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WPTavern: Contribution Time, Sponsored, and Teams Fields Added to WordPress.org User Profiles

Sat, 06/22/2019 - 01:17

A new section named Contribution has been added to WordPress.org user profiles. This section contains fields that enable users to share how much time they contribute to WordPress on a weekly basis, which teams they contribute to, and whether or not those contributions are sponsored.

New WordPress.org User Profile Fields

Each field is optional and will only appear if the Hours and Teams fields are filled in. The sponsored tag will only appear next to the Contributions heading if you answer Yes to being sponsored and the other fields are filled in.

Andrea Middleton describes these fields as a step towards a possible version one of the Five for the Future program that was published last year.

“I think it will also help with transparency, and might facilitate how teams set internal expectations for how much time different contributors might have to spend on a project or ongoing task,” she said.

In addition to the profile fields, the official WordPress Jobs Board has also been updated to include a new Contributor position. The goal is to make it easier for companies to find and hire people interested in becoming sponsored contributors.

These changes are the first iteration with plans to enhance them in the future. If you have any suggestions or ideas on improving these fields, you’re encouraged to leave a comment.

One question I have regarding potential additions is whether or not it makes sense to provide a text field where users can name the company that is sponsoring them. This may aid in transparency and avoiding conflicts of interests.

On the other side of the coin, does it make sense for the company’s name to be public information, or should contributors only share that information with team leads or reps on a 1-on-1 basis?

I feel as though knowing someone’s contributions are sponsored is only half of the equation. Without knowing who the sponsor is, that information is practically irrelevant.

WPTavern: Matt Mullenweg’s Summer Update at WordCamp Europe 2019: Gutenberg’s Progress and a Preview of Upcoming Features

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 18:48

image credit: WCEU Photography Team

Matt Mullenweg took the stage at WordCamp Europe in Berlin this afternoon to give a summer update on the progress of the block editor. He attributed much of its continued success to the availability of the Gutenberg plugin, which allows for quick iteration and testing. More than 150,000 posts are published per day using the block editor, which Mullenweg said is “a testament to the long development period” that gave the team an opportunity to work out bugs and make it usable for a large number of people.

Since its initial release, the block editor has added a host of notable improvements, including block management capabilities, a cover block with nested elements, widgets as blocks, block grouping, and snackbar style notices.

Mullenweg highlighted a few beautiful and innovative examples of Gutenberg in the wild. Two projects from Human Made showcase Gutenberg-powered designs (artefactgroup.com) and an AI integration that analyzes a user’s writing in the editor (ingenuity.siemens.com.)

Election season is ramping up in the U.S. and Gutenberg-powered sites, like hurst4delegate.com, are starting to pop up. Mullenweg noted that 21/24 of the current democratic candidates for President are using WordPress for their sites. Whitehouse.gov also switched from Drupal to WordPress earlier this year.

Mullenweg also gave a quick preview of some of the upcoming Gutenberg features that are currently being developed on GitHub. Most of them are still in the prototype stage. The team is creating a system to install new blocks online, which will tie into the planned block directory. Mullenweg said Blocks could become a new top-level menu item in the WordPress admin, with screens dedicated to block discovery.

"A block directory is coming that will take over other “top level navigation” and brings a “playfulness” to discovering #Gutenberg blocks.” @photomatt #WCEU #WordPress pic.twitter.com/wsiHcPaVuL

— David Bisset (@dimensionmedia) June 21, 2019

He showed demos of the navigation block in progress, a prototype for adding realistic motion to block movement, an experimental footnotes block, and a demo of resizing images with “snap to grid” capabilities. Mullenweg said one of the goals with Gutenberg is to “make it possible to create beautiful experiences, because that’s part of what the web needs to win.”

New footnotes feature being tested in #Gutenberg. @photomatt #WCEU #WordPress pic.twitter.com/b8yhn2X71w

— David Bisset (@dimensionmedia) June 21, 2019

Mullenweg also gave an update on Gutenberg’s progress in the mobile apps. He said the new editor is operational but development is slow moving because the mobile engineers essentially have to duplicate all of the work that has been done by hundreds of Gutenberg contributors thus far.

Q&A Highlights Governance, Core Maintenance, and the Future of WordPress Themes

The Q&A portion of the session featured a variety of topics, ranging from an aggressive tirade about licensing and Envato, to more relevant inquiries about the future of WordPress themes. While this format of interaction has its shortcomings, it gives community members the opportunity to check on the status of issues where they have a particular interest.

One attendee asked if WordPress.org plans to implement a more democratic structure for decision making. Mullenweg seemed to interpret the question as referencing a system where tens or hundreds of millions of WordPress users would participate in making decisions on features through a vote or some other form of feedback. In contrast, he said WordPress’ current approach is for leadership to try to get a sense for what the most common issues are through polls and public channels and allow those issues to help shape the project’s roadmap.

Mullenweg shared that one particular issue on his mind right now is the problem of “how do I make my theme look like the demo?” He said contributors are experimenting with different types of models for making decisions that move WordPress in the direction to solve these types of problems.

He said that the project’s decision making is fairly transparent, without a lot of mystery, and that the community has tons of feedback mechanisms. This is a somewhat controversial claim, as regular project contributors have expressed frustration with the lack of communication surrounding important planning and decisions, such as release dates and project timing, as it pertained to how WordPress 5.0 landed. The community was frustrated by a lack of effective ways to communicate critical issues and complaints to project leadership. As a followup to this specific feedback, Josepha Haden, the new Executive Director of the WordPress project, has been diligent to track and communicate how leadership is working to improve communication.

Another attendee asked if WordPress themes will become obsolete after Gutenberg gains more site-building capabilities. Mullenweg predicted they will always be a part of WordPress but seemed inclined to let the market decide the fate of themes.

“I don’t know,” he said. “They are going to change for sure. I don’t think they ever go away.” He said he could see developers offering an array of different designs that could be used as a starting point. Although a WordPress theme has a very specific definition right now (as far as what types of files are included), Mullenweg said he can see that definition evolving over time. He said he could see themes becoming like a starter template or a library of patterns to choose from, or even a set of complex layouts that could work across different themes.

“I think we’re going to decouple themes a little bit but I don’t know how or what that will look like,” Mullwenweg said. He also noted that a lot of themes right now represent a similar aesthetic, often business minimalist that use white and blue colors. Design trends have the potential to shift dramatically as Gutenberg and themes evolve to allow users more control over how their sites are designed.

It is no secret that the WordPress development community is eager to switch to GitHub or another Git-based infrastructure for core development. Most of the recent feature projects have successfully matured on GitHub, with the majority of work and discussion taking place outside of Trac. One attendee asked about the possibility of moving away from Trac in the near future. Mullenweg said that this year the team that works on WordPress.org is prioritizing changes to the directory, but in the meantime anyone with Python knowledge is welcome to contribute to tweaking Trac for improvements in the interim before WordPress moves to Git-based development.

I’d love to move off of Trac as much as the next person. In the interim I’m working some cool tools to make life easier using the Elasticsearch cluster I built for it. Let me know if you want to help! https://t.co/E26P66ebmQ #WCEU

— William Earnhardt (@earnjam) June 21, 2019

In response to a question about blockchain technology and WordPress, Mullenweg said he has long been an enthusiast in this area and loves the idea of open source applying to money, as well as having a distributed ledger.

“But I can’t think of any problem in core WordPress right now that the overhead of a blockchain would really improve,” he said. “Everything I could think of right now would probably be plugin territory.” However, he said that the WordProof plugin’s timestamping WordPress content on the blockchain is among one of the best ideas he has seen for this technology so far.

When asked how he plans to “balance chasing the new and shiny with all of WordPress’ existing legacy APIs,” Mullenweg said that “PHP is going to be crucial to us for many years to come.” He recognized that the project has fallen behind in maintenance with some of its older APIs but that work on Gutenberg can be done in parallel.

The new triage team is currently going through all the tickets, refreshing patches, and working on taking them to resolution. Mullenweg noted that WordCamp Europe hosted the first ever triage table at its contributor day and said that this new area is ripe for contribution.

The REST API, despite its broad support and noteworthy contributors, is one area that Mullenweg said has held Gutenberg back. He said it still does not have the demonstrated use that its advocates predicted when working to get it merged into core and cautioned that WordPress should always use an API first before shipping it to the world.

Mullenweg concluded the Q&A by estimating that Gutenberg is only 10% of the way down the road towards solving the problems that WordPress contributors set out to tackle. He predicts that building on this initial effort will carry into the next decade.

