Automattic was created to bring WordPress’ open source publishing software to people on a larger scale. The company shares WordPress’ mission to democratize publishing. As part of that mission, Automattic published a transparency report, which outlines the number of information requests, takedown demands, and national security requests it has received.
The Transparency Report is located on a new site which helps users to navigate what will likely become a large archive of information, as Automattic plans to publish a new report every six months. This report will keep users informed about which governments are making requests and policies for responding to them.
Writing on behalf of Automattic, Jenny Zhu summarized the company’s policy regarding information requests:
Our policy is to notify you of any information request we receive regarding your account, so that you may challenge the request. The only exception is if we are prohibited by law (not just asked nicely by the police) from making such a notification.
Historically, Automattic has demonstrated its support for freedom of speech by raising awareness about the First Amendment, even taking to the courts to stand with users against DMCA abuse. The company also recently joined forces with other organizations around the globe to protest NSA surveillance.
Through its statement today, Automattic emphasized that it will push back against requests that constitute infringements on freedom of speech:
We also carefully review all legal requests we receive and actively push back on those that are procedurally deficient, overly-broad, or otherwise improper (i.e., those that target non-criminal free speech).
Russia, not known for its support of free press, leads the way in takedown demands with 88% of the total requests received by WordPress.com. The United States, however, far and away leads in the number of user information requests from governments and law enforcement agencies from July 1 – December 31, 2013.
While most of the countries listed have submitted a handful of requests, the US government sent 20 requests, specifying 29 different sites. In 60% of those requests, some or all information was produced. The requests shown here do not include those related to litigation and civil proceedings.
Automattic specifies that the company will only turn over private user information upon receipt of valid US legal process. Requests that originate from outside the US are required to be served through a US court or enforcement agency.
The company is not permitted to disclose very much regarding national security requests, despite wishing they could:
Finally, we’re reporting the maximum amount of information allowed by law about the number and type(s) of National Security Requests that we received. The disclosures we’re currently allowed to make are limited, and unfortunately, we’re not permitted to paint a more truthful picture.
The Transparency Report makes it clear that Automattic will not tolerate censorship of its users and is committed to disclosing as much information related to government requests as they are permitted. Many governments are ruthless about extracting information from citizens, even when it comes at the expense of the people they serve. Given that the United States leads the pack in information requests, it’s reassuring to know that WordPress.com, one of the most highly trafficked sites in the US and around the globe, is committed to standing against any request that violates users’ freedom of speech.
After the release of WordPress 3.9, I decided to help out in the support forums since they usually become busy soon after a release. Providing support in the WordPress.org forums gives you a clear indication on how well a release is being received and whether or not anything major broke. After spending five hours in the support forum, here are some common issues being reported by users.
A lot of users are reporting that the visual editor has either disappeared or is broken. Considering the number of changes that took place with TinyMCE in 3.9, this is not surprising. In most cases, having users go through the following process solved the problem.
This detailed information will help volunteer moderators determine the best way to solve your problem.
Themes and plugins confirmed to be the cause of the problem are documented and added to the master list of known issues with WordPress 3.9. So far, the list of plugins is up to eight with at least one in the process of being fixed.
The support team tries their best to help everyone with any WordPress problem even if it’s for a commercial theme or plugin. However, due to the great variety of existing themes and plugins it is nearly impossible to know everything. Your best option is to contact the developer for support. It’s always best to go to where the theme/plugin is officially supported when trying to get support.
A few users have asked where the link is to create an audio playlist. In order to see the link to create an audio playlist, you either need existing audio files within the media library or you need to add them. It’s worth noting that if you host your media files on a content delivery network that’s not synchronized with the WordPress media library, you won’t be able to take advantage of the playlist feature.
Although WordPress 3.9 has refined the media editing experience, it did so at the cost of removing a feature users appreciated. In WordPress 3.8, users could easily add a border, vertical, and horizontal padding to images. WordPress 3.9 has removed this from the advanced image settings screen.
It’s not just those who use the self-hosted version of WordPress that are upset with the change. A WordPress.com support forum thread with over 430 posts is filled with users asking why the feature was removed. In some cases, WordPress.com staff are explaining how to use HTML code to add or remove borders to images. It’s possible that a plugin will soon be released that will restore this feature.
Since WordPress 3.9 is a major upgrade, please exercise patience when requesting support on the forum. This guide on the Codex does a great job explaining how to get your question answered. Last but not least, if a volunteer helps solve your problem, say thank you. During my five-hour support stint, I realized first-hand that providing support is a thankless job. Reading thank you notes and seeing users express joy from having their problem solved gave me the energy to keep on going.
I encourage you to take 15-20 minutes to browse the support forum and help out where you can. Not only will you get a better understanding of problems users are facing, but you’ll learn a lot in the process. To anyone who’s taken the time to answer a support question on the forum, thank you!
One of the improvements in WordPress 3.8 was the responsive dashboard. Thanks to this improvement, the option to select the number of columns to display dashboard widgets was removed. The dashboard now shows the appropriate number of columns using the available screen real estate. Unfortunately, for those using wide-screen monitors, this usually means 4-5 skinny columns. In the screenshot below, you can see that even if a column doesn’t have a widget assigned to it, the column remains in place.
The issue was brought up by Chris Jenkins shortly after the release of WordPress 3.8. WordPress core developer Mark Jaquith agreed that “dashboard widgets should be able to specify a min-width, such that they span multiple columns if WordPress tries to make them smaller than that.” Jaquith created a ticket suggesting a fix but so far, a patch has not been created.
Since the ticket was created, Jenkins has developed and released a plugin called Two Column Admin. When activated, the plugin restores the ability to select 1 or 2 columns to the screen options tab. The downside to using this plugin is that selecting two columns will disable the responsiveness of the dashboard widgets. Instead of merging into one column when the screen size gets smaller, the two columns will crash into each other.
Matt Beck responded to the ticket with a good suggestion in lieu of the column option returning:
Best case scenario would be for the number/width of columns to adjust to the number of active dashboard widgets instead of displaying the empty drag/drop areas. In lieu of that, some mechanism to specify either column-count of a widget intended to be wide and/or better yet – maximum number of columns to display on the dashboard would be great.
