

Mario Peshev

Growing businesses and teams

A key WordPress benefit is its popularity – an ever growing project currently powering more than 35% of the Internet [2020]. It’s popular enough to be a de facto standard for websites, platforms, e-commerce and blogs. 

WordPress has a low barrier to entry. You can achieve a lot without being an expert, meaning most people can start gaining experience without having to spend years learning how to code. That also makes it easier to build businesses and teams.

“Being able to use a tool that is user-friendly, not overly complicated and easily extensible makes introducing it to team members faster and easier. It requires less time for adjustment, and as a result makes a team stronger and faster. The fact that this tool is cost-effective also allows more startups to enter the market. It requires  less time and investments to launch an MVP. This boosts the entire ecosystem.”

Mario Peshev

Helping Others

Mario also introduced WordPress to children and young people. He taught them how to use WordPress as a tool for homework and class assignments. By using WordPress, they were able to learn the basics of designing themes, developing plugins, marketing statistics, social media, copywriting, and so much more. This approachable introduction to the software meant technical skills were not needed.

He was also part of a team of volunteers who helped a group of young people living at a foster home struggling to provide for themselves. The team taught the basic digital literacy skills necessary in the modern workplace and potentially pay for their rent and basic needs. This included working with Microsoft Word, Excel and WordPress, as well as some basic design and marketing skills. 

“When you look at that from another perspective, a platform that could save lives – literally – and change the world for better is worth contributing to, in any possible manner.”

Mario Peshev

Contributing to the WordPress community

From the core team to supporting and organizing WordCamps, Mario has long been an active contributor to the global WordPress project. He is passionate about the connections fostered by people who are involved in building both the WordPress software and the community around it.

“The WordPress community consists of people of all race and color, living all around the world, working as teachers, developers, bloggers, designers, business owners. Let’s work together to help each other. Let’s stick together and show  the world WordPress can help make it a better place.”

Mario Peshev

Contributors

Thanks to Alison Rothwell (@wpfiddlybits), Yvette Sonneveld (@yvettesonneveld), Abha Thakor (@webcommsat), Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune) and Topher DeRosia (@topher1kenobe). Thank you to Mario Peshev (@nofearinc) for sharing his #ContributorStory.

HeroPress logo

This post is based on an article originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. HeroPress highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories would otherwise go unheard.

Meet more WordPress community members over at HeroPress.com!

by Yvette Sonneveld at April 08, 2020 12:57 AM under heropress

April 07, 2020

WPTavern: Jetpack Re-launches Search Feature as Standalone Service

The Jetpack team announced today that its search service is now available as a separate package from the professional bundle it was previously under. The move should make it more affordable for small sites to use the service. Larger sites might have to shell out more money, depending on how much content is on the site.

“Jetpack Search had only been available as a part of the Jetpack Professional plan at $29 per month, but that pricing felt unfair: a site with one million posts costs 1,000 times as much to index as a site with one thousand posts, but both sites were paying the same amount,” wrote Greg Brown, search wrangler at Automattic, in the announcement post. “New pricing makes Jetpack Search more affordable for small sites and still costs big sites less than the competition.”

Jetpack Search now charges by the number of records:

  • Up to 100 records: $5 per month
  • Up to 1,000 records: $10 per month
  • Up to 10,000 records: $25 per month
  • Up to 100,000 records: $60 per month
  • Up to 1 million records: $200 per month
  • Over 1 million records: $200 per month per million records

“Records” are posts, pages, and custom post types. However, that may change in the future. “We decided to use the term ‘records’ because we think there are use cases where we may want to index comments as their own records sometime in the future,” said Brown. “Similarly, there are use cases for indexing authors, tags, categories, etc. as their own records.”

Jetpack Search combines comments and bbPress plugin replies, which are technically a custom post type, with their parent post. For now, these will not count against users’ record counts.

One caveat with search is that media attachments are considered individual records by default. There are good reasons for some sites to expose attachments via search results. However, this could lead to unwanted records and cost more money each month for users who have a lot of media but do not wish to count those pages. Jetpack does have a filter hook that controls which post types are cached on the WordPress.com servers, so this can at least be configured via code.

Version 8.4 of the Jetpack plugin also includes an updated search interface. When a site visitor enters a search query, a fullscreen modal appears to showcase the search results. The results are snappy because they rely on the WordPress.com API and updated technology underneath. The new interface should work well with most themes out of the box on both desktop and mobile views.

Jetpack search results modal.

“This new version of Search is only available with the new plan,” said Brown. “The previous version of Search is still available on the Pro plan and will continue working as-is for the foreseeable future, but our focus going forward is on the new search experience.”

New Architecture Behind Jetpack Search

The new version of Jetpack Search runs on a re-architected technology layer. The old system was an Elasticsearch wrapper around the standard WordPress search feature. While it was quicker than normal WordPress search results, it was still slower than it needed to be. There was no built-in spelling correction. Searched terms were not highlighted.

The new system uses the same sync technology behind Jetpack features like Related Posts, Publicize, and Stats to cache content. It then builds a search index using the Elasticsearch engine from the cache.

The team has built an optimized API, which now supports searching as the user types and uses pageview stats as part of the algorithm in result rankings. Search input also goes directly from the browser to the API on WordPress.com, which minimizes the delay in returning results.

“All search engines work by preprocessing the data to ensure that when a user’s search query comes in the results can quickly be returned,” said Brown. “For Jetpack Search, very little of the processing time on our servers goes to processing the queries. Almost all of the server load comes from indexing the data and reindexing it as the content changes. Across our main search cluster, for instance, only 10% of the CPU time is spent processing about 850 search queries per second. Most of the time is spent on the 650 index operations per second.”

Brown explains this new architecture is why the new pricing tiers are based on the number of records cached from a site. “We preprocess the data, which expands how big it is; store it on the fastest SSDs we can buy; replicate it to multiple data centers; and then can quickly serve results as soon as a search request comes to our API.”

For readers who are interested in a more technical breakdown of the system, Brown has written a full overview titled Real-Time Elasticsearch Indexing on WordPress.com on the Data for Breakfast blog.

by Justin Tadlock at April 07, 2020 08:00 PM under jetpack

Post Status: Free event: Learn from top consultants during Post Status Live: Client Work

No doubt about it, we're in uncertain times and heading for very rough economic waters.

If you work with clients, you've already been seeing this.

But as an agency owner, consultant, or freelancer, this isn't the time to freeze in fear, it's the time to double down, to act and to keep moving forward, to see opportunity and to seize it.

At Post Status, we want to strengthen you, bolster you and energize you for what lies ahead as a WordPress professional.

This Friday, April 10, carve out a half day to get ideas and be inspired, to make plans, to take a big deep breath before you attack this next season of life and business, as part of our free online learning event called Post Status Live: Client Work.

We'll spend time talk with experienced consultants, discussing things that matter to you:

  • Manage the ups and downs of entrepreneurship better
  • Build recurring revenue to normalize your cashflow
  • Improvise and make sales in a downturn
  • Clearly communicate with your clients as their trusted partner
  • Not just maintain, but scale and grow from freelancer to agency
  • And perhaps most importantly, lead the people who work with you

We are privileged to have veterans of client work who will be sharing their insights, experiences and tips:

Each session will be moderated by Post Status partners Brian Krogsgard and Cory Miller.

You won't want to miss this free event.

Register Today!

by Cory Miller at April 07, 2020 02:47 AM under Planet

April 06, 2020

WPTavern: Proposal to Move WordPress Theme Review Process to GitHub

Denis Žoljom, the automation representative for the WordPress theme review team, proposed moving much of the theme review system over to GitHub. The idea is to move the interactive parts of the review away from the current system. The proposal claims such a move would streamline the process via automated tools and make the manual, reviewer-to-author interactions easier.

Currently, the theme review process takes place on Trac. For many theme authors and reviewers, the software can feel archaic. It does not have the feature set that developers have become accustomed to with other solutions. With the move of major parts of WordPress, such as feature plugin development, to GitHub over the past few years, it might be time to reevaluate other areas of the core project.

Žoljom noted in the proposal that reviews handled through Trac are cumbersome. As a former theme review team lead and reviewer, I know how many on the team feel. Right now, much of the review process is manual. It is handled via a lot of back-and-forth communication between the reviewer and author. There is no good way to leave a note or comment on a specific line of code when there is an issue. This ongoing discussion between reviewer and author is sometimes hindered by a language barrier. The experience of comparing changes between code updates is lackluster at best. Plus, the only automated check is handled by the Theme Check plugin.

Handling reviews on GitHub opens a new world of possibilities that could make reviews more efficient and provide a better experience on both ends of the process.

From 2015 through 2019, I ran a side business with a partner where we performed code reviews on plugins and themes. The majority of that business was working with commercial theme shops. Around 90% of the reviews were handled on GitHub.

At the same time, I was still volunteering with the WordPress theme review team. There was no comparison in terms of user experience. GitHub won hands down. This experience turned me away from wanting to perform reviews for the official directory. Nothing there was streamlined. It was tougher to point to specific code issues and check if a problem was corrected when an author sent in an update.

Žoljom’s initial proposal outlines a system where the theme author submits their theme through the WordPress theme upload page. If it passes the initial check, the system would automatically create a new GitHub repository with the theme. Theme authors can then fork this newly-created repository to work on code changes based on reviewer feedback. Theme updates would also work through GitHub.

“I think that forks are a good middle ground,” said Žoljom. “Authors have forks on their own GitHub accounts and can update those, and make updates that way even. That would definitely help us with people who are trying to trick the system by updating their themes once they go live with things that break the requirements.”

The proposal is merely an idea to explore at this stage. Much of the process could change if it is given the green light to proceed.

“In the end, I hope this initiative will go live and help us bring the review queue down,” said Žoljom. He has hopes the team can integrate more automated checks such as the WordPress Coding Standards. With more automation, it could also mean the theme review team could focus on other projects it works on, such as preparing for the future of full-site editing and continuing education.

Beyond the Review Process

One of the primary issues the team has faced over the years is educating authors on writing cleaner and more secure code. Some issues like sanitizing data on input and escaping it on output are still prevalent during reviews. The team’s history of communication via Trac has not seemed to help with education on the whole.

“The main point is the fact that many people can be involved in the review process, and then you have experienced reviewers who can show why some code is not good or needs improvement,” said Žoljom. “This provides a way for many people to see what is wrong with the code and how they can improve it. Plus the forked theme stays in their repo, so they can see the changes that they made and why.”

Žoljom has a few items in reserve for the long-term wish list. One possibility for the future may be setting up themes on Packagist for installation via Composer. He admits that it is a longshot at best.

“I see this as an opportunity to bring one aspect of WordPress up to par with other modern PHP frameworks like Laravel,” he said. “Plus, utilize automatic tools at our disposal. From PHP CodeSniffer, PHPStan, ES Lint, and a plethora of other tools, we could also show authors how they can set these tools on their projects and make their coding skills better. Maybe throw some automatic integration tests in the mix. The possibilities are really endless.”

by Justin Tadlock at April 06, 2020 08:08 PM under theme review team

April 03, 2020

WPTavern: Proposal to Add a Consent API to WordPress, Feature Plugin Available

On Wednesday, Garret Hyder announced a feature proposal for a WordPress Consent API. The proposal is one step on the larger privacy roadmap for core. If merged into WordPress, it would establish a standard method for core, plugins, and themes to obtain consent for various privacy-related features. The idea is to create a consistent experience for developers, site administrators, and site visitors.

The WP Consent API plugin is available via the WordPress plugin directory. Development is currently happening on the plugin’s GitHub repository.

Hyder identified several areas in which an API for handling consent could help in bringing a site into compliance with various privacy laws:

  • Consent management plugins cannot prevent other plugins from placing a PHP cookie.
  • Plugins that integrate tracking code on the client-side could break the site if blocked by a consent management plugin.
  • Minified URLs in JavaScript files may not be detected by automatic blocking scripts.
  • Using a blocking approach to handle privacy requires a list of all types of URLs when dealing with cookies and other types of tracking.

“Primarily this API is aimed at helping to achieve a compliant use of cookies or other means of tracking by WordPress websites,” wrote Hyder in the proposal. “If a plugin or custom code triggers, for example, Facebook, usage of this API will be of help to ensure consent. If a user manually embeds a Facebook iframe, a cookie blocker is needed that initially disables the iframe and or scripts.”

The goal is not to create functionality that would block third-party scripts, such as tracking from a site like Facebook. Because different jurisdictions have their own laws across the world, the actual management of blocking functionality would be best suited for a consent management plugin. This would be outside of the scope of what WordPress does out of the box. By providing an API directly in core, it would allow plugin developers to build consent management plugins that are needed in different locations. The API would merely be a means for all plugins to talk the same language. That standardization would allow consent management plugins to work as they should.

Furthermore, adding a front-end user interface would place additional scripts, styles, and functionality on all WordPress sites. These types are things are best handled by plugin developers.

The API proposes allowing the creation of consent categories. Such categories might be preferences, marketing, or statistics. They would be filterable by plugins. The API has two indicators to determine consent for a category: a region-based consent type, which can be opt-in or opt-out, and the visitor’s choice.

The team working on the project has put together a Consent API Demo to see how this plugin would work along with consent management on a website’s front end. The demo makes use of the Complianz plugin and an example plugin for showcasing how the API works.

Consent management is a tough area to handle in terms of web design and development. On the one hand, respecting the privacy laws of various jurisdictions is necessary for many people around the world. On the other hand, cookie notice popups on websites often create a poor user experience for site visitors, and that experience may only get worse before it gets better.

However, a standard API is past due in core WordPress. This will at least provide plugin authors with a means of working with consent management plugins. In time, maybe we will find a front-end interface that creates a nice experience while maintaining privacy.

The team is currently looking for feedback on the proposal and plugin. If the feature proposal is accepted, authors of consent management plugins should be prepared to begin integrating with the API.

by Justin Tadlock at April 03, 2020 07:25 PM under News

WordPress.org blog: The Month in WordPress: March 2020

The month of March was both a tough and exciting time for the WordPress open-source project. With COVID-19 declared a pandemic, in-person events have had to adapt quickly – a challenge for any community. March culminated with the release of WordPress 5.4, an exhilarating milestone only made possible by dedicated contributors. For all the latest, read on. 


WordPress 5.4 “Adderley”

WordPress 5.4 “Adderley” was released on March 31 and includes a robust list of new blocks, enhancements, and new features for both users and developers. The primary focus areas of this release included the block editor, privacy, accessibility, and developer improvements, with the full list of enhancements covered in the 5.4 field guide.

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

Releases of Gutenberg 7.7 and 7.8

It’s been another busy month for Gutenberg, this time with the release of Gutenberg 7.7 and 7.8. Gutenberg 7.7 introduced block patterns – predefined block layouts that are ready to use and tweak. This is an important step towards Full Site Editing, which is currently targeted for inclusion in WordPress 5.6. As a first iteration, you can pick and insert patterns from the Block Patterns UI, which has been added as a sidebar plugin.

Gutenberg 7.7 also includes a refresh of the Block UI, which better responds to the ways users interact with the editor. For more information on the User UI and Block Patterns, read this summary of the most recent Block-Based Themes meeting. Gutenberg 7.8, introduced on March 25, further enhanced this Block UI redesign. Both releases also included a suite of improvements, bug fixes, new APIs, documentation, and more!

