This weeks WordPress news – Covering The Week Commencing 24th June 2019:
Plugins / Themes
Not WordPress, but useful anyway…
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Transcript (if available)
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Nathan Wrigley: 00:00 Hello there. Good morning and welcome to this. The WP Builds weekly WordPress newsletter. This is number 69 it covers the WordPress news for the week, commencing the 24th of June, 2019 and it was published on Monday the 1st of July, 2019 just a couple of things before we begin, if you wouldn't mind going over and following a few links. The WP Builds.com website. There's a menu at the top and the first link I'm gonna Point you in the direction of is the subscribe link over there. You can subscribe to our two newsletters, one to be notified about when this podcast comes out and the one that we do on a Thursday and also we've got a newsletter which simply tells you when there's WordPress deals have come around. Other than that, it's just the usual stuff, how you can subscribe to us on your podcast player. Join our thriving Facebook group. We've got nearly 2,100 members over there now and that's about it really for that one.
Nathan Wrigley: 00:54 The next one is WP Builds.com forward slash deals and over there you're going to find a whole heap of WordPress steals. It's a bit like a small selection of black Friday stuff, but it's going on all the time. So if you're in the, in the market for WordPress plugins, themes, go and check out that page. WP Builds.com forward slash deals and you never know. You might find something that you are able to use. WP Builds.com forward slash advertise if you would like to be advertising on WP Builds. We do banner ads and we also do audio inserts. A little bit like this. The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by Kinsta. Are you tired of slow or unreliable hosting? If so, check out Kinsta who takes managed WordPress hosting to the next level, powered by the Google cloud platform. All their plans include PHP seven s h and 24 seven expert support and you can migrate today for free at Kinsta dot com and we really do thank our sponsors because they enable us to do podcasts just like this.
Nathan Wrigley: 01:59 Okay, let's get stuck into the news. If you've never listened to this before. We always try to group our news items and the first bit of news we've got today is the only bit which is categorized as WordPress core. You'll find it over on the WP tavern website in the article is entitled Gutenberg 6.0 adds layout to picker two columns block, well Gothenburg did have a columns block but it was basically completely unusable. There was lots of complaints about the functionality, so the guys over at Gutenberg 6.0 has been released and it looks a little bit better. The implementation now is such that when you select the columns of block, you get some predefined layouts, there's five or six to choose from and you know it's things like 50-50, 66 - 33 or the other way round and then you've got three columns and so on and then now you can just simply drag things like images into those blocks and then you can resize them with a sort of slider and it all looks a little bit more professional.
Nathan Wrigley: 02:59 The article also says in having predefined layouts to columns, the Gutenberg team enhance the inner blocks component, allowing developers to extend it to create their own sets of template options to appear upon inserting a block. So that's quite nice. Also they've added snack bar notifications so they're the little notifications that are now going to appear in the bottom left and a little black box instead of at the top when you do things like save and there's a full change log which is linked to in this article. So yeah, very nice enhancements there to Gutenberg 6.0 especially regarding uh, columns. The next few items come under the category of community and the first one is over on the delicious brains.com website. The articles entitled WordCamp Europe 2019 Recap what you might have missed. This really is for people who had perhaps intended to go or a very keen on attending WordCamps but didn't go to this one.
Nathan Wrigley: 03:55 And it just describes the guys over at delicious brains, how their, how their word camp when it was a fabulous event. I was lucky enough to be there. And a, and it describes things like the quantity of numbers. So for example, they sold 3,260 tickets of which 2,734 people attended and they served almost 12,000 meals. Absolutely fabulous. The event was really, really good. Matt Mullenweg did a kind of like state of Gothenburg address, which was about 30 minutes long. And then he answered some questions, but this article just goes into the delicious spring skip and there their attempts to sort of make sense of what they saw and the hallway track and all of that kind of stuff. The next article, which is completely related to that is entitled WordCamp Europe 2020 to be held in Porto June 4th to six. This is on WP tavern. It's basically to say that, you know, the next word camp in Europe, the next word Camp Europe is going to be held in that location.