After being stuck with four columns since the release of 3.8, I’ve forgotten how nice it is to have wide dashboard widgets. I’m hopeful that in the future, the ability to specify the number of columns in the dashboard returns as I prefer three, not four columns.
How many of you would like to be able to specify a specific amount of columns versus the current implementation?
The BuddyPress trunk will be reorganized to include a /src directory for BuddyPress, minus bbPress 1.1 and the BP-Default theme, which will be removed. The /tests directory will house the phpUnit tests. Travis-CI and configuration files for tests will be moved to the root.
The reorganization of the trunk will not affect production releases of BuddyPress, so for most ordinary users nothing will change. BuddyPress core contributor Paul Gibbs specified who will be affected by the changes in his post on the development blog. The changes concern you if:
While this cross section of affected users represents just a handful of BuddyPress developers, the good news for everyone is that both core and extension development will become more efficient. That means that improvements and new plugins are likely to reach you faster than before.
Grunt will reduce the amount of manual labor that developers put into contributing to the BuddyPress core and creating plugins. The task runner will handle all of the following:
The core team may add to this list in the future. If you want to get involved in the discussion or keep an eye on the “grunt-ification” of the BuddyPress trunk, there’s a trac ticket open where updates will be posted. Core contributors and developers running a checkout of trunk on production/development sites will want to stay tuned for any changes that might affect your workflow.
WordPress 3.9 “Smith” is now available, just four months after the release of 3.8. This release continues the strategy of developing features as plugins first. Widgets Customizer by Westonruter is the only plugin that was developed and merged into WordPress this time around. Much of the work in WordPress 3.9 is an improvement of features added in earlier versions. Without further ado, let’s take a look at what this release has to offer.
Building upon the addition of audio and video in WordPress 3.6, WordPress 3.9 offers a lot of enhancements. For starters, you can now create audio playlists. You can also add multiple sources to help with cross-browser compatibility. Managing multiple sources is easy thanks to an improved workflow. WordPress now has subtitle support for videos as long as you supply the appropriate files. This post by HTML5Doctor explains how to create the proper files to add subtitles to videos.
The theme browsing experience in WordPress 3.8 has been significantly improved in 3.9. The new theme browser features large preview images, indicators on which themes you already have installed, and fast-loading previews. Browsing and installing new themes in WordPress has never been easier.
Images are easier to edit and remove from posts. Simply click on the image within the visual editor and select the pencil icon. This will launch the image details screen. From here, you can quickly edit the details of the image and if you select the Edit Original button, you’ll be able to crop, flip, and change the image size. You can also drag and drop images right into the editor. Alternatively, you can crop and edit an image from within the visual editor.
Instead of seeing a placeholder, galleries can now be previewed as a grid within the visual editor. You cannot yet drag images around to change the display order, but this feature is expected to be added in a future update.
You can now preview changes to widgets in real-time thanks to the theme customizer. Gone are the days of having to refresh the page every time you want to preview a change to a widget.
The post editor in WordPress 3.9 has been updated to use TinyMCE 4.0. The update provides the following enhancements:
The Paste from Word button has been removed. When text from Microsoft Word is pasted into WordPress, the editor will automatically strip out the special formatting. The distraction free writing mode button is now on the right side of the editor. Distraction free writing mode is also responsive. The changes to the editor are a noticeable improvement when compared to WordPress 3.8.
Publishing content from either Meetup.com or Imgur is now as simple as pasting the URL into the editor. Meanwhile, oEmbed support for Qik has been removed.
Michael Pick does a great job showing and explaining the new features in WordPress 3.9.
There are a lot of under-the-hood improvements in WordPress 3.9. Over the past two-weeks, those responsible for adding specific features to WordPress have written detailed blog posts on the Make WordPress Core development blog. Here is a list of noteworthy items you may have missed.
HTML5 Galleries and Captions in WordPress 3.9 – WordPress 3.6 introduced HTML5 versions of popular template tags, starting out with comments, the comment form, and the search form. With the 3.9 release the team added galleries and captions to that list. Now, when adding HTML5 support for those features, WordPress will use
<figcaption> elements, instead of the generic definition list markup.
Symlinked Plugins in WordPress 3.9 – One of the cool little features included with 3.9 is the ability to symlink plugin directories. While it has been possible to symlink plugins in the past, functions such as
plugins_url() return the wrong URL, which causes breakage in most plugins. The team has corrected this with the help of a new function.
Plupload 2.x in WordPress 3.9 – Plupload is the library that powers most of the file upload interfaces in WordPress, and in 3.9 the team has updated the bundled library to version 2.1.1. This post lists some of the things that have changed, which may affect WordPress plugins and themes.
MySQL in WordPress 3.9 – In WordPress 3.9, we added an extra layer to WPDB, causing it to switch to using the mysqli PHP library, when using PHP 5.5 or higher. For plugin developers, this means that you absolutely shouldn’t be using PHP’s mysql_*() functions any more – you can use the equivalent WPDB functions instead.
Masonry in WordPress 3.9 – If you use Masonry in your themes or plugins, here’s what you should know about the 3.9 update.
TinyMCE 4.0 Requires text/css For Editor Style Files – As of TinyMCE 4.0, the visual editor iframe now has an HTML5 document type (
DOCTYPE html>). In this scenario, CSS files must be served with the
text/css content type. A server will serve a
*.css file with the proper content type, but if you’re using a PHP file for an editor style file, you need to be the one to do it.
Multisite Changes In 3.9 – Much of the bootstrap code for Multisite in ms-settings.php has been refactored in #27003 with the intent to improve how we handle the detection of domains and paths for sites and networks in core. Several other smaller enhancements and bugs have been completed in this and in other tickets.
jQuery UI and wpdialogs in WordPress 3.9 – WordPress 3.9 does not use the “wpdialogs” TinyMCE plugin as part of the TinyMCE 4.0 update which comes with a new dialog manager.
Although 3.9 doesn’t have a lot of new features, the refinements to existing functionality are just as satisfying. I’m happy to see a release where the focus was more on improving what WordPress already has versus adding new functionality. Even though the live previews of widgets is my favorite feature, several of the pesky bugs that were squashed are a close second.
