Wordpress News

WPTavern: #4 – Dan Maby on the Importance of the WordPress Community

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 14:00
About this episode.

On the podcast today we have Dan Maby.

Dan has been a user of WordPress for many years. As an agency owner he’s used it to build client websites, but, as is so often the case, he came for the software and got caught up in the community.

Starting out by attending some local WordPress meetups, he engaged with his fellow WordPressers and enjoying the events he was attending. Attendance turned into organising and over time Dan became the lead of four WordPress Meetups spread all over the UK.

Meetups led to an interest in WordCamps, where he again stepped up to take on leadership roles at WordCamp London.

In the podcast today we talk about the importance of the WordPress community, not just to him as an individual, but to the future of the project as a whole. After all, it’s software created by people, and the health of that community will have a direct impact upon the contributions they make.

We recorded this podcast at a time unlike any other. In person events have had to stop; the WordCamps and Meetups have all gone virtual. Perhaps there’s light at the end of that tunnel, but it’s a perfect time to look back and see how the community has adapted to these new circumstances.

We get into whether hybrid WordPress events should be the new norm, what lessons the community can learn from the past year, and what Dan and his colleagues have done to stay connected and part of a vibrant community. They’ve built a platform to enable events and plan on releasing it as a WordPress plugin soon.

We also discuss an event which Dan has been a key player in organising – WordFest Live, a 24-hour online event with a focus upon learning and positive mental health. 

It’s a lovely episode with a member of the community who has been giving back for many, many years.

Useful links.

WordFest Live

Big Orange Heart

WordPress Meetups

WordCamp Central

TranscriptNathan Wrigley [00:00:00]

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Jukebox Podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley. Jukebox is a podcast for the WordPress community. Each month, we bring you someone who is part of that community to give you an insight into a topic or person who you might not be familiar with. If you enjoy the podcast, you can subscribe to future episodes by going to wptavern dot com forward slash feed forward slash podcast.

If you’ve got any feedback about the podcast, which could be a suggestion of a potential guest or a subject, then head over to wptavern dot com forward slash contact forward slash jukebox. There’s a contact form there for you to complete, and we’d certainly welcome your input. Thanks in advance. If you reach out.

Okay, so on the podcast today, we have Dan Maby. Dan has been a user of WordPress for many years. As an agency owner, he’s used it to build client websites, but as is often the case, he came for the software and got caught up in the community. Starting out by attending some local WordPress meetups, he engaged with his fellow WordPressers and enjoyed the events he was attending. Attendance turned into organizing, and over time, Dan became the lead for four WordPress meetups spread all over the UK. Meetups led to an interest in WordCamps, where he again stepped up to take on leadership roles at WordCamp London. In the podcast today, we talk about the importance of the WordPress community, not just to him as an individual, but to the future of the project as a whole. After all it’s software created by people, and the health of that community will have a direct impact upon the contributions they make. We recorded this podcast at a time unlike any other. In-person events have had to stop the; WordCamps and meet-ups have all gone virtual. Perhaps there’s a little light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a perfect time to look back and see how the community has adapted to these new circumstances.

We get into whether hybrid WordPress events should be the new norm. What lessons the community can learn from the past year, and what Dan and his colleagues have done to stay connected and part of a vibrant community. They’ve built a platform to enable events and plan on releasing it as a WordPress plugin soon.

We also discuss an event which Dan has been a key player in organizing, WordFest Live. It’s a 24 hour online event with a focus upon learning and positive mental health. It’s a lovely episode with a member of the community who has been giving back for many, many years.

If any of the points raised here, resonate with you, be sure to head over and find the post at wptavern dot com forward slash podcast, and leave a comment there.

And so without further delay, I bring you Dan Maby.

Am joined on the podcast today by Dan Maby. Hello, Dan.

Dan Maby [00:03:46]

Good. Speak to you.

Nathan Wrigley [00:03:46]

Yeah, it’s really nice to have you on the podcast today. Dan and I have a long history of chatting with each other, so this may end up being quite informal at times, but nevertheless, we’re going to talk today about the WordPress community and events in general.

To paint some context into that, I wonder Dan, if you wouldn’t mind spending just a couple of moments, introducing yourself and perhaps explain your history. Not just with WordPress, the software, but also your history with WordPress as a community.

Dan Maby [00:04:17]

Yeah, absolutely. I guess my journey started 15 years ago with WordPress. Funnily enough, we had obviously the 18th birthday quite recently of WordPress, and I was looking back at my history, trying to figure out what had been doing with it. And I realized that I’d started with version 1.5, which at the time was really quite a major introduction. Lots of features in that 1.5 update that we still recognize today in the platform. And it’s been, an interesting journey with WordPress and the community. One that I’ve absolutely loved over that 15 year journey. But really the journey for me with the community started, I think it was around 2012. I was looking for a way to connect with people that were working with and were interested using WordPress. I was working in London at the time in the UK, looked at a meetup. I came across, there was a WordPress meetup that was being run by Keith Devon at the time, the WordPress London meetup. So I went, I headed over to the meetup, came from my day job at the time, which means I was suited and booted. Wandered into this, a room with a bunch of WordPress developers and users. And felt entirely out of place in that in that first meeting. I was the only person there in a suit. Everybody else was nice and casual, but the welcome that I received in that meetup was second to none. It was really an incredible experience, a first experience of the, the wider WordPress community.

And it was actually at that event that Keith had asked if anybody was looking to get involved and support in the delivery of the event and that having been there literally for my first time, stuck my hand up, and that’s really where it all started. And very quickly moved into a situation where Keith decided to step away from the event to focus on other things, focus on his agency, et cetera. I’ve been running the event ever since. And the WordPress London meetup has been a key aspect to everything that I’ve been doing within the community. It’s been a real pleasure to be able to be a custodian of a that event.

Nathan Wrigley [00:06:16]

You have a lot more strings to your bow than just the WordPress London meetup. Do you want to tell us a little bit more about some of the other things that you’re, well, were involved in? We’ll get onto that a little bit later, about the way that things have had to cease, but tell us apart from the WordPress London meetup, tell us about the other things that you were doing on a monthly basis.

Dan Maby [00:06:37]

Sure, so, for me the community was really the important bit, the people within the community. I really grew to develop a, a passion for the people that we were connecting with. And from that point from the running of the WPLDN event, I realized that actually there were other areas that were lacking in meetups across the UK. There were plenty of people running, plenty of meetups, and I was really enjoying being part of that kind of organizers community, if you like a meetup organizers community. But as I said, I noticed that there were areas that were lacking events, even in my local area, as well as further a field, I actually got to the point where I was organizing and leading four meetups a month across the UK, which saw me traveling quite substantial miles on a monthly basis, just to enable these communities to grow and develop.

And it was a real pleasure to be able to work with local communities. I always encouraged community members within the local area to come on board as co-hosts and enable them to take the lead and to sow the seed and then move on and help that community thrive. And it was going fantastically well. You know we had, as I say, we have four meetups running across the UK, and then suddenly, obviously we’re thrown into the situation where we couldn’t physically come together in person.

Nathan Wrigley [00:07:56]

Before we move on to that, perhaps we could paint a little picture about the importance of WordPress in your life, because it strikes me that many people, they may use WordPress as a piece of software. And that’s the end of it. They have really no understanding that there is a community which can support you in your WordPress knowledge, but also it can be much more than that. And I think it’s fair to say that in your case, many of the people that you’ve met through WordPress have become actual friends who you actually socialize with. Enjoy their company and stray into non WordPress things as well. So I’m just wondering if you could tell us how it has helped you, but perhaps get into the stuff that’s not to do with WordPress. Have you met people that you’ve really jelled with and found camaraderie with.

Dan Maby [00:08:41]

I think this is the the beauty of the WordPress community. It’s so much more than just the technology. I found it to be quite a unique community as well, in that the way people are open, the way people will communicate and discuss and talk about topics, which, by all rights where we attended an event together, we’re essentially often competing with one another. I run an agency which focuses on design and development services, and I will go and speak with many other people that also run agencies. And essentially we are competitors, but that level of competition doesn’t really surface too much in the WordPress community. It’s predominantly a community that’s very supportive and people are very open to discussing issues. Myself, I was seeking out connection, I wanted to be around like-minded individuals because I was in a situation where I was very isolated. I was looking for people to connect with that had an understanding of what I was experiencing. And that’s really what the community has been about for me. It has been about this idea of having similar experiences, having, understanding of the challenges that we can face if we’re working alone. And my company has run with distributed team members, so I don’t have a central office with a team that all works together. We work in our home offices. You miss out on that ability to be able to have those conversations that you would have, potentially in-person. That for me was where I was seeking out the community, and as I did that, I realized that this community really was very open to discussing many issues and very open to sharing experiences and knowledge, which was unique for me at the time. And as you say, that’s then led on to building of relationships and those relationships have gone further afield outside your outside of specifically WordPress related. Very happily, I’ve got some wonderful friends across the community now, and they are friends and the people that I will hopefully have the pleasure of knowing for the rest of my life. Nathan, I count you in amongst that I can remember a conversation you and I had in a car park post a meetup many years ago and, it’s been wonderful to watch the journey that you as an individual have gone on through your experiences of WordPress and podcasting, et cetera, and the many branches and tendrils that we have within the community. It’s a very rich experience. I would say being part of the WordPress community.

Nathan Wrigley [00:11:04]

Yeah, I would completely agree. And for those people who perhaps listening to this podcast, obviously this audio will go on in perpetuity, it may be that they’re listening to this and the world has become more normal. Shall we say? Perhaps we’re allowed to meet up in person again. If that were the case, what would be your best advice for digging into that community? What would your best search be? What would be the best way to go about finding where your local events are taking place?

Dan Maby [00:11:32]

First off is look for meetups. There are thousands of meetups across the globe that are run by local communities, and I really would encourage anybody if you haven’t previously. Take a look head over to you know, there are various sites, whether it’s meetup dot com, Eventbrite, et cetera, all those kinds of events websites. Do a search for your local area for WordPress meetup event. Sign yourself up and head over. My personal experience and something that I’ve spoken about many times historically is simply getting involved in these events. We have this wonderful ecosystem of WordCamps across the WordPress space. And these WordCamps are, you’re basically taking a meetup onto a grander scale, again, encouraging local communities to try and run those WordCamps and larger events, but that can sometimes feel quite daunting, just simply turning up to an event. So if you can get yourself embedded in some way, and volunteering is by far and away, the simplest and best way to do that. Every single one of these meetups and WordCamps are run by teams of volunteers. So signing up as a volunteer, simply putting your hand up and saying, yes, I’ll get involved in some way. It gives you a purpose within the event. So you’re not simply having to be there and trying to figure out where you fit within it. You’re there and you have a role. And this was certainly my experience of getting into the WordCamps space. I’ve volunteered. I can remember experience at WordCamp Europe, or I was doing some meeting and greeting as people were arriving, and it just opened up so many interesting and wonderful conversations with people that I still have very interesting, wonderful conversations with today. And it’s just that embedding yourself in it and enabling yourself to be part of that community. First step I’d say, check meetup, look for an event. Sign yourself up, head over there. And if there’s any way that you can get involved, do. Most meetup organizers are so grateful for anybody putting their hand up and say, yeah, look, I’ll get involved or stepping forward and saying look, do you need any help with this at all? And that help can vary in so many ways. As a meetup organizer, there’s an awful lot often goes on behind the scenes that maybe attendees aren’t always aware of that really go into delivering these events.

Nathan Wrigley [00:13:45]

What is the difference between a meetup and a WordCamp? Probably, if you’ve attended, either of those you’ll know the difference, but if you’re new to this whole WordPress community thing, it might be good to paint a bit of clear blue sky between those two different things.

Dan Maby [00:14:01]

So if I use London as an example. Our WordPress London meetup, when we were in person delivering these events, we were seeing the, of an average of a hundred people in attendance every month. So this would run every once a month in our local environment. So the focus for both WordCamps and meetups really are about encouraging local organizers to run them. So our meetup, we feature between two and three speakers on a night. It’s usually around two, two and a half hours long. And then post that within, have a bit of a social gathering. Where we continue doing a bit of networking, et cetera. The meetup is a really a trimmed down version, should we say? Or that’s probably negative, a negative way of putting it to be honest. The WordCamp is an enlarged version of meetup. Probably the best way of putting it and WordCamps are essentially that. We’re taking the concept of a meetup, but on a much, much grander scale. And they don’t have to be enormous. I’ve attended some you know, a hundred attendee WordCamps and they’ve been absolutely spectacular, really personal. And I really enjoy the kind of smaller hundred, hundred and fifty attendee WordCamps, but equally we also have some much, much larger ones. So again, if I look at WordCamp London, the last event we ran we had around 650, I believe was 650 attendees at that event. If we then look at the regional WordCamps. So the likes of WordCamp US, WordCamp Europe or WordCamp Asia. Yeah, WordCamp Europe. I believe there’s three and a half thousand attendees at the last event, the last in-person event. So they’re often spread across multiple days as well, but not always often there’s a, a single day WordCamp as well, but the one telling difference between a WordCamp and a meetup is the WordCamps often have what we call a contributor day associated with them as well, which is a day focused entirely on contributing to WordPress in some way, shape or form. And there are so many ways to contribute. We’re not just simply talking about writing code and contributing in that way. There’s documentation, there’s marketing, there’s the multi-lingual there’s many ways to get involved. So I really, again, would encourage anybody that’s thinking about attending a WordCamp, once we are back to a situation where we are safe to be able to return to in-person events. And obviously some of the virtual events I really would encourage joining the, contributor day in any way that you can.

Nathan Wrigley [00:16:15]

So with all of these events going on, obviously we’ve got a thriving piece of software, which is turning out to be widely used over 40% of the web. We have the statistic now using WordPress. So the software is one side, but obviously we’ve also, as you’ve just painted a picture that we’ve got this thriving community as well. An awful lot of the project perhaps was going on, at these community events, a lot of things were being organized, so contributor days, possibly different teams meeting up at various times at these events. And then sometime last year, the world paused and is still in a state of pause. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on whether the project as a whole has been stifled. I know that we’ve gone online and we’ll come onto that in a moment, but I’m just wondering if you’ve got any thoughts about the impact that the world pausing and not being able to meet up in person. If the project itself has been stymied by that.

Dan Maby [00:17:14]

I think this is a really interesting discussion. I can sit on both sides of the fence here. I think there is definitely an element of fatigue within the community at this stage. And I think that fatigue is being born out of the fact that potentially we are not having those in-person connections, the wonderful conversations that can be born out of the hallway track, you know it’s spectacular, what can happen, and by hallway track, you’re simply wandering around the event itself and not necessarily being in a session, but there’s, the people are mingling around and the conversations that can be born out of those chance meetings, really are spectacular. Many times I’ve run into individuals in the hallway, or we’ve just started the conversation and then somebody else has jumped in, somebody else has jumped in and before we know it, there’s, there’s a really interesting round table conversation going on about the future of the project. Because as an open-source project, we all have the potential to influence them the potential to participate in the project in some way, shape or form. I think in this virtual environment that we’re currently in, on a personal level, I believe that we’ve lost some of that. We’ve lost that ability in many ways. And it’s created this fatigue where we’re not necessarily having the opportunity to have those discussions and those new ideas, those new thoughts, or those alternative ways of looking at a problem. I think the project has possibly suffered for that, in some respects, I think is partly why WordPress as the software has been so successful is because of WordPress the community has had that really strong in-person connection and that really strong coming together as a community. Having said that equally, there are many benefits to the concept of the virtual environment that we’re in. But yes. I certainly think there are some challenges that we have come up against and we’ve tried to work towards resolving to some degree as a community in this virtual environment.

Nathan Wrigley [00:19:07]

We’re in a strange dichotomy in that we were probably better prepared than almost any industry to move everything online at the drop of a hat, because the WordPress community is online. We understand how to put websites together and turn those websites into virtual events and all of that kind of stuff. Conversely, and perhaps somewhat unexpectedly. We were also a community, that needed to be offline in order to push the project forward. And so in some sense, we were not prepared for that. Two sides of one coin, very well prepared from the technological point of view. But perhaps we didn’t really understand that these in-person events, the interactions, the little coincidental meetings that might’ve happened, that pushed things forward. The fact that the contributor days, they were a great way of pushing the project forward. All of these little things that required us to be in-person well, they just evaporated and we weren’t really prepared for that and that’s kinda my take on it. It feels like from the tech point of view, everything’s a-okay. We can manage that side really well, but the unexpected consequences from the community going away have become slightly more obvious. And I feel it’s not really in any way, catastrophic, it’s just little paper cuts. Things haven’t perhaps worked as fluidly, perhaps interactions haven’t been made, perhaps people have become fatigued, logging onto their computer and so on. And of course, there’s the fact that there’s a great deal of excitement around turning up to one of these events and whether that’s a meetup and you just show up for the evening or you go somewhere further afield. You might need to get in the car or get on a train or get on a plane and you may have booked a hotel and your almost seeing it as a little bit of a vacation, something a little bit outside of the normal experience, all of that side has gone. And so there’s less be excited about. And perhaps as you described it fatigue, I’m describing it more as a lack of excitement, perhaps that has had a bit of an impact.

