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July 07, 2015

WPTavern: WordPress 4.3 Improves User Search and Turns Comments Off on Pages by Default

WordPress 4.3 beta 1 was put into the hands of testers last week. Those who have been following 4.3 developments are already familiar with the major features headlining this release, ie. the new site icons, menu management in the customizer, and more secure passwords. However, there are also a couple lesser-known improvements that will have a positive impact on millions of WordPress users.

Improved User Search

Searching for users in the admin is about to get much easier, thanks to work on a ticket opened by John Blackbourn 16 months ago. He notes that “only the user_login (username) and user_nicename (sanitized username) fields are searched,” excluding the following more likely fields:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Nickname
  • Display name

This issue was especially problematic in large, multi-thousand member multisite installations where finding a user in the admin often meant knowing exactly what to query and then paging through results. WordPress 4.3 contributions from Pippin Williamson and Scott Taylor make it possible to search by the user’s email, URL, and display name.

Comments Turned Off on Pages by Default

comments-off-on-pages-by-default

WordPress 4.3 will also bring a welcome change to turn off comments on pages by default. In the future when you create pages, you won’t have to remember to go into the discussion settings to disable comments. One might think this would be a simple little thing to change, but quite a bit of discussion has gone into crafting the best solution to the ticket opened five months ago.

This change also applies to all custom post types. Mel Choyce outlined the new behavior in a post on the make.wordpress.org/core blog:

Post registrations that don’t explicitly add support for comments will now default to comments being off on new posts of that type (before, they defaulted to on). Up until now, post type support for comments has only affected admin UI; a developer could omit comment support on registration but still allow comments to be posted. This is a change in behavior, and we will be closely monitoring its effects during beta. Moving to explicit support will allow core behavior to be more predictable and robust in the future, but we will always consider real-world usage.

The change also comes with a new function and a filter that you can use to restore the current behavior of comments to your post type, if necessary. More details and an example on how to use the filter are available on the make.wordpress.org/core announcement post.

by Sarah Gooding at July 07, 2015 05:07 AM under comments

Matt: Why We Encrypt

From one of the best blogs on the internet, Bruce Schnier writes on Why We Encrypt.

by Matt at July 07, 2015 04:46 AM under Asides

July 06, 2015

Akismet: Akismet WordPress Plugin 3.1.3

Version 3.1.3 of the Akismet plugin for WordPress is now available.

This update addresses an issue causing some users to see blank Akismet settings screens. After installing this update, the settings screen should either load successfully, or it will display an error message with instructions for fixing the problem.

To upgrade, visit the Updates page of your WordPress dashboard and follow the instructions. If you need to download the plugin zip file directly, links to all versions are available in the WordPress plugins directory.


by Christopher Finke at July 06, 2015 11:49 PM under WordPress

WPTavern: Jetpack 3.6 Adds the Ability to Manage Your Connections to Jetpack

Jetpack 3.6 is available and has several bug fixes and enhancements. Jetpack CLI which is a command line interface for Jetpack and extends off of wp-cli for WordPress, has undergone a number of improvements. There are a handful of new extra sidebar widgets, including Facebook Like Box, and Social Media Icons.

Existing widgets such as Top Posts are more configurable. The Top Posts and Pages widget now allows you to show or hide different page types from the widget. For example, if you only want to show post and page results, check the boxes for Posts and Pages in the widget configuration area.

The new Facebook Like box widget is streamlined and looks much better than its predecessor.

New Jetpack Facebook Widget is StreamlinedNew Jetpack Facebook Widget is Streamlined

There’s a social media icons widget that’s great for themes that don’t already have a built-in method of displaying social networking connections. Simply place it in the sidebar and apply your username to each service you use. On the Tavern test site, the icons were a little too small for my liking but I realize this is an issue with the theme we use.

Social Media Icons WidgetSocial Media Icons Widget

Jetpack 3.6 also introduces a connection manager where users can manage a site’s Primary User, see any other connected users, and/or manage your connection to WordPress.com. The team says there are plans to add additional features to My Jetpack in future versions.

Jetpack Connection ManagerJetpack Connection Manager

In a sign of the times, StumbleUpon is no longer an option in the sharing module. Email sharing now uses reCAPTCHA 2.0 to verify human behavior. Stats are more accurate as previewing posts and pages no longer count as pageviews.

StumbleUpon Sharing Button Retired from JetpackStumbleUpon Sharing Button Retired from Jetpack

Jetpack Carousel supports HTML 5 and the Slideshare shortcode is fixed. Deprecated card types for Twitter cards are removed and the Facebook share button now shows up for the Australian and Canadian locale.

Upgrade to Jetpack 3.6 to take advantage of the numerous bug fixes and enhancements. If you’d like to be the first to test new features and help Jetpack users experience fewer problems, consider participating in the Jetpack Beta testing program.

by Jeff Chandler at July 06, 2015 10:58 PM under jetpack

WPTavern: Pressnomics 4 Set for March 3-4, 2016 in Phoenix, AZ

Pressnomics has announced that the 4th iteration of the event will take place on March 3-4, 2016 at Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, Phoenix, AZ. Started in 2012 by Joshua Strebel of Pagely, Pressnomics is a conference dedicated to the business aspects of WordPress, whether it is software as a service, commercial themes and plugins, or development agencies.

Date for Pressomics 4When the event concluded last year, there was talk of it being moved to Europe for 2016. Despite the event taking place in the US in 2016, I asked Strebel if plans to host Pressnomics in Europe or even a branch of the conference are still on the table?

We are conversing with folks in Europe to try to make something happen in 2016, in addition to, Pressnomics 4 in Phoenix. Rather than ice everything until all details are final, we decided to swing and see if we can make both happen.

Tickets go on sale September 1st, 2015 at 10AM PST. Despite feedback from attendees that ticket prices should increase, event co-organizer Sally Strebel, says prices will remain roughly the same as last year.

I’ve been told by numerous people that we should increase the cost of tickets for this event and that they go to other conferences that cost more and return less value.

Thank you for looking out for us and I truly value your opinion, however we have decided to keep costs essentially the same as last year because it’s not about the money. It’s about giving back. We look forward to growing our businesses together.

Companies immediately applied to be sponsors within minutes of receiving sponsorship information. Those companies include, GoDaddy, Envato, Sucuri, iThemes, Easy Digital Downloads, and more.

I had the privilege to attend Pressnomics 3 and it was by far one of the most unique WordPress conferences I’ve attended. Compared to WordCamps, the atmosphere is much different and you can tell speakers are more open and relaxed since sessions are not recorded.

