Gutenberg Hub launched its collection of block templates yesterday. The project, which kicked off with 100 free templates, aims to help users create complex layouts by simply copying and pasting block code into the editor.
Munir Kamal, the founder of CakeWP, created Gutenberg Hub in 2017 after he heard about the initial Gutenberg project announcement. “It excited me from the early days, and that pushed me to set up a blog where I can share Gutenberg related stuff,” he said. “It all started with curating the latest updates going on to the Gutenberg project and what others are working on related to Gutenberg. Later on, I started writing some tutorials on the blog to help beginner users get started with Gutenberg.”
He then built out a block directory before following it up with the templates directory. “The goal is to make Gutenberg Hub an excellent resource for Gutenberg users,” he said. He also has other big goals with the site, including a potential theme directory alongside the existing tutorials, templates, and blocks.
Currently, Kamal has a team of five people working on his various CakeWP projects. Some of the team contributed to the template library. One member built the template library system on top of Gatsby, a framework based on React that can pull data from a CMS such as WordPress.
The idea for the template library came to Kamal while he was trying to replicate homepages from WordPress page builders in Gutenberg. “I was able to recreate popular page builders in Gutenberg without any extra plugin,” he said. “But that took me a lot of effort, and I realized a lot could be achieved with core Gutenberg.” He began thinking in terms of how section templates could help him build out pages more quickly. “So, I started creating sections and eventually that grew up into a template library idea.”
With the help of a team member, the two knocked out 100 custom templates in a month. “Honestly, it took a lot of time,” said Kamal. “I will be adding more templates myself for sure. But, what I wish to happen is that other designers, developers, and users contribute and add templates to this library.”
Kamal is currently building a system so that others can add their custom templates. Ultimately, he wants the project to be primarily run by the community. The idea is similar in scope to the ShareABlock community site but with a focus on templates.
With the Gutenberg project’s focus on block patterns this year, it will be interesting to see how projects such as this one will fit into that paradigm. At the very least, the template library will provide useful ideas for the Gutenberg team, providing a sort of roadmap of patterns that may be worth adopting in core WordPress.
“Technically, what I am doing with this library is kind of similar to block patterns,” said Kamal. “I am looking forward to how the block pattern system works and will try my best to make this library work with that.”A Collection of Templates Testing the Hero 3 template from the Gutenberg Hub library.
The templates in the library are essentially sections of a page. Users can import multiple sections to create a range of complex layouts.
Unlike other libraries where users may need to import a JSON file, Gutenberg Hub’s templates are completely copy and paste. The site provides a simple “Copy Code” button. Once clicked, the block code is copied to your clipboard, which can be pasted directly into the block editor.
Some of the blocks have custom CSS to handle certain design aspects, which is also copy and paste. Kamal recommends the Blocks CSS plugin by ThemeIsle, which allows users to add CSS directly to the block editor. The other option is for users to add the CSS code via the WordPress customizer. In my experience with some of the templates, the extra CSS was unnecessary to achieve some nice layouts.
With 100 templates and counting, Kamal broke the collection down into 12 categories:
There is a little something for everyone. The library covers many of the most popular patterns currently found around the web. I am having fun testing out the various templates. Some work better within my theme than others. On the whole, Gutenberg Hub has crafted a solid project.
The contact form templates require the use of the Gutenberg Forms plugin, which is developed and maintained by Kamal. This requirement is because WordPress does not have a built-in form system, so an external plugin was necessary. None of the other templates require a plugin at the moment.
Kamal does not have a favorite template from the collection. He stressed that he was not a designer. “I have tried my best to put together templates that are good and useful in multiple use cases,” he said. “I hope others like the templates as well, and it can be a good starting point for creating a beautiful layout in Gutenberg.”
With the release of WordPress 5.4 looming, it is time for plugin and theme developers to begin testing their extensions and making sure there are no issues. There are also new APIs for upcoming features. Yesterday, the core team released the first release candidate for 5.4. The official release is planned for March 31.
This post will serve as a quick guide with links to several important changes that developers need to keep in mind in the coming weeks. Be sure to test your plugins and themes.Theme Developers New social icons block.
There are several changes that theme authors will want to test against. WordPress 5.4 has a few extra theme features. It also has several markup-related changes that could break theme designs on the front end and in the block editor. Unfortunately, for theme authors who want to support multiple versions of WordPress, some of these changes may mean a little extra CSS bloat.Social Icons and Buttons Blocks
WordPress 5.4 introduces two new blocks: social icons and buttons. The social icons block allows users to insert icons/links for up to 40 different social networks. The buttons block lets users group multiple button blocks together. Theme authors who are rolling out custom block editor styles need to account for these new blocks to make sure they are output correctly.Create Custom Gradient Presets
The new Gradients API allows theme authors to define custom gradient presets for users to use with either the group or button blocks. Theme authors will need to do some legwork to improve on the eyesore that is the default gradient presets. With a little work, gradients can be a useful tool at the user’s disposal. Theme authors can also disable gradients altogether if they prefer not to support them.Block Editor Markup and Style Changes
Theme authors who have directly targeted specific editor classes, will need to check their block editor styles. Many classes with the editor- prefix have been changed to use the block-editor- prefix. The wrapper element with the .edit-post-layout__content class has been removed altogether. Several wrapper elements were removed from blocks and the rich text component. Core’s built-in padding and negative margins on blocks have been refactored, which is a welcome addition. Perhaps theme authors will no longer have to fight against multiple nested selectors to provide a basic, working layout that matches the front end.
These changes have already broken several themes I have seen. There is a good chance many theme authors will need to update their block editor styles.
At a time when the Theme Review Team is asking for more theme authors to submit themes with custom editor styles, these types of changes to classes and markup are not a boost of confidence. Theme developers can easily feel like they are fighting a losing battle. However, work is moving forward to make the editor markup closer to a one-to-one match with the front end. At some point, theme authors can only hope they will no longer need to deal with these kinds of changes while supporting users across multiple versions of WordPress. For now, they are in a somewhat messy transitional phase.Calendar Markup and Class Changes
The core team changed the markup of the get_calendar() function, which also affects the Calendar widget. The calendar output no longer has a <tfoot> element. Instead, the previous and next month links were moved to a <nav> element below the <table> element.
The calendar output also adds or changes multiple IDs and classes:
- .wp-calendar-table added to the wrapper element.
- .wp-calendar-nav added to the navigation wrapper element.
- .wp-calendar-nav-next replaces the #next ID on the next month link.
- .wp-calendar-nav-prev replaces the #prev ID on the previous month link.
For plugin developers who are creating custom blocks, WordPress 5.4 introduces several new APIs and tools for working with the block system.Block Scaffolding
The intention of the block scaffolding package is for plugin authors to build single-block plugins that will eventually make their way into the official block directory.Block Collections API
The Block Collections API works similarly to categories. However, they are based on namespace. When a plugin developer registers a custom collection, any blocks that share the collection namespace will appear under a custom section in the block inserter. This seems to be a smarter way to organize blocks. It will certainly come in handy for plugins that create libraries of blocks, providing an automatic way to group them together.Block Variations API
The new Block Variations API allows block developers to essentially create copies of block with a variation. Each registered variation will appear as a separate block in the block inserter for users to choose from.