WPTavern: Free Event: Post Status to Live Stream Publish Online July 8-9

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 00:13

Post Status will be live streaming Publish Online on July 8-9, 2019. The event, which is geared towards WordPress professionals, has traditionally been limited to club members. This year Post Status creator Brian Krogsgard is opening up the live stream for anyone to watch for free.

“I debated so strongly on this,” Krogsgard said. “But these are great talks — valuable to the community — and I want to make them accessible.”

Publish Online will feature 14 presentations from community leaders who are deeply invested in the WordPress ecosystem in one way or another. The talks are centered around WordPress core processes and vision, mixed with web business topics.

Those who want to watch for free will need to register for the event. Access to the live stream will be available at PostStatus.com/live. Post Status members will have access to all the recordings, transcripts, and audio after the event has concluded. The site is currently running an early bird special on club membership, discounted to $79/year ahead of the Publish Online event.

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 357 – CBD E-Commerce, XML Sitemaps, and A Preview of WCEU 2019

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 23:06

In this episode, Malcom Peralty and I discuss what’s new in WordPress 5.2.2, XML Sitemaps possibly landing in core, and WooCommerce clarifying its CDB seller policy. We also provide a preview of what to expect at WordCamp EU and congratulate Marcel Bootsman for successfully walking to Berlin, Germany.

Stories Discussed:

WordPress 5.2.2

WordPress 5.2.2 Squashes 13 Bugs

XML Sitemaps in Core?

Marcel Bootsman Arrives at WCEU

WordCamp EU Event Guide

WordCamp EU Live Stream Link to be announced

ClassifAI from 10up

WooCommerce Clarifies its stance on stores selling CBD products

Transcript:

EPISODE357Transcript

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, June 26th 3:00 P.M. Eastern

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Listen To Episode #357:

Matt: Vast, Unbroken Slabs

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 19:54

Writing novels is hard, and requires vast, unbroken slabs of time. Four quiet hours is a resource that I can put to good use. Two slabs of time, each two hours long, might add up to the same four hours, but are not nearly as productive as an unbroken four.

Neil Stephenson on Why I’m a Bad Correspondent

WPTavern: Jason Bahl Joins the Gatsby Team to Work on WPGraphQL Full-Time

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 19:52

Jason Bahl, creator of WPGraphQL, is joining the Gatsby team to work on WPGraphQL (and its immediate ecosystem) full-time.

Gatsby, the immensely popular static site generator for React.js, lets users pull data into pages from WordPress, Drupal, Contentful, Google Docs, AirTable, markdown, and any other data sources. It is used by tens of thousands of developers and downloaded nearly 500,000 times each month.

Gatsby founder Kyle Mathews created Gatsby Inc. as a company to further the project’s goals, and received $3.8M in seed funding in May 2018. The investment is being used to build cloud services for Gatsby and improve Gatsby’s core open source software. As the company has grown, Gatsby is beginning to invest more heavily in the open source ecosystem that surrounds the project.

With WordPress powering 34% of the top 10 million websites, it’s only natural that Gatsby would look to WPGraphQL, one of the most promising projects in the WP ecosystem, for its next investment in open source. The more WordPress developers Gatsby can get using GraphQL and JavaScript, the more it benefits the greater Gatsby ecosystem.

“The number of developers using Gatsby to build sites where the content is managed by WordPress is growing,” Bahl said. “The current `gatsby-source-wordpress` plugin pulls data into Gatsby using the WordPress REST API, but the REST API has a lot of pain points that are proving to be very difficult to get past.

“WPGraphQL solves many of those pain points already, and has potential to solve even more. The more robust WPGraphQL is, the better it is for all JavaScript consumers, whether it be Next.js, Gridsome (a Vue static site generator) or Gatsby.”

Bahl followed the Gatsby project from afar before striking up a relationship with the team through the various Slack channels where the community is active. A year and a half ago, he moved the docs.wpgraphql.com site from WordPress to Gatsby, where the content is stored in Markdown files on Github. This allows users in the community to contribute to the docs by submitting pull requests.

In February 2019, Bahl gave a presentation at WordCamp Phoenix on “Building Static Sites with WordPress, Gatsby and WPGraphQL” After that he saw more growth in the crossover ecosystems – more people in the Gatsby Slack asking about WordPress, and more developers in the WPGraphQL Slack asking about Gatsby.

“I’ve been following all things GraphQL for a few years, so Gatsby has been on my radar for a while as Gatsby uses GraphQL to create a ‘content mesh’ where data can be pulled from many sources into one Gatsby site,” Bahl said.

“The more I followed Gatsby from afar, the more intrigued I was. The development experience of Gatsby is great, especially if you enjoy React, which I do.”

Bahl is active in both Slacks, on both GitHub repos, and on Twitter, helping people build Gatsby sites with WordPress and GraphQL, which is how he developed a relationship with the team.

“In mid April I made it known to a few people that I would love to work on WPGraphQL full-time if I had the opportunity,” he said. “On May 30, Kyle Matthews direct messaged me on Twitter saying Gatsby is planning on investing in WordPress more and they’d love to chat. The following week I had some video calls with Kyle, Sam, and some other folks on the Gatsby team, and they made me a formal offer to join the Gatsby teams to make WPGraphQL the best it can be.”

The WPGraphQL project already has a rapidly growing library of extensions for popular WordPress plugins, despite the fact that the project has not yet reached a stable 1.0 release. Bahl’s new opportunity with the Gatsby team will enable him to work with the community’s momentum to get WPGraphQL further on its roadmap.

“Working on WPGraphQL full time will allow me to work on features and bugs that I’ve not had adequate time to focus on while also maintaining a full time job,” Bahl said.

“WPGraphQL is used in production by many already, but it’s still pre 1.0 because of some breaking changes I foresee but haven’t had adequate time to dedicate to addressing.”

Bahl will also be available to provide better resources for the community, such as documentation, example codebases, and courses and tutorials, in addition to attending more WordCamps and other conferences, participating in podcasts, and interacting on GitHub issues, Slack, and other communication channels.

“It will also provide more time to focus on conversations on whether GraphQL should be part of WordPress core (or not), and educate the community and core maintainers on the tradeoffs,” Bahl said.

In hiring Bahl to work on WPGraphQL, Gatsby is making a significant investment in the WordPress community that depends on this project. The improved support and quicker pace of development should bring peace of mind to those who are already using WPGraphQL in production.

“I’ll also be working closely with other members of the Gatsby team to make the experience of using Gatsby with WordPress a great experience,” Bahl said. “We have a lot of ideas about how WPGraphQL can make the Gatsby + WordPress experience a fantastic one for developers and users alike.”

WPTavern: WooCommerce.com Clarifies Its Policy on Selling CBD Products

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 01:02

Last week, a member of the WooCommerce Help and Share Facebook group who sells Cannabidiol or CBD products submitted a post that included an email exchange with WooCommerce support.

In the exchange, the support rep explained to the store owner that when their WooCommerce.com account was connected to a WordPress.com login, it then fell under the WordPress.com store guidelines.

According to the guidelines, controlled substances (including marijuana, cannabidiol or CBD, and other cannabis-derived products) are not allowed to be sold.

The support rep goes on to say that this included but was not limited to sites using WordPress.com, the Jetpack plugin, and any extensions from WooCommerce.com.”

The store owner is then informed that their store will be disconnected from Automattic hosted services if they continue to sell CBD products.

Legal Document Becomes a Source of Confusion

The support rep provided the store owner with a link to the most frequently asked questions on selling CBD products using WooCommerce.

The wording of the document made it seem as though there was a difference between downloading the plugin from the WordPress plugin directory or WooCommerce.com. It also appeared to apply limits on how the GPL licensed software could be used. Here is a cached version of the original document.

Can WooCommerce be used to sell cannabis-derived products such as CBD oil?

Yes, if you download the WooCommerce plugin directly from WordPress.org or install the WooCommerce plugin via the Plugins page of your site from WordPress.org.

No, if you download and install the WooCommerce plugin directly from WooCommerce.com.

It is the same WooCommerce plugin, but the location of download makes a difference?
What’s the difference?

The difference is ownership.

WooCommerce from WordPress.org is open-source software and is hosted through a third-party company.

WooCommerce from WooCommerce.com and WordPress.com is hosted through Automattic. Sites cannot sell cannabis-derived products if they are connected to Automattic servers, which includes and is not limited to WordPress.com, the Jetpack plugin, and any plugin or extension downloaded directly from WooCommerce.com.

