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October 19, 2018

WPTavern: Genesis Framework and StudioPress Themes Add Gutenberg Compatibility, More Gutenberg Features Coming Soon

After WP Engine acquired StudioPress in June, the company began investing in expanding the Genesis team. WP Engine is hiring new people to work on the framework and expand support and community activities.

On the latest episode of the newly revived StudioPress.fm podcast, StudioPress founder Brian Gardner said one of the reasons he sold the company was because he needed outside help to take it where it needed to go in the Gutenberg era. The Genesis community has nothing to worry about when the new editor launches in WordPress 5.0, because StudioPress has already made its framework and themes Gutenberg-ready.

“With regards to Genesis, the good news is that it has no substantial backwards-compatibility issues with Gutenberg,” WP Engine CTO Jason Cohen said. “The main focus of updates to the StudioPress themes are focused on adding styles for the new Gutenberg blocks. However, what we’re most excited about are the brand new features we will be adding to Genesis and the StudioPress themes, that Gutenberg helps enable.”

Cohen said the Genesis community can expect their entire product line to become Gutenberg-first themes that add new features to enhance users’ experience in the editor.

“Beyond just being ‘compatible,’ Genesis will play a big role in being Gutenberg-First,” Cohen said. “That means not only supporting the software and ideals of Gutenberg, but using them for new features. In doing so, it’s our intention to light the way for the countless agencies and developers who use WordPress to fuel incredible digital experiences that are made even easier with Gutenberg.”

Cohen said WP Engine will update all StudioPress themes to include additional features for Gutenberg once the new editor launches in WordPress 5.0. If the release stays on its current schedule, users can expect to see 5.0 on November 19.

by Sarah Gooding at October 19, 2018 10:41 PM under wp engine

WPTavern: Gutenberg Team Addresses Accessibility Concerns, Highlights Tools and Features that Surpass the Classic Editor

The Gutenberg team has officially responded to recent concerns about the new editor’s accessibility. Matias Ventura, the project’s technical lead, published a post with examples of the accessibility efforts the team has made, many which may not be easy to discover. These include features such as keyboard shortcuts, slash command and insertion, high-contrast mode, and mechanisms for navigating regions and blocks with the keyboard.

Ventura highlighted the audible messages feature that works with screen readers and posted a demo of the fully automated end-to-end testing. It allows contributors to test a sequence of operations with the keyboard (without mouse controls). He also identified several fixes landing in the next releases, including accessibility improvements to the date and color picker features, block navigation, and better focus management.

“A large amount of work and effort has gone in building mechanisms necessary to make the editor accessible for a wide user base,” Ventura said. “For example, it is entirely possible right now to recreate the ‘demo post’ that comes with the Gutenberg plugin using the keyboard. In many ways, these tools are better and more sophisticated than what we offer in the current editor.”

Although 270 accessibility-specific tickets have been closed to date, Ventura acknowledged there are still more than 90 remaining. “The goal is to make this experience as seamless as possible for all users,” he said.

Early reactions to the post do not dispute that accessibility work has been done but concerns about Gutenberg’s overall complexity remain. Fixing this may not be as simple as targeting isolated interactions in the editor.

“We need to continue to develop close feedback loops with different users interacting through their preferred tools to make sure what we build is relevant to their experiences,” Ventura said. Throughout the process of building and testing Gutenberg, contributors have referenced “short feedback loops,” an agile process term that seems to make its way into these conversations.

However, the frequent built-in checkpoints don’t seem to have served accessibility needs well, as the accessibility team in convinced that having their input much earlier in the design process would have made a bigger difference further downstream.

“We’ve been begging for React development assistance focused on accessibility since the beginning,” Accessibility specialist Joe Dolson said in a post addressing what he perceives to be common myths about Gutenberg’s accessibility. “None of us were already primarily JavaScript-focused, let alone React-focused, and with limited time (spread across Gutenberg, the rest of WordPress, all of the WordPress sites themselves, and theme concerns), managing to keep up with the breakneck pace of development was never feasible.”

WordPress core contributor John James Jacoby commented on Ventura’s post, calling attention to the complexity of the interface for all users, including those with and without accessibility needs.

“My concern is that many of the above things do not really improve accessibility in the broader sense,” Jacoby said. “Instead, they make a complex user interface more complicated by littering the landscape with hidden keyboard shortcuts that are likely to be undiscoverable by regular-bodied folks, let alone folks who lack dexterity in their hands or fingers or eyes to find/understand/navigate/enjoy them.

“These are users who demand a semantically simpler application to get their jobs done. Though they’re used to quickly navigating the useless mixed-up garbage-markup soup that comes from web development as a whole, it doesn’t help to add extra ‘accessibility-centric’ approaches – we should be making the existing approaches accessible first, and adding new approaches after.”

Dolson echoes that sentiment in his recent post. “Where Gutenberg falls down is on the overall use of the system,” he said. “Even though most individual interactions are handled effectively, the overall complexity of the system creates an enormous barrier to users if they are keyboard dependent or using a screen reader.”

The community has advocated for a myriad of different needs and wishes during the course of Gutenberg’s development, but any interface created for the millions of people that WordPress aims to serve will inevitably have to deliver some compromises. Matt Mullenweg answered the feedback regarding complexity from his perspective as the project lead:

“We think that the current interface could be a ton more streamlined, but we’ve compromised a lot of the alternative approaches we’ve wanted to take based on accessibility feedback and trying to have a single interface that serves all types of users,” Mullenweg said. “If we branched, it would be a different discussion and possibly serve multiple audiences better. There’s a lot of FUD though, ie, that’s going to be illegal in EU.”

Ventura’s post is tightly focused on Gutenberg’s existing accessibility features and makes no mention of the audit that would have measured if it meets WordPress’ own stated accessibility standards. These standards require that all new or updated code released in WordPress must conform with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines at level AA. Without an examination of how the product meets these standards, much of the the discussion revolves around subjective opinions about complexity. It’s difficult to quantify issues like cognitive overload.

“It is entirely possible that Gutenberg will come within a hair of passing WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 at level AA at release, but still be inaccessible,” Dolson said. “This is because the micro-interactions are being managed well but the macro-interactions are not. This is a flaw with using WCAG 2.0 as a standard; it does not handle address large scale issues effectively. The cognitive load inherent in the current navigation requirements for assistive technology is overwhelming, and that is an accessibility issue – just not one effectively reflected in our current standards requirements.”

One of the myths Dolson’s post dispelled is that the Gutenberg team doesn’t care about accessibility. Ventura’s post calls attention what he believes to be “a significant volume of accessibility-specific tools and functionalities” in Gutenberg that surpass those of the Classic Editor. The team has worked hard to address accessibility concerns but needs better communication across teams in order to continue serving the wider community of WordPress users with accessibility needs.

“There have been a lot of issues on the way that could have been avoided if a React developer had been available to assist with significant dedicated time earlier than 6 weeks before the proposed release; but those were issues coming from ignorance, not a lack of compassion,” Dolson said.

“I don’t know what Gutenberg will be at release. But the accessibility team and the Gutenberg team are working hard to try and reach the best solutions we can.”

by Sarah Gooding at October 19, 2018 06:00 PM under gutenberg

WPTavern: The New Woo Adopts Gutenberg Components, User Interface Driven by React

WooSesh, the free virtual conference devoted to WooCommerce kicked off earlier today. Todd Wilkins, Head of eCommerce at Automattic, Kelly Hoffman, Head of Design for eCommerce at Automattic, and Aviva Pinchas, Product Lead of the WooCommerce Marketplace at Automattic got things started with the keynote presentation.

Wilkins highlighted what the team has accomplished since last year and outlined what users can expect in 2019. Pinchas shared a wealth of data from a survey that was sent to WooCommerce users and to end the presentation, Hoffman described how the team designed the new interfaces.

One of the major changes coming to WooCommerce is a redesigned backend. The project is being developed on GitHub as a feature plugin called WC-Admin.

New WooCommerce Dashboard

The dashboard is a landing page where store owners will be able to see at a glance how their store is doing. The new interface is powered by the React JavaScript framework, specifically the React components that are part of the Gutenberg project. It’s modular, allowing users to add, move, and remove blocks. Developers will be able to extend the dashboard and provide custom blocks.

In addition to the new interface, reports are being overhauled. Store owners will be able to filter data, compare date records, have easy access to important data points, and download reports in CSV format. The Activity Panel has been completely redesigned and will be accessible from any page in the WooCommerce backend.

WooCommerce Activity Panel

The activity panel will also house a Notifications area that acts as an email Inbox. Developers will be able to add notifications from their extensions using the WooCommerce REST API endpoints.

WooCommerce Notifications Panel

To see WC-Admin in action, you’ll need to download the feature plugin and run it in a test environment. The WooCommerce team does not recommend using it in a production environment.

Once it reaches beta, the plugin will be made available on WordPress.org to allow a larger audience to test it before being merged into WooCommerce core. The plugin is scheduled to hit beta in early 2019 with new features being merged in the first quarter of 2019.

Similar to Gutenberg development where progress updates were published to the Make Core Developer blog every week or every other week, the WooCommerce team plans to publish progress updates every two weeks on its developer blog. With these improvements, WooCommerce is another reason for developers to learn JavaScript deeply.

by Jeff Chandler at October 19, 2018 02:49 AM under woocommerce

October 18, 2018

WPTavern: Learn How to Build an Interactive Prototype with Dave Martin’s Free JavaScript for Designers Course

Product designer Dave Martin has published a free video course called JavaScript for Designers. The course is made up of 46 bite-sized videos that walk students through the basics via a hands-on tutorial for building an interactive HTML prototype.

