This weeks WordPress news – Covering The Week Commencing 16th March 2020:
Plugins / Themes / Blocks
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Transcript (if available)
These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Hello there. Good morning and welcome to this, the WP Builds weekly WordPress news. This is number 106 it covers the WordPress news for the week. Commencing the 16th of March, 2020 and it was published on Monday the 23rd of March, 2020. My name's Nathan Wrigley, and just before we begin, a few things to mention, they're always the same, but I'm going to mention them anyway.
WP Builds.com is our website, and over there you're going to find a heap of WordPress related content, and at the top of the website you'll find a menu. And in that menu you'll find the subscribe link. It leads to doggie P, builds.com forward slash. Subscribe. And if you click on that, you're going to be taken to a page where you can.
Well, you can keep in touch with everything that we [email protected] a couple of newsletters want to be informed of deals when they come out and the other to be informed of our content when it comes out. You can also subscribe on your favorite podcast player. Join our Facebook group of over 2,400 very friendly word pressers, and there's various other things as well.
The other links to mention, our WP Builds.com forward slash deals and over there you're going to find a page, a bit like black Friday, but every day of the week, a heap of deals all to do with WordPress. So plugins, themes, hosting, that kind of thing with significant discounts. So WP Builds.com forward slash deals and WP Builds.com forward slash advertise if you would like to have your product or service put in front of a WordPress specific audience, a bit like Kinsta.
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 okay. Let's get stuck into this week's new.
Shall we. We always block our WordPress news into different sections, and the first section is always WordPress core. I've got a couple of items for you this week. The first one is very briefly to say that WordPress 5.4 release candidate three is now available, hopefully WordPress 5.4 we'll be shipping in about
Eight or nine days, the 31st of March, 2020 and in order to do that, we have to go through these release cycles. There have been only eight fixes, and they're all to do with the block editor, media side load images and site health and things like that. Really not a lot to say other than if you are willing to help with that.
Getting the release candidate firmly fixed into a core release, 5.4 go and check out the link in the show notes. The other one is a little bit more interesting. It's over on WordPress Tavern, which I notice has got a new color in the top a bar, and it is. Justin Tadlock writing an article entitled Guttenberg 7.7 ships or refresh to UI and first iteration of a block patterns.
Now you're not going to see the changes to Gothenburg 7.7 in a regular install. You are going to have to go out and find the plugin and download it, and should you do that, you'll notice that there's a nice. Update to the UI just in decided to call this a fresh and clean editor UI. Some notable changes are the fact that the iconography has been sort of tightened up.
The contrast between the icons. So for example, I don't know, the ad block icon and so on has been made a little more obvious. Also, the panel that opens up when you click add has now been . It's well, it's basically occupying the whole side of the screen, a bit like a sidebar. Really. It goes from top to bottom of whatever size screen you're using, and I think this is a, a really big thing because at the minute you have to scroll through the little small panel that opens up.
And I have to say, I do like the look of it. It looks on the face of it. I think basically it's good. As I say, it's probably not going to be shipping until much later in the year. WordPress 5.5 which could be months off, but if you want to give it a spin, go and check it out. Very nice indeed. And the other thing to mention is we have early work towards the block patterns.
Now, block patterns I feel are going to be a bit of a game changer, and Justin does too. Essentially imagine you have a. Predefined layout that you wish to reuse. So for example, it might be the configuration of the header of a website, or it could be that you've got three photos side by side with some accompanying text or buttons, that kind of thing.
Now, if you're familiar with using page builders, this kind of thing has been. In those plugins for a long time, you've been able to dragon kind of Rose and reuse them. Well, not so much in the core Gothenburg editor. Well, that's about to change Gothenburg. 7.7 has kind of like a first shot at this. Justin makes the point that really it is not a finished product.
They've only got four patterns in it at the moment, which is two columns of text, two buttons cover two images side by side. But the, obviously the, the capability of this going forward is immense. Uh, if all the developers. Especially theme developers jump on this and start shipping their kind of block patterns than we could be.
We could be in for some, you know, some really interesting innovation over the, over the next six months or so. Anyway, it feels like Gothenburg is becoming more and more like a page builder. Whether or not this over time takes a chunk out of the. Page builder market we'll have to see. But it is the first iterations which really feel like Gothenburg in core is going to offer really quick, simple page building experiences.
So you can go and check this out and click on the show notes link, and you'll be taken to the WP Tavern article. The next section is entitled community, and as you may expect, and I suspect it will be for the weeks to come, we're going to be concentrating rather a lot on the coronavirus and how it is affecting the WordPress community.
