WPTavern: WooCommerce 3.2 Adds Ability to Apply Coupons in the Admin, Introduces Pre-Update Version Checks for Extensions
WooCommerce 3.2 has arrived a week ahead of the plugin’s upcoming WooConf Developers Conference in Seattle. The release went into beta at the end of August and an extra week was added to the RC testing phase to give store owners and extension developers ample opportunity to prepare for the update.
Version 3.2 adds the ability for administrators to apply coupons to existing orders in the backend of the store. This feature was requested on the WooCommerce ideas board four years ago and had received 374 votes for consideration.
WooCommerce will now automatically re-calculate the order total after applying the coupon and the same in reverse if a coupon is removed. Although it seems like a small improvement, implementing it without breaking extensions was a fairly complex endeavor for the WooCommerce team.
“This was tricky to develop because of the way the cart and coupons were built initially, so some refactoring was needed, but we tried to implement these changes in a backwards compatible manner so extensions wouldn’t require changes,” WooCommerce lead developer Mike Jolley said.WooCommerce 3.2 Adds Extension Support Version Checks Prior to Core Updates
One of the most exciting new features in 3.2 is support for a new plugin header that extension developers can use to specify which versions of WooCommerce have been tested and confirmed to be compatible. This information will be displayed to users in the plugin update screen when future WooCommerce core updates become available.
These warnings save time for store owners by identifying extensions that need further research and testing before applying a core update. It makes it easier for admins to confidently update their installations without having to worry about extensions breaking. After a few more major releases of the plugin, it will be interesting to see how this new system improves updates overall and how other plugins with their own ecosystems of extensions might be able to benefit from something similar.
Version 3.2 also brings improved accessibility for select boxes, updates to the new store setup wizard, a new “resend” option on the edit order page, and a host of admin UI enhancements that make it easier to manage products and extensions.WooCommerce.com Adds New Subscription Sharing Feature
Customers who have purchased extensions from WooCommerce.com can now take advantage of a new subscription sharing feature that allows them to specify additional sites (via WooCommerce.com email address) where they want the extension/key to be active. This is especially useful for agencies, developers, and multisite store owners who can now grant the use of an extension without having to connect their own accounts to client sites. The original purchaser of the extension will be the one billed for the subscription and can revoke access for connected sites at any time.
WooCommerce 3.2 had 1610 commits from 98 contributors. Currently, 47% of installs are still on 3.1 but that number should go down as store owners start updating to the latest. The WooCommerce team reports that all changes should be backwards compatible with 3.0 and 3.1 sites, but site owners will still want to test their extensions before applying the 3.2 update.
Did you know there are still several states in the US where employers can fire me for being gay? Legislation and protections have improved in the past several years, but there are still large gaps throughout the United States for queer and trans people. In addition, I hear horror stories of toxic workplaces that my LGBTQ+ friends have endured and/or have pushed them out of a job due to not feeling safe. I have been incredibly lucky to have a career full of supportive companies where I have felt safe and accepted. But I also have another big thing that has helped me for over 13 years: WordPress.A Little History
Back when I was in high school in the mid nineties, I was fortunate enough to have access to a computer that connected to this new “internet” thing. This was in 1996 when we had to call the internet. I remember vividly spending nights browsing all these “homepages” of people—even people that were my age—from all over the world. One night I thought, “One day I want to make one of these…” I literally stopped mid thought and decided that I was just going to start right that instant. I signed up for a free Angelfire account using my mom’s email address, and was off and running. Angelfire gave you an advanced option of a code editor, so I copied and pasted and poked and prodded code all summer.
As a result, I taught myself a good chunk of HTML by creating some of the ugliest pages in internet history.
But that started me on a path that I would never look back from. I saw such great potential in connecting with others using this whole “World Wide Web” thing I had just discovered.A Web Log
Fast forward some years into college and the dawn of the 2000’s when this crazy idea of sharing a journal on the internet started. Web logs—later termed “blogs”—started popping up left and right. I hopped on board with a blogger.com blog almost exactly 17 years ago (10/19/00), then moved to this blogging platform known as b2 just about a year later. Some may recognize this, because b2 by cafelog was the codebase forked to create the first WordPress. So technically, I’ve been using WordPress since before it was WordPress.Creating Community
Back when blogging first became a thing, commenting systems weren’t developed yet, so it was more like just shouting into space wondering if anyone was listening. But people were. Some of us added message boards to our sites.
Conversations happened, connections were made and communities started to form. Some of these connections are still some of my close friends today.