Dan Maby [00:21:10]

I think you’re absolutely right. There’s an excitement when you’re coming together in personnel, there’s excitement. You don’t always know what to expect. You don’t always know what’s going to come in those conversations. You may have a good idea, but the ability to come together in person and really thrive off that energy of one another, it really can be quite special, but equally there are many people that don’t thrive off of that there are many people that really struggle with the idea of being in large groups of people, there’s absolutely pros and cons to all of this. And it’s something that we were in our events, in the in-person events, we were trying to be aware of, be mindful of that experience for people. Some people, as I say will thrive off that environment of being around lots of people, but those that need their own space sometimes. The idea of delivering quiet rooms at in-person events is really important because some people do just need that time away from the crowd to be able to re-energize themselves, by being by themselves. This idea of enabling all walks of life, all the variations of people that build up our community to be able to participate. And I think this is really where we’ve got a huge positive in the virtual environment at the moment we’ve brought down so many barriers. For a far greater, far more diverse mix of individuals, whether we’re talking about speakers or attendees, we’ve got some wonderful opportunities right now in the virtual environment. We’re not having to consider visas. We’re not having to consider travel expenses. The limitation that we’re running on right now in terms of attendance of an event is the bandwidth to be able to connect to that event. We were looking at the positive side of this. There are some really good things I think we need to be very mindful of as we move forward. As we move into, as we start to move into a situation where we, if we’re in a safe environment, to be able to return to the in-person events, we also need to be mindful of how do we continue to encourage that very open and very inclusive model that the virtual environment has created.

Nathan Wrigley [00:23:16]

Do you see in the future, and we’ll talk more in a moment about specifically what it is that you and your events have done to move online over the last year or so, but just for now, do you see in the future then a model where, let’s say that we all go back and the world returns to how it was in 2018. Everybody’s allowed to get on planes and trains and everybody can move freely once more. Do you think that we have reached a point where hybrid events and by that I mean, many people will come and be present in the room, but also perhaps we need to provide the internet access so the people from further afield who don’t wish to attend, or perhaps they’re literally on the other side of the world and they only want to see two or three of the variety of sessions that are on offer that week. It’s really not worth them getting on a plane for that, but they could log in and watch them online. So do you feel that there’s a hybrid or will we just consign the online events to the realms of history?

Dan Maby [00:24:12]

So I’m very hopeful that as a community, we will adopt the hybrid model. However, having said that, I also appreciate that we need to also figure out what this hybrid model looks like. As a meetup organizer, again, the WordPress London meets up. We were taking quite a considerable amounts of kit into the event to deliver the events. And by kit I’m talking about cameras, microphones, tripods, sound equipment, all sorts of stuff, which isn’t that common in the meetup space. And as a meet-up organizer, you don’t need to be thinking about, or how do I get low cameras, et cetera. But what it meant for us is we were pre pandemic we were already in an environment where we were live streaming the sessions. We were accepting questions coming in from the virtual audience that were consuming the content live whilst the in-person community were also consuming that content. That put us in a very strong model as we move forward, which I can get into in a moment. But the issue that I see is, are we going to try and force the experience where we’ve got the in-person and the virtual, combined together at the same time, are we actually going to create a situation where we create the worst of both worlds? So the in-person deteriorates because there’s a need for more equipment, there’s a need for more organizing and there’s need for just a very different experience where you’ve got a lot more things needing to happen from an organizer’s perspective. And then have you then got the virtual side, is their experience going to deteriorate because the organizers are having to focus on the in person. It’s an awful lot to deliver, as an organizer: an event. But to then take that event and say now I need to do at the same time, a hybrid of in-person and live, particularly on the meetup side, I think it’s something we’re going to have to be very careful of and figure out how do we do that? Are we better to have, I don’t know, for example, an in-person event and a virtual event, twice a month. Again, I’m not advocating for this for every single meetup because I appreciate every meetup is run by volunteers. It’s about the capacity for those organizers. I think when we start to look at WordCamps, it gets a little more interesting because obviously WordCamps do have a slightly larger team often, and there is often some funding supported through sponsorship, et cetera, to enable that. But again, we’ve got to look at how do we make sure that the experience is optimal for both the in-person and the virtual. And I’m not sure I have the, certainly I don’t have the answers to that at this stage, but it’s certainly something we’ve been having a lot of discussion around internally. And the platform that we’ve developed for our virtual events at the moment is something that we’re looking to roll into our hybrid model. But again, that we don’t have the answers at this stage.

Nathan Wrigley [00:26:57]

I’m also conscious that perhaps if everything becomes available online, it may persuade people who are almost going to attend live to not attend live. It may dwindle the audience that turn up to the live event, if you know what I mean, which would be a kind of an unexpected consequence, but those people who were flip-flopping and maybe I’ll go, maybe I won’t, oh, I’ll just watch it on the screen, which is fine. But obviously you don’t want to get to the point where the in-person event is attended by just a couple of people, because everybody else is just tuning in online because the sort of sense and the purpose of that event and the camaraderie, all the good stuff that you want to happen, in-person disappears.

Dan Maby [00:27:38]

So this was something that we discussed, a number of times pre pandemic, when we made the decision to start live streaming, the WPLDN events, and we have that exact concern and it’s a genuine concern. Are you going to deteriorate the experience by somebody has the option to just simply watch it online? It never happened. Our numbers, stayed consistent and we saw a numbers of in-person stay consistent and we saw our numbers online, grow and grow. And that really demonstrates to us that people want that in person connection, as you just said, there’s so much more to the event than simply consuming the the section that’s being delivered. So it is those conversations are happening in hallway tracks. It’s the, all the other elements to the event that you often can’t gain from a virtual environment.

Nathan Wrigley [00:28:24]

Okay. So let’s move the conversation a little bit. It was staying on more or less the exact same topic, but I’m curious to know what it is technically that you have done since March last year in the UK, March was the moment where everything ground to a halt, and we were unable to see each other. So I just wondered if you could run us through what challenges you faced, how you’ve overcome them. And I know that you spent a lot of time trying to build a platform and shape a platform, to make this work in your situation. Perhaps explaining that might encourage other people who would like to take their events online, to reach out to you and see if you can lend them a hand.

Dan Maby [00:29:00]

Sure. Absolutely. Just to give a bit of context before I get into this, the WPLDN events, along with several other events that we deliver, now come under the umbrella of Big Orange Heart, which is a registered nonprofit with a mission to support, promote positive mental health within remote working communities. So a big focus for us is about continuing ways to help reduce social isolation and the delivery of events do that. Now the reason I’m saying that is because there’s a team of volunteers within Big Orange Heart, that have donated time into helping us deliver them. So what I wouldn’t want to portray is yeah I’m sitting here on my own and it built this platform that enabled the community to continue to do its thing. It’s taken a small village of people to continue to do this. And I appreciate not every meetup has that ability to be able to tap into that. But what we did, we actually back, as I said, previously, we were already live streaming. So we had a pretty good idea of, the, kind of the technical aspects of live streaming content and very fortunate, we’ve got a fantastic team on WPLDN, specifically Leo Mindel, Paul Smart and Diane Wallace and myself come together. Leo comes in with some fantastic technical knowledge to help support the live streaming side of it. And we took the decision back in February, so prior to the government making any announcement here in the UK, we took the decision that was going to be our last event until we had more information in relation to the pandemic. Little did we know that would obviously continue on as it is right now, but we took what we were doing in terms of our live streaming; so we did our final in-person event in February. We jumped straight into trying to do a virtual event in our next event in March. So we delivered one event a month through WPLDN. The first thing we did in March was jumped straight into Zoom and said, yep, let’s get everybody in. Within minutes, we recognize that Zoom was entirely the wrong platform for us to deliver an event on. It’s a great platform, for the purpose of meetings one-to-one or one to many meetings, but it really isn’t a good platform for any kind of event. Because if in an event you want the ability for people to freely move around. And we’ve seen many events that have used Zoom, used multiple Zoom rooms to enable the attendees to jump into different conversations. The problem with that is you don’t know what you’re jumping into. We often refer to it as Zoom roulette because you’ll be jumping into a Zoom call and you don’t know who’s in that Zoom call. You don’t know what you’re jumping into, and it adds a huge cognitive load to the attendees of an event, because not only are they having to figure out where the different Zoom links are, they’re also then having to figure out once they’ve got in who it is that they’re communicating with in that conversation, which it just simply didn’t work for us. So we very quickly started to work on a solution that would enable us to have that ability to have freedom of movement within a virtual environment. Now, this led us on to looking, we’re huge open-source advocates. And we wanted to continue to deliver, we wanted to build something that would tie in and fit with that ethos of the open source projects that we support. So we quickly discovered Jitsi as source video conferencing solution. Ran into many challenges along the way, in terms of building out the platform. But what we ultimately ended up with was a platform that enabled us to use our existing registration process. So all of our attendees are on meetup. So we wanted for people to be able to obviously log in with their meetup credentials. So register for an event on meetup, if they’ve registered, be able to then access the event online. So we built a WordPress site, built a custom app that wrapped around a Jitsi instance, which then enabled us to have this concept of tables within the platform. So attendees would register for the event, jump in. We would be able to stream content into that platform as well as then have this idea of tables where people could freely move around and see exactly who’s on what table before they were jumping in. We delivered that I believe that was around May time of that year. So two months following the decision to go to virtual and we continue to iterate and evolve that platform from that point on, which has been, it’s been a phenomenal experience, the development of this solution. I just wanted to give a shout out to Louis Cowles, who has been doing an incredible job. Taking what I had originally put together, which was this app wrapped around Jitsi and he has turned it into something far more spectacular, which we are now, almost at the stage of being able to deliver as a WordPress plugin. So if anybody has attended any of the Big Orange Heart events or any of the events, the Big Orange Heart supports, have experienced the platform, which includes WordFest. The whole platform that we have developed there will soon be available as a WordPress plugin as well, which we’re really excited about.

Nathan Wrigley [00:33:56]

I have to say from my part, it is now feeling incredibly mature and the fact that it will soon be a WordPress plugin is remarkable. Will that be something that anybody can access and therefore use at their own meetups? Presumably there’s some sort of burden of setting up things outside of WordPress. Maybe there’s other containers with the Jitsi software that needs to be done, or does it all get rolled into just the plugin and you’re good to go.

Dan Maby [00:34:22]

So there’s still work that we’re working through, how to enable that within the community. Really, what we’re trying to do here is build something that is enabling communities to have the experience that we’ve had with WPLDN, and also, we’re not just simply talking in this current particular space where we’ve got the, just virtual again, referring back to the hybrid model. As a platform would work particularly well for the hybrid model, but yes, there are definitely additional technical elements to it, which we will obviously be looking at how we can mitigate that technical challenge that comes with it. There are hosted versions of Jitsi, which you can simply plug into it as it is right now. So again, we’ll be able to share more information as we move forward with that. We’re really, it’s about enabling the community to be able to continue to have that very broad reach. Even as we, as we move back into the in-person.

Nathan Wrigley [00:35:11]

You being you, you weren’t content to rest on your laurels and carry on just doing the WPLDN event. You’ve obviously got this platform and you decided at some point last year, that you wanted to manage and organize an event which spanned the entire globe. And so WordFest was born. I don’t know if WordFest was born, basically out of the fact the world was on pause or whether you’d have plans for this prior to that. But perhaps you could spend a few minutes just outlining what WordFest is and by good coincidence, there is actually a WordFest, if you’re listening to this podcast episode, soon after it was released, there is actually a WordFest event coming up really soon. So perhaps tell us why you started it and then get onto what’s going on in the next few weeks.

Dan Maby [00:35:59]

Sure. So as a charity, we always intended to have some form of larger in-person event. Events have been something that’s had a real passion for a very long time. The ethos of bringing people together, helping reduce social isolation of lone workers is something that really fits well with everything that we’re doing in terms of Big Orange Heart. So we wanted to enable people to come together. That had always been on the cards from the very early stages of Big Orange Heart. Of course, when we got thrown into this situation with the pandemic, as I say, we moved into the virtual environment for our monthly events, that platform that I’ve been discussing, we actually opened up to other communities. So we’ve enabled other communities to be able to run their events through our platform, without any charge to them. We just simply wants to be able to create a solution for those communities to continue to come together when they couldn’t deliver them in person. What that actually meant was that we, in the first 12 months that we were delivering events through our live dot Big Orange Heart dot org site, we’d had over 12,000 attendees come through that platform, which has meant that we’d obviously had a huge amount of feedback and we’d been able to iterate very quickly across that solution to get to a point where we actually decided that we want to deliver a larger scale event. It’s always been on the cards. Why not do that as a virtual conference or virtual festival? That’s really where the concept of WordFest was born. And I want to, again, when we give a huge shout out to Brian Richards, particularly of WordSesh. WordSesh has been around, you know, as a virtual WordPress focused virtual event for many years, I can remember way back in the early days of the first WordSesh, the first few WordSesh’s, which were 24 hour events and had a lot of fun attending those. And I remember attending my first one and actually attending for the full 24 hours. So this wasn’t something that was new in our space. We were very aware that there was a desire for it, but we wanted to wrap together the two elements of what we do. Our hearts really are in WordPress, but our focus is really around wellbeing and mental health, positive mental health. So this concept of WordFest was about bringing those elements together. So if you attend WordFest, you will find content that focuses on both WordPress and our individual wellbeing as remote workers. It really was about this concept of a global celebration of our community. We talked about different ways of delivering it. We talked about do we do over multiple days because we appreciate time zones, how do we, how do we factor in a way of enabling anybody that wants to attend to be able to attend? But we didn’t want to just say here’s a set time on this day, here’s six hours that would deliver it or, over a period of days, we’ll do, it was a real challenge. So we, we kept coming back to this 24 hour concept because it would end up, if somebody wants to attend over that one day, there was some point in the day that hopefully they would be able to join us. And it has mushroomed. It’s grown and grown. We set out to deliver the first one back in January, this year, 2021, we set a target of 2000 attendees to the event we had just over two and a half thousand attend. So it was, we completely smashed all our expectations in terms of people attending the event. But also we completely smashed our expectations in terms of the number of sessions that we were delivering. We initially set out a wanting to deliver 24 sessions over the 24 hours. That turned into 36 sessions actually ended up being 48 sessions through the first event. I’m really happy. I’m not sure it’s the right word, but I’m really happy to say that this time around we’ve actually got 66 sessions that are going to be delivered in the 24 hours. It’s been a phenomenal experience, delivering this as again, as a wonderful team of volunteers, sitting behind this people like Michelle, Cate, Hauwa, Paul, just wonderful people that are really enabling us to be able to continue to grow this event into a much larger scale event than it ever was initially. So the next WordFest live is taking place on the 23rd of July. So we’ll be featuring 66 sessions over a 24 hour period. And it is, I think one of the most wonderful things I took away from the last WordFest was, as an organizer, having organized many in-person events, there’s always a connection with your co-organizers. Certainly if you’re running a larger event, such as a WordCamp, for example, you build up this rapport and you build up this relationship that on the day of delivering the event often it’s, it’s, it’s tiring. There are, yeah, there are moments of challenges, but there are just wonderful moments as well. But you experience all of those things together as a team. What I took away from WordFest live, which was a genuine surprise to me was we managed to create that same experience. We managed to create that same shared experience as we were delivering the event. I’ll never forget sitting here, I think I was in about hour 36 of because I’d been up some time before the event and I was sitting there and just the silence that was actually happening as a bunch of organizers, we all knew how, what we were experiencing in that moment. And it was just a real special time. We use various tools to deliver it. And one of the key secret ingredients for us as organizers was Discord. So having an open audio Discord channel for us to be able to just simply be able to speak to one another as we needed in that moment, it worked incredibly well for us.

Nathan Wrigley [00:41:40]

So the event, just tell us one last time. What are the dates and where do we go if we wish to sign up and perhaps importantly, tell us how much does it cost?