March is a great time of year to host a conference in Phoenix. If Pressnomics 3 is anything to go by, Pressnomics 4 will be amazing. If you have the opportunity to attend Pressnomics 4, I highly suggest doing so as it’s a memorable experience.

by Jeff Chandler at July 06, 2015 10:48 PM under pressnomics

WPTavern: PHP 4 Style Constructors Will Be Deprecated in WordPress 4.3

PHP 4 style constructors are being deprecated in WordPress 4.3 to ease the transition to support PHP 7. According to Aaron Jorbin, on the Make WordPress Core blog post, WordPress r32990 introduces a change so that all classes use the PHP 5 style constructors, while still retaining the PHP 4 style constructors for backwards compatibility.

A deprecated_constructor warning that follows the same rules as deprecated_function will also be displayed for WordPress classes that are not external libraries

Chris Christoff, who contributes to WordPress core, generated a list of plugins on the WordPress plugin directory that have widgets calling WP_Widget::WP_Widget() and/or parent::WP_Widget() and/or {object}->WP_Widget().

The list includes more than 4,000 plugins and contains the author, title, and slug. Plugin authors should check the list to see if your plugin is listed. Even if it’s not, you’re still encouraged to make sure you’re not using a PHP 4 style constructor in your code.

If you use any of the plugins listed, please create a support forum thread with a link to the Make WordPress Core blog post and politely ask them to update their plugin.

by Jeff Chandler at July 06, 2015 09:11 PM under wordpress 4.3

WPTavern: Highlights of Matt Mullenweg’s Q&A Session at WordCamp Europe 2015

Kari Leigh | Found Art PhotographyKari Leigh | Found Art Photography

The video of Matt Mullenweg’s Q&A session at WordCamp Europe is now published on WordPress.tv. For those who were unable to attend, this session provides a glimpse into what WordPress’ co-founder sees for the future of the software and the community.

One of the most exciting parts of the video is where Mullenweg talks about the potential of WordPress.org to serve other languages and eventually expand avenues of core contribution to non-English speaking audiences.

When asked what kind of contribution can be made to improve WordPress.org for Rosetta sites, themes, and plugins, Mullenweg replied:

Themes and plugins are undoubtedly the most important. To me, the next most important things are the Rosetta sites and having theme and plugin directories available on the Rosetta sites. There is actually a great example at ro.wordpress.org, which is the Romanian Rosetta site that shows both the potential and the problem:

Now there are themes and plugins menu items there, which none of the Rosetta sites have had prior to this. But when you click on it you see mostly English in the plugin descriptions, even things like screenshots and tutorials.

He described these updates to WordPress.org as just a “hint of what could be amazing” one day. Mullenweg noted that despite Europe having 23+ recognized languages, attendees at the WordCamp were all speaking English. However, not all areas of the world are populated by people with bilingual capabilities.

I think it would be amazing to open up WordPress to have a first priority experience of the thousands of plugins and themes that are available for people who do not speak a word of English. Right now WordPress is just not accessible to that group. Luckily, over half the people in Europe are bilingual… In places where that’s a possibility, WordPress can still do well even though we don’t have a native experience in someone’s mother tongue.

But English is only the third most popular language in the world and it’s not the fastest growing. There are huge audiences that I think would be an important part of the community. Someday I want it to be where, instead of things being translated from English to a different language, we’re getting core contributions translated from, say, Chinese or Hindi or Spanish, into English to be reviewed. We’re not looking to just how to translate plugins from English into other languages but vice versa. I think that will be when we’re successful.

In the same way that better language support opens up WordPress to a wider audience, Mullenweg believes that the customizer will open up the software for more non-technical users. During the Q&A he shared his thoughts on the future of the customizer:

As we currently are working, the customizer is the way forward…It essentially removes the fear and disconnect between wp-admin and the front end of a site. It’s a bridge that gives people the confidence to make changes while seeing those changes in real time. The real time feedback and safety net of seeing that, and being able to undo and redo things, is incredibly empowering, particularly for non-technical users who don’t know how to dive into CSS or the code. I personally believe that the work on the customizer is some of the most important going on in the WordPress project right now.

In addition to building the feature in a way that is responsive to mobile devices, Mullenweg noted that the customizer currently falls short on desktop:

The customizer is, for lack of a better word, a narrow interface, because it needs to show your site in addition to the admin. I think we need to do a better job of making sure that interface scales up as well as down, meaning that if you do have the space or would like to make it fullscreen, that it is responsive, so that it enlarges into an interface that probably looks and works much like the current wp-admin interface for being a fullscreen experience for editing and modifying menus, widgets, colors, fonts, header images, site title, all the things that are key to the presentation of your site.

It is curious that the customizer is being pushed through to WordPress 4.3 without the ability to scale up gracefully. If the situation were reversed, where the feature was unfriendly to mobile users, it seems less likely that it would have been deemed ready for core. This illustrates the WordPress project’s strong emphasis on being positioned to attract mobile users.

Mullenweg encouraged attendees to keep an eye on the customizer, because he believes it will do a much better job than Wix and Squarespace when it comes to providing a user-friendly way to customizer websites.

The entirety of the 66-minute long Q&A session is included in the video below. In addition to languages and the customizer, Mullenweg also answers questions about security, WordPress’ minimum PHP version, the possibility of multilingual features in core, and the importance of building for mobile.

by Sarah Gooding at July 06, 2015 04:39 PM under WordCamp Europe

WPTavern: A Narrative of Using Composer in a WordPress Plugin

petersuhmThis piece was contributed by guest author Peter Suhm. Peter is a web developer from the Land of the Danes. He is the creator of WP Pusher and a huge travel addict, bringing his work along with him as he goes.
 


The other day I posted a warning about using Composer in WordPress plugins on the WP Pusher blog. This post got a lot of attention and I feel the need to clarify a few points that were not all clear to everyone. The article was also a bit heavy on the technical stuff, so in this post I will try to make my main point more clear by using a simple narrative to illustrate it.

A narrative

photo credit: Doors Open Toronto 2008 - Toronto Archives - (license)photo credit: Doors Open Toronto 2008 – Toronto Archives(license)

Let’s imagine for a while that you and I are both plugin authors. Both of us have a great idea for a plugin we wish to distribute via WordPress.org. We want to include a few premium features in our plugins that users of the free version can unlock by entering a license key.

We need some code that can handle this process. Both of us realize that this problem have probably already been solved by someone else. None of us are fans of reinventing the wheel, so we head over to Packagist and type in “license manager”. It looks like our assumption was justified. Yoast already has a package that can handle this. We both decide to do a quick composer require yoast/license-manager. Easy peasy. Now we can move on to work on something that really matters- the core features of our respective plugins.