A good example of this feature is the new social icons block. It is a single block with 40 variations for the various social networks.Other Developer-Related Changes
There are a couple of other changes of note that cross into both plugin and theme development territory.New Nav Menu Hooks
After waiting and waiting and waiting, developers are finally getting some oft-requested hooks for adding custom fields to the nav menu admin screen and customizer. At least one ticket goes back 9 years, but it is better late than never. In the past, developers would need to use a custom walker class to make some of the necessary customizations. However, only a single walker class could be used at a time, which meant that multiple plugins that made changes would not work together.
The core team added the new wp_nav_menu_item_custom_fields hook on the nav menus admin screen, which appears before the “move” buttons for individual menu items. For parity with the admin, nav menu items have a new wp_nav_menu_item_custom_fields_customize_template in the customizer. These hooks will allow developers to add custom form fields necessary for adding custom data to nav menu items.apply_shortcodes() Alias Function
WordPress 5.4 introduces a new apply_shortcodes() function. It is an alias for the do_shortcode() function. The new function provides a more semantically-correct function name. Generally, functions with a prefix of do_ expect output or some type of action. Functions with a prefix of apply_ expect data to be returned.
If you are creating a theme or plugin with shortcode-aware areas, you will want to make the switch to the new function. While the do_shortcode() function is not currently marked for deprecation, that should be the eventual goal.
The first release candidate for WordPress 5.4 is now available!
This is an important milestone as we progress toward the WordPress 5.4 release date. “Release Candidate” means that the new version is ready for release, but with millions of users and thousands of plugins and themes, it’s possible something was missed. WordPress 5.4 is currently scheduled to be released on March 31, 2020, but we need your help to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.4 yet, now is the time!
There are two ways to test the WordPress 5.4 release candidate:
- Try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (choose the “bleeding edge nightlies” option)
- Or download the release candidate here (zip).
WordPress 5.4 has lots of refinements to polish the developer experience. To keep up, subscribe to the Make WordPress Core blog and pay special attention to the developer notes tag for updates on those and other changes that could affect your products.Plugin and Theme Developers
Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.4 and update the Tested up to version in the readme file to 5.4. If you find compatibility problems, please be sure to post to the support forums so we can figure those out before the final release.
The WordPress 5.4 Field Guide will be published within the next 24 hours with a more detailed dive into the major changes.How to Help
Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages! This release also marks the hard string freeze point of the 5.4 release schedule.
If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.
As Elementor, the most-used WordPress page builder, celebrated its first round of funding at $15 million, some of our readers questioned whether this was a sound investment. With movement in the Gutenberg plugin toward a full-site editing solution, which will eventually make its way into core WordPress, it is a valid concern. Will page builders remain competitive once WordPress begins taking over this role, likely sometime in 2021?
While Elementor has seemingly pulled far ahead of the competition with over 4 million installations, there is a much wider market of page-building solutions that end-users are installing. The free version of Beaver Builder has over 400,000 installs and Visual Composer has over 70,000. In the commercial space, Divi has over 600,000 customers and WP Bakery has seen 388,000 sales. These numbers don’t include the numerous other page-building plugins and custom solutions that developers build with libraries like Advanced Custom Fields and Meta Box. Some themes also offer some form of a page builder but typically not as robust as plugins.
All of this is to say that there is a huge market right now. Based on current trends, growth for page builders is accelerating rather than slowing down. My educated guess is that we are nowhere near the ceiling.
From the comments on our recent coverage of Elementor’s investment round, one of our readers named Anto had a few thoughts on the future. “I’m happy that WordPress is getting more external investment, but I find it hard to imagine how Elementor has a long-term future in WordPress with their thinking,” he said. “Sure, it has a place now, and will for at least a few more years, but as Gutenberg matures why would anyone want the added bloat? Once you abstract the window dressing, all page builders (including Gutenberg) are fairly similar. The remaining differences are a matter of workflow and taste because moving blocks/sections around isn’t unique.”
Yoni Luksenberg, CEO and co-founder of Elementor believes the future is bright. “We believe in democratizing the editor so different WordPress users and different personas will have their editor of choice,” he said in an interview. “This way, they can pick the editor that best fits their unique needs and preferences. This is the beauty of open source. There are endless ways to build a contact form: Contact Form 7, Gravity Forms, Jetpack Forms. Similarly, there are endless ways to build and design a web page. The users should have the option to choose their preferred method.”
Anto believes the choice between contact forms is not comparable to the choice between editors or builders. Because the block editor is a part of the core platform, it would provide stiffer competition for a builder plugin. “Will people have different preferences that the ecosystem will fill?” he asked. “Of course, these will be the block plugins, style/feature plugins, and additional layers of complexity that will evolve as Gutenberg matures, but they will all be built on core WordPress (Gutenberg) because doing anything else is just duplicative bloat.”
It is not clear what users will do in a year or two down the road. However, there is a significant portion of end-users who are not currently satisfied with what WordPress is offering. WordPress fell behind the market and plugin developers filled the void with solutions to meet demand. It is now playing catch-up with these page builders. Even with all the resources being thrown toward the block system and eventual full-site editing, we are miles away from a baseline working solution beyond content editing.
“At some point of time Gutenberg is going to be at least as powerful as the free version of the Elementor plugin,” said Richard Ginn in the comments. “Gutenberg to me is getting more powerful at a faster rate than Elementor is.”
One thing page builders have going for them is their current user base. It is human nature to stick with tools that are familiar and comfortable. I do not imagine most page builders will lose large user numbers as long as they are offering the solutions that users want or need. Even if WordPress offers a more robust solution within the next couple of years, user trust will be with existing plugins, and that is a hard thing to win back once it has been lost.
With its recent funding round, Elementor is planning on growing its team and speeding up feature development. Other page builders will need to keep up and continue finding ways to remain competitive. Right now, page builder usage numbers are on the rise in the early block editor era. We could see a lot more innovation in this space in the next couple of years. Elementor’s investment round validates a maturing market that is a direct competitor to core’s block system.
This level of competition is healthy for the ecosystem. The rise of page builders will undoubtedly push Gutenberg and WordPress development to new heights. There is a multi-million dollar market for third-party builders that is hard to ignore. I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon.
This post is part of a new From the Comments series where we highlight interesting points of discussion from comments on WP Tavern articles. The hope is to give these comments, which can sometimes get lost, the attention they deserve.
With the rising numbers of people who have contracted COVID-19, a disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), it is time for the WordPress community to begin evaluating what the remainder of 2020 may look like. It is not a time for panic. However, some serious discussions will need to happen and decisions made on an ongoing basis.
Last month, WordCamp Asia made the tough decision to cancel its inaugural event in Bangkok, Thailand. Given the spread of the coronavirus strain in the East Asian region and many unknowns at that point, it was a safe decision to protect our international community.
Wordfence spearheaded the effort to aid people with financial losses due to WordCamp Asia’s late cancellation. The company covered $10,000 of lost funds for attendees. Yoast and GoDaddy are equally splitting costs beyond the initial $10,000 through the same WordCamp Asia Cancellation Fund. To date, 117 applications have been verified and approved for a total of $19,860. There are still eight pending applications for an additional $1,409.