We share a special bond because we all kind of learned the internet together. These created communities also helped me feel less like an outcast and gave me hope that I wasn’t the only one that felt out of place like I did. People’s blogs were vulnerable glimpses into their lives and hardships, really helping me see I was not alone and even helping me face some of my own struggles. Back then I didn’t realize I was gay, but I did feel strangely out of place in so many parts of my life.Coming Out
In my late 20’s I finally realized, accepted and came out to myself that I was a lesbian. For many years following I stumbled around a lot to find my true expression and identity. Not to mention shed—and recover from—the many external pressures that were forcing me into a completely fabricated heteronormative “box” that I did not fit. It took well into my 30’s to find my comfort zone as an androgynous/masculine of center expressing, gay woman. With that, my outward expression and style creates a daily “coming out” to everyone I meet… or at the very least, draws attention to me when in midwestern heteronormative spaces. Thus, putting me a bit more at risk of being targeted for being queer.And now back to WordPress
Back to the subject at hand, how does all this relate to WordPress? Throughout this whole journey of self discovery, I was continually using and learning WordPress as well. By the time I had come out, I had learned enough about working with WordPress templates to create custom websites. This gave me the tools to create my own job if I ever lost my full time employment, or would find myself in a toxic, unhealthy—or even dangerous—working environment.
WordPress became my ticket to being self sufficient and confident in my career.
On top of it all, I have found the WordPress community the most diverse and accepting space for our beautiful, vast array of queer individuals in tech, period. This made the decision to join in the WordPress community an easy and safe choice. I had not seen many people like me at tech-related events before, let alone speaking at one. But WordCamps have given me the ability to be that gay woman in a bowtie speaking at the front of the room that I had not seen represented before. And that I can do that without fear is priceless! WordPress and this wonderful community has helped me feel more confident in who I am as a web creator, but more importantly, a person.
Gutenberg 1.4 was released today with a new feature that allows users to edit HTML on a per-block basis. HTML mode can be triggered by toggling the ellipsis menu and selecting the HTML icon. This will switch the block between visual and text mode, without having to switch the entire document into text mode.
Contributors debated on whether or not to place the HTML button in the quick toolbar or to add the button to the side of the block. Eventually, they landed on putting the trash icon, the cog settings, and this new HTML mode under an ellipsis.
Gutenberg testers will also notice that version 1.4 redesigns the editor’s header, grouping content actions to the left and post actions to the right.
This release adds the initial REST API infrastructure for reusable global blocks, an idea Matias Ventura proposed several months ago. The pull request was created by new Gutenberg contributor Robert Anderson, a web and mobile developer at Tumblr. It is based on the technical details that Weston Ruter outlined for creating dynamic reusable blocks. Anderson highlighted a few examples of what this infrastructure will eventually enable for users:
- Convert a block into a reusable block, and give it a name
- Convert a reusable block back into a regular block
- Edit a reusable block within a post and have the changes appear across all posts
- Insert an existing reusable block into a post
- Delete an existing reusable block
Anderson said the next step is adding a core/reusable-block block to the editor that can be rendered and edited, followed by a UI for adding, deleting, attaching, and detaching reusable blocks.
Gutenberg 1.4 will now show a users’ most frequently used blocks when hovering over the inserter. If the editor doesn’t have enough usage data, it will display the paragraph and image blocks by default.
Version 1.3 of the plugin introduced a new feedback option for testers with a link in the Gutenberg sidebar menu. Ventura reported that the team has received 12 responses so far, which included four bugs and two proposed enhancements. Check out the full changelog for 1.4 for more details on what’s new in the latest beta release.
While WordPress 4.8 focused on adding new widgets, visual improvements to links in the text editor, and a new dashboard widget that displays nearby events, WordPress 4.9 places a heavy emphasis on customization.
In WordPress 4.9, the Customizer has a new publish button with options to publish, save draft, or schedule changes. Edits made via the Customizer are called changesets that have status’ similar to posts. These improvements were incorporated from the Customize Snapshots and Customize Posts feature plugins.New Customizer Publishing Options
Those who design sites will appreciate the ability to easily share a link that provides a front-end preview to changes. Note the About This Site widget at the bottom of the page.
This eliminates the need to publish changes to a live site or give users access to the WordPress backend. Links are generated by saving a draft in the Customizer.
Clicking the Discharge Changes link removes unpublished edits. Scheduling changes is as simple as choosing a day and time for them to take place.
These are just a few of the improvements in WordPress 4.9 which you can try out for yourself by downloading and testing WordPress 4.9 beta 1 on a test site. Alternatively, you can install the WordPress Beta Testing plugin on a test site, configure it for point release nightlies, and update to 4.9 Beta 1.
Stay tuned as we go in-depth on some of the other features in WordPress 4.9 in the coming days.
WPTavern: Gutenberg Engineer Matías Ventura Unpacks the Vision for Gutenblocks, Front-End Editing, and the Future of WordPress Themes
In a post titled Gutenberg, or the Ship of Theseus, Matías Ventura breaks down the vision for how the project will transform WordPress’ content creation experience and the decisions the team has made along the way. Ventura describes how WordPress has become difficult to customize, as online publishing has embraced rich media and web design has evolved in complexity over the years.