Fast forward, ready to release your plugin, you realize something: Your user doesn’t necessarily have Composer handy when installing your plugin from WordPress.org, so how are they going to get the code for the license manager? This situation is a bit annoying, because the only solution you really see is to just commit the whole Composer generated vendor directory to your plugin and push it to WordPress.org. You know this is not how Composer is supposed to work, but whatever. You don’t really have other options.

Meanwhile, I have come to the same conclusion with my plugin. Just include the license manager code and be done with it.

Fast forward once more, both our plugins now live in the WordPress.org repository and once in a while, someone decides to upgrade to our premium versions. Everything seems to be fine and we are both grateful that we could just use the code that Yoast had generously open sourced, and didn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

One day, you receive a strange e-mail. A customer is experiencing some really strange behavior when trying to unlock your premium features. It makes no sense to you, because no one else ever reported this. After hours of debugging, you finally ask your customer to deactivate everything else, except your plugin, and then: It works! Hmm. Your plugin seems to somehow be incompatible with another plugin. My plugin.

You realize this after hours of going through source code of all the other plugins the customer had installed. When you realize that we both use the license manager, a bell rings. Could this really be it? If so, how come no fatal errors: cannot redeclare class was caused by PHP?

A week earlier, I had bumped the required version of the license manager in my plugin to the latest version, which included some (fictional) breaking changes. After even more debugging and var_dump()’ing, you realize that my version of the license manager is also the version loaded by PHP in your plugin. You find that really strange because you specifically required another version of the license manager with Composer. You don’t really know what to do about this.

Because there really isn’t much you can do about it.

What happened here?

Now that we have all seen the problem, let’s take a moment to go through what actually happened in the narrative. First of all, why didn’t PHP cause a fatal error when two classes obviously had the same name that both of us included the license manager?

The reason for this is that we used an autoloader generated by Composer. This autoloader scans the diretory structure of our dependencies and adds every class to the autoloader. If a class has already been added, Composer will ignore it. Silently. I have written a small code example if you want to see it for yourself. It’s on GitHub.

Why was my version of the license manager included before yours?

This happened because my plugin had a name that caused it to be loaded before yours. Maybe, in the future, we will all name our plugins “Aaaaaa My Plugin” in order to be loaded first!

So to sum up, the main issue here is that we won’t know which version of our dependencies are available to us at which time. It simply depends on factors we can’t fully control as plugin developers.

Is this a Composer specific issue?

No. It really isn’t. WordPress doesn’t have a way of dealing with third party code in plugins or themes. Therein lies the problem. The reason why I’m talking about Composer is that it is gaining a lot of traction these days. If WordPress developers want to use Composer in plugins released via WordPress.org, this needs to be solved somehow. Otherwise, we will see true chaos when all plugins starts to be incompatible with each other because they use different versions. Welcome to debugging hell.

What can we do about this?

Someone who has been really concerned about this and has worked hard to find a potential solution is Coen Jacobs. I decided to reach out to Coen and ask him if he thinks there is anything we can do about this.

Many developers are already including 3rd party code in their plugins. Is this really a problem?

Yes, this is already a problem in the plugins ecosystem. It will become even worse when more people figure out it’s a good idea to put common functionality in separate packages. These packages can then be bundled with multiple plugins and the issue will appear more and more. I’ve been speaking to a couple developers who have already been through debug hell trying to find out what’s causing this issue.

Moving forward, would you suggest developers stop including 3rd party code in their plugins?

I’m a bit torn on this subject. It makes no sense from a developers point of view to tell people to stop bundling shared packages in their plugins. On the other hand, everybody wants the best possible user experience for their users. It’s a tough decision to make for sure.

At this point, I want to push WordPress related development forward. I want to share libraries and use libraries shared by others. Nobody should be reinventing the wheel over and over again. So I would take the risk of running into issues like this, solving the problems as they show up.

This also means that I’ll be doing my damned best to find a long term solution for this issue. More people will start using Composer, more people will bundle libraries with their plugins. This problem will show up more often, so it’s time to fix it.

What can plugin developers do to prevent this problem?

There is a workaround that I have seen some people use already. It basically comes down to moving your dependency to the namespace of your plugin. Danny van Kooten did this for one of his plugins. This is not ideal however. Every time he updates his dependencies, he has to go through all the files and change the namespaces again. Now this is not such a big task for a relatively small library like Pimple, but a massive undertaking for larger libraries.

This can only be done with namespaces though, so you’ll have to make your plugin require PHP 5.3+ as well. I’m not gonna lie, I think every plugin should start doing that sooner or later, but it’s definitely something you need to consider when you decide to do this.

What would the ideal solution be, if there is any?

The ideal situation would be using some sort of dependency manager. There is of course Composer, the most used dependency manager. Composer is very hard, if not impossible, to use for the vast majority of the WordPress users. It’s a developer’s tool after all.

WordPress should make this easier for its end users, while still enabling developers to utilize pretty much any package they want. On this thought, I have started putting together the WordPress Composer Installer plugin, which does all the hard Composer work while people install plugins as they always have. As soon as I am been able to finish this up, I’ll integrate it properly into the whole plugin installer flow.

Now maybe one day, this can be integrated in core WordPress. It has a long way to go, but the proof of concept already works.

Conclusion

If you have been reading this far, first of all: Thank you. Second of all, I hope you now see how this is something that will eventually become a problem. Our current situation is very frustrating, because we simply don’t have the tools we need. Still, I think it’s important that we keep talking about this and make sure that we all, as WordPress developers, understand the potential issues caused by conflicting third party dependencies in our code.

Finally, I want to mention one more time that this is not a Composer issue. It’s a WordPress issue.

by Sarah Gooding at July 06, 2015 12:03 PM under composer

WPTavern: Resonar: A Free WordPress Blog Theme Designed to Showcase Featured Images

Resonar is an elegant WordPress blog theme that was launched in mid-March on WordPress.com and is now available to self-hosted WordPress sites. This theme makes a big impact with its strong typography and fullscreen featured images.

resonar-screenshot

Resonar was designed by Takashi Irie, the same designer for the Twenty Fifteen and Twenty Fourteen default themes. Irie’s designs are also behind the popular Espied and Ryu themes.

The homepage for Resonar is created by assigning a sticky post with a large featured image (ideally 2000px wide and 1500px high). If you frequently change this sticky post, your site will always have a fresh focal point on the homepage.