Mark Maunder, CEO of Defiant (the company behind Wordfence), seemed proud of how the community came together to make this happen. He said that people acted with integrity during the process and many often made sure to only ask for smaller amounts of money to cover their lost expenses.
Yesterday, Maunder authored a detailed post titled COVID-19 and WordPress Community Engagement in 2020. In it, he announced that his team would not be traveling globally to WordCamps until COVID-19 has run its course. He also urges organizers to cancel WordCamp Europe this summer, to cancel WordCamps globally for the time being, and for WordCamp US to be put on hold. Instead, the community can focus on doing remote events and providing an example to the world in how we can organize and collaborate online. By taking a proactive approach and dealing with the issue sooner rather than later, it can save organizers headaches down the road and save attendees money by canceling early.
“It is my experience that people react to bad situations too slowly,” wrote Maunder. “Whether it is a choking victim, a storm or a national emergency, there is the awkward pause that happens as life-as-usual transforms into a realization of reality requiring fast action. Often, that reality only sets in after the event.”
Maunder said he desired to take a data-driven approach to determine whether camps and conferences should cancel. It is not about raising panic or unnecessary alarm. He wants people to make sure they think about how we deal with this as a community and not in terms of our potential health risks as individuals. A healthy 30-year-old is at low risk of mortality, for example. However, that same healthy adult can transfer the virus to the elderly and immune-compromised people who are at higher risks. Bringing together large groups who are traveling internationally may help spread the virus because it de-localizes the problem. This is particularly true for larger WordCamps that have a global list of attendees.Current WordCamp Updates and Cancellations
WordCamp Europe organizers announced earlier today that the annual event will continue as planned. The conference will take place on June 4-6 in Porto, Portugal. The team said they were in contact with the national health authority, DGS, in Portugal. They are monitoring the situation. Currently, there is at least one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Portugal, but the government has not shut down its borders. Those planning to attend WordCamp Europe should keep an eye on the camp’s Coronavirus Updates page. Plans could change.
Smaller, more regional WordCamps will want to keep a careful eye on what is going on locally. This means following local news sources and staying informed by local government officials.
WordCamp Geneva organizers have postponed their event, which was set for March 21. At the moment, they are planning to set it back about six months, pending an improvement in the COVID-19 situation. Otherwise, they will make the decision to cancel the event completely for the year. The announcement came after the Swiss government banned large-scale events with over 1,000 people. The organizers worried that such a ban would eventually extend to smaller events.
The WordCamp Retreat, held annually in Soltau, Germany, has also been canceled for 2020. The event was scheduled to run from April 30 through May 3. The organizers plan to revive the retreat in May 2021. Organizers said because of the unusual format in comparison to a normal WordCamp, the costs of waiting until later before deciding to cancel would have been financially irresponsible. The format of the retreat has higher costs associated with how it is run. February 29 was the last day to make a decision to cancel while breaking even financially.Staying Informed
Aside from WordCamps, agencies and other companies with a physical location should prepare for having their employees do their work remotely. This means setting up channels for communication, if they are already not in place, for continuing their work efficiently. While we should all hope for the best outcome, preparedness is key for when things go awry.
The most important thing for the global WordPress community to do right now is to continue communicating and sharing data from official sources. Organizers, employers, and travelers will sometimes have to make tough calls. Safety is always more important than whether we can network in person.
The following are links to resources from the World Health Organization. Everyone should also keep track of national, state, and other local resources.
February 2020 was a busy month in the WordPress project! Most notably, there was an outpouring of sentiment in response to the unfortunate cancellation of WordCamp Asia. However, the team continues to work hard in the hopes of making WordCamp Asia 2021 happen. In addition, there were a number of releases and some exciting new news during the month of February. Read on for more information!WordCamp Asia 2020 Cancelled & Pop-up Livestream
There was a ton of excitement around WordCamp Asia, not to mention all the effort from organizers, speakers, sponsors and volunteers. Unfortunately, on February 12th, WordCamp Asia was cancelled due to concern and uncertainty around COVID-19. Since then, the organizing team has worked to refund tickets and to support hotel and air refunds. In addition, a pop-up livestream featuring some WordCamp Asia speakers and a Fireside Chat and Q&A with Matt Mullenweg took place on February 22nd.
For a personal take on the cancellation of WordCamp Asia, read this post from Naoko Takano, the global lead organizer. Many thanks to the volunteers who worked hard to deliver WordCamp Asia. They’ve not only handled logistics associated with cancellation but have also announced that they’ve started working on WordCamp Asia 2021 with some January dates in mind! To get the latest on WordCamp Asia, subscribe to updates here.WordPress 5.4 Beta is Now Available
WordPress 5.4 Beta 1 was released on February 11 and quickly followed by Beta 2 on February 18 and Beta 3 on February 25. These two releases get us closer to our primary goal for 2020: full-site editing with blocks. WordPress 5.4 will merge ten releases of the Gutenberg plugin and is scheduled to be released on March 31, 2020. It will come with many new features, such as two new blocks for social links and buttons, and easier navigation in the block breadcrumbs. There are also a number of accessibility improvements, such as easier multi-block selection and easier tabbing, one of the editor’s biggest accessibility issues. 5.4 will also include many developer-focused changes, such as improved favicon handling and many new hooks and filters.
Want to get involved in building WordPress? There are a number of ways to help right now! If you speak a language other than English, help us translate WordPress. Found a bug? Post it to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. You can also help us test the current beta by installing the WordPress Beta Tester plugin. Just remember that the software is still in development, so we recommend against running it on a production site.WordCamp Centroamérica is Looking for Speakers and Sponsors!
WordCamp Centroamérica is the first regional WordCamp for Central America and will be held on September 17-19, 2020, in Managua, Nicaragua. The Call for Speakers and Call for Sponsors are now open, so if you’re interested in speaking at or sponsoring WordCamp Centroamérica, now is your chance! To learn more about the eent, visit and subscribe to updates on their website, or follow their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.
Want to get involved in the Community team and help make more amazing WordCamps happen? Follow the blog and join the #community-events channel in the Making WordPress Slack group! You can also find out about other upcoming WordCamps here.Contribute to WordPress Core via GitHub
An experimental feature has been added to Trac to help improve collaboration between Trac and GitHub. This feature allows contributors to link GitHub pull requests opened against the official WordPress Develop Git mirror to tickets, which will make GitHub contributions more visible in the related Trac ticket. To learn all the details and to see how it works, read this post.Gutenberg Development Continues
There are many new exciting additions to Gutenberg! On February 5, Gutenberg 7.4 saw two new features added, including background color support to the Columns block and text color support for the Group block. Many enhancements were made, including a number of improvements to the Navigation Block.
Gutenberg 7.5 was released on February 12, with 7.6 following on February 27. They introduced even more features, including the Social Links block as a stable block and a number of additional blocks for full-site editing, not to mention the many enhancements, new APIs, bug fixes, documentation, and updates.