Nathan Wrigley: 04:54 So it's in Portugal. Uh, we're expecting, I think it to be bigger than the, the one that we've just had in Berlin. So it might be time to block that date out into your calendar and start looking at the options for flights because it's just, Oh, just under a year away. Okay. Moving away from WordCamp, but staying on WP tavern, we have an article entitled the Thing Review Team Releases two feature packages and auto uploader and a customized section button just in tab lock. A couple of weeks ago, published a proposal on behalf of the theme review team to create some sort of standardized packages that theme authors can use and sort of just drag and drop them into their themes. And so they've released a couple just to sort of kickstart this whole process. The idea really is to make things so that they're standardized. The first is an auto loader, um, and the WP tavern says that provides the means necessary for theme authors to Upload PHP classes.
Nathan Wrigley: 05:53 While composer is recommended, the team has created a PSR four auto loader has an alternative to those not ready for composer. So that's the first package. And the second one is a customizer section button that enables theme authors to create a link and point to URLs. And so on this, uh, it says this feature was originally developed to allow developers a standard way to display a pro upsell link within the customizer. However, the package is generic enough that developers can use it to link to any URL. So this is the first attempt at this. Obviously if you're integrating themes, this might be useful. The packages that they're considering up next are breadcrumbs, sliders and sections, mobile navigation, color controls, um, and, and a few others. So yeah, if you're a theme author, go and check out this page and this project. The next piece is over on the tech crunch.com website and it's entitled WordPress management site.
Nathan Wrigley: 06:52 WP engine acquires flywheel as it moves to a $1 billion valuation and IPO, no doubt you've heard of both of these companies have WP engine and Flywheel are both specialized WordPress hosting companies. Obviously WP engine is the, the giant amongst the pair. And this week or very late on last week, they bought WP engine, bought flywheel. The numbers are not disclosed, but the CEO, Heather Bruner of WP engine and did talk about the fact that they have annual recurring revenue of 132 million and that flywheel's recurring revenue is 18 million. And the growth that they're experiencing at the moment lead her to believe that by the end of 2020 they will be turning over about $200 million a year, which gives them a sort of valuation on the market of about $1 billion, which is utterly flabbergasting. They will, they were given very large $250 million donation last year. But this really is just more about coalescence in the WordPress space, the the giants taking over the, uh, the smaller companies and no doubt we'll see more of this happening in the future.
Nathan Wrigley: 08:05 So we're going to continue talking about WP engine because WP engine this week have announced a partnership with hubspot. The article on the WP engine.com website says hubspot and WP engine partner to provide powerful free marketing tools to WordPress users. And the article goes on to explain that if you're using their studio press themes on WP engine, the the hubspot plugin for WordPress will be integrated, uh, immediately for you. So you're going to get there. Free CRM and marketing software. Um, it seems that they're sort of pitching this as a bit of a win win. You know, it's, you don't, there's no cost to you and yet you get these powerful features inside a powerful CMS. It seems like a, a bit of a no brainer. And again, talking about more coalescence, you've got, um, you've got hubspot joining with WP engine, seemingly making it more powerful than ever.
Nathan Wrigley: 09:03 The plugin which was launched in 2015 has apparently seen some significant updates and it now includes foremen, popups, live chat integration, automatic sync with the hubspot CRM, simple mail automation and the ability to engage visitor tracking and lead in intelligence for insights into which pages have been viewed and so on and so forth. So again, if you're using, um, WP engine and you are not, you're not yet decided on which CRM you want to look into. This seems like a, you know, they've just put it all in front of you. Why not use it seemingly dominating the news this week we've got a third article in a row about WP engine over on their website. We've got an article entitled WP Engine Analysis Announces Engine for good. Um, this is a pledge that the WP engine guys made that when they had achieved 100,000 customers, they were going to start giving back a larger proportion of, of the income that they make.
