WordPress Planet

July 20, 2024

Gutenberg Times: WordPress 6.6 and 6.6.1, drop shadow for Group block, alternatives to custom blocks and more — Weekend Edition 300

Hi there,

The wonderful designer, Eleonora Anzini, gifted the Gutenberg Times with a Wapuu, the unofficial mascot of WordPress. Anzini has been a strong supporter for WordCamp Europe 2024 as well as the upcoming Core Days 2024 in Rome, Italy. You can find out more about Anzini at her website. Isn’t the Wapuu cute with its headphones? Big Thank you to Eleonora Anzini.

What do you think? If you like it and email me your mailing address, I’ll find a way to get you a Gutenberg Times Podcast Wapuu sticker.

Have a great weekend!

Yours, 💕

Developing Gutenberg and WordPress

Within a few days of the WordPress 6.6, the team of core contributors, started working on 6.6.1 release to fix fast some bugs around CSS specificity. The release post for the RC1 has all the info. The release is led by Tonya Mork and Ella van Durpe. WordPress 6.6.1 RC1 is now available. It fixes a few CSS specificity bugs, that plagued Divi Sites, and other Theme builders.

You can check out WordPress 6.6 without downloaded the version via the WordPress 6.6 release landing page.

WordPress 6.6 was actually the 50th major WordPress release. Matt Mullenweg wrote on his blog: “50 releases… wow. No matter what happens in the world, we’re just going to keep cranking. Three times a year. Relentlessly. A little better each time. Don’t believe me, just watch.”

Gutenberg 18.8

211 PRs merged, 57 Enhancements, 77 Bug Fixes, 35 of them were backported to Core, and made it into WordPress 6.6 and included in the RC 3. 60 contributors worked on this release, 10 of them were first time contributors. Congratulations to all!

Release lead, Andrew Serong, highlighted in his release post What’s new in Gutenberg 18.8 (17 July):

Sreenshot of the new drop shadow tools in WordPress 6.6

Carolina Nymark and I chatted quite a bit about other updates in the Gutenberg 18.8 version. Also, what we find exciting about WordPress 6.6 and what’s in the works for WordPress 6.7 in November. The episode will arrive at your favorite podcast app over the weekend.

In his 60th Design Share #60 (Jul 1 – Jul 12), Joen Asmussen, summarized about the work of the WordPress Design team.

It mostly was around the Data Views to adjust display to changing and expanding needs.

  • Improving Filter UX
  • Consolidate bulk actions
  • Drag to resize for display panels

With many layers of design being modified in themes, global styles, block styles and plugins, there is a need to make sure users can identify where versions styling comes from. The work on visualizing style inheritance is ongoing.

The design team also work on handling the increasing complexities around the Placeholder component used in blocks and block variations. Speaking of core blocks: a collaboration to advance the Audio block has been sketched out, to give content creator more design options for the various parts. It’s ready for a developer to implement the designs. Lastly, the design team also work on the WordPress logo page in context of the redesign of wordpress.org.

What others write and say about WordPress 6.6

Pascal Claro at WP Roads covers the WordPress 6.6 release in his video: WordPress 6.6 New Features and offers great demos of Grid layouts, synch patterns, DataViews and the 10 other features. If you are a visual learner, you’d appreciate the detailed and fast-paced screen shares . They give you a meaninful insights in the how and why you would use any of the features. I am a fan of the little grid layout section creating a bento-box layout.

In this video, WordPress 6.6 negative margins, Elliot Richmond shows you how to create stunning, responsive layouts using the Group Block, Columns, and Cover Block to add depth and visual interest in adjusting margins. “The designer in you will love this subtle but powerful addition to WordPress 6.6”

Courtney Robertson, training team member and sponsored contributor by GoDaddy published What’s new in WordPress 6.6: Key features and updates. Robertson divided up the information into sections for End users, Theme developer, plugin developers and Site admins and enterprise users. So you as a reader can drill down directly to the passage most relevant to you.

Kevin Devon and Mark Wilkinson talk through the WordPress 6.6 release in their podcast episode 95.

My friend, Varun Dubey, Contributor to Buddy Press, gives you a detailed look at What’s Coming in WordPress 6.6: A Detailed Look. “Whether you are a developer, site administrator, or regular user, these updates will make managing and customizing your WordPress site more accessible and efficient.” he wrote.

In his video, Matt Medeiros asked WordPress 6.6 is here! Now what?! and takes a deep dive into Synced pattern overrides and Grid layouts. I learned that WordPress 6.6 is also the first WordPress release with credits for three dudes named Matt.

If you rather read and quick updates, Camille Cunningham at Yoast published WordPress 6.6: The 6 highlights in this release! and gives you a nice overview of those highlights.

Theme Development for Full Site Editing and Blocks

Fränk Klein ruminated in his latest blog post the question: Do block themes still need style.css? While the existence of the style.css is still needed with the metadata of a theme for WordPress, it can be empty for block themes. As Klein wrote: “style.css, on the other hand, represents the best practices of the days past. Let’s look at these and why they are no longer adequate” Details in his post.

 “Keeping up with Gutenberg – Index 2024” 
A chronological list of the WordPress Make Blog posts from various teams involved in Gutenberg development: Design, Theme Review Team, Core Editor, Core JS, Core CSS, Test, and Meta team from Jan. 2024 on. Updated by yours truly. The previous years are also available: 2020 | 2021 | 2022 | 2023

Building Blocks and Tools for the Block editor.

Alex Lende published JSON Schema in WordPress – a tutorial on what JSON is how you can set up your development environment to take advantage of the standard and how you use the various JSON properties in modern WordPress development.

Save the date for July 23 at 15:00 UTC Developer Hours: Do you really need a custom block? Let’s explore alternatives. Explore with JuanMa Garrido and Nick Diego, alternatives to building custom block, and still be able to extend core blocks and curate the editing experience for your content creators.

Need a plugin .zip from Gutenberg’s master branch?
Gutenberg Times provides daily build for testing and review.

Now also available via WordPress Playground. There is no need for a test site locally or on a server. Have you been using it? Email me with your experience

GitHub all releases

Questions? Suggestions? Ideas?
Don’t hesitate to send them via email or
send me a message on WordPress Slack or Twitter @bph.

For questions to be answered on the Gutenberg Changelog,
send them to changelog@gutenbergtimes.com

Featured Image: Geometric wooden block sculpture by Johnious Tumusiime, found at WordPress.org/photos.

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by Birgit Pauli-Haack at July 20, 2024 04:29 AM under News

July 19, 2024

Matt: WordCamp Europe

In Torino / Turin this year I decided to give a slightly different talk than normal, building on my post I did for WordPress turning 21.

And here’s the Q&A, where I got challenged and accepted to do a speed build. 🙂

by Matt at July 19, 2024 12:30 PM under WordPress

July 18, 2024

Do The Woo Community: Headless WooCommerce and WordPress with Darko Svetolikovic


GoDaddy: Build your clients sites using the flexibility of a Managed WooCommerce Store from GoDaddy. If you clients are looking to expand their store, you can deliver them a fully-customized WooCommerce site.

Episode Transcript

Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to another Do the Woo AgencyChat. It is my great pleasure to have Darko here from IntellRocket. Darko, welcome to the show.

Hi Robert. Thank you for having me.

Darko, tell us more about IntellRocket and yourself please.

Yeah, thank you. So I am Darko Svetolikovic, which is hard to pronounce even in Serbian. I come from Serbia and I’m the founder of IntellRocket, which is a WordPress agency specializing in WordPress and WooCommerce development for more than a decade. Currently, we’re certified web experts and have extensive experience in building custom WordPress websites and WooCommerce stores. I can say that we’re trying to build beautiful websites, but that’s not something you can be objective about. What’s nice and what’s beautiful is subjective. However, where you can be objective is that we build websites that are really fast. So, high-performance website projects where we guarantee that our custom builds will pass core web vitals. Why is that important? Because Core Web Vitals is a ranking signal. It means that your website is fast and produces a good user experience. Clients come to us asking for some crazy implementations, so we do that, create implementations from the technical side, and usually, those kinds of projects come with custom API integration.

Don’t spoil it yet, don’t spoil it yet because we’re going to get to it. Before we jump into the next sort of little bit here, I have to say there is a huge Serbian WordPress community and it’s very impressive.

Well, I see some people only at WordCamps. We live in the same city, but if there’s no WordPress meetup or something like that, we don’t see each other. And then I see them only at WordCamps, WordCamp Europe, or WordCamps across Europe. So yeah, there is a huge, huge community here. We hosted WordCamp 2018. I think it was WordCamp Europe in Belgrade, 2018 or 2019, I’m not sure.

Yeah, so that’s very impressive.

We have a huge community here, and I suppose that is something that is driving WordPress. So it’s not only the Serbian community; it’s communities across the globe.

I completely agree. It was actually really nice to see the Serbian community specifically having their little side meetups and things going on at WordCamps Europe. Nice group of folks. To get back to all the agency-important information, of course. You’ve mentioned performance as a key metric, not only for Core Web Vitals but for other, I guess, experience-related issues or experiences, period. What has IntellRocket done differently than other agencies around that performance question?

Well, it’s not that we’re doing something different. We’re focused on building websites that are fast and performant. We really dive deep into how WordPress operates, how everything functions, how everything works. So we try to optimize and make it better. And because of that, I can say those are performance-related things. I think I’m passionate about performance since I started my business and my agency work. I’m not a developer, so I don’t have that experience related to technical things, but I can say I have some good people on my team who are willing to do what I ask them to do.

So I want to dig into why that’s important for you, but also why it’s important for agencies as a whole to be looking at performance as a metric and specifically beyond hosting. Because every host is going to say they’re the fastest, the best. We know the story. So why should agencies specifically be looking to target performance? How can they do that better?

So about performance, of course, hosting is important, but if you have a well-coded website, then the hosting will be important but not that much. If you have a huge website that’s not optimized well, you’ll spend a fortune on hosting for that website to have good performance. So I would say everything is important: good code, good structure, good hosting. I’m passionate about performance. So because of that, I started working on performance. But 10 years ago, technologies were different. That’s when that passion started. And then we started working on improving websites. So why should agencies care, or why should businesses care? Because that helps user experience. A fast website helps with conversion rates. Then that helps with revenue, that helps with profit margins. So I have a case where we worked on a client who was paying for Google Ads but didn’t have an optimized website. So we started optimizing that website, and they were investing in PPC at that moment. Their website was, for example, let’s say third in Google, first, second, third ad is like the third place. And then when we optimized the website for the same budget, this client had, let’s say, a second position, and the cost per click reduced, for example, just for this case from $1 to 0.8. So they had 20% more traffic for the same budget. So that improved their Google Ads score. They got like 20% more clicks for the same money, but then that traffic landed on their website. And because the website was faster, they had a 20% better conversion rate. So 20% more traffic multiplied by 20% better conversion rate. They ended up increasing their profit by about 35%. That is why it’s important. It’s affecting your revenue in a short period. So it’s easy to test. With SEO, it’s harder because it takes more time to see what’s affecting your website. I would say agencies that are doing SEO or marketing should care about performance. Even though I know what is happening in real life because it’s not possible for most companies to achieve that. Of course, other work is important, but if you isolate all of this, I would say it can make a significant difference.

That’s a really interesting and good point about Google AdWords being affected by performance. When you tackle performance issues, are you tackling them at the front end, the backend? Where is that really making the biggest difference?

We’re trying everything. So, of course, we analyze the backend use. I don’t know how the tools are called, but we analyze every query monitor, I think. So we analyze everything in the backend and how everything is working, but also we use code that is optimized. So even without caching, without anything, we tend to make fast websites. And then on top of that, we add caching, JavaScript, minification, all those things. But we make websites that are fast without any caching. We add caching in order to reduce resource spending and all of that. We try to make it fast from scratch. We try everything that we see from the backend, we will resolve it. Everything that puts me on the front end, we will try to resolve. Some things are possible, some things are hard, some things are not possible because you have some scripts you cannot handle. External scripts like Google Analytics and those kinds of things. And then those sometimes appear in the report. But we have also websites where we were adding 200 different Google events and those websites passed Core Web Vitals. So it’s not about Google Analytics slowing down the website.

And you mentioned building, I’ll say it, custom front ends, and obviously you do a lot of work with WooCommerce. So I have to say it’s something unique I haven’t seen in any of our regular Do the Woo AgencyChats. Let’s dive into what you’re calling headless WooCommerce.

So as I said, the passion about SEO, the passion about performance, and also API in the backend, all that was a solid foundation for starting something that is called headless WordPress or headless WooCommerce. How it explains headless, but in essence, that is JAMstack or headless, WordPress, headless website, headless WooCommerce, JAMstack e-commerce. Those are the terms. So it represents that you separate the front end from the backend. The backend is running on its own server. You use the API from the backend to send all the necessary information. And then the frontend is independently hosted. This simplifies the frontend and the backend because you don’t have in the traditional stacks, you visit the website, the visitor comes to your website, you ask the backend, then it asks the database, it responds with something, and you get the front end. With a headless setup, you have most of the time everything pre-rendered, so the content is ready, and you instantly get the response of the page you’re trying to get, which then reduces the time to get the information, and you get it much faster. So it just helps you build a super fast website, so you can have an instantly loading website across the globe. So it’s not about your local market. It’s possible to target a global market and have this instant website loading across the globe, which is good for international businesses. For example, startups, SaaS companies that don’t know where they will sell. As a SaaS company, you don’t know where your customers can come from. So you need to have a website that is loading fast in different markets. If you’re targeting specifically, you can have a host server in that state or country. Of course, you can have CloudFlare on top, you can have caching, you can have everything with a traditional type, which will help you, but it won’t help for the first visitor. So again, if you have different users from different markets, and for example, we’re in Serbia, but our clients are in the US, and we host a website in Serbia, then our client from, let’s say, California will get our website loading the first time slower than the second client or the second time he visits our website. He’ll get it faster, but will he visit our website a second time if the first visit was like

ten seconds? Probably not. And then if you’re targeting California, then the second visit is okay, but what if you have a visitor from Washington or New York? You cannot be ready for all that. And then on top of that caching, you should have some pinging servers, something like that. And you cannot be sure completely what is possible with a headless setup. It’s possible to have instant loading across the globe. I can say we recently did some tests for our client, and we had the results. So they had a custom-coded website, so their website on 4G was loading something around three seconds, which is good on average, across five continents. So the website was on average loading within three seconds, something like 2.98. But then we tested on our other client that is using headless, and they have results which are 1.4 seconds average across the same locations.

So twice as fast.

Yeah. So 1.4 seconds is super fast.

So my question is, and I’ve had this conversation about just regular, regular and both headless WordPress, I assume budgets are a little higher and time to develop is a little higher than just spinning up a regular WooCommerce. Would that be fair to say, or have you guys optimized it?

There are challenges like that. If we are talking about standard e-commerce, standard WooCommerce, I don’t think that costs too much. But usually, businesses that go to a headless setup have custom API integrations, have ERP in the backend, have CRM, and have several other marketing tools integrated into their setup currently, and they want to make a switch to headless. So they’re like big businesses. They’re not starting from scratch. Initially, you need a lot of things to be integrated and tailored to their needs, and that is why it usually costs a lot. But even with a traditional stack, that still costs a lot because you have a lot of different things that need to be connected, and that is something that affects the price. But what is positive about the headless is that if they go into a headless setup, they can save money on hosting, they can improve user experience, they can improve scalability. The flexibility is huge. You can adjust your website to do whatever you imagine it to do. So there are no limitations.

And that website can be a mobile app as well.

And yeah, you can use WooCommerce as a database, but usually in those setups, WooCommerce is not a database. ERP is a database, but you have WooCommerce to control the content. You can control that content, which can go to e-commerce. For example, we have a client who asked us to do something with categories in WooCommerce. They have a product page, and they want to have dynamically generated content. So they go and click some product filters, let’s say it’s a clothing e-commerce website. They go to categories, click outdoor, and then go to sneakers, and select under $100. They click all that in filters and get a dynamically generated page that says sneakers up to 100. Under that, they have “check our sneakers offering that is perfect for outdoor activities and less than $100.” That can be the product page title and subtitle. When you change from outdoor to indoor, you get a different URL with sneakers for up to 100 for indoor activities. All those URLs for Google are indexable from one setup. You can have hundreds of pages that all get indexed in Google and get you real traffic. You’re offering a great user experience to your users because they see the title, the description, it’s in the meta description. So everything is done on an advanced level, which is not possible with a traditional stack. It’s not about WordPress WooCommerce, it’s not possible on any technology. With headless, you can do this. The time you save in content population or administrating those pages is where you save a lot of money, and your return on investment is bigger, the bigger the brand you are.

I guess tying it to the original question, this isn’t for everyone, it’s not going to be for a freelancer selling their own t-shirts necessarily. It’s really for, I’ll use enterprise loosely, but a business where revenue and performance really do matter. Would that be fair to say?

Yeah. In the e-commerce space, it’s important for businesses that are across one country or one state that do business across one continent, I would say. They can have a bigger return on investment. Also, businesses that are entering the e-commerce space and want to compete with bigger players. Bigger players are hard to make that switch. It’s expensive, it’s time-consuming, and they don’t know if that will work. But smaller players who want a piece of the cake can get that piece much faster if they go into some technology like this. They can win some positions in Google, they can win more clicks on Google ads for the same money. I would say it’s important, but with smaller businesses, the budget can be smaller. You can build a good solution and then scale faster because it’s scalable. You can add more. The backend can be independent of the front end, so you can add more things in the front end, but also you can scale your backend while the front end is the same.

One point I want to make sure we don’t miss is obviously we’ve mentioned performance, SEO, SEM, all the acronyms, security.

Well, security with this setup is on another level. This is like, as I said, you have this decoupled architecture. Your front end and backend are completely separated, and because of that, you have a front end that is more secure by just, most of the time, having only read-only access. So you get the API and show the data and details. It’s not possible to write something in. The front end is on a completely different server, and you pull the data from the API from some ERP, so everything is shown on the website. Because of this architecture, it’s more secure. The backend can be hidden from users and accessed only by some security protocols. Because of that, users or malicious users cannot access your backend. This is just one layer on top. You still need to protect your WordPress and your WooCommerce, but this is one layer on top which prevents users from getting access to your backend.

I’ve seen that in WordPress where you’re drafting more static pages and obviously security is greatly improved by that, by having fewer vectors of attack.

Yeah, the attack surface is reduced, so it’s not impossible, but it’s harder. Nothing is impossible. If someone invests a lot of time in something, they can do it from the application side or the hosting side. So nothing can be 100% sure and secure. Working on improvements all the time is important. For example, for all our backend activities, we have by default enabled two-factor authentication for all our users. We have two-factor authentication for every password that is shared. So we take care of security internally and even on the website level. Customers need to take care of their security too. Keep passwords in their password manager, have their users use two-factor authentication, force them to use a mobile app where they have two-factor authentication set up, not just in the password manager. But in the end, it’s the responsibility of all parties involved.

Without a doubt. As we all know, security is always more and more important because there’s more money, there’s more personally identifiable information, all the problems that occur, and that’ll always improve at both ends. I’m more curious, of course, I have to say the AI word. What does the future of headless WooCommerce or WooCommerce in general with AI look like?

Well, I think if you use it to do some things better, if you write… sometimes I play with AI, so sometimes…

Oh, we all do, right?

It’s so annoying chatting with ChatGPT or anything. It’s not AI yet, they’re trying to sell us that as AI. But I think if you use it for some, there’s some good applications, and it depends on how you set up your store to improve your operations. You can use it for data entry or some operational things, freeing up people to do more complex tasks. AI currently isn’t capable of doing some super-advanced things, so we still need people. What’s the future of WooCommerce with AI? This doesn’t have too much to do with WooCommerce. Headless WooCommerce is the same. I would say that you can, for example, probably, the thing that I explained about product categories, you could generate content on those pages based on some filters. If you get personal details about users, it’s more likely for them to like that content in order to click the product they want to buy, let’s say something like that.

No, that’s fantastic. I know everyone’s looking at figuring out how they can use AI. I like how you actually very much said LLMs are not AIs. That’s a really good point. I think people forget that. I’m curious how upgrades in translations will affect especially multinational WooCommerce sites. I think that’ll be interesting to see how that comes to pass, since I know that’s sort of on Matt Mullenweg’s WordPress timeline.

I think if you reach some limits inside your WooCommerce, it’s important to know that there is an option to go with headless because then you don’t have those limitations. I haven’t reached those limitations with the headless websites we’ve built so far.

That’s fantastic. Darko, how can folks connect with you and learn more about getting started with headless WordPress?

For those interested in headless WordPress or headless WooCommerce, they can find our website at IntellRocket.com. They can find us on LinkedIn, they can find me on LinkedIn, and they can just reach out, ask what they’re curious about, and we can provide them with a consultation or anything they need.

Darko, thank you so much. It was great to learn about your perspectives, especially about headless WooCommerce.

Thank you, Robert. Thank you for having me on this podcast, and I hope we’ll see each other at some WordCamps.

Absolutely. And that’s another Do the Woo AgencyChat. Thank you. Thank you.

In today’s Woo AgencyChat, host Robert Jacobi talks with Darko Svetolikovic, founder of IntellRocket. Listen in as they explore the importance of website performance, the benefits of a headless WooCommerce build, and even a bit of AI.


The importance of website performance: Darko emphasizes that fast-loading websites are crucial for user experience, conversion rates, and overall business profitability. He highlights that optimizing both the front end and back end is essential to achieve high performance.

Benefits of headless WooCommerce: Darko explains the concept of headless WooCommerce, where the front end and back end are separated. This setup allows for faster, more scalable websites that can load quickly across the globe, offering a better user experience and improved SEO rankings.

SEO and Google Ads impact: Optimizing website performance can positively affect Google Ads performance and SEO rankings. Faster websites lead to lower cost-per-click in Google Ads and better conversion rates, ultimately improving profitability.

Scalability and flexibility: Headless WooCommerce provides greater flexibility and scalability for businesses, allowing them to integrate various tools and APIs. This is particularly beneficial for larger enterprises with complex requirements.

Security enhancements: Decoupling the front end and back end enhances security by reducing the attack surface. Darko stresses the importance of implementing security measures like two-factor authentication to protect both the website and user data.

Use of AI in e-commerce: While AI is not yet fully developed, it can be used to improve operational efficiency and personalize user experiences. Darko mentions that AI can help generate dynamic content based on user behavior and preferences.

Challenges and costs: Transitioning to a headless setup can be more costly and time-consuming initially, but the long-term benefits in performance, scalability, and user experience often justify the investment.

Community and collaboration: The importance of the WordPress community is highlighted, with WordCamps and meetups playing a vital role in connecting professionals and fostering collaboration.

Future developments: The discussion touches on future advancements in translations and AI integration, which will further enhance the capabilities of WooCommerce sites, especially for multinational businesses.


by BobWP at July 18, 2024 08:25 AM under Performance optimization

July 17, 2024

WPTavern: #128 – Fernando Tellado on AI Tools and Rehumanising the Web


[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the Jukebox podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley.

Jukebox is a podcast which is dedicated to all things WordPress. The people, the events, the plugins, the blocks, the themes, and in this case, AI tools and making the web more human again.

If you’d like to subscribe to the podcast, you can do that by searching for WP Tavern in your podcast, player of choice. Or by going to wptavern.com/feed/podcast, and you can copy that URL in some most podcast players.

If you have a topic that you’d like us to feature on the podcast, I’m keen to hear from you and hopefully get you, or your idea, featured on the show. Head to wptavern.com/contact/jukebox, and use the form there.

So on the podcast today, we have Fernando Tellado. Fernando is a very large force in the WordPress community in Spain. He’s the editor and writer at ayudawp.com, a blog in Spanish about WordPress with more than 15 years of publishing on a daily basis. He does consulting maintenance, security and performance services for WordPress sites. He’s published four books about WordPress. Not only that, he’s been involved with the WordPress community for 20 years organizing meetups, WordCamps, coordinating the official support forums, as well as taking leading roles in Spanish translations and Spain’s official community website.

We begin with a discussion on the current state of AI tools, which offer the capacity to generate thousands of posts in mere moments, mainly for search ranking purposes. Fernando explores the issue of content quality, and the growing challenge of distinguishing between human and AI generated content.

This leads to a chat about the strange position which Google finds itself in with its latest AI model, Gemini, which aims not only to generate content, but also to interact and answer questions like a human. How can Google on the one hand, be able to create content, and on the other be mindful of only promoting content, which it views as credible and reliable?

Fernando also talks about the rapid evolution of technology, drawing parallels to the industrial revolution, and it’s long lasting effects on society.

He tackles concerns about AI potentially replacing jobs, and underscores the addictive nature of mobile phones, particularly for children.

The role of government in regulating technology also comes under scrutiny, but Fernando expresses skepticism about political intervention, and instead stresses the importance of parental responsibility in guiding children’s use of technology.

Towards the end, the discussion revolves around the necessity for both adults and children to learn and use technology responsibly. Fernando is passionate about the importance of human imagination, and our innate capacity to adapt to the technological environment. He advocates for individuals to slow down, assess the impact of technology on their lives, and make deliberate choices that ensure their wellbeing and that of their families.

If you’re intrigued by the intersection of AI, WordPress, and the call for responsible unreflective use of technology, this episode is for you.

If you’re interested in finding out more, you can find all of the links in the show notes by heading over to wptavern.com/podcast, where you’ll find all the other episodes as well.

And so without further delay, I bring you Fernando Tellado.

I am joined on the podcast by Fernando Tellado. Hello, Fernando.

[00:04:09] Fernando Tellado: Hello Nathan. Very nice to see you too.

[00:04:11] Nathan Wrigley: Really nice to meet you. We are at WordCamp Europe. We’re in one of the media rooms, and we’re chatting to Fernando today because Fernando is participating at WordCamp EU. He’s got a presentation, a talk, and the talk is called Re-Humanizing the Web, and everything you want related to WordPress. Is that the correct title? Did I get that right?

[00:04:31] Fernando Tellado: Yes, it’s the correct name.

[00:04:32] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, perfect. So we’ll get into that presentation, and what it means, and how you are very optimistic I think, about technology and AI, and all of those kind of things. But before we do that, will you just tell us a little bit about you, your relationship with WordPress, the things that you do in your life and in the WordPress community, which I understand in Spain is huge.

[00:04:53] Fernando Tellado: I have been working with WordPress for more than 15 years. In these years I have been part of the community, where there wasn’t community in Spain. We made three WordCamps in Spain, called WordCamp Spain. Afterwards, it should to be named after cities. There was a time when we could make WordCamps the country. Afterwards they said that we must make the WordCamps city related. But we made the three WordCamps in Spain called Spain WorkCamps. In 2008, 2009, 2010. It was the first, the three first ones.

I was making translations at this moment. There was no community, and we began the first embryo of our community in the second WordCamp Spain, in Barcelona. And we began with translations because it was the first need, because everything in WordPress is written in English. In Spain it’s very difficult to introduce some software that isn’t in Spanish, because in Spain we don’t speak English, we don’t speak any other languages.

So it was really important for us that WordPress being in our languages, because it was our first priority. I think we have made a good work, because at this moment we are one of the biggest community. I think we are the best or the big, one of the biggest communities in translation. Every day, there aren’t any pending translation to be approved, day by day. And it’s the same in support.

We have the support forums that, every day, every question made is answered for one volunteer. And we are all volunteers. We have been volunteering for 15 years, in an everyday basis. We are very, very, few people that work in a daily basis, but very constant people. And I am only one of these people.

By the side I have a blog, where I have been writing for more than 15 years about WordPress. Almost in a daily basis. I write four or five posts a week, from Monday to Friday. I enjoy it because I write about the things I learn every day. It’s funny for me to see my blog post 15 years ago. They’re very simple. I have discovered a plugin that made this thing. The name of the plugin is that one, okay perfect, and it could be perfect for someone in every moment. Because in some moment, anyone is going to find solution for anything.

And I have probably more than 5,000 posts. I have 40, more than 50 thousand comments in the blog. And I still write every day, because I every day work in WordPress. I work, my clients WordPress, every day I learn something. I teach WordPress to people, but I learned WordPress from everyone. From my colleagues at the work. From my clients, in every site because every site is different. Every site you have different needs, and it’s not difficult for me to write in the blog.

When a lot of people ask me, is it not difficult for you to write every day year, after year, after year? It could be if I don’t work on WordPress, but as I work in WordPress everyday, I always have something to write about it.

I like writing, I never thought that I want to write about technical things. I always thought, I will compare as a writer. I have written some books, but books about WordPress too. No books about a novel, or history that I would like. It’s about WordPress. So my life has been dedicated to WordPress in all aspects.

[00:08:18] Nathan Wrigley: Quite a story. 15 years of almost daily blogging.

[00:08:22] Fernando Tellado: And not expected at all.

[00:08:23] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, it just happened. That’s amazing. And I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there in the Spanish community, and maybe further afield who are very thankful for all the things that you’ve written over the years.

[00:08:33] Fernando Tellado: Sometimes I feel like the father of a lot of people.

[00:08:36] Nathan Wrigley: The Spanish community.

[00:08:37] Fernando Tellado: Because I am getting older, it is good to get older too. You have some perspective about things. I am more kind. It is very difficult to make me angry.

[00:08:46] Nathan Wrigley: So do you build websites for clients still? It sounds like, from what you said, that’s what promotes the bits and pieces that you are writing each day, because you find a new thing, you solve the problem, then you write about it. Yeah, like that, okay perfect.

You’ve got this topic that you are doing at WordCamp Europe. By the way, have you done it already?

[00:09:03] Fernando Tellado: I did a basis at WordCamp Pontevedra, it’s a city in the north of Spain. I made a presentation, in which the first part was somewhat like the first part of the presentation. I’m going to talk tomorrow.

[00:09:17] Nathan Wrigley: Oh, it’s tomorrow, okay.

[00:09:18] Fernando Tellado: Tomorrow at 12.

[00:09:19] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, perfect. So it’s called Re-humanising the Web, and everything you want related to WordPress. If you are saying that rehumanising the web is a thing, that means, I presume you think it got dehumanised at some point.

[00:09:34] Fernando Tellado: At some point, yes.

[00:09:35] Nathan Wrigley: What do you mean by that? What’s been dehumanised in the web? Just try to sum up your thoughts.

[00:09:40] Fernando Tellado: The bad use of the tools. I think the tools are great. I am absolutely pro technology, I am absolutely pro AI, but we use badly, the technology. We are dehumanisation, the web. The website is our environment, it’s where we live, it’s where we find, and it is where we will work, in your case or mine. And it’s very important, I think it is the most important thing in the 21st century of the web. And we must take care of the website, or the web. And when people make bad use of the technology, they can dehumanise the technology.

Examples could be niches. There are a lot of people that have a lot of expertise on making niches, with niches automatically. From five years ago, they have the automatic WordPress packs, that they could make about 50 or hundreds of websites in a day or two days, in order to promote SEO niches.

Today, with the AI, they can make about 100,000 websites per day, with the aid of the AI, and paid of $1, $2, or $10. It is very cheap, and it’s very easy to make niches. And niches, there are websites that doesn’t make nothing to the people. They are not going to answer questions. We use the internet in order to answer our questions. When we go to Google, what is Google? Google is our psychologist. We ask Google, what’s happened to me? Do you have any answers? We are going to make questions to Google.

So the people to make niches, the niches website. So it is going to make the website less useful than yesterday. This is dehumanising because there are not people after this content. They are only a machine, that has not brought this content in order to answer a question of a human. It is made only to satisfy the need of the person that works in marketing for SEO, and he’s promoting one niche.

[00:11:38] Nathan Wrigley: So if we rewind the clock, let’s go for five years. If we go back in time five years, when human beings created every piece of content, of course they could copy and paste and that happened. But mostly the content was written by a human, and it was written at a scale which humans could keep up with. So one post per day, two posts per day, whatever. And now you’re saying that the AI tools can create 10,000 posts in a heartbeat, in a few minutes.

[00:12:09] Fernando Tellado: Who can read that?

[00:12:10] Nathan Wrigley: Right, but also, why is it being created? And from what you are saying, it’s been created purely for Google, SEO.

[00:12:16] Fernando Tellado: Purely for business.

[00:12:17] Nathan Wrigley: And ultimately that makes everything pointless because if there’s 10 trillion articles out on the internet, how can Google, which has, people argue about Google and whether it’s a force for good or a force for evil, but it’s definitely been helpful finding information. In the future, if we flood the landscape with AI written content, how can we ever decide what’s actually useful? And I don’t think we’ve got there yet. But do you see it coming? Do you see a day when that will happen, if we don’t put the brakes on?

[00:12:53] Fernando Tellado: I think there are a lot of players that can act in that way, in order to pull the brake. Google is one of these, because Google can defer between human and not human content. Very easy. It’s very easy for Google. It’s very easy for us too. If we read every day, we can distinguish human made content or not.

But I think Google is making the road easy in order to publish AI content. And at the same time, it’s putting in the road tools in order to pull the brake. Because Google is, at the moment, refactoring the more personal research. As you can remember, some years ago, beside some results you can see the face of the person who wrote the post.

I think Google is, well, no, Google has, I say that he’s going to this type of recognising, or the way of recognising, the author of the content, in order to distinguish between human made content and AI content. Because I think it’s a matter of survival for Google, because the end, we are going to rely on the tool, and Google is a tool. It’s a big, I always say this, it is a big spreadsheet. I always see Google as a big, big, big spreadsheet. A big, big, big form, that has the results that can be useful or not.

In few years, doesn’t find good result for us, answer for us, we are going to abandon the tool. We are abandoned a lot of tools by the time. Younger people think that some tools are not going to disappear, never. And you and I know that it’s just, it does not even happen. We have seen disappear tools like Photo Log. We can see disappear, Facebook in some moment, or Instagram. Everything is possible, and Google too.

[00:14:36] Nathan Wrigley: What I find curious about, let’s just keep talking about the Google example, because it’s really easy to understand the benefit of Google. But curious that Google are also in the AI race. At the moment when we’re recording this in June 2024, they have this Gemini model, it’s called Gemini. And it’s obviously an LLM to create content.

But also, there’s the flip side. It’s not just about creating content, but it’s about answering questions, and interacting, and it’s kind of trying to be a human, if you like. So for Google, it’s a really difficult balancing act, because on the one hand, they’ve got to keep up with the AI opposition, so people like, I don’t know, Anthropic or OpenAI.

[00:15:18] Fernando Tellado: People like AI.

[00:15:18] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, yeah, exactly. But also they’ve got to protect their search engine business, because if that gets just full up of AI, exactly what you said, it won’t even take five years. It would take a year for people to say, well, Google’s useless. It just gives me rubbish every time. I’m going to stop using it and go elsewhere. So that’s a very, very difficult path to tread for them I think.

[00:15:41] Fernando Tellado: I don’t think, where is the market going? Where is going Google? Because one, two years ago we were, every moment, talking about NFTs, and who talk about NFTs today? Nobody. We have the Bitcoin bros, now we have the AI bros. People who embrace every new technology the most. And who knows? Who knows?

I think we must have embraced the technology, as every technology gives us something to learn, and take the best of every technology, in order to advance in our life, and in the society. And every technology has the capacity to make a better life for us. From nuclear energy, it’s an extreme example, but nuclear energy has become a very important way of make our lives better through the years.

In some years not, but through the years, it has become a very important technology in our lives. With this whole, more little technologies, it is going to be the same. In some point they’re going to convert it to facilities, to something that we assume that every time has been there, and we are going to take the better of every technology. In the case of the NFTs, in the case of the AI, we have some kind of AIs from 10 ago. It’s not really new. Growing in very few months, and the technology of ChatGPT, in order more conversational in the AI.

But it’s like a city, it’s like an evolution of a city. There’s an evolution of all the oldest and older technologies. We have to present attention to these technologies, but not to give them too much attention.

[00:17:22] Nathan Wrigley: Interesting. Yeah, the thing that you said there about Bitcoin and NFTs, yeah, you’re really right. If you were to go back, I don’t know, three years or something like that, they really were being talked about a lot. You could barely open a newspaper without somebody talking about Bitcoin, and now complete silence. Nobody’s talking about that. And so maybe the same will happen to AI, and we’re in a kind of hype cycle at the moment, where everybody’s obsessing about it.

I do wonder about that. I do wonder about, let’s say, for example, companies like OpenAI who have a lot of money tied up in it being successful, and presumably spend quite a lot of their time telling us how wonderful it’s going to be, marketing it to us, if you like. And maybe that cycle, we’ll just get bored of it. We just get disinterested, and it will just become something that we use, but we’re not really, you know, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s nothing to get excited about even, because it’s just what we’ve got.

[00:18:22] Fernando Tellado: No, I think we can excite about this. But at the end, all of these technologies in a certain point became a standard. When everyone used the word it tends, in a moment, to not make sense. It’s like freedom or anything. When everyone talks about freedom, freedom doesn’t mean anything. That’s the same. At this moment, I think AI is a claim for every services. Every day we see services with the new AI, with artificial intelligence. Everything has AI, not in my case.

My case, I have that claim, in the blog that is, write it with no AI. You’re not expecting to have something that is going to give you always the reason, because AI always gives you the reason. If you discuss with AI, for example, in ChatGPT, it tends to be nice with you always.

I think this is the first sentence someone teach to the AI. Be nice. At the end, be nice. If someone discuss with you, be nice. Don’t discuss with anything, because do you remember there have been some scandals about the AI in Gemini I thought? Create soldiers of the second world war.

[00:19:27] Nathan Wrigley: An image of the.

[00:19:29] Fernando Tellado: Nazis and so on. That’s because they have no contest, no one behind to tell the child, because it’s a child. No, not this way, better this way. You must learn it every day. And the AI is interesting, if always is going to be someone behind learning every day what it’s going to be, how it must behave with the environment, because the environment changes. We have something different as humans, it’s our capacity to adapt our environment to us, and adapt us to our environment. This is the story of the humans.

So there are some things that I’m going to talk in my presentation at WordCamp Europe. I want to talk especially about this, because always there’re going to be technology. There’s going to be amazing technology, but always remember that the technology doesn’t make by themselves. Always there’s a human that is capable to imagine that technology in the first place. This is the most important thing. The most important thing is to imagine that technology, and this is a human capacity.

And in the second place, it could be to make this technology, or make work this technology. But human is capable to imagine things, that is the most important thing, that because I not afraid of technology. Because I know that for years in the history has been demonstrated that only a human can imagine how could be things. All the rest of the animals, if we can embrace in the animal race or something, has a lot of capacities, but not the capacity to imagine it’s own life. Or it’s own capabilities more beyond the actual capabilities. And that’s because the human can make AIs, and sort of interesting and amazing things.

[00:21:10] Nathan Wrigley: Does it concern you that, even though AIs seemingly can’t be truly creative in the way that a human can. If you tell it to draw a picture of a, I don’t know, a dog sitting on a landscape with the moon in the background, and it can do something like that. And it looks like creativity, but if we understand the way that that’s actually happening, it’s merely a process of, okay, what should this next pixel look like? And eventually it comes out, and it’s got a picture of a dog, but it’s not created that question itself.