First one this week before we get to some more regular articles is over on WP and up. Dot org and it's a piece entitled covert 19 and the new remote work community. And in this piece, which is really very long, uh, that is to say very extensive and you know, very well thought through. We have some thoughts from WP and op, and obviously they're a charity working towards promoting mental health within the WordPress community.
So they've got some thoughts on how it is that you may cope if you have been turned. From a regular map, perhaps an agency worker or something like that, into somebody who now suddenly has to work at home. And so they've got lots of suggestions about how you might do this, uh, suggestions for how you can combat isolation, how it is that you might form form structure in your life that has suddenly disappeared.
How to keep yourself on an even keel. So, you know, things like setting a finishing time and a start time connecting with friends, taking breaks, um, getting dressed in a, you know, in a sort of more, more. More work orientated fashion rather than perhaps just staying in your pajamas. Um, and then can I go into how to maintain your mental health and also talk about a ton of tools that you may wish to deploy, because it may be that you simply don't know how you can communicate with video conferencing or team chats or how to share dual appointments or store your files.
And so there's absolutely loads of information over there. So Bravo, WP and up. This is a great article. The next piece is all about WordCamps, and it really is just a very, very quick rundown. You can see if you click on the link, it's basically a bullet pointed list of the impact of the coronavirus and what it has done to WordCamps during the course of the, the forthcoming year, uh, there are probably about 30 WordCamps listed on this page.
You know, Paris, Kansas city, Chicago, all sorts of places all over the world. In fact, most of them have either been canceled. Or postponed, and in some cases, as a couple of them, San Antonio and Kent, they have been moved over to a live stream event, but, but basically you can kind of keep track on what's going on on this page.
So go check it out. Click the link in the show notes a little bit like the WP and an article that we just mentioned, elemental, half a piece this week. Entitled, how web creators can prepare for the coronavirus threat. And in this, Ben Pines writes about the advantages and disadvantages of working remotely and some ways that you might like to prepare your business for the future.
Obviously it's a very unsettling time and having some kind of clarity in some, some ownership of the problem and some ability to see your way through it might be good. So he's making recommendations. The following recommendations are keeping your expenses to a minimum sought and prioritize your portfolio.
Find alternate ways to connect with your past clients. Learn new skills, which are in demand during these time. Partner with agencies, explore new business opportunities and a few extra bits as well. Obviously, I'm just summarizing the, the bullet points really of the article and you can go and read more about that by clicking on the link in the show notes.
Although this next one isn't strictly a WordPress related piece, I felt it was appropriate to drop it in here because of the coronavirus and it's from the AppSumo blog. AppSumo is a website, if you haven't come across it where they do lifetime deals very often of new. Largely SAS apps and so on. And in the past they've had lots and lots of the apps, which you may feel you need to use video conferencing and document sharing and all those kinds of things.
And so they've put together a great big list of the tools and their current status as regards to pricing. So many of them. During the period, perhaps up until June or beyond, have decided to give themselves away for free. And so in this article, AppSumo simply just list all of the deals that they know about.
So just to go through a few, there's one called Hoppin, which is a. Kind of a way of holding a, an online summit. There's hay summit, which organizes summits as well. There's um, things like peak metrics, live agent, which is a chat app in Victoria, which is a kind of shed Yule meeting service and a whole bunch of other ones as well.
So the, the list just sort of goes on and on. There's about 15, 20, perhaps more services on there, many of them free for the time being. So if you are in need of a chat app or a way of storing your files or something like that, that might be worth checking out. Okay. Let's turn our attention to some more regular WordPress type news.
First one I want to draw your attention to is on the iconic website, iconic wp.com iconic acquires, flux checkout, the top woo commerce checkout plugin. Well, I confess that I have never used flux checkout, but they have been acquired by iconic. It seems that it's a way of basically modifying the. The way that customers interact with woo commerce is checkout and they have been acquired by iconic.
And so if you are an existing customer, this is probably important use for you. They say that essentially not a lot is going to change. They're going to use freemium. . Their way of deploying the plugin to you and updating it and so on. So they're going to drop easy digital downloads. But apart from that, basically you shouldn't notice too many differences, but it may be that if this plugin is a crucial part of your stack, you might want to go and read this article just to familiarize yourself with who it is that you now will be communicating with who's in charge of the developments going forward.