Dan Maby [00:41:53]

I’m laughing because it costs you absolutely nothing. WordFest Live is a free event, the next event is taking place on the 23rd of July where we’ll be starting at midnight UTC. So time zones are always fun in an event like this. So we base it around UTC. So midnight UTC on the 23rd of July running for 24 hours. So that’s the Friday 23rd. You can join us at any point over that 24 hour period, we will be running across six continents. Our time zone starts off in the Australia, Australian time zones. We’ll move on to Asia, Africa, Europe, south America, and ending up in North America. And then we’ve got Antarctica. You can chill out in our community tent all day long. So over that period, we would love to see you join us. As I say, registration is entirely free. There is an optional $10 donation that you can make when registering, all funds go directly into Big Orange Heart, which was the say is a registered nonprofit. There is also an option there to sign up as a micro sponsor. Should you choose to. Micro sponsorship is charged at $250. And for that, we will obviously get some exposure of your company. And it’s really a more a reflection of what it actually costs for us to put this together, in terms of the attendees tickets.

Nathan Wrigley [00:43:13]

This podcast episode, you could probably sum it up with one word and that word would probably be community. If I was to show up to WordFest live and I had ambitions to socialize with other people. That kind of thing is possible? It’s not just about show up to the event, watch the speakers and then wait for the next speaker to start. You’ve provided opportunities to socialize. So maybe as a final thing, just explain how that works. What’s the provision for meeting up with other people and breaking out into different groups and so on.

Dan Maby [00:43:42]

So this was as equally important as finding fantastic speakers. We also needed to make sure that the ability for people to be able to connect, the community, to be able to come together has been a focus for us. So this is where the custom solution that we’ve been developing comes into play. So if you are attending WordFest, you can obviously consume, we’ve got two tracks running over the 24 hour period. So at any point you have a choice of at least two sessions to choose from. I say at least because there’s also some evergreen content that will be available for you to consume through the events as well. And then you can head over to our community tent which we are nicknaming Antarctica this time round, where you can connect with the sponsors. So you will see all the sponsors tables, you can jump in and have conversations, discuss with them for whatever reason you need to to connect with the sponsors, highly encourage you to do that. But in the same space, you can also spin up your own community table. And this is, we try to liken it to a sponsors hall at an in-person event. You might wander into the sponsors hall. You’ll have conversations with the sponsors, but equally you might have conversations with your peers, friends, colleagues, in and around the community. So we’ve really tried to, as best we can in the virtual environment, replicates that hallway track experience where you’re not bound to specific calls, you’re not bound to specific tables. You have freedom of movement within that platform to connect with those that you want to connect with. Equally, you also have your own profile within the platform and your own profile then has your own meeting room. So should you want to break out and have you a slightly more private conversation discussion away from the community tent, then again, you have that facility. So it’s really about trying to enable people to come together and have the conversations that are so important.

Nathan Wrigley [00:45:29]

Thank you so much, Dan, for putting an event like this on, I know that as you’ve said, it’s not just you, there’s a great large community of people in the background as well. So thank you to them equally and during the last 18 months or so, thanks for being there and making sure that the communities can keep meeting and you’ve endeavored to to keep all of that going. And I fear that unless it was for people like you who’ve really gone the extra mile, perhaps things wouldn’t be quite so bright going forward. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you very much, Dan, for coming on the podcast and for everything that you do.

Dan Maby [00:46:01]

Oh I’m deeply appreciate. I thank you. Thank you very much, and likewise. Thank you for all that you do across the community. I appreciate it. I’ll see, you spent a lot of time chatting with people like me sharing some wonderful stories.

Nathan Wrigley [00:46:11]

Thank you so much.

WPTavern: #4 – Dan Maby on the Importance of the WordPress Community

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 14:00
About this episode.

On the podcast today we have Dan Maby.

Dan has been a user of WordPress for many years. As an agency owner he’s used it to build client websites, but, as is so often the case, he came for the software and got caught up in the community.

Starting out by attending some local WordPress meetups, he engaged with his fellow WordPressers and enjoying the events he was attending. Attendance turned into organising and over time Dan became the lead of four WordPress Meetups spread all over the UK.

Meetups led to an interest in WordCamps, where he again stepped up to take on leadership roles at WordCamp London.

In the podcast today we talk about the importance of the WordPress community, not just to him as an individual, but to the future of the project as a whole. After all, it’s software created by people, and the health of that community will have a direct impact upon the contributions they make.

We recorded this podcast at a time unlike any other. In person events have had to stop; the WordCamps and Meetups have all gone virtual. Perhaps there’s light at the end of that tunnel, but it’s a perfect time to look back and see how the community has adapted to these new circumstances.

We get into whether hybrid WordPress events should be the new norm, what lessons the community can learn from the past year, and what Dan and his colleagues have done to stay connected and part of a vibrant community. They’ve built a platform to enable events and plan on releasing it as a WordPress plugin soon.

We also discuss an event which Dan has been a key player in organising – WordFest Live, a 24-hour online event with a focus upon learning and positive mental health. 

It’s a lovely episode with a member of the community who has been giving back for many, many years.

Useful links.

WordFest Live

Big Orange Heart

WordPress Meetups

WordCamp Central

TranscriptNathan Wrigley [00:00:00]

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Jukebox Podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley. Jukebox is a podcast for the WordPress community. Each month, we bring you someone who is part of that community to give you an insight into a topic or person who you might not be familiar with. If you enjoy the podcast, you can subscribe to future episodes by going to wptavern dot com forward slash feed forward slash podcast.

If you’ve got any feedback about the podcast, which could be a suggestion of a potential guest or a subject, then head over to wptavern dot com forward slash contact forward slash jukebox. There’s a contact form there for you to complete, and we’d certainly welcome your input. Thanks in advance. If you reach out.

Okay, so on the podcast today, we have Dan Maby. Dan has been a user of WordPress for many years. As an agency owner, he’s used it to build client websites, but as is often the case, he came for the software and got caught up in the community. Starting out by attending some local WordPress meetups, he engaged with his fellow WordPressers and enjoyed the events he was attending. Attendance turned into organizing, and over time, Dan became the lead for four WordPress meetups spread all over the UK. Meetups led to an interest in WordCamps, where he again stepped up to take on leadership roles at WordCamp London. In the podcast today, we talk about the importance of the WordPress community, not just to him as an individual, but to the future of the project as a whole. After all it’s software created by people, and the health of that community will have a direct impact upon the contributions they make. We recorded this podcast at a time unlike any other. In-person events have had to stop the; WordCamps and meet-ups have all gone virtual. Perhaps there’s a little light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a perfect time to look back and see how the community has adapted to these new circumstances.

We get into whether hybrid WordPress events should be the new norm. What lessons the community can learn from the past year, and what Dan and his colleagues have done to stay connected and part of a vibrant community. They’ve built a platform to enable events and plan on releasing it as a WordPress plugin soon.

We also discuss an event which Dan has been a key player in organizing, WordFest Live. It’s a 24 hour online event with a focus upon learning and positive mental health. It’s a lovely episode with a member of the community who has been giving back for many, many years.

If any of the points raised here, resonate with you, be sure to head over and find the post at wptavern dot com forward slash podcast, and leave a comment there.

And so without further delay, I bring you Dan Maby.

Am joined on the podcast today by Dan Maby. Hello, Dan.

Dan Maby [00:03:46]

Good. Speak to you.

Nathan Wrigley [00:03:46]

Yeah, it’s really nice to have you on the podcast today. Dan and I have a long history of chatting with each other, so this may end up being quite informal at times, but nevertheless, we’re going to talk today about the WordPress community and events in general.

To paint some context into that, I wonder Dan, if you wouldn’t mind spending just a couple of moments, introducing yourself and perhaps explain your history. Not just with WordPress, the software, but also your history with WordPress as a community.

Dan Maby [00:04:17]

Yeah, absolutely. I guess my journey started 15 years ago with WordPress. Funnily enough, we had obviously the 18th birthday quite recently of WordPress, and I was looking back at my history, trying to figure out what had been doing with it. And I realized that I’d started with version 1.5, which at the time was really quite a major introduction. Lots of features in that 1.5 update that we still recognize today in the platform. And it’s been, an interesting journey with WordPress and the community. One that I’ve absolutely loved over that 15 year journey. But really the journey for me with the community started, I think it was around 2012. I was looking for a way to connect with people that were working with and were interested using WordPress. I was working in London at the time in the UK, looked at a meetup. I came across, there was a WordPress meetup that was being run by Keith Devon at the time, the WordPress London meetup. So I went, I headed over to the meetup, came from my day job at the time, which means I was suited and booted. Wandered into this, a room with a bunch of WordPress developers and users. And felt entirely out of place in that in that first meeting. I was the only person there in a suit. Everybody else was nice and casual, but the welcome that I received in that meetup was second to none. It was really an incredible experience, a first experience of the, the wider WordPress community.

And it was actually at that event that Keith had asked if anybody was looking to get involved and support in the delivery of the event and that having been there literally for my first time, stuck my hand up, and that’s really where it all started. And very quickly moved into a situation where Keith decided to step away from the event to focus on other things, focus on his agency, et cetera. I’ve been running the event ever since. And the WordPress London meetup has been a key aspect to everything that I’ve been doing within the community. It’s been a real pleasure to be able to be a custodian of a that event.

Nathan Wrigley [00:06:16]

You have a lot more strings to your bow than just the WordPress London meetup. Do you want to tell us a little bit more about some of the other things that you’re, well, were involved in? We’ll get onto that a little bit later, about the way that things have had to cease, but tell us apart from the WordPress London meetup, tell us about the other things that you were doing on a monthly basis.

Dan Maby [00:06:37]

Sure, so, for me the community was really the important bit, the people within the community. I really grew to develop a, a passion for the people that we were connecting with. And from that point from the running of the WPLDN event, I realized that actually there were other areas that were lacking in meetups across the UK. There were plenty of people running, plenty of meetups, and I was really enjoying being part of that kind of organizers community, if you like a meetup organizers community. But as I said, I noticed that there were areas that were lacking events, even in my local area, as well as further a field, I actually got to the point where I was organizing and leading four meetups a month across the UK, which saw me traveling quite substantial miles on a monthly basis, just to enable these communities to grow and develop.

And it was a real pleasure to be able to work with local communities. I always encouraged community members within the local area to come on board as co-hosts and enable them to take the lead and to sow the seed and then move on and help that community thrive. And it was going fantastically well. You know we had, as I say, we have four meetups running across the UK, and then suddenly, obviously we’re thrown into the situation where we couldn’t physically come together in person.

Nathan Wrigley [00:07:56]

Before we move on to that, perhaps we could paint a little picture about the importance of WordPress in your life, because it strikes me that many people, they may use WordPress as a piece of software. And that’s the end of it. They have really no understanding that there is a community which can support you in your WordPress knowledge, but also it can be much more than that. And I think it’s fair to say that in your case, many of the people that you’ve met through WordPress have become actual friends who you actually socialize with. Enjoy their company and stray into non WordPress things as well. So I’m just wondering if you could tell us how it has helped you, but perhaps get into the stuff that’s not to do with WordPress. Have you met people that you’ve really jelled with and found camaraderie with.

Dan Maby [00:08:41]

I think this is the the beauty of the WordPress community. It’s so much more than just the technology. I found it to be quite a unique community as well, in that the way people are open, the way people will communicate and discuss and talk about topics, which, by all rights where we attended an event together, we’re essentially often competing with one another. I run an agency which focuses on design and development services, and I will go and speak with many other people that also run agencies. And essentially we are competitors, but that level of competition doesn’t really surface too much in the WordPress community. It’s predominantly a community that’s very supportive and people are very open to discussing issues. Myself, I was seeking out connection, I wanted to be around like-minded individuals because I was in a situation where I was very isolated. I was looking for people to connect with that had an understanding of what I was experiencing. And that’s really what the community has been about for me. It has been about this idea of having similar experiences, having, understanding of the challenges that we can face if we’re working alone. And my company has run with distributed team members, so I don’t have a central office with a team that all works together. We work in our home offices. You miss out on that ability to be able to have those conversations that you would have, potentially in-person. That for me was where I was seeking out the community, and as I did that, I realized that this community really was very open to discussing many issues and very open to sharing experiences and knowledge, which was unique for me at the time. And as you say, that’s then led on to building of relationships and those relationships have gone further afield outside your outside of specifically WordPress related. Very happily, I’ve got some wonderful friends across the community now, and they are friends and the people that I will hopefully have the pleasure of knowing for the rest of my life. Nathan, I count you in amongst that I can remember a conversation you and I had in a car park post a meetup many years ago and, it’s been wonderful to watch the journey that you as an individual have gone on through your experiences of WordPress and podcasting, et cetera, and the many branches and tendrils that we have within the community. It’s a very rich experience. I would say being part of the WordPress community.

Nathan Wrigley [00:11:04]

Yeah, I would completely agree. And for those people who perhaps listening to this podcast, obviously this audio will go on in perpetuity, it may be that they’re listening to this and the world has become more normal. Shall we say? Perhaps we’re allowed to meet up in person again. If that were the case, what would be your best advice for digging into that community? What would your best search be? What would be the best way to go about finding where your local events are taking place?

Dan Maby [00:11:32]

First off is look for meetups. There are thousands of meetups across the globe that are run by local communities, and I really would encourage anybody if you haven’t previously. Take a look head over to you know, there are various sites, whether it’s meetup dot com, Eventbrite, et cetera, all those kinds of events websites. Do a search for your local area for WordPress meetup event. Sign yourself up and head over. My personal experience and something that I’ve spoken about many times historically is simply getting involved in these events. We have this wonderful ecosystem of WordCamps across the WordPress space. And these WordCamps are, you’re basically taking a meetup onto a grander scale, again, encouraging local communities to try and run those WordCamps and larger events, but that can sometimes feel quite daunting, just simply turning up to an event. So if you can get yourself embedded in some way, and volunteering is by far and away, the simplest and best way to do that. Every single one of these meetups and WordCamps are run by teams of volunteers. So signing up as a volunteer, simply putting your hand up and saying, yes, I’ll get involved in some way. It gives you a purpose within the event. So you’re not simply having to be there and trying to figure out where you fit within it. You’re there and you have a role. And this was certainly my experience of getting into the WordCamps space. I’ve volunteered. I can remember experience at WordCamp Europe, or I was doing some meeting and greeting as people were arriving, and it just opened up so many interesting and wonderful conversations with people that I still have very interesting, wonderful conversations with today. And it’s just that embedding yourself in it and enabling yourself to be part of that community. First step I’d say, check meetup, look for an event. Sign yourself up, head over there. And if there’s any way that you can get involved, do. Most meetup organizers are so grateful for anybody putting their hand up and say, yeah, look, I’ll get involved or stepping forward and saying look, do you need any help with this at all? And that help can vary in so many ways. As a meetup organizer, there’s an awful lot often goes on behind the scenes that maybe attendees aren’t always aware of that really go into delivering these events.

Nathan Wrigley [00:13:45]

What is the difference between a meetup and a WordCamp? Probably, if you’ve attended, either of those you’ll know the difference, but if you’re new to this whole WordPress community thing, it might be good to paint a bit of clear blue sky between those two different things.

Dan Maby [00:14:01]

So if I use London as an example. Our WordPress London meetup, when we were in person delivering these events, we were seeing the, of an average of a hundred people in attendance every month. So this would run every once a month in our local environment. So the focus for both WordCamps and meetups really are about encouraging local organizers to run them. So our meetup, we feature between two and three speakers on a night. It’s usually around two, two and a half hours long. And then post that within, have a bit of a social gathering. Where we continue doing a bit of networking, et cetera. The meetup is a really a trimmed down version, should we say? Or that’s probably negative, a negative way of putting it to be honest. The WordCamp is an enlarged version of meetup. Probably the best way of putting it and WordCamps are essentially that. We’re taking the concept of a meetup, but on a much, much grander scale. And they don’t have to be enormous. I’ve attended some you know, a hundred attendee WordCamps and they’ve been absolutely spectacular, really personal. And I really enjoy the kind of smaller hundred, hundred and fifty attendee WordCamps, but equally we also have some much, much larger ones. So again, if I look at WordCamp London, the last event we ran we had around 650, I believe was 650 attendees at that event. If we then look at the regional WordCamps. So the likes of WordCamp US, WordCamp Europe or WordCamp Asia. Yeah, WordCamp Europe. I believe there’s three and a half thousand attendees at the last event, the last in-person event. So they’re often spread across multiple days as well, but not always often there’s a, a single day WordCamp as well, but the one telling difference between a WordCamp and a meetup is the WordCamps often have what we call a contributor day associated with them as well, which is a day focused entirely on contributing to WordPress in some way, shape or form. And there are so many ways to contribute. We’re not just simply talking about writing code and contributing in that way. There’s documentation, there’s marketing, there’s the multi-lingual there’s many ways to get involved. So I really, again, would encourage anybody that’s thinking about attending a WordCamp, once we are back to a situation where we are safe to be able to return to in-person events. And obviously some of the virtual events I really would encourage joining the, contributor day in any way that you can.