- Aside from WordCamp Asia, two other WordCamps have been postponed due to COVID-19: WordCamp Retreat Soltau and WordCamp Genève. News about further postponements or cancellations will be posted on the WordCamp Central blog.
- Automatic updates for themes and plugins are being planned for inclusion in WordPress 5.5.
- Version 2.2.1 of the WordPress Coding Standards has been released.
- The Community Team has selected new team representatives for 2020.
- The Core team published a useful refresher on what it means to be a component maintainer, along with some tips and best practices.
- The Support Team has announced some amendments to their guidelines for linking to external resources when using the support forums.
- The WordPress Foundation has published financial information regarding their charitable donations from 2019.
- The Core XML Sitemaps project kicked off with their first meeting this month.
- The Gutenberg team have created a new @wordpress/create-block package for scaffolding new blocks.
Have a story that we should include in the next “Month in WordPress” post? Please submit it here.
Elementor, which has quickly become one of the leading WordPress page builders and companies, announced Wednesday it raised $15 million in its first round of funding, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. The investment round comes on the heels of the plugin surpassing four million active installations.
Founded in 2016, Yoni Luksenberg and Ariel Klikstein wanted to create a platform for web creators to drag and drop elements on a page to quickly build sites to their specifications. It took two years for the plugin to gather its first million users. Since then, the user base has continued to rapidly grow, adding an extra million users at an average rate of six months.
In the past 12 months, the plugin has deployed over 300 new features. It is also currently translated into 55 languages, an effort driven by its massive community.
“Elementor’s growth is a wonderful example of the power of community and open-source software,” said Tal Morgenstern, Partner at Lightspeed. “The founders set out to solve their own problems as web professionals and ended up with a global, highly-involved fan base that kept pushing and shaping the product from the very onset. Every single metric we looked at indicated an exceptionally strong market fit and we’re extremely happy to partner with this team for the next chapter of their journey.”
The next question is how the Elementor team will utilize this funding to grow their platform.Growing the Elementor Team and Platform
Elementor currently has 130 employees, called “Elementorists,” who are spread across 16 countries. The company plans to use some of its funding to grow its team by 50%. It may not be long before they are pushing the 200-employee mark.
The company will also use the funding to push the expansion of its global community. The team already has 500 meetups planned around the world in 2020.
“We plan to utilize the funding to improve all aspects of the product and community,” said Luksenberg. “That means further strengthening the infrastructure of our platform, developing more innovative features, investing in more community-enhancing efforts like WordCamp sponsorships and meetups, and building more integrations with WordPress and with other plugins. Basically, this allows us to continue with all the efforts already in progress but at a faster pace and at a larger scale.”
The Elementor team is set to push out new features and products at a much faster pace than before with the funding in place. Luksenberg was tight-lipped on the details. “We don’t want to ruin the surprise by revealing the features too soon,” he said. However, he promises that the company plans to set new web design and marketing standards while reducing “friction points” for web creators using Elementor.
One major question is where Elementor stands in terms of the block editor (Gutenberg). In one sense, they are competitors. However, the team also created the Elementor Blocks for Gutenberg plugin. While it only has 8,000 active installs, a drop in the bucket in comparison to their primary plugin, Luksenberg said the team has received positive feedback from users.
“We are constantly testing out new integrations with the goal of improving compatibility with Gutenberg,” said Luksenberg. “We believe in democratizing the editor so different WordPress users and different personas will have their editor of choice. This way, they can pick the editor that best fits their unique needs and preferences. This is the beauty of open source. There are endless ways to build a contact form: Contact Form 7, Gravity Forms, Jetpack Forms. Similarly, there are endless ways to build and design a web page. The users should have the option to choose their preferred method.”
Despite a couple of rumors floating around, the team has no plans to build a platform that is independent of core WordPress. The team’s work will be deeply entrenched into WordPress.
However, they are currently considering offering a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution around the Elementor platform. It is unclear what such a SaaS product will look like if it happens, but it could be a natural evolution of their business growth. It will certainly be interesting to keep an eye on and see where they take it. “As a growing company, now with funding, it’s important to keep our options open,” said Luksenberg.
Luksenberg hopes to see other companies in the WordPress ecosystem complete similar funding rounds and feels honored for his company to be in a position to lead the way. “It’s one small step for Elementor, one giant leap for the WordPress community,” he said.
Yesterday, the Gutenberg team released version 7.6 of the plugin. Most of the work in this update went toward the upcoming full-site editing feature. The team continues to pump out new dynamic, placeholder blocks for post data. The biggest user-facing feature was the addition of a rotating list of tips in the block inserter.
Version 7.5, released two weeks ago, was the last major release of the plugin that will have features to land in WordPress 5.4, which is currently scheduled for release on March 31. However, bug fixes from 7.6 were ported to the most recent WordPress 5.4 beta updates.
Version 7.6 does not include as many major feature additions as earlier releases. Aside from experimental work on full-site editing, it primarily includes bug fixes.
The announcement post boasts a considerable speed improvement in loading time and keypress events. In comparison to version 7.5, loading time was reduced to 7.7 seconds from 8.5 seconds and keypress event speed was reduced to 48.59 milliseconds from 55.45 milliseconds. These tests are run against a post of approximately 36,000 words and 1,000 blocks.Rotating Tips In Block Inserter Block inserter tip section now rotates messages.
In the past, the block inserter had a single tip at the bottom right that read, “While writing, you can press / to quickly insert new blocks.” It was a useful tip, but it was easy to ignore because it never changed. After seeing the same message a couple dozen times, it had become little better than wasted space.
Version 7.6 creates a rotating list of tips. Each time a user opens the inserter, a new tip appears. At the moment, the list only contains five messages but more are sure to come in the future.
There are open tickets to add contextual tips based on block search queries and block-specific tips. Both of those tickets could continue to help users learn the block system and provide a path for block creators to teach users how to use custom blocks.
Currently, the list of tips is static. However, it may be possible for plugin authors to extend it in the future. I’m already contemplating writing a plugin to replace the tips with quotes from Joss Whedon’s Firefly.Full Steam Ahead with Full-Site Editing Growing list of post data blocks for full-site editing.
Gutenberg 7.6 added four new dynamic, placeholder blocks related to post data: featured image, tags, comments count, and comments form. This brings the total to around 12 blocks for full-site editing, which is still a few dozen short of where the platform will need to be before the feature is ready. Most work thus far has gone toward building out blocks that handle post data. Eventually, the team will need to expand to other areas that will need block representation on the front end.
Theme authors looking to test out full-site editing should make sure to check out the block-based theme experiments repository, which continues to see regular updates.
Users can now set the heading level of the site title block. It can also be set to a paragraph. However, it does not include all of the design settings, such as text size or colors, that would come with a regular paragraph block. This is a good first step in recognizing the various ways the site title block will be used, but it will need to evolve into a much more robust block to allow users to do all the things they will eventually want to do with the site title.
At this point, it is hard to gauge what full-site editing will look like. Everything is experimental. It only covers the most basic use cases. I am still cautious about its potential. On the other hand, I am ready to skip ahead a year and see how it all turns out. Every plugin update brings us a step closer, but it is tough waiting to see what the bigger picture looks like as it comes together.
