Wordpress News

Post Status: WordPress and Blockchain

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 22:58

WordPress is one of the driving forces and great success stories of the open web to date. As an open source platform, it’s become a dominant CMS used by 30% of the web to publish content — on websites large and small.

WordPress has grown up in an era of evolving challenges: ushering in web standards, adapting for publishing and viewing on all device sizes; building for accessibility by all; establishing its place in the era of expansive and centralized social media platforms; and more.

Today, we’re faced with a new generation of technologies coming down the pipe, ready to disrupt the current ecosystem. These technologies include blockchain, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, the internet of things, and more I’m sure. It’s the first of these that is the focus of this post and the following conversation.

I was approached by David Lockie of Pragmatic to discuss how WordPress and blockchain technology may fit together, and how they may not. David and I have both been interested in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space over the past couple of years, and have over time encountered a lot of projects that aim to disrupt or enhance various elements of the web: from DNS to CMS.

David gathered a group of people for an initial online, open, honest conversation about how WordPress could be impacted, disrupted or take advantage of distributed ledger and blockchain technologies.

Examples include:

  • Blockchain platforms impacting people’s choice to use WordPress e.g. Steemit
  • Blockchain projects impacting people already using WordPress e.g. Basic Attention Token or Po.et, Civil
  • Cryptocurrencies’ impact on eCommerce and the wider ecosystem, e.g. the Coinbase Commerce merchant gateway
  • What we can learn from blockchain projects’ governance systems and lessons learned
  • Ideas for improving security, integrations, etc
  • Various identity-based projects
  • New environments which may be used to run WordPress, such as decentralized web technologies e.g. Substratum  or MaidSafe.
  • Impact on the talent pool for WordPress professionals
  • General threats and opportunities
  • Discussion of anything new, interesting and relevant in the blockchain/cryptocurrency space
  • All of the above as it relates to open source and the web generally, outside of WordPress

Our aim for the initial conversation, as well as future conversations, is not to advocate specifically for any existing project or to necessarily endorse blockchain as appropriate for WordPress to somehow integrate in any way. It’s to explore what’s out there now, how it could impact WordPress today and in the future, and down the road perhaps how WordPress may take advantage of potential opportunities. We are approaching this like a discovery phase — not to get overly excited, but to be informed. And we welcome participants in this conversation.

This first conversation included the following participants:

I attempted to reiterate it in the call, but I believe it’s important to address this topic with a skeptic’s hat on. By no means do any of us think that it’s a great idea to just go head first in trying to integrate blockchain technology to WordPress. The jury is still very much out in terms of where, how, and even if blockchain brings significant advantages to web applications.

If you are interested in future discussions, we welcome you! There is currently a channel (#blockchain) in Post Status Slack where people can discuss, and we’ll also announce future video-conference discussions. We may make a more independent place to discuss, blog, etc, in the future depending on how these early conversations go.

We don’t know exactly where this conversation will go. It may fizzle out, or it could evolve into a much broader community effort. The first thing to do, if you are interested to continue this conversation, is just follow along with future conversations, which will be posted here. If you would like to be on the next video call, please contact David or me.

WPTavern: WordCamp Wilmington Cancelled Due to Hurricane Florence

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 22:05

Hurricane Florence is forecast to make landfall as a major hurricane near Wilmington, North Carolina bringing potentially catastrophic flooding and strong winds to the region.

Hurricane Florence Forecast Track From the National Hurricane Center

Because of the hurricane, WordCamp Wilmington which was scheduled to take place September 22nd and 23rd has been cancelled.

“We wish all of our WordCamp Wilmington enthusiasts a minimum of impact from Hurricane Florence,” Helen Rittersporn, one of the event’s organizers said.

“On behalf of my fellow Organizers for 2018 WordCamp Wilmington, we are looking forward to seeing everyone in 2019!”

Safety of Attendees, Speakers, and Sponsors Takes Priority

Peter La Fond, one of the event’s lead organizers, says the decision to cancel the event has been mentally taxing to him and the team.

“From the beginning, the decision making was really hard,” he said. “How we made the decision about this was very fluid. The entire team has been texting back and forth every several hours on various decisions over many days.

“We ended up having to set thresholds in advance for canceling. Then on Monday morning, we started to get inquiries and cancellations of attendees, vendors and speakers so we had to make a call.”

Although a lot hours were spent by volunteers to organize the event, speaker, attendee, and sponsor safety took priority.

“The organizing team is totally bummed about canceling the event considering the amount of effort we put into organizing it,” La Fond said. “However, we’re more concerned about the safety and security of our family and friends. Especially those who chose to stay.”

Those who purchased tickets are eligible for a refund. But due to evacuations and the length of time the storm is expected wreak havoc in the area, organizers will not be able to fulfill refund requests until after the storm has passed.

This is the second time a tropical weather system has postponed or cancelled a WordCamp in the US. In 2016, WordCamp Orlando was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew.

WPTavern: MetaSlider Plugin Adds Gutenberg Block for Inserting Sliders

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 20:59

If you search for “slider” in the WordPress plugins directory, MetaSlider is the first result that comes up. The plugin, created by the team at UpdraftPlus, is active on more than 900,000 sites, more than any other free slider plugin, and averages a 4.7-star review. It includes four different types of sliders: Flex 2, Nivo Slider, Responsive Slides, and Coin Slider.

An update released today introduces Gutenberg support with a block for inserting sliders. Users can access their sliders via the block insertion tool.

Clicking on the MetaSlider block allows users to select from among the sliders that they have already created in the admin.

After the user selects a slider, a preview will appear instantly in the Gutenberg editor.

Previously, the process of inserting a slider into content involved copying and pasting a shortcode. Joe Miles, director of Business Strategy at UpdraftPlus, said the team sees the Gutenberg editor as a major improvement especially for those who are new to WordPress.

“I think Gutenberg makes it much easier for novices to web design to make changes and insert sliders,” Miles said. “I know people who’d be comfortable using a Gutenberg block but not comfortable using a shortcode as it looks scary.”

Miles said the company is currently working on adding the ability for users to create and edit sliders within Gutenberg and hope to include it in the plugin before WordPress 5.0 lands. The UpdraftPlus team includes 13 developers who are devoted to the company’s WP-Optimize and MetaSlider products. Miles said adapting to Gutenberg was fairly simple relative to some of the other projects the team is working on.

