304 – Steve Burge on running PublishPress and buying other plugins

Interview with Steve Burge and Nathan Wrigley.

I love a good story, and that’s what we’ve got for you today. It’s Steve Burge from (currently) PublishPress.

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Steve’s had a long history working with open source software, and, as you’ll hear, he’s not going anywhere.

The conversation kicks off with a bit of background about Steve. We talk about his journey with a whole variety of FOSS tools such as Joomla, Drupal, Magento and WordPress. I know this journey well, as perhaps do many of you.

There was a time when there really was a no clear ‘winner’ in the open source CMS market. Many of the platforms were experiencing growth and there was no hint that any one solution would grow to dominate in terms of market share.

I used Drupal, Joomla and Magento and I have to say that they were all excellent tools which did the job well. There was nothing not to like, and, in many ways, they were superior to the offering that WordPress had / has.

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But that’s all water under the bridge now. We know where the lion’s share of the people ended up, and this is called the WP Builds podcast, not the Drupal / Joomla / Magento Builds podcast!

Given that the landscape had so many popular choices, Steve decided he was going to create a business around serving them all, and so OS Training began. We learn about how Steve tried to grow the business, and ultimately why he moved on to pastures new.

We then get into the things that Steve’s involved with now, namely PublishPress and MetaSlider, which is a new acquisition.

Let’s deal with PublishPress first. This is a suite of tools (plugins) which you can add to your site to make the job of publishing content on your site a little easier. If, like me, you’re a one-person team, then you might not need PublishPress, but for teams who have editorial considerations about who can publish what and when; PublishPress could be a tool for you.

It adds layers of options for you and your team to make sure that posts / pages / content have the correct ‘thumbs up’ before they go live, so that nobody is in doubt that the content has been through the editorial approval process. Set it up how you like and ensure that your team is all on-message.

We then turn to MetaSlider, which Steve recently bought. Now, I thought sliders were becoming less popular, and so it seemed like a strange time for Steve to buy MetaSlider, but it turns out that Steve’s thought this all through. We go into Steve’s decision-making process and what’s going to be happening in the plugin’s future.

All in all then, this is a lovely conversation with a very thoughtful developer. I hope you enjoy the podcast.

Please leave a comment below, and join us on the WP Builds Mastodon instance if you like!

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Transcript (if available)

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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Now, welcome your hosts. David Warms me and Nathan Wrigley.

Hello there and welcome once again to the WP Builds podcast. This is episode number 304 entitled Steve Burge on Running, Publish, Press, and Buying Other Plugins. It was published on Thursday, the 17th of November, 2023. My name's Nathan Wrigley, and I'll be joined in a few short minutes by Steve so that we can have our chat.

But before then, a few bits of housekeeping. The first thing is Black Friday is around the corner and we now have over 115 Count them, 1 1 5 deals on the WP Builds Black Friday page. The URL for that is the ever so easy to remember. WP Builds dot. Slash black one more time. WP Builds.com/black. And if you go to that page, you'll find a searchable filterable list.

I suggest that you bookmark it. And then during the run up to Black Friday, you can visit there for all of your WordPress needs. We've tried to only put deals on there, which are related to WordPress, so it's plugins, themes, hosting blocks, and all of that kind of stuff. But there's a few SaaS platforms which overlap as well.

One more time. WP Builds.com/black. The next one to mention is our awards page, WP Builds.com/awards. It's a fun and rather silly way of gaining money for big Orange chart, the charity in the WordPress and remote working space, looking to help people with all sorts of needs. You can go there and you can vote and you are guaranteed.

If you pay $20 to big orange chart and send me your receipt for that donation, I will guarantee you a win on our awards page. Like I say, it's a bit of fun, it's a bit silly, but go and nominate yourself. Go nominate somebody else in any category of your choosing, and you will be guaranteed. The final thing to mention is our WP Builds.social.

Yes, that's a URL. WP Builds.social. It's our Mastodon install. Now, if I'd have said the word Mastodon to you about three months ago, the chances are you'd never have heard of it. Now it seems like you can't possibly avoid the word Mastodon. What? With all that's happening over on Twitter at the moment, a lot of people have decided to move their social.