If you’re looking for a theme that highlights longform posts, Resonar fits the bill with its unique styling for blockquotes, pull quotes, overhanging images.

resonar-quotes

The centered blog layout keeps the focus on the content, but you don’t have to sacrifice widget areas to use the theme. Clicking on the ellipsis icon in the main menu will reveal a 576px-wide slide-out sidebar where you can drop in widgets and display a social links menu.

As Resonar revolves around fullscreen featured images, you’ll need to be prepared to have a 2000px by 1500px image for each post in order to keep the theme looking its best. Check out the live demo on WordPress.com to see Resonar in action. Self-hosted WordPress blog owners can download the theme from WordPress.org or install it via the admin themes browser.

by Sarah Gooding at July 06, 2015 04:41 AM under free wordpress themes

Matt: Trevor Noah & Jerry Seinfeld

 

Trevor Noah, the new host of the Daily Show, was on Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee show, and it was quite interesting. I really love this show, even when it’s slow you get some fun thoughts. I would embed the video but that doesn’t seem possible.

 

by Matt at July 06, 2015 03:24 AM under Asides

July 05, 2015

Matt: Automattic Challenge

“We have two interesting challenges for you – to write the shortest code possible and to write the fastest code possible.” One of the prizes is a conference ticket and three nights in a hotel. Check it out over at the Automattic React Europe Challenge.

by Matt at July 05, 2015 05:50 AM under Asides

July 04, 2015

Matt: New VideoPress

We launched a shiny new version of VideoPress that makes mobile better, is way faster, has a sleek UI, and is HTML5. This is targeted at WordPress.com users right now, but will expand for everyone soon.

by Matt at July 04, 2015 05:56 AM under Asides

July 03, 2015

WPTavern: Automattic Overhauls VideoPress and Open Sources Technologies Used to Build It

VideoPress, Automattic’s video hosting service, has undergone a complete overhaul. The video player is now responsive and adjusts well to mobile devices. Videos can be embedded anywhere and are easier to share, thanks to permalinks.

There’s also a couple of neat options for sharing videos. Similar to YouTube, you can select a time stamp where the video will start playing. You can also loop and autoplay videos.

VideoPress Sharing OptionsVideoPress Sharing Options

One thing I noticed is that pasting a VideoPress permalink into the self hosted WordPress visual editor does not load the video. This is because WordPress does not have oEmbed support for VideoPress.

To embed videos into posts, you need to copy the HTML embed code from the video and past it into the WordPress text editor. Pasting the code into the visual editor doesn’t work. Guillermo Rauch, who works on the VideoPress team at Automattic says they are working on adding oEmbed support.

The new video player takes up little space and is unbranded. According to Rauch, the player’s skin and behavior is controlled by JavaScript, HTML and CSS. This opens the door for customizations by theme developers in the future. Thanks to major performance enhancements, pages with videos on them will load faster, even for those on slow internet connections. Here’s an example of a video using the new player.

A feature that I think a lot of people will enjoy is real-time seek which lets you skim through videos and helps you start playing at a desired point. Last but not least, the libraries used to build the new video player have been open sourced, including jpeg-stream, pixel-stack, and video-thumb-grid.

If you’re interested in using VideoPress, you need a Premium or Business plan on WordPress.com. The premium plan is $99 per year and includes 13GB of space. Videos take up a lot of space and one has to wonder if it’s worth the cost or if YouTube is a better option. If you use VideoPress, let us know what you think of these improvements.

by Jeff Chandler at July 03, 2015 03:46 AM under videopress

July 02, 2015

Matt: Domain Anonymity and the Brilliance of Entertainment Lobbyists

To rid the internet of piracy, entertainment companies are willing to greatly reduce privacy, at least where website registration is concerned.

Where the entertainment industry views proxy registration as a pirate’s tool for obfuscation, privacy advocates see identity concealment as a feature that can enable free speech and freedom from harassment.

So there’s a new proposal to force any “commercial” website, which could cover pretty much anything, to have real WHOIS/contact info. This is a terrible idea, and of course there are already ample and simple means to bypass proxy services being actually abused with a court order. But they want to go a step further, so potentially a parenting blogger with ads or affiliate links on their site would be forced to put their actual home address and phone number in a public directory anyone on the internet can access, or break the law. What could go wrong? EFF has more about why this impacts user privacy.

I think the better question here, is when has the entertainment industry ever proposed something good for consumers or the internet? I’m not kidding, 100% serious: have they ever been right?

It seems like a good approach for governing bodies like FCC, ICANN, or Congress to just blanket oppose or do the opposite of what MPAA or COA propose, and they’ll be on the right side of history and magically appear to be a very tech-savvy candidate or regulator.

by Matt at July 02, 2015 10:30 PM under Asides

WPTavern: Lasso Adds Real Time Revision Restoring to WordPress

This week Nick Haskins launched an update to Lasso, which introduces real time revision restoring. Lasso, a plugin originally designed to improve the experience of using of Aesop Story Engine, is currently one of the most user-friendly and well-supported attempts at bringing frontend editing to WordPress.

The plugin works with or without Aesop Story Engine. Lasso brings a minimal, unobtrusive approach to editing that keeps the focus on content creation. Haskins hopes to ship version 1.0 of the plugin this fall, and the source was recently made available to developers and testers on GitHub.

“Our goal is simple: be a front-end editor that negates the use of the WordPress post editor,” Haskins said. “One of the last areas to tackle in this endeavor was revisions.”

Lasso 0.9.6 allows users to restore revisions in real time while editing a post on the front end. The plugin introduces a new and unique approach to displaying revisions, removing the default “diff style” comparison in favor of a simpler sliding interface.

lasso-revisions

Lasso displays the last six revisions and users can click on the time to restore a revision live. It functions like a little piece of magic on the front end.

“Because Lasso already operates within the post_content, there wasn’t really a huge technical challenge to overcome,” Haskins said. “The biggest bottle neck was finding a way to do this that would cause no confusion.

“WordPress revisions use a “diff style” comparison, which I don’t think benefits 80% of WordPress users. After all they’re not coders. So we decided to restore the post as it was, and most importantly, the context that it lives in,” he said.

The live revisions restoring supports images, markup, and everything else that you would expect to be parsed into HTML, but Haskins has a few outstanding items he hopes to polish up.

“Things like shortcodes and ombeds are not processed into HTML as they need a page refresh, so finding a way to parse these live is just about the only technical challenge that we still have to overcome,” he said. “This doesn’t prevent things from working, but I think a user expects these items to show as they appear on site.”