Today, Jean-Baptiste Audras announced the WordPress Auto-updates feature plugin. The project seeks to bring automatic plugin and theme updates to WordPress version 5.5. It was originally slated as a feature project in 2019, but it was later bumped to the 2020 roadmap.
The WordPress Auto-updates plugin is available for beta testing in the plugin directory. The plugin is currently marked to work with sites running PHP 7.2 or later, which is odd considering it is a feature plugin for core and will need to be compatible with WordPress’ minimum of PHP 5.6.
The feature feels long overdue. We have been asking for it since at least 2015 here at the Tavern. Hosting companies and plugins like Jetpack have taken up the load over the years, offering automatic updates for millions of users. However, it is time for the core platform to take the reins and make this a feature available directly to all users. This would also provide a standardized path for third-party plugins to extend the feature with more controls for end-users.
Work toward bringing the feature into core WordPress originally began in the plugin auto-updates and theme auto-updates Trac tickets. The code contributed to those tickets are now in the feature plugin. “WordPress contributors did a lot of work on the two related tickets during WP 5.4 development cycle, but decided to give it more time for testing as it’s an important feature,” wrote Audras in the announcement.
Development is currently taking place on Audras’s GitHub repository, but it may be moved to the official WordPress GitHub account.
One of the primary goals of the project is to create an admin UI, which would give users the ability to manage how automatic updates work. Users will be able to enable or disable auto-updates on a plugin-by-plugin and theme-by-theme basis. This level of fine-grain control is welcome. While I generally prefer to auto-update everything, I have been burned by specific plugins and themes in the past. For those, I often prefer to update within a test environment first to be on the safe side. Undoubtedly, other users may find themselves in a similar situation. It is nice to see this being taken into account as a goal of the project.
The project plans to set up email notifications for site administrators that will summarize any auto-updates that happen on the site. There will also be hooks and PHP constants to allow plugin developers to take control of the update settings.
As usual, most of the completed work on the automatic updates roadmap has gone toward plugins. Just once, it would be nice to see a feature that crosses into both theme and plugin territory be completed for themes first. I only hope that themes do not end up taking a backseat due to time constraints, development hurdles, or anything else.
Post Status: WooCommerce Payments offers a more unified eCommerce experience, better feature parity with Shopify
WooCommerce Payments are now available to select merchants who apply to the program. It's a big step in establishing stronger SaaS-like feature parity with Shopify.
Built using Stripe's best-in-class merchant tools, WooCommerce Payments will immediately offer broad payment support for the vast majority of WooCommerce users.
Deposits, transactions, refunds, and disputes can all be managed directly through the WordPress dashboard. Store owners will not require a Stripe account, but a dedicated WooCommerce Payments account, which offers the same general fee structure as Stripe: 2.9% + $0.30 per U.S. based transaction.
Automattic's General Manager of WooCommerce, Paul Maiorana, tells Post Status that the payout schedule for merchants is on a rolling two-day basis.
Most of the features in WooCommerce Payments will be familiar to existing Stripe users. The big benefit here is for folks who have made the decision to use WooCommerce and are most comfortable managing as much as they can directly through WooCommerce accounts, and their WordPress dashboard — eliminating the need to manage yet another account via a merchant processor.
This also offers a nice revenue stream for a percentage of all platform sales to Automattic from all merchants who decide to use WooCommerce Payments.
Shopify has had in-house payments for years and it's been wildly successful. This is a no-brainer and a smart move by Automattic to establish better feature parity to the popular SaaS platform.
We should expect WooCommerce to establish many more methods for connecting stores to services via WooCommerce itself, helping to create a more unified experience for store owners that's simpler to setup.
The big difference between WooCommerce and Shopify will continue to be choice. With WooCommerce, store owners are always able to use all of the fully self-hosted, self-managed software, and independent merchant (and other) services will always be an option. There is significantly less lock-in when using WooCommerce, which Automattic can and should lean-in on as a feature for folks seeking the right solution for their business.
We look forward to offering more information and analysis around Automattic's WooCommerce strategy in the coming days for Post Status club members, when we interview Paul more formally. Meanwhile, he's answering some questions in chat for members that have them.
WordPress 5.4 Beta 3 is now available!
This software is still in development, so we don’t recommend you run it on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with the new version.
You can test the WordPress 5.4 beta in two ways:
- Try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (choose “bleeding edge nightlies” or “Beta/RC – Bleeding edge” option in version 2.2.0 or later of the plugin) * you must already have updated to your site to “bleeding edge nightlies” for the “Beta/RC – Bleeding edge” option to be available
- Or download the beta here (zip).
WordPress 5.4 is slated for release on March 31st, 2020, and we need your help to get there.
WordPress 5.4 has lots of refinements to polish the developer experience. To keep up, subscribe to the Make WordPress Core blog and pay special attention to the developer notes tag for updates on those and other changes that could affect your products.How to Help
Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages!
If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac where you can also find a list of known bugs.
Some WordPress developers and agencies were caught off guard when WP Engine announced it had acquired Flywheel in June last year. Flywheel had quickly become a trusted web hosting company for many that specifically catered to the needs of developers and agencies. For some, they questioned whether such a buyout would change the company culture and whether the good things about Flywheel’s services would be swallowed by WP Engine’s offerings.
The move had also come only a month after Flywheel closed its $15 per month Tiny plan. There was some initial confusion that the two events were linked.
“With any acquisition of this scale, there is going to be an initial wave of confusion, skepticism, and a bit of shock,” said Dusty Davidson, CEO and co-founder. “People had come to know, love, and trust Flywheel, and when it was announced that two well-known WordPress companies (and former competitors) were joining forces, they weren’t sure where we would stand as a company.”
Davidson said the company fielded more questions that were concerned about the future than outright pushback against the move. Most such questions centered on whether Flywheel would continue offering their existing services and tools.
“It’s now been six months since one of the largest acquisitions in WordPress history, and we’re happy to report that things remain ‘business as usual,'” said Davidson. “We’ve remained true to our word, and Flywheel is continuing to live out our mission to help creatives do their best work. The community may have been skeptical about how this acquisition was going to pan out, but the fact is that nothing has really changed and our products have only improved!”
How Flywheel would be folded into WP Engine was not clear early on. The two companies approached the change by learning from each other and gathering feedback. “We announced that we were acquired back in June, and it took about six months to figure out the logistics of the acquisition and the relationships between both companies,” said Davidson.
After working out the details, it was decided that Flywheel would operate as a separate division within WP Engine with its own services.Bringing the Tiny Plan Back
Some users expressed disppointment with the removal of the Tiny plan last year. It was an affordable tier for small sites at $15 per month.
The plan change was the first time Flywheel had changed pricing in the company’s history. “The changes to plans back in May 2019 were made to allow us to continue investing more into the future of our platform, existing and future features, and to offer up more solutions to better fit our customers,” said Davidson.
