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WPTavern: WPTracSearch: An Elasticsearch-Powered Search Interface for WordPress Trac Tickets

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 21:42

WordPress Trac is one of the more utilitarian and uninspiring interfaces that many contributors have to contend with in the process of giving back to the project. After growing tired of Trac’s mediocre search functionality, William Earnhardt set out to improve it with a new project called WPTracSearch that gave him an opportunity to play around with Elasticsearch and React.

WPTracSearch provides an alternative Elasticsearch-powered interface for searching WordPress Trac tickets. It performs a full text search of all of the fields, delivering more accurate results, even for basic queries, thanks to Elasticsearch’s relevance ranking. The results can be easily filtered based on milestone, component, focuses, usernames, and more criteria, making it easier to find specific tickets.

The search interface also supports fuzzy matching, adding to its ability to deliver more relevant results. Even if a term is misspelled (either in the search or the ticket) it will still yield results, as in the example below:

Earnhardt is a WordPress core contributor and a developer at Bluehost. His core team has the discretion to work on whatever they want for WordPress core and the community.

“This fit in nicely with that, but was also just something fun to tinker with,” he said. “It started as a fun experiment with Elasticsearch last fall. I built an index on my local machine and played around with it but got busy with other stuff pre-5.0 push and it sort of fell by the wayside.

“Then early this year I had a few times come up where it would have been helpful, so I threw together an interface for it and got it online.”

If you want to use WPTracSearch but are not sure how current the ticket index is, Earnhardt said it’s nearly constantly in sync:

There is a PHP script that parses all the information about a ticket in Trac using the XMLRPC api and puts it into an Elasticsearch index. There is a bash script that runs on a cron every minute to find any tickets updated since the last run and then uses the PHP script to reindex them. So it stays pretty constantly in sync.

The project uses a React interface that relies on the Reactivesearch library to query the Elasticsearch index. Earnhardt also borrowed some code from Ryan McCue’s Not Trac to help with some of the UI that deals with parsing TracLinks and code blocks.

WPTracSearch is an evolving project and Earnhardt has lots of plans for improving it. The two highest priority items on his roadmap are indexing meta Trac and making a search UI for it. He also wants to make the individual tickets have navigable URLs instead of being modal pop up windows when you click on the summary in the search results.

“I do it that way because it’s a lot faster to stay in this interface than jumping back and forth to core.trac.wordpress.org when browsing tickets, but you can’t link directly to a ticket and forward/back doesn’t work,” Earnhardt said.

“You can also query the Elasticsearch index directly without using the React interface if you know Elasticsearch Query DSL. This allows pretty complex queries to be built. I’ve thought about creating some charts using that. It could help with the core triage team effort to better understand churn and progress toward bringing that open ticket count down. There are a lot of cool possibilities.”

WPTracSearch is available on GitHub if anyone wants to contribute ideas or code to improve it.

WPTavern: Tips for Replying to A Call for Papers or A Call for Speakers

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 18:32

The following is a guest post written by Jennifer Bourn. With 21 years experience as a graphic designer, 15 years experience as a web designer, 14 years as a creative agency owner, and 11 years as a blogger, Jennifer Bourn has worked with hundreds of service-based businesses to build brands and establish profitable online platforms. She also co-organizes the Sacramento WordPress Meetup and WordCamp Sacramento.

After being the lead organizer for WordCamp Sacramento for two years, speaker wrangler for two years, managing the program for a year, and speaking at several WordCamps and non-WordPress related conferences myself, I have seen a lot of amazing and a lot of awful speaker submissions. Some speaker submissions have been from people I know personally — people I want to choose and say yes to — but ultimately couldn’t because their submission was subpar.

It’s incredibly tough to both apply to speak and select speakers from applications.

With that in mind, I shared a Twitter thread yesterday with tips for replying to a Call for Papers or a Call for Speakers that will help you get your next talk submission accepted and it is summarized for your convenience below:

If your title is confusing, weird, unclear, too cutesy, or it feels like you put no effort into it, that will work against you. Organizers want talks attendees will be interested in and excited for. It must be easy to understand what the talk is about based on the title alone.

If your talk description is all about you, is only one sentence long, is sarcastic/unprofessional, isn’t aligned with the event focus/theme, or it’s totally self-serving, you should rethink things. Your talk isn’t about you, it’s about helping attendees expand their knowledge and move the needle and helping organizers host a successful event.

It is never ever a good idea to disparage or put down a person, job, tool, piece of software, or anyone/anything to make your point or make your topic interesting. If the only way you can communicate your point is through negativity, reconsider the topic. Being controversial may have been a draw in years past, but now it’s a risk most organizers aren’t willing to take.

Consider that someone else (or several people) may submit a talk on the exact same subject. Your title and description need to convince organizers why your submission should be picked over the other person’s submission.

Consider that if you submit multiple talks, none of them may be selected if your titles aren’t interesting and your descriptions are not descriptive. It must be clear what the talk is about and what the takeaways are, and how this talk will benefit the attendees.

Always think about how you can make the organizers’ or event planners’ jobs easier and follow instructions. For example, if they ask for bios in third-person, provide your bio in third-person. If they ask for full name, provide your full name.

Spell the name of the conference, software, industry, etc. correctly in your speaker application. Want to speak at a WordPress event? Double check that you’ve capitalized the P and proofread your submission.

Look at the topics requested by the event organizers. Submit talks on those topics and your chances of being selected will be higher because they are telling you what they want. Lists of preferred topics are usually included because that is what their local community has specifically requested.

Don’t submit the same talk you’ve submitted 10 times to other events. Put in some effort. Look at the event theme and submit something that relates to it or customize the talk title/description to include the theme.

Look at the past event schedules, agenda, or programs. Look at the types of talks they accept. For example, if a WordCamp has only had 2-3 business related talks in the past four years, it might be a sign they aren’t looking for business talks and want talks focused more on using WordPress.

Look at the topics the event has already covered in previous years. Then find the gap and find something they haven’t already heard or done.

Steer clear of the marketing hype. Avoid topics related to killing it, hustling, crushing, and dominating. Don’t refer to yourself as a guru or a thought leader (that’s only cool when other people say it about you). Avoid negativity, sarcasm, and assumptions about the audience.

If organizers ask how or why you’re qualified to talk on the topic being submitted:

  • It’s okay to be new/just learning — fresh voices are awesome.
  • Don’t just copy and paste your bio into the field. They already have your bio and that’s not what they meant or what they want.

Never assume the people reviewing your application are experts on your talk topic or have the same technical background you do.

Avoid submitting a talk that is all about one piece of software — i.e. one plugin — especially if the software is premium and requires an investment. An entire session dedicated to a paid plugin 1) excludes those who have not purchased it or cannot purchase it and 2) will apply to few attendees. Instead, consider a compare/contrast presentation that covers both free and paid options or a talk that introduces attendees to multiple options.

It’s okay to submit opinion pieces as talks, but be careful to NOT position your opinion or approach as the only one or the right one, when there are other options. Often there isn’t one right way (unless it’s technical and there is one right way).

If the submission form asks what skill level audience your talk is the best fit — Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced — don’t pick them all. That isn’t helpful. The same is true if they ask who your talk is aimed at — designers, developers, or users, etc.

Organizers for events like WordCamps need to satisfy a diverse audience. The attendee makeup often ranges from those who make a living with WordPress all the way to newbies who just learned what WordPress is a few days ago, so talks at and for every skill level are needed and valued. Don’t skip applying because you think your talk isn’t advanced enough.

If there is a ‘notes to the organizer’ field in the talk submission form, communicate that you’re open to suggestions or making tweaks to the talk focus to ensure it’s a great fit for their audience. Often a talk being reviewed is close to what they want, but it needs a small tweak to be selected.

If something funky happened when you hit submit, don’t be afraid to submit your talk again. Organizers would rather have duplicate submissions than miss your submission. Also, it’s okay to reach out to confirm your submission was received.

Don’t skip applying to speak because you don’t think you know enough yet or don’t have enough experience yet. Everyone has value to contribute and fresh perspectives are always appreciated. Plus, there are people who just discovered or figured out the thing you want to talk about exists — I guarantee you can help them.