AKA Twitter account over to Mastodon. We have been hosting a Mastodon install for well over a year and a half, and it's free. You can sign up WP Builds.social, and we're gonna try to keep it going, hopefully into the future, and you'll be able to use our instance as a way of interacting with any other instance on the internet. So come and join us. Hopeful. You'll be able to gain some benefit from using an open source platform like Mastodon.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro, the home of managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients, and get 30% of new purchase. You can find out more by going to go.me/WPBuilds. Once more, go.me/WPBuilds. And we really truly sincerely thank GoDaddy Pro for their continuing support of the WP Builds podcast.

Okay. What have we got on the podcast for you today? We've got Steve Burge. I met Steve for the first time at Word Camp US a few weeks ago.

Steve is currently the owner of Publish Press amongst some other things. For example, he's recently bought the Meta Slider plugin, but we spend quite a lot of the conversation today talking about his journey in open source software. From OS training, Dr. Jula, Magento, WordPress, all sorts of things were on that site.

Maybe you're still using it. And then he moved into the WordPress space and has got published press, which is a fabulous plugin. And recently, like I said, he just bought Meta Slider, which is curious at this time. Seems like sliders are in decline, but Steve has his reasons. You're about to discover a very nice, polite, and kind plugin developer.

So I. That you enjoy the podcast. I am joined on the podcast by Steve Burge. How you doing, Steve? Hey, great, thanks Nathan. It's nice to have you. Steve and I hooked up for the first time. I'm pretty sure it was the first time, maybe I'm not correct about that. But we hooked up at Word Camp us which now is probably about a month ago.

And since then, Steve's been in the news. Steve has a plugin called Publish Press, and I would re. That we're gonna talk about that a little bit later. It's at publish press.com. But he also bought something over the last couple of weeks, and that's half of what we're gonna talk about.

He's bought a slider plugin, so we're gonna talk about the acquisition landscape a bit and why you bought it and also published press. But before we get into that, Steve it's a dreadfully banal question, but we ask it pretty much all the time anyway. Give us a potted history. How is it that you ended up creating plugins for word.


[00:05:41] Steve Burge: is probably my third career. I've been a big believer of doing something for maybe eight, 10 years and then moving on to something new. And my first career was as a regular teacher, worked in middle schools, high schools. I loved it. I really enjoyed it. I probably would still be doing it now if it could actually pay the bills but as soon as I had wife, kids and mortgage, then suddenly being a teacher, particularly where I was living in the south of the United States in Georgia being a teacher just really did not pay the bills.

And so I looked around for something else to do and I'd been dabbling in open source just to make some extra money, really, because I really wasn't making much money as a teacher. And just on my lunch breaks and after school, I kickstarted a business in open source. This was just around 2005, 2006.

WordPress and also Juul, Magento, some other platforms were getting started. Yeah. And the niche I quickly found myself in was using my teaching skills to teach people how to use those platforms. Huh, nice. So first 10 years or so as a teacher, then we built a training company called OS Training and.

We, for a long time we did live training. We would fly up to Washington DC and help some government agencies, help their staff adapt open source. We would do training classes for them, and we did online video. We did some books collaborated with a bunch of people, probably published. probably close to 20 different books.

If you go on Amazon, you'll find a bunch of our books on there still. And it got to about the 10 year mark and I felt the itch to keep moving. And so we started reinvesting some of the training money into plugins. We started to see that The training was becoming maybe a little more commoditized.

Platforms like Emmi were getting were getting really popular. And also the part that I enjoyed most was the in-person training, actually physically going and. Teaching people face to face. And that more or less disappeared even before the pandemic. It disappeared with online video. And I remember going to one, one training class, the, some big semiconductor company flew us out to Silicon Valley and I was there for a week.

I walked into the room ready to teach all their staff and the staff run a video call in India. Oh, wow. , they were calling in. They'd flown me all the way out there to do a glorified Zoom meeting. And I stood in front of that Zoom meeting for a week, and at the end I walked out and said, Okay, it's time to do something else.

I don't wanna be doing Zoom training forever. And so we started dabbling in the plugin space and it really, it takes a while to. Understand the gaps in the market, understand the different leverage points. And after a couple of years of experimenting we sold some of the plugins we were working on and ended up focusing on publishing plugins.

We came to realize that although WordPress is sold to publishers and to writers, it. lacks a lot of essential publishing tools, especially for teams, for more than one person writing a blog. To give you an example, one of our most popular plugins now is a plugin which will simply unpublish your post on a future date.

[00:10:11] Nathan Wrigley: I use

[00:10:11] Steve Burge: this a publish press

[00:10:13] Nathan Wrigley: future is the name of that. Yeah, I use it. I used it today. Oh, Wonder. Fabulous . It's completely reliable.