Nathan Wrigley [00:16:15]

So with all of these events going on, obviously we’ve got a thriving piece of software, which is turning out to be widely used over 40% of the web. We have the statistic now using WordPress. So the software is one side, but obviously we’ve also, as you’ve just painted a picture that we’ve got this thriving community as well. An awful lot of the project perhaps was going on, at these community events, a lot of things were being organized, so contributor days, possibly different teams meeting up at various times at these events. And then sometime last year, the world paused and is still in a state of pause. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on whether the project as a whole has been stifled. I know that we’ve gone online and we’ll come onto that in a moment, but I’m just wondering if you’ve got any thoughts about the impact that the world pausing and not being able to meet up in person. If the project itself has been stymied by that.

Dan Maby [00:17:14]

I think this is a really interesting discussion. I can sit on both sides of the fence here. I think there is definitely an element of fatigue within the community at this stage. And I think that fatigue is being born out of the fact that potentially we are not having those in-person connections, the wonderful conversations that can be born out of the hallway track, you know it’s spectacular, what can happen, and by hallway track, you’re simply wandering around the event itself and not necessarily being in a session, but there’s, the people are mingling around and the conversations that can be born out of those chance meetings, really are spectacular. Many times I’ve run into individuals in the hallway, or we’ve just started the conversation and then somebody else has jumped in, somebody else has jumped in and before we know it, there’s, there’s a really interesting round table conversation going on about the future of the project. Because as an open-source project, we all have the potential to influence them the potential to participate in the project in some way, shape or form. I think in this virtual environment that we’re currently in, on a personal level, I believe that we’ve lost some of that. We’ve lost that ability in many ways. And it’s created this fatigue where we’re not necessarily having the opportunity to have those discussions and those new ideas, those new thoughts, or those alternative ways of looking at a problem. I think the project has possibly suffered for that, in some respects, I think is partly why WordPress as the software has been so successful is because of WordPress the community has had that really strong in-person connection and that really strong coming together as a community. Having said that equally, there are many benefits to the concept of the virtual environment that we’re in. But yes. I certainly think there are some challenges that we have come up against and we’ve tried to work towards resolving to some degree as a community in this virtual environment.

Nathan Wrigley [00:19:07]

We’re in a strange dichotomy in that we were probably better prepared than almost any industry to move everything online at the drop of a hat, because the WordPress community is online. We understand how to put websites together and turn those websites into virtual events and all of that kind of stuff. Conversely, and perhaps somewhat unexpectedly. We were also a community, that needed to be offline in order to push the project forward. And so in some sense, we were not prepared for that. Two sides of one coin, very well prepared from the technological point of view. But perhaps we didn’t really understand that these in-person events, the interactions, the little coincidental meetings that might’ve happened, that pushed things forward. The fact that the contributor days, they were a great way of pushing the project forward. All of these little things that required us to be in-person well, they just evaporated and we weren’t really prepared for that and that’s kinda my take on it. It feels like from the tech point of view, everything’s a-okay. We can manage that side really well, but the unexpected consequences from the community going away have become slightly more obvious. And I feel it’s not really in any way, catastrophic, it’s just little paper cuts. Things haven’t perhaps worked as fluidly, perhaps interactions haven’t been made, perhaps people have become fatigued, logging onto their computer and so on. And of course, there’s the fact that there’s a great deal of excitement around turning up to one of these events and whether that’s a meetup and you just show up for the evening or you go somewhere further afield. You might need to get in the car or get on a train or get on a plane and you may have booked a hotel and your almost seeing it as a little bit of a vacation, something a little bit outside of the normal experience, all of that side has gone. And so there’s less be excited about. And perhaps as you described it fatigue, I’m describing it more as a lack of excitement, perhaps that has had a bit of an impact.

Dan Maby [00:21:10]

I think you’re absolutely right. There’s an excitement when you’re coming together in personnel, there’s excitement. You don’t always know what to expect. You don’t always know what’s going to come in those conversations. You may have a good idea, but the ability to come together in person and really thrive off that energy of one another, it really can be quite special, but equally there are many people that don’t thrive off of that there are many people that really struggle with the idea of being in large groups of people, there’s absolutely pros and cons to all of this. And it’s something that we were in our events, in the in-person events, we were trying to be aware of, be mindful of that experience for people. Some people, as I say will thrive off that environment of being around lots of people, but those that need their own space sometimes. The idea of delivering quiet rooms at in-person events is really important because some people do just need that time away from the crowd to be able to re-energize themselves, by being by themselves. This idea of enabling all walks of life, all the variations of people that build up our community to be able to participate. And I think this is really where we’ve got a huge positive in the virtual environment at the moment we’ve brought down so many barriers. For a far greater, far more diverse mix of individuals, whether we’re talking about speakers or attendees, we’ve got some wonderful opportunities right now in the virtual environment. We’re not having to consider visas. We’re not having to consider travel expenses. The limitation that we’re running on right now in terms of attendance of an event is the bandwidth to be able to connect to that event. We were looking at the positive side of this. There are some really good things I think we need to be very mindful of as we move forward. As we move into, as we start to move into a situation where we, if we’re in a safe environment, to be able to return to the in-person events, we also need to be mindful of how do we continue to encourage that very open and very inclusive model that the virtual environment has created.

Nathan Wrigley [00:23:16]

Do you see in the future, and we’ll talk more in a moment about specifically what it is that you and your events have done to move online over the last year or so, but just for now, do you see in the future then a model where, let’s say that we all go back and the world returns to how it was in 2018. Everybody’s allowed to get on planes and trains and everybody can move freely once more. Do you think that we have reached a point where hybrid events and by that I mean, many people will come and be present in the room, but also perhaps we need to provide the internet access so the people from further afield who don’t wish to attend, or perhaps they’re literally on the other side of the world and they only want to see two or three of the variety of sessions that are on offer that week. It’s really not worth them getting on a plane for that, but they could log in and watch them online. So do you feel that there’s a hybrid or will we just consign the online events to the realms of history?

Dan Maby [00:24:12]

So I’m very hopeful that as a community, we will adopt the hybrid model. However, having said that, I also appreciate that we need to also figure out what this hybrid model looks like. As a meetup organizer, again, the WordPress London meets up. We were taking quite a considerable amounts of kit into the event to deliver the events. And by kit I’m talking about cameras, microphones, tripods, sound equipment, all sorts of stuff, which isn’t that common in the meetup space. And as a meet-up organizer, you don’t need to be thinking about, or how do I get low cameras, et cetera. But what it meant for us is we were pre pandemic we were already in an environment where we were live streaming the sessions. We were accepting questions coming in from the virtual audience that were consuming the content live whilst the in-person community were also consuming that content. That put us in a very strong model as we move forward, which I can get into in a moment. But the issue that I see is, are we going to try and force the experience where we’ve got the in-person and the virtual, combined together at the same time, are we actually going to create a situation where we create the worst of both worlds? So the in-person deteriorates because there’s a need for more equipment, there’s a need for more organizing and there’s need for just a very different experience where you’ve got a lot more things needing to happen from an organizer’s perspective. And then have you then got the virtual side, is their experience going to deteriorate because the organizers are having to focus on the in person. It’s an awful lot to deliver, as an organizer: an event. But to then take that event and say now I need to do at the same time, a hybrid of in-person and live, particularly on the meetup side, I think it’s something we’re going to have to be very careful of and figure out how do we do that? Are we better to have, I don’t know, for example, an in-person event and a virtual event, twice a month. Again, I’m not advocating for this for every single meetup because I appreciate every meetup is run by volunteers. It’s about the capacity for those organizers. I think when we start to look at WordCamps, it gets a little more interesting because obviously WordCamps do have a slightly larger team often, and there is often some funding supported through sponsorship, et cetera, to enable that. But again, we’ve got to look at how do we make sure that the experience is optimal for both the in-person and the virtual. And I’m not sure I have the, certainly I don’t have the answers to that at this stage, but it’s certainly something we’ve been having a lot of discussion around internally. And the platform that we’ve developed for our virtual events at the moment is something that we’re looking to roll into our hybrid model. But again, that we don’t have the answers at this stage.

Nathan Wrigley [00:26:57]

I’m also conscious that perhaps if everything becomes available online, it may persuade people who are almost going to attend live to not attend live. It may dwindle the audience that turn up to the live event, if you know what I mean, which would be a kind of an unexpected consequence, but those people who were flip-flopping and maybe I’ll go, maybe I won’t, oh, I’ll just watch it on the screen, which is fine. But obviously you don’t want to get to the point where the in-person event is attended by just a couple of people, because everybody else is just tuning in online because the sort of sense and the purpose of that event and the camaraderie, all the good stuff that you want to happen, in-person disappears.

Dan Maby [00:27:38]

So this was something that we discussed, a number of times pre pandemic, when we made the decision to start live streaming, the WPLDN events, and we have that exact concern and it’s a genuine concern. Are you going to deteriorate the experience by somebody has the option to just simply watch it online? It never happened. Our numbers, stayed consistent and we saw a numbers of in-person stay consistent and we saw our numbers online, grow and grow. And that really demonstrates to us that people want that in person connection, as you just said, there’s so much more to the event than simply consuming the the section that’s being delivered. So it is those conversations are happening in hallway tracks. It’s the, all the other elements to the event that you often can’t gain from a virtual environment.

Nathan Wrigley [00:28:24]

Okay. So let’s move the conversation a little bit. It was staying on more or less the exact same topic, but I’m curious to know what it is technically that you have done since March last year in the UK, March was the moment where everything ground to a halt, and we were unable to see each other. So I just wondered if you could run us through what challenges you faced, how you’ve overcome them. And I know that you spent a lot of time trying to build a platform and shape a platform, to make this work in your situation. Perhaps explaining that might encourage other people who would like to take their events online, to reach out to you and see if you can lend them a hand.

Dan Maby [00:29:00]

Sure. Absolutely. Just to give a bit of context before I get into this, the WPLDN events, along with several other events that we deliver, now come under the umbrella of Big Orange Heart, which is a registered nonprofit with a mission to support, promote positive mental health within remote working communities. So a big focus for us is about continuing ways to help reduce social isolation and the delivery of events do that. Now the reason I’m saying that is because there’s a team of volunteers within Big Orange Heart, that have donated time into helping us deliver them. So what I wouldn’t want to portray is yeah I’m sitting here on my own and it built this platform that enabled the community to continue to do its thing. It’s taken a small village of people to continue to do this. And I appreciate not every meetup has that ability to be able to tap into that. But what we did, we actually back, as I said, previously, we were already live streaming. So we had a pretty good idea of, the, kind of the technical aspects of live streaming content and very fortunate, we’ve got a fantastic team on WPLDN, specifically Leo Mindel, Paul Smart and Diane Wallace and myself come together. Leo comes in with some fantastic technical knowledge to help support the live streaming side of it. And we took the decision back in February, so prior to the government making any announcement here in the UK, we took the decision that was going to be our last event until we had more information in relation to the pandemic. Little did we know that would obviously continue on as it is right now, but we took what we were doing in terms of our live streaming; so we did our final in-person event in February. We jumped straight into trying to do a virtual event in our next event in March. So we delivered one event a month through WPLDN. The first thing we did in March was jumped straight into Zoom and said, yep, let’s get everybody in. Within minutes, we recognize that Zoom was entirely the wrong platform for us to deliver an event on. It’s a great platform, for the purpose of meetings one-to-one or one to many meetings, but it really isn’t a good platform for any kind of event. Because if in an event you want the ability for people to freely move around. And we’ve seen many events that have used Zoom, used multiple Zoom rooms to enable the attendees to jump into different conversations. The problem with that is you don’t know what you’re jumping into. We often refer to it as Zoom roulette because you’ll be jumping into a Zoom call and you don’t know who’s in that Zoom call. You don’t know what you’re jumping into, and it adds a huge cognitive load to the attendees of an event, because not only are they having to figure out where the different Zoom links are, they’re also then having to figure out once they’ve got in who it is that they’re communicating with in that conversation, which it just simply didn’t work for us. So we very quickly started to work on a solution that would enable us to have that ability to have freedom of movement within a virtual environment. Now, this led us on to looking, we’re huge open-source advocates. And we wanted to continue to deliver, we wanted to build something that would tie in and fit with that ethos of the open source projects that we support. So we quickly discovered Jitsi as source video conferencing solution. Ran into many challenges along the way, in terms of building out the platform. But what we ultimately ended up with was a platform that enabled us to use our existing registration process. So all of our attendees are on meetup. So we wanted for people to be able to obviously log in with their meetup credentials. So register for an event on meetup, if they’ve registered, be able to then access the event online. So we built a WordPress site, built a custom app that wrapped around a Jitsi instance, which then enabled us to have this concept of tables within the platform. So attendees would register for the event, jump in. We would be able to stream content into that platform as well as then have this idea of tables where people could freely move around and see exactly who’s on what table before they were jumping in. We delivered that I believe that was around May time of that year. So two months following the decision to go to virtual and we continue to iterate and evolve that platform from that point on, which has been, it’s been a phenomenal experience, the development of this solution. I just wanted to give a shout out to Louis Cowles, who has been doing an incredible job. Taking what I had originally put together, which was this app wrapped around Jitsi and he has turned it into something far more spectacular, which we are now, almost at the stage of being able to deliver as a WordPress plugin. So if anybody has attended any of the Big Orange Heart events or any of the events, the Big Orange Heart supports, have experienced the platform, which includes WordFest. The whole platform that we have developed there will soon be available as a WordPress plugin as well, which we’re really excited about.

Nathan Wrigley [00:33:56]

I have to say from my part, it is now feeling incredibly mature and the fact that it will soon be a WordPress plugin is remarkable. Will that be something that anybody can access and therefore use at their own meetups? Presumably there’s some sort of burden of setting up things outside of WordPress. Maybe there’s other containers with the Jitsi software that needs to be done, or does it all get rolled into just the plugin and you’re good to go.

Dan Maby [00:34:22]

So there’s still work that we’re working through, how to enable that within the community. Really, what we’re trying to do here is build something that is enabling communities to have the experience that we’ve had with WPLDN, and also, we’re not just simply talking in this current particular space where we’ve got the, just virtual again, referring back to the hybrid model. As a platform would work particularly well for the hybrid model, but yes, there are definitely additional technical elements to it, which we will obviously be looking at how we can mitigate that technical challenge that comes with it. There are hosted versions of Jitsi, which you can simply plug into it as it is right now. So again, we’ll be able to share more information as we move forward with that. We’re really, it’s about enabling the community to be able to continue to have that very broad reach. Even as we, as we move back into the in-person.

Nathan Wrigley [00:35:11]

You being you, you weren’t content to rest on your laurels and carry on just doing the WPLDN event. You’ve obviously got this platform and you decided at some point last year, that you wanted to manage and organize an event which spanned the entire globe. And so WordFest was born. I don’t know if WordFest was born, basically out of the fact the world was on pause or whether you’d have plans for this prior to that. But perhaps you could spend a few minutes just outlining what WordFest is and by good coincidence, there is actually a WordFest, if you’re listening to this podcast episode, soon after it was released, there is actually a WordFest event coming up really soon. So perhaps tell us why you started it and then get onto what’s going on in the next few weeks.