Based on customer feedback, Flywheel began to see that Tiny was a valuable plan for agencies who needed to offer a managed WordPress hosting solution for smaller clients. “When we joined forces with WP Engine, we were able to realign our goals as a business and refocus our efforts on the audience we’ve always catered to best: freelancers and small agencies,” said Davidson.SOC Type 2 Certification
Earlier this month, Flywheel announced it had completed SOC 2 compliance and certification as part of their long-term plan in building a more robust and trusted company.
“Businesses using cloud service providers use SOC 2 reports to assess and address the risks associated with third-party technology services,” said Tommy Vacek, VP of Engineering. “When you boil it down though, it essentially means that Flywheel’s security practices are the best in the industry, and we’re one of the only WordPress hosts that has achieved it.”
“It’s a sign of maturity on almost all areas of our business, from finance to information technology, and it also allows us to assess risk in our business and make decisions based off of it,” he said. “It’s a stamp of approval to demonstrate Flywheel’s intentionality around security.”The 2020 Roadmap and Beyond
Rick Knudtson, CPO and co-founder, feels like the acquisition will allow the Flywheel team to better cater to creative agencies in the WordPress space. “Our product team is working on an exciting update to our offering entirely focused on supporting the growth of agencies, and our marketing team is hard at work creating brand new resources for agencies aspiring to make 2020 a great year,” he said. “Joining forces with WP Engine has allowed us to accelerate our product initiatives.”
The company is now offering a free course on selling WordPress maintenance to clients. Themes by StudioPress, acquired by WP Engine in 2018, are all free for Flywheel customers. Flywheel is also working heavily on tools for WordPress developers.
“Developers drive WordPress forward and WP Engine is committed to supporting the future of WordPress through industry-leading developer tools,” said Knudtson. One such tool is Local, the company’s local development environment built for working with WordPress. “Since joining the WP Engine family, Local has become the standard local development and deployment tool for our customers across both of our platforms.”
Local is currently used by over 50,000 developers. The team spent the last few months re-architecting the tool from the ground up. Knudtson said it is now five times faster than before. They are expanding the team that is working on Local to help handled more advanced developer workflows.
“In 2020, we’ll introduce new ways to use Local so that all developers — novices or advanced, solo or within a team — can build their perfect development on top of Local,” said Knudtson. “Whether you just want to connect to your host and deploy, or you’re integrating into your existing CI/CD workflow, Local should be the solution.”
Since the acquisition, Flywheel has included a new technology called Smart Refresh as part of their in-house caching engine. The system watches for updates made to a WordPress install and clears the cache when needed. Knudtson claims the updates to their system has increased backend performance on the platform by 50%.
The company also recently announced its new Performance Insights feature. The tool provides proprietary performance data for developers to make decisions with sites they control.
The paid version of Elementor was introduced in November 2016, with a common freemium upgrade model. The Elementor community has taken off, furthering the product's growth and loyalty among freelancers, DIYers, and site wranglers.
In such a crowded space as WordPress page building plugins, and especially considering core WordPress efforts via Gutenberg, Elementor's meteoric rise is an incredible accomplishment.
Others have taken notice. In their Series A fundraising event, Lightspeed Venture Partners is leading a $15 million round. Elementor has been working on raising money since at least the second quarter of 2019, so this news is a long time coming.
Edit: Envato was rumored to be investing as well. I've confirmed with Envato that while they are working closely with Elementor on some projects, they are not an investor in this round.
Elementor has an opportunity to do a lot of interesting stuff with these funds — inside the WordPress experience, and I suspect independent of WordPress as well.
I expect to see a fully hosted version of Elementor's site building capabilities where WordPress is (at least partially) hidden from the view of the user. They are currently hiring for their “Cloud team” which is tasked with “building, maintaining, and supporting the company ‘Cloud Hosting SaaS Solution'.”
What has made Elementor stand out thus far is its relative intuitiveness and the establishment of a very loyal following — mostly lured in with extremely attractive pricing of the “Pro” product ($49 per site, or only $199 for unlimited sites), and a very generously featured free tier.
Not many WordPress-centric companies have raised money. I'm very interested to see where Elementor chooses to take the product from here. They certainly have both the momentum and the backing to do something big.
With a team based in Israel, Elementor has more than 100 employees now working on the product and support. This raise will surely enable them to extend their runway while maintaining an attractive price point for the paid product and assist in the development of their next major release.
Post Status was not included in the embargoed list of news sources to report this story. We became aware of the news through our own means and decided to report on it now.
Within WordPress circles, I don’t talk much about politics. I was raised to believe that politics and religion are not polite dinner topics. That belief generally extends to my work-life too. However, sometimes these topics crash into one another at full speed.
I don’t typically provide qualifying statements about my beliefs when writing an article. My words should stand on their own, regardless of my personal views. However, in this toxic political climate in the U.S. that sometimes worms its way into the WordPress community, alternative views are often automatically dismissed if the writer is not considered one of their own. If I wrote a piece that defended conservatism without self-describing myself as a liberal, my words would fall on many deaf ears. Such is the climate that we live in today.
Therefore, without further ado, I proclaim myself as one of you.WordCamps and Political/Hate Speech
In Symbols of Hate at WordCamps, Aaron Jorbin makes the argument that red MAGA (Make America Great Again) hats should be banned from WordCamps because they are symbols of racism. While one-sided and starting from the position that such apparel is hate speech regardless of context, it is a thought-provoking piece. It is also the sort of statement that will earn you internet points from what is seemingly a majority, Left-leaning inner WordPress community. But, there are unanswered questions and another side to this story that Jorbin failed to explore in his article.
Jorbin opened with a large image. The image has a simple word as a faux HTML tag: </hate>. Before the argument begins, this imagery lets the readers know that there is no discussion. In HTML, the / character is meant to close a statement. The opening salvo is the end of the discussion. The text is merely a formality.
MAGA caps are hate speech.
There is no context in which a MAGA cap is acceptable. The reader should know this because the argument was won before it was given.
“I fully cosign,” said Adam Soucie, the co-lead organizer for WordCamp 2020, on Twitter. “Show up to @WordCampOrlando in one of those red hats and you’ll be politely asked to leave. You know exactly what you’re doing with that choice. If you have a problem with that, take it up with Central.”
The message is clear that certain people are not welcome. More often than not, that message is squarely aimed at conservatives. This type of groupthink is prevalent within the WordPress community. Your political beliefs are not welcome.
In his article, Jorbin does describe how political speech, the MAGA cap, has been co-opted by various hate groups. The question is whether we allow the actions of the minority of one group to become the deciding factor in how we treat the majority. We must also ask whether we hold other political speech to the same standard.
Conservatives within our community often feel like they have no voice. The article and the subsequent discussions taking place on social media help drive home that feeling.
“Today is a hard day to be a Republican in the WordPress Community,” wrote Bridget Willard on Twitter. “I see the tweets. And the moral superiority. It isn’t kind or inclusive.”
She is not alone. Like her, many feel like they will be ostracized if they post a dissenting opinion that does not 100% jive with the Left-leaning vocal majority.
“A MAGA hat makes me angry and uncomfortable, but speech is speech unless there’s a direct incitement,” responded Steve Stern on Twitter. “Do we ban all political content from all WP events? Is a T-shirt supporting a leftist cause OK? WordPress needs to support freedom, even when uncomfortable.”