[00:10:20] Steve Burge: E, every other platform we've ever used has that feature built into the core. Yes. And so why it's not in WordPress, I don't know. But. You, we spent increasingly more time with WordPress and started to see those gaps.

And I started to build our plugins to fill them in. And so we specialize now in plugins, which are really for for teams. For one of our, probably our fastest growing plugin now is an author's plugin, which allows you to attach 5, 6, 7 different authors to. Yeah,

[00:10:56] Nathan Wrigley: Let's get onto the whole publish press angle a little bit later cuz we've got this whole slide of business to talk about.

But just before then. OS training. I had a subscription I say had because I haven't touched it in a long time. I don't know if, is os training still a thing? Does it still function even though you are no longer involved?

[00:11:15] Steve Burge: Yeah, we sold it about three years ago to actually a lady who was in in Wood Camp San Diego with us.

Robbie is her name, Uhhuh, and she taught with us for a good number of years. We knew her from a long time back and when it came to sell, she was the ideal candidate. She had been working with us

[00:11:39] Nathan Wrigley: for a long time. Yeah I got a membership because at the time I was working with largely Magento and Droople really hadn't discover.

WordPress and the materials that I got out of os training because it was os training, open source, that was your specialty, wasn't it? You covered many bases. Whereas now, there's lots of specific companies that you can go to for education, just for example, around Droople or around WordPress and so on.

So it really appealed to me because I hadn't really stock. Flag in the sand with word pressure. I was still fiddling with things. And then when Droople seven went to eight, I finally said, No enough. I can't cope with these website rebuilds just because we've switched version number and came across WordPress because it had that backwards compatibility component.

There was just always that promise to, to keep things going. Regardless of whether it went from WordPress three to four, to five to six, now things would potentially in most situations, things would keep working and I found the promise of that really really fundamental to my decision to move over to WordPress.

That and the fact that it looked attractive, whereas things like Droople were pretty darn ugly on the back end. I've

[00:13:05] Steve Burge: gotta say that the backwards compatibility is the killer feature when we launched os. We deliberately aimed at covering multiple bases. We did the magenta, we did the duple, we did the WordPress, we did we did jula dabbled in all sorts of things, and one by one those platforms killed themselves off with major updates.

Yep. Two, seven to eight. It was an entirely different platform. Yeah. It had the same name, but the code base was 100% different. Magenta one to Magento two just blew the audience away. Yeah. Ju has done the same thing in the past and it, WordPress has become the dominant platform, become a monoculture.

because of backwards compatibility. It's kept everyone

[00:14:00] Nathan Wrigley: on board. Yeah. It's interesting because we've obviously gone through something over the last let's say two and a half years, roughly speaking, where it feels like moham. Gutenberg was like the Droople eight moment for WordPress where things suddenly became very different and the ability to code and react was suddenly a thing.

And various other bits and pieces anyway was a bit of an aside there. But yeah, fascinating. Really a fabulous product in its day. Like I said if it's still going I wish them well. But you've moved on and you are now doing publish press. Just to that point, did you, when you stepped away from OS training and decided you, you only said the word plugin, does that imply that you exclusively work with WordPress?

Cuz over on the DR side they were called modules and I dunno what they were called on the jula side, but are you just WordPress now?

[00:14:53] Steve Burge: We do have a legacy business in the gym space that still has two staff members. , both Droople and Jula and Magento to some extent are still just ticking along.

Yeah. Probably at maybe 20% of where they had been in the past. Yeah. But we are at two people on the Jula side and about 10 on the WordPress

[00:15:22] Nathan Wrigley: side now. Okay. Yeah. That gives us an idea. Yeah.

[00:15:26] Steve Burge: And the growth rates are vastly different. Publish press growing 50, 60% year on year, whereas our JU business is just steadily declining.

[00:15:38] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Okay. During the intervening month since I was with you in San Diego some news popped up the other week about the acquisition. We've heard about acquisitions over the last three years, almost endlessly. Seems like they've, that news has dried up. It was almost one a week and then it, a little bit of a hiatus, and then suddenly we, I learned that you publish press had.

Meta slider. Now curiously and I hope I don't put my foot in it here, Steve. It seems to me that sliders have, rewind the clock 10 years, they were all the rage, right? Everybody was putting sliders on their websites and slowly, as time has gone on, maybe to say that they've, that they're less popular now than they were 10 years ago for a whole variety of reasons.