I've got an interesting article for you from the WP white security.com website. It's written by Robert Abella, who has actually been on the WP Builds podcast. It's entitled, should maintain plugins be suspended from the WordPress repository when there is a security issue. And so this is to say that on the 27th of February, uh, they received a notification saying that WP security audit log, their audit logging and plugin had been temporarily withdrawn from the wordpress.org plugin directory.
Due to an exploit. They fixed it very, very quickly, or they fixed it over a period of about 16 hours, most of which was actually time that they were by the sounds of it asleep. So they weren't alerted to it until they kind of woke up the next morning. Then it spent a few days not being restored because of the weekend, and then by the time Monday came around, so we're now into the 2nd of March, 2020 it was put back in the repository.
Now Robert has some opinions about this. He thinks. Basically, there needs to be a change. He does right at the end of the article, make the very clear point that he's not sort of attacking the, uh, the people that are doing this, but he's just saying, I think we should modify the way it's done. Essentially, he goes into what went wrong with the plugin and it seems that it was a pretty edge case, that there was no kind of capability to kind of own the site or do a great deal of harm.
There was an edge case in the installer, which they use in order that they can guide people with a wizard through installing the plugin. Which meant that they didn't check for admin status before they proceeded onto various other steps. Now he's saying that really is the process that needs to be followed, needs to be much more communicative, especially with maintained plugins.
And by that we mean. Plugins that are obviously being maintained all of the time there. His point I think is that essentially give us a bit more time. Give us some, give us some communication. Give us a few hours to kind of get on top of this before you plug it, because the damage to the plugins reputation can be quite severe.
If people notice that it's gone off the repository and new starts to fly around. Then something that you could have easily fixed within a matter of hours. In this particular case, uh, you could have fixed and nobody would have been, well, not any the wiser because hopefully you would disclose that responsibility to your clients or customers anyway.
But anyway, if you're a plugin or theme developer and have ever had a problem with your, your plugin being pulled from the repository and you feel that you've been kind of treated a little bit, a little bit harshly, then go and check this one out and see if you agree with Robert's thoughts. Back to WP Tavern.
We have an article entitled the block and based themes and the problem with dynamic data in HTML templates. If you have ever played with creating your own themes, then you'll probably get something out of this, just in toddler writes that. In the future, the Gothenburg project will hopefully have the ability to have a block-based themes and a templating system that will comprise, hopefully of simply playing HTML files.
Now, while this will work for the majority of the themes output, the trouble is figuring out how the project will handle dynamic values. So Justin writes, most of them. This discussions has centered on handling URLs, which are probably the most common use case currently. Theme templates have all sorts of dynamic content.
Much of that will be replaced with blocks as we continue moving towards full site editing. However, not all dynamic data will have a block equivalent. A good example is the theme authors cannot currently at the homepage URL to the navigation block. Some experimental block-based themes using a simple forward slash character, which points to the wrong location on many WordPress installs.
So solving this issue sooner rather than later is important for the progression of theme development in a block world. And then he goes on to talk about a repository open ticket where this is being discussed, and there seem to be four different different options. The first one is. On the fly string replacement, and you'll probably have to delve deeper and read Justin's article in order to get the most out of this, but basically that will probably slowed page loads down as this would require kind of passing all of the templates on every single page load.
The other option is a onetime string replacement where essentially everything is done the first time. Um, the, the template is kind of loaded. The problem there is that any changes to that. So for example, if you moved your blog templates to a different URL, that might cause problems. Another option is to have templates as Jason.
This would probably speed things up a great deal, but. Justin makes the point that this is going to be really a very high learning barrier for people who are just simply used to using HTML and CSS, and obviously HTML and CSS is kind of the foundation of the WordPress templating system. And one of the reasons it probably became as popular as it did or that is to say WordPress became as popular, popular as it did because the templating system was pretty easy to learn if you had a few hours to spare.
The other option is to return blocks of via PHP, and he gives some examples of how this might be done, but he does make the point that, please, please, please. I think he's trying to say, let's make this HTML first. Let's really take it seriously. Maybe a bit of PHP could be thrown in there, but let's make sure that those, the crowd that use HTML and CSS get, um, get their wish.
And we use that as the, the . The most, the most straightforward way of doing it and PHP and other technologies really are of secondary importance. You may wish to disagree with him. You may think that it's better to put speed first and make the learning curve higher for the future. But, um, anyway, go and check the article out.
The last one I've got in the community section is over on the Bob wp.com website. This is simply a very nice hat tip to Bob Dunn who has been on the WP Builds podcast. Bob WP has reached a very large milestone. He's . Now I've been using the Bob WP brand for 10 years, and he goes into, it's a very short article.