Dan Maby [00:35:59]

Sure. So as a charity, we always intended to have some form of larger in-person event. Events have been something that’s had a real passion for a very long time. The ethos of bringing people together, helping reduce social isolation of lone workers is something that really fits well with everything that we’re doing in terms of Big Orange Heart. So we wanted to enable people to come together. That had always been on the cards from the very early stages of Big Orange Heart. Of course, when we got thrown into this situation with the pandemic, as I say, we moved into the virtual environment for our monthly events, that platform that I’ve been discussing, we actually opened up to other communities. So we’ve enabled other communities to be able to run their events through our platform, without any charge to them. We just simply wants to be able to create a solution for those communities to continue to come together when they couldn’t deliver them in person. What that actually meant was that we, in the first 12 months that we were delivering events through our live dot Big Orange Heart dot org site, we’d had over 12,000 attendees come through that platform, which has meant that we’d obviously had a huge amount of feedback and we’d been able to iterate very quickly across that solution to get to a point where we actually decided that we want to deliver a larger scale event. It’s always been on the cards. Why not do that as a virtual conference or virtual festival? That’s really where the concept of WordFest was born. And I want to, again, when we give a huge shout out to Brian Richards, particularly of WordSesh. WordSesh has been around, you know, as a virtual WordPress focused virtual event for many years, I can remember way back in the early days of the first WordSesh, the first few WordSesh’s, which were 24 hour events and had a lot of fun attending those. And I remember attending my first one and actually attending for the full 24 hours. So this wasn’t something that was new in our space. We were very aware that there was a desire for it, but we wanted to wrap together the two elements of what we do. Our hearts really are in WordPress, but our focus is really around wellbeing and mental health, positive mental health. So this concept of WordFest was about bringing those elements together. So if you attend WordFest, you will find content that focuses on both WordPress and our individual wellbeing as remote workers. It really was about this concept of a global celebration of our community. We talked about different ways of delivering it. We talked about do we do over multiple days because we appreciate time zones, how do we, how do we factor in a way of enabling anybody that wants to attend to be able to attend? But we didn’t want to just say here’s a set time on this day, here’s six hours that would deliver it or, over a period of days, we’ll do, it was a real challenge. So we, we kept coming back to this 24 hour concept because it would end up, if somebody wants to attend over that one day, there was some point in the day that hopefully they would be able to join us. And it has mushroomed. It’s grown and grown. We set out to deliver the first one back in January, this year, 2021, we set a target of 2000 attendees to the event we had just over two and a half thousand attend. So it was, we completely smashed all our expectations in terms of people attending the event. But also we completely smashed our expectations in terms of the number of sessions that we were delivering. We initially set out a wanting to deliver 24 sessions over the 24 hours. That turned into 36 sessions actually ended up being 48 sessions through the first event. I’m really happy. I’m not sure it’s the right word, but I’m really happy to say that this time around we’ve actually got 66 sessions that are going to be delivered in the 24 hours. It’s been a phenomenal experience, delivering this as again, as a wonderful team of volunteers, sitting behind this people like Michelle, Cate, Hauwa, Paul, just wonderful people that are really enabling us to be able to continue to grow this event into a much larger scale event than it ever was initially. So the next WordFest live is taking place on the 23rd of July. So we’ll be featuring 66 sessions over a 24 hour period. And it is, I think one of the most wonderful things I took away from the last WordFest was, as an organizer, having organized many in-person events, there’s always a connection with your co-organizers. Certainly if you’re running a larger event, such as a WordCamp, for example, you build up this rapport and you build up this relationship that on the day of delivering the event often it’s, it’s, it’s tiring. There are, yeah, there are moments of challenges, but there are just wonderful moments as well. But you experience all of those things together as a team. What I took away from WordFest live, which was a genuine surprise to me was we managed to create that same experience. We managed to create that same shared experience as we were delivering the event. I’ll never forget sitting here, I think I was in about hour 36 of because I’d been up some time before the event and I was sitting there and just the silence that was actually happening as a bunch of organizers, we all knew how, what we were experiencing in that moment. And it was just a real special time. We use various tools to deliver it. And one of the key secret ingredients for us as organizers was Discord. So having an open audio Discord channel for us to be able to just simply be able to speak to one another as we needed in that moment, it worked incredibly well for us.

Nathan Wrigley [00:41:40]

So the event, just tell us one last time. What are the dates and where do we go if we wish to sign up and perhaps importantly, tell us how much does it cost?

Dan Maby [00:41:53]

I’m laughing because it costs you absolutely nothing. WordFest Live is a free event, the next event is taking place on the 23rd of July where we’ll be starting at midnight UTC. So time zones are always fun in an event like this. So we base it around UTC. So midnight UTC on the 23rd of July running for 24 hours. So that’s the Friday 23rd. You can join us at any point over that 24 hour period, we will be running across six continents. Our time zone starts off in the Australia, Australian time zones. We’ll move on to Asia, Africa, Europe, south America, and ending up in North America. And then we’ve got Antarctica. You can chill out in our community tent all day long. So over that period, we would love to see you join us. As I say, registration is entirely free. There is an optional $10 donation that you can make when registering, all funds go directly into Big Orange Heart, which was the say is a registered nonprofit. There is also an option there to sign up as a micro sponsor. Should you choose to. Micro sponsorship is charged at $250. And for that, we will obviously get some exposure of your company. And it’s really a more a reflection of what it actually costs for us to put this together, in terms of the attendees tickets.

Nathan Wrigley [00:43:13]

This podcast episode, you could probably sum it up with one word and that word would probably be community. If I was to show up to WordFest live and I had ambitions to socialize with other people. That kind of thing is possible? It’s not just about show up to the event, watch the speakers and then wait for the next speaker to start. You’ve provided opportunities to socialize. So maybe as a final thing, just explain how that works. What’s the provision for meeting up with other people and breaking out into different groups and so on.

Dan Maby [00:43:42]

So this was as equally important as finding fantastic speakers. We also needed to make sure that the ability for people to be able to connect, the community, to be able to come together has been a focus for us. So this is where the custom solution that we’ve been developing comes into play. So if you are attending WordFest, you can obviously consume, we’ve got two tracks running over the 24 hour period. So at any point you have a choice of at least two sessions to choose from. I say at least because there’s also some evergreen content that will be available for you to consume through the events as well. And then you can head over to our community tent which we are nicknaming Antarctica this time round, where you can connect with the sponsors. So you will see all the sponsors tables, you can jump in and have conversations, discuss with them for whatever reason you need to to connect with the sponsors, highly encourage you to do that. But in the same space, you can also spin up your own community table. And this is, we try to liken it to a sponsors hall at an in-person event. You might wander into the sponsors hall. You’ll have conversations with the sponsors, but equally you might have conversations with your peers, friends, colleagues, in and around the community. So we’ve really tried to, as best we can in the virtual environment, replicates that hallway track experience where you’re not bound to specific calls, you’re not bound to specific tables. You have freedom of movement within that platform to connect with those that you want to connect with. Equally, you also have your own profile within the platform and your own profile then has your own meeting room. So should you want to break out and have you a slightly more private conversation discussion away from the community tent, then again, you have that facility. So it’s really about trying to enable people to come together and have the conversations that are so important.

Nathan Wrigley [00:45:29]

Thank you so much, Dan, for putting an event like this on, I know that as you’ve said, it’s not just you, there’s a great large community of people in the background as well. So thank you to them equally and during the last 18 months or so, thanks for being there and making sure that the communities can keep meeting and you’ve endeavored to to keep all of that going. And I fear that unless it was for people like you who’ve really gone the extra mile, perhaps things wouldn’t be quite so bright going forward. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you very much, Dan, for coming on the podcast and for everything that you do.

Dan Maby [00:46:01]

Oh I’m deeply appreciate. I thank you. Thank you very much, and likewise. Thank you for all that you do across the community. I appreciate it. I’ll see, you spent a lot of time chatting with people like me sharing some wonderful stories.

Nathan Wrigley [00:46:11]

Thank you so much.

HeroPress: Changing The World, Changing Me

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 12:00

WordPress was created when I was 10 years old. I try to imagine myself at 10 and the only images I can conjure up are ones of anxiety. My world both felt so small and was so small yet what I felt seemed so big. I don’t look back fondly on those years. I was a ball of competitive anxiety who was just coming out of being made fun of for years for my speech impediments and finally starting to figure out who I might be. My 10 year old self didn’t like change and didn’t know how to cope. My 10 year old self had no concept of what was being created during these strange years and I’m filled with gratitude thinking about those who were paving the way before I could even conceptualize what a website was.

WordPress has fundamentally changed who I am. I don’t say that lightly. I have an urge to jump into a monologue of, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” when I think about WordPress.

Finding My Creativity

The most profound change started in awakening a sense of creativity and belief in myself. I work hard at things but my earlier black and white point of view often limited any amount of creativity I might have had. I’ll never forget in college working for web.unc.edu, UNC Chapel Hill’s WordPress multisite installation, and discovering that I could create as many sites as I wanted. The ease of use and the unlimited possibilities led me to create site after site. This still happens now with https://letslifechat.com/ born this year out of my desire to share my love of questions and deeply connecting with others, especially during a year of profound disconnection. Along the way at UNC, I got to work with brilliant and kind coworkers who believed in me to the point of encouraging me to apply to Automattic after I had to graduate a year early.

Knowing they believed in me helped me apply and the case of redbull they sent me for my trial helped me get the job!

I never saw myself as creative since creativity was defined for so many years as being art focused (poetry, painting, etc) and I have absolutely no artistic abilities. Being able to make an idea come to life online has changed how I view myself – I now see myself as creative and capable. This shift in how I view myself led me to create initiatives like accelerate.lgbt and Mentor Everywhere at Automattic in my free time. I never realized that my handwriting and drawing abilities could be terrible yet, at the same time, my creativity could be powerful. The results of my creative actions have solidified a sense of belief in myself that is deeply profound. It’s something I fall back on during tough days of self doubt and tough problems.

Finding The World

Because of WordPress’ global and distributed nature, I have been afforded the opportunity to travel to far away lands and to be there for meaningful moments with dear loved ones. Being a “nomad” is something I never thought I’d be. Being connected to people all over the world felt unfathomable and still feels like more of a dream than a reality. It’s challenged every aspect of who I am and I am better for it. Combined with the ability to see the world, I get to work with folks from all over the world every single day thanks to WordPress. This has given me the honor of having a global mindset that I carry with me no matter where I go. I feel I have traveled enough for many lifetimes over. Once you begin thinking at that scale, whether due to a global mindset or due to the percentage of the web powered by WordPress, you can’t go back. Something in you changes for the better.

Finding Who I Am

I think often of LGBTQ+ people of years past and how many likely never would have had the chance at a life that I have. This rings particularly true during Pride Month. On top of everything else, WordPress has given me a platform and a job where I can be my truest self whether that’s sharing my mental health struggles, talking about my evolving thoughts on being born through surrogacy, or imagining a different way of existing with many little homes rather than one. With WordPress, I can share my words and I can be heard. I can fiercely be myself and be amplified rather than silenced. I can join community meetings and proudly share a rainbow emoji as I say hi. WordPress has emboldened me and has given me so many opportunities to use my newfound creativity to lead in various spaces.

None of the above gets to the root of why I LOVE what I do and love what WordPress is to me. Beyond any personal change, WordPress has allowed me to help others and to increase my own impact on this world. Whether it was working with department sites during my time at UNC or helping a local non profit set up a brand new website to bring theirs out of the 90s, I am thrilled to have a job and a passion that centers on helping others succeed.

It’s such a privilege to work with folks during different stages of their sites – it’s always so personal and so sacred.

I can vividly remember the first time this gripped me. I was helping a professor at UNC set up a site and when we finally published it, he couldn’t believe it was “live”. He kept asking me whether other researchers, students, professors, etc. could find him. As I began to explain how everything worked, he was nearly brought to tears.

“I can’t believe my life’s work can be found by anyone in the world.”

I was just a freshman at this point and didn’t quite understand what I had stumbled upon with WordPress. I couldn’t have imagined that this would be my life. I had a friend a few years ago say to me, “You are the last person I ever expected to work in technology.” I grew quiet and nodded solemnly, “Me too”. This great adventure and great chance is truly due to those who helped me patiently over the years. It’s also due to those who enabled WordPress to be what it is today and what it will be tomorrow. I don’t take this for granted.

Finding My Joy

There’s a concept I am stuck on these days. It’s centered on this quote:

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” – Nelson Henderson

When I was 10, so many were working so immensely hard to create the shade in which I currently sit. This gorgeous, remarkable, world expanding shade that I can’t believe I ever found and that I hardly have the words to describe. I send a tearful “thank you” from my soul into the ether for all of you out there who made this precious life of mine possible.

Just over a year ago, I switched into a Developer Relations Wrangler position at Automattic as a full time contributor to the WordPress project and my hope now is that I can pay forward what has been given to me through planting trees of my own. To have the chance to give back to something that has given me so much is something I wake up everyday thankful for, even on the tough days. Even better, I now get to play a role in encouraging, supporting, and believing in other people as a core part of my job in the same way so many have done for me.

The post Changing The World, Changing Me appeared first on HeroPress.

WPTavern: Automattic Acquires Day One Journaling App

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 05:30

Automattic has acquired Day One, a journaling app available on iPhone, Android, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. The app makes it easy to create journal entries on the go, offers end-to-end encryption for privacy on its paid tier, and has offline capabilities. While most users compose private entries, Automattic’s acquisition announcement promises integrations for publishing to the web:

That doesn’t mean that everything you journal has to stay private, though. When you want to share specific entries – or even entire journals with the world – you can expect seamless integrations with both WordPress.com and Tumblr to do just that. On the flip side of that, importing your favorite content from WordPress.com and Tumblr into Day One is on the near-term roadmap. 

In a post on his personal blog, Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg said he has been a user of Day One since 2016 and spoke highly of the app’s infrastructure:

Day One not only nails the experience of a local blog (or journal as they call it) in an app, but also has (built) a great technical infrastructure — it works fantastic (when) offline and has a fully encrypted sync mechanism, so the data that’s in the cloud is secured in a way that even someone with access to their database couldn’t decode your entries, it’s only decrypted on your local device. Combining encryption and sync in a truly secure way is tricky, but they’ve done it.

A journaling app is a surprising acquisition for Automattic, which has traditionally gravitated towards snapping up publishing-related companies and tools. WordPress is capable of powering nearly every kind of public-facing website, but private publishing has never been its strong suit. Though many have used WordPress in a sort of “private” mode for journaling, or set up local installations, the software is not streamlined for this particular use case. Day One expertly handles this niche that has remained relatively untouched in the WordPress ecosystem.

In explaining the acquisition, Mullenweg also touched on his “vision of making Automattic the Berkshire Hathaway of the internet,” a notion shared by Tiny Capital and often applied to Alphabet and its diverse holdings. One distinction is that Automattic’s acquisitions tend to complement one another technologically, often introducing the potential for improvements that can be shared with other products through open source software.

Day One Community Remains Trepidatious About the Acquisition

Why did Automattic buy the company? Day One customers are curious, as some of them perceive Automattic to be another “corporate giant” gobbling up a scrappy startup, ready to squeeze every possible drop of revenue out of the app’s loyal customers.

Many long-time Day One users have never heard of Automattic and they are understandably leery of seeing their beloved app change hands. Perusing the comments on the Twitter announcement and in the app’s community on Facebook, the news has precipitated a stream of cancellations and exports as users explore alternatives. Numerous customers were disheartened by one particular ambiguous statement in Day One’s announcement, which left the door open for future changes to the privacy of the app:

Rest assured there are no current plans to change the privacy of Day One; safely protecting memories and creating a 100% personal space is the foundation upon which this company was built.

The statement has since been updated to be more reassuring to users, although it still doesn’t explicitly promise no changes. It does contain a hint at why Automattic was interested in acquiring the app:

Rest assured that Day One’s commitment to protecting your privacy remains unchanged. Safely protecting memories and creating a 100% personal space is the foundation upon which this company was built. (In fact, our technical capabilities around privacy are a large part of what Automattic finds valuable in our company).

I have never seen a more engaged community with such a strong reaction following an acquisition. Many are deeply invested, having poured years of their lives and private memories into Day One.

“Oh, great. I find a journaling app I really like and have 10 years of entries invested, and they get gobbled up by a bigger fish,” one user commented in the app’s Facebook community. “What will become of our beloved app? Will the safety, security, and integrity of our data be assured? Time to back up all of my data local.”

Users have concerns about Day One’s updated privacy policy and whether the company might share data with affiliates. Many embraced the app because it was free of any ties with social media platforms. They have sewn themselves into this app in the most vulnerable way, and they are worried about how their private data will be handled in the future. Automattic may have a long road ahead in easing customers’ concerns so that they don’t feel the pressure to export and look for alternatives.

As someone who considered using Day One years ago, I think I would be more likely to use it now, knowing that Automattic is usually in it for the long haul. I passed on Day On at the time because apps come and go and it’s not always easy to predict which ones have the right business model to stay afloat. One of my worst recurring nightmares is that I accidentally throw away my paper journals or that my house burns down with my journals inside. Putting trust in a company to keep your electronic data safe and private is an intensely personal decision.

Knowing that a larger company with more resources is behind Day One, along with leadership that bears a genuine appreciation for its underlying tech, it seems like a safer pick for a journaling app that will be around for the next ten years. The company’s founder and CEO Paul Mayne will continue to lead his same team at Automattic and is convinced that the move will be beneficial for “the preservation and longevity” of the app. Given how passionate Day One’s user base is about protecting the app’s future, I’m eager to see how Automattic handles the challenge of winning their confidence.

WPTavern: Automattic Acquires Day One Journaling App

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 05:30

Automattic has acquired Day One, a journaling app available on iPhone, Android, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. The app makes it easy to create journal entries on the go, offers end-to-end encryption for privacy on its paid tier, and has offline capabilities. While most users compose private entries, Automattic’s acquisition announcement promises integrations for publishing to the web:

That doesn’t mean that everything you journal has to stay private, though. When you want to share specific entries – or even entire journals with the world – you can expect seamless integrations with both WordPress.com and Tumblr to do just that. On the flip side of that, importing your favorite content from WordPress.com and Tumblr into Day One is on the near-term roadmap. 

In a post on his personal blog, Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg said he has been a user of Day One since 2016 and spoke highly of the app’s infrastructure:

Day One not only nails the experience of a local blog (or journal as they call it) in an app, but also has (built) a great technical infrastructure — it works fantastic (when) offline and has a fully encrypted sync mechanism, so the data that’s in the cloud is secured in a way that even someone with access to their database couldn’t decode your entries, it’s only decrypted on your local device. Combining encryption and sync in a truly secure way is tricky, but they’ve done it.