UpdraftPlus plans to continue to maintain and improve the shortcode-based slider insertion method, as demonstrated in the changelog. Users who opt to stick with the Classic Editor will still be able to keep their same workflow. Meanwhile, the product’s development team will be working on integrating all of the pro version’s front-end features with Gutenberg.

In addition to Gutenberg support, the team is also going to be adding the concept of themes to sliders so users can build a slider and change its theme in a couple of clicks. They plan to release free and commercial themes and all will be built to be compatible with Gutenberg.

Smart Slider 3, MetaSlider’s next closest competitor with 300,000 installs, is also compatible with Gutenberg with a similar workflow for inserting sliders. Both slider plugins are not yet capable of providing the slider creation and editing process inside the Gutenberg interface but the capabilities should evolve as WordPress gets closer to the 5.0 release.

“I personally love the idea of Gutenberg since Matt Mullenweg announced it at WordCamp EU 2017,” Miles said. “I understand why experienced developers don’t want the change, but too many people are going for inferior website solutions like WIX because they’re used to WYSIWYG. So adapting MetaSlider was a no-brainer.”

WPTavern: Marcel Bootsman is Walking 700km to WordCamp Europe to Raise Funds for DonateWC

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 22:25

In May 2019, Marcel Bootsman will be lacing up a pair of hiking boots and walking 700km (435 miles) from his home in Rotterdam to WordCamp Europe in Berlin. Bootsman, a WordPress consultant and WordCamp organizer, is walking to raise funds and awareness for the DonateWC organization.

The DonateWC initiative provides a global fund for helping people in need of financial assistance to attend a big WordCamp. Donations go towards individually-tailored sponsorships that help selected attendees purchase a WordCamp ticket, door-to-door transportation, food and drink, and internet access.

“Imagine for a moment that you are not backed by a company that will pay for you to go to a community event,” DonateWC founder Ines van Essen said. “You work hard at being a valuable community member but are never able to actually meet the others in your team. This means you are less likely to get a job, less likely to get recognized as a worthwhile member, you’re unlikely to be at the front-end of changes that impact your work significantly.”

DonateWC aims to keep the larger WordCamps from being unintentionally exclusive of those with lesser financial means. Bootsman said he believes in the organization because it is community-driven and enables the greater WordPress community to do something for their fellow community members.

So far, Bootsman’s walking journey has raised €116.57. He set up a walktowc.eu website to track his progress and the donation page displays a live update of donated funds. Contributors have the option to designate their donations for DonateWC or for Bootsman’s personal needs on the trek. He plans to deliver all of the funds raised for the organization when he arrives in Berlin. In the coming weeks he will also open up sponsor packages to better motivate companies to donate.

Bootsman does not plan to work during his trek. He will be on the road for approximately 30 days and plans to walk 30km per day. He is traveling light with just a backpack and is looking for places where he can sleep along the way. Bootsman will update the Route page on his website with the places where people volunteer a bed for him to spend the night.

If you want to keep track of his progress, follow the hashtag #walktwceu on Twitter. Bootsman has published his first vlog about his training sessions (see video below) where you can hear in his own words why his making the long journey on foot. When I asked him if he’ll be walking home after WordCamp Europe, he said, “You’re kidding, right?”

WPTavern: Hemingway Theme Adds Gutenberg Support

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 18:04

Anders Norén has added Gutenberg support to his popular Hemingway theme in the latest update, version 1.66. The theme has a simple, timeless design that appeals to both bloggers and business owners alike. It is active on more than 30,000 websites and some of those site administrators are using Gutenberg.

What does Gutenberg support look like for Hemingway? Norén styled the editor to match the front-end design, with the same colors and fonts. He also added support for specific Gutenberg blocks, such as cover images, full-width elements, and pull quotes.

image credit: Anders Norén

Norén said he knew since Gutenberg was announced that he would need to add support to all 17 of his themes in a substantial update at some point but had put it off because developing for the new editor felt “like aiming for a moving target.”

“I don’t think it was any single thing that made me realize that I needed to get going with Gutenberg, but rather that the Gutenberg volume knob in the community has been turned up at a steady pace,” Norén said. “After the ‘Try Gutenberg’ prompt in 4.9.8, I also started to receive a lot more support requests regarding Gutenberg. When regular WordPress users – not developers – started to ask when they can expect Gutenberg support in my themes, I knew that I couldn’t push it ahead of me much further.”

Hemingway is the first of his themes to support the new editor and Norén is aiming to have his entire collection Gutenberg-ready by the time WordPress 5.0 is released. (This does not include the Hemingway Rewritten version, which was created by Automattic and is available on WordPress.com.)

Norén sees the new editor as a significant improvement over the current editor and said he thinks it is the right way forward for WordPress.

“It’s always easy to speculate about the road not travelled, but the Visual Editor needs replacement, and Gutenberg will be a good replacement for it,” he said. “It’s better at everything the old editor can do (except editing raw HTML, perhaps), and it also brings with it new possibilities for WordPress developers and users. There are a lot of issues in Gutenberg still to be worked out, but when they are, I think Gutenberg will be a big step forward for the WordPress community.”

Norén said his chief concern is not about the editor itself but about how WordPress will handle the transition period for users, especially for those who would benefit from continuing on with the Classic Editor.

“I hope that the upgrade notice for 5.0 will be accompanied by clear messaging around the changes included in 5.0, along with the option to install the Classic Editor in Gutenberg’s stead,” Norén said. “Similar to the ‘Try Gutenberg’ prompt, but presented more clearly as an either-or option before the user actually updates to 5.0. It was encouraging to see Matt Mullenweg say that the Classic Editor will be maintained for many years to come.”

Norén’s 17 free WordPress.org-hosted themes have an estimated 100,000 active installs. Those using his products can be confident that the author behind the themes has Gutenberg-support among his immediate priorities for updates. Users who opt to move forward using the Classic Editor should not notice a difference in how the themes work.

“I hope that Gutenberg is received with excitement and widespread support when 5.0 is finally released,” Noren said. “I also hope that the WordPress team does whatever it can to make sure that end-users don’t feel ambushed by the new editing experience.”