Behind the scenes organizers work hard to create a diverse lineup of speakers that provides representation for everyone in the community. Organizers can ask, beg, plead, and do loads of outreach, but ultimately, they are limited by who is willing to apply and/or who is willing to accept an invite to speak. So please say yes and apply.

When organizers make the offer to help you brainstorm talk ideas, craft a talk title/description, and even create your slide deck or watch your practice, say yes. Take them up on the offer. Asking for help doesn’t make you any less awesome. There are a lot of people who are incredibly talented and smart with great value to share but find it difficult to put what they know into a talk format. If that’s you, you’re not alone and there are people who want to help.

Interested in trying your hand at speaking for the first time?

Every event has limited space. When securing rooms for multi-track events and planning the schedule, organizers need to be able to split attendees across the different rooms/tracks. This means they need competing talks in each track that will be a draw and attract attendees. No one wants one full room and one empty room. No one.

If you don’t get selected, don’t get down on yourself. Often the selection choice has nothing to do with you and is simply a matter of many submissions on the same topic(s), needing to balance topics across disciplines to serve the range of attendees or skill sets, and looking for more diverse representation in the speaker lineup.

If the event is local to you, always apply. Many times event/conference organizers want to fill the speaking spots (or at least half of them) with local people from their community or region and you’ll have a leg up on the out-of-towners. Similarly, if there is a meetup group in the area tied to the event/conference, go to the meetup and get to know the organizers and other attendees.

New to a subject/topic? Just learning it? No problem! Consider submitting a talk reviewing your experience as a new user. Share surprises and obstacles encountered, lessons learned, and suggestions for improvement. This can be hugely valuable for advanced users who tend to what new users deal with and it can provide a different perspective and voice.

Want to learn a topic better? There’s no better way than to teach others about it. Submit the talk, do the work to learn it, and teach everything you’ve learned so far. For example, if you want to build a membership site, submit a talk on how to choose a membership plugin, document your research in finding the right plugin, and share what plugins you reviewed, what criteria you used for evaluation, what you discovered (pros/cons), and which you ended up choosing.

Never underestimate the power of awareness. Consider pitching a talk that presents options to expand attendees awareness of what is available or possible and gives them a starting place to research things on their own.

WPTavern: Storefront 2.5.0 Introduces a Custom, Block-Based Homepage

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 15:59

Storefront, WooCommerce’s free flagship theme, has just released version 2.5.0 with updates that make it easier to setup and customize the homepage.

In 2017, WooCommerce 2.2 introduced starter content to help users set up the homepage template, menus, widgets, and add some demo products. This content has been updated to incorporate the WooCommerce blocks that were rolled into the plugin’s 3.6 release. It also adds support for the new cover block, which enables users to place headings, paragraphs, and buttons inside the block.

These changes essentially create a custom, editable homepage with all the flexibility of blocks, giving users more control than the previous custom homepage template approach. The old homepage (template-homepage.php) has now been retired.

Storefront is active on more than 200,000 stores. Many of these sites already have their homepages set, but the new block-based homepage makes it easier to set up a new store or make changes to existing homepage designs without having to use custom code or a plugin.

Version 2.5 is a minor release but still requires testing before updating, as some users have already reported a few discrepancies with how the “full width” template is displayed. Previewing the update in a staging environment will ensure there are no surprises on update.

WordPress.org blog: Tomorrow is WordPress Translation Day 4

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 09:17

The fourth edition of WordPress translation day is coming up on Saturday 11 May 2019: tomorrow! Get ready for a 24-hour, global marathon dedicated to localizing the WordPress platform and ecosystem. This event takes place both online and in physical locations across the world, so you can join no matter where you are!

The WordPress Polyglots Team has a mission to translate and make available the software’s features into as many languages as possible. As WordPress powers more than 33% of websites, people from across the world use it in their daily life. That means there is a lot that needs translating, and into many different languages.

On 11 May 2019, from 00:00 UTC until 23:59 UTC, WordPress Translation Day aims to celebrate the thousands of volunteers who contribute to translation and internalization. The event is also an opportunity for encouraging more people to get involved and help increase the availability of themes and plugins in different languages.

“At the time of the last event in 2017, WordPress was being translated into 178 languages, we have now reached the 200 mark!”

WPtranslationday.org What happens on WordPress Translation Day?

There are a number of local meetings all over the world, as well as online talks by people from the WordPress community. More than 700 people from around the world took part in past WordPress Translation Days, and everyone welcome to join in this time around!

Everyone is welcome to join the event to help translate and localize WordPress, no matter their level of experience. A lot is happening on the day, so join in and you will learn how to through online sessions!

What can you expect?
  • Live online training: Tutorials in different languages focused on translation and localization, or l10n, of WordPress. These are streamed in multiple languages
  • Localization sessions: General instruction and specifics for particular areas and languages. These sessions are streamed in multiple languages.
  • Internalization sessions: Tutorials about optimizing the code to ease localization processes, also called internationalization or i18n. These sessions are streamed in English.
  • Local events: Polyglot contributors will gather around the world for socializing, discussing, and translating together.
  • Remote events: Translation teams that cannot gather physically, will connect remotely. They will be available for training, mentoring, and supporting new contributors. They will also engage in “translating marathons”, in which existing teams translate as many strings as they can!

A number of experienced WordPress translators and internationalization experts are part of the line-up for the livestream, joined by some first time contributors.

Whether you have or haven’t contributed to the Polyglots before, you can join in for WordPress Translation Day. Learn more about both local and online events and stay updated through the website and social media.

WPTavern: Advanced Custom Fields 5.8.0 Introduces ACF Blocks: A PHP Framework for Creating Gutenberg Blocks

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 18:14

After six months in development, Advanced Custom Fields 5.8.0 was released yesterday with a new PHP-based framework for developing custom Gutenberg block types. ACF Blocks was announced in October 2018, to the great relief of many developers who didn’t know how they were going to keep pace with learning the JavaScript required to use WordPress’ Block API.

ACF’s creator, Elliot Condon, was one of the more vocal critics of Gutenberg leading up to its inclusion in WordPress 5.0. Developers were concerned about whether or not their custom metaboxes generated by ACF would still be compatible. The ACF team worked to ensure the plugin was integrated into the Gutenberg UI as much as possible and surprised users by announcing an acf_register_block() function that would allow developers to use PHP to create custom blocks.

The new ACF Blocks add-on is built on top of Advanced Custom Fields Pro and does not require any JavaScript knowledge. It integrates with custom fields so developers can create custom solutions. ACF blocks are rendered using a PHP template file or a callback function that allows full control of the output HTML and live previews while editing the blocks. They also maintain native compatibility with WordPress core, meaning that all Gutenberg features like “alignment” and “re-usable blocks” work as expected.

Early feedback indicates that ACF Blocks has made custom Gutenberg development more approachable for developers who are not as well-versed in React, significantly speeding up the creation of custom blocks.

ACF Pro 5.8 for #WordPress makes Gutenberg block development a breeze! Here's a staff block I made in less than 30 mins. @wp_acf #ACFBlocks #wordpressdeveloper #Gutenberg #reactjs #webdevelopment #webdeveloper pic.twitter.com/VqewoKkcSt

— Sam (@sam_kent_) May 9, 2019

This is one example of how the WordPress product ecosystem continues to evolve to support developers in the transition to a more JavaScript-powered WordPress.

ACF Blocks also launched with a suite of nine ready-to-use bocks available as a plugin from the new acfblocks.com website. These include commonly-requested functionality for client sites, such as testimonial, team, multi-button, star-rating, pricing list, and click-to-tweet, with more on the way.

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 351 – Results of the Gutenberg Accessibility Audit

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 00:52

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I are joined by Rachel Cherry, Freelance software engineer, consultant, and director of WPCampus and Brian DeConinck, a front-end designer and developer with the OIT Design and Web Services team, part of the Office of Information Technology at NC State University.

We learn how Tenon was chosen as the vendor to perform the audit and what conditions needed to be met. We then dissected the results of the Gutenberg Accessibility Audit conducted by Tenon. We discuss the state of Gutenberg’s accessibility, recommendations for those in Higher Education environments, and where Gutenberg development might go from here.



