WP Builds Newsletter #95 – 2019 reviews, Pods funding in doubt and Google in 3rd place

This weeks WordPress news – Covering The Week Commencing 30th December 2019:

WordPress Core

WordPress Theme Review Team Announces Alpha Color Picker for the Customizer


Reflecting on 2019: The Year in Review

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How to Stay Healthy as a Web Developer (6 Tips and Tricks)

Plugins / Themes / Blocks

Pods needs your help in 2020

Elementor – Year in Review – 2019

What Should an Author Bio Block Look Like?

Rank Math SEO Plugin Adds WordPress Block Editor Support

10 of the Best Gutenberg Plugins to Extend the WordPress Editor

Version 1 Prototype of the WordPress Admin Block Directory Announced

Deals from this week

20% off the Website Owners Manual

ACF Pricing about to go up see this video from David Waumsley


Urgent Divi Theme Security Update

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Running contests in WordPress with RafflePress


Nothing this week!

Not WordPress, but useful anyway…

The Complete Guide to On-Page SEO

Google Assistant Only Holds 9% of the Virtual Assistant Market

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Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Hello there. Good morning and welcome to this. The WP Builds weekly WordPress newsletter. This is number 95 it covers the WordPress news for the week commencing the 30th of December, 2019 and it was published on Monday the 6th of January, 2020 which I suppose brings me neatly to happy new year. I hope that you managed to get a little bit of a break during the holiday period, and we're all looking forward hopefully to a thriving 2020 with WordPress.
My name's Nathan Wrigley and a couple of things before we begin. Head over to WP Bill's dot com forward slash subscribe over there. You'll be able to join our email newsletters and find out about the podcast that we do and this the WordPress weekly news. When we push it out on a Monday, you'll also be able to join our Facebook group of over 2,300 word pressers, and there's things like the ability to subscribe to us on your favorite podcast player, so that's WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe.
Another one is WP Builds.com forward slash. Deals. It's a bit like black Friday, but every day of the week there you'll find a whole bunch of codes for notable WordPress products. So if you're in the market for something, go check that out. You never know. You might save a few pennies. WP Builds.com forward slash win.
At the moment, we've got a few licenses for WP forms. You might be able to win some of them over there, so that's forward. Slash. Win. And lastly, WP Builds.com forward slash. Advertise if you would like to advertise your WordPress product or service on the WP Builds podcast to a specific WordPress audience.
A bit like kids to did. Are you tired of unreliable or slow 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 SSH and 24 seven expert support, and you can migrate today for free at Kinsta dot com and we do thank all of our sponsors for helping us to put on the WP Bill's podcast.
We'll be doing the news in just a moment. But just final quick reminder, every Monday at 2:00 PM UK time, we have a summation of the news that you're about to hear. We go through the most interesting articles that you're about to hear about, with some live studio guests. This week I'll be with Paul Lacey, I'll be with Miriam Schwab, and I'll be with Jan Koch.
So join us 2:00 PM UK time WP Builds.com forward slash live right. Let's get on with the new, shall we. Our WordPress news is always divided up into sections, and if there is any, our first section is always WordPress core. Now, it's been a pretty quiet news for this week because, well, the holiday season, I suppose quite as things down a bit, but there's still a few bits and pieces lying around.
So one piece only in the . Core section. It's over on WP Tavern. It's by Justin Tadlock, and it's entitled a WordPress theme review team and ANSYS alpha color picker for the customizer. So there's been a bit of a project on lately to try and get things called feature packages. And this took off in June.
And the idea is that the core of WordPress will have a whole load of feature packages for things that theme developers typically use. So. In principle, you'll be able to hook into those features and not have to reinvent the wheel each and every time you come up with a theme. And this one is quite an interesting one.
It's a color picker. It's nothing particularly new, but just to say that now theme developers don't have to come up with their own color pickers. It supports the usual things. There's a little sort of rectangular panel where you can drag the mouse around and pick your color. It's actually built with react color.
They tried an old package, which WordPress has been using for many, many years and decided that wasn't fit for purpose, so it supports RGB, it supports hex HSL, alpha transparency, CSS values, and there's some accessibility properties in there as well. And it's just a nice little development. It is obviously not going to be used particularly widely just now.
But in the future, what with themes kind of feeling like they may be being replaced somewhat with the block editor's capabilities to take over the whole site. It'll be interesting to see in the very near future how this is going to be deployed. The next section that we deal with is entitled WordPress community, and we've got three articles for you this week in that section.
The first one, again, by Justin Tadlock on WP Tavern is reflecting on 2019 the year in review, and this is just a lovely look back. Justin took over as a full time journalist, I think is the correct word, really for his new role. Yeah. At WP Tavern, which I should probably start calling WordPress Tavern from now on because that's what it says at the top of the website, and this is the summation of the things which excited him about the WordPress project this year.