WordPress wouldn’t be what it is today without all of the awesome contributions from the community. Thanks to everyone who helped make 3.9 a reality! This release was led by Andrew Nacin and Mike Schroder. There are 267 contributors with props in this release, which is a new high for WordPress.
What is your favorite feature or enhancement in WordPress 3.9?
Version 3.9 of WordPress, named “Smith” in honor of jazz organist Jimmy Smith, is available for download or update in your WordPress dashboard. This release features a number of refinements that we hope you’ll love.
The updated visual editor has improved speed, accessibility, and mobile support. You can paste into the visual editor from your word processor without wasting time to clean up messy styling. (Yeah, we’re talking about you, Microsoft Word.)
With quicker access to crop and rotation tools, it’s now much easier to edit your images while editing posts. You can also scale images directly in the editor to find just the right fit.
Uploading your images is easier than ever. Just grab them from your desktop and drop them in the editor.
Galleries display a beautiful grid of images right in the editor, just like they do in your published post.
Images have galleries; now we’ve added simple audio and video playlists, so you can showcase your music and clips.
Add, edit, and rearrange your site’s widgets right in the theme customizer. No “save and surprise” — preview your changes live and only save them when you’re ready.
The improved header image tool also lets you upload, crop, and manage headers while customizing your theme.
Looking for a new theme should be easy and fun. Lose yourself in the boundless supply of free WordPress.org themes with the beautiful new theme browser.
Aaron D. Campbell, Aaron Jorbin, Adam Harley, Adam Silverstein, adelval, Ajay, Akeda Bagus, Alex Concha, Alison Barrett, Allan Collins, Amy Hendrix (sabreuse), Andrea Fercia, Andrew Nacin, Andrew Norcross, Andrew Ozz, Andrey "Rarst" Savchenko, Andy Keith, Andy Skelton, Anton Timmermans, Aubrey Portwood, Barry, Bartosz Romanowski, bassgang, bcworkz, Ben Dunkle, Bernhard Riedl, bigdawggi, Bob Gregor, bobbingwide, Brad Touesnard, bradparbs, bramd, Brandon Kraft, brasofilo, bravokeyl, Bryan Petty, cgaffga, Chirag Swadia, Chouby, Chris Blower, Chris Olbekson, Chris Scott, chriseverson, chrisguitarguy, Christopher Finke, ciantic, cmmarslender, Comparativa de Bancos, Connor Jennings, Cor van Noorloos, Corphi, cramdesign, Daniel Bachhuber, Daniel Jalkut (Red Sweater), Danny de Haan, Daryl Koopersmith, Dave Kellam (eightface), DaveE, David A. Kennedy, David Anderson, David Marichal, Denis de Bernardy, Dion Hulse, Dominik Schilling, Doug Wollison, Drew Jaynes, DrProtocols, Dustin Filippini, eatingrules, edik, Elio Rivero, enej, Eric Andrew Lewis, Eric Mann, Erica Varlese, Erick Hitter, Evan Anderson, Fahmi, fboender, Frank Klein, Gary Cao, Gary Jones, Gary Pendergast, genkisan, Gennady Kovshenin, George Stephanis, Graham Armfield, Grant Mangham, Gregory Cornelius, Gregory Karpinsky, hakre, hanni, Helen Hou-Sandí, ippetkov, Ipstenu (Mika Epstein), J.D. Grimes, Jack Reichert, jameslee, Janneke Van Dorpe, janrenn, JayCC, Jeff Sebring, Jen Mylo, Jeremy Felt, Jesin A, Jesper Johansen (jayjdk), jnielsendotnet, Joan Artes, Joe Dolson, Joe Hoyle, John Blackbourn, John James Jacoby, John P. Bloch, John Regan, Jon Cave, Jonas Bolinder (jond3r), Joost de Valk, Josh Pollock, Joshua Abenazer, jstraitiff, Julio Potier, Justin Kopepasah, Justin Sainton, K.Adam White, Kailey (trepmal), Kaspars, Kelly Dwan, kerikae, Kevin Worthington, Kim Parsell, Kirk Wight, kitchin, klihelp, Knut Sparhell, Konstantin Kovshenin, Konstantin Obenland, Krzysiek Drozdz, Lance Willett, Lee Willis, lkwdwrd, lpointet, Luc De Brouwer, Lucas Karpiuk, Mark Barnes, Mark Jaquith, Marko Heijnen, Marventus, Matt (Thomas) Miklic, Matt Banks, Matt Mullenweg, Matthew Boynes, Matthew Denton, Matthew Haines-Young, mattonomics, mattyrob, Matías Ventura, Max Cutler, mcadwell, Mel Choyce, meloniq, Michael Arestad, Michel - xiligroup dev, Miguel Fonseca, Mike Burns, Mike Hansen, Mike Manger, Mike Schinkel, Mike Schroder, mikecorkum, mitcho (Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine), Mohammad Jangda, Morgan Estes, Morten Rand-Hendriksen, Naoko Takano, Nashwan Doaqan, nendeb55, Nick Halsey, Nicole Arnold, Nikhil Vimal (NikV), nivijah, nofearinc, Nuno Morgadinho, olivM, Omer Korner, OriginalEXE, oso96_2000, patricknami, Paul Gibbs, Paul Wilde, pavelevap, Pbearne, Peter Westwood, Philip Arthur Moore, Pippin Williamson, Prasath Nadarajah, prettyboymp, Raam Dev, rachelbaker, Ram Ratan Maurya, ramonchiara, Rescuework Support, Rhys Wynne, Ricardo Correia, Richard Sweeney, Richard Tape, richard2222, Ricky Lee Whittemore, Robert Chapin, robmiller, Rodrigo Primo, romaimperator, roothorick, ruud@joyo, Ryan Boren, Ryan McCue, salcode, Samuel Wood (Otto), Sandeep, Scott Lee, Scott Reilly, Scott Taylor, ScreenfeedFr, scribu, sdasse, Sean Butze, Sean Hayes, Sean Nessworthy, Sergey Biryukov, shahpranaf, Shaun Andrews, ShinichiN, Simon Prosser, Simon Wheatley, Siobhan, Siobhan Bamber (siobhyb), sirzooro, solarissmoke, sonjanyc, Spencer Finnell, Spencer Piontkowski, stephcook22, Stephen Edgar, Stephen Harris, Steve Bruner, Steven Word, Takayuki Miyauchi, Tanner Moushey, Taylor Lovett, tbrams, tellyworth, TobiasBg, Tom Auger, Tom Willmot, Topher, topquarky, Torsten Landsiedel, Toru, Travis Smith, Umesh Kumar, undergroundnetwork, VarunAgw, wawco, Weston Ruter, wokamoto, xsonic, Yoav Farhi, Yuri Victor, Zach Tirrell, and Ze Fontainhas. Also thanks to Michael Pick for producing the release video.