Martin said he created the course specifically for designers who have been putting off learning how to code with JavaScript. He focused on concepts that are applicable to designers in their jobs, teaching skills that help them communicate to developers exactly how they want an app to behave.

Coming from a designer’s perspective, Martin said most JavaScript tutorials are “dry and boring,” because they are written by developers. Ordinarily, these types of courses begin with JavaScript’s historical roots and progress from variables to arrays to objects, losing many learners along the way. Martin’s course is built more like a tutorial. Students will replicate some of the functionality found in a site like Dribbble. At the end, students should have a sufficient foundation of JavaScript that enables them to build an interactive HTML prototype.

One of the other important ways this course is different is that the giant “Get Started” button on the page doesn’t take you to a registration form or make you sign up for dripped emails. It simply scrolls down the page so you can dive into the videos. Participants can download the code and follow along with the tutorial.

Today’s announcement from WooSesh that WooCommerce is testing its new Javascript-driven interface is just another reminder that JavaScript is overtaking modern UI design and architecture. JavaScript knowledge is going to become increasingly in demand, and designers who have a decent grasp of it will land themselves higher paying positions. Even if you’re not a designer, Martin’s course may hold your interest better than traditional JavaScript beginners’ courses. Check out the videos at jsfordesigners.davemart.in.

by Sarah Gooding at October 18, 2018 07:13 PM under javascript

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 334 – Accessibility, Gutenberg, and Twenty Nineteen

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I have a lengthy discussion about the numerous Accessibility concerns being raised by members of the community. We also talk about the WordPress 5.0 release date, tempers flaring in the WordPress core Slack channel, dealing with political situations within the WordPress project, and more. We share our thoughts on the Twenty Nineteen default theme and provide a quick update on the status of WooCommerce 3.5.

Stories Discussed:

WordPress Accessibility Team Lead Resigns, Cites Political Complications Related to Gutenberg
First Look at The Twenty Nineteen Default Theme
Important update: WooCommerce 3.5 will now be released October 23rd.
WordPress Now at 32%

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, October 24th 3:00 P.M. Eastern

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Listen To Episode #334:

by Jeff Chandler at October 18, 2018 02:40 PM under woocommerce

October 17, 2018

WPTavern: Gutenberg Accessibility Audit Postponed Indefinitely

photo credit: pollascc

Discussion surrounding Gutenberg’s independent accessibility audit is heating up. Two weeks ago, Matthew MacPherson, who was named WordPress 5.0’s new accessibility lead, proposed the audit and agreed to it being performed by an independent third party. The audit had gained strong support among accessibility contributors and others following the ticket.

After soliciting detailed proposals from four companies, MacPherson has since rescinded the offer to coordinate the audit at this time and it seems he was unaware that he didn’t have the authority to authorize it in the first place.

“For at least the time being, Automattic has decided to forgo conducting an Accessibility audit on Gutenberg,” MacPherson said. He cited the following reasons:

  1. “an audit will not be actionable given our release timeline, because…
  2. the audit will not affect release timing, so…
  3. it would be more prudent to explore an audit on a less rushed timeline in the future”

MacPherson apologized for “getting hopes up and then failing the community” on this particular issue. He is supportive of getting an audit but it is not a priority to complete before Gutenberg’s merge proposal.

“I’m hopeful we’ll explore an audit going forward, but unfortunately it will not happen before the merge proposal and thus I’m closing this issue as a won’t fix,” MacPherson said. “I would still like to blog about the state of Gutenberg accessibility, both the good and the bad. We’re making some improvements to keyboard navigation, color contrast, focus behavior, and date/color-pickers just this week.”

Those following the ticket were disappointed in the decision and several heated replies have been hidden and/or moderated. The issue has since been locked and unlocked several times since the announcement that Automattic has decided to forgo the audit.

“Literally every person with disabilities who has tested Gutenberg, both recently and at the outset, has flagged blocking issues as to why it’s not accessible,” Accessibility team member Amanda Rush said. “And user testing is just as important to accessibility as is WCAG 2.0 level AA compliance.”

Because MacPherson said the decision came from Automattic, dissidents on the other side of the issue are saying that the company is acting in its own interests, as the decision was delivered without much explanation beyond an audit not fitting into Gutenberg’s timeline.

“The idea of accessibility being punted to meet a release deadline is what people have been worried about for over a year, and those concerns have not been alleviated,” Morten Rand-Hendriksen said during a recent Accessibility team meeting on Slack before the audit was post-poned. “A clear message about what would happen should the audit come back with substantial issues and recommendations would greatly improve communication and take some of the tension out of the conversation in my opinion.”

In response to one contributor asking how the audit might affect Gutenberg’s timeline, MacPherson said he doesn’t have veto power over the release, nor does he have the data to make that assessment.

“I’m still not convinced there are sufficient Accessibility issues that prevent a release,” MacPherson said. “If the second point changes, I’ll relay that info. I plan to be an advocate, but I don’t set the timelines and I also don’t have solid data around accessibility. That’s the point of the audit: so we can speak from a place of hard data.”

An independent accessibility audit would have revealed whether the team’s current perceptions of Gutenberg’s lack of accessibility are accurate or inflated. It would also give the team’s new leadership the data he needs in order to make the most accurate recommendations regarding its readiness for the world. Kevin Hoffman advocated for pushing on with the audit regardless, in case WordPress 5.0 comes on a later timeline.

“The January 22, 2019 date would allow more than three months between today and the release of 5.0 to complete an audit and take action,” Hoffman said. “The reasons above suggest that we cannot get an audit completed and significantly improve accessibility in three months time. If true, that is all the more reason to start the process now and respond to the audit by fixing as many issues as we can before 5.0 releases.

“The idea that the timeline will become less rushed after 5.0 (when it’s in the hands of real-world users who need it most) makes no sense at all.”

While Twitter’s court of public opinion cannot answer the question of whether or not Gutenberg is accessible, an independent audit would give contributors a good shot at resolving the most critical issues.

“I really like the idea of a professional audit, though I don’t recall us ever doing one of these in WordPress, certainly not a condition for a release,” Gutenberg merge lead Gary Pendergast said. “I’d love to see something like it happen at some point. WordPress has always tried to get most of the way there on accessibility by sticking to common patterns and semantics, with the difference covered by key efforts of volunteers everyone on the Accessibility team doing testing and filing actionable bug reports. Gutenberg’s move to being an entirely JavaScript-based application has made it harder to apply those patterns, but we can work together to establish new patterns, a new baseline.”

Although there is no precedent for it, in this instance where Automattic’s perception of the editor’s accessibility differs wildly from that of the community, an outside audit might mitigate some of the conflict surrounding the issue.

Pendergast said that despite best intentions and prioritizing accessibility, there is a possibility the Gutenberg team may not be able to deliver an “acceptable UX for assistive technology users by the time 5.0 is released.”

“I’m sorry,” Pendergast said. “Despite the best intentions of everyone on the Gutenberg team, we haven’t done enough. I can honestly say that accessibility has always been a priority, but it hasn’t been a high enough priority, and we’ve done a poor job of communicating where accessibility has been improved. I mentioned some of those improvements in my earlier comment, but those improvements are of no benefit if we haven’t hit the baseline accessible experience.”

The challenge of building in accessibility at the design stage, instead of retrofitting it after the fact, is one that WordPress is still struggling to get right in the Gutenberg era. Accessibility experts with React skills are few and far between, so it’s not easy to get fixes for all the issues testers are finding.

“In some meetings we’ve discussed how to make accessibility integrated in the design process (design in its broader sense) since the beginning,” Accessibility specialist Andrea Fercia said during the team’s most recent meeting on Slack. “This is certainly an area were our communication and knowledge sharing should improve.”

by Sarah Gooding at October 17, 2018 10:16 PM under gutenberg

WPTavern: First Look at The Twenty Nineteen Default Theme

Allan Cole, a WordPress Theme Imagineer at Automattic has published the first glimpses of the Twenty Nineteen default theme slated to ship with WordPress 5.0. Cole is leading the theme while Kjell Regstad who does Product and Editorial Design at Automattic will be a design coach.

Twenty Nineteen Blog Post Layout

The theme takes a minimalist approach that’s a good fit for writers and can be adapted for simple business sites as well. Twenty Nineteen doesn’t have a sidebar but will have an area in the footer to display widgets.

The theme will have full compatibility with Gutenberg when it’s released. It will also contain Front-end and Back-end editor styles. This will allow the presentation of content in the back-end to closely resemble how the finished product will look like. 

Twenty Nineteen is based on the Underscores and Gutenberg starter themes. SASS is used to keep styles in-sync between Gutenberg and the front-end experience which Cole notes is, “not usual for a default theme and open to debate.”

With WordPress 5.0 scheduled for a November release, Twenty Nineteen is on a fast track development cycle. A release candidate is expected to be available at the end of this month.

To keep tabs on development, you can monitor the project’s GitHub page. GitHub will be used to develop Twenty Nineteen until it’s ready to be merged into core. At that time, the GitHub page will be deprecated as development moves to WordPress Core Trac.

