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May 22, 2015

Matt: Undercover UberX

Emily Guendelsberger went undercover as an UberX driver in Philadelphia and wrote about the experience, particularly the economics of it. It’s a pretty fascinating and gripping longread, both in its content and it’s just well-written.

by Matt at May 22, 2015 05:29 AM under Asides

May 21, 2015

WPTavern: Hookr Enters Beta with New UI and Support for 800+ Plugins and Themes

hookr-featured

Last April, Christopher Sanford launched Hookr, a WordPress hook/API reference for developers. He initially wrote the parser/indexer for his own use, to improve efficiency in his work, and was inspired to make it a public resource.

“I have been professionally working with WordPress since 2.8, but most of which I would describe as ‘superficial development,'” Sanford said. “It wasn’t until later, roughly WordPress 3.5, that a large-scale WordPress project came along.

“I found myself spending an obscene amount of time either digging through code within my IDE, or performing countless Google searches, in order to uncover/understand various hooks, functions, constants etc. So, I wrote a plugin that would index the application/site it was installed within– this was the first iteration of Hookr.”

As a developer whose career is not based in the WordPress ecosystem, Sanford didn’t know what to expect when he tested the waters with his new public resource for developers. After several months in alpha, the traffic and feedback were enough to convince him to invest in performance improvements and an overhaul of the UI.

“The alpha version of the site was truly alpha – the UI was a complete afterthought, there were many UI bugs/hiccups, the navigation was not cohesive; it was a hot mess,” Sanford said. “Prior to the beta, I had not updated hookr.io for months, which was purposeful. I wanted to see if the traffic would completely level-off, or if it would remain consistent, with the latter being the determining factor as to whether or not I would continue with the project.”

Hookr Beta Adds UI/UX Improvements and Support for 800+ Plugins and Themes

Sanford was surprised and encouraged to find that usage of the site was solid and continued to grow. He spent the next three months fixing issues, rewriting core parts of the parser, and refining the UI to focus on features that people actually needed. The site has now entered beta with a slew of noteworthy improvements:

  • UI/UX overhaul, with emphasis on responsiveness and fewest number of clicks
  • Hookr.io is now twice as fast with half the download payload (mobile first)
  • Themes have been introduced to the index – (current count: 62)
  • Hundreds of plugins added to the index (current count: 827)
  • 5 of the latest versions of each plugin and theme (previously included a single version for each plugin)
  • Usage examples that users can cut and paste
  • Annotated source code

Index screens are infinitely-scrollable and filterable, which cuts down on a lot of clicking through endless pagination. Hook details have been refined to follow a format similar to PHP’s detail pages and include annotated code signatures and descriptions.

hookr-annotated-descriptions

In addition to the basic info about the file and lines where the code/object is defined, Hookr has also been updated to display any related hook callbacks sharing the same tag name or signature.

hookr-relations

Usage examples for every action, filter, function, and constant can now be easily copied. Users can also quickly view source code with Hookr’s new hyperlinked and annotated source code blocks.

To Rebrand or Not to Rebrand?

Many of those in search of a comprehensive hook/API reference find Hookr to be easier to use than the official WordPress.org code reference. Sanford has experienced friction from creating what some perceive to be a competing resource.

There were several people that have/had an issue with the resource even existing. For the sake of full-disclosure, my career is outside the WordPress ecosystem; it is simply a platform I use (and love), not a lifestyle.

My experience with the ‘community’ has been mostly positive; many people love the resource, while others are indifferent. I wrote Hookr to aid legit designers/developers/agencies, not hobbyists masquerading as designers/developers who have no skill besides martyrdom and nothing positive to contribute.

The Hookr name has also proven to be controversial, as a few vocal opponents find it to be off-putting and offensive. Sanford said that he is very much torn over rebranding the site but is open to the idea.

“The WordPress market is saturated – it is hard to make any sort of impact, hence the name,” he said. “The name is short, controversial, relevant, and memorable – either people love or hate it, of course. It was never the intent to insult, offend, or alienate any demographic.

“If people are uncomfortable saying “Hookr” in an open forum, then maybe it’s time to put my personal ethos aside for the betterment of the resource. That being said, I am on the fence in regards to renaming/rebranding Hookr. If I do, it’s only to remove the initial barrier/stigma and promote usage.”

As the site is still in beta, Sanford is still collecting feedback from users but is concentrating on features, fixes, and SEO. If he decides to rebrand, it will likely happen as the site moves out of beta.

The Future of the Hookr.io Resource

After streamlining the design, removing a few features that no one used, and refining those that worked, Sanford reports that so far users are enjoying the beta version of Hookr.

“The feedback I have received has been exceedingly positive,” he said. “The usage has effectively doubled.” User suggestions regarding the search functionality are shaping the roadmap for the next iteration of the resource.

“The current search implementation is more or less a filter mechanism, which is effective once you’ve drilled-down to the relevant index,” Sanford said. “However, numerous users have asked for a traditional ‘global’ keyword search that spans core, plugins, and themes. The global search, along with a few other features, will be released within the next month or so.”

While Sanford is committed to keeping the resource free for anyone to use, he is exploring a few long term options for monetization.

“Cluttering the interface with ads is not something I want to do, but never say never,” he said. “However, there is another opportunity for monetization.”

In the future, Sanford is looking at the possibility of establishing the infrastructure to offer Hookr (SaaS) for commercial theme and plugin developers.

When I released Hookr Alpha, a few people inquired about using it to augment the documentation of their premium plugin/theme. I wasn’t confident that it was a true ‘value-add.’ Over the course of a year, I’ve refined the parser and data objects to a point of viability.

The Hookr Parser analyzes source code, which is then reconciled against the inline documentation describing it; often times, the inline documentation is either missing or is erroneous. Jeff Matson and I discussed these issues and decided that Hookr would be invaluable if it could identify these issues, which it now does.

A SaaS model for monetization would allow Sanford to offer developers pre-generated documentation with their themes/plugins. He is also exploring the possibility of offering the raw data in JSON, XML, CSV, etc. to vendors to implement an API microsite.

For the time being, Sanford will continue investing time into improving Hookr as a reference and refining features according to user feedback. If you use Hookr.io regularly, feel free to offer your suggestions in the comments and follow the project on Twitter for all the latest updates.

by Sarah Gooding at May 21, 2015 08:05 PM under wordpress hooks

Matt: William Zinsser Obit

Mr. Zinsser was a prolific author, editor and teacher, but it was his role as an arbiter of good writing that resonated widely and deeply.

The New York Times obituary of William Zinsser is touching and fascinating. Clear writing and clear thinking go hand in hand, and Zinnsser’s work On Writing Well did more than any other to help me hone my mind.

by Matt at May 21, 2015 04:41 AM under Asides

WPTavern: Happy Joe Partners with WebDevStudios, SiteGround and Announces Dates for WordPress BootCamps

Happy Joe, a 501 c3 non-profit organization that helps U.S. veterans with entrepreneurship and employment opportunities using WordPress, has announced a new round of sponsorships and dates to upcoming boot camps.

When I talked to James Dalman, founder of Happy Joe in late 2014, he emphasized how important financial assistance is to the organization, “We need people to help fund the training and mentoring of our veterans. We have a lot of people who are sharing the story and mission of Happy Joe and we are VERY appreciative of that. However, we need sponsorships and donations to make a true difference.”

New Sponsors

WebDevStudios is partnering with Happy Joe as a Hero Partner which is the highest financial contributing level available. Considering the number of military veterans that work at WebDevStudios, the organizations are a perfect match. The agency will also volunteer their time and expertise at upcoming WP BootCamps across the United States.

I asked Brad Williams, founder of WebDevStudios and a military veteran, what it means to be able to help veterans through Happy Joe.

I’m very excited to officially support Happy Joe and their efforts to help Veterans find jobs. As a Veteran myself, I know the struggles trying to find work after leaving the Service, so knowing we are doing something to help ease that process makes me extremely proud.

SiteGround, a webhosting company based in Bulgaria, is also partnering with Happy Joe and will provide business mentoring, career development, training resources, and work opportunities to military veterans and their families.

The company is also providing free hosting for three months to all WP BootCamp attendees. Dalman hints that the partnership may one day lead to the first WP BootCamp in Europe.

Upcoming WP BootCamps

WordPress Boot Campphoto credit: MizGingerSnapscc

WP BootCamps are events tailored to the military community and help veterans of the Armed Forces to set up resume style websites on WordPress so that they can be seen as technology relevant. Veterans are also shown how to launch or build a very successful business or career in the WordPress marketplace.

Dalman has released a schedule of upcoming camps with the first taking place on July 11th and 12th on GoDaddy’s Sunnyvale, CA campus.

  • Sunnyvale, CA : July 11 & 12
  • Las Vegas, NV : July 25-26
  • Seattle, WA : Aug 15 & 16
  • San Diego, CA : September 12 & 13
  • Austin, TX (WordCamp Austin) : Oct 16
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina : Dates TBA
  • Norfolk, Virginia : Dates TBA
  • Tampa, FL : Dates TBA

Presentations will include, Discovering Opportunities in WordPress, Starting Off Right with WordPress, Finding the Perfect (and Paying) Clients, Winning An Agency Interview, Skills Companies Pay MORE For and more by the following presenters:

There are a limited amount of tickets available but only those who meet the following criteria are able to attend.

  • All Active Duty Service Members
  • Military Veterans from any branch of service, regardless of era served
  • Military Spouse or Military Caregiver
  • Service Dogs
  • Non-Military People wanting to work with veterans (limited seating)

You’ll need to show proof of military service via an Active Duty Card, Retirement Card, DD Form 214 from you, your spouse, or family member. Tickets have yet to go on sale but Dalman expects this information to be available in the next few weeks.

