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WPTavern: Google Concludes FLoC Origin Trial, Does Not Intend to Share Feedback from Participants

Fri, 07/16/2021 - 03:26

Google quietly concluded its FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) origin trial this week. The trial was part of Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative, a suite of new technologies designed to replace third-party cookies, fingerprinting, and other commonly-used tracking mechanisms. This particular experiment groups people together based on browsing habits and labels them using machine learning.

FLoC’s trial was scheduled to end Jul 13, 2021, and Google has decided to remove the project from the testing phase while analyzing feedback.

“We’ve decided not to extend this initial Origin Trial,” Google senior software engineer Josh Karlin said in thread on Chromium’s Blink Developers group forum. “Instead, we’re hard at work on improving FLoC to incorporate the feedback we’ve heard from the community before advancing to further ecosystem testing.”

The controversial experiment has been met with opposition from privacy advocates like makers of the Brave browser and EFF who do not perceive FLoC to be a compelling alternative to the surveillance business model currently used by the advertising industry. Amazon, GitHub, Firefox, Vivaldi, Drupal, Joomla, DuckDuckGo, and other major tech companies and open source projects have already opted to block FLoC by default.

So far, Twitter has been the first major online platform that appears to be on board with FLoC after references to it were recently discovered in the app’s source code.

Google’s initial efforts in presenting FLoC failed to gain broad support, which may have contributed to the company putting the brakes on its plan to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome by 2022. As the advertising industry yields to pressure from the last few years of privacy legislation, third-party cookies will be on their way out in what is colloquially known as the “Cookie Apocalypse.” Google has postponed this milestone for Chrome to begin in mid-2023 and end in late 2023. 

“We need to move at a responsible pace,” Chrome Privacy Engineering Director Vinay Goel said. “This will allow sufficient time for public discussion on the right solutions, continued engagement with regulators, and for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services. This is important to avoid jeopardizing the business models of many web publishers which support freely available content.”

Discussion on a proposal for WordPress to block FLoC has stalled in Trac but may have been premature in the first place if FLoC doesn’t end making it to further testing. Proponents of blocking FLoC saw WordPress’ support or opposition as critical to the success or failure of FLoC adoption on the web.

A recent article on the WordPress.com VIP blog titled “Goodbye, Third-Party Cookies, Hello Google’s FloC,” indicates that Automattic may be straddling the fence on the controversial new technology:

FLoC has its plus points. But it isn’t as privacy-focused as we would like, and can lead to discriminatory practices, as described above. Then there’s the concern of letting Google dominate yet another aspect of tech. Google also plans to charge any third-party tracking company for use of any of the data it has collected.

For the time being, it looks like major tech platforms are off the hook for taking an active position on FLoC since it has been sent back for major modifications. In the most recently updated timeline for Privacy Sandbox milestones, Vinay Goel said Google received “substantial feedback from the web community during the origin trial for the first version of FLoC.”

At the conclusion of its origin trial, FLoC seems far from ready for adoption, having failed to gain a foothold in the industry. The concern is that Google may ram FLoC through anyway using the weight of Chrome’s market share, despite the web community’s chilly reception. Although these proposed changes to ad tech will impact the entire industry, as well as regular internet users, Google does not intend to disclose any of the private feedback the company received during FLoC’s origin trial.

“The main summary of that feedback will be the next version, and you can surmise based on what features (and the reasoning for these changes) are available in the next version,” Google mathematician Michael Kleber said during a recent Web Commerce Interest Group (WCIG) meeting

Privacy advocates want to see more transparency incorporated into this process so that major concerns are not left unaddressed, instead of leaving it to stakeholders across the web to try to deduce what Google has solved in the next version of FLoC. Overhauling the advertising industry with new technologies should be done in the open if these changes are truly intended to protect people’s privacy.

WPTavern: Edupack Is Tackling Higher Ed With WordPress, Looking for Development Partners

Fri, 07/16/2021 - 02:07

“We’re basically building the Jetpack for Higher Ed,” said Blake Bertuccelli as he pitched me on the idea of Edupack, a project still in its early stages.

He and his team are looking for more advisors to join the eighth round of their once-monthly braintrust events. It is a project they began in November 2020, now coming to fruition. Feedback is crucial to pushing such undertakings out of the gate, and the team needs more of it.

Bertuccelli listed several focal points for the Edupack project:

  • Onboarding: New campus users can set up a beautiful campus WordPress site with a few clicks.
  • Archiving: Stale sites are automatically archived to save campus resources.
  • Reporting: Accessibility, plagiarism, and resource usage can be accessed from the Edupack dashboard.
  • Brand and Content Management: Approved Higher Ed content patterns and universal brand controls keep sites beautiful and consistent.
  • Configuration Management: Cloud-controlled configuration settings means admins can control millions of sites from one place.
Onboarding form with Tulane-branded elements.

“Our onboarding form offers pre-built sites for users to start from,” said Bertuccelli. “So, if a scientist needs a new site for their lab, the scientist can select a pre-built lab site from our onboarding form then add in their unique content.”

Bertuccelli is Edupack’s CEO. He called himself a “forever learner” and is currently reading A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell.

“I paid for my Tulane education by coding WordPress themes,” said Bertuccelli. “After college, I founded one of New Orleans’ first WordPress dev shops (Decubing). A year ago, I presented on building a self-publishing platform with Multisite at WP Campus. The feedback was phenomenal, and two blokes from Birmingham offered to work on a plugin with me. A few months later, we launched Edupack’s MVP. Since then, folks from Harvard, Dartmouth, and about 17 other universities have been working with us to make WordPress an even better CMS for Higher Ed pros.”

The “two blokes” he is referring to are his co-founders, Nathan Monk and Matt Lees. They run a WordPress shop called SMILE. Monk is serving as Edupack’s CTO. Lees is the Chief Creative Officer — Bertuccelli called him “Lord of the UX.” Altogether, the three co-founders have over 30 years of experience working with Higher Ed and WordPress.

The Edupack team is making accessible content a priority, which is a primary issue for Higher Ed. The goal is to offer A11Y reports inside of the WordPress dashboard and tie them into publishing workflows. This would notify users of errors as they publish content.

“Our accessibility reports tie into another feature we are launching this month: site archiving,” said Bertuccelli. “Campus users graduate and often forget about their sites. Edupack sends a notification to a user if the site hasn’t been accessed, then adds an “archived” meta value to the site that super administrators can take action from.

Setting up automated archiving.

“Devs often recode thousands of sites to add new Campus branding,” said Bertuccelli on the reasons behind Edupack. “Department budgets are drained on resources for stale sites. Institutions are sued over inaccessible content or misused branding.

“Edupack intends to automate website management so that Higher Ed pros can focus on supporting education.”

The following video is an introduction to Edupack:

Join the Braintrust Session

Every third Wednesday of each month, Edupack holds a “Braintrust” event. Bertuccelli says it is the best way to get involved. The session lasts for an hour over a Zoom video chat. The next event is scheduled for July 21, 10 am – 11 am (CDT).

Each session focuses on a single question. Next week’s question: “How can we enhance WordPress blocks for Higher Ed?”

“We’ll demo Edupack updates, brainstorm solutions for block enhancements, then wrap up with action steps for us to do by next month,” said Bertuccelli. “Folks who manage WordPress sites for global institutions and companies have attended our last seven braintrusts. Any Higher Ed pro is welcome!”

Those interested can also keep track of progress via the Edupack blog.

Pricing and the Future

There is currently no publicly available pricing list. The project’s FAQs page says the team is still tuning the costs, and Bertuccelli remained quiet on any hard numbers.

“Community colleges can’t afford tech used by bigger schools,” he said. “That’s not fair. Edupack will be priced so that every institution can afford the service. We haven’t thought about pricing beyond that.”

Universities that wish to get check out the project should schedule a demo from the site’s homepage.

Edupack has around 20 institutions serving as development partners and guiding the roadmap. The team invites new schools to join every few months. Currently, Tulane and the University of Gloucestershire are using Edupack. Harvard and Dartmouth should be next.

The service is limited to universities and colleges at the moment. However, the team would eventually like to expand across the education sector. After that, we will have to see.

“Edupack’s features can be applied to any industry where users run lots of sites,” said Bertuccelli. “I could see ad agencies using Edupack, hosting companies integrating our tools, and School Districts running their site network via Edupack and WordPress.”

WPTavern: WordPress 5.8 Media Library Changes You Should Know About

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 03:09

It is hard not to look through a list of upcoming WordPress 5.8 changes and not find at least a little something to whet your appetite. With so many enhancements headed our way, even we have not been able to keep up with them all here at WP Tavern. The next release will bring a few much-needed media-related upgrades.

Users should enjoy WebP image format support and a copy-to-clipboard button on the media upload screen. Developers have a new hook for filtering the image output format, and the platform is dropping infinite scrolling.

WordPress 5.8 is scheduled to ship on July 20, so these changes will be landing in less than a week. If you have not already done so, give WordPress 5.8 Release Candidate 3 a test run and report any issues.

Infinite Scroll Replaced With Ajax Button
Media Library screen (first) and overlay (second) with “load more” buttons.

The upcoming core release will drop infinite scrolling for media in favor of an Ajax-powered “Load more” button. The admin screen and editor’s media overlay will cap the initial and subsequent “pages” to 40 media items each.

This change is a part of an effort from the WordPress accessibility team to improve the experience for end-users. Team member and core contributor Andrea Fercia noted two a11y problems with infinite scrolling. The first is that it is impossible or nearly for keyboard users to reach content appended to the screen. Second, there is no audible feedback or instructions about how infinite scrolling works for screen readers.

He also noted usability and performance issues. Infinite scroll can break the browser’s history, and there is no JavaScript fallback. And loading hundreds or more large-sized images increases the memory footprint.

While the media library is getting the Ajax treatment in WordPress 5.8, we should expect similar updates for other areas in the future, including:

  • Add Themes Screen
  • Customizer > Add Menu Items
  • Editor > Link > Search
Copy URL From Add New Media Screen Copy URL to clipboard button on the Add New Media screen.

This change is an enhancement that rids the platform of a small but noticeable nuisance that has plagued it for years. When uploading an image from the Media > Add New screen in the WordPress admin, there was no way to grab its URL without clicking over to the edit screen.

WordPress 5.8 introduces a “Copy URL to clipboard” button that appears after the image has been uploaded. No need to leave the page and track down the URL. The change also makes the user experience consistent with the Media Library screen and overlay in the post editor.