A journaling app is a surprising acquisition for Automattic, which has traditionally gravitated towards snapping up publishing-related companies and tools. WordPress is capable of powering nearly every kind of public-facing website, but private publishing has never been its strong suit. Though many have used WordPress in a sort of “private” mode for journaling, or set up local installations, the software is not streamlined for this particular use case. Day One expertly handles this niche that has remained relatively untouched in the WordPress ecosystem.

In explaining the acquisition, Mullenweg also touched on his “vision of making Automattic the Berkshire Hathaway of the internet,” a notion shared by Tiny Capital and often applied to Alphabet and its diverse holdings. One distinction is that Automattic’s acquisitions tend to complement one another technologically, often introducing the potential for improvements that can be shared with other products through open source software.

Day One Community Remains Trepidatious About the Acquisition

Why did Automattic buy the company? Day One customers are curious, as some of them perceive Automattic to be another “corporate giant” gobbling up a scrappy startup, ready to squeeze every possible drop of revenue out of the app’s loyal customers.

Many long-time Day One users have never heard of Automattic and they are understandably leery of seeing their beloved app change hands. Perusing the comments on the Twitter announcement and in the app’s community on Facebook, the news has precipitated a stream of cancellations and exports as users explore alternatives. Numerous customers were disheartened by one particular ambiguous statement in Day One’s announcement, which left the door open for future changes to the privacy of the app:

Rest assured there are no current plans to change the privacy of Day One; safely protecting memories and creating a 100% personal space is the foundation upon which this company was built.

The statement has since been updated to be more reassuring to users, although it still doesn’t explicitly promise no changes. It does contain a hint at why Automattic was interested in acquiring the app:

Rest assured that Day One’s commitment to protecting your privacy remains unchanged. Safely protecting memories and creating a 100% personal space is the foundation upon which this company was built. (In fact, our technical capabilities around privacy are a large part of what Automattic finds valuable in our company).

I have never seen a more engaged community with such a strong reaction following an acquisition. Many are deeply invested, having poured years of their lives and private memories into Day One.

“Oh, great. I find a journaling app I really like and have 10 years of entries invested, and they get gobbled up by a bigger fish,” one user commented in the app’s Facebook community. “What will become of our beloved app? Will the safety, security, and integrity of our data be assured? Time to back up all of my data local.”

Users have concerns about Day One’s updated privacy policy and whether the company might share data with affiliates. Many embraced the app because it was free of any ties with social media platforms. They have sewn themselves into this app in the most vulnerable way, and they are worried about how their private data will be handled in the future. Automattic may have a long road ahead in easing customers’ concerns so that they don’t feel the pressure to export and look for alternatives.

As someone who considered using Day One years ago, I think I would be more likely to use it now, knowing that Automattic is usually in it for the long haul. I passed on Day On at the time because apps come and go and it’s not always easy to predict which ones have the right business model to stay afloat. One of my worst recurring nightmares is that I accidentally throw away my paper journals or that my house burns down with my journals inside. Putting trust in a company to keep your electronic data safe and private is an intensely personal decision.

Knowing that a larger company with more resources is behind Day One, along with leadership that bears a genuine appreciation for its underlying tech, it seems like a safer pick for a journaling app that will be around for the next ten years. The company’s founder and CEO Paul Mayne will continue to lead his same team at Automattic and is convinced that the move will be beneficial for “the preservation and longevity” of the app. Given how passionate Day One’s user base is about protecting the app’s future, I’m eager to see how Automattic handles the challenge of winning their confidence.

WPTavern: Ask the Bartender: Is It OK To Provide WordPress Admin Credentials to Plugin Support Staff?

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 06/15/2021 - 23:26

No. Nada. Nah. Nope. That’s a negative. Under no circumstances. My mama didn’t raise no fool. Heck naw. Not on your life. And, the other thousands of ways to tell anyone asking for site credentials to bugger off, even plugin support staff of a “trusted” WordPress development company.

That is my way of saying that I do not trust anyone. Neither should you. However, there are cases where it is necessary to provide admin permissions to a plugin’s support staff.

Today’s installment of the Ask the Bartender series comes courtesy of a reader named Niko. Because the entire text is over 1,000 words, I will simply link to the transcript via a .txt file for those who want to read it in full. Here in the post, I will stick to the vital bits. Or at least the parts that I want to address.

One of Niko’s Facebook group members kicked the discussion off.

‘Is it okay to send FTP details for a plugin developer to troubleshoot the issue we are having with WooCommerce. We have already provided WordPress Admin credentials.’

This is pretty normal practice in the WordPress world, right? Plugin developers helping out on issues, and if they can’t replicate an issue, they need the access so they can check if it is a plugin issue or a server issue and fix things?

Over the years, I have seen this become more of a common practice. However, it is not a practice that I recommend from either the user or developer end. Any site owner should ask whether they trust the person to whom they are giving credentials. If the answer to that question is no, you have the answer to the first question.

In over a decade of running a theme and plugin shop, I never needed admin or FTP access to deal with a support question. It did not matter if it was a large and complex plugin or a small one. Because I was the sole person at the company, I also personally answered hundreds of thousands of support questions over the years. Still, not once did I log into a user’s site to help them. That always seemed like a liability issue for me, but I also used such scenarios as teaching moments about trust and security.

Users sometimes provided credentials to me without me asking. Often they posted them in plain text in forums, email, or Slack (also, you should never do that). If on-site code needed changing, my users performed the task themselves or installed a bug-free version of the theme/plugin I handed over.

If they did not know how to perform a task via the admin, FTP, or otherwise, I took the time to teach them. Yes, that required more energy on both ends, but I believe we were the better for it. More than once, those moments led some users down the path of becoming developers themselves, or it was at least a tiny stepping stone for them. I remain friends with many of them today and am proud that they started with my little solo WordPress shop.

Some cases were rougher than others. Many times, I would replicate their setup (plugins, theme, etc.) on my machine. The majority of the time, this led me to the solution — I was using __doing_it_wrong() long before WordPress introduced the idea. In the long run, I was able to pass countless bug fixes upstream to other developers. I made a lot of developer friends this way too.

I have no doubts that the road I traveled was the longer of the two. There were times when I spent an hour, two, or even more addressing one user’s needs. Popping into some of their WordPress admins would have been a quicker course.

However, my theme and plugin users never needed to worry about whether they trusted me enough to provide that level of access. Plus, I had no chance of accidentally breaking their site by making custom changes.

Are there times when a plugin’s support staff really needs access? Probably.

The original question was regarding WooCommerce. It is one of the most technically advanced plugins in existence for WordPress. Replicating a user’s setup off-site for it is trickier than most others. There may be rare times when you need to provide some access, but you should never trust anyone.

The second part of Niko’s question revolves around the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and user data. It is a vital part of dealing with those times when you decide to hand over the keys to your website.

Alright so here comes the issue after we think about GDPR. If this developer happens to be outside the EU, then you would need to anonymize customer data and make an NDA agreement with that exact dev or company that is behind the plugin so they can come around and fix things.

I will preface this with the usual I am not a lawyer. However, protecting user data is always a legal and ethical priority on any site you run, regardless of what jurisdiction you fall under.

In those — again, rare — cases where you need to provide access to your WordPress admin, there are steps you could take to better protect your site and its data. Regardless of the trustworthiness of a developer or a support staff member, there is always one rule of thumb when dealing with website security: trust no one and trust nothing.

The first step should always be having a backup system in place. On the off chance that the support staff breaks something, you will want to revert the site back to its previous state.

Never provide complete admin-level access. I recommend installing and activating a role and capability management plugin. This will allow you to create a custom role for support help and limit the areas of the site they have access to. You would then create a user account for them with this role. Once they have completed their work, delete their account.

If you do not want them to see registered users or do anything with user data at all, make sure their user role does not have the following capabilities:

  • create_users
  • delete_users
  • edit_users
  • list_users
  • promote_users
  • remove_users

There are many other admin-level capabilities like edit_files, edit_plugins, and edit_themes that you should also avoid. Essentially, disallow most of the caps from the Administrator list in the WordPress documentation.

Most likely, plugin teams might need access to the manage_options capability and any that are custom to their plugin. Even those can be dangerous, but that backup you put in place should mitigate any potential issues.

As for an FTP password? I trust very few people with that level of access.

This reply probably sounds like I do not think any plugin shops or developers are trustworthy. Honestly, I do not know of any that have breached user trust using login or FTP credentials in this way. On the other hand, I have no way of knowing whether the staff member I am talking to plans to rage quit his job in the afternoon and is willing to burn everything down in the morning.

I have also seen a handful of cases where a developer dropped in to fix something but ended up breaking the site along the way. Backups were crucial in addressing those issues.

This post is not meant to make plugin developers or companies appear untrustworthy. Most are good people just trying to make an honest living. However, not trusting anything is website security 101. It is merely the baseline in which users should operate. If you go into any interaction with this mindset, it should help you make smarter decisions on a case-by-case basis.

WPTavern: Ask the Bartender: Is It OK To Provide WordPress Admin Credentials to Plugin Support Staff?

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 06/15/2021 - 23:26

No. Nada. Nah. Nope. That’s a negative. Under no circumstances. My mama didn’t raise no fool. Heck naw. Not on your life. And, the other thousands of ways to tell anyone asking for site credentials to bugger off, even plugin support staff of a “trusted” WordPress development company.

That is my way of saying that I do not trust anyone. Neither should you. However, there are cases where it is necessary to provide admin permissions to a plugin’s support staff.

Today’s installment of the Ask the Bartender series comes courtesy of a reader named Niko. Because the entire text is over 1,000 words, I will simply link to the transcript via a .txt file for those who want to read it in full. Here in the post, I will stick to the vital bits. Or at least the parts that I want to address.

One of Niko’s Facebook group members kicked the discussion off.

‘Is it okay to send FTP details for a plugin developer to troubleshoot the issue we are having with WooCommerce. We have already provided WordPress Admin credentials.’

This is pretty normal practice in the WordPress world, right? Plugin developers helping out on issues, and if they can’t replicate an issue, they need the access so they can check if it is a plugin issue or a server issue and fix things?

Over the years, I have seen this become more of a common practice. However, it is not a practice that I recommend from either the user or developer end. Any site owner should ask whether they trust the person to whom they are giving credentials. If the answer to that question is no, you have the answer to the first question.

In over a decade of running a theme and plugin shop, I never needed admin or FTP access to deal with a support question. It did not matter if it was a large and complex plugin or a small one. Because I was the sole person at the company, I also personally answered hundreds of thousands of support questions over the years. Still, not once did I log into a user’s site to help them. That always seemed like a liability issue for me, but I also used such scenarios as teaching moments about trust and security.

Users sometimes provided credentials to me without me asking. Often they posted them in plain text in forums, email, or Slack (also, you should never do that). If on-site code needed changing, my users performed the task themselves or installed a bug-free version of the theme/plugin I handed over.

If they did not know how to perform a task via the admin, FTP, or otherwise, I took the time to teach them. Yes, that required more energy on both ends, but I believe we were the better for it. More than once, those moments led some users down the path of becoming developers themselves, or it was at least a tiny stepping stone for them. I remain friends with many of them today and am proud that they started with my little solo WordPress shop.

Some cases were rougher than others. Many times, I would replicate their setup (plugins, theme, etc.) on my machine. The majority of the time, this led me to the solution — I was using __doing_it_wrong() long before WordPress introduced the idea. In the long run, I was able to pass countless bug fixes upstream to other developers. I made a lot of developer friends this way too.

I have no doubts that the road I traveled was the longer of the two. There were times when I spent an hour, two, or even more addressing one user’s needs. Popping into some of their WordPress admins would have been a quicker course.

However, my theme and plugin users never needed to worry about whether they trusted me enough to provide that level of access. Plus, I had no chance of accidentally breaking their site by making custom changes.

Are there times when a plugin’s support staff really needs access? Probably.

The original question was regarding WooCommerce. It is one of the most technically advanced plugins in existence for WordPress. Replicating a user’s setup off-site for it is trickier than most others. There may be rare times when you need to provide some access, but you should never trust anyone.

The second part of Niko’s question revolves around the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and user data. It is a vital part of dealing with those times when you decide to hand over the keys to your website.

Alright so here comes the issue after we think about GDPR. If this developer happens to be outside the EU, then you would need to anonymize customer data and make an NDA agreement with that exact dev or company that is behind the plugin so they can come around and fix things.

I will preface this with the usual I am not a lawyer. However, protecting user data is always a legal and ethical priority on any site you run, regardless of what jurisdiction you fall under.

In those — again, rare — cases where you need to provide access to your WordPress admin, there are steps you could take to better protect your site and its data. Regardless of the trustworthiness of a developer or a support staff member, there is always one rule of thumb when dealing with website security: trust no one and trust nothing.

The first step should always be having a backup system in place. On the off chance that the support staff breaks something, you will want to revert the site back to its previous state.

Never provide complete admin-level access. I recommend installing and activating a role and capability management plugin. This will allow you to create a custom role for support help and limit the areas of the site they have access to. You would then create a user account for them with this role. Once they have completed their work, delete their account.

If you do not want them to see registered users or do anything with user data at all, make sure their user role does not have the following capabilities:

  • create_users
  • delete_users
  • edit_users
  • list_users
  • promote_users
  • remove_users

There are many other admin-level capabilities like edit_files, edit_plugins, and edit_themes that you should also avoid. Essentially, disallow most of the caps from the Administrator list in the WordPress documentation.

Most likely, plugin teams might need access to the manage_options capability and any that are custom to their plugin. Even those can be dangerous, but that backup you put in place should mitigate any potential issues.

As for an FTP password? I trust very few people with that level of access.

This reply probably sounds like I do not think any plugin shops or developers are trustworthy. Honestly, I do not know of any that have breached user trust using login or FTP credentials in this way. On the other hand, I have no way of knowing whether the staff member I am talking to plans to rage quit his job in the afternoon and is willing to burn everything down in the morning.

I have also seen a handful of cases where a developer dropped in to fix something but ended up breaking the site along the way. Backups were crucial in addressing those issues.

This post is not meant to make plugin developers or companies appear untrustworthy. Most are good people just trying to make an honest living. However, not trusting anything is website security 101. It is merely the baseline in which users should operate. If you go into any interaction with this mindset, it should help you make smarter decisions on a case-by-case basis.

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.8 Beta 2

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 06/15/2021 - 18:34

WordPress 5.8 Beta 2 is now available for testing!

This software is still in development, so it’s not recommended to run this version on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with it.

You can test the WordPress 5.8 Beta 2 in two ways:

  • Install/activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (select the Bleeding edge channel and the Beta/RC Only stream)
  • Direct download the beta version here (zip).

The current target for the final release is July 20, 2021. That’s just five weeks away, so your help is vital to ensure that the final release is as good as it can be.

Some Highlights

Since Beta 1, 26 bugs have been fixed. Here is a summary of some of the included changes:

  • Block Editor: Remove bundled block patterns and support the patterns directory. (#53246)
  • Block Editor: Add a type property to allow Core to identify the source of the editor styles. (#53175)
  • Build/Test Tools: Adds some tests for Quick Draft section in Dashboard. (#52905)
  • Build/Test Tools: Replaced @babel/polyfill with core-js/stable. (#52941)
  • Coding Standards: Further update the code for bulk menu items deletion to better follow WordPress coding standards. (#21603)
  • External Libraries: Update Underscore to version 1.13.1. (#45785)
  • General: A number of block editor, template mode and widget screen related fixes. (#51149)
  • Login and Registration: Improve the unknown username error message. (#52915)
  • Media: Restore AJAX response data shape in media library. (#50105)
  • Site Health: Display a list of file formats supported by the GD library. (#53022)
  • Twemoji: It’s the new one! (#52852)
How You Can Help

Watch the Make WordPress Core blog for 5.8-related developer notes in the coming weeks, which will break down these and other changes in greater detail.

So far, contributors have fixed 214 tickets in WordPress 5.8, including 87 new features and enhancements, and more bug fixes are on the way.

Do some testing!

Testing for bugs is a vital part of polishing the release during the beta stage and a great way to contribute.

If you think you’ve found a bug, please post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We would love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac. That’s also where you can find a list of known bugs.

Props to @chanthaboune for revision, @webcommsat, @youknowriad, @jorbin, @felipeelia , and @jeffpaul for proofreading, and @cbringmann for final edits!

Install won’t you please
WordPress 5-8 Beta 2?
We need your help: test!

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.8 Beta 2

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 06/15/2021 - 18:34

WordPress 5.8 Beta 2 is now available for testing!