So it seems like a curious thing for you to buy. Just really just want you to spell out what your thought process was. Buying a plugin called Meta Slider, which you can find if you just Google it. But Meta Slider is spelled exactly as you'd imagine.com. What's, what were you thinking ?

[00:16:49] Steve Burge: To some extent to get a head start, you have to be doing, willing to do things that other people.

It may not be. And so I think quite a lot of people took a look at this when it was available for sale and turned their nose up for exactly that reason. But sliders are still surprisingly resilient, particularly among people that will build their own websites. There's still the demand, still the audience there.

If you go through a web designer, the web designer may try. Persuade you out of it. But there's a big audience of people who build their own websites who still want a slider. The plugin has 700,000 installs. Good

[00:17:43] Nathan Wrigley: grief. Wow. Huh. Okay. That's all I need to, that make explain some of that makes, that's astonishing.


[00:17:53] Steve Burge: Okay. Reasons why we brought it. One the number of people that actually use slideshow is vastly underestimated that there's a a lot of users out there who still want them on their website. Even if people who do it professionally like us may no longer think they're cool. So the audience is still there and the way we've approach.

Building publish press, and also a third leg to our business called Taxo Press, which deals with taxonomies and organizing and categorizing content in WordPress is we've taken a suite approach. So Publish Press has nine plugins at the moment, which really attacks similar problems from the same angle.

And Taxo press, and I'm gonna break a little news for you here. Is shortly going to add more than just the main plugin. We have an acquisition that's about ready to go over there, plus one or two extra features. Nice. And on the with Metas Slider, we very much envision it being a suite of image plug.

So if you install Metas Slider, the previous owners have a gallery, a photo gallery that is in a beta version. There's a light box, a mod plugin that comes with it. And so publish press, we've had a suite of multiple plugins which all attack the problems of publishing in WordPress. And with Meta Slide, we very much intend to tackle.

Image problems in WebPress

[00:19:48] Nathan Wrigley: when you when you obviously decided you were gonna at least look into this. , did you have conversations with the owners at the time and get to the root of what was going on with them, was there a particular reason, had they, despite the fact that there maybe 700,000 people having installed it, was it more of a difficult business proposition for them?

Were they just, I don't know, maybe working on other things and I'd lost the mojo to work on this. Just wondering from their point of view why they put it on the market.

[00:20:21] Steve Burge: Oh, sure. The plugin. A little bit of a complicated history. It was originally owned by the people that do Updraft Plus and WP Optimize.

Got it. And in fact, if you look at the METAS slide site, it still has exactly the same brand of Orange that you'll see in those other plugins

[00:20:43] Nathan Wrigley: too. Yeah. Yeah. That makes, Yeah, I see that now. Yeah. And

[00:20:47] Steve Burge: so I think Updraft Plus is. growing really fast and really becoming quite a quite a spectacular business for them.

They have a backup vault. Updraft Plus has well over a million, maybe 2 million users now. Good grief. So they're doing great. And I think Metas Slider was a kind of afterthought for them. And then they sold it to a a company called Extend.

[00:21:20] Nathan Wrigley: Yes, of course. Yes. I'd forgotten that piece, but yeah, I remember it now.

Yeah. Yeah.

[00:21:25] Steve Burge: Who are doing interesting things with with Gutenberg and also with onboarding users. They're, I think they're really aimed now at hosting companies trying to create a really smooth onboarding experience when you first start WordPress, that you go through the onboarding wizard, you type in.

what kind of site you want to build and they will pre-populate everything for you. Yeah. And so they'd originally aimed to go more down the Gutenberg line, and so they took on Metas slider with the idea of incorporating slideshow into Gutenberg and boosting their user base. But they took a bit of a deviation.

into the onboarding and the full site construction. And so for them too, it became

[00:22:21] Nathan Wrigley: a bit of an afterthought and. In step, Steve Burge and decides to take it on. I read an article that Sarah Gooding wrote in the tavern where she spoke to you. I dunno if that was on a call or via email or whatever it might be.

And the, the usual questions were being asked in terms of what's your future? What are you planning that's gonna be different to what was in the past? So forgive me for re rehashing that question once again, but just tell us what. Your intention is, maybe it's just to keep it exactly as it is, I don't know.

Or maybe it's to develop it and pull it in a certain direction. Just give us a bit of an insight there. Oh sure.