Can I use WooCommerce software from  (x company)  to sell cannabis-derived products?
If you use open-source WooCommerce software from a third-party company, note that there may be additional limitations and regulations imposed by shipping and payment companies.

Can I get support for a WooCommerce store selling CBD products?
No, not from us at WooCommerce.com or WordPress.com.

Many of our store owners and customers reside in countries where CBD products and other cannabis-derived products are fully legalized, but the production and sale of cannabis-derived products in the US – where our company is registered – is highly regulated.

As a result, we are currently unable to offer support for any WooCommerce site that sells CBD oil or other cannabis-derived products, whether the CBD oil is over or under 0.3% THC and whether it is derived from hemp or cannabis.

Original WooCommerce and CBD Products FAQ

Taking note of the confusion, Paul Maiorana, Acting General Manager of WooCommerce, responded to the discussion and admitted in the Facebook thread that the policy was not as clear as it could be.

Earlier this week, the WooCommerce team revised the policy and made it much clearer on what is and is not allowed.

Can WooCommerce be used to sell cannabis-derived products such as CBD oil?

Yes, you can use WooCommerce for your site. As our software is open source, we do not limit its use.

However, while you can use the code of our WooCommerce plugin to sell products derived from cannabis and hemp, you cannot use services offered directly by Automattic to support those stores. This is the case whether the products are over or under 0.3% THC, and whether they are derived from hemp or cannabis. Automattic’s direct services include, but are not limited to, WordPress.com, WooCommerce.com, and the Jetpack plugin.

This means that you can use the open source WooCommerce plugin to sell cannabis-derived products, but you cannot:

Connect your site to Automattic’s servers in WooCommerce > Extensions > WooCommerce.com Subscriptions for automatic extension updates or at WordPress.com.

Use WooCommerce services that depend on a Jetpack connection, such as WooCommerce Shipping or WooCommerce Tax.

Host your site on WordPress.com.

Can I get help for my WooCommerce store?
Yes. Our WooCommerce.com help desk can assist you with your site if you would normally qualify to receive support. You might also receive help from others in the WordPress.org forums or the WooCommerce community.

Revised WooCommerce and CBD Products FAQ

In the last two years, WooCommerce has increasingly relied on Jetpack and its connection to WordPress.com’s infrastructure to provide services. These include WooCommerce Shipping, the WooCommerce app, and Automated Tax Calculations. In 2017, Todd Wilkens made it clear that WooCommerce would continue to make extensive use of Jetpack to provide cloud services.

While the policy makes things clearer, CBD store owners will need to determine if they can live without the conveniences provided by Jetpack, WooCommerce.com, and WordPress.com. This situation is also a reminder to all store owners to double check a service’s policies before connecting any sites.

Updated on June 25th, 2019.

WooCommerce has updated its policy to allow automatic updates from WooCommerce.com

WPTavern: Watch the Free WordCamp Europe 2019 Live Stream June 21-22

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 23:20

WordCamp Europe 2019 kicks off tomorrow, June 20, with Contributor Day. If you have been following the event on Twitter, hundreds of WordPress enthusiasts and professionals have been descending upon Berlin this week in preparation for the world’s largest WordCamp. For those who cannot attend in person, WCEU will be live streaming the main conference on June 21-22 for free.

Unlike previous years, no tickets or registration will be required for live stream viewers. Removing this logistical hurdle makes the conference more accessible to viewers who may want to pop in for a session or two.

Matt Mullenweg will be giving an address at 2PM in Berlin on Friday, June 21, and his presentation usually includes some newsworthy announcements. Whether you’re interested in Gutenberg development, community relations, design, or business, there’s a session for a wide range of WordPress users. Those who are viewing from afar can check out the schedule and plan which sessions to watch online.

As it was last year, the WCEU website is a Progressive Web App (PWA) that allows users to favorite the talks they want to attend. Presentations last 30 minutes with 10 minutes added at the end for Q&A. There are 20 minutes scheduled in between sessions to allow attendees to change tracks or have conversations in the hallway.

WordCamp Europe plans to announce the live stream link on its Twitter account. Follow the #WCEU hashtag to join in the conversation online.

WPTavern: Google Announces Site Kit Plugin Now in Developer Beta

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 22:36

Google is churning out updates to its WordPress products ahead of WordCamp Europe in Berlin this weekend, with the AMP Plugin 1.2 release and Site Kit’s developer beta launch landing the same day.

Site Kit is a new addition to Google’s WordPress plugin lineup that was announced at WordCamp US 2018. It provides a dashboard that displays how well a site is doing with various Google tools, such as Search Console, Analytics, AdSense, and PageSpeed Insights, packaged as a one-stop solution.

The developer preview announced today includes the following features:

  • Seamless site verification with Search Console
  • Provisioning and configuration of Analytics, AdSense, Tag Manager and Optimize
  • Simple aggregate and per-page reporting from Search Console, Analytics, and AdSense, to help you understand the full acquisition and monetization funnel
  • Continuous site performance auditing and monitoring with PageSpeed Insights
  • Insights we derive from across the products you’ve connected and surface on your dashboard, to help you make sense of the stats

Site Kit will give WordPress users access to information and stats from Google tools directly inside the dashboard. Instead of having to log into multiple Google services to hunt down site performance and page traffic information, this plugin aggregates the most data and puts it at your fingertips inside the WordPress admin where it is most relevant.

The Site Kit plugin is still under active development on GitHub and beta testers will need to be familiar with the Google Cloud Platform and OAuth in order to get started.

The setup experience is not user-friendly but rather geared towards getting feedback on the plugin’s current features. Google isn’t planning on putting Site Kit on WordPress.org until the setup process has been improved to be a better experience for WordPress users who are not developers. The goals for the developer beta are to gather feedback on the plugin’s functionality and compatibility with other plugins.

A contingency of engineers from Google’s Developer Programs team will be available at the Google booth during WordCamp Europe to answer questions from the community on Site Kit and any of the company’s other products.

Matt: Diversifying WordPress

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 21:42

WordPress is about democratizing publishing, removing barriers to getting your words on the web. There’s a cool effort underway right now to remove some barriers that people from groups underrepresented in tech might face when becoming a WordCamp speaker. Automattic is supporting this by sponsoring Jill Binder’s work on the WordPress Diverse Speakers Training Group.

I would love to see the WordPress contributor base become more diverse, and training people from marginalized communities to speak at WordCamps is a great way to help that along. Check out that effort if you’d like to get involved.

HeroPress: It’s never too late to start the right career path

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 12:00
WordPress – Life changing experience

Recently I had an enjoyable experience with a team of WPTranslationDay4 where I took the challenge to be a Live Streaming Host for the first time. And it was a fantastic talk with Speakers.

By the time you read this, I would have experienced my first international talk in WordCamp Europe 2019 at WPCafe. And would have moved to the next :). In this essay, I will be sharing how I found my career path, how WordPress changed my life, why I took challenges. I am a non-technical person, if you are a newbie, struggling with your career, stopped taking challenges, gave up and lose hope, especially women’s, then this may be your compelling decision to be here. I am sharing my short story towards WordPress and putting some points that make me take these decisions.

Who am I?

My name is Afsana Multani, an artist by hobby and a WordPress enthusiast. You must think, why and how I work with WordPress? WordPress wasn’t the first choice in my life. My very first choice was painting. I didn’t even know I will be starting working with WordPress. :) To learn and work with WordPress, became the dream of my life, to follow this, I started working as a Customer Support Executive at theDotstore, which is a Venture of MULTIDOTS.

I was born & brought up in a reserved middle-class family, residing in Bhavnagar, a small city of Gujarat, India. Currently, I live in Ahmedabad. The family thinking is one which follows age-old customs and traditions and has stayed away from innovations. Where, most of the time, children do not have the freedom to dream, to develop, or to choose their life, to do something new. As a child, I had everything needed to live a better life – food, shelter, and clothes. But one thing was missing – “freedom.” I am the second one of four kids in my family and was lucky enough to study further.

Though I never had a chance to talk with my father about my career, and what I want to do in life or how life will be after studies. I was sure I have to do something and make my parents proud.

Besides all the strict rules and conventional thinking, my parents trusted me and allowed me to study further.

My mother never pushed me to cook or do household chores, as she spends her entire life doing this stuff. She loved to study, but due to this old thinking pattern, she had to drop her studies after her 3rd Standard. She starts cooking at home, with all household chores, preparing to get married one day.