WPTavern: Meetup Group Organizers Can Now Earn A WordPress.org User Profile Badge

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 02:52

The WordPress Community team has unveiled a new tool called Meetup Tracker. This tool replaces the Meetup Status Document and will enable Global Community Team members to more easily track all Meetup.com groups.

There’s also a new application form available for organizers looking to join the WordPress Meetup Chapter Program. Groups that are part of the program have their Meetup.com fees paid for by WordPress Community Support PBC.

Thanks to the new system that is hosted on the backend of WordCamp Central, the community team is able to award badges to meetup organizers which will be displayed on their WordPress.org user profiles.

Example of Contribution Badges Displayed on WordPress.org User Profiles

In order to receive a badge and to fill the new system with updated information, organizers with meetups that are part of the chapter program are required to add the following information to this Google Document.

  • WordPress.org username for main contact
  • WordPress.org usernames of all organizers
  • Whether or not the contact’s WordPress.org email address is still valid

Badges were added to WordPress.org user profiles as part of a redesign in 2014 and are a quick way to gauge a person’s activity and or interests across the WordPress project.

The meetup organizer’s badge design has yet to be determined. For more information or if you have questions, please leave a comment on the announcement post.

WPTavern: WordPress Coding Standards 1.1.0 Released

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 01:16

The WordPress Coding Standards version 1.1.0 has been released on GitHub. This release includes more stringent function call formatting checks which are explained in the handbook. There’s also stricter checks for overrides of WordPress global variables.

To see a full list of what was changed, fixed, and added, check out the changelog.

Matt: Responsibility of Technology

Wordpress Planet - Sun, 09/09/2018 - 17:46

There’s fascinating and terrifying feature article about Facebook, Duterte, and the drug war in the Philippines, written by Davey Alba. My first trip there was actually to Davao, and having been to the country several times and met so many bloggers there it’s hard to imagine what’s described. There are definitely echoes of the Wired feature on Facebook and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Both are good reminders that as technologists the tools we create can be used and leveraged in ways we wouldn’t imagine in our worst nightmares.

WPTavern: Biratnagar, Nepal to Host Its First WordCamp – December 22, 2018

Wordpress Planet - Sat, 09/08/2018 - 01:40

Biratnagar, one of the oldest cities in Nepal, is gearing up to host its first WordCamp on December 22, 2018. The local community organized its first meetup in 2011 with 40 participants. Since that time the community has grown and recently hosted 250 members for a two-day meetup in January 2018.

“WordPress Biratnagar has a remarkably large number of enthusiastic participants in local WordPress meetups, more than any other meetups in Nepal,” lead organizer Ganga Kafle said. Kafle is a developer and WordPress.org theme reviewer. He said his local community is full of energetic youth who are excited to make the WordCamp happen.

“From an 8th grade student in a government school to a 56-year-old passionate retired army soldier, all are members of the WordPress Biratnagar community. This community is diverse, open, and has the ability to have fun together. They help each other out a lot, sharing tips and tricks, and solve problems together.”

Kafle said the topics of most interest to the local community include WordPress SEO, blogging, and WordPress theme development, as the majority of community members are students, developers, freelancers, and designers. He expects the WordCamp will attract attendees from different cities inside Nepal and from nearby countries, including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and other South Asian countries. Sessions will be conducted in both English and Nepali.

WordCamp Biratnagar will be the seventh WordCamp held in Nepal, following WordCamp Pokhara which is scheduled one month earlier on November 24. Pokhara is 11 hours away by car so the two WordPress communities are quite a distance away from each other. WordCamp Biratnagar is the last camp on the global WordCamp calendar for 2018.

Kafle said he hopes the event will bring the Biratnagar WordPress community opportunities that will lead to more entrepreneurship and contribution to the greater tech community in the region. The event has 200 tickets available and the capacity to expand if there is a greater demand. Early Bird Tickets are now on sale at Rs 1000. Once those are sold, Regular Tickets will be available for Rs 1500.

WPTavern: Dark Mode is Possibly Coming to a WordPress Dashboard Near You

Wordpress Planet - Sat, 09/08/2018 - 00:14

For the past year, Daniel James has been developing the Dark Mode plugin for WordPress. The plugin is actively installed on more than 1K sites. Dark Mode replaces the white and grey colors in the backend with darker colors that are easier on the eyes.

Dark Mode for WordPress

James has published a proposal to merge the plugin into core. There are three things to know about Dark Mode up front. It does not have a high contrast mode to meet accessibility needs, is not a new admin color scheme for the backend, and is not a tool that helps people with vision issues.

By default, WordPress ships with eight admin color schemes. However, color schemes are only applied to the WordPress sidebar and Admin toolbar. Dark Mode is applied to the main content area of the dashboard. This gives users the ability to use Dark Mode and an Admin Color Scheme in tandem. 

Admin Color Schemes

Dark Mode is not compatible with Gutenberg but is compatible with TinyMCE. Because of the speed at which Gutenberg is being developed as a plugin, James decided that a merge proposal without Gutenberg support is the best way forward. Compatibility with Gutenberg will likely arrive once it is merged into core.

Because Dark Mode affects the content area of the WordPress Dashboard, if it’s merged into core, plugins will need to support two different color schemes.

There is no easy way for Dark Mode to support every plugin, especially when many of them use custom user interface elements. This guide on the plugin’s GitHub page explains how developers can add support for Dark Mode.

Proposal Hits a Snag

Within the comments on the proposal, members of the core and accessibility teams weighed in. Gary Pendergast, a WordPress core developer, outlined a list of requirements from the Core Handbook that the plugin has yet to achieve.

James responded by explaining the process of merging a feature plugin into core as outlined in the Core Handbook does not lend itself to all projects.

“For example, weekly meetings, or kick-off posts etc,” James said. “I understand that Gutenberg is probably a top priority right now but it’d be great if I could have some help on what to do to push this forward. I think an introduction of Gutenberg and Dark Mode would be a great addition to shout about in 5.0.”

Some of the Benefits of Dark Mode

One of the obvious benefits is that Dark Mode is aesthetically pleasing, especially after sunset. Depending on the screen technology, darker colors are more energy efficient. It’s also a mode that’s gaining in popularity. For example, earlier this year, Apple announced Dark Mode will be available in macOS Mojave.