Dev meetings that last a half-hour will take place every Tuesday at 12PM EDT in the #core-themes Slack channel. It’s worth noting that if Twenty Nineteen is not ready in time for the planned November 19th, release of WordPress 5.0, it will be removed and released at a later date.

by Jeff Chandler at October 17, 2018 02:45 AM under twenty ninteteen

October 16, 2018

WPTavern: ACF 5.8 Beta 1 Introduces Blocks Feature, Release Slated for November

photo credit: Adabo! 3d printed tetris blocks(license)

Advanced Custom Fields is now actively testing its new block creation feature in ACF 5.8 beta 1, released this week. ACF Blocks is a feature aimed at PHP developers who have not taken the deep dive into JavaScript yet. It essentially offers a shortcut to creating custom blocks using PHP and HTML instead of JavaScript.

“We believe that ACF Blocks is one of the more important features ever added to our plugin,” ACF representative Eric Karkovack said. “It levels the playing field and allows more developers to take advantage of Gutenberg’s key feature.” The feature was designed to allow WordPress developers who use ACF to maintain their current workflow for extending the editor.

ACF Blocks allows developers to register a custom block type from a functions.php file. From there they can create a field group and use any ACF fields in the block. Rendering the block is the same process that’s used for displaying custom fields, with the notable addition of wrapping the HTML + PHP in a function.

The ACF team plans to include the new blocks feature in version 5.8, which is anticipated to arrive in November.

Creating custom blocks in this way seems like a stopgap measure for developers who haven’t had the time to learn how to extend Gutenberg before WordPress 5.0 arrives. This feature may be a useful abstraction for those who need to maintain their current workflow with ACF but it postpones the inevitable for developers who want to be truly proficient at extending the new editor. JavaScript skills will be required to properly understand what is going on under the hood.

by Sarah Gooding at October 16, 2018 06:05 PM under gutenberg

Matt: The Importance of Meeting In-Person

I recently returned from Orlando where Automattic hosted its annual Grand Meetup where nearly all of our 800 employees from around the world, spend a week together in the same place. (And yes, we’re hiring.)

Despite being a fully distributed company, I believe it’s still important to meet face-to-face — just not every day, in the same office. The Grand Meetup is our chance to get to know the people behind the Slack avatars and build relationships that can carry us through other 51 weeks of the year, when we’re working from more than 65 countries. It’s so much easier to hear the nuance in someone’s chat messages or p2 posts if you’ve hung out with them at Harry Potter World, or learned about their family, pets, and hobbies during a flash talk.

Photo by Paul Jacobson

The week can be mentally exhausting, given that you’re often meeting many people for the first time. But we urge people to take it at their own pace, and the results are well worth the effort. Our data team actually studied the impact of the Grand Meetup on our work relationships — the connections established between coworkers using our “Meetamattician” tool were demonstrably closer after the meetup:

Before the Grand Meetup. After the Grand Meetup.

This year we were proud to welcome some incredible keynote speakers: Wild author Cheryl Strayed talking about creativity and writing; Automattic board member Gen. Ann Dunwoody, the first woman in U.S. Army history to achieve the four-star officer rank; Ari Meisel on delegating and automating your life; and Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier, on the panic attack that led him to embrace meditation and mindfulness.

Instagram Photo
Photo by Leif Singer Ann Dunwoody. Photo by Luca Sartoni Ari Meisel. Photo by Luca Sartoni
Instagram Photo
Photo by jessicacg

by Matt at October 16, 2018 04:40 PM under distributed work

WPTavern: WordPress Privacy Contributors Begin Work on V2 Roadmap, Form Cross-Platform Working Group

photo credit: Infosec Images Privacy blue(license)

Contributors to WordPress’ core Privacy component are collaborating on a V2 roadmap to address broader privacy and data protection issues that fall outside of legal requirements. The group organized at the beginning of the year to work on GDPR-specific objectives but has since expanded its scope to tackle concerns that are not attached to any specific piece of legislation.

The Privacy team meets weekly and has approximately a dozen contributors who show up regularly to work on tickets and issues. The working V2 roadmap identifies a list of common international privacy concerns, such as data minimization, data integrity, transparency and notice, and contributors will explore their impact on a few core focus areas:

  • Core privacy features
    • Gravatar privacy controls
    • Embed privacy controls
  • Plugin privacy
    • For administrators
    • For developers
  • Consent and logging
  • WP-CLI support
  • Multisite support

The team has agreed to use a Privacy by Design (PbD) approach, which uses a proactive framework to anticipate privacy issues before they are a problem for the user.

Privacy team contributors are also monitoring two specific pieces of legislation that may impact WordPress site owners in 2019 – the US California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and the EU ePrivacy Directive overhaul. They plan to examine specific requirements once that information is available and will assist site owners in reaching compliance.

New Privacy Working Group to Facilitate Collaboration across Open Source Communities

At Drupal Europe 2018 a group of WordPress and Drupal contributors met to discuss the possibility of welcoming teams from major open source projects to work together on shared concerns. WordPress Privacy team contributor Heather Burns attended the first test run of the working group in the Open Source Lounge at the conference.

“For the working group we have the big three – Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla – and we also spoke with representatives from the smaller projects like Neos and Typo3,” Burns said. “We’re all dealing with similar issues but from different approaches.”

Burns said one of the goals of the working group is to push the idea forward that privacy is a common, positive, proactive value which can be taught and shared across projects. Members will discussion questions like whether privacy fixes belong in core or modules, how privacy notices pull information from different plugins and modules, and what laws are coming up that would require open source CMSs to build in some functionality in advance.

“It’s a way of pooling resources, code libraries, and briefings, as well as giving us a forum to share experiences,” Burns said. “For example, we’re going to arrange for Drupal’s privacy lead to give a live video demo of their GDPR tools to our core group, and we’re going to do the same for them.”

The privacy working group is being set up through the Drupal community structure and members are in the process of coordinating some funding. More information on funding will be available in the next few weeks.

Privacy Contributors Seek to Change the Perception of Privacy to a Positive, Proactive Value

In addition to collaborating across the broader open source community, the privacy working group endeavors to educate their communities on the inherent value of privacy instead of simply focusing on the consequences of companies being forced to pay a fee if they don’t meet legal obligations.

“We’re very keen to also shift the perception of what privacy is, and that it’s not just seen as being about negative legal obligations for GDPR, CCPA, etc.,” Burns said. “We want people to think of privacy like accessibility: just the right thing to do for user protection.”

Burns speaks about privacy at WordPress and Drupal conferences and how projects can have differing cultural, historical, and legal approaches to privacy. Cultural barriers to the recognition of privacy as a core value is one of the privacy team’s biggest challenges in advocating contributions that respect and protect users’ rights.

“What I’m proudest of this year is helping people to understand each other better,” Burns said. “We all come to the table assuming we share the same cultural, historical, and legal views of what privacy means and what role it should play, when the truth is there are wildly different views held even within project teams.

“To paraphrase that awful quote, we don’t know what we don’t know. What I do is help people to understand where we’re all coming from and what we don’t actually know. From there, I define what a healthy approach to privacy should involve outside reactive legal obligations, using a methodology derived from a number of international frameworks and treaties on privacy. It’s a matter of inspiring people to realize that as open source project contributors, we are people of enormous power and influence over privacy on the web. The actions we take within our projects, however small, can help to protect people from those who would use their data to hurt them. That’s the most important thing any developer can ever do.”

by Sarah Gooding at October 16, 2018 12:30 AM under privacy

October 13, 2018

WPTavern: Contributing to Gutenberg: A New Contributor’s Experience

The following is a guest post by Chris Van Patten who shares his experience learning and contributing to Gutenberg. There’s been a lot of talk of Gutenberg’s higher barrier to entry for new contributors. Van Patten is the founder of Tomodomo, a digital agency for magazine publishers.


Over the past few months, but especially over the last few weeks, there has been extensive conversation about the barriers to entry present in contributing to the upcoming Gutenberg editor for WordPress.

Of course, everyone’s experiences are subjective and unique. I can’t pretend to understand what everyone has felt. But my experience has been different than what some folks have been articulating, and I wanted to share my own take.

The Early Days

I’ve used WordPress for close to half my life; almost 15 years now. I remember some of the earliest versions of WordPress: the classic theme, the advent of Kubrick, MP6, up through today.

Early Days of the WordPress Backend

Like many in the community, I’m entirely self-taught. I have no background in computer science, and have no formal instruction under my belt. I picked up code through trial-and-error, tweaking files and breaking my site as I wanted to make changes.

Since those early days, WordPress was always my CMS of choice both for personal projects and for clients with my agency Tomodomo. But even though I had committed to the WordPress platform, my contributions back were limited.

The rules, rituals, and etiquette around posting on Trac seemed arcane and illegible. To this day, I could not make an SVN patch if my life depended on it. And much of the core code, imbued with years of history and backwards compatibility, was hard for me to pick apart.

So instead, I contributed in other ways: open sourcing simple custom plugins I was building, organizing WordCamps and meetups, and speaking at WordCamps around the globe. But it always bothered me that I couldn’t find a way to get those elusive ‘props’.

(Okay, so I did actually get props on one release, but I am convinced it was a mistake; I had neither opened the ticket or provided a patch.)

Going… Going… Gutenberg

When I first learned about Gutenberg and started exploring, I was apprehensive. At first it seemed scary. My JavaScript abilities didn’t extend beyond jQuery. React was inscrutable and it seemed like I’d need a doctorate to understand some of the ideas behind it. I still don’t understand how Webpack works its magic. Does anyone, really?