More often than not, browsing Trac means seeing many of the same names. This time around, it seems that a regular user wanted a feature. They created an account — perhaps for this purpose alone –, wrote a support forum post, was directed to Trac, and created their first ticket. It took eight months to work its way into WordPress, but it is one of those success stories of an average user making things happen by just providing feedback. Thanks for the contribution, @anotia.

WebP Image Format Support

WordPress is allowing a new image format. And, no, it is not SVG (technically not an image). There are still security hurdles to jump for that to ever happen. However, it now supports WebP, which carries with it the promise of better performance for those who use it.

As Sarah Gooding reported for WP Tavern last month:

This modern image file format was created by Google in September 2010, and is now supported by 95% of the web browsers in use worldwide. It has distinct advantages over more commonly used formats, providing both lossless and lossy compression that is 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs and 25-34% smaller than comparable JPEG images.

In the report, she noted that only 1.6% (currently at 1.8%) of the top 10 million websites used the WebP format. With WordPress now adding support, that percentage is likely to rise in the coming years.

Developers: Image Editor Output Format Hook

For developers who want to transform images with one mime type to another, 5.8 introduces the image_editor_output_format filter hook. Plugin authors can convert all newly uploaded images or only overwrite specific formats.

The following example converts JPG images to the new WebP format:

add_filter( 'image_editor_output_format', function( $formats ) { $formats['image/jpeg'] = 'image/webp'; return $formats; } );

The output format will be applied to all image sub-sizes as they are created. However, this will only work for WebP images if the webserver supports it.

WPTavern: WordPress 5.8 Media Library Changes You Should Know About

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 03:09

It is hard not to look through a list of upcoming WordPress 5.8 changes and not find at least a little something to whet your appetite. With so many enhancements headed our way, even we have not been able to keep up with them all here at WP Tavern. The next release will bring a few much-needed media-related upgrades.

Users should enjoy WebP image format support and a copy-to-clipboard button on the media upload screen. Developers have a new hook for filtering the image output format, and the platform is dropping infinite scrolling.

WordPress 5.8 is scheduled to ship on July 20, so these changes will be landing in less than a week. If you have not already done so, give WordPress 5.8 Release Candidate 3 a test run and report any issues.

Infinite Scroll Replaced With Ajax Button
Media Library screen (first) and overlay (second) with “load more” buttons.

The upcoming core release will drop infinite scrolling for media in favor of an Ajax-powered “Load more” button. The admin screen and editor’s media overlay will cap the initial and subsequent “pages” to 40 media items each.

This change is a part of an effort from the WordPress accessibility team to improve the experience for end-users. Team member and core contributor Andrea Fercia noted two a11y problems with infinite scrolling. The first is that it is impossible or nearly for keyboard users to reach content appended to the screen. Second, there is no audible feedback or instructions about how infinite scrolling works for screen readers.

He also noted usability and performance issues. Infinite scroll can break the browser’s history, and there is no JavaScript fallback. And loading hundreds or more large-sized images increases the memory footprint.

While the media library is getting the Ajax treatment in WordPress 5.8, we should expect similar updates for other areas in the future, including:

  • Add Themes Screen
  • Customizer > Add Menu Items
  • Editor > Link > Search
Copy URL From Add New Media Screen Copy URL to clipboard button on the Add New Media screen.

This change is an enhancement that rids the platform of a small but noticeable nuisance that has plagued it for years. When uploading an image from the Media > Add New screen in the WordPress admin, there was no way to grab its URL without clicking over to the edit screen.

WordPress 5.8 introduces a “Copy URL to clipboard” button that appears after the image has been uploaded. No need to leave the page and track down the URL. The change also makes the user experience consistent with the Media Library screen and overlay in the post editor.

More often than not, browsing Trac means seeing many of the same names. This time around, it seems that a regular user wanted a feature. They created an account — perhaps for this purpose alone –, wrote a support forum post, was directed to Trac, and created their first ticket. It took eight months to work its way into WordPress, but it is one of those success stories of an average user making things happen by just providing feedback. Thanks for the contribution, @anotia.

WebP Image Format Support

WordPress is allowing a new image format. And, no, it is not SVG (technically not an image). There are still security hurdles to jump for that to ever happen. However, it now supports WebP, which carries with it the promise of better performance for those who use it.

As Sarah Gooding reported for WP Tavern last month:

This modern image file format was created by Google in September 2010, and is now supported by 95% of the web browsers in use worldwide. It has distinct advantages over more commonly used formats, providing both lossless and lossy compression that is 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs and 25-34% smaller than comparable JPEG images.

In the report, she noted that only 1.6% (currently at 1.8%) of the top 10 million websites used the WebP format. With WordPress now adding support, that percentage is likely to rise in the coming years.

Developers: Image Editor Output Format Hook

For developers who want to transform images with one mime type to another, 5.8 introduces the image_editor_output_format filter hook. Plugin authors can convert all newly uploaded images or only overwrite specific formats.

The following example converts JPG images to the new WebP format:

add_filter( 'image_editor_output_format', function( $formats ) { $formats['image/jpeg'] = 'image/webp'; return $formats; } );

The output format will be applied to all image sub-sizes as they are created. However, this will only work for WebP images if the webserver supports it.

WPTavern: WooCommerce Patches Critical Vulnerability, Sending Forced Security Update from WordPress.org

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 01:51

WooCommerce has patched an unspecified, critical vulnerability identified on July 13, 2021, by a security researcher through Automattic’s HackerOne security program. The vulnerability impacts versions 3.3 to 5.5 of the WooCommerce plugin, as well as version 2.5 to 5.5 of the WooCommerce Blocks feature plugin.

“Upon learning about the issue, our team immediately conducted a thorough investigation, audited all related codebases, and created a patch fix for every impacted version (90+ releases) which was deployed automatically to vulnerable stores,” WooCommerce Head of Engineering Beau Lebens said in the security announcement.

WordPress.org is currently pushing out forced automatic updates to vulnerable stores, a practice that is rarely employed to mitigate potentially severe security issues impacting a large number of sites. Even with the automatic update, WooCommerce merchants are encouraged to check that their stores are running the latest version (5.5.1).

Since WooCommerce backported this security fix to every release branch back to 3.3, store owners using older versions of WooCommerce can safely update to the highest number in their current release branch even if not running the very latest 5.5.1 version.

At the time of publishing, only 7.2% of WooCommerce installations are using version 5.5+. More than half of stores (51.7%) are running on a version older than 5.1. WordPress.org doesn’t offer a more specific breakdown of the older versions, but it’s safe to say without these backported security fixes, the majority of WooCommerce installs might be left vulnerable.

The security announcement indicates that WooCommerce cannot yet confirm that this vulnerability has not been exploited:

Our investigation into this vulnerability and whether data has been compromised is ongoing. We will be sharing more information with site owners on how to investigate this security vulnerability on their site, which we will publish on our blog when it is ready. If a store was affected, the exposed information will be specific to what that site is storing but could include order, customer, and administrative information.

For those who are concerned about possible exploitation, the WooCommerce team is recommending merchants update their passwords after installing the patched version as a cautionary measure.

The good news for WooCommerce store owners is that this particular critical vulnerability was responsibly disclosed and patched within one day after it was identified. The plugin’s team has committed to being transparent about the security issue. In addition to publishing an announcement on the plugin’s blog, WooCommerce also emailed everyone who has opted into their mailing list. Concerned store owners should keep an eye on the WooCommerce blog for a follow-up post on how to investigate if their stores have been compromised.

WPTavern: WooCommerce Patches Critical Vulnerability, Sending Forced Security Update from WordPress.org

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 01:51

WooCommerce has patched an unspecified, critical vulnerability identified on July 13, 2021, by a security researcher through Automattic’s HackerOne security program. The vulnerability impacts versions 3.3 to 5.5 of the WooCommerce plugin, as well as version 2.5 to 5.5 of the WooCommerce Blocks feature plugin.

“Upon learning about the issue, our team immediately conducted a thorough investigation, audited all related codebases, and created a patch fix for every impacted version (90+ releases) which was deployed automatically to vulnerable stores,” WooCommerce Head of Engineering Beau Lebens said in the security announcement.

WordPress.org is currently pushing out forced automatic updates to vulnerable stores, a practice that is rarely employed to mitigate potentially severe security issues impacting a large number of sites. Even with the automatic update, WooCommerce merchants are encouraged to check that their stores are running the latest version (5.5.1).

Since WooCommerce backported this security fix to every release branch back to 3.3, store owners using older versions of WooCommerce can safely update to the highest number in their current release branch even if not running the very latest 5.5.1 version.

At the time of publishing, only 7.2% of WooCommerce installations are using version 5.5+. More than half of stores (51.7%) are running on a version older than 5.1. WordPress.org doesn’t offer a more specific breakdown of the older versions, but it’s safe to say without these backported security fixes, the majority of WooCommerce installs might be left vulnerable.

The security announcement indicates that WooCommerce cannot yet confirm that this vulnerability has not been exploited:

Our investigation into this vulnerability and whether data has been compromised is ongoing. We will be sharing more information with site owners on how to investigate this security vulnerability on their site, which we will publish on our blog when it is ready. If a store was affected, the exposed information will be specific to what that site is storing but could include order, customer, and administrative information.

For those who are concerned about possible exploitation, the WooCommerce team is recommending merchants update their passwords after installing the patched version as a cautionary measure.

The good news for WooCommerce store owners is that this particular critical vulnerability was responsibly disclosed and patched within one day after it was identified. The plugin’s team has committed to being transparent about the security issue. In addition to publishing an announcement on the plugin’s blog, WooCommerce also emailed everyone who has opted into their mailing list. Concerned store owners should keep an eye on the WooCommerce blog for a follow-up post on how to investigate if their stores have been compromised.

WPTavern: #5 – Robert Jacobi on Why He’s Putting Gutenberg First

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 14:00
About this episode.

On the podcast today we have Robert Jacobi.

Robert is Director of WordPress at Cloudways. He’s been working with open source software for almost twenty years, and has been the president of Joomla, a member of Make WordPress Hosting and contributor to ICANN At-Large. He is well known for his public speaking about open source and so the discussion today is broad and thought provoking.

We talk about Robert’s ‘Gutenberg First’ approach in which he places the WordPress Block Editor at the heart of all that he does. He sees Gutenberg as a critical component for WordPress’ future; a future in which as yet unimagined technologies will be built on top of Gutenberg and leverage the ‘atomic’ way data is stored.

This leads to a discussion on how 3rd party developers will be able to use Gutenberg as an application platform, with unique pathways to create, store and display content.

The heritage of Gutenberg’s development is also discussed. Right from the start we knew that the intention of the project was ambitious; it’s aim to become a full site editor was explained at the outset. This has led to comparisons with other editing tools and Robert takes on why he thinks that the incremental steps that the Gutenberg project has taken are making it a vital part of WordPress.