I find myself using Dark Mode on Reddit, the Twitter app on my iPhone, and now WordPress. I like to browse the web on my phone while laying in bed and my partner enjoys not seeing a bright screen shining in her direction.

Based on comments made to the proposal and on social media, there is a definitive interest in having a Dark Mode option in WordPress. Is Dark Mode something you’d like to see be part of core? Also, I’m curious as to which Admin Color scheme you use. Please vote in the poll below.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

WPTavern: The State of JavaScript 2018 Survey is Now Open

Wordpress Planet - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 19:07

The annual State of JavaScript 2018 Survey is in its third year running and is now open for participants. Sacha Greif, an Osaka-based web designer and developer, said he created the survey to get more data about recent trends after hearing all the online discussion about “JavaScript fatigue.”

Last year’s survey had more than 20,000 participants, a 115% increase over the previous year’s 9,300 responses. In the popular front-end frameworks category, React won out again as the framework with the greatest number of respondents indicating that they had used it and would use it again.

The 2017 survey participants were asked to rate their happiness with the current state of front-end tools on a scale of 1-5. The results averaged a 3.8, so there is room in the front-end tools category for things to shift quite a bit over a year.

The salary ranges data is particularly useful for job seekers or those new to JavaScript who are trying to decide what libraries to learn. Backbone and Ember commanded the highest salaries for participants, with Vue and Angular 2 coming in at the lower end.

Check out the full 2017 results for more data on participants’ opinions on state management tools, back-end frameworks, build tools, and more.

“The main change this year is that we added some extra logic to the survey: if you mention having used a given library, we’ll ask a follow-up question to find out what you like (or disliked) about it,” Greif said in announcing the 2018 survey. “We’re hoping that this helps us get more granular data about why some technologies are popular.”

The 2018 survey has also dropped the CSS libraries category this year, in favor of keeping it from getting too long. Greif hinted that CSS may get its own survey one day, but that section will no longer by included in the JavaScript survey.

Greif is aiming to publish the results by mid-November and will also give a preview at the Dot JS conference in Paris on November 9th. Your participation in the 2018 survey will help it to more accurately present the trends in the JavaScript ecosystem and help other developers see which tools have the highest satisfaction ratings and best salaries. Visit stateofjs.com to take the survey now.

WPTavern: Pootlepress Previews Upcoming Storefront Blocks Plugin for WooCommerce

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 21:27

At the end of 2017, WooCommerce published some of their “Wootenberg experiments”, one of the first previews of what e-commerce might look like in the Gutenberg era. Gutenberg’s handling of meta boxes has greatly evolved since that time and the WooCommerce Gutenberg Products Block feature plugin is now active on more than 20,000 sites. The plugin provides a basic custom products area for featuring products.

Pootlepress has expanded on this idea of offering a configurable product display and is currently previewing its upcoming Storefront Blocks plugin, created specifically for use with the WooCommerce Storefront theme. The plugin allows users to easily customize more advanced layouts for various product displays that can be used anywhere in their content.

Storefront Blocks includes the following custom blocks:

  • Product Masonry Grid block
  • Category Masonry block
  • Square Product Grid block
  • Slider block
  • WooCommerce default product
  • Carousel block

Storefront Blocks lets store owners easily customize font, colors, label positioning and alignment, grid gap, product grid rows, and columns. The blocks can be expanded to be full-width. They can also be transformed and reused. One example shown in the video above demonstrates converting a product grid into a slider.

Check out the live frontend demo at storefrontblocks.com.

The team at Pootlepress was aiming to release the plugin in first week of September but have pushed it back to the week of the September 17th, due to issues caused by Gutenberg 3.7.

Gutenberg 3.7 dropped today and broke some stuff. Trying to develop in prep for #gutenberg is like shooting at a fast moving target atm. Makes me agree more and more with @mor10 that we need a 6 month freeze once the code base is stable to prepare properly.

— pootlepress (@pootlepress) August 31, 2018

Pootlepress founder Jamie Marsland said they plan to sell Storefront Blocks at several price points: $75 (single site license), $125 for 5 sites, $149 for 25 sites, and $199 for an unlimited license. The product is a natural extension of their current offerings, which include a page builder plugin used on more than 10,000 websites and a Storefront Pro plugin used on 5,000+ stores.

Marsland said he was previously a skeptic about Gutenberg but is convinced that a unified interface is going to be the chief benefit of Gutenberg in the long term.

“My skepticism was really based on how it was being rolled out to the WP community, rather than the technical approach of Gutenberg,” Marsland said. “I still feel that way actually. But from a end user point of view I’m convinced users are going to love it. 50% of our business is focused on running WordPress training courses for beginners, so we see first hand the issues that WordPress users have with the existing editor. The layout limitations of the current editor is the number complaint that users have with WordPress (from our experience of having trained thousands of end users over the past 7 years).”

Marsland’s team at Pootlepress has gone all-in on developing for Gutenberg. So far their greatest challenge in extending the new editor has been keeping pace with its rapid development.

“It feels a bit like developing for a moving target at times,” Marsland said. “The Gutenberg documentation is getting better but there are still gaps in it. The Slack channel has been really helpful though and the team have been great and responding to specific questions we have.”

Marsland doesn’t see Gutenberg impacting Pootlepress’ WooCommerce page builder product, at least not until Gutenberg evolves further on its journey into site customization capabilities.

“At the moment Gutenberg is quite limited in what’s possible from a layout and design perspective,” Marsland said. “For example, our WooCommerce page builder plugin lets users change the design and layout of individual WooCommerce products. This isn’t possible with Gutenberg and may not be for quite some time. It feels like Gutenberg will stay more of a content editor than become a true page builder, especially given the current feedback from the community. That said, the ease of adding blocks within a unified interface like Gutenberg is perfect for a block approach like we are building for Storefront Blocks.”

If you’ve been wondering what Gutenberg will look like in a WooCommerce context, Pootlepress’ upcoming Storefront Blocks plugin gives you an idea of the customization possibilities the new editor will bring. The plugin makes it easy for non-technical store owners to showcase their products in a compelling way and enables them to create and customize product layouts. Storefront Blocks is an impressive example of how Gutenberg-powered products can replace clunky shortcodes with a more user-friendly interface for building store pages.