As we approach Memorial Day in the US, take some time to remember and thank those who honorably serve or served in the military. Consider supporting an organization like Happy Joe that works year round to give back to veterans.

by Jeff Chandler at May 21, 2015 03:52 AM under webdevstudios

May 20, 2015

WPTavern: Learn How to Utilize the WP REST API with Rachel Baker

photo credit: shenamt - ccphoto credit: shenamtcc

One trend at recent WordCamps is that any session on the WP REST API will undoubtedly pack the room with attendees eager to learn more about using it. This was certainly the case at WordCamp London 2015 where more than 200 people crammed into a small room to hear Jack Lenox’s presentation on Building Themes with the WP REST API.

rachel-bakerIf you’re a developer who is ready to learn more about getting started with the API, you will not want to miss WPSessions’ upcoming free live event. Rachel Baker, lead engineer at The Wirecutter and formerly a senior engineer at 10up, will be presenting on Utilizing the WP REST API on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

Baker is one of the lead developers on the WP-API project and is fully in tune with where it’s headed, as well as all the changes in the latest 2.0 beta release. The topics she plans to cover will help developers dive in and start extending 2.0.

“The content is driven by wanting to dig deeper with a more technical audience from the overview presentations you see at WordCamps and wanting to show off how easy it is to extend our version 2.0,” Baker said. “This course is only 30-40 minutes, but if it goes well Brian would like to add more.”

She plans to cover the following topics:

  • Installing the WP REST API
  • Consuming core endpoints
  • Creating custom endpoints
  • Manipulating and Extending API results
  • Preparing for future inclusion in WordPress core

“It is targeted at developers who are interested in seeing how they can use and customize the API,” Baker said. “Front-end and full-stack developers will see how to add additional fields to the existing endpoint responses. Plugin developers will see a demonstration of how to add their own endpoints. If you are interested in using the WP REST API, or have used version 1.x, you will want to see how version 2.0 works.”

Baker’s session will essentially be a crash course in getting started, covering all the basics and more. While there has been a great deal of excitement surrounding the API and what it means for the future of WordPress, many developers are still getting a grasp on how they can incorporate it into real world projects. John James Jacoby made an interesting observation in his recap of LoopConf:

So many mentions of the REST API, but not a lot of truly practical usages yet – everyone is building WordPress minus WordPress instead of replacing existing piecemeal AJAX calls or iteratively improving WordPress itself.

Baker is planning to include practical examples in her presentation. One of her main objectives is to help developers get going with the 2.0 beta version so they can offer feedback as they continue to work with it.

“I can think of many practical uses, from powering interactions in a plugin like Custom Contact Forms to providing an API for a mobile app like StoryCorps.me,” Baker said.

“Our community is hearing that the WP REST API is going to change WordPress and they haven’t seen that happen. I don’t see the WP REST API as changing WordPress. I see the WP REST API as a WordPress feature that makes it easier to interact with your site’s data.”

Those who haven’t been able to attend a session on the API in person have an excellent opportunity to see Baker’s WPSessions presentation live for free on Tuesday, May 26th at 3pm EST (UTC-4). It will also be recorded and available after the event for $9.

by Sarah Gooding at May 20, 2015 09:43 PM under wpsessions

WPTavern: WordPress Trainer Morten Rand-Hendriksen on Common Pain Points, Roadblocks, and Advice for New Users

The WordPress community is filled with resources to learn about WordPress but finding them can be difficult. WordPress is developed around the clock and locating material that keeps pace can also be a challenge.

Lynda.com is an online learning center devoted to teaching topics such as, business, technology, design, and photography. For more than five years, Morten Rand-Hendriksen has taught and maintained the WordPress Essential Training course on Lynda.com. The course has been viewed by more than 100,000 individuals and to celebrate, Lynda.com is making it available for free for one month.

By maintaining a WordPress training course, Hendriksen is in a unique position to see trends. He’s also had to keep up with and monitor the vast changes to WordPress that have occurred in the last five years. In the following short interview, Hendriksen describes common pain points users experience with WordPress and shares advice for new users.

Short Interview with Hendriksen

photo credit: Huasonic - ccphoto credit: Huasoniccc

Which aspects of WordPress do users have the most trouble with?

Based on course feedback and a myriad of emails and questions on Twitter, the hangups people encounter when using WordPress fall into three main categories:

  1. Installation and migration
  2. User interface and feature changes
  3. Theme and plugin inconsistencies

Installation and Migration

More and more users create local installs to experiment before launching their sites, and they’re creating quite advanced sites on their local computers. When it comes time to migrate these sites, they often get stuck.

I think this is partially due to lack of official and understandable documentation about migration, and partially because the general level of technical know-how necessary to build a local install is decreasing. Thanks to tools like MAMP/WAMP, BitNami, and ServerPress, more advanced skills like migration and external hosting become bigger steps up than they were previously.

User Interface and Feature Changes

As WordPress evolves, user interface changes are fairly common but in most cases, they are left unaddressed in release documentation. Recent examples include the removal of Advanced Image Options and Link Title from the editor modals. When changes like these are encountered by existing users, their first response is to assume they are doing something wrong or there is something wrong with their install.

In my opinion, this is justifiable: In other software and in most other situations in the physical world, when a feature is removed or altered in such a way it is not easily found, this change is clearly addressed.

In WordPress, it is usually only the large feature changes that are explained while the smaller ones are left for the user to discover on their own. When these features are part of the user’s workflow, that becomes a problem. This is further exacerbated when meta-conversations in the advanced community go public providing confusing and often contradictory information for new users.

Theme and Plugin Inconsistencies

The final grouping is the most obvious one. As the theme and plugin landscape becomes more diversified, users often feel overwhelmed and confused about what solutions to choose and how to use them. A search for membership plugins, business themes, or booking calendars returns hundreds if not thousands of widely different solutions that often have little in common.

Meanwhile, you can find blog posts and lists claiming that pretty much every one of them is the best one and the rest are inferior copies. On top of that, more and more themes and plugins are released as freemium offerings or shells that lead the user to a third-party service.

All of this comes together to produce a confusing and frustrating user experience that leaves many users feeling like they are not smart enough to use the application or that they made a wrong choice in going with WordPress.

These are all issues that could be resolved by creating consistent user experiences and by theme and plugin developer communities becoming more mindful of what kind of experiences they provide for the user when they ship freemium solutions or third-party up-sells.

WordPress Road Blocksphoto credit: Haven bridge road block(license)

Are there more roadblocks to overcome than there were five years ago?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. WordPress has more roadblocks for the beginner, but for the more experienced user there are also more opportunities. I think one of the major challenges we are facing as a community is that WordPress is becoming too advanced for its core user base. The appeal of click-and-publish services like WIX and SquareSpace is that they do not require an in-depth understanding of the underpinnings of the application for it to work.

In striving to become a full-fledged CMS for advanced developers and large publications, WordPress has let itself drift away from its core philosophy of democratizing publishing by adding the very level of complexity it originally aimed to remove. Combined with the theme and plugin issues described above and a lack of modern tools that users expect such as, drag-and-drop design tools and front-end editing, I see new users respond the same way to WordPress today that they did to Drupal five years ago.

On the plus side, these roadblocks are more like speed bumps than fortified walls. With patience and access to well-crafted and easy to understand training materials, I stand by my claim that anyone, regardless of previous experience, can learn to build a great website with WordPress. What has changed is the level of complexity, both in use and in what you can produce.

WordPress Advice For New Usersphoto credit: What You Need To Know About Food Poisoning(license)

What advice do you have for those new to WordPress?

My number one piece of advice for new and existing WordPress users is to always remember that WordPress is just a tool that makes it easy for you to put content in a database and your visitors to retrieve that content. When learning a new tool as technically advanced as WordPress, it is easy to get so caught up in the tool itself, that you forget what you wanted to do in the first place. Whatever your goals and intentions were when you picked up WordPress for the first time, make sure you remember them and keep working toward them.

When learning WordPress, whether you are teaching yourself, learning from books or videos, or going to class, remember that every person in the community, even Andrew Nacin, was at some point in time where you are now: Just trying to figure it all out. While every person’s path to learning is different, they all have one thing in common: They all learn from each other.

So reach out online, in person, through Twitter, Facebook groups, Meetups, WordCamps, and beyond, and find like-minded people who want to learn with you or help you on your way. When you meet someone who is just starting out, help them get their footing and invite them into the community.

Finally, remember that WordPress is not an island. The web community is a rich ecosystem with many differing solutions based on the same core technology. Learning how the web works gives you the power to use WordPress to move beyond its borders and it’s beyond those borders where true magic is found.

by Jeff Chandler at May 20, 2015 07:21 PM under wordpress training

WPTavern: WordPress.org is Testing International Theme and Plugin Directories

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WordPress.org is making strides towards fully localizing the project’s official theme and plugin directories. Dion Hulse posted this morning that he has enabled localized theme directories for all Rosetta sites. For example, the Romanian themes directory is available at: ro.wordpress.org/themes/.

Theme filters, directory sub-navigation, info and download buttons, and other aspects of the details page are all translated. Description and titles are not yet translated, but Hulse says the plan is to add those in the near future.

romanian-themes

Those who are interested in helping translate the interface for the localized theme directories are encouraged to visit the meta translation project page. The process for contributing is the same that is used with WordPress’ other Rosetta translations.

Localized plugin directories are being actively tested at /plugins/ and the sites are also available for contributions from translators. Check out ro.wordpress.org/plugins/ to see the Romanian plugin directory as an example.

romanian-plugins

As the localized theme and plugin directories are new, there are still a few missing pieces and likely a good number of bugs that will need to be resolved. You can help by reporting them on Hulse’s announcement on the make.wordperss.org/polyglots blog or by opening a ticket on meta.trac.

In Matt Mullenweg’s 2014 State of the Word address, he highlighted the importance of internationalization improvements for connecting and growing the global WordPress community. Localized directories for plugins and themes on WordPress.org are part of this larger effort and make the project’s website easier to navigate for non-English speaking users.

In the future, translation of WordPress’ development handbooks, the codex, and other documentation could also play a large part towards inspiring international developers to make more extensions, products for the marketplace, and contributions back to the project. Growing WordPress’ market share outside of English-speaking countries will be facilitated by having all basic WordPress resources available in other languages.

by Sarah Gooding at May 20, 2015 06:37 PM under WordPress Theme Directory

Post Status: Automattic has acquired WooThemes, makers of WooCommerce

This acquisition is an important milestone for Automattic, validation for the bootstrapped WooThemes, and will be hugely impactful on the WordPress economy as a whole.

The history of WooThemes and WooCommerce

WooThemes was started in 2008 as one of the first commercial WordPress theme shops. It quickly became popular and paved the way for hundreds of shops to follow in their footsteps.