Want to get involved in building Gutenberg? Follow the Core team blog, contribute to Gutenberg on GitHub, and join the #core-editor channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

WordCamp cancellations and shift to online events

In early March, the Community team issued new recommendations for event organizers in light of growing concerns around COVID-19. Following this guidance, and with COVID-19 declared a pandemic, WordPress community organizers reluctantly but responsibly postponed or canceled their upcoming WordCamps and meetups.

As community events are an important part of the WordPress open-source project, the Community team made suggestions for taking charity hackathons online, proposed interim adjustments to existing community event guidelines, and provided training for online conference organizing with Crowdcast. The team is currently working on building a Virtual Events Handbook that will continue to support WordPress community organizers at this time. 

Want to get involved with the WordPress Community team, host your own virtual WordPress event, or help improve the documentation for all of this? Follow the Community team blog, learn more about virtual events, and join the #community-events channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Link your GitHub profile to WordPress.org

Last month, an experimental feature was added to Trac, WordPress Core’s bug-tracking system, to improve collaboration between Trac and GitHub. This month, to help make tracking contributions to the WordPress project across multiple locations easier, there is a new option to connect your GitHub account to your WordPress.org profile. This connection allows for more accurate acknowledgement and recognition of contributors. You can connect your GitHub account to your WordPress.org account by editing your WordPress.org profile.

For more information and instructions on how to connect your accounts, read the announcement post.

Modernizing WordPress coding standards

Defined coding standards is an important step in creating the consistent codebase needed to prepare for requiring PHP 7.x for WordPress Core. As such, coding standards have been proposed for implementation in WordPress Coding Standards 3.0.0. This includes new proposed standards for namespace declarations, import use statements, fully qualified names in inline code, traits and interfaces, type declarations, declare statements/strict typing, the ::class constant, operators, and more. 

Want to get involved or view the full list of currently proposed new coding standards? Visit and add your feedback to the post on updating the Coding standards for modern PHP and follow the Core team blog.


Further Reading:

Have a story that we should include in the next “Month in WordPress” post? Please submit it here.

by Hugh Lashbrooke at April 03, 2020 12:01 PM under Month in WordPress

Gary: Bebo, Betty, and Jaco

Wait, wasn’t WordPress 5.4 just released?

It absolutely was, and congratulations to everyone involved! Inspired by the fine work done to get another release out, I finally completed the last step of co-leading WordPress 5.0, 5.1, and 5.2 (Bebo, Betty, and Jaco, respectively).

My study now has a bit more jazz in it. 🙂

by Gary at April 03, 2020 01:51 AM under WordPress

April 02, 2020

WPTavern: Create Custom Patterns with the Block Pattern Builder Plugin

Have I mentioned how excited I am about the potential of block patterns? For regular Tavern readers, I may sound like a broken record at this point, but I am going to continue evangelizing this upcoming feature for WordPress.

With no social plans or other important things requiring my attention this past weekend, it made for a good moment to dip my toes back into the development waters. I have not built a new plugin for public release since becoming a writer for WP Tavern six months ago. My excitement over block patterns was creating an itch that I needed to scratch. Combine that with the physical distancing we are all practicing during the current worldwide pandemic, it made for an opportune moment to throw together a plugin idea I had.

Let me introduce you to Block Pattern Builder.

When the initial API launched for block patterns in Gutenberg 7.8, it was immediately apparent how easy registering custom patterns would be for theme and plugin authors. Building a pattern was as simple as creating a unique ID, giving it a title, and pasting in the code for the blocks that make up the pattern. There is almost no coding actually involved with building patterns.

Because patterns are merely the HTML code from blocks, it meant that it was possible to utilize the block editor to create them. End-users could do this. They just need an easy way to publish their custom patterns. That’s where the Block Pattern Builder plugin comes in.

With the idea in mind, I knocked out a working prototype in an hour on Saturday afternoon. I have since cleaned the code a bit and packaged it for you all to use.

Download the plugin: You can grab the plugin from the WordPress plugin directory or install it directly from the new plugin screen in your admin. It is also available via GitHub.

How Block Pattern Builder Works

Block Pattern Builder requires version 7.8 or later of the Gutenberg plugin to work. Eventually, perhaps in WordPress 5.5, the block pattern system will be merged directly into WordPress. For now, the latest version of the Gutenberg plugin is necessary.

After installing and activating the plugin, it adds a new admin menu item titled “Block Patterns.” From that point, creating patterns works just like creating a post or page. You simply add a new pattern by clicking the “Add New” link. You can rearrange blocks to your heart’s desire. When you have a pattern that you like, publish it.

Creating a custom block pattern.

Once a pattern is published, it is available via the pattern sidebar in the block editor. Currently, this is a button in the top right corner of the editor. However, its location and interface are likely to change as the Gutenberg team continues developing the feature.

Inserting a block pattern into the post editor.

That is all there is to it. It is a simple system, but it will provide an easy way to play around with the patterns feature in Gutenberg.

Notes and Ideas

Because block patterns are an evolving feature in the Gutenberg plugin, the system could break until things are a bit more settled down. The underlying API could change. However, that does not mean we cannot have a little fun in the meantime. Just keep in mind this is currently flagged as an experimental feature in Gutenberg.

If you are a plugin or theme author who wants to register your patterns within your own plugins or themes, you can make use of this plugin too. Build your custom patterns within the provided editor. Then, switch over to the code view for the block editor. You can copy the block code and register it via the Patterns API.

If you need inspiration for patterns, Gutenberg Hub’s template library has over 100 ideas to choose from. You can copy and paste those directly into the editor and save them as custom patterns with Block Pattern Builder.

by Justin Tadlock at April 02, 2020 08:03 PM under Plugins

April 01, 2020

WPTavern: BuddyPress 6.0 Beta Introduces Group and Member Blocks

The team behind BuddyPress dropped the first version 6.0 beta release of the plugin yesterday. One of the most important features is the introduction of the new member and group blocks for the WordPress editor. The plugin now requires at least PHP 5.6 and WordPress 4.8 (5.0 to use the new blocks).

“I think it’s exciting times,” said John James Jacoby, lead developer of BuddyPress, on the addition of the new blocks. “Having things as blocks means end-users gain a bit more freedom with where and how they integrate BuddyPress into their existing sites. Right now, BuddyPress blocks are mostly presentational — quick ways to output stuff from the community anywhere blocks are allowed. In a few years, when blocks have matured and are the de-facto way to interact with everything, I can imagine there being a single BuddyPress block that wraps the entire functionality of the community into a single block like its own little web applet.”

BuddyPress 6.0 is scheduled for launch at the end of April. End-users can test the latest version of the plugin via the BP Beta Tester or by directly downloading the beta ZIP file.

Aside from the new blocks, the BP REST API is now complete, which provides developers with a more robust tool to build apps. The user profile photo and cover image fields have also been moved to the Members component of the plugin. This change allows end-users to use the features without activating the BP Extended Profile component.

Introducing the Member and Group Blocks

Version 6.0 of BuddyPress will include only two blocks. However, there are plans to add more over time. The development of blocks takes place in the BP Blocks repository on GitHub.

BuddyPress 6.0 will create a new “BuddyPress” category in the block inserter. This houses the current blocks and will contain those created in the future.

The member block is a simple member profile box that displays the member avatar, cover image, display name, and username. At the bottom of the block, it adds a button to view the member’s profile. Each of the fields can be enabled or disabled via the block settings.

BuddyPress member block.

The group block works similarly to the member block. The group avatar, cover image, name, and description are all shown by default. Visibility options are also available via the block settings.

BuddyPress group block.

The only trivial gripe I have with the new blocks is how the block settings are handled. Each setting is placed within its own tabbed section. It does not make sense to open or close four tabs to get to a single setting for each. The team may add extra settings under each tab in the future, but it currently feels like unnecessary mouse clicks.

Overall, the team has put together a nice update and the blocks worked without issue.

Future BuddyPress Blocks

Development of BuddyPress blocks began in November 2019. The team garnered 161 votes in a poll on which blocks to build. The initial work started based on that feedback.

“We think working on blocks to highlight a single Group or a single Member is a good starting point,” wrote Mathieu Viet, BuddyPress developer. It made sense to implement simpler blocks for the team’s first foray into block development. It will be a large undertaking that will take many months of development hours to build into the block system.

The team has plans for the future but is looking forward to hearing feedback. “We are very open to ideas into this area,” said Viet. “So the obvious next blocks are transforming our existing widgets into blocks. We are also working on a new Media component, which should include a block to select user-generated media from the block editor.”

Viet said he had at least one “crazy idea” in mind but hasn’t discussed it much with the team yet. “Bring a light version of the block editor into the front end to replace the textarea we are using to post activities,” he said. “Some BP block types like the User Media one would then be available to post richer activity content using a simple property like supports activity.”

Launching the block editor on the front end, even a light version, could be interesting. It may be the future for plugins like BuddyPress that rely on solid front-end posting solutions.

For the near-term future, Viet said the team is looking for contributors to the BP Blocks repository. “We’ll be very happy to include their work into BP Core if we believe our community members would be interested in these blocks,” he said.

by Justin Tadlock at April 01, 2020 07:28 PM under News

HeroPress: How WordPress enabled me to take care of my baby without compromising on my career goals

Pull Quote: Remote jobs seem to be very promising & advantageous for women, especially for moms.

Hello everyone! 👋

Since my first essay on HeroPress, there have been many changes in my life. But there are two things that remained constant – WordPress and rtCamp. 😇

Working Remotely

Three years back, I got married and had to relocate to Delhi, from Pune. Thanks to WordPress and rtCamp’s remote work culture, I didn’t have to worry about looking for a new career.

It’s been more than 3 years since I have been working remotely with rtCamp. And having a work-life balance would not have been possible without WordPress.

Taking care of my little one without compromising career goals?

A lot of surveys indicate that a high percentage of women quit their job after having a baby. Even the ones who continue to work, face a guilt of leaving their babies at home or at a daycare. Thanks to WordPress and my company rtCamp, I didn’t have to face this trauma. 😃

The remote work culture turned out to be a blessing when I got pregnant. I could take care of myself by staying in my comfort zone (home).

One may perceive that a remote job means a freelance job, which is not true. I have a full-time regular job and all the employment terms apply to this. Because of the flexible parental policy, offered by rtCamp, I got maternity leaves of 6 months.

This perk made my motherhood journey much more beautiful 😘😘. I can feed my baby girl whenever she is hungry, I can play with her whenever I want, I can see her growing every second. What else can a mother desire?

Remote jobs seem to be very promising and advantageous for women, especially for moms. Mothers no longer need to worry about leaving their little ones at home. I, as a mother, am very thankful to WordPress

BTW, rtCamp is always hiring! Head over to the careers page to check out the current openings! 🤗

The post How WordPress enabled me to take care of my baby without compromising on my career goals appeared first on HeroPress.

by Juhi Saxena at April 01, 2020 08:00 AM

March 31, 2020

BuddyPress: BuddyPress 6.0.0-beta1

BuddyPress 6.0.0-beta1 is now available for testing!

Please note the plugin is still in development, so we recommend running this beta release on a testing site.

You can test BuddyPress 6.0.0-beta1 in 4 ways :

We’ve scheduled the 6.0.0 stable release to the end of April, and we’d love you to give us a hand to get there!

Testing for bugs is an important part of polishing the release during the beta stage and a great way to contribute. Here are some of the big changes and features to pay close attention to while testing (Check out this report on Trac for the full list).

User Profile Photo & User Cover Image are now belonging to the BP Members component.

Since the very first version of BuddyPress, the local avatar management feature (renamed as Profile Photo in version 2.1) was depending on the BP Extended Profile component. When we introduced the Cover Image feature in version 2.4, we’ve also made it dependent of the BP Extended Profile component. In 6.0.0, both features has been moved to the BP Members component. It means they will always be available even if the BP Extended Profile component is not active on your setup. We recommend you to read this development note to learn what this move changes for end users and for BuddyPress plugin/theme developers.

The BP REST API is now completed!

In 5.0.0, we’ve introduced the first endpoints and a reference documentation about them. In 6.0.0, we are adding the remaining ones so that you can build great BuddyPress full featured apps!

PS: we will update the reference documentation with these new endpoints during this beta stage.

The first BuddyPress Blocks are arriving 🙂

In 6.0.0, you will be able to feature a specific member or a specific group of your community site into your posts or pages: discover more information about the BP Member Block and the BP Group Block reading this development note.

New PHP and WordPress required versions.

BuddyPress 6.0.0 is requiring PHP >= 5.6 and WordPress >= 4.8

How You Can Help

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

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on BuddyPress Trac.

by Mathieu Viet at March 31, 2020 11:00 PM under beta

WPTavern: WordPress 5.4 “Adderley” Includes Improved Editor, New Blocks, and Developer APIs

WordPress 5.4 “Adderley”, named in honor American jazz musician Nat Adderley, was released today and is now available for download. The update includes new social icons and buttons blocks, usability improvements to the block editor, and new APIs for developers to use in plugins and themes.

This release saw contributions from 168 new volunteers. There were 552 contributors in total.

The release was led by Matt Mullenweg, Francesca Marano, and David Baumwald. They were joined by the following contributors in supporting roles in getting version 5.4 released:

Users can update directly from their WordPress admin or grab a copy from the download page. For more information on updating, view the WordPress 5.4 support guide.

New Block Editor Features

Cover block with new gradient background and social icons block.

Users who have not been running the Gutenberg plugin, the project behind editor development, will enjoy an improved editor experience. A slew of features were developed in the past several months. This release will include features from Gutenberg 6.6 through 7.5. Bug fixes from more recent versions of the plugin are also included.

The development team refined the user experience with updates such as making it easier to select multiple blocks and pinning the toolbar to the top of the screen on mobile devices. They introduced a Welcome Guide modal to familiarize end-users with the block editor. Block breadcrumbs are easier to navigate.

The biggest user-facing change is that the block editor now defaults to fullscreen mode. Users who do not prefer fullscreen mode can revert this change by clicking the tools and options button (vertical ellipsis icon) and uncheck the “Fullscreen mode” option.

WordPress has added a gradient background feature to the button and cover blocks. Users can change the color of individual bits of text within all rich text fields (e.g., paragraphs, lists). Plus, the featured image box supports dragging and dropping an image.

The block editor has two new blocks: social icons and buttons. The social icons block allows users to add a group of linked icons to their social networks. This feature will become more useful once WordPress moves to full-site editing in the future. For now, usage may be limited by being able to place them only in post or page content. The buttons block lets end-users create a group of buttons. The existing button block is allowed only within the buttons block now.

With a few exceptions, WP Tavern has covered every major release of the Gutenberg plugin that will be included in this WordPress update. You can catch up all the details of each update via the following links:

Changes for Developers

WordPress 5.4 introduces several changes, some of which break backward compatibility, for plugin and theme authors. For a full overview, see our coverage of the most important code changes in our version 5.4 developer preparation post.

Theme authors now have access to the Gradients API for the cover and button blocks. They should also make sure their theme block styles handle the new social icons and buttons blocks.

There are some breaking changes that theme authors may need to account for. Several CSS classes have been renamed within the block editor. The core team also rewrote the HTML markup for the calendar widget and updated its classes.

Block developers can now use the Collections API to group collections of blocks by namespace. The Variations API allows developers to create variations of an individual block. The new social icons block makes good use of this API to create variations for each of the social icons.

Plugin and theme authors have new hooks for adding custom fields to nav menus. WordPress 5.4 also introduces the apply_shortcodes() alias for the former do_shortcode() function.

by Justin Tadlock at March 31, 2020 09:24 PM under News

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.4 “Adderley”

Here it is! Named “Adderley” in honor of Nat Adderley, the latest and greatest version of WordPress is available for download or update in your dashboard.