It is a slippery slope from banning a MAGA cap to stifling more mundane conservative speech, particularly when conservative voices are within the minority in our community. If the MAGA cap is hate speech, it cannot be a stretch to label anything about the man who gave rise to some extremist voices as falling under the same guideline.
Let us say, for the sake of argument, that the red MAGA cap is deemed hate speech, regardless of who is wearing it, their intentions, and context. Outright ban it. Does such a ban extend to a “Trump 2020” T-shirt? In the mind of many who would ban the MAGA hat, I can guarantee they would like to see the ban extended to any Trump or even conservative-related apparel. Others may not be willing to go that far. However, for many, a ban on such apparel has absolutely nothing to do with hate speech. It has to do with a difference of opinion. Political opinion. Instead of meeting on equal terms and discussing those differences as open-minded adults, it is easier to quash an opponent’s freedom of expression by labeling it all as hate.
If a red MAGA cap is always hate speech, it is not a leap to say that any Trump-supporting apparel is also hate speech. There has to be a line, and the one between a baseball cap and a T-shirt sporting “Trump 2020” is blurry.
Perhaps the solution is to ban all political apparel at WordCamps, regardless of whose politics are on showcase. If some cannot stomach a MAGA cap, a life-long hunter should not have to look at a “meat is murder” T-shirt. We should also ban the countless other slogans that itch some group or another the wrong way.
Or, we can all put on our big boy and girl pants and step out into the world as adults who might be presented with ideas outside our own from time to time.
WordPress’s mission statement is to democratize publishing. The goal is not to democratize publishing for some or for those who share our political views. The implication is that we are democratizing publishing for all. By extension, WordCamps are about bringing people together from all walks of life. We don’t all share the same views, but we should respect that others believe differently. The idea is to break bread with those who are different from you and perhaps grow from this interaction.
Then, imagine yourself in my shoes. I live in rural Alabama. This is Trump Country. If I got angry every time I came across the path of someone wearing a MAGA cap, I would spend most of my days in a fit of rage. Some of my more liberal friends ask how I live among them, jokingly. Truth be told, it is pretty easy once you start looking at people as people. Once you stop making assumptions about them by the clothes they wear or the political views they hold. Once you sit down and listen to their hopes and dreams and fears.
At WordCamps, the best thing would be for everyone to leave their politics at the door. If we need a rule to formalize it, then so be it. We all have so much more in common that we likely realize. Let’s focus on the good that we can do together.
Yesterday, the featured themes page was quietly removed from the WordPress theme directory. Previously, it was the primary page users would see when visiting the directory. It has now been replaced with the popular themes list. This change is only reflected on the WordPress.org website and not directly in the WordPress admin for end-users.
This is the first major change with the featured list since it was switched to a randomized set of themes in 2014. Over the past six years, volunteers have presented numerous ideas on what to do with the page that is, in many ways, the face of WordPress, particularly for new users who are searching for their first theme. No proposal has gone beyond a Trac ticket with a handful of participants or a theme review team meeting. It is almost as if every idea was dead on arrival.
Removing the featured list altogether is not a simple matter of hiding the page on WordPress.org. There is an API endpoint that serves the list and core WordPress fetches themes directly from WordPress.org. Even if removed from the software, we would still be dealing with years of backward compatibility for older versions of WordPress. At this point, outright removal is not an ideal solution.
The commit note makes a point that hiding the page from the theme directory is only temporary. The idea is to eventually replace it with a properly-curated featured themes list.
However, such a proposal could languish for years. Given that we have suffered through six years of a randomly-generated list, it is unclear if anyone is motivated enough to push the project forward.What Happened to the Curated Featured Themes List?
In October, the WordPress theme review team decided to create a system for a curated feature themes list. The initial plan was for the team representatives to work out the finer details and create a path forward. However, the idea seemed to fizzle out before it ever broke ground. There was little public mention of it after the excitement of the initial decision.
“It was really hard to come up with requirements that we wanted the themes to follow,” said Carolina Nymark, a TRT representative. “Like the keyboard navigation and skip link had to be added to the theme, and no upsell. That alone limited the possible themes to a selection that was too small.”
The idea for curated themes was that they would be the best of the best. Seemingly, that meant going above and beyond the standard requirements while being completely free of commercial interests. In hindsight, that level of scrutiny over the list may have been too tough of a sell. Curation does not necessarily have to strive for perfection. Uniqueness may provide more room for flexibility.
“We did not hold any meetings with votes because there were concerns that people would only root for their own theme, their friends’ themes, or even get paid to suggest themes,” said Nymark. “It would be too easy to game it for profit.” Such backdoor schemes have been trouble with previous programs in the team’s past.
The curated list based on their criteria would be too small to rotate regularly on the featured page. The team attempted to find other solutions. However, they were unsuccessful.
“It was a strain that we could not figure out a good solution where theme authors would be treated fairly,” said Nymark. “Then we had a video meeting with [Josepha Haden, Executive Director of WordPress] where she said that the TRT team representatives should not have to select the featured themes. And it stopped there.”
Ari Stathopoulos, a TRT representative, mentioned the elephant in the room that the team was not addressing. “There would be significant drama if the list was manually curated,” he said. “If it’s done by reps, then those who were not selected would accuse reps of favoring some themes. If it was done by a rotating committee, the same. Authors would rather believe that they are a victim of some conspiracy rather than believe their theme is bad.”
A curated themes list is still a possibility. It is unlikely the theme review team will be handling it directly anytime soon. If it does happen, it will likely be another party who makes the call and gets to be the bad guy.
About eight of the speakers including myself are going to be doing a livestream tomorrow from 2 to 10 UTC, or what would be 9am to 5pm in Bangkok where the inaugural WordCamp Asia was supposed to happen this weekend.
We’d all much rather be in person, but I do think there is a silver lining in us learning how to do official WordPress livestream events that can be accessible to everyone all over the world, following in the footsteps awesome virtual events like WordSesh.
As mentioned in this post, Matt will host a livestream on February 22 during Bangkok daylight hours. He opened an invitation to any speaker who was affected by the cancellation, and the livestream will include the following fine people: Imran Sayed, Md Saif Hassan, Muhammad Muhsin, Nirav Mehta, Piccia Neri, Umar Draz, and Francesca Marano as well as a Fireside Chat and Q&A with Matt Mullenweg & Monisha Varadan.Join the stream
This should be a great way to get to hear from some speakers who have yet to share their knowledge on a global stage. WordPress is enriched by a multitude of experiences and perspectives, and I hope you are as excited as I am to hear new voices from a part of the world that is frequently underrepresented in the WordPress open source project.
Also exciting, the WordCamp Asia team has announced that they’re aiming for January 2021, so please mark your calendars now! This small but mighty team of trailblazing organizers has shown great resilience over the years they’ve spent, building toward this event. I am personally grateful for the hard work they’ve done and have yet to do, and can’t wait to thank them in Bangkok next year.
The Tavern is taking a break for the week as both of its authors are out. We’re happy about expanding families, and saying “boo” to the flu.