With the leadership of Adii Pienaar and co-founders Mark Forrester and Magnus Jepson, WooThemes did a ton of interesting things over the years, and dominated the market with a handful of other shops. They launched WooCommerce in September 2011, in the middle of the commercial theme heyday.

WooCommerce’s origins are a hot mess and a long story. WooThemes worked for a long time to develop, with partners, their own eCommerce solution. After numerous failed attempts and false starts, they hired Mike Jolley and Jay Koster full time, and forked JigoShop after acquisition negotiations broke down. Jigoshop is a product that Mike and Jay built as freelancers for JigoWatt, but has since been sold off to another consulting company.

Mike and Jay were, and are, the heart of that eCommerce plugin — the one we know today as WooCommerce. Under their stewardship, and dozens of other full time and part time contributors — mixed in with outstanding marketing, perfect timing, and a lack of modern competition — WooCommerce took the WordPress world by storm.

They pioneered the extension model for paid add-ons. They put all doubters to rest over and over again. They made mistakes. But they kept at it, kept working, kept making it better. And soon enough, they took the eCommerce world by storm too.

In a short period of four years, WooCommerce has gone from a struggling concept, to a fork, to a remarkable open source commercial software success story.

I’ve had the privilege of following WooThemes since around the time they started, and have gotten to know the project and their team even more closely since the very early days of WooCommerce’s launch. In this post, I bring my analysis of the company based on those years of my watching them grow and interacting with them, and hope to share what the acquisition by Automattic may mean for the future.

Why WooCommerce is attractive

On the surface, it may seem to many that Automattic was the obvious choice to acquire WooCommerce.

After all, they need eCommerce support for WordPress.com. As Matt Mullenweg shared with me, they, “have a ton of demand,” for eCommerce from WordPress.com users. Acquiring WooCommerce gives Automattic access to the largest single group of eCommerce stores in the world.

One of many options

But Mark Forrester and Magnus Jepson — co-founders and owners of WooThemes — could have gone many other routes.

WooCommerce is big enough, and has enough brand power, to have attracted significant venture capital investments, as well as suitors from well outside the WordPress space — suitors like MasterCard, eBay/Paypal, Amazon, or Yahoo.

There are 1.2+ million active installs of WooCommerce. They have a nearly 20% eCommerce marketshare of the top one million websites, and over 24% eCommerce marketshare of all websites.

woocommerce-builtwith-top-million

The plugin has had rapid growth over its short four year existence, making it a ripe target for the right buyer.

A natural fit

WooCommerce’s popularity has largely been due to the fact that it’s available on WordPress. WordPress makes WooCommerce an attractive choice for websites that need bolt-on eCommerce.

One of WooCommerce’s greatest opportunities for growth is for customers that are eCommerce first, other-parts-of-the-website second. It’s gaining ground quickly as both WooCommerce and WordPress gain further respect for usage on websites of all sizes and scopes.

All of these factors make WooCommerce an attractive choice for Automattic. Automattic’s team knows, understands, and contributes greatly to the WordPress project. A shared reliance on WordPress core makes a WooCommerce and WordPress.com integration simpler. And 55 talented, eCommerce focused employees makes for an inviting addition to Automattic’s relatively small workforce.

18% growth in Automattic employees

Bringing 55 new people on at once swells Automattic’s ranks by around 18%, bringing them to over 360 people. Recruiting is not easy. This gain of talented people, in a single fell swoop, should not be underestimated.

But there may be some challenges integrating the two teams. This is, by far, the most people brought under the Automattic umbrella in a single acquisition.

Team integration

WooThemes’ theme division and team members will join Automattic’s theme team, and it’s my understanding that WooThemes support will join the Happiness team at Automattic as well.

WooThemes has long battled a significant support burden, even before WooCommerce came along. With the demands of supporting eCommerce software that can conflict with nearly infinite plugins, themes, and hosting environments makes support expensive. As long as WooCommerce offers paid self-hosted products, this support will need to be managed.

WooCommerce will certainly benefit from the developer resources at Automattic. Matt told me, “lots of folks at Automattic [are] interested in working on eCommerce.” From code audits, to fresh eyes, to more seasoned developers, Automattic’s team will be able to have an immediate impact on the WooCommerce product line.

Merging management

One aspect I don’t know much about yet is in regard to WooThemes’ middle management. Mark and Magnus own the company, but there is a four person leadership team beyond them:

  • Joel Bronkowski, Chief Business Development Officer
  • Warren Holmes, Chief Marketing Officer
  • Matty Cohen, Chief Product Officer
  • Michael Krapf, Chief Happiness Officer

Furthermore, there are product leads for WooCommerce, Sensei, themes, and other elements of WooThemes’ business. As a company, WooThemes is probably as hierarchical as Automattic with six times fewer people.

I anticipate some managers may merge into other Automattic teams under new roles, or play a part in sub-teams of sorts, which is (I believe) how Jetpack works now that it’s such a big team.

Already distributed

WooThemes is already distributed across five continents and perfectly accustomed to remote work. While they have an office (WooHQ) in Cape Town, South Africa, it’s a “come as you please” environment, similar to Automattic’s San Francisco space.

Joining Automattic will be a much cleaner culture fit than other potential buyers would have been. Some team members will naturally leave or integrate to other roles, but the overall gain is a huge win for both organizations.

The likely end of “WooThemes” as a name

WooThemes is a staple brand of the WordPress ecosystem. They’ve been around since 2008 and probably have the biggest single brand presence after WordPress itself; I’d argue the name is more well-known than Automattic, or even perhaps ThemeForest.

For all practical purposes, I believe the name WooThemes will be retired.

WooThemes has previously considered a name change to reflect the change in their business focus, but have not done it. Under the umbrella of Automattic and WordPress.com, there is really no need to carry on the WooThemes brand.

I’m told the decision to change the name of the website hasn’t been officially made yet, but it makes no sense to me to keep WooThemes. I’d expect the website we see at WooThemes.com to before long be simply WooCommerce.com.

They better keep Hiro, the Woo Ninja though. I love that little guy.

The WooCommerce business model

The WooCommerce business model is built largely on paid extensions that offer additional eCommerce functionality, updates, and support.

The current extension model

WooThemes lists a whopping 346 paid and free extensions on their website, about 150 of which link to third party sites. The remaining 200 or so extensions are either developed in house or in partnership with third party developers, but sold on WooThemes’ website. There are also dozens, if not hundreds more, distributed plugins by other vendors that are not listed.

Companies like SkyVerge and Prospress have built their businesses on WooCommerce extension development. If the model were to change drastically, it could have a great deal of impact on them and similar companies or solo developers.

Third party developers have been told that life will be business as usual. In an email to strategic partners, Joel Bronkowski said, “There are no plans to mess with the magic sauce strategy that has brought us this far.”

A conflict of ideology

However, the model of paid plugins is also counter to Matt Mullenweg’s often stated beliefs for what commercialization in the WordPress plugin space should look like.

I asked him to explain how his mindset has changed in regard to paid plugins that charge for support and updates. Paid Automattic plugins, like Akismet and VaultPress, are based on SaaS models.

He says that his view has not changed. He told me that one goal with WooCommerce will be to determine, “what services provide the most value to people over a long period of time.” He also noted that such a question is due to the fact that many WordPress product sales are one-time.

I found his sentiment curious. He didn’t directly answer the question about paid plugins, which isn’t too surprising. It’s impossible to imagine Automattic doing away with paid extensions in the short term, but there are serious threats to third party developers in the longer term, I believe.

Expansion of partnerships with larger corporations

WooCommerce has spent a lot of time doing business development over the last couple of years. Last summer, their leadership team went to Chicago for a big eCommerce conference and had a whole new world opened up to them.

Joel told me they, “still have a lot to figure out in terms of the road ahead, but [we are] incredibly excited about what this means for us in terms of product development, partner opportunities and for WordPress powered eCommerce.”

Under the wing of Automattic and in the future WordPress.com, I think WooCommerce will be able to further leverage their position in the eCommerce market with big payment companies and other potential corporate entities.

Potential changes to the business model

I would guess that a gradual change in business model will occur over the next several years, especially in regard to extensions. WooCommerce has a dismal 17% renewal rate for extension purchases. This is a number that needs to improve, or something should change.

It may make sense — and I’m shocked I’m saying it — to make WooCommerce more like Jetpack.

If I were at Automattic, I would encourage the two teams to brainstorm and evolve together. I think a model where a credit card is connected to WordPress.com, and extensions (free and paid) can be easily activated from within the admin makes sense. It would require a lot of change to existing UIs and development infrastructure, but it could also drastically improve what is often a convoluted method for site management with so many add-ons being independently managed.

If we take the potential even further: imagine the VaultPress model of instant syncing, data tracking, and backups being heavily integrated into eCommerce stores. Such a system could be part of a monthly fee.

Extensions also don’t have to be piecemeal, or the “nickel and dime” method. Automattic could make WooCommerce a tiered payment plan, where certain levels unlock particular functionality. Or they could buyout all third party paid extensions they care about and make the entire product free or part of a single package.

The point is that Automattic purchasing WooCommerce gives them an incredible amount of flexibility in terms of how to move forward. WooCommerce store owners should be prepared for a lot of potential change.

As a bootstrapped company, WooThemes had to turn a profit. Automattic has to make the company more valuable, but does not need to care about cash day to day. Their stated goal is to make products people want to use. A very small number of people at Automattic really consider profits and losses regularly. That mindset, when applied to WooCommerce, could bring about significant change indeed.

Bringing WooCommerce to WordPress.com

An important concern over the next year or two will be how to bring WooCommerce to WordPress.com. There is little question that it will happen.

Matt Mullenweg highlighted the demand from the general WordPress.com userbase, and hosted WooCommerce would be a great answer to Squarespace’s eCommerce add-on, and the likes of Shopify and BigCartel.

Furthermore, I’m sure a number of WordPress.com VIP customers will be clamoring for WooCommerce. Automattic’s Vice President of Platform Services, Paul Maiorana, said, “VIP tends to follow the same trends as the broader WP community. Initially blogs, then CMS, now everything.” He is excited about being able to offer a more catered eCommerce experience “in house to better service those customers.”

A hosted version of WooCommerce will be a very compelling upsell for WordPress.com if they are able to pull it off well. This too, will not be easy. But they are starting with a heck of a head start, given the WooCommerce brand name, team, and existing plugin infrastructure.