Do you worry that it’s good enough that it could put a lot of people out of work, who are doing work that doesn’t require much creativity? I don’t know, imagine that you are in a call center, you’re a support agent, and you are answering questions. The responsibilities that you have are not all that complicated, it’s fairly basic.

I think some people worry that those kind of jobs are going to disappear, because an AI can take over. And then if we imagine the career ladder, you know, you start on the bottom rung, and you go to the next one, and eventually you retire at the top. If we knock out the bottom layer, it’s going to be hard for the next generation, the children of today to start the career, because that whole bottom layer has disappeared. And I don’t know how that’s all going to pan out, but that concerns me a little bit.

[00:22:28] Fernando Tellado: Yeah, I can understand you. It’s a concern for me too because I always think about the children. Who’s going to think about the children? I want to talk about this because there are tools that could be very useful for you and for me, but it is not useful, and they are not suitable, and not recommendable to children.

A simple case, calculator is very good for a person that is a physician, a mathematician that knows how to calculate, and used the tool in order to gain time.

But it’s not a good tool for the children because this tool is going to retain him or her to learn how to calculate. We must put some breaks on, or close 13 doors in order to maintain these priorities. I think we must think about the tools, not only what tool can do, more about, in what moment is this tool can be thrown to the people, or to who?

Because it is very important that, from the beginning of your life, we train our brain in order to make all the human can do. And in some moments the tool can be the worst idea for us. There’s a certain part of our brain, it’s the prefrontal cortex. It’s very important in this thing. There are a lot of scientifical studies, it’s very, very, very interesting. You’re aware about, are concerned, and in this case, about what is going to happen with humanity and society.

It’s very important in this part of our brain because this is the part of the brain that distinguish us as human from the other animals. And it’s especially important for the children. Because, not only for the new tools of the AI, that is very important in case of social media. They use the consummation of social media, it’s a very instant transformation. It’s an transformation that very few seconds, cannot train the brain, the prefrontal cortex, to make all the things that the prefrontal cortex could do.

This part of the brain is the part that differentiates us in things as important as predictions, imagination, how to be nice in a conversation when you need to be nice, when to know how to empathy with someone. There are very important things that some of these tools, today tools, like social media networks, and the AI can not permit this part of the brain to grow as needed.

So, we as parents, we as human adults, we have a responsibility in order to allow our children, or other children to grow as sane as possible, and not to allow to use some tools in certain ages. In Europe, some countries is beginning to forbid to make the mobile phones in the classroom. Because it have been obvious that the attention is dispersed, and the children learn badly.

So I think we are going to this kind of better use of the technology, because it’s true what you say at the beginning of our conversation about the extra hype of the AI, or the new tools. A point that the people cannot distinguish on the right use of externally.

[00:25:29] Nathan Wrigley: I think that’s a really interesting point, because you talked about a calculator, and how that saved you a lot of time, but no child is going to hold the calculator and use it at three o’clock in the morning, or be addicted to doing calculations. I mean, maybe there is a child somewhere who would use the calculator all day, every day because they’re just fascinated.

But the mobile phone in particular, really has the capacity to subvert the entire day. You know, you can pour all of yourself into that thing, you’re scrolling on some kind of social media, or you’re chatting with people, or you’re just watching videos.

And especially for children who are born in an era where that was always around, and they see their parents that are addicted to it, and they see that everybody at the bus stop is using it, that then has become, well, that’s how normal people function.

Everybody’s scrolling all the time, and that concerns me a lot because there is something unique about that device. There’s some way that it can drag you in. Even, you know, the moment you’ve got nothing to do, out comes the phone, and you can spend a long time. So I think you’re right. I think there is a little bit of a shift at the moment. I think people are starting to recognise, that’s probably not healthy for anybody to be doing that.

[00:26:48] Fernando Tellado: I understand absolutely. But we must think that, in very few years, we have gone, we have traveled in a work, in our parents, in a lot of cases, having got a telephone in the release. Very, very few years ago.

[00:27:01] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah not long.

[00:27:02] Fernando Tellado: When you and me born and grow, there weren’t internet. And the problem is for children, but we all child too, because we’re not training in the current use of these new technologies. Technologies are over us, but not only over the children, it’s over us, everyone.

We are not trained how to make a good use of these technologies. We might be trained before, we might be able to be trained, afterwards train the children. We are the first one to train in how to use in the core, the way these technologies, because we are not trained to do it. We have been born in our world very different, and we are astonishing about this technology, because it’s brilliant. They’re awesome. So they surprise us, and we use that in a platform. And we must train us in the first place, and after train the children.

[00:27:53] Fernando Tellado: This is a matter of too much information, too much changes in very few time, for everyone. We must put the breaks on in some moment, and make a reflection. For example, my presentation, it’s not a talk. I’m not going to give answers to any question. I would like to make the people reflect about this problem, this opportunity, in order not to be concerned, in order to be responsible. We must change. As adults, as human adults, we must send to the responsibility, and begin to train ourselves in how to use this technology in a good way.

We can hear a lot of the startups, that is beginning to talk about the bad things about their own technologies. They say a lot of people see themselves as startups, and says about, they don’t allow the children to learn with the iPads, or tablets, or so on because they know what they are going do.

We’re the people, with the adult humans, enlightened with technologies, don’t know how work really the technology. These younger people that knows how the algorithms works are telling us the truth. And the truth is that we must begin to learn how to use these technologies, and afterwards spread it to the children. I don’t mind about you and me because we are adults, and we affect our responsibilities, and make our own life. But we must take responsibility for the children

[00:29:13] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, it’s an interesting thought because, first of all, I imagine it’s true that every generation that has ever been has faced something which they thought was going to be the end of humanity. You know, whether it was the printing press, Gutenberg’s printing press, or whether it was, oh I don’t know, the plough, or whatever it may be. This is going to be the end of all the things. And it feels like this one really could be that, and yet it’s probably just one, you know, and in history, 200 years from now, people will look back on our time and say, oh, that was an interesting moment.

[00:29:43] Fernando Tellado: This is very interesting to realise that today, I pay my dues, things, a technology that didn’t exist when I was born. And it was going to be the same as the time passes. At the moment, there are works that doesn’t exist, that in the future are going to exist, and a lot of people will work in this new works that doesn’t exist at the moment.

The more radical change I think was in the industrial revolution. That changed everything. It changed not only the way human work, they introduce the plastics, as we know at this moment, because it changed everything. We create the cities because there weren’t cities before, we create the industries, we create the supermarkets, all the world as we know it at the moment.

It led to some problems. We are living today with problems created in that moment, in the Industrial Revolution. As, in the future, someone is going to live with the problems we are creating now, right now with another technologies. But there is going to be always somewhere that is going to disappear.

[00:30:47] Nathan Wrigley: I have one final question, which is that, you say we need to train ourselves. And I think that’s a really important message. If you detect in yourself that technology has overtaken important parts of your life, you need to be an adult, I guess, and say to yourself, put it down. Stop using it at the moments where it’s not useful or it’s not important, or, I don’t know, you are ignoring your family because of it. And we need to train the children to have that understanding. So there’s that message as well.

Do you prefer, or maybe there’s no perfect way, do you think government should be involved in this? Like you said, certain countries are saying, you may not carry mobile phones in schools. In the UK, very recently, I doubt it will happen, but one of the political parties suggested that mobile phones should be banned until you are 16 years old, which is a really, hitting a nut with a big hammer. What do you think about that? Do you think it should be more personal education, or top down government, giving us guidance about what we can and cannot do?

[00:31:49] Fernando Tellado: I have problem with politicians because I not confident of them. Politics is very important in our lives, it’s the way we lead us, decide who is going to represent us. And that’s the way this must to be. But, at the end, political are the new kingdom, are the new cast, are the new kings. So they are very separate for all decisions at the moment. In the case of children, I am especially unconfident, because a politician is always going to try to train the new generations, in order to be good for him.

And I always prefer that the fathers decide because, I know very few things, but I think that I knew that a father going to do nothing that could be bad for your children. You’re going to always protect your children because it’s always you. Is you are father? I don’t know.

[00:32:41] Nathan Wrigley: Yes.

[00:32:42] Fernando Tellado: Yes. You are not going to do anything that is going to be bad for your children. That’s not the same in the politician. The ideas could be nice, could be affordable, but at the end, the fathers has to be the last decision in those things. I don’t believe in politician at the moment because I miss my life. My life in Spain, we’ve had very bad politicians for life. From dictators, to actual, and, not better. But, at the end, we had the less responsibility in the family, we have to decide.

It’s difficult for us because easier for us when someone go to our house, poof, read instructions. I get to my son, read instructions, they are more prepared to do these kind of things. I must read the instructions in order to know, is this tool going to be good or bad to my children? Because I have the responsibility as they live in my home, and I’m responsible for them, I’m responsible for what this technology is going to be in their lives.

So we must take that responsibility in every little thing. We must stop, as you say. We must stop a moment, say, I go, it’s a mobile phone, it’s interesting. There are other apps. What is this app? What this app is important for me, or it’s important for my children. We must live more quietly, and take the things with a little more time. We don’t need to live so fast, it’s not necessary, not mandatory.

It is good for Facebook, it’s good for Meta, good for Google because they live from the algorithms, and they live for how many times we scroll in the mobile phone. But our life is not that. We don’t need so many things. And there are very good technologies, there are good AIs that we can use for our benefit, not for the benefit of who made it in the first time, or someone’s needs above our need.

[00:34:27] Nathan Wrigley: I think I understand a lot more about what you mean by rehumanising the web now. You’ve really explained it very well. So thank you for chatting to us today. Unfortunately, time is short, so we’re going tohave to, as we say in the UK, knock it on the head. We’ll have to end there, but that was a really interesting conversation. So, Fernando Tellado, thank you so much for chatting to me today.

[00:34:46] Fernando Tellado: It has been a pleasure for me.

On the podcast today we have Fernando Tellado.

Fernando is a very large force in the WordPress community in Spain. He’s the editor and writer at ayudawp.com, a blog in Spanish about WordPress, with more than 15 years of publishing on a daily basis. He does consulting, maintenance, security and performance services for WordPress sites. He’s published four books about WordPress. Not only that, he’s been involved with the WordPress community for 20 years, organising meetups, WordCamps, coordinating the official support forums, as well as taking leading roles in Spanish translations, and Spain’s official community website.

We begin with a discussion on the current state of AI tools which offer the capacity to generate thousands of posts in mere moments, mainly for search ranking purposes. Fernando explores the issue of content quality and the growing challenge of distinguishing between human and AI-generated content. This leads to a chat about the strange position which Google finds itself in with its latest AI model, Gemini, which aims not only to generate content but also to interact and answer questions like a human. How can Google on the one hand be able to create content, and on the other be mindful of only promoting content which it views as credible and reliable?

Fernando also talks about the rapid evolution of technology, drawing parallels to the industrial revolution and its long-lasting effects on society. He tackles concerns about AI potentially replacing jobs and underscores the addictive nature of mobile phones, particularly for children. The role of government in regulating technology also comes under scrutiny, but Fernando expresses scepticism about political intervention, and instead stresses the importance of parental responsibility in guiding children’s use of technology.

Towards the end, the discussion revolves around the necessity for both adults and children to learn and use technology responsibly. Fernando is passionate about the importance of human imagination and our innate capacity to adapt to the technological environment. He advocates for individuals to slow down, assess the impact of technology on their lives, and make deliberate choices that ensure their well-being and that of their families.

If you’re intrigued by the intersection of AI, WordPress, and the call for responsible and reflective use of technology, this episode is for you.

Useful links


Re-Humanizing the Web – Fernando’s presentation and WordCamp Europe 2024





by Nathan Wrigley at July 17, 2024 02:00 PM under podcast

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Episode Transcript

Yeah, I think having adequate resources for the site is super important. So there’s enough CPU and RAM, using fast SSD drives. There’s room for growth. A lot of the time I see not enough resources being allocated for the database, for example. It’s like having a big enough engine to power that database. Having access for developers like SSH analytics tools, being able to access the logs and scrape those properly for little nuggets of information. Having some sort of application performance monitor (APM) like New Relic is the one that I use the most. It’s pretty popular because you want to be ideally alerted and proactive about performance issues rather than reactive. You don’t want to find out customers are emailing you or blasting you on social media that, oh, you’re trying to check out on this thing again and it’s crashing or slow or whatever. It’s better if you get an alert from your own systems that you have set up for monitoring, etc., to go out and put that fire out and be able to pinpoint the issue very, very quickly instead of trying to play detective with discovering all the clues instead of having the clues handed to you.

Having some sort of CDN integration I think is quite important as well. There are a lot of Cloudflare enterprise partners now with hosting companies, which I think is, if you wanted to build your own Cloudflare network, good luck. That’s a lot of resources, a lot of money. So I think it’s easier to just get a host that already leverages their network for the DDoS protection and the security because sometimes the performance issues I see on WooCommerce sites are actually security related. The site is constantly getting attacked on the login page or good old XML-RPC, which has been around since the dawn of computing and is used but can still be a very common attack vector. And fraudulent orders was one that I saw come up recently. This client had a bot network that was attacking them, making a bunch of fraudulent orders, just taking up resources from real people who are actually buying stuff. So yeah, those are the things I think off the top of my head.

And I obviously think that the very basic part of it, of the hosting, is if you have an audience or a market that is more US-based or European-based or whatever region you’re selling to or providing your services to, that also plays a very important role in deciding which area of the world you’re selling to and then choosing a hosting company that has good data centers or good resources in that specific area. The region of the world is, I guess, the number one thing we should look for when we’re going to choose a hosting company because they all say they are very fast everywhere, but if you dig a little deeper, you will see that they are probably more US-based. So whenever you go to a hosting company and you search for their data centers and where they’re located, some of them, even when you spin up a hosting service, they will ask which area do you want to cover.

I think some of them are more US-based, some of them are more European-based, and we have Asian ones. For example, if you want to go to the Asian market and sell in China, Japan, and other countries, it’s far more challenging to choose the right hosting company than it would be to sell in Europe or in the US. So that would be probably my advice: choose a hosting company that has all the services you talked about and all the little details that they care about, specific for WooCommerce, but also where they are really strong when it comes to providing the fastest services in the region of the world you want to sell. Number two, I would say, is the theme. When we talk about the theme, do your clients go more with existing themes and then change that, or do they have custom themes?

It depends on the size of the client. I work with a range of small businesses to enterprise clients. One of the Shark Tank clients I’m working with, they were using a very popular commercial theme that had a lot of extra bloat and unnecessary stuff they didn’t need. I told them, you have the budget and the resources, go custom. It’s hard to compete with the performance of a custom-built theme, and if you have resources available to maintain it going forward, absolutely it’s the way to go. I generally find that smaller businesses, when they’re just starting out, they don’t know if what they’re going to build and try is going to have legs, is it going to work, is it going to make money?

So they will tend to pick a theme that is pretty, has predefined templates that will work with WooCommerce, and has a bunch of features. As time goes on, they probably also use a page builder or two or three I’m sure we’ve all seen, and other components. That will tend to, of course, slow things down. I tell them during consultations that if you’re using a certain combination of theme and a page builder, I would start with removing that and then if you’re still not happy, we can look further at what’s slowing things down. So I’d say it’s a mixture. Whenever I see a custom-built theme with a cart, I’m like, oh good. This means that I don’t have to have that difficult conversation of if they’re really in love with their theme or the design that the theme provides, and you tell them, hey, you have to get rid of this. It’s like taking a toy away from a child that they’re very, very happy with. Then I tell them, no, no, no, you can have the same design and features, just rebuild it with lighter components.

And usually as a developer, when you have a client that is using an existing theme and they start having these ideas about, oh, what if we could change this page and make the image appear on the right side instead of the left side, or we need the description to have a bigger place now let’s move it down, or now we need an extra tab for this or for that. And then you suddenly end up having so much customization on top of an existing theme that you start asking yourself or challenging the client, this is becoming so cumbersome to maintain all of these changes. It would make more sense to build a custom theme. I would say if you have the resources and if your client has the resources, a custom theme may seem like very hard work at the beginning because you have to do all of those standard pages, the 404s, the search page and all of that, but it will compensate in the end because if you have full control of everything that is being loaded on a theme and usually when you go with an existing theme, you don’t need all of the features that they offer, you have a lot more control over performance.

So if you’re starting out, fine, but if you want to invest in something that is very important to the performance, I would say the theme is the number one category where you should put some resources because we’re talking about web performance and we’re talking about key metrics that we can measure. The theme part is one of the most important components because it is responsible for the front-end part. When we talk about key metrics, we talk about LCP (Largest Contentful Paint), we talk about the First Input Delay (FID), we talk about Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), which is when the page loads and things start moving up and down because the images are loading or different parts of the page are loading and they’re shifting up and down, which makes it very confusing for a user to follow. That is all the theme, or mostly the theme’s responsibility. From the key metrics, what is the most important one in your view?

I think Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is a big one. So related to conversion rates, time to first byte as well. I know it’s not a core web vital, but…

I forgot to mention that. It’s an important key metric as well.

Everything else, the Largest Contentful Paint can only be as fast as the time to first byte. And there’s also Interaction to Next Paint (INP), which you mentioned in the introduction, right? That I think replaced FID, the transition because when you click the button or whatever and you don’t see something happening within a few milliseconds, we get confused or frustrated and keep clicking the button faster. That’s a common human thing where we think clicking the button harder and more intensely will make it work. Maybe you press your mouse button extra hard or…

Multiple times.

Yeah, like clicking the elevator button faster and faster…

It’s not coming. Let’s press again.

I think that one is really important for stores because of the add-to-cart checkout flow. It’s important to signal to the user that they’re making progress towards their end goal and with their journey of trying to get this product or service that you’re selling. That one is more difficult to measure in, not in the wild, but to pinpoint where the INP issue is coming from is not as difficult as Largest Contentful Paint, for example, which is well established for being very related to the revenue conversion rates. There’s a cool calculator that Google put out a long time ago that they deprecated for some reason. I don’t know why, but we took the code and put it on my website. I think I’ve sent you the link before too with this LCP Premier calculator.

And I would recommend everybody to take a look at that because it’s very interesting how much you can estimate the increase in terms of conversions just by tweaking some of these key metrics in more performance.

It can help a lot to put things into perspective for the clients. It’s not based on a specific niche. It’s aggregated data that people and Google Analytics opted in to allow Google to track. So it’s from all niches across all different industries, and it gives us the best idea of if we can improve the LCP from X to Y, and if you know your average order value, the amount of customers that come

per month, and one other piece I can’t remember, you can see how much more revenue you will get if you make that improvement in the LCP. It can help shortcut some of the conversations about price. If you’re saying, oh, it’s going to cost $10,000 or $20,000 to do this reworking of the site or whatever, and they can see, oh, that sounds expensive, but if you use the calculator they can see, oh, that’s going to mean half a million extra in potential profit from a business perspective, it becomes a much easier decision.

And clients do have sort of the first impression that they get when we present them these numbers and we talk about this specific calculator you’re talking about and they go, oh, that sounds too much or that sounds too good to be true and all of that. But you’ve done that. You actually have some cases on a website where you improve some clients’ websites and it really turned into more profit. So that’s something that clients will notice after you do performance tweaks and it’s something that is absolutely incredible how they suddenly start believing in you and suddenly start seeing how important performance is to their funnel and to the sales and conversions and all of that. It sort of makes you feel a little bit like a magician or a special god of some sorts when you get to that point and then that client is hooked to you forever, I would say.

Yeah, it’s a very effective way to establish trust for the long-term because a lot of this stuff when it comes to performance is unknown for a client. We all know technology is unreliable, unpredictable, we can have the best intentions, we can make all these plans and then something that we didn’t anticipate can mess things up. And so I think even if you have these case studies and you have lots of proof and stories, clients are still a little bit like, ah, but maybe that won’t work for us. So when it does, I can see the struggle in their faces and that hesitation like, ah, they’re taking that leap, jumping off the cliff and spending the money where things could not get any better. That’s one of their main concerns, that it’s not going to provide the return on investment. Fortunately, when you follow a specific methodology, and I’m sure this is true for anyone who’s worked with performance, if the client is getting enough traffic, if the user experience of the site is otherwise good, their business model is sound. When you’re improving the performance, it always makes sense within reason. Of course, once you get to a certain point, unless you’re Amazon or Walmart or a very large client, spending an extra $500,000 to improve performance is not necessarily going to make sense. But for smaller clients, the initial performance tuning is pretty much always worth it.

I guess being aware that it is an important factor when you go online and do sell products is step one to admit regardless of your size. And I’ve seen other big brands in Portugal and the companies who were selling online who initially didn’t give that much of a thought about performance and their websites were being slow and inconsistent and they were difficult to navigate. And since some time back, a couple of them have been actually working on their performance side and worrying about all these different key metrics we just talked about. And guess what? They’re selling better. And you usually think big companies and big brands, oh, they must for sure know about this. And you probably also think, oh, my client has been online selling this product for more than 10 years now. He heard about performance, he’s done everything that he can. Surprisingly, many people do not know about it in a way that affects immediately their conversion rate.

I wanted to talk also about plugins and the importance of plugins and especially the number of plugins that people install. They think they’re essential and they’re not. So my experience is more in terms of whenever I get hands on a website, it is performing very slowly. 30, 40 plus plugins are installed. Oh, when we start doing the audit and ask, do you need this plugin? What is this for? We certainly get rid of 10 immediately just by talking two minutes into the list of the plugins. And just that alone already cuts down the time considerably. And all the other plugins that are installed there are usually because there’s something missing on the e-commerce out-of-the-box features that people don’t have. And we’ve also seen WooCommerce iterating and adding some of those missing features into the core installation. But the number of plugins is also another thing that is very important to talk about, and that means also you need to update them and the more you have, the more security issues you have. You certainly also have multiple plugins that do the same function, or at least in their feature list they offer the same things and you just add things to the website that are absolutely not necessary.

So when it comes to choosing a plugin, it’s also important to know about their performance and how they affect performance and if they are built in a way that shows the concern of the author of the plugin was performance or not. We usually use plugins to do image optimizations, maybe to do caching as well. We’re going to talk about caching next. We use plugins basically to change features and to add features to WooCommerce. So plugins are very important. What is your experience with plugins? And you mentioned page builders. Page builders are plugins, but there are other nightmares that we can talk about when it comes to plugins and performance, right?

Yeah, I mean my approach is similar to yours. It’s remarkable how frequently you ask just simple questions, why do you have three forms plugins or what is this for? And they say, oh, well we haven’t used that in six months or a year, or we don’t use that plugin or feature anymore. And I tell them what you said, every plugin is a security liability and a performance liability. So as soon as you don’t need it, treat your website like an F1 car. There’s nothing on an F1 car that doesn’t need to be there. If it has a specific purpose and provides some value in some way, it should be there, otherwise, there’s no reason to have it. But otherwise, I would say the plugin quality is much more important than the plugin quantity. So I have seen websites that have 90 plugins and perform very, very well.

It’s absolutely possible, but it’s usually these heavier plugins that have lots of bundled features, 80% of which you don’t use, and then you do that 10 times and you can see them in the profiling, code profiling, tools, plugins that are just finding out, do I need to run or running unnecessarily on pages. For example, a client I mentioned earlier, Bingbot. Bingbot was crawling a product archive page and it was triggering the membership plugin to see if the Bingbot had access to the particular pages of products on that product category page because the way the plugin was configured was to grant access based on categories and I was like, it’s ridiculous. First of all, a bot isn’t going to log in and take any courses or download any products, but there was literally no reason for the membership plugin to execute. So that was down to code quality in my experience and making sure that plugins, pretty much most plugins I see, do not have the logic to find out, do I need to execute here? Do I need to do anything here before it starts to process its own code? And I think that’s why when people complain about WooCommerce being slow or WordPress being slow, it’s not the core of WordPress being slow, it’s all the other extra stuff that you added usually that is causing those kinds of experiences.

And when it comes to choosing a particular plugin that has a particular feature, you obviously have a bunch of different plugins out there, and usually what I tell people is, well, you could hire a developer to make a more informed decision about how the code quality is and how the plugin works and how it performs, but if you don’t have the resources to hire an expert when you buy these plugins, basically, I guess looking at the plugin’s reviews and seeing what other people are saying or maybe just trying to get a feel of if you see a plugin that is promoting bundled features that are 30, 40, 50 and they are expanding way beyond whatever the core function of the plugin is, it usually means that they are bloated and they’re not very specifically oriented to the feature that they were talking about. When we did plugins for other companies here at our agency, some of them wanted to expand to other areas that were not the core focus of their plugin initially.

So for a developer, it’s very hard to keep consistency and keep the code in a shape that is solely focused on the core feature it was intended to be in the first place. So if you start doing other features and start adding other elements to the plugin, for the developer or developer team who is responsible for making it perform well, it’s going to be very hard for them to just focus on that particular feature, so that is very important. Next on the list is caching. We talked about caching. There are three main techniques of caching I think we can say. There is page caching, which are static versions of pages that are stored usually on the hosting side. We have object caching, which caches database queries so that they do not need to be executed every time somebody gets into a page. And we also have browser caching, which is telling the browser to store certain resources locally and not have them transmitted all over again. Caching is probably one of the hardest things to manage and to talk about because most of the hosting companies already say, we have the best caching solution and technique, just come with your website and host with us, and you’re going to have the latest caching technology. Then when you dive in and want to control some aspect of the caching, you usually have no idea what they’re doing behind the scenes and they don’t tell you what resources and what techniques they’re using behind the

scenes. So this is a very important topic. It’s a very difficult topic as well from a developer’s perspective because usually people think, oh, we just throw in a bunch of plugins like WPRocket or WP Total Cache or whatever other plugins there are, and the site will be faster, and then you hire a developer and the developer goes in and starts thinking about what is going on. We have all this caching going on, and what do you think about caching? Is it up in earliest as an important part? And also it’s important to talk about the different pages that we have within WooCommerce. We have the checkout, the cart, we have a catalog, we have the first page, so not all of these pages are treated equally when it comes to caching. Right?

There’s also two other little pieces of caching too. There’s fragment caching, which is rarely used but handy to cache partial pieces of the page and CDN caching, edge caching, I would argue. Yeah, but I know that those are typically not considered under the umbrella in the same way. It’s not the ones that pop up first in mind, and I think with object caching too, you can also cache the results of API calls. I think we’ve done that before for clients with really slow calls that need to fetch something from some API that takes a couple of minutes, and instead of doing that every page load, we store it in a transient. But yes, caching is very, very important. I think in terms of the order that we discuss things, the hosting, the theme, plugins, caching, they’re all really, really the first points of call when it comes to doing audits and making sure things are running well. I think page caching is probably the most important one to get right because everything else will, like you said, the LCP will depend on your time to first byte, which is tremendously improved once you get page caching working, and if you again can leverage edge caching on top of that, you can save usually another 100, 200, 300 milliseconds, which can speed up the other components.

Especially the initial page. The homepage is probably one of the easiest pages to cache, and because it is the point of entry to the website, it just gives you the first impression that we’re looking for it to be fast and clicky and all of the links that go from the first page to specific products and maybe category pages and all of that, those are very easily cacheable pages, right?

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like the pieces where there aren’t dynamic components that need to do post requests or fetch something from the database particular to that visitor, that kind of stuff. I certainly encourage people to build their homepages like that so that they’re very cache-friendly and we don’t have to worry about users seeing something they’re not supposed to or those kinds of things compared to if you have product category pages where you have something with facets where you can filter and drill down, you’re fetching a lot of information straight from the database, which I noticed…

Even with those pages, you can still cache them. Usually filtering options that you have on the website, in the cases where the number of combinations are not in the millions, if they’re in the hundreds, it’s not difficult to cache all the different variations when it comes to filtering and having fast filtering is one of the biggest challenges in a WooCommerce store. But if you’re small and if you have the knowledge and if you can hire a developer to do that, we developers have the resources to cache those filtered pages as well, right?

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think you even built something for, I forgot the name of it, but you built a filter plugin for a client that is actually selling it.

Well, in that particular version we did a little, the client had this awesome idea to just provide the browser with the initial results of the filtered products, but it wasn’t directly related to the caching part, but here’s the deal, it benefits greatly from page caching because the information that comes with the page source is already enough for people to feel the filtering to be very fast. It’s the perceived part that we talked about at the beginning, but it’s not caching everything, but it’s caching just enough for people to think this is super fast. And yes, that was one of the techniques that they used, but even if you don’t have that, even if you have a page caching system where the first customer goes in is the one who generates the HTML for that particular cache, and then the second one that does the same, the same filtering options will be served the cached version of it, and that’s…

Possible, and I think with filtering too, you get, so you can do both page caching and basically object caching is what I would call it when you are storing them in the database or if you can cache the query string, get parameters from, if that’s how the facet plugin is working, then you get to leverage Varnish or Nginx or whatever other caching plugin you might be using, and that’s one cool way to do it. But then if that isn’t cached, it fetches it straight from a transient inside the database is the next best thing. So I know some people don’t like having layers of cache because you can have stale cache and you don’t want the user to be delivered expired data, but I think if you get things configured correctly, everything helps boost one another. It’s the same thing with page caching locally on the host and page cache on the edge with Cloudflare or a similar solution.

It’s always better if Cloudflare wants to cache your homepage that when you deliver the page to Cloudflare, if you can give a cached version that’s way faster than taking two to three seconds for time to first byte to then deliver it to Cloudflare. So I think it’s important to consider these aspects in the performance strategy and get things, there might be some little fine-tuning or issues to iron out as you’re rolling out caching, and a lot of planning is usually a good idea with clients asking them what’s the typical user journey? What different types of users and avatars do we have on the site? How do they navigate through the site so that we can make sure we’re considering all types of users? Also for employees, the customers are the ones giving money to the WooCommerce store, but the people who need to work on the backend processing orders, support tickets, that kind of stuff, I think it’s important they have a good experience as well, and you won’t be able to use page caching as much for them, but there’s certain object caching and similar techniques you can use for their tasks daily that can make it a better experience.

They get more productive, store owners are happier and all of that stuff.

And then you have the cart pages and the checkout pages, which obviously cannot be page cached. Maybe parts of it can be object cached because there are elements in there that are repetitive for all customers, but then it goes back to what we were saying before about hosting, right? For those pages, you need to rely on the quality of the CPU, memory, SSD and all of that to render those pages fast enough because it’s not just enough to do a fast homepage and category pages and product pages. If people get to the cart and then to the checkout and the page takes 10 seconds to load, you just basically lost the client right there.

Yeah, yeah, exactly. And it’s something to really get nailed down. I think it’s okay for the final checkout when people press after they’ve added their billing details, credit card number, all of that, pressing that final button, it needs to communicate with the payment gateway or API calls back and forth. I think people accept and understand that that could take a bit of time…

Like that everywhere in every single site,

But getting to that stage shouldn’t take long. I think especially with mobile browsers nowadays, you can autofill pretty much all of the fields and WooCommerce is so popular and widespread that unless you’ve done a lot of customization to the fields or whatever like the Google Chrome Safari or whatever, I think we’ll be able to figure it out. We can’t cache those pages, but it’s still, so maybe you might be able to do some fragment caching if you still have the menu in there and it’s a mega menu, super complicated. We could cache that, so that’s not taking up unnecessary time. I don’t think that many users are going into the menu at…

That point. Yeah,

Or you might have a footer, I’ve seen this before. We have a footer widget or some piece that is contacting Instagram or doing something else blocking the right page and the user isn’t even going to see it, but it still is preventing the checkout flow from progressing…

Quickly. Yeah, I was going to take the last minutes that we have for this episode. Just to sum quickly, so we have chosen our hosting company, we have chosen our theme and we have a set of plugins that we chose. We learned about caching and what the different caching versions are, and now we’ve installed everything and we run the website and it’s slow. The website is not moving at all. Then we need to talk about, and we’ve already talked about core web vitals, so we have different diagnosing tools that we can use to understand why the site is slow, because if we followed all of the advice that we’re given, we’ve chosen the right hosting, the theme is not big, the number of plugins is reduced, and we only have the ones that we really need. We’ve tweaked, we spent hours tweaking the caching and the site is still taking two seconds to load the homepage. For example, core web vitals are the first thing to go to and to measure. How do you do that? How do you measure core web vitals?

Yeah, there’s definitely using a front-end tool like Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, WebPageTest. We’ve seen those at the perf now


PerfNow Conference. Yes,

They all run some piece of Lighthouse nowadays. You used to have to use Google PageSpeed Insights, it’s called I think something else now. Anyway, web.dev/measure. So they all just have different ways of running Lighthouse and then presenting the data to you differently. So I like WebPageTest the most. It’s the geekiest, so it could be quite overwhelming for people. I think GTmetrix does a really good job of presenting the data in a more digestible way that isn’t overwhelming and it gives you a good amount of insights and Google PageSpeed. I think because it’s the official Google tool, people like to use that and it feels like it’s more credible, trustworthy…

And it will tell you also about SEO because you want to appear on Google results and at the top eventually, and that particular tool will give you more information about that specific part of the performance.

It tells you if you’re failing the core web vitals for that particular page or for your entire website, depending on how much traffic you’re getting. I believe WebPageTest does that as well. It has the crux Google Chrome user experience metrics, but that’s only Chrome data, which is important to remember. It’s the same thing on PageSpeed Insights that it’s not collecting that information from other non-Google Chrome browsers. But yeah, those tools, I mean we can do a whole workshop on those. There’s a bunch of courses on them, so advanced and rich in what they can do. But yeah, that’s why a lot of people, they come to me and they say, Hey, I ran this and it’s slow. I don’t understand this report. Sometimes those reports are oversimplified where there’s a lot of pieces that they miss or that they say, oh, the LCP element is this, and it’s like, well, why is it taking eight seconds? Usually it’s JavaScript related or something else, but it could also be the time the first byte was six seconds, so that takes someone who has experience and to decrypt, I think, or understand things more.

Do you have a favorite tool?

Well, no, it’s basically just the ones that you talked about, but what I think is the most important one, I don’t want to say there’s a most important one, but I do feel like the Google’s tool is a good starting point for people to understand a little bit what’s going on because they also give, I don’t want to say simple instructions on how to fix those because they’re not, probably not simple when they say to reduce image sizes or when they say to lazy load some scripts and all of that stuff. Usually as a store owner, you don’t really know what to do, and even as a developer, you suddenly think, oh, so if I just lazy load all this stuff and I just delay all the loading of the JavaScript, that will fix it. But then I start thinking, oh, how do I determine which ones are not necessary and how do I determine which ones the clients need if they change something on a homepage? Suddenly it’s the script that does this funny animation or has this slider going on. So it’s very hard for people to understand, and I think Google’s tool is the one that gives you a starting point to start figuring out what’s going on. They do this coloring with red, yellow, and I think that’s all the colors, the important colors they use to pinpoint all the most important parts of it, and if you manage to figure out some of those points, you’re already in a good starting point and then you can use all the other tools you mentioned to just fine tune specific parts of it. But once you have the results and once you have some indications on the website specifically what’s going on, being it a section of the website, an image problem, JavaScript problem, whatever it is, then it basically comes back to the theme setup and how to properly set up the theme.

Usually if you go with an existing theme, there are options that you can turn on and off and by those on and off, you will then obviously maybe not load some of the scripts if the theme is done properly, if they have taken care of just not loading scripts they don’t need for that particular page. This is where page builders come in very handy, and that’s why I’m a huge, huge fan of Gutenberg and all the Gutenberg experience because it’s very performance-focused. But then again, you will optimize the heavy scripts, the styles, you will disable some theme features. As we talked about, mobile performance is also something that you will fine tune and then you suddenly… Let’s move on to the story and end with this. Then suddenly you realize, okay, I’ve fixed all of these problems. I have a faster website. I have fixed most of the problems they were told to me to fix. How do you keep record of the website’s performance and how do you go about making sure that this first initial tweak that you did is going to keep up with your website and you’re going to maintain all of that performance throughout the whole existence of the website? What is your tip as a final tip on how developers or clients can diagnose the performance throughout the whole time that it exists?

Yeah, I’ll make it short. I think it’s important to focus on both lab tests, which are these synthetic tests you run through GTmetrix and other tools, and then also look at the real user metrics, which is what actual people are experiencing, and then diagnose as much as you can using those tools and having some kind of performance budget in mind in terms of what kind of space do we have for, what are we going to allow for the LCP to be? What are we going to allow for the time to first byte to be? How much JavaScript, what’s the overall payload for the entire front page that we’re going to allow to be not larger than 500 kilobytes, for example, would be great. Sometimes it might be way larger and sort of tracking with a spreadsheet or screenshots or whatever you can, and sort of dating those to make sure that things are staying within your thresholds that you’ve defined, I think is a good starting point unless you have a whole performance team dedicated.

What we’ve seen at the conference, these big companies like IKEA, they have dedicated performance teams whose job is to make sure everything is running smoothly and they interface with the departments. I don’t think that’s realistic for a lot of companies, but we can still take some of the ideas and sort of track things. I think that most importantly is don’t just assume that once you’ve made a change performance-wise or whatever, that it’s going to persist indefinitely forever because the website is usually a living, breathing thing. You do updates to the plugins, etc. People tend to add more features and sometimes a plugin update can introduce a new performance bottleneck and it’s important to match that…

Or changing the homepage, or you have a different hero section, you have something different in your homepage and you suddenly think it looks way better. I’m going to sell a lot more, and then it suddenly affects one of the key metrics, for example.

Yeah, exactly. If someone has hired a designer to implement something and you’re like, oh, this is beautiful, but the page has increased to five megabytes and all your metrics are way, way off, now aesthetically it might be better, but you’re going to end up losing money. In my experience, so I think having it in your workflow, whatever size company you are, to do some kind of testing to make sure that the performance is still good after you’ve made major changes or even minor ones. I think it’s important because people, business owners, will always check the money side of things and when they notice all of a sudden that conversion rates are down or have been trending downwards over a few months and they feel it in their wallet, that’s a very frustrating position to be in and it’s nicer to catch…

And they usually probably think, oh, it’s something with my marketing or advertisement, or there’s something with the products or reviews and they usually don’t think it might be the performance part of the website that is damaging their sales.

Yeah, exactly.