This is the first time a plugin author has done anything like this with revision display and restore. It transforms the process of reviewing revisions into a visual and interactive experience. Removing the “diff style” comparison makes it much easier for the average content creator to decide on which revision to restore. If you want to test it out or take a closer look at how it works, check out Lasso on GitHub.

by Sarah Gooding at July 02, 2015 07:19 PM under lasso

WPTavern: WordPress 4.3 Beta 1 Now Available for Testing

testing

WordPress 4.3 is right around the corner with beta 1 released and ready for testing. According to the 4.3 project schedule, there will be no more commits for new enhancements or feature requests from this point on. Contributors are now focusing on bug fixes and documentation ahead of August 18th, the target release date.

With all the controversy surrounding WordPress 4.3’s inclusion of menus in the customizer, you may have missed a few other lesser known features that are on track to be included and need to be put through the paces. The new site icons feature was added to trunk this week, along with a text editor for the Press This posting interface.

WordPress lead developer Mark Jaquith has been working on making passwords more secure. As of 4.3, WordPress will no longer send passwords via email. The password strength meter is now more tightly integrated. It will warn users upon selection of a weak password and can also suggest a secure password.

One interesting new improvement added to the post editor is recognition of some basic markdown-esque patterns inside TinyMCE:

Certain text patterns are automatically transformed as you type, including * and – transforming into unordered lists, 1. and 1) for ordered lists, > for blockquotes and one to six number signs (#) for headings

For those who are used to formatting text this way, the post editor in WordPress 4.3. will be a more friendly place for speedy composition.

Admin post and page list tables will take a huge leap forward to become more responsive in this release, improving the experience of using WordPress on smaller screens. Previously, the columns that could not fit were truncated, but WordPress 4.3 will allow columns to be toggled into view.

Check out release lead Konstantin Obenland’s beta announcement post to download a zip of the beta. If you want to help test, the easiest way is to get hooked up via the WordPress Beta Tester plugin. Bug reports are welcome on the Alpha/Beta support forums and can also be filed on WordPress trac.

by Sarah Gooding at July 02, 2015 04:39 PM under wordpress 4.3

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 197 – WordPress Theme Review Roundtable

In this episode of WordPress Weekly, Marcus Couch and I are joined by Chip Bennett, Jose Castaneda, Tammie Lister, and Edward Cassie who are members of the WordPress Theme Review Team. We learn why the team exists, its goals, and what the process is for getting a theme into the official directory.

The team clarified the difference between requirements and guidelines. We discuss the results of three separate surveys that indicate users want to see improvements to the way theme demo content is displayed. Last but not least, we learn how you can get involved with the team.

Stories Discussed:

The WordPress Community (A Comedy of Drama, Ego, Oligarchies, and More)

Plugins Picked By Marcus:

Plugin Grouper allows users to group plugins together to make them easier to manage.

WordPress Import YouTube Liked Videos helps users connect to their YouTube account and import their recently liked videos.

Author Chat is an internal chat system that lets your authors or users with access to the dashboard chat with each other.

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by Jeff Chandler at July 02, 2015 04:35 PM under Themes

WPTavern: Ship: A New App for Shipping Plugins from GitHub to WordPress.org

One of the small hurdles to hosting a plugin on WordPress.org is the fact that you have to use SVN to ship your updates. Most developers are far more familiar with Git. It’s not difficult to learn how to use SVN for the sake of WordPress.org plugins, but many find it to be inconvenient.

Ship is a new application designed to eliminate this hassle by helping developers ship plugins directly from GitHub to WordPress.org. All you have to do is tag the release on GitHub and the app will automatically push updates to the plugin’s official SVN repo on WordPress.org.

ship

The application was created by Jason Agnew and his team at Big Bite Creative, authors of the Herbert plugin framework. The team built the app in Laravel in just five days. It’s currently hosted on Digital Ocean, but Agnew plans to move it over to AWS once Ship has gained more users.

“We’ve reached a point where most developers are familiar with GitHub, and as a result, Git,” Agnew said in his announcement. “If you plan to do anything open source you’re likely to find yourself on there – even Apple has made the move. Unfortunately WordPress.org uses SVN, which most developers don’t use daily, or are even familiar with. It’s easy enough to pick up, but why should you learn something new to update your plugin?”

With the help of the Ship app, developers won’t have to touch SVN at all during the process of sending updates to WordPress.org plugin repositories.

“For years most plugin developers have used GitHub and then shipped to WordPress.org SVN using a bash script,” Agnew said. “You’ll find plenty out there, but they require you to keep both a Git and SVN repo on your machine — plus you need to remember to run it every time you tag a new release. We thought there must be a simpler way to do this, so we put our heads together. After a few days we had put together the first version of Ship.”

In order to use the app you must have already submitted your plugin zip file to WordPress.org. You can then sign into the Ship app with GitHub and authorize its access to your repositories.

authorize-ship-app

The app will then fetch your repositories and you’ll have the opportunity to select the ones you want to link up with a WordPress.org SVN address in order to start syncing updates.

ship-sync-reops

Big Bite Creative has built many custom plugins over the years, but Agnew said they never had the time to open source them.

“Now with Herbert out there we want to start releasing more plugins on Github – Ship is part of making that process easier,” he said.

In the future, Agnew and his team would like to eliminate the need to first submit your plugin on WordPress.org and instead have that process initiated by Ship. They used “Sign in with GitHub” to save time when initially building the app but would also like to open it up for other services like BitBucket.

The new Ship app effectively gets around WordPress.org’s SVN requirement for plugin repos, which has long been a minor deterrent and annoyance for developers wanting to host their work in the directory. If Ship is successful in making plugin developer’s lives easier, the result will be more open source extensions available to WordPress users. Agnew and his team welcome feedback on the app and have created an empty repo on GiHub to capture any suggestions or issues.

by Sarah Gooding at July 02, 2015 01:13 AM under wordpress plugin directory

WPTavern: Which One of These Six Cities Should Host WordCamp US?

When Matt Mullenweg put out the call to cities interested in hosting WordCamp US, we learned the criteria they would have to meet in order to qualify. Venues would need to seat approximately 1,000-2,00 people, have hotels within 3 miles of the venue, hotel costs for a range of budgets, and average flight costs from the West Coast, East Coast, Midwest, Mexico, and Canada.

Applications to host WordCamp US 2015 officially closed today. Six cities submitted applications to host the event, they include:

  • Chattanooga
  • Chicago
  • Detroit
  • Orlando
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix

On the Make WordPress Community site, Cami Kaos says applications are being carefully reviewed and organizers of the host city will be contacted as soon as possible. Dates for the event won’t be given until a host city and venue is chosen.

Out of all the cities selected, I want WordCamp US to be in Chicago. I love Chicago and it’s a quick flight from Cleveland. The city also has awesome pizza. Take the poll below and vote for which city you think should host WordCamp US. This poll is only for fun and will not affect the outcome of the host city.