What the acquisition means for other WooThemes products

WooThemes makes more than WooCommerce, however nearly all of their products today at least integrate with WooCommerce.

WooThemes’ themes will be integrated into WordPress.com’s theme offering. Eleven themes are already listed there from an existing partnership that goes back to early 2011.

The Sensei courseware plugin will also continue to be developed and maintained. Regarding Sensei, Matt Mullenweg said, “their team is passionate about it, which is kind of the criteria for what Automattic works on.”

There is a lot of potential in the course space, and I actually think this could be a nice win for Automattic in this acquisition, especially if Sensei gets additional resources and attention.

WooThemes has other active free plugins that I doubt will change much. WooSlider is their only other paid plugin, but I don’t think it makes up a considerable amount of revenue.

I wouldn’t be surprised if both WooSlider and Sensei core become free plugins.

WooThemes’ revenue and the acquisition price

Everyone wants to know: how much was WooThemes making, and how much was the acquisition for?

Re/code’s Peter Kafka has sources that say the acquisition was for, “more than $30 million in cash and stock.” I believe this to be a reasonable amount and I don’t think he’d make the claim without some confidence.

I don’t know what the terms of the deal were. I’ve tried all day to find out. The best I can do is tell you what I know, what I think I know, and guess right along with everyone else. Sounds fun, right?

I’m quite confident that WooThemes’ revenues were around $9-$10 million in 2013. I also know that they have had positive trajectory month over month growth for some time, and I have reason to believe one of their more recent record months well exceeded $1 million in revenue.

If we extrapolate the 2013 numbers with 10-20% growth, we can presume that their gross revenues are somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 million annually.

Based on some feedback from people I trust, a 2x multiple of expected 2015 revenues isn’t out of the question. In typical proprietary software and product situations, that would be a low multiplier.

But in this case, WooThemes’ sends a lot of money directly to third party developers, and spends a great deal of money on development and support. Furthermore, WooCommerce isn’t proprietary, it’s open source; which while I love and advocate for it, it simply would be difficult to valuate the same as proprietary software.

Additionally, I could be naive, but in the case of Automattic I’d rather more stock than cash. They are destined for an IPO (someday) that will likely put them well beyond their latest $1.16 billion valuation, and today’s stock could be worth many times what it is now in the years to come.

Lastly, I don’t think Re/code would run a number they pulled out of thin air. I think they got that from somewhere — perhaps a VC source.

Good for both sides, but not without consequences

I firmly believe WooThemes could’ve continued to grow WooCommerce to be worth $100 million or more. But it would’ve likely been a long and challenging road.

Under the Automattic umbrella, they have a great shot to continue making an awesome eCommerce product without some of their current burdens and with some outstanding new resources.

Meanwhile, especially if the $30-$35 million price is correct, I think Automattic got a steal. It’s a brilliant way into a huge market with a major player.

There are potential downsides to this purchase. For one, it makes Automattic further feel like a vacuum that inevitably sucks up the best talent, agencies, and products once they showcase their potential for success.

WooThemes was the bastion all other bootstrapped WordPress products stood behind. Knowing it’s possible to do something as big as WooThemes was doing, without funding and starting from nothing, is awesome.

Seeing them snatched up by Automattic around the time they’ve become nearly ubiquitous with the term “WordPress eCommerce” is kind of a bummer. It’s like we now have to start over again to see what WordPress centric product company can grow big enough to stand beside Automattic, not under it.

I also have some fear that if Automattic rocks the boat too much with WooCommerce it will cause some big inroads WordPress has made in self-hosted eCommerce to be lost.

My concerns are relatively minor. Would I have loved to see WooThemes continue to grow and dominate eCommerce alone? Yes. Am I excited by what this deal makes possible? Yes. Am I a little concerned what it will do to the WordPress economy? Yes.

We must all weigh the pros and cons of any decision. For Mark, Magnus, and the WooThemes team, this is a move that is good for them during this time, and will likely be good for the company they started seven years ago.

For Automattic, this is a heck of a way to round out their first decade in business. It’ll be really interesting to see what the next decade holds in store, but I bet Automattic will look a lot different then, like they do now compared to 2005.

Congratulations to both teams. You can read the announcements on Matt’s blog and WooThemes’ blog.

Photo credit: Matt Mullenweg

by Brian Krogsgard at May 20, 2015 07:15 AM under Everyone

May 19, 2015

WPTavern: Automattic Acquires WooCommerce

photo credit: Ma.tt - photo credit: Ma.tt – “A Celebratory Toast

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg announced today that the company has acquired WooCommerce, WordPress’ most popular e-commerce platform. The plugin recently passed seven million downloads and stats from BuiltWith show that WooCommerce is dominating global e-commerce platforms, powering roughly 30% of all online stores.

This is Automattic’s largest acquisition to date, bringing 55 new employees into the company from 16 countries for a total of 370 Automatticians. Mullenweg confirmed that the acquisition includes Woo, Sensei, and all of the other plugins and themes.

Given WooCommerce’s extensive adoption on the web, Automattic will not be re-branding the newly acquired products. WooThemes and WooCommerce will continue to be sold via their dedicated websites.

“We’re planning on retaining (and growing) the WooCommerce brand,” Mullenweg told the Tavern. “The plan is to keep what has been working going.”

Mullenweg has spoken frequently over the years about growing Automattic’s reach into global commerce, but few could have predicted that the company would acquire Woo as opposed to building its own in-house commerce platform.

“They have a full team that goes to bed every night and wakes up in the morning thinking about commerce; it’s core to their DNA,” Mullenweg said. “That’s better than starting it in-house. Also they have a ton of adoption already.”

In April, WooThemes co-founder Magnus Jepson told the Tavern that WooCommerce accounts for over 85% of overall sales and processes “several million dollars per year.” Jepson also confirmed that WooCommerce’s revenue “has been climbing steadily over the past few years, and we are regularly breaking monthly revenue records.”

Automattic is not releasing the financial details of the acquisition, but Re/code speculates that it was in the range of $30 million:

Sources say Automattic will spend more than $30 million in cash and stock to buy the 55-person company. Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg wouldn’t comment on the price but said the acquisition was the largest his company had made, ‘by about 6x.’

In addition to growing the current WooCommerce customer base, Automattic is looking to use the platform to add more selling options for WordPress.com customers, while retaining its existing e-commerce partnerships.

“Partnerships will remain in place on WP.com, but long-term we’d like to offer Woo as an option there as well,” Mullenweg said.

When asked about plans to integrate WooCommerce into Jetpack, he said, “Jetpack could definitely complement WooCommerce (and WooThemes), but not the other way around.”

WooThemes founders never imagined that WooCommerce would rise to the level of popularity that it has, ultimately bringing them into the Automattic family. Co-founder Mark Forrester writes:

In 2008, as three strangers in three countries, we set out on a quest to pioneer WordPress commercial theming, never dreaming of the rocket-propelled voyage into the self-hosted eCommerce unknown that lay ahead. It’s been an incredible ride, backed by a unique community, and here we find ourselves powering over 24% of online stores with our flagship product, WooCommerce.

The acquisition affects a whole fleet of third-party designers and developers who create products for WooCommerce. They will likely have more opportunities and sales ahead of them with the power of Automattic behind the core plugin. Mullenweg confirmed that the next WooConf, scheduled to take place in Austin in November, will continue on as planned. Those who are heavily involved in the WooCommerce ecosystem will still be able to connect and build for the platform as they have done previously.

Democratizing Selling with WooCommerce

With Automattic now at the helm of the most dominant e-commerce platform on the web, it will be interesting to see if the company can make selling online just as simple as it has made publishing online. WordPress.com’s tremendous success can be partially attributed to the company’s commitment to democratizing publishing.

“I do believe that the web needs an open, independent and easy-to-use commerce platform that you can run yourself on your own website,” Mullenweg said in his video announcement, the first video ever to be published to Automattic’s YouTube account.

Publishing products and selling them on the web is arguably a more complex endeavor than simple publishing, especially when you factor in location, tax, payment gateways, and everything needed to process transactions. The average non-developer has no concept of what it takes to set up a blog, let alone an online store. But if Automattic can play a part in democratizing the ability for regular folks to sell products online, it has the potential to globally transform e-commerce.

by Sarah Gooding at May 19, 2015 09:15 PM under woothemes

Matt: Woo & Automattic

For years, we’ve been working on democratizing publishing, and today more people have independent sites built on open source software than ever before in the history of the web. Now, we want to make it easy for anyone to sell online independently, without being locked into closed, centralized services — to enable freedom of livelihood along with freedom of expression.

It’s not a new idea: at a WordCamp a few years ago, someone stood up and asked me when we were going to make it as easy to create an online store as we’d made it to create a blog. Everyone applauded; there’s long been demand for better ecommerce functionality, but it’s been outside the scope of what Automattic could do well.

That changes today — drum roll — as WooCommerce joins the Automattic team to make it easier for people to sell online. Along with Woo’s announcement, here’s a short video explaining more:

In the past few years, WooCommerce really distinguished itself in its field. Just like WordPress as a whole, it developed a robust community around its software, and its products meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

Woo is also a team after Automattic’s own distributed heart: WooCommerce is created and supported by 55 people in 16 countries. Added to Automattic’s 325 people in 37 countries, that’s a combined 380-person company across 42 countries — the sun never sets.* I can’t wait to meet all my new colleagues.

Just like us, the vast majority of WooCommerce’s work is also open source and 100% GPL. And just like WordPress, you’ll find WooCommerce meetups popping up everywhere, from Los Angeles to London, and its global and community-focused work together to make the users’ experiences the best they can be.

ecomm-trends The stats are impressive: the WooCommerce plugin has over 7.5 million downloads and a million+ active installs; BuiltWith’s survey of ecommerce platforms shows Woo passing up Magento in the top million, with about triple the number of total sites. Even a conservative estimate that WooCommerce powers 650,000 storefronts means they’re enabling a huge number of independent sellers. They’ve added a tremendous amount to the WordPress ecosystem (alongside everyone else working in this area).

WordPress currently powers about 23% of the web. As we work our way toward 51%, WooCommerce joining Automattic is a big step opening WordPress up to an entirely new audience. I can’t wait to see how much more we can build together.