We also look forward and get into the subject of how technology never stands still. The underpinnings of WordPress are shifting. New skills and tools will need to be learned, but that does not mean that existing ones are obsolete.
Shifting gears, we move into community events and how we’ve managed events during the last year. Robert is a huge proponent of in-person events, and is hoping for their return. He loves the accidental situations which arise when you’re in the same space as so many other like-minded people. Perhaps though, there’s a place for hybrid events; events in which there’s in-person and online happening at the same time?

Towards the end we chat about the plethora of mergers and acquisitions which are happening right now, as well as a discussion of Openverse, a search engine for openly licensed media, which was launched with little fanfare recently.

Useful links.

Openverse

Robert’s website

TranscriptNathan Wrigley [00:00:00]

Welcome to the fifth edition of the Jukebox podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley. Jukebox is a podcast all about WordPress and the community surrounding it. Every month, we’re bringing you someone from that community to discuss a topic of current importance. If you like the podcast, why not subscribe on your podcast player?

You can do that by going to WP Tavern dot com forward slash feed forward slash podcast. If you have any thoughts about the podcast, perhaps a suggestion of a potential guest or subject, then head over to WP Tavern dot com forward slash contact forward slash jukebox. There’s a contact form there, and we’d certainly welcome your input.

Okay, so on the podcast today, we have Robert Jacobi. Robert is director of WordPress at Cloudways. He’s been working with open source software for almost 20 years and has been president of Joomla, a member of Make WordPress Hosting and contributor to ICANN At-Large. He’s well known for his public speaking about open source, and so the discussion today is broad and thought provoking. We talk about Robert’s Gutenberg first approach in which he places the WordPress block editor at the heart of all that he does. He sees Gutenberg as a critical component for WordPress’ future, a future in which as yet unimagined technologies will be built on top of Gutenberg and leverage the atomic way that data is stored.

This leads to a discussion of how third party developers will be able to use Gutenberg as an application platform with unique pathways to create, store and display content. The heritage of Gutenberg’s development is also discussed. Right from the start we knew that the intention of the project was ambitious. It’s aim to become a full site editor was explained at the outset. This has led to comparisons with other editing tools and Robert takes on why he thinks that the incremental steps that the Gutenberg project has taken are making it a vital part of WordPress.

We also look forward and get into the subject of how technology never stands still. The underpinnings of WordPress are shifting. New skills and tools will need to be learned, but that does not mean that existing ones are obsolete.

Shifting gears, we move into the community events and how we’ve managed events during the last year. Robert is a huge proponent of in-person events and is hoping for their return. He loves the accidental situations which arrive when you’re in the same space as so many other like-minded people. Perhaps though there’s a place for hybrid event. Events in which there’s in-person and online happening at the same time. Towards the end, we chat about the plethora of mergers and acquisitions, which are happening right now, as well as a discussion of Openverse, a search engine for openly licensed media, which launched with little fanfare recently.

If any of the points raised in this podcast resonate with you, be sure to head over and find the post at WP Tavern dot com forward slash podcast, and leave a comment there.

And so without further delay, I bring you Robert Jacobi.

I am joined by Robert Jacobi on the podcast today. How are you Robert?

Robert Jacobi [00:04:06]

Doing well. Fantastic to be here. Thank you Nathan.

Nathan Wrigley [00:04:09]

Would you mind introducing yourself? Tell us who you are and what’s your relationship with technology and work?

Robert Jacobi [00:04:15]

I’m Robert Jacobi director of WordPress at Cloudways. I’ve been in the open source space, wow, for almost 20 years, I’m feeling old and actually got my raising on open source with the Joomla project, which is a hundred percent volunteer, open source content management system as well, and picked up WordPress slowly got into there. And boy, that’s a lot of ands.

I love the community. I love the greater goal. That open source, espouses and tries to reach. And we’re never, always successful. But having code and information more freely accessible is something I really believe in. And I think empowers people globally and provides opportunities that wouldn’t happen if these ones and zeros were siloed away in golden towers. I’m always just so tickled to talk about open source and all the interesting things we can do with it. It powers communities, it powers, politics, powers, freedoms, it powers companies. It’s really amazing. And we talk about WordPress all the time as one of the defining tools in this space. You look at something like Linux, which pretty much literally everything uses these days. It’s crazy how, to use Matt Mullenweg’s, favorite phrase, these things democratize all of us in so many different ways.

Nathan Wrigley [00:05:39]

We’ve got a really broad pallet of things that we’re going to discuss today, ranging from Gutenberg, right through to WordCamps and all sorts. So we’ll crack on with the smorgasbord of what we’ve got to discuss. The first of our little laundry list is Gutenberg. You wanted to talk to us a bit today about Gutenberg, what you think of it, and so on. There was an event that I attended recently, which you were also in attendance at, and you were on a panel there, and you mentioned that in the face of proprietary page builders, you always had the approach that Gutenberg should be the first relation. It should come first. And I’m curious to know, what did you mean by that? What is Gutenberg first? What is this approach?

Robert Jacobi [00:06:17]

So Gutenberg first to me is that we recognize the benefits of Gutenberg, and don’t try to subvert them or sneak around them. I think Gutenberg is one of the most critical backend, frontend changes that has happened to WordPress in its last umpteen years and the potential for all the interesting future forward things that Gutenberg can do should be taken into account. So page builders are wonderful. They offer all this functionality, ease of use, but I think that, they should also take and utilize Gutenberg concurrently.

The advantages are, one, that Gutenberg’s not going anywhere. So God bless all the classic editor folk who loved that experience. More than just being deprecated, it’s just, that is not going to be the way of the future.

And secondly, the potential, what can happen when you start making all that content a bit more atomic. I come from a lot of database work. So you think of atomic data points and Gutenberg does that sort of automagically for you? So there are opportunities in the future with Gutenberg to start parcing that data more finely.

That’s why I think it’s very exciting and why everything should be Gutenberg first. Again, that doesn’t mean get rid of page builders or different types of themes and theming systems. It’s just that at the base, Gutenberg should be a core building block of what you’re working with going forward.

Nathan Wrigley [00:07:51]

The way that I think many people are using Gutenberg at the moment, I should probably say the block editor, but if you’re using the Gutenberg plugin, you’ll obviously have an enhanced experience. But if you’re using the block editor at the moment, it feels as if it’s prime time for editing text, inserting images and some pretty basic stuff like that. But I can see on the horizon a whole plethora of interesting, curious, let’s call them plug-ins for now, because that’s what they are. Different block components, different plugins, which adapt and amend the capability of Gutenberg. And it feels to me as if that’s where its strength might lie. I know we’ve got the full site editing and all of that coming down the road, but it feels to me that, there’s going to be a whole plethora of third-party tools, bringing all sorts of added benefits into the ecosystem, a block for this thing, and a block for that thing. And whilst that might create some kind of bloat, that to me is an exciting area, and I just wondered if that’s something you’re interested in, if there’s any plugins or blocks that you’ve been looking at and thinking, oh, that’s curious. That seems to be stretching things a little bit.

Robert Jacobi [00:08:55]

So, you make a, first of all, great point that there’s block editor and then Gutenberg platform as a whole, and what end users typically experience is the block editor, but the Gutenberg API, Gutenberg platform as a whole is going to allow for all sorts of crazy third party integrations. That’s great. And it might even be a little, you said the perfect word, there might be a bit of bloat and craziness. I’ll say that’ll probably exist for the next 12 to 24 months. Sure, that’s fine. As people figure out what works and doesn’t. This is a dawn of a new age around taking WordPress to the next step. We’ve talked about for many years, WordPress is just a blog, blah, blah, blah. Okay. We’ve gotten past WordPress as a blog. Now WordPress as a CMS. That’s great. I think what happens with Gutenberg is we look at it and say, WordPress is an application platform, and this is just another API that we can take advantage of in very different ways. So we can have forums that are much more catered to content creators, that get rid of all the WordPress backend and admin stuff. Okay, you’re authenticated. You’re logged in. Here’s your daily news forum that you’re going to add content to. And because we’re using Gutenberg, that makes it a lot easier to publish that content and gets rid of the technical cruft, and allows developers and third-party plugin providers to have wholly unique and valuable experiences around that. And that’s where the magic I think of Gutenberg really comes into play is where will all these third parties start finding those unique value propositions for specific content, whether it’s an, a vertical, like travel or e-commerce, in a generic sense or news or publications or whatnot. It’s really expanded the opportunities to create workflows and interfaces and make content production speedier and safer.

Nathan Wrigley [00:10:55]

I think one of the curious things that I’ve observed over the last couple of years about it is that perhaps if we had the magic rewind button, we could go back a couple of years and potentially not really get into a conversation where it was… okay, we’ve got stage 1, 2, 3, and 4, and stages two, three, and four, start to add in functionality that things like page builders, can currently do, full site editing and all that. If it had just been touted as, we’ve got a new editor for you, here it is, I think it would have taken people along for the ride much more easily, but we’ve got this problem now, this impasse where, it got sold as it’s going to become a page builder, but the pace of development and the fact that they’ve got the legacy of 40 percent of the web, 40 plus percent of the web, to protect and so on it hasn’t been able to move in that direction potentially at the speed that people thought… well, it’s going to be a page builder. It hasn’t been able to mature at the rate that they would have liked to have done. And so I’m just curious in the next year, two years, whether it will do those things, but also I wish we could rewind and say look, slow down. Let’s get the editor experience sussed out first, then we’ll do the full site editing and don’t expect it to be all these things. Beause at the minute I hear a lot of people saying it’s not as good as the tool I’ve got over here, and it’s not as good as the tool I’ve got over there. Speaking of which do you think there’s a case where it isn’t the best tool where you would say actually, do you know what, I’m just going to relegate that and not use it first. Or is it literally, always the first thing in your toolkit for WordPress?

Robert Jacobi [00:12:28]

It is literally the first thing in my toolkit, because it will provide the greatest longevity in whatever’s built. Gutenberg’s not going anywhere. There was a massive commitment to it from the project side of the universe. And to answer one of your earlier questions about, has it done enough? I think it’s exceeded all expectations and this is where I’ll get to it. They’re always going to be a voices like, okay, it doesn’t make bacon and eggs for me in the morning. Okay, That’s fine, it doesn’t. I think, and I truly believe what the magic of Gutenberg is, is the paradigm shift in forcing people to look at other things. So it’s hard to make a giant feature change in anything, whether it’s proprietary project, open source project. There are going to be plenty of people who are like, no, this works for me. This is great. Please don’t change. I get that. But technology moves forward. People’s expectations increase. Ten years ago, we barely had iPhones. All of a sudden we do, and now we expect everything to be infinitely easier and simpler and more responsive. I guess it doesn’t do everything that page builders do. That’s great. That’s fine. We’re not trying to cut out the middle man here, and I say we, I’m not actually involved directly in Gutenberg at any point, but it moves the technological user experience goal posts forward. All things being equal, the page builders of the world, Beaver Builder, Elementor, they’re all going to go their own way. Having Gutenberg as a critical component, soon enough, it will be just a mandatory component, that’s the end of the conversation. Says, listen, everyone, this is what we need as part of the ecosystem. This is how you’re going to connect with tools. You can absolutely go around those, but why would you want to, because this will be supported by a worldwide community.