HeroPress: The Deaf World May Await, But It’s Not Silent

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 08:00

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the world you lived in completely changed, turning your life upside down?

And for those who have gone through an experience like this, can you remember how it felt to wake up in a world you were not used to?

Even though life can throw many curve balls your way, the way you tackle them can redefine you as a person.

From One World to Another

I was just a toddler when I was diagnosed with a hearing impairment. My parents noticed my speaking skills lagged behind other toddlers of a similar age. I was diagnosed with a hearing loss at the age of 2 or 3.

Even though it’s something I’ve lived with my entire life, it has been (and still is) a long and confusing journey for me as I try to figure out how best to live with it.

You see, I’m not profoundly deaf. I can hear relatively well for now (I’ll get to that part in a minute), which means that I was brought up in a mainstream hearing environment.

This didn’t come without its challenges though as I experience inaccessibility issues regularly. For example, noisy environments such as bars and restaurants, bad audio at conferences and mumbling voices when listening to podcasts.

As a young child who didn’t know any better and acted naive about life, I just accepted it. But then as I got older and learned more about the world around me, well, that’s when things started to change.

Because I am part of the hearing world but also have one “ear” in the non-hearing world, it has been a confusing position to be in. I already know what it’s “supposed to” be like if I had normal hearing. But that’s the thing, I don’t have normal hearing and I’m not profoundly deaf either.

So where do I stand?

Well there was always the possibility that my hearing would get worse, which was something my audiologist told me as a teenager. I figured maybe that will give me a better idea of where I stand.

But come on, as a teenager, I acted like a teenager – I was in denial about my situation and just wanted to fit in, like we all do as human beings.

Nothing was going to stop me from playing football, playing the guitar, socialising with friends, going to restaurants (plenty of head nodding happens there) and going to the cinema (even if I had to pretend to enjoy the latter and act as if I could hear everything, which was awkward when everyone talks about it afterwards).

Over time, I learned to develop tricks to help me get by, living in both worlds. For example, when playing the guitar, I’m not able to fine-tune my music without the help of technology or someone else who can assist me. Or when I go to the cinema, I only focus on action movies so I don’t REALLY have to talk about the story line, so I talk about the graphics, car chases and explosions instead.

On top of that I was learning English, which is my second language (but now my main language), and I was having speech therapy sessions and attended countless audiology appointments.

But you keep going, right? You don’t let anything stop you. I made it through two universities, a number of jobs and navigated life in general throughout my twenties relatively unscathed.

Then one day, a few years ago, I realised my hearing had declined even further. Unexpectedly, I found myself in a much quieter world than the one I was used to.

Remember that warning from the audiologist? Well things got very real, very fast.

I realised there was no turning back. And so began a whole new unfamiliar journey over what to do next.

Silent with a Loud Voice

It’s quite common to see online creators documenting their lives using whatever platform is available, such as social media and personal websites. The same applies for those who are going through certain struggles and share them with the world. And I used to find that strange. For something so personal, why would you share this with strangers?

Many years ago, it’s not something that I would have thought of doing. And there was definitely no intention of writing about being partially deaf. Like I said, I was trying to fit in, so I told myself to keep going to the cinema and pretend that I enjoyed it.

But there comes a time where you have to stop pretending and start being real, like I did by creating a video to publicly declare my intention to do so (and I’ll talk more about that later).

I’m lucky to have a job that revolves around the internet. As someone who works in the digital marketing industry, it was natural for me to have my own website. I remember there were a lot of experimenting and trying to work out how to start one, as well as trying to figure out what it should be about.

Having your own website sounds like a cool thing to have, but it wasn’t something I made a lot of use of in the early days. My priority was always on my clients’ or employers’ websites.

But over the past few years, I’ve grown more and more involved with WordPress and have a deeper appreciation for those who use the platform to find their voice.

And that made me curious.

It wasn’t until I started my own business in 2016 that I took WordPress more seriously, both for me personally and for my clients.

That is when I started to get more involved with the WordPress community. Because of my continued desire to contribute to the community and also how much I enjoyed helping others to make the most out of their WordPress sites. This inevitably led me to being one of the co-organisers of the WordPress meet-up group in Edinburgh as well as the current lead organiser for WordCamp Edinburgh.

My main WordPress site is my business site. It’s where I predominantly focus on the subjects of SEO, Google Analytics, WordPress (of course), online business, etc. You know, anything to help others use their WordPress site to grow their online visibility, engagement and conversion.

There is another side to being part of WordPress, and that is the community – it means you’re involved with a wide variety of people, mixing with different personalities and opening your mind to more experiences. It is where you can share valuable insights that can impact not just your life but the lives of those around you who are using WordPress in some shape or form.

And that includes the subjects of inclusivity and accessibility, two areas which have a direct effect on me. But with regards to accessibility, I do depend on subtitles/closed captions in certain situations. I’m thankful that TV is getting better at it, but outside the house, it’s not that simple.

Having been to many meet-ups and WordCamps, the code of conduct is clear – it’s about making the environment welcoming and comfortable for everyone.

The subject of online accessibility is becoming more important. Even though we are still behind in terms of understanding accessibility and making it a standard approach on websites, I’m starting to see people taking it more seriously, and rightly so.

So I should feel comfortable about the online world, right? Well, not exactly. Accessibility is still trying to catch up online and offline for everyone, not just for deaf people. For example, there are still campaigns going on to have subtitled screenings at cinemas as they tend to be limited and are often used during impossible hours like Monday mornings.

Because apparently, deaf people don’t have day jobs.

The combined effect of a lack of accessibility and various challenges means there is a nagging feeling that being deaf means my abilities are limited in an online world.

It’s a stupid thing, right? But imposter syndrome is a powerful thing. If you don’t have a firm hold on it, it can be beat the hell out of you.

Until one day…

“Enough! I’ve had enough.”

There came a point where I decided to let go of the very thing (my hearing impairment) that I felt was holding me back in life and to use that as the catalyst to move forward. I was reading a book called “Let Go” by Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. He is someone I’ve admired from afar and I have learnt a lot from him, even before reading that book.