Nathan Wrigley: 10:06 And since they acquired flywheel, they now have 120,000 global customers. And so this pledge has now had to be realized and what they've decided to do is to give a generous donation in three tiers. One is called open doors, one is called open hearts and one is called open future. And they represent three different ways, um, and hopefully these, these will impact people in the wider community. So open future is all about investing in digital experiences and impacting on the web. Um, and they talk about the properties that they've got, like the talk mag and the genesis framework. And so on that they've been helping with as well as other things like the Webby awards and so on. Open doors is about inclusivity in the and in the working environment and making sure that um, all of their offices and um, places where they employ people are being as equal as possible.
Nathan Wrigley: 11:03 And they've got some data on this website about how they're doing on that. So far and open hearts is probably the one that affects people, uh, most in in a physical sense. Um, and it says with eight offices around the world, WP engine are supposed to serve as a business leader in its local communities as well through its open hearts pillar, the company and encourages its people to give their time, talents and resources to improve the communities where they live and work primarily focusing on the areas of health, hunger and education. And then they go on to spell out how they're planning to do this. But, uh, yeah, nice initiative. Um, I'm not entirely sure if this is a brand new thing or they're just sort of adding onto what they've been doing previously, but nevertheless, nice to see. A very large company with a, with a big wallet giving back.
Nathan Wrigley: 13:49 They are primarily helping people in the WordPress community with their mental health needs, physical health needs, business and skills, health needs. And it's a nice long interview. You can find a youtube video as well and it explains all about what the charity is trying to do and, and how they're managing it. At the moment, if you're an Ios user, you may be pleased to know that the WordPress app on Ios has been updated. WP Tavern have an article entitled WordPress for Ios 12.6 0.1 revamped stats acknowledges third party libraries. So go to the iTunes app store and you'll be able to download it. They've made significant improvements in the way that stats are visible and they actually look really nice. Now I'm looking at a screenshot. I don't actually have um, a, an ios device myself, but the screenshots they are being, the stats are being cached locally now, so they load much quicker.
Nathan Wrigley: 14:41 Allegedly in the past those things were, were troublesome to reload. Um, also there's been improvements to the block editor fixing an issue where the settings to open links in new tabs was always set to off. Also, when users attempt to put in valid content into blocks, there's a more descriptive error message. You can also now upload an infinite number of photos. Apparently that didn't use to work in the past and you get an error message if that doesn't actually succeed and fairly detailed error message. And there's also a section now to see what third party libraries are being used by this app. Um, the, the author of this piece, Jeff Chandler, who writes an awful lot on WP tavern, um, is critical of the name, the apparently the app stores name for this app is WordPress and number one website builder. And Jeff has reached out to the youth developers on slack saying, why is it called that?
Nathan Wrigley: 15:32 Because it's not really a website builder. It's more for managing, uh, your WordPress website, but nevertheless, ios improvements. Next one over on WP tavern is entitled WordPress amp plug in version 1.2 introduces Gutenberg powered amp stories editor. Now I, I don't really have a great deal of experience with amp, but, uh, I know that it's been controversial in the past because of the way it's kind of forced people to adopt this technology. And it feels like a bit of a bit of a Google silo. Google created silo. Well, the 1.2 version of the official amp plugin now includes this capability, create these things called amps stories. It's, I don't really understand the use case for it, but what they're saying is it would be useful for people who wish to tell a story with imagery and text. So it might be, for example, people who are having a blog for example about, I don't know, cookery or something like that.
Nathan Wrigley: 16:27 You can add multiple pages can be added and it's like a horizontal editing interface. Pages can be reordered with drag and drop text blocks allows for texts to automatically resize to fit the container. There's 40 font families. Blocks can be dragged and rotated anywhere on a page and so on. There's a whole laundry list of features. A, I can see that it might have certain purposes. Like I said, something like or I don't know, cookery or travel bloggers or something like that, but um, yeah, I'm not sure I'm going to be using this any, any time in the future, particularly with the controversy of how Google have sort of strong arm this technology upon us. But anyway, if you are interested in it and you'd like the idea of what I've just described, then go check it out. A very popular theme amongst many WordPress users is the astro theme and over on the WP astro.com website today they're announcing that Astra 2.0 has been released and the, the headline is speedy customizer with enhanced user experience and they've gone back to the drawing board really to try and make the whole theme faster.