Say hello to more and better.

More ways to make your pages come alive. With easier ways to get it all done and looking better than ever—and boosts in speed you can feel.

Welcome to WordPress 5.4

Every major release adds more to the block editor.

More ways to make posts and pages come alive with your best images. More ways to bring your visitors in, and keep them engaged, with the richness of embedded media from the web’s top services.

More ways to make your vision real, and put blocks in the perfect place—even if a particular kind of block is new to you. More efficient processes.

And more speed everywhere, so as you build sections or galleries, or just type in a line of prose, you can feel how much faster your work flows.

Two new blocks. And better blocks overall.

  • Two brand-new blocks: Social Icons and Buttons make adding interactive features fast and easy.
  • New ways with color: Gradients in the Buttons and Cover block, toolbar access to color options in Rich Text blocks, and for the first time, color options in the Group and Columns blocks.
  • Guess a whole lot less! Version 5.4 streamlines the whole process for placing and replacing multimedia in every block. Now it works the same way in almost every block!
  • And if you’ve ever thought your image in the Media+Text block should link to something else—perhaps a picture of a brochure should download that brochure as a document? Well, now it can.

Cleaner UI, clearer navigation—and easier tabbing!

  • Clearer block navigation with block breadcrumbs. And easier selection once you get there.
  • For when you need to navigate with the keyboard, better tabbing and focus. Plus, you can tab over to the sidebar of nearly any block.
  • Speed! 14% faster loading of the editor, 51% faster time-to-type!
  • Tips are gone. In their place, a Welcome Guide window you can bring up when you need it—and only when you need it—again and again.
  • Know at a glance whether you’re in a block’s Edit or Navigation mode. Or, if you have restricted vision, your screen reader will tell you which mode you’re in.

Of course, if you want to work with the very latest tools and features, install the Gutenberg plugin. You’ll get to be the first to use new and exciting features in the block editor before anyone else has seen them!

Your fundamental right: privacy

5.4 helps with a variety of privacy issues around the world. So when users and stakeholders ask about regulatory compliance, or how your team handles user data, the answers should be a lot easier to get right.

Take a look:

  • Now personal data exports include users session information and users location data from the community events widget. Plus, a table of contents!
  • See progress as you process export and erasure requests through the privacy tools.
  • Plus, little enhancements throughout give the privacy tools a little cleaner look. Your eyes will thank you!

Just for developers

Add custom fields to menu items—natively

Two new actions let you add custom fields to menu items—without a plugin and without writing custom walkers.

On the Menus admin screen, wp_nav_menu_item_custom_fields fires just before the move buttons of a nav menu item in the menu editor.

In the Customizer, wp_nav_menu_item_custom_fields_customize_template fires at the end of the menu-items form-fields template.

Check your code and see where these new actions can replace your custom code, and if you’re concerned about duplication, add a check for the WordPress version.

Blocks! Simpler styling, new APIs and embeds

  • Radically simpler block styling. Negative margins and default padding are gone! Now you can style blocks the way you need them. And, a refactor got rid of four redundant wrapper divs.
  • If you build plugins, now you can register collections of your blocks by namespace across categories—a great way to get more brand visibility.
  • Let users do more with two new APIs: block variations and gradients.
  • In embeds, now the block editor supports TikTok—and CollegeHumor is gone.

There’s lots more for developers to love in WordPress 5.4. To discover more and learn how to make these changes shine on your sites, themes, plugins and more, check the WordPress 5.4 Field Guide.

The Squad

This release was led by Matt MullenwegFrancesca Marano, and David Baumwald. They were enthusiastically supported by a release squad:

The squad was joined throughout the release cycle by 552 generous volunteer contributors who collectively worked on 361 tickets on Trac and 1226 pull requests on GitHub.

Put on a Nat Adderley playlist, click that update button (or download it directly), and check the profiles of the fine folks that helped:

0v3rth3d4wn, 123host, 1naveengiri, Aaron Jorbin, Abhijit Rakas, abrightclearweb, acosmin, Adam Silverstein, adamboro, Addie, adnan.limdi, Aezaz Shaikh, Aftab Ali Muni, Aki Björklund, Akib, Akira Tachibana, akshayar, Alain Schlesser, Albert Juhé Lluveras, Alex Concha, Alex Mills, AlexHolsgrove, alexischenal, alextran, alishankhan, allancole, Allen Snook, alpipego, Amir Seljubac, Amit Dudhat, Amol Vhankalas, Amr Gawish, Amy Kamala, Anantajit JG, Anders Norén, Andrés, Andrea Fercia, Andrea Tarantini, andreaitm, Andrei Draganescu, Andrew Dixon, Andrew Duthie, Andrew Nacin, Andrew Ozz, Andrew Serong, Andrew Wilder, Andrey Savchenko, Andy Fragen, Andy Meerwaldt, Andy Peatling, Angelika Reisiger, Ankit Panchal, Anthony Burchell, Anthony Ledesma, apedog, Apermo, apieschel, Aravind Ajith, archon810, arenddeboer, Ari Stathopoulos, Arslan Ahmed, ashokrd2013, Ataur R, Ate Up With Motor, autotutorial, Ayesh Karunaratne, BackuPs, bahia0019, Bappi, Bart Czyz, ben.greeley, benedictsinger, Benjamin Intal, bibliofille, bilgilabs, Birgir Erlendsson, Birgit Pauli-Haack, BMO, Boga86, Boone Gorges, Brad Markle, Brandon Kraft, Brent Swisher, Cameron Voell, Carolina Nymark, ceyhun0, Chetan Prajapati, Chetan Satasiya, Chintesh Prajapati, Chip Snyder, Chris Klosowski, Chris Trynkiewicz (Sukces Strony), Chris Van Patten, Christian Sabo, Christiana Mohr, clayisland, Copons, Corey McKrill, crdunst, Csaba (LittleBigThings), Dademaru, Damián Suárez, Daniel Bachhuber, Daniel James, Daniel Llewellyn, Daniel Richards, Daniele Scasciafratte, daniloercoli, Darren Ethier (nerrad), darrenlambert, Dave Mackey, Dave Smith, daveslaughter, DaveWP196, David Artiss, David Binovec, David Herrera, David Ryan, David Shanske, David Stone, Debabrata Karfa, dekervit, Delowar Hossain, Denis Yanchevskiy, Dhaval kasavala, dhurlburtusa, Dilip Bheda, dingo-d, Dion Hulse, dipeshkakadiya, djp424, dominic_ks, Dominik Schilling, Dotan Cohen, dphiffer, dragosh635, Drew Jaynes, eclev91, ecotechie, eden159, Edi Amin, edmundcwm, Eduardo Toledo, Ella van Durpe, Ellen Bauer, Emil E, Enrique Piqueras, Enrique Sánchez, equin0x80, erikkroes, Estela Rueda, Fabian, Fabian Kägy, Fahim Murshed, Faisal Alvi, Felipe Elia, Felipe Santos, Felix Arntz, Fernando Souza, fervillz, fgiannar, flaviozavan, Florian TIAR, Fotis Pastrakis, Frank Martin, Gal Baras, Garrett Hyder, Gary Jones, Gary Pendergast, Gaurang Dabhi, George Stephanis, geriux, Girish Panchal, Gleb Kemarsky, Glenn, Goto Hayato, grafruessel, Greg Rickaby, Grzegorz Ziółkowski, Grzegorz.Janoszka, Gustavo Bordoni, gwwar, hamedmoodi, hAmpzter, happiryu, Hareesh Pillai, Harry Milatz, Haz, helgatheviking, Henry Holtgeerts, Himani Lotia, Hubert Kubiak, i3anaan, Ian Belanger, Ian Dunn, ianatkins, ianmjones, IdeaBox Creations, Ihtisham Zahoor, intimez, Ipstenu (Mika Epstein), Isabel Brison, ispreview, Jake Spurlock, Jakub Binda, James Huff, James Koster, James Nylen, jameslnewell, Janki Moradiya, Jarret, Jasper van der Meer, jaydeep23290, jdy68, Jean-Baptiste Audras, Jean-David Daviet, Jeff Bowen, Jeff Ong, Jeff Paul, Jeffrey Carandang, jeichorn, Jenil Kanani, Jenny Wong, jepperask, Jer Clarke, Jeremy Felt, Jeremy Herve, Jeroen Rotty, Jerry Jones, Jessica Lyschik, Jip Moors, Joe Dolson, Joe Hoyle, Joe McGill, Joen Asmussen, John Blackbourn, John James Jacoby, John Watkins, Jon, Jon Quach, Jon Surrell, Jonathan Desrosiers, Jonathan Goldford, Jonny Harris, Jono Alderson, Joonas Vanhatapio, Joost de Valk, Jorge Bernal, Jorge Costa, Josepha Haden, JoshuaWold, Joy, jqz, jsnajdr, Juanfra Aldasoro, Julian Weiland, julian.kimmig, Juliette Reinders Folmer, Julio Potier, Junko Nukaga, jurgen, justdaiv, Justin Ahinon, K. Adam White, kaggdesign, KalpShit Akabari, Kantari Samy, Kaspars, Kelly Dwan, Kennith Nichol, Kevin Hagerty, Kharis Sulistiyono, Khushbu Modi, killerbishop, kinjaldalwadi, kitchin, Kite, Kjell Reigstad, kkarpieszuk, Knut Sparhell, KokkieH, Konstantin Obenland, Konstantinos Xenos, Krystyna, kubiq, kuflievskiy, Kukhyeon Heo, kyliesabra, Laken Hafner, leandroalonso, leogermani, lgrev01, linuxologos, lisota, Lorenzo Fracassi, luisherranz, luisrivera, lukaswaudentio, Lukasz Jasinski, Luke Cavanagh, Lydia Wodarek, M A Vinoth Kumar, maciejmackowiak, Mahesh Waghmare, Manzoor Wani, marcelo2605, Marcio Zebedeu, MarcoZ, Marcus Kazmierczak, Marek Dědič, Marius Jensen, Marius84, Mark Jaquith, Mark Marzeotti, Mark Uraine, Martin Stehle, Marty Helmick, Mary Baum, Mat Gargano, Mat Lipe, Mathieu Viet, Matias Ventura, Matt Keys, Matt van Andel, mattchowning, Matthew Kevins, mattnyeus, maxme, mayanksonawat, mbrailer, Mehidi Hassan, Mel Choyce-Dwan, mensmaximus, Michael Arestad, Michael Ecklund, Michael Panaga, Michelle Schulp, miette49, Miguel Fonseca, Miguel Torres, mihdan, Miina Sikk, Mikael Korpela, Mike Auteri, Mike Hansen, Mike Schinkel [WPLib Box project lead], Mike Schroder, mikejdent, Mikko Saari, Milan Patel, Milan Petrovic, mimi, mircoraffinetti, mjnewman, mlbrgl, Morgan Estes, Morteza Geransayeh, mppfeiffer, mryoga, Muhammad Usama Masood, mujuonly, Mukesh Panchal, Nadir Seghir, nagoke, Nahid Ferdous Mohit, Nate Finch, Nazmul Ahsan, nekomajin, NextScripts, Nick Daugherty, Nick Halsey, Nicklas Sundberg, Nicky Lim, nicolad, Nicolas Juen, nicole2292, Niels Lange, nikhilgupte, nilamacharya, noahtallen, noyle, nsubugak, oakesjosh, oldenburg, Omar Alshaker, Otto Kekäläinen, Ov3rfly, Paal Joachim Romdahl, page-carbajal, pagewidth, Paragon Initiative Enterprises, Pascal Birchler, Pascal Casier, Paul Bearne, Paul Biron, Paul Kevin, Paul Schreiber, pcarvalho, Pedro Mendonça, perrywagle, Peter Wilson, Philip Jackson, Pierre Gordon, Pierre Lannoy, pikamander2, Prashant Singh, Pratik Jain, Presskopp, Priyanka Behera, Raam Dev, Rachel Cherry, Rachel Peter, ragnarokatz, Rami Yushuvaev, raoulunger, razamalik, Remco Tolsma, rephotsirch, rheinardkorf, Riad Benguella, Ricard Torres, Rich Tabor, rimadoshi, Rinku Y, Rob Cutmore, rob006, Robert Anderson, Roi Conde, Roland Murg, Rostislav Wolný, Roy Tanck, Russell Heimlich, Ryan, Ryan Fredlund, Ryan McCue, Ryan Welcher, Ryo, Sébastien SERRE, sablednah, Sampat Viral, Samuel Wood (Otto), SamuelFernandez, Sander, santilinwp, Sathiyamoorthy V, Schuhwerk, Scott Reilly, Scott Taylor, scruffian, scvleon, Sebastian Pisula, Sergey Biryukov, Sergio de Falco, sergiomdgomes, sgastard, sgoen, Shaharia Azam, Shannon Smith, shariqkhan2012, Shawntelle Coker, sheparddw, Shital Marakana, Shizumi Yoshiaki, simonjanin, sinatrateam, sirreal, skorasaurus, smerriman, socalchristina, Soren Wrede, spenserhale, sproutchris, squarecandy, starvoters1, SteelWagstaff, steevithak, Stefano Minoia, Stefanos Togoulidis, steffanhalv, Stephen Bernhardt, Stephen Edgar, Steve Dufresne, Steve Grunwell, stevenlinx, Stiofan, straightvisions GmbH, stroona.com, Subrata Mal, Subrata Sarkar, Sultan Nasir Uddin, swapnild, Sybre Waaijer, Sérgio Estêvão, Takayuki Miyauchi, Takeshi Furusato, Tammie Lister, Tanvirul Haque, TBschen, tdlewis77, Tellyworth, Thamaraiselvam, thefarlilacfield, ThemeZee, Tim Havinga, Tim Hengeveld, timon33, Timothée Brosille, Timothy Jacobs, Tkama, tmanoilov, tmatsuur, tobifjellner (Tor-Bjorn Fjellner), Tom Greer, Tom J Nowell, tommix, Toni Viemerö, Toro_Unit (Hiroshi Urabe), torres126, Torsten Landsiedel, Towhidul Islam, tristangemus, tristanleboss, tsuyoring, Tung Du, Udit Desai, Ulrich, upadalavipul, Utsav tilava, Vaishali Panchal, Valentin Bora, Varun Shanbhag, Veminom, Vinita Tandulkar, virgodesign, Vlad. S., vortfu, waleedt93, WebMan Design | Oliver Juhas, websupporter, Weston Ruter, William Earnhardt, William Patton, wpgurudev, WPMarmite, wptoolsdev, xedinunknown-1, yale01, Yannicki, Yordan Soares, Yui, zachflauaus, Zack Tollman, Zebulan Stanphill, Zee, and zsusag.

Many thanks to all of the community volunteers who contribute in the support forums. They answer questions from people across the world, whether they are using WordPress for the first time or since the first release. These releases are more successful for their efforts!

Finally, thanks to all the community translators who worked on WordPress 5.4. Their efforts bring WordPress fully translated to 46 languages at release time, with more on the way.

If you want to learn more about volunteering with WordPress, check out Make WordPress or the core development blog.

by Matt Mullenweg at March 31, 2020 07:04 PM under Releases

March 30, 2020

WPTavern: Proposal to Update the WordPress Coding Standards for Modern PHP

WordPress is a dinosaur. If you are a PHP programmer and have had the opportunity to work outside of WordPress in the past 10 years, there are likely one or two or a few dozen things that frustrate you when diving back into the project’s 16-year-old codebase. At a time when WordPress is gifting JavaScript programmers with the latest and greatest goodies, those doing PHP work can feel left behind.