It’s not just going to be supported by the Beaver Builder community or the Elementor community, yada yada, this is now the new core and that’s very difficult to do, and it’s not, jumping back to what I said earlier about it, I think just making that change in and of itself and committing to that change is more important than full site editor or anything else. There’ll be incremental steps, but that was the big milestone step. Wow. Okay. This is the new tech, and we’re going to have to take advantage of it.

Nathan Wrigley [00:14:45]

You said two words in that last little bit, well you certainly said paradigm shift and you said atomic. And I think for me, the atomic bit is really interesting because what I think many people haven’t had a chance to get to grips with is literally the atomic nature of it. This little section of your blog post or whatever it may be. You can just have this little interactive thing. It might be that you’ve got a block which does, I don’t know, lead generation, or you’ve got a block, like the cover block, which will just take care of the top of your posts. And each one of those things will have a different array of settings and it doesn’t have to be built inside a proprietary thing. It’s being built inside of the default editor for WordPress. So it’s going to bring a ton of functionality and a ton of interesting things. Some of it will be bloated. I’m sure there’ll be many people who fall into the trap of installing fifty times more than they need to, or five times more than they need to. But for those of us who were curious and check things out and look and see what the end result is, you’re going to be able to create really unique experiences on this one surface, and that to me is really exciting, but have the feeling that the community got left behind in the conversation about this a little bit. So the confusion that it was going to be a page builder leads me to the whole community conversation. I know you’re all about community. This is something that you thrive on. You love the WordPress community, as you have had loved many other communities in the past. Do you have any feelings around whether there’s been enough involvement. Asking the questions, what should it look like? How should it behave? What do we want to leave on the floor and edit out that we just, it was a blind alley, we shouldn’t have had that because there are some things that I think a really excellent, there are some things that I think I’m not sure anybody’s actually going to make use of that, but there it is. And just wondering what your thoughts were around, whether the community had been involved, whether it could have been involved more.

Robert Jacobi [00:16:38]

I’m getting chuckles about a lot of these things. Could there have been more all the editing and whatnot. Since community is, especially in WordPress, a huge word, it’s always difficult to get every stakeholder, give them the space, give them the time given the vote.

What I like about what happened with Gutenberg is that it did move, in my mind, relatively quickly, and expeditiously and said, this is what we’re doing. And I think it’s too easy to be bogged down in the politics of community to actually get stuff done. So if things fall to the wayside, if things were not edit out properly, that’s where I think, the greater ecosystem can come into play and say, we’re going to tweak this, with a plugin that makes this just a bit better. It takes this out and we have such a robust economy in WordPress. That yeah, go for it. I like to see a bit more activism from people as a whole on these projects, but it’s hard. We all have day jobs. We all have stuff to do, and I’m not going to blame the leaders of the project for trying to get stuff done. In fact, I’m going to give them kudos to just doing it because it’s very easy to get pulled back and say you didn’t listen to so and so, at some point we have to fish or cut bait, we need to do something and we need to move the technology forward because everyone else is doing it. And open source projects have a tendency, especially at their, let’s say late teens, early adult stages, getting sucked into managing the community more than managing the project and pushing it forward.

You have to do both. It’s such a tricky balance. All kudos to everyone at Make dot WordPress, that they were able to do this. And it’s a large scale change and get it done. Fine, if you want to complain, that’s great. Guess what? No software lives, at that moment in time, it’s always updated and tweaked and there are still opportunities to make changes, advocate or different functionality. Expand the API, shrink the API, all those kinds of things. I do love that WordPress was able to cut bait and just go with it.

Nathan Wrigley [00:18:43]

One of the underpinnings of WordPress since the inception really was PHP. And obviously now we’re moving into an era where these technologies are being inspected, and improvements have been created along the way. And so now we’re moving into an era where other technologies, for example, React is coming along and that requires quite a bit of relearning, you’ve really got to down tools, get the manuals out, start to read again. Do you have any concern that that kind of thing could be a bit of a roadblock? It will be a bit of have a roadblock for certain people, but the technology has to move forward. Just curious as to what your thoughts are about how that’s being implemented and whether or not we’re taking it at a slow enough pace or whether we should have just stuck with good old PHP?

Robert Jacobi [00:19:29]

I like to use the right tool for the right projects, And I’ve been a coder, developer, engineer in multiple languages. I’ve actually never done anything with React, that’s one of the first ones. And that’s okay. We evolve. If we hadn’t evolved all these still using C from 1969 or whenever it came out. So this stuff has to move forward. And if React is the best solution to do that on the front end, that’s great.

Some people will be excited by that. Okay. I can expand my personal knowledge and horizons by adding to React. Honestly, a lot of the headless stuff that we see these days is also React. So it’s not a bad thing to learn if you want to learn that. If you don’t want to learn it. Okay, that’s fine. There are plenty of opportunities to still expand your WordPress activities solely with PHP. Okay. Those are more personal choices. Do I want to learn another language? Do I want to improve on what I already have? Yes. Those are choices you have to make, but none of this lives in isolation. So we have to understand that a WordPress, plain old PHP site, might still need to connect up to a bunch of different things and not all those things are going to be on PHP. You still might be connecting up to something with Perl or Python. No, one’s forcing you to learn it. Granted Gutenberg injects this react universe into your face, but you can focus on the core things that you need to do without necessarily running into React. It’s a tool that more people are… here’s the trick, there are plenty of new people who are entering coding, development, open source communities, and they like React. So it makes sense to take advantage of all this new found wealth, and then also draw them back into the community. Great, you love running with all this JS stuff. Fantastic. Hey, by the way, did you know you could actually implement that as part and parcel with an old-school PHP content management system? Yeah, we can do that. That’s great. And look how you can expand your horizon. Yeah, it stinks if you don’t want to learn any kind of Node, React stuff. Okay. But, it’s sort of the nature of code. If we really want to take the analogy to the extreme, why aren’t we still coding on punch cards with ones and zeros. We’re going to abstract it and find the best tool to implement the functionality we want to see.

And I get it me personally, I’m not going to go out and learn React today. Me twenty years ago, though, I would have added it into my tool belt in a heartbeat, just because it was just one of those things that you needed at that time, that was the case. People are going to go through their own personal and professional sort of life cycles of what they think they need to have on their knee or in their tool belt to be successful. We can’t stop for people who don’t want to do anything outside of PHP.

Nathan Wrigley [00:22:04]

We’re going to shift gears now and talk about in-person events. Under the auspices of things like WordCamp Europe, which is depending on when you’re listening to this podcast that may just have happened, or it may be it’s coming around in a year’s time or something like that.

Clearly we’ve been through a period that has really shaken the community. I feel that as a community, we were probably as well-prepared as any community could be because we were already working via the internet. We all had our computers out and so on. And yet still there is a concern. And I know that for example, people like Josepha Haden Chomposy has mentioned things like this, that the community in the absence of in-person events, there’s been a modest disengagement. And what I mean by that, this is the project, the WordPress project was propelled forward in a large part by those in-person events. So you’ve got contrib day, you’ve just got the handshaking, you can actually meet people for the first time. You can build relationships and so on. And none of that’s happened. We’ve had a year out. We don’t know quite when that is coming back, hopefully at some point in the near future, but we don’t know. And so just curious about your thoughts on that. What do you have to say about events coming back and how a project as big as WordPress, where there’s no central office where there’s no boss telling everybody what to do. So if you’re on the payroll, you’ve got to do this today and fix this thing, but that’s not how it works. And so the open source model, there may be a chink in its armor here where in-person events don’t happen, that camaraderie and those solutions don’t present themselves. And so the project, I’m going to use the word stalls, that’s a complete over-exaggeration, but bits of the project stalled because nobody’s meeting up.

Robert Jacobi [00:23:49]

I am a huge, huge advocate of in-person anything. Whether you’re extrovert or introvert, there’s always going to be someone that you really want to talk to sit down in a corner, or have a cup of coffee with and build that relationship. I’m no anthropologist or anything, but feel that those kinds of human connections help us grow stronger in light of all the mundane things we do day to day. I don’t think the project has suffered because of a lack of in-person events over the last year. I think it’s suffered because everyone else has had a lot on their mind and there’ll be a, certainly a renaissance of activity as soon as we get into in person but this is one of those things where I don’t think correlation and causation match up. If you are worried about friends and family getting ill, did the economy, my personal economies take a downturn. That’s going to weigh a lot more on someone than, oh, did I catch up on the latest WordPress dot org, Slack notification about Full Site Editing. So I don’t think they’re completely tied together, but I will certainly tell you that as those in-person meetups start ramping up, I think that’ll be a flurry of excitement and activity. Part of that will be just because we’re not still trapped in our tiny little Covid bubbles.

Nathan Wrigley [00:25:12]

What personally do you miss from the in-person events? You mentioned about having a coffee and sitting in a corner with somebody and so on, but anything that you find you’re missing, it could be something quite banal or it could be something a lot deeper.

Robert Jacobi [00:25:24]

It’s really the accidents that happen at in person events. With a completely regimented online experience, I know I’m going to be talking with Nathan at such and such time. I know I’m going to be talking to whoever everything’s organized, calendars. Okay, there’s digital here, digital there. We may edit ourselves more on these platforms. When you’re in-person accidents happen. We may be walking through the sponsor hall and accidentally bump shoulders. And it’s oh my goodness, Nathan, great to see you. I haven’t seen you in 14 months. This is amazing. And you just start a conversation and those kinds of conversations are organic and random and not necessarily so overly planned and well thought out. And at those moments, I think unique ideas, exciting things can happen that just don’t happen in a much more shrunken space. I love the distributed world. And to your point, I think WordPress is not only just gone through well, it’s actually succeeded because we’ve already been in that position. We’re already ready to be online and take care of the day to day.