BuddyPress 2.0 “Juliana” arrived on schedule today, less than a week after the plugin crossed two million downloads. This release focused heavily on improving BuddyPress performance, adding new administrative tools and enhancing the activity stream. It’s named for Juliana’s Pizza in Brooklyn, NY, a pizza joint that is special to members of the core development team.
One of the major highlights of this release is the massive improvement in performance, especially as it relates to Members and Activity directories. BuddyPress 2.0 improves MySQL efficiency, decreasing queries by up to 75% and reducing query time by up to 71%, depending on the your site’s hosting environment. If your site uses advanced caching systems, such as APC and Memcached, expect a performance increase here, as 2.0 completely overhauls how these are utilized.
BuddyPress 2.0 introduces a host of new administration tools that make it easier to manage communities. Administrators can now edit member profiles in the WordPress admin. This release also ships with a new signups administration screen that allows administrators to track the status of pending accounts and facilitate the signup process.
Community managers will be pleased to know that version 2.0 provides better spam management capabilities with the ability to mark users as ham/spam within the admin users panel, a feature that was previously only available on multisite installations.
Version 2.0 includes a handy new “Repair Tools” menu at Dashboard > Tools > BuddyPress. This menu makes it easy to correct data that can sometimes get out of sync on BuddyPress sites.
The activity stream has received a few enhancements in 2.0. It will now automatically let you know when new items are ready to be loaded. It’s also much better integrated with blog posts. Comments are synced across blog-related activity items and the actual post itself. This unifies conversations that take place in different areas on a BP site.
The activity stream will also play better with translations. Given that roughly half of BuddyPress installs are in a language other than English, this is a nice update. Check out this demo video created by Bowe Frankema to see how that works.
Improvements in BuddyPress 2.0 help the social features to really shine and make community management more efficient for administrators. The plugin has come a long way since version 1.0 was released almost five years ago. The BuddyPress community has grown and thanks to the work of 42 volunteer contributors, 2.0 is ready for download today. Check out the full 2.0 changelog to see everything that’s new and improved.
The BuddyPress team is thrilled to announce that BuddyPress 2.0 “Juliana” is now available!
This release focuses on administrative tools, performance, and improvements to the activity stream. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
If you manage a BuddyPress-powered community, BuddyPress 2.0 is for you. We have built a number of new tools that simplify and centralize common administrative tasks:
The most successful BuddyPress sites are highly dynamic, with a steady stream of new visitors and new content. This dynamic nature means that BuddyPress is a highly database-driven platform, and database performance is often a bottleneck when it comes to scaling BP sites. BuddyPress 2.0 tackles this problem head-on. We’ve streamlined some of the most common problematic queries – such as those in the Members and Activity directories – to shave up to 95% of the query time off of certain individual queries. The sheer number of queries has been dramatically reduced as well, so that single page views access the database up to 50% less than in BP 1.9. And we’ve totally overhauled the way that BuddyPress utilizes advanced caching systems like APC and Memcached, so that users of these systems will see up to 75% fewer cache misses on costly queries.
If you’re a BuddyPress developer or site administrator, you can get more in-depth explanation of changes and an overview of selected benchmarks in this post on bpdevel.wordpress.com. If you are a BuddyPress user, you can just sit back and enjoy the speedier pageloads and reduced server overhead of your BuddyPress 2.0 site!
Spend a lot of time viewing the activity stream? BuddyPress 2.0 automatically lets you know when new items are ready to be loaded.
The activity stream is better integrated with blog posts, too. Comment on a blog post, and an activity item is posted. Comment on a blog-related activity item, and a blog comment is posted. No more worrying about fractured conversations.
We’ve also reworked the way that phrases like “Boone posted an update” are handled, so that they’re always up-to-date and always translatable.
BuddyPress 2.0 introduces dozens more small features, and fixes scores of bugs. We’ve compiled a complete 2.0 changelog on the BuddyPress Codex.
BuddyPress 2.0 is named for Juliana’s Pizza in Brooklyn, NY. Juliana’s is the second pizza establishment opened in the same location by master pizzaiolo Patsy Grimaldi (it’s a long story), and was also the locale for a serious BuddyPress powwow and up-close dining experience by two members of the core team. For these reasons (not to mention the outstanding pizza) we think that BuddyPress 2.0 “Juliana” has a special ring to it.
BuddyPress is built, with love, by a worldwide network of volunteers. The following people contributed patches during the BuddyPress 2.0 development cycle:
boonebgorges, Bowromir, burakali, chouf1, cmmarslender, danbp, dcavins, Denis-de-Bernardy, DJPaul, ericlewis, glyndavidson, graham-washbrook, henrywright, henry.wright, hnla, imath, johnjamesjacoby, karmatosed, lenasterg, MacPresss, markoheijnen, megainfo, mercime, modemlooper, mpa4hu, needle, netweb, ninnypants, Pietro Oliva, pross, r-a-y, reactuate, rodrigorznd, rogercoathup, rzen, SergeyBiryukov, shanebp, SlothLoveChunk, StijnDeWitt, terraling, trishasalas, tw2113, vanillalounge.
Many thanks to these contributors, and to all who have pitched in the forums and elsewhere.
One final point. Technically, BuddyPress “2.0″ is just the version between 1.9 and 2.1. But still, there’s something special about crossing into the 2.x series, especially given the timing: we just crossed 2 million downloads, and it’s been almost exactly five years since BuddyPress 1.0 was released. On behalf of the core team and contributors, I’d like to extend a few special thanks: to founding developer Andy Peatling for getting the ball rolling; to Matt Mullenweg for providing support to the BuddyPress project; and especially to the many thousands of BuddyPress users who have followed and advocated for the project over the years. If BP has done great things for the thousands of communities that depend on it (and I think it has), it’s because of the incredible community around the software itself.