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Next Episode: Wednesday, May 15th 3:00 P.M. Eastern

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Listen To Episode #351:

WPTavern: WordPress Professionals: Take the Future of WordPress Careers Survey

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 23:24

Nevena Tomovic, a Business Developer at Human Made, is researching the most important skills for pursuing a career in WordPress. She is conducting a survey for professionals that is open to anyone working in a WordPress-related capacity, including writers, developers, marketers, UI & UX designers, illustrators, community drivers, evangelists, project managers, and creatives.

The survey takes less than five minutes to complete and the results will be shared at WordCamp Europe in Berlin and on nevena.blog. Tomovoic will be giving a presentation titled “Renaissance jobs in WordPress: Skills you need to survive the 21st-century career,” where she will elaborate on global trends related to the job landscape. She will also be speaking about how employers and managers can attract new talent through WordPress education.

In a recent post on her blog, Tomovic elaborated on the concept of “Renaissance jobs,” positions that use titles merging multiple skills into one role:

Renaissance jobs, also otherwise known as hybrid roles are a mishmash of more than one skill, a combination of expertise in more than one domain. You might have come across roles such as experience architect, user experience consultant, or even customer wrangler, all of these typically involve technical knowledge, excellent communication and management skills. All of these roles are a completely foreign concept for most of our parents. The 21st century has brought with it remote work, chief growth officers, and a globalized workforce among other things.

Tomovic’s survey data will identify what skills are most important in the WordPress job market right now. The survey does not collect any personal data and the raw data will be deleted after the results are published.

If you want to check out Tomovic’s talk in person, make sure to purchase a ticket to WordCamp Europe. The final batch of tickets has gone on sale and there are only 133 general admission tickets remaining.

WPTavern: New Membership Block Coming to Jetpack, Site Health and Debug Info Added to Version 7.3

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 17:57

Jetpack 7.3 was released yesterday with changes that improve the “out of the box” experience. The plugin now enables fewer features on setup so users can have more control over what they activate on their sites.

The new version also integrates with WordPress 5.2’s new Site Health checks. It includes a status check and moves Jetpack’s legacy debug data to a section in the new “Site Health Info” tab. The initial status check isn’t very descriptive regarding critical errors, but these error messages can be improved in future iterations so users know how to get to a page with more information.

New Membership Block Now Available for Jetpack Beta Testers

Jetpack is getting ready to introduce a new Membership block that will essentially function like a recurring donation button using Stripe as the payment gateway.

Users will be able to set the currency, price, product name, and renewal interval directly within the block.

This release adds the new block behind the JETPACK_BETA_BLOCKS constant for users who are beta testing new blocks. Feedback from testers will be addressed in future pull requests. The PR merged into Jetpack 7.3 includes the following technical additions for the new Membership block:

  • Introduce endpoints that communicate with WP.COM
  • Whitelist certain options, CPTs and meta to store / sync data
  • Introduce Gutenberg block that uses these endpoints and provides UI to connect to Stripe, create and choose a product
  • Introduce a frontend of a block with the sole purpose of displaying a checkout window from WP.com in an iframe

In its current form, the use of the term “Membership” for the block might be a bit misleading for some users, depending on their expectations. Site owners usually expect more granular management of members, multiple membership tiers, customizable emails, various renewal options, content access, and more for managing memberships.

Unless Jetpack intends to make this the gateway to more robust membership capabilities, then “Recurring donation/payment button” might be a more accurate name for the block. However, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a more full-featured Membership module turn up as a SaaS product from WordPress.com, as opposed to everything getting packed into the plugin.

No release date has been announced for the membership block as it is still under active development and in the very early stages of beta testing.

Check out the full changelog to see all the enhancements and bug fixes in Jetpack 7.3.

WPTavern: WordPress 5.2 “Jaco” Released, Includes Fatal PHP Error Protection and A Recovery Mode

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 17:16

WordPress 5.2 “Jaco” named after bassist Jaco Pastorius, is now available for download. Normally, I’d start listing new features but I’m going to do something a little different this time.

Let’s begin by recognizing the 327 people who contributed to this release with 109 of those being first time contributors. It was led by Matt Mullenweg, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and Gary Pendergast. Included in the list is Alex (Viper007Bond) Mills who passed away from Leukemia earlier this year.

Screenshot taken by Brandon Kraft

Mills still has a few uncommitted patches in Trac so it’s possible he’ll end up on the list of contributors in future releases.

Minimum PHP Version Required to Run WordPress 5.2 Is Now 5.6.20

WordPress 5.2 bumps up the minimum PHP version required to 5.6.20. If you’re using an older version, you’ll need to update PHP before upgrading to WordPress 5.2. Updating PHP to version 7.3 or above is recommended.

Additional Improvements to Site Health Check

In WordPress 5.1, Site Health Check features were added to inform users of outdated PHP versions. WordPress 5.2 builds on this foundation by adding two new pages that help debug common configuration issues. Users can find the Site Health section in the WordPress backend by browsing to Tools > Site Health.

Site Health Check Test Results

Browsing to the Site Health page triggers a series of tests. When the tests are performed, errors and recommended improvements are displayed on the results page. There’s also a an Information tab that displays every detail about the configuration of your site.

Site Health Check Detailed Information

Theme and Plugin authors can add their own tests and modify or remove existing ones with filters.

Fatal Error Protection

Instead of seeing the dreaded “white screen of death,” WordPress 5.2 includes fatal PHP error protection. When a fatal error is detected, a user-facing error message is displayed and an email is sent to the administrator’s email address.

The email includes a link to a new feature called “recovery mode.” While in recovery mode, plugins and themes that are causing fatal errors are put into a paused state to ensure administrators can work around the errors and access the backend normally.

In addition to being informed about which themes or plugins are causing fatal errors, administrators have at least three options to fix the issue.

  • Administrators can deactivate the theme or plugin to maintain a working version of the site.
  • Administrators can fix the problem if they have the technical capabilities, and afterwards reactivate the theme or plugin.
  • Administrators can file a support request with the developer, pointing out the error.

Administrators can exit recovery mode by pressing a button in the admin bar. A few examples on how developers can utilize this feature can be found here.

WordPress 5.2 also includes accessibility improvements, thirteen new dashboard icons, plugin compatibility checks, and an variety of changes to the block editor. In addition, the Privacy Policy page includes four new helpers that make customizing and designing the page easier.

To learn more about the features in WordPress 5.2 and how to extend or work with them, check out the WordPress 5.2 Field Guide.

HeroPress: Broadening My Horizons Through WordPress

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 12:00

I’ve been a web designer since 1996. In some ways, it’s hard for me to fathom. Those were the days of Netscape Navigator and table-based page layouts. I wrote every bit of HTML by hand on a seriously-underpowered computer and a tiny monitor. Definitely a far cry from where we are today.

I was completely self-taught and learned by doing. When I landed my first job as a full-time “webmaster” at my local newspaper, I didn’t even know what Photoshop was (I had been using Microsoft Paint for graphics – feel free to laugh).

Looking back, I know that I wasn’t a very good designer in those days – but that didn’t matter. I felt lucky to be on the ground floor of an industry that was poised to change the world.

An Early Start

As an 18-year-old, I was often the youngest person in the office. Sometimes, that led to not being taken seriously by those in charge. Still, I did have a few mentors at the paper who were more than generous with their friendship and advice. It was my first taste of the “real world” – a lesson I sorely needed.

At the same time, I realized that I wasn’t going to stay there forever. The pay wasn’t very good and the hours weren’t my cup of tea. Most of all, I just felt that I could do better. Just over a year in, I left.

From there, I spent the next couple of years in various corporate settings – none of which felt very fulfilling. My existence was very much that of a worker bee. Sure, this is what happens when you’re just starting out – but I was too dense to see it that way.

Again, I had a feeling that there was something else out there for me. But there didn’t seem to be a path to further my career, unless I took it upon myself to do so.

So, in 1999 I went all-in as a freelancer working from home. While I’ve gone through a few different places to call home in the years since, I’m still here – thanks in great part to WordPress.

But before I found both the software and community that would change my trajectory, I had to go through some ups and downs.