So regularly monitoring the site performance is our advice as a last piece of advice for today’s episode. New Relic, it doesn’t store information that much, but it is a tool that you can use to just analyze regularly your website’s performance. Google PageSpeed Insights is something that some of the hosting providers have embedded in their system and some of them can also give you some notifications if you reach certain values that are not recommended. And I think GTmetrix, I’m not sure, is the one that you can also buy a subscription and have it regularly measure and analyze your website and send you insights to your inbox for you to be aware of…

Yeah, GTmetrix actually even lets you, if you pay them a subscription, you can have it alert you if certain metrics have exceeded. If you say, I don’t want LCP larger than 2.5 for your product category page or whatever, it will actually send you an email and alert. And that goes back to the proactivity aspect, right? Where it’s better to find that out and do something about it immediately rather than finding out three months later. And revenue is down, morale…

And it also provides actionable recommendations as well. All right, so we talked about a bunch of stuff today. CDN, database optimization, image optimization, lazy loading, plugins, themes, performance key metrics, all of that could be potentially a bunch of other episodes that we’ll talk about. And actually it would be cool to bring somebody else as a guest to talk specifically about some of these key aspects. As a last recommendation, I think we can also talk about the PerfNow conference that happens in November in Amsterdam. You’ve been going to the conference before and you’ve recommended that conference to me last year and I went there last year with you. And

although within WordPress and WooCommerce we’re only used to go to the WordCamps and the different versions of those, PerfNow has… I haven’t seen the word WordPress ever in their website, but it has so much to do with our work and it has so much to do with the development work we do for WordPress. So I definitely recommend people checking out PerfNow. It happens in Amsterdam in November, it’s a conference that is not as big as any WordCamp, Europe or US or Asia that we’ve seen. And you get out of there with the will to just go back to your clients and say, hey, I’m going to make your website a lot faster now because I understand performance there. Would you recommend PerfNow as well?

Oh, absolutely. The people who build the tools that we use and they’re pioneers of front-end performance and are sharing these incredible stories, a lot of them work for big companies and they give you real case studies where we’re talking millions of dollars at stake from making certain changes. And it always reinvigorates me every time I go where I’m like, oh, I need to build this now and we’re going to introduce this to clients and make everything better for them. If you’re a real performance enthusiast and love this stuff. I haven’t found a conference that’s more exhilarating than PerfNow and the people are super friendly. The vibe is really, really cool there. When we were there last…

And just being able to talk to the people who built all of these tools, they actually have something to say about what’s coming next and give advice on the evolution of all of this. So it seems also like you go to that conference and you’re in the future for the next one or two years and see what’s going to happen, what’s important. And the fact that you as a developer can offer that to the client and make money out of it and sort of turn yourself into their magician and do stuff that nobody else can do, that is super important.

Yeah. It sets you apart for sure.

All right, this is it for our episode. Thank you so much for listening in and I hope to meet you guys in the next one.

In this episode of Woo DevChat, Marcel and Mike explore the critical importance of website performance for WooCommerce stores. They discuss key factors such as hosting quality, theme selection, plugin management, and caching techniques, offering practical advice for optimizing site speed and user experience.

The conversation also highlights the significance of core web vitals and the tools available for diagnosing and maintaining website performance.


Importance of Website Performance: Fast website speed is crucial for first impressions, user satisfaction, and conversion rates. It directly impacts SEO and profitability.

Hosting Quality: Choosing the right hosting provider with adequate resources, good data centers in the target region, and features like CDN integration and application performance monitoring is foundational for optimal website performance.

Theme Selection: Custom themes often outperform commercial themes in terms of speed and performance. It’s essential to control the scripts and features loaded to maintain a fast and efficient site.

Plugin Management: Limit the number of plugins and ensure the ones you use are high-quality and necessary. Multiple plugins performing the same function can slow down the site.

Caching Techniques: Implementing effective caching strategies, including page caching, object caching, and browser caching, can significantly improve website speed.

Core Web Vitals: Regularly monitor key metrics such as Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Time to First Byte (TTFB), and Interaction to Next Paint (INP) to ensure optimal performance.

Perceived Performance: Techniques like lazy loading and preloading critical resources can enhance the perceived speed of the website, improving the user experience.

Regular Performance Monitoring: Continuously track and test website performance using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and WebPageTest to maintain and improve site speed over time.

Expert Insights: Consulting with professionals and attending conferences like PerfNow can provide valuable insights and strategies for maintaining a high-performing WooCommerce store.

by BobWP at July 17, 2024 08:30 AM under Performance optimization

Matt: 6.6

A nice new WordPress 6.6 is out, our 50th release, on the same day people are getting hit with huge bills from Webflow. I really enjoy working in Open Source. There is no more customer-centric license. There’s some really fun stuff cooking, too, I can’t wait to show y’all.

50 releases… wow. No matter what happens in the world, we’re just going to keep cranking. Three times a year. Relentlessly. A little better each time. Don’t believe me, just watch.

by Matt at July 17, 2024 06:36 AM under Asides

July 16, 2024

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 6.6 “Dorsey”

Say hello to WordPress 6.6 “Dorsey,” named after the legendary American Big Band leader, Tommy Dorsey. Renowned for his smooth-toned trombone and compositions, Dorsey’s music captivated audiences with its emotional depth and vibrant energy.

Let your heart swing, sing, and sway to the deep brass notes of Dorsey’s Big Band sound as you explore the new features and enhancements of WordPress 6.6.

Hello, 6.6!

WordPress 6.6 delivers on the promise of a better web by bringing style, finesse, and a suite of creative possibilities to your site-building experience. This version helps you do more with ease, putting enhanced tools at your fingertips and giving you unprecedented power behind the scenes. You will find more ways to create beautiful, coherent design elements across your site, a new layout for quick page previews in the Site Editor, and the safety of automatic rollbacks for failed plugin auto-updates—among many other highlights.

In addition to the new features, “Dorsey” continues to deliver the performance and accessibility gains you can expect from every WordPress release. Explore what WordPress 6.6 has to offer and get ready to let its features take your sites to new heights.

What’s inside

Add more design options to block themes

Create color or font sets to multiply design combinations across one theme. These sets offer more contained design possibilities, allowing visual variety within the site’s broader styling guidelines.

Simplify your workflow with a new layout for pages in the Site Editor

See all of your pages and a preview of any selected page with the new side-by-side layout in the Site Editor.

Auto-update your plugins with peace of mind

Enjoy the convenience of plugin auto-updates with the safety of rollbacks if anything goes wrong—offering your site a new level of security, enhanced functionality as it becomes available, and almost no time or bandwidth from you to make it happen.

Customize content in synced patterns

Make content changes in each instance of a synced pattern while maintaining a consistent style across them. Set these overrides for Heading, Paragraph, Button, and Image blocks when placed in a synced pattern.


WordPress 6.6 features important updates like removing redundant WP_Theme_JSON calls, disabling autoload for large options, and eliminating unnecessary polyfill dependencies. Other highlights include lazy-loading post embeds, a new data-wp-on-async directive, and templates in the editor that load approximately 35% faster overall.


This release includes 58 accessibility fixes and enhancements. These focus on foundational aspects of the WordPress experience, particularly the data views component powering the new site editing experience and areas like the Inserter, which provide a key way of interacting with blocks and patterns.

And much more

Visit the feature showcase for a full overview of all the new features and enhancements in WordPress 6.6.

Learn more about WordPress 6.6

Explore Learn WordPress for quick how-to videos, online workshops, and other free resources to level up your WordPress knowledge and skills.

The WordPress 6.6 Field Guide contains detailed technical information and developer notes to help you build with WordPress and get the most out of this release. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Developer Blog for updates, tutorials, and other helpful WordPress content for developers.

For information about installation, file changes, fixes, and other updates, read the 6.6 release notes.

The 6.6 release squad

Every release comes to you from a dedicated team of enthusiastic contributors who help keep things on track and moving smoothly. The team that has led 6.6 is a cross-functional group of contributors who are always ready to champion ideas, remove blockers, and resolve issues.

Thank you, contributors

The mission of WordPress is to democratize publishing and embody the freedoms that come with open source. A global and diverse community of people collaborating to strengthen the software supports this effort.

WordPress 6.6 reflects the tireless efforts and passion of more than 630 contributors in at least 51 countries. This release also welcomed over 150 first-time contributors!

Their collaboration delivered more than 1,900 enhancements and fixes, ensuring a stable release for all—a testament to the power and capability of the WordPress open source community.

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More than 60 locales have translated 90 percent or more of WordPress 6.6 into their language. Community translators are working hard to ensure more translations are on their way. Thank you to everyone who helps make WordPress available in 200 languages.

Last but not least, thanks to the volunteers who contribute to the support forums by answering questions from WordPress users worldwide.

Get involved

Participation in WordPress goes far beyond coding, and learning more and getting involved is easy. Discover the teams that come together to Make WordPress and use this interactive tool to help you decide which is right for you.

6.6 haiku

Six-point-six is here.
Make it all gorgeous; keep it
On brand, and relax.

by Matt Mullenweg at July 16, 2024 04:51 PM under releases

Do The Woo Community: Open SaaS, WooCommerce and Enterprise with Nate Stewart

Cloudways: Managed cloud hosting from Cloudways gives you the assurance that your hosted site is fast, secure and backed by 24/7 support is important to you.

Episode Transcript

Welcome to another episode of Do the Woo. I’m your co-host, Jonathan Wold, and with me today is your other co-host, Tammie Lister. Tammie, how are you?

I’m good, thank you. How are you?

I am excellent. Excited to be doing the Woo once again. We are joined today by Nate Stewart. He is the VP of Platform Strategy at BigCommerce. Nate, welcome.

Hi. Happy to be here.

And where in the world are you joining us from today?

In Puerto Rico.

How is the climate in Puerto Rico this time of year?

It’s great. You know, we just had a hurricane pass through and push a little bit of the humidity out. Now it’s back to normal, everything’s fine here. Other than that, it’s nice and beautiful.

Excellent. So Nate, you are not a stranger to the show. It’s just over four years ago, episode 64, you were a guest on Do the Woo. A lot has happened since. What are you working on at BigCommerce these days?

I’m working on, believe it or not, some of the same things we talked about, just in more elevated forms. Like, I think a lot of what we talked about last time was more of an ambition to support openness and bring open into the core of BigCommerce. Around that time, we talked a lot about how we’re open SaaS, like we want to be the open SaaS commerce platform, the leader. And that was more of a future-focused vision of where we wanted to sit in the market, what we wanted to support. Now, a lot of that is reality. We’ve invested multiple years into making that true and that changes a lot, I think, in a good way, of how we work with the WordPress ecosystem, how we work with pretty much everybody’s way of working. We want to feel like you enjoy and love and cherish a lot of different platforms and technologies and ways of working. And we want to be the platform that makes you feel at home because we trust that you have good taste and you like what you like because it has value. So yeah, all that has kind of become true. I’m really just making sure we get the most value ourselves and everyone else with that strategy.

I recall. It’s been great to watch over the years too, that you were talking about that then and there were some hints of it, but BigCommerce’s public position, because you’re of course a public company, that’s a whole other game to be talking publicly about this open SaaS strategy. It takes time to carry this out. So it’s interesting to see that it’s like we had that four years ago, you were talking about it. Now you have a lot more evidence that you can point to. Your investment in the WordPress ecosystem is how many, like, is it five plus years now that you’ve been in this space? Before we had you on the show, you’d already been at it for a while.

Yeah, I think definitely in terms of when the first couple of WordCamps, big and small, we were doing research and meeting the community. That was like six, seven years ago. It took some time to build the plugin, but a lot of that was just coming from, at the time, we had hundreds and hundreds of merchants that already had WordPress running alongside their BigCommerce store. It was like, wait a minute, where does this data take us if we keep going? So that led us into the community. And then, I mean, myself, I kind of fell in love with just how it felt almost like what it felt like as I learned the web and grew into the person I am. I was like, oh, this feels true to who I am as well. And I think that’s just part of why I really fight to stick in any ecosystem where there’s that truth there and that it resonates with people. It’s not just a bunch of corporate marketing. There’s value beyond it. So yeah, that’s like six, seven years ago. It feels like a totally different world than six, seven years ago. But a lot of what stayed the same is kind of what I’m talking about, you know, at work and in the communities I’m focused on.

This is a WooCommerce-focused podcast, right? And one of the things that I’ve liked about BigCommerce from the beginning is that you didn’t have this anti-WooCommerce stance, but perception and reality are two different things. And I think early on, a lot of folks, like you had a product, your first plugin, for instance, was focused on more of this small business use case where BigCommerce… Well, let’s start with this. How do you think about the WooCommerce ecosystem? Because you have competitors in the space. You compete with Shopify and other proprietary platforms, but with this open SaaS strategy, how is it that you think about WooCommerce?

Yeah, I think about it as a major part of the journey for decision merchants looking to easily make their vision a reality. You don’t start by coming onto a platform like BigCommerce and using every feature. You start many times with your marketing presence, with what you know. Some people are already blogging in WordPress and want to create a business, and it makes perfect sense to start there. So Woo is the first place that I feel most people should look because it’s so well supported. It’s just the default for that space. But then it’s a journey, right? So at which part of the journey does either WordPress or WooCommerce hit a little bit of a snag, where at that point you’re like, wait a minute, I need to get out of WordPress, get out of Woo. I don’t think that’s a positive decision. It shouldn’t be binary. It should be, hey, what part is it working and how do you retain everything you put into it and add on for the next level of your growth? That’s kind of the way I feel about Woo. I have a lot of respect for Woo. I feel a lot of really smart agencies and developers are creating really cool experiences in Woo. I like seeing that. I like seeing innovation in the space because it’s open source, you can do that.

And I think the key for me lies in that open SaaS strategy because we’re no strangers to proprietary platforms that work within our space, like Jetpack and other products like it are proprietary and there’s the SaaS component, but they’re all in on the WordPress ecosystem. Whereas other platforms, like Shopify, it’s zero-sum, right? They want everything there. It’s like you’re choosing Shopify, you’re also doing the CMS and everything. And that’s what stood out to me the most about the approach you guys have taken, embracing the choice. You want to use WordPress, you want to use WooCommerce, that’s fantastic. We’re here to support you. What’s made it clearer, and you tell me Nate, is, as the years have gone on, your emphasis on the enterprise has made a lot more straightforward. Whereas early on, it was more of an overlay because you started out as a small business-focused platform. That enterprise shift has taken a number of years to get to this point.

Yeah, I mean, I believe we’re on the 15th year of BigCommerce being the name of the company. The backstory is a couple of years before that it was actually like you got the code and you ran it yourself back in the day. And it evolved into a SaaS platform, right? That was because early days, e-comm, it was much harder to scale and support by, you know, much greater, like, let’s say 10X. I don’t know the exact thing, but it just, you wanted, people were reaching out, going, I love this, but I want it hosted for me. And now hosting and other tech has made it to where it’s less of a, it’s more fuzzy between open and SaaS. And I think it’s part of our journey. So we went from the code to SaaS. It was SMB only because in the beginning, e-comm days, we didn’t have all the advanced features we have now. You built a cart, you built a catalog, you built all those pieces. But over the years, you get to where the people that need the most help with their architecture and functionality, they need way more complex features. You naturally get into mid-market and then enterprise. So we’ve kind of been on that journey, and because we’ve invested in the open strategy a while ago, it bodes well for enterprise, really well. Typically, that’s what you see in any software platform landscape. The more enterprise, the more APIs they have, the more ecosystem. Whether you want to get locked into, I would almost say, closed suite versus open suite, you see a lot of those strategies in different ways play out. We are more of the open suite, you know, we want to make it easy to package. And that includes you want to use WordPress and you want to use WooCommerce in a different part of our product catalog, if you will, like our suite. We want to open up pathways to that for the enterprise, and even before that to where it’s not a binary decision. It’s what’s best for you as you are growing.

And I think a good example of that to me, and we can touch on it more later, is you have products that people don’t know about, like Feedonomics, that have WooCommerce support built into it. It’s a product that’s focused on your product feeds out to various endpoints. And you could use WooCommerce in that. It’s a BigCommerce

product. The last question I have for you on this topic before we switch gears: WooCommerce has a mission to democratize commerce, which is connected to the WordPress mission to democratize publishing, right? I’d love to hear your thoughts on what role you see BigCommerce playing in supporting that mission. How do you think about that mission?

Yeah, one that kind of echoes six, seven years ago when I was kind of indoctrinated in the community, the whole 51% I think is maybe the clearest way we help to get to 51% of the web, which much of that is commerce. When you actually look at the longstanding site, I think right now what happens, the trend I’ve seen is when you start in WordPress, you layer on WooCommerce, and then when you hit that decision point of, well, maybe it’s not as fast as I wanted, or it’s getting complex for the different plugins and the agencies I’m working with are quoting that I should migrate off to something else. It’s at that point where if we make it easier to just uplevel the pieces of your WordPress stack to keep you on WordPress as you evolve, then both WordPress and many times Woo benefit from that. That’s how you get to the 51% and more. You find those strategies in the WordPress community where there are partners like us that go, hey, let’s keep that stat. Let’s keep building it together. I want to see a world where WordPress goes beyond 51% and we are a part of that journey and celebrating together, knowing that we’re talking about a journey here, not a one-off decision you make when you have a new problem.

I’d really like to move us from that. You mentioned the toolkit, the suite, and we looked at how we have this kind of blue. I want to consider the space for commerce and builders. You mentioned this suite. What has been the most exciting thing to explore and experiment with product-wise lately? You mentioned layers and complexities, but what does that feel like building in, and how have you been exploring and building in that? What have you been exploring and building in that even? That’s a big question.

Yeah. One of the things that I mentioned earlier, we had hundreds of merchants back in the day, which led us in the direction that were using WordPress on the side, meaning they had their site and then a shop dot. Now because of the plugin, but also because of things like headless and composability, it’s more nuanced than that. And now with the Gutenberg editor, it’s been this way for a while. You have blocks and whatnot. You can go, wait, if you already have your marketing site up there and you want to layer on commerce and you’re already closer to the mid-market enterprise, right? Because you maybe have a big B2B business and you’re going to B2C. So you’re already at scale with complexity. Well, I’ve been plugging with a team a little bit around how would we integrate Gutenberg and existing stuff that you have, you made a decision like your theme and your blocks, into our open-source storefront framework that we built called Catalyst. That way, you get to retain what you built on WordPress and via the Gutenberg kind of standard blocks. So to me, one of the interesting things here is how, and this is an area I’d like to work more with people to solve. Blocks are almost there. The API, it feels in any like the WP GraphQL and REST, you can get to the point where it feels like it should work 100%, but you run into issues in actual live implementations where, okay, there’s not really a standard where you can go from WordPress React into static or into now with like Next.js and the newest app router, React server components, how you transition from, I get this block, it’s a form plugin, I have this type of React running on my headless instance. How do I make it work to where on the front end of the editor it works and then WordPress? I want that to look and feel the same way. That actually gets very complex very quickly. And I think whoever works in solving that problem where we can get there together will radically improve how people are using Gutenberg, how we work through these migration strategies that don’t push you off of WordPress and off of Woo, but go, hey, this block works well for you here, this block is not performant, should we go headless? Should we just replace that block? Anyway, I’ve been plugging away with the team about that, working with several different agencies in this space to go, what’s your opinion? And yeah, there’s a lot there. I think Gutenberg is really cool, and personally, even on the weekend I’m hacking around occasionally, you might see me going like, what’s the new thing? But it’s funny how, I mean, it’s been years since it was released and some of those pain points are still there, right? We have to ask ourselves why. If they’re migrating out because we don’t know how to use blocks, that’s not even a core commerce thing. That’s just in general, I think that more could be done there.

I like how you’re kind of touching on it by what you are saying, which is you never, you don’t find those, I always call them stress cases, not edge cases because they cause you stress when you hit them rather than them being edge cases because they might only be for one person, but it could be really important that that one person hits them by the experimentation. So I think one of the answers, and it’s one of many, is people haven’t maybe explored some of these combinations. So that’s what really, for me personally, and I think a lot of people, is curious about these experiments that you’re doing. But I’d love, in what you’ve been creating in your own experiments, how have you discovered this to be uniquely different to building this space? Because it is a little bit uniquely different, these stacks, like you’ve shared about the complexities and the layers, but it kind of is shifting sands a little bit in places. What are some of the other differences that you’ve thought about as you are creating these spaces?

I think one that, again, this is more of a background thought the whole time. One decision we made early on was to do it 100% the WordPress way. And we, everything being in the community and the research and all the agencies and builders we talked to, they’re like, there’s the WordPress way, you build the template, it’s PHP, all of that. Gutenberg was happening as that. But no one really, it’s almost like people didn’t want it to succeed. It was a very weird feeling, but we got over that hump overall as a community. But during that early, you’re talking like six years ago plus, that WordPress way kind of limited us in terms of what Gutenberg was really trying to accomplish, which is being more modular, being more JavaScript-forward, React-forward. So now I have this, again, it’s a background thought of instead of, you know, the plugin being like the WordPress way templates, being more components by default, it’s really just React as the page loads reading out from an API. And yes, there’s a downside to, you know, you don’t have things in the table in the options table and other aspects. There’s maybe a loading artifact a little bit there where the page loads and then it reads the data. But the benefit is you are fully compatible with the static hosting trend that’s happening in the WordPress space and overall web development in general. It actually forces you to polish your API on your other end a lot better, making sure that caching and just performance in general is better at the API level. So I feel as a platform that is integrating that mode makes your product better for everyone by integrating that way. So I’ve had that thought come up a lot. The downside is there’s effort there to change, and there’s also feedback from the community where there are millions of people that love the WordPress way. And there’s the thought there, and what does the WordPress way even mean anymore? I’ve had this thought of it, isn’t it Gutenberg? Isn’t it blocks? So yeah, all that.

I think it’s fascinating that the WordPress way, maybe it should be adapting. Maybe the whole point about the WordPress way is that it isn’t a fixed way, and we maybe thought it was like chiseled, and it wasn’t chiseled. I think this is such a fascinating discussion. I want to skip back a couple of steps to something you were saying because you very clearly have an understanding of builders and you very clearly have an understanding both from your own tinkering, I love that word, and exploring. So that translates into what is being created. And I think that is incredibly important when you are creating these suites and trying to also create tools. Can you explain a little bit more how that translates into the products that you are offering as well? Because I think there’s something in there as well that we’ve been talking about and getting super excited about the API and the experiments. But how does that then translate into the products?

So I think we’re really in this multi-product territory now. You can’t be truly open if the only way to get value is to combine everything the same way every time. That’s not open. That becomes closed in general, like entering the walled garden. And so I think what we’ve evolved over the years is formally, we’ve made acquisitions as a company. You mentioned Feedonomics, they’re doing very well outside of the BC ecosystem as well as in. They actively support all of our competitors, all our commerce competitors. When you go to feedonomics.com, it’s very hard to find any mention of BigCommerce. It’s very much its own product offering. Because we’re underneath the same umbrella, we work under the same constraints of, okay, when we need to ship a

feature and it’s using their technology, we build like a partner would, right? We don’t have internal things that are cheating. That helps everyone and helps us keep an honest open strategy. That’s why Woo fits into their strategy in a big way. They have many large WooCommerce customers and they have kept them on Woo and WordPress, and that’s okay because that product still grows their business. Let’s be honest, it’s easier to keep people happy if you don’t go into their house and say everything’s terrible. You can make comments, you know, they might not like the couch, but you don’t tell them to move. They like their community, right? Another example of this is Makeswift. They’re a recent acquisition, again, an independent company still like Feedonomics. They are a visual editor for Catalyst and our next-gen storefront. However, if you want to use Makeswift with WordPress, with WooCommerce, with any of our commerce competitors, they don’t become a competitor. If you like Makeswift, you’re not ready for BigCommerce, you’ve invested a lot in your current stack, that’s fine. There are interesting things with Makeswift because it is composable by nature. It is built from the ground up to support the latest in React and React server components, all that where Gutenberg is more of the default. It is React and the new way, but its APIs and all aren’t in the same ecosystem. You could technically use the Gutenberg API in the Makeswift visual editor and get the development flow you want while still retaining WordPress. It’s almost like WordPress as I know Jonathan you said in the past as the operating system. It has the API. There are all these interesting things that can happen when we’re multi-product. We’re not single platform where you buy it as a product. I think that’s one of the ways that we enable builders in a different way, and each of those separate products have different APIs and ways you can utilize them.

One of the big switches over the past couple of years has been this increasing emphasis on enterprise, right? That’s the transition that you’ve been making. Multi-product is a good example of how you carry out that promise. You’re giving flexibility, especially in the enterprise, where that flexibility matters. They may have policies for using this or that, or they want just a piece of it. That’s a good example. Let’s talk about enterprise more and start with this: how do you define enterprise? What is that definition within the BigCommerce context?

Yeah, for us, the way we define enterprise, it’s more like the size of their annual revenue, their employee count, it’s a blend, and they’re opting into being a part of our enterprise plan. It’s nuanced because typically you have a lot of platforms like products out there that are like, we’re enterprise or not. They come in and it’s like, okay, they have to be at a hundred million in annual revenue, they have to be XYZ. What we’ve found is you could have someone with a tremendous amount of revenue and they are very efficient because of the type of product they sell. There are DIYs and a lot of owner-operators, if you will. I believe there are a lot of those in the WordPress ecosystem. It’s known for that. People say, I’ll do it myself and I actually know how to code, design, and operate it. But that means why should they always pay the price for all the complexity of enterprise when they can handle a lot themselves? They might pay us a little bit less, where they’re not super enterprise, but they’re paying more in other ways that other people might not be able to pay, which means they’re putting in the blood, sweat, and tears to code and design themselves. But that persona, while they might appear more mid-market in terms of how they’re using it, they are an enterprise in revenue. We like to make it a real conversation with the brands we serve and everyone involved, where do you want the complexity to be? At the upper level, we handle a lot. Once you get to enterprise and you’re on an enterprise plan, we handhold a lot more, we’re a lot more with you building, helping you build, up to the point where you have dedicated people at certain levels of building your business. Some people might look at that and say, yeah, I know I’m generating a lot of revenue, but I don’t need that level. My personal opinion is everybody needs help and it’s going to make you sleep better at night when you have someone in your corner. But that openness goes into, well, let’s have a conversation. It’s a fuzzy line for mid-market and enterprise. High level, you’re talking like 50 million GMV, 25, around that territory, very clearly enterprise. It’s very rare for someone to opt out of that.

This is where I get excited, looking at this through the WooCommerce lens. One of the risks we’ve seen over the past couple of years is people grow in WooCommerce, they like WooCommerce, they like WordPress, and then they start to hit the edges. There have been some great agencies, many of them coming onto the show, who’ve pushed the edges of WooCommerce and have innovated and figured out ways to make it scale further. And there’s also this feeling like it wasn’t designed for that. It’s an SMB-focused tool. While there’s a lot of room for growth, one of the things I’ve been intrigued about and been hoping to see more of is what it looks like to bring that enterprise capability from other players into the WooCommerce space. I think Feedonomics is a good example of that and would love to hear more about how you think about that. How can we, in the WooCommerce space, more successfully bring in enterprise capability? My hypothesis is that we can’t do it by just changing the core product because we have millions of store owners that count on that SMB approach that WooCommerce has taken. That’s the question. Right now, when people hit a certain point on WooCommerce and start to feel the edges, I think there’s a churn risk where people feel like they just have to leave entirely. My hypothesis is that doesn’t have to be the case. That’s where I see this opportunity with partners like BigCommerce being able to augment. How do you think about that? What would that look like practically?

Practically, this is one case where being multi-product and having these independent companies that think about each ecosystem, they understand the APIs and aren’t filtering it through the BigCommerce lens. It means the Feedonomics team, the product knows how WooCommerce works, has a dedicated integration with them, and has been through this process day in and day out. Someone calls up going, hey, my sync, I have these plugins that are for my sales channels or advertising channels, and I’m getting to the point where it’s slowing down my site, or I don’t know how to support adding any more. I want to add five more channels. Keep in mind Feedonomics supports like 300 plus, maybe 400 plus, hundreds of sales channels. When things happen, like Target has a marketplace, you’ll hear our competitors make big announcements about it. But the reality is because Feedonomics is wholly dedicated to that, they’re working with Target and other marketplaces as the alpha of when they release functionality. There’s a huge benefit to going, all right, I don’t need to change WooCommerce at all. I’m already selling on sales channels. Let me get an easier-to-maintain site and way more sales channels. But again, you have to make that choice yourself, or an agency or developer working with a merchant. There is a cost, of course. It’s an open SaaS platform, but it is a SaaS platform. It’s a transition from a free plugin that I just have to pay someone to maintain or keep up with updates. It’s that cost transitioning to dollar cost, but you get the time back and peace of mind. It’s really that type of process. That’s why enterprise comes in. People coming in from, let’s say, they have half a million, a million in GMV, annual revenue, that’s probably not something that Feedonomics power is necessary for. You can just optimize Woo and the sales channels. But if you have questions like, I have 3 million in revenue, I’m growing faster than I can update, I have ideas and ambition to go into 10 more channels. Even if your site is working, if you can’t rapidly add 5, 10, 50 advertising, sales, and whatnot channels, and that’s your ambition, that’s when the right time is to talk. Again, it’s the journey. We talk a lot about the right journey and the merchant journey, having the right time, right place, rather than going, there’s one solution that fits everyone.

I’m going to pivot towards the end and imagine we’re kind of dreaming a little bit. We spoke about the past four years, but it’s panning away from products. There’s so much going on in this space, so many emerging trends, technologies. Let’s think initially for commerce builders, what should you be keeping an eye on if you’re building in this space now and in the next year? Then we can kind of get a bit dreamy after that.

I’ve actually seen a lot of different podcasts and articles about this topic in this space recently. Static, and again, I talked about how does Gutenberg in the WordPress ecosystem play with that. Not static as just the end goal because why not? It’s fast and we should do it more. I think that will improve WordPress as a platform and other platforms integrating with it. If you think about the right separation of concerns and how the technology enables both approaches cleanly. As a builder, going, I’m building in a way that works for WordPress and its out-of-the-box state and WooCommerce’s out-of-the-box state. What happens next? Someone wants to go static, they want to use

Next.js, what do you do? Is what you built cleanly able to support that? As we think about our architecture and design of APIs, supporting both is better for everyone. It’ll create more opportunity for you as a builder, better for the end user. They’re more likely to stay in the WordPress ecosystem with what they built before because it can be translated into what’s next. A lot of what I’m talking about, we think deeply about composability and it’s almost a part of everything strategically that we’ve worked on recently and will work on in the future because of that reason.

I definitely align to that. All too often, before it was generally just like commerce, what does the front look like, and how do the transactions happen there? But now it’s kind of flipped in that sense. I’m going to flip that question though as well, segue. What buzzwords or tech should commerce creators avoid? Because I think there’s so much, as you were saying, there’s like podcasts and it can be really easy to be distracted or pile your feature set too high so that you then get problems. What makes your eye roll when you hear about someone adding and you’re like, you don’t need to add that, it’s not going to work, it’s not going to help someone?

Yeah, I definitely think my eye rolls a bit when it’s AI without purpose. I think that’s kind of a softball question because a lot of people might say that. But what I mean with AI without purpose is if you’re chasing a perceptual win where it’s like, hey, I can have a chat interface here or look, you could ask it to do a theme and it does it. I feel like that’s removing research and analysis and understanding of the user from it. That’s just trying to achieve an end goal. Almost like what I said about static, don’t do static just because you hear a podcast about static. Do it because you understand the value of being able to transfer from one type of architecture to another. That changes how you build your thing. AI that has a purpose, like, okay, we’ve researched exactly how people are using our themes or integrating different APIs and we have a focused use of AI that’s tailor-made to accomplish that task or series of tasks faster. That’s awesome. I see a lot of people just layering it on. Especially in business, a merchant layering on random AI chat stuff, is it better than ChatGPT? Are you just trying to get a brand for yourself as a builder? I’m not discounting, some people that’s great early in your career, write up something and create and be like, hey, look at me. I know how to hit APIs for AI. But the reality is, does it make someone’s life better? And if it’s just a cool toy but it doesn’t make it better. That’s the difference. I’m not saying I know the answer perfectly. I had to look in the mirror and eye roll myself if I’m heading down. But if we just layered AI on top of that, we’re all capable of running into that peril of all I need to do is layer x feature or tech and it will solve my entire business.

I would plus one that so much. I think it is so easy to AI, is it a workflow or is it AI as well as also that thing? Does it get a hurdle? Okay, the last question I’m going to ask here though is kind of, it kind of segues the end of this. Four years from now, you come back on the podcast, what do you hope you have seen? It feels an inevitable one if we’re talking about the future to give my last question. If we’re talking about the future, I would say there are a million viewers or listeners of this podcast and you invite me back for some tropical villa special edition thing. I know that has nothing to do with technology. I’m just trying to put out some optimism and let the universe make it happen.

I think Bob’s been talking about that, starting to take the hosts and putting us up. I think we’re going to get there.

Thank you, Bob. If you do it a year, Bob, I’d like some puppies if we’re doing that, that’s fine.

I am trying to think about four. I feel kind of echo back on being able to celebrate together, getting WordPress. I don’t want to say modernize WordPress because I think WordPress is, people don’t give enough credit for modernizing as it goes. I actually think a lot of people have learned from Gutenberg without admitting it in other ecosystems. Modernize is the wrong word. It’s more perceptual. I think switching what people feel in the community and an internal perception of, hey, we have modernized, we’ve been through the pain of bleeding edge, trying to learn this stuff and into the rest of the planet by default going, okay, WordPress is in your stack, that’s great for these areas. Having a real conversation around it. Leveling the playing field with headless CMS where a lot of people had for years been using WordPress as a headless CMS. We’re not talking about the full journey, it’s like, which way are you using it with other parts of technology to get the most out of WordPress, out of WooCommerce at that stage. If in four years we’re having real conversations around that and we’ve done the technology work, everyone is better. That’s how you get to over 51% and beyond. It almost becomes like we’re, it’s not like WordPress, it could be, and again, I’m ripping off Jonathan, the WordPress as an OS. You think about Windows, Mac, iOS, all those different things. It’s close there now, but these things have to be solved to know how you interoperate and have all the standards where it doesn’t have to be like every use case is in WordPress. WordPress has to win at every stage of the journey. It has to be where you can hook in and out and get the most out of WordPress. It almost becomes a utility like an operating system long term. In four years, that’s happening. There will be so many more people using WordPress actively that we probably will be on a tropical villa for that episode because there will be so many new ideas and innovation there. I hope to be a little bit part of that journey.

It’s interesting because we’ve been on this trajectory for a long time. Gutenberg, it is interesting to look back now. At the time, there was a lot of, I would argue that the work that Tammie and many others have done on that transition was in fact the WordPress way. What we see today with themes, we added all this complexity to themes in the WordPress space and now we’re getting back to how it was originally and things are getting simpler again. It takes a long time though. This vision of WordPress as an operating system for creating on the open web, I think we’re seeing it play out more and more. E-commerce is a great example of people building and saying, hey, I can create on the web, I want to add business into this context. I really appreciate the work that you guys have been doing at BigCommerce to recognize and be a part of that. That open SaaS strategy fits really well into that. What we see in the future is WordPress just being a ubiquitous part of a stack and a foundation that people can feel like, hey, I own this. It takes a long time though to catch up and bring that parity, features, and ways of doing things that builders need to be able to create confidently on it. Right now, it’s the people who really believe that are making it happen. That includes folks like yourselves investing into the space. Thank you for that. I look forward to seeing what the next four years bring. Nate, if anyone wants to connect with you further or learn more about what you guys are working on, what’s the best way to get in touch?

On LinkedIn, Nate Stewart, search for that. Also Nate.stewart@bigcommerce.com. Feel free to email me. I’m not really on Instagram randomly taking pictures. I missed that whole thing. Definitely missed TikTok. I have an account on now X but I probably won’t actively respond. So LinkedIn and email. We also have our developer community. If you are a builder and you go in there and ping me, it’s a private community that anybody’s free to join. You go to developer.bigcommerce.com and go to the community section. We actually have a WordPress channel there that you could join in. I would love to see more people talking about how they’re using WordPress in our community. Or you could just reach out personally. Like I said, we’re working with a couple of agencies and leaders in the space just to think about what the future is here. The more voices we have that are stress testing that, the better it is.

Excellent. We’ll also look forward to seeing you at future WordCamps as well. Nate, thanks for coming on and talk to you soon.

Thank you.

Thank you.

In this episode of Woo ProductChat, co-hosts Jonathan Wold and Tammie Lister sit down with Nate Stewart, the SVP of Platform Strategy at BigCommerce.

Join them as they get into the evolution of BigCommerce’s open SaaS strategy, the ongoing integration with the WordPress ecosystem, and their innovations on the horizon.

Learn how BigCommerce is working to support WooCommerce’s mission of democratizing commerce and what trends and technologies are shaping the future of the e-commerce landscape. Plus insights on the journey of building open, scalable commerce solutions.


BigCommerce’s Open SaaS Strategy: Nate Stewart discusses how BigCommerce has been focusing on openness, aiming to be the leader in open SaaS commerce. This includes integrating well with platforms like WordPress and WooCommerce, and ensuring that merchants can make their visions a reality with flexibility and support.

Enterprise Shift: BigCommerce has been transitioning towards serving more enterprise-level clients. This shift involves offering more complex features and capabilities while maintaining flexibility and openness to support various business needs.

Integration with WordPress: The integration with WordPress and WooCommerce has been a significant part of BigCommerce’s strategy. They focus on supporting merchants at different stages of their journey, ensuring that WordPress and WooCommerce users can continue to scale and grow without needing to migrate off the platform.

Feedonomics and Makeswift: BigCommerce’s acquisitions, like Feedonomics and Makeswift, highlight their commitment to providing powerful tools that integrate seamlessly with other platforms. Feedonomics, for instance, supports hundreds of sales channels and works well with WooCommerce, helping merchants manage product feeds efficiently.

Gutenberg and Headless Commerce: Nate talks about the challenges and opportunities in integrating Gutenberg and headless commerce approaches with BigCommerce. The goal is to allow merchants to use modern technologies while retaining the flexibility and familiarity of WordPress.

Future of Commerce: Looking ahead, the conversation touches on emerging trends like static site generation and the importance of thoughtful AI integration. Nate emphasizes the need for solutions that genuinely improve user experiences rather than just following trends.

Long-term Vision: The discussion includes a vision of WordPress evolving as an operating system for the open web, supporting various technologies and use cases. This vision includes continuing to modernize WordPress and ensuring it remains a valuable and integral part of the web ecosystem.


by BobWP at July 16, 2024 08:20 AM under Podcast

July 13, 2024

Gutenberg Times: New courses on Learn, My Menu theme, Section styles, Playground step library — Weekend Edition 299


We are a few days away from WordPress 6.6 version hitting a WordPress instance near you. The latest WordPress 6.6 RC3 was released earlier this week. By now most of your testing should be done. Or you wait a few weeks before upgrading. On the Developer Blog What’s new for Developers (July 2024), help you sort through all new features and updates coming to WordPress.

Contributors are working on what next for Gutenberg, and there will be another Hallway Hangout on August 15, 2024, at 15:00 UTC / 9 am EDT to discuss what could be on the Roadmap for 6.7 and beyond.

Exploring my hometown anew is a special treat for us; finding new Restaurants, hanging out in beer gardens and café’s with friends, shopping at farmers market, walking guided tours, and visiting art exhibitions in one of the seven art museums. It is wonderful to play tourist for a while. The next couple of weeks, I will write from my parent’s hometown, outside of Munich.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

Yours, 💕

Developing Gutenberg and WordPress

Learn.WordPress updates

The training team started publishing their Learning Pathways courses.