It's a very light read. It doesn't really talk about plugins particularly, or themes in terms of specifics and code. It's just his take on what he's enjoyed this year, starting out with. WP Tavern stats. He talks about how long each article has been and how much engagement there's been talks about the WordPress project, the, the new versions, 5.12 and three coming out this year, and also the passing suddenly of Alex Mills who's regenerate thumbnails plugin was something that's just in himself used rather a lot.
It also goes on to talk about the most popular posts that were pushed out on WP Tavern this year. And also some of the posts which he most enjoyed writing his favorite theme this year, 2020 and his favorite plugin was give WP. So yeah, just a nice little article looking back and many, many links to external websites about things that happened during this year.
Kind of very much related to the article that we've just read and staying on WP Tavern. We have an article entitled building the community we deserve, and in this article, instead of looking back to 2019 this is very much about looking forward to 2020 and the fact that the WP Tavern crew would really welcome more engagement in the comments.
There's a huge amount of information that comes out of this. Publication, but it's quite often there's quite a lot of comments and on some articles there's less and they have taken the approach. I don't know exactly when it happened that every single comment could be moderated, and that's largely because, as the article says, sometimes the comments that are received.
In quotes, border on conspiracy theory, territory and quotes. And so they've taken this approach to moderate. Absolutely. Every single comment. And this article is just about the fact that in the future they would like to be able to have more engagement with the community. Maybe at some point even switch off that moderation, but we're not there yet, as the article said.
And it talks about ways that they're planning to do that. Ways that they are going to surface comments, ways that they're going to encourage people to comment. They've got a new section, which is kind of quietly been added, called ask the bartender, and there's a link in the, in the actual post itself that you can find out about that.
And essentially it's an article saying, look, can we please in the future, stop trying to win arguments. WP Tavern has at times, definitely been a place of that. You know, an article will be written, somebody will disagree, and other person will chime in with something slightly more inflammatory. And so it goes, and we've all experienced that race to the bottom before.
So his plea is, let's try to engage. Let's try to not try to win arguments specifically because that doesn't get us anywhere good. Let's just present our arguments and leave them like that. So yeah. Nice, nice, thoughtful piece. Although this piece doesn't specifically relate to WordPress, I've added it into the community section because it kind of feels like a community related issue.
It's an article on talk maga.io in titled how to stay healthy as a web developer. Six tips and tricks. Now, most of this is absolutely common sense, but it's the kind of thing that I personally need bludgeoning into me at all times. We all spend a very large amount of our time probably sitting in front of a desk, staring at a screen, probably not getting the, The correct focus, shall we say in our lives. I'm sure that's the case for many people. And so this article is, is a nice sort of 2020 new year's resolution style reminder of how to, how to take, how to take issue with this and address it in the future. So it suggests things like using a meal planner to boost your nutrition shed, you'll your fitness routine so that it.
Fits into your lifestyle. I know this is something that I have already done. I've calendarized every single moment of my fitness this year. Practice self care to improve mental health, keep food away from your desks to avoid snacking. Bravo. That's going to be for me. Take screen breaks to decrease tension and reduce eyestrain and go on vacation or.
Get outside to recharge. Again, completely common sense stuff, but nevertheless, it's a nice, nice summation. Nice to read it written by somebody else, and it's kind of a nice affirmative article for what you can do to help yourself during this coming year. The next section has a new title. It used to simply be called plugins and themes, and now I've changed it to plugins, themes, and blocks because it kind of feels like blocks are very much in the ascendancy, and we're going to be talking about them mixed in amongst plugins and themes in the near future and beyond.
So that's the new title. And under the title of plugins, themes, and blocks, I have six articles for you this week. The first one is all about. Pods. Now, pods is a, a real kind of Swiss army knife tool for making complicated things happen in your WordPress websites. So it's things like custom fields and repeatable fields and groups and repeatable groups and all sorts of ways of displaying data on your WordPress website.
Now, it turns out that they, until very recently, we're receiving 90% of their funding. From automatic. Automatic has reached out recently to say that they're going to be pulling that funding, and apparently this is on good terms. Nobody's fallen out or anything like that. They've just decided that they want to fund their Guttenberg native projects instead.
Now, at the minute. Pods is free, and if that's going to continue, the team at pods in the article that I've linked to, which is entitled pods need your help in 2020 are saying, please could we have some financial assistance in the first case, financial assistance can be done by becoming a friend of pots.