Hitting a Wall

Starting my own business at 21 was at once frightening and gratifying. I booked a few steady clients early on, and that provided a much-needed boost in confidence (and revenue). Yet there was also a tremendous amount of responsibility that I wasn’t prepared for. It was another real-world lesson and I had to mature in a hurry.

As for technology, I upgraded my computer, but not necessarily my approach. The first several years were still ruled by building static HTML sites. And as clients started asking for more complex features such as ecommerce, I realized something about myself: I was incredibly afraid of what I didn’t know.

This feeling would haunt me much more than I could have anticipated. It was like a massive weight on my shoulders. As long as work kept me in my comfort zone, I was fine. But anything outside of that brought out my anxiety.

Sure, I had achieved some level of success at a young age (with a hobby site even going viral). I had plenty of work, I even moved out of my parent’s house. But I also feared the unknown. I hadn’t been a very good student in high school and had zero confidence in my ability to learn something more advanced.

At the same time, that fear was joined by a great deal of frustration. I started struggling to build larger sites using those same tired methods. And maintaining them was even worse.

In all, I was stressed out and felt stuck in a dead end. The passion I once had for design and code had vanished. I was in desperate need of a new direction.

A Glimmer of Light

It’s amazing how, just when things feel their darkest, a little bit of light shows up and sparks something in you. For me, WordPress was like a tiny matchstick in a pitch-black cave.

Somewhere around 2005, I installed an early version of WordPress as a playful experiment. At the time, I saw other content management systems starting to pop up, but wasn’t really impressed. Frankly, the sites running them all looked the same.

But tearing apart a WordPress theme was different. I knew nothing about PHP, but found that the templates were pretty easy to follow. I liked that I could make design changes without too much trouble. Even if I broke something, I was (usually) able to bring things back to their previous state.

Still, I wasn’t ready or willing to abandon my old-school techniques for building sites just yet (I even jettisoned the CSS layouts from my theme and replaced them with tables). WordPress was something I used on the periphery. I created a few simple blogs for clients, but hadn’t really thought of using it for anything more.

In fact, it would be a few more years until I was finally ready to make a change.

A New Beginning

2010 was a banner year in my career. It was the year where I, inspired by my wife and newborn daughter, started to really confront my fears. I had grown completely tired of the way I had been doing things. This was the year I became convinced that WordPress was the game-changer I needed.

As the software matured, more developers started using it to run entire sites – not just traditional blogs. I was very much intrigued, even excited, about the possibility of what I could achieve in terms of both design and functionality.

So, I convinced one of my agency clients to let me try using WordPress on a project. Things went well enough that we decided to start using it more often. And, for me, it was like that little matchstick in the dark cave turned into a huge beacon.

The more I used WordPress, the more curious I became about what else it could do. I found myself not only being unafraid to learn, but actually motivated to do so.

By the next year, I had moved almost exclusively to WordPress. That led to another watershed moment: Attending my first WordCamp.

Discovering That I Wasn’t Alone

Visiting WordCamp Philadelphia 2011 was an eye-opening experience. This was not the buttoned-down, corporate atmosphere that brought me discomfort years earlier. Instead, I found a casual, welcoming vibe that made me feel like I belonged.

The crowd was diverse in just about every way imaginable. And I met people who were all over the map when it came to knowledge of WordPress. Some were complete newbies, others were experts. But regardless of their skill level or experience, they all gathered in the same place. It struck me that I was now a part of something unique.

This burgeoning community, coupled with great software, had all of the sudden put me on a path that I never imagined possible. It made me want to learn all that I could and be a part of something bigger than myself.

Before too long, I discovered a confidence I never felt before. I was not only building better websites than I ever had, I was also eager to be a part of the WordPress community. And, despite being a bit shy, I even spoke at WordCamp Baltimore in 2012.

I felt like anything was possible.

Opportunity Knocks

As my experience with both WordPress and its community has grown, it has opened up some amazing opportunities. For one, it gave me the courage to try and fulfill another lifelong dream: to become a writer.

I started off by submitting an article to Speckyboy Web Design Magazine, not really knowing what to expect. When it was published, I was incredibly excited. So, I kept on writing. And each time, site editor Paul Andrew kept on publishing my work.

Even more mind-boggling is that, eventually, this led to a regular role with the site. I’ve published hundreds of articles and have enjoyed every minute of it. And more writing gigs have followed. My topic of choice? WordPress, of course!

When it comes to my design business, I’m no longer afraid to push those boundaries. I’ve built and maintained hundreds of WordPress sites that run the gamut in terms of size and functionality. Yes, including the formerly fear-inducing ecommerce.

But I know that, without the confidence boost I received by working with WordPress, none of this would have been possible. I am beyond grateful, and so glad that I found it at a pivotal time in my life.

What I’ve Learned

So, what does this all mean? I’ve given it a lot of thought.

There are still days when I’m overwhelmed and stressed out. But even then, I tell myself how I lucky I am to do what I do each day. And somehow, I have maintained a passion for my work that I think is here to stay.

But the biggest lesson I’ve learned, and the thing I’d like to share with you, is to give yourself a chance to learn and grow. Sometimes, the unknown can be scary – I get it. I was so afraid of the fact that I wasn’t formally trained and that I didn’t have the knowledge I needed to go further. I was scared that if I failed to learn what I needed to know that I’d be left in the dust.

Yet, that’s the amazing thing about WordPress and web design in general. There are so many great resources out there you can learn from. And there is a community out there who is willing to help and share what they know.

Everything is right there in front of us. All it takes is a willingness to try.

The post Broadening My Horizons Through WordPress appeared first on HeroPress.

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.2 “Jaco”

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 21:03
Keeping Sites Safer

Version 5.2 of WordPress, named “Jaco” in honor of renowned and revolutionary jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius, is available for download or update in your WordPress dashboard. New features in this update make it easier than ever to fix your site if something goes wrong.

There are even more robust tools for identifying and fixing configuration issues and fatal errors. Whether you are a developer helping clients or you manage your site solo, these tools can help get you the right information when you need it.

Site Health Check

Building on the Site Health features introduced in 5.1, this release adds two new pages to help debug common configuration issues. It also adds space where developers can include debugging information for site maintainers.

PHP Error Protection

This administrator-focused update will let you safely fix or manage fatal errors without requiring developer time. It features better handling of the so-called “white screen of death,” and a way to enter recovery mode,  which pauses error-causing plugins or themes.

Improvements for Everyone Accessibility Updates

A number of changes work together to improve contextual awareness and keyboard navigation flow for those using screen readers and other assistive technologies.

New Dashboard Icons

Thirteen new icons including Instagram, a suite of icons for BuddyPress, and rotated Earth icons for global inclusion. Find them in the Dashboard and have some fun!

Plugin Compatibility Checks

WordPress will now automatically determine if your site’s version of PHP is compatible with installed plugins. If the plugin requires a higher version of PHP than your site currently uses, WordPress will not allow you to activate it, preventing potential compatibility errors.

Developer Happiness

PHP Version Bump

The minimum supported PHP version is now 5.6.20. As of WordPress 5.2*, themes and plugins can safely take advantage of namespaces, anonymous functions, and more!

Privacy Updates

A new theme page template, a conditional function, and two CSS classes make designing and customizing the Privacy Policy page easier.

New Body Hook

5.2 introduces a wp_body_open hook, which lets themes support injecting code right at the beginning of the <body> element.

Building JavaScript

With the addition of webpack and Babel configurations in the wordpress/scripts package, developers won’t have to worry about setting up complex build tools to write modern JavaScript.

*If you are running an old version of PHP (less than 5.6.20), update your PHP before installing 5.2.