Automattic turns ten next month: another amazing milestone I couldn’t have imagined a decade ago. Today’s news is just the first of a number of announcements we have planned for the remainder of the year, so please stay tuned! There’s still so much work to do.

* Want to work with us? We’re hiring. Bonus points if you live in Antarctica, the only continent we don’t have covered.

As I said in the video, please drop any questions you might have in the comments and I’ll answer them as soon as I can. Also check out the posts from Mark and Magnus.

Read more: Mashable, Recode, Techcrunch, Venturebeat.

by Matt at May 19, 2015 06:59 PM under Automattic

WPTavern: WordPress Cape Town to Host 2nd Annual Charity Hackathon in June

wordpress-cape-town-charity-hackathon-2015

Last August, the WordPress Cape Town meetup group experimented with hosting its first charity hackathon to benefit local charities. The do_action( ‘wordpress-charity-hackathon’ ); event was so successful in 2014 that organizers were inspired to make it an annual event. The 2015 hackathon is scheduled for June 20th from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

“With a team of nearly 50 volunteers from the community, we built brand new websites for nine different charitable organizations and we will be doing the same again this year,” said Hugh Lashbrooke, an organizer for the event.

The concept will be the same as the previous year – volunteers will build sites for nine Capetown-based charities, giving each their own unique online presence by the end of the day.

A few examples of websites built by the volunteers last year include:

“The charities this year are equally as deserving and spread across the whole spectrum of society again,” Lashbrooke said. The 2015 charities list includes organizations such as the Academy for Adults with Autism, FoodBank South Africa, and the Down Syndrome Inclusive Education Foundation NPC.

Sponsors this year include Hetzner, Obox, and WooThemes. Their generous contributions will help to provide snacks, lunch, dinner, and a prize for the team that builds the best site of the day. All attendees will also receive a ticket to WordCamp Cape Town 2015.

“We are still looking for volunteers (there are about 20 spots left at the time of writing this) and it’s important to note that we are not just looking for developers here,” he said. “This is open to Project Managers, Designers, Developers, Content Creators, and Social Media Managers, as all of those individuals are needed to bring a complete website together (especially when it is all being done in one day.)”

If you’re in the Cape Town area and you’d like to be part of this event, you can select a charity team to work on and specify your role when filling out the volunteer application form. Check out the recap video below for a closer look at attendees’ experiences from last year’s event.

by Sarah Gooding at May 19, 2015 06:49 PM under wordpress cape town

WPTavern: Short Survey on Which WordCamp Organizer Tools to Improve First

In the past several months, the Make WordPress Community team has engaged in numerous discussions with WordCamp organizers on how they can improve the tools that are available. Those discussions include:

The team has created a six question survey to gather data to determine what tools should be worked on or improved first. If you’ve worked with any of the tools available on WordCamp.org within the last 18 months, you’re strongly encouraged to take the survey.

WordCamp Tools Survey QuestionWordCamp Tools Survey Question

The last section has two questions that are open-ended to allow for feedback that extends beyond the tools in question. This is an excellent opportunity for WordCamp organizers to voice their opinion on what direction the team should take on creating and improving the tools available to them. It’s also a way to tell the team which tools you want to see created that don’t already exist.

by Jeff Chandler at May 19, 2015 06:36 PM under wordcamp survey

Matt: How to Get Yourself to Do Things

How to Get Yourself to Do Things. Hat tip: Alex.

by Matt at May 19, 2015 05:16 AM under Asides

WPTavern: A WordPress Veteran’s Take on DrupalCon LA

Mendel KurlandThis post was contributed by guest author Mendel Kurland. Kurland is GoDaddy’s evangelist who travels to WordCamps and is the interface between various open source communities and GoDaddy.

In the following post, Kurland shares his experience attending DrupalCon Los Angeles, a large conference devoted to Drupal.


As I flew from DrupalCon Los Angeles, CA to WordCamp Maine, I thought a lot about what the Drupal and WordPress communities could learn from each other. WordPress and Drupal are two community-built platforms and each community is powerful. We stand to learn a lot from each other, because all open source projects matter.

With an eye toward looking for the similarities, rather than the differences, both WordPress and Drupal are working to overcome similar obstacles including, brand recognition, threat mitigation, adoption, onboarding, contribution, the list goes on. So why did I go to DrupalCon LA? To learn and give back to another community that’s steeped in collaborative culture.

The Experience

Thousands of people attended DrupalCon in Los Angeles this year. It’s massive and the layout is similar to a large developer conference. There are sessions centered on technical, as well as business topics, and usually lively question and answer opportunities after each session. There’s a coder lounge, a contribution room, and a huge emphasis on contributing to coding sprints for the next release of Drupal, Drupal 8.

DrupalCon LAPhoto via Mendel

Leveling and Onboarding

Prior to the conference, DrupalCon had summits to help gather community members around a particular vertical or topic such as, higher education, community, business, and training sessions to help level-up skills based on experience.

The theme of organizing around common interests is strong throughout the entire conference with birds of a feather sessions and topical social gatherings with topics like, women in Drupal and first time attendees. When it comes to mobilizing around interest groups, Drupal does a brilliant job.

Comparing WordPress and Drupal

I’ve met a higher proportion of people who work on enterprise sites at DrupalCons and a higher proportion of people who work on small business sites at DrupalCamps, local conferences similar to WordCamps. There are some important lessons, however, that I took away from the Drupal community.

Lessons and Questions from DrupalCon

  • Onboarding starts with education. The Drupal community puts an emphasis on training at just about every event while only a handful of WordCamps offer a Foundation Friday or some other local onboarding event.
  • Building community means valuing the same things and aligning along common interests. BoF (Birds of a Feather) sessions are a part of Drupal and other technical community conferences. There are certainly people with specific interests related to performance, security, women in WordPress, WP-CLI, etc. Should the WordPress community offer BoF sessions at WordCamps? Or are the existing tracks that many WordCamps offer enough?
  • Networking with those who work in a similar vertical is important. Just as Drupal holds summits for particular verticals, the WordPress community is beginning to do the same with things like, BuddyCamp at WordCamp Miami, WooConf (e-commerce), Pressnomics (business), Prestige (business), LoopConf (developer). Can more be done at WordCamps?

It’s OK to Love Drupal Too

If you’re reading this article on the Tavern, you’re likely a WordPress loyalist. I love WordPress, and it’s also ok to love Drupal. They are both tools in an open source toolbox that we all share. The beauty of our opportunity as developers, designers, and creative professionals is our ability to create awesome things in a million different ways.

In going to DrupalCon, it was refreshing for me to take a second to see the web development industry from another perspective. I’d love to hear your perspective in the comments and on Twitter.

by Jeff Chandler at May 19, 2015 01:53 AM under drupalcon

May 18, 2015

WPTavern: Community, Translation, and Wapuu: How Japan is Shaping WordPress History

Japanese WordPress community representatives at WordCamp San Francisco 2014Japanese WordPress community representatives at WordCamp San Francisco 2014

Japanese WordPress users were some of the earliest to see the project’s potential and help bring the software to the non-English speaking world. At the end of 2003, just six months after Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little decided to fork b2, a Japanese version of WordPress was available.

WordPress-ME

The version was originally called “WordPress ME” and was maintained by a user called Otsukare, whose translation notes indicate that he believed WordPress would become “convenient and increasingly easy to use in the future.” This Japanese version corresponded with WordPress 0.72, as WordPress wouldn’t have internationalization support until version 1.2.

Otsukare was instrumental in demonstrating the demand for translation for all languages with the popularity of his multilingual fork of WordPress, which allowed easy modification via the use of a language file. It is rumored that this multilingual edition, along with discussions on the WordPress ME fourms, was influential in bringing gettext into WordPress.

Growing the Japanese WordPress Community Through Local Meetups

Over the past 11 years, local Japanese WordPress communities have grown steadily. Naoko Takano, who has been involved with the local community since 2003, attributes that growth to consistent translation and a reliable release workflow, managed by a dedicated Japanese package team.

japanese-package-team

An organized system around translation and documentation were two key ingredients that helped germinate the early Japanese WordPress community, but local meetups were ultimately the catalyst for its massive growth.

The first WordCamp Tokyo was held in 2008 with 60 attendees. WordCamp Tokyo today now pulls in 1200 – 1400 people, according to co-organizer Shinichi Nishikawa. This event is larger than past editions of WordCamps Europe and San Francisco.

Nishikawa reports that over the past seven years, Japan has hosted 15 WordCamps in Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Yokohama Nagoyo, Kobe, and Osaka. WordCamp Kansai, held in the Western part of the country, was organized by WordBench members of that area, including Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara and Wakayama.

Regional WordPress groups in Japan are organized on WordBench.org, a site that allows users to find, join, and create a meetup. The site was created in 2009 by Takayuki Miyoshi, the author of Contact Form 7, one of WordPress’ most popular plugins. WordBench has been running on BuddyPress for the past six years and was originally built on RC1 of the plugin.

wordbench

The site currently lists 48 local groups throughout Japan, named for their cities, i.e. WordBench Tokyo, WordBench Osaka, WordBench Kawasaki. Members and organizers use the site to post about upcoming events and recaps of meetups recently held in various locations. The site serves to keep Japan’s local communities connected and inspired.

Japan’s Unique WordPress Meetups and the Importance of Wapuu

In addition to the regional WordBench groups, interest-based meetups are also common in the Japanese WordPress community. In this format, members meet around different interests outside of WordPress, such as cooking or photography. For example, the WordPhotoclub meetup gathers together to go on walks and take photos. Members’ photos were printed and displayed at WordCamp Tokyo 2012.

WordCrab is another example of one of Japan’s unique WordPress meetups. Members from all over from Japan gather in the Fukui prefecture, where they combine WordPress sessions with a giant crab party where everyone feasts upon the region’s renowned crabs.

photo credit: WordCrab meetupphoto credit: WordCrab meetup

The Word温泉 (WordOnsen) meetup is centered around the enjoyment of hot springs. Members gather in Fukushima and stay at a hotel where they have WordPress sessions and a party night.

“In meetups we started doing more things than just learning WordPress,” community organizer Shinichi Nishikawa said. “We get friends together and go for a walk and eat lunch/dinner together.