There is a good reason for the legacy code in WordPress: it is backward compatible with over a decade of third-party extensions. Plus, old code does not necessarily equate to bad code. If it ain’t broke — well, you know how the rest goes.

Last year, WordPress bumped the minimum requirement for running the software to PHP 5.6 or newer. Many developers cheered in support of features such as short array syntax, namespacing, and the spread operator. Others wanted to jump to PHP 7+, but PHP 5.6 was a good stepping stone to more modern PHP code.

This change opened some new questions. When will core WordPress begin using new features? What coding standards should the project follow?

WordPress 5.3 made use of the new spread operator, which cleaned up and simplified several functions. It showed a willingness of the core leads to update some outdated code while avoiding backward-compatible issues.

An Updated Set of Standards

To begin using modern PHP features in WordPress, the platform’s coding standards must evolve. On March 20, Juliette Reinders Folmer proposed an extensive set of guidelines. The proposal is a draft and will need to be fine-tuned based on feedback from developers and core contributors.

“While it may still be a while before some of these features will actually be adopted for use in WordPress Core,” wrote Folmer, “defining the coding standards in advance will allow for a consistent code base when they do get adopted and will allow for plugins and themes, which are not necessarily bound to the PHP 5.6 minimum, to safeguard their code consistency when they start using more modern PHP already.”

The proposed standards are broken down into the following topics:

  • Namespace declarations
  • Import use statements
  • Traits and interfaces
  • Type declarations
  • Declare statements / strict typing
  • The ::class constant
  • Operators
  • Additional new rules covering various items

Any code that goes directly into WordPress must follow the project’s coding standards. It is strongly recommended that plugin and theme developers adopt the same standards, but it is not a requirement for inclusion in the official plugin and theme directories. Coding standards across an ecosystem make it easier for one developer to pick up code from other developers without having to learn unique styles between extensions.

On the whole, the update look solid. There is a lot to like about this proposal, and it would be a welcome addition to a set of guidelines that sorely needed a refresh.

One of my biggest gripes is around file naming. The WordPress project should drop the use of class-, interface-, and trait- prefixes from PHP filenames. Instead, we should use this opportunity to adopt the PSR-4 autoloading standard’s naming convention. In that standard, the filename matches the class, interface, or trait’s name exactly. At the very least, the prefixed filenames should not be a recommendation that goes out to WordPress developers everywhere. Keep it for core if necessary for tradition, but don’t recommend widespread usage of a system that is years out of touch with modern PHP.

I would also like to see WordPress adopt the use of Pascal case (i.e., ExampleProject) over camel caps (i.e., Example_Project) for namespaces. However, given the tradition of camel caps for class names, I do not see this changing. This is a bit nit-picky, but it feels out of place in comparison to other, more modern PHP projects.

The biggest thing the WordPress developer community can do right now is to discuss the proposal and offer feedback. Most of the work is done. It is up to the community to help push it forward.

by Justin Tadlock at March 30, 2020 07:48 PM under Development

March 28, 2020

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.4 RC5


The fifth release candidate for WordPress 5.4 is live!

WordPress 5.4 is currently scheduled to land on March 31 2020, and we need your help to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.4 yet, now is the time!

You can test the WordPress 5.4 release candidate in two ways:

For details about what to expect in WordPress 5.4, please see the first release candidate post.

Plugin and Theme Developers

Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.4 and update the Tested up to version in the readme to 5.4. The priority in testing is compatibility. If you find issues, please be sure to post to the support forums so we can figure them out before the final release.

The WordPress 5.4 Field Guide is also out! It’s your source for details on all the major changes.

How to Help

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

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

by David Baumwald at March 28, 2020 12:47 AM under Releases

March 27, 2020

WPTavern: Font Awesome Releases New COVID-19 Awareness Icons

COVID-19 awareness icons added to Font Awesome.

On Monday, the Font Awesome team launched a new set of icons to promote awareness around COVID-19. The solid icons available in the Font Awesome 5.13 update are all available for free and are open-source. The regular, light, and duotone versions of the icons are a part of the pro package.

The goal of the new icons is to help websites and apps boost awareness around the global pandemic. The latest update adds 47 new icons that range from medical use to promoting hygienic practices such as hand washing. Some icons represent viruses and social/physical distancing. There is even a couple of toilet paper icons thrown in for good measure. Apparently, those are necessary in today’s world of mass panic buying.

“Based on recommendations from The World Health Organization and others, you’ll find symbols to communicate good hygiene and social distancing,” wrote Jory Raphael, Icon Design Lead at Font Awesome. “While we can’t be on the front lines like brave medical professionals across the globe, we hope these icons aid in communicating some of the most important things people can do to protect themselves and their communities.”

The icons were originally requested two weeks ago on the Font Awesome GitHub repository. The design team moved quickly to make them available. There are additional icon tickets for liquid soap and a bar of soap open.

Like all Font Awesome icons, the new icons are available as part of the font package or for download as individual SVG files.

The fonts may come in handy for website owners, designers, and developers who are building sites or pages with content related to COVID-19. Icons can add context to content or focus attention where needed.

Users of the Font Awesome WordPress plugin should have immediate access to the new icons if needed. The plugin relies on the external Font Awesome CDN or Font Awesome kits. Users can also choose which version of the library of icons they wish to use, which includes the latest release.

If you know of any other icon sets or resources for designers and developers related to COVID-19, please share them in the comments.

by Justin Tadlock at March 27, 2020 08:00 PM under font awesome

March 26, 2020

WPTavern: Gutenberg 7.8 Adds Patterns API and Continues Interface Cleanup

Version 7.8 of the Gutenberg plugin landed yesterday. The team continues to improve the editor with the refreshed interface work that began in version 7.7. The most useful feature with this update of the plugin is the inclusion of the Patterns API for plugin and theme developers.

This release is not the massive feature release that we experienced with some earlier versions. It is the culmination of many smaller improvements, particularly with improving the user interface and experience. The update includes over 20 bug fixes, some continued work on experimental features like the site editor, and several improvements in code quality.

Editing a post permalink without requiring a save should work correctly, which has been an outstanding issue for over a year. Users can now select multiple categories for the latest posts block as opposed to a single category. And, the experimental full-site editing feature now supports fullscreen mode.

UI Continues Improving

Gutenberg 7.8 editor with updated preview button.

The team began a massive refresh of the user interface in Gutenberg 7.7. With this release, they continued building upon that initial work. Designers have fine-tuned several of the icons for the editor toolbar, which includes the bold, italic, strikethrough, indent, outdent, and spacer icons.

One of the most notable differences is an update to the user-facing text for the post preview button. In the previous version, there was a button that simply read “Desktop.” Once clicked, it would open a drop-down list to preview the post in desktop, tablet, or mobile mode. I had initially thought the team had removed the post preview option until I clicked on it. In version 7.8, that button’s text now reads “Preview,” which is a much-needed change that is no longer confusing.

Overall, the polishing work done on the editor looks good. At this point, I have become so accustomed to it that I have no desire to go back to a regular WordPress install without the Gutenberg plugin installed.

Building Custom Block Patterns

Custom block pattern registered and in use.

I have said it before, but it bears repeating: I am excited about block patterns. I am even more excited about the ability for plugin and theme authors to begin testing this feature by building custom patterns of their own. I foresee an explosion of creativity over the next several months and beyond.

Patterns are a registration of the HTML for one or more blocks. Plugin and theme authors can further define the settings for those blocks. The Gutenberg team included a simple PHP function for developers to register custom patterns called register_pattern().

I have tinkered with numerous pattern ideas since I updated yesterday evening. The simplest way to build a pattern is to do so visually. Open the editor and create a unique group of blocks that you like. Then, switch to the code editor and copy the code. From that point, you can register the pattern via PHP and paste the copied code. There is not really much actual coding involved in the process. Even advanced users with enough DIY grit could register them within their theme’s functions.php file.

The following is a simple “hero” pattern as shown in the above screenshot that uses the cover block, a heading, a paragraph, and a buttons group (I formatted the code a little after copying and pasting for readability):

add_action( 'init', function() {

	register_pattern( 'tavern/hero-1', [
		'title'   => __( 'Hero 1' ),
		'content' =>
			'<!-- wp:cover {"customOverlayColor":"#273f60","align":"full"} -->
			<div class="wp-block-cover alignfull has-background-dim" style="background-color:#273f60">
				<div class="wp-block-cover__inner-container">
					<!-- wp:heading {"align":"center"} -->
					<h2 class="has-text-align-center">Heading Title Here</h2>
					<!-- /wp:heading -->

					<!-- wp:paragraph {"align":"center"} -->
					<p class="has-text-align-center">Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.</p>
					<!-- /wp:paragraph -->

					<!-- wp:buttons {"align":"center"} -->
					<div class="wp-block-buttons aligncenter">
						<!-- wp:button {"className":"is-style-outline"} -->
						<div class="wp-block-button is-style-outline"><a class="wp-block-button__link">Button A</a></div>
						<!-- /wp:button -->
						<!-- wp:button {"className":"is-style-outline"} -->
						<div class="wp-block-button is-style-outline"><a class="wp-block-button__link">Button B</a></div>
						<!-- /wp:button -->
					</div>
					<!-- /wp:buttons -->
				</div>
			</div>
			<!-- /wp:cover -->'
	] );
} );

Disclaimer: The preceding code is for an experimental feature and could change in later versions of the Gutenberg plugin or before the API is officially added to core WordPress.

by Justin Tadlock at March 26, 2020 08:06 PM under gutenberg

March 25, 2020

WPTavern: Finding Balance in These Uncertain Times: Remote Work and Sharing Our Struggles

There is a popular saying, which has been used in several memes, among my developer and remote-working friend groups. It goes something like the following:

Government and Doctors: Practice physical distancing during this pandemic.

Remote Workers: I’ve been preparing my whole life for this moment. I got this.

The truth is that we don’t “got this,” at least I know I don’t.

While practicing physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is those little moments that you do not think you will miss that suddenly become important.

Every Saturday, I awake around 6 or 6:30 a.m. I go through my normal routine and get dressed for a morning drive into the city. My home is in a quiet area in rural Alabama. I am a Millennial living within a neighborhood of mostly Baby Boomers. For the most part, it is an ideal place for remote work. Few people bother me, and I can tend to my animals and get my work done in peace. However, it is not exactly the most socially invigorating place in the world.

Those Saturday mornings are important. Assuming I have no other social plans for the week, it is my one chance to get out into the world. I stop by the local Co-Op, pick up any feed or seed I need, and chat with the people there about the farming season or the weather — mostly the weather. I drop into Hidden Treasures, a flea market, and talk with a seller who shares an interest in finding old DVDs, VHS tapes, and Laserdiscs. I grab a sandwich at Subway and am greeted by the Indian-American manager who learned my name on my first visit years ago. He asks about my family. I ask how his family is doing.

These fleeting moments are almost forgettable. They are routine. Run-of-the-mill. When they are happening, you do not think about them. However, when they are gone, there is a void remaining that is hard to fill.

Yes, I have been practicing physical distancing for over a decade, at least to some degree. That makes those small moments where I interact with others in person crucial to my mental health.

This Saturday, I will once again head into the city after a hiatus. However, my trip will be different. This time, I will be gathering necessities for myself and some of my elderly neighbors who want to avoid the public for a while. The trip will be quick. Some of the places I normally visit are closed. My Subway meal will be carryout.

Even after a couple of weeks, and feeling like I was prepared for this moment, I am still coming to grips with the world as it is now.

Staying Strong as a Community

The WordPress community, the people, have put up a strong front. Bloggers have written posts on remote work. Developers, designers, and others have willingly shared their knowledge with others. Companies are offering discounts to help ease the burden for those looking to begin a shop or blog online. Yes, our community will get through this, and we will be stronger for it.

However, it is OK for us to share our vulnerabilities during these uncertain times.

Ultimately, this community is not about software. It is about people. The software is the way we connect. It is a tool that we program, design, and evangelize. We do it for ourselves. We do it for millions of others to have a voice online. But, it is always about people.

Sometimes, people need to know that others in our community are struggling. This is a collective pain that we are working through. Remote work does not always mean physical distancing from everything and every one of the outside world. Many of us may have a bit of a head-start on staying put at home for hours on end, but we are also dealing with a new reality every day. Showing strength is good, but sharing our stories of struggle is just as important.

For some of us, that weekly trip into the city plays a vital role in our well-being. Others are dealing with children who would normally be in school or daycare. Kids can be disruptive, even when you have the best-laid plans and every hour of their day mapped out. Even for us remote workers, life is a little out of balance now. It is OK to admit that. If you are running a WordPress business, it is OK for you to provide a little more flexibility for your workers who are at home. Many of them will need it.

It is not time to break down. It is time to find a new balance in our current environments. That may mean starting up a family board game night. It may mean making sure that you set up a video chat with those loved ones you have been too busy to call in several months. Maybe you will start taking a daily walk for better health. It might also be time to set up WordPress blogs for your children as part of their education. Some of these new things may and probably should become routine, especially that last one.

Do not become overwhelmed if you feel like you should be handling this situation better because you have practice at remote work.

Hop over to your personal WordPress blog. You may have to dust that thing off; some of you have not used it in a while. Write about the things you are struggling with. Share them with the community and find support among others. Post about your experiences. Tell us about your tough days and those small wins that are helping you get through this.

For me, it is having my dad call to check in for the third time this week, and it is only Wednesday.

by Justin Tadlock at March 25, 2020 06:45 PM under Opinion

Matt: Don’t Mute, Get a Better Headset

One heterodox recommendation I have for audio and video calls when you’re working in a distributed fashion is not to mute, if you can help it. When you’re speaking to a muted room, it’s eerie and unnatural — you feel alone even if you can see other people’s faces. You lose all of those spontaneous reactions that keep a conversation flowing. If you ask someone a question, or they want to jump in, they have to wait to unmute. I also don’t love the “unmute to raise your hand” behavior, as it lends itself to meetings where people are just waiting their turn to speak instead of truly listening. I’m always hesitant to disagree with Seth Godin, but that’s been my experience.

So what should you do? Use the latest and greatest hardware and software to have the best of both worlds, a fantastic auditory experience for you and your interlocutors and little to no background noise.

To summarize, I recommend a wired, USB headset with a mic that stays a constant distant from your mouth and has a noise-canceling microphone. Save mute for coughs and sips of drinks.

The rest of this post I’m going to try out eleven different microphones and headsets, ranging from $35 to $1,000+, and record a short file on each, and intersperse some software tips for people on MacOS. You may want to listen to these samples with good headphones on to really hear the differences. I apologize some are louder than others, I didn’t edit to even out the levels, which Zoom or Skype would do automatically.

My previous top recommendation was the trusty Sennheiser SC 30, in my previous bag posts. It’s cheap and effective, but the cord was too long and it was USB-A. If you read no further, get this one and revolutionize how you sound on Zoom calls. Here’s how it sounds:

Sennheiser has upgraded to a USB-C version, with a much shorter cord, the SC 130. It feels and looks much better, you don’t need a USB-C dongle, and the sound quality of the earphones is quite bearable. The cost is about twice as much (~$70).

You can plug the USB-C into your iPad or Android phone as well and it works great, though the headphones can be a bit quiet on Android. Either of the above will spoil you for making calls, and you won’t want to go back to the old low-fi way of doing things.