In the meantime, here are some of my favorite WordPress-powered sites that I follow and learn from:
- Tim Ferriss is back to blogging and it’s great.
- Seth Godin never stopped blogging and stays great.
- Farnam Street always expands my mind. (Three nice .blog domains in a row!)
- HeroPress gives me energy to work through the hard problems in WordPress.
- Naval is thoughtful and provocative.
- Fred Wilson is one of the most successful early-stage investors, and still takes the time to blog almost every day.
- Laughing Squid collects the weirdest and most interesting stuff on the internet.
- Krista Tippett’s On Being expands your soul.
Finally, the podcast I did with Om a few weeks ago covers some fun early internet trivia. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming next week!
WordPress 5.4 Beta 2 is now available!
This software is still in development, so we don’t recommend running it on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with the new version.
You can test WordPress 5.4 beta 2 in two ways:
- Try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (choose the “bleeding edge nightlies” option)
- Or download the beta here (zip).
WordPress 5.4 is slated for release on March 31, 2020, and we need your help to get there!
Thank you to all of the contributors that tested the beta 1 development release and provided feedback. Testing for bugs is an important part of polishing each release and a great way to contribute to WordPress.Some highlights
- Block editor: Columns in the Block Library that have unassigned-width will now grow equally.
- Block editor: The custom gradient picker now works in languages other than English.
- Block editor: When choosing colors is not possible, the color formatter no longer shows.
- Privacy: The privacy request form fields have been adjusted to be more consistent on mobile.
- Site Health: The error codes for failed REST API tests now display correctly.
WordPress 5.4 has lots of refinements to polish the developer experience. To keep up, subscribe to the Make WordPress Core blog and pay special attention to the developers’ notes for updates on those and other changes that could affect your products.How to Help
Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages!
If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you!
UPDATE – 20 Feb, 2020: This post was originally misattributed to Francesca Marano. The proper authorship has been corrected.
You’ve probably heard that WordPress is open-source software, and may know that it’s created and run by volunteers. WordPress enthusiasts share many examples of how WordPress changed people’s lives for the better. This monthly series shares some of those lesser-known, amazing stories.The beginning Kori Ashton
In 1998, Kori created her very first HTML website. Her dad was creating websites for a living at the time. She needed a website for her band because she wanted to be a rockstar. Under his training, and with a little bit of self-teaching, she learned how to build a website.
She had been aware of WordPress since 2005, and, in 2008 a client specifically hired her as a freelancer to develop a WordPress website. Kori went straight to Google and taught herself how to build a WordPress website over a single weekend. She really enjoyed the experience of working with WordPress.
My mind was absolutely blown when I saw the drag and drop options inside of menus to create dropdowns and a form builder.Kori Ashton
She suggested to her dad that WordPress could be a solution for their customers who wanted to be able to access their own websites. Previously, they had found this was not as easy for clients unless they had specific software and knew how to code. So, Kori and her dad worked to learn WordPress over the next few years.
Then in 2012, Kori and her parents launched their new business, WebTegrity, in San Antonio, Texas, US. It started out small: just Kori and her parents. Soon, they started subcontracting design work and quickly continued to grow their team.Going big time
Even though the business was in a saturated industry in San Antonio — over 700 freelancers and agencies were providing similar services — Kori and her parents were able to sell their company five years later, with a multi-million dollar valuation. There were a few choices they made early on that led to that success.1. They picked a niche: WordPress specialists
At the time, there were no WordPress-specific agencies in San Antonio. They emphasized the fact that WordPress was the only CMS their company would use. Prospective clients looking for a different type of CMS solution were not the right fit for their business. They also offered on-site, WordPress training and weekend workshops that were open to anyone (including other agencies) as one of their revenue streams. They soon were established as a city-wide WordPress authority.2. They cultivated a culture
Kori wanted a great culture and environment in her company and to make that happen, she needed to hire the right people. She believes you must be careful about who you bring into the culture of your business, but particularly when hiring leaders into that community. You can’t teach passion so you’ve got to find people that are excited about what you do. You also need to look for integrity, creativity, a love for solving problems, and an eagerness to keep getting better.
You can teach code all day long, but be sure to find people with the right hearts to join your community and then train them up the right way. This way you will grow your culture in a healthy way.Kori Ashton Kori and her two sons 3. They learned how to build sustainable revenue streams
Like many other web development agencies, WebTegrity started out with the “one-time fee and you’re done” business model. This business model is known for unpredictable revenue streams. Hearing about recurring revenue business models at WordCamp Austin was a lightbulb moment for Kori. She started drafting a more sustainable business model on the way back home.
Support packages were key to their new business plan. Clients needed ongoing support. They decided to include at least 12 months of post-launch support into their web development projects. This doubled their revenue in one year and allowed them to even out their revenue streams.4. They knew the importance of reputation
Kori believes that every client, whether they have a $5,000 or a $50,000 budget, should get the same type of boutique-style, white glove, concierge relationship.
Every single project results in the absolute best solution for a client’s needs. In addition to that, offering training helped boost their reputation. Explaining the lingo of the web development and SEO fields and showing the processes used, added transparency. It helped set and meet expectations and it built trust.5. They proactively gave back to the community
Tori heard Matt Mullenweg speak about Five For The Future at WordCamp US. He encouraged people in the audience who make a living using WordPress, to find ways to give back 5% of their time to building the WordPress software and community. Matt talked about how firms and individuals could give back to the community. He suggested, for instance to:
- start a WordPress Meetup group
- present at a Meetup event
- facilitate a Meetup group where maybe you’re just the organizer and you never have to speak because you’re not a fan of speaking
- help organize a WordCamp
- volunteer at a WordCamp
- write a tutorial and tell people how to do WordPress related things
- run a workshop
- make a video
This gave Kori another light bulb moment. She could make videos to give back. So her way to give back to the WordPress community is her YouTube channel.
Every Wednesday, she published a video on how to improve your online marketing. This made a huge impact, both inside the WordPress community, but also in her own business.Understanding
So, in summary, how did Kori and her family turn their business into a multi-million dollar buyout in just five years?
Ultimately, it was about understanding that you have to build value. About keeping an exit strategy in mind while building your business. For instance when naming your company. Will it stand alone? Could it turn into a brand that you could sell as an independent entity?
- Think about revenue streams and watch sales margins.
- Be sure to include healthy margins.
- Don’t hire until you have no further option.
- Make sure to structure your offerings in such a way that you’re actually recouping your value.
- Understand entrepreneurship, watch Shark Tank, read more tutorials, watch more videos.
- Get involved in the WordPress community. Get to know its core leaders, the speakers that travel around to all the WordCamps. Start following them on Twitter and try to understand what they’re sharing.
In the end, the fact that Kori was so active in the San Antonio community helped enable the sale.
We just kept hammering on the fact that we were the go-to place here in San Antonio for WordPress. We kept training, we kept doing free opportunities, going out and speaking at different events, and people kept seeing us. We kept showing up, kept giving back and kept establishing ourselves as the authority.Kori Ashton Contributors
This post is based on an article originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. HeroPress highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories would otherwise go unheard.Meet more WordPress community members over at HeroPress.com!