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

by Jeff Chandler at July 02, 2015 12:28 AM under wordcamp us

July 01, 2015

WPTavern: It’s Not a WordPress Problem, It’s a People Problem

Tom McFarlin published a thoughtful piece on what he perceives to be the sad state of the WordPress community. Too many people are participating in behavior that is embarrassing from the outside looking in. It’s a long read, but it highlights the need for members of the WordPress community to stop and reflect on our actions.

The WordPress community is described by many as being open, friendly, with a willingness to help. It’s all of those things but in the past few months, discussions on hotly debated topics such as the Customizer have brought the worst out of people.

Criticism is one thing, personal attacks are another and simply unnecessary. Unfortunately, text is a difficult medium to decipher context. Emoticons and emoji help, but it doesn’t solve the problem. We as a community need to approach discussions with open minds. We can have different perspectives and viewpoints but we need to clearly communicate them without tearing the opposition down in the process. We must also learn to agree to disagree.

McFarlin’s post is an inward facing moment for the WordPress community. Is this how we want people on the outside to portray us? WordPress is software created by passionate people who work tirelessly to improve the web. Let’s all take a deep breath, collect ourselves, and do more to listen and understand each other.

by Jeff Chandler at July 01, 2015 11:21 PM under tom mcfarlin

WPTavern: WordPress 4.3 Adds New Site Icons Feature and a Text Editor to Press This

WordPress 4.3 is on track to include a new site icons feature, which will allow administrators to easily upload an image to be used as the favicon and app icons for a site. Favicons have traditionally been handled by WordPress themes or plugins, but the new core support means that users no longer have to hunt down an extension to handle this basic site feature.

This addition landed in 4.3 in response to a four-year old trac ticket requesting an easier way for non-technical users to upload and crop an image to use as a favicon. Konstantin Obenland, release lead for 4.3, committed the feature to WordPress trunk this week, along with the following summary of its current capabilities:

This v1 marries Jetpack’s Site Icon module with the Media Modal, reusing code from the Custom Header admin. For now, the core-provided icons will be limited to a favicon, an iOS app icon, and a Windows tile icon, leaving .ico support and additional icons to plugins to add.

After testing WordPress 4.3-alpha, I found that the experience of adding a favicon in the settings panel is smoother and more intuitive than any plugin I’ve ever tried. The screen offers users a nice preview of the image as a favicon and mobile icon. It also doesn’t burden you with any notices about sizes and image quality, unless you attempt to upload an image that is less than 512px in width.

wordpress-site-icon

If you want to test the feature, you can provide feedback on the ticket or via the announcement post.

Another major enhancement added to 4.3 this week is a text editor for Press This. Many WordPress users appreciate the streamlined simplicity of the Press This post editor but were held back from using it to compose posts due to the lack of HTML editing support. The addition of a text editor offers the same capabilities as the standard editor in post-new.php.

press-this-text-editor

Press This will also receive a few polishes in addition to the text editor, including auto-scrolling when the caret moves out of the viewport while the user is typing (similar to editor-expand) and auto-resizing for the textarea. WordPress 4.3’s improvements to Press This are not exactly a replacement for the dearly-departed distraction-free writing mode, but the post editor at wp-admin/press-this.php is quickly becoming one of the more zen-like interfaces in the admin.

by Sarah Gooding at July 01, 2015 08:50 PM under wordpress 4.3

Matt: Safari the new IE?

“In recent years, Apple’s strategy towards the web can most charitably be described as ‘benevolent neglect.'” Nolan Lawson throws the gauntlet down by asking Is Safari the new Internet Explorer?

by Matt at July 01, 2015 06:28 PM under Asides

Matt: Gut Bacteria and Mood

Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood? Answer: Maybe.

by Matt at July 01, 2015 06:00 AM under Asides

WPTavern: WordPress for iOS 5.3 Released With Refreshed Stats and a New Layout for Posts and Pages

WordPress for iOS 5.3 is available on iTunes and has a few new features. Post listings display more content making them easier to browse. A search feature has been added to the post listing screen that displays results as you type.

Search bar in WordPress for iOS 5.3Search bar in WordPress for iOS 5.3

I tested the search feature on two different sites. The first site is on WordPress.com and doesn’t use featured images. Search results displayed quickly with little lag.

The second is a self hosted WordPress site that uses featured images. I noticed lag as the app tried to display real-time results as I typed which also lagged the app. I couldn’t do anything else within the app until the search query finished.

I don’t use the search feature often and this experience has me concerned. Instead of being fast and fluid, it’s chunky and slow. I also don’t see the need to display featured images in search results. I think this would make the search query and the app faster.

WordPress.com and self hosted WordPress sites are now combined under My Sites. Instead of seeing a spinning circle when checking stats, there’s a progress bar at the top. This gives the appearance that the stats page loads faster. The stats page also has a subtle color scheme change that makes things more pronounced.

WordPress for iOS 5.3 Stats PageWordPress for iOS 5.3 Stats Page

Last but not least, 5.3 includes several bug fixes. Overall, 5.3 is a decent update. Remember to use caution when searching a site with a lot of posts that use featured images. WordPress for iOS 5.3 is available for free on iTunes. If you encounter any issues in 5.3, please report them in the support forum.

by Jeff Chandler at July 01, 2015 12:26 AM under WordPress for iOS

June 30, 2015

WPTavern: Filter to Disable the Customizer Shot Down on WordPress Trac

photo credit: shutoff - (license)photo credit: shutoff(license)

WordPress 4.3 will introduce menu management via the customizer, providing live previews on the frontend for adding, deleting, and ordering menu items. Although users still have the option to manage menus using the admin interface, developers who are not keen on the feature are searching for an easy way to disable the customizer and remove its links throughout WordPress.

In certain scenarios involving client work, the customizer can be more trouble than it’s worth and may not be a beneficial addition to a custom-tailored WordPress admin.

Gabe Shackle, an application developer and UI engineer at Risdall, created a ticket on WordPress trac last week, requesting a filter to disable the customizer. His patch offers developers an easy way to enable the ‘no-customizer-support’ class within the body tag.

Due to the fact that the ‘customizer-support’ class is added via JavaScript on page render, it cannot be manipulated using any core filters or actions currently.

By setting the filter value to false, the Customizer is essentially hidden from the admin and the links that were currently pointing at the Customizer (widgets, themes, etc…) are reverted to their previous dashboard destinations.

Currently, developers who want to disable the customizer have to employ a combination of different methods in order to effectively remove everything that the customizer introduces into the admin.