But the possibilities of the new block interface were too enticing to ignore, so I started diving in and figuring out how it worked. In those halcyon days (aka earlier this year), Gutenberg was still pretty rough around the edges, and there were a lot of opportunities for improvement. I started lurking on the GitHub repo, reading issues, examining the code, and generally trying to wrap my head around what the heck was going on.

As I was playing around with Gutenberg for a client project, I started reporting issues: simple things, like user interface bugs. I started commenting on tickets, usually offering suggestions for a particular feature, trying to advocate from the perspective of independent developers.

I even filed my first pull request! It was simple. I updated the README to include the day and time of the weekly #core-editor meeting (Wednesdays at 1pm UTC, if you’re wondering). It was an inauspicious beginning, but I was excited to get it merged.

Over time, my knowledge grew. It was like my early days in web development, learning a CSS property here, and an HTML element there. I learned what a component was and how you could reuse them in different situations. I learned about JSX, and ES6, and some of the other crazy acronyms you encounter in Gutenland.

As I was building more with Gutenberg, I was also finding new ways to build Gutenberg itself. I was able to understand more of the discussions, and offer my thoughts and suggestions. I started opening pull requests, largely dealing with design issues but also solving small bugs and quirks. I made a point of attending the weekly meeting I had previously added to the README, chiming in when I felt I had more perspective to share.

Today I have 25 new issues and 27 pull requests under my belt, in addition to dozens of comments on existing tickets. I’m a ‘member’ of the Gutenberg team on GitHub, and try to find time every day to triage new bugs or review pull requests. It took me most of the year to get to that point and it certainly wasn’t always easy. I still have so much to learn.

When I hear about how difficult it is to contribute to Gutenberg, I can’t reconcile that with my own experience. That’s not to say it’s a breeze: Gutenberg does things very differently than WordPress core, and there is undoubtedly a learning curve.

Advice for Contributing to Gutenberg

If you aren’t comfortable coding from day one, there are so many other ways to contribute. Read through issues and add your own ideas and suggestions. Try testing and replicating bug reports. Hunt through inline documentation for typos and grammar corrections. All of these are valuable, and always appreciated.

As you absorb the Guten-way through osmosis, you’ll find that the code isn’t as hard as you think — it’s just different. The intelligent people who build Gutenberg have done a great job at hiding away the ‘computer-science’ bits so the rest of us don’t have to worry about data binding and other complex ideas. I still cannot explain state management, data stores, or context APIs but I have managed to find small areas of the code to improve.

This isn’t to deny anyone’s frustration or confusion with Gutenberg and its development. Documentation is still lacking in many places. Some of the APIs are unintuitive. The tooling isn’t the simplest to set up. These are real problems, and I don’t want to pretend they don’t exist; we can undoubtedly do more to make Gutenberg development easier.

And of course I have privilege to check: I’m lucky to have the time to spend in the GitHub repo, experimenting with code, and participating in weekly meetings. I recognize that’s not a reality for many people.

If you can’t find the time, the Classic Editor will continue to be an option, and there’s no shame in prolonging the upgrade. It may take time for the Gutenberg experience to be as intuitive as we would all like it to be, and waiting for that is totally reasonable.

But if you open yourself to some new ideas about what WordPress can be, and can make the time, you may end up surprised at how easy it is to contribute. If you get stumped, pop into #core-editor or the forums. Don’t be afraid to post a bug report or suggestion; we might consolidate it with another issue if it was previously reported, but the additional information is still valuable. Every experience matters.

I’m incredibly excited about the future of WordPress with Gutenberg and to finally be a real WordPress contributor. We have a long way to go, but that means there are still many exciting ways to make a difference. The project will only get stronger with more independent community voices chiming in.

I hope you’ll join us!

by Jeff Chandler at October 13, 2018 02:32 AM under gutenberg

October 12, 2018

WPTavern: WordCamp for Publishers Seeks Host City for 2019

WordCamp For Publishers’ distributed organizing team is looking for a new host city in 2019. The industry-focused camp gathers together professionals who use WordPress to manage publications. This year’s successful event hosted speakers who highlighted important topics, such as ethics in journalism, the open web, AMP, Gutenberg, and communication between tech and editorial teams.

The inaugural edition of this camp was held in Denver (2017), followed by Chicago this year. A few people on social media have lobbied for cities like Los Angeles and Detroit, but the decision rests on the availability of local organizers to handle the logistics of the event. These duties include facilitating venue coordination, swag delivery, and other things that need to happen on the ground.

Based on the call for host city applications, it seems that applicants do not need a large team behind them, since there’s already an existing organizing team. Applicants need only the availability to coordinate local preparations.

Individuals or teams who are interested to host the event in 2019 can submit an application. Organizers said they have a preference for cities that are “underrepresented media markets” where attendees may not see as many of these types of events.

by Sarah Gooding at October 12, 2018 11:32 PM under WordCamp for Publishers

WPTavern: Learn How to Build JavaScript Plugins for WordPress with Riad Benguella’s Starter Kit/Tutorial

photo credit: Krzysztof Puszczyński

Riad Benguella, the technical lead for phase 2 of the Gutenberg project, has published an educational resource to help WordPress developers get started building JavaScript plugins. The WordPress JavaScript Plugin Starter is unique in that it is built as a tutorial, not just a boilerplate. The GitHub repo contains eight commits that have been structured to explain each step along the way. Benguella designed the repository to answer the following questions:

  • How do I quickly setup a WordPress environment and how do I bake it into my plugin?
  • How do I define a WordPress Plugin?
  • How do I load a simple JavaScript script in WordPress?
  • How do I bundle my JavaScript files?
  • How do I use advanced JavaScript features like JSX?
  • How do I build a production-ready version of my plugin?
  • How does all this fit together?

Benguella predicts a shift in the WordPress development community, as JavaScript skills become essential for extending core’s rapidly evolving JS-based UI. Plugin architecture is changing to accommodate that.

“Plugin developers are required to use JavaScript more in order to extend the editor,” Benguella said. “Most blocks need to be developed using this technology. The modules Gutenberg provides (Components, data module, i18n, apiFetch…) will also encourage developers to extend other parts of WP-Admin in JavaScript. Instead of writing HTML/CSS screens from scratch and rendering them from the server, developers are able to bootstrap and prototype fully accessible new screens in WP-Admin by composing these components in a small number lines of code.”

Benguella’s WordPress JavaScript Plugin Starter resource demystifies the plugin creation process with detailed explanations of each step throughout the readme file. It’s a valuable resource for PHP developers who are just getting started transitioning into building JavaScript plugins.

by Sarah Gooding at October 12, 2018 08:21 PM under javascript

WPTavern: WordCamp Nordic 2019 to be Held in Helsinki, March 7-8

After many years of planning, WordPress’ Nordic communities are finally getting a regional WordCamp. The first WordCamp Nordic 2019 is set to be held in Helsinki, Finland the weekend of March 7-8 at the Paasitorni Congress Center.

“Some folks from the Norwegian community came up with idea in 2016,” lead organizer Marco Martins said. “Then in a WordCamp Stockholm we got people together and we discussed the idea. But it was earlier this year in WordCamp Jyväskylä (Finland) that we decided to commit to it and organize it. After that I went to Oslo to discuss personally with people from the Nordic countries and we came to an agreement. We gathered a team from the different countries and here we are.”

The international organizing team is planning for approximately 600 attendees but the venue has the capacity for 800 people, if ticket demand is higher than expected. Paasitorni is an 111-year old complex brimming with historic significance. The Art Nouveau style building is also known as the Helsinki Workers’ House, previously serving as leisure premises for the working class. It also provided the headquarters for the Red army during the 1918 Finnish Civil War. In the 1990’s it was remodeled to be a conference center and now includes a hotel and restaurants on premises.

Finland has a stable and active WordPress community, which Martins said was one of the factors in the decision to host the first WordCamp Nordic in Helsinki. Regular meetups are held across the country in Turku, Tampere, Jyväskylä, Oulu, and Seinäjoki. The local WordPress Helsinki Meetup group has more than 900 members with average attendance of 20-60 attendees each month.

Helsinki has hosted two previous WordCamps, both averaging more than 220 attendees. Three other WordCamps were held in Turku, Tampere, and Jyväskylä, along with an unofficial WP Metsä (“WP Forest”) in 2017, featuring cabins, lakes, outdoor tubs, sauna, and lightning talks by the fire. According to local organizers, Finnish camps have always sold out sponsor packages and tickets relatively fast.

WordCamp Nordic will host a Contributor Day on March 7, followed by the main event on March 8. Organizers expect attendees from Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and other countries, with likely the most attendees from Finland. All the sessions will be conducted in English.

“While Nordic countries have very close ties both culturally and historically, one of the challenges we often face when thinking of attending a local WordCamp in the region is language,” co-organizer Niko Pettersen said. “Even though most Finns learn Swedish in school, the language often stays at a basic level and doesn’t extend to technical things such as WordPress. By having all of our talks in English, we’re hoping to level the playing field and hopefully attract more people from all around the world to come and listen to what these communities have to share.”

Organizers are still in the process of discussing what topics they would like to see, but Pettersen said many Nordic countries tend to focus heavily on education, the environment, and healthcare. “Also with the EU Accessibility Directive coming to full effect in the coming years, I have a feeling a11y will be one of the major topics we will want to cover,” Pettersen said.