You would say, it’s not an age to do this. But it was her childhood, where other children were playing with toys, she continued playing with real-life. She determined never give up; whatever I am today because of her if she does not do that I would never have the courage to study further. I was good in studies, and get 1st in every Curriculum activity; the reason was my parents. I wanted to see them happy and proud. I learned one thing from her –

Never give up on your dreams, work harder for what you want, and help others.

I always have struggled for my future path, I wasn’t sure what to do and what not to, but I learned not to be afraid of taking challenges. During the time, I was about to step into the new phase of life – “Marriage.”

Everything changed

In my sweet 16, my wedding fixed already. And my father asked me to drop studies after 10th and plan for marriage. But my mother wanted me to study; so, she convinced him. Fortunately, my life partner was also so understanding and carrying. We never met before our engagement day, but I still remember, as soon as we had our first phone call, we fell in Love. Just like that – like a Fairy Tale.

Suddenly everything changes when the day came to leave my parents home. I got married early after my Higher Secondary School at the age of 18. I was a child with no idea how everything goes after marriage but has to take the responsibilities. It was a new challenge – family and household chores. Understanding new families make them happy and still living in a joint family was a challenge to decide on a career. I remember one my Grandpa says,

“life will never be better, but we have to make it better”

Can a Hobby be a Profession?

So, the answer is yes. If your hobby wakes you up in the middle of your sleep, it does. But if you let someone entering into your hobby, then it may be challenging for you to continue further. For me, the painting was my hobby, since childhood. I never found a tutor to polish my skills and learned it myself as an inspiration from my elder sister. It was a dream to be a great artist one day; I decided to join the institute after my marriage. I initiated my first painting classes name “AKSA,” I enjoy with kids; my motto was to encourage them to develop their skills.

I did not have a better teacher in my childhood, so I wanted them to have one and not to struggle much to follow their path. Destiny has some other plans.

Introduction to the computer world

I also have learned PHP for a couple of months. But that was not something I am happy with so I continued my journey, finding some more opportunities.

In 2012, I found my first job out of my hobby with a full-service WordPress agency – MULTIDOTS as a front-end developer; I had picked up quite a bit of Photoshop designing as well as HTML. Work with photoshop was fun to play with computer. I did not have a computer at home, so this job was fascinating. I decided it quickly and started building websites and learning HTML responsive coding, on my own – Google was my teacher. I love learning new things which match to my nature and interest :).

I was perfectly happy as a front-end developer, yet I always felt as if there were some other types of work that I would adore more. “I just didn’t know what it was,” in 2017, I started working with WordPress.

The decision to start working with WordPress comes with challenges. It feels like going back to the first-level of schooling, taking classes to pick up necessary qualification.

For me, everything changed in my early 20’s. At 25, my brain woke up – it certainly feels like that. And I managed to win a job as a “Customer Support Executive” at thedotstore. I am a talkative person, and chatting with people around the world was amazing. As my Mom says, – help, support, and make people happy. Working freely with fun was one of my visions that comes true.

Thedotstore develops free and premium plugins for WooCommerce, with a focus on scalability, performance, and security. Customer satisfaction is the key success to thedotstore or any businesses. While working with IT company being a frontend developer, I came into contact with WordPress and found we can create a blog easily. But it was way far knowing about its vast community.

My first WordPress Blog

It was an enjoyable experience working on my first WordPress painting blog in 2014. :) I do not have an active link, because it was on a local server for practice.

But I have recently created a new Blog “afsanamultani.com” – which is live and active :) Where I have shared my journey being with Painting Studio as well as my experiences in contribution to WordPress.

My First interaction with WordPress Community

WordPress Ahmedabad community already started Organizing WPMeetups and also planning for the first WordCamp in 2017. I participated as Volunteer in my first WordCamp Ahmedabad 2017, Also have created a beautiful Selfie Booth with the team. During the day, for the first time in my life, I took the initiative to talk to different people about WordPress, got an opportunity to meet WordPress lovers, Automattician – Happiness Engineer, Nomad, people working remotely. Those words were new to me, and I was like- what are you saying! For me, it was a dream, “I was born for this man.” At the same time, I decided to be a Happiness Engineer one day. WordPress is not only a platform for a techie guy; it also helps a person like me to select their career path with WordPress. Doesn’t sound interesting?

A break that got me where I am today

It was my first day when I started learning more about WordPress and its community. In November 2017, WordPress was at version 4.9.1, and I was getting in. I spend days tweaking and learning about customer support, forums, and how to get involved. I wanted to be a part of the WordPress team.

Steps I followed

Step one:- with understanding the code of conduct and how the community works.

Step two:- How to get involved – make.wordpress.org

Step three:- What are the channels and how it works.

Step Four:- Go to the team channels and start surfing.

Step Five:- Join the slack channels, where you get the support and knowledge. It’s easy to join the public slack channel #forums #community-events #community-team and more.

As we know, it is not easy to get started and understand everything overnight. At first, when I joined these slack channels, I found lots of people chatting and sharing information, some asking for help and some are staff who helped people to solve their problems.

First Week with WordPress

My very first week went only on reviewing those chat conversations and how to get involved. So if you are new and want to get into this, be there for a while, don’t try to understand everything at first. Please go through all the chat conversations, and gradually, you will know how it works.

It’s a great platform to work; if you ask me how long I can work with WordPress, I would like to work with WordPress forever. It’s like I never think to change the platform since WordPress helps me to work freely and who does not love Freedom? :)

Dedication, Hard work, Patience, and Reading will always make you successful in any Career you choose.

I was a newbie, and I didn’t even imagine it will be a fantastic journey. It took me a year to understand the community. I am now working as a customer support executive, still learning and exploring new ways of contributing to WordPress.

Volunteer work

During this time, I have attended several WordCamps, and I got opportunities in organizing, speaking, and volunteering.

WordCamp Organizing Experience

After WordCamp Ahmedabad 2017, it was time for our second WordCamp. We started planning for the next Lead Organiser for the event. By the time of deciding for the woman candidate. Everyone asked me if I am ready to take this challenge. My first expression was – What? Are you kidding me? It’s a dream, someone, please wake me up, :D I asked many questions at the same time. I asked myself for a while, Am I ready for the big challenge? What if I could not make it? And I recall those words – never give up, take a challenge, and try harder than what you want.

I accepted the challenge, started reading WordCamp Organizer HandBook from WordPress.org site. There’s each and everything mentioned very clear from Applying Application to the WordCamp Central, where you find all the upcoming WordCamp lists and the End of the event process. It was a fantastic experience of WordCamp Ahmedabad 2018. There is one thing that I learn from this event, if you are ready to take the challenge, everyone will help you to fulfill that challenge. And it was never possible without my team and Aditya Kane, who was the mentor for the event. We are an excellent team of organizers.

WordCamp Speaking Experience

After volunteering, organizing, it was my dream to be a speaker. And I was fortunate to speak in WordCamp Kolkata 2019. I was so happy when I got an Email with “Congratulations.” Now, what? Let us prepare.

Sharing “20 Effective Ways to Build a Better Customer Experience” was a great experience in my life; I never imagined such a huge audience and a great team. By this time I have also contributed to upload WordCamp video on WordPress.tv. Learning Never Ends!

If you are reading this, and also have a dream to be a speaker, the first thing you need to do is, write your topic and send it over. Do not think much; push that Share Button, that’s all. Sometimes, we’re afraid to push that button and miss the excellent opportunity. If you think next time, write everything, and I would be happy to push that button for you. :D Especially women, it would be so lovely to see you, take this challenge and start living your dreams. Do not be afraid of making mistakes, remember – “every successful person made mistakes” even Gandhiji, but he learned from his mistakes and promised never to repeat.

“Take new challenges, make mistakes, learn, and improve.”

Moving further to contributions, it is always fun working with your love. I believe – “Love what you do and do what you Love,” and it works.

  • WordPress Support Forums
  • WordPress TV Contributor
  • WordPress Polyglots Editor
  • WordPress Polyglots Contributor
  • WordPress Meetup Organizer
  • WordCamp Volunteer
  • WordCamp Lead Organizer
  • WordCamp Speaker
  • WordPress Polyglots Translation Team

I have done what I love, and what about you?

Most importantly, I am glad to be a contributor. There’s one more thing – The badges are the best part of WordPress I have ever seen, and it’s like a volunteer reward.