In order to have a bit more flexibility I tried out the much more expensive ($134) Sennheiser MB Pro 1. I liked the freedom of wireless Bluetooth, but you can hear that the sound is much worse. Connecting over Bluetooth lowers the quality a ton, and also occasionally means you need to disconnect, reconnect, etc.

All three of the Sennheisers above come in two-ear versions, which I prefer if I’m in a noisy environment, but at home I find the one-ear a bit more comfortable. I got excited about this $70 TaoTronics “Trucker Bluetooth” headset because it had Bluetooth 5.0 so I foolishly assumed it would have better quality, but it sounds really terrible:

But does wireless have to mean terrible quality? The Apple Airpods Pro ($249) are actually pretty decent, and you can easily switch them between your phone and your computer in the audio menu. If you haven’t tried the Pro version, the noise canceling is actually pretty amazing for something so small and light — I jog with them.

And one of the best sounding mics in this entire roundup was the wireless $119 Antlion Audio ModMic Wireless, which sound amazing, but you have to provide your own headphones to attach it to, and the entire thing ends up being fairly bulky and has its own wireless adapter. On the plus side, you can bring your own super-fancy headphones and get amazing audio quality. With certain headphones it did cause a buzz in the ear of the headphone I attached it to.

But hot dang that sounds good. If they made an over-the-ear USB-C version with an earbud, and had the mic be a little smaller, it would be work-from-home nirvana.

I ventured into the gaming headset territory for this SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless Gaming Headset, which at first felt totally ridiculous with its own connector box, a million cables, etc, but goshdarnit grew on me. It has this really cool boom mic that extends out, and I think it’s the most comfortable headset I’ve worn for an extended amount of time. I tried it out via its proprietary 2.4ghz wireless connection + USB, and Bluetooth, and unfortunately the results weren’t great, including the Bluetooth being a little garbled. I hope Steelseries does another iteration because they’re so close, it just needs to be USB-C on the headphones, the cables, the everything, and super high quality recording.

One final entrant — how about just your laptop? Normally I would say this sounds terrible and judge people who didn’t use a headset, but John Gruber’s review of the new Macbook 16 had some really impressive audio files that intrigued me, so here it is, the Macbook Pro 16″, which starts at about $2,400. It’s a little boomy, but not bad.

Okay now let’s get a little crazy. Here’s a Zoom H5 with the SGH6 shotgun mic attachment. (The other Zoom! $410 total.)

Next up is the Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic, which is what I usually use to record the Distributed podcast, and costs about $400. This is milky and smooth. (I accidentally called it a Sennheiser in the recording.)

A favorite of voiceover artists everywhere is the Sennheiser MKH416 Super-Cardioid Shotgun Tube Condenser ($1,000), which I like the sound of and I also use for if I’m doing a fancy video setup and want super-good sound that’s not in the frame of the camera.

It’s a great sound, but the part of the house where I recorded all of these is pretty noisy with an AC unit on the other side of the wall, and there’s a ton of background noise in this.

Software eats the audio world

Just like photography has been completely transformed by software enhancing images to the point where the top-of-the-line Apple or Samsung smartphone camera is better than all but the very top pro SLR cameras, I think the same thing is going to happen for audio.

None of these clips are processed, which is why some of the volume levels are different, but I thought it would be fun to demo a tool I’ve been recommending to a lot of people.

There’s a $40/year program called Krisp.ai, which I first learned about in 2018 from this awesome post on the Nvidia developer blog, Real-Time Noise Suppression Using Deep Learning. What it does is create a virtual microphone, like a filter that exists between one of your physical inputs and what the software on your computer “hears.” For fun I re-recorded the MKH416 in the exact same place, but filtered through Krisp.ai:

Now the audio quality is not as good, it sounds a bit clipped, but throughout there is no more distracting background hums or noise. Krisp can be a little awkward to use but they’ve made it a lot more user friendly. You could mix Krisp with almost any option here and it would make it sound much better, in fact when I’m in a pinch my favorite go-to is Airpods Pro + Krisp.

With everything, a pro tip on MacOS is to hold Option when you click on the sound icon in your upper right taskbar, and it will let you select both input and output devices. Sound Preferences, linked at the bottom of that menu, are your friend. If a mic is too soft you can boost the input volume in the preferences. To choose a camera or mic in Zoom, click the arrow next to the mute button in the bottom left. In Zoom audio settings, under Advanced, they are starting to expose a number of new options for real-time audio processing.

The future sounds good.

by Matt at March 25, 2020 06:04 AM under Future of Work

March 24, 2020

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.4 RC4

The fourth release candidate for WordPress 5.4 is live!

WordPress 5.4 is currently scheduled to land on March 31 2020, and we need your help to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.4 yet, now is the time!

You can test the WordPress 5.4 release candidate in two ways:

For details about what to expect in WordPress 5.4, please see the first release candidate post.

RC4 commits the new About page and updates the editor packages.

Plugin and Theme Developers

Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.4 and update the Tested up to version in the readme to 5.4. The priority in testing is compatibility. If you find issues, please be sure to post to the support forums so we can figure them out before the final release.

The WordPress 5.4 Field Guide is also out! It’s your source for details on all the major changes.

How to Help

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

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

by Francesca Marano at March 24, 2020 10:00 PM under Releases

WPTavern: Yoast Publishes Free Online Training Course for the Block Editor

Yoast, the company behind the popular Yoast SEO plugin, launched its free block editor training course today. The course is available to anyone by signing up for Yoast Academy, which also includes multiple other free and paid courses. Users can learn everything from SEO and copy writing to basic WordPress skills. The Academy team’s latest course promises to get first-time users up to speed on using the block editor.

“At Yoast, we are huge fans of the block editor,” wrote Marieke van de Rakt, CEO of Yoast in the training course announcement. “Admittedly -not right from the start-, but we’re now block-editor fanboys and fangirls. That’s why we created an awesome free block editor course! We hope it will help everybody to use the block editor to the fullest!”

Currently, the course on block editor training has at least two or three hours of content to work through, depending on how quickly users digest the content. The course offers three major sections:

  • What is the block editor?
  • Using the block editor
  • Extras

Each of these is further broken down between one and three sub-sections. At the moment, there are seven lessons in total, which range between 7 and 49 minutes based on Yoast’s estimated time.

The courses are similar to taking a school class. The Academy team provides short videos that cover individual topics around the block editor. The team also provides a PDF version of the lesson for those who prefer text over video format. At the end of the lesson, users take a quiz and move on to the next lesson. A score of 80% or more is considered a passing grade.

The team keeps each lesson digestible enough to complete in a short bout. Even if watching the videos, the PDF version of the lessons, which are high quality and have loads of useful information with links to third-party resources, are recommended reading.

The team has provided a preview of the block editor course via YouTube:

Moving to the Block Editor and Building Training Courses

Joost de Valk, founder and CPO of Yoast, said the team would continue building on the training course over time as new features are added to the block editor. There are no plans to update it on a strict schedule, but the team wants to keep it current.

Yoast, as a company, focuses on SEO. Therefore, some of the advice offered through the course puts focus on creating content that is useful for people and friendly for search engines. One of the primary topics the course touches on is publishing “resources” and how this is made better by the block editor. “Resources are larger articles, evergreen content or in our SEO terminology ‘cornerstone content’: the stuff you want to rank within the search results,” said de Valk. “You can’t just throw some words on a page and expect to rank anymore. You’ll have to try a bit harder. Gutenberg makes that extremely easy.”

The Yoast team has been moving its massive site to the block editor over time. “The post types I deal with regularly are all written with the block editor, but we might have some areas of the site that aren’t there yet,” said de Valk. “It’s a rather large site, with e-commerce, training, jobs, etc. all built into one giant WordPress multi-site install, so that was a bit of an undertaking. We always try to dog-food stuff though, so we moved everything over quite quickly.”

Getting the 11 million users who are using Yoast’s products to make the switch is not quite as easy. Not everyone has embraced the block editor. “The usage of the block editor is definitely improving, but it’s not going as fast as we’d like to see,” said de Valk. “We honestly think a lot of people don’t understand the chances the block editor brings yet, one of the reasons for releasing this course and trying to help more people to start using it.”

The team’s latest SEO course had over 10,000 signups within a week. While that number is a drop in the bucket in comparison to their full user count, it is promising. With a similar turnout for the block editor training course, it may convert more users from the older classic editor.

Putting together full training courses is a large undertaking, but these are the types of resources the WordPress community needs moving forward. “It’s a lot of work,” said de Valk. “We have four people in our Academy team, a crew that records our videos, and our design team designs all the PDFs and slides within the videos. It’s a non-trivial investment, but we’re happy to make that if it helps make more people enthusiastic for the block editor.”

by Justin Tadlock at March 24, 2020 07:47 PM under yoast

March 23, 2020

WPTavern: Block Patterns Will Change Everything

Book sales section from a custom theme.

It was about a year ago. I was happily designing a theme for aspiring novelists. I wanted to get ahead of the competition and market a theme specifically to writers who would be attempting the National Novel Writing Month 2019 challenge.

NaNoWriMo, for short, is a whirlwind of a month where 1,000s of people from around the world clatter away on their keyboards to pen a 50,000-word novel manuscript. One month of sheer willpower, coffee by the gallon, and sleepless nights in exchange for glory. There are no grand prizes or guaranteed publishing contracts at the end of the journey. You nab a certificate, a few coupons, and bragging rights. I completed the challenge in 2018.

Inspired by my win just months before, I built a theme for those who would be taking the journey the following year. I also wanted to broaden its appeal to anyone who might be an aspiring novelist but not necessarily participating in the challenge. Or, maybe even to someone who just published their first book. Perhaps this would be an opportunity to bring a few new WordPress users into our community.

I outlined a homepage layout to show how users could feature their latest book with a purchase button. Then, it dawned on me.

How could someone build this book sales page without solid experience with the block editor?

I had been using the Gutenberg plugin for months upon months before it landed in WordPress 5.0. I knew the ins and outs of the system.

The design was simple. Using the core media & text block, a heading, a couple of paragraphs, and a button, I had created something that may have been too complex for the average user. I had not even gotten into the custom color, font-size, and block-style options that accented the layout.

This simple combination of blocks had the potential to be overly complicated for some. I had other plans for more complex layouts. Other theme authors had taken on bigger combinations of blocks. For end-users, they were likely stepping into a world that did not make sense. They would see beautiful theme demos and grow frustrated when they could not make things work. The block editor was not, and is still not, intuitive enough for the least-knowledgeable users to build layouts beyond the basics.

I opted for a step-by-step tutorial to guide my users into building this simple book-selling section. However, documentation is not always the best answer. Even when users find and read it, the results are not always accurate. It would have been far simpler to have a button that, when clicked, inserted this section directly into the editor. The user could then customize it to fit their content.

That is where block patterns come in.

Theme authors should be able to build unique and complex combinations of blocks with custom styles. Users should be able to just make it look like the demo.

Since “building” (I use this term loosely) my first WordPress theme in 2005, I have either seen or attempted every manner of solution to this problem. Page templates. Theme options. Shortcodes. Widgets. You name it. They have all been tried before. Each method provided major hurdles for users. Some (ahem, shortcodes) left users’ content in shambles and created a lock-in effect where they ended up tied down to their theme.

It is long past time for something new.

What Are Block Patterns and How Will They Improve User Experience?

Custom pricing columns section.

What happens when a user wants to build a layout with multiple columns of pricing options as shown in the above screenshot? Good luck. Most could not produce it with the block system. Even without block patterns, the theme would need some custom block styles to make it possible. Plugins will likely fill in the void for such complex output and have been tackling pricing tables in various ways over the years. What if we could produce layouts like this within themes or in much simpler plugins?

It is possible with block patterns.

Put simply, a block pattern is a group of blocks. Core WordPress, themes, and plugins will be able to register patterns with predefined settings attached to them.

From the average user’s point of view, block patterns are predefined sections they can use to create layouts. These layouts can be something as simple as the book section from earlier in this article to the more complex pricing columns. With these patterns available, users will be able to create complex layouts at the click of a button.

The block system laid the foundation for a much different and forward-compatible future than what we have experienced over the years. At the end of the day, most blocks are just plain old HTML. Block patterns will be nothing more than the registration of a group of these blocks. When a user switches themes, their content remains intact, even when their new theme does not register the same patterns.

Version 7.7 of the Gutenberg plugin shipped the first iteration of an interface for patterns. It is basic and will undergo several more iterations before it is ready for use in production. Eventually, there will be a fully-integrated interface for selecting from multiple patterns. The user sees something they want to use. They click on that pattern. It gets inserted into the post.

No more complicated theme options. No more shortcode soup. No more hours of frustration wondering why you cannot build that custom front page shown in that carefully-crafted theme demo.

I may be a tad optimistic. Block patterns will require massive buy-in from the theme and plugin developer community. While core WordPress will ship several popular patterns by default, they will in no way cover the breadth of design that is possible when theme authors put their artistic skills to work.

I have always been excited about the block editor. However, it has always felt like I was more excited about the potential than the end product. I was in a constant state of waiting for it to become the thing I thought it could be. Yes, I am still waiting. However, tinkering with an early version of the pattern system feels like we are getting to the point where we can do those awesome things the editor was supposed to allow us to accomplish. It has been a long wait, and we still have a bit to go. But, I have a renewed passion for the project after experiencing the work that has been done thus far.

by Justin Tadlock at March 23, 2020 08:12 PM under gutenberg

March 20, 2020

WPTavern: Still No Wood Grain: WP Tavern Design Update

WP Tavern homepage design.

It has been a bit of a slow news week in the land of WordPress with the COVID-19 pandemic reaching across the globe. Most people are hunkering down or getting accustomed to a change in their daily lives. For some people, that has meant figuring out a way to work with children at home. For others, it has meant they cannot take their daily lunch with colleagues or friends.

With far less WordPress-specific news going on, it made for an ideal time to put some work into the WP Tavern website. Most weeks, I am far too busy sifting through stories to put the amount of work I want into updating the design, but I am trying to treat this week as a little bit of a blessing and look at the upside.

Not much has changed with the overall layout of the site, but I was able to tackle a couple of issues that you, our readers, have been asking for.

The biggest change that you will notice is a new header design. On mobile devices, it will look the same. However, on larger screens, the header expands to reveal a search form with a navigation menu below. The header colors have been updated. With more horizontal space, the menu also has extra links pointing to our primary categories, which has also been an oft-requested change.

While these changes may seem minor, I wanted to address some of the bigger user-experience issues that you all have messaged about. There is still more work to do, but I want you to know that we are listening to your feedback.

The major roadblock with this design iteration was related to the block editor’s markup changes. These changes will land in WordPress 5.4, so theme authors need to make sure they are prepared.

I wanted to spend more time working on front-end updates, but correcting editor issues took precedence. It has not been a great experience writing on the site for the past week without theme styles being properly applied. The block editor’s default font size is far too small for my poor eyesight, so backend work moved to the top of the to-do list.

Aside from those changes, I cleaned up several trivial issues that have been bugging me but would go unnoticed by visitors. Work on a website design is never finished, and I look forward to continuing molding things to better serve our readers.

One of the things I want to tackle next is featuring comments from you all in better ways. We have done a little of this with our From the Comments series, but that is just the first step toward building more of a community atmosphere. As always, feedback is welcome.