Beginner WordPress User is a course for WordPress users to learn more about the content management system that houses their content. It holds 25 lessons that users can tackle one at a time, or in single sessions, if they are eager to learn something very specific, for instance, how to use, the Media Library or about the difference between post and pages.

If you design sites for clients, you can guide your clients to a single lesson on the official WordPress site with videos on the official WordPress YouTube channel, that doesn’t have any advertising nor any other uncontrolled suggested videos.

The next set of Lessons are for an Intermediate WordPress User. This one lets learners “delve into advanced features, fine-tune site customization and implement effective content strategies.” It comprises 37 lessons, also all with individual links, for instance: Using the style book or Uncovering the Cover block

Developer Courses

For aspiring WordPress Developers the training team also released the first course. In 59 Lessons, the Beginner WordPress Developer “course provides an extensive overview of the basics of almost every development topic relevant to WordPress. While it is geared toward first-time developers, there’s enough information available that it’s worthwhile for veterans in the community to learn something new”, wrote Justin Tadlock in What’s new for Developers (July 2024)

Beginner WordPress Developer

On Learn. WordPress site, there are other developer related courses available which might be an overlap with the current work. They are more deep dives into certain topics.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy and Wes Theron chatted about the Learning Pathways releases on the latest episode of the WP Briefing podcast: Episode 83: Learning Pathways

Upcoming events

July 23, 2024 15:00 UTC / 9 am EDT Developer Hours: Do you really need a custom block? Let’s explore alternatives. JuanMa Garrido and Nick Diego will explore several scenarios often addressed with custom blocks and discuss alternative approaches, especially those that leverage block patterns and Editor extensions. Key highlights include:

  • How to create overrides in synced patterns
  • How to add new functionality to core blocks
  • How to use content-only editing and the allowedBlocks attribute in patterns
  • How to integrate block bindings and block variations
  • How to effectively use block locking and naming

July 24, 2024 18:00 UTC / 2 pm EDT What’s new in WordPress 6.6? with Bud Kraus and Laura Adamonis. You will see demonstration of the main features of this new version: Here are the main features that will be demonstrated during this prevention: Synced Pattern overrides, the Grid Block, an improved way to layout pages and negative margins. All part of the new and improved user experiences in the site editor and more.

July 19, 2024, Stellar Spark Conference, a free online WordPress event! The lineup of speaker promises interesting, inclusive and innovative talks. It starts at 9 am EDT with a keynote with Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Among others, you can listen to Tammie Lister, Bet Hannon, Bud Kraus, David Wolfpas and Lindsey Miller.

July 30, 2024 WordSesh produced by Brian Richards is back. It’s a free online event with eight sessions across three live broadcasts in three time zones. Speakers announced so far include Alex Thomas (Defiant), Daniel Bachhuber (Automattic), Kimberly Lipari (Valet), and Piccia Neri (UX and accessible design lead)

Save the date:
August 27, 2024 15:00 UTC /9 am EDT: Developer Hours: Building themes with the Create Block Theme plugin with Tammie Lister. In this session, you will explore how this plugin enhances WordPress theme development. You also learn to create custom themes, utilize the speed boost, define different types of themes, and streamline your theme creation process all the way to exporting the theme.

Plugins, Themes, and Tools for #nocode site builders and owners

Jamie Marsland published the recording of his talk at WordCamp Europe on YouTube: Master WordPress Block Themes: 3 Essential Principles for Beginners. He shows you how Blocks, Templates, and Styles can transform your website design with their simplicity and flexibility.

Nithin Sreeraj at WP Content, takes you along WordPress 6.6 and its expected new features and changes and explains in short paragraphs why those features and changes are important for you and your customers.

Mike McAlister announced the update of the Ollie Pro pattern browser just got a huge boost. To help you quickly browse the massive pattern collection, served from a cloud app, the updated increases load performance for these patterns seamless into the WordPress block editor. McAlister shared some technical details of the refactoring.

One of the newest Block theme in the WordPress Repository is My Menu by Automattic. It “is a simple theme designed to facilitate restaurant owners’ site-building experiences. It is clean, direct, and customizable. Test the cool style variations that have been added to the theme.”

My Menu – style variation “Maroon”

Theme Development for Full Site Editing and Blocks

Jessica Lyschik asked contributors and users on What would you like to see in the next default WordPress theme?  The next theme will be Twenty-Twenty-Five and is part of the next major WordPress version, to come out in mid-November. To be more specific, she asked:

  • What types of sites do you want to create with the theme?
  • What problems do you need the theme to solve to be able to create these sites?
  • Is there an existing feature that you want the theme to support?

In his latest post, Brian Coords asked Will WordPress 6.6 have components? After outlining his expectations on flexibility, Coords reflects on how Section Styles and Sync Pattern overrides fit into the ideas of a design system.

The summary of this week’s Hallway Hangout is now available on the Make Core Blog: Recap Hallway Hangout: Section styles and other block style variation updates “Attendees chatted about cool new features and handy tips for styling sections in WordPress 6.6. They also swapped stories and ideas on how to handle theme styles with section styles. The group shared their experiences and brainstormed ways to make pattern management and theme building in Gutenberg better.”

 “Keeping up with Gutenberg – Index 2024” 
A chronological list of the WordPress Make Blog posts from various teams involved in Gutenberg development: Design, Theme Review Team, Core Editor, Core JS, Core CSS, Test, and Meta team from Jan. 2024 on. Updated by yours truly. The previous years are also available: 2020 | 2021 | 2022 | 2023

Building Blocks and Tools for the Block editor.

In this week’s Developer Hours: Editor unification and extensibility in WordPress 6.6, Ryan Welcher and Nick Diego discussed how the more unified slots and extensibility APIs are unified in the @wordpress/editor package global variable, simplifying the integration of extensions across editors for developers. The user interface is also becoming more standardized.

WordPress Playground

Alex Kirk has created a WordPress Playground Step Library. To learn more about the thoughts behind it and how to use it, he also wrote a blog post about how to Build a Playground Blueprint with a Drag and Drop UI.

Need a plugin .zip from Gutenberg’s master branch?
Gutenberg Times provides daily build for testing and review.

Now also available via WordPress Playground. There is no need for a test site locally or on a server. Have you been using it? Email me with your experience

GitHub all releases

Questions? Suggestions? Ideas?
Don’t hesitate to send them via email or
send me a message on WordPress Slack or Twitter @bph.

For questions to be answered on the Gutenberg Changelog,
send them to changelog@gutenbergtimes.com

Featured Image: Reflections Munich Marstall photo by Birgit Pauli-Haack

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by Birgit Pauli-Haack at July 13, 2024 04:09 AM under Weekend Edition

July 12, 2024

Do The Woo Community: Connecting Means Opening the Doors

Episode Transcript

You know as well as I do that there are people in our community looking for a job. The reasons for this stem from many different situations. For freelancers and small business owners, in reality, they are always looking for a job in another sense. Depending on how things are going, it reflects on their need to find that next client.

Now, I’m not leading into some episode where I am going to give you tips on looking for a job or insights on best practices. I’m really not qualified for that. I have been working for myself since the late 1980s, with a few jobs here and there during those early years of surviving. I probably know as much as many of you do.

And again, I could mention all the resources where you might find work. Michelle Freschette generously curates job openings on her X profile every Wednesday. Marcus, one of our hosts, lists those who are looking for work over on thewp.world. Not to mention sites like Post Status and others that list jobs.

The reason I bring this up is that, as I do every day, several times, I visit LinkedIn and typically find a message from someone asking me if I am hiring. Now I get it on both sides. Often, this is unsolicited and can be annoying. On the other hand, there are those that just need work. Their abrupt intrusion, which you may describe as random, often sounds that way. True. But we do have to understand that in some cases it’s cultural, and in other cases, it’s just the fact that they have little experience in finding a job in what we may describe as the professional or correct way.

So, there are a couple of things here. First, they do have to connect or at least ask to connect with you to do this, unless they have a premium account, which likely they won’t be doing. That first connection may be as abrupt as a short intro asking if you are hiring, or a bit more extended by first asking to connect and then following up with something like, “Hi Bob, how are you doing?” which may then lead into the job pitch.

What do I personally do? I like to connect with people, and most of them are potential listeners to the podcast. So I connect a lot unless the invite to connect includes some kind of weird pitch, be it a job, services they offer, or anything like that. When they immediately come back with the pitch, well, sometimes I ignore it, or other times I reply with a polite reason why I am not interested.

You may think I am crazy and spending way too much time doing that. Well, let me explain a couple of things about me.

First, the ripple effect or the “you never know” effect. Each connection, no matter how it starts, can lead to something else. Maybe you think the odds are against it, but it happens. I have experienced that myself. Maybe they do become a listener. Or read one of my posts that inspires them. Or they could tell a friend or colleague about the podcast because of where their interest lies. The thing is, you never know.

Secondly, I have opened the door. I’m not sure how many of you are old enough to remember door-to-door salespeople. Those ones that you would answer the door for or quickly disappear around the corner into another room hoping they didn’t see you. But for those times you did open the door, there was the invite. The chance for them to introduce themselves and give their pitch. How that moment evolved varied. But the fact is, you did invite them in. So when you connect with someone on LinkedIn, you are doing the same thing. Sure, it’s not what you may have expected or wanted, but you opened the door.

So that’s it. I’m not suggesting you follow my line of reasoning or even that you have the same goals as me when it comes to a platform like LinkedIn. All I want to do is to remind you that you opened the door.

In today’s episode BobWP leads into the diverse challenge of so many people in the WordPress ecosystem looking for a job.

Which leads into his take on LinkedIn where so many people are asking for work and how connecting is all about opening doors.

by BobWP at July 12, 2024 10:08 AM under Podcast

July 10, 2024

Akismet: Version 5.3.3 of the Akismet WordPress plugin is ready

Version 5.3.3 of the Akismet plugin for WordPress is now available for download.

There are a number of bug fixes and improvements and we recommend upgrading if you’re using an earlier version of the plugin.

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

by Chris Rosser 🏔 at July 10, 2024 11:38 PM under Releases

WPTavern: #127 – Rian Rietveld on Understanding the European Accessibility Act and Its Impact on Websites


[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the Jukebox podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley.

Jukebox is a podcast, which is dedicated to all things WordPress. The people, the events, the plugins, the blocks, the themes, and in this case, understanding the European Accessibility Act and it’s impact on websites.

If you’d like to subscribe to the podcast, you can do that by searching for WP Tavern in your podcast player of choice, or by going to wptavern.com/feed/podcast. And you can copy that URL into most podcast players.

If you have a topic that you’d like us to feature on the podcast, I’m keen to hear from you and hopefully get you, or your idea, featured on the show. Head over to wptavern.com/contact/jukebox and use the form there.

So on the podcast today, we have Rian Rietveld. Rian is a web accessibility specialist from the Netherlands. As a freelance accessibility consultant, she works for NL Design Systems, the WordPress agency Level Level, and the form plugin Gravity Forms. She also teaches at the online learning platform, The A11Y Collective. She loves to share her knowledge at WordCamps meetups workshops and accessibility conferences worldwide.

Today, we talk about the accessibility requirements of the European Accessibility Act or EAA, which will be enforced on June the 28, 2025.

This legislation mandates that public service websites, products and services be accessible to all people. Rian clarifies the key aspects of the EAA, particularly focusing on websites, but we also touch upon other areas such as apps and PDFs.

She emphasizes the importance of ensuring accessibility, not only because of the legal requirements, but also due to the moral obligation to include individuals with disabilities who access the web using a variety of different mechanisms, such as screen readers and keyboards.

We discuss practical ways to achieve web accessibility. For example, using default accessible themes in vanilla WordPress, and writing accessible content.

Rian also highlights the need for constant monitoring and training within teams to maintain accessibility standards, especially focusing on keyboard accessibility and color contrast.

Financial incentives for making websites accessible are another point we talk about, as accessible websites can lead to increased revenue by catering to a broader audience, including the 20% of the population that relies on accessible websites.

Additionally Rian points out that an accessible website can significantly impact SEO and customer engagement.

Towards the end of the podcast we talk about the importance of having an accessibility statement for websites in Europe, the differences in the requirements between the EU and other parts of the world, and the benefits of hiring a professional to conduct an accessibility audit.

She also addresses exemptions for small companies, but notes the overall benefit of compliance for reaching more customers.

If you’re interested in the implications of the European Accessibility Act, and how to make your website more inclusive, this episode is for you.

If you’d like to find out more, you can find all of the links in the show notes by heading to wptavern.com/podcast, where you’ll find all the other episodes as well.

And so without further delay, I bring you Rian Rietveld.

I am joined on the podcast by Rian Rietveld. Hello, nice to meet you.

[00:04:03] Rian Rietveld: Thank you. for having me.

[00:04:05] Nathan Wrigley: You’re very welcome. So we are at WordCamp Europe 2024. We are in the city of Torino. This is my first interview, so it’s an absolute pleasure having you on the podcast. We’re going to talk a little bit about a topic which Rian is mentioning at this conference. Do you want to just tell us a little bit about who you are before we get stuck into accessibility?

[00:04:24] Rian Rietveld: My name is Rian Rietveld, and I’m from the Netherlands. I’m an accessibility expert. At the moment I’m freelance, and I’m working on various projects. One is the NL Design System that’s for the Dutch government, where I write documentation and guidelines for government websites, how to create accessible forms. And I also work for the WordPress agency Level Level, and for Gravity Forms, the WordPress forms plugin. And I give in-house trainings to companies.

[00:04:53] Nathan Wrigley: This is a topic which is probably, well, we’ll get into it, but there’s probably a whole load of legal stuff that we’ll end up talking about. And I just want to clear up at the beginning, do you have a background as a lawyer, or anything like that?

[00:05:04] Rian Rietveld: No, I am not a lawyer, and I want to emphasise that everything I say is from the accessibility point of view, and not from the legal point of view. If you have questions really about a legal implications for your company, hire an expert in legislation for accessibility.

[00:05:20] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, so I guess good to get out the way right at the beginning. Nevertheless, you’ve got a lot of expertise in this area. Your talk is called the European Accessibility Act. I would imagine we’ll probably call that EAA from this point. Well, I don’t know which is quicker, to be honest.

But the EAA, the European Accessibility Act is a piece of legislation, which I think is coming around in the year 2025. It seems like it’s a very big and important piece of legislation for people working with websites. Do you just want to tell us a little bit about what it is? Just what it is to begin with, and then we’ll get into who it affects, and how it affects people.

[00:05:55] Rian Rietveld: In 2016, the EU member states agreed to make public service websites accessible. For example, government websites. And in 2019, they agreed on the directive to make also products and services accessible. And each member state has to implement that directive into their own legislation.

In 2022, each member state must already have that put in their law. So actually, that legislation should already be implemented with the member states. The Dutch government only did that two months ago. Some countries didn’t even do that yet. Other countries have that really nicely in order. So it depends a bit on the member state, but they all agreed that it will be enforced in 2025. June 28th, 2025. So it’s in one year, and then it will be enforced.

And what they agree on, that all services and products need to be accessible. And that’s a whole bunch of products like computers, operating systems, ATMs, ticket machines. And for services, it’s websites, e-commerce, the 111 emergency number. It’s a list of products and services that need to be accessible for people with a disability.

[00:07:14] Nathan Wrigley: So it’s not bound, this legislation is very much not bound just to websites, although that’s obviously our area of expertise. It’s any sort of interface, so an ATM is a perfect example. You know, you want to go and get money out of the machine, and obviously if you have an issue which prevents you doing that in the, and I’m putting air quotes, the normal way, that machine needs to be, by 2025, June 2025, that machine has to be accessible. And we can explore what that might mean for an ATM, as well as a website in a moment. But that’s the moment. That’s the day it’s got to be done?

[00:07:44] Rian Rietveld: It should already be a law in the countries, but then it will be enforced. So that’s the deadline.

[00:07:49] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, so the expectation is that people are working towards this, and it’s not like you start thinking about it in June 2025. Yeah, it needs to be done. That work needs to be finished, because at that point the enforcement can happen. And we can get on to the enforcement, actually, let’s sort of pivot to that.

So we’re in Italy at the moment, which is a member of the EU. I come from the UK, which made a decision several years ago to leave the EU. And I imagine there’ll be a bunch of people listening to this, I don’t know, in Australia, in New Zealand, in India, in America, does it affect them in any way?

If you’re an ATM manufacturer, I guess you might be shipping ATM machines to Italy. But certainly with a website, if I have a website which is based in the US, well, there’s nothing preventing me, as a user in the EU, from accessing that website. So where do the boundaries lie? What is the jurisdiction? Is there a boundary? Does it neatly encapsulate the EU, or do we need to worry wherever we are?

[00:08:49] Rian Rietveld: Well, that’s the web. The web is worldwide. So if you sell services or products to an EU member state, then your website or product needs to be accessible.

[00:08:59] Nathan Wrigley: You specifically said if you sell, so you used the word sell there. What if you have a website which is, oh I don’t know, let’s just say you have a blog, for example, or you have a brochure website, which is nothing to do with selling a thing. It’s just a hobby of some kind. Let’s call it that.

[00:09:16] Rian Rietveld: Of course, but you don’t have to. If you sell items, services, or products, then you need to be accessible.

[00:09:22] Nathan Wrigley: So it’s bound up with the transaction of money. If money is moving from one point to another point, and any of that touches the EU, then you need to be compliant by June 2025.

[00:09:34] Rian Rietveld: Yes.

[00:09:35] Nathan Wrigley: What I’m taking from that then is that, if you are an international company, and you are selling anything into the EU, you can’t ignore this, even though you are in a country where the jurisdiction, if you like, you might think it doesn’t affect you.

How could that jurisdiction possibly affect you though? So for example, let’s say that I am an American company, and I’m selling things, and Europeans are buying them. What possible thing could the EU do to an American citizen? Is there some relationship in law that you know of? And again, I’ll just emphasise that I know you’re not a lawyer.

[00:10:07] Rian Rietveld: Well, that’s the big question, nobody knows yet.

[00:10:09] Nathan Wrigley: Interesting.

[00:10:10] Rian Rietveld: And what will happen, will it be a sue culture like in the US. Or will it be someone complaining, and take it to a local court? I have no idea. That’s kind of a tin of worms, because each country implements the legislation on a bit different way. For example, Germany has a very strict legislation. Maybe other people only stick to what is needed. It’s a tin of worms. And how it’ll be implemented, and how it’ll be enforced, we just have to see what happens.

[00:10:38] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, I guess it will be interesting. Do you know though if people are lining up? How can I describe this without sounding controversial. In certain parts of the world, there’s this phrase which I hear from time to time and it’s ambulance chasing lawyers. And it’s the idea that lawyers find things where there’s a problem, and they go after them, maybe not for ethical reasons, or moral reasons, or whatever it may be, but it’s just because there’s a pot of money that they could get. Do you have any intuition as to whether lawyers in the EU are kind of ramping up their posture in terms of the EAA.

[00:11:11] Rian Rietveld: That’s not a culture in Europe at all, because for government website you need at the moment have an accessibility statement where you say, I’m aiming for, for example, the web content accessibility guidelines, version 2.1, level AA. This is what still needs to be done. This is the roadmap, and this is where you can file an issue. That’s an accessibility statement. And you already put what’s wrong on your website. And that will be hard to do in the US, because that gives a lawyer like a checklist.

But if you have a good support system in place. First, someone needs to complain, and you need to respond on that and say, okay, I’m going to fix that. But if you ignore complaints and just say, oh, there’s disabled people, I’m not interested in that. That will trigger a lawsuit I think.

But in Europe, you have to have an accessibility statement explaining what still needs to be done. And that’s a big issue I think for US companies, because they legally cannot do that.

[00:12:13] Nathan Wrigley: So does that statement need to be published online, or it be a document that you just have in a file, in a drawer gathering dust?

[00:12:21] Rian Rietveld: It has to be on your website, an accessibility statement. Yeah, it gives information about, what are you doing? What are you aiming for? What are you working on? And also, how people can report an issue. And that’s important if you are a client and you cannot use someone’s website, and you have the courtesy to actually tell that, okay, I cannot use your website because I have this, and this issue. You have to take these people seriously.

[00:12:43] Nathan Wrigley: So if you have to put that online, presumably it’s possible to go and find guidance about websites, in order to start ticking off those boxes, to be able to say, yeah, we have done that one, and we have done that one, but we have yet to begin this process. Those kind of documents are available, easy to access. Do you have a URL which you can just pop out of your head to do with that, where you would go and find those kind of things?

[00:13:07] Rian Rietveld: If you have a website, you let an accessible expert or firm do an audit. And in the audit you state what is wrong, right, and what is wrong. And that is a document you can link to. Is that what you mean?

[00:13:19] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, I think so. So you are advocating that, if you are not entirely sure, in other words, it sounds like, if you don’t have a legal team who are up on this, and understand all of this, you are saying hire a professional.

[00:13:31] Rian Rietveld: Yes, please. Well, you have to do an audit by a professional. And a professional has to do an audit on your website, as a basement measurement, and you work from there. You fix the issues from there. And maybe if all the issues are fixed, you can redo the audit, and publish that on your website. But it gives you a state of the accessibility of your website at that moment.

[00:13:52] Nathan Wrigley: So I’m imagining a, almost like a tick sheet with, there’s this, and this, and this, and I’ve to tick that, but I haven’t ticked that. Are there certain things on that tick sheet, things that you need to do in a certain order? And again, obviously you know the caveat about you not being a lawyer, and what have you. But, are there certain things that are more important? Can you get away with just ticking one box? Do the very tiniest amount, and still say, well, look we’ve made a start, it’s fine.

[00:14:18] Rian Rietveld: No, you have to say, I’m aiming for WCAG, it’s a web content and accessibility guidelines, version 2.1 AA, or 2.2 AA. And then you have to meet a couple of success criteria. Your images have alternative text, your videos have captioning. You have to meet all those to comply to WCAG, and to comply to the European Accessibility Act requirements.

So if you fail some, you need to fix those to comply completely. There are not many websites that comply a hundred percent. There’s always something missing. So it’s utopia to say, oh, my website is perfectly accessible. Website is a work in progress.

[00:14:58] Nathan Wrigley: So, given that businesses can be one person, or they could be 50,000 people. Does any of that factor in? So if I am an individual employee, I am selling something, so I know that I have to take this seriously. Does the size of the business in any way affect how much I have to do by a certain date?

Because I can imagine a company of the size of, oh I don’t know, let’s say Amazon, or Google, or something along those lines, where they’ve got gigantic resources, and they can really fairly, straightforwardly put teams of people onto this project. I’m kind of imagining, in a fair and just world, there would be an expectation that they do more than the one person business, who just started up recently, and has got a million other things to do to keep their business going. Is there any sense of that, or is it, no, it’s a absolute flat level playing field, we all have to do the same?

[00:15:49] Rian Rietveld: Thankfully, there’s an exception for small companies. If you have less than 10 employees, and you have a revenue less than 2 million euros, you don’t need to comply. You can, of course, because it’s very good for your revenue, but you don’t need to comply to that rules.

[00:16:05] Nathan Wrigley: I hadn’t written this question down, but that was an interesting thing that you just said. You just said that it will help your revenue, or it’s good for your revenue. And I’ve heard this being talked about before, that the people out there online, who require an accessible website, that the money in their pockets, the size of that cohort of peoples, the finances that they’ve got available is pretty large. And so if you do this work, even if you don’t need to, it could be very, very economically good for your business. So I’m just going to throw that back. Do you have anything to say about that?

[00:16:37] Rian Rietveld: Oh, I totally agree. And the population is getting older and older, so more and more people need an accessible website. Good color contrast, a logical order of the information. I think, if you build for everyone, then you just have more customers.

About 20% of all people need some kind of accessibility. So if you just throw away 20% of your people, of your customers, that’s a large amount of number. And those are what you said, people who have money and want to buy something from you, and you just block the door for them.

[00:17:10] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, that’s interesting. So, I think we’re all carrying around a mobile phone. We’ve all got this device in our pockets, which enables us to buy anything at any moment. And if you are closing the door, it’s literally like having a shop with a front door, but you’ve locked the door, and closed the windows, and pulled the curtains, and nobody can peer inside.

[00:17:28] Rian Rietveld: What I found interesting is that there is a lot of money in SEO. You want all those people coming to your website, and then you say to 20%, okay, you are not allowed. So you throw away 20% of your SEO budget.

[00:17:42] Nathan Wrigley: Really interesting. So 20% would be the kind of figure that we’re playing with. So there’s not only a legal obligation to do it, and we can talk about whether there’s a moral obligation in a moment. But there is definitely a financial incentive to doing this. And that, I think, is a piece of the conversation which doesn’t often get raised. And if, by doing a series of tasks, and it may be hard, and it may be arduous, but if you get these tasks complete, you may see an uptick in your revenue. So that’s kind of interesting.

[00:18:08] Rian Rietveld: Yeah, it is part of your quality. You want to make your website responsive, secure, and good performance. That are all things that make a good website. Also add accessibility. It’s part of the quality of your work.

[00:18:20] Nathan Wrigley: Is there a reason this kind of legislation hasn’t happened many years ago? Is it that the people who are now having an expectation that they can get online, did they just not have a voice until more recently? Because I can imagine that, if you require an accessible version of the internet, in the past years, you just wouldn’t have used the internet.

And so you didn’t have a way to say, well, okay, this bit doesn’t work, this bit doesn’t work, because the whole thing was just broken. So you never got to see inside, you never got to peel back the curtain, and see what amazing things there are in the internet. So it’s kind of curious to me how we’ve got to 2025, and we’re still talking about this subject. We could have tackled it a decade or more ago, probably.

[00:19:03] Rian Rietveld: Well, it’s so hard to even get the government accessible. That took years, and years, and years. And now, even in the Netherlands, about 3% of the website for the government is totally accessible. The rest has still issues. It’s hard work because it needs training, it needs awareness, it needs people who decide about the finances to give the resources for training and for development. It’s a question of awareness, and that’s getting now better and better.

[00:19:30] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, I guess if you are, so I’ll take the example of a wheelchair user. If you are standing on the street, and you see somebody using a wheelchair, and they want to get into a physical shop, and there are some steps, and nothing but steps, you see the problem. It’s right there in front of your eyes. This person cannot get into that shop. That’s a disaster. So we built the ramps. But this is kind of hidden.

[00:19:53] Rian Rietveld: Yes. When you are young and everything works, your body, you just test a website with a mouse and your eyes, and you say, okay, it works. And you have no idea that someone who gets the website read out loud, has no clue about what’s happening, or uses the website with a keyboard, cannot open the menu, for example. It works for the mouse, it works for you.

Only recently in the Netherlands, accessibility is taught on the schools for developers and designers. That’s only now starting. So everybody has to teach themselves who is a developer at the moment, or gets training, or maybe companies train their people. It’s only starting at the moment.

[00:20:32] Nathan Wrigley: So we had decision makers who didn’t make these decisions, plus we had people coming into the industry who just didn’t know. But now we’re at the beginning of that journey. This is part of the education, so hopefully, yeah okay.

[00:20:44] Rian Rietveld: Yes, education is the key, I think. We need to educate developers, designers, and also managers.

[00:20:49] Nathan Wrigley: So with the best will in the world, even if 50% of the people, 60%, 70%, 80%, whatever it may be, of the people listen to this podcast, and they say, yep, I’m going todo all the right things. There’s definitely going to be a proportion of people who say, leave it till tomorrow, we’ll leave it for another year. We’ll never get caught, we a tiny fish in a big pond of websites.

What can the EU actually do? And when I wrote the question out, I wrote, what stick can the EU use? We have this carrot and stick approach in the English language, where you hit something with a stick to get it to behave, or you offer it a carrot, a treat if you like, to get it to behave. So, is there any of that? Is there any stick that the EU can bring to bear? And also, are there any carrots?

[00:21:30] Rian Rietveld: Well, that’s the big question. I cannot look in the future. So, what will happen in 2025? Everyone in the accessibility world is looking at, so what will happen? We don’t know. Will there be a strict legislation? Will nothing happen, like with the GDPR? Oh, panic, and then nothing happens. Or will we actually be enforced, and will there be fines for companies? I don’t know.

I hope this will be a game changer, because there’s a lot of publicity on this. And there’s no easy, quick fix. Like the GDPR, you put a cookie banner, and you’re done. Rework your website, you need to rebuild your website, look at your work. And that’s a lot more work than just adding a cookie banner. And if there will be implications, I hope so.

[00:22:11] Nathan Wrigley: Do you know if on the books, in theory, there’s a stick? Is there anything, and again, I know you are not a lawyer, but do you know if there’s anything in the legislation which could be used? Whether or not it will be used aggressively or, you know, more of a soft touch.

[00:22:26] Rian Rietveld: Well, it depends on the member states. Each member state can decide, in their own legislation, what the fine will be, what the stick will be. So, not every country has decided on what to do yet. Some countries have, and some other countries none. Ireland, the law in Ireland that went viral in the accessibility world, you can go to jail. Yes, you can get fined and go to jail. Other countries may have no implications at all. If you can go to jail in Ireland, it may be not really happening, but it’s in the legislation.

[00:22:56] Nathan Wrigley: It’d be curious to see, in the same way that financial laws, you know, if you can move your business to a country where there’s very little tax, we know what happens. The countries, there’s lots of companies, they suddenly set up an office there, and they become, I wonder if the same thing would happen. All the companies move away from Ireland from the risk of going to prison, or something like that.

Okay, tell me about this then. So we know that you have until June 2025 to get this work done. Tell us about the more sort of moral aspect. And what I’m talking about there is, it’s going to be difficult to do this because we’re an audio podcast, and really it would be nice to sort of see some of this stuff on a screen, but we’ll just have to use words to describe it. Is there a kind of, a moral aspect to this? Can you describe what it may, in some limited circumstance, look like, or feel like, or sound like for people on the web?

And I know that’s really hard to encapsulate. But if we took the example of somebody who is completely blind. So that’s something I think we can all understand. You know, if you’ve got perfect sight, you can close your eyes, and you can hold a mouse in your hand, and you can then try to imagine what the internet would be like. And already, just in my own mind, I’m picturing it’s a complete black box. I can’t see it anymore. What are the ways that people are accessing the web without normal, air quotes, mouse, keyboard, eyes, ears, format?

[00:24:16] Rian Rietveld: There’s so many different ways. Some people are deaf and blind, so they depend on a braille display. They get all the text in pins, braille letters. Some people use the keyboard only, and that actually is a requirement. You should be able to use a website with a keyboard only. And some people use a stick in their mouth, if they cannot use their hands. And they can access keyboard, or display by that.

Some people have a straw in their mouth, and they can use the straw to blow in that, and puff it’s called. And that, way it’s a zero and one, so that way you can use the website also. Stephen Hawkin, he used electronic device on his chin. He used a device on his cheek, where he can, just by moving one muscle, operate his voice control. There are people who speak to the computer without any hands. So many different ways. And it only works if you code your website properly.

[00:25:12] Nathan Wrigley: Right, that’s the key point. All of that bit that you just said, if you just listen to that, you would think, oh, well it’s fine then, people can put a stick in their mouth, and they can use that, or they can blow, or they can have something attached to their face, or they can speak.

But of course that’s not it. It’s that, if the website isn’t built to enable those kind of technologies, you are faced with something border lining on, just massively infuriating to use, impossible to use. So it’s not like, oh, I’ve got this assistive technology, suddenly everything is perfect. You have to rebuild the website so that the assistive technology can get through the website, and you’ve got clear markers, and it’s all built correctly.

[00:25:52] Rian Rietveld: Actually, the web by itself, HTML, what the website is made of, is accessible. All the extra stuff they put into it, making it work only with the mouse, all the extra effects, that makes it inaccessible. So learn HTML properly. If you can use HTML well, you already have a lot of accessibility for free.

[00:26:13] Nathan Wrigley: So again, this is a question that I didn’t have written down, but it’d be interesting to explore. If you were just using pure and exact HTML, everything would work. But we’re at a conference where we’re using a CMS, and I just have the question, how does WordPress do with any of this? Is it out of the box?

So, okay, I’m not imagining that we’re throwing a bunch of plugins in. Ignore that, because obviously that would introduce a million and one different ways of making it inaccessible, or accessible. But if we just took vanilla WordPress, and installed directly from wordpress.org, and we were to write posts, and pages, and what have you with that, with just the core blocks, how are we doing?

[00:26:54] Rian Rietveld: If you use the default teams, 21, 22, that kind of themes, those are all accessible. If you use those with vanilla WordPress, you’re pretty good.

Another thing is the content. You need to write also accessible content. Good heading structure, don’t call all the links, click here. Add alternative text to your images. If you do that too, you can create an accessible website. It’s perfectly possible.

[00:27:20] Nathan Wrigley: Now the interesting thing there is, it feels like we just had a conversation where, a person without accessibility needs has a WordPress website, and they’re creating the content for people who have accessibility needs. How does it work the other way around? How does WordPress behave as an editing, content creating experience for people with accessibility needs? I think that’s going to be a harder question to answer.

[00:27:44] Rian Rietveld: It needs work. I will keep it to that.

[00:27:46] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, okay. There’s work to be done.

[00:27:47] Rian Rietveld: There’s work to be done. And we have an excellent accessibility team, and they are doing a great job. They need more people.

[00:27:55] Nathan Wrigley: Okay. I mean, we’ve thrown in, in the last five or six years, a very complicated, well, not complicated once you’ve understood it. It’s a complicated editing experience. There’s lots of moving parts and there’s menus over here, and there’s options, which if you click in something, other things appear, and what have you, and it’s all very visual. My interpretation of that is entirely visual. I move my mouse, and it’s complicated. So there’s work to be done, the long and the short of it.

We didn’t really touch on this, but I do want to slightly. Is your website ever going to be complete? Even if you are Google, and you have this giant team, where you’ve got people, you know, a hundred people on this every day, for all of the things that they do. Is this journey ever complete, or is this shifting sand? Is it that the legislation is changing all the time, or there’s just too many things to do?

And with that, are you allowed to, I know we had this sort of tick box exercise, are there some things that you could recommend to begin with if you’re on this journey? So let’s take the first bit. Can you ever say that website over there is complete?

[00:28:57] Rian Rietveld: Well, yes you can, but a website is evolving. New content is added, new features are added, and all those need to be checked all the time. If you have a new content manager and they don’t know about adding alternative texts, it breaks your accessibility.

[00:29:13] Nathan Wrigley: Oh, good point, yeah.

[00:29:14] Rian Rietveld: So everybody on the team must stay focused and trained. If you have a new content manager, train them in accessibility. If you add content, then the accessibility is vulnerable because it needs to be added accessible.

[00:29:28] Nathan Wrigley: Sorry, just to interrupt you. That’s interesting because I’m imagining a site that, let’s say I’ve got a site and it’s 10 years old, and I’ve got 10,000 blog posts, and all of them contain, let’s say video because you mentioned that videos ought to have captions. Do I need to go back and do all of those 10,000 videos?

[00:29:44] Rian Rietveld: That’s interesting because you can, in your accessibility statement, say, okay, from January 1st 2024, I’m going to add captioning to all my videos, and then do that also. And before that, if you need content that is added to the video, or if you need captioning on a video, or need the content on an older video, email us and we’ll provide it to you. So you don’t have to go through all that content, and go through the videos, and the alternative text. But if someone needs that content, you must be able to provide it.

[00:30:18] Nathan Wrigley: Okay. So we know that our website really, in the real world, the website’s never going to be complete if you are, like most people, are tweaking the website, and you’ve got people creating content, and new pages. So you’ve got to be constantly mindful.

And also, I think we’ve learned that you can pick your journey a little bit. You can say, okay, I’m going to tackle this piece of the jigsaw, and this piece. And treat it as a journey.

[00:30:41] Rian Rietveld: That’s the roadmap you’re taking. And first start with keyboard accessibility. That’s a main feature. If your keyboard accessibility is okay, it works with almost all assistive technology. And then go through color contrast. And that’s the easiest thing. If your color contrast isn’t right, it’s just tweaking your CSS. That’s a quick fix. Go for the quick fixes, and for the keyboard accessibility. I think that’s the best way to approach the roadmap.

[00:31:07] Nathan Wrigley: That’s a good way to start. Okay, that’s perfect.

Does this affect anything apart from websites? So I’m imagining situations where, oh I don’t know, let’s say that I’m sending out email and it’s nothing to do with my website, it’s a third party piece of software, or I’ve got, I don’t know, a CRM system, where customers can log in and see their orders and things like that. So it’s outside of the website. Does all of this need to be accessible? So we’ve been talking about websites, and at the beginning we began with ATMs, so I’m guessing the answer is yes, if anybody can interact with that thing.

[00:31:38] Rian Rietveld: If a client can do that.

[00:31:40] Nathan Wrigley: But there might not be any money changing hands with that thing. So I’m imagining the website, let’s say that you’re a website and you’re selling things, you’ve got a company with enough employees, you are based in Europe, and you are selling things. So we know you are definitely, the European Accessibility Act, we know that you are under that. But if you are, I don’t know, sending out email, and there’s no transaction in that email, it’s not anything to do with sales, but your company is selling things, how does that work?

[00:32:07] Rian Rietveld: Well, emails are not really mentioned.

[00:32:08] Nathan Wrigley: Interesting.

[00:32:09] Rian Rietveld: It’s a good way to do it because it’s communication with your client, and you better make sure your client understands your message. So that’s good part of your best practice, of your good practice.

[00:32:19] Nathan Wrigley: But it’s not specifically tied into the legislation. In theory, you could avoid it. That’s kind of fascinating that that never got pulled in.

[00:32:25] Rian Rietveld: In websites?

[00:32:26] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, just websites. That’s fascinating.

[00:32:28] Rian Rietveld: And apps, and also electronic documents. If you have PDFs on your website, they need to be accessible too. And that’s a good reason to get rid of your PDFs.

[00:32:36] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, thank you. Would you just tell us a little bit about where we can find you on the internet? Obviously, you are very keen on this subject. I’m guessing that part of your business might be to do with this as well. So just tell us a little bit about where we can find you, and what kind of things you are doing.

[00:32:50] Rian Rietveld: You can find me on rianrietveld.com. I’m doing consultancy and I write documentation. I also train people for web accessibility. If you want an online training, you can go to the A11Y Collective, that’s a11y-collective.com. We have a couple of online trainings in web accessibility there. There is, for the US WebAIM, webaim.org, and that’s a large website with excellent information about accessibility.

Also on gov.uk, that’s from the British government, they publish excellent information about accessibility. And if you Google, well, there are many, many companies that provide accessibility consultancy, and also training. Deque is one of them. So there are plenty of them about.

[00:33:37] Nathan Wrigley: I will make sure that I dig all of those URLs out, and I will paste them on the WP Tavern page, so you’ll be able to find them there, along with a complete transcript of this episode.

[00:33:47] Rian Rietveld: That will be great. Yeah.

[00:33:48] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, you are very welcome. So thank you Rian Rietveld. I appreciate you chatting to me on the podcast today. I hope that you have a good WordCamp EU.