WordCamp Nordic will also be hosting an informal Activity Day on March 9th where attendees will be welcome to join various activities, such as karaoke, cycling tours, trips to islands, and other other events coordinated by the community and sponsors.

“It is something that Oslo has been doing informally the day after the camp and the feedback has been great so we thought it would be a good idea to have the activity day for people to do something together and experience something Finnish in more informal way,” Martins said. “We are planning the activities, but sauna for sure, because Finland.”

One unique aspect of Finnish culture is the national obsession with saunas, and WordCamp Nordic organizers are ready to introduce attendees to Finland’s favorite pastime.

“Traditionally saunas have been a place to cleanse the body and mind, but more recently travelers have discovered it is also a great place to meet locals, share experiences and get tips on where to go next,” Pettersen said. “If you’ve never been to one, I warmly suggest you extend your stay over the weekend as we’re planning on taking groups to some of the new public saunas in Helsinki during the Activity Day the day after the event.”

WordCamp Nordic Organizers Aim to Revitalize Local Communities by Fostering New Meetup Groups

Finland is the birth place of many open source projects, including SSH, MySQL, Linux, and IRC. WordCamp Nordic organizers hope to inspire that same spirit of collaboration among neighboring WordPress communities by hosting the regional camp.

“One of the goals we listed in our initial proposal was to focus on revitalizing the local communities in the region and help to form new meetup groups by getting the organizers and interested parties together during Contributor Day,” Pettersen said. “We saw our meetup scene grow in Finland from one to six in the space of a few years largely thanks events like these and good mentoring from the community at large.”

Organizers plan to keep the camp running in future years but have not yet settled on the selection process for future host cities.

“As long as WordCamp Europe is organized during the summer, I have a feeling future events will be leaning towards spring/autumn or winter,” Pettersen said. “The selection process is still up for debate, but I imagine whoever feels like this is their calling will have the full support of the Nordic community to carry on where we left off.”

WordCamp Nordic joins a small list of regional WordCamps that have become can’t-miss, enriching events for many in the WordPress community. Tickets will go on sale at the end of October. Follow @WordCampNordic on Twitter or subscribe to the newsletter to get notified.

by Sarah Gooding at October 12, 2018 04:43 AM under WordCamp Nordic

WPTavern: Tiny Raises $4M in Series A Funding, Publishes Gutenberg FAQ

Tiny, the company formerly known as Ephox has raised $4M in Series A funding from BlueRun Ventures. Tiny is the company behind TinyMCE, a popular text editor used in many opensource projects, including WordPress.

In addition to the funding, Jeff Tannenbaum, partner at BlueRun Ventures is joining Tiny’s board of directors. The company has also launched Tiny Drive, a preview of TinyMCE 5, and the Tiny App Directory.

TinyMCE’s Relationship With Gutenberg

Gutenberg is built on top of TinyMCE and this has led to few misconceptions about the project. To alleviate these misconceptions, Tiny published a Gutenberg and TinyMCE FAQ earlier this year.

TinyMCE is used by the Classic Editor but as the FAQ explains, they are not one in the same and never have been.

The Classic Editor is less than TinyMCE in that it exposes just 6 of the 54 of the official plugins and a fraction of the UI. A popular WordPress plugin called TinyMCE Advanced created by Andrew Ozz exposes more of TinyMCE’s UI, core features, and plugins.

The Classic Editor is also more than TinyMCE in that there is significant custom code in WordPress. This includes WordPress-specific UI components and backend code for embedding, links, media, and more. Some of the filtering code is specific to WordPress.

Andrew Roberts

Gutenberg uses TinyMCE to provide rich text editing and provides a Classic editor block that contains some UI elements from TinyMCE, but that’s about it.

Both projects have a close relationship but as Roberts noted on TechCrunch, the two are not mutually dependent on each other.

“Tiny’s core business comes from a mix of software vendors, large enterprises, and agencies building custom solutions for clients that has little to do with the WordPress ecosystem,” Roberts told TechCrunch. “It is a popular and commercially viable project in its own right.

While TinyMCE 5 features a brand new UI, earlier versions such as 4.7 were inspired by beta versions of Gutenberg. Tiny is not yet committed to making block based editing the default but is keeping a close eye on how Gutenberg rolls out.

TinyMCE and WordPress are open source projects that will continue to benefit each other as it makes sense.

“The TinyMCE and WordPress projects have had a symbiotic relationship over the years. We hope that this goodwill and sense of community continues for many years to come,” Roberts said.

by Jeff Chandler at October 12, 2018 03:57 AM under tinymce

October 11, 2018

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 333 – Interview With Mike ‘Shredder’ Schroder

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I are joined by Mike Schroder. Schroder co-led the release of WordPress 3.9 and in 2016, he led the release of WordPress 4.5.

In the interview, we learn his WordPress origin story, his thoughts on Gutenberg and whether or not he sees it as the future of WordPress, the WordPress media component, and near the end of the show, he explains how he received the nickname Shredder.

Useful Links Mentioned:

A Detailed List of Meetings of the Various WordPress Core Teams
New Contributors Bi-Monthly Meeting
WordPress Core Contributor Handbook
Mike Schroder and Tammie Lister’s Presentation from WCUS 2017 – Media Matters
GoDaddy Hires Mike Schroder to Contribute to WordPress Core Full-Time

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, October 17th 3:00 P.M. Eastern

Subscribe to WordPress Weekly via Itunes

Subscribe to WordPress Weekly via RSS

Subscribe to WordPress Weekly via Stitcher Radio

Subscribe to WordPress Weekly via Google Play

Listen To Episode #333:

by Jeff Chandler at October 11, 2018 09:07 AM under WordPress 5.0

WPTavern: Gutenberg 4.0 RC 1 Released, Testing Ramps Up Amid Critical Accessibility Concerns

A pre-release of Gutenberg 4.0 RC 1 is now available for testing. During today’s core developer chat, Matias Ventura, the project’s technical lead, said he plans to post a full changelog and a video tomorrow. In the meantime, a call for testing 4.0 RC 1 has been posted to the make.wordpress.org/test blog with a list of 15 specific testing items highlighted for attention.

Gutenberg 4.0 introduces several new features, (including but not limited to) the following:

  • Add ability to change overlay color in Cover Image
  • New Font Size Picker with clear labels and size comparison
  • New RichText data structure to allow better manipulation of inline content
  • Add Pullquote style variation and color palette support
  • Add support for post locking when multiple authors interact with the editor
  • Add support for shortcode embeds that enqueue scripts.

A running list of the enhancements, bug fixes, and other changes is available on GitHub in the changelog. Deprecations for 4.0.0 are outlined in the Gutenberg handbook.

Grzegorz Ziółkowski has published Gutenberg’s npm packages this evening, so the team can move forward on core integration with Gutenberg.

Accessibility has been one of the recent concerns with the project, as there are many outstanding tickets with this tag. One of the most prolific contributors to testing, Andrea Fercia, has stated that the editor in its current state is “barely usable” for those with accessibility needs. Joe Dolson, another WordPress accessibility contributor, wrote a reaction post that concurs with Fercia’s assessment.

“The leadership within the Gutenberg project has not taken seriously the scope of accessibility problems in Gutenberg,” Dolson said. “I do not want to diminish the dedication to accessibility issues at some levels. The dedication to producing accessible content is still very high. But I’m not seeing dedication to developing an accessible authoring tool. It’s as if there’s no awareness of the needs of authors with disabilities; only consumers.”

If WordPress 5.0 is released on schedule, Dolson said he believes it is “almost a guarantee that the first release of Gutenberg in WordPress will not be accessible,” as there are too many major accessibility issues left to resolve.

Matthew MacPherson, the new accessibility lead for WordPress 5.0, said he is willing to bet that Gutenberg is more accessible than the Classic Editor and that the perception of its inaccessibility is based on older evaluations of earlier releases:

I think there’s a notion of Gutenberg being inaccessible because of older accessibility audits that identified a lot of issues in the very early versions. Things have changed a lot since the early days, and when the plugin was labeled “1.0” it was hardly a ready-to-ship product. I worry that many of those sentiments haven’t been re-examined and updated, so there is a prevailing idea that Gutenberg is not accessible or is entirely less accessible than the Classic Editor.

What I’d venture is that Gutenberg is selectively less accessible, but overall more accessible feature-for-feature. Something like a date picker or a certain interaction being inaccessible does not make the entire editor inaccessible. Feature-for-feature, compared to a classic editor with similar capabilities (eg a bunch of plugins installed), I’d bet* Gutenberg is more accessible.

Despite his suggestion that Gutenberg’s current accessibility issues are likely not as critical as contributors have claimed, MacPherson is willing to coordinate an independent accessibility audit to get an outside opinion. Selection of the company to perform the audit is currently in process.

After the recent resignation of team rep Rian Rietveld, accessibility contributors are meeting next Monday to get reorganized and discuss the leadership and decision processes of the team.

Many have speculated outside of official channels on whether the recent shakeup in the leadership of the accessibility team is a referendum on the aggressive timeline for Gutenberg’s inclusion in core or simply the natural turnover in open source projects when friction cannot be resolved. A truly independent accessibility audit, with results that are shared transparently to the WordPress community, will reveal whether current perceptions of Gutenberg’s lack of accessibility are accurate.