This software is still in development, so it’s not recommended to run this version on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with it.

You can test the WordPress 5.8 Beta 2 in two ways:

  • Install/activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (select the Bleeding edge channel and the Beta/RC Only stream)
  • Direct download the beta version here (zip).

The current target for the final release is July 20, 2021. That’s just five weeks away, so your help is vital to ensure that the final release is as good as it can be.

Some Highlights

Since Beta 1, 26 bugs have been fixed. Here is a summary of some of the included changes:

  • Block Editor: Remove bundled block patterns and support the patterns directory. (#53246)
  • Block Editor: Add a type property to allow Core to identify the source of the editor styles. (#53175)
  • Build/Test Tools: Adds some tests for Quick Draft section in Dashboard. (#52905)
  • Build/Test Tools: Replaced @babel/polyfill with core-js/stable. (#52941)
  • Coding Standards: Further update the code for bulk menu items deletion to better follow WordPress coding standards. (#21603)
  • External Libraries: Update Underscore to version 1.13.1. (#45785)
  • General: A number of block editor, template mode and widget screen related fixes. (#51149)
  • Login and Registration: Improve the unknown username error message. (#52915)
  • Media: Restore AJAX response data shape in media library. (#50105)
  • Site Health: Display a list of file formats supported by the GD library. (#53022)
  • Twemoji: It’s the new one! (#52852)
How You Can Help

Watch the Make WordPress Core blog for 5.8-related developer notes in the coming weeks, which will break down these and other changes in greater detail.

So far, contributors have fixed 214 tickets in WordPress 5.8, including 87 new features and enhancements, and more bug fixes are on the way.

Do some testing!

Testing for bugs is a vital part of polishing the release during the beta stage and a great way to contribute.

If you think you’ve found a bug, please post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We would love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac. That’s also where you can find a list of known bugs.

Props to @chanthaboune for revision, @webcommsat, @youknowriad, @jorbin, @felipeelia , and @jeffpaul for proofreading, and @cbringmann for final edits!

Install won’t you please
WordPress 5-8 Beta 2?
We need your help: test!

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.8 Beta 2

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 06/15/2021 - 18:34

WordPress 5.8 Beta 2 is now available for testing!

This software is still in development, so it’s not recommended to run this version on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with it.

You can test the WordPress 5.8 Beta 2 in two ways:

  • Install/activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (select the Bleeding edge channel and the Beta/RC Only stream)
  • Direct download the beta version here (zip).

The current target for the final release is July 20, 2021. That’s just five weeks away, so your help is vital to ensure that the final release is as good as it can be.

Some Highlights

Since Beta 1, 26 bugs have been fixed. Here is a summary of some of the included changes:

  • Block Editor: Remove bundled block patterns and support the patterns directory. (#53246)
  • Block Editor: Add a type property to allow Core to identify the source of the editor styles. (#53175)
  • Build/Test Tools: Adds some tests for Quick Draft section in Dashboard. (#52905)
  • Build/Test Tools: Replaced @babel/polyfill with core-js/stable. (#52941)
  • Coding Standards: Further update the code for bulk menu items deletion to better follow WordPress coding standards. (#21603)
  • External Libraries: Update Underscore to version 1.13.1. (#45785)
  • General: A number of block editor, template mode and widget screen related fixes. (#51149)
  • Login and Registration: Improve the unknown username error message. (#52915)
  • Media: Restore AJAX response data shape in media library. (#50105)
  • Site Health: Display a list of file formats supported by the GD library. (#53022)
  • Twemoji: It’s the new one! (#52852)
How You Can Help

Watch the Make WordPress Core blog for 5.8-related developer notes in the coming weeks, which will break down these and other changes in greater detail.

So far, contributors have fixed 214 tickets in WordPress 5.8, including 87 new features and enhancements, and more bug fixes are on the way.

Do some testing!

Testing for bugs is a vital part of polishing the release during the beta stage and a great way to contribute.

If you think you’ve found a bug, please post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We would love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac. That’s also where you can find a list of known bugs.

Props to @chanthaboune for revision, @webcommsat, @youknowriad, @jorbin, @felipeelia , and @jeffpaul for proofreading, and @cbringmann for final edits!

Install won’t you please
WordPress 5-8 Beta 2?
We need your help: test!

WordPress 5.8 Beta 2

Wordpress News - Tue, 06/15/2021 - 18:34

WordPress 5.8 Beta 2 is now available for testing!

This software is still in development, so it’s not recommended to run this version on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with it.

You can test the WordPress 5.8 Beta 2 in two ways:

  • Install/activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (select the Bleeding edge channel and the Beta/RC Only stream)
  • Direct download the beta version here (zip).

The current target for the final release is July 20, 2021. That’s just five weeks away, so your help is vital to ensure that the final release is as good as it can be.

Some Highlights

Since Beta 1, 26 bugs have been fixed. Here is a summary of some of the included changes:

  • Block Editor: Remove bundled block patterns and support the patterns directory. (#53246)
  • Block Editor: Add a type property to allow Core to identify the source of the editor styles. (#53175)
  • Build/Test Tools: Adds some tests for Quick Draft section in Dashboard. (#52905)
  • Build/Test Tools: Replaced @babel/polyfill with core-js/stable. (#52941)
  • Coding Standards: Further update the code for bulk menu items deletion to better follow WordPress coding standards. (#21603)
  • External Libraries: Update Underscore to version 1.13.1. (#45785)
  • General: A number of block editor, template mode and widget screen related fixes. (#51149)
  • Login and Registration: Improve the unknown username error message. (#52915)
  • Media: Restore AJAX response data shape in media library. (#50105)
  • Site Health: Display a list of file formats supported by the GD library. (#53022)
  • Twemoji: It’s the new one! (#52852)
How You Can Help

Watch the Make WordPress Core blog for 5.8-related developer notes in the coming weeks, which will break down these and other changes in greater detail.

So far, contributors have fixed 214 tickets in WordPress 5.8, including 87 new features and enhancements, and more bug fixes are on the way.

Do some testing!

Testing for bugs is a vital part of polishing the release during the beta stage and a great way to contribute.

If you think you’ve found a bug, please post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We would love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac. That’s also where you can find a list of known bugs.

Props to @chanthaboune for revision, @webcommsat, @youknowriad, @jorbin, @felipeelia , and @jeffpaul for proofreading, and @cbringmann for final edits!

Install won’t you please
WordPress 5-8 Beta 2?
We need your help: test!

WPTavern: Toolbelt Tidies WordPress Plugin and Theme Admin Notifications

Wordpress Planet - Mon, 06/14/2021 - 22:54

It’s a tale as old as, well, WordPress. Ben Gillbanks noticed a conversation where someone thought that admin notices were getting out of hand. Enter another developer’s attempt to address this problem. With a few code additions to his Toolbelt plugin, he had a working solution to stop the madness: the Tidy Notifications module.

Despite the early promise of the WP Notify project last year, it still feels like we are no closer to addressing the overuse of the current admin notice system in WordPress. In reality, it is not so much a system as a hook that developers can use for literally anything. It is the Wild West of the WordPress admin. No rules. No order. And no proper API for standardizing how notices work.

WP Notify still exists on GitHub and continues to move along at its own pace, but there is no guarantee that it will ever land in the core platform. Sometimes, the best thing a developer can do is solve the existing problem and hope that WordPress follows along down the road with a better solution.

I am already tidying admin notifications with Toolbelt on my development install. My primary use case is to hide the non-dismissible notice from the Gutenberg plugin that I have a Full Site Editing theme installed — is there not a guideline against such notices? I did not suddenly forget that I was using such a theme between the 999th and 1,000th time the reminder appeared on every admin screen of my installation.

Notifications expand when clicking on the bell icon in the toolbar.

The Tidy Notifications system in Toolbelt neatly tucks all admin notices under a bell icon in the admin toolbar. It also displays the number of notifications.

It makes the WordPress admin so clutter-free that I do not know how I have lived without it before. I cannot imagine going back.

The only problem with Toolbelt’s solution is that there is no way to distinguish between essential notices and those that should be tucked away. WordPress letting you know that your post was successfully updated is an important notice that should not be hidden. However, a plugin author drumming up five-star reviews, yeah, that should not be front and center.

Having two systems would be beneficial. The existing admin_notices hook in WordPress should be used for letting users know the outcome of their actions or actions that they should take. The post editor, which does not use page reloads or make the hook available, has replaced this with the snackbar popup system. These necessary notices have their place.

However, WordPress has no built-in system for non-essential notices. This leaves plugin and theme authors with two options: bundle an entirely custom notification apparatus with each extension or just use the admin_notices hook. The latter is the more efficient use of developer resources.

Of course, we have had this conversation before. Just shy of a year ago, I wrote a post titled Are Plugin Authors to Blame for the Poor Admin Notices Experience? In the comments, WordPress project lead Matt Mullenweg posited that the solution to unwanted notifications is not to build an inbox, comparing WordPress to cell phones. He said that app store guidelines were likely more impactful to user happiness. In general, I agree with that concept. Setting down a few directory UI and UX rules would not hurt.

Given the more recent push to loosen guidelines for the theme directory, that does not seem to be in the cards. Admin notices were not one of the guardrails, the safety net of “must-haves” from the Themes Team.

The admin notice spam WordPress users see today most commonly comes from plugins and not themes. Why? It is not because theme authors care more about user happiness levels. It is because the theme review guidelines over the years have been strict. Anything too flamboyant gets the hammer.

The WordPress Themes Team even has a custom guideline-friendly, drop-in class that themers can use.

The plugin and theme directories have taken far different stances on admin notices, and it shows. When the Themes Team moves to minimal checks, there may not be anything to stop themers from competing for the most obnoxious admin notice award. Game on, plugin authors.

“Unwanted” notifications may even be the wrong terminology. Often, they are “unwanted right now.” Sometimes, folks might want to read a message — just later. I am still holding out hope that we will have a notifications/messages inbox in WordPress one day. One that is entirely controlled by the user.

Until then, I may just stick with the Tidy Notifications module in Toolbelt. There are many other handy components in it too.

WPTavern: Toolbelt Tidies WordPress Plugin and Theme Admin Notifications

Wordpress Planet - Mon, 06/14/2021 - 22:54

It’s a tale as old as, well, WordPress. Ben Gillbanks noticed a conversation where someone thought that admin notices were getting out of hand. Enter another developer’s attempt to address this problem. With a few code additions to his Toolbelt plugin, he had a working solution to stop the madness: the Tidy Notifications module.

Despite the early promise of the WP Notify project last year, it still feels like we are no closer to addressing the overuse of the current admin notice system in WordPress. In reality, it is not so much a system as a hook that developers can use for literally anything. It is the Wild West of the WordPress admin. No rules. No order. And no proper API for standardizing how notices work.

WP Notify still exists on GitHub and continues to move along at its own pace, but there is no guarantee that it will ever land in the core platform. Sometimes, the best thing a developer can do is solve the existing problem and hope that WordPress follows along down the road with a better solution.

I am already tidying admin notifications with Toolbelt on my development install. My primary use case is to hide the non-dismissible notice from the Gutenberg plugin that I have a Full Site Editing theme installed — is there not a guideline against such notices? I did not suddenly forget that I was using such a theme between the 999th and 1,000th time the reminder appeared on every admin screen of my installation.

Notifications expand when clicking on the bell icon in the toolbar.

The Tidy Notifications system in Toolbelt neatly tucks all admin notices under a bell icon in the admin toolbar. It also displays the number of notifications.

It makes the WordPress admin so clutter-free that I do not know how I have lived without it before. I cannot imagine going back.

The only problem with Toolbelt’s solution is that there is no way to distinguish between essential notices and those that should be tucked away. WordPress letting you know that your post was successfully updated is an important notice that should not be hidden. However, a plugin author drumming up five-star reviews, yeah, that should not be front and center.

Having two systems would be beneficial. The existing admin_notices hook in WordPress should be used for letting users know the outcome of their actions or actions that they should take. The post editor, which does not use page reloads or make the hook available, has replaced this with the snackbar popup system. These necessary notices have their place.

However, WordPress has no built-in system for non-essential notices. This leaves plugin and theme authors with two options: bundle an entirely custom notification apparatus with each extension or just use the admin_notices hook. The latter is the more efficient use of developer resources.

Of course, we have had this conversation before. Just shy of a year ago, I wrote a post titled Are Plugin Authors to Blame for the Poor Admin Notices Experience? In the comments, WordPress project lead Matt Mullenweg posited that the solution to unwanted notifications is not to build an inbox, comparing WordPress to cell phones. He said that app store guidelines were likely more impactful to user happiness. In general, I agree with that concept. Setting down a few directory UI and UX rules would not hurt.

Given the more recent push to loosen guidelines for the theme directory, that does not seem to be in the cards. Admin notices were not one of the guardrails, the safety net of “must-haves” from the Themes Team.

The admin notice spam WordPress users see today most commonly comes from plugins and not themes. Why? It is not because theme authors care more about user happiness levels. It is because the theme review guidelines over the years have been strict. Anything too flamboyant gets the hammer.

The WordPress Themes Team even has a custom guideline-friendly, drop-in class that themers can use.

The plugin and theme directories have taken far different stances on admin notices, and it shows. When the Themes Team moves to minimal checks, there may not be anything to stop themers from competing for the most obnoxious admin notice award. Game on, plugin authors.

“Unwanted” notifications may even be the wrong terminology. Often, they are “unwanted right now.” Sometimes, folks might want to read a message — just later. I am still holding out hope that we will have a notifications/messages inbox in WordPress one day. One that is entirely controlled by the user.

Until then, I may just stick with the Tidy Notifications module in Toolbelt. There are many other handy components in it too.

WPTavern: Wordfence Now Authorized as a CVE Numbering Authority

Wordpress Planet - Mon, 06/14/2021 - 21:44

Wordfence has been authorized by the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE®) Program as a CNA (CVE Numbering Authority), which allows the company to directly assign CVE numbers for new vulnerabilities in WordPress core, plugins, and themes. The authority is granted by Mitre Corporation, a federally-funded US non-profit that manages research and development centers. Wordfence anticipates that the ability to create CVE assignments will expedite its security research.

“As the Wordfence Threat Intelligence team continues to produce groundbreaking WordPress security research, Wordfence can more efficiently assign CVE IDs prior to publicly disclosing any vulnerabilities that our team discovers,” Wordfence threat analyst Chloe Chamberland said. “This means that a CVE ID will be immediately assigned with every vulnerability we discover rather than waiting for an assignment from an external CNA.”

Not having to wait on a CVE ID is a major advantage for the company, especially when working with enterprise installations where WordPress is used in combination with other software. It also helps security personnel prioritize and act based on the potential severity of threats.

“Our efforts to become a CNA had these individuals, institutions, and enterprise personnel in mind, as well as WordPress’ reputation as a whole,” Chamberland said. “Now, those tasked with securing WordPress will be able to quickly reference the CVE ID from our blog posts when reporting vulnerabilities throughout their organization and handling security update prioritization. We also hope that by being a CNA, Wordfence will receive even more direct reports from security researchers.”

Becoming a CNA simplifies a security company’s process of submitting vulnerabilities. Wordfence is the second company to become one, operating within the scope of WordPress and related vulnerabilities. In January 2021, WPScan was granted CVE Numbering Authority status. Prior to becoming a CNA, assigning CVEs for every vulnerability in WPScan’s database would have been too time consuming.

“Becoming a CNA has allowed us to help security researchers to verify and triage their vulnerabilities,” WPScan founder and CEO Ryan Dewhurst said. “This has helped grow our WordPress vulnerability database and keep WordPress users secure. But it is just one source of vulnerabilities among many others that we use.”

The process for Wordfence to become a CNA was surprisingly simple. Chamberland said the company filled out a registration form with a few questions.

“Once we were approved and agreed upon a scope, you are required to watch a series of onboarding videos that explain the processes required of a CNA,” she said. “After that, we had an onboarding meeting to ensure our team was fully trained on CVE Program protocols. It took Wordfence about a month to get authorized as a CNA once they received our registration form.”

Historically, the WordPress ecosystem has been a magnet for those looking to exploit vulnerabilities, due to its large footprint on the web. That trend is likely to continue. Chamberland believes there is room for multiple CNA’s in the WordPress space.

“We’ve had a great working relationship with WPScan over the years, and we expect that this relationship will continue as we have a similar mission in helping secure the WordPress community,” she said.

“As WordPress grows, it becomes a larger and more attractive target for malicious actors. The more hands we have on deck, and the better we collaborate and adhere to industry standard security practices, the safer WordPress will be.”

Attracting more researchers to report vulnerabilities is a major benefit to security companies that gain CNA status, since they are essentially in the business of selling vulnerability protection data. They give their paid customers early access to patches that are not yet available to the general public. Becoming a CNA has the potential to increase the value their businesses can provide.