The Squad

This release was led by Matt Mullenweg, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and Gary Pendergast. They were graciously supported by 327 generous volunteer contributors. Load a Jaco Pastorius playlist on your favorite music service and check out some of their profiles:

Aaron D. Campbell, Aaron Jorbin, Adam Silverstein, Adam Soucie, Adil Öztaşer, Ajit Bohra, Alain Schlesser, Alda Vigdís, Alex Denning, Alex Kirk, Alex Mills, Alex Shiels, Alexis, Alexis Lloyd, allancole, Allen Snook, André, andraganescu, Andrea Fercia, Andrea Middleton, Andrei Lupu, Andrew Dixon, Andrew Duthie, Andrew Nacin, Andrew Ozz, Andrey "Rarst" Savchenko, Andrés Maneiro, Andy Fragen, Andy Meerwaldt, Aniket Patel, Anton Timmermans, Anton Vanyukov, Antonio Villegas, antonypuckey, Aristeides Stathopoulos, Aslam Shekh, axaak, Bego Mario Garde, Ben Dunkle, Ben Ritner - Kadence Themes, Benjamin Intal, Bill Erickson, Birgir Erlendsson, Bodo (Hugo) Barwich, bonger, Boone Gorges, Bradley Taylor, Brandon Kraft, Brent Swisher, bulletdigital, Burhan Nasir, Cathi Bosco, Chetan Prajapati, Chiara Magnani, Chouby, Chris Van Patten, D.S. Webster, Damon Cook, Daniel Bachhuber, Daniel James, Daniel Llewellyn, Daniel Richards, Daniele Scasciafratte, Darren Ethier, Dave Whitley, DaveFX, davetgreen, David Baumwald, David Binovec, David Binovec, David Herrera, David Roddick, David Smith, Davide 'Folletto' Casali, dekervit, Denis de Bernardy, Dennis Snell, Derek Herman, Derrick Hammer, designsimply, Dhanukanuwan, Dharmesh Patel, Diane, diegoreymendez, Dilip Bheda, Dima, Dion Hulse, Dixita Dusara, Dmitry Mayorov, Dominik Schilling, Drew Jaynes, dsifford, ecotechie, Eduardo Toledo, Ella Van Durpe, fabiankaegy, Faisal Alvi, Farhad Sakhaei, Felix Arntz, Franklin Tse, Fuegas, Garrett Hyder, Gary Jones, Gennady Kovshenin, Girish Panchal, Grzegorz Ziółkowski, Guido Scialfa, GutenDev , Hannah Malcolm, Hardik Amipara, Hardik Thakkar, Hendrik Luehrsen, Henry, Henry Wright, Hoover, Ian Belanger, Ian Dunn, ice9js, Igor Zinovyev, imath, Ixium, J.D. Grimes, jakeparis, James, janak Kaneriya, Jarred Kennedy, Javier Villanueva, Jay Upadhyay, Jaydip Rami, Jayman Pandya, jdeeburke, Jean-Baptiste Audras, Jeff Paul, Jeffrey de Wit, Jenny Wong, Jeremy Felt, Jeremy Green, Jeremy Herve, jitendrabanjara1991, JJJ, Joe Dolson, Joe McGill, Joen Asmussen, Johan Falk, Johanna de Vos, John Blackbourn, Jonathan Desrosiers, Jonathandejong, joneiseman, Jonny Harris, jonnybojangles, Joost de Valk, jordesign, Jorge Bernal, Jorge Costa, Jory Hogeveen, Jose Castaneda, josephwa, Josh Feck, JoshuaWold, Joy, jplo, JR Tashjian, jrf, Juhi Patel, juliarrr, K. Adam White, KamataRyo, Karine Do, Katyatina, Kelin Chauhan, Kelly Dwan, Khokan Sardar, killua99, Kite, Kjell Reigstad, Knut Sparhell, Koji Kuno, Konstantin Obenland, Konstantinos Xenos, Kʜᴀɴ (ಠ_ಠ), laurelfulford, lkraav, Luke Carbis, Luke Gedeon, Luke Pettway, Maedah Batool, Maja Benke, Malae, Manzoor Wani, Marcin, Marcin Pietrzak, Marco Fernandes, Marco Peralta, Marcus Kazmierczak, marekhrabe, Marius Jensen, Mariyan Belchev, Mark Uraine, markcallen, Markus Echterhoff, Marty Helmick, marybaum, mattnyeus, mdwolinski, Meet Makadia, Mel Choyce, mheikkila, Micah Wood, michelleweber, Miguel Fonseca, Miguel Torres, Mikael Korpela, Mike Auteri, Mike Schinkel [WPLib Box project lead], Mike Schroder, Mike Selander, MikeNGarrett, Milan Dinić, mirka, Mobin Ghasempoor, Mohadese Ghasemi, Mohammed Saimon, Morten Rand-Hendriksen, Morteza Geransayeh, Muhammad Muhsin, Mukesh Panchal, Mustafa Uysal, mzorz, Nahid F. Mohit, Naoki Ohashi, Nate Allen, Ned Zimmerman, Neokazis Charalampos, Nick Cernis, Nick Diego, Nick Halsey, Nidhi Jain, Niels Lange, nielsdeblaauw, Nikolay Nikolov, Nilambar Sharma, ninio, notnownikki, pandelisz, paragoninitiativeenterprises, Pascal Birchler, Paul Bearne, Paul Biron, Pedro Mendonça, Peter Booker, Peter Wilson, pfiled, pilou69, Pranali Patel, Pratik, Pratik K. Yadav, Presskopp, psealock, Punit Patel, Rachel Cherry, Rahmon, Ramanan, Rami Yushuvaev, Ramiz Manked, ramonopoly, Riad Benguella, Rinat Khaziev, Robert Anderson, Rudy Susanto, Ryan Boren, Ryan Welcher, Saeed Fard, Sal Ferrarello, Samaneh Mirrajabi, Sami Keijonen, Samuel Elh, Santiago Garza, Sara Cope, saracup, sarah semark, Scott Reilly, Sebastian Pisula, Sekineh Ebrahimzadeh, Sergey Biryukov, SergioEstevao, sgastard, sharifkiberu, shazdeh, Shital Marakana, sky_76, Soren Wrede, Stephen Edgar, Steven Word, Subrata Sarkar, Sudar Muthu, Sudhir Yadav, szepe.viktor, Takayuki Miyauchi, Tammie Lister, Themonic, thomstark, Thorsten Frommen, Thrijith Thankachan, Tim Hedgefield, Tim Wright, Timothy Jacobs, timph, tmatsuur, tmdesigned, tmdesigned, Tobias Zimpel, TomHarrigan, Tor-Bjorn Fjellner, Toro_Unit (Hiroshi Urabe), torres126, Torsten Landsiedel, Towhidul Islam, Tracy Levesque, Umang Bhanvadia, Vaishali Panchal, WebFactory, Weston Ruter, William 'Bahia' Bay, William Earnhardt, williampatton, Willscrlt, Wolly aka Paolo Valenti, wrwrwr0, Yoav Farhi, Yui, and Zebulan Stanphill.

Also, many thanks to all of the community volunteers who contribute in the support forums. They answer questions from people across the world, whether they are using WordPress for the first time or since the first release. These releases are more successful for their efforts!

If you want learn more about volunteering with WordPress, check out Make WordPress or the core development blog.

Thanks for choosing WordPress!

WPTavern: Registration for WordSesh 6 Is Now Open

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 20:45

Registration for the sixth installment of WordSesh is now open and thanks to Pantheon, those who attend the conference live will be able to watch all of the sessions for free. WordSesh is a virtual WordPress conference with speakers from around the world sharing knowledge.

This year’s event has 14 speakers with topics that include, the benefits of being the first to market with a Gutenberg user course, three ways to embrace the entrepreneurial roller coaster, and the rhythms of remote teams. Ten of the presentations will be live with four pre-recorded sessions.

WPSessions will transcribe each presentation live and will also store the recordings so that registered members can view them at a later date. There will also be a virtual hallway track where participants can network with each other.

If you’d like to watch with a group of people in the same physical location, WordSesh has a list of watch parties that are taking place.

If you’re hosting a watch party, you’re encouraged to contact WordSesh with the details so your event can be added to the list. WordSesh 6 begins May 22nd at 9:30AM Eastern on Crowdcast.

WPTavern: Theme Review Team Leadership Implements Controversial Changes to Trusted Authors Program, Requiring Theme Reviews in Exchange for Making Themes Live

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 19:15

The WordPress Theme Review team has implemented a controversial change to its Trusted Authors Program that puts a hard requirement on participants to join the theme review team and perform a minimum number of reviews in order to continue having their own themes fast tracked through the review process.

“As we can’t figure out a way to bring in new reviewers and maybe keep them on-board after the initial reviews, we decided to make a few changes to the Trusted Authors program,” Alexandru Cosmin said, on behalf of the Theme Review team leadership.