So ladies and gentleman, How many badges have you collected? Share your list in comments :)

My initiative

After experiencing my contribution to WordPress, people come up with various questions, – how you have done this, and how to get involved in the community, what steps to be followed to contribute. So that makes me start this initiative iamwplearner as a knowledge sharing activity with a dream of helping the local as well as WordPress community through different channels and languages.

Good Takeaways – iamwplearner helps beginners, startup, and college students, who are looking for the opportunity and how to involve with WordPress.

Everything was possible only with the help of Aslam Multani. He is my supporter, my backbone, and my reason for life, he is the person who always guides me and motivates me in all situations.

Like me, most late achievers will discover that they have more significant opportunities to succeed on alternative paths. But, today’s obsessive way for new achievement is the fear of failure for those who do not attain it. They waste our national talent and stunted creativity.

If I can do this, You can do this even better. :)

All of us love someone and something, and the thing is we cannot give up on ourselves or others- especially if society has made it harder to catch up. Most people recently born will live in the 22nd century, and they will accept the modernization in the community. This is us; a healthy society needs all of its people to recognize that they can bloom and re-bloom, grow, and succeed throughout their lives.

I like to address this commitment, to all WordPress fans, especially a local womens community, to show your real talent, and break the stereotypes. Let people speak, there will be a doubt, a mistake, but if you are confident in you, no one can stop doing your best. :)
I wish you Good Luck.

What’s in the Future?

I would say, the future is yet to come. Be yourself, there are many opportunities, challenges, and learnings. I try myself ready for better today than yesterday. Keep learning is the key to success… After many trial and error, I am here with WordPress, and most important is, I love what I do. :)

Thank you.

Thanking Note:- I like to thank Topher and HeroPress for allowing me to write and share my story with you all. There’s always a best in everyone’s story, what’s in you? Share your thoughts, or say – Hi in comments below.

 

The post It’s never too late to start the right career path appeared first on HeroPress.

WPTavern: Developers at Yoast and Google Collaborate on Proposal to Add XML Sitemaps to WordPress Core

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 03:49

Developers at Google and Yoast are collaborating with other contributors on a proposal to add XML sitemaps to WordPress core. This capability has traditionally been handled by plugins, which provide a variety of implementations. The goal of this new feature project is to ship basic XML sitemaps in core while providing an XML Sitemaps API for plugin developers to extend. It would also update WordPress’ robots.txt file to reference the sitemap index.

Thierry Muller, a Developer Relations Program Manager at Google, published the details of the collaborators’ plans on WordPress.org. The sitemaps included in core would be enabled by default and would index the following content:

  • Homepage
  • Posts page
  • Core Post Types (Pages and Posts)
  • Custom Post Types
  • Core Taxonomies (Tags and Categories)
  • Custom Taxonomies
  • Users (Authors)

Although WordPress contributors have had multiple discussions regarding XML sitemaps on trac, Muller said there had not yet been a group to take ownership and get things moving forward. His proposal notes that 4 out of the top 15 plugins in the WordPress plugin directory ship with their own implementation of XML. Despite the demonstrated high demand for XML sitemaps, the right team for getting this added to core had not been assembled until now.

“XML Sitemaps is a standard across all search engines these days and any website with content which is intended to be indexed should have one,” Muller said. “Having XML Sitemaps in core would speed up content discoverability and indexing. We started discussing this topic last year with Yoast and agreed that it would be great to finally make it happen.”

So far the initiative has received a favorable response from the community and has already gained the support of WordPress project lead Matt Mullenweg.

“This makes a lot of sense, looking forward to seeing the v1 of this in core and for it to evolve in future releases and cement WordPress’ well-deserved reputation of being the best CMS for SEO,” Mullenweg commented on the proposal.

Performance is one of the primary concerns that the WordPress development community has expressed regarding adding XML sitemaps to core.

“As simple and straightforward as XML sitemaps are, they present some relatively significant performance challenges at scale,” Matthew Boynes, partner at Alley Interactive, said. “As one for-instance, how many urls are going to be in each paginated (sub-) sitemap? A sitemap index file is limited to 50,000 sitemaps, so even though each sitemap is limited to a maximum of 50,000 urls, generating 50,000 urls in one page request would be extremely difficult and non-performant to do on-the-fly.”

Muller and other contributors on the project have a strategy for addressing scalability concerns and are planning to keep these considerations on the forefront while building core’s implementation.

“As for everything else, engineering new features should always be done with security and performance in mind,” Muller said. “It starts at the high level architecture down to the granular details. Each Sitemap entry will only contain , and which should not overload the server request with a paginated approach. The number of entries per Sitemap is still to be defined, performance will definitely be a deciding factor.”

The XML Sitemaps project has a clearly defined scope. The initial implementation will not include features like image, video, or news sitemaps. It also will not include a UI for controls to exclude individual posts, pages, or custom post types from the sitemap. This is somewhat controversial but plugins can always extend core to offer these features until a more sophisticated version of sitemaps lands in core.

Plugin authors who offer XML sitemaps will need to re-architect their plugins with the new API in order to avoid conflicts and indexing errors.

“I can confidently say that we will make it as smooth as possible and work with plugin authors to avoid conflicts,” Muller said. “If anything else, having XML Sitemaps as well as a Core API to extend it will make their lives easier – plugin authors will have a standard way to extend it.”

This effort to get sitemaps added to WordPress core is not limited to those working at Google and Yoast. Muller encouraged authors of other XML sitemaps plugins to get involved or at least follow the project’s development to ensure their plugins are compatible once it is merged into core.

WPTavern: WordPress 5.2.2 Squashes 13 Bugs

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 21:24

WordPress 5.2.2 dubbed a short-cycle maintenance release is available for download. This release addresses 13 bugs and improves the Site Heath features introduced in 5.2.

One of the changes in 5.2.2 affects the theme update link in the Customizer of multisite installs. The update link for themes on multisite installs in the Customizer has been removed. This is because updates can not be performed from within the Customizer in this situation.

Other changes include, adding a exit recovery mode button in the responsive view, making the Site Health page access filterable, and updates to the page editor packages.

JB Audras, Justin Ahinon and Mary Baum co-led the release with guidance from Executive Director, Josepha Haden. Thirty people contributed to WordPress 5.2.2.

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.2.2 Maintenance Release

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 18:14

WordPress 5.2.2 is now available! This maintenance release fixes 13 bugs and adds a little bit of polish to the Site Health feature that made its debut in 5.2.

For more info, browse the full list of changes on Trac or check out the Version 5.2.2 documentation page.

WordPress 5.2.2 is a short-cycle maintenance release. The next major release will be version 5.3; check make.wordpress.org/core for details as they happen.

You can download WordPress 5.2.2 or visit Dashboard → Updates and click Update Now. Sites that support automatic background updates have already started to update automatically.

JB Audras, Justin Ahinon and Mary Baum co-led this release, with invaluable guidance from our Executive Director, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and contributions from 30 other contributors. Thank you to everyone who made this release possible!

Andrea Fercia, Andrew Duthie, Andrew Ozz, Andy Fragen, Birgir Erlendsson (birgire), Chetan Prajapati, David Baumwald, Debabrata Karfa, Garrett Hyder, Janki Moradiya, Jb Audras, jitendrabanjara1991, Jonathan Desrosiers, Jonny Harris, Jorge Costa, Justin Ahinon, Marius L. J., Mary Baum, Meet Makadia, Milan Dinić, Mukesh Panchal, palmiak, Pedro Mendonça, Peter Wilson, Rami Yushuvaev, Riad Benguella, sarah semark, Sergey Biryukov, Shashank Panchal, Tammie Lister, Tim Hengeveld, vaishalipanchal, vrimill, and William Earnhardt

WPTavern: Justin Tadlock Proposes Idea to Solve Common Theme Issues

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 21:07

The Theme Review Team has been discussing ideas in Slack on how to solve the problem of themes in the review queue suffering from common theme issues. Just Tadlock has proposed a idea he calls Theme Feature Repositories.

The idea is to create standardized packages on the Theme Review Team GitHub repo that authors could use in their themes. If enough people bought into the idea and worked together, it would lessen the pain points between reviewers and theme authors. It would also decrease the amount of code written by hundreds of different authors to solve a common problem.

Tadlock used Admin notices and Links to ‘Pro’ versions as two examples that could benefit from this approach. Packages would handle specific use cases and be installed using Composer. For those who don’t use composer, an autoloader would be provided as well as a .zip file that could be dropped into a theme.

Tadlock is asking the theme community what packages do they need or what common problems could be solved together.