They're also suggesting maybe making a donation if you use pods, maybe a percentage of each project that uses pods. They're also saying, if you haven't got enough available money, then maybe you could spread the word about pods or indeed. Jump in their Slack channel and provide some support, actually write some code and get involved in that way.
So I think pods is used by many, many sites, 80,000 plus active installations. So it's a huge plugin with lots and lots of people really very much relying on it. And so I guess if you are using it now is the time to explore this further and see what you can do to keep this worthwhile project going. I'm sure no doubt you've heard of the element or page builder by now, and they have a lovely article about the year in review, 2019 there were many, many posts that I could have selected, which basically summed up a year in review, but I thought that this one in particular was very worthy of bringing to your attention just because of the fact that elemental at the moment is on a very much stratospheric rise.
So this is there. Probably their best year to date. I would imagine. Absolutely loads has been happening and they talk about the fact that they've added masses of new features. Too many to list, but things worthy of mention are the new pop-up builder motion effects. They've launched a new theme, hello theme.
They've started their monthly template kits, and the list just goes on and on. They have lots and lots of projects. Stats, for example, they've committed eight 183. Thousand lines of code over 5,617 commits. There's now three and a half million active users. They've got four, nearly four and a half thousand five star reviews.
They pro version of the product is used in 222 countries. That must be . Pretty much all of them. And over 50% of the new features were based upon user feedback. They've organized 105 meetups in, in 20 different countries. Lots and lots of translations have been going on, so 53 different languages and are supported and it just goes on and on.
All the amazing stuff that they're doing. The, the, the growth presumably has led to the company, having, you know. Buoyant finances, I would say. And so with that, they've gone from 23 to 43 employees, and they're able to produce all of this wonderful content that we've been pushing in your direction during the last year.
So, yeah, Bravo to elemental this year. Weldon. Something that we don't talk about a lot cause it's a bit of an afterthought. I specially if you're just using templated themes and so on, is the author bio area now, just in Tadlock on WP Tavern has an article entitled, what should an author bio block tool look like?
And he talks about the fact that Joshua wold, over the last few years has been mulling this over. He came up with the original idea in a get hub ticket in 2017 but at that time they've gotten bird project was still way off. But now. It apparently as time for a bit of a refresh, he's dusting the idea down and talking about what a block to feature the author would look like, what should it contain?
So for example, he's suggesting that a block might have an image or an avatar, a name, a description or biography, website links, social network links, and possibly recommended posts. Although just in fields, this may be better to wait for further down the line. so really the discussion in this article is whether a block like this is worthwhile having should something like this exist?
Should it be core? Should it be the domain of a plugin, for example? Instead, where should the, all the data come from? And what should the design options look like? I just think this is really interesting. It speaks to the, the future of Gothenburg and the idea that a lot of these things, which really have been the domain of theme developers are now suddenly becoming the domain of.
Click drag and drop interfaces, in this case, the block editor. So yeah, food for thought. Why not go and have a look and see if you can contribute. There's quite a few comments. 12 or 13 as of this point. The SEO plugin rank math has received an update, which provides block editor support. We have an article entitled rank math SEO plugin adds WordPress block editor support on WP Tavern.
And this release came out on the 18th of December, but I'm only getting to it now because we haven't had any new since then. So now what you get when you install the plugin, you actually have a new button, which Justin Tadlock thinks is a little bit, yeah. Cumbersome because it contains not only an icon, but it contains a, an SEO score out of a hundred inside that button, and it is quite large.
Actually. It's even larger than the publish button and itch has gone for a completely different color sets. So Justin has a few problems with that. However, after that, he thinks that everything is a great improvement. So it uses the, the sidebar, if you like, in the block editor too. Have all of the features that rank math is increasingly gaining a, and you think that they've done a really good job of having this.
There is a toggle switch, so if you want to go back to the sort of classic editor, Mehta box version of the plugin, if you feel that everything's too tightly squeezed in, you can do that, but I'm just in certainly feels that they've used the space very well. The plugin developers say it is a bit of a chore.
That they have to do this and they have to provide backwards compatibility, and they're going to do that until at least 2022 they say. But I suppose at that point, maybe the use of the classic editor will have dropped to the point of it not being worthwhile, and they can drop that. But anyway, if you're a, if you're an SEO plugin user, now this is a free version of their software.
You'd have to pay for it. And, it may be worth checking out because of the new innovative design. You won't be searching for things down at the bottom, cause it's floating. Obviously in the right hand sidebar, there's a little video at the bottom of the post where you can see how it all works for yourself.