“WordPress can build incredible sites, yet the usability and clarity that used to be a driving force for its adoption has been fading away,” Ventura said. “The present reality is that many people struggle using WordPress as a tool for expression.”
Ventura’s words hint at the growing threats from competitors whose interfaces define users’ current expectations for a front-end editing experience. If WordPress is to stay afloat in a sea of competitors, it can no longer continue expanding its capabilities while leaving a disconnect between what users see while editing in the admin versus what is displayed on the frontend.
“WordPress has always been about the user experience, and that needs to continue to evolve under newer demands,” Ventura said. “Gutenberg is an attempt at fundamentally addressing those needs, based on the idea of content blocks. It’s an attempt to improve how users interact with their content in a fundamentally visual way, while at the same time giving developers the tools to create more fulfilling experiences for the people they are helping.”
Ventura elaborated on the foundations of the block approach to content creation and how it will expose more functionality to users in a unified interface, bringing more opportunities to the plugin ecosystem. The post offers some clarity for those who have been wondering about the decision to “make everything a block.” Ventura also anticipates that blocks will become a big part of WordPress theming in the future:
Themes can also provide styles for individual blocks, which can, in aggregation, fundamentally alter the visual appearance of the whole site. You can imagine themes becoming more about the presentation of blocks, while the functional parts can be extracted into blocks (which can potentially work across multiple theme variations). Themes can also provide templates for multiple kind of pages—colophon, products, portfolios, etc., by mixing blocks, setting them up as placeholders, and customizing their appearance.
Ventura also introduced a few new possibilities that Gutenberg could enable. He shared a video showing how granular control over each block can pave the way for a future where WordPress core allows for real-time collaborative editing. This is a feature that has been painfully lacking from the CMS but is nearer on the horizon with Gutenberg in place.
“This same granularity is allowing us to develop a collaborative editing framework where we can lock content being edited by a peer on per block basis, instead of having to lock down the whole post,” Ventura said.
Ventura sees Gutenberg as the path to finally bringing front-end editing to WordPress:
Once Gutenberg is capable of handling all the pieces that visually compose a site—with themes providing styles for all the blocks—we end up with an editor that looks exactly like the front-end. (And at that point, we might just call it front-end editing.) Yet we’d had arrived at it through gradually improving the pieces of our familiar ship, in a way that didn’t cause it to collapse or alienated the people aboard. We want to accomplish this in a way that would allow us to refine and correct as we iterate and experience the reality of what is being built and how it is being used.
He likened the challenge of the Gutenberg project to upgrading the materials on a ship while ensuring that it continues to sail. As there are many passengers who depend on the boat, completely breaking it for the purpose of rebuilding is not an acceptable way forward.
“It is an attempt at improving how users can connect with their site in a visual way, not at removing the flexibility and power that has made WordPress thrive,” Ventura said. “There might be a time when the old ways become obsolete and disappear, absorbed by the richer and clearer interface of blocks, but we are doing as much as possible to make this a process. The old doesn’t have to disappear suddenly, it can be gradually shaped into the new.”
Comments are not enabled on the post, but it has received mostly positive feedback on Twitter. For some, it clarifies the direction of Gutenberg, the purpose of blocks and the possibilities they enable. Others in the community are on board with the concepts behind Gutenberg but are not comfortable with the tentative timeline for its inclusion in core. Ventura’s post does not address many of the more practical concerns the community has about allowing enough time for the WordPress product ecosystem to get ready for Gutenberg.
Last week, a post published by Yoast SEO founder Joost de Valk sparked conversation with his proposed alternative approach to Gutenberg, which calls for a slower, staged rollout for plugin authors.
“In this point of time, it’s not possible for plugins at all to integrate with Gutenberg,” de Valk said. “How on earth should plugin authors be able to build their integrations within a few months? That’s not possible. At least not without breaking things.”
“We are very enthusiastic about the idea of blocks, but have strong concerns about some of the technical choices and the speed of the implementation process,” de Valk said. “We are also worried about the lack of priority given to accessibility issues in the project. But most importantly, we are very much concerned about the fact that plugins are not able to integrate with the new editor.”
“The Editor/Gutenberg team would like the broader core group to start thinking about and discussing how block data is stored,” Ventura proposed during last week’s core development meeting. “We currently (specially after allowing meta attributes) have a lot of ways to store block data, with different tradeoffs. It’s going to be important to communicate when each is appropriate. This will come through examples and documentation, but generally such knowledge has also spread by core contributors doing talks and blog posts, etc.”