[00:23:05] Steve Burge: If you install it, there is the photo gallery that's in beta. So we will flesh that out and my hope is that the slideshow will keep on going strong, but within say two or three years, there will be all sorts of associated.

Image products. There'll be a photo gallery. There'll be a a very cool modal popup plugin. And we'll look for other holes and other features that we can fill into when it comes to the use of images and what press. And so the slideshow is the base, and we'll become the leverage point and then, Add on all sorts

[00:23:52] Nathan Wrigley: of extra products to it.

Yeah. It's interesting that you talk about the, the 700,000 users, and I guess to some extent I'm in a bit of an echo chamber when I talk to people in WordPress. I'm largely talking to people who've. Given over their life to WordPress in one way, shape, or form. Like you, you are building plugins.

I'm talking to hosting companies, I'm talking to theme developers and so on and I very often, I find myself forgetting about the, probably the typical WordPress user maybe the sort of 80, 90, 90 5% of the user base isn't really interested too much in the technicalities and whether things are cool or.

All of that kind of stuff. They just want to use WordPress as a conduit to get their content online and, so the market is there and let's put all of that stuff to one side. It may not be that they're cool anymore, but a significant proportion of the people aren't even having that conversation.

They think it's cool and they're gonna jolly well use it.

[00:24:51] Steve Burge: Oh yeah, I've wasted and wasted a lot of time and made a lot of mistakes, building things that I thought were cool, rather than what people would actually buy and what end users

[00:25:04] Nathan Wrigley: thought were cool. I I confess I haven't really played with meta slider, there are a few commercial rivals and I've played with some of those and never cease to amaze me actually the, what you could do because you get this idea that it's a slider, things go left, things go right.

There's a little circle I icon to indicate you're on two outta five, but they really do a lot more than that, don't they? In, in, in many cases they're almost like, like mini page builder. And they can really throw out some incredibly complicated layouts. And I dunno if meta slide is the same, but I'm guessing it's more than just, slide left, slide, right?

[00:25:41] Steve Burge: Oh yeah. It got features such as showing all your latest content. You could create a a list of all the latest posts on your side videos. Yeah it's far more than a. , a simple old fashioned slideshow, but really the core is still doing that well because that's what people want. I was talking with a lady yesterday who she runs a small theater and she just wants a slideshow on a homepage, which will show the current five or six performances at the theater.

Yeah. That will rotate every 10 seconds so people can see them all. If she hired an expensive web designer, they might say that's a bad idea. But that's what she wants and it works for her.

[00:26:35] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. At the end of the day, the customer is right, I guess would be the motif there is, this is meta slider is it on the repo?

Is there a.org version or is it just the the version that we can [email protected]?

[00:26:51] Steve Burge: Oh the.org version is the one with the 700,000 installs.

[00:26:57] Nathan Wrigley: Okay you can search for a meta slider over in the.org repo. Okay. Let's put that conversation to bed. First of all, I hope it's successful.

Oh, thank you. Thanks for talking to us about that. But the thing that's obviously got you going in this industry and in a position to to be able to acquire other things presumably, is the investment. And the returns on that investment that you're getting from Publish Press, this is one of those plugins that I feel is under the radar, but really important if you are a team and you can find [email protected].

There's no weirdness there. It's exactly as you'd imagine. Just tell us, you've illustrated a little bit of what it's for, but give us the sort of 10,000 foot pitch as to what it does, why you built it, and so on and so forth. Sure.

[00:27:49] Steve Burge: So the background is in some of the government work that I mentioned earlier we used to do a lot of work for the US government and they were all on Ruple.

And we'd walk into these very big deployments with big teams, and quite often we'd find out that they were not actually willing to, or very keen to use Dr. We'd be teaching them for a few days and they'd get comfortable with me. And when I'd sit down with them at lunch or at a break, they'd say things like, Why didn't we end up using WordPress for this?

And these would be these big US government deployments or big mor multinational companies. And the answer would come back while we looked at WordPress, but it really didn't have any very, User management, access control multi-user publishing workflows. It was really limited in that sense.

And that really got us thinking that these end users had really identified a key problem in WordPress that the publishing workflows the people that really care about their. Particularly those who are forced to care about it. We did some work with some big pharmaceutical companies where if they published the wrong thing, they've got a lawsuit in their future.

Yeah. And they really cared about making sure the approval processes were good, making sure that the steps they went through before publishing content were accurate. And they wanted a record of who had done what. Basically all sorts of problems that emerge once you have more than just one or two people writing content on your site.