But that book was the first “soft” trigger for me in accepting the present and the future. Little did I realise how doing this would pave the way for a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities. And that’s when the second trigger happened. I had the opportunity of spending a day with Pat in San Diego – it was an experience I’ll never forget.

But just as importantly and for the final trigger, it allowed me remove those chains that shackled me and gave me the freedom to move forward and to take advantage of whatever life had to offer me, even if it meant things were “limited” because of my gradual hearing loss.

It’s amazing what can happen when you share your vulnerabilities and experiences with others. We can always learn from each other and sharing this experience has ended up helping many others. I have received private messages from strangers thanking me for creating videos that help spread awareness.

And I’m not stopping there either.

The World Got Quieter

If I am going deeper into the deaf world, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be silent, at least not in an online sense. I have created a dedicated website called Hear Me Out! [CC] to document my hearing journey. It’s a place to share other people’s stories and to provide advice on managing in the deaf world – whether you are deaf or not.

See, that’s the great thing about putting websites together. It’s about giving you the platform you never had before. It’s also the ethos of WordPress “to democratise publishing through Open Source, GPL Software”.

It’s a funny thing when you start documenting and talking about your life online. Many people use social media as a platform to help with that and to create a voice, but I prefer to use my WordPress site for that voice. And then I use social media to help elevate it.

Your Voice Can Influence Others

Since I’ve been using WordPress and been involved in digital marketing for almost 10 years, it made sense to use that experience to my advantage. I’m lucky that my business allows me to use my expertise to help other people with their sites.

But sometimes you have to be a little selfish and think about your own journey too, not just those of your clients or customers (as well as your friends and family).

Not only are you allowed to do that, but you should do that. Because if you don’t help yourself first, you can’t help anyone else around you.

Several years ago, I wouldn’t have thought of doing that. I mean, who the hell would want to listen to me? But I truly believe in the motto “your vibe attracts your tribe” – it doesn’t matter who you are, you’ve got something worth sharing online that your tribe, whoever they are, would love.

And it’s never too late to start.

There is a quote I really like by American actress, Marlee Matlin:

“The handicap of deafness is not in the ear; it is in the mind.”

That quote applies to me perfectly, but you can also apply it to your own circumstances if deafness doesn’t apply to you.

It’s like that old saying we all heard as children: “You can do anything if you put your mind to it.”

It is kind of true in a way, but it has taken me a long time to realise it. Even though I wish I had started earlier, it’s about starting today rather than thinking about yesterday.

And I think that can apply to any situation.

I’m not just talking about creating a website. It’s also about finding the right time for you to let go of whatever is holding you back, and for you to understand what your next steps are.

That was my challenge. I had to redefine myself if I wanted to move forward. I see no reason why you can’t do that too.

So here is my message to you: if you have something that is holding you back, I urge you to write down what you are going to do about it. You need to stick it somewhere where you can see it all the time.

And if you are feeling REALLY brave, you can let me know in the comment section below what is holding you back in your life – and what you are doing to let it go.

My way of doing that was to create another WordPress site to share my stories and document my journey.

Because take it from me, once you do that, the world awaits you… online and offline.

The post The Deaf World May Await, But It’s Not Silent appeared first on HeroPress.

WPTavern: AMP for WordPress Plugin to Introduce User-Friendly Theme Support Settings in Upcoming 1.0 Release

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 21:28

In October, Google’s open source AMP project (Accelerated Mobile Pages) will be heading into its third year. The initiative aims to improve performance on the mobile web and currently boasts usage on 25 million domains across publishing, advertising, e-commerce, and business websites.

WordPress had a rocky beginning with its official AMP plugin, which was originally developed by Automattic, one of the earliest publishing partners on the project. The first versions of the plugin were not easy to use, especially for heavily customized installations. It required site owners to invest considerable effort into optimizing AMP pages and fine tuning them for their needs. AMP for WordPress went without updates for 10 months in 2017, was fraught with errors, and incompatible with many other plugins.

XWP began leading development of the plugin last year in partnership with Google, beginning with the 0.6 release. Weston Ruter is the tech lead with several XWP engineers contributing to development, design, and testing. Alberto Medina, Developer Advocate at Google, and his team have been leading the product management and outreach efforts.

“Around May last year, my team at Google started a long-term effort with a bigger scope than just AMP, which included significantly investing engineering resources on the development of the plugin,” Medina said. “We started investing development resources, and then teamed up with XWP to expand the engineering scope. During this phase of the project Google and XWP have driven all the execution of the project and the development efforts.”

Ruter said his team went through six months of the plugin’s support topics on WordPress.org and categorized them to figure out what issues users were struggling with most. They used that information to guide the focus for their first release and have been keeping a pulse on the support forum ever since.

The plugin has incorporated many changes since XWP began spearheading its development, putting AMP’s newer features to use within the context of WordPress. Earlier versions of the plugin only allowed posts to be served as AMP but the 0.6 release added pages to its capabilities. Version 0.7 introduced the ability for all URLS on a site to served as AMP (“Native AMP”) but lacked the ability for users to customize which types of content should be excluded from this format. The upcoming 1.0 release will allow users to have a native AMP site that excludes certain templates, such as a shopping cart or a category archive, from being served as AMP.

“AMP initially was limited in functionality,” Ruter said. “The AMP plugin was created when AMP was young. In the beginning it was focused on Accelerated Mobile Pages and it wasn’t able to recreate full responsive experiences that site owners expect. This has changed and AMP is able to do a lot. So that is what we have been focused on with the AMP plugin, is to bring it up to speed with the AMP project itself so that WordPress sites can take advantage of all the features and functionality that are now available.”

The team at XWP is aiming to release version 1.0 of AMP for WordPress in mid-September. The 1.0 alpha release introduced extended AMP theme support with a more user-oriented approach to the settings. Previous versions of the plugin were more developer-centric, requiring edits to a theme or child theme to configure template support. Users can now enable Native AMP or Paired mode on the AMP settings screen and the beta release adds granular controls for selecting supported templates.

image credit: XWP

Other notable updates in the alpha and beta releases include:

  • Enhanced UI for handling AMP validation errors
  • Expanded Gutenberg support to surface AMP validation errors at a block level
  • Addition of AMP-specific functionality to core blocks
  • Redirection to non-AMP URL when unaccepted validation errors present
  • Beta brings back WP Admin Bar AMP menu with AMP error highlighting

AMP for WordPress v1.0-beta2 was released in August and is not yet ready for production use. The good news for those who want to use AMP is that the plugin is becoming more of a plug-and-play solution as development progresses.