Further collaboration from the broader community of WordPress core contributors should bring the project closer to being able to deliver the documentation developers need in order to follow best practices for extending the new editor. In the meantime, Ventura’s post is a great read for understanding the larger vision behind Gutenberg and where it is headed.
Matias Ventura, the lead of the editor focus for WordPress, has written Gutenberg, or the Ship of Theseus to talk about how Gutenberg's approach will simplify many of the most complex parts of WordPress, building pages, and theme editing. If you want a peek at some of the things coming down the line with Gutenberg, including serverless WebRTC real-time co-editing.
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Edinburgh Pub Crawls are the perfect way to combine fun-filled holidays with the perks of drink specials at your local top bars. At pubcrawl.org.uk our mission is to put together the most amazing pub crawl experiences with the best holiday themed attractions in Edinburgh.
ThemeBeans founder Rich Tabor has open sourced WPThemeDoc, the template he uses for documenting his commercial WordPress themes. Tabor is also the creator of Merlin WP, a theme onboarding wizard that makes setup effortless for users. After applying his aesthetic talents to the documentation aspect of his business, he decided to package up his efforts and release WPThemeDoc on GitHub to benefit other theme developers.
WPThemeDoc is neatly organized and easy to navigate. It can be used without any design modifications or as a starting point for your own branded documentation design. Check out the live demo documenting Tabor’s York Pro theme.
The template is a single HTML file that is easy to extend by adding or removing sections. It includes a set of “find and replace” variables that developers can use to quickly customize the document’s information for their own themes. The template itself requires very little documentation, as it uses nothing more than simple HTML and CSS.
For many theme developers documentation is a chore – it’s not the fun part of creating themes. WPThemeDoc makes documentation as simple as filling in the blanks. It is licensed under the GPL v2.0 or later and feedback and contributions are welcome on GitHub.
Disqus, a comment management and hosting service, has announced it suffered a data breach that affects 17.5 million users. A snapshot of its database from 2012 with information dating back to 2007 containing email addresses, usernames, sign-up dates, and last login dates in plain-text were exposed.
Passwords hashed with the SHA1 protocol and a salt for about one-third of affected users are also included in the snap-shot. Disqus was made aware of the breach and received the exposed data on October 5th by Troy Hunt, an independent security researcher. Today, the service contacted affected users, reset their passwords, and publicly disclosed the incident.
Jason Yan, CTO of Disqus, says the company has no evidence that unauthorized logins are occurring due to compromised credentials. “No plain-text passwords were exposed, but it is possible for this data to be decrypted (even if unlikely),” Yan said.
“As a security precaution, we have reset the passwords for all affected users. We recommend that all users change passwords on other services if they are shared. At this time, we do not believe that this data is widely distributed or readily available. We can also confirm that the most recent data that was exposed is from July, 2012.”
Since emails were stored in plain-text, it’s possible affected users may receive unwanted email. Disqus doesn’t believe there is any threat to user accounts as it has made improvements over the years to significantly increase password security. One of those improvements was changing the password hashing algorithm from SHA1 to bcrypt.
If your account is affected by the data breach, you will receive an email from Disqus requesting that you change your password. The company is continuing to investigate the breach and will share new information on its blog when it becomes available.
Six months ago, the team behind WP All Import and Oxygen opened Poopy.life to the public, a service that offers free unlimited WordPress installs for anyone who needs a temporary testing site. Public testing went well enough that a commercial tier of the service is now available at WPSandbox.io, with plans ranging from $49/month – $699/month, depending on the number of installs required.
“On any given day we have around 3-4K active installs,” WP All Import team lead Joe Guilmette said. “We actually got around 7K the first day and the infrastructure didn’t go down. So we were pretty stoked.”
Guilmette said a few plugin and theme shops are using the service and one developer even wrote a script to iframe their poopy.life installs for use in their theme demos.
“We’ll probably put a stop to that at some point, but it was pretty cool to see,” Guilmette said. “Tons of people use it for testing plugins, themes, and just all sorts of general WordPress testing. We’ve been using this internally for years, and every time we’d fire up localhost or a testing install, it’s just faster to use poopy.life.”
Pro users get all the convenience of Poopy.life under the more business-friendly wpsandbox.pro domain with a dashboard to manage installs, SSH and SFTP access to their installs, and the ability to hot-swap between PHP versions. Having Poopy.life open to the public has given the team an opportunity to address any remaining pain points with hosting thousands of test installs.
“Since launching poopy.life everything has actually been pretty smooth,” Guilmette said. “We’ve already been using various versions of this internally to sell millions of dollars worth of plugins over the last five years. So it’s already been hacked to pieces, DDoSed, etc. We’ve already been through all that.”
When the team first started Poopy.life as an internal project for WP All Import, they had a difficult time trying to host it on a VPS with the requirement of isolating installs from each other without any professional systems administrators on board.