We need those accidental bumpings of atoms to create new kinds of alloys. Oh my goodness. carbon and oxygen linked together. Oh, no, look what happened here. I don’t know what they do, I’m not a chemist! But my point being is when you’re in person and I’m going to keep calling them accidents, but not like in a pejorative kind of way, accidents happen, and it allows for very random, unique ideas, conversations, thoughts, whatever to happen, or just even a personal pick me up. Like you do remember me from being on slack for the last year. That’s fantastic. There’s an affirmation I think that happens for all of us when we’re in that kind of proximity with other like-minded people.

Nathan Wrigley [00:27:21]

I think one of the, there’s two points about the online events that I seem to keep coming back to. And the first one is that I feel it’s taught us that we ought to have hybrid going forward. What I mean by that is that WordCamp EU, I feel it’s going to be difficult to put the genie back in the box of you have to go to the place where the event is. I feel that the future is going to be, sure enough, if you want to turn up and you want to benefit from the hallway and all of those things, go for it. But also if you’re living halfway around the world, that now needs to be a door which is not closed to you, you need to have it open. There needs to be streaming of those talks that are happening each day so that everybody can take part. That’s one of the things that I feel is going to happen.

Robert Jacobi [00:28:03]

I completely agree. There are events that I would have never been able to attend on a very regular basis without there being an online component. Someone will solve this puzzle, but I think it’s going to be difficult to do a online and in-person event concurrently. I feel that you’ll get the worst of both worlds in that case. What I’d like to see, let’s take WordCamp Europe 2022. There’s going to be a three, four day in person spectacle. That’s fantastic. What I would like to see is maybe two days before the in-person starts. There’s a whole online portion of that. I’d be concerned about trying to do them concurrently. Are we really going to have, we can do all the live video for example, but how interactive can we make those live portions? Oh, look from online, we have a question to the speakers. Okay. That works. But outside of those sessions, how are we going to integrate the sponsor hall, the hallway track as we talk about it? Those are those accidents that I like to refer back to just walking up and down and bumping into each other. I don’t think that’s an easy problem to solve, but I’d love to see some kind of greater online kickoff onboarding experience, where you can meet the speakers, do some quick Q and A’s, and conversely, have the speakers say, make sure you don’t miss my session on such and such date and time, then that will, of course be also livestreamed.

It’s going to be expensive. It’s going to be complicated. And I think there’s going to be multiple variations of attempts at making that succeed. I like to go with baby steps to see results. And I think just starting out with maybe a one or two day virtual camp tied to the in-person camp would be a good starter.

Nathan Wrigley [00:29:46]

That’s what I was meaning really is just basically a camera at the back of the room where there’s a presentation going on with the possibility of questions coming, not just from the audience, sat in the auditorium, but from people in a different part of the world. And in fact, I feel it in a way, these kind of like skeuomorphic pieces of software, which tries to replicate the real world, you’ve got these AI representations of the hall. It’s nice. It’s a bit of fun. I feel it’s a dead end. Nobody ought to be under the illusion that’s what they’re going to do. But I do like the idea of just, here’s the talk, you can watch it at the same time as everybody else. And then maybe you and your pals can hang out. You can do your bit online and we can do our bit in the real world, and so it goes. It’s really just an opening up so that you don’t have to attend because the problem there would be that nobody actually makes the attempt to attend, but I don’t feel that’s the case. And my second point is that I feel that we need this stuff back just because the online stuff, there’s a fatigue associated with that, and I don’t for a minute think that everybody’s fatigued and I don’t for a minute, think the online events don’t have merit because they have enormous merit and they’ve been an amazing bridge, but I feel that there’s a proportion of the people who would love to be at live events who just can’t make the transition to the virtual events. There’s something about it. Something stifles them, perhaps they have the best will in the world, and then it’s on the screen. But then something in the real world occurs to them. The cat decides to chew up the sofas, so off you go, you’ve got to deal with the cat. You get distracted, you want to go and make a cup of tea, so you get distracted. Whereas if you’re at the WordCamp, you’re fully there. You’ve engaged, you’ve committed. You’ve potentially got on a plane. You’ve booked a hotel, all of that. And there’s no substitute for that. So that really was my second point is that I want to get the people who’ve been disengaged back in and ready to take on all of the challenges that we’ve got.

Robert Jacobi [00:31:42]

Yeah. I think we’re on the same page. I can do virtual events. I certainly prefer in person. And the best example of how we know that in-person is very valuable is when you go to a lot of these virtual events, the networking spaces are generally very empty. People aren’t having those conversations, those random accidental conversations that they would add an in-person event because at an in-person event, you are physically, quote unquote, stuck in that space. If you don’t want to talk to someone, you’re just going to go your own way. That’s great. But if you do, who knows who’s next to you and you’re going to overhear things and interrupt the conversation and be interrupted and that’s that magic that occurs.

Nathan Wrigley [00:32:29]

Okay. Let’s talk about the third point that we wanted to discuss today. I’m straying into an area where I don’t have a great deal of experience because I watch these things happen from afar. There’s nothing that really concerned me. That concerned me in the sense that I might be a consumer of some of the things that are being bought up. But you wanted to talk about, as you described it, the WordPress economy acquisition madness. Now, what did you mean by that? Just kick us off. Explain what you mean by that phrase.

Robert Jacobi [00:32:56]

Here’s the beauty of being a successful project, people with money will find ways to make money from it. And that’s okay, and that’s a good thing. We’re seeing the likes of Automattic, WP Engine, GoDaddy, Liquid Web, Cloudways, yada, yada, yada. All these companies, wink wink, they’re all hosting companies because they’ve been in the space for awhile under different platforms and have recurring streams of revenue and cash on hand, they’re going to look to grow their businesses, and one of the easiest ways is to find valuable niche projects, that not only will bring cool bit of code into what they’re trying to do, but also allow them to reach out to all the people who have installed that plugin.

Nathan Wrigley [00:33:45]

Do you have concern then that certain parts of the WordPress, let’s say plugin or theme space, are going to be consumed by these bigger entities as you described? In many cases, there will be hosting companies for reasons you’ve just explained. Do you have a feeling that silos in the future are going to occur? Where if you really want a decent, let’s go for, I dunno, membership experience, you really are better off going in the direction of that company, with the brands that it’s acquired over time. Or if you want to go for a WooCommerce experience, your best bet is going to be over here, and everything else is a poor relation of that. So we get silos, which we haven’t had until now.

Robert Jacobi [00:34:28]

I think that’ll happen in the short term, but when that happens, a vacuum is created in the overall ecosystem. So if hosting company X has a, quote unquote, monopoly on that membership plugin, you know what, first of all, it’s all open source. All it takes is company Y to be like, we want to be in that space as well, and we’re going to re-imagine the underlying open source code base in XYZ format. Yes, a lot of letters there, but it’ll happen. These kinds of acquisitions and changes in economy I feel are okay. We’re all working from an open source code base. If this was all proprietary stuff that you can never take advantage of, I think that would be bad for the community as a whole, but that’s not the case. It’s just one company saying we’re going to be owners of this project. You can still fork that project any day of the week, don’t forget. Cause it’s all GPL. So I don’t think we’re losing anything in the long run. There’ll be short term hiccups. People won’t be happy. If that plugin doesn’t do exactly what they want, but they probably wouldn’t necessarily be happy even if it wasn’t taken over by someone else. I think there’s a percentage of people that will always want to see all this independent software, but all these companies are technically, okay maybe they’re not all independent because some of them are actually listed on public exchanges, but the opportunity hasn’t been taken away, and if such and such plugin gets acquired by such and such hosting company, I certainly see another hosting company looking for that competitor also happening.

Nathan Wrigley [00:36:01]

Do you feel that, okay, again, rewinding the clock for the second time in this podcast, if we could go back maybe 6, 7, 8 years, something like that, before these companies were buying up suites of plugins and what have you, to bulk out their offering. We basically had independent plugin developers. There may have been a team that grew up over time and they were inventing a solution for a particular problem, and they were really invested in that, and that was great. We want to solve the calendar thing or we want to solve the, I don’t know, the menu thing, whatever it may be. I’m just wondering if we’re maybe getting into the territory of designing things to be acquired. We designed something so that this can happen, so that we can become bought up, taken along for the ride by a big hosting company, and just really whether or not there’s any dynamic that changes the way that instead of serving the customer and always trying to offer the best support for the product, really your whole intention for that business isn’t to create the product for the customer, it’s to create the product for the sell in the future.

Robert Jacobi [00:37:01]

I agree. I think there’s a potential for that. On the correlator, are you getting value in what you want out of that product? So if I use, there’s something I’m going to jump into because it’s happened recently, but on the face of it, it’s a product that is so useful to me that I’m not going to have to do custom code. It’s above and beyond every other plugin competitor in that space. Am I going to use it? I’m going to use it, yes. And to some degree it doesn’t really matter what the incentives for the developer are at that point. If it’s doing what I wanted to do, that I’m going to use it because that’s what I needed to do, and it’s going to save me 10 50, 200 hours of development time to use this plugin as opposed to trying to create something on my own. And that’s question one, or the answer one. Answer two is there certainly is an issue with, what’s a nice word for miscreant. I guess it’s gonna be miscreant, where we’ve seen recently some plugin developers literally switch out what that plugin does and what its value proposition is with, quote unquote, upgrades. And they’ve done it behind your back. Oh, well you signed up for this cute little plugin that makes banners, guess what, now it’s going to do all these things and you have to pay for it just to get banners again, and it’s like really, really is that really what you want to do? And I think those developers are getting called out on it.

The agencies and content creators, certainly in the nearby community are aware of that. I think those kinds of, yeah, they’re not necessarily illegal in any way, shape or form because you can do that, but it doesn’t really stick by the unofficial developer third party ecosystem code of conduct. And I think we’re always going to see exceptions to the rule, but as long as those are just exceptions, I think we’re in a good spot.

Nathan Wrigley [00:38:43]

Let’s pivot again. Openverse. I’ve got to say, this is something that kind of passed me by. The radar wasn’t working properly over the last few weeks since Openverse came along. I’m going to ask you to tell us what Openverse is. I have a very vague understanding of what it is, but I’d like you to tell us why you think it’s important.

Robert Jacobi [00:39:03]

This is a new project in the WordPress ecosystem. I should say WordPress dot org ecosystem. It comes from creative commons search project that was languishing at creative commons. They didn’t have community and developers interested in pushing the search component along and, with support from Automattic, it came into the welcoming arms of wordpress dot org. And it has it’s own thing called Openverse. I’m excited by it. One, because it expands the open source vision of WordPress, WordPress becoming even a greater open source proponent. It’s not just the CMS, but now we also have additional things that we’re caring about, which I think is fantastic. It simultaneously is going to be working on technical aspects as well as open libra software model, or content model, I should say, where the tool will be helping WordPress as well as anyone else, obviously on finding creative commons, open licensed media. So in this case, images. I think it’s a great expansion that’s completely in line with what the project is looking to do. And I think it’s going to be surprisingly helpful and people won’t even realize what’s going on, but they’ll all of a sudden be able to access a bunch of new content natively in whatever application, obviously WordPress will be at that top of the list, but, you’ll be able to access it with Drupal or proprietary systems.