In the meantime, a new “Needs Accessibility Feedback” label is available for use on the Gutenberg GitHub repository to facilitate communication between developers and accessibility contributors. There is also a label for regressions where changes broke accessibility along the way.

by Sarah Gooding at October 11, 2018 04:31 AM under gutenberg

October 09, 2018

WPTavern: Jetpack 6.6 Improves Site Verification Tools, Asset CDN Module Now in Beta, Gutenberg Blocks Coming Soon

Jetpack 6.6 was released today with an update to the Site Verification tools that enables one-click verification and sitemap.xml registration with Google.

This release also introduces the beta of Jetpack’s Asset CDN. The new module, built on the same infrastructure as the Photon CDN, speeds up sites by cloud-hosting widely-used Jetpack and core WordPress scripts, styles, and assets. It takes a load off of users’ servers and increases the allowed maximum concurrent connections through Photon. Once it is ready for use in production, the Asset CDN will be a new opt-in feature that can help speed up Jetpack’s 5+ million active installations.

Version 6.6 also adds the necessary infrastructure for new Gutenberg blocks. The activity on the plugin’s GitHub repository indicates the team is working on a number of blocks for existing features, including things like recipes, shortcodes, Jetpack subscription form, Simple Payments, Publicize, the contact form, tweet shortcode, VR shortcode, Giphy, and more. Everything touching the editor is in the process of being ported to blocks. Many of the blocks are already complete and some are still in progress. Some features, such as support for tiled gallery layouts, have bugs that need to be sorted before Jetpack will be ready for WordPress 5.0.

Jetpack 6.6.1 will be going out soon to address a bug with social icons that this release introduced. In the meantime, users can paste the CSS in this gist into Appearance > Customize > Additional CSS to provide a temporary fix.

by Sarah Gooding at October 09, 2018 10:19 PM under jetpack

WPTavern: WordPress Accessibility Team Lead Resigns, Cites Political Complications Related to Gutenberg

WordPress Accessibility Team lead Rian Rietveld has resigned due to what she describes as political complications and problems with working on Gutenberg accessibility.

“The last year, especially the last few weeks have been too politically complicated for me,” Rietveld said. “It’s better that someone else takes the lead now.”

Her post outlines challenges the accessibility team has encountered in working with Gutenberg without having a skilled React developer on their team. Their contributions have primarily been limited to testing and reporting issues. Rietveld said team members experienced frustration when they tested and improved functionality but saw it changed at a later stage, breaking accessibility requirements again. She also cites a lack of commitment to keyboard testing new features before implementation.

Rietveld said she used her network to try to get more companies and developers with React skills involved in Gutenberg accessibility contribution. In March, tests they ran on the plugin revealed a staggering number of Gutenberg accessibility issues that remain unresolved.

“The results indicated so many accessibility issues that most testers refused to look at Gutenberg again,” Rietveld said. She included a statement from fellow contributor Andrea Fercia, who has been highly active in testing Gutenberg functionality and reporting issues:

While the Gutenberg team has worked hard to implement some fundamental accessibility features (e.g. focus management, navigate landmark regions), the overall user experience is terribly complicated for users with accessibility needs at the point the new editor is barely usable for them.

The main reason for this lack of overall accessibility is in the overall Gutenberg design, where accessibility hasn’t been incorporated in the design process.

Feedback from accessibility users has been constantly evaluated and Gutenberg is actually a regression in terms of accessibility level, compared to the previous editor.

The Gutenberg project now has a dedicated developer from Automattic, Matthew MacPherson, who is working on accessibility issues and Rietveld said she hopes the core accessibility team will continue to offer him all the support he needs.

Rietveld’s resignation is a major loss to the WordPress project. For years her leadership and contributions have demonstrated the project’s commitment to serving those with a disability.

In 2016, she was instrumental in WordPress adopting accessibility coding standards for all new and updated code. Rietveld was recognized by Knowbility.org as “a knowledgeable, dedicated, and effective advocate for accessibility in the global WordPress community,” whose achievements had a major impact on the application used by more than 25% of the world at that time. She took first place in the Individual Achievement category of the Heroes of Accessibility Awards.

News of Rietveld’s resignation roused an outpouring of sadness and gratitude on Twitter. The WordPress community thanked her for her work and that of other accessibility contributors, whose efforts often go unappreciated.

“I’m not leaving WordPress nor accessibility, and in fact maybe now I can actually work on accessibility again,” Rietveld said. “I will keep giving talks and workshops. I also want to do research and work on tickets. But in my own pace.

“I will join the a11y table if asked on contributor days, but maybe I’ll just go to a museum instead.”

by Sarah Gooding at October 09, 2018 04:27 PM under gutenberg

WPTavern: Alexis Lloyd and Riad Benguella Will Lead Phase Two of Gutenberg

As activity ramps up to try to get WordPress 5.0 released in November, Matt Mullenweg has announced who will lead phase two of the Gutenberg project. Phase two focuses on Customization and entire site layouts.

Alexis Lloyd, Head of Design Innovation at Automattic, will handle the design and product side. Riad Benguella, a JavaScript Engineer at Automattic, will handle the technical side of the project.

One of the goals of phase two is to replace widgets with blocks and menus with a navigation block. Lloyd and Benguella commented on the post, introducing themselves to the community.

“Hi all! I’m thrilled to be working on phase 2 of Gutenberg,” Lloyd said. “I think there’s a huge opportunity to take the ease of use that has been brought to page/post editing in phase 1 and extend that to the full site experience.

“I’m coming from many years leading design and product teams in news organizations (including designing and building custom CMSes), and am looking forward to bringing my experience to WordPress, as well as learning from the deep expertise in the community!”

“Hi all! I’m so excited to be working with you all alongside @alexislloyd to build upon the amazing technology that is Gutenberg in order to bring the content creation experience in WordPress to a whole new level,” Benguella said.

“For those who don’t know me yet, I’m a JavaScript engineer at Automattic. I’ve been fortunate to have contributed to the Gutenberg project since its beginning, including a lot of work on Gutenberg APIs, JavaScript in Core, and Accessibility.

“I look forward to bringing my humble expertise to achieve the second phase of this project, as we look into things like widgets, menus, templates, and site-building in general.”

Theseus’s Paradox Makes More Sense Now

In episode 331 of WordPress Weekly, one of the items we discussed with Gary Pendergast is the future of Gutenberg beyond the editor. At its core, Gutenberg is supposed to unify a number of areas of WordPress.

Blocks are the unifying evolution of what is now covered, in different ways, by shortcodes, embeds, widgets, post formats, custom post types, theme options, meta-boxes, and other formatting elements. They embrace the breadth of functionality WordPress is capable of, with the clarity of a consistent user experience.

From the Gutenberg Plugin Page

I hypothesized that since Gutenberg is an interface to manage blocks and that menus as well as widgets will become blocks, the menus and widget management pages in the WordPress backend can be replaced or removed in favor of Gutenberg.

In this way, the Menu and Widget management boards on the Ship of Theseus would be replaced without sinking or disrupting the entire boat.

With Mullenweg’s announcement regarding phase two, the Ship Of Theseus or Theseus’s paradox begins to make more sense. Gutenberg becomes the foundation for bringing many areas of the WordPress project up to par without starting from scratch.

by Jeff Chandler at October 09, 2018 01:52 AM under ship of theseus

WPTavern: Miami WordPresser Todrick Moore Passes Away

Todrick Moore Courtesy of David Bisset

Fellow WordPresser Todrick Moore, a member of the Miami WordPress community and volunteer organizer of WordCamp Miami 2015 and 2016  passed away last week of Leukemia.

“Todrick Moore was one of the kindest and strongest members of the South Florida WordPress community, and I still to this day remember meeting him first at his local meetup,” David Bisset said.

“Like many people who come to meetups he was eager to learn, but also as I would quickly come to realize, he would be eager to help others as well.”

To learn more about Todrick and how to help out his wife with their WordPress business site, please read this post by David Bisset.

by Jeff Chandler at October 09, 2018 12:24 AM under todrick moore

October 08, 2018

WPTavern: How the Student-Owned Pelham Examiner Uses WordPress to Empower Young Journalists

When the News of Pelham became another casualty of the blighted newspaper industry, student journalist contributors lost a platform for their voices to be heard. Their advisor, Rich Zahradnik, called a meeting to address the paper’s closure. More than a dozen middle and high school kids showed up and decided to start their own paper: The Pelham Examiner.

Zahradnik is a former journalist who has been volunteering for years in the local elementary schools, teaching kids how to write news stories. Before the News of Pelham shut down he was acting as a liaison to recruit student contributors. He registered the Examiner as a corporation and the paper is also part of the New York Press Association.

The Pelham Examiner is an online-only publication that covers everything from local politics and crime to sports and entertainment. It is running on WordPress, using plugins like All-in-One Event Calendar and WP Polls to enhance students’ stories. The site uses the FLEX WordPress Theme by SNO, an organization that sells publishing solutions for scholastic news programs.

WordPress provided a cost-effective way to launch a student-run newspaper and students also found it to be intuitive for publishing.

“We chose to use WordPress mainly because of the ease with which we could use it and create a website look that worked for our goal,” Executive Editor Ben Glickman said. Zahradnik had used the platform with prior publications he had worked on with students at Colonial Elementary School.

“Several of the students who had worked on The Colonial Times loosely remembered some aspects of WordPress, but most of us had to learn from the beginning,” Glickman said. “I started with the basics (creating new articles, saving drafts, etc.) and worked my way up to the more complex stuff.” Most students contributing to the Pelham Examiner didn’t require much training to get up to speed with publishing articles.