“We were getting hacked all the time, so we started using CloudLinux, the same software that a lot webhosts use for their shared hosting servers,” Guilmette said. “This also prevents resource hogging, where someone could start mining bitcoin and then everyone’s installs would take forever to load.
“Then came the spammers, using their installs to send out email spam. So we learned we had to discard e-mail silently while allowing scripts that expect e-mail to be available to still function correctly.
“Once we went on that whole journey, it was kind of a no-brainer to share this tool with everyone else. We’ve been through a lot of pain in building this platform, and in opening this up to the public we hope we can help others avoid those same issues.”
The team now has two systems administrators on call 24/7 to get the service back up and running quickly if anything breaks.WP Sandbox Service is Aimed at Theme and Plugin Developers
In the past six months since opening Poopy.life to the public, Guilmette’s team has learned several valuable lessons in how to market the commercial service.
“We use the Sandbox for so many different things, so the in the beginning the temptation was to kind of market it to everyone who we thought would find it useful,” Guilmette he said. “We didn’t find a whole lot of success, and are now focusing on plugin and theme developers. It’s helped us so much for WP All Import and Oxygen – everything from increasing sales to making tech support much easier by giving users isolated places they can reproduce problems. We know plugin and theme developers need this tool, so it makes the most sense for us to focus our marketing directly at them.”
Having a way to allow users to try a product like Oxygen before purchasing will be particularly useful in the Gutenberg era, where many users are unsure about the differences between what core will offer and what a site building product can bring to the table. Guilmette and his team are optimistic about what Gutenberg will bring to the customization experience.
“We can’t wait for it to ship in core,” Guilmette said. “I think a lot of the negativity about Gutenberg is from folks who make page builders and view it as competition. But Oxygen is a site builder, not a page builder (i.e. you design headers, footers, etc.). We don’t see Oxygen as competition; we think it will enhance the Oxygen experience. We think Gutenberg is great, and are excited to see some other talented teams out there working hard to make WordPress easier to use for everyone.”
He said his team is hoping to provide a Gutenberg component that users can drop into Oxygen and then edit that area of the site with Gutenberg. Having a sandboxed version of this available for users to test will help them to understand how the product works before purchasing.
Regardless of whether or not WP Sandbox takes off with other WordPress product companies, WP All Import and Oxygen have benefited from bringing sandboxing to the sales experience and continue to make use of the architecture the team has developed.
“We generally avoid big, coordinated releases,” Guilmette said. “We prefer to slowly build a product around a group of slowly growing users. If you release a finished product to the world, chances are you spent too much money making something no one wants.
“It hasn’t paid for itself yet, but that’s to be expected. We have enough users to make us optimistic, and some very exciting customers in the onboarding process. Once we get a few big names using it and other plugin developers realize the benefits of using it, we think it will take off.”
The third edition of WooConf is being held in Seattle, Washington, October 19-20. This year the event is narrowing its focus to developers and will feature eight workshops and more than 30 speakers. Topics include scaling, client relations, A/B testing, and enterprise e-commerce.
WooCommerce is currently active on more than three million sites and the plugin has been downloaded 31 million times. Developers are using the plugin all over the world, but only a small fraction of them will be able to make it to Seattle for the conference. WooConf is less than two weeks away but in-person tickets are still available at $699 per attendee.
A livestream of the conference is available for those who would like to attend but are unable to travel. Livestream tickets went on sale today for $50/each.
“The in-person ticket prices, the live stream tickets, and the support of our sponsors are what funds the conference,” WooConf co-organizer Aviva Pinchas said. “For those who are not in a position to pay for the live stream tickets or attend the event in-person, the video recordings will be released later for free, and there are a number of other ways people can participate.”
Pinchas said the team will be sharing updates on social media, the event’s blog, and in the WooCommerce Community Slack. They have also arranged with local WooCommerce meetup organizers to livestream parts of the event during free IRL meetups in 12 major cities across the globe. These satellite events will include local speakers and offer attendees the opportunity to connect with other nearby WooCommerce developers and store owners.
All of the recorded sessions will be published to the WooCommerce YouTube channel sometime after the conclusion of the event.
In addition to sponsoring recipients, DonateWC is also publishing stories submitted by contributors on the benefits and impacts WordCamps have. Arvind Singh published the first story on DonateWC where he explains how his experience at WordCamp Udaipur translated into WordPress meetups in Delhi, India and eventually, the first WordCamp Delhi.
There’s no word yet on who will be the next recipient of a DonateWC sponsorship but the initiative still needs your help. If you believe in the cause, please consider making a donation. The funds will be used to help others who are less fortunate attend WordCamps.