“This filter makes this process into a simple boolean filter so that developers who do not want or need the Customizer can easily remove it,” Shackle said.

WordPress lead developer Dion Hulse replied to the ticket to say that although he doesn’t use the customizer much himself, he doesn’t think that WordPress users would benefit from an easy way to turn it off.

Personally as much as I don’t use the customizer a lot of the time, I think offering a filter to disable it is probably not in the best interests of WordPress users.

The customizer, as much as some dislike it, is a major component of the future of WordPress UX – whether that is a good or bad thing remains to be seen by some – but like it or hate it, it’s here.

Hulse suggested, as an alternative, that a better way to disable it would be to remove the customize capability from the roles.

Shackle further explained that he was attempting to follow the precedent of the admin bar, which he considers to be a similar type of UX component.

“The Admin Bar can be disabled not only by a filter but by a global variable, core function, and user profile setting,” he said. “The Customizer has none of these options.”

Nick Halsey, the developer of the Menu Customizer plugin that is being merged into 4.3, replied based on assumptions about why Shackle might request a filter to disable the feature:

I have yet to see a valid reason for something like this. In most cases, concerns about not wanting users to have access to the Customizer stem from the fact that you’re not giving them the appropriate capabilities. And the customize capability can be used to turn off the Customizer if you really must.

While you can remove the customize meta capability (or re-map it or whatever), doing so simply because you don’t want to train users or don’t want to use the Customizer is doing yourself and your users an enormous disservice. As dd32 mentioned, the Customizer will only continue to grow in importance within WordPress. Additionally, user testing has shown that the Customizer experience is generally easier for users to grasp than the admin, which largely stems from the value of having live-previewing available. We’re putting a significant amount of time into the Customizer every release to continue improving it, conducting frequent user tests along the way to optimize usability.

Halsey promptly closed the ticket following this exchange. I followed up with Shackle to find out why the proposed alternative to remove the customize capability is inadequate for his purposes.

“Mostly I was hoping that the Customizer could be treated more like the admin bar, which has 3+ methods for disabling it,” Shackle said. “Having a clearly labeled filter is, in my opinion, more legible than modifying user capabilities. A PHP developer with virtually no WordPress knowledge could most likely understand much quicker what’s happening with a filter named ‘enable_customizer_support’ rather than ‘map_meta_cap’.”

Obviously, not all tickets and patches will be considered valid by the maintainers of WordPress core components, but Shackle was disappointed by the defensive response to the discussion.

“Honestly, had the reply simply been something along the lines of ‘You should just use the customize capability to achieve the same effect’ I really wouldn’t have had any issue,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it seems any approach other than ‘Customizer for all things!’ means I get to be told multiple times how much of a disservice I’m doing my clients and what a lazy developer I am for not just re-training my clients how to manage their sites’ appearance.

“It feels like the Customizer team themselves have an all-or-nothing approach to the project and that anyone who questions this is wrong, regardless of their reasoning,” Shackle said.

This exchange demonstrates that since core contributors view the customizer as a major part of the future of WordPress, this is one feature where there will be little willingness to support efforts to make it more modular. Disabling support for the customizer will continue to require use of ‘map_meta_cap,’ the same method the creators of the Customizer Remove All Parts plugin have employed.

by Sarah Gooding at June 30, 2015 11:08 PM under customizer

WPTavern: UpThemes Adds Managed WordPress Hosting to Theme Club Business

upthemes

After five years of selling themes and support, UpThemes is branching out into the managed WordPress hosting business. Last week the company announced the new hosting venture and partnership with Aesop Interactive:

We are excited to announce UpThemes Hosting, a managed WordPress hosting solution that includes 40+ premium WordPress themes including our entire theme library, all themes from the collection of Aesop Interactive (makers of Aesop Story Engine), as well as a curated selection of beautifully-designed themes from WordPress.org.

For $20/month customers can host one WordPress site with 5GB disk space and 100GB monthly bandwith. Tech support is included along with 40+ commercial themes from UpThemes and Aesop Interactive. Users have control over their sites as they would with a standard WordPress installation, i.e. FTP access, ability to install plugins and themes, etc.

upthemes-hosting

“This is actually a partnership with Pressed.net, a division of Site5, that sits on top of their managed WordPress hosting architecture,” UpThemes co-founder Chris Wallace told the Tavern. “We’ve looked at many opportunities for a hosting partnership over the years and none of the options felt quite right to us, so we waited until there was one that provided our customers with the best hosting service and support.

“Site5 understood that need and we’ve worked hand-in-hand for many months to finally release this product. We’re very proud of it and think it provides more value than the typical WordPress hosting product.”

The hybrid combination of hosting plus a theme club is fairly unique in the WordPress ecosystem, but Wallace believes it provides an easier path for UpThemes customers looking to build an online presence.

“Our audience is mainly DIYers who just need a site up and running,” he said. “We’ve always been looking to make it as easy as possible to purchase and install an UpThemes theme so a hosting platform where all our themes are pre-installed seemed like the perfect solution to the problem of ‘which theme do I pick’ and ‘how do I install a theme’ and ‘will your theme work on my webhost?'”

The new hosting product also helps UpThemes deal with the financial volatility and unpredictability of managing a theme club business.

“From a business perspective, selling themes alone has always made it difficult to pin down our customer acquisition cost and churn rate (meaning the number of customers who stop paying their annual renewals),” Wallace said.

“Since we offer an annual license, we don’t know if a customer will renew for a whole year, which, as you can imagine, makes it hard to know the lifetime value of the customer. It’s a hard thing to analyze. Some people care enough to renew but most people don’t understand the value enough to care.”

UpThemes will continue to serve the small business and DIY market and Wallace hopes to add more journalists, storytellers, and photographers with the new Aesop Interactive partnership.

“Beyond our new hosting venture, we also serve thousands of blogs on WordPress.com, which helps us offer a one-click method of buying and using our themes without any sort of installation required,” Wallace said.

“I think that really is one of the key points for us: closing the gap on how much knowledge you need to use our themes. We’d like to make it even easier for certain types of customers (e-commerce, for example) to hit the ground running.

“There are so many variables to creating a successful online business and we just want to give less technical WordPress users an easier path to success.”

by Sarah Gooding at June 30, 2015 05:54 PM under upthemes

Matt: Loyalists vs Mercenaries

Finally, think about being somewhere other than the Bay Area or NYC. Yes, they are great places to start companies, find talent, and get investment. But they are also places where others start companies, get investment, and find your talent. It’s a ratrace, a treadmill, and it’s grueling. If you can avoid it, you owe it to yourself to try.