“This can literally be any common feature in WordPress themes, not just admin or customizer-related things,” Tadlock said. “Nothing is ‘out of bounds’. Every idea is on the table right now.

“This is an ambitious project. It’d require cooperation between authors and reviewers for the betterment of the theme directory as a whole. It’ll only work if we have buy-in from everyone.”

Tadlock also mentioned that due to his schedule, he will be unable to lead or co-lead the project and is seeking people interested in taking on these roles. Those interested should have knowledge of Git, Composer, and Object-oriented programming.

If you’re interested in this project or want to provide feedback, you can leave a comment on the proposal.

WPTavern: WordPress Spanish Translation Team Now has Meta Sites, Apps, and Top 200 Plugins 100% Translated

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 20:22

The Spanish WordPress community hit a remarkable milestone with translations this week. Polyglots volunteers have now translated the meta sites, WordPress apps, and the top 200 plugins at 100% completion, with no pending translations to review.

La comunidad #WordPress España @wp_es sigue batiendo récords.

No solo no hay traducciones pendientes de revisar, sino que tiene siempre traducido al 100% WordPress, sitios meta, aplicaciones y, ahora, también al 100% el Top 200 Plugins.

Únete al equipo: https://t.co/ymTyKpvt7L pic.twitter.com/6OtoQHwVoA

— WordPress España (@wp_es) June 10, 2019

The size of the team is a major factor in reaching this milestone. According to stats Naoko Takano shared at WordPress Translation Day 4 last month, Spanish is the locale with the most translation contributors (2,863), followed by German (2,399), Italian (2,190), Dutch (1,584), and Russian (1,515). It is also one of the top non-English locales installed, with 5.0% of all WordPress sites using the translation. WordPress.com reports similar numbers, where Spanish is the second most popular language for blogs at 4.7%.

Rocío Valdivia, a Community Wrangler at WordCamp Central who lives in Spain, gave us a look at what is behind the team’s extraordinary growth and momentum. She identified several key factors that have contributed to their success in working efficiently and sharing useful information among team members during the past 2-3 years.

“We created a Slack instance some years ago, but at the beginning it was common for people to join and ask for support questions,” Valdivia said. “Now we have some protocols: the general channel is an only-read channel. If someone ask for support, we send them with a kind predef to the es.wordpress.org forums, where they get answers in a few hours. There are no questions in the forums waiting for longer than six hours ever, as we have a very active support team that coordinates in the #support channel of our Slack.”

Valdivia said that removing the noise of support requests has given the team very productive channels for translations, plugin and theme translations, meetups (where Meetup organizers share tips and resources using a shared Google drive folder), and WordCamps (where WC organizers share info, tips, answer questions in Spanish, and share resources like email templates.)

“Besides all of this, we’ve worked very well passing the philosophy of the project to the new members from the most experienced ones,” Valdivia said. “For example, people do very soft transitions from one lead organizer to the next one.”

Although some WordCamp attendees have complained in the past that not much is accomplished at Contributor Days, the Spanish community has had success using these opportunities to transfer knowledge to new leaders and contributors. The community hosted 10 WordCamps in 2018 and Valdivia estimates they will have 9-10 in 2019. WordCamp Barcelona 2018 and 2019 had 400 attendees and 180 people at their Contributor Days. WC Irun 2019 had 220 attendees and 100 participants at Contributor Day. WordCamp Madrid 2019 sold out with 600 attendees and approximately 200 participated in Contributor Day.

Although the Spanish community has experienced contributors across several WordPress.org teams, such as WPTV, Community, Support, and Polyglots, Valdivia said they are a bit thin on Core contributors.

“We’re lacking people with experience contributing frequently to Core,” Valdivia said. “We have some of them who have contributed several times, but still need more people with more involvement to be able to pass all this info to newcomers.”

Strong local meetups are another factor in the Spanish community’s success at keeping translations up-to-date. In addition to the largest team of translators in the world of WordPress, Spain has the second highest number of meetup groups and events per month. Spain is running 64 local meetups, with a population of 46 million people, compared to 201 groups in the U.S., which has 7x the population size (327 million).

“The language barrier has been an issue for years, as not everyone speaks English and not everyone feels confident following conversations in English,” Valdivia said. “So, being able to train our own teams of contributors in our own language and having our own shared resources and channels, has been very useful.”

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 356 – Gutenberg, Governance, and Contributing to WordPress with Jonny Harris

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 20:08

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I are joined by Jonny Harris. Jonny describes how he discovered WordPress and some of the core projects he’s been working on including, Site Health Checks, fatal error protection, and Multisite. We discuss WordPress’ focus on users vs developers in recent years, Jonny’s experience contributing to core, and his thoughts on a WordPress governance model.

Stories Discussed:

WordPress Is Borked So Enjoy This Glorious Plant That’s Taking Over the Internet

WP Engine Launches DevKit Open Beta

Drupal Gutenberg 1.0 Released, Now Ready for Production Sites

BuddyPress 5.0 to Update Password Control to Match WordPress

Transcript:

Episode 356 Transcript

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, June 19th 3:00 P.M. Eastern

Subscribe to WordPress Weekly via Itunes

Subscribe to WordPress Weekly via RSS

Subscribe to WordPress Weekly via Stitcher Radio

Subscribe to WordPress Weekly via Google Play

Listen To Episode #356:

WPTavern: Gutenberg 5.9 Brings Major Improvements to Block Grouping, Introduces Snackbar Notices

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 18:54

Gutenberg 5.9 is now available for those who are running the plugin to get the latest features on their sites. This release brings significant improvements to the grouping capabilities, allowing users to group and ungroup blocks inside a container block. Once placed inside a group, the blocks can be moved up or down within the group using simple up/down controls.

Nested blocks have also been improved so that users can click through to each layer to configure each and navigate to the deepest nested block.

Gutenberg 5.9 introduces “Snackbar” notices to communicate completed actions in the block editor UI that do not require further action.

The term “Snackbar” doesn’t adequately describe the way these notices behave. The concept was inspired by Material design and is traditionally used for providing brief messages about app processes at the bottom of the screen. Gutenberg’s new Snackbars pop up and disappear after a short delay, so the notice doesn’t have to be dismissed.

“For a distraction-free experience, all the notices used in the editor to inform about the post saving/publishing, reusable blocks creation and updates have been updated to use this new type of notice,” Gutenberg Phase 2 lead Riad Benguella said. He posted a gif demonstrating Snackbar notices in action:

This release brings several visual enhancements to blocks and UI components, including a redesign of the Table block placeholder, refactoring and consolidation of dropdown menus, and improvements the output of the Spacer block.

Gutenberg 5.9 contains more than two dozen fixes for bugs found in both desktop and mobile experiences. The editor took a slight dip in performance from the previous version, going from 4.8 to 4.9 seconds in loading time and 62.8ms to 66.3ms for keypress events. More than 40 people contributed to this release and approximately 15% were new contributors.

HeroPress: My “Hero’s Journey” Through the Dark Underworld of WordPress Hosting

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 12:00

The following is an expanded and updated version of my presentation at WordCamp Salt Lake City 2017.

My girls love Moana. Especially when it first came to video and they could watch it every day… or two or three times a day if mom wasn’t feeling good or catching up on sleep from being up with baby brother the night before.

There’s this strange part of that movie where Moana follows Maui to a place under the ocean called “The Realm of Monsters.” It’s where monsters go after being killed. If you have younger kids, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t have kids, it’s when the giant crab sings the song “Shiny.”

One common theme in myths, legends, and ancient religious writings, is where the hero visits the underworld, aka “afterlife” or “hell.” There they experience a symbolic or actual death for themselves or a loved one. Often through conquering a monster who is the Lord of the Underworld, they then re-emerge with their loved one, new knowledge and power, and/or some object to help them on their quest.

The film Moana clearly plays out this theme. She and Maui emerge triumphant from the realm of monsters, having defeated the giant crab by flipping it on its back and retrieving Maui’s magical hook.

In Return of the Jedi, Luke descends to the underworld of Jabba’s Palace. There, he’s able to bring his friend Han Solo back from a virtual death, defeat the Rancor, kill Jabba the Hut (lord of the criminal underworld), save the princess, and retrieve his lightsaber. All this happens before we see even one single, fuzzy, cute, unblinking Ewok…. Unless you believe in the “special editions,” in which case the Ewoks blink.

There are many movies, books, stories, mythologies, etc that all follow similar patterns.