Gutenberg 1.3 was released this week with many small tweaks and improvements to existing features. One of the most visible updates for those who are testing the Cover Image block is the addition of an opacity slider. It brings more flexibility to the feature than the previous on/off background dimming toggle provided. Users can now slide the opacity along a range snapped to percentages of 10.
Version 1.3 also introduces an option to convert a single block to an HTML block when Gutenberg detects conflicting content. This is a precursor to an open issue that proposes an HTML mode for blocks, essentially a mechanism for each block to be edited as HTML. Contributors are still discussing the best approach for implementing the UI, which we will likely see in a future release.
Gutenberg 1.3 adds a new submenu item that ramps up the potential for gathering more feedback from people who are using the plugin. The Feedback link appears in the plugin’s sidebar menu and leads to a polldaddy form that separates users’ comments into either either a feedback or support channel.
Instead of relying on testers to know where to go to offer feedback, the new link offers them an easily accessible avenue for sharing their thoughts and concerns. This option is especially helpful for those who are not as adept at using GitHub or writing meaningful bug reports. The forms guide the user to report important details of their setup, browser information, screenshots, and other useful information.
Gutenberg does not track any information about users who submit feedback via the Polldaddy forms and there is nothing to indicate that the responses will be made public. It is unrealistic to expect that the Gutenberg team will be able to respond to each submission individually, but it would be helpful if they provided summaries of trends in user feedback and how it is informing the design and development of the project. This could go a long way to prevent users from perceiving that their concerns are being buried.
Version 1.3 also adds expandable panels to the block inspector, support for pasting plain text markdown content (and converting it to blocks), and accessibility improvements to the color palette component. Check out the full changelog for more details.
In this episode, I’m joined by special guest co-host Brad Williams, Co-Founder and CEO of the website design and development agency WebDevStudios. Brad shared his experience at CampPress and is looking forward to attending the event again in 2018.
We discussed the recent move to moderate all comments on the Tavern again. We covered the news of the week and near the end of the show, Brad describes why his company gives back to WordPress by participating in the Five for the Future initiative.Stories Discussed:
Camp Press – A Detox from Digital Life
Yoast Publishes an Alternative to Gutenberg While Raising Concerns About its Development.
New WP-CLI Project Aims to Extend Checksum Verification to Plugins and Themes
Regenerate Thumbnails Plugin Passes 5 Million Downloads, Rewrite in the Works
Drupal Core Maintainers Propose Adopting React for Administrative UI’s
WPCampus 2018 is Taking Submissions From Host Cities
Jetpack 5.4 Released
If you have any WordPress related questions, consider asking them during the Ask Maintainn event on October 5th using the #askMaintainn hashtag on Twitter. Jim Byrom, Director of Client Services, will answer the questions directly through the Maintainn Twitter account.WPWeekly Meta:
Next Episode: Wednesday, October 11th 3:00 P.M. Eastern
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WPTavern: Jetpack 5.4 Introduces Beta Version of New Search Module Powered by Elasticsearch for Professional Plan Users
Jetpack 5.4 was released yesterday with many small enhancements to existing modules and an expansion of features for users on the paid plans. A new date picker field is available for the Contact Form, allowing administrators to request additional information such as project timelines, event reservations, or any other date-related data.
This release also fixes a bug with Jetpack’s Comments module where the form had whitespace beneath it when displayed in some themes. It now has a set default height, which will expand automatically as commenters are typing.
A few other other improvements for all Jetpack users include the ability for third-party plugin and theme authors to add new menu items to the WordPress.com toolbar, connection process updated to allow for more users, improved display of Facebook embeds, and a better migration process for Widget Visibility rules when switching to the new WordPress Image Widget. Check out the full list of changes in the plugin’s changelog.New Features for Jetpack Personal, Premium, and Professional Plans: Welcome Screens and Search Module in Beta
The plugin will soon be introducing a new Jetpack Search module for users on its Professional plan, the top tier that caters to those who need more business and marketing tools. Version 5.4 adds the architecture for the feature, which is powered by Elasticsearch and runs in the WordPress.com cloud. Users who want to participate in the beta can enable the feature at Settings > Traffic on WordPress.com and then add the new Search widget within wp-admin.
WordPress’ native search function is notoriously slow and often provides poor and inadequate results for sites with large amounts of content. Jetpack’s new Search module aims to deliver faster, more relevant results using the same powerful infrastructure that runs Jetpack Related Posts and the search on hundreds of WordPress.com VIP sites. In July 2017, WordPress.com’s data.blog reported that its network averages 23 million actions per day that trigger indexing of 75 million Elasticsearch documents into hundreds of indices.
Jetpack Search boasts a zero configuration setup, real-time indexing (WordPress.com’s VIP indices have a one-second refresh rate), and the flexibility for developers to create custom Elasticsearch queries.