Nathan Wrigley: 17:34 Now we'll come to the speed of things loading shortly, but talking about the customizer, what they've done is they've decided to reorder everything in the customizer so that all of the things that you wish to achieve are in the same place. So for example, talk about the fact that, I don't know, coloring certain parts. You used to have to go in and find the colors in one menu and then you would go back and go back a menu and back another menu and then have to find the appropriate thing. So you know, for example, it might be different in the header than it was in the the footer. While they've decided to put all of the options for the header coloring options inside the header. So the idea is that there's less clicks and I can actually see that this is quite a valuable and time saving device.
Nathan Wrigley: 18:18 And I think a bravo to that. They've also increased the speed at which all of this loads and they talk about the statistics, but basically they make a PHP calls at the moment you need them rather than loading everything up front in the customizer. And that has slashed the number of seconds that it takes to load the customizer and then some various other improvements that they've made along the way. Um, and they've got a whole lot of demos about how this is better than the old version and a, and it looks really good if you haven't got a uh, a good theme. Astra seems like a decent bet and uh, and they've made lots of improvements. So go check out this article. The next article is truly interesting. It's on the 10 op.com website and it's entitled class if a AI brings AI and machine learning services to WordPress.
Nathan Wrigley: 19:09 So the guys at 10 up have been wondering to themselves, what does all this artificial intelligence and machine learning that everybody keeps talking about? And can we use AI to speed up things in WordPress? And they've, they've settled upon tackling to two problems and they're using Microsoft as your platform as well as IBM's Watson Platform. And you can download this plugin and based upon the content that you produce, it will send that content off to, um, to IBM's Watson. And it will then tell you what, what would be good tags or categories to assign to it. So obviously at the moment that's a manual process, but the natural language understanding facility that they have, um, reads it all makes sense of it all. And then says, okay, I think you should tag it under these categories. And I'm, and that just seems like such a neat idea.
Nathan Wrigley: 20:00 I mean, slightly scary and that it's reducing the work that actual humans need to do, but it wouldn't make mistakes in tagging things over time. It would consistently build up a taxonomy structure that was consistent across your site. Also the Microsoft as your cognitive services. We'll see the images that you've uploaded. And for accessibility purposes it will give them, um, it will give them descriptions. So for example, you know, it might identify what's in that picture so that somebody with a screen reader for example, has that done. This is the type of thing that I'm sure gets left all the time. When you upload images, I know that I have a full file of this. You don't tag it correctly or you know, put an old tag there. And so this is, this is really nice. This is kind of AI research helping people produce, but I'm not sure where it's going to end.
Nathan Wrigley: 20:48 You know, will our content be written by these engines in the near future? The next article comes under the banner of security and I've only got one this week. Surprise, surprise. Normally there's a whole host of security things, but this week it's just a podcast episode, episode number 26 on the word fence podcast. It's a video podcast. They've got audio available as well. And it's called how hackers find vulnerabilities in WordPress with Ryan Dewhurst. And I'm mentioning this because I was lucky enough last week to be in the same room as both of these guys at the same time talking about Internet security. And so Ryan sits down with Mark Melinda, the founder of wordfence, and they discuss exactly that subject. It lasts, I think it's about 20 minutes or so long and it's really nice and I'm very jealous of mark monitors maunders very nice audio and video equipment.
Nathan Wrigley: 21:37 Lovely stuff. Okay. Three things coming to you this week from us, WP Builds. The first one is a podcast episode that I released with David Walmsley. It was episode number 134 in which we talk about the subject of what makes us trust WordPress software developers. David started this whole conversation with me years ago and he, he spends a long time kind of figuring out if, if there is a trust metric with developers before he buys their plugins. So he does a bit of research into them. So that's what this podcast is about. What are the categories, what are the criteria that both of us now adopt before we start purchasing WordPress software? So that's quite nice. And the other two things that I'm mentioning this week are a couple of podcasts coming your way. Sorry, not podcasts and webinars coming your way this week coming up, we've got UX for everyone.