Everyone stay safe during this rough patch the world is going through.

by Justin Tadlock at March 20, 2020 08:09 PM under Tavern

March 19, 2020

WPTavern: Block-Based Themes and the Problem with Dynamic Data in HTML Templates

The Gutenberg project and its eventual full-site editing feature is coming upon a major issue that will need to be solved. Block-based themes of the future are currently on a path toward a template system that will comprise of plain HTML files. While that will work for the majority of a theme’s output, the trouble is figuring out how the project will handle dynamic values.

Most of the discussion has centered on handling URLs, which are probably the most common use case. Currently, theme templates have all sorts of dynamic content. Much of that will be replaced with blocks as we continue moving toward full-site editing. However, not all dynamic data will have a block equivalent.

A good example is that theme authors cannot currently add the homepage URL to the navigation block. Some experimental block-based themes are using a simple / character, which points to the wrong location on many WordPress installs.

Solving this issue sooner rather than later is important for the progression of theme development in a block world. However, such a solution needs to be carefully crafted so that the theming community is not bogged down by a decade or more with a poor templating implementation.

The Current Proposals

The Gutenberg repository currently has an open ticket for discussion on handling dynamic values in templates. At the moment, there are four proposals on how to address the issue.

On-the-Fly String Replacement

One solution would be to use PHP to parse each HTML file and replace strings representing dynamic data on the fly. This would require parsing all of a theme’s templates on every page load. The downside is that it would slow down the page load. We would need real unit tests to see how much of a spike in loading time this method creates.

Assuming a Mustache-like syntax, templates would have values such as the following image output:

<img src="{{ theme_image_example }}" />

One added benefit of adopting such a solution is that WordPress could automatically escape these dynamic values by default. This would be a boon to theme security, which is one of the biggest issues faced by the theme review team.

One-Time String Replacement

The second solution proposes using the same method but parsing the HTML files once, upon theme activation, and replacing dynamic values with proper values. The largest benefit of this method is that the parsing would not affect front-end loading speed.

This method is problematic because it does not account for changes to templates after the initial parsing. It also does not handle scenarios when a value changes via user input. For example, a user may decide to change the location of their blog posts page. Therefore, a parsed URL that becomes static would point to the wrong location.

Templates as JSON

A third solution proposes the idea of turning theme files into JSON. It is far easier to parse and extract data from a JSON file than and HTML file. However, theme designers do not write JSON to build template output. HTML exists for a reason.

This solution would raise the barrier so high for new theme authors that it would be rare for those who just learned basic CSS and HTML to get into WordPress theme development. This idea is so foreign to the idea of template design, that it should not be a serious consideration.

Templates That Return Blocks via PHP

The fourth and final proposal is to use PHP files with a function that returns a block template. This method would be straightforward and could be picked up easily for existing theme authors who have a familiarity with PHP.

A template would look something like the following:

function my_theme_front_page() {
	return '<!-- wp:cover {"url":"' . get_template_directory_uri() .'/block-background-image.png","id":273,"dimRatio":0,"minHeight":647,"align":"wide"} -->';
}

This idea puts more focus on PHP than HTML. It would be the easiest-to-implement solution for the Gutenberg development team. However, like the JSON method, it would raise the barrier to entry for first-time theme authors. It will mean making sure quote and double-quote characters do not get mixed up. The method would be prone to bugs and looks alien to modern-day templating.

Templating Should Focus on HTML

Templating should always be HTML-first. Even in our current theme system, theme authors can build beautiful, safe, and functional themes by simply knowing HTML and CSS. PHP is secondary, especially when it comes to the templating aspect. Our templating system relies on knowing HTML and plugging in a few template tags, which are PHP functions that WordPress provides for dropping in between HTML tags. This simplicity is, in part, what made WordPress theme development so easy to learn for anyone willing to put in a little time.

Block-based themes have the potential to drop the barrier even lower than our current templating system. However, templates as JSON or PHP functions runs counter to that. Any solution that pushes us farther away from the basic building blocks of the web, HTML, should not be on the table for discussion.

It may be time to adopt a proper PHP templating engine. There are plenty of examples out there. Twig, Blade, Smarty, and others have existed for years. Those also have some barrier to entry in the form of new syntax, but this should be no tougher than learning to plug template tags into the current system.

At the very least, we will need to figure out a solution for handling dynamic data in what is essentially static HTML files.

by Justin Tadlock at March 19, 2020 08:37 PM under gutenberg

Matt: Physical Distancing

I’ve really had enough of this term “social distancing.” That is not at all what we are looking for, is it? It should be “physical distancing.” In these times of rampant loneliness (especially for seniors), disconnection, and lack of empathy and compassion, we need the opposite — social connecting. And we need it under these circumstances more than ever. Let’s be creative in finding new ways to come together.

Adam Gazzaley, M. D., Ph. D, University of California, San Francisco

Update: On March 20th, the World Health Organization has officially updated it’s recommendation to “physical distancing.”

by Matt at March 19, 2020 03:26 AM under Asides

Post Status: Taking care of your mental health in uncertain times, with Dr. Sherry Walling

Dr. Sherry Walling is a psychologist and entrepreneur adept at “helping smart people do hard things.” She was gracious with her time in this Post Status Webinar with Cory Miller, where Dr. Walling explained how to navigate life in uncertain times.

Here's the audio episode:


Topics discussed

  • Managing fear, worry, and anxiety.
  • The coronavirus (COVID-19), and how to handle it.
  • Isolation, social distancing, remote work, and mental health.
  • Q&A; on work boundaries, stress, and more.

Cory's Takeaways

  • Take some big deep breaths: Do Dr. Walling's 4×4 breathing exercise: four slow seconds in, four slow seconds out.
  • Refocus on gratitude: Make a list of what are you thankful for.
  • Have the worry voice inside you make an appointment: Put it on a schedule that's not 24/7. Listen to it for a set time; it’s there to protect you, but once its time is up, move on. 
  • Connect with others daily: Social distancing doesn’t mean losing connection. Use FaceTime, Zoom, etc, and schedule a virtual Lunch or Snack.
  • Have playtime: Whether that’s playing with Legos, cooking, or pulling our your old musical instruments.
  • Get your heart rate up with exercise: Have a family dancing competition, do yoga or pushups.
  • Limit your news consumption to 15 minutes a day.
  • For single people living alone and missing physical touch: Find a soft, comfortable, and perhaps a heavy blanket, or take a hot bath.
  • For entrepreneurs: Remember, you can’t do everything yourself and you can’t fix everything by yourself. We’re all in this together, especially your team: “Leadership means you're hosting the conversation. You're listening. you're engaging, it doesn't mean that you are the ultimate decider.”

Links

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Full Transcript:

Cory: Hey, everybody, my name is Cory Miller and I am pumped to have my good friend Dr. Sherry walling. Here Today she is an experienced psychologist has worked with all types of people across the spectrum in particular how we got to know each other is her work with entrepreneurs. She is an entrepreneur, she happens to be married to a serial entrepreneur, but I love the breadth and depth of her experience, particularly with trauma. And so, amidst the circumstances, we find ourselves today, I texted Sherry and said, Would you do a q&a? Would you just have a conversation with me? And she said, “Absolutely.” Sherry, thank you for the time today. This is vital that we keep this conversation on and I appreciate you be willing to share your experience and expertise with whoever's on the webinar today.

Sherry: Yeah, thanks so much for asking. Cory and I had — we've had — lots of conversations related to mental health and the need for an open conversation about mental health in entrepreneur communities that we kind of live and work and breathe in. So I'm always grateful for the way that you are hosting conversations where people get to be honest about what they're needing and what part and also share what's helpful.

Cory: Absolutely. Well, just if you join And you can help me help others as they join the webinar late perhaps, and I'm talking to our attendees, that little button that says q&a on the bottom zoom, hit that and ask a question along the way, but Jerry and I are just going to geek out and have a conversation. And so I'm glad you can join us for it. Okay, Doctor,

Sherry: —this is also what it's like to have a coffee with Cory and me, by the way.

Cory: Exactly. Okay, doctor. The world is a little bit chaotic right now.

Sherry: Yeah, I noticed.

Cory: Um, I feel like this. This conversation is pertinent because right now, if we just kind of stay, here's where I'm going at what I'm going through. I've got two kids and now you've got three. Were quarantined. No school for the foreseeable future. They're talking about in Kansas, for instance, I think shutting down school for the end of the year. End of the school year. There's, I don't even want to look at my stock market equities stuff. Um, what are you feeling?

Sherry: You know, I think I go up and down probably like everybody else. So the pain point just for me personally right now is that I am continuing to work my husband is continuing to work because thankfully both of us still have work to do. And both of us have jobs that are fairly possible to do from home. But now we have all three of our children home off the road children who go to three different schools who are now trying to throw together online education over a weekend and you know, all of us who do work on the internet can appreciate that that's not very easy to do. So all my kids are like, how do I like it? How do I do this, how to do that, like nobody, none of the systems are flowing and that is, of course unnecessary. In where the best case scenario you've got two parents who are used to working from home and are flexible and things like that. So the bottom line is that there is no normal anymore for a while for anyone. And so there's a great deal of as you know, just anxiety and the need to be able to be extraordinarily flexible in a way that none of us are used to doing because especially those of us that run businesses we plan we look at spreadsheets, we think we're strategic, and all of those bands are not relevant right now for the foreseeable future, which is extraordinary—

Cory: So the one emotion I guess, that comes to mind in all of this and I'm speaking from personal experience here is fear. I think it was the first word I mentioned to you — so much fear — some of it just fear on fear, you know, just accounting fear. You can't go online or watch TV without being just bombarded about it. So if you had a microphone right now and the entire world could hear it and all their native languages and stuff, when we talk about fear, and fear produces anxiety, all this stuff. We can't we can get frozen in it. What? What's something you would say?

Sherry: I mean, in a way, I think we're all feeling it in our bodies. Like when even you say the word fear, like your la just kind of gets tight. Your chest gets heavy, it's hard to breathe. And on one hand, it feels really disingenuous to say don't be afraid. But on the other hand, we are all in the same boat and we will all All survived one way or another together. So I think the extent to which we can slow down that fear response and breathe and look around to see what is directly controllable which, you know for many of us is our bodies you know have gone on a walk today joining me to lay down for a nap What does my body need at this moment? Do I need just a really big glass of water, like the really, really simple things that are directly controllable help to counterbalance this sense of fear which comes from being out of control? And so getting really specific, slowing down, keeping life as simple as possible. They sound so simple, but of course, when we actually try to put them into practice, they're profound and somewhat difficult. But the, you know, the fear is in and of itself, its own problem. So turning down that fear even if it's well-grounded fear I'm I mean, I'm under No, no delusion that everything is fine. Everything is not fine, but the fear doesn't help.

Cory: Yeah, there's so much in there I want to impact. So when I think it was like a couple of days ago kids were home because of spring break here in Oklahoma. And we're looking at Oh, man, will they go back to school? markets, all that stuff. And I remember walking out that night and just looking at the beautiful sunset and going, the sun is still setting in the next morning when I woke up is still rose again. It's this weird thing. I guess we haven't told the son that there's a chaotic thing happening right now. But some of those things. One I think you just give us freedom and permission to know that fear is a human experience. But I like the words you said there — “what are the things we can control?” And I'm probably an admitted control freak. What are some of the prompts you ask yourself or your clients or others about that I want to get to? “Walk” and “sunshine” and all that because I know there's a big word called “play” that you love, you've helped introduce back to me. But, you know, for me, it's fun. It feels like okay, what can I control? You know, our responses potentially to freeze in the fear, let it compound and just suffocate us. And I go, what are the things I can't control? What are the things I know are fact like, you know, the sun setting and rising the next day?

Sherry: Yeah, I mean, I do think we can, we can control our body, sleep, food movement, we control our breasts, the ability to take slow deep breaths, we can control our thoughts. To some extent, and we can go back to breath in a minute, you want to talk more about that. But like, we can control our thoughts to some extent. And that's, that is the thing that I think feels really difficult right now. Because I know like you like my instinct is like, every time I pick up this magical device to be like, how many more? How many more cases are there? What's the market doing? Like, you know which borders are closed, which is open. You know, there's so much and I think some of the control that we all want to exert right now is to really limit the amount of factoids and information that we're, we're accessing right now. Like, obviously, it is an important time to have good healthy information on which to make decisions, but the amount of information is, is really not helpful. So 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes a night should probably do, yeah, you don't need to have your newsfeed buzzing all day. So controlling titrating turning up and down the volume around which you're exposed to information is helpful, that helps control your thoughts. Even specifically skewing your thoughts one way or another. I mean, his is the best time in the world for our gratitude practice, again, not because we need to walk around pretending it's all sunshine and roses, but because right now we're on this call and we're all breathing. And we're all okay so far. And that, in and of itself is I think going to become profoundly important to remember the things that are going well the things that are intact, the things that we can be grateful for. That helps to put some parameters around the power of fear to begin to sort of control our minds.

Cory: Yeah, I love that. The things you just mentioned are all just so simple. I think we have a tendency to … skim over them, but the fact that we can just take a breath and gratitude. I hadn't had that on the list before we talked, but gratitude those are things we absolutely control. In the past groups you and I have done together, you've really led. You really talk about the breath. And I know, yoga is a deep part of your life. I know. And that is not all about the breath. But you know, I know this is something we all have at our disposal right now, as you just said. Can you share some practices, some thoughts about that?

Sherry: So the super-fast version of the science is that there's this thing called the vagus nerve, which is based in our brainstem and then goes all the way throughout our bodies and after these tendrils of connection and all of our major organs, and that's a part of their bodies that declares all as well. So after we have that anxiety response, it's the vagus nerve that signals Okay, we're good now, like the tiger is not going to eat us today. And that is the part of the body that in a way we kind of want to hack those of you who coders here, do you want to hack to be able to say, Okay, I need to take my body into palm because my body's been living in fear. Anxiety too long. So the breath is this strategy that we use to help signal the all-clear sign to end the emergency response. You think about, it's almost impossible to be really upset and breathe really slowly there. There's kind of antithetical physical realities. So when we can engage our vagus nerve through deep, slow breath, we're essentially sort of pushing the dominoes to fall toward calm both in our mind and in our physiological reality. So the simplest practice, like the Easy, easy way to do this, is I call it it's just four by four breaths. So it's four seconds in, four seconds out, for birth should begin to turn the tide. It doesn't have to be this deep, 30-minute sort of meditation where you go into some existential Zen Nirvana place. Just really, that was a terrible cultural statement, I'm sorry, but four deep breaths. And the breath should be low and slow, which means we're pulling the breath all the way down into our belly or diaphragm and slowing it down. So lots of like apps and YouTube things about this. We can end with a breath practice if we have time. But it's beyond yoga and meditation. It's just really, really great concrete science to help counteract that anxiety response.

Cory: Well, this is something you know, I've read navy seals and combat. They control their breath. They weren't maybe before but you know, they weren't. So think about that in crisis. That first instinct is to take a big deep breath, but I love the former for practice, Southern by—

Sherry: I didn't learn that in yoga, I learned it working in with the military. Oh, that's right. That's right.

Cory: Well, I'd invite everybody right now and your own while we're talking. Let's do that the four by four, four slow, deep breaths in, slip four out. We're going to continue your conversations because I've got a lot to talk this year about, by the way, and I'm glad you're eavesdropping on our conversation. gratitude. It's that one that it's like, I know the science the studies are there. And it's that one that man, I just — my mind just wants to focus on all the junk, all the chaos. But it's kind of like that you're the former for deep breath is telling you. I love your statement there. It's hard to do both of these negative and positive things at the same time. So it is to pick feels that way was gratitude too, though. Yeah.