[00:33:55] Rian Rietveld: Thank you.

On the podcast today we have Rian Rietveld.

Rian is a web accessibility specialist from the Netherlands. As a freelance accessibility consultant she works for NL Design System, the WordPress agency Level Level and the form plugin Gravity Forms. She also teaches at the online learning platform The A11Y Collective. She loves to share her knowledge on WordCamps, meetups, workshops and accessibility conferences worldwide.

Today we talk about the accessibility requirements of the European Accessibility Act or EAA, which will be enforced by June 28th, 2025. This legislation mandates that public service websites, products, and services be accessible to all people.

Rian clarifies the key aspects of the EAA, particularly focusing on websites, but we also touch upon other areas such as apps, and PDFs. She emphasises the importance of ensuring accessibility not only because of the legal requirements but also due to the moral obligation to include individuals with disabilities who access the web using a variety of different mechanisms such as screen readers and keyboards.

We discuss practical ways to achieve web accessibility, for example using default accessible themes in vanilla WordPress and writing accessible content. Rian also highlights the need for constant monitoring and training within teams to maintain accessibility standards, especially focusing on keyboard accessibility and colour contrast.

Financial incentives for making websites accessible are another point we talk about, as accessible websites can lead to increased revenue by catering to a broader audience, including the 20% of the population that relies on accessible websites. Additionally, Rian points out that an accessible website can significantly impact SEO and customer engagement.

Towards the end of the podcast, we talk about the importance of having an accessibility statement for websites in Europe, the differences in the requirements between the EU and other parts of the world, and the benefits of hiring a professional to conduct an accessibility audit. She also addresses exemptions for small companies, but notes the overall benefit of compliance for reaching more customers.

If you’re interested in understanding the implications of the European Accessibility Act and how to make your websites more inclusive, this episode is for you.

Useful links

The European Accessibility Act explained on WordPress.tv

NL Design System

Level Level agency

Gravity Forms

WCAG guidelines

Rian’s website

The A11Y Collective


Guidance and tools for digital accessibility from gov.uk


by Nathan Wrigley at July 10, 2024 02:00 PM under podcast

Do The Woo Community: Walking the Floor at WCEU Talking Accessibility with Taeke Reijenga


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Episode Transcript

Hey guys and girls, and anything in between. This is Taeke, your host from the accessibility podcast. It’s just me today. I saw Anne-Mieke running around, which is understandable as she is one of the organizers of WordCamp Europe that we’re currently attending. We’re going to freestyle a bit, so I’ll just walk around and ask some people about accessibility: what it means for them, if it’s something that is part of their daily practice, if it’s new to them, anything. So let’s get started. Hey there, this is, let’s see, Manuela van Prooijen. How are you doing? Hi.

I am fine, thank you. This is quite a spread.

It’s been a couple of years.

Yes. The last time we met was at Porto WordCamp Europe.

And that’s when you decided to move to Portugal.

That’s right. That’s my home base now.

Really cool. This is the Do the Woo accessibility podcast. So I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about accessibility. Is there anything that you do in your daily life that involves accessibility?

Yeah. Over the past few years, I’ve developed training programs specifically for virtual assistants to bridge the gap between backend developers and marketing teams to provide a hands-on workforce for bridging accessibility gaps. So I have this program, and it’s very successful in the Netherlands.

So you’re basically training the new generation to help us out?

Yes. With the upcoming European Accessibility Act, it’s very important not just to have auditors or programmers, but people who can provide hands-on workforce.

Yeah, that’s amazing. And I totally agree. I mean, I foresee a bit of an issue with this act coming up. At the moment that we are recording, this is one year and 14 days away.

Yes, it’s almost one year away, but it’s getting closer.

It’s getting closer. The clock is ticking. Next booth, I see a booth for Equalize Digital, and I know they do something with accessibility. Hi there. Who are you? What do you do at Equalize Digital?

Hello, I am Steve Jones. I am the CTO at Equalize Digital. We are an accessibility product and services company specializing in accessibility. We have a plugin called the Accessibility Checker that scans your websites for accessibility issues.

And I heard something, and I see it on your booth. You landed an amazing client not too long ago, or maybe some time ago, but they launched not too long ago.

They have a lot of things, but the client you’re speaking of is NASA. Last year, we were brought in as the accessibility team for the NASA project. NASA built a new website on top of WordPress, and we were lucky enough to be brought in to audit the code being developed by the Lone Rock Agency for the NASA website. It was an exciting time, and it actually has extended to just recently. We’ve still been doing some audits on that and providing accessibility feedback.

That’s amazing. Congrats on that. That’s a cool name to have in your portfolio, right?


So is it just these big names that you work for? I imagine that the plugin is for anyone to install. Can you tell a little bit more about the plugin, what it does, and why I should install it on my website?

Yeah, we don’t just do huge, awesome, interesting clients like NASA, although that is great. The bulk of our clients are medium to large agencies. We do a lot of enterprise website development that is accessible, and like you said, we have our Accessibility Checker plugin. This plugin has a full-featured free version available on WordPress.org. It sits inside your WordPress admin and evaluates your post or page for accessibility issues in real-time.

So this really helps editorial teams in writing their content because they get immediate feedback, right?

Yes, it’s never enough to launch a website and say it’s accessible and then leave it. Especially WordPress websites. They’re a living, breathing machine. So accessibility is something that needs to be evaluated with every publish.

It’s not just about developers being trained.

Content creators,

Content creators, designers. It’s a team effort. Is there anything you want to add or share with us? Otherwise, I’m going to move along and see if there are more sponsors here that do anything with accessibility.

For any freelancers or agencies or large agencies out there, consider accessibility a priority. Put accessibility first.

I do have one last question. Why is it so important for you? Is it the law or is there a more ethical motivation? What brought you to accessibility as a niche?

Well, there is a legal aspect and an ethical aspect to it. Of course, a lot of companies do need to legally comply. The European Accessibility Act will be enacted next year. So there’s a lot in that respect. But there’s the ethical side too. At Equalize Digital, we lean more on the ethical side. It’s the right thing to do. Anybody should be able to use the internet. Societies across the world are becoming increasingly digital for basic tasks like getting medical supplies and filling out government paperwork. They shouldn’t be met with blockers along the way. They should be able to access and submit information as easily as people without any disabilities.

Yeah, totally agree. And it’s exactly the same philosophy that we live by. It’s more the ethical argument that weighs stronger than any law. It’s about democratizing publishing, making sure that the web is open and can be used by anyone in any situation, whether it’s a temporary or a more permanent one. In the end, we’ll all grow older.

Yeah, I mean, we’re building an internet for our future selves. We will get older, and we will have degenerative issues, eyesight issues typically. It’s funny that you bring up democratizing publishing because our CEO, Amber Hines, likes to say that we’re trying to democratize accessibility.

Thanks very much.

Alright, thank you.

And while I’m approaching the Do the Woo booth at WordCamp Europe, I see another amazing person that I want to ask some questions. We’re going to see an amazing talk by Fel about the European Accessibility Acts that we extensively discussed already. And I just ran into Bet.


Hey, Bet, how are you?

I’m good. How are you?

I’m good. How are you enjoying WordCamp Europe?

I am enjoying it a lot.

Yeah. What brought you here?

I get to talk to all kinds of people about accessibility.

Awesome. Just accessibility?

Well, selling myself, yeah.

What we’re doing. Well, sell yourself to the audience. Who are you? What do you do?

I’m Ben Hannon. I’m the CEO of AccessiCart. We do web accessibility for e-commerce and other folks too, but primarily e-commerce. We work on WordPress, Shopify, and Magento.

And what does that mean, “we work on”?

We do accessibility consulting and testing for those platforms, and then we can do remediations in WordPress, but not on the others. We tend to partner with agencies, working alongside them to identify issues, prioritize them, help them solve them, and retest and document everything.

You guide them through the process with the aim of going from one project to the other or training them on the job and letting them go at some point?

Yes, we build up the skills of the developers there. We do some project work, project management for remediation, or consulting for a development project. But our bread and butter is doing accessibility maintenance plans. Accessibility can be affected by any kind of content change. Sometimes even a plugin update can make something inaccessible. So we work with them to monitor and work on the sites continuously. For many, it’s about identifying and solving a few problems every month, step by step.

And that gets them documentation that shows they’re making incremental progress. It’s about showing they’re taking it seriously, right?

Exactly. And having those documented reports makes it more affordable for many people to begin thinking about doing it in smaller chunks.

You’re from the US, right?

Yes, I’m from Oregon.

So you deal with the Americans with Disabilities Act mainly?

Yes, but we also have clients who need to comply with EU laws.

If you look at the European Accessibility Act and compare it to what’s already happening in the US under the ADA, do you see a difference?

Yes, the EU law will have a much bigger impact. The ADA was enacted 40 years ago, before websites, so it wasn’t written for websites. Lawsuits are brought under the ADA, and courts usually say you have to remediate to WCAG 2.1 AA. But the EAA talks about those standards plus regular testing and reporting, which isn’t required in the US unless they have EU customers.


So the European Accessibility Act is really an act about accessibility, and it’s up to the European countries to implement it into law. It’s inclusive.

Yes, and in some countries, like Germany, competitors can file a complaint, which really motivates people to get that competitive advantage.

I hope there’s enforcement and it’s taken seriously. From Europe, we look at the US and see it as the Wild West with the ADA.

Yes, the European Accessibility Act is friendlier but has a bigger impact. It’s about being inclusive.

With only one year to go, I’m a bit worried that we’re not ready for this.

But there’s more awareness now. Agencies and clients are starting to realize they need to step up.

It’s a mindset. If we don’t feel it, if we don’t have the empathy to understand what it’s like not to be able to use the web, then…

Exactly. If you’re lucky enough not to die suddenly, you’ll probably need accessibility.

Yes. Someone mentioned we’re building the accessible web for ourselves. We’ll all grow older and benefit from this. Thanks for the catch-up, Bet. Let’s see if we can get you on the show soon.

That would be great. Thanks a lot.

My name is Ash Shaw. I’m from Lightspeed WordPress Agency. We did some testing using BrowserStack accessibility tools and PageSpeed Lighthouse. We’ve been fixing issues within our free open-source theme listed on WordPress.org.

What’s it called?

NSX Design. None of our software in the past was accessible. After we purchased courses from the A11Y Collective, we skilled up in accessibility. My designer, developers, and I all skilled up.

That’s amazing.

It made a huge difference to our understanding of accessibility and compatibility. We have clients worldwide, but mainly in South Africa. Now that we have a base that is accessible, we can build accessible sites.

You’ve just taken the first steps towards full accessibility in your client work?

Yes. We’re using tools like Stark as a browser extension and in Figma. We’re dealing with contrast issues, button sizes, font sizes, etc. Yesterday, I worked with the accessibility table at Contributor Day and got input on our theme issues. Some issues are in Core or WooCommerce or Gravity Forms.

I know there are issues in WordPress and WooCommerce, but I also know people are taking it seriously. After WordCamp Europe, WooCommerce will work on their plugin and address 50-60 accessibility issues.

Yes, Amber Hinds is leading that. I reported the issues I found, and she’s logging them as GitHub issues.

Thank you for that contribution.

It was a fun day. I learned a lot. My developers struggled at first but eventually got it.

It takes time to go from awareness to practice. That’s why it’s important to start working on accessibility now, especially with the European Accessibility Act in mind. It’s only a year away.

Now that we have this knowledge, every project we do will use these tools. We get free access to the BrowserStack accessibility tool, and I’ve recommended it to other users.

A lot more people will thank you for that suggestion because this is the Do the Woo podcast on accessibility. This will be broadcasted after WordCamp Europe. Thank you for all the tips and your experiences. I’m going to see if I can tackle a few more people and hear their stories about accessibility. Thanks a lot.

Thanks, man. See you.

Hello Ingrid. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re doing here, what you’re promoting here at the Accessibility Collective booth?

We are an e-learning platform with courses for designers, developers, and content writers, mostly marketers, to ensure the web is fully accessible.

Is there a lot of interest in the booth today?

Yes, definitely. From frontend developers, backend developers, and plugin creators. It’s a diverse audience, which is fun to talk to about accessibility.

Who is the Accessibility Collective aimed at? Is it for a specific discipline?

It’s important for all disciplines creating or writing content for the web to ensure full accessibility. It’s a team effort.

I see a potential candidate for a small interview. Hi Josepha. Can I ask you a couple of questions? This is the Accessibility Podcast from Do the Woo.

By some fluke of nature, we also have the current project ambassador from the TYPO3 Project.

Wow, that’s amazing.

You can ask us both a question.

Can you tell me what accessibility, specifically web accessibility, means to you personally or professionally?

I think the most important thing about accessibility that people often overlook is that it is a subset of usability. We are all just temporarily fully abled. Just because you feel accessibility doesn’t apply to you now, doesn’t mean it won’t later. It’s something we should all care about because we are a global project trying to make the world a better place, making commerce and access to cool stuff better and easier for more people.

That’s a great opinion. Thank you for that.

My name is Mathias Bolt Lesniak. I am the project ambassador of TYPO3, a friendly cousin CMS to WordPress. We work together in the Open Website Alliance. My elevator pitch about accessibility is this: I once stood in front of an elevator in a hotel and pressed the button. The elevator came with a person inside who asked, “Where am I?” The elevator had braille everywhere, but the key card scanner wasn’t marked in braille. It’s an excellent example of how important accessibility is. You can’t just do it as an afterthought. You have to think through it the whole way. If you skip a step, you lose the visitor.

You ruin the experience, you lose the visitor. It’s a great example, especially in digital accessibility for e-commerce. The whole store can be accessible, but maybe the marketing team forgot something, and the user experience is ruined. Thanks very much.

Thank you.

Welcome to this special episode of All Things WordPress and WooCommerce accessibility podcast, recorded live at WordCamp Europe. In this episode, your host Taeke takes you on a journey through the bustling conference, engaging with various experts and enthusiasts in the field of web accessibility.

First, Taeke catches up with Manuela van Prooijen, who has developed a successful training program for virtual assistants in the Netherlands to bridge accessibility gaps between backend developers and marketing teams. Next, he speaks with Steve Jones, the CTO at Equalize Digital, who shares insights about their Accessibility Checker plugin and their notable collaboration with NASA. Then, Taeke interviews Bet Hannon, CEO of AccessiCart, who discusses their work on web accessibility for e-commerce platforms like WordPress, Shopify, and Magento.

The episode also features a conversation with Ash Shaw from Lightspeed WordPress Agency, who shares their journey towards building accessible sites and the tools they use. Additionally, Ingrid from the Accessibility Collective talks about their e-learning platform aimed at making the web fully accessible for everyone. Finally, Taeke has an enlightening discussion with Josepha from Automattic, and Mathias Bolt Lesniak, the project ambassador of TYPO3, who highlight the importance of comprehensive accessibility planning. Join us as we explore these valuable perspectives on creating a more inclusive web.


Training for Accessibility: Manuela van Prooijen highlights the importance of training virtual assistants to bridge accessibility gaps between backend developers and marketing teams, emphasizing the need for hands-on workforce in the Netherlands.

Accessibility Tools: Steve Jones from Equalize Digital discusses their Accessibility Checker plugin, which evaluates website accessibility issues in real-time, and shares their experience working with NASA to ensure the accessibility of their new WordPress website.

Ecommerce Accessibility: Ben Hannon, CEO of AccessiCart, explains their approach to making e-commerce platforms like WordPress, Shopify, and Magento accessible, focusing on consulting, testing, and maintaining accessibility over time.

Building Accessible Foundations: Ash Shaw from Lightspeed WordPress Agency talks about their efforts to build accessible websites from the ground up, using tools like BrowserStack and Figma to address issues like color contrast and font sizes.

Team Effort in Accessibility: Ingrid from the Accessibility Collective emphasizes that creating accessible web content requires collaboration across all disciplines, including designers, developers, and content writers, to ensure a fully inclusive web experience.

Holistic Accessibility Planning: Mathias Bolt Lesniak, the project ambassador of TYPO3, shares a real-world example illustrating the importance of thorough accessibility planning, stressing that skipping any step in the process can ruin the user experience.

Ethical and Legal Motivations: Several participants, including Steve Jones and Ben Hannon, highlight the dual motivations for accessibility—both ethical (making the web usable for everyone) and legal (complying with laws like the European Accessibility Act and the ADA in the US).

Future-proofing: The discussions underscore the importance of building an accessible web not just for current users but also for future generations, as everyone will benefit from accessible design as they age or face temporary or permanent disabilities.


by BobWP at July 10, 2024 09:02 AM under Podcast

July 09, 2024

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 6.6 Release Candidate 3

WordPress 6.6 RC3 is ready for download and testing!

This version of the WordPress software is under development. Please do not install, run, or test this version of WordPress on production or mission-critical websites. Instead, please evaluate RC3 on a test server or a local environment.

Reaching this phase of the release cycle is a worthy achievement. While release candidates are considered ready for release, your testing is still vital to make sure everything in WordPress 6.6 is the best it can be.

You can test WordPress 6.6 RC3 in four ways:

PluginInstall and activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin on a WordPress install. (Select the “Bleeding edge” channel and “Beta/RC Only” stream).
Direct DownloadDownload the RC3 version (zip) and install it on a WordPress website.
Command LineUse the this WP-CLI command:
wp core update --version=6.6-RC3
WordPress PlaygroundUse the 6.6 RC3 WordPress Playground instance (available within 35 minutes after the release is ready) to test the software directly in your browser without the need for a separate site or setup.
Please test WordPress 6.6 RC3 in one or more of these four ways.

The target for the WordPress 6.6 release is next Tuesday, July 16, 2024. Get an overview of the 6.6 release cycle, and check the Make WordPress Core blog for 6.6-related posts in the next few weeks for further details.

What’s in WordPress 6.6 RC3?

Thanks to your testing (and many other contributors‘ up to now) this release includes eight bug fixes for the Editor and 18 tickets for WordPress Core.

Get a recap of WordPress 6.6’s highlighted features in the Beta 1 announcement. For more technical information related to issues addressed since RC 2, you can browse the following links:

Want to look deeper into the details and technical notes for this release? You might want to make your first stop The WordPress 6.6 Field Guide. Then, check out this list:

You can contribute. Here’s how

WordPress is the world’s most popular open source web platform, thanks to a passionate community of people who collaborate on its development in a wide variety of ways. You can help—whether or not you have any technical expertise.

Get involved in testing

Testing for issues is critical to keeping WordPress speedy, stable, and secure. It’s also a vital way for anyone to contribute. This detailed guide will walk you through testing features in WordPress 6.6. If you’re new to testing, follow this general testing guide for more details on getting set up.

If you encounter an issue, please report it to the Alpha/Beta area of the support forums. If you are comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, you can also report it on WordPress Trac. Before you do either, you may want to check your issue against a list of known bugs.

Curious about testing releases in general? Follow along with the testing initiatives in Make Core and join the #core-test channel on Making WordPress Slack.

Please update your WordPress product

If you build themes, plugins, blocks, or patterns, your efforts play an integral role in adding new functionality to WordPress and helping bring new people and ideas to the most vibrant (and massive!) open source community in the world. 

Thanks for continuing to test your products with the WordPress 6.6 betas and release candidates. With RC3, you’ll want to make sure everything is working smoothly, and if it’s a plugin, update the “Tested up to” version in its readme file to 6.6.

If you find compatibility issues, please post detailed information to the support forum.

Help translate WordPress

Do you speak a language other than English? ¿Español? Français? Русский? 日本語? हिन्दी? বাংলা? You can help translate WordPress into more than 100 languages.

The RC3 haiku

One week to go. Then:
Open the paintbox! Try the tools!
Play a new jazz tune.

Props to @meher and @audrasjb. for peer review.

by marybaum at July 09, 2024 05:39 PM under releases

Do The Woo Community: A Journey and the Evolution of WooCommerce with Beka Rice

Avalara: help developers make sure their Woo projects are tax compliance done right with Avalara’s API. Visit their extensive developer resources today.

Episode Transcript

Zach Stepek here again with Carl Alexander for another episode of the Do the Woo Dev Chats. Carl, how are you doing, man?

I had a good WordCamp EU, but I got Covid, so I’m slightly recovering from that now. I’ll be muting my phone so I can cough silently in my apartment, but otherwise, I’m doing quite well. How about you?

While you were in Europe getting Covid, I had bronchitis in the US. It’s just been a fun month for respiratory things, evidently.

Yeah, apparently summer is now the time for respiratory issues. Usually, we’re from the north, so it’s a winter thing. Winter is when all the bugs come out.

Yes, unless you’re talking about cicadas, which have been recent. Those are the bugs that came out this summer for a lot of the Upper Midwest and a bunch of other places too. So that’s been fun. And we as developers, of course, know how to deal with bugs evidently. It’s been a very interesting month, watching some of the changes around Do the Woo. If you’ve missed that and you just come to listen to the dulcet tones of myself and Carl talking with developers about nerdy things,

It’s mostly your dulcet tones. I don’t think my tones are dulcet at all.

Well, some people may be attracted to the accent, my friend. That being said, if you haven’t heard about the changes around Do the Woo, Bob did a great episode summarizing what shows there are now. We’re up to 12 shows, so I encourage you to check out some of those other shows if you haven’t yet. The most recent is our Enterprise WordPress and WooCommerce show, which is pretty cool, partnered with the Scale Consortium for that. So really cool stuff. But yeah, we’re growing and changing, and that’s always nice to see. This month we have decided to invite a friend I’ve known for a very long time now, Beka Rice, to join us here on the dev chat. Let’s start out, Beka, by introducing you a bit and seeing how you have been in the last month.

Yes, I am one of the lucky folks who did not get Covid from WordCamp Europe, so very grateful for that. I had enough respiratory illnesses this winter that I am glad to be done with it, but it’s good to see you guys again. As Zach noted, I’m Beka Rice. I’ve worked with WooCommerce since 2013, maybe even before that. It’s been a long time—since I think version 1.4 if I go back in time a bit. I was one of the original folks at SkyVerge; Max, Justin, and I were partners there. We worked at SkyVerge for a long time and were acquired by GoDaddy in 2020. I still worked in the Woo ecosystem but had a number of other responsibilities and projects I was working on there as well. I left earlier this year after a few years of doing some really cool stuff but wanted to be back working with a small team. So now I have reentered the Woo atmosphere and am very excited to be back doing specific work with a small team again at Kestrel. It was nice to reconnect with a lot of people at WCEU, so if you were one of them, it was very good to see you again.

Yeah, no, that’s quite a journey. I tell the story of how I got into WooCommerce—building a website for a record label I was part of, using the white light theme back in the day.

It wasn’t Canvas?

No, I used white light because it had the look that I was after. Those were very interesting days. One of my favorite parts of that time period was the fact that it was kind of the Wild West of WooCommerce. The fork had just happened recently, and we were all starting to adopt it and get into it. There was this Trello board with all these ideas for integrations and plugins, and people would go in there, claim the things they wanted to build, and then build them. Suddenly, we had this ecosystem of plugins and extensions for WooCommerce that started to grow. You and Max and Justin were very early in all of that. I know there were some cards that were claimed that you didn’t end up building. One in particular was taken over by someone else when the bandwidth just wasn’t there to do it. I think that was subscriptions, right?

Well, I would have to ask them if that was a card they had talked about or not, but there were a number in the early days. I think “Wild West” is a great way to describe it because the community was so small at that point that you had a couple handfuls of developers who had gotten into WooCommerce, but there weren’t very many. There were more integrations and ideas and extensions than could simply be built by that small group of people. So certainly Max and Justin were earlier with that. I wasn’t developing anything at that time myself; I was more so doing documentation and support. But yeah, there were a lot of things that got built, some things that didn’t, some ideas that probably were big misses still. But with subscriptions in particular, that landing with Brent was probably a great thing all around. You can’t be mad about a really fantastic piece of software that someone else built.

I don’t think so. Honestly, the ecosystem wouldn’t have Action Scheduler if that hadn’t happened. For those who don’t know, WooCommerce Subscriptions is what birthed Action Scheduler, which is the way WooCommerce handles asynchronous tasks in the background. Brent Shepherd and his team did all the work to make that happen. I still have my blue T-shirt, the collaborative T-shirt between SkyVerge and Prospress, the Subscriptions team. One of my profile photos that I frequently go back to is me wearing that shirt with a leather sport coat over it next to a performing arts venue that’s now five minutes from my house. It’s one of my favorite pictures, and it was taken by my former business partner, Scott.

A lot of fond memories of those times for sure.

We were still technically just exiting that Wild West era when the first WooConf happened, and we all got together in Austin. What year was that?

The second WooConf in Austin? Yeah, I think it was 2015.

You and I both spoke at 2017; we were secondary keynotes then, so that was Seattle.

We’re testing our memories here, Zach. But yes, there was one in San Francisco early on that was much smaller, then Austin, and then Seattle. All were really wonderful conferences. I would love to see something like that again in the Woo ecosystem.

I tell them all the time, every WooCommerce event. Zach can’t go, but I crash all the WooCommerce events and consistently remind them they should have a dedicated WooCommerce event.

A few people are calling for that now, and it’s a common thing. We miss it because it was our chance as a community to not only gather and be a community of builders and developers in one location but also a way to show off the cool stuff that’s been happening.

Yeah, it’s hard in Woo, right? With it being decentralized, you don’t always have a view of what other people are doing. There’s no one source, not even Automattic, that knows every WooCommerce site out there. I think it was super valuable to see that across the community.

For me, it was more networking. I was trying to find agencies that specialize in that or people that worked with it more because it’s hard at WordCamps. It’s people doing a bit of everything, so it’s hard to find the people that specialize in that. I’m actually really thankful I broke in because Bob sent me an invite that he couldn’t go to the first WordCamp Asia in Bangkok, and that got the ball rolling for me. A lot of WooCommerce people hang on the sidelines a bit at these WordCamps, so it’s hard to know who specializes in it, what the big agencies are, the big plugin companies, the big extension companies, who’s doing cool stuff. It’s just really hard to find them.

Yeah, it is, and I think Brian has done a great job with WooSesh, trying to keep some of that alive virtually, but virtual events don’t compare to being in person with a group of people. It’s still fun. I enjoy them. I love what WooSesh and WordSesh have done for the community, but it’s different than gathering in person.

Some conferences, like WPCampus, do a hybrid. I got accepted to speak this year but couldn’t go physically, so I declined because I’m like you. I think the physical connection aspect, the physical networking in person, is way better than virtual. So if that’s your goal, it’s really important. Conferences, it’s hard when you do purely virtual. I think it’s good that some events are trying to do this hybrid format at least to accommodate the speakers because it’s also about the speakers. It costs a lot of money. I think WPCampus actually has a bit of a stipend, but WordCamps don’t. So there’s financial accessibility, a question of how comfortable you are traveling. So I think it’s great to have these hybrid events, but for the speakers and attendees, there’s a big difference.

It is. Right now, the designer and developer community are coming together in a virtual and physical hybrid event for Figma, right? Figma has their Config event happening yesterday and today as we’re recording. They’ve taken a hybrid model as well. They have a limited number of in-person tickets that sold out, and everybody else can attend virtually, which is pretty cool. I hope to see

more events do that, take that hybrid approach, limit the number of attendees, but offer the people who couldn’t attend in person to attend virtually. It seems to be a really good model. The hardest part with that model is the participation of virtual people compared to those in person. I don’t think anybody’s really cracked the code on that yet. We’ll see, though. We’ll see if somebody figures that one out.

I remember there were these little virtual pixel 16-bit hallways during Covid. Some people, you could walk around and I was just like, no, thank you. I’m a bonafide nerd. I’m 41, started coding at seven. My first computer was a Phillips, which I learned something insane, that Phillips spawned ASML and so did TMSC. I always associated Phillips with shaving razors, but apparently, they were really good at computers.

They did a great job in the semiconductor industry and other parts of the computer industry. They’re also huge in medical. They’re kind of everywhere. I worked on a project back in my Adobe days. I was working on a Flex application built for a subsidiary of Siemens called Sorian, called Med Suite. It was an electronic medical record system built entirely in Adobe Flex.

See, I find it interesting that you guys got into programming and the tech ecosystem prior to, let’s say, Woo or WordPress. Woo and WordPress is actually what got me into the ecosystem. My background was not in tech. I used WordPress early on to manage my website. The reason I learned HTML and then CSS was trying to insert tables on a website. How do I do this? There’s no WordPress to do a table. How do I do tables? Then, after you learn HTML and CSS, you keep going—PHP, you start to learn JavaScript. Even though I wouldn’t consider myself a very talented developer at this point, it’s never been my focus. I learned a lot about building and got into different ecosystems, different applications, worked extensively in Shopify, but have worked on e-commerce platform infrastructure as well. Since you’ve done other things outside the ecosystem prior to working with Woo and Prospress, and I have post working with it, how do you feel like the ecosystem these days compares? It’s definitely more mature than the early days. As a developer, if you were coming into this ecosystem today, are there things you would expect that you don’t see?

I think if I were coming in new right now, the thing that would bother me the most is how to add a table that I can actually use in the block editor to call back your table story. The table block kind of sucks right now. Sorry to those responsible for that block, but at least I filed a bug report.

Yeah, now you’re responsible for giving them the feedback.

It’s inflexible. There’s barely anything you can do with it beyond displaying data. Not a lot of options to customize beyond that. The ecosystem is interesting. It is at this inflection point between what it used to be, primarily PHP, and what it’s becoming, this hybrid of PHP and React, JavaScript, and whatever new technology we want to insert next. The interaction API isn’t react. It’s something else. I can’t remember what the framework is. Is it Alpine JS?

No, we were saying they should have. We had a conversation with Marcel and Mike when we did our joint. I have a lot of thoughts on the current state because I teach a lot of programming. I wrote an object-oriented programming book for WordPress developers that teaches computer science topics. It’s a huge loss to WordPress that you can’t do what you went through.

Yeah, it’s really easy to get started with React, and then 27 steps later, now you can finally write some code.

Yeah, exactly. It’s not easy. There’s a lot of… I think now more than ever, WordPress needs to think about developer experience more if they want to go that route. Before, PHP by itself offered a really good developer experience because you could just literally edit a file, FTP it up. Okay, you’re cowboy coding, but you could get something done. You could change something and see the effect.

Well, you could see your white screen of death, but then you got to see your effects later.

Then you fixed it, or you could display errors there. It felt more accessible for somebody with no programming background. Now it’s like, oh, I have to learn react templates. I have to learn this. I have to learn that. But forget about that because does my thing even build right now? I think it’s a huge loss to the ecosystem. I’m starting to get to the point where, I mean, things change. Nothing stays the same forever. But I think it’s more obvious than ever that WordPress, yes, it’s more mature, but the whole community nature of it is not really the same either. My favorite analogy is that it’s more like a corporate-backed open source project like MySQL. MySQL is super boring. Nobody knows who works on MySQL. It’s Oracle that must sponsor a lot of developers. WordPress is not quite the same, but it’s not the kumbaya of open source where people can make contributions. But there needs to be a focus on developer experience, especially in the PHP ecosystem. You’re competing with JavaScript, which is really popular. Then on the other side, you have something like Laravel that actually does care about developer experience. It’s completely different. If I told somebody to learn something in PHP, now I’d tell them to try Laravel. They’ll be closer to doing what you wanted to do, which is edit a template file. The syntax is different, but I see HTML tags. I can add some HTML tags. There’s some stuff there. I don’t have to compile it. There’s just so much tooling around it. How do you bring new people in? WordPress used to attract people that never did programming. That’s the best part. That’s what I find the most exciting. I think that’s what makes the community so diverse. People came from so many different backgrounds, just learned WordPress, and could contribute and build a company like yours. Well, you’re at your second company now, but SkyVerge was a big company, got bought by GoDaddy, and it started with somebody editing HTML files and adding tables. That’s amazing. To me, that’s crazy. So that’s why I think about that a lot.

Yeah, the diversity one is interesting. I certainly don’t have a problem at all with a project evolving and becoming more mature. There were parts of WordPress that needed that. If we go back 10 years, the Wild West wasn’t the way.

No, absolutely.

We’ve all seen the good and bad side of that. I think the biggest thing that I see sometimes is if you don’t have that kind of diversity of thought, you develop pieces of the project in a certain way. I sometimes see that with blocks. Exactly, your point about the table block. One of the things I’ve seen in WordPress is it was so accessible to me because of how extensible it was. You learn about actions and filters and the hook system, and you’re empowered to change something without having to completely write your application. Literally with a code snippet, six lines of code, I can change a thing. It gets addictive in a way where now I’ve changed this thing.


Then you learn more. Within a couple of years, I was like, I really want to write my own plugin and started writing my own plugins. You progressively learn. I’m not saying my path is the right one or even a good one, but that extensibility is what got you in. It empowers a lot of people to use the software and made it popular. Sometimes with the block ecosystem, and I’ve had conversations with the Woo folks about that, who have been very receptive, which is wonderful, without that extensibility or ability to modify things, it makes the project less accessible to those tinkerers. People just trying to build a website for some local business that contracted them and is like, can you do this? It sacrifices some of the interoperability that’s unique to commerce. If you’re a publishing site, a block may be the most atomic piece of your workflow. I put a form here, a button there. But from our perspective, working in WooCommerce, that’s not the smallest piece because another extension needs to modify that too or add something of its own into your form. That’s been challenging. The diversity of thought of people who have grown up in open source and with that extensibility and playing in the sandbox with everybody else versus in isolation is something I feel is missing in modern day. I don’t know if you feel the same way.

I do to a point. I’ve provided feedback on some of the blocks WooCommerce has released, like the cart and checkout blocks. They are these monolithic pieces. They’re not separated well and weren’t extensible for a while. It wasn’t easy to extend them. They finally added the ability to add your own text blocks to the checkout, which was missing. I think the more we think about blocks, the more we have to think about blocks at the atomic level and how they compose into larger patterns. The patterns weren’t fleshed out when WooCommerce blocks started. I get why the checkout block and the cart block are more these monolithic block components, but now they would be better suited to being a pattern, a composition of numerous blocks that make up all those individual pieces. We would finally get back to some customizability and the ease of customizability on WooCommerce pages. We wouldn’t be back to the level of code we had the ability to tweak and customize before, but we’d have a clear delineation between front end and backend development. The visual display being separate from the backend processing makes sense long-term because it gives us

more flexibility. As it sits right now, we’re getting there, but we’re not there yet. I just taught a course for Solid Academy talking about WooCommerce fundamentals with people who haven’t dove into WooCommerce yet. My favorite thing when teaching WooCommerce is showing people the Business Bloomer visual hook guides for the first time. They have this light bulb moment of, oh, so that’s what hooks are, that’s what they’re supposed to do. That’s what actions and filters are. Actions interrupt the flow of code, do something, and return control, and filters take an input, modify it, and return it back. Those are the two things we have from a code perspective to change how things work by overriding how they do by default. Just this eye-opening moment for developers where they see those visual hook guides and it clicks. Oh, okay, these are all the things and this is where they live, and this is why overriding that hook or changing its priority does what it does. That’s the power of where we’ve been. We have to make sure we don’t lose that.

Yeah, I would agree. With PHP, it’s a little easier versus something more event-based like JavaScript. It’s easier for a newcomer to grasp. I don’t lament that we’ve ruined WordPress. It’s a big step forward. People who have been in Woo as long as we have, we’ve seen some things. There’s the adolescent phases of version 1.6 to 2.0 or 2.3 to 3.0. Those were huge jumps for the project. There’s a lot of pain to grow up as an ecosystem. I feel like this phase is like that for me, but I’m also back in the ecosystem. It’s a good change and will make things better. The biggest thing is preserving that superpower of the ecosystem, that interoperability between different code projects merging into one execution stream at runtime. How do you preserve that and welcome different builders into that workstream? I think it’s a little scary. People are scared because that results in bad things sometimes. But the net positive of the kinds of sites people can create is really cool. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.

I’m reminded of the commercials for State Farm. “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” We’ve been through the trenches of building WooCommerce sites larger and more complex than imagined. It’s amazing that open source can do that. It can enable something that even the creators had no clue was a possibility when they were starting out. I don’t think Mike and James had any idea that something they were working on would power billions of dollars in commerce.

Every year, right? Billions every year. They’ve published the global GMV of WooCommerce sometimes in WooSesh. It’s probably even an underestimate from what I’ve seen. Last time they estimated WooCommerce powers tens of billions.

It’s hard to get an estimate.

Yeah, because there’s no centralization. I’ve looked at different ways to estimate, but it’s hard to know how much revenue is online versus offline for some businesses that use it.

Some people use it internally.

At least tens of billions.

I know from indirect clients that they use it just for internal warehousing and internal customers. If you’re a big company…

Running your own swag store.

Yeah, exactly. It could be a swag store or just managing inventory between divisions. In big companies, the financialization is interesting. It’s impossible to track all that usage.

The cool thing is they do that because you can customize it. It has those crazy diverse use cases because of that customization. Your software can work together easily with other software.

It’s the only option. That’s why I’m still really bullish. Even if Shopify is great, if you want a self-hosted thing, your other option is Magento, and that’s not really a road most people want to go on. That’s really exciting. Just from a developer aspect, it’s not necessarily lamenting, but it comes from being around programming for so long.

Yeah, you care about it. You want it to be better.

But also, I love programming. You described it the best way. You can make little changes and feel empowered. It’s the empowerment. You put a filter, six lines of code, and it did something. And you’re like, holy crap, I’ve done something. That’s addictive. How do you get people to that space as fast as possible with as little technical knowledge as possible is really important, even if you’re not the flavor of the month framework. That’s the essence. Things can mature and not stay accessible, and that’s okay. But if you want to think about the health of the ecosystem and bringing new people in, I was really heartened to meet a couple of 23-year-olds at WordCamp EU. I thought we were all late thirties, early forties people. There weren’t a ton of them, but a few. That’s really important. It doesn’t have to be cool, but you want to make it something they’re not like, okay, boomer. It’s always going to be like, oh, I want to try the newer thing. It’s good to keep that in mind. The harder it is, the more people don’t want to do it, and the harder it is to bring people in, which affects health of products, hiring, maintaining talent.

You don’t want to become COBOL in a few years, right?

Yeah, exactly. I’m trying not to say COBOL, but basically not become COBOL. There’s a big gap between that, but this idea that it’s good for the ecosystem too, for indirect reasons.

The accessibility becomes a big thing. It reminds me of what General Assembly did for Rails and how easy it was for people to pick up and start learning. By the end of six weeks, they build a small web app. I hired a lot of Rails developers. Some of our software was Rails with a React front end. As a small company, we didn’t always hire people that junior, but it was amazing how people could have no code experience but have an interactive web app they built by the end because of how accessible the ecosystem was. Carl, to your point, that’s a good measure of how well you can thrive and get people in the door. Not people like us who do this all day, every day, and build software for the platform. It’s people building WordPress websites and need to customize something for a client. Can they do it? If there’s not a plugin that exists or it only gets them 90% of the way there, have we made it easier for them to get on board and try?