“Personally, I thought that much of WordPress was rather intuitive, so learning was not too hard,” Glickman said. “I haven’t had any problems with WordPress so far. I’ve been especially impressed with how easy it is to integrate all kinds of story elements into a given story.”

Poynter published a story last week about the enthusiastic and highly motivated group of young journalists behind the Pelham Examiner. For now the publication is self-sustaining with volunteer contributions, but Zahradnik told Poynter that he is open to ads or investors in the future.

Sustaining the news as a business is another skill the students will need to learn as the publishing industry is increasingly demanding more creative revenue models from journalists who want to work independently. Zahradnik told Poynter that the Pelham Examiner’s student-owned online paper could be a model for other places that are no longer able to support traditional local newspapers.

The News of Pelham was a bi-weekly, print-only publication before it closed its doors. With a WordPress-powered website, students can get the news out faster, publishing every day with virtually no overhead costs.

“I think the model for the Examiner is absolutely reproducible,” Glickman said. “For the relatively small price of a startup fee and annual hosting and support fees, you can essentially have the same type of town or city coverage with a conventional town newspaper.”

by Sarah Gooding at October 08, 2018 08:52 PM under newspaper

October 05, 2018

WPTavern: WooSesh Schedule Published, WooCommerce Team to Deliver Keynote

WooSesh, the virtual WooCommerce conference, is now less than two weeks away. The two-day event will be held October 18-19 and is free for all attendees who join the livestream. Organizers Patrick Rauland and Brian Richards published the schedule this week with descriptions for each session.

Day 1 will feature speakers on a variety of topics suited for all attendees who work with WooCommerce, including building stores for clients, designing sites, and developing plugins. Day 2 is geared towards developers and will focus on more technical topics.

Todd Wilkens, Head of WooCommerce, will be giving the keynote along with Aviva Pinchas and Kelly Hoffman. The session is titled “The Past, Present, and Future of WooCommerce” and it will be followed up with a Q&A time.

In a recent interview, Wilkens told Patrick Rauland that they have been working to rethink the merchant experience of the platform, as it has traditionally offered more of a builder style experience. This is one topic they plan to discuss in the keynote, in addition to where they see WooCommerce going as a platform, some recent successes, and how WooCommerce fits into other trends with WordPress and e-commerce in general.

Attendees can watch all sessions for free as long as they attend at least one presentation during the live event. Registration is open on the WooSesh website.

by Sarah Gooding at October 05, 2018 05:58 AM under woosesh

WPTavern: If Deadlines Are Not Arbitrary, Why Not Release WordPress 5.0 in the Beginning of January?

The WordPress 5.0 release schedule has been published and not everyone is excited about the expected November 19th release. November 19th is three days before Thanksgiving, a major holiday in the U.S.

Historically, WordPress has shipped major versions in early to mid December rather than November. Holidays were considered because of the sharp drop-off in volunteer contribution activity. These versions were also part of a rigid and predictable four month schedule to get three major releases out per year.

However, WordPress 5.0 is no ordinary major release. It will contain Gutenberg and completely revamp the content creation and editing experience. Not to mention, we won’t know the full extent of plugin and theme compatibility until it’s installed on millions of sites.

Looking at the proposed release date and WordCamp US taking place on December 7th, it’s not out of the question to theorize the release occurring before and because of WCUS. It should be noted though that the roadmap Matt Mullenweg outlined at WordCamp EU earlier this year originally targeted a late August release.

I think it would be a bummer if WordPress 5.0 was not released before WordCamp US. However, it would be irresponsible as a project leader to force a release for public relations reasons.

As Mullenweg commented in a recently published article, he won’t release WordPress 5.0 until it’s ready. I don’t think releasing it to have a big moment on stage would qualify as being ready.

I think there should be consideration in pushing the release date to the beginning of next year. What better way to ring in the new year with a completely new editor in WordPress. It bypasses the holidays concern and allows people to apply all of their focus on making sure 5.0 is rolled out smoothly to sites they manage.

Gutenberg has been in development for more than a year and a half. Since the WordPress release strategy was thrown out the window last year and deadlines are not arbitrary, what’s a few more weeks of development and testing before pushing WordPress 5.0 to the public?

by Jeff Chandler at October 05, 2018 03:09 AM under WordPress 5.0

October 04, 2018

WPTavern: WordPress Theme and Plugin Shops are Pioneering the First Layout Blocks for Gutenberg

photo credit: Jeffrey Betts

Many WordPress theme shops started out with themes as their only products but over the years have moved into selling plugins that enhance their core products. This came about partially because theming standards evolved to encourage developers to put non-presentational functionality into plugins. For many, the revenue from plugins quickly eclipsed that of their theme products. In the past, theme shops have often partnered with page builder plugins to enhance their users’ capabilities in customizing the themes. This may soon change, as the advent of Gutenberg is bringing new product opportunities to theme and plugin shops shops.

The first iteration of the new editor focuses on blocks and the post editing experience. After Gutenberg is in core, the project will move on to the second phase – full site customization. This will venture into page builder type functionality. Matt Mullenweg predicts this phase will happen much faster than phase 1, since all of the infrastructure is already in place. The plugin already has a columns block in beta.

Gutenberg is scheduled to debut in WordPress 5.0 in November, but site customization functionality won’t arrive until 2019 at the earliest. In the meantime, plugin developers have been experimenting with various implementations of “section” and “container” blocks while the Gutenberg team explores a core container block for phase 2.

Marie Comet’s WP Container Block is a fork of the core columns block that offers columns structure, spacing, and backgrounds (with both image and color controls). Felix Arntz recently published a tutorial on how he built a reusable Gutenberg section block. Marc Lacroix created his own container block, out of necessity, with capabilities for spacing and background customization.

Section/container blocks are a precursor to using Gutenberg for building more complex layouts. Some of these explorations may inform the Gutenberg team’s implementation of a core container block in the future.

A few more full-featured layout blocks are starting to pop up on WordPress.org. Kadence Themes, a theme and plugin shop based in Missoula, Montana, released its Kadence Blocks – Gutenberg Page Builder Toolkit at the end of August. The plugin brings the editor closer to delivering the features users expect from popular page builders, such as better control of columns for different screen sizes and a row/layout block with controls for padding, backgrounds, alignment, and overlays with gradients.

Instagram Photo

A live “Frontenberg” style demo of Kadence Blocks is available where you can see the plugin’s options for manipulating page layout.

Pootlepress, a WordPress plugin and theme shop, has added a new Layouts block to its free Caxton plugin. The company is one of the earlier Gutenberg adopters in the WooCommerce space with its recent release of the Storefront Blocks plugin.

Caxton bills itself as a “page layout plugin” for Gutenberg. Its layout block allows users to select from a number of preset layouts and then add blocks within those layouts. It supports nesting rows and row backgrounds. A Frontenberg demo site gives users the chance to play around with the page builder functionality before installing the plugin.

Until Gutenberg adds core support for more layout capabilities, WordPress may see an influx of these layout blocks that introduce basic page builder functionality. Some of these plugins may need to be refactored once there is more direction for these features in core, but they offer a glimpse of what Gutenberg will bring to site customization. Combined with Gutenberg 3.9’s reusable, exportable templates for multiple blocks, page layouts will become more portable than ever. In 2019, we may see new sites popping up that enable users and developers to share the layout designs they have created.

by Sarah Gooding at October 04, 2018 03:24 PM under layout blocks

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 332 – The WordPress 5.0 Release Cycle Begins

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I discuss the headlines making the rounds in the WordPress community. This includes the start of the WordPress 5.0 release cycle, the 5th annual Hacktoberfest, and theme developers marketing their themes as Gutenberg-compatible. Near the end of the show, I describe how much of the press surrounding WordPress security issues is poorly written and John talks about the benefits of being in the same physical space as your co-workers at least once or twice a year.

Stories Discussed:

WordPress Theme Developers Begin Marketing Themes as Gutenberg Compatible

First Wave of WordCamp Europe 2019 Tickets Sells Out in 3 Hours

5th Annual Hacktoberfest Kicks Off Today, Updated Rules Require 5 Pull Requests to Earn a T-shirt

Matt Mullenweg Announces WordPress 5.0 Release Plan, Estimates Release Candidate to Ship in November

GoDaddy Hires Mike Schroder to Contribute to WordPress Core Full-Time

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, October 10th 3:00 P.M. Eastern

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Listen To Episode #332:

by Jeff Chandler at October 04, 2018 12:30 AM under WordCamp Europe

October 03, 2018

WPTavern: WordPress 5.0 Slated for November 19, 2018

A tentative 5.0 release schedule was published during today’s core dev chat. The official release is targeted for November 19, 2018 with beta 1 expected October 19 and RC 1 released October 30.

In addition to getting Gutenberg merged into core, the scope for 5.0 includes a few new items that Gary Pendergast outlined in his post:

  • Updating the default themes to work well with the block editor, and creating the new Twenty Nineteen theme.
  • Creating an upgrade experience to remove the Gutenberg plugin and offer the Classic Editor plugin.

November 19 is the week of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., when many are traveling or spending time with friends and family. As this is scheduled during a busy time of year and may have unexpected delays, the release leads have come up with a backup plan that includes a secondary schedule.

“We know there is a chance that 5.0 will need additional time, so these dates can slip by up to 8 days if needed,” Pendergast said. His post proposes an additional timeline that would have 5.0 land in January:

Secondary RC 1: January 8, 2019

Secondary Release: January 22, 2019

“The current release date is November 19, but it can be pushed as late as November 27 if needed,” Pendergast said. “To avoid the numerous holidays from the end of November through to January, we’ll move the release to January if more time is needed.”