Sherry: I think when you're when you're acknowledging, making a list three to five things that you're grateful for. And that can be the fact that hey, I don't have to go to the doctor today. Or, you know, my kids are able to relate lead. So worst-case scenario can give him a book and we can call that school I mean there it can be really, really simple things it's pretty impossible to feel like everything is horrible when you can find those five things to be grateful for. So even you know, those of you who live with other people this is a great practice for the dinner table. When I was growing up, we would begin our meal with a prayer my family doesn't practice that tradition anymore, but we do begin our meal with a gratitude, and so each of our children will go around and just say one or two things that that are they're thankful are happening right now.

Cory: And what a great pair with the breathing you know, finding yourself going down the anxiety true deep, getting lost into feeling suffocated, whatever those sensations are, but then going back to the breath and gratitude. I think you're just really fantastic. You know, worry. So one thing that comes to mind for me is when something happens, I go catastrophe mode. And another fancy phrase, phrase for this is cognitive distortion, I believe cognitive bias traffic—

Sherry: —traffic thinking, yeah.

Cory: And I would bet you money that a lot of people go cash-free to, like the markets crashing, my 401k is screwed. Like, I'm not going to be rich, I'm going to be working until I'm 110 I live that low kind of thing. And that feels like something when we talk about worry is that our mind can it can work against us, too. What are some thoughts about that? My mind goes racing, I got a contest free I got a Yeah, you know, there is no I mean, the world is, you know, ending in my mind. I can see it all — all the bad things that could potentially happen. And how do I, how do I reset? I mean, we've just talked about breath for sure and gratitude, but how do we combat some of the — I call it my inner jerk.

Sherry: So I have maybe a little bit of a different take on that, especially right now, which is to like, let your inner jerk have his moment. So, you know, it's to sort of maybe sit down with Lindsey or meet with my husband, Rob, sort of say like, what is the worst-case scenario? Like? If we haven't, you know, to basically put it on your calendar, we're going to have two hours of catastrophe planning. And we're going to talk about all of the things that are going to fall for us it meant we like updated our will, you know, like, hey, both of us died from this virus who's going to watch our kids who haven't done in a while. We bought a hand-crank radio. So I don't know how the power is going to go out from coronavirus but like, you know, we have one in the basement now. So it's basically acknowledgment that you call it the jerk but like the sort of paranoid voice. So it lives in your head, is there as an attempt to protect you? Like, he's not really a jerk? He's just like, hey, Cory, are you paying attention? And so when we give them a moment and sort of say, Okay, what do you need to tell me? You know, and what can I possibly do with what is within my control my power to prepare for the end of the world? There might be some things, right you know, we have a really stupid radio thing, we have more batteries that we need, canned food … So I would say make an appointment with your, the crisis manager that lives in your head and give he or she a couple of hours of your focused attention and follow whatever recommendations are reasonable and you can reasonably do and then when that voice resurfaces, you can say “it's cool, dude, I got the hand-crank radio in the basement, like we did that, yeah, we have a water filter, you know? Or, you know, we've got some gold or you know…” Certainly, lots of these scenarios we can't perfectly plan for. But I think when we give that alarmist voice a little bit of airtime and make a plan accordingly, it helps to sue that more than just sort of push it down and say, Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. You're a jerk because I don't know I don't think he's a jerk or I think he's just trying to help you out.

Cory: Yes, a jerk voice though sometimes, but yeah, we'll get no I love that because I think there's this sense insane, like, make an appointment, bro. And then just my counselor a couple weeks ago, I was stressing about something like catastrophe. It wasn't related to this. Because Okay, tell me what you're gonna do. Keep going down the cash-free room. Okay. And I went dark and I went deep, and I started the video. Kind of laughing because I could hear myself say things and go do I really think this catastrophe is gonna happen? But I love your advice is that I mean there is some there's probably some sense of safety. I'm just thinking like, I want to go by hand-cranked radio, you know, but like I think there's some sense of like you've acknowledged it like you said, but also go in your head. There's a hand-crank radio, by the way. Hey, remember, I did listen to you. He may not be perfect for FEMA executive director, but you're helping me and I think what you're saying to Sherry is acknowledging that that also is natural that that inner the prey maybe not so jerk. She's there for good reason too.

Sherry: The alarm is protection has a role. We don't let it go crazy, but it doesn't also help to sort of shove it in the closet.

Cory: Yeah, then just pulls up even probably worse, when when you don't, you know, let these human things part of being human, kind of acknowledge them and, you know, thousands of years ago were in us biologically to help us survive and I think that's good. Okay, so we've talked about fear worry, there's some in that I think some of the uncertainty and some really good ways to tackle that. So let's switch gears just a tad in the situation we find ourselves in we just acknowledge like, you've got three kiddos. I've got two kiddos were sequestered at home, you know? Yeah. So it's, it's crazy. You know, Sherry have talked so long about that, trying to provide resources into the world that says I'm not alone. Yet this phenomenon that's trending which is a good reason for this particular this pandemic is social distancing. But we're sequestered in our house. You know? So this the situation we're in, I want to talk about parenting to and spouse, significant other roommates, all that. But, yeah, isolation. I mean, we have to oscillate in order to flatten that curve and do the right things and everything but there's a real phenomenon that we're pushing deeper into, which is isolation, social distancing, which is good for maybe a virus but not for our emotional high.

Sherry: Yeah.

Cory: What are your thoughts about we're in our bunkers, right? We're in right we're told don't high five and hug. Yeah. Don't go Yeah, middle of groups, whether it be churches or groups for instance, or, you know, our workplaces. were told to go isolate like…

Sherry: — and that is where, you know, again, this magical device in my hand becomes really powerful because I can still FaceTime my mom in California. And, you know, I'm having, you know, a zoom snack later with my friend Anna. Like, I think that register zooms back. We're not drinking right now. So we're having Zoom snacks instead of Zoom drinks. But I think that, you know, the danger is that we mistake Facebook feed or twitter feed for connection. And there's a utility there, but it's not the kind of connection that we're craving. But if we get on the phone, get face to face, over the devices, with friends with people, we love that that's still a way to have a really meaningful connection that we all desperately need. Even the kids need, you know, my kids are facetiming a lot more people than normal. So, so Social distancing is about, you know, spreading germs. It's not about our hearts and our minds. social connection is as important if not more important than it's ever been before. And that's where technology is suddenly really, really helpful for all of us. But the thing that I want to stress is that it's intentional. It's connected, it's heart to heart. It's not just like reading the highlight reel on Facebook. Like that's not the kind of connection that we all necessarily need. It's the appointment. Let's sit down and talk. Tell me how you're feeling. What's driving you crazy. What are you grateful for? What's bringing you joy right now?

Cory: Those are great questions, like, just phone a friend or having a zoom snack. What's bringing you joy right now? What do you mean? You just, I see your Taekwondo here. You're a ninja. You're like, okay, ask the question. Maybe it's a conversation with someone who is a dear friend. Some of you haven't talked to a loved one. Back to the gratitude. Hey, can we have a deep breath together? I love that. Someone and by the way, let me just take a moment to say if you have a question, hit the Q&A button at the bottom of the Zoom window. And you can ask an anonymous question. A couple have come in. I'll take those in just a minute. But one of them said, Sherry, I really liked this distinction. Any thoughts on tape, changing the term social distancing to physical distancing? You can still be social. But yeah, it's there. There's a physical distance —

Sherry: —allotted for it. Yeah.

Cory: Yeah. I like that distinction. So maybe, I mean, I tend to think share a — try to think — take problems and see the opportunity in it. And you know, there's probably some kind of sunshine quote, I should figure that out. You know, like, every Rain, Rain is the rainbow or something. But there are opportunities were sequestered. It might be an opportunity where we're not in a busy office or having to run around like, you know, take kids to school and practice that we've got a little bit more time to And can use that to reach out to somebody we haven't. And, and I really, really, really like that and using technology, not trying to replace it. But right now it's a, it's an opportunity we have FaceTime is free soon, I'll have your zoom snack thing. So…

Sherry: Yeah, it's a good time to make a list of a couple of people who you haven't talked to in a while or who might be having a rough time of it. You know, I, I know my mom is quarantined all by herself in her big house in California. And she's, you know, when can come and no one can go and that's, so we're talking every day and we don't normally talk every day. And like, my yoga teachers and my kids, music instructors, like people who are really woven into the fabric of our lives, who have no income, all of a sudden, I'm sending them notes. So I think you know, we can again, we can change our frame of mind to say who needs a virtual high five, who needs a little reach out, who's going to be lonely? And I think that also helps our own mental health when we realize there's a lot I can do to be helpful. It doesn't involve maybe even finances or even just involve some fullness. So that's good for everybody.

Cory: So we've talked about just now about the forward, you know, pushing forward and reaching out. I want to switch in real quick and say, how do we ask for help? And you know, man sure this is hard. This is tough. I like to keep things bottled up. I like to try to be Superman, and do everything myself. But there is a very real-time this one, this is every single day, not just in the pain demo. Right now. It's heightened for even more of the population, I think, reaching out and saying I do need help. I do need support and how to do that.

Sherry: Yeah, I, I think this is really a tough one, especially for, again, our entrepreneur, brothers and sisters, because we're really used to being pretty autonomous and pretty capable of handling things ourselves. And all kinds of help is going to be needed, right? financial help, just emotional sanity help. Addiction help, parenting help. Like, I feel like there's really a pretty nightmare scenario where we're, we're stuck in the house, it's easy to start drinking more, it's easy to be a little more abrasive or rougher with your kids because they're going crazy and you're going crazy. You know, I just think there are lots of dominoes that could fall in a bad way and to be able to call someone and just say like, Okay, can you just talk to me for 10 minutes like I need a break from what's happening right now. Maybe you don't even have to use the H-word. Maybe you can say like, hey, “Just tell me a story from your day?” or “What are you reading right now,” you know, just get connected in a way that gets you out of the cycle that you're in. And there also may be times where you just really do need help to say, I can't pay my rent right now, or I have no work. Do you have, you know, reach out to some people? Do you have any extra projects or things that I can help you with? Or that it? I think the thing is that everyone is going to need help, you know, there's not going to be a family that's sort of untouched by all of this. And so we as leaders, as entrepreneurs, as people who are aware can now begin to set a new trend where now is just part of the vernacular to ask for an offer to help.

Cory: Yep. And I think we said examples about that, too, is I mean, I think many of us — I won't say most — many of us, and I'll just say myself, I'm good at offering help. I'm terrible at asking for help, you know, and I let it go too far and it gets, it gets tough. And I think you've hit a resonating thing, which is, this is not the time for social isolations in the sense of not the physical, we get to watch that with the virus, but that this is the time to lean in on connection and doing those to this amazing technology. We have the internet to do so free resources to do so. So I appreciate that. Okay, Sherry, I want to talk about things that I know you have put like squarely on my plate for so long. And if you follow Sherry on Instagram, you know, she does aerial yoga, I believe is the name of it.

Sherry: That's all my Instagram is.

Cory: It's all she told me a couple like a week ago she was she said she was two weeks ago. She was in Vegas and she was going to the circus on site. I remember the circus and that wasn't actually the circus. It was aerial yoga. The Circus I remember. But the word that I'm coming to share is the one that you've really helped introduced to me, which is called play, like most of us think play was when I was a kid. It's what my kids do. But you've been very intentional about talking about play. And its necessity and I think it might tie into, I'm gonna approach it again, exercise the things that we could do. You know, we talked about the breath, we talked about gratitude, there's play this component that I would love for you to tell me more about us about and then exercise too, and how to dance really.

Sherry: It's really counterintuitive, because I think we need play more than ever, but the world feels so very serious. And especially those of us who are grownups with lots of grand responsibilities. We can feel a lot of pressure to live in that seriousness all the time and our bodies and our minds really need play, which is essentially a word that It describes being part of an activity purely for the joy of it for a sense of getting lost in it for a sense of you know, flow is another word. Because it sort of stimulates your curiosity and your sense of joy not because it leads to a certain kind of outcome. So people play in lots of ways I happen to have fallen in love with play related to circus, which is very physical, but, you know, playing music, playing by cooking by, you know, working through a cookbook, so I think, you know, if anything, I would love to challenge each of us to find a quarantine play activity. Maybe that's building a new york Lego set, or maybe it's, you know, mastering handstands or something that is a break from the heaviness of life and just lets you be joyful and light-hearted Again, it's a counterbalance, we have all of this heaviness. So we need to introduce some more lightness, we have all of this sadness and fear, we need to introduce more joy. We have all of this like deep, difficult intellectual problem solving to do we need to introduce more sort of nonlinear, playful, less structured ways of thinking and ways of using our brains. So play the engages the body is like doubly helpful because you have all the benefits of play and then all of the benefits of movement. But play doesn't. It doesn't have to be physical. It's just, you know, it's nice if it is you just want to be able to lose yourself in something.

Cory: Yeah, by the way, if you're not following Sherry on Twitter, you need to. I've stolen her ideas that she tweets…. Please keep doing this. One of them was talking about Legos and I was like, you know, Calloway my son that's got a roomful of Legos, man. Maybe we could reconstruct the things. He's completely obliterated. Going back to that joyful time like, it could be, you know, doodling what thinking back as a kid and going What? What brought you joy that you'd like lost yourself in video games, whatever. I know you even mentioned to Netflix and chill like, you brought up one on Twitter By the way, she's at Zen founder. And I'll give you her website address, which is Sherry walling calm too, as well. But you mentioned the West Wing on the classics that we bought. And so, we've been just a couple things. But I love this it could be what is that art, like breaking out the instrument, you know, the musical instrument, you know, that's dusty in the closet or, you know, something and I love that you continually and you follow you know, Sherry scream, you will see that she loves the play aspect, and I think that's such a great reminder for me every time I see it, I'm like, I don't know if I could do the aerobatic stuff, but—

Sherry:—you could if you made it your ambition.

Cory: That's true. I can make it—

Sherry:—into your quarantine project, you could.

Cory: Yeah. And I love you how you've paired also, it doesn't have to but me, you know, exercise being kind of the wonder drug, getting your heart rate up doing something which we can all maybe do a push up or sit up for something, even in our confined space to do that, and, you know, I can remember the book offhand but you know, he says that wonder drug so finding something within your, you know, physical space to do YouTubing some things I think is great just getting that body, you know, what do you call that? pulse, the heart —

Sherry: …heart rate elevator getting some adrenaline, some endorphins flowing. I mean, it's also good old fashioned catharsis, right, for he talked about this the sense of like, just moving big emotion, through and out of the body. And we know that the longer that emotions are sitting stagnant in us, especially stress, it causes a lot of chemical changes within our body. So if we can engage in whether it's playful or just deeply physical activities that help, like, shift around to that chemistry, it's much better for us in the long run. So things like dancing are both like neurologically stimulating because you're like, what? Which left foot which one is left and where does it go? But also take you they require you to think about something that's not the coronavirus or your you know, your business spreadsheets. So something that engages your mind, as well as your body, is really, really helpful.

Cory: Yeah, like that. So, you know, Sherry Lindsey is listening and I don't like to dance. First thing, you know, she's gonna say is like, let's do it. Let's dance. [laughing] Cory.