I always try to think empathetically. PHP is my sixth or seventh programming language. I’m not a representative person, so I always try to think. I think programming is a life-changing career that anybody, regardless of educational background, could get into. Anything that empowers people to do that, to have that opportunity, is huge. WordPress attracted people that never did programming. That’s the great thing. A lot of people career changed into WordPress, built companies, sold companies, made money, learned even more complicated things. It was great. That’s always what’s in the back of my mind.

A couple of things based on what was just discussed. We have a newer podcast here at Do the Woo, part of the All Things WordPress and WooCommerce podcast, called The Next Gen, with Allison Dye and Sophia DeRosia talking about WordPress and the next generation of WordPress. It’s interesting to see what that looks like from their perspective as younger people in this ecosystem. I’m excited about the next generation of WordPressers. There’s a lot of possibility and potential. I’m excited about newer community members driving us forward. Also, I got into computers by breaking something. There’s an inherent desire to tinker that comes with being a developer. I was tinkering before I knew what I was doing, and I ended up breaking my grandmother’s brand-new computer. I ended up on the phone with my friend’s dad, Tom, who worked at Baxter Labs in their IT department. He was the only person I knew who could help me fix what I had done. I spent hours on the phone with him, and he took his time to help me rebuild the operating system when I was nine or ten years old. That pushed me to understand that tinkering may have a cost, but it also has a benefit. I never stopped tinkering. I encourage anybody interested in development, sitting on the builder side thinking, wow, I really like hearing Zach and Carl talk about development, but it seems daunting to get into it. Just tinker. At the core of what we’re talking about, the block ecosystem changes tinkering in a way that makes it more difficult. I would encourage people who are newer to WordPress to look at the Roots Project with Radical. It uses the Roots stack and the Roots ecosystem. They have this thing called ACORN that lets you use Laravel inside WordPress. It’s a completely different way of looking at things than the block editor. It has ways to use and build blocks with an HMR-supported build setup. These are really cool things as part of a nice starting point if you’re interested in trying something different than what WordPress core does by default. It’s the power of an open-source ecosystem that allows people to build anything because we have all the code. That’s powerful. Sometimes we lose sight of that as a community that’s been in it. If we were working in a closed-source ecosystem like Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly, we don’t know the internal workings. We have a set of integration points, but that’s the limitation. We can only talk to the things we’re allowed to. It’s harder to build highly custom things. One of the things I talk about frequently is that Woo

Commerce enables non-traditional stores. We have a ton of capability for selling physical products, but we can also, due to plugins, do things that are significantly different. We can do event ticketing, bookings, hotel reservations. Try that with Shopify out of the box. WooCommerce is highly focused on physical products. It’s not particularly great at virtual products. It can do it, but not particularly well.

You need apps to do that.

Yes, you need the booking plugin. Virtual products, event ticketing, time and resource-based booking, accommodation booking, membership sites, online courses, charitable giving, fundraising, peer-to-peer software subscriptions—these are all business models powered by WooCommerce. Think beyond physical products. These are things plugins enable. All these things are possibilities inside the WooCommerce ecosystem. That’s insane. There’s no other e-commerce platform that can do all those things and do them well. That’s a strength.

If you were getting into the Woo ecosystem to build things right now, how would you use that information? Would you be building booking plugins? What would you be doing if you were listening to this?

I would shift my definition of e-commerce because what we think of as e-commerce is generally the Amazon model of selling a product and shipping it. Shipping at such a low cost that margins are low. It’s hard to make money without volume when your margins are low. Amazon changed the physical product world. I would change my definition of commerce to be anything that involves transacting through a website.

Using Woo with a framework to do that.


Exactly. I agree with that.

You heard it here, folks. If you’re a new developer, building the next invoicing app for plumbers is the way to go. I agree. Service businesses and other kinds of businesses—you see them more commonly on Woo because they can’t use anything else.

In addition to that, you have these restricted product categories that don’t have other choices. These restricted product categories are growing by leaps and bounds.

Shout out to all the vape stores out there.

There are sites I know of in restricted categories doing hundreds of millions of dollars in sales in a month just through WooCommerce. That’s because we have the capability to build payment gateways and plugins that tie to high-risk payment processors willing to take that business. That’s the open-source nature of WooCommerce and WordPress.

Or selling gray market stuff. But one of my favorite WooCommerce sites is a Canadian site to buy magic mushrooms. It’s WooCommerce, and it’s the coolest site. They went all out with a Miami Vice aesthetic. But they can do that. What you can host, what you can sell, what payment options you have is important. So I really like Zach’s idea of expanding, really think about e-commerce literally as electronic commerce. Are you doing commerce online for anything? Like you said, plumber, wedding DJ, book gigs as a wedding DJ and charge for it. Anything. It lets you do that. That’s the real way to think about the platform.

I favor people I can pay online for things, even a DJ or booking something. If I can do it and pay online, I feel like it usually indicates people are more serious about their business versus someone I have to call and book.

Oh, interesting.

The four to six times a year I book a haircut, I do it online. That’s how I reserve that person’s time. I do the same with my doctors, my therapist, and all the other services I consume regularly. All the booking is done virtually now. I’m not calling somebody to set these appointments up. Building these tools increases accessibility to services for people who wouldn’t want to book them because of the friction involved. Friction is a killer. I know we’re talking about development, but these things are important to know. Friction is a killer. Statistically, the abandonment rate is 57%. Friction is enough for them after making a purchase decision to cancel, to abandon their decision. They’ve decided to give you money, and now 55% of shoppers say friction is frustrating enough to quit a purchase. Crazy. Friction can exist in multiple ways. For some people, making a phone call to a location to set up an appointment is terrifying.

Don’t make me call. I’m extroverted and will talk to anybody at a conference, but don’t make me call for support. I just want to do it online or via form or email.

Building these tools increases the accessibility of these services to people who normally would not want to book them because of friction. I think the future of commerce is going beyond the Amazon model. It’s a great model. It works well. But people who look at things more creatively and don’t just copy Amazon will see huge returns. Experimentation will be rewarded in the coming years because e-commerce is growing. The industry segment is growing. It’s already billions more than we thought it would be and will be billions more. I think we’re crossing the trillion-dollar threshold this year in the US for e-commerce transactions. So much money is being transacted online. For anybody thinking, wow, I really want to get into this space, do it. Beka is a testament that you can get into this space, build things people love, and get a call from someone as crazy as GoDaddy, be acquired, build product inside a large organization, then exit and come back in and start again with another plugin company, Kestrel. I can’t wait to see what you, Max, and Justin do with Kestrel. It’ll be a lot of fun to see the future unfold. But we’ll leave that for another podcast.

You ended with a cliffhanger, Zach.

That’s how we get you back.

We’re talking about having you come back for a product chat in the near future. Be on the lookout for it. Have Beka come back in and talk more about the story behind Kestrel and where Kestrel is going. It’s been a joy talking the history of Woo and some of the thoughts we have around where things are going and development in general. Thank you for joining us this week. Before we wrap up, I always give Carl the opportunity to ask any final questions he has.

I don’t have any follow-up questions. I’ve just really enjoyed the discussion. I thought it was really good.

Carl’s going to ask when I start building block tooling. Don’t ask me that, Carl.

I wouldn’t invest in block tooling until they can say, okay, we’re done. Some people tried to build abstractions around blocks, but it’s so volatile and unstable that it’s not worth the investment to maintain that.

Yeah, I’d agree. You need to work with Woo and WordPress core to make those things happen. The cool news is we’re seeing it. It’s super exciting to see something change.

There’s an opportunity.

Yeah, that’s why I’m back, right?

Maybe there will be an ACF for blocks eventually or something to abstract away and make it easier for people to do these blocks. But I don’t think it’s right now.

I think ACF block is the ACF block.

Yeah, ACF blocks are cool too, but you know what I mean. Something…

Yes, absolutely. Something that’ll be a landmark shift in how we build with the block editor. That’s definitely something on the horizon. Some tools are really close already. We’re in a good position to usher in a new future together as a community. For those watching some of the drama in this community, remember you have a choice to engage in that drama or ignore it. You have the ability to change this ecosystem by participating. That’s the wonder of open source and contribution. Despite what some people may think or the feelings some may have, we all have the possibility and potential to influence where the future goes. That’s what I remain focused on. No matter how small a voice you have, you have a voice. Use it.


Thank you.

Well said.

Now that I’ve ended on a high emotional point, Beka, how do people find you on the internet?

I’m around. I’d love for people to check us out at kestrelwp.com. As Zach mentioned, we’ve acquired a number of plugins for Woo to ramp back up. We’re excited to be back in the space. I’m on Twitter, B-E-K-A-R-I-C-E. Happy to chat and love to hear what people are building. If you’re in the Woo space and getting into some new projects, let me know how I can help.

Awesome. As always, if you have ideas for what you’d like to hear about on a Woo DevChat, go to your favorite social media platform and use hashtag bug Bob. We’re still going to make this thing happen. Hashtag bug Bob. Bob will listen to your feedback or just go to Do the Woo.io and contact us there. We want to hear your feedback. If you want to participate in a dev chat, we’d love to hear your ideas and hear from you directly. On behalf of myself, Carl, Bob, and the entire Do the Woo team, thank you for listening and being part of this amazing community.

Welcome to another episode of Woo DevChat and join hosts Zach Stepek and Carl Alexander as they dive into a lively discussion with Beka Rice, a seasoned WooCommerce expert and product architect at Kestrel.

In this episode, Beka shares her journey through the evolving WooCommerce ecosystem, the challenges and opportunities in the world of development, and the exciting future ahead with her new venture, Kestrel. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just starting out, this episode is packed with insights, reflections, and forward-thinking ideas.


The Evolution of WooCommerce: WooCommerce has evolved significantly from its early days, becoming more mature and complex. The community has grown, and the ecosystem now includes a diverse range of plugins and extensions.

Challenges with Blocks: The transition to using blocks in WordPress and WooCommerce has created new challenges, particularly around extensibility and ease of customization. Blocks need to be more flexible and easier to work with for developers.

Developer Experience: There’s a need to improve the developer experience within WordPress, especially for new developers. Ensuring the platform remains accessible and easy to tinker with is crucial for attracting new talent.

Diverse Use Cases: WooCommerce supports a wide range of business models beyond just physical products, including virtual products, event ticketing, bookings, membership sites, and more. This versatility is a significant strength of the platform.

Importance of Community: The open-source nature of WordPress and WooCommerce allows for a collaborative community where developers can contribute, innovate, and influence the future of the platform. This community-driven approach is vital for continued growth and improvement.

Focus on Reducing Friction: Reducing friction in ecommerce transactions is essential. Making it easier for customers to interact with businesses online, whether through booking services or making purchases, can significantly improve conversion rates.

Future Potential: There is excitement about the future of WooCommerce and the potential for new innovations. The community is looking forward to seeing how new tools and approaches, such as those developed by Kestrel, will shape the ecosystem.

Encouragement for New Developers: The conversation emphasizes the importance of welcoming and supporting new developers in the WooCommerce ecosystem. Tinkering and experimenting are encouraged as ways to learn and grow in the field.


by BobWP at July 09, 2024 08:15 AM under Plugins

July 08, 2024

WordPress.org blog: WP Briefing: Episode 83: Learning Pathways

Discover how Learning Pathways can guide you through your WordPress journey with clarity and purpose. In the latest episode of WordPress Briefing, host Josepha Haden Chomphosy welcomes special guest Wes Theron to discuss the newly introduced Learning Pathways. These curated lesson sets are tailored to various experience levels, roles, and use cases, ensuring a personalized learning experience for every WordPress user.


Host: Josepha Haden Chomphosy
Guest: Wes Theron
Editor: Dustin Hartzler
Logo: Javier Arce
Production: Brett McSherry
Song: Fearless First by Kevin MacLeod

Show Notes


[00:00:00] Josepha: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing, the podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it, and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Here we go.

[00:00:28] (Intro music) 

[00:00:39] Josepha: As a steward of the WordPress community, one of the big overarching questions that I grapple with is how to make sure people who have just found out about us know how to get around. Obviously, there’s the contributor path, which is important to me because I am especially concerned with the longevity of our little open source community, but there’s also a path for folks who are learning how to use the software.

[00:01:03] Josepha: And so, joining me today to talk through a project called Learning Pathways is Wes Theron. Wes, welcome to the WordPress Briefing.

[00:01:11] Wes: Good day. Thank you very much for having me. It’s a pleasure.

[00:01:13] Josepha: Before we get into this project that we’re talking about, do you want to just tell me a little bit about who you are and what you do with the WordPress project?

[00:01:22] Wes: Yeah. So, as you know, my name is Wes Theron. I’m based in New Zealand, and I’m an instructional designer. And, I am part of the Training Team. So, most of my life revolves around creating learning content for learn.WordPress.org.

[00:01:38] Josepha: Oh, that’s quite a life. Teaching people how to use WordPress.

[00:01:42] Wes: Yeah, I teach WordPress. We run online workshops. I create video tutorials, courses, and now, of course, this great project we’re working on, Learning Pathways.

[00:01:52] Josepha: Yeah. So, I’ve talked about Learning Pathways a few times here on the podcast, but for folks who have not heard me talk about it or who just need a more in-depth understanding, why don’t you tell us a little bit about this project as it stands today? 

[00:02:06] Wes: Yeah, so when Learn started out, I think the main goal was to just get learning content on the site. But, in May of last year, we shared an individual learning survey with folks, and we were hoping to basically find out what are the needs of the learners? What are learners after? And from that individual learner survey, we actually learned a few things. We learned that tutorials, courses, and online workshops were the most used content types. We also saw that web-based learning is the most popular learning method. And then there was a clear need for a structured way of consuming learning material. And that’s basically where the Learning Pathways project was born; to create Learning Pathways that basically target various types of learners, but also various skill levels. So July of last year, we started with outlines, creating outlines for these learner pathways.

[00:03:10] Wes: And then, in October of last year, we actually started creating content. So, the first learner pathways we started working on was the User Learning Pathway and the Developer Learning Pathway. And what that entails is of course, creating a Learning Pathway for beginner users, intermediate users, and then advanced users.

So that’s how we kind of broke it up. And last week, the Beginner Developer Pathway was actually published, so that’s very exciting. And a few weeks before that, the Beginner WordPress User Pathway. And yeah, of course, we’ve got many other pathways in the pipeline that we want to work on. For example, a Designer Learning Pathway and even a Contributor Learning Pathway.

[00:03:57] Josepha: Yeah, when we’re talking about pathways, what we mean is, like, we are figuring out what you probably need to know when you first arrive and then helping you to identify what you build on based on what your goals might be.

[00:04:11] Josepha: Like, obviously, the beginner user, the goal is basically just like, learn how to get WordPress doing stuff at all. Like that’s, that’s an easy goal to understand. But when you all were doing the work to figure out what needed to be in the pathway for a beginner developer, and as you’re looking towards doing the work around intermediate and advanced topics, like how are you all able to determine what most likely you need in those various steps in the learning process?

[00:04:42] Wes: So, of course, a lot of research went into that. When we created the outlines for these Learning Pathways. We shared it with the community. We asked for feedback. And yeah, a lot of research was done to make sure we cover all the all the bases. 

[00:04:59] Josepha: I know that there were a couple of different proposals about how to, like do skills assessments, maybe? There was something where like we were talking with companies that employ WordPress folks in the ecosystem, and then we were talking to WordPressers who were currently trying to make sure that their skills were advanced enough to get those jobs. And we were trying to figure out like the distance between those and where we actually have some concerns around like the language choices that they need, like basic developer language choices and jargon that goes in there and stuff like that.

[00:05:34] Josepha: So this, if I recall correctly, the research for this has been going on for like maybe two or three years, right?

[00:05:42] Wes: Yeah, definitely. And we’ve reached out to many stakeholders within the WordPress community. And as you say, even agencies, and businesses, you know, trying to find out what do they want people to know when they employ them. And yeah, then of course, speaking to the community, speaking, speaking to folks at WordCamps reaching out to folks an online workshops.

[00:06:04] Wes: So, yeah, it’s definitely been an ongoing process and also seeing what resources are lacking and what needs to be there. 

[00:06:12] Josepha: Yeah, so, the very first, the very first iteration of any training that the WordPress project was offering on, I think it was on learn.WordPress.org, but I don’t actually know for sure, was a troubleshooting workshop, because when you are trying to figure out WordPress for the first time, when you are trying to figure out any software for the first time, being able to figure out what went wrong is a really important part of that. And so that was like the only workshop that existed over there for quite some time. And so it’s really nice to see how we have really, not only created a bunch of resources in general, if you all have not looked at learn.WordPress.org lately, it has, like, workshop outlines that you can use to do a training by yourself at your meetup group or at a school or whatever it is.

[00:07:08] Josepha: But then also, I want to say it was maybe two, three years ago, that you all, as a team, the Training Team, started doing these online workshops. And so, when you created the Learning Pathways, considering like how much time and research has gone into this project overall, did you all have learnings that came from those workshops that you had already done? Is this like a collection of workshops or is this something where you can do it at home and learn by yourself and then go someplace else and learn more about WordPress? Like how does that function in what we have already?

[00:07:45] Wes: Yeah, so maybe I should first, maybe let’s define a learning pathway. So I, I thought about this, but a learning pathway, I would say, is a route taken by learner through a range of modules, lessons, and even courses to build knowledge progressively. So it’s similar to a course, but of course usually covers like a specific topic or subject where learning pathways usually have a larger goal.

[00:08:11] Wes: So I wouldn’t say that the online workshops form part of the Learning Pathways project. And maybe I can also clarify that the teacher notes or the lesson plans that you refer to is something that’s also changing going forward. 

[00:08:23] Josepha: Oh, good. Because I wrote some of those, and I am not an instructional designer. And so, ha!

[00:08:30] Wes: We’ve actually decided to move away from having two different content types. So, we had tutorials. You know, video tutorials, and we had lesson plans, and as you said, the lesson plans were notes that somebody could use to run an online workshop or to go to a WordCamp or at their local meetup and use that to teach something. But moving forward for Learning Pathways, we are actually just going to have one content type, namely lessons. And then lessons from part of creating a course or lessons from part of creating modules and then Learning Pathways. The other exciting thing, and something we haven’t mentioned, is that at the end of this month, when we launched the Learning Pathways or the first few Learning Pathways, it actually coincides with a website redesign.

[00:09:18] Wes: So, yeah, beyond the lookout, hopefully, learn.WordPress.org is going to have a brand new face at the end, from the end of July or, yeah, or August. So, yeah, that’s very exciting.

[00:09:30] Josepha: Excellent. Excellent. So, you said that these Learning Pathways are part of a larger goal. Is that a goal for your learners or a goal for WordPress? A goal for the team?

[00:09:40] Wes: I would say all of the above.

[00:09:42] Josepha: Goals for everybody. We’re like the Oprah of goals. Don’t come get me, Oprah. That’s all I got to say about it.

[00:09:48] Wes: Yeah, I think for us as a team, at the end of the day, we want folks to be able to use the content and find the content and utilize all the learning material on learn.WordPress.org. And then, of course, at the end of the day, for learners, we want folks to be able to succeed in whatever they are trying to do. Is it to build their own website? Is it to maybe find a job as a developer? And. Yeah, I mean, the list can go on.

[00:10:21] Josepha: Yeah. So, on the subject of wanting to help people succeed, I think that as far as I hear from the majority of contributors that I have worked with over the years, like helping other people figure out how to do this and making sure that they can succeed is always something that is top of mind for contributors to open source probably in general, but definitely to WordPress. Like, we really care about helping other people figure out how to have the same sort of benefits that we’ve had in the project and with the software. So if you have somebody who is familiar with all the bits and pieces of WordPress and really, really want to like show up and help teach some things. Is it the case that they can take part in like running a Learning Pathway? Is it something where we mostly need people to help us build some content? Like if we’ve got people who are just desperate to help other people succeed in WordPress, what kinds of things can they show up and help do on this project?

[00:11:22] Wes: Yes, please come to the Training Team. There are many ways to get involved. If you just want to review content, you can do that. But yeah, we do have a need for content creators, folks, you know, creating a video lesson or putting their hand up and saying, I will actually create an entire module or an entire learning, a Learning Pathway. We do have some awesome contributors that’s part of the Training Team that are already doing that. Some people are writing scripts. Some folks are actually, you know, creating everything from the beginning to the end. So they are writing the script, they recording the video, publishing the video, et cetera. And then we’ve, of course, have people reviewing content. We’ve got folks running online workshops. If maybe creating video content is not their, is not their forte, they can can run online workshops. So yeah, many ways getting involved.

[00:12:16] Wes: But Josepha, I wanted to point something else out that I haven’t done. I think there was a real need for Learning Pathways because, at the moment, if somebody new to WordPress or new to developing with WordPress wants to find learning content. You know, where do they go? What’s the main platform to go to? I think most people probably go to YouTube, right? But a lot of the content there are, are scattered and fragmented.

So a lot of learning material or learning about WordPress is all over the place. It’s not in one place. And as I said, a place where you can actually learn from A to Z, learn progressively learning in a structured way. Yes, we know there are courses available that you can pay for, but the awesome thing about this project is that we are providing these Learning Pathways, these learning resources, for free for folks to be able to work through at their own time. I know that’s something else you asked earlier on. So yes, this is a course in quotation marks; this is a Learning Pathway that somebody can start whenever it suits them, you know, in the comfort of their own home, and they can work through the Learning Pathway from the beginning to the end. Or, if they feel I actually know everything taught in module one and two, I’m going to start at module three, they can do that. They basically come in at their skill level.

[00:13:43] Josepha: Yes. I think it’s really important to try to meet people where they are. And I know that it’s difficult because, like, we don’t take a lot of data from our users. You don’t have to give us basically anything in order to use WordPress. And by basically, I mean you literally don’t have to give us anything to use WordPress.

[00:14:01] Josepha: And so we always have some difficulty in figuring out what is it that our users need the most in order to succeed the quickest. And so I agree that there was a real need for this not only because, like, there’s plenty of content for getting from, like, some knowledge to a good amount of knowledge. There’s almost no content around, like, I didn’t know CMSs existed until yesterday, and now I need to quickly learn how to do it because it’s become a thing I need to do in my job. There’s some really clear, like use cases for being able to onboard quickly and progressively.

And I understand that, like, having a clear, structured way to learn doesn’t always fit with the idea of meeting people where they are. But I do really think that, that like what you were saying, it can be as structured as you need it to be. But also, if you get into it and you think to yourself, you know, I know this information already. I can move on to the next module. I can move on to the module after that. Similar to the way we do that at WordCamps also. If you get into a session and you thought it was going to be useful for you, and you discover that it’s not once you’re there, you don’t have to stay. You can go to a different room where they’re teaching about SEO if it turns out that you don’t need to learn about JavaScript today.

[00:15:23] Josepha: And I think that that’s, it’s kind of the value that this is hoping to bring, like, because it is a little bit built one on top of the other when you discover that you have already learned something, you can easily try out the next step and know that it’s probably a good next step.

[00:15:38] Wes: Exactly. And if you maybe want to teach this to other folks. The plan is to, you know, we had lesson plans. We have a lot of lesson plans on Learn. But the plan is also to, instead of having, as I said, two different content types, is to have lessons but then add a tab where you can click on teacher notes and actually teach something as well if that is your goal. But yes, our lessons and modules also include quizzes and, hopefully, some practical activities. We’ve incorporated WordPress Playground where, where folks can actually, you know, test out what they’ve learned or test their knowledge. So yeah, I agree with you that you can basically join the Learning Pathway wherever you feel the most comfortable.

[00:16:28] Josepha: So we’ve been kind of in the weeds of the project itself, the program itself, and if you want to like do stuff with that and in that. Let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about just what people who are wanting to join those pathways would need to know. Do you have any advice for somebody who is just today learning about these Learning Pathways and they think to themselves, I definitely want to sign up for one of those. Like, for one, how do they get started? And for two, your like top two or three bits of advice for as they get started? 

[00:17:05] Wes: So you can make your way to learn.WordPress.org, and you can basically open the, the pathway, and you can start wherever, wherever you want to. We have made it possible to actually view these pathways or our content without logging in with your dot org profile. The other thing I also wanted to mention is that our content is actually hosted on YouTube now.

So the great thing is we have these pathways within YouTube as well. So, folks can go to the, YouTube channel and see our content. And, of course, that basically reaches a very wide audience. And hopefully some of those videos will also bring people to the dot org site so that they can access the content.

[00:17:57] Josepha: I think it’s great that you don’t have to sign up for a profile. If you are a brand new WordPresser and ran into this in your dashboard and are listening to this podcast now. So dot org profiles are a place where you can kind of log your activity in the WordPress community and the WordPress project. You do not have to have one in order to use WordPress. You don’t have to have one in order to look at these courses or to learn from them. But I always think that it’s kind of nice to get your profile set up so that people kind of know who you are and what you’re doing. And then also your activity shows up. Like, you can see that you enrolled in the course and you get to know for yourself that you made some progress. I know that when you’re getting started, it’s hard to, like, see your progress because you don’t know how far you have to go. And so, like progress when you’re starting out is really difficult to feel is real. And so I like it just so that you have a few reminders to yourself, like, look how far I’ve come as you’re trying to figure out how far you still have to go. And so I like that a lot. 

[00:18:58] Wes: You won’t be able to access all the content on Learn without your dot org profile. But one of the things we’ve made possible is to access these Learning Pathways, the new ones being launched without, you know, removing those blockers. So, of course, when you work through a Learning Pathway, you will be able to track your progress, and you will be able to see which lessons you have completed. So yeah, one of the pieces of advice I would give to somebody starting with the Learning Pathways actually to first go through the modules. And go through the lessons to see which things you know and feel comfortable with so that you don’t waste time maybe going through the first module and say, oh, I know this, and you’ve wasted time. Rather do a bit of research, a bit of reading, and then find the right place for you to start the journey.

[00:19:45] Josepha: That’s excellent. I also, just as a learner, I try to always learn some stuff. And also, as you get older, it’s harder and harder to learn things partially because like you’re in a set path, but also, and here’s my advice to new learners: you worry about looking foolish. Like you, you worry, you’re showing up, and you don’t know anything about anybody else in the classroom. And so there’s this feeling of like, what if I’m the only person who does not know how to make this work? What if I’m the only person who can’t figure out what Wes meant by “Playground” or whatever it is? There’s this real feeling of looking silly when you’re doing something like this.

[00:20:25] Josepha: I can’t control what anybody else says or does to anyone else, unfortunately. But what I can say is that I think that there’s never a bad time to start something you wish you had done, right? Like, the best time to have learned how to use your CMS, your website, make your website work was probably a year ago or something, but the second best time is today. And so, like, why not go ahead and get started and be part of that small group of adults that are learning new things every single day? I think that’s great. And so that’s my tip is to just embrace looking silly sometimes because you’re making some choices about your future, and that’s always a good choice.

[00:21:04] Wes: And I would also say test your knowledge. So you’ve mentioned WordPress Playground. And as I said, we’ve incorporated into the Learning Pathways, but sometimes you watch a video, or you read something, and you feel like, oh yeah, I know this, but you know, the proof is in the pudding. So go and test it out. Use a test website or use WordPress Playground and test yourself to see if you can actually implement this or do something. So yeah, that’s definitely one of the other tips I want to highlight; you know, they also say you, you learn by doing.

[00:21:38] Josepha: Yeah, absolutely. And also, like if you have gotten to a point you’ve done the learning, you’ve done some practicing, you think you’ve got it and want to like try to figure out what other things can be done with it. I recommend this is how I did a lot of my early WordPress learning to organize an event with your local meetup.

Like, I did not know enough about WordPress when I started organizing WordPress meetups. I literally knew nothing. And I basically brought people in and was like, hey, we need people to teach us about this, us being half me. Come in and teach us. And, and that can be a really good thing, partially because, like, you get to know your local folks and see what’s going on and get a sense for, like, what is out there, especially if you’re learning this in order to run a business or to accomplish something for your job that you already have, like knowing what’s out there is super helpful. But then I find that once you embrace the fact that sometimes you will look silly, and that’s the only way that we can know we’re learning something. Like once you’ve embraced it, having some people who are willing to look a little silly with you is kind of, kind of fun, kind of nice. Also, like we’re all going to look at this problem that we definitely don’t understand and hopefully look like, at the end, we know what we’re doing, but between looking at it the first time and at the end of this meetup, we’re all going to look a little bit silly, ask silly questions. And I think that that’s a really helpful thing, too. But yeah, knowing some basic information is a great place to start before you do that, especially if you get anxious about looking silly. And I think these pathways are going to really help to get folks a little bit of a leg up on those big questions that they have as you’re starting to learn how to use WordPress.

[00:23:18] Josepha: So we talked about, like, tips and tricks for learners in general. But if you had something that you wanted to share with us that, like, you’re really excited about for either the Training Team or for the Learning Pathways in general, I think the Learning Pathways are slated to be shipped by, like, end of September or something. So, like, a lot of them are coming quite quickly. 

[00:23:38] Wes: So I am most excited about the website redesign and the new look and feel of the website. And also, you know, one of the goals for us as a Training Team is for learn.WordPress.org to be one of the places people come to and learn about WordPress. And I feel these Learning Pathways and the new website redesign and all the hard work that’s gone into this project is hopefully going to, make that happen. As I said, our content is also available on YouTube. So we’ve really tried to make it easy for folks to find our content and also now to digest our content in a progressive and in a structured way. Because, you know, learning is hard. And hopefully, these Learning Pathways have made it easier for folks to, as you said, to build on your knowledge. You know, a lot of times, there’s knowledge gaps. And I think that’s what makes learning so hard. And hopefully with these pathways, you can build that knowledge one step at a time.

[00:24:44] Josepha: Yeah. And as is the way with open source, like we can only make these pieces of content better if you all show up and help us like try it out, learn some stuff, and tell us what was confusing. Tell us what was too big a step. Cause yeah, you’re right. There are some knowledge gaps and when you’re on the other side of knowing something, it is so hard to tell how big a step is, you know?

[00:25:11] Wes: Exactly.

[00:25:12] Josepha: And so we need y’all to come in here and tell us very plainly as a new learner like that was eventually what I needed, but this part here was especially confusing. This part over here was too like too many little steps like we just we’re trying to make sure that it works for you WordPressers, future WordPressers of the world. And so yeah, come build some learning with us over here on the Training Team.

[00:25:35] Wes: And yes, please, we want feedback because, as you say, as we iterate, we want to improve. So there will be a place where you can provide feedback, and at the end of the pathway where there will also be a satisfaction survey for folks to to complete.

[00:25:50] Josepha: Great. Well, folks, we’re gonna have a bunch of links in the show notes. There’s so much stuff out here to learn with and about WordPress. Wes, thank you so much for joining me today.

[00:26:01] Wes: Thank you for having me. And I will see you all on Learn.

[00:26:05] (Music interlude)

[00:26:12] Josepha: That brings us now to our small list of big things. Although I have to say we have a bunch of links that we’re going to share in the show notes. If you’re listening to this in a place where there are not show notes, you can head over to WordPress.org/news. That’s where we keep all of those. If you are lucky, we also will help you find it on Twitter/X, but I think that it’s hard to find things over there these days. So WordPress.org/news is your best bet. Now, it is time for the small list of big things.

So, first up on my list is that WordPress 6.5.5 is now available. It’s got a few fixes in it, some maintenance things and some security fixes as well. I recommend that you update your sites immediately. You can download it from WordPress.org/download, or you can just visit your WordPress dashboard. If you’re on a managed host, they may have already done this for you, too. But auto-updates, manual updates, CLI updates. However, you want to get it done, get it done. But it is recommended to do this as soon as possible. 6.5.5. 

[00:27:16] Josepha: The second thing on my list is that the WordPress Contributor Mentorship program has a call for interest out. This is a program that we launched about a year ago as well. And we had such a good bit of success at the end of the first round in February that there was significant interest in doing another cohort. So, that program connects seasoned WordPress contribution experts with folks who are new to contributing and offer a fantastic opportunity for mentees to gain hands-on experience contributing to WordPress while their mentors share their expertise and improve their leadership skills. So, most of the time, what you are going to be contributing to is probably a release of WordPress, but there are also a lot of opportunities to contribute to things like the Training Team that we’ve been talking about today and other teams as well. Not everything is focused all around our release cycle. We have things happening in the WordPress project literally all the time. It is a project that never sleeps. 

[00:28:17] Josepha: Speaking of projects that never sleep, our next official release, our second release of the year, is coming out. WordPress 6.6 is coming out just about a week from now. It is the second major release of 2024 and has a lot of things in it that you will want to check out. If you have not yet seen the hallway hangout where we take a look at what was happening in the release, what we intended to get into the release, take a look at it. And if you haven’t tested it yet, if you are one of our plugin developers, if you are building something on top of WordPress core, now is the time to check that out and test it against your products.

And then the final thing is that it’s a new month, my friends. Here we are in July, and we have a ton of things happening in the project. That’s the theme of my small list of big things: the project that never sleeps. But we have a lot of team meetings that are happening. If you haven’t attended one in a while or even if you have never attended one of these meetings and you were trying to figure out when to start, now is as good a time as any. You can join your fellow community members and contribute to the WordPress project. And there are ways that you can do that from home and from your computer and for some parts of the project, like from your phone, if you are taking photos out and about and submitting those. So check out make.WordPress.org/meetings. It’ll give you a sense for everything that’s happening. Do not get overwhelmed by that calendar. You can just choose which team you think is most interesting to you.

[00:29:45] Josepha: And that, my friends, is your small list of big things. Your small list of never-sleeping things. Don’t forget to follow us on your favorite podcast app or subscribe directly on WordPress.org/news. You’ll get a friendly reminder whenever there’s a new episode. If you liked what you heard today, share it with a fellow WordPresser. Or, if you had questions about what you heard, you can share those with me at WPBriefing@WordPress.org. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Thanks for tuning in today for the WordPress Briefing, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks. 

[00:30:15] (Music outro)

by Brett McSherry at July 08, 2024 12:00 PM under wp-briefing

July 07, 2024

Do The Woo Community: Reflections on the First WordPress State of the Word in NYC 2021

Now I’m not talking about the State of the Word’s that we hear from Matt at WordCamps. I am talking about the first one that was a stand-alone event and how I not only was able to attend, but I had quite the experience on the train.

Also, I am moving over some content from my other site Do the Woo to here as we will no longer have text posts over there. Only podcast episodes. So as a result I am going to make this quite the post by adding the original posts from Do the Woo and linking back to some so I have this experience archived somewhere.

So let me take you back to December 2021.

Follow Do the Woo to the State of the Word 2021

published December 6, 2021

Last week on the podcast I announced the cross-country journey I am taking to attend the State of the Word in New York City. As we get closer to the date, the reality of this 8-day adventure is drawing nearer.

Join Me For the Trip

Let’s get one thing straight off. This is not about a train trip where I kick back and enjoy the scenery along the way. Well, okay, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, but this is more about bringing together the community through my ears and eyes. As much as as wish each one of you were on this train, although that is physically impossible, this is my chance to bring a different perspective on this years State of the Word from Matt Mullenweg.

Sights, Sounds and Experiences

In this podcast I shared how this all came about. And moving forward, it is almost impossible to tell you everything that will take place. But I can promise you podcasts, videos and posts with insights of the State of the Word. Plus pictures of community we meet along the way and in New York City. And I can’t do this without some snippets of the actual journey across the US. The details are not here now, but will transpire over the duration of the trip.

How to Keep Up It All

There are two perfect ways to follow along on this adventure.

  1. Bookmark our special landing where you will find it all
  2. Follow the hashtag #WooTrainClan on Twitter

If you are subscribed to the Do the Woo podcast, you will at least catch all of the conversations and updates done via our episodes, but trust me, there will be a lot more than that.

However you choose, I am hoping to bring to you the first ever unique event centered around the WordPress State of the Word.

Thanks to These Sponsors for Sending Do the Woo to the State of the Word

published December 7, 2021

The WordPress and WooCommerce community never ceases to amaze me.

When I came up with the idea of this 8-day event wrapped the State of the Word NYC, I knew it could be big. At the same time it was nearing the end of the year and it’s not the best time to approach companies about sponsorships. In fact, when your goal is to get things solidified within a week, that is another thing.

But thanks to four incredible sponsors, Post Status, GoDaddy Pro, Cloudways and Mindsize who stepped up to the plate, the Do the Woo adventure is happening.

So please visit their sites, or give them a shout out on Twitter. Because when it comes to WordPress, and yes, WooCommerce, it’s all about community.

Why Do the Woo is Talking About the State of the Word

published December 10, 2021

Over the next week or so, the content here on Do the Woo will be primarily focused on the large WordPress community and the upcoming State of the Word.  Likely WooCommerce will poke up here and there, but you will notice an obvious wider perspective on all of the content during this time through Dec. 18th.

Woo and WordPress, It’s All Good

The first obvious reason is apparently the fact that I have created this trip/event around State of the Word.

But the second reason should also be obvious and it’s something I talk about a lot here. It’s the simple fact that WooCommerce sits on top of WordPress. Right? Just about everything that happens with WordPress affects WooCommerce builders in one way or another, ultimately affecting the end user or client.

Again, as I have said time and time again, if you build with Woo, you must keep on top of WordPress.

And There’s the Community

I have been hanging in the WordPress community for 15 years. During that time I have met incredible people and yes, started doing the Woo. With a history like mine, it’s easy to build event around the bigger ecosystem. Now I will admit that this is not a WordCamp I am going to and I won’t see as many people as I would have. But the times are weird and we are all doing what we can. But it will be able to share this experience with those online as well as those I get to see in person, both on the way to the State of the Word and during it.

The community will also hear reflections of Matt Mullenwegs talk from community members and myself on the return home.

So yes, I do the WordPress and I Do the Woo.

An Eat and Run with Chicago WordPress Peeps on the Way to State of the Word

published December 13, 2021

Best laid plans of mice and men

If you listen to this podcast (link coming soon), you will hear the story of how Mike Demo from Codeable made his plans to jump on the train (not literally) for the leg from St. Paul to Chicago. This transpired into a dinner for some Chicago WordPress peeps. Long story short, plans where made at the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Chicago and invites were sent out.

Then if you listen to this podcast, you will hear how I ended up running into Susan Ramsey, longtime WordPresser and friend, from Fort Worth, Texas. Yes, and she joined the dinner.

Chicago WordPress Rules

It was so cool for both Mike and I to have dinner with Brian Gardner, Susan Ramsey, Steve Stern, Becky Davis, Keanan Koppenhaver, Zach Stepek and Robert Jacobi.

Even from my perspective it was an interesting group relationship-wise. I have known Becky and Brian from way back at Chicago WordCamp, 2011 or thereabouts. Susan has always been on my radar with her past activities in the Genesis community and, of course, my co-hosts of this podcast, Zach and Robert. But it was also very cool to meet two new faces, Steve and Keanan. Because of the limited time and where I was sitting I got to know Steve a bit better, but hoping I will have the chance with Keanan in the future.