“Trusted Authors will need to review one ticket a month to be able to have their themes set live. Not doing a review doesn’t mean that you’ll lose your privileges or that you’ll have to re-apply. You’ll just not be able to have your themes set live until you finish a review.”

The Trusted Authors program was put in place a year ago with the goal of streamlining the review process for authors who consistently produce high quality code in line with the current guidelines. The idea was to relieve some of the burden for theme reviewers and reduce the queue.

Trusted Authors are required to do a full review of a parent theme (no child themes permitted). Themes that are not approved will not count. After performing the review, the author may then upload a theme and add a comment to it with a link to their latest review that meets the requirement.

The change to the program is controversial, based on the feedback from other members of the Theme Review team who commented on the announcement.

“I understand the reason behind it, but I cannot agree with it,” WordPress theme author Dumitru Brinzan said. “Reviews should be done out of professional desire, not to buy a credit for setting a theme live quicker.

“This might reduce the quality of reviews, because trusted authors are now directly interested in setting more themes live. This means that someone will have to monitor more closely the reviews done by trusted authors. This just feels unnatural somehow.”

Justin Tadlock, a long-time review team member who volunteered as a lead for many years, said he is disappointed to see this idea resurface after he and others shot it down multiple times in the past.

“I assume the team got permission from higher up the chain to run a pay-for-play system,” Tadlock said. “We’ve already established they are not allowed.

“What such systems do is provide an unfair advantage to larger theme businesses with multiple employees. They assign one of their employees to handle a review and keep pumping out themes without missing a beat. All the while, solo developers are forced into ‘volunteering’ with time they may not even have. Not that it’s fair to businesses either; it’s just worse on solo devs.”

Tadlock also said that based on his experience with past incentives, forcing Trusted Authors to join the review team in order reap the benefits of the program will likely result in a decline in the quality of the reviews.

“Making people contribute to the review system should absolutely never happen in any shape or form,” Tadlock said. “It should never be the means in which the team shows favoritism to one author/team over another.

“And, when you tie incentive programs to the review system, you tend to get shit reviews. We’ve already seen this happen.”

Tadlock referenced the Theme Review Incentive program that was implemented in 2014 which became highly controversial due to a number of underlying problems.

“Basically, that program allowed the top reviewers to select the featured themes every month,” Tadlock said. “The original idea (at least from my understanding) would be that they’d select featured themes from the list of themes that they’d reviewed. Instead, they chose their own themes, month after month.

“What ended up happening is that many of those top reviewers would just burn through reviews, focusing on number rather than quality. Bad, sometimes insecure, code would fall through the cracks. Some themes really didn’t even get anywhere near a proper review.”

In response to Tadlock referencing the past incentive program, Cosmin pointed out several differences with the new Trusted Author requirement to join the review team.

“The last time we did this it was a competition for the Featured page (which in my opinion is of higher value than having a theme on Latest),” Cosmin said. “Back then you also had to do a lot of reviews just to get the chance of selecting a featured theme.

“With TAs you don’t lose anything, you either do or not the review, you keep your TA status. One review a month is just 15-30 minutes of reviewing. Either way they are still ‘pumping out themes without missing a beat.’ Any TA author that has time to pump out 3-4 themes a month also has time to do a freaking review.”

Theme Review Team Leadership Did Not Consult the Team Before Implementing Changes to Trusted Authors Program

This change to the Trusted Authors Program seems to have blindsided other members of the Theme Review Team who only learned of it from the announcement today. The idea was not discussed publicly in the #themereview channel on Slack. It was a unilateral decision made by the leadership behind closed doors.

I asked Cosmin for background on the decision and he said it was discussed in a private meeting of Theme Review Team leads that included William Patton and Ganga Kafle. He said the decision just happened while they were discussing the current state of the queue and how things are not going well.

There are 120 themes waiting to be reviewed and Cosmin estimated that authors are waiting approximately two months in order to get their themes approved. He said the changes to the Trusted Authors program are “currently the only viable option with short term results.”

However, Tadlock is concerned that Trusted Authors who didn’t have the desire to review themes prior to the requirement might simply do the minimum possible to stay in the program. It also sets a precedent for requiring volunteer time in order to receive the benefit of a streamlined review.

This particular controversy is another milestone in the Theme Review Team’s perennial struggle with an unmanageable queue. In the past, the team has entertained suggestions about relaxing the submission guidelines and limiting reviews to security concerns, but changes in this direction never seem to materialize. So far the team has had success with limiting authors to submitting one theme at a time. It slows the growth of the directory but makes the work more manageable for the volunteers who often find themselves knee-deep in manual code review without an end in sight.

The new requirement for Trusted Authors to perform reviews in order to have their themes set live may still be up for discussion if other reviewers continue to raise concerns, but comments from the leads indicate that they want to give it a try before scrapping the idea. In response to Tadlock’s concern about the potential impact on the quality of reviews, Cosmin said the leadership will decide based on how the program goes.

“It’s expected that TAs are experienced authors that know the requirements,” Cosmin said. “We’ll monitor this and if it’s the other way around, we’ll decide then. We get shit reviews right now without having any incentives.”

WPTavern: Tabor Theme Now Available as a Free Gatsby Theme for WordPress

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 03:31

Gatsby WordPress Themes, a project launched earlier this year by a group of collaborators, has just released its second free theme. The team is led by Gatsby and GraphQL aficionados Zac Gordon, Jason Bahl, Muhammad Muhsin, Hussain Thajutheen, and Alexandra Spalato. Inspired by the scalability, speed, and security that the React-based static site generator can bring to WordPress, the team is working to make it easier for people to get their sites running on Gatsby, along with the WP GraphQL plugin.

Rich Tabor’s “Tabor” theme has been ported over and “Tabor for Gatsby” is now available for free. After GoDaddy acquired ThemeBeans and CoBlocks, the company made all the previously commercial themes available on GitHub, including Tabor. The theme primarily suits blogs and personal websites and became popular as one of the first themes to showcase the new Gutenberg editor.

Check out the Tabor for Gatsby theme demo to see it in action with near-instantaneous page loads.

The Gatsby WordPress Themes team credits Alexandra Spalato for doing most of the work of porting this theme over to Gatsby. Tabor joins WordPress’ default Twenty Nineteen theme in the collection. Muhammad Muhsin, the lead developer on the project, has written a tutorial with an in-depth look at how he ported over Twenty Nineteen.

Gatsby WordPress Themes has temporarily paused releasing new themes while the team works on upgrading the existing themes to V2. They currently only serve static content but V2 will add native comments, a contact form plugin, and Algolia search to all the themes.

WPTavern: WordPress Designers Explore Proposal to Simplify WP Admin Navigation

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 20:20

The admin can be intimidating to navigate if you’re just getting started with WordPress. After installing a few plugins, top-level menu items begin to pile on. This adds even more complexity to grapple with in a narrow space with long lists of items hidden behind flyout menus that make managing WordPress on mobile a frustrating experience.

The admin dashboard design hasn’t changed significantly since the MP6 plugin was merged into WordPress 3.8 in 2013. This project brought updated typography and improved contrast to the admin but didn’t tackle the increasing complexity of admin navigation.

A new proposal on trac aims to simplify the left sidebar navigation to improve accessibility, usability, and scalability by replacing the flyouts with accordion menus. Designer Dave Martin shared some mockups originally created by Joen Asmussen, and describes them as “a very early, exploratory concept.”

Martin listed several reasons for exploring a new design, including the inaccessibility of the hover/flyout menus and how poorly they scale on mobile interfaces. He also cited the abundance of top-level menu items that are rarely used, which he said contributes to the cognitive weight of admin navigation by still being permanently visible.