These companies might have multiple people from multiple different departments or collaborating together, and they had analyzed WordPress kick the tires on it and found that it was lacking. And so that was , the space that people were telling us existed in WordPress, and so Publish Press is really aimed at that space.

At Teams, there's about nine plugins now, and they all do different things around allowing people to collaborate or control what people can do on a WordPress site around publishing.

[00:30:31] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Do you know what it fascinating if you've never used a different CMS and you. Simply used WordPress. It is really remarkable.

I do remember the first time I seriously opened WordPress and thought, Okay, I'm gonna dedicate some serious time to this. I remember thinking time and again, why can't it do this? Why can't it do that? And the granularity of things in Dr. So as an example, it was totally possible with it, it came into core.

There was this module which is what Duple called plugins. Basically there, there was one called Views and it was this astonishingly powerful engine. To create different displays and layouts and pull the database and pull things out. And you could do it all in a gooey, and this is decades ago now.

And also the capability to have the permissions model in Duple was just fabulous. In the end it was a very confusing box list of tick boxes. But whenever you threw. Into Dr. Pull, Let's say you, you added a capability via a module that would then introduce capabilities for things like can, are you gonna allow other people on the site to, to use this if they've got a certain user role?

Yes they can. And if they don't have a certain user on, no, they can't. And user roles were completely baked into core. You with the click of a button, you could invent a new user and assign them all these different permissions. And I remember coming to word present thinking, where is. Like literally, where is it?

And of course it isn't. It's just simply not there. And so I never thought really about that too much, but bravo, for you figuring out that somebody needed to do it.

[00:32:26] Steve Burge: I didn't really figure it out. We were told ,

[00:32:29] Nathan Wrigley: Because the best, they're the best decisions when somebody instruct you on what you need to do.

Yeah, that's great. So essentially publish, we're talking to the, Sorry. You carry a,

[00:32:41] Steve Burge: I was gonna say, the people that we were talking to really hated using Dr. Yep. But it had these features that they wanted. Yeah.

[00:32:47] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. It was difficult to use. There was this giant matrix of tick boxes which really was by the time you scrolled down to the 50th row of tick boxes.

Do you remember this? Like the 50th row of tick boxes, and there were like eight different user rolls all spread out in front of you. You think, Oh, what, Which one wants. Completely forgotten. So it did get a bit overwhelming, but it was brilliant. At the same time, you really could build up teams of different people with different capabilities in a default version of dr.

Anyway, this is not w sorry, this is not DR. Builds, this is WP Builds. So publish press aims to tackle a lot of that heavy lifting. You say there's nine plugins. I'm currently looking at the website and I can see eight and I'm gonna. Name them all. And then maybe if you can identify the missing one.

We've got publish Press excuse me, publish press authors. Basically all of them are prefaced by the word publish press, so I'm not gonna say that over and over again. Authors, blocks, capabilities, checklists there's just publish press, which I guess is the sort of root of it all. I'm guessing you need that for any of the other stories, the.

Yeah. Permissions, revisions and series. And then, so this is on the homepage, publish press.com. You can see them all. These are just different components that you can add in on top of publish press. Is that how it works? If you want to be able to create user roles and capabilities for those, you'd need to add in.

I don d know. The capabilities ex sorry, I'm getting . I'm now halfway in Magento, halfway in Dr. And halfway in WordPress. Is this, are these plugins that you add in order to gain those capabilities?

[00:34:31] Steve Burge: No. The all tackle slightly different problems. The one that's missing is the future one that we talked about earlier that will unpublished content on a particular date in the future.

And we don't have a pro version of that yet that's why it's not listed on the site. But for example, authors will add more than one author to a single post. Revisions allows you to make a copy of published content and then take it through an approval process before re publishing it again.

Checklists allows you to have a list of items that must be complete. Content is published. So all images have to have an alt tag. You have to have a minimum number of words, things like that. Capabilities allows you to have access control, basically. The basically if you install it, you get the big you get the big matrix.

The big list of, yeah, the big list of check boxes that we talked about. And so they're all separate plugins, but they all basically tackle that same. The same type of problem, how to handle having a lot of users on your site.

[00:35:44] Nathan Wrigley: Do you know what's fascinating? I'm looking at this and I'm, my eye is being drawn for reasons that I don't quite understand.

My eye is being drawn to check checklists. I basically do the WP Builds website. It's essentially, it's just me, there's no real team going on in the background. And so a lot of the things like, multiple authors and. Permissions for those autisms, all of that kind of stuff is moot for me.