Cory: Well, I want to, I want to make sure we have some time and space for questions and there's a couple that have come in Sherry and again, by the way, hit that Q&A button right there, and you can do it anonymously. I will be the only one that sees the actual questions and but it also says anonymous when you click anonymous. So please hit that. There are a couple of questions. So you just hit on stress, or you know, use the word stress in your sentence. And so one of the questions was, my spouse is in a complete state of denial, running a manufacturing plant, and when the shade the state has shut down all the essential stuff. So what if, what if you have people in your life that are in a sense of like, denial? And I've honestly, I'll tell you, some people that don't really take the measures that the CDC and government officials that know way more about these things than me have suggested don't take it. Don't take it very seriously. So, thoughts on thoughts on how to handle the denial or you know, lack of seriousness about the issues at hand?

Sherry: Yeah, that's a tough one in a family for sure. I mean, I think it's helpful that those conversations happen very intentionally. So as opposed to, like, you know, in this scenario, it's partners that live together. Like, you're not doing dishes or sort of running from one thing to another or like, you're not distracted, but you sit down and you say to your significant other, like, I, I appreciate that you see this way. I see it in a different way. And I am quite concerned and I would like your help in implementing some of these measures for our family. And you just make it a very personal conversation. You don't try to go, you know, toe to toe or head to head about like which news sources which and you know, how many people die of the flu versus how many I mean, don't just don't engage in the kind of infowar and just say “hi” to me It's gonna help my heart. Yep. If you just stay home for two weeks, like just as a favor to me, like let's just bunker up together. And I think not try to, you know, sort of went over someone's mind as much as you just asked for their heart can be a little bit more compelling than trying to debate them into submission, which you know, never works.

Cory: Well and I didn't get to this but it brings up the topic and there are two questions on this kind of thing, which is now we're isolated with our family that we don't spend 24 hours a day with basically, yeah, and now we look on potentially weeks of doing this. There's going to be inevitable conflict arguments. It's, you know, it can feel like in the isolation … with people. And I know I'm not the best to always get along but Okay, so here's, here's a couple of thoughts here that came in through anonymous questions if your employer wants you to work 100% but you can't because of kids, not having a workspace, etc. How do you maintain that boundary without pushing yourself too hard?

Sherry: Yeah, I mean, I think everybody is, is sort of having a lot more attuned to what they need. So, you know, talking with your significant other unit. So for example, today I have a monster day I've just scheduled from nine to six straight just the day that it is for me today. Friday, much more flexible. So I sat down with Rob and I said, Look, you're on duty on Wednesday, because I'm really busy. But I'm Friday, I'll be on duty, we got to sort of trade back and forth. So talking with the people in your house about what they need what you need. I've also sat down with each of my kids individually and said, Hey, guys, here's the reality like all of us are home. The house cleaner is not common. Nobody can leave. Your mom and your dad were both more stressed than normal. So and I know You're more stressed than normal. So here are some of the things that I need from you. What do you need from me? So I mean, my youngest is nine. But so we're having some really open dialogue about stress and emotion and how that affects our household and how our household runs. I think it's also an open conversation with your employer. I mean, many, many people are now home with their children, and again, minor nine to nine-year-olds and a 13-year-old but they can like make their own breakfast and like do things. But if I was home with a three-year-old, like, I couldn't be doing, you know, you can't work in a focused way. So that's a conversation with the employer to say, I need a scale my hours back or maybe I can just add six hours on Saturday so that I'm working shorter days or I'm mixing up my hours so I can do it when my kids are sleeping, like sit down and think about what you need to help your life kind of work and begin To ask people for that, there might be some negotiation, but there has to be flexibility from other people too. So don't sit here assuming I have to work full time, I have to watch my kids full time I have to, you know, like that's, that's not realistic, this is not going to be just this week, this is going to be for a while. So you have to proactively protect your energy and ask for what you need from other people, including your clients, including your employer.

Cory: We were having this conversation and some similar, you know, stock market, all that kind of stuff work. And my thought was, you know, there's, let's say there's a natural disaster that happens that come through, and then there are people affected, but not everyone is affected. This particular thing, everyone, the globe, essentially, is the stock market. Everybody's in our place, work. Most everyone is in our place. Whether it's worrying about a job worrying about if you know selling We're going to continue. And but I think going back to what you said, just reiterating the boundaries. I mean, what a great thought there and scheduling out, this is what I'm dealing with. It's what we're dealing with. We did that this morning talking to that now, it's not perfect, like you said, and that's the other thing is, it's never going to be perfect, but we're going to make the best of it. Okay, so we've talked about parenting a little bit, and I said, You're not parenting, but really having people in the house. And there's a flip to our conversation, which is the single people that might be at home having to, you know, quarantine, and you've talked about the connection there. But again, so for our single friends on the call, too, we got kind of that specific advice about searching in place alone. But what other issues or concerns and having no one to touch or runaway thoughts, for example, someone asked, you know, compelling the isolation when we've talked about it parents like we're not I'm going to be alone. There are people here physically with us. But you can still feel alone for sure. But for our single friends out there,

Sherry: Yeah, I think this is a time to, to, again, get a couple of people on your list that you're just going to say, hey, you're my person for the quarantine. Let's check-in every day. Let's just make sure we're both Well, yeah, and I, you mentioned it may be a little in passing, but the idea of touches are a really big deal for for this sort of quarantine process. And it's imperfect, but like things like a really warm, fuzzy blanket things where you can sort of feel pressure on your skin, if you have a pet, that's great, but realizing that your body is is also going to sort of need some sense of comfort in sort of on the cellular level. So if you're living alone, you know, extra, like nurture on your body so you know, warm baths. lotion, things that sort of help take care of your skin or even your sort of touching your own skin. Skin sort of stimulates this sense of calm within our bodies that is pretty physiologically hardwired, warm blankets, you know, things that are heavy. And then having your list of people who are you're checking people, so every day, you're talking with someone or you're seeing someone's face, even if it's virtually to just be really proactive.

Cory: Single buddy, I like that single buddies being there for each other leaning on each other.

Sherry: Or even, you know, you don't have to be single like my, you know, my friend Anna, who we're having the Zoom snack, she lives by herself. I don't live by myself, but I certainly would like to talk to somebody that's not my husband or children today. She needs a break from quiet, I need a break from them. It'll work.

Cory: But I love in the absence of being able to physically touch another human being a fiver a hug. The warm blanket the heavy heavy blankets. I know if they have pets, of course, I love that specific tip. That's this seemed like it just resonates so deeply. Thank you for saving for your skin. Yeah, suit the suit to your skin. Yeah, absolutely. And there's that my daughter loves these little soft blankets and every time I touch she's just — and I'm like, man, I should steal that for an hour. Hey, everybody, we have like 14 minutes. Thanks for eavesdropping on our conversation together. Sherry's always just I love talking to her Do you can just tell in her voice and she's got such a true calling and all of this and spent most of her life either in education or with clients helping people. So thank you again. Sure. It's been so good. Okay, so let me look through some questions real quick. Yes, this will be recorded by the way. We'll post it. Post it right after this or shortly after. I think We got some of that…I'm just looking to the questions real quick. “To compound the stress, we're older parents one child is a senior in high school, given a stress that he wants to go out. We're financially strapped, scared that we will not financially make it through this. I'm a type A personality. So this has really affected me. And again, I want to give the disclaimer for my dear friend Sherry, she's not doing therapy. One-on-one therapy is private. It's with a professional license. Sherry has just made herself available to answer questions and offer tips. But thank you, Sherry, any thoughts on you know, a situation like this where Okay, I can imagine my kids are too young, they want to go out but there's rain stuff. It's not like they can drive away. And then there's mention of the financial stress which is the thing that most of us, all of us are looming You know, economic crisis, for instance.

Sherry: It kind of comes back to control what you can control. With financial stuff, you know, there are ways that we can all probably tighten up well, we'll have to because nobody's going out to eat. So, sort of planning for the worst as much as possible. But also, again, realizing everyone's in the same boat, like, I don't know what the government's gonna do. I don't know how they're gonna. I don't know how we're all going to put it back together. But we all will have to work together to put it back together. Because all of us are feeling it and will continue to feel it. And I know that that's deeply comforting, but I think it is important to realize you don't have to solve this on your own. And that sense of, you know, how do I work it out. Other people will feel as well. Man with the kiddo though who is like, just doing their own thing or teenager? I have a 13-year-old. He's like the best and worst human that I know. And Peston worse. Um, and I think you know, again, you can try to do the logic and then you just got to do the love and just say like, Hey, man, my heart won't let you go out. I'm gonna hide your keys if I have to. Or, you know, if you go out like you're putting your whole family at risk, and maybe you don't care about that right now, but like I do know, it's a tough conversation.

Cory: Yeah, absolutely.

Sherry: There's enough social pressure on everyone to help reinforce it's not just like, mom's word or dad's word. It's universal.

Cory: So I want to ask this one to a question for entrepreneurs specifically because you are one you live with one. Rob is a tremendous human being is like you are and also brilliant entrepreneur, but you know, for someone that's responsible for, you know, other people's livelihood, potentially, yeah, as an entrepreneur, I mean, uncertainty. It's, we call it the roller coaster for a good reason. And this one just starting to go, you know, it's, it's going downhill and thinking, Okay, well, I know some people that potentially have restaurants or service companies or everybody feeling some sense of like, what happens if nobody can move and do anything. And then they're, you know, this ripple effect. Thoughts for entrepreneurs on this? This is a down this is a downward swing potentially for the roller coaster of entrepreneurship, thoughts about how we, as entrepreneurs, you know, we're also leading other people and how we do that. Well.

Sherry: You know, I think, as always, there's an invitation for very calm, intentional communication, which is to say, Hey, this is a situation right now. I, you know, I know I've got runway for however long. And then there may be a time when we need to adjust what we're doing. I think, again, everybody gets it. You as an entrepreneur, as a business owner with employees, you don't have a magic wand, you're doing the math like everybody else. And the more that you can just constantly communicate and do your best to keep people calm, but also give them a realistic picture so they can sort of make their choices as best they can too. You know, it's not easy, but don't put yourself in the superhero position like you can't save your self, your family, the whole world, all your employees like you are not responsible if you need to, like lay people off or make some different choices like there is a massive virus and that's what is causing this I think people sometimes take a little bit too much ownership, which is not to say be, I don't know, all of this is a balancing act, right? Be careful, be wise, be strategic, communicate, treat others the way that you will want to be treated. And at the end of the day, I realize that there are just really significant limits to what is within your power to do.

Cory: That is such a dear message for my brothers and sisters that are entrepreneurs. You can't control everything, obviously. And you're not Superman they can magically or I don't know, some magical wizard that's gonna make everything better. And I like what you just said there's a limit there's to what we can do, and we'll try our best and communicate. So here's another thing too, on this kind of topic, cheery, trying to balance this Brian for his team calm and confidence but also not ignoring reality that as a lot of full unknown. And I and I would feel disingenuous, not admitting that any tips on how to walk those lines. You know, you know, you've, you've seen, we've talked about this as being vulnerable and open with people, but not scaring the crap out of them to making the situation and that's a balanced two.

Sherry: And I in a way, you know, when all else fails, you tell the truth, which is to say, Hey, I'm working hard to keep us all employed, you know, these are the steps that I'm taking, these are the things that I'm trying. But I am worried if this goes on for two months or three months. So, you know, let's, let's all think together about what we might be able to contribute in order to solve this problem, in order to stay to stay fresh. So again, everyone is in the same boat. So tell the truth about that. I think people find that comforting.

Cory: Why going back to something you said I think applies here too Sherry is like, this is what I know. I know, that I want you to have I want us to keep going. Yeah, I don't know what the financial future looks like for the entire world. We just don't know those things and coming back to those trees. And also like the message of like, it's hard to say this because we can't physically be together. But this is our time to rally as humans and the team. Like, I don't know what the feature is that what I do know is I love you, I care about you. I care about your family. You know, I think those things are really good, really good words too.

Sherry: You, I think, again, depending on your context, because these are very context-dependent kind of questions. But it's also you know, I wouldn't save this for every team, but it's okay as a leader to sort of put it back to the team and say, here are the numbers. Here's the work. Here's the timeline, like what do we want to do? Maybe people are going to say, hey, let's just take 25% off. Across the board will help reduce our salaries will, you know bank that money? Hopefully or, I mean, I think you can think creatively together. And again, not feel the pressure of I have to solve this for everyone. That's not what leadership means. Leadership means you're hosting the conversation. You're listening. you're engaging, it doesn't mean that you are the ultimate decider. You're not the wizard to use your term. Yeah.

Cory: Yeah. I love that. We don't have to have the answer. We're not gonna have the answer.

Sherry: We can't. You don't. You can't. It's not a choice.

Cory: We can put her my partner used to say the open hand approached open palm is like how do we? That's a great question. How do we figure this out? That goes for family situations too, right here. How to, hey, we're in this together. This is you know, if we find this rainbow in the storm cloud kind of thing is, this is forced our human race to go. We're in this together, even the ones that maybe don't even have a quote case. Have the virus, especially as to say like we are all in this together. And it's an opportunity for Philly, all of us to come together at this time. Che just a couple more minutes. I want people to know how to get ahold of you or resources. And before I let you say that I want to say, Sherry, thank you again, everybody. Thank her please, chat online if you feel do so on Twitter. She's ads and founder. But I want to mention one thing, too. She's got a prolific podcast. And the last podcast episode she did is called calm stability. Can you hear that in her voice, by the way, should be calm stability, calm by Sherry Wallace. But go do that she's got a ton of resources there particularly for entrepreneurs. Sure, how can people learn more about you and the different pieces of content? Ah, I forgot to do this Sherry. She's got a great book called How to keep your sh t together and I'll put a link to do that in the chat or somebody can put a link to that in chat, by the way, it's 399 on Kindle. It's a great resource that Sherry and her husband Rob put together just for these times. I don't want to miss that. But how else can we kind of keep on the Sherry? Sherry fan? Fan bank bandwagon?

Sherry: Yeah, you know, I think, and I'm just really happy to do it, Cory, anything, like, like all of you, if I can find a little space of where I can offer something helpful, what an honor for me to be able to offer something helpful. And I think all of us are sort of asking, How can I be helpful. So you know, I'm right alongside you and the rest of your team and ask him that question. I mean, the podcast, I hope is a great resource in terms of just, you know, freely available. It's not always perfect, but you know, we try to provide some thoughtful content that helps people navigate the storms that sort of safe all of our mental health. But yeah, if people want to reach out to me, I'm at Sherry wall. dot com or Zen founder, comm z and founder calm so yeah,

Cory: I'll put the link in the recording. But also Lindsay's put the link to her book, fantastic book, a couple of recaps, I just want to say from what I heard from Sherry, from what I heard from you, my friend. We're in this together, a big four by four, deep, low breath, for in four seconds in four seconds out, gratitude. Find a way to play. Still, your kids like this, break out a board game, do something, find a way to play to this element of childlike joy. Exercise is a great antidote. Find a way to get your heartbeat up. Stay connected. Have your list of people that you're going to connect with every day, or frequently to do that as a kind of an antidote to the time that we're in. Sherry Thank you, please. Say hi to Rob and the kiddos. And thank you so so so much for your time. Today sharing I think this was a big deep breath for everyone and you're calm presence and you're just sharing your tips and things have helped a lot of people that I hope will keep you going and you can share these things. Practice these things actually be an example for others and reach out when we need help. So any less than this year, thanks.

Sherry: Thanks so much and thanks for having the conversation. We'll have the conversation as many times as we need to tell this is a little bit better.

Cory: Yes ma'am. Thank you, everybody. Stay safe and healthy. mentally and physically. See you

Transcription via Otter.

by Brian Krogsgard at March 19, 2020 01:42 AM under Planet

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