This is going to be a very quick one. Over the last year, 2019 we had lots and lots of clever ways of adapting, improving, enhancing the block editor, and this article entitled 10 of the best Guttenberg plugins to extend the WordPress editor sums up very nicely. Some of the good options. Options out there to improve your sites with plugins working with Guttenberg.
So it mentions things like Gutenberg blocks, tiny MCE, advanced stackable atomic blocks, advanced rich text tools for Gothenburg, block lab code blocks, advanced Gothenburg, block gallery, and finally cadence blocks. There are of course, many, many more that you could find, but it just gives you a nice sense of the state of play as we enter 2020.
This for me feels like the area of growth. This feels like what we're going to be talking about over and over again during 2020 ways to improve the block editor. Be that in core or with plugins. So yeah, something to look back upon. Although I've left this to the end of the plugins, themes and blocks section.
I kind of feel that this article by Justin Tadlock, again over at WP Tavern is possibly one of the most important articles that I'm going to mention in the next period of time. It's entitled version one prototype of the WordPress admin block directory announced, and this is going to become something which you'll be very familiar with in the near future.
So it's the prototype, the version one, the beta, if you like, of how you will interact with blocks in the future. So there is lots of screenshots and they will make it much more easy to understand if you head over to the link in the show notes. But essentially it's how you will interact with blocks in the WP admin area.
So there'll be a menu in the left hand sidebar entitled blocks, and then there'll be sub or child menu's entitled about blocks, ad blocks installed, manage reusable. And they will be the sections that you'll interact with. Now, the first one about blocks is just such a great idea. It's kind of a tutorial area where you're going to learn how to use, create to maintain design and build blocks.
So I just think that's a really interesting idea and hopefully it will help people start to use blocks much more effectively. It's got a slightly different UI in that there's now a, a section at the top. it's a bit like the help section, but it's not reduced in the current WP admin area. and it just explains what the page is about.
Then we move onto the ad block screen and very much like the plugin area at the moment in your WordPress install, you can search for blocks and there's a featured block section, a popular block section. And they recommended for you section, and you can simply add blocks in the way that you do with plugins at the moment.
There's also the obvious installed blocks screen where you can see which ones have been installed and it looks, again, very similar to the way that plugins are shown at the moment. You can show all blocks, you can show active ones and also in active arms, but there's a nice column on the right. Right hand side of the table.
So the table's got three columns. It's the block which shows a thumbnail and the block name and the ability to activate and deactivate it. A description, just like in the plugins that you find at the moment. And finally over at the right, this instances column. Now this is really interesting because it's a number.
All it shows as a number and it's a clickable number and it will take you to, so for example, it might say that you have, Oh, I don't know, Metta slider in installed or not installed. You have five instances of Metta slider going on your website, and you click on that and you'll be able to see where you are using this.
Now. At the moment. This is a fairly sort of stripped down technology. My understanding is it doesn't have all the permutations that you might expect in the future, but in the future you'll be able to see exactly where it is being used on which pages or posts and what have you. And I just think that's really fabulous.
And then you've got the manage blocks screen and the ability there to. Activate and deactivate certain blocks will be interesting. And then you've got this whole extra section right at the bottom for reusable blocks. And although again, at the minute this is all hidden, it is actually available should you wish to follow the sort of URL in the, in the posts that I'm linking you to.
But this is just going to be so important going forward as I think themes become less and less popular. This seems. That you know, the way that we're going to interact with WordPress in the future with interfaces like this. So our first iteration, it's very much sticking to the plugin nature of the admin pages that you've seen and become familiar with so far, but it's all about the blocks.
So really interesting indeed. Right? Let's change tack. Do a couple of deals. There's two deals from this week that I want to mention. The first one is 20% off the website owner's manual. This is a product launch by Carl van Dusen from the admin bar. With his colleague. And the idea here is that you get yourself, a document which you can share with your website clients.
And really the intention is to get them onto your hosting plan. So it explains what, what's required of somebody to run, maintain, and keep our website up and running. And clearly the detail in there is, to some extent to somebody like you and I probably not that troublesome, but. to a new, if you like, it might be something that pushes them over the edge, towards your care plan anyway, 20% off that.
Click on the link in the show notes. And also to say that ACF is going up in pricing, their pricing is going to dramatically increase, in the very, very near future. So it's going to go from lifetime pricing to annual pricing. And so my recommendation would be that if you've. At any point looked at ACF and thought, that looks desirable.