“There is only one setting that the user needs to change to take advantage of the new theme support: switching from legacy to paired or native,” Ruter said. “Everything else is optional and just customizes the behavior. There will be a new admin pointer in 1.0 that will call out this updated admin screen.”

Ruter also said his team is considering implementing a wizard-type experience to minimize the number of tweaks users need to make. They are discussing automating the compatibility check of the various templates prior to enabling theme support so users can get a high level view of the areas of the site that would be best-suited for AMP.

AMP Remains a Controversial Solution to Web Page Performance

Many users encountered insurmountable difficulties in their first attempts at using the AMP plugin with highly customized sites, relegating AMP usage to sites with dedicated engineering teams. Early versions of the AMP project did not have the flexibility that many publishers required.

Brian Boyer, VP of Product and People at Spirited Media, home of The Incline, Billy Penn, and Denverite publications, gave a presentation at WordCamp for Publishers titled “Why we ditched AMP, and other UX choices we made for launching membership.”

“We need more control over our user experience than AMP allows – to build an unshitty, persuasive, native feeling, highly effective membership experience, I need a little more JavaScript,” Boyer said. “I need a little bit more control over the page and to be fair, we could probably make some of this stuff but we cannot afford to design, build, and most crucially, test multiple versions of our website.”

Boyer cited the expense of of building and testing multiple codebases as one of the primary reasons his team ditched AMP. The complication of maintaining a second user experience was “far too much to ask” for his development team, who had already produced a fast, lightweight WordPress setup with proper caching.

“An AMP page might load a little faster but our other needs far outweigh that minor performance improvement,” Boyer said. “We got over our FOMP (Fear of Missing Pageviews). If I can be better at making conversions, I’ll take the hit with pageviews.”

Recent Enhancements to the AMP project and the plugin, including the addition of components allowing for the creation of rich interactive experiences, continue to narrow the gap between the custom JavaScript many websites require and AMP’s limitations. This may be encouraging for those who have chosen to embrace AMP, but ultimately will not make a difference for those who fundamentally oppose the initiative as an affront to the open web.

Beyond the technical investment in fine-tuning an AMP setup to meet the needs of his publications, Boyer concluded the presentation by outlining his broader objections to the AMP project:

By policing slow websites, Google has turned the big publishers’ problem into my problem, but that fix comes at a high cost to me, a small publisher,” Boyer said. “AMP is not the Open Web – it’s a short term fix for bad choices. If you build a slow and terrible website that supports a creepy business model, like tracking the shit out of your users, then yes, AMP is one path to a better user experience. It is an escape hatch from your legacy code and the bad choices of your predecessors. I understand why that would be tempting, but it is also a deal with the devil. AMP and its cousin Instant Articles put even more control in the hands of companies that already have too much control, and I for one cannot abide by that. I just ask you, do the work, fix your websites, make them fast, friendly, and respectful.

Other vocal critics are not comfortable with how Google is positioning AMP as a long-term solution, instead of addressing the root issues of web page performance. Jeremy Keith articulated this stance in his article titled “AMPstinction.”

“If the AMP project existed in order to create a web where AMP was no longer needed, I think I could get behind it,” Keith said. “But the more it’s positioned as the only viable solution to solving performance, the more uncomfortable I am with it.

“Which, by the way, brings me to one of the most pernicious ideas around Google AMP—positioning anyone opposed to it as not caring about web performance. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s precisely because performance on the web is so important that it deserves a long-term solution, co-created by all of us: not some commandants delivered to us from on-high by one organization, enforced by preferential treatment by that organization’s monopoly in search.”

However, decoupling AMP from Google’s influence would also mean separating the project from the leadership and resources that have so far driven its adoption across millions of websites. There may be other approaches to addressing performance but Alberto Medina and his team see AMP as serving a practical purpose for users and developers who wouldn’t otherwise be capable of optimizing their sites to the same degree. What he described is in a sense “democratizing performance.”

“The root causes of web performance problems are well known and there are tools, techniques, and web APIs, that allow developers to achieve awesome UX close to what AMP provides,” Medina said. “However, the reality is that doing so is very hard for most developers. Usually achieving it requires having solid engineering teams and enough financial resources. That is not fair for most developers and organizations that do not have the resources.”

Medina sees AMP as an answer to what he describes as the Capability/Usage gap: the difference between what can be achieved in the web and what is actually done in the web.

“The problem is that as the power and complexity of the web increases, that gap has increased as well,” Medina said. “The problem is that as long as that gap exists, achieving the best UX is not possible. So, the goal is to close that gap. There are two options: developers do the right thing all the time, or we provide tooling/libraries that enable them to do the right thing in an easy and effective way. AMP served the latter purpose.”

Medina also emphasized that AMP is fully built on open web technologies. “Basically, it provides what developers could do by themselves but it is hard to do,” he said.

In a recent Recode Decode podcast interview with Kara Swisher, Matt Mullenweg also weighed in on the AMP project.

“It gets a bad rap because Google kind of botched the rollout a little bit,” Mullenweg said. “The underlying tech is open source and it’s actually quite good. Because for you as an independent publisher to have a future, we need you to load just as fast as something that’s embedded in an app. Facebook has done the bait and switch so many times that we need an independent alternative and I think AMP can be that.”

Google’s investment in the AMP plugin through its partnership with Automattic and XWP has made AMP more approachable for the average user, especially with the updates coming in version 1.0. Medina said Google chose to collaborate with WordPress because they share a similar goal of providing a better user experience for the platform.

“AMP is not an end goal in itself; the real objective is enabling all WordPress developers and site owners to provide awesome user experiences powered by WordPress,” Medina said. “AMP is just a component in that overall story, together with PWA capabilities, coding and performance best practices, Tide, etc.” In architecting the latest version of the plugin, Medina said the team is aiming to “enable native AMP experiences in WordPress without compromising content fidelity or surrendering the flexibility of the WordPress platform.”