Fred Wilson on Loyalists vs Mercenaries in companies. I’m so happy to see the non-SF/NYC company idea continue to pick up steam, and I think its natural conclusion is distributed work as Automattic does. Like any relationship, I think the most rewarding employee/employer relationships are the ones that grow over decades, not just years.

by Matt at June 30, 2015 06:00 AM under Asides

WPTavern: The Recommended Hosting Page on WordPress.org Starts Over From Scratch

One of the most difficult tasks for new WordPress users is choosing a good webhost. The process can involve getting recommendations from friends, searching Google for reviews, and taking advantage of trial offers. Since 2005, WordPress.org has had a recommended hosts page featuring companies that meet certain criteria.

WordPress.org Recommended Host Page in 2005WordPress.org Recommended Host Page in 2005

Over the years, new companies would rarely be added to the page. For several years, Bluehost, DreamHost, and Laughing Squid were the only companies listed.

Recommend Hosts Page in 2014Recommend Hosts Page in 2014

I’ve spoken to a number of people in the webhosting industry in the last two years and the general consensus is that, to get on the list, you need to pay Matt Mullenweg a lot of money, which isn’t true. Bluehost is often used as an example as they’re owned by Endurance International Group who invested in Automattic in 2014. Bluehost has been on the list since 2005, long before any investment took place.

A Fresh Start to The Recommended Hosts Page

Currently, Bluehost is the only recommended webhost on the page because it’s going through a revamp. Near the bottom of the page is a paragraph that admits a lot has changed in the industry over the years.

Much has changed in the hosting world since this page was originally set up. There are now many types of dedicated and cloud accounts that are as easy as shared hosting was a generation ago, and shared and managed hosts have evolved significantly to become more tailored to WordPress. WordPress is often now the most commonly used application on major web hosts!

I asked Mullenweg if hosts that were on the page before are eligible to be re-added, “Of course, anyone is up for consideration and Bluehost is up for being removed.”

The WordPress.org team is starting over from scratch and as such, webhosting companies are asked to complete the following survey by July 31st.

First Page of The SurveyFirst Page of The Survey

The survey is 40 questions long and includes questions such as:

  • What’s the WordPress-specific landing page you’d want /hosting to point to?
  • What type of customers do you target?
  • Please describe your technology stack, and why you like it.
  • Is 100% of the code included or promoted with your WordPress install GPL or compatible?

It may seem like a tedious process, but those I’ve spoken to in the past affiliated with companies once on the list say it generates thousands to millions of dollars in signups. This should motivate companies to complete the survey accurately. Even if a company is not listed on the page, those who fill out the survey will be giving WordPress.org a lot of information that may come in handy for other uses.

It’s About Time

The recommended hosting page is long overdue for a revamp. There are companies such as, A2 Hosting, Pagely, WP Engine, InMotion Hosting, and countless others that are doing a great job hosting large and small WordPress sites. Perhaps it’s time they become the ones recommended instead of the standard three. If you own or operate a webhosting company with an emphasis on WordPress, fill out the survey, as it’s the best chance you have to getting on the recommended hosts page.

by Jeff Chandler at June 30, 2015 03:52 AM under wordpress hosting

June 29, 2015

WPTavern: VaultPress Comes Out on Top in Recent Survey of WordPress Backup Tools

Vault Featured Imagephoto credit: Code(license)

Steven Gliebe asked 21 WordPress professionals what they use to generate backups for their personal sites and published the results on the Pro Plugin Directory blog. The results are split into two groups of people – writers and developers.

All of the writers mentioned VaultPress as their go-to backup solution. Some of the developers use VaultPress but most rely on backups generated by their webhost in addition to a plugin or custom strategy. BackupBuddy by iThemes ended up with the second most mentions.

Although WP Migrate DB Pro is used primarily to migrate WordPress sites, Gilbert Pellegrom of Dev7studios, uses it to backup his databases and user uploads with a setup similar to this.

Bill Robbins of Organized Themes, says WPEngine provides a prompt reminding users to generate a full backup before upgrading. This sounds like a great idea and is something I think more hosts should look into doing. Daniel Espinoza of Shop Plugins, uses a backup strategy that allows him to own his data.

To learn why these 21 people use the backup strategies that they do, I encourage you to read the full article. What plugins and services do you use to backup your sites?

by Jeff Chandler at June 29, 2015 10:40 PM under vaultpress

WPTavern: Theme Hybrid Experiments with Free Signups for Club Membership

photo credit: 16th st - (license)photo credit: 16th st(license)

Justin Tadlock, creator of Theme Hybrid, announced today that the seven year old theme club is experimenting with a radical change in club pricing. Club membership is now free for anyone who wants to sign up. Although Theme Hybrid’s plugins and themes have always been free, standard club membership (which includes access to the support forums), was previously $25/year.

In a post titled “Steering the Ship Back Home,” Tadlock explains his original purpose for the club. Theme Hybrid entered the WordPress theme market with free, open source products back in the day when very few commercial theme sellers were fully adopting the GPL.

“When I first laid the groundwork for Theme Hybrid, or Project M as it was originally called, seven awesome years ago, the idea was to face off against ‘premium’ theme authors,” he said. “I wanted to provide a free alternative to the marketplace and show that it could work.”

Tadlock described how, overall, the Theme Hybrid experience has been positive, but during the past year he faced creative blocks, burnout, and a lack of focus. As part of regaining motivation, he decided to refocus Theme Hybrid back to its radical roots.

“I always knew I wanted to provide awesome free/$free WordPress themes and plugins,” he said. “However, $free doesn’t exactly put food on the table. While seven years has been a good run, I don’t think I ever found the right balance between philosophy and practical concerns.”

As part of a fresh start, Tadlock is opening up his club membership in an effort to expand the community that has kept the site going over the years. In addition to the free memberships, which provide access to the forums, he is also slashing prices on the tiered memberships.

“Today, I have at least a couple of months of wiggle room to try something new while figuring out the direction I want to take the business aspect of this site,” Tadlock said.

Theme Hybrid’s radical shift in club pricing is another example of WordPress businesses giving away more for free, whether it be commercial products on GitHub, a suite of e-commerce themes, or live training events.

Theme Hybrid has always erred on the side of providing free products and tutorials for the community, as opposed to locking them up. Will giving away more for free translate into a higher number of people willing to pay for support? This question is at the core of the freemium business model, the boundaries of which Tadlock has been willing to push for the past seven years.

“While trying new things is certainly frightening, I’m excited about some of the prospects,” he said.

by Sarah Gooding at June 29, 2015 09:45 PM under theme hybrid

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July 07, 2015 05:30 PM
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