“I think this a really good way to make the community stronger. People are talented in different things and by doing something together, other than WordPress, people can show their talents. And of course, it’s fun.”

Japan’s holistic approach to meetups incorporates various aspects of life and relationships, as opposed to simply centering around improving WordPress technical skill. As a result, members become more connected and meetups are highly personalized. That’s where Wapuu enters the picture to bring special meaning to each group.

Wapuu, the official mascot character of WordPress, was designed by Kazuko Kaneuchi in 2011. It’s distributed under the GPLv2 or later and can be modified by anyone to add more personality to the character.

“Thanks to the freedom of the GPL, there have been many forked versions of Wapuu,” Nishikawa said. “All local Wapuus are created by someone who belongs to each local community and they hold something that represents where they are from.”

photo credit:  Naoko Takano - WordPress Historyphoto credit:
Naoko Takano – WordPress History

Wapuu is so well-loved that the creature ends up making its way onto swag, cakes, and nail and coffee art at Japanese WordPress events.

photo credit:  Naoko Takano - Learnings from Growing Local WordPress Communitiesphoto credit:
Naoko Takano – Learnings from Growing Local WordPress Communities

The name “Wapuu” was given to the mascot by a users’ poll. “Japanese people pronounce WordPress as ‘WAADOPURESU,'” Nishikawa said. “Wapuu sounds like an abbreviation of WAADOPURESU, taking ‘Wa’ and ‘Pu’ from it.”

Modifications of the mascot have recently started popping up at WordCamps outside of Japan. WordCamp London’s wapuunk was so popular that it inspired WordCamp Philly and WordCamp Belgrade to create their own unique modifications to the character.

For whatever reason, Wapuu seems to have a special power to bring people together, regardless of culture or location. WordPress has the Japanese community to thank for its unique open source contribution to meetup branding.

The Challenges of Contributing to WordPress Across the Language Barrier

Despite having a large WordPress community thriving in Japan, with many of the top websites built on the software, Japanese developers have a difficult time contributing back to core.

“Language is the biggest barrier,” Nishikawa told the Tavern. “There are many good developers in Japan (and in other countries) who don’t speak English. Most of them can read documentation but joining in the conversation in tickets and on Slack is a different thing.

“In my opinion, there is English for native speakers and English for international people, and they are different,” he explained.

“It’s difficult to say how different they are, but for us who are not native, ambiguous words, abbreviations like ‘FWIW,’ jokes, and slang are difficult,” Nishikawa said. “Sometimes nesting a long sentence in another long sentence by using ‘that,’ ‘which,’ and ‘including’ is difficult.”

He explained that overcoming the language barrier is more than simply learning English; it also includes the hurdle of trying to understand the abbreviations and expressions that are infused by the culture around native English speakers.

“People would say that you can understand because it’s code, but if we look at the conversations in tickets, the surrounding discussion often concerns more than just the code,” he said.

“Non-English speaking developers are trying to learn English, but it would be good if people in the ticket / Slack would keep in mind that there are people who don’t share the context or culture behind the words they write,” Nishikawa suggested.

“If we make the words and expressions easier to understand, someone who understands 80% will have the opportunity to understand nearly 100%.”

However, Nishikawa is unsure of whether or not it is productive to request these kinds of changes, given that communication can never really be separated from culture.

“Maybe a more welcoming atmosphere needed?” he said. “On the other hand, I know that the discussions include a great deal of context and many cultural things. It’s a place for communication, too. So, I don’t know if it’s right to say that something needs to change.

“Additionally, there are many talented developers who don’t understand English at all and I have no idea what can be done for them,” he said.

Nishikawa said that he felt much more connected to the community after attending WordCamp San Francisco and the following summit and contributor day.

“Even for developers who didn’t speak English, we had translators and discussed things, looked at the code and shared the WordPress projects they are working on,” he said. “After these face-to-face conversations, developers are more relaxed and motivated to work in the core Make project. Inviting developers to meetups/camps in the English world or inviting core contributors travel and join local contribution days will be a big trigger to involve more people.”

The Future of WordPress in Japan

Nishikawa believes that WordPress has a bright future in Japan, thanks to the efforts of Otsukare, Naoko Takano, Takayuki Miyoshi and all the plugin developers, Tenpura (the author of WP Multibyte Patch plugin), bloggers, community organizers, an army of dedicated translators and more.

He is hopeful that positive experiences for developers at global meetups like WCSF will help the Japanese WordPress community find ways to contribute back to core and other projects.

“There have been a few people who had contributed separately, but now I feel there is a small groove of people who are more interested in contribution,” he said.

“For the community, we hope that the activeness of the Japanese community will be exported to other Asian (and global) communities, especially with Wapuu or the unique “more-than-learning” style of meetups.”

He also believes the future of WordPress in Japan will be brighter with the internationalization improvements that are continually being added to core.

“For the users, when everything is translatable, people are happier. If WordPress can become more mobile friendly, it will be used more by young people. When the WP-API is in core, there will be more diverse apps available.”

Nishikawa has had such a positive experience organizing WordPress community events in Japan that he is now active in growing the community in Thailand.

“We now have meetups twice per month in Bangkok for developers/users/designers. We don’t have ‘session-oriented meetups’ anymore but we try to have casual talks every time, where everyone can speak in their own languages. Translation is more than welcome but we don’t want to rely on someone.”

As Japan’s community-oriented approach to learning has paid off with highly active meetup groups and some of the largest WordCamps on the globe, Nishikawa is hoping to bring his experience to Thailand and help organize a WordCamp Bangkok in the near future.

“Community has made my life/job much more exciting and fun,” he said. “Many things will differ culture by culture but the core value of community should be the same everywhere.”

by Sarah Gooding at May 18, 2015 09:26 PM under wordpress community

Matt: 2 Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes, you just want 2 chocolate chip cookies. This happens to me all of the time. I want a super indulgent, rich and buttery chocolate chip cookie, but don’t want to make the whole 36 of them which I’d inevitably inhale over about the same amount of hours.

Ever wondered a good recipe to make just 2 chocolate chip cookies? Now you know.

by Matt at May 18, 2015 06:35 AM under Asides

May 16, 2015

Matt: Silk Road, Part 2

As promised a few weeks ago, a new installment of the Wired Silk Road story is out and I wanted to share it, The Untold Story of Silk Road, Part 2: The Fall. This one is actually a lot more normal, with some surprisingly simple breaks leading to the downfall of Ross, but there’s an interesting twist at the end.

by Matt at May 16, 2015 05:14 PM under Asides

Matt: Memorable Musk Quotes

The 22 most memorable quotes from the new Elon Musk book, ranked. Hilarious.

by Matt at May 16, 2015 06:14 AM under Asides

May 15, 2015

WPTavern: Display Your Contributions to WordPress With the WP Contributions Plugin

WPContributionsFeaturedImageWP Contributions is a new plugin by Dustin Filippini, Damon Cook, and WebDevStudios that displays WordPress contributions via widgets. Widgets included are:

  • Contributions to the Codex
  • WordPress Core Contributions
  • Featured Plugin
  • Featured Theme

Once activated, browse to Appearance > Widgets to access the new widgets. You’ll need to know your username for WordPress trac and the Codex to display your contributions. Keep in mind that the core contributions widget only list tickets that are closed and you received props for.

WP Core Contributions WidgetWP Core Contributions Widget

The Codex contributions widget displays the most recent articles you’ve edited along with a link to see more.

Codex Contributions WidgetCodex Contributions Widget

The theme and plugin widgets use the slug of the theme and plugin you want to feature. You can only feature one theme or plugin at a time unless you use multiple widgets. The featured plugin widget displays a thumbnail of the plugin’s header image, author name, version, description, average rating, total downloads, and when it was last updated.

WP Contribution Plugin WidgetWP Contribution Plugin Widget

The featured theme widget displays a small preview of the theme, a short description, average rating, author, current version, total downloads, and when it was last updated.

Featured Theme WidgetFeatured Theme Widget

Even though the plugin and theme widgets are meant to be used to showcase your own work, they’re great for featuring any plugin or theme you’d like people to know about. WP Contributions comes with a series of template tags for those who want more control over how the information is displayed.

One thing I’d like to see in a future version is short code support. This way, users could create a WP Contributions page on their site with easy to use short codes. It’s not supported now, but Filippini informs me that a future version will include the ability to display badges attached to a WordPress.org user profile.

As WordPress continues to increase in marketshare, the ability to show how much you’ve contributed to the project is a huge resume booster, especially if you can say your code runs on millions of sites. In early 2014, WordPress made substantial improvements to user profiles but there’s no easy way to display those contributions to a wider audience.

WP Contributions does a decent job filling the void and is available for free on the WordPress.org plugin directory. I tested WP Contributions on WordPress 4.2.2 and it works without any problems.

by Jeff Chandler at May 15, 2015 11:28 PM under Themes

WPTavern: Lasso Frontend Editing Plugin for WordPress Now Available on GitHub

WordPress developer Nick Haskins is hoping to revolutionize the way users publish content with Lasso, his commercial front-end editing plugin. Lasso is sold through his storefront and is also in use on Story.am, the hosted platform for Aesop Story Engine. Haskins recently made accounts on Story.am available for free in hopes of garnering more feedback on the Lasso editing experience.

building-with-lasso

As of today, Lasso is now available on GitHub for developers and users to test and offer feedback/contribution.

“This decision was several months in the making,” Haskins told the Tavern. “It included conversations with developers who have their commercially sold code publicly available, as well as A/B testing our presence to verify that the move would be both beneficial to the plugin, as well as the user base that it’s attracting.”

Making the code public is a calculated risk, which he hopes will not damage sales of the plugin but rather increase its visibility. Haskins recently published a financial transparency report on his 15 month old company, which indicates that Aesop Interactive is on track to double its revenue in 2015 based on numbers from January – April. Sales of the Lasso product totaled $4,408.36.

As the plugin is open source, you are free to use it anywhere, but Haskins notes that support will only be offered to customers:

If you have a suggestion, a bug report, or a patch for an issue, feel free to submit it here. We do ask, however, that if you are using the plugin on a live site that you please purchase a valid license from the website. We cannot provide support to anyone who does not hold a valid license key.

“I decided to make it public today after I was invited in to collaborate on another publicly available commercially sold plugin,” he said. “I just needed a final excuse, and that was it.”