Nathan Wrigley [00:40:40]

What was the problem with the old licensing model? What was broken with it?

Robert Jacobi [00:40:43]

What was broken was there was no one who was going to commit to keeping up the code base to make CC search working and functioning, tweaking it, bug fixes, whatnot. So, as part of the WordPress project, there will actually be active development and maintenance of the creative common search.

Nathan Wrigley [00:41:02]

Okay, so was there any concern that things which you may have downloaded from third-party sites, we all know the ones that we customarily go to, that they were often perhaps changing the license after you downloaded things, and then suddenly you didn’t realize that you were in contravention of a license, which you thought you had full access to download, redistribute, do whatever you wanted and suddenly you realize, oh, okay, that’s no longer the case. This image that I’ve got, I need to take down.

Robert Jacobi [00:41:28]

So, licensing is so fun and entertaining. So a lot of these download an image sites, those licenses still stand. So if you have downloaded it and are using an image that was licensed under creative comments, that’s not going away. Will they relicense new images? Possibly. The point is how easy will it be to find more creative commons based media? And I think that is the purpose of Openverse, to make that as easy and intuitive as possible. So again, it’s taking what used to exist as part of creative, common search, almost like a fork, rebranding it under Openverse and, making it part of an ecosystem that’s open source.

Nathan Wrigley [00:42:15]

And this is going to be completely available inside the WP admin. So you’ll have search integrated there, and if you want to search for, I don’t know, a cat on cushions, for example, you’ll be able to do that and everything that’s returned, you’ll be able to use, hopefully because the search will have returned something valuable to you in this case cat’s on cushions.

Robert Jacobi [00:42:35]

So that is my expectation. Obviously it’s not built into any of that yet, but yeah, that is that’s where I see the project going.

Nathan Wrigley [00:42:40]

But it was a nice philanthropic gesture of Automattic to take this on board and just basically put it into WordPress so that the likes of me, and you can find our cats on cushions whenever we please.

Robert Jacobi [00:43:35]

Right.

WPTavern: #5 – Robert Jacobi on Why He’s Putting Gutenberg First

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 14:00
About this episode.

On the podcast today we have Robert Jacobi.

Robert is Director of WordPress at Cloudways. He’s been working with open source software for almost twenty years, and has been the president of Joomla, a member of Make WordPress Hosting and contributor to ICANN At-Large. He is well known for his public speaking about open source and so the discussion today is broad and thought provoking.

We talk about Robert’s ‘Gutenberg First’ approach in which he places the WordPress Block Editor at the heart of all that he does. He sees Gutenberg as a critical component for WordPress’ future; a future in which as yet unimagined technologies will be built on top of Gutenberg and leverage the ‘atomic’ way data is stored.

This leads to a discussion on how 3rd party developers will be able to use Gutenberg as an application platform, with unique pathways to create, store and display content.

The heritage of Gutenberg’s development is also discussed. Right from the start we knew that the intention of the project was ambitious; it’s aim to become a full site editor was explained at the outset. This has led to comparisons with other editing tools and Robert takes on why he thinks that the incremental steps that the Gutenberg project has taken are making it a vital part of WordPress.

We also look forward and get into the subject of how technology never stands still. The underpinnings of WordPress are shifting. New skills and tools will need to be learned, but that does not mean that existing ones are obsolete.
Shifting gears, we move into community events and how we’ve managed events during the last year. Robert is a huge proponent of in-person events, and is hoping for their return. He loves the accidental situations which arise when you’re in the same space as so many other like-minded people. Perhaps though, there’s a place for hybrid events; events in which there’s in-person and online happening at the same time?

Towards the end we chat about the plethora of mergers and acquisitions which are happening right now, as well as a discussion of Openverse, a search engine for openly licensed media, which was launched with little fanfare recently.

Useful links.

Openverse

Robert’s website

TranscriptNathan Wrigley [00:00:00]

Welcome to the fifth edition of the Jukebox podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley. Jukebox is a podcast all about WordPress and the community surrounding it. Every month, we’re bringing you someone from that community to discuss a topic of current importance. If you like the podcast, why not subscribe on your podcast player?

You can do that by going to WP Tavern dot com forward slash feed forward slash podcast. If you have any thoughts about the podcast, perhaps a suggestion of a potential guest or subject, then head over to WP Tavern dot com forward slash contact forward slash jukebox. There’s a contact form there, and we’d certainly welcome your input.

Okay, so on the podcast today, we have Robert Jacobi. Robert is director of WordPress at Cloudways. He’s been working with open source software for almost 20 years and has been president of Joomla, a member of Make WordPress Hosting and contributor to ICANN At-Large. He’s well known for his public speaking about open source, and so the discussion today is broad and thought provoking. We talk about Robert’s Gutenberg first approach in which he places the WordPress block editor at the heart of all that he does. He sees Gutenberg as a critical component for WordPress’ future, a future in which as yet unimagined technologies will be built on top of Gutenberg and leverage the atomic way that data is stored.

This leads to a discussion of how third party developers will be able to use Gutenberg as an application platform with unique pathways to create, store and display content. The heritage of Gutenberg’s development is also discussed. Right from the start we knew that the intention of the project was ambitious. It’s aim to become a full site editor was explained at the outset. This has led to comparisons with other editing tools and Robert takes on why he thinks that the incremental steps that the Gutenberg project has taken are making it a vital part of WordPress.

We also look forward and get into the subject of how technology never stands still. The underpinnings of WordPress are shifting. New skills and tools will need to be learned, but that does not mean that existing ones are obsolete.

Shifting gears, we move into the community events and how we’ve managed events during the last year. Robert is a huge proponent of in-person events and is hoping for their return. He loves the accidental situations which arrive when you’re in the same space as so many other like-minded people. Perhaps though there’s a place for hybrid event. Events in which there’s in-person and online happening at the same time. Towards the end, we chat about the plethora of mergers and acquisitions, which are happening right now, as well as a discussion of Openverse, a search engine for openly licensed media, which launched with little fanfare recently.

If any of the points raised in this podcast resonate with you, be sure to head over and find the post at WP Tavern dot com forward slash podcast, and leave a comment there.

And so without further delay, I bring you Robert Jacobi.

I am joined by Robert Jacobi on the podcast today. How are you Robert?

Robert Jacobi [00:04:06]

Doing well. Fantastic to be here. Thank you Nathan.

Nathan Wrigley [00:04:09]

Would you mind introducing yourself? Tell us who you are and what’s your relationship with technology and work?

Robert Jacobi [00:04:15]

I’m Robert Jacobi director of WordPress at Cloudways. I’ve been in the open source space, wow, for almost 20 years, I’m feeling old and actually got my raising on open source with the Joomla project, which is a hundred percent volunteer, open source content management system as well, and picked up WordPress slowly got into there. And boy, that’s a lot of ands.

I love the community. I love the greater goal. That open source, espouses and tries to reach. And we’re never, always successful. But having code and information more freely accessible is something I really believe in. And I think empowers people globally and provides opportunities that wouldn’t happen if these ones and zeros were siloed away in golden towers. I’m always just so tickled to talk about open source and all the interesting things we can do with it. It powers communities, it powers, politics, powers, freedoms, it powers companies. It’s really amazing. And we talk about WordPress all the time as one of the defining tools in this space. You look at something like Linux, which pretty much literally everything uses these days. It’s crazy how, to use Matt Mullenweg’s, favorite phrase, these things democratize all of us in so many different ways.

Nathan Wrigley [00:05:39]

We’ve got a really broad pallet of things that we’re going to discuss today, ranging from Gutenberg, right through to WordCamps and all sorts. So we’ll crack on with the smorgasbord of what we’ve got to discuss. The first of our little laundry list is Gutenberg. You wanted to talk to us a bit today about Gutenberg, what you think of it, and so on. There was an event that I attended recently, which you were also in attendance at, and you were on a panel there, and you mentioned that in the face of proprietary page builders, you always had the approach that Gutenberg should be the first relation. It should come first. And I’m curious to know, what did you mean by that? What is Gutenberg first? What is this approach?

Robert Jacobi [00:06:17]

So Gutenberg first to me is that we recognize the benefits of Gutenberg, and don’t try to subvert them or sneak around them. I think Gutenberg is one of the most critical backend, frontend changes that has happened to WordPress in its last umpteen years and the potential for all the interesting future forward things that Gutenberg can do should be taken into account. So page builders are wonderful. They offer all this functionality, ease of use, but I think that, they should also take and utilize Gutenberg concurrently.

The advantages are, one, that Gutenberg’s not going anywhere. So God bless all the classic editor folk who loved that experience. More than just being deprecated, it’s just, that is not going to be the way of the future.

And secondly, the potential, what can happen when you start making all that content a bit more atomic. I come from a lot of database work. So you think of atomic data points and Gutenberg does that sort of automagically for you? So there are opportunities in the future with Gutenberg to start parcing that data more finely.

That’s why I think it’s very exciting and why everything should be Gutenberg first. Again, that doesn’t mean get rid of page builders or different types of themes and theming systems. It’s just that at the base, Gutenberg should be a core building block of what you’re working with going forward.

Nathan Wrigley [00:07:51]

The way that I think many people are using Gutenberg at the moment, I should probably say the block editor, but if you’re using the Gutenberg plugin, you’ll obviously have an enhanced experience. But if you’re using the block editor at the moment, it feels as if it’s prime time for editing text, inserting images and some pretty basic stuff like that. But I can see on the horizon a whole plethora of interesting, curious, let’s call them plug-ins for now, because that’s what they are. Different block components, different plugins, which adapt and amend the capability of Gutenberg. And it feels to me as if that’s where its strength might lie. I know we’ve got the full site editing and all of that coming down the road, but it feels to me that, there’s going to be a whole plethora of third-party tools, bringing all sorts of added benefits into the ecosystem, a block for this thing, and a block for that thing. And whilst that might create some kind of bloat, that to me is an exciting area, and I just wondered if that’s something you’re interested in, if there’s any plugins or blocks that you’ve been looking at and thinking, oh, that’s curious. That seems to be stretching things a little bit.