But I can well imagine where this, the use case for that would be really critical. But I, whenever I publish anything on WP Built, I go through this chick, this checklist in my head, and it involves prop, all of the things that you've just described. Have I uploaded a featured image?

Yes. Has it got an alt tag? Yes. Have I assigned a category? Yes. Is there at least one taxonomy aside to it? You get the idea, right? I go through this checklist and in my case I sometimes forget and I publish it and a couple of days later I think, ah, I forgot to add in the YouTube video that was supposed to go there.

And I have to go back and I have to amend it. So that, I think, that I think has got, that's got potential for me, just me, because it will prevent me from publishing things that I know shouldn't be publish.

[00:36:58] Steve Burge: What? That plugin is the absolutely perfect example of what we talked about earlier with end users.

We have, we've acquired quite a few plugins over the years, plugins that have proven to be popular and checklists was one that we built from scratch, and I thought it was cool. For exactly the reasons you described, and whenever I would talk to anyone in the WordPress business, they would say, Ah, that's cool, just like you did.

That's exactly what I. , and you know what, it's by far our least popular plug-in

[00:37:34] Nathan Wrigley: It's great. We're obviously in a minority. We both think it's really cool. Ah, that's brilliant. But okay, so yeah, I can well imagine that, a hybrid of all of these different plug-ins that you've got. One of the big properties that I read that I know is on WordPress for example is TechCrunch.

Now I've no. What the number of staff in Tech Crunch is. But basically they don't make mistakes. If a post comes out, maybe the wording is wrong and they've made some error in grammar and what have you, but they, you don't see a post without a featured image. You don't see a post without some taxonomy attached to it.

And there's no way that's by accident. So they must have some sort of editorial process. And I love the idea of, I don't know, you've got the editor in. You could create that capability in publish press and presumably you could assign tasks so that junior writers, new writers, they can do certain things.

They could write text and they can perhaps save it as a draft, but they can't finally publish it. This is the idea, right? You get this complex mesh of different capabilities for different people, so that ultimately something that shouldn't be published because it goes against the guidelines of the company.

The so p it can't be published. That's. Is that basically what you're doing? Yeah,

[00:38:50] Steve Burge: exactly. That is a probably the most complex use case cuz doing something like that does take. Quite a lot of effort to build and manage. So that's at the higher end of what we do. A lot of people will install our plugins just for something far simpler, such as having a little checklist of items to do on the side of their post or just being able to unpublish content on a future date.

But we've very deliberately aimed what we do at that more enterprise, the more. I was gonna say high quality, that's probably the wrong word. Definitely aimed at the people who have more complicated requirements. And you mentioned some famous users on the front of the site. That's deliberate.

We've I got some advice from from Josh Pty when we were getting started. And he was very much adamant about aiming at the top right segment of the market, right? Yeah. At the people who can pay more. And to this day he probably gave me that advice five years ago. To this day, I don't think anyone has ever complained about the price of our plugins simply because we're aiming at the audience for which.

150 or 200 bucks a year was

[00:40:22] Nathan Wrigley: ridiculously cheap. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So the other one that's drawing my eye is publish press blocks. Tell us about that, because that looks interesting. I'll just give you the, give the audience the high profile, the. 10,000 foot high version. It says, Take control of the new Gutenberg editor with user addition profile configuration and 20 plus new blocks and options.

Give us a bit of an insight into how this works and why you've decided to create some new blocks and not just use all the core blocks.

[00:40:59] Steve Burge: well blocks is, a, one of those ones that probably falls into the category of doing something that is a little too cool. The blocks plugin market is very busy.

There's just about everyone has a Gutenberg plugin with lots of different options. Yeah. And we've been developing ours over the last year or so to focus on more general items. So at the moment, You can control which blocks, including the core blocks, which blocks people are able to see. So you can remove blocks from editors or remove blocks from from contributors, for example.

We're moving towards adding much more general publishing controls for blocks. Just about every block's plugin has. It's like a souped up image block or, Yeah. Maybe a testimonial block or things like that. And so that was probably one of the things where we misjudged slightly. And we're maneuvering that plugin to add more general access controls for blocks.

[00:42:19] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Block locking and the user permissions model is a new thing, isn't it? In six. Two, I believe at some point we're gonna get more granular control of all of these kind of things. And I really feel that's a missing piece and it fits right into what you are doing. So at the moment, anybody who's got the capability to go into a page or a post can fiddle and delete things accidentally.