Haskins is not the first developer to make a commercial WordPress product available on GitHub for contribution. Earlier this year, the folks behind GravityView decided to make their plugin public on GitHub after being inspired by a discussion between Matt Medeiros and Matt Mullenweg on ubiquity vs. scarcity as it relates to WordPress product businesses:

The one pattern I see most right now that I think is not sustainable is, and it’s because it’s the easiest thing to do, is businesses that are built on a scarcity – the thing not being widely available. If you think about some of the coolest successes so far in WordPress, the Gravity Forms, some of the theme businesses, they are inherently predicated on the fact that you have to pay to access them.

I’ve always been a fan of businesses that grow with ubiquity, that become more powerful the more ubiquitous they are, more valuable. WordPress itself is one of these. Akismet is one of these. Jetpack is certainly one of those.

This approach brings up the question of whether or not a commercial plugin developer can run a successful business while giving the code away for free on GitHub. A select few are finding that the benefits of community contribution and feedback outweigh the risk.

Haskin’s frontend editing plugin is a prime candidate to explore this approach, as this type of plugin was created for users of all technical skill levels. Customers interested in this functionality are less likely to be comfortable installing and updating plugins from GitHub. If you’ve been eager to try Lasso but couldn’t get past the $129 price tag, now is your opportunity to download the plugin and put it through the paces.

by Sarah Gooding at May 15, 2015 08:22 PM under lasso

WPTavern: SiteGround is Organizing Bulgaria’s First PHP Conference

bulgaria-php-conference

SiteGround is organizing the first ever Bulgaria PHP conference to be held in Sofia, September 25-27, 2015. The company is headquartered in Sofia and its Head of Development, Mihail Irintchev, has been working hard to develop the local PHP community with the eventual goal of hosting a global PHP event.

Irintchev was one of the founders of the Bulgaria PHP user group two years ago, which meets regularly in the SiteGround offices in Sofia. The meetups have grown steadily, inspiring him to approach the SiteGround management team about working together to host a PHP conference.

“We see value in making it possible for developers from Bulgaria and the region to meet and learn from some of the most prominent minds in the global PHP community,” SiteGround representative Reneta Tsankova said. “It is also an opportunity for our region to once again be recognized as a place with strong IT potential and lots of development talent.”

The speaker lineup for the event has been finalized and includes leaders in PHP community (Michelangelo van Dam, Sebastian Bergmann, Cal Evans, Adam Culp, and more), as well as some influencers from both the WordPress and Drupal communities, including Mario Peshev and Larry Garfield.

Bulgaria PHP Conference will be a three day event that includes one training day and two conference days. All of the sessions will be conducted in English, as the event is pulling in speakers and attendees from Bulgaria, the Balkans, and other parts of the world.

Automattic is now a confirmed sponsor, along with Mandrill, Shopware, SiteGround, and others. The sponsors make it possible for organizers to keep the event accessible to as many attendees as possible with lower ticket prices. The earlybird price for the conference pass is just 65 euro.

Sofia hosted WordCamp Europe 2014 and the city is home to a vibrant IT community. If you’re looking to expand your PHP skills and connect with other passionate developers, the Bulgaria PHP Conference is one you’ll want to consider adding to your calendar for September.

by Sarah Gooding at May 15, 2015 06:15 PM under siteground

Matt: Trojan Emoji

Andrew Nacin, lead developer of WordPress, just finished a talk at Loopconf, where he talked about a series of related WordPress security fixes that spanned two years, with the final fix included into WordPress core under the guise of Emoji support.

Post Status has a good look at some of the really deep security work that has been going on in WordPress lately. There will always be more problems, but we’re getting to the point where the problems (and the fixes) are often quite subtle.

by Matt at May 15, 2015 06:06 AM under Asides

WPTavern: Beer Directory: A WordPress Plugin for Brewers and Beer Aficionados

beer

Craft beer and WordPress are a magical combination. Both cultures are built on some of the same values, like sharing knowledge and open sourcing happiness. With the explosion of the craft beer scene over the past few years, many new breweries are opting to build their websites on top of WordPress. When you’re bootstrapping a new brewery, the last thing you need to spend money on is proprietary software.

The WordPress community has many free and open source tools that developers can use to build a beer-centered website. Beer Directory is a new plugin released this year by Jami Gibbs, founder of Rescue Themes. She created it to support beer listings on her commercial Brewery theme.

Beer Directory gives you an easy way to enter beers and their details in the admin. It allows you to categorize and group beers, enter details, and display listings via a configurable shortcode. The post type includes fields for ABV, IBU, OG, FG, SRM/Color, Malts, Hops, and Yeast.

beer-profile

I tested the plugin by adding the details from a blueberry sour beer recipe. The output for an individual listing on the frontend will look something like this, depending on your active theme:

beer-listing

The plugin includes a shortcode for listing an individual beer: [beer id="17"] and one for displaying all listings: [beer]. The shortcodes can be configured by count, category, id, and any of the WordPress Order & Orderby Parameters. Beer posts also include support for a featured image.

Be advised that this is not a beer recipe plugin, so there’s no easy way to enter your hop schedule, amounts for fermentables, temperatures, etc. Beer Directory was created purely for listing beers on the frontend with a few key details. If you need to enter beer recipes, the BeerXML Shortcode plugin, created by Derek Springer, is a more suitable option.

The Beer Directory plugin is perfect for home brewers, professional breweries, or even beer enthusiasts who want to maintain a personal library of beers they enjoy. With this data saved in a custom post type, it will be transferable no matter how many times you change your WordPress theme. In addition to keeping track of your beers, the admin listing allows you to easily search and sort your library.

beer-in-the-admin

After testing the plugin, I can confirm that it works as advertised. Beer Directory is fully translatable and available for free on WordPress.org. If you want to contribute to development, the plugin can also be found on GitHub.

by Sarah Gooding at May 15, 2015 01:31 AM under brewery websites

May 14, 2015

WPTavern: cPanel’s Site Software Addon Disables WordPress Auto Updates

A little more than two months ago, Derek Munson, who goes by the username Drumology2001 published a thread in the WordPress.org support forums. While performing maintenance on several WordPress sites on his virtual private server, Munson discovered a number of them running outdated versions. Versions ranged from 3.9 to 4.1 with at least one site using WordPress 3.9.2.

I’m used to seeing the ‘nag’ at the top of the screen that lets me know there’s a newer version available. I am not seeing that on any of these sites which aren’t on the newest version (4.1.1). When I go to Dashboard > Updates and click ‘Check Again’ to force a manual check, it’s still acting as though everything is up to date when it’s clearly not.

Initially, Munson thought All in One WP Security and Firewall was blocking update notifications. Mbrsolution, the plugin’s main developer, confirmed that it doesn’t block update notifications. After completing a number of troubleshooting techniques suggested by volunteers on the WordPress support forum, Munson installed Wordfence Security, a WordPress security plugin.

One of Wordfence’s noteworthy features is its scanner. It compares clean WordPress core files to those on the server and notifies the user if it detects a difference. Results of the scan shows three files had been changed.

wp-admin/includes/update.php
wp-admin/update-core.php
wp-admin/includes/class-wp-upgrader.php

These files were only changed on WordPress sites that were installed using cPanel’s Site Software addon.

WordPress’ update.php file.
function get_core_updates( $options = array() ) { $options = array_merge( array( 'available' => true, 'dismissed' => false ), $options ); $dismissed = get_site_option( 'dismissed_update_core' );

cPanel’s update.php file.
function get_core_updates( $options = array() ) { # cPanel override: Disable all core updates to prevent conflict with cPAddons. return false; $options = array_merge( array( 'available' => true, 'dismissed' => false ), $options );

WordPress’ update-core.php file.
function core_upgrade_preamble() { global $wp_version, $required_php_version, $required_mysql_version; $updates = get_core_updates();

cPanel’s update-core.php file.
function core_upgrade_preamble() { # cPanel override: Do not display the current or the latest version, because we've disabled updates. return; global $wp_version, $required_php_version, $required_mysql_version; $updates = get_core_updates();

WordPress’ class-wp-upgrader.php file.
public function is_disabled() { // Background updates are disabled if you don't want file changes. if ( defined( 'DISALLOW_FILE_MODS' ) && DISALLOW_FILE_MODS ) return true;

cPanel’s class-wp-upgrader.php file.
public function is_disabled() { return true; // Force this functionality to disabled because it is incompatible with cPAddons. // Background updates are disabled if you don't want file changes. if ( defined( 'DISALLOW_FILE_MODS' ) && DISALLOW_FILE_MODS ) return true;

The code added by cPanel disables core WordPress updates, update notifications, and automatic background updates to point releases. Once Munson restored these files to their original version, automatic updates and notifications worked properly.

cPanel and cPAddons

Those who manage dedicated servers or virtual private servers with cPanel have the ability to use cPAddons. According to cPanel documentation, “Addons are applications that work with cPanel to perform functions for your users’ websites. Examples of these applications include bulletin boards, online shopping carts, and blogs.”

Open Dialogue With cPanel

George Stephanis, a WordPress core contributor and lead developer of Jetpack publicly called out cPanel’s actions as a bad practice.

A representative of cPanel saw the tweet and responded that they’d like to receive more information.

Stephanis engaged in a lengthy conversation with cPanel representatives explaining why it’s a bad idea to disable core updates. cPanel disables WordPress’ native update system because it could cause conflicts with cPanel’s Site Software version of WordPress.

We generally release the latest version of WordPress within 1 to 5 days of the latest WordPress update. At a minimum, server administrators are informed each night of all Site Software applications that need updated. It is up to users to configure their notifications within cPanel to receive such updates.

The way our cPAddons tool tracks software is not compatible with the way WordPress updates, hence why we disable the auto-updates so we can track it through cPAddons.

cPanel goes on to explain how updates are handled for software installed using its Site Software cPAddon.

  • Whenever WP releases a maintenance build that addresses security concerns, we react very quickly to get our software updated to be available to customers.
  • By default, we define that software managed/installed through cPAddons is automatically updated when a new update is available.
  • Based on the above information, if the server administrator leaves the defaults enabled, once WP introduces a maintenance release that corrects security concerns and we’ve tested and updated our source for it, customers will receive the release automatically.
  • If the server administrator decides to disable automatic software updates, the end-user and systems administrator will still receive notifications that their installation is out of date accompanied with steps on how to update their application.