Trains Will Run Late

Yes, we learned how trains, especially at this distance, can and will run late. In fact two hours late. As Mike and I had done a podcast on the train and hung out and just chatted, as we grew closer, Mike would frantically check the updates as minutes were slowly being added to the delay. But, hey are we going to let what came as a 2 hour late arrival spoil the party. No way.

Robert Jacobi made he was there to greet everyone. When we got off the train, Mike took off to grab a cab while Susan and I looked for the place that would hold my bags. She was damn good at helping me find the right place.

Mike did make it, gave the cab drive a $20 bill for a $7 fare, and started the party going. We followed and soon were enjoying appetizers and conversation.

The Best Part

Sure, I arrived around 7 and by 8:00 was in the Hard Rock shop grabbing a gift for Judy. Of course I was behind Mike who was stocking up on his Hard Rock findings. As I made my way back to the train station, looking at the photo of the group, I could do nothing but smile, thinking about how much fun everyone seemed to be having, catching up IRL, laughing, telling stories. Seeing each other for the first time in awhile.

It was a joy to see and made me think about this amazing community we have in WordPress.

So again, thanks to Mike and Codeable for helping bring an amazing highlight to my trip of the #WooTrainClan

The Podcasts on the Trip

podcasts published from November 30, 2021 – December 22, 2021

I ended up doing podcasts before I left, on the train, at the hotel and a few other places. Here are the links to those. One of the train podcasts was completely by luck. So happens a WordPresser I know was on the same train car. Amazing!

Do the Woo is Heading to the WordPress State of the Word 2021

Just a Quick Note on the Do the Woo Trip to NYC

A WordPress Community Chat with Cami MacNamara in Seattle

Thinking of My Sponsors While Traveling Through Montana to State of the Word

WordPress Serendipity: A Chat with Susan Ramsey

Random Thoughts on the Train Traveling to State of the Word in NYC

Mike Demo Riding the Woo Train

Adam Warner Talks About the Upcoming State of the Word

Daniel Schutzsmith Shares Thoughts on the Upcoming State of the Word

Cory Miller from Post Status on Community and State of the Word

Topher and Cate DeRosia Talk HeroPress and the State of the Word

Thoughts on the State of the Word from Mark Westguard

The Beginning of the End, State of the Word and the WooTrainClan

Matt Mullenweg on WooCommerce at the State of the Word 2021

Last Thoughts on the State of the Word from the Community

And before I left NYC and caught that train home, had the time to grab a nice lunch out with Bud Kraus, Robbie Adair and Cate and Topher Derosia

Oh, and Then There Was State of the Word 2022 in NYC

Of course, when it came around the next year, I opted to do this again but plane instead of train and no podcasting.

Do the Woo is Headed to the State of the Word, NYC, Again

It’s that time of the year, or at least for the second year in a row. Matt Mullenweg will be giving the State of the Word again in New York City. And yes, once again I will be making the trek across country to attend.

What is and what was

You may or may not recall that last year, due to a misunderstanding with flying and ID’s required, I ended up taking a roundtrip adventure on a train to NYC. In fact I have several posts here that not only talk about the adventure, but also podcasts that were done along the way as well at in NYC. I don’t need to go into the details again, but let’s just say I have opted for a flight this time. 🙂

Time for connection, reflection and optimism

So you may be asking why I used the resources to fly six hours one way for a three hour event. Well, first I feel I need to be there to represent Do the Woo. And I am able to do this because of the support of our Pod Friends.

But it also is perfect timing for the end of the year.

Connection – this goes without saying. Although a small crowd, maximum of 50 people, I always look forward to connecting with my WordPress friends. In fact, sometimes smaller is better.

Reflection – when Matt reviews the year, for some it may seem to be only on the surface. But post-state of the word gives me time to think about what he has said. What it means to the community. And what it means for our efforts here at Do the Woo. For me personally, it has more meaning and goes deeper when I experience it in person. Plus it gives me something to think about on the flight home.

Optimism – I am by nature optimistic. And though there can be skepticism, doubts or even drama for others, each year always brings me optimism in the future of the project.  Which lends to the whole experience that I have before, during and after the State of the Word.

I do admit I am lucky that I can attend. And yes, again I have my sponsors to thank for that. Also, there is a part of me that hopes the SOTW could be worked to be given at all of the flagship WordCamps, as it had been done with WordCampUS before. But knowing that it plays on the end-of-the-year, maybe I am too optimistic there.

If you are one of the few that are able to attend, and we haven’t talked about meeting up yet, let me know. NYC, here we come!

A State of the Word Dinner with Some Woo

As you likely know from earlier posts and podcasts, I was able to attend the State of the Word this year in New York City. All because of our Pod Friends.

When a community comes together

Since I would be there on the night before the event, Michelle Frechette and I started a conversation with others who were attending. “How about getting together for dinner?” Of course, as with any WordPress event, large or small, you will find those interested, both old and new friends. And the fact that the hotel we both were staying at had this very convenient restaurant and bar, well, it was an easy decision.

Except when you call to make a reservation, get a failed call notice, and learn from the hotel that the restaurant is closed.

This led into more conversations with those attended, and those not. Apparently with the size of most restaurants in NYC being small and, to add to that, the holidays, well, finding a reservation for 10-11 people turned into a challenge. The fact that I had left this to only a few days before the dinner didn’t help.

It takes a community

We are a hearty group and don’t give up easy. Along came superhero Nev Harris suggesting he calls the American Express concierge to help and recommend some restaurants was a game saver. And although what we found was an outdoor heated patio, with temperatures in the low 30’s F, we couldn’t be picky. Luck was on the side of this WordPress group and we felt we were treated to a semi-private room where good food, drinks and conversation took the stage.

Of course, once you have had a terrific Italian dinner there is no better place to extend the holiday cheer than for a few of us to visit Rockefeller Center.

State of the Word 2023

Which brings me right back to where we are. Will I be attending SOTW at the end of this year? You just never know, but once I get started….

by BobWP at July 07, 2024 12:45 PM under Blog

Do The Woo Community: WordCamp US 2023, Another Fantastic WP Memory

Well, it was inevitable that I should post a recap of WordPress US. I am writing this after returning to my home and office in Porto on Monday morning, this being Thursday of the same week. And I’ll tell you, I am just starting to get over my exhaustion.

The Trip to WCUS

Flying back to the states, I loved the way over. No overnight experiences for me, and leaving at 7:30 am Porto time, arriving in National Harbor 7:30 pm EDT. Of course, during the flight I started with breakfast, then a drink and lunch and segued into dinner at some point which ended with a snack. Lot’s of food and can’t honestly remember when I ate what.

I did meet a few friends when I landed, but by then I was pretty much half asleep. It was nice seeing my good friend Mark Westguard right off the bat.

The first day in National Harbor

Unlike my other WordPressers who were already there, the next day I was not part of the Community Summit nor did I have the desire to be a tourist in Washington DC. The latter did not tempt me with the heat or the sights.

So I spent the day hanging around the hotel/convention center to make life easy. Now the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is enormous. And I mean freakin’ huge. It kind of reminded me of those large cruise ships, although I have never been on one. It’s set up quite well. You never really need to leave and everything is overpriced. But hey, that’s America, right?

The morning I spent wandering around the grounds, inside and out.

The other part of the day Mark and myself just did this and that. Lunchtime we went and had some drinks and nachos. After that we just roamed around the hotel and Mark was obviously delighted to find his logo with all the sponsors on the entryway to the conference center.

Then we had Casey join us, Mark’s better half, and dinner time where at even more food.

So after a day of local exploring, drinks and food, we did what any normal WordCamper would do. We went to a party, WP-Includes Summer Fest.

Contributor Day

The next day was Contributor Day. And guess what? It was amazing. So much so that I didn’t take one photo as I was busy listening and interjecting every once in awhile. But I did snag the group photo from that day just to share the all the groovy WordPressers who were part of that day. By the way, photo credit goes to Shusei Toda.

WordCamp US, the Event

As with most WordCamps, I find myself so busy connecting with old and new friends, and just being a happy WordCamper that I never take as many photos as planned. But, I do the best I can do.

Of course, I cannot go without thanking my sponsors, A2 Hosting, Avalara, Hostinger, GoDaddy, Jetpack and Weglot. Oh, and yes, WooCommerce!

Do the Woo, a Pseudo Sponsor

And then this happened. My friends over at Multicolab were not able to use their sponsor booth. Anil Gupta was able to attend, but he had problems with getting his team over to the US. So his table sat unattended and barren.

I had a chat with Anil as he is a good friend of mine, and also a past sponsor of Do the Woo. Long story short, I took over the booth and used it for the DTW hq at WordCamp US. So I had the opportunity to be able to do some podcasting as well as meet many of our listeners.

Here is Anil sharing some thoughts on WordCamp.

Here is my makeshift booth.

And some of our podcast guests.

And a very special podcast. Three WordPressers from the Spain WordPress community did a show, and they did it all in Spanish. What fun!

As it so happened during contributor day, also at the event I didn’t get as many photos as I would have wanted. Was just too busy enjoying IRL conversations. But here are just a few more friends that I caught.

What’s a Flagship WordCamp without Nathan’s head

Now for those of you who know Nathan, you get it. For those that don’t, well I will add a mysterious moment to your life. A good friend and fellow podcaster of mine, Nathan’s head often shows up in the weirdest spots, or simply frightening people here and there. And the second day started out with just that.

The After Social

As with tradition of WordCamp US, the social at the end of the second day was at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Quite the impressive museum. Now I am not a huge fan of museums. I could also say that it was mostly bones, stuffed or recreated animals, rocks and overpriced jewelry, but nonetheless it was quite breathtaking.

A lot of people had a great time and it was also filled with conversation, laughter and yummy desserts with old and new friends.

And what is a museum visit without posing as a museum exhibit.

Of course my friend Miriam had to catch as I ventured into the fossil display where I discovered an old acquaintance, Joe the Tyrannosaurus. As I gently touch the bones of his neck on display, I pondered our prehistoric life together.

It’s Why I Do What I Do

In a nutshell, I do WordPress because of the community. And events like WordCampUS is like a moment of pure oxygen. So much laughter, conversation, hugs, food and drinks with old and new friends. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And I leave you with one last photo. As I was flying home, something outside my window reminded me of that museum. Can you guess what that is?

Hope to see you at WordCamp Asia in 2024.

by BobWP at July 07, 2024 12:45 PM under Blog

Do The Woo Community: WordPress 6.3. Our Heroes, the Release Squad and Contributors

The last time I wrote a post on a WordPress major release on this blog was sometime ago, where I was doing more tutorials and education pieces here. A previous focus of the life of this blog, now archived into oblivion.

But hey, can you imagine how many posts have been published and will still be published about 6.3? I cannot fathom that number.

The release, the people

I don’t have to tell you about the features. Nor do I really need to tell you about what makes this happen, and the incredible people who contribute their time and expertise to each release.

Well, I lied. On the latter, I do have to tell you. Because every time that a major release comes out, and I head over to WordPress.org to see the post. It’s always fun to read about the jazz artist that it was named after, revisit the features, but I always stroll to the bottom to see my heroes first.

The release squad and the contributors. And for each and every one of you, my sincere gratitude and appreciation for making this community what it is. Also, a big virtual hug.

by BobWP at July 07, 2024 12:45 PM under Blog

Do The Woo Community: WordCamp Europe 2023. Amazing.

If I could put every experience I had, every conversation, and every laugh or hug here in this post, I would. But it would be a very long post and, of course, I would have discovered something I missed, or several things, thus even a longer post.

This was my second WordCamp Europe, but my first living here in Porto, Portugal. That fact alone, and the love I am getting from the community here, would be worth a post in itself.

The Community

It’s never surprising when I hear from anyone talk their experience at a WordCamp, community and people are always in there, often being what they loved most. And for me there is never an exception. New friends. Connecting with old friends. And so much laughter, and yes, food.

The Sponsors and the Venue

The venue was fantastic. Although I must admit at first it was a bit overwhelming as the sponsors winded around different parts and hallways. Some of the small biz sponsors were concerned being off the beaten path, but that changed quickly, at least for the ones I talked to.

Fact is I started going around to the booths, meeting people, saying hi to others and stopping for so many hugs and conversations, it took me 3 hours just to do that. On the second day, I spent an hour easily just with the Small Biz sponsors.

Now I talk to a lot of WordPress businesses and I know there are always questions about sponsoring WordCamps and the value behind it. So I am going to share a great post from my friend Katie Keith from Barn2 Plugins, where she shares their first experience sponsoring. If you ever had questions about sponsoring, make sure and read it.

If you missed any of the sessions, or were not able to make it, you can find all of them here from the livestream.

As I said, there is a lot more I am still digesting and it will also settle in my brain just in time for WCUS. But I do want to thank the organizing team, the volunteers for their hard work in making it so amazing. And of course, the sponsors who make it possible.

I leave you with this. Some great WordPress peeps. (and a few taken by others, plus my mug occasionally).

WordCamp Europe 2023

by BobWP at July 07, 2024 12:45 PM under Blog

Do The Woo Community: 20 Years. That’s a Lot of Community

In May I was fortunate to speak at WordCamp Lisboa about community. It had been awhile since I’ve spoken at a WordCamp, but I had a lot of fun.

If you are interested in my elaboration of the future of the community, listen to this show here.

by BobWP at July 07, 2024 12:45 PM under Blog

Do The Woo Community: WordCamp Asia. Energized, Graciousness and Empathy

For 13 years I have been going to the smaller and local WordCamps and when the first flagship WCUS started, I jumped on the opportunity and have been lucky enough to attend all of them so far.

Last year, I attended my first WCEU which of course was far from their first. It was an amazing event and even pushed us to move to Porto, which we are doing end of March.

Then comes WCAsia

Judy and I were excited that we would be able to attend the very first WCAsia. Neither of us had been to any part of Asia, so Bangkok was soon to be our first. 

Now with all that comes for anyone attending a WordCamp, it can be anything from intimidating, to exciting, or both. I did not know what to expect from this very first flagship event. I knew that it would be good, but I didn’t know I would be blown away.

The event itself

The event was held on the top floor of what’s called Iconsiam. A gigantic mall with a conference center.

And everything about the organization of the event was top notch. The sponsor area was strategically placed. And I personally experienced a volunteer approaching me a few times and asking how I was doing and if they could help with anything. It was amazing.

Contributor day

This was my second contributor day. And it did not disappoint. I spent my time with the Community team and we had several very good discussions. Of course a lot of time was put into the day-long event from both organizers and volunteers. And I had to get a shot of all the team table leads from around the world.

This was just how big contributor day was.

Two days of WordCamp Asia

The minute I walked in that morning and headed straight for the expo area, this is what I saw. It was one of the most busy WordCamps I had ever been to, at least from this perspective. And the vibe in the air is what I believe energized everyone.

The community, the people

There is no single word to describe all the new and old friends that I met with. There were hugs, fist bumps, handshakes, and a lot of conversation. I had the chance to meet people who had literally been reading or listening to my stuff for over a decade. It was incredible humbling.

Although I don’t have these tagged, here is are bunch of selfies and other pics that were taken by others and myself.

Three things really stood out to me

As I mentioned earlier, this was likely the best WordCamp I have been to. If asked, I would have to say that there are three words that come to mind if I was to describe it as a whole.

The energy

I have never been to a WordCamp that had as much energy as I experienced here. I’m sure it was a combination of it finally happening for the Asian community (the first time it was cancelled due to covid), the pride they felt and the fact that so many of the attendees were experiencing their very first WordCamp of any size. 

Everyone seemed hungry for community and education. Even the sponsors who frequent many WordCamps, the teams they brought were energized and kept very busy. There was a vibe of this energy with everyone you met. 

I know that both my brand BobWP and Do the Woo is very popular in that part of the world. But until you are able to talk, shake hands or hug, you just don’t know. I met strangers and people who I have been connected with online for a decade or more. I was in what felt like hundreds of selfies with friends and new friends. The energy there was contagious and even by day two, it did not let up till closer to the end of the day.

The graciousness

This is probably the most powerful word that stuck with us during our entire stay, both at the event and beyond. We felt welcomed wherever we went. The kindness and consideration of each individual we had contact with and I had contact with at the event, was something that added to the energy I previously talked about.

Culturally, between the greeting with a bow and hands held together, and those who held their hands over their hearts as they approached you, other parts of the world could learn from those warm and loving gestures and how they made us feel each and every time.

The empathy

Empathy has always been a huge part of my life, and I wish more people would naturally feel it in all circumstances.

As I mentioned previously, a lot of the attendees where first time WordCampers. Because of the nature of our business, many are introverts and that first event experience can be overwhelming. But it was different. There was a natural born vibe of empathy coming from everyone.

The vendors talking to community members. People meeting each other for the first time. Questions asked and answered. I would often catch pieces of conversation near me, and more times than not there was a tone of empathy. A tone that said we are the community and here to help each other, no matter who you are, what skill level you have or where you come from. The glass was half full, if not brimming over.

Of course all the other stuff

There was so much to the event, but at the same time the entire experience.

Having a little fun and a good laugh

There is nothing better than a good laugh. You may or may not know Nathan Wrigley from WPBuilds. A great friend of mine and a treasure to the WordPress community. Unfortunately Nathan could not make it, so our friend Mark Westguard from WS Form created a “Nathan head”. And it started popping around here and there at WCAsia. Make sure and click on the images so you can easily find “Where’s Nathan?”

Nom nom

The food was incredible. I’m not a foodie as much as many who travel, but the tastes I experienced are really beyond words. I am still deciding my favorites between Thai, Indian and Japanese. Unfortunately, I am terrible when it comes to taking pictures of our food. In fact, I likely got more from the food served on our flights than at the event.

There was this amazing Espresso Martini that we had, in some kind of a chalice at a restaurant in a local marketplace.

And the best experience I had was a cup of Spicy Coconut Soup with Scallops at a restaurant in the Iconsiam. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take a picture until I was half-finished. Trust me, the untouched presentation was pretty impressive. The taste, out of this world.


And then there was the host city. As mentioned, this was the first time Judy and I have been in Asia. The city was interesting and amazing at the same time. The weather was another thing. We spent an extra three days and found we could spend very little time outside because of the heat and humidity. Average days temp while while there were around 94°F / 34°C. We thought we would either melt away or simple pass out. But between the hotel, a boat ride down the river and a few other places, I do have a few shots to share with you.

What have I left out?

Likely a lot. But still recovering from jet lag and a good chunk of this post was written on the flight back.

If we connected at WCAsia, you are now a big part of one of my favorites memories since using WordPress.

And if you were an organizer, volunteer or sponsor this year, a big thanks and hug for one amazing event. You should be proud of what you did and the community that you brought together.

Until WordCamp Europe….

by BobWP at July 07, 2024 12:45 PM under Blog

Do The Woo Community: The State of the Word experience

I have purposely chosen to not revisit the actual message delivered at State of the Word. There has been a lot already said and I don’t really need to add to that pile. In fact, I have listed a few posts at the end here that will give you that overview.

I arrived in New York City late Tuesday evening. The SOTW was not beginning till noonish on Thursday. But I was pretty sure Wednesday would be my “hang out with friends and community day”. Of course I was not disappointed.

Community is where community goes

Mid-morning on Wednesday, I ran into Michelle Frechette and her friend Julia in the hotel lobby. Hungry and in need of caffeine, I joined them for a bit of time at Starbucks. Returning to the hotel, we ran into Rich Tabor, and set a time to find a restaurant and have lunch. The four of us ended up at an Italian place, which would be the first of two that day.

Then came a break before I met Robert Jacobi, Rich Tabor at Nancy’s Whiskey Bar across the street. Where eventually we were joined by Robbie Adair and Bud Kraus. Although we didn’t get a group shot then, Robert did grab a shot of Rich and myself.

Rich Tabor and BobWPThanks to Robert Jacobi for the photo

After that came dinner. I shared a bit of that experience on my podcast over on Do the Woo, which in a nutshell ended up being a fantastic Do the Woo dinnner in a heated patio at yet another Italian restaurant.

Do the Woo Dinner in New York CityDo the Woo Dinner at State of the Word 2023 with Michelle Frechette, Allie Nimmons, Bud Kraus, Nev Harris, Aaron Campbell, Rich Tabor, Timothy Jacobs, BobWP, Robbie Adair, Julie and Ryan Marks. 

Following that feast, a few of us ended up at the Rockefeller Center.

Michelle, Nev, Ryan, Julia, Robbie and BobWP

And that was the day of true community. Friends coming together and just simply having a great time.

Rockefeller Center New York City

State of the Word Day

Of course the day of the State of the Word has it’s fair share of community. From a casual get together at a cafe beforehand, to the event itself and rounding that off with a small dinner with Robert Jacobi, Robbie Adair and Nev Harris.

The entire day, day two, filled with community. Old and new friends.

Conversations at SOTW

I cannot possibly share with you the conversations I had at the event, primarily because I had too many and cannot recall each one. But a couple of instances stick in my mind.

First, I met Zandy Ring, COO at Tumblr. This was not only a fun conversation but also very timely as I dive into the Tumblr world as BobWP. It’s been an interesting platform to sort out. And the insights that Zandy shared with me confirmed I was doing the right thing by taking my time and finding my groove there.

Secondly, I had a chance to chat with Matt Mullenweg a couple of times. The best thing about the SOTW event if Matt is in his element there. The smaller crowd gives it a much more relaxed feeling and I sense that he is truly enjoying himself.

And the cool thing. There would never be the opportunity where I would be able to share with him the new stuff we are doing over at Do the Woo in the new year. But this event gave me that chance. And even better, he loved what we were going to be doing.

Now with both of these conversations, I was fortunately to be given the opportunity to have them. But I did for two simple reasons.

The WordPress community is incredible, no matter who you meet

I am extremely fortunate to have such amazing sponsors for Do the Woo that made it possible for me to represent DTW at the event.

Learn more about the State of the Word

Matt’s SOTW was great and there was some really cool stuff he shared. But I am not into reinventing the wheel, so here are a few options for you to catch up with it if you haven’t already.

Over on WPTavern, State of the Word 2022: Matt Mullenweg Highlights Gutenberg’s Progress, Announces New Community Tools

The WPMinute has an audio version if you are on the go, as well as some key takeaways.

And of course, over on WordPress.org, you can catch the full video.

by BobWP at July 07, 2024 12:45 PM under Blog

Gutenberg Times: Gutenberg Changelog #103 – Create Block Theme Plugin, WordPress 6.6, Gutenberg 18.7, and Updates from the Training Team 

In this episode, Nadia Maya Ardiani and Birgit Pauli-Haack discuss the create block theme plugin, WordPress 6.6, Gutenberg 18.7, and updates from the training team.

Show Notes / Transcript

Show Notes

Special Guest: Nadia Maya Ardiani


Training team updates

Contributor Spotlight series

Gather Press

New Courses

What’s released

WordPress 6.6

What’s in the works

Twenty Twenty-Five

Stay in Touch


Birgit Pauli-Haack: Hello, and welcome to our 103rd episode of the Gutenberg Changelog Podcast. In today’s episode we will talk in detail about Create Block Theme Plugin, WordPress 6.6, Gutenberg 18.7, and updates from the training team too. Maybe not in that order.

I’m your host, Birgit Pauli-Haack, curator at the Gutenberg Times and a full-time core contributor for the WordPress Open-Source Project sponsored by Automattic’s Five for the Future Program.

I’m delighted to have again as co-host, my dear friend, Nadia Maya Ardiani from Indonesia, member of the WordPress training team, translating Learn WordPress content. And in her day job, Maya creates content for the Hostinger blog and social media. So glad you can make it this time, Maya. How are you today?

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Hi, Birgit. It’s very nice to be back here. How are you by the way?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: I’m good. I’m good. I’m good. So glad we’re doing this. And it’s summer in Munich.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: It’s always summer here in Indonesia.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Well, I definitely have to visit sooner or later.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yes, please.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Rather sooner than later because time runs out.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah. The last time you invited me, I think it was around WordCamp. After I came back from WordCamp US and you were not attending it. And this time it’s the other way around. You’re attending WordCamp Europe and I’m not, and I’m getting so FOMO of everything. So yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. FOMO is something that I’m looking at for now. Also for WordCamp Canada. There are some great speakers on there. But I am really looking forward. Are you coming to WordCamp Asia in the Philippines next year? You don’t know?

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah, I plan to. I plan to. So hopefully, we can meet again.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, I hope so too, in-person. Well, did you know that the call for speakers is out for WordCamp Asia?

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Oh, not yet.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: I haven’t checked.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: So dear listeners, if you want to come to WordCamp Asia and be on the speaker roster, now is the time to get your creative juices going on what you want to talk about. All right.


Before I forget again, because I did the last time, I want to mention our new music for the intro and the outro. So this is the second episode actually with new music dear listeners, and I hope you like it. A 100 episodes is a great run for Homer Gaines’ music that we started out with and we used for 100 episodes. But I’m also grateful that he allowed me to use his music for free. So big prompts to Homer Gaines. And I’ll share again the link to his music channel on Spotify or what was the other one? SoundCloud.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: SoundCloud.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yes. Yeah, thank you. The new jingle, or what you call it, whatever you call it, is actually created by Udio, and that’s an audio AI site. Which I just was trying out. And the prompt was Jango Edwards style intro music, and it’s called Manouche Morning. I share the link also in the show notes, so you can go to the site and try out your music tastes. But let me know what you think about it, dear listeners. And also, of course, Maya.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah, I really like it, because it sounds like something that you can hear from a gramophone and take you back to another time. And it’s really a nice change of vibe. Because before we have this cool guy, a cool person, who is more very chill and very calm person, and this time it’s more happy-go-lucky. So yeah, I think it’s really great. And it’s like Morning Spirit, like the name.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: You kind of get in a different mindset there. And I learned in between that music actually changes, depending on which music of course, your brainwaves. So your alpha waves and your mood. I find it really interesting. So I read more about it. Well good. So that’s music. Well, either comment on the episode or send me an email or just ping me on Twitter what you think about the music.

So last episode, we talked about the upcoming events and now those events have taken place, and I can share the recordings in the show notes. If you are a theme developer, but you are not so much into code and want to use the Site Editor to create your theme, the Hallway Hangout where Beatrice Fialo demonstrated how she changes a theme and then used to create Block Theme Plugin to save all the changes that are normally in the database to the theme files and then make those theme files part of Version Control and GitHub.

So that process she demonstrated very closely. And on the recap post, I actually also spelled out the steps so you can really follow along. It was really a cool event. And you can actually design a theme and Site Editor and still update the theme files and handle it in Version Control. That was one of the big questions we had on the Outreach channel.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah. I personally also really love Playground because it really helps for content creation as well. Because I don’t have to keep on tweaking my WordPress site, even though that’s a special site for testing. But it’s very handy to have it. I can just test everything there and then forget about it.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: I don’t have to reset everything. So, yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Right. Yeah. You don’t mess up the site that you use for other things. Yeah. Totally get it. And so I use local or used to use local, and I have probably 25 sites in there. Because I spin up a new site for everything. But that also clogs up my computer, although I have a terabyte of hard drive. But it still clogs up my computer. Because every single site has all the WordPress files, and with Playground I have nothing stored there except what I wanted to store in the browser or something like that.

So, yeah. The other event was the exploration of Grid Layouts. It was also a Hallway Hangout. And Isabel Brison, also a regular co-host here on our show, gave a great demonstration on how to handle blocks with Grid Layout or the other way around, how to work with a Grid Block, which is a subset of the Group Block. And she showed off the 6.6 features, but also what she’s working on for 6.7 in an experiment. So that’s also something, if you are keen to learn more about Grid Layout and what you can do with it, definitely watch that recording.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah. People already starting to work on 6.7. It’s like, wow, so fast.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. So once decided when the Beta 1 is of major release, then it was also decided which Gutenberg Plugin version will make it from the new feature point of view. So the week the Beta 1 is released, that’s the week where the Gutenberg Plugin released, and that’s the last release with new features.

So Beta 1 was on June 4th and the release candidate for 18.5 was already out. So those features made it into the major 6.6. And everything else afterwards, 18.6 and 18.7hat we’re going to talk to now, are either bug fixes and they will be ported to the release on WordPress but all the new features that add UI, that are enhancement to existing things, stay in the plugin.

And Isabel Brison, and I think Robert Anderson, they were working on the Grid Layout, they actually started that experiment way earlier, but they were not ready to make it public. So if you want to test out what she showed off in the Hallway Hangout, you need to enable that experiment on the experiment page in Gutenberg before you can actually see that feature.

So there’s multiple levels of how you learn about new things. And if you want to get in early, the experiment page on the Gutenberg Plugin gives you a clue what people are actually working on. Some of them are pushed forward like the data views or the Grid Layout, and some of them are a little bit stale because there hasn’t been enough feedback to move forward with a lot of things.

Going back to the announcements or to the upcoming events, there’s also in the show notes a link to the recording of the developer hours, what’s new for theme developers in WordPress 6.6, where Nick Diego and Justin Tadlock were talking about all the good things that are coming, especially the overrides to sync patterns and also grid, but also most prominently the section styles, that’s it, block styles, and how that works with the reduced specificities for custom CSS.

So you can override. Well, how you can override some custom styles and block style. It’s a little bit highly technical, and if you’re not into that, the last part might be a little bit too technical, but it’s definitely worth checking out. 

And then there’s a set of upcoming events in July on Monday, you might not have listened to that, next week, July 8th there’s a Hallway Hangout where Justin Tadlock and Nick Diego are talking about the section styles and block style variations, want to discuss with the extenders what are the challenges and what are the problems or questions. Bring them all to the Hallway Hangout. That’s on July 8th, 1600 UTC.

Then on July 9th, there’s a Developer Hour, Editor, Unification and Extensibility in WordPress 6.6. That’s with Ryan Welcher and Nick Diego. And they talk about how the slot fields and all the other extensibility works now for post editor, site editor, template editor. They’re all now one interface or almost, in how you can take advantage of it. And the additional ways to add your own interfaces to the sidebar.

Then July 23rd at 1500 UTC is another Developer Hours, and that covers that topic, do you really need a Custom Block? And it explores the alternative, and it was one of the things that early on, but more and more you have already built in ways to modify core blocks without having to create your own blocks. So be based on the core blocks. And with pattern overrides, there’s another feature there where you can say, okay, maybe I don’t need my Custom Block. And the other part is the Block Bindings.

So for custom fields, that you don’t need a block for each custom field, your customer needs. So you could actually use the Block Bindings for that and bind those information or the values to certain core blocks. It’s not available for all the blocks, but it’s 6.6. Block Bindings came with 6.5 and all extended, especially the editing part in the interface for 6.6. All right.

Training Team

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah. And speaking of events, so currently the training team is, we are trying to test GatherPress. So it’s like an event management application and it’s open source. So we are thinking, why not? We’re trying to move through this platform, we are looking for a tool that can help us to improve the flow management of our Learn WordPress online workshops, for the scheduling stuff.

And we hope that by testing it, we can try to meet the diverse needs of even organizers and members of the WordPress community in general. And it’s not just training team members who can test it. Everyone basically can test it. And I will put the invitation to test it in the show notes. And the main areas that we follow will be including its ease of use and then the registering process, and then the editing attendance feature, and basically any other stuff that stands out.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: That’s great. Thank you so much for bringing that to the show. I totally dig it. And I remember having conversations about replacing Meetup as the tool for the local Meetups with multi-site, for all the 700 local Meetups when I was a Meetup organizer in ’16 and ’17, so this is great that it comes together now.

Recently, the GatherPress Plugin is also now available in WordPress Plugin Repo, so you can also test it on one of your other sites. You don’t have to use it for WordPress events. But yeah, I’m going to look at the invite. So that is really cool. When I look at the plugin page, it has blocks for everything and it has for RSVP, add to calendar, the online event, event date, menu and all that. So this is really great. And maybe could even be used for other events, not just WordPress events.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah. And I myself haven’t tested as well, so sharing this also became a reminder for me to test it. Because it’s really great to have this alternative.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Absolutely. Oh, and speaking of the training team, there are three courses that came out in the last couple of months. One is the beginner WordPress user. So if you start out as a WordPress content creator and/or site owner, this is definitely a course to go through because it explains some of the WordPressy things that are a little bit harder to know. It’s like your driver’s license course for WordPress. Sometimes we just need a refresher as well. And I just realized that there’s also an Immediate WordPress User course out there. So I think it just went online. And for those who are….

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah, it’s very new.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Have you worked on those?

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Actually, these three stuff like Beginner WordPress User and then Beginner WordPress Developer, and then Intermediate WordPress Developer. WordPress user, sorry, they’re all part of the Learning Pathway Project. So lately we try to create learning pathway. Because sometimes people get into learn.wordpress.org and became like, oh my God, there’s so much stuff to learn. Where do I start?

So we’re thinking maybe it will help if we can have separate learning pathways, for example, for people who don’t have enough technical background, they can start by the Beginner WordPress User. As you already said, it’s like the driving license for WordPress. It’s a really nice way to put it. It’s when you want to really learn from the basics. And then we have Beginner WordPress Developer. It’s for those who want to start developing for WordPress.

And then we have Intermediate WordPress User. So it’s for people who already have basic fundamental knowledge and then they want to level up their use of WordPress. Maybe for content creation, they want to make it more effective, and then they want to explore the advanced features. So this is what everyone can learn from this.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. No, really, and I know there’s a lot of work that goes into that, especially because WordPress changes so much in the recent year. What I also like is that the single lessons are actually available separately. You don’t have to go through the course or finish one lesson to go to the next. You can just look at the list of the course and then pick the lessons where you want to expand your knowledge. Or when you say, okay, I need to dive deeper in that topic, and hopefully the lesson covers that.

That’s a really good way also for people who actually build sites for others, to say, okay, if you want to learn that, why don’t you go to that lesson, instead of having to do that training themselves. Although it builds trust, sometimes it can be a bandwidth. You don’t have the bandwidth as a freelance developer or as a small agency to do all the training. And having an official site where you can point people to for certain explanations or for certain tools, on how to use them, is definitely a feature also very well-built for agencies that are out there and working with clients. You are pretty much the first line of support. So that definitely gives you support in supporting. I like that.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Support in supporting.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. So check out the learn.wordpress.org site and the three courses we will have in the show notes for you. And of course, yeah, the Beginner WordPress Developer course covers all the things that you might need to at least get started. Because there’s a lot of tutorials out there that assume a certain knowledge of certain things.

And I know because I work with the writers on the developer blog on the WordPress Developer Blog, and some of it is kind of how can we get to the meat of that particular tutorial without having to explain about everything WordPress.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Everything.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: So now we can point to the WordPress Developer lessons and say, okay, here you can beef up thinking about this or this and that. So it’s great fundamental work that the training team is doing there.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah. And we try to facilitate the many ways people might prefer to learn. Some people prefer to learn audio/visually, some people prefer to just read it, because they can do it anytime and anywhere, and also for the accessibility reasons.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Excellent. Yeah, definitely. That was the section about the training team. Well done on the training team and everybody else out there.

What’s Released – Create Block Theme Plugin        

So that brings us to the section, what’s released. And before we dive into WordPress 6.6 some more, I just wanted to give a shout-out to the latest release of the Create Block Theme Plugin. It has become my most favorite plugin that I actually use. And the team working on has released version 2.3 with a few more capabilities.

And now you can add image credits to the theme modal. So there’s a theme modal where you can put all the information about a theme that you create in there. And there’s now also a section for the image credits if you use somebody else’s images in there that are not commonly licensed or public domain. So you can add this to it.

External links are now translatable. So the translation team, whoever and polyglots wants to translate a theme can do that. There is a new About section in the editor that helps you with what the various pieces are about. And the landing page in the plugin has been majorly improved from the design, and it now looks a little bit more like that plugin is. And then now the font settings. When you clone a theme, the font settings actually persist over the cloning part. So what the original theme is doing you can do. The clone theme is also respecting that.

And then there were quite a few bug fixes and all that. But it’s so great how this plugin actually evolves throughout the times and goes along with the WordPress features. I think that they’re working now on some pattern management, but they need to wait for the core to finish developing. Sometimes the heart of the matter, if you want to create, you can create patterns in the interface, but you need to export them separately and not with the theme. So that’s kind of a major stepping stone.

And then the styles and section styles, they haven’t implemented that yet. But it’s coming along and stay tuned. 

WordPress 6.6

So for WordPress 6.6, release candidate two is now available for testing. Today, we are recording this on July 4th, thinking July 4th to our American listeners. Happy Independence Day. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And enjoy the summer coming in. But no rest for the wicked. WordPress 6.6 is scheduled to come out July 16th. That’s 12 days away. And there is with the release candidate one, also the Source of Truth came out, a compendium, it’s a book about that, WordPress 6.6. Compiled or composed, edited, authored by and…

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Curated.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Curated By Anne McCarthy. It’s all you want to ever learn about 6.6 in any detail, about every feature. It might not interest everyone. But you can actually… She tags each feature for the intended user, like this is the theme author, plugin author, end user or enterprise level or for everybody. So you can actually use the browser, find function for the tag theme author, and then go just hop from one occurrence to the next and read it that way. That’s how I do it.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: If you need a shorter version, Jamie Marsland summarized the most important feature in this video and calls it WordPress 6.6, huge changes coming soon.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: As a content writer, I am so thankful that Anne McCarthy always creates this source of truth every time there’s a major release. So it became our source of truth, literally, to write anything about WordPress.

So it’s also interesting that today’s marketing team, from the make teams shifting to Media Corps. Because it’s expanding the possibilities for the Source of Truth. Now that we are going to have that one place, one central to getting everything about WordPress and being updated on it. So it’ll be really helpful for content creators especially.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, it’s actually meant for content creators. It’s not so much for end-users, because that also can be quite technical. So Jamie Marsland, in his video, points out pattern overrides, the grid layout, and we all talked about the negative margins, the custom shadows, and as well as the data views.

And there were actually for the developers additional def notes since the last episode were published, and one was the updates to the interactivity API, miscellaneous editor changes. These are smaller changes, but still don’t overlook them. A definite about section and styles, is definite about the CSS specificity. That’s a very difficult word for me.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Me, too. It’s a tongue-twister.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And it reflects how hard it is to talk about that as well.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah, yeah. 6.6 specificity.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Specificity.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: So many S.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And then there’s a roster of the design tools per block that’s just a table of lists, all the blocks, and then which design tool, line, typography, color, dimensions, background image, gradient, yay, duotone, which block does what. And then there’s another dev notes about the theme JSON version three that also covers the style variations or the section style variations, how you can manage them through theme JSON.

Maya, from all the small and big features, what intrigues you as a content creator the most?

Nadia Maya Ardiani: I actually want to say the zoom out view, but sadly, based on the 6.6 Source of Truth, it’ll be available on a future release. But I was like, if it’s finally available, it’ll be a game changer, because I can… Instead of cut and then move it to somewhere else by scrolling up or down my mouse and put it on the wrong part of the website, being able to zoom it out will be, oh my God, it will be… What is it in English? Sorry. It’ll be really time-saving.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yes, absolutely. Yeah. I can definitely see that. Because we are so focused on the block or on the section kind of thing that sometimes you need a full view of a page. And the zoom out view is… We are looking at things sometimes only for the block section and what’s in front of us, but the zoom out view gives you actually a view of the full page and how everything fits together.