A million Two million thanks to all of you.
You can get BuddyPress 2.0 from the wordpress.org plugin repository, or right from your WordPress Dashboard.
Version 3.0.0 of the Akismet plugin for WordPress is now available.
This is a major rewrite of the plugin code. It includes many small improvements and some new features. In particular:
To update to version 3.0.0, just use the plugin updater in your WordPress dashboard. If you’re running WordPress 3.9, there’s no need to update. If you haven’t installed Akismet on your WordPress blog yet, follow these instructions to get started.
Thanks again to everyone who helped test the new plugin and offered suggestions and bug reports.
I submitted two proposals to Open Source Bridge, an annual conference in Portland, Oregon, for “open source citizens.” The call for papers is now closed, but they let anyone leave comments on proposals that are private to the conference organizers. If you have any feedback on these, or have seen me speak before, it would be awesome if you could leave a comment. Here they are:
Writing portable software is hard. Throw in thousands of bad and worse shared hosting configurations, a decade of technical debt, the need to cater to a sprawling ecosystem, and PHP — and you have WordPress. We’ve found breaking changes harm our community and unfairly punish our users, so we don’t make them. But that doesn’t mean we don’t innovate or evolve — we’re just forced to get really clever. And it works, with adoption continuing to soar.
WordPress shipped in October what is perhaps its most polarizing feature ever — automatic updates in the background of self-hosted web software, on by default and no easy way to turn it off. In most open source communities, this would be cause for open revolt. Learn how through trust, communication, and a steadfast commitment to its philosophies, the WordPress core team convinced a skeptical community to go along, even if it meant users giving up some control.
Social networks come and go but your blog lives forever. The advent of social media brought a revolution in how people communicate, but it has also chained us to data silos that house many of our important thoughts, writings and memories. That is, unless you have your own blog or website as your home for your content on the web.
Instead of mindlessly pumping content into a social network that is owned by someone else, you might stop to consider archiving that data to a better place where you can keep it forever. In a time when digital transactions and communications are the lifeblood of our work, owning your own data has become more important than owning land.
Ozh Tweet Archiver is one tool that makes owning your Twitter data a practical possibility. This free plugin automatically archives all of your tweets to your WordPress site. Browsing your tweet history is nearly impossible on Twitter, but with Ozh Tweet Archiver in place, you can easily search through your past tweets.
Version 2.0 is compatible with Twitter’s OAuth API. The plugin should be installed on a fresh WordPress site or subdomain. Once in place, it offers the following benefits:
Once the plugin is set up, it will automatically perform checks for new tweets at your chosen interval, so you won’t need to do anything else.
Tweets are imported as regular posts with a few custom fields. The plugin includes an options panel for setting the post author, category for tweets, and the ability to turn on links for usernames. It also has an option to link hashtags to WordPress tags or Twitter hashtags. You can even turn on embedding for images that originate on pic.twitter.com.
Someday Twitter may lose all of its charms and fall to the wayside like many other networks before it. When that day comes, you’ll be glad that you archived all of your tweets to WordPress. If Twitter is one of your primary communication channels, consider the value of backing up your content to your home on the web with Ozh Tweet Archiver. For more information on getting your archive set up, please refer to the official plugin page, which includes documentation and troubleshooting tips.
The second release candidate for WordPress 3.9 is now available for testing.
If you haven’t tested 3.9 yet, you’re running out of time! We made about five dozen changes since the first release candidate, and those changes are all helpfully summarized in our weekly post on the development blog. Probably the biggest fixes are to live widget previews and the new theme browser, along with some extra TinyMCE compatibility and some RTL fixes.
Plugin authors: Could you test your plugins against 3.9, and if they’re compatible, make sure they are marked as tested up to 3.9? It only takes a few minutes and this really helps make launch easier. Be sure to follow along the core development blog; we’ve been posting notes for developers for 3.9. (For example: HTML5, symlinks, MySQL, Plupload.)
To test WordPress 3.9 RC2, try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (you’ll want “bleeding edge nightlies”). Or you can download the release candidate here (zip). If you’d like to learn more about what’s new in WordPress 3.9, visit the nearly complete About screen in your dashboard ( → About in the toolbar) and also check out the Beta 1 post.
This is for testing,
so not recommended for
WordPress sites that publish academic or scholarly articles often need to provide information to help readers know how to cite articles correctly. Cite is a new plugin that tackles this requirement using dynamic tags to generate the date, site name, post title and permalink.
Post authors can easily post citation instructions by using the [cite] shortcode. It will automatically generate the article attribution information at the bottom of the post.
The plugin includes a settings page where you can use any of the available template tags to create a citation template.
The live demo on the plugin author’s website shows how the citation template appears out-of-the-box. Its appearance can be further customized via CSS. The plugin is internationalized and ready for translation for use on academic sites in other languages.
Cite is a free plugin created by Maeve Lander. It will save you time on every post where you would otherwise manually enter information to help readers cite your article. Download Cite from WordPress.org or install it via your site’s admin panel.
WordPress 3.8.3 was released today and fixes a pesky bug introduced in WordPress 3.8.2. As we reported a few days ago, one of the security fixes in 3.8.2 caused the Quick Draft dashboard widget to break. Auto-drafts created through the widget were not being promoted to draft status. When a title and content were added to the widget, clicking the save draft button gave the appearance that it was discarded. A Quick Drafted post didn’t show up within the drafts list even though it existed within the database.
According to the announcement post on the official WordPress developments blog, not only does the update fix the bug but it also attempts to retrieve the last created auto-draft.
It’s possible that the quick draft you lost last week is still in the database, and just hidden from view. As an added complication, these “discarded drafts” normally get deleted after seven days, and it’s already been six days since the release. If we were able to rescue your draft, you’ll see it on the “All Posts” screen after you update to 3.8.3.