The major changes included in this proposal include the following:

  • Flyout menus are replaced with accordion behavior. This scales all the way from mobile to desktop, and affords better accessibility.
  • Menu is made 80px wider (240px vs. 160), affording a 14px minimum font size for all items, perhaps bigger icons in the future, more relaxed spacing, enhancing usability and accessibility.
  • Sidebar is grouped in major sections, “Site”, “Design”, “Tools” and “Manage”.
  • “Updates” are moved to a subsection of “Manage”, making Home a single item.
  • Items related to content on your site (such as “Posts” and “Pages”) are moved under “Site”.
  • Clicking major menu items just opens or closes the accordion, as opposed to go directly to the first subsection. This unifies the mobile and desktop behavior. You can keep the accordion open if you use it all the time (each click will save state, so you’ll see the same open/closed sections upon page refresh).
  • All “Settings” subsections are moved under “Manage”, along with “Plugins & Blocks” and “Users”.
  • Separators group major categories, like “Site” and “Design” together
  • Dashboard is renamed “Home”, because all of WordPress is a Dashboard, and “Home” is where you can get an overview at a glance.

WordPress core committer John Blackbourn commented on the proposal, recommending further exploration of what the menu could look like for different user roles and whether that might affect the appearance, grouping, and behavior of the menu items. For example, roles with more limited publishing capabilities, such as a subscriber, would see very few menu items.

There’s also a bit of discussion regarding the use of the word ‘Site’ where some might better understand that section as ‘Content.’ As this is just an initial mockup, nothing is set in stone and many iterations will likely follow.

Even with many changes expected as the concept evolves, the proposed design significantly reduces cognitive load, especially for new users who may not be as familiar with the admin menu. An updated admin navigation design might lend itself well to being tested as a feature plugin. As with any major change in WordPress, there are many considerations for how it will affect plugin developers. Major visual overhauls like this are exciting, but it takes time to get it right. This proposal already shows a lot of promise but needs more feedback and participation from diverse user groups across the WordPress community.

WPTavern: Gutenberg Plugin for OctoberCMS Now in Beta

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 23:01

Last week we reported on Laraberg, a Gutenberg implementation for Laravel that is now in beta. The project was based on Gutenberg.js, a package that makes it easier to bring Gutenberg into other applications.

Nick Khaetsky, a backend developer at Biz-Mark, took Laraberg and used it to build a Gutenberg plugin for the open source OctoberCMS, which is based on Laravel. OctobeCMS was launched in 2015, and still captures only a tiny sliver of the CMS market share, but it is growing in popularity among the top one million websites, according to stats from BuiltWith. The CMS has a growing ecosystem of more than 700 themes and plugins.

The Gutenberg for OctoberCMS plugin is now in beta. It allows developers to embed Gutenberg in the backend via their own model by creating a Polymorphic relation. The plugin integrates Laraberg but all of its blocks are standard from the Gutenberg.js package. It doesn’t include anything custom.

Most aspects of Gutenberg are working in the beta, including common blocks, formatting, layout, and embed blocks, custom styles, and block settings.

None of WordPress’ standard widgets work in the plugin and Khaetsky said he plans to remove them in future updates.

Anything that requires media uploading, such as the gallery block, inline images, and cover block, are not working. Khaetsky said he is working on getting the plugin integrated with the native OctoberCMS Medialibrary. He encouraged anyone who wants to contribute to that effort to submit a PR to the plugin’s GitHub repository.

Khaetsky’s free plugin is MIT-licensed and available in the official OctoberCMS plugin marketplace. The plugin’s adoption is limited to developers who know how to implement it, but it already has 39 installations. Documentation is available on the plugin listing.

WPTavern: Block Options Plugin Rebrands to EditorsKit, Expands Beyond Block Visibility Management

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 20:35

WordPress plugin developer Jeffrey Carandang has rebranded his Block Options plugin to EditorsKit. Carandang created Block Options prior to co-founding CoBlocks, which was recently acquired by GoDaddy. It began as a plugin for controlling block visibility, inspired by his Widget Options plugin, but has since grown to include more features for managing Gutenberg blocks. EditorsKit now offers the following capabilities:

  • Devices Visibility Options
  • User Login State Visibility
  • Display Logic
  • Advanced Custom Fields Integration
  • Block Guide Lines

“As much as I love the name ‘Block Options,’ it has started to become too generic and has been used a lot on the Gutenberg editor itself,” Carandang said. “So, I have decided to change the name to something that stands out and fits the purpose more – page building block options for the new editor.

“The name EditorsKit came from ‘Editor’s Toolkit.’ I’ve been progressively moving towards building a set of tools that will help users navigate through the editor more conveniently, besides giving them visibility control.”

Version 1.4 of the plugin introduces the new Block Guide Lines feature, one of the features to go beyond visibility management. It allows users to toggle guide lines on/off for titles and editor blocks to check element boundaries. Carandang said the feature becomes especially useful when handling nested blocks.

The last major release of the plugin also improves the UI and UX with a new “Visibility Settings” modal for managing all visibilities in the same place. The modal includes an “Advanced” tab for more complicated options that are more likely to be used by developers, such as custom display logic and ACF visibility support.

Under the umbrella of its new branding and website, Carandang plans to expand EditorsKit to include more tools, with the next set focused on developers. Next on the roadmap is a setting to toggle Auto Save on/off and theme support for page template body classes.

Check out a quick preview of the improved interface and new features below:

Post Status: An Interview with Reyes Martínez of Frontity — a new WordPress framework

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 17:48

Previously known as Worona, Madrid-based Frontity is close to launching their eponymous public beta, described on Github as both “an alternative rendering engine for WordPress,” and “a React framework to create WordPress themes.” Frontity, the framework, runs separately from WordPress on Node.js and uses the WordPress API to generate HTML and AMP pages. Unlike other approaches to “headless” WordPress, Frontity is the first to be built exclusively for WordPress.

PS: Can you give us an overview of Frontity’s history and how your company, product, and brand has developed?

Reyes Martínez

RM: It all started back in 2015 when Pablo Postigo and Luis Herranz created Worona, a free WordPress plugin to turn blogs into mobile apps. Pablo and Luis discovered a lot of people were concerned about the way their WordPress sites performed on mobile devices. They thought it would be a powerful solution to build an open source platform that could be extended by other WordPress developers.

I met Pablo and Luis in late 2015, loved their project and joined them. I was used to working with WordPress as a content editor, but I didn’t have a technical background. So I mostly started helping by writing blog posts, social media content, documentation, and providing user support. Now I’m in charge of Frontity’s marketing and communications. (I still don’t code but would love to learn at some point!)

After that first prototype, they decided to develop a free platform not just for creating mobile apps. The idea was that any WordPress user could build mobile apps, progressive web apps, or add Google AMP to their blogs in a very easy way. This was Worona 1.0, which was launched in February of 2017. Thousands of WordPress users joined that journey, and we’re truly thankful for that. At that time we already used React and fetched the blog’s content using WordPress’s REST API. The mobile apps were created with Cordova.

Although Worona had a loyal following, we were aware that mobile app usage was slowly declining. People don’t want to download an app for every blog they read. Plus, Apple stopped supporting apps from app generation platforms like ours. This became a serious problem as we couldn’t grow under that scenario.

That’s when we decided to bet on the mobile web and started working on a new framework for building Progressive Web App themes (based on React) on top of WordPress. In 2018 we rebranded to Frontity and got financial backing to make the project grow. Although our main goal was to keep the code open source, we decided to use it internally and release a product exclusively to WordPress publishers (we called it Frontity PRO), so we could see what happened and gather feedback.

Frontity PRO is a proprietary mobile theme built on React for WordPress blogs and news sites. It implements Progressive Web App technologies and uses the REST API to fetch the content, along with our WordPress plugin, WordPress PWA.

By the time Frontity PRO was created, we also contributed to the official WCEU PWA. Building a PWA from the ground up is a difficult and time-consuming task, but we had created a framework to precisely solve that problem. It was the perfect time to test it out and give back to the community.

We have worked with Spanish media companies since we launched Frontity PRO, and the result has been great. Our theme has allowed them to deliver faster and more engaging mobile experiences, which has been proven to increase their pageviews and ad revenue. Our internal framework has served content to more than 20 million readers. Some of our major clients were part of ADSLZone group. Others include Medios y Redes, Tendenzias or Coches.com. They all use WordPress.

During this time, we realized that many of our clients’ tech teams were considering using our framework to develop their own custom themes. This was one of the main reasons that made us think about open sourcing it — it seemed the perfect moment. Plus, this was our original vision.