The Jetpack Professional plan’s $299/year price point is highly competitive for access to a hosted Elasticsearch engine. Ordinarily, developers looking for the most economical way to implement Elasticsearch on a WordPress site will have to host and manage their own instances on Amazon AWS or other cloud services. This often comes with more ongoing maintenance and setup.
Most managed WordPress hosts do not have a hosted Elasticsearch solution built into their plans. Earlier this year 10up launched ElasticPress.io to fill this need for for enterprise clients. The service starts at $299/month for up to 20GB of storage and unlimited Elasticsearch bandwidth and goes up to $999/month for more resources. WordPress.com VIP also offers Elasticsearch for their customers on plans ranging from $5,000 – $25,000 per month. Access to WordPress.com’s Elasticsearch infrastructure is arguably the highest value addition to Jetpack’s commercial plans to date.
The Jetpack team is still working on the documentation for the new Search feature and has not published the specifics of the Elasticsearch resources and limits for Jetpack Professional subscribers. More information should be available once the feature is out of beta but current customers can test it after updating to Jetpack 5.4.
Nautilus Magazine has an interesting look at the question of Is Matter Conscious? Worth reading to learn what the word "panpsychism" means. Hat tip: John Vechey.
When I moved from Bogota (Colombia) to Paris I did a degree in translation and found myself, years later, working for one of the most important publishers specializing in research. But my dream since I left Colombia was to study Psychology. After about two years, I quit my job and went back to college. It was not an easy decision, but it never is, is it?
My interest in starting this new career was to work in Clinical Psychology and Psychopathology. However, as far as I continued with my degree, I was finding subjects that put in doubt what I really wanted to work in the future. Health and Occupational Psychology was one of them.Finding a Purpose
At that time I was still living in Paris with my husband, Andrés Cifuentes, a chemical engineer who ended up doing a master’s degree in web programming. Afterwards he became a WordPress enthusiast and nowadays he works within the WordPress ecosystem. Back then, while he spent his free time getting to know and learn more about WordPress (I didn’t know at that time that I was discovering WordPress too!) he listened to different podcasts and many of them addressed issues of the problems that remote workers had to face.
All of these people in the podcasts mentioned burnout as a result of their work and what they suffered for it. It was at that moment that I made the connection; I had found what I wanted to do.
The same day I started to investigate more about remote work and its impact on stress and burnout on the web (blogs, articles, essays).Putting It Into Action
When time came to start my master I presented my project to my thesis director: I wanted to establish a relationship between remote work and burnout. Although he accepted my first subject of study, there was a long path waiting before establishing and defining my research area.
Getting into the first steps of the research, I started an arduous research work of the literature review on remote work, which turned out being quite frustrating, as I could not find any scientific paper for my study on the subject. The only helpful information I could find was the research that had been done on telework, which was the closest type to remote work although it was not good enough.
On the other hand, as a requirement for the master, I had to find an internship in a company, so I spent hours and hours writing cover letters and applying to boring internship offers which practically wanted the interns to make coffee. Nice!
Fortunately, my husband had the wonderful idea for me to apply to companies working with WordPress. Since those companies are mostly 100% remote, this would help with my research along with having personal experience on remote work myself.
Lucky me! I had the great opportunity to do my internship in Human Made.
My proposal was to do a psychosocial risk assessment in the company that would also serve for my study. They were very kind to me and welcomed me warmly. No doubt they are a great company, Tom Wilmot truly cares for the wellbeing of his Humans and among themselves they help each other a lot, which for me is the basis of the success of the company’s growth. I really hope they have learned as much as I did.Narrowing Focus
For several months I delivered to my thesis director about 8 different projects that I had find interesting to work on the remote work (stress, social support, culture differences, coping strategies, communication, isolation, identity…) all of them without success. My director disapproved each one of them as remote work in general is too extensive and scattered for a master thesis and I had to focus on a smaller group.
As I was doing my internship at Human Made, I thought it was a good idea to focus my study on the same subject but only within the WordPress community.
It was perfect since there have been no studies in this field in the WordPress community! Since WordPress project volunteers are the driving force behind the project, it has become particularly important to focus more on their psychological well-being.
I sent the new thesis project about the role of motivation on burnout into the WordPress Community to my director and my research protocol was finally approved!Studying The WordPress Community
WordPress is a community I’ve known for years thanks to my husband and I got closer to it with the time. My first contribution was to the Polyglots Team, he taught me how to start contributing and translating. He motivated me to give talks in WordCamps, something that I was very afraid of but I took it as an opportunity to share what I have learned about stress. I end up contributing with a couple of talks in WordCamp Sevilla and Barcelona about stress and remote work. Recently, I volunteered at past WordCamp Europe 2017.