The team also pushed out 3.8.3 as a background update so there’s a chance you may see a draft appear. WordPress 3.7.2 was affected by the bug as well. You can upgrade to 3.7.3 to fix the issue but you’re encouraged to upgrade to the latest version which is 3.8.3.
This release is significant for a few reasons. The first is that a security and maintenance release (3.8.2) broke core functionality. When we wrote about automatic updates in WordPress not having an options panel to configure their behavior, I pointed out minor and security updates rarely break anything dealing with the core of WordPress.
We now have an example of where a security update broke core functionality. Unfortunately, those that argue minor upgrades can break their site now have fuel for their argument. These types of mistakes happen and the core team has apologized.
We recognize how much trust you place in us to safeguard your content, and we take this responsibility very seriously. We’re sorry we let you down.
Second, the WordPress philosophy doesn’t mention anything about preventing content from being lost. While we have post revisions, auto-saves, and auto-drafts, they weren’t enough to prevent some content from being lost. Whether using the Quick Draft dashboard widget is an edge case or not, it’s reassuring to see the core team consider any loss of content, unacceptable.
Although there was a problem with 3.8.2 and using the Quick Draft widget, the team put together a fix and released it within a few days. Minor and security updates can break things but it happens far less frequently than the successful ones.
On a brighter note, WordPress 3.9 is expected to ship later this week.
Jonathan Atkinson has been selling WordPress themes on Themeforest for the past five years. Through hard work and customer support, he’s learned how to make a living on Themeforest without having to pack hundreds of options into his products.
Over the past year, Atkinson and his team at Cr3ativ.com have made an effort to convert all of their theme functionality into free plugins, eschewing the theme bloat that prevails in this market. Cr3ativ now has a plugins page where you can find functionality that enables carousels, careers, portfolios, shortcodes, and staff profiles. They plan to add events, discography and photostreams in the coming weeks.
Atkinson said they initially created the plugins to be used with their themes and to better serve their buyers. “I took the decision to make them as generic as possible to ensure they could be just as easily used within any theme – free or premium,” he said. “I also decided to offer them 100% free and full GPL 2.0 so people can hopefully use, learn and extend if they wish.”
Keeping plugin functionality separate from themes is part of WordPress theme development best practices but Atkinson cites a few additional benefits:
Atkinson and his team are building new themes that support the use of their plugins and are also retrofitting the old themes to make use of them. The process hasn’t been easy, but they found help along the way.
“We have never created a single plugin before embarking on these and had to lean on Pippin from PippinsPlugins.com for advice as we moved forward,” Atkinson said. Branching out into plugins was completely new territory but Pippin Williamson helped to review and test their free plugins. “We had some things to change and at the end of development we’re happy we traveled this road.”
Overall, keeping plugins and themes separate has provided a better experience for Atkinson’s user base and gives his team more freedom in what they create. If this practice is so beneficial to theme authors, then why aren’t we seeing a mad rush of others moving to do the same?
The root of the problem is that consumers actually want themes that are packed full of options and functionality. The vast majority of Themeforest customers buy WordPress themes based on the demo. As WordPress has grown to power more than 21% of the web, theme developers are catering to people who, through no fault of their own, buy themes based solely on visual queues, not the code.
Atkinson explains how the theme market has changed over time:
At the very beginning when Themeforest started I think that the buyers were different. The majority of buyers were developers. They may not have been full-on developers but they certainly knew how to roll their sleeves up and do a little bit of CSS. But now we’ve switched over to where the majority of buyers are actually the website owners…They know how to upload a theme; they know how to install every plugin on earth and that’s about it.
Consumers want themes that don’t require installing a bunch of plugins. They want to be able to simply click to customize everything. As a result, bloated WordPress themes sell far better than those that follow best practices. Most of the top-selling WordPress themes on Themeforest are products that are packed full of multiple sliders, dozens of homepage options, shortcodes, unlimited layouts, page builders, etc.
Smashing Magazine has recently been promoting a WordPress theme that claims to be “the last WordPress theme you’ll ever have to buy.” The X theme, created based on advice from internet marketers and SEO experts, promises “truly unlimited styling.” It is one among many themes that have been built to be all things for all projects.
The WordPress theme market is saturated with themes that promise to do it all and these products tend to sell very well among non-developers. Specificity of form and purpose has been replaced with generic skeletons boasting unlimited options.
Theme authors are then faced with a grave decision: Sell a couple hundred niche themes with clean code or build every possible option/functionality into your theme and sell 50,000 copies. For those who are trying to make a living, it’s difficult to compete. This is a complex problem that doesn’t have an easy solution.
Atkinson and his team at Cr3ativ.com are among a handful of theme authors who are taking a principled stand against building plugin functionality into WordPress themes. Those who have chosen this path stand out as beacons in a vast sea of bloated products.
Justin Tadlock has long been a vocal proponent of keeping plugin functionality out of themes, especially as it relates to data portability. “That’s just been the way WordPress has worked since the inception of the plugin and theme systems,” he said. “It hadn’t crossed my mind to add certain functionality into a theme because that’s not how WordPress was designed. For some reason, a trend started toward adding plugin functionality into themes, which is when I started looking into the issue.”
There are things that I’ve put into themes and later realized that it was not the right choice. I just go about correcting those mistakes one at a time. Sometimes, it takes a number of months and possibly years of making sure you’re not breaking things for users.
The trend of packing everything into themes was ignited by WordPress’ increasing popularity and the fierce competition among marketplace theme developers to provide the the most value. Unfortunately, consumers don’t care about best practices and re-educating them is not an easy task. It falls to WordPress theme developers and marketplace regulators to make the tough choice to keep themes clean and preserve data portability.
If you’re a theme developer who is looking to remove functionality from your products and offer it in the form of accompanying plugins, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Tadlock’s advice: “Just do it. Make sure you offer your users a fairly easy transition, at least as easy as these types of transitions can be.”
Theme authors don’t necessarily need to suddenly add plugin development to their skills. Tadlock suggests that making use of existing plugins is a good option.
So many developers want to build everything in house when there’s a much better solution out there already. I’m even guilty of this at times. Of course, the infrastructure is not there on WordPress.org to make it easy for developers to work together. That’s why so many of us have turned to GitHub.