And it seems like there's a. A real groundswell of support for the idea that wouldn't it be nice if we could create a capability and, I dunno, they can add a title block or they can edit the title, but they can't remove it. And so on and so forth. So yeah, I'm completely wedded to the block editor now.

I use it for more or less everything. Yeah. Interesting. I, see this as the approach in the future and I dunno how granular WordPress cause locking capabilities are going to be. I think, maybe it'll just be that you can drag things in and delete things and maybe edit things.

But I'm wondering if yours goes a little bit further. For example, do you have things like a certain user role might have the capability to, I don't know, edit a title? But the title then goes into a draft status until it's been approved by somebody higher up. The food chain?

[00:43:38] Steve Burge: No. Everything that we do at the moment works on the post level.

Okay. Yeah, so you could edit the post, change the title, and then submit the change for approval. . Got it. But it would be the whole post and not just

[00:43:52] Nathan Wrigley: the Right. That kinda makes sense, doesn't it? Yeah. So okay, you mentioned pricing. You mentioned that you are fairly solid with your pricing.

You're happy with it? I don't see the pricing on the website. Maybe that, I'm just missing it. Give us a rundown of where we are in October, 2022. What's the what's the prices of all the various different bits and pieces of published press?

[00:44:16] Steve Burge: Oh, it. It's about 130 bucks for the entire suite of the pro plugins.

Nice. Or you can buy them individually. ,

[00:44:27] Nathan Wrigley: Ah, I see. I've just found the buy now button, which obviously was lurking there the entire time. I got it. Okay, so let's be clear. So there's three plans that I can see. There's a business plan 1 29 a year and it's got various limitations in terms of one team member and there's an agency plan at 2 49.

Three team members. And then there's a unlimited where you can have up to 10 team members, but they all seem to carry all of the blocks with them. Each of the plan carries the same amount of things. The business plan, the more affordable one is one site, the agency is five sites, and then the unlimited plan, guess what?

It's unlimited number of sites. Okay. There we go. Thank you. I found it. Finally,

[00:45:12] Steve Burge: yet? A. An entirely free slash pro system. We, when we did that initial dabbling, when we started in the plugin business, we tried on different approaches, such as add-ons, where you'd get the free plugin and. When you joined, you would get separate add-ons to install, but we found that to be very messy and people would look at a list of 60 add-on.

And they had no idea which ones to install. Yeah. And so we've gone, we ended up selling those plugins that use that model and everything we do is either you have the free version or the pro

[00:46:02] Nathan Wrigley: version installed. Yeah. That's nice. Yeah. That's nice and clear. So you're gonna be [email protected] if anything, as interested you today.

That's all the questions I've got for you, Steve. Firstly, just before we wrap it up, tell us where, apart from published breast.com are you available on socials? Do you like receiving email? Do you wanna let our users, our listeners know any places that they might find you? Oh,

[00:46:29] Steve Burge: sure. Steve burge.com is probably the best place to drop me an email and that has my socials on.

[00:46:38] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you very much indeed. Yeah, good luck with Meta Slider and obviously luck is not needed, but continued success with published press. Steve Burge, thanks for chatting to me today. Oh, wonderful. Thanks. . I hope that you enjoyed the podcast. Lovely chatting to Steve Burge today, all about the many things that he has been doing in the open source world in the recent past.

Lovely, lovely chat. Obviously, it goes without saying. If you wanna contact Steve, that would be really nice, but also if you've got any commentary that you want to add to the post, head over to WP Builds.com. Search therapist over number 304, and leave us a comment there. And if it concerns Steve, I can always forward it to.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro, GoDaddy Pro, the home of manage WordPress hosting That includes free domain, SSL, and 24 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place in voice clients and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by going togo.me/WPBuilds, and we really do thank GoDaddy Pro for their continued support of the WP Builds podcast.

Okay. Remember our Black Friday page, WP Builds.com/black, our awards page, WP Builds.com/awards and our mastered on install WP Builds.social. Join us there if none of those appeal to you.

Why don't you join us next week for another podcast episode? You can [email protected]. There's. There's a form right on the front of the website, which you can subscribe to. And if you enjoy WordPress news, join us for our weekly show this week in WordPress, 2:00 PM UK time. It'll be at WP Builds.com/live.

Have a great week. I'm gonna fade in some cheesy music. Bye for now.

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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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