Nathan Wrigley: 22:24 Speed up your design process with UX. So this is a Webinar that I'm doing with Pictionary. She's going to be doing a kind of non salesy look into how to tackle, um, how to tackle UX problems and how she's tackled them in the past. That's on Tuesday, July the second and then the following week. So this is on Thursday the 11th of July. I've got a webinar called podcasting and transcribing with WordPress is easy with Castos. I'm going to be joined by Craig Hewitt, who is the founder of Castos, the plugin, which actually, well the platform which actually powers the WP Builds podcast or audio and he's going to be showing off his new transcribing service. So if you upload some audio into your podcast, it will all get transcribed automatically. So please sign up for both of those. I'd be most grateful if you joined us, right? We're almost done.
Nathan Wrigley: 23:15 We're onto our last section, which is entitled, not WordPress but useful. Anyway, the first one is on tech crunch. Johnny I eve is leaving apple. He starting up a new firm, the name of which has temporarily escaped me, but he's leaving apple. He is the iconic designer of the last 30 years doing apple stuff like the iPod and the Imac and all of those great things, particularly the iPhone and I suppose in some senses is responsible for the massive success that apple has seen lately. So a so farewell to Jony. I think anybody that's used apple products during the last decade or so is going to be very indebted to him. The next one is another apple story on tech crunch. Talking about the fact that apple music has now surpassed 60 million subscribers. The reason I bring this up is I'm just interested to see really how people consume their music these days.
Nathan Wrigley: 24:06 The the heavyweight is Spotify. They have over a hundred million subscribers, but it does appear that Apple's music service, which is significantly newer, is catching up at a rate of knots primarily I'm sure because of the hardware that they push out, no doubt with this platform installed upon it. But um, yeah, I, I use consume music. I don't, I don't own music anymore. I don't go buy cds. I consume. It's by, uh, renting it from a, in my case Google, but just interest interested to see this, this titanic shift that. So a lot of people on those two platforms. Again, I'm tech crunch. The next one is entitled Google launches a new Portal for small businesses. It's called the Google for small business portal. And really it's just a new website where you can send your small business clients, it asks them a bunch of questions and gets them basically into the Google ecosystem.
Nathan Wrigley: 24:56 No doubt. A lot of you will be worrying about things like, um, you know, doing ads on Google and using Google my business and so on. Well, there's a new home for all this stuff with a kind of point. Click us questions, get answers. Here's some recommended options for you, so no doubts. We're going to have to learn this new portal all over again and the very last one this week, NASA chooses Saturn's moon titan as its next destination. I'm just quite into these space stories and a, yeah, NASA going to send a like a drone onto the surface of Titan, one of Saturn's moons. It's not mooted to happen for ages and ages. I think it was in 2034 or something, but if you're a space watcher, the idea of landing something which can fly around on another planet, you know, it was remarkable when curiosity could trundle about on its wheels, on the surface of Mars.
Nathan Wrigley: 25:48 Well, this is significantly further and it's got rotor blades. Absolutely brilliant piece of tech, right? That's all the news that I've got for you this week. I hope that you managed to get something valuable from it. The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by Kinsta. Kinsta takes managed WordPress hosting to the next level, powered by the Google cloud platform. Your site is secured like Fort Knox and runs on speed obsessive architecture. You get access to the latest software and developer tools such as PHP seven ssh and staging environment. And the best part, their expert team of WordPress engineers are available 24 seven if you need help. So you can migrate today for free at Kinsta dot com okay. Join us on Thursday for a new podcast episode. Failing that, come back on Monday and listen to the next weekly news. As always, I will be joined on Monday, some live guests. We go over the WordPress news. Um, and so join us in the Facebook group at 2:00 PM UK time every Monday and we'll be talking through the WordPress news. It's really nice if people show up and give us their commentary and ask us, you know, questions and so on. It's very enjoyable indeed. And remember those webinars, peach and airy this week and castoffs next week. Bye Bye for now.