Robert Jacobi [00:08:55]

So, you make a, first of all, great point that there’s block editor and then Gutenberg platform as a whole, and what end users typically experience is the block editor, but the Gutenberg API, Gutenberg platform as a whole is going to allow for all sorts of crazy third party integrations. That’s great. And it might even be a little, you said the perfect word, there might be a bit of bloat and craziness. I’ll say that’ll probably exist for the next 12 to 24 months. Sure, that’s fine. As people figure out what works and doesn’t. This is a dawn of a new age around taking WordPress to the next step. We’ve talked about for many years, WordPress is just a blog, blah, blah, blah. Okay. We’ve gotten past WordPress as a blog. Now WordPress as a CMS. That’s great. I think what happens with Gutenberg is we look at it and say, WordPress is an application platform, and this is just another API that we can take advantage of in very different ways. So we can have forums that are much more catered to content creators, that get rid of all the WordPress backend and admin stuff. Okay, you’re authenticated. You’re logged in. Here’s your daily news forum that you’re going to add content to. And because we’re using Gutenberg, that makes it a lot easier to publish that content and gets rid of the technical cruft, and allows developers and third-party plugin providers to have wholly unique and valuable experiences around that. And that’s where the magic I think of Gutenberg really comes into play is where will all these third parties start finding those unique value propositions for specific content, whether it’s an, a vertical, like travel or e-commerce, in a generic sense or news or publications or whatnot. It’s really expanded the opportunities to create workflows and interfaces and make content production speedier and safer.

Nathan Wrigley [00:10:55]

I think one of the curious things that I’ve observed over the last couple of years about it is that perhaps if we had the magic rewind button, we could go back a couple of years and potentially not really get into a conversation where it was… okay, we’ve got stage 1, 2, 3, and 4, and stages two, three, and four, start to add in functionality that things like page builders, can currently do, full site editing and all that. If it had just been touted as, we’ve got a new editor for you, here it is, I think it would have taken people along for the ride much more easily, but we’ve got this problem now, this impasse where, it got sold as it’s going to become a page builder, but the pace of development and the fact that they’ve got the legacy of 40 percent of the web, 40 plus percent of the web, to protect and so on it hasn’t been able to move in that direction potentially at the speed that people thought… well, it’s going to be a page builder. It hasn’t been able to mature at the rate that they would have liked to have done. And so I’m just curious in the next year, two years, whether it will do those things, but also I wish we could rewind and say look, slow down. Let’s get the editor experience sussed out first, then we’ll do the full site editing and don’t expect it to be all these things. Beause at the minute I hear a lot of people saying it’s not as good as the tool I’ve got over here, and it’s not as good as the tool I’ve got over there. Speaking of which do you think there’s a case where it isn’t the best tool where you would say actually, do you know what, I’m just going to relegate that and not use it first. Or is it literally, always the first thing in your toolkit for WordPress?

Robert Jacobi [00:12:28]

It is literally the first thing in my toolkit, because it will provide the greatest longevity in whatever’s built. Gutenberg’s not going anywhere. There was a massive commitment to it from the project side of the universe. And to answer one of your earlier questions about, has it done enough? I think it’s exceeded all expectations and this is where I’ll get to it. They’re always going to be a voices like, okay, it doesn’t make bacon and eggs for me in the morning. Okay, That’s fine, it doesn’t. I think, and I truly believe what the magic of Gutenberg is, is the paradigm shift in forcing people to look at other things. So it’s hard to make a giant feature change in anything, whether it’s proprietary project, open source project. There are going to be plenty of people who are like, no, this works for me. This is great. Please don’t change. I get that. But technology moves forward. People’s expectations increase. Ten years ago, we barely had iPhones. All of a sudden we do, and now we expect everything to be infinitely easier and simpler and more responsive. I guess it doesn’t do everything that page builders do. That’s great. That’s fine. We’re not trying to cut out the middle man here, and I say we, I’m not actually involved directly in Gutenberg at any point, but it moves the technological user experience goal posts forward. All things being equal, the page builders of the world, Beaver Builder, Elementor, they’re all going to go their own way. Having Gutenberg as a critical component, soon enough, it will be just a mandatory component, that’s the end of the conversation. Says, listen, everyone, this is what we need as part of the ecosystem. This is how you’re going to connect with tools. You can absolutely go around those, but why would you want to, because this will be supported by a worldwide community.

It’s not just going to be supported by the Beaver Builder community or the Elementor community, yada yada, this is now the new core and that’s very difficult to do, and it’s not, jumping back to what I said earlier about it, I think just making that change in and of itself and committing to that change is more important than full site editor or anything else. There’ll be incremental steps, but that was the big milestone step. Wow. Okay. This is the new tech, and we’re going to have to take advantage of it.

Nathan Wrigley [00:14:45]

You said two words in that last little bit, well you certainly said paradigm shift and you said atomic. And I think for me, the atomic bit is really interesting because what I think many people haven’t had a chance to get to grips with is literally the atomic nature of it. This little section of your blog post or whatever it may be. You can just have this little interactive thing. It might be that you’ve got a block which does, I don’t know, lead generation, or you’ve got a block, like the cover block, which will just take care of the top of your posts. And each one of those things will have a different array of settings and it doesn’t have to be built inside a proprietary thing. It’s being built inside of the default editor for WordPress. So it’s going to bring a ton of functionality and a ton of interesting things. Some of it will be bloated. I’m sure there’ll be many people who fall into the trap of installing fifty times more than they need to, or five times more than they need to. But for those of us who were curious and check things out and look and see what the end result is, you’re going to be able to create really unique experiences on this one surface, and that to me is really exciting, but have the feeling that the community got left behind in the conversation about this a little bit. So the confusion that it was going to be a page builder leads me to the whole community conversation. I know you’re all about community. This is something that you thrive on. You love the WordPress community, as you have had loved many other communities in the past. Do you have any feelings around whether there’s been enough involvement. Asking the questions, what should it look like? How should it behave? What do we want to leave on the floor and edit out that we just, it was a blind alley, we shouldn’t have had that because there are some things that I think a really excellent, there are some things that I think I’m not sure anybody’s actually going to make use of that, but there it is. And just wondering what your thoughts were around, whether the community had been involved, whether it could have been involved more.

Robert Jacobi [00:16:38]

I’m getting chuckles about a lot of these things. Could there have been more all the editing and whatnot. Since community is, especially in WordPress, a huge word, it’s always difficult to get every stakeholder, give them the space, give them the time given the vote.

What I like about what happened with Gutenberg is that it did move, in my mind, relatively quickly, and expeditiously and said, this is what we’re doing. And I think it’s too easy to be bogged down in the politics of community to actually get stuff done. So if things fall to the wayside, if things were not edit out properly, that’s where I think, the greater ecosystem can come into play and say, we’re going to tweak this, with a plugin that makes this just a bit better. It takes this out and we have such a robust economy in WordPress. That yeah, go for it. I like to see a bit more activism from people as a whole on these projects, but it’s hard. We all have day jobs. We all have stuff to do, and I’m not going to blame the leaders of the project for trying to get stuff done. In fact, I’m going to give them kudos to just doing it because it’s very easy to get pulled back and say you didn’t listen to so and so, at some point we have to fish or cut bait, we need to do something and we need to move the technology forward because everyone else is doing it. And open source projects have a tendency, especially at their, let’s say late teens, early adult stages, getting sucked into managing the community more than managing the project and pushing it forward.

You have to do both. It’s such a tricky balance. All kudos to everyone at Make dot WordPress, that they were able to do this. And it’s a large scale change and get it done. Fine, if you want to complain, that’s great. Guess what? No software lives, at that moment in time, it’s always updated and tweaked and there are still opportunities to make changes, advocate or different functionality. Expand the API, shrink the API, all those kinds of things. I do love that WordPress was able to cut bait and just go with it.

Nathan Wrigley [00:18:43]

One of the underpinnings of WordPress since the inception really was PHP. And obviously now we’re moving into an era where these technologies are being inspected, and improvements have been created along the way. And so now we’re moving into an era where other technologies, for example, React is coming along and that requires quite a bit of relearning, you’ve really got to down tools, get the manuals out, start to read again. Do you have any concern that that kind of thing could be a bit of a roadblock? It will be a bit of have a roadblock for certain people, but the technology has to move forward. Just curious as to what your thoughts are about how that’s being implemented and whether or not we’re taking it at a slow enough pace or whether we should have just stuck with good old PHP?

Robert Jacobi [00:19:29]

I like to use the right tool for the right projects, And I’ve been a coder, developer, engineer in multiple languages. I’ve actually never done anything with React, that’s one of the first ones. And that’s okay. We evolve. If we hadn’t evolved all these still using C from 1969 or whenever it came out. So this stuff has to move forward. And if React is the best solution to do that on the front end, that’s great.

Some people will be excited by that. Okay. I can expand my personal knowledge and horizons by adding to React. Honestly, a lot of the headless stuff that we see these days is also React. So it’s not a bad thing to learn if you want to learn that. If you don’t want to learn it. Okay, that’s fine. There are plenty of opportunities to still expand your WordPress activities solely with PHP. Okay. Those are more personal choices. Do I want to learn another language? Do I want to improve on what I already have? Yes. Those are choices you have to make, but none of this lives in isolation. So we have to understand that a WordPress, plain old PHP site, might still need to connect up to a bunch of different things and not all those things are going to be on PHP. You still might be connecting up to something with Perl or Python. No, one’s forcing you to learn it. Granted Gutenberg injects this react universe into your face, but you can focus on the core things that you need to do without necessarily running into React. It’s a tool that more people are… here’s the trick, there are plenty of new people who are entering coding, development, open source communities, and they like React. So it makes sense to take advantage of all this new found wealth, and then also draw them back into the community. Great, you love running with all this JS stuff. Fantastic. Hey, by the way, did you know you could actually implement that as part and parcel with an old-school PHP content management system? Yeah, we can do that. That’s great. And look how you can expand your horizon. Yeah, it stinks if you don’t want to learn any kind of Node, React stuff. Okay. But, it’s sort of the nature of code. If we really want to take the analogy to the extreme, why aren’t we still coding on punch cards with ones and zeros. We’re going to abstract it and find the best tool to implement the functionality we want to see.

And I get it me personally, I’m not going to go out and learn React today. Me twenty years ago, though, I would have added it into my tool belt in a heartbeat, just because it was just one of those things that you needed at that time, that was the case. People are going to go through their own personal and professional sort of life cycles of what they think they need to have on their knee or in their tool belt to be successful. We can’t stop for people who don’t want to do anything outside of PHP.

Nathan Wrigley [00:22:04]

We’re going to shift gears now and talk about in-person events. Under the auspices of things like WordCamp Europe, which is depending on when you’re listening to this podcast that may just have happened, or it may be it’s coming around in a year’s time or something like that.