That’s very important when you look at template previews or on pattern previews or even on when you go through the categories of patterns and then you see the pattern, how would that fit in into your full page kind of thing? Yeah. But if I understood it correctly, it wasn’t all that seamless to use. It was always a little bit of a surprise when it happened that the team still wanted to… And nothing is hated more than a surprise by an end user. What did I do?

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Did I do something wrong?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. That’s the first question I always ask. What did I do? And how did that happen? So they wanted to finesse that a little bit more and make that usage a bit more intuitive. So apart from what’s not in 6.6.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: What else?

Nadia Maya Ardiani: I think it’s the unified editor experience. It just makes sense to me to have the featured image position way higher than before, because before it’s down there. Now it’s way up there. Because when we create a blog post after finishing the text, the first thing that comes to mind is what feature image we will put there to represent the blog post.

Because having a proper and featured image is also important for the SEO and for branding, especially if we name the featured image with the keyword that we target, it’ll boost the SEO performance as well. And I like how the publish flow looks more compact and less distracting. Because some stuff gets inside when we click something and…

Birgit Pauli-Haack: The three-dot menu.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yes. It can be also less intimidating for newbies because there’s not so much stuff right there. And then I’m also interested in the pattern overrides, because it will be so handy and time-saving. And also help create a cohesive design across the site, especially for no-code or no designer, non-designer users, and then also the negative margins because it unlocks the design possibilities for us who don’t really design in our daily lives. So yeah, it will look really cool, I think.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, absolutely. And I like the combination between the grid block and the custom shadows. And then now you can have some overlap of images and text, and you don’t have to use a cover block to have that because it’s hard to organize that. Yeah,

Nadia Maya Ardiani: It’ll be so fun to play with.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Great tools in there for designers that are no-coders. Yeah, it’s kind of cool. Yeah. I’m a total fan of the pattern enhancement that comes with 6.6. It’s not only the set pattern overrides that were punted from 6.5, I like the additional time, which really helped with the feature to bring it in. Because now you see it in the sidebar which content you can override and how they’re called.

And to create this, you can actually guide your users, which piece of the pattern you can override. So there’s a sidebar on that, when the pattern comes in you really see it. And there’s also the full pattern management, is made available for sites that use a classic theme. So they get a menu item in the WP admin and also all the pattern management screens. So that’s a big deal for the classic themes because they still dominate the space of course.

Not everybody changes themes every two years, but users can take advantage of the broader template part and pattern management. And theme developers can also make those available for their users. So I’m really happy about that. Yeah, we talked about the grid layouts. I’m absolutely a fan of that. And because you can have so much more design, although I want to do something like a Pied Mondrian kind of style, and I am….

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Oh, yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Looking forward to doing that. And now you can also create your own drop shadows and you don’t need a theme developer or a developer for it or wait for core. You can create your own drop shadows with the color, how they lean, what’s the angle and what’s the distance from the thing. It’s not available for all blocks. But I think it’s still only for four blocks, but it’s definitely changed for the content creators to make some interesting things.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yep, yep.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And one thing I really like is that it’s finally coming to WordPress, and that is, to use….

Nadia Maya Ardiani: What is that?

Birgit Pauli-Haack: The tab button to indent list items?

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Every time.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah, I forget about that too. It’ll be really nice too.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And because it trips me up every time I know I’m going to use it very much. I have not learned to work around it. Why can’t I do this? So I try it every time I use a list that needs to have multiple hierarchies. So I’m really happy about that. Thank you.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Finally.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: The time that I don’t spend in WordPress, I spend in Google Docs. So some things from Google Docs. What drives me crazy in Google Docs is that I can’t just highlight something and put a link underneath with copy paste. That kind of trips me up in Google. And I was like, Google, get on with it. And GitHub can do it, WordPress can do it, you can do it too. And this was the other way around. Yeah, it’s kind of what Google does nicely and WordPress does.

We talked a little bit on the podcast already about the new screens coming, called the data views. And those are the admin screens, that insight editor to manage pattern pages, styles, navigation and templates. And as they are tested for more admin redesigns to come. And yeah, I’m really excited about that because it kind of gives you a little view into the future, and also lets you already use it and see how that works well for you.

I know for 6.7, they’re looking at making those available for the media library and also for the post because those two things on the content side, they still use the old WP admin for various reasons. Most of it because of the extensibility that needs to be built in, because a lot of plugins kind of tap into these screens right now.

But the 6.7 is probably going to have at least some first versions of that in that. If you’re a plugin developer, you might want to check out theWordPress  component package data views. And there’s also one that contributors are working on, it’s called data forms, maybe to make them work for your plugins or at least test them out, and what it would bring for you later on in a year or so.

And then of course, the last feature that I am really happy about is the extensions of the Block Bindings, they were a big deal in 6.5, but the enhancements that coming in 6.6 is even more useful for site owners and site content creators, because WordPress now offers various ways where you can update the custom fields through the Block Binding screen.

So the meta boxes that are on bottom of your screen are not the best interface. They also don’t have any validation and all that, but you can now change it right in the block. So if you have a typo of inner value for the meta, thinking of a book, if you have a typo in the author. Or you can change the author right there in the block, as well as if that’s in the archive, you can use those Block Bindings also in the archive pages through your templates, but users can then change, oh, this is a wrong date, or this is a wrong location. They can change it right there in the archive pages in the editor.

So it’s kind of nice to have that now built into the Block Editor, what before you actually needed custom blocks for it or you needed ACF for it or parts or something like that. But now you can just have the custom fields connected with blocks still in the early stages of course, but it’s not complicated fields or complicated connections. But it’s a start and it might make….

Nadia Maya Ardiani: We’re getting there.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, it’s getting there. And it might make quite a set of custom blocks redundant if you could use those for that. And you don’t have to maintain the code for that. Yeah, that’s what I think about 6.6. What I like and what… I am really looking forward to it.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: It’s less than two weeks from now, I think.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: 12 days from today.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: 12 days.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: So this comes out on Sunday, and you have only 10 days once you listen to that.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: 10 days.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. Or maybe today, Thursday. Well, it comes out on Sunday, so you only have eight days. 

Gutenberg 18.7

But that was not the only thing that was released today or this week. The WordPress 6.6 release candidate two, it was Gutenberg 18.7. Total of 115 PRs were merged in Gutenberg 18.7 with seven first time contributors. Yay.

I was going to look at that and hope they contribute not only their first contribution, but also because now they’ve got the process right that there will be many, many more contributions from those users.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Of course, of many contributions after this.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Right, right. Yeah. And with WordPress 6.6 at our doorstep, many contributions are focused on bug fixes. So there’s not a whole lot of new features in there, but what we are talking about, some of them are really… We will find in 6.7, but let’s talk about them.


So there is now a content panel for template parts, and that is good because now developers, and when you create templates in the editor, you can add a description and that shows up in the content area for that template. So you can make your theme a little bit more descriptive. Then the next one is, we talked about the published workflow, right?

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And there is the Sticky Toggle, which is something that means the sticky post.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yes.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: That is…

Nadia Maya Ardiani: It’s now under… It will be under… Wait, I forget.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Those three dots.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah, it’ll be under the status and visibility. And I think that will be great because it makes it more clear what sticky means, especially for non-English speakers and beginners. Because I remember the first time I learned using WordPress, I was confused what does this sticky mean? Because I was trying to make my first blog post and then I tried this sticky feature and nothing happened. Of course, because my post is only one. So I cannot see what this feature actually does. So by moving it under status and visibility, I think it makes it more intuitive. Because by that we know that, oh, this sticky might be related to the visibility. Oh, it’ll stick to somewhere in the website.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, I think you’re right. And it’s also not the first… The first few blog posts you probably wouldn’t need to know about Sticky Post to get that into your feature set that you would need. So why is it there? Yeah, you’re totally right. Yeah. What they also did in 18.7, why am I still two years, in 16?

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Numbers are also hard.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, numbers are hard, especially for writers. But I’m actually a number person, so…

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Ahh. Yeah, yeah. Number person and alphabet person.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: I used to say, so it’s a real miracle what word people do with numbers. Because I looked at budgets from word people that didn’t work out. But off my tangents now. So one feature that comes with 18.7 is the alignment of the naming models. So we are renaming and naming quite a few things. One is we renamed the sections in the pattern overrides. We renamed template parts, we renamed posts and pages, titles, and all these models, they looked a little bit differently every time. So they are now aligned and use the same design.

So it makes it less of a friction, because every time you see something different, you think there might be something different, but there isn’t. So that’s really good for quality of life improvement on that. So we haven’t talked a lot about the writing mode support for blogs. What is that? That is… Do you know what that is? Have you ever used it?

Nadia Maya Ardiani: I tried it, but not really applied it to my daily process. But I think it opened more design possibilities. Because we can make any other element to be vertical or there are so many possibilities that we can do with the layout and then with the message that we want to share to the world.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, so you could pretty much say in the fonts you see in the three dot menu in your font, typography, things you see, vertical alignment or orientation, is I think what you see. Font orientation.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Oh, yeah, orientation.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: So you can then say, okay, I want this headline to be vertically aligned with the paragraph that it kind of comes after. So it actually will be on the left-hand side instead of on top of it, but it is vertically aligned. And yeah, as you said, it’s a nice design tool to break up the wall of text, I call it.

So when you use headers and list items and all that, they need to be visually attractive at one point, so you can end this PR or with 18.7, the feature of the vertical alignment comes to other blocks. The writing mode support is now also available for buttons and verse and side tagline blocks and side title blocks. Not just for headings and paragraphs. There’s a theme JSON settings in there, and you can also kind of see it then in your style blocks. So I think that’s a great feature to have, that is added to a few more blocks.

So wonderful. Another tool, it’s not a tool, but what has changed, and you will see it in 6.6, is that with the entity that you’re editing. So what do I mean by that? Is it a pattern or is it a block or is it a template? And now you get a document bar on top of the screen that actually tells you where you are. And that document bar is now also available in 18.7 Gutenberg with the style book and the style revisions. So it’s one more piece of getting the orientation right for a content creator. So what am I actually doing? And I liked it for templates and for pages. So am I in template mode or am I in page editing mode, which is kind of a little different.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah, I checked the GitHub issue and still cannot really comprehend what we will get from this feature? But then you just explained about it. It makes me, oh, yeah, yeah, I will… looking forward to this. That’s why even though I’m not really a technical person, I’m still keeping notes and updating myself of all these updates. Because, oh, this one, I might need this. And just taking notes of everything.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. And the last one, it’s also a very small thing, but it’s really improved the quality of life of these new features. And I’m sad it’s not going to come to 6.6. Not that I… Because it’s the tool top to hover over the color and to typography presets. So if your theme has, or if you’re a theme developer and you create color and typography presets for your theme, then the user can hover and identify that color palette or what typography, what’s the font like or what do you call those fonts. And you can then point people to it in your documentation and say, well look at that. Well look at this. And the Tooltip helps you identify really the things that are on screen. All right. Do you want to add something to the Tooltip?

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah, I just want to say that this will be very handy for working with teams because you don’t have to pick that one that is the third one from the top. You can just say the name of, what is it? The color presets. The color palette. So yeah.

Bug Fixes

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah. No, you’re right. Yeah, it’s really hard to organize it. So we mentioned quite a few bug fixes in there. And there is one in there that we are talking about, that’s the writing flows, split the heading into a default block. You can split a block and then it’s still going to be a heading.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah. Because sometimes when we enter in the middle of the heading and then it creates another H1, let’s say. It just didn’t make sense to have… Why do we want to have two heading one in a row? So yeah, it just makes sense to have when we enter, it automatically becomes a normal text like that.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yeah, a normal paragraph block. Or when you get carried away with writing a headline and say, ah, no, I want to break it and do that as a subheading. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s a very good fix. You can also now, it fixes the custom color palette. Because that was always a little bit hard to use when you wanted to create new ones.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah. I also found this one really useful because sometimes, especially for brands, some brands have that very specific color and by being able to create the custom color palette, it will help us to have a website in our signature color.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Right. Yeah. And this fix actually makes that workflow much smoother and you don’t have to fiddle around with it too much. And the next one is that for the grid, we talked about the experiment, about the grid interactivity, and it now allows blocks to be positioned in manual mode using drag and drop.

So the handing of grid and grid cells is going to be much easier. And even in the manual mode you can use drag and drop to place your blocks on the grid. There were two things that I want to… There are quite a few documentation PRs that fix or add to the documentation, which is always appreciated.


The interactivity API docs now have an addition of the WP-async directive documented. It’s for the developers when they go out and grab some data from somewhere and how to push that into the website. And then for the Query Loop Block, it clarifies some explanation about the variation examples that are in core, so developers can handle them. And I think that was it, what we have for Gutenberg’s 18.7. Yes, we are almost through.

What’s in Active Development or Discussed

We have one section for the… What’s in active development or discussed, and I just wanted to let you know that the GitHub repo for the next default theme can’t….

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Twenty Twenty Five.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Very good. We did not plan this.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And I connected with Carolina Nymark who created the repo, and she just said that it’s pretty much right now just to put the placeholders in. Because the release team for 6.7 hasn’t been announced yet. And the default theme Co leads, will be part of the release team. So we need to wait for that. But if you have any input or any ideas for Twenty Twenty Five, you can definitely create issues there and start and raise your hand if you want to contribute however you want.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: The Twenty Twenty Five will be part of the last release of this year.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Which is WordPress 6.7.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: 6.7. Oh, yes.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Yes. Yeah, it’s the next release and it will come out in November. But I think the release date is before Thanksgiving, so it’s November 12th. So it’s way before Black Friday and all the holidays are going to start. At least in America, between Thanksgiving and New Year, nobody really, everybody shops and not a whole lot of people work.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Yeah. It’s time for… Have fun.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Well, it’s time to have fun, but also to keep websites stable so the online shopping spray is not interrupted. And because that’s where most people make the year’s revenue.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Gift giving time.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: It’s giving time, it’s buying time. It’s Black Friday time, it’s Cyber Monday time. It’s all the discounts that come around for that. Yes. Yeah. So I’m so happy that you were on my show, Maya. Or on our show.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Me, too.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: And it’s always wonderful to chat with you about WordPress and all the things content creators do with it. So when people want to connect with you, where would they find you?

Nadia Maya Ardiani: So you can find me on wordpress.org, of course. And then I have LinkedIn as well, and Twitter and Instagram. But lately I’ve been taking social media time off.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Okay.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: So if anyone wants to get in touch with me, I think wordpress.org. And maybe if you want to read anything related to me, so in training team, we recently developed… We have a new initiative, so it’s Contributor Spotlight. So we celebrate the journey of training team contributors. It’s initiated by Courtney Paulo-Kranzke or Courtney PK, we call her. It started this January, I think. And yeah, you can all read it on the training team made WordPress Blog.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Oh, wonderful, wonderful. I’m going to put a link in the show notes to that profile.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Thank you.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Well, thank you for that initiative. It’s always good to read the stories, contributor stories. And I will add your LinkedIn and your WordPress Slack profile or WordPress Slack account as well to the show so you can all follow up with Maya.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Thank you so much.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: You’re welcome. As long as the show notes ,dear listeners, will be published on gutenbergtimes.com for WordPress Podcast. This is episode 103. And if you have questions or suggestions or news you want us to include, send them to changelog@gutenbergtimes.com, that’s changelog@gutenbergtimes.com. Or just ping me on Twitter like many people do. And if you enjoy the show, please, please leave a review on Apple or Stitcher or whatever your favorite podcast directory is, so other people can find it too. Again, thanks to Maya and thanks for listening, and goodbye.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Thanks to Birgit as well.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Well, thank you.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: It’s always an honor.

Birgit Pauli-Haack: Thank you. And a great pleasure for me. All right, this is the outro. Listen to it and I’ll see you in two weeks or talk to you in two weeks. Bye-Bye.

Nadia Maya Ardiani: Bye.

by Birgit Pauli-Haack at July 07, 2024 08:59 AM under Gutenberg

July 06, 2024

Gutenberg Times: Grid Layouts, curate the Editor experience, WordPress 6.6 — Weekend Edition 298

Hi there,

It was a fairly normal WordPress week, apart from the general password reset for all plugin committers on the repository. That was highly unusual.

The release of WordPress 6.6 is moving along right on schedule. Release candidate 2 is out. The video Watch the Build: How WordPress Release Pages are Created in the Site Editor allows you a look behind the scene of this part of the release process.

Gutenberg 18.7 was also released. Together with my friend Maya, I recorded a Gutenberg changelog episode again, number 103. I just can’t get my head around that we already recorded over 100 shows. We also added new music.

This Weekend Edition has quite a few videos linked on what’s coming in WordPress 6.6, on Grid layouts, and Interactivity API. Something for everyone. To learn about new features and grasp their impact, it’s much easier to see them demo’ed in a video setting or screen share than just learn about it via a blog post or a podcast.

Wishing you a fabulous weekend!

Yours, 💕

PS: Thank you to Chris Clarke for sharing his Hong Kong Harbor photo on WordPress Photo directory.

Developing Gutenberg and WordPress

First time release lead, Kai Hao, published Gutenberg plugin version 18.7 and highlighted in his release post What’s new in Gutenberg 18.7? (03 July), the feature of moving grid items around via drag and drop in manual mode, and new content panels for template parts, allowing developers and users to add descriptions to those sections.

Nadia Maya Ardiani and I reviewed the latest Gutenberg version for our Gutenberg Changelog episode 103. We also discussed the latest learning path courses by the training team, upcoming events and WordPress 6.6. The episode will be published over the weekend and arrive shortly after at your favorite podcast app. It was lovely to chat with my friend, Maya from Indonesia again.

Tammie Lister wrote on X (former Twitter): “Being sponsored to work on the WordPress default theme task force has been one of the most rewarding contribution areas for me in a while. I wrote a post about what has gone on so far. Thank you to everyone who supported me and collaborated.” You can read more about the project on her Update on default theme focus.

The work on the default theme Twenty Twenty-Five has begun with a fresh GitHub Repo. There isn’t much information available yet. After checking in with Caroline Nymark, who created the repo, I learned that the release squad for WordPress 6.7 hasn’t been announced; the repo is more a placeholder until the new theme leads are picked.

Upcoming events

July 8th, 2024 at 16:00 UTC  Hallway Hangout: Section styles and other block style variation updates with Justin Tadlock and others: “At a technical level, the expanded tool set does not add too many new concepts to learn. However, in practice, working with these updates can present challenges and may even have you rethinking your approach to theme design.” says the description.

As already mentioned in Weekend Edition 297

July 9th, 2024, 15:00 UTC – Developer HoursEditor unification and extensibility in WordPress 6.6.

July 23, 2024, at 15:00 UTC Developer Hours: Do you really need a custom block? Let’s explore alternatives. 

Plugins, Themes, and Tools for #nocode site builders and owners

Isabel Brison showed us in a Hallway Hangout how to work with the Grid block and what will be in WordPress 6.6. After answering questions, Brison also showed us what she is working on in a Gutenberg Experiment. Learn more via the post Recap Hallway Hangout: Exploring Grid Layouts.

You can also try things out via this Playground instance. The experiment is already enabled.

Find summary, transcript shared resources via the Recap post

Anne McCarthy published videos on YouTube around WordPress 6.6. for content creators and site builders.

Bud Kraus selected for you the 6 Hot Changes Coming to WordPress 6.6 on the Hostinger Blog. He highlights Pattern overrides, the Grid block, Sections Styles, Data views, Pattern management for classic themes and negative margins. Kraus provides screenshots and instructions on how to use the features.

You might have waited for the video of WordCamp Europe’s edition of the Speed Build Challenge live on stage. Jamie Marsland published the actual Speed Build challenge and cut in from the Matt’s Summer Update and the Q & A after. Epic Showdown: Who will win WordCamp Europe’s First-Ever WordPress Speed Build? with Jessica Lyschik and Rich Tabor.

Stephanie Pi just announced WooCommerce 9.0: Our most accessible checkout and much more. It comes with an improved check-out experience, the next iteration of Product blocks, new REST-API endpoints for the refunds and much more. Actually, WooCommerce 9.0.1 came out a few days later, fixing what caused a fatal error on installations.

Carlo Daniele, blogger at Kinsta, has all the pertinent information about WordPress 6.6 in his post What’s new in WordPress 6.6: Pattern overrides, Block Bindings API, Data Views, new design tools, and much more! You’ll find short explanations, screenshots, and code examples on how to implement some new features into your projects.

Theme Development for Full Site Editing and Blocks

One of my favorite plugins lately is the Create Block Theme plugin. The team working on it just released version 2.3 

 “Keeping up with Gutenberg – Index 2024” 
A chronological list of the WordPress Make Blog posts from various teams involved in Gutenberg development: Design, Theme Review Team, Core Editor, Core JS, Core CSS, Test, and Meta team from Jan. 2024 on. Updated by yours truly. The previous years are also available: 2020 | 2021 | 2022 | 2023

Nick Diego collected 15 ways to curate the WordPress editing experience and explained each of them in his latest post for the WordPress Developer Blog. Diego covered all possible ways from disabling parts of the design tools, Block directory or Pattern directory to Openverse. Also, how to unregister core block styles and variations or formatting options for RichText blocks. If you build bespoke themes for client projects, some of this might be quite useful to make the block editor a streamlined experience for the client’s content creators, and stay true to branding and design requirements.

Building Blocks and Tools for the Block editor.

Armando J. Perez-Carreno had a two-part conversation with Seth Rubenstein from the Pew Research Center, on how he and his team use the Interactivity API for their website. Rubenstein demonstrated the use of facets and the Interactivity API in creating dynamic and interactive blocks, as well as the concept of ‘atomic’ blocks.

Joel Olawanle, technical writer at Kinsta, set out to help developers Preparing for React 19: a guide for WordPress 6.6 users.

Magdalena Paciorek gave a talk on Building custom post types with blocks at WordCamp Europe. The recording made it to WordPress TV for your perusal. In this session, she took a look at how to create bespoke WordPress websites that make use of custom post types directly in the site editor. Paciorek also explored how to build templates with blocks and examined different ways to extend the editor, including the use of block filters, block formats, custom block styles, block patterns, inner blocks, block locking, interactivity API, building our own blocks, and more.

Need a plugin .zip from Gutenberg’s master branch?
Gutenberg Times provides daily build for testing and review.

Now also available via WordPress Playground. There is no need for a test site locally or on a server. Have you been using it? Email me with your experience

GitHub all releases

Questions? Suggestions? Ideas?
Don’t hesitate to send them via email or
send me a message on WordPress Slack or Twitter @bph.

For questions to be answered on the Gutenberg Changelog,
send them to changelog@gutenbergtimes.com

Featured Image: Hong Kong Harbor photo by Chris Clarke, found in the WordPress Photos space.

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by Birgit Pauli-Haack at July 06, 2024 04:20 AM under Weekend Edition

July 05, 2024

HeroPress: An Essay From Japan, Interviews From Italy, Photos From Romania!

Colorful sunset at Sugar Beach, Costa Rica.

Jesse Petersen

This week’s banner image is in memory of Jesse Petersen who left us on this date in 2017. Godspeed Jesse.

HeroPress At WordCamp Europe 2024

WCEU Latest Updates

Well, WordCamp came and went. We had a wonderful time, and like always met some people I’ve known for years, but never expected to get to meet in real life.

We did 4 interviews, check out these amazing people:

Karolina pointing at her name on the contributor wall

Karolína Vyskočilová

Karolina is from Prague and has been active in the WordPress community for many years. Despite that fact, I had never heard of her, which is one of the main points of these interviews. Find all the new people!

Here’s the audio from our talk.

Aida Correa-Jackson

Aida Correa-Jackson

Aida is from Florida, but grew up in Brooklyn New York. She works hard on Kids Camp, and I won’t spoil the rest of it for you.

Here’s the audio from our talk.

Josephine (Rahissa) Ngo Nonog and Herman Ngembu

Rahissa and Herman came to Italy from Cameroon and someone suggested they try WordCamp!

Here’s the audio from 4.

Josephine (Rahissa) Ngo Nonog and Herman Ngembu Interview
Thabo Tswana and Topher

Thabo Tswana

Thabo is from Zimbabwe originally, but since doing an Essay has had the means to move to South Africa!

Here’s the audio from our talk.

HeroPress.comA welcoming community that embraces authenticity – 本物らしさを受け入れる温かいコミュニティ

Ben Evans

Ben Evans had a love for teaching that he was able to leverage in the WordPress community when the pandemic hit.

I had opportunities to be part of educational projects within Automattic. I coached Japanese support agents, created internal training materials, and developed a new onboarding program for new employees. These experiences rekindled my love for education.

Ben’s essay is available on HeroPress.com.


Kid on bike with yellow helmet on gravel, bird-eye view

This week’s WPPhotos Info is called “Yellow helmet from bird-eye view“.

This photo was taken by Hapiuc Robert on an iPhone 15, wide camera. In the photo is his daughter riding her bike. He used to be a professional photographer and he takes advantage of every opportunity to get a good photograph.

The photo it’s an instant photo, he just takes out the phone, plane it above her and press the shutter button a couple of times. 

His taught was that her helmet will look amazing a bird eye view, and it does! The photo was taken around the house on a gravel road.

Read more of the story at WPhttps://wpphotos.info/yellow-helmet-from-bird-eye-view/Photos.info!

The banner at the top of this post is a CC0 licensed photo by Ericka Barboza from the WordPress Photo Directory.

That’s it for this week! If you’d like to get this post in your email every week, make sure you sign up!

The post An Essay From Japan, Interviews From Italy, Photos From Romania! appeared first on HeroPress.

July 05, 2024 09:51 PM under Uncategorized

July 03, 2024

Do The Woo Community: How Much Woo Can One Cram in a Short Podcast with ChatGPT?

A bit of fun today, or maybe not. I asked ChatGPT to Give me a shorter script of a podcast where I mention WooCommerce or Woo, short for WooCommerce as many times as I can. Well, if you know me, and my personality, I am a basically a mellow guy. So I took this one step further seeing that ChatGPT obviously doesn’t know me well and will deliver a monotone version of the results.

[Intro Music]

Host: Welcome, Woo enthusiasts, to another exciting episode of WooWonderland, where we dive deep into the magical world of WooCommerce. I’m your host, [Your Name], and today’s episode is going to be an exhilarating journey through the enchanting landscape of Woo-commerce. Yes, we love saying Woo!

[Transition Music]

Host: Woo, woo, woo! Before we jump into the heart of today’s discussion, let’s take a moment to appreciate the incredible community that surrounds WooCommerce. Woo, you guys are amazing! Whether you’re a seasoned Woo expert or just starting your Woo journey, there’s always something new and exciting happening in the world of Woo.

[Woo Chanting]

Host: Now, let’s talk about the latest Woo updates because, you know, staying current with Woo-commerce is crucial for all you Woo enthusiasts out there. The Woo team has been working tirelessly to enhance the Woo experience, and guess what? The latest Woo update is nothing short of spectacular. Woo!


Host: Speaking of updates, have you ever wondered how other businesses are utilizing Woo-commerce to elevate their online presence? Well, wonder no more because we have some incredible Woo-commerce success stories lined up for you today. These stories showcase the versatility and power of Woo. Woo-hoo!

[Background Cheers]

Host: Now, let’s Woo our way into the realm of e-commerce trends. Woo-commerce is not just a platform; it’s a trendsetter! From headless commerce to mobile commerce, Woo-commerce is at the forefront of shaping the future of online businesses. Woo, it’s like the trendiest kid on the e-commerce block.

[Transition Music]

Host: And here’s a pro tip for all you Woo enthusiasts out there: if you want to optimize your Woo-commerce store for success, pay close attention. Speed up your Woo site, master the art of SEO, enhance the user experience — because a well-optimized Woo store is a happy Woo store. Woo-hoo!

[Background Cheers]

Host: Now, let’s take a moment to celebrate the Woo experts in our community. Being a Woo expert is like having a VIP pass to the coolest e-commerce party in town. If you’re not part of the Woo expert program, what are you waiting for? Join the Woo party and let the Woo-magic unfold!

[Transition Music]

Host: As we near the end of this Woo-tastic episode, I want to thank all our Woo fans for tuning in. Remember, whether you’re a Woo novice or a seasoned Woo master, there’s always something Woo-nderful to discover in the world of Woo-commerce.

[Closing Music]

Host: That’s a wrap for today’s WooWonderland episode. Until next time, keep woo-ing and stay enchanted by the magic of Woo-commerce. Woo you later!

[Music Fades Out]

Well, now you can see the reason why I shared this in text vs. audio. LOL

by BobWP at July 03, 2024 02:00 PM under Blog

Do The Woo Community: Building Community Without the Noise

When I first launched this site Do the Woo, I had written a post about this. I wanted to pull a bit from that before I bring you to-date.

My first thoughts on community and noise

Dated October 20, 2020

Tomorrow comes the official launch of this new site. And let me tell you, it’s been an amazing journey of learning and understanding myself as well as the audience I will be speaking to.

One interesting aspect of this is the main goal, connecting the Woo builder community. I talked about this on a previous post, but I would like to dive into the concept of connecting. And conversation.

I was asked about groups for Do the Woo

What brought the idea of Facebook groups to mind was something that happened as I have been chatting with various people about my new site. When I talk about connections, conversation and community, a few times I was asked,

Are you creating a Slack Channel? Starting a Facebook group? Perhaps a forum? Where are you growing your community and letting them have a conversation?

When we go into or lurk in community chats, whether it’s a Facebook group, regular chatter on any social platform or even Slack, often we end up in the middle of a massive amount of noise. There is a lot going on. Conversations going left and right. Sometimes with a bit of anxiety, bitterness, and yes, anger.

Now I’m not saying that nothing good comes out of these conversations. But that isn’t the only way to connect and grow a community.

It can start with this, the art of listening. Remember when that was part of connecting? Taking the time to listen to someone else share their insights and perspectives. Getting a better understanding of that person, and often, the community they are representing. In fact, get three people together for a good conversation and I can guarantee that you will get a lot more out of it vs. endless streams and threads of online chatter.

Let’s take it a step further, though: personal connection. Learning about someone and then reaching out to them. Or perhaps, even having a connector that will help to introduce you to others in the community.

Yes, that’s it. I am the connector.

Whether it’s via a podcast conversation or a post interview, I am connecting you to a new face. Or it might even be me connecting you personally with someone else.

I get enough of that noise, or what you might consider chatter amongst dozens of people via social and other platforms. And yes, I enjoy that. But with Do the Woo, I am cutting through that noise while bringing the Woo builder community together.

So in the end, when I do conversations, they are one-on-one. A Zoom chat. A DM on Slack. Email and a variety of other ways. The point is, again, no matter how or where you do it, listen.

Now it’s today

So I was hoping as you read that you hung onto the fact that I wrote this over three years ago.

Since then, it has since resonated with me and, to be honest, I think it has always been a part of how I have built my own communities. The fact is we all do it in some way. For Woo builders, while keeping it on the business side of things, it may be a community of customers or clients. It may also be a community within a business you work for, or perhaps, colleagues of yours.

You may also build communities around you brand or business on your site, on social, on Slack, you name it.

There are community experts out there that will give you advice. There are also social media consultants that will do the same, specifically for social communities. The thing is that one size doesn’t fit all. And often that is what you will discover over and over when seeking advice on building your own community.

I have been building community long before I got into the WordPress space in 2006. With our other business, there were ways that we built our community, and some of this was long before we did it online. I don’t proclaim to be an expert on community building, but I can share my own experiences that have worked for me. No promises here that I will deliver the perfect piece of advice for your needs, but I am hoping this will give you a bit of a different perspective on community building and something to ponder on.

A community does not need a bunch of noise

Now before I get into this part, understand that this is how it works for me, and in these last few years with Do the Woo, it has proven right for me. And by no means am I saying it’s the right way, or the only way.

I just feel that a lot of people never think about other options when building community. They tend to “jump on the bandwagon” of engagement and active conversation as the only way to build all communities.

Engage, or die

Community and social media experts say you must engage. Or else why do it? Your community will not thrive without this engagement. It often is literally rammed down your throat. At the same time, engagement isn’t always clearly defined, and seen as this constant need to reply, comment and add your own opinion, advice or simply be part of the conversation, no matter what.

In fact, I have seen social media experts take “engagement” to a new and disturbing level. They constantly drop into conversations with replies like “nice”, “that’s great”, “cool” and “yeah”. If that is considered engagement, well, count me out. In fact, shouldn’t engagement also mean bringing value to a conversation. Not simple, meaningless replies that help you as they build up your metrics in your social media engagements.

Everyone has an opinion

This is the beauty of the human race. We all have an opinion and can freely express it. But on the other hand, at times, it’s nothing but added noise. How often do you see a thread of a conversation and it appears that most of the comments are left by people who never read what others have said. And alarmingly, more people appear to never have read the original comment.

As a result, it comes across as being all about “you”. You and what your opinion. It’s like a freaking room of people just shouting out what they are thinking, and ignoring everyone else. Nothing gets resolved and more times than not, it can turn sideways and end up being a never-ending debate or argument, instead of a discussion.

Now with both engagement and conversations, it’s not cut and dry. And neither of them are something that you should consider totally dismissing. In fact, depending on the goal of your own community, you may just ignore the advice I have given you so far.

With that all said, I simply bring these up to give you another thought to ponder on as you build your own community.

Where is this all going

This has turned into quite the long post and if you are still with me, I’m amazed. But hey, it also means you are listening, or perhaps, reading.

Do the Woo now has 14 co-hosts and more coming on board. On top of that I am constantly having people come in and host their own show, more of a one-off opportunity. And who knows what is next.

The fact is that each time you hear a show on Do the Woo, and you don’t hear me, well, that’s because I was listening. Behind the scenes, taking notes, and enjoying the conversations. Sure there is what you might consider noise in our community, but it’s softer, more viable and easy to focus on. There is a time and place for lots of noise in many communities, and that is where it will thrive and stay. But for now, I’m in my happy place.

by BobWP at July 03, 2024 02:00 PM under Blog

Do The Woo Community: The Perfect Marriage of Content and Community

I typically don’t spend a lot of time in the past, but every once in awhile I become reflective. As I move into the next phase here at Do the Woo, well, that is when it happens.

Content and Community, a combo that hit me hard

If you have been following my journey, you know that, since diving into WordPress 16 years ago, community and content have played a key role in what I do.

But when I set this site aside, BobWP in October of 2020 and turned my focus on Do the Woo, it was a transition that grew not only from the previous months of 2020, but all the years before that.

An interesting thing happened back in 2020.

It can best be described as two-pronged: community and content.

As we all know, in-person connections went down the toilet during COVID. Although I had not been traveling as much over the years prior to COVID, still, I found myself reaching out to more people online. More one-to-one conversations. More digital meetups. More forms of smaller online events. But, to be honest, I probably connected more with the community that than I have in any of the previous years in the space.

During that same year I found myself burning out on content creation around blog post tutorials. I have done these for years and I just couldn’t poke one more out at the keyboard.

So I decided to focus on more community-focused content, such as my podcasts and virtual meetings. It became a natural marriage of content and community.

Between now and then

So on reflection, this was one of the best moves I have made in my WordPress career. I continued on building the community at Do the Woo. Online connections grew, and then when IRL events started back up, well, they blossomed. That tie between content and commiunity have grown to be such a huge part of Do the Woo, and everything I do these days. And now on to 2024, the biggest year yet for Do the Woo.

by BobWP at July 03, 2024 02:00 PM under Blog

Do The Woo Community: 16 Years Later, the WordPress Origin Story by BobWP

As I celebrate my own birthday today, many more than 20, I am reflecting on the years WordPress has been there for me. Oddly, I’m not sure where to begin except the beginning. And if I was to write a post to publish on the 20th anniversary of WordPress, it’s gotta be done here on BobWP.

Also, there lies the fact that I just returned from WordCamp Lisboa where I gave a talk on 20 Years of WordPress community. So it’s a bit on my mind.

George Clooney was named People’s sexiest man alive and I discovered WordPress

These two events have nothing more in common than it was the same year, 2016. I can’t say I think George deserved it, but I had other things on my mind. In fact two things.

First this was the year I became a bit intrigued with blogging. Nothing that had me gasping at the thought of writing posts, but simply a curiosity. At the same time I was trying to step into the world of web design as we had been running a marketing and design company for 13 years. And as much as building a site thrilled me, which was equal to having my hand smashed in a door, I figured there had to be a better way than html and flash.

Time drifted by. Judy had started a blog on Typepad and didn’t give a crap where it was. She just wanted to write. As I eased into the next year, WordPress slipped into my consciousness more and more. It seemed apparent that this thing called WordPress was going to become part of my life one way or another. Seriously though, I didn’t have a clue to what extent.

For the next few years, up to 2010, bit and pieces fell together. I found a theme on a fairly new site called iThemes. The concept of these seemed to be luring me into creating a site for our business that didn’t look like shit. And that’s exactly what WordPress and the Corporate theme from iThemes did for me. Without any freaking code!

The BobWP brand rises out of the ruins of ancient web design

Now I am avoiding going through my 16 years of WordPress history, simply for the reason that I cannot afford to lose you through my years of pivots, twists and turns. It may make you dizzy and I don’t want you vomiting before I wrap this up.

But 2010 was the pivotal moment in my WordPress Story. Why? Well, I had been doing some blogging workshops the two years prior to that year. I was getting my feel for where I need to go with WordPress. I was starting to explore the community more and more from that day in 2006. And I liked what I saw.

So the time came to make the transition from our marketing and design firm, Cat’s Eye Marketing, to something that would let me do my WordPressy thing, whatever that meant and wherever it led.

I got rid of all our our “print” clients or the last few that we were hanging onto. Mentally I told myself I’m going all in on WordPress. Design, training and whatever else would come my way. And it was time to rebrand. Not the business, per se, but myself. I was going to be the brand. So after some contemplation, possible consumption of alcohol and severe mumbling to myself, I came up with BobWP.

Mmmmmmm. It was short and sweet. And the domain was available, go figure. But would people get it? Would someone that doesn’t know what I do, and doesn’t know WordPress find it to be puzzling? Would people say my business is Bobwup?

Honestly, those concerns and questions did not weigh heavily on me. Nor did the fact that I was tying myself into a personal brand, that, well, would likely die with me. I bought the domain, and made it happen.

And you may know the rest, the rest is history.

I’m a WordPresser at heart

I really do love the community. And at this point I’m here to stay. Right now I’m doing what motivates me the most. Connecting people. Raising voices. And meetings some of the coolest people I have ever known, both in these last 16 years and moving forward.

So as much as I find it kind of weird singing Happy Birthday to my dashboard, my computer or any part of the software, or thinking that WordPress could be my grandchild, I will say this.

Happy 20th Anniversary, WordPress Community

by BobWP at July 03, 2024 02:00 PM under Blog

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July 20, 2024 07:00 AM
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