Although the backup timeline should allay concerns about December holidays, if the release is at all delayed, it will run up against the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Should we need to switch to the secondary dates, this will be communicated as soon as we’re aware,” Pendergast said. “It’s also important to note that we have some updates for PHP 7.3 compatibility that must be released in 2018 regardless, and we would have a short 4.9.9 release cycle for them if needed.”

Contributors had the opportunity to ask questions of the release leads during today’s 5.0 kickoff meeting. There was some uncertainty in yesterday’s announcements about whether 5.0 will ship a new default theme. Matt Mullenweg confirmed that they are aiming to get Twenty Nineteen into 5.0.

“It’s the biggest variable though, so if it takes longer we won’t delay the release for it,” Mullenweg said.

Twenty Nineteen development will happen on GitHub and contributors can join the discussion in the #core-themes Slack channel where regular meetings will happen.

Gutenberg engineer Riad Benguella posted a technical overview of the integration process for merging the new editor into core. He also laid out a plan for how Gutenberg development will continue in the future.

“After WordPress 5.0 is released, the Gutenberg plugin will continue to exist,” Benguella said. “Its purpose will be changed to the development and the maintenance of the WordPress npm packages, including the editor itself, and will also serve to develop the second phase (site customization) of the Gutenberg project. Plugin updates will continue to be released during the 5.0 cycle.

“The PHP part of the plugin won’t be needed anymore, as the plugin will just register new versions of the scripts of the packages to replace the ones already registered by Core.”

Mullenweg confirmed during the dev chat that the team plans to add a link to the Classic Editor plugin in the admin when 5.0 ships. Overall, contributors in attendance seemed excited about the prospect of finally having the new editor in core, despite the ambitious timeline proposed for release.

“A big benefit even beyond the user improvements is that plugin and theme developers will be able to truly use it as a base in a way that they can’t right now as a plugin,” Mullenweg said. “If previous adoption curves hold true, we’d be on 10m sites (20x current adoption) by new year.”

Gutenberg development has been moving quickly and after it is shipped to millions of WordPress users there are bound to be more issues discovered. Mullenweg said quick point releases may be an option for maintaining the flexibility to introduce fixes and improvements in a timely way for users.

“Since 5.0 will be very tight (just Gutenberg, PHP 7.3, and possibly theme) I am open to having 5.0.x releases that are like the 4.9.x releases that bring in some larger updates or improvements we push off, like servehappy stuff,” he said.

Gutenberg technical lead Matias Ventura has outlined the tasks remaining on the editor. An updated schedule for the 5.0 release cycle is now available for the public to follow. Gary Pendergast, who is shepherding the merge, said he expects WordPress 5.1 will be available around March 2019.

by Sarah Gooding at October 03, 2018 11:23 PM under WordPress 5.0

Gary: WordPress 5.0 Needs You!

Yesterday, we started the WordPress 5.0 release cycle with an announcement post.

It’s a very exciting time to be involved in WordPress, and if you want to help make it the best, now’s an excellent opportunity to jump right in.

A critical goal of this release cycle is transparency.

As a member of the WordPress 5.0 leadership team, the best way for me to do my job is to get feedback from the wider WordPress community as early, and as quickly as possible. I think I speak for everyone on the leadership team when I say that we all feel the same on this. We want everyone to be able to participate, which will require some cooperation from everyone in the wider WordPress community.

The release post was published as soon as it was written, we wanted to get it out quickly, so everyone could be aware of what’s going on. Publishing quickly does mean that we’re still writing the more detailed posts about scope, and timeline, and processes. Instead of publishing a completed plan all at once, we intentionally want to include everyone from the start, and evolve plans as we get feedback.

With no other context, the WordPress 5.0 timeline of “release candidate in about a month” would be very short, which is why we’ve waited until Gutenberg had proved itself before setting a timeline. As we mentioned in the post, WordPress 5.0 will be “WordPress 4.9.8 + Gutenberg”. The Gutenberg plugin is running on nearly 500k sites, and WordPress 4.9.8 is running on millions of sites. For comparison, it’s considered a well tested major version if we see 20k installs before the final release date. Gutenberg is a bigger change than we’ve done in the past, so should be held to a higher standard, and I think we can agree that 500k sites is a pretty good test base: it arguably meets, or even exceeds that standard.

We can have a release candidate ready in a month.

The Gutenberg core team are currently focussed on finishing off the last few features. The Gutenberg plugin has evolved exceedingly quickly thanks to their work, it’s moved so much faster than anything we’ve done in WordPress previously. As we transition to bug fixing, you should expect to see the same rapid improvement.

The block editor’s backwards compatibility with the classic editor is important, of course, and the Classic Editor plugin is a part of that: if you have a site that doesn’t yet work with the block editor, please go ahead and install the plugin. I’d be happy to see the Classic Editor plugin getting 10 million or more installs, if people need it. That would both show a clear need for the classic interface to be maintained for a long time, and because it’s the official WordPress plugin for doing it, we can ensure that it’s maintained for as long as it’s needed. This isn’t a new scenario to the WordPress core team, we’ve been backporting security fixes to WordPress 3.7 for years. We’re never going to leave site owners out in the cold there, and exactly the same attitude applies to the Classic Editor plugin.

The broader Gutenberg project is a massive change, and WordPress is a big ship to turn.

It’s going to take years to make this transition, and it’s okay if WordPress 5.0 isn’t everything for everyone. There’ll be a WordPress 5.1, and 5.2, and 5.3, and so on, the block editor will continue to evolve to work for more and more people.

My role in WordPress 5.0 is to “generally shepherd the merge”. I’ve built or guided some of the most complex changes we’ve made in Core in recent years, and they’ve all been successful. I don’t intend to change that record, WordPress 5.0 will only be released when I’m as confident in it as I was for all of those previous projects.

Right now, I’m asking everyone in the WordPress community for a little bit of trust, that we’re all working with the best interests of WordPress at heart. I’m also asking for a little bit of patience, we’re only human, we can only type so fast, and we do need to sleep every now and then. 😉

WordPress 5.0 isn’t the finish line, it’s the starter pistol.

This is a marathon, not a sprint, and the goal is to set WordPress up for the next 15 years of evolution. This can only happen one step at a time though, and the best way to get there will be by working together. We can have disagreements, we can have different priorities, and we can still come together to create the future of WordPress.

by Gary at October 03, 2018 10:14 PM under Gutenberg

WPTavern: GoDaddy Hires Mike Schroder to Contribute to WordPress Core Full-Time

Mike Schroder known at GetSource on Twitter and Mike on WordPress’ Slack instance is joining Aaron Campbell at GoDaddy to contribute to WordPress full-time.

Since 2011, Schroder has contributed to nearly every version of WordPress. In 2014, Schroder co-led the release of WordPress 3.9. In 2016, he lead the release of WordPress 4.5. He’s also an accomplished speaker presenting on various topics at WordCamps across the world.

According to Gabriel Mays, WordPress products and strategy leader at GoDaddy, Schroder will continue to work on the Media component in WordPress, lead the WordPress Hosting Community work group, and help merge Gutenberg into WordPress 5.0. 

by Jeff Chandler at October 03, 2018 05:57 AM under mike schroder

WPTavern: Matt Mullenweg Announces WordPress 5.0 Release Plan, Estimates Release Candidate to Ship in November

Matt Mullenweg has announced a plan for releasing WordPress 5.0 with a tentative estimate for a release candidate to ship in November.

“With known knowns and known unknowns, I believe we will be at RC in about a month,” Mullenweg said. “However, I’ll be keeping a close eye on feedback during the beta process and adjust as needed and keep the community fully up-to-date with our best estimate.”

Gutenstats.blog shows that the beta plugin has passed 490,000 active installations, which Mullenweg said “far exceeds pre-release testing of anything that has ever come into core.” The Classic Editor plugin also has more than 400,000 installations, indicating nearly half a million site owners have already prepared to preserve their existing workflows.

“If we keep the 5.0 release to strictly 4.9.8 + Gutenberg, we will have a release that is both major and a non-event in terms of new code,” Mullenweg said. “It’s all battle-tested. In some ways 5.0 is already de facto out in the wild, with some forward-looking hosts already installing and activating Gutenberg for new installs.”

Mullenweg is leading the release but has designated 11 other leads to head up various focuses, including triage, design, JavaScript packages, REST API, merge process and several other important aspects of the release.

WordPress users can also expect a new default Twenty Nineteen theme to ship with 5.0. Designer Allan Cole will be leading that project, which involves adapting an existing Gutenberg theme for use as WordPress’ next default theme.

Last week’s developer chat left many attendees wondering about the status of WordPress 4.9.9. Contributors discussed the possibility of making it a quick PHP 7.3 compatibility release but it now appears to be all hands on deck as the focus shifts to 5.0.

Based on today’s announcement, it seems very likely that WordPress 5.0 will land before the end of 2018, barring any major impediments. The timeline for this major release falls during a busy time of year for many who will be responsible for preparing their products and client sites. Mullenweg said he will keep the community up-to-date as the release cycle progresses. The agenda for tomorrow’s dev chat will focus on 5.0 planning.

by Sarah Gooding at October 03, 2018 03:19 AM under WordPress 5.0

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October 22, 2018 11:30 PM
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