A few months ago, we finally decided to go straight for that vision. We set aside the development work of Frontity PRO to place all our focus on Frontity.org, the open source framework. Our next milestone is to release the first beta version in the next few weeks. (Early May 2019.) More than 300 developers have already signed up to try it out. We are really excited about this project and believe it can make a real impact in the WordPress ecosystem.

Since our resources are limited, we are looking for some financial backing again to bring contributors on board and build a thriving community of people interested in WordPress and React.

PS: What problems does Frontity solve? (And whose problems are they?) Will Frontity make frontend development more accessible to people who are new to React?

RM: In order to create a WordPress theme with React, developers need to learn and configure lots of different things: bundling, transpiling, routing, server rendering, retrieving data from WordPress, managing state, managing CSS, linting, testing,…

There are already some amazing React frameworks, such as Next.js and GatsbyJS, that can work with WordPress, but they’re not focused exclusively on it. As a result, there’s still some complex configuration and additional tooling left to the developer.

This is what Frontity aims to solve; we want to make everything much simpler for WordPress developers and more accessible to those who are new to React. Each part of the framework has been simplified and optimized to be used with WordPress, and developers don’t need to figure out what tools to use for things like CSS or state management.

Everything is ready so they can get WordPress and React to work together in an easier way.

How does Frontity differ from Genesis, _s, or WP Rig — from the developer and designer’s perspective, and in the end user’s experience?

RM: Genesis, _s or WP Rig are fantastic frameworks to develop WordPress themes based on PHP. These themes use the PHP WordPress rendering engine, which means they rely on a server-side architecture where almost every interaction that is made by the user on his device needs to wait for the server to render the new result. Our framework is focused on developers who want to create a React frontend and connect it to a WordPress backend using the REST API. We can call this a client-side architecture, where all the logic and rendering happen directly on the device and the calls to the server are limited only to data sourcing.

In the last few years, web development has evolved a lot. One of the main reasons is the shift to mobile devices and the need for fast web experiences. Achieving this is not easy using a server-side architecture. This is why client-side libraries like React are becoming so popular.

From the developer perspective, everything changes! A theme developed with Frontity and React has zero PHP in it, only JavaScript and CSS. This might sound like a radical change, but there is a trend of developers using WordPress as a headless CMS with a decoupled JavaScript frontend for whom our framework can be quite useful.

How does Frontity the framework fit into a business model or revenue stream for Frontity the company?

RM: We won’t develop any business model in this initial phase. The framework will always be 100% free and open source. Right now, we are focused on building a community of developers and contributors around the framework.

Possible monetizations in the future are a hosting solution, premium support, or a marketplace of paid themes.

What opportunities do you see for WordPress developers now and in the near future?

RM: With the shift to Gutenberg as well as the rise of headless CMS approaches, the WordPress community has started considering React for their projects. Beside this, modern libraries like React are becoming essential to rich user experiences.

The client-side approach to theme-building opens a world of new possibilities: storing and pre-fetching content, animations within themes, offline experiences, and more. It also has enormous benefits in terms of performance, UX and design.

React presents an opportunity to accelerate things in the WordPress ecosystem, build modern and engaging frontend experiences, and extend what developers can do with this powerful CMS.

Pictured in the Frontity team photo above, from left to right, back row first: Eduardo Campaña (developer), David Arenas (developer), Carmen Fernández (no longer with the company), Mario Santos, (Community), Reyes Martínez (Marketing & Communications), Pablo Postigo (Founder & CEO), and Luis Herranz (Founder & Lead developer).

WPTavern: WordCamp US 2019 Tickets Now on Sale

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 04:29

Tickets for WordCamp US 2019 went on sale this week. The event will be held November 1–3, 2019, in St. Louis, MO, at America’s Center Convention Complex.

For just $50, attendees will have access to everything throughout the three-day event, including more than 40 speaker presentations, workshops, “birds of a feather” meetups, and Contributor Day. The price also includes lunches, morning and afternoon snacks, admission to the WordFest party on Friday night, and a commemorative tee shirt with a surprise gift.

This year, parents bringing children children under 9 years old have a separate ticket option where they can indicate whether or not they are interested in on-site child care during the conference. There is no additional cost for selecting the “Parent with Kids” ticket option. Organizers are currently considering various options for childcare.

WordCamp is about diversity, this is not a catch phrase, it is not just a moment. It is about real people, doing real things, in the real world across gender, generation and culture. WordCamp embraces the world. #WordCamp #WordPress @WordCamp #WCUS pic.twitter.com/GdcCDNJYed

— WordCamp US (@WordCampUS) May 2, 2019

WordCamp US organizers have secured a block of hotel rooms at The Marriott St. Louis Grand with a special rate for conference attendees ($149/night). It is located directly across from the official venue. They anticipate the hotel block will sell out quickly. Attendees can follow the link from the WCUS website to reserve a room.

Attendee Services is now open, and this includes assistance with visa applications. Any prospective attendee who requires a visa may request a letter from WCUS organizers for the application. Requests must be made before September 1, 2019, in order to be processed in a timely way.

Speakers will be notified of their acceptance in June and the full schedule will not be announced until July. Volunteer applications will also open in July. Check out the WordCamp US 2019 Timeline to get a quick overview of what’s next and follow @WordCampUS on Twitter for all the latest.

WPTavern: WPCampus’ Gutenberg Accessibility Audit Finds “Significant and Pervasive Accessibility Problems”

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 19:59

WPCampus has published the results of the Gutenberg accessibility audit the organization commissioned from Tenon, LLC. The audit was crowdfunded by the WordPress community and Matt Mullenweg and Automattic pledged to cover the balance to ensure it would be fully funded.

Tenon’s analysis includes a 329-page technical audit of the editor along with user-based testing that included people with various disabilities. WPCampus’ announcement presents Tenon’s findings in a measured and diplomatic way, encouraging the community to use the report for improving WordPress:

Please use this report as what it is intended to be: constructive feedback in support of the WordPress project. We hope this report generates discussion about accessibility, excitement about inclusive design, and action toward improving the editing experience.

Beyond its use for WordPress core, the audit is also a valuable resource for those extending Gutenberg and more broadly for developers who are building React-based projects.

Tenon’s report includes a 34-page Executive Summary, highlighting key findings from the usability testing and technical review. It’s important to note that the audit was conducted on WordPress version 5.0.3 in January 2019. Since that time the Gutenberg and Accessibility teams have resolved an additional 116 accessibility issues, which will be included in WordPress 5.2 next week.

As expected, Tenon’s results show that overall the markup generated by Gutenberg is “clean, semantically correct and accessible” but that “Gutenberg’s user experience is consistently poor.” The audit found that Gutenberg fails to comply with all 30 of the WCAG 2.1 Success Criteria.

Tenon’s findings confirm the statement WordPress’ Accessibility Team published in October 2018 regarding the editor’s overall level of accessibility:

“The accessibility team will continue to work to support Gutenberg to the best of our ability. However, based on its current status, we cannot recommend that anybody who has a need for assistive technology allow it to be in use on any sites they need to use at this time.”

At that time, many WordPress contributors urged leadership not to ship an editor with critical accessibility issues that prevented people using assistive technologies from moving forward with the latest version.

Tenon’s Executive Summary concludes that the new editor is a step backwards for people with disabilities:

Gutenberg has significant and pervasive accessibility problems, the likes of which amount to a step backwards for users with disabilities over the legacy editor. Our user-based testing – backed by data from our technical review – indicates that the accessibility problems are severe in nature. We feel concerned that Gutenberg’s current accessibility issues will prove problematic for website owners who deploy Gutenberg to content creators in protected populations or for website owners who are themselves part of a protected population. Therefore, organizations which have high risk profiles should consult legal counsel before using it and may want to choose to use the legacy editor instead.

Tenon recommended that Gutenberg’s developers aggressively tackle the issues uncovered in the technical report, given the size of WordPress’ user base. The full report essentially functions as a guide for anyone who wants to contribute to the new editors’ accessibility. It is an excellent resource that outlines each issue with solutions and recommended code, making it easy for developers to get started with meaningful contributions right away. Tenon has created a collection of 84 issues on GitHub based on the findings in the audit and six of them have already been resolved/closed.