It'll take just a couple of minutes to read. It goes into how the brand came to be and what's gone on in the decade since he started it all up and so on and so forth. So, weld on Bob. Uh, congratulations for such a lot of content that you've put out. I'm sure that you've assisted many, many thousands of people in those 10 years.
So Bravo, Bob. Our next section is plugins, themes, and blocks, and I've only got two pieces for you this week. The first one is really. Quite an interesting one. It's WP high Eve, which they claim is a better WordPress repository. The strap line is Apple did it with app store. We're doing it for WordPress, and really what they're trying to do is surface the, the plugins, which they believe are the best fit for the job.
So they say the problem with the wordpress.org repository is that. Finding helpful plugins is tough. There are not enough insights. It's not possible to compare plugins with one another and they're claiming that WP hive is solving the problem by ease, allowing you to easily discover new plugins or popular ones with the relevant filters.
Compare plugging side by side, just like you do for phones. And so they say it gives you. Better insights. They are going to test the plugin. So for example, they're going to be able to tell you things like what the minimum PHP version is and how the errors are handled and so on and so forth. What the database footprint is like and memory uses uses, and then you're going to be able to compare them side by side so that you can put like say a one form plugin up against another plugin and see which, which fits best for you.
I don't know whether this will be successful or not, but it certainly seems like an interesting project. So yeah, if you. Would be in the market for a plugin and you're confused and the choices overwhelming you and WP hive might be a place for you to go and look. So the guys at elemental or hot attic, again, their usual breathtaking pace of development never seems to stop.
They have an article written by Ben Pines entitled introducing a full site editing design, your header, footer, and content all from one place. Now, in all honesty, the best thing to do is probably to watch the video, which Ben puts together. I have to say, the videos are remarkably. Beautifully made. I mean, hats it to them, they're just wonderful.
But, uh, it goes into explain that essentially you can now edit things like your header and your footer all from the element or interface. You don't need to move out whatsoever. So you click a little orangy yellow handle at the top in the same way that you would do, I suppose, on other parts of an elemental site.
And you can add things into your header and do the same thing with your footer, so on and so forth. So everything. Every single thing is now moving towards the elemental interface. There's also dynamic colors. They've applied the color options across multiple parts of the website. Um, so for example, you could color your dynamic content.
You could add an ACF color picker field, and, uh, adapt to the background, to a particular section, depending on what it is that you've got set up in your post. You can also add some custom CSS rules across your site. And, uh, I think that's it for this particular release, but basically just about all the things can now be done inside elemental.
And so if you're using that, I'm sure this will please you greatly. The next section is deals of the week, and this goes alongside some of the things that we mentioned earlier in terms of the coronavirus price reductions. I've got a page [email protected] forward slash deals where there's just a ton of.
Discounted coupon codes, which is always there. That's in the show notes, and also I've got a link so that you can subscribe to our emails as well so that you can receive the email updates. As soon as I hear about a WordPress deal coming, coming onto the market, but there's about seven or eight different things this week.
A few of them coming over from last week. WP project manager. Business plan for free until June, 2020 book like a boss, which is a booking system, is 25% off any annual plan, and then there's a whole bunch of stuff over it. Uh, AppSumo male poet, wishlist member, WP data tables, happy forms, and WP FOMA fi.
Click on the links in the show notes and you'll be able to be taken directly to the page that you need. So the security section is next. I've only got a couple of things for you. The first one is on the wordfence.com website entitled severe floors patched in responsive ready sites, importer plugin. This plugin has been installed on 40,000 sites, so they say, and the floor allowed any.
Authenticated user regardless of privilege level, the ability to execute various Ajax actions that could reset site data, inject malicious Java script in pages, modify theme, customize a data input XML and Jason files and activate plugins amongst the many other actions. They reached out to the developer and he got it all fixed.
But if you have ever heard of and you suspect that you might have used the responsive already sites in Puerto plugin, go and get yourself updated ASAP. The only other one I've got for you this week is the Roundup that's come from web arcs. It's their WordPress vulnerability news for March, 2020 and as I often say, this is one of those posts we can just scroll through and see if any of the plugins that you've ever used.
So for example, I'm scrolling through now, there's the newsletter plugin, learn press plugin and various others. You just scroll through and see, Oh. I remember putting that one on a site. I must go and get that updated. So there we go. That's all I've got for you on the security front this week. Next up is the blatantly self-promotional WP Builds bit to bits via this week.