By default, software installed by cPanel is configured to update automatically but some of Munson’s sites didn’t update. He also didn’t receive update notifications for those sites. cPanel believes there is something wrong with Munson’s server configuration and pledged to contact him to find out more information.

Based upon what Drumology2001 reported on the forum, it appears something is amiss on that server. We’d love to examine that server to determine why WordPress updates were not available to the user.

Based upon the fuzzy dates used on the forum and compared with our internal records, the 4.1.1 update was available to the Site Software system prior to the initial post. We’ll reach out to him to determine whether there is anything we can do there.

Receptive to Change

The good news is that cPanel is responsive and willing to make any necessary changes to improve the update process. Considering how many webhosting companies offer customers the ability to install WordPress with a one-click installer, it’s important that sites receive updates as soon as possible.

If you installed WordPress through cPanel’s one-click installer, check to make sure your site is running WordPress 4.2.2 which is the latest stable version.

by Jeff Chandler at May 14, 2015 07:45 PM under wordfence

WPTavern: All Sessions from LoopConf Now Available on YouTube

photo credit: LoopConfphoto credit: LoopConf

LoopConf, a new WordPress conference created for developers, was held in Las Vegas last week with a world-class lineup of speakers. The event was such a success that the organization team is already planning for 2016.

Attendees were impressed with the professional planning of the event, speaker selection, and the quality of the venue.

“I’m going to say, with emphasis, what I think everyone is probably thinking: LoopConf is what you wish most WordCamps were,” Speaker and attendee John James Jacoby said in his writeup.

“I like that WordCamps are casual and inviting, and I like that conferences like LoopConf and the WordPress.com VIP Workshop strive to achieve something more professional. I think there will be some WordCamps that try to upgrade themselves to compete, and others that will purposely stay intimate and niche,” Jacoby predicted.

The entire WooCommerce development team was also in attendance at LoopConf and Patrick Rauland found interacting with other developers from the community to be the highlight.

“The biggest takeaway that I got from Loop was that conferences are about people,” he said. “Not that cheesy networking where you try to meet as many people as possible. It’s about meeting people and really getting to know them.”

LoopConf attendees at the SiteGround party - credit: LoopConfLoopConf attendees at the SiteGround party – credit: LoopConf

Those who could not attend may have missed out on the networking, but videos for all of the sessions are now available on YouTube. One favorite session among attendees was Andrew Nacin’s presentation on The Anatomy of a Critical Security Bug, during which he revealed that the Emoji support added in WordPress 4.2 was also part of a larger plan to fix a two-year old security vulnerability.

Attendees also enjoyed Ghost founder John O’Nolan’s session on The Economics of Open Source, Ryan McCue’s “How to Build a REST API for 23 Percent of the Web,” and Google engineer Ilya Grigorik’s Performance Guide RAIL keynote presentation. If you have some free time to devote to improving your development knowledge, the LoopConf videos make up a small library of advanced learning on a variety technical topics.

LoopConf attracted 210 attendees as a brand new WordPress event this year. Glowing accounts of its professional handling are likely to increase attendees next year. LoopConf 2016 is already in the planning stages, but the location is yet to be decided.

by Sarah Gooding at May 14, 2015 07:05 PM under loopconf

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 192 – Infinite Possibilities With Dan Griffiths

In this episode of WordPress Weekly, Marcus Couch and I are joined by Dan Griffiths, founder of Section214. We spend the first half of the show learning about Griffiths’ interest in technology at a young age.

Once out of the military, Griffiths experienced difficulties finding a job. He discovered Easy Digital Downloads and explains how working on a ticket and creating an API led to getting a job offer from Pippin Williamson. Since accepting the job offer, Griffiths has published 22 plugins to the WordPress plugin directory and has attended several WordCamps.

Later in the show, we discuss HostPress, an open-source, extensible server control panel built on top of WordPress. He describes his motivation behind the project and why he thinks webhosts need a better solution. Near the end of the interview, Griffiths shares his thoughts on the WP REST API that will eventually be added to WordPress and what it means for the project’s future.

Stories Discussed:

Heroes Are Found In Unexpected Places
WordPress 4.3 to Focus on Mobile Experience, Admin UI, Better Passwords, and Customizer Improvements

Plugins Picked By Marcus:

WP Rollback lets you quickly and easily rollback any theme or plugin from WordPress.org to any previous or newer version. It works just like the plugin updater, except you’re rolling backward or forward to a specific version. Be sure to read our review of WP Rollback on the Tavern.

Linkedin_Oauth allows users to login and register into WordPress using their LinkedIn account.

Strong Password Generator created by Frankie Jarrett, encourages the use of strong passwords by helping users generate them easily.

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, May 20th 9:30 P.M. Eastern

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Itunes: Click here to subscribe

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via RSS: Click here to subscribe

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Stitcher Radio: Click here to subscribe

Listen To Episode #192:

by Jeff Chandler at May 14, 2015 07:19 AM under wptally

Matt: Wearable Gadgets

Wearable gadgets portend vast health, research and privacy consequences, the Washington Post takes on the quantified self. I’m in the medium end of this, I track pretty much everything that’s easy, but no blood / hormone tests yet.

by Matt at May 14, 2015 05:04 AM under Asides

May 13, 2015

WPTavern: WP Engine Rolls Out WP-CLI Support to Select Partners for Beta Testing

wp-engine

WP Engine is currently beta testing WP-CLI support with approximately 200 select partners. Those who serve clients that host with the company are eager to see it rolled out to more customers, as WP-CLI has become an indispensable part of many WordPress developers’ workflow.

“We find that with technical products it’s often better to roll out to development partners who we have a prior working relationship with, to get candid feedback from highly technical folks, and thus build a better product before rolling to a wider audience,” founder Jason Cohen told the Tavern.

There is no set timeframe for beta, but Cohen said that the plan is to offer WP-CLI support to all customers on all plans.

“Our timeframe for exiting beta is like one of the rules of Fight Club: ‘The beta goes on for as long as it has to,'” he said. “If everything is smooth and few issues arise, we can roll faster, but if we find things we want to fix, it will take longer. The main thing is to release high quality product, not to release it as quickly as possible.

Many other hosting companies that cater to WordPress customers, such as Bluehost, SiteGround, and Site5, have had WP-CLI pre-installed for years, which makes it curious that WP Engine has taken so long to add support for it. Cohen says that it’s trickier when you plan to offer it to all customers.

Some of our competitors offer WP-CLI only on dedicated plans, not on shared plans, whereas we offer it on all plans. An example of why it’s tricker: there are security implications (e.g. when running system commands outside of the PHP sandbox, which many WP-CLI commands do) in a multi-tenant system that are less of a concern in a dedicated system. We wanted to take the time to get all that right.

Cohen said that it wasn’t hard to come to the decision to support WP-CLI but WP Engine has been concurrently working on launching other technical tools. Most recently, the company has been focusing on polishing Mercury, its enterprise HHVM hosting platform, which launched last year.

“We’ve been building and releasing features that no one else has,” Cohen said. “So, sometimes we’re first-out with a feature, and sometimes not. That seems natural in a market with a dozen good competitors, all innovating in the space.”

Development partners who have been granted access to WP-CLI during the beta period can find a list of known issues in the WP Engine documentation, which includes a list of commands that are currently not supported. Documentation will be updated throughout the beta period to reflect progress on issues reported by testers.

by Sarah Gooding at May 13, 2015 11:51 PM under wp-cli

WPTavern: WP Rollback Provides Basic Versioning for WordPress.org Plugins and Themes

The undo key from a computer keyboardThe undo key from a computer keyboard

Despite the recent proliferation of plugins that add git-based version control to WordPress, your average user does not require a full-blown version control system as part of regular site management. Developers can certainly benefit from tools like Revisr and Gitium for managing projects with Git, but the vast majority of WordPress users are more likely to benefit from a simple “undo” button for mistakes or bad updates.

WP Rollback is a new plugin that brings the concept of an “undo” button to updates for plugins and themes hosted on WordPress.org. It allows users to easily rollback to any previous (or newer) version without the hassle of manually downloading files.

wp-rollback

Clicking the Rollback link will take the user to a screen where he can select from a list of previous versions or update to newer ones.

wp-rollback-versions-screen

WP Rollback uses WordPress’ native plugin updater to revert to previous versions.

wp-rollback-update

While using older versions of themes/plugins is not generally encouraged, there are times when it’s unavoidable. For example, some plugin authors routinely push out buggy updates, seemingly without having run any tests on them, and then rely on their users to discover and report the problems. It can sometimes be 24 – 72 hours before the author has the chance to push out a fix to the buggy update. WP Rollback allows users to quickly revert to the previous working version of the plugin.

As themes hosted on WordPress.org do not yet have change logs, there may be times when a user updates to a new version of a theme where the author has made some major changes to the markup and/or styles. Without a changelog, the user has no idea what is included in the update or how it might impact a child theme or plugin’s output. WP Rollback gives you the ability to test a theme update and quickly rollback if necessary until you’ve had the chance to get your site ready.

Most WordPress users do not have a development environment in place for putting software updates to the test before rolling them out. They simply expect updates to work, but there will always be those rare instances of unforeseen conflicts and bugs. Having WP Rollback in place should help users to be less wary about taking updates, since they know they can easily rollback if something goes wrong.

WordImpress, the folks behind WP Rollback as well as the new Give plugin, encourages users to backup their sites before performing plugin/theme updates or reverts. Ideally, you would test any changes in a development environment first to ensure that everything works as planned. WP Rollback is available for free on WordPress.org and documentation can be found on GitHub.

by Sarah Gooding at May 13, 2015 07:34 PM under version control

Matt: Advanced Hindsight

Beginning with the 2015 academic year, the Center for Advanced Hindsight (CAH) at Duke University will invite promising startups to join its behavioral lab and leverage academic research in their business models. The Center is housed within the Social Science Research Institute at Duke University and is led by Professor Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University.

This is a pretty awesome opportunity for entrepreneurs, I hope a reader of this blog pursues it.

by Matt at May 13, 2015 04:19 AM under Asides

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May 22, 2015 11:15 AM
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