Like Maui’s hook or Luke’s lightsaber, in these stories the hero often emerges from the underworld with newfound knowledge and/or a powerful object. Briefly, I’d like to take you on my own personal “Hero’s Journey” to the dark underworld of WordPress hosting. Along with it my quest of building a business on WordPress and hosting, with its own mythical monsters to slay, trials to be conquered, riddles to be solved, and ultimately new knowledge and weapons gained.

The Call to Adventure

In the early days of my business, Fiddler Online (now called WordXpress), I envisioned building websites for companies on WordPress, then charging a monthly fee to maintain, support, edit, update, and manage them. I got started with a few clients and wanted to grow.

I’d trusted someone to set me up with a very inexpensive VPS on unmanaged hosting. He was supposed to do the managing and ensure it all ran smoothly. I quickly learned you get what you pay for! Soon our members’ sites started going offline, usually all at once as the VPS crashed from one problem or another. It wasn’t just the server being down that caused problems. It was also corrupting data and other strange and scary things that I’d never encountered before, such as the body content of posts and pages being cut off, starting with the first special character that appeared in the content (a database issue).

These were dark and scary monsters to battle. I knew cPanel pretty well, but the APACHE stack that ran beneath it was mostly a mystery to me. So was database encoding and other advanced technical realms that all have an impact on the server, WordPress, and ultimately our clients’ businesses.

The monsters appeared, seemingly determined to kill my small and struggling business, shortly after the birth of our first child. I was frequently up all night working with “Todd” the server guy (we’ll call him) to try and get the websites back online. We’d vanquish one monster, rest a day or so, and find another had taken some sites down again.

After a few weeks of constant frustration, I said “enough” and signed up for a Hostgator reseller plan. This was back when they were an independent hosting company. On this new plan I could install as many cPanel’s as I needed and manage each separately! I thought it was wonderful and would solve all my problems. Hostgator transferred all our sites from the terrible VPS hosting we’d been on to their servers and I thought perhaps that was it!

I thought my quest was over. I’d fought the monsters and won.

Scary as it was, it had been relatively brief. I’d learned a lot, but felt like I’d been to the underworld and back!

The Illusion of Safety

Unfortunately, the wraiths had cast a spell over me, blinding me to the fact that they were still lurking in the shadows. When transferring our WordPress websites to our new account, Hostgator had copied each entire cPanel over from the VPS. This eliminated the underlying problems in the APACHE stack on that horrible VPS, but brought with it the fiends that had infiltrated cPanel and even our WordPress websites. To be clear: they weren’t infected with any kind of malware, but configuration problems, cruft, and who knows what else, caused some really bad results.

With my new spellbound, but misled confidence, I pushed our business forward. I brought on a business partner, Kurt as the sales guy. Later we acquired another website company. Through all that, we’d learned a lot, and doing okay for that stage, but still struggled financially as we bootstrapped this new business from nothing.

When we acquired this other business, they’d been running all their client’s sites on WordPress Multisite. It seemed like a great idea because of how it allowed us to manage all the websites in one place.

Despite the progress the business made, the monstrosities emerged again and this time with higher stakes since our business had grown and was now managing many more websites. These monsters emerged partly from what had been transferred over with cPanel, and the difficulties of running a large Multisite where each child site had its own theme, plus the weight of adding more and more websites and traffic to hosting that was really just shared hosting with WHM access and more control.

The Plunge Into the Underworld

In each hero’s journey, there’s often a wizard or goddess that helps guide and mentor the hero along his journey. I eventually made friends with a great guy we’ll call Sam. He ran his own hosting company with data centers and a great support staff. Sam was somewhat like Obi-Wan, Merlin, or Maui in these stories: he was my mentor and companion on my adventures into the underworld that followed. He made a great guide, because he’d been there before. Unfortunately, his own journey had never taken him to some of the deepest darkest places we would soon encounter.

So we moved to Sam’s hosting, where he kindly watched things closely and provided a server admin’s perspective and advice at a much lower price than he would have normally charged.

It wasn’t long before the demons, wraiths, monsters, and other ghouls started crawling from the darkness. It started with random downtime. Then followed strange limitations on websites. Next emails were not getting delivered. Then it was slowness. Now we were hacked… or were we? Suddenly all the contents of all pages and posts were cut off (we thought we killed this monster before)! Then email wasn’t being sent. Next our server is sending spam email. Now a hard drive is dying. It just kept going and going. Many of these demons were completely new to Sam and his very experienced team.

It didn’t take long before there were whisperings of “the Fiddler curse.” This curse referred to Fiddler Online the name of our company. The hosting support team joked that we were cursed. All kinds of issues arose that they’d never seen before, and with a frequency they’d never experienced either.

When a car crashed into the data center’s power regulation center during a freak storm, it cut off power from the normal power lines, as well as from their automatic backup power supply! It completely took the data center offline. The “Fiddler curse” was in full force.

Or put better, we were in the deepest, darkest, part of the underworld, locked in an all-out battle with the worst demons and wraiths it had to send against us.

We tried method after method to defeat the monsters. We tried rebuilding the server stacks. We tried various WordPress optimizations. We bought our own server and had it installed in their data center. We even tried a totally different Linux stack and something called Interworx, a cPanel alternative, that came with load balancing and real-time backup. But no matter how much money, time, and knowledge we threw at it, the issues continued. No matter how many monsters we slew, we were still losing the war.

The “Real World” Dragons

When I recently asked my wife Jill about that time of our lives, she said:

“From my perspective, it was hard to know when to throw in the towel and say ‘enough’ because it’s just not working. Getting the hosting sorted out totally changed the entire dynamic and perspective of doing our own business. Before that, it felt like we were building a dream on a crumbling foundation.”

And don’t get the wrong idea from this image. Jill was no damsel in distress. She’s a warrior too. I’d have never completed this quest without her there, fighting alongside me. She may have not fought the technical fiends, but there were plenty other monsters in the form of financial struggles, moves, and difficult situations that arose from my unavailability, our lack of money, and more.

This was all a lot like battling the Hydra of Lerna: we’d cut off one head, and two would grow back in its place. We’d take a breather for a week, and then here came the wraiths!

The stress of it all exacerbated a gallstone problem I had. Because of a misdiagnosis, I thought it was something there was no solution for. So even when I wasn’t up in the middle of the night battling monsters demons of the hosting underworld with Sam, I was often awake at night in massive amounts of pain as my gallbladder tried to pass gigantic gallstones. So even then, I’d be sleeping the next day when I needed to be designing websites or networking.

Throw in a healthy dose of anxiety and some intermittent depression and you get the picture. Instead of growing, our business stagnated. The quest through this dark underworld seemed to have no end in sight. It ruined vacations, stole away family time, punished me physically, hurt our client’s business, and was pushing myself, Jill, and our finances, to our very limits.

Death and Rebirth

It all seemed to come to a head when the pain of my gallstones became so intense I thought I was going to die. After 2 visits to the Emergency Room and 3 days in the hospital, I gave birth to this baby. They actually saw a larger one than this in the ultrasound beforehand, but my body had apparently broken it up before they removed my gallbladder. I returned home with real-world wounds that would turn into scars, and lighter by one gallbladder and several massive gallstones.

I left the hospital with a new lease on life. I felt like I’d been resurrected, fighting my way out of the underworld and back to the land of the living. It helped me open up to a completely different approach to hosting and allowed me to see that tiny speck of light that ended up being the doorway out of this underworld made up of the dark side of WordPress and hosting.

I was able to use my newfound perspective to find some awesome new weapons, and fight my way to that exit. Luckily for you, you can learn from my pain and battles with the underworld.

The Road Back: Simplify

Illumination was mine! Of the knowledge I gained, one key principle stood out among the rest: make things as simple as possible, while avoiding single points of failure on mission-critical systems. Multisite was great for managing all the websites at once, but if one had a problem, they all went down! The same with having a single server to run all our sites: if the server went down, we had the urgency of 30 or 40 clients (back then) all being negatively impacted at once.

We started by killing our Multisites and traditional hosting setups. Instead of a single Multisite with 1 database where a problem could take down all the sites in the Multisite, we moved to individual WordPress installs for each site. As we pulled each site out of the Multisite and migrated it to our new cloud hosting, we also checked the databases and files thoroughly to ensure they were clean, light, and that we eliminated any cruft that had built up in the database. We also stopped running email and DNS through our web servers. This effectively killed the demons that had moved with us in previous hosting migrations.