The first one is to say that we released episode 171 of the WP Builds podcast. It's entitled how emergency WP can protect your online legacy. This is me chatting with Albert Brookman, the the founder and developer of emergency WP. When we recorded this episode, coronavirus simply was not around. We recorded it several months ago, so it does.
Touch on the subject of bereavement, but essentially w emergency WP is a plugin which allows you to create a silo, a volt of just about any information which you would like to be passed on in the event that you pass away. Now the. Podcast itself talks about how this was built, why it was built, and there were certain reasons for which Albert decided this was something that needed to exist and then gets into the sort of more technical things.
What can you put in that vault and how does it even know when it's time to send out the reminders to the important people in your life? So, so really interesting episode. But, um, I would obviously stress, there is a bit of a caveat if you are affected by these issues at this time, perhaps it's one to, to put on pause for a later time.
And the other one is, I had a, had a WP build, a monthly UI UX review session with peach and Arie. We did it last Wednesday and, uh, the video is ready. We actually really only go into one site this weekend. It's, um, Giles, his site. And, uh, it's, uh, sort of an LMS type site and pitcher goes really deep into all of the things that she felt might be, um, might be needing attention.
And so if you're building an LMS type site, there's, there's a whole ton of stuff in there. And we do this each month. We haven't yet decided on the dates for next month, but if you go to WP Builds.com, forward slash you are, you can submit a URL which you would like Peacher to examine on possibly the next live.
Each week. I try to bring you some jobs, but I haven't found any this week, so I'm just going to say, if you have any jobs that you would like me to list, obviously it's a an interesting time. There might be all sorts of opportunities coming and there might be a sort of surplus in the job market, who knows?
But anyway, reach out to me. You can find the contact [email protected] forward slash contact or use the links at the top right of the website. And I will certainly for free. Publish your jobs into the WordPress community. Couple of items in the final section. We finished with WordPress for this week, but we always have a, not WordPress but useful.
Anyway, section two pieces. The first one is actually at WordPress Tavern. Get hub acquires NPM or plans to improve in infrastructure and experience, and it is to say that on March the 16th get hub announced that they had acquired the popular Java script. Package service, NPM, the amount is undisclosed, but a, it's obviously really widely used.
These numbers are somewhat breathtaking. Justin writes, currently NPM serves over 1.3 million packages with 75 billion downloads every month. That's absolutely staggering. At least 12 million developers use NPM to manage Java script dependencies. Uh, in the recent past, it wasn't quite clear what was going to happen with NPM, but now it's been taken under the, the, the umbrella
Of get hub, which is obviously something that many, many people use. This all seems like good news. The article goes on to talk to the people involved and what it is that they, they think is going to happen into the near future. But this seems though seems like something that if you're using Java script and using NPM, you'd probably want to know about.
The last piece I've got for you today is just a bit frivolous. It's over on science, alert.com and it's entitled, there are infinite rings of light around black holes. Here's how we could see them. I say this is quite frivolous. It's not something I fully understand, but there's an actual picture of a black hole and allegedly there are infinite rings of light, which is kind of permanently not circling.
You have to watch the video to understand how this light ring is creative because it's not. Actually circling the black hole, but it's, it's incredible. Just an actual photograph of what appears to be a black hole on our websites. Breathtaking stuff. Okay. That's all I've got for you this week. I hope that you enjoyed it and you found something useful from it.
Please do let me know if you could leave a review on the Apple podcast app or in your Spotify or indeed any app where you can find reviews possible of of podcasts. I really appreciate it if you take the time out and do that, that's very helpful to the podcast itself. I hope that just on a personal level, you get something out of this, please just use the contact form.
Write me an email. Just let me know that you're finding it useful. It always, it always GS me up, and especially in these times where everything seems so bleak. It's nice to get some of those emails, so yes, please do that. The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by Kinsta. Kinsta takes managed WordPress hosting to the next level, powered by the Google cloud platform.
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So a big thank you to conserve for helping us to put on the WP billed weekly WordPress newsletter. Okay. Lots going on this week. We've got a podcast coming out on Thursday. We've got a, obviously a news episode just like this one and this time next week, and join us 2:00 PM UK time for our regular WP Builds, a live version of the news, all things being, well, I should be joined by Paul Lacey, Vito Peleg and Yan cock.
So that's going to be on Monday, the 23rd. Good of March, 2020 at 2:00 PM UK time. Join us for some of that. Join is in our Facebook group. Join the conversation and hopefully we'll see you at some point in the next week. Bye bye for now.