“With this growth in WordPress, we expect to see more security researchers in the WordPress space,” Chamberland said. “As such, we are bound to see an increase in CVE ID requests. Having multiple CNA’s that can assign CVE IDs to WordPress core, plugins and themes make sense to improve the speed in which security researchers can obtain CVE IDs, and provides researchers with multiple sources for CVE IDs.”

WPTavern: Wordfence Now Authorized as a CVE Numbering Authority

Wordpress Planet - Mon, 06/14/2021 - 21:44

Wordfence has been authorized by the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE®) Program as a CNA (CVE Numbering Authority), which allows the company to directly assign CVE numbers for new vulnerabilities in WordPress core, plugins, and themes. The authority is granted by Mitre Corporation, a federally-funded US non-profit that manages research and development centers. Wordfence anticipates that the ability to create CVE assignments will expedite its security research.

“As the Wordfence Threat Intelligence team continues to produce groundbreaking WordPress security research, Wordfence can more efficiently assign CVE IDs prior to publicly disclosing any vulnerabilities that our team discovers,” Wordfence threat analyst Chloe Chamberland said. “This means that a CVE ID will be immediately assigned with every vulnerability we discover rather than waiting for an assignment from an external CNA.”

Not having to wait on a CVE ID is a major advantage for the company, especially when working with enterprise installations where WordPress is used in combination with other software. It also helps security personnel prioritize and act based on the potential severity of threats.

“Our efforts to become a CNA had these individuals, institutions, and enterprise personnel in mind, as well as WordPress’ reputation as a whole,” Chamberland said. “Now, those tasked with securing WordPress will be able to quickly reference the CVE ID from our blog posts when reporting vulnerabilities throughout their organization and handling security update prioritization. We also hope that by being a CNA, Wordfence will receive even more direct reports from security researchers.”

Becoming a CNA simplifies a security company’s process of submitting vulnerabilities. Wordfence is the second company to become one, operating within the scope of WordPress and related vulnerabilities. In January 2021, WPScan was granted CVE Numbering Authority status. Prior to becoming a CNA, assigning CVEs for every vulnerability in WPScan’s database would have been too time consuming.

“Becoming a CNA has allowed us to help security researchers to verify and triage their vulnerabilities,” WPScan founder and CEO Ryan Dewhurst said. “This has helped grow our WordPress vulnerability database and keep WordPress users secure. But it is just one source of vulnerabilities among many others that we use.”

The process for Wordfence to become a CNA was surprisingly simple. Chamberland said the company filled out a registration form with a few questions.

“Once we were approved and agreed upon a scope, you are required to watch a series of onboarding videos that explain the processes required of a CNA,” she said. “After that, we had an onboarding meeting to ensure our team was fully trained on CVE Program protocols. It took Wordfence about a month to get authorized as a CNA once they received our registration form.”

Historically, the WordPress ecosystem has been a magnet for those looking to exploit vulnerabilities, due to its large footprint on the web. That trend is likely to continue. Chamberland believes there is room for multiple CNA’s in the WordPress space.

“We’ve had a great working relationship with WPScan over the years, and we expect that this relationship will continue as we have a similar mission in helping secure the WordPress community,” she said.

“As WordPress grows, it becomes a larger and more attractive target for malicious actors. The more hands we have on deck, and the better we collaborate and adhere to industry standard security practices, the safer WordPress will be.”

Attracting more researchers to report vulnerabilities is a major benefit to security companies that gain CNA status, since they are essentially in the business of selling vulnerability protection data. They give their paid customers early access to patches that are not yet available to the general public. Becoming a CNA has the potential to increase the value their businesses can provide.

“With this growth in WordPress, we expect to see more security researchers in the WordPress space,” Chamberland said. “As such, we are bound to see an increase in CVE ID requests. Having multiple CNA’s that can assign CVE IDs to WordPress core, plugins and themes make sense to improve the speed in which security researchers can obtain CVE IDs, and provides researchers with multiple sources for CVE IDs.”

WPTavern: Wordfence Now Authorized as a CVE Numbering Authority

Wordpress Planet - Mon, 06/14/2021 - 21:44

Wordfence has been authorized by the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE®) Program as a CNA (CVE Numbering Authority), which allows the company to directly assign CVE numbers for new vulnerabilities in WordPress core, plugins, and themes. The authority is granted by Mitre Corporation, a federally-funded US non-profit that manages research and development centers. Wordfence anticipates that the ability to create CVE assignments will expedite its security research.

“As the Wordfence Threat Intelligence team continues to produce groundbreaking WordPress security research, Wordfence can more efficiently assign CVE IDs prior to publicly disclosing any vulnerabilities that our team discovers,” Wordfence threat analyst Chloe Chamberland said. “This means that a CVE ID will be immediately assigned with every vulnerability we discover rather than waiting for an assignment from an external CNA.”

Not having to wait on a CVE ID is a major advantage for the company, especially when working with enterprise installations where WordPress is used in combination with other software. It also helps security personnel prioritize and act based on the potential severity of threats.

“Our efforts to become a CNA had these individuals, institutions, and enterprise personnel in mind, as well as WordPress’ reputation as a whole,” Chamberland said. “Now, those tasked with securing WordPress will be able to quickly reference the CVE ID from our blog posts when reporting vulnerabilities throughout their organization and handling security update prioritization. We also hope that by being a CNA, Wordfence will receive even more direct reports from security researchers.”

Becoming a CNA simplifies a security company’s process of submitting vulnerabilities. Wordfence is the second company to become one, operating within the scope of WordPress and related vulnerabilities. In January 2021, WPScan was granted CVE Numbering Authority status. Prior to becoming a CNA, assigning CVEs for every vulnerability in WPScan’s database would have been too time consuming.

“Becoming a CNA has allowed us to help security researchers to verify and triage their vulnerabilities,” WPScan founder and CEO Ryan Dewhurst said. “This has helped grow our WordPress vulnerability database and keep WordPress users secure. But it is just one source of vulnerabilities among many others that we use.”

The process for Wordfence to become a CNA was surprisingly simple. Chamberland said the company filled out a registration form with a few questions.

“Once we were approved and agreed upon a scope, you are required to watch a series of onboarding videos that explain the processes required of a CNA,” she said. “After that, we had an onboarding meeting to ensure our team was fully trained on CVE Program protocols. It took Wordfence about a month to get authorized as a CNA once they received our registration form.”

Historically, the WordPress ecosystem has been a magnet for those looking to exploit vulnerabilities, due to its large footprint on the web. That trend is likely to continue. Chamberland believes there is room for multiple CNA’s in the WordPress space.

“We’ve had a great working relationship with WPScan over the years, and we expect that this relationship will continue as we have a similar mission in helping secure the WordPress community,” she said.

“As WordPress grows, it becomes a larger and more attractive target for malicious actors. The more hands we have on deck, and the better we collaborate and adhere to industry standard security practices, the safer WordPress will be.”

Attracting more researchers to report vulnerabilities is a major benefit to security companies that gain CNA status, since they are essentially in the business of selling vulnerability protection data. They give their paid customers early access to patches that are not yet available to the general public. Becoming a CNA has the potential to increase the value their businesses can provide.

“With this growth in WordPress, we expect to see more security researchers in the WordPress space,” Chamberland said. “As such, we are bound to see an increase in CVE ID requests. Having multiple CNA’s that can assign CVE IDs to WordPress core, plugins and themes make sense to improve the speed in which security researchers can obtain CVE IDs, and provides researchers with multiple sources for CVE IDs.”

Matt: Day One at Automattic

Wordpress Planet - Mon, 06/14/2021 - 20:53

I’m not sure when I first came across the critically acclaimed Day One product, which is the best private blogging and journaling app out there, but I began seriously using it daily in 2016 when my father was in the ICU and later passed. Having a private, safe place to write what I was going through kept me sane and helped me process everything.

Writing has always been a salve for me, and I’ve had local or private WordPress installations pretty much since 2003 to capture and archive writing that wasn’t fit for the public web.

Day One not only nails the experience of a local blog (or journal as they call it) in an app, but also has (built) a great technical infrastructure — it works fantastic (when) offline and has a fully encrypted sync mechanism, so the data that’s in the cloud is secured in a way that even someone with access to their database couldn’t decode your entries, it’s only decrypted on your local device. Combining encryption and sync in a truly secure way is tricky, but they’ve done it.

This is a long intro to say, as you can read from Day One’s founder and CEO Paul Mayne, from Eli at WordPress.com, and on Tumblr, that Paul and the team are joining the team at Automattic. For many years I’ve talked to anyone who will listen about my vision of making Automattic the Berkshire Hathaway of the internet, and Paul’s decision to continue to grow his amazing business as part of Automattic is a great validation of the way we’ve been building our culture and long-term orientation in our business. Day One is a beloved product, and bringing it into the fold is a responsibility I take very seriously and comes from a deep respect for what’s been built and a belief that working together we can create something for users better than we could working apart.

Great software takes time, and the Day One team has been at it for about a decade now, I can’t wait to see what they accomplish in the coming decade and beyond. If you haven’t tried out Day One yet, please check it out in the Apple or Google’s app store.

Matt: Day One at Automattic

Wordpress Planet - Mon, 06/14/2021 - 20:53

I’m not sure when I first came across the critically acclaimed Day One product, which is the best private blogging and journaling app out there, but I began seriously using it daily in 2016 when my father was in the ICU and later passed. Having a private, safe place to write what I was going through kept me sane and helped me process everything.

Writing has always been a salve for me, and I’ve had local or private WordPress installations pretty much since 2003 to capture and archive writing that wasn’t fit for the public web.

Day One not only nails the experience of a local blog (or journal as they call it) in an app, but also has (built) a great technical infrastructure — it works fantastic (when) offline and has a fully encrypted sync mechanism, so the data that’s in the cloud is secured in a way that even someone with access to their database couldn’t decode your entries, it’s only decrypted on your local device. Combining encryption and sync in a truly secure way is tricky, but they’ve done it.

This is a long intro to say, as you can read from Day One’s founder and CEO Paul Mayne, from Eli at WordPress.com, and on Tumblr, that Paul and the team are joining the team at Automattic. For many years I’ve talked to anyone who will listen about my vision of making Automattic the Berkshire Hathaway of the internet, and Paul’s decision to continue to grow his amazing business as part of Automattic is a great validation of the way we’ve been building our culture and long-term orientation in our business. Day One is a beloved product, and bringing it into the fold is a responsibility I take very seriously and comes from a deep respect for what’s been built and a belief that working together we can create something for users better than we could working apart.

Great software takes time, and the Day One team has been at it for about a decade now, I can’t wait to see what they accomplish in the coming decade and beyond. If you haven’t tried out Day One yet, please check it out in the Apple or Google’s app store.

Matt: Day One at Automattic

Wordpress Planet - Mon, 06/14/2021 - 20:53

I’m not sure when I first came across the critically acclaimed Day One product, which is the best private blogging and journaling app out there, but I began seriously using it daily in 2016 when my father was in the ICU and later passed. Having a private, safe place to write what I was going through kept me sane and helped me process everything.

Writing has always been a salve for me, and I’ve had local or private WordPress installations pretty much since 2003 to capture and archive writing that wasn’t fit for the public web.

Day One not only nails the experience of a local blog (or journal as they call it) in an app, but also has (built) a great technical infrastructure — it works fantastic (when) offline and has a fully encrypted sync mechanism, so the data that’s in the cloud is secured in a way that even someone with access to their database couldn’t decode your entries, it’s only decrypted on your local device. Combining encryption and sync in a truly secure way is tricky, but they’ve done it.

This is a long intro to say, as you can read from Day One’s founder and CEO Paul Mayne, from Eli at WordPress.com, and on Tumblr, that Paul and the team are joining the team at Automattic. For many years I’ve talked to anyone who will listen about my vision of making Automattic the Berkshire Hathaway of the internet, and Paul’s decision to continue to grow his amazing business as part of Automattic is a great validation of the way we’ve been building our culture and long-term orientation in our business. Day One is a beloved product, and bringing it into the fold is a responsibility I take very seriously and comes from a deep respect for what’s been built and a belief that working together we can create something for users better than we could working apart.

Great software takes time, and the Day One team has been at it for about a decade now, I can’t wait to see what they accomplish in the coming decade and beyond. If you haven’t tried out Day One yet, please check it out in the Apple or Google’s app store.

WPTavern: WordPress 5.8 Beta 1 Released: New Blocks, New Widgets Screen, and Pattern Directory on Deck

Wordpress Planet - Sun, 06/13/2021 - 02:07

WordPress 5.8 beta 1 is ready for testing. This upcoming release makes major strides towards solidifying WordPress’ site building capabilities, along with improvements to features users have enjoyed since the launch of the block editor. It is one of the most feature-packed releases in recent history and as such requires all hands on deck for testing.

New blocks in 5.8 include Page List, Site Title, Logo, Tagline, Query Loop, and Duotone. I decided to take each one for a spin this weekend on a test site, putting myself in the shoes of someone trying these blocks for the first time.

I was surprised to learn that the template editor will be available to sites using any WordPress theme, since all the previous FSE testing rounds have called on testers to use the latest version of the TT1 Blocks Theme. It will be interesting to see how users respond to this and if it works well with older themes. Users can now create and edit custom templates for pages and posts using blocks.

The template editor includes the new List View panel that gives an overview of all the sections and blocks in the template.

Most of the new blocks in 5.8 are intended to work within the context of the template editor, but they also work in the post editor.

The Page List block magically populates a list of all the pages on a site as soon as it is inserted. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to delete a single page from the list. If you try to delete a page the entire block disappears. This seems like a bug and is a frustrating experience in the context of the post editor. It may be more useful in terms of building navigation but this seems like a rough first pass.

The Query Loop block comes with some different designs for how the loop could be displayed. Once a basic layout is chosen for a starting point, users can further customize the blocks within the loop, including typography, color, length of excerpt, and more.

The Site Title, Tagline, and Logo blocks all seem to work as expected but I found previews to be unreliable for things like alignment and spacing. At this point in time, it seems like template editing will be better suited to users who are more adventurous and experimental when it comes to new features.

Duotone is a fun new core block that you can see in action below, demonstrated by WordPress documentation contributor Milana Cap. The block adds images effects that can be used in media blocks. Theme and plugin developers can also employ and customize the effects for their own particular use cases.

Oh. My. Gutenberg.

Imagine images in duotone on your website 🤯

And now that you imagined it, you want it, right? Right?

It's coming up in #WordPress 5.8 😍 stay tuned 😊 pic.twitter.com/t5JHBcTEOV

— Milana Cap (@DjevaLoperka) June 9, 2021 Hello New Widgets Screen!

WordPress users will be greeted with a new block-based widgets screen in 5.8. It allows you to use blocks in any widgetized area. It wasn’t until I saw how this works that I realized how rigid our old widgets system was. Whatever functionality you were trying to insert had to be readily available as a widget or shortcode. Now any block from the vast world of blocks can be added to widgetized areas.

Justin Tadlock wrote a post about how users can disable it with the Classic Widgets plugin. Should you disable it? Not unless you are forced to because of using a theme that doesn’t support it very well. Using blocks in widget areas is going to give you much more flexibility for what you can insert. You can even continue to use the old style widgets via the Legacy Widget block. Users may need a little time to adapt to the new interface but it’s worth it to have access to the growing world of innovative blocks.

Pattern Directory Will Be Integrated with WordPress 5.8

The new Pattern Directory will launch on WordPress.org along with the 5.8 release. Justin Tadlock recently amplified the Design Team’s call for pattern contributions that would be available to users right away. Several have already been submitted via GitHub issues for the directory and the creativity here is energizing. In addition to introducing an exciting new avenue for designers to put their work out into the ecosystem, the Pattern Directory stands to become a valuable resource and inspiration to users who are designing their own websites.

A “How It Works” pattern submitted by Lax Mariappan

At launch the directory will only contain patterns that use core blocks but using blocks from WordPress.org may also be a possibility in the future.

“There have definitely been some discussion of allowing any blocks from the Block Directory to be used and that they would be auto-installed if someone inserted the pattern,” Shaun Andrews commented in response to a theme studio inquiring about submitting their own patterns that use free blocks. “I believe this is possible, and something we should do, but there simply hasn’t been any work done to enable it yet.

“We’re focused on getting the first iteration of the Pattern Directory launched, and then we plan to continue improving things.”

Pattern transformation is a new feature launching with the new directory, which allows users to convert a block or collection of blocks into different patterns. Patterns can also be recommended and selected during block setup, which should make product onboarding easier.

These are just a few features coming in WordPress 5.8 that need testing. Check out the 5.8 beta 1 release post for a more comprehensive list of all the improvements that are on deck. The official release is scheduled for July 20, 2021.

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