I have met wonderful people from whom I have learned so much in the WordPress community, I never thought that I would ended up being part of this community myself!
So, in the end, for me it is more exciting to do my research on the WordPress community because I have a lot of affection for it. And there are so many more things to investigate!
My purpose is to contribute with this ecosystem improving its well-being.
For the moment, I am working on the survey data of my current research and I am looking forward to sharing the results with the WordPress community!
“We agreed that today, React would be the most promising option given its expansive adoption by developers, its unopinionated and component-based nature, and its well-suitedness to building new Drupal interfaces in an incremental way,” Buytaert said. “Today, I’m formally proposing that the Drupal community adopt React, after discussion and experimentation has taken place.”
The discussion on the proposal is an interesting read with many similarities to the recent discussions in the WordPress community regarding React. Several Drupal developers expressed concerns about how difficult it may be for those with a PHP background to learn React, as it adds more complexity to the development process.
Others, who had previously become disillusioned by a perception of Drupal being unable to keep up with modern web development, welcome the proposal to experiment with React. A few advocated for their frameworks of choice and said they would like to see the experimentation expanded to include other frameworks as well.
“Is there an issue yet for the React prototype of the watchdog page?” Drupal core committer Angie Byron said. “When that’s created, folks interested in alternative frameworks (I’m hearing both ‘vanilla’ web components and Vue.js come up a lot, both here and in the WP discussions) could start an alternate implementation in a duplicate issue and we could compare/contrast, which would be very helpful in my opinion.”
Drupal is aiming to have enough real-world testing done to make a final decision before the upcoming 8.6.0 development period slated for the first part of 2018. Buytaert said that after deciding on a framework, Drupal’s leadership plans to begin adoption in a limited and incremental way “so that the decision is easily reversible if better approaches come later on.”
Regenerate Thumbnails, written by prolific plugin developer Alex Mills, has passed 5 million downloads. The plugin was first released nearly a decade ago in August 2008 during the days of WordPress 2.6. Regenerate Thumbnails is used to retroactively generate new thumbnail sizes for past uploads. It has become an indispensable utility over the years, helping millions of users successfully transition between WordPress themes that have different featured image sizes.Regenerate Thumbnails version 1.0.0
“I was freelancing at the time and according to an ancient post on my blog, I apparently wrote it as a client needed the functionality,” Mills said. “I don’t remember that though and I certainly never figured it’d be installed and activated on over a million sites like it is today!”
Regenerate Thumbnails is downloaded thousands of times every day, and, fortunately, it is the type of plugin that doesn’t generate too many support issues. Mills said he is thankful for the many volunteers on the WordPress.org support forums who have also helped manage the load. Despite the continued and widespread use of the plugin, Mills has never considered cashing in on it.
“I’d never monetize any of my plugins,” he said. “I write them for fun not profit. It would be a conflict of interest anyway due to my employment at Automattic.”
Regenerate Thumbnails is a fairly straightforward plugin that rarely requires updating, but this year Mills said he has tried to give it a lot more love and will soon be releasing a complete rewrite.
“The rewrite is currently taking place on GitHub and is a complete rethink of the plugin, both in terms of the interface and underlying technologies,” Mills said. “The interface is powered by Vue.js, which I’m learning and using for the first time, and the WordPress REST API. I also have a full suite of unit tests for PHPUnit to verify that the plugin code is working as intended, both now and into the future. Those have been incredibly useful while writing the plugin and I highly recommend other plugin authors make use of them too. WP-CLI makes it very easy to set up.”
After nine years of supporting Regenerate Thumbnails, and many other plugins, Mills said he doesn’t consider himself the best example when it comes to maintaining plugins. His advice to other developers is “try to make sure to write your plugins to be future-proof.”
“Outside of some updates last month, the last real changes to the plugin were made in 2012!” Mills said. “I wrote the plugin well the first time around and it’s just worked mostly fine ever since because it uses built-in WordPress code to do the work.”
This is the reason why Regenerate Thumbnails has already blazed past its major milestone at 5,762,713 downloads and is well on its way to 6 million before the end of the year. Users still find the plugin to work as reliably as it did in 2008.
Have loved this plugin for years, just used it to relaunch a website with 50000 images and 30 image sizes.
— Scott Fennell (@scottfennell123) August 14, 2017
Mills said that making a plugin future proof is key if you write code all day for a living and then find it difficult to write more in the evenings and weekends for WordPress.org plugins. However, due to his current illness, he hasn’t worked in nearly a year since October 2016.
“While I’m still battling the leukemia, I’m at least feeling better than I was at the beginning of the year so I’ve gotten the itch to code again,” Mills said. “Working on personal projects such as Regenerate Thumbnails has been a good way to brush off my coding skills in anticipation of returning to work. Plus it’s just fun to code again!”