Whatever your opinion of the AMP project, the user-friendly theme support options and better validation error handling are game changing improvements for the WordPress plugin. It is currently active on more than 300,000 sites. Updates coming in the 1.0 release will enable thousands of WordPress users to have a more successful experience with AMP.

Isosceles Theme (old)

Drupal Themes - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 16:54

Isosceles Theme for Drupal is a simple and easy to use theme that allows users to create profesional and well designed websites, having most of the necessary tools for this. Is a good theme for new users and also for experienced ones.

Stay tuned for new theme releases, updates to existing themes or any other goodies we might share.

Isosceles

Drupal Themes - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 16:30

Isosceles Theme for Drupal is a simple and easy to use theme which is perfect for new users or even experienced ones who are searching for a theme that can be adapted to professional well designed Webs with some of the most necessary options.

Stay tuned with new theme releases, updates to existing themes, offers or any other goodies we might share.

Dev Blog: The Month in WordPress: August 2018

Wordpress Planet - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 11:00

Many of the WordPress contribution teams have been working hard on the new WordPress editor, and the tools, services, and documentation surrounding it. Read on to find out more about this ongoing project, as well as everything else that has been happening around the WordPress community in August.

WordPress 4.9.8 is Released

WordPress 4.9.8 was released at the beginning of the month. While this was a maintenance release fixing 46 bugs, it was significant for Core development because it made a point of highlighting Gutenberg — the new WordPress editor that is currently in development (more on that below).

This release also included some important updates to the privacy tools that were added to Core earlier this year.

Want to get involved in building WordPress Core? Follow the Core team blog and join the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

New WordPress Editor Development Continues

Active development continues on Gutenberg, the new editing experience for WordPress Core. The latest version features a number of important user experience improvements, including a new unified toolbar and support for a more focussed writing mode.

Users can test Gutenberg right now by installing the plugin, which currently has nearly 300,000 active installs. Along with that, the Gutenberg Handbook has some very useful information about how to use and develop for the new editor.

Want to get involved in building Gutenberg? Follow the #gutenberg tag on the Core team blog and join the #core-editor channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Planning Begins for the Next Global WordPress Translation Day

The Global WordPress Translation Day is a 24-hour event held online and all across the world. It is designed to bring communities together to translate WordPress into their local languages, and to help them connect with other communities doing the same thing.

There have been three Translation Days since April 2016, and the fourth edition is in the planning stages now. The Polyglots team, who organizes these events, is currently looking for input on the date, format, and content for the event and would love some feedback from the community.

Want to get involved in translating WordPress into your own language? Follow the Polyglots team blog and join the #polyglots channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Further Reading:
  • The Update PHP page on WordPress.org has been revised and improved to make the reasons for upgrading more clear.
  • The Mobile team is looking for people to help test the latest versions of the Android and iOS apps for WordPress.
  • WordBits is a innovative new platform for publishing WordPress-based code snippets with the ability to download each snippet as a working plugin.
  • The Community Team has some updates about how things are going with this year’s WordCamp Incubator program.
  • The WordPress Support Forums now include a feature allowing forum volunteers to easily report a post to the moderators for a follow-up.
  • WordCamp Kochi, India has unfortunately had to postpone their event due to floods in the region.
  • WP Glossary is a new site that offers helpful definitions of words that you could encounter when using WordPress.
  • A few WordPress community members have started a working group to tackle the idea of building diverse WordPress  communities all across the world.
  • A new Gutenberg Block Library is available, listing the details of the many blocks available for the new editor.

If you have a story we should consider including in the next “Month in WordPress” post, please submit it here.

The Month in WordPress: August 2018

Wordpress News - Mon, 09/03/2018 - 11:00

Many of the WordPress contribution teams have been working hard on the new WordPress editor, and the tools, services, and documentation surrounding it. Read on to find out more about this ongoing project, as well as everything else that has been happening around the WordPress community in August.

WordPress 4.9.8 is Released

WordPress 4.9.8 was released at the beginning of the month. While this was a maintenance release fixing 46 bugs, it was significant for Core development because it made a point of highlighting Gutenberg — the new WordPress editor that is currently in development (more on that below).

This release also included some important updates to the privacy tools that were added to Core earlier this year.

Want to get involved in building WordPress Core? Follow the Core team blog and join the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

New WordPress Editor Development Continues

Active development continues on Gutenberg, the new editing experience for WordPress Core. The latest version features a number of important user experience improvements, including a new unified toolbar and support for a more focussed writing mode.

Users can test Gutenberg right now by installing the plugin, which currently has nearly 300,000 active installs. Along with that, the Gutenberg Handbook has some very useful information about how to use and develop for the new editor.

Want to get involved in building Gutenberg? Follow the #gutenberg tag on the Core team blog and join the #core-editor channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Planning Begins for the Next Global WordPress Translation Day

The Global WordPress Translation Day is a 24-hour event held online and all across the world. It is designed to bring communities together to translate WordPress into their local languages, and to help them connect with other communities doing the same thing.

There have been three Translation Days since April 2016, and the fourth edition is in the planning stages now. The Polyglots team, who organizes these events, is currently looking for input on the date, format, and content for the event and would love some feedback from the community.

Want to get involved in translating WordPress into your own language? Follow the Polyglots team blog and join the #polyglots channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Further Reading:
  • The Update PHP page on WordPress.org has been revised and improved to make the reasons for upgrading more clear.
  • The Mobile team is looking for people to help test the latest versions of the Android and iOS apps for WordPress.
  • WordBits is a innovative new platform for publishing WordPress-based code snippets with the ability to download each snippet as a working plugin.
  • The Community Team has some updates about how things are going with this year’s WordCamp Incubator program.
  • The WordPress Support Forums now include a feature allowing forum volunteers to easily report a post to the moderators for a follow-up.
  • WordCamp Kochi, India has unfortunately had to postpone their event due to floods in the region.
  • WP Glossary is a new site that offers helpful definitions of words that you could encounter when using WordPress.
  • A few WordPress community members have started a working group to tackle the idea of building diverse WordPress  communities all across the world.
  • A new Gutenberg Block Library is available, listing the details of the many blocks available for the new editor.

If you have a story we should consider including in the next “Month in WordPress” post, please submit it here.

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