Here’s my recommended do’s and don’ts for any smaller businesses hosting and maintaining WordPress websites:

Don’t:

  1. use shared hosting or hosting that uses cPanel
  2. use Multisite (SPoF)
  3. put all your sites on 1 server (SPoF)
  4. use your web server as an email server
  5. send WordPress transactional emails from your webserver
  6. use your web server for DNS
  7. use your hosting company for domain registration

Do:

  1. use cloud hosting with WordPress-optimized stack and custom control panel
  2. use a bulk-site-management tool
  3. spread your sites across multiple servers
  4. use an email suite (Hover, Zoho, G Suite, Office 365)
  5. use a transactional email service (SendGrid, Postmark, MailGun)
  6. use your registrar for DNS
  7. use a different registrar for registering domains, than your hosting

Following these tips eliminates many single points of failure, simplifies things greatly, and gives you the tools and ability to go right to the source of the problem. Since all your important WordPress functionality isn’t in one place with one point of failure, you can go where the problem is.

For example, if a client isn’t receiving WooCommerce new order emails from their website, we can quickly go to SendGrid to see why that is and what needs to be done to fix it in an easy to use interface. Try that on a traditional APACHE/cPanel setup that sends your client’s company emails, WordPress emails, etc. all from one place.

Cloud Hosting

We eliminated cPanel and the normal Linux hosting stacks by moving to CloudWays, which has a nice WordPress setup that they run on top of a number of cloud hosting services such as Google, Amazon, Digital Ocean, and Vultr. They have their own in-house customized stack and management dashboard. CloudWays removed all the normal bloat and potential for problems that comes with it, and really took away most of the pain, hassle, and responsibility of the hosting part of WordPress and for quite cheap.

On CloudWays, instead of putting all 40+ sites on one server, we split them up, with about 15 – 18 sites on one small Digital Ocean (and later Vultr) server. This meant that if one site had issues, it wouldn’t take down all our other sites. And even if the issue was bad enough to affect the whole server, or the server had its own issues, only a small portion of our clients would be affected at once.

Email Accounts and Transactional Email

Additionally, we stopped running email through our servers. Part of simplifying is outsourcing to people/services who can just do it better than you (or that old hosting you’re clinging to because it’s cheap). I love that good WordPress hosts like CloudWays, Flywheel, and Kinsta have no options for you to do this or include built-in services like SendGrid. I slew a lot of email monsters. Using something like SendGrid or Postmark for WordPress and G Suite or Office 365 for email accounts, eliminates tons of headaches.

We set up WordPress’s emails to go through SendGrid and all our members’ email accounts we migrated to Hover, Google Apps, or Office 365.

Bulk-WordPress Management

In place of Multisite, we found MainWP and chose it over other options like InfiniteWP. It provided us the bulk-control of Multisite, but without the single point of failure issue. The upside is that it’s fairly inexpensive and runs on a WordPress install, so you control it on your hosting.

That’s kinda its downside as well. If something goes wrong, it’s on my team and I to run the problem down and fix it. Or we have to go through the cumbersome process of reporting it to the MainWP support team, then providing them access to both the dashboard site and an affected child site. Eventually we decided to move to ManageWP because it’s a hosted platform. That means when something goes wrong, much of the time, it’s on them to fix, and they have access to fix their own platform, plus the logs, etc from our sites.

MainWP:

  • Inexpensive
  • Runs on top of your WP install
  • You maintain control
  • Familiar interface
  • Free to use the basics
  • Lifetime extensions purchase option
  • GPL licensed
  • Great support
  • Good community

ManageWP:

  • More expensive
  • Runs on their servers, so problems are largely theirs to deal with
  • Less overall responsibility and time drain
  • Free to use the basics
  • Great support
Master of Two Worlds of WordPress

Fortunately today there are many awesome hosting options and bulk-management tools that simply weren’t available to me years ago when I started on this journey. After this last, final push, my team and I stood back and waited and rested, expecting more monsters. And occasionally one crawled out of it’s hole. But by and large the underworld was defeated and left far behind. Moving to cloud hosting and simplifying were finally the spell that broke the Fiddler curse and freed us from the underworld. Our business’s core service was stable and safe and running like it should be. We could start growing again! It was such a relief!

To reiterate some of the illumination gained on my journey: simplify your WordPress websites and hosting through offloading everything you can to experts who do it better, often for cheaper (if you properly calculate the value of your own time). Focus on your super-power whether it be design or development, or just creating solutions on WP with existing plugins and tools. If your super-power isn’t WordPress at all, you can outsource maintenance, content updates, backups and security, plugin and core updates, and much more to a company like WordXpress. I’ve built this company based on the knowledge and tools I learned on my quest.

The post My “Hero’s Journey” Through the Dark Underworld of WordPress Hosting appeared first on HeroPress.

WPTavern: Drupal Gutenberg 1.0 Released, Now Ready for Production Sites

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 23:03

The Gutenberg module for Drupal, created by Frontkom, reached the 1.0 milestone earlier this month. It is the first stable release recommended for use in production with Drupal 8.x.

The 1.0 release removes the Gutenberg-JS dependency and uses Gutenberg core files directly. It is based on Gutenberg version 5.6.1, which was released in early May. The module boasts better handling for media files, adding support for title, caption, and alternative text. It also adds an “Allowed Blocks UI” to the content type admin UI, so administrators can restrict which blocks show up in the block selector.

“We’re now ready for production sites in the sense that we’ll be more careful with structure changes, will try to do update paths when possible, and will create automated tests for crucial functionality,” Frontkom project manager Thor Andre Gretland said. “We’ve solved the blockers for a stable release.”

Upgrading the module from RC-1 may require some extra steps, because it is a big jump, taking the Gutenberg library from 4.8.0 to 5.6.1. Users will need to update the database. It is also necessary to navigate to content types and click save to enable Gutenberg again so that it will begin storing the Allowed blocks in the database. If users get notices about invalid blocks, they are advised to try the Attempt Block Recovery option:

“It’s actually a rather large update,” Gretland said. “We were planning to add a couple of last needed features to release our 1.0 version, but ended up using the latest Gutenberg version with several new great features. We’re also using more of the Gutenberg Core, that we’ve been able to use before.”

The module still has one critical issue that Frontkom is working on. Reusable blocks are not working with the latest release. Users are getting a “this block is unavailable or deleted” message when attempting to insert a reusable block. In the meantime, those who require this feature can roll back to RC1 to get it working again.

So far the Gutenberg module has been well-received. It has been downloaded more than 12,000 times and 494 sites are reported to be using it.

Setup @drupalgutenberg on D8 yesterday (following meeting one of @frontkom at the recent Dutch #CiviCRM sprint) and was pretty blown away. Bringing Medium-style editing to all the CMSs & then some. If #Joomla doesn’t implement a Gutenberg.js integration we/they’ll be left behind. https://t.co/SfieuGfOlf

— Nicol (@netribution) May 28, 2019

Drupal’s Gutenberg module includes access to the Gutenberg Cloud library of free blocks. Although the library has been slow to gain contributors, it does contain several blocks that are helpful for creating page layouts, such as Content in Columns, Hero Section, Section Wrapper, Section Row, and a Feature Box block. Site administrators can also use the Gutenberg module in combination with Drupal’s new Layout Builder, which was introduced as a stable module to Drupal 8.7 core.

“We see a valid use case for mixing Drupal Gutenberg with the Drupal layout builder when you might want to create layout templates with the layout builder, and keep the actual content editing in Gutenberg,” Gretland said. “For example you could use the layout builder to define fixed byline elements for author and create date, but leave the actual content creation experience to Gutenberg.”

There are a few limitations to using the two tools together. The only way to use them on the same project is if they deal with different content types.

“Since Drupal Gutenberg takes over the whole node UI, it can have some unexpected effects when used together with Layout Builder,” Gretland said. “That doesn’t mean that they won’t ever ‘work’ together. One idea could be using the LB data structure to generate Gutenberg fixed layouts/templates and even save Gutenberg data in a structured way handled by Layout Builder.”

Gretland said his team believes Gutenberg delivers a better editing experience than Layout Builder, as it is a more mature project. However, Layout Builder stores its data in a structured way, which has its advantages and disadvantages over Gutenberg.

WebWash has a good video tutorial for Drupal users who want to learn how to configure the Gutenberg module and use it on the Page content type. It includes a walkthrough for common actions like uploading images, creating reusable blocks, and using the Gutenberg Cloud. If you want to see how Gutenberg can improve Drupal’s authoring experience without installing the module, check out the frontend demo of Drupal Gutenberg created by the team at Frontkom.

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