Tadlock reports that he’s seen a considerable jump in other developers using his plugins in their projects after moving his code to Github. Making use of others’ work and collaborating on improvements is less daunting than having to develop all the accompanying plugins yourself.
Since consumers inspecting commercial themes do not have access to the code, it’s not easy to know if a product is built with best practices in mind. The demo and list of features are often the deciding factors, especially for those who have no technical knowledge of WordPress themes. If you don’t want to have your data locked into a theme, you need to be on guard to select products that utilize plugins that will preserve your data.
When it comes to theme options, the cold, hard truth is that not everyone is a designer. There is no ultimate visual layout builder or unlimited color chooser that will magically make you into a designer. If this is something you can recognize about yourself, then you may want to steer away from themes that offer massive options panels with unlimited everything. Instead, opt for design-specific themes that follow best practices and offer a few options using WordPress’ native customizer.
Eventually, marketplaces may enforce more strict submission guidelines for their themes, based on community input. Theme developers who have sunk into a hole with their heavy, bloated products, will have to dig their way out or get pushed out. WordPress developers who want to be successful long-term will need to return to WordPress’ original design and keep plugin functionality separate from themes.
WordPress 3.8.3 is now available to fix a small but unfortunate bug in the WordPress 3.8.2 security release.
The “Quick Draft” tool on the dashboard screen was broken in the 3.8.2 update. If you tried to use it, your draft would disappear and it wouldn’t save. While we doubt anyone was writing a novella using this tool, any loss of content is unacceptable to us.
We recognize how much trust you place in us to safeguard your content, and we take this responsibility very seriously. We’re sorry we let you down.
We’ve all lost words we’ve written before, like an email thanks to a cat on the keyboard or a term paper to a blue screen of death. Over the last few WordPress releases, we’ve made a number of improvements to features like autosaves and revisions. With revisions, an old edit can always be restored. We’re trying our hardest to save your content somewhere even if your power goes out or your browser crashes. We even monitor your internet connection and prevent you from hitting that “Publish” button at the exact moment the coffee shop Wi-Fi has a hiccup.
It’s possible that the quick draft you lost last week is still in the database, and just hidden from view. As an added complication, these “discarded drafts” normally get deleted after seven days, and it’s already been six days since the release. If we were able to rescue your draft, you’ll see it on the “All Posts” screen after you update to 3.8.3. (We’ll also be pushing 3.8.3 out as a background update, so you may just see a draft appear.)
So, if you tried to jot down a quick idea last week, I hope WordPress has recovered it for you. Maybe it’ll turn into that novella.
Download WordPress 3.8.3 or click “Update Now” on Dashboard → Updates.
This affected version 3.7.2 as well, so we’re pushing a 3.7.3 to these installs, but we’d encourage you to update to the latest and greatest.
Now for some good news:
WordPress 3.9 is near.
Expect it this week
Despite the fact that Gravatar is the default avatar service built into WordPress, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. There are times when you may want to use a different avatar on a specific site but don’t want to change your Gravatar image. In some instances WordPress site admins choose to disable the service for whatever reason, but there is a way to give users more avatar options without turning Gravatar off.
WP Social Avatar is a new plugin that makes it easy to use your Facebook or G+ picture as your WordPress avatar. Once activated, users can add their Facebook handles or G+ IDs to /wp-admin/profile.php.
Your avatar will be instantly updated to the new selection throughout the site.
WP Social Avatar includes a settings panel under the Users menu that allows administrators to set the minimum role/capabilities required to use social avatars.
The plugin does not require Facebook or G+ authentication in order to set your avatar, so it’s just as convenient to use as Gravatar. It also does not disable Gravatar for users who prefer it. Maruti Mohanty, the plugin’s developer, plans to add more social avatars in the future. If you want to add a few convenient avatar options to WordPress profiles on your site, download WP Social Avatar from WordPress.org.
At this time, BP 2.0 is in a string freeze – we won’t be changing any more text between now and the final release. If you are helping to maintain a BuddyPress translation, this is your chance to make final revisions before 2.0 comes out. (We’re still looking good for April 16.)
Marcus Couch and I were joined by Eric Mann to discuss the news of the week. After the news, we discussed in-depth a few of the core proposals Mann has published on his blog. We covered the following three WordPress core proposals:
After speaking with Mann, it’s clear he puts a lot of thought into each proposal. I hope you enjoy the show and don’t forget to give us your feedback in the comments.
Breaking: Jetpack Releases Critical Security Update, Immediate Action Required
WordPress 3.8.2: First Security Release Shipped as a Background Update
Recent Update To Wordfence Security Breaks WordPress Mobile Apps
DevPress Sold To Unknown Buyer For $14k
Devin Price is the new owner of DevPress
WordPress.org Profile Redesign is Live
Webkite for WordPress – WebKite is a service for getting your data online quickly and easily. Backed by the WebKite API, the WebKite for WordPress plugin delivers the filtering and sorting capabilities of sites like Kayak, Amazon, and Yelp. Users can interact with your content to easily find items that are relevant to their needs, a great way to build rapport and trust with your user base.
Watermark – This plugin allows you to add a watermark on images uploaded to the media library. It applies a watermark on new images as well as images already uploaded.
Forget About Shortcode Buttons – Forget About Shortcode (FASC) Buttons are a visual way to add CSS buttons in the post editor screen and to your themes.
TwentyTwenty – Show before and after pictures in your blog, with an interactive slider that allows users to compare them.
BP Group Documents – BP Group Documents creates a page within each BuddyPress group to upload and any type of file or document. This allows members of BuddyPress groups to upload and store files and documents that are relevant to the group.
Next Episode: Friday, April 18th 3 P.M. Eastern – Special Guest: Andrew Nacin
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CoSchedule, the editorial workflow and activity scheduling plugin, has secured $500K in a Series A round of funding. The angel investment was led by Sandin Holdings and Bullinger Enterprises of Fargo, North Dakota. Matching funds were provided by the North Dakota Development Fund. Joe Sandin of Sandin Holdings will join CoSchedule’s Board of Directors, providing strategic guidance and business advice.
When I reviewed the plugin last year, I considered it to be a viable alternative to Edit Flow. CoSchedule will use the money to hire more employees, increase their marketing budget, and increase the speed of development so new features reach users faster.