Clearly we’ve been through a period that has really shaken the community. I feel that as a community, we were probably as well-prepared as any community could be because we were already working via the internet. We all had our computers out and so on. And yet still there is a concern. And I know that for example, people like Josepha Haden Chomposy has mentioned things like this, that the community in the absence of in-person events, there’s been a modest disengagement. And what I mean by that, this is the project, the WordPress project was propelled forward in a large part by those in-person events. So you’ve got contrib day, you’ve just got the handshaking, you can actually meet people for the first time. You can build relationships and so on. And none of that’s happened. We’ve had a year out. We don’t know quite when that is coming back, hopefully at some point in the near future, but we don’t know. And so just curious about your thoughts on that. What do you have to say about events coming back and how a project as big as WordPress, where there’s no central office where there’s no boss telling everybody what to do. So if you’re on the payroll, you’ve got to do this today and fix this thing, but that’s not how it works. And so the open source model, there may be a chink in its armor here where in-person events don’t happen, that camaraderie and those solutions don’t present themselves. And so the project, I’m going to use the word stalls, that’s a complete over-exaggeration, but bits of the project stalled because nobody’s meeting up.

Robert Jacobi [00:23:49]

I am a huge, huge advocate of in-person anything. Whether you’re extrovert or introvert, there’s always going to be someone that you really want to talk to sit down in a corner, or have a cup of coffee with and build that relationship. I’m no anthropologist or anything, but feel that those kinds of human connections help us grow stronger in light of all the mundane things we do day to day. I don’t think the project has suffered because of a lack of in-person events over the last year. I think it’s suffered because everyone else has had a lot on their mind and there’ll be a, certainly a renaissance of activity as soon as we get into in person but this is one of those things where I don’t think correlation and causation match up. If you are worried about friends and family getting ill, did the economy, my personal economies take a downturn. That’s going to weigh a lot more on someone than, oh, did I catch up on the latest WordPress dot org, Slack notification about Full Site Editing. So I don’t think they’re completely tied together, but I will certainly tell you that as those in-person meetups start ramping up, I think that’ll be a flurry of excitement and activity. Part of that will be just because we’re not still trapped in our tiny little Covid bubbles.

Nathan Wrigley [00:25:12]

What personally do you miss from the in-person events? You mentioned about having a coffee and sitting in a corner with somebody and so on, but anything that you find you’re missing, it could be something quite banal or it could be something a lot deeper.

Robert Jacobi [00:25:24]

It’s really the accidents that happen at in person events. With a completely regimented online experience, I know I’m going to be talking with Nathan at such and such time. I know I’m going to be talking to whoever everything’s organized, calendars. Okay, there’s digital here, digital there. We may edit ourselves more on these platforms. When you’re in-person accidents happen. We may be walking through the sponsor hall and accidentally bump shoulders. And it’s oh my goodness, Nathan, great to see you. I haven’t seen you in 14 months. This is amazing. And you just start a conversation and those kinds of conversations are organic and random and not necessarily so overly planned and well thought out. And at those moments, I think unique ideas, exciting things can happen that just don’t happen in a much more shrunken space. I love the distributed world. And to your point, I think WordPress is not only just gone through well, it’s actually succeeded because we’ve already been in that position. We’re already ready to be online and take care of the day to day.

We need those accidental bumpings of atoms to create new kinds of alloys. Oh my goodness. carbon and oxygen linked together. Oh, no, look what happened here. I don’t know what they do, I’m not a chemist! But my point being is when you’re in person and I’m going to keep calling them accidents, but not like in a pejorative kind of way, accidents happen, and it allows for very random, unique ideas, conversations, thoughts, whatever to happen, or just even a personal pick me up. Like you do remember me from being on slack for the last year. That’s fantastic. There’s an affirmation I think that happens for all of us when we’re in that kind of proximity with other like-minded people.

Nathan Wrigley [00:27:21]

I think one of the, there’s two points about the online events that I seem to keep coming back to. And the first one is that I feel it’s taught us that we ought to have hybrid going forward. What I mean by that is that WordCamp EU, I feel it’s going to be difficult to put the genie back in the box of you have to go to the place where the event is. I feel that the future is going to be, sure enough, if you want to turn up and you want to benefit from the hallway and all of those things, go for it. But also if you’re living halfway around the world, that now needs to be a door which is not closed to you, you need to have it open. There needs to be streaming of those talks that are happening each day so that everybody can take part. That’s one of the things that I feel is going to happen.

Robert Jacobi [00:28:03]

I completely agree. There are events that I would have never been able to attend on a very regular basis without there being an online component. Someone will solve this puzzle, but I think it’s going to be difficult to do a online and in-person event concurrently. I feel that you’ll get the worst of both worlds in that case. What I’d like to see, let’s take WordCamp Europe 2022. There’s going to be a three, four day in person spectacle. That’s fantastic. What I would like to see is maybe two days before the in-person starts. There’s a whole online portion of that. I’d be concerned about trying to do them concurrently. Are we really going to have, we can do all the live video for example, but how interactive can we make those live portions? Oh, look from online, we have a question to the speakers. Okay. That works. But outside of those sessions, how are we going to integrate the sponsor hall, the hallway track as we talk about it? Those are those accidents that I like to refer back to just walking up and down and bumping into each other. I don’t think that’s an easy problem to solve, but I’d love to see some kind of greater online kickoff onboarding experience, where you can meet the speakers, do some quick Q and A’s, and conversely, have the speakers say, make sure you don’t miss my session on such and such date and time, then that will, of course be also livestreamed.

It’s going to be expensive. It’s going to be complicated. And I think there’s going to be multiple variations of attempts at making that succeed. I like to go with baby steps to see results. And I think just starting out with maybe a one or two day virtual camp tied to the in-person camp would be a good starter.

Nathan Wrigley [00:29:46]

That’s what I was meaning really is just basically a camera at the back of the room where there’s a presentation going on with the possibility of questions coming, not just from the audience, sat in the auditorium, but from people in a different part of the world. And in fact, I feel it in a way, these kind of like skeuomorphic pieces of software, which tries to replicate the real world, you’ve got these AI representations of the hall. It’s nice. It’s a bit of fun. I feel it’s a dead end. Nobody ought to be under the illusion that’s what they’re going to do. But I do like the idea of just, here’s the talk, you can watch it at the same time as everybody else. And then maybe you and your pals can hang out. You can do your bit online and we can do our bit in the real world, and so it goes. It’s really just an opening up so that you don’t have to attend because the problem there would be that nobody actually makes the attempt to attend, but I don’t feel that’s the case. And my second point is that I feel that we need this stuff back just because the online stuff, there’s a fatigue associated with that, and I don’t for a minute think that everybody’s fatigued and I don’t for a minute, think the online events don’t have merit because they have enormous merit and they’ve been an amazing bridge, but I feel that there’s a proportion of the people who would love to be at live events who just can’t make the transition to the virtual events. There’s something about it. Something stifles them, perhaps they have the best will in the world, and then it’s on the screen. But then something in the real world occurs to them. The cat decides to chew up the sofas, so off you go, you’ve got to deal with the cat. You get distracted, you want to go and make a cup of tea, so you get distracted. Whereas if you’re at the WordCamp, you’re fully there. You’ve engaged, you’ve committed. You’ve potentially got on a plane. You’ve booked a hotel, all of that. And there’s no substitute for that. So that really was my second point is that I want to get the people who’ve been disengaged back in and ready to take on all of the challenges that we’ve got.

Robert Jacobi [00:31:42]

Yeah. I think we’re on the same page. I can do virtual events. I certainly prefer in person. And the best example of how we know that in-person is very valuable is when you go to a lot of these virtual events, the networking spaces are generally very empty. People aren’t having those conversations, those random accidental conversations that they would add an in-person event because at an in-person event, you are physically, quote unquote, stuck in that space. If you don’t want to talk to someone, you’re just going to go your own way. That’s great. But if you do, who knows who’s next to you and you’re going to overhear things and interrupt the conversation and be interrupted and that’s that magic that occurs.

Nathan Wrigley [00:32:29]

Okay. Let’s talk about the third point that we wanted to discuss today. I’m straying into an area where I don’t have a great deal of experience because I watch these things happen from afar. There’s nothing that really concerned me. That concerned me in the sense that I might be a consumer of some of the things that are being bought up. But you wanted to talk about, as you described it, the WordPress economy acquisition madness. Now, what did you mean by that? Just kick us off. Explain what you mean by that phrase.

Robert Jacobi [00:32:56]

Here’s the beauty of being a successful project, people with money will find ways to make money from it. And that’s okay, and that’s a good thing. We’re seeing the likes of Automattic, WP Engine, GoDaddy, Liquid Web, Cloudways, yada, yada, yada. All these companies, wink wink, they’re all hosting companies because they’ve been in the space for awhile under different platforms and have recurring streams of revenue and cash on hand, they’re going to look to grow their businesses, and one of the easiest ways is to find valuable niche projects, that not only will bring cool bit of code into what they’re trying to do, but also allow them to reach out to all the people who have installed that plugin.

Nathan Wrigley [00:33:45]

Do you have concern then that certain parts of the WordPress, let’s say plugin or theme space, are going to be consumed by these bigger entities as you described? In many cases, there will be hosting companies for reasons you’ve just explained. Do you have a feeling that silos in the future are going to occur? Where if you really want a decent, let’s go for, I dunno, membership experience, you really are better off going in the direction of that company, with the brands that it’s acquired over time. Or if you want to go for a WooCommerce experience, your best bet is going to be over here, and everything else is a poor relation of that. So we get silos, which we haven’t had until now.

Robert Jacobi [00:34:28]

I think that’ll happen in the short term, but when that happens, a vacuum is created in the overall ecosystem. So if hosting company X has a, quote unquote, monopoly on that membership plugin, you know what, first of all, it’s all open source. All it takes is company Y to be like, we want to be in that space as well, and we’re going to re-imagine the underlying open source code base in XYZ format. Yes, a lot of letters there, but it’ll happen. These kinds of acquisitions and changes in economy I feel are okay. We’re all working from an open source code base. If this was all proprietary stuff that you can never take advantage of, I think that would be bad for the community as a whole, but that’s not the case. It’s just one company saying we’re going to be owners of this project. You can still fork that project any day of the week, don’t forget. Cause it’s all GPL. So I don’t think we’re losing anything in the long run. There’ll be short term hiccups. People won’t be happy. If that plugin doesn’t do exactly what they want, but they probably wouldn’t necessarily be happy even if it wasn’t taken over by someone else. I think there’