Well then now is the time to jump on board. I'm not entirely sure what the date is at which ACF will become. well, this is the pro version in which the pro version will become monthly. like I say, not sure of the exact date, Bart, but, but, but go and check it out really, because the steal of a deal at the minute, $100 for lifetime updates for infinite sites is just ridiculously good value.
And it's going to change, like most things have over to annual pricing. Very, very soon. Next up is security. We take a light touch on security. And in all honesty, I've got very little for you other than to say that, users of the Divi theme ought to update because there was a vulnerability announced on the 2nd of January.
and I can't actually find anything on the DV website. So I've linked to a UK website called blink web where they talk about the problem, and I quote a code injection vulnerability was discovered by the elegant themes team during a routine cohort. Code audit that could allow logged in contributors, authors, and editors to ex execute a small set of PHP functions.
This has been fixed in the latest version of DV, but clearly it would be apropos for you to go and get that fixed. A S. a. P. the next section is the incredibly self-promotional WP build section. This week, I released a podcast, episode number 160 I was joined by John Turner from . Raffle press, which is a plugin that allows you to do those viral giveaway contests.
We're actually using it on the site at the moment. If you go to WP Builds.com forward slash, win as I mentioned at the top, the chance of winning WP forms licenses. We're using it so you can see it there, but it's a really fully featured viral giveaway plugin. Absolutely. Boat loads of functionality. And John Turner this week explains all about how it works, what the pricing is, what the roadmap is, and essentially why you ought to seriously consider it for giving competitions away.
We do the job section each and every week, but obviously for the reasons of the holiday period have been no jobs this week. So I'm simply gonna move along to the last section we've done with our WordPress news this week. So now we're onto the, not worth, not WordPress, but useful anyway, section. And the first one.
Is over on search engine journal, and it's the complete guide to on page SEO. Now, this came across my RSS feed reader this week as a series of about, Oh, I don't know, 15 or so articles. Actually it was 11 looking at the website on how to do SEO. So 12 I should say, because there's an intro chapter, so it's all about how to do SEO.
Now, clearly you're going to have to surrender your email address for this, and they'll probably put you in some kind of funnel or automation campaign. But. It looks like a really comprehensive, cheap, quick, easy way to get to grips with the basics of SEO. So it starts with how to boost your on page SEO, title tag optimization, SEO, basic practices.
11 had writing, headline writing tips, and it goes on from there. Finally, chapter 11 seven common on page SEO mistakes and how to fix them. So I should stress this is the complete guide to OnPage SEO, I guess it doesn't cover all the other stuff. But, maybe worth a look. It's in partnership with who certainly know what they're doing as do the search engine journal, the website from which this comes.
The last item that I've got for you this week is about poor old Google. Google's in third place. Now, you don't often hear that to you, but this apparently is the case. Again, on search engine journal, the articles entitled Google assistant holds only 9% of the virtual assistant market. This is allegedly a straight ramen competition between Amazon.
Microsoft, Apple, and Google, and it turns out that Apple, Siri currently holds 35% of the global market share of virtual assistant requests. Microsoft's Cortana comes in second place with 22. That's a bit of a shock. Google has 9%, and Amazon's Alexa has 4% respectively. Now, this is all apparently down to the fact of pre installations.
Apple being the dominant platform, has the most. Obviously, Android is the dominant platform for mobile devices, but it isn't pre-installed on anywhere near all the devices, whereas Apple, Siri is, but still it shocks me. That's Cortana. Microsoft is in second place. That's amazing. I guess that's the dominance of windows still being felt, but, this is growing and rising and we'll have to see how this changes over time.
I know for sure. For my part, I'm still, when it comes to doing anything other than searching for songs or searching for something largely irrelevant, I still am going to Google in some kind of browser, be that on a phone or on a desktop. Okey-dokey. That's all I've got for you this week. I hope that you found that useful.
I hope you got something out of it. I really do appreciate you listening. Please come back two o'clock UK time every Monday where we do the live version that's [email protected] forward slash. Live. I'll be joined this week by Paul Lacey, Miriam Schwab, and Yan cock, and you can find that, like I say, WP Builds.com forward slash live.
The WP Builds weekly. WordPress news 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 it runs on speed, obsessive architecture. You get access to the latest software and developer tools such as PHP seven SSH and staging environments, and the best part, their expert team of WordPress engineers are available 24 seven if you need help, you can migrate today for free at Kinsta dot com okay.
If I don't see you on Thursday for the podcast, which of course I hope I do, then I'll see you back next Monday for the next week's news. Like I say, happy new year.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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