Moon says the company has experienced rapid growth since launching in September of 2013. Since the launch, the plugin has over 6,000 downloads with users in more than 100 countries and paying customers in 35 countries. I asked Moon, what advice does he have for those looking to obtain a round of funding to take their business or service to the next level? He replied:
I think a lot of developers hesitate to look for funding for their work because the process is overwhelming and unfamiliar to them. I will definitely admit that it is a ton of work, but it can be hugely valuable. Not only can you get the financing you need to move to the next level, but it really forces you to look at your product in a new way and challenge every assumption that you’ve made. Investors ask hard questions, and that can be a really good thing.
Do you use CoSchedule? If so, what do you think of its editorial workflow and how it handles multiple authors?
BuddyPress reached a major milestone today, crossing the two million download mark just a week ahead of the official 2.0 release. The plugin, known as “a social network in a box,” now has more than 500 related community extensions.
Over the past 7 years, BuddyPress has developed a strong international community of users and contributors. Roughly 50% of BuddyPress sites are in English, with the other half comprised of social networks in Spanish, Italian, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Portugese, Chinese, and many other languages.
The upcoming version 2.0 of the plugin adds a host of new features that help administrators manage their communities more efficiently in the dashboard. It also introduces some remarkable performance improvements that reduce the plugin’s footprint by up to 75% in many places. Help celebrate BuddyPress crossing the two million download mark by testing 2.0-beta2.
If you’ve noticed after upgrading to WordPress 3.8.2 that the Quick Draft dashboard widget no longer functions correctly, you’re not the only one. Unfortunately, one of the security fixes in 3.8.2 caused the widget to break. Auto-drafts created through the widget are not being promoted to draft status. When a title and content is added to the widget, clicking the save draft button gives the appearance that its discarded. It doesn’t show up within the drafts list even though it exist within the database.
The patch attempts to do two things.
Andrew Nacin, lead developer for WordPress, explains why every auto-draft created won’t be able to be retrieved.
Unfortunately, each save of Quick Draft by the same user would update the existing auto-draft they previously lost. If they used Quick Draft in succession, or tried again when they couldn’t find their post — both of which are not unlikely — we can only rescue their last edit.
Quick drafts only hold onto a single auto-draft post ID per user and will re-use it as long as it remains an auto-draft. This is due to performance reasons so new auto-drafts are not created each time the dashboard is visited. Once upgraded, you should see the latest draft created through Quick Draft with the date and time of creation kept in tact.
If WordPress 3.8.3 is released, it may be available as soon as this weekend but nothing has been set in stone.
Akismet 3.0 is currently in development and the official release will likely coincide with WordPress 3.9 on April 16th. The upcoming 3.0 release represents a major rewrite of the plugin and the Akismet team is inviting everyone to help test the release candidate. This version will introduce a few new features and will remove much of the legacy code that was included for backwards compatibility with older versions of WordPress.
Akismet 3.0 has a more straightforward configuration page that funnels users to the correct action:
One critical item that seems to be missing here is direction on where to find your API key if you already have one. Though it may be obvious to some that you need to log into Akismet, go to Account Overview, and click “reveal key,” this process is not as intuitive as it might seem. Hopefully something can be added to help make this clear. The team has confirmed that this is on their list.
Akismet 3.0 inclues a new feature that allows you to define how strict it is in discarding spam. It also adds the ability to easily disconnect your account.
The service has zapped more than 130 billion spam comments and track backs to date. Millions of WordPress users depend on Akismet every day to help keep their blogs clear of spam. If you can spare a few minutes to help test the 3.0 release candidate, the Akismet team promises some exclusive swag for those who submit the most helpful bug reports and feedback. Even better than that is the opportunity to help improve Akismet for WordPress users across the globe. Check out the announcement post for more details and the latest download link.
For the past four years, BuddyPress developer Brajesh Singh has maintained a popular tutorial for allowing BuddyPress activity as a wire. This was the default behavior for activity during the early 1.x era of BuddyPress, which allowed users to “write on each other’s walls” without having to use @mentions.
Singh’s updated tutorial shows you how to set up wire/wall functionality without having to edit any theme code, as was required in previous tutorials. He’s packaged it up and put it into a convenient plugin that emulates a user wall/wire by performing the following:
The result is very similar to the wall/wire feature originally included in BuddyPress:
Posts on user wires/walls will show up in the activity stream as having originated on a user’s wall, differentiating it from regular activity @mentions.
Inevitably, BuddyPress developers will have clients asking them to make their social networks more like Facebook. Some users are more comfortable using the wire/wall style of interaction, as it is the default behavior on Facebook and mirrors the way activity worked in the early days of BuddyPress. This plugin will restore that feature to BuddyPress so that users don’t have to bother with @mentions.
BuddyPress Activity as a Wire is compatible with BuddyPress 1.9.2+ but will require a minor update to take advantage of the activity performance improvements in 2.0. Download it for free from BuddyDEV.
We’ve been hard at work on version 3.0 of the Akismet plugin for WordPress. It’s a major rewrite of the plugin code that includes a new configuration page, improved signup and activation, and some new features. We’ve shed most of the legacy code that was maintained for backwards compatibility with ancient versions of WordPress, and redesigned the code so we can bring you new features in coming months.
Since it’s a major change from previous versions, we could use your help testing the new plugin before its final release. If you’re comfortable manually installing a plugin in WordPress, you can download akismet.3.0.0-RC1.zip or use the 3.0.0-RC1 tag in the Subversion repository.
Try it out and tell us what you think – we have some exclusive Akismet swag for those who send bug reports and the most helpful feedback. Bug reports and detailed feedback is best sent via our contact form. You can leave general public feedback in comments below or on Twitter.
If you’re not sure how to install the plugin manually, or you’re not willing to run pre-release code on your site, we recommend waiting for the final release, which we expect to coincide with next week’s launch of WordPress 3.9.
This is an aggregation of blogs talking about WordPress from around the world. If you think your blog should be part of this send an email to Matt.
For official WP news, check out the WordPress Dev Blog.
April 17, 2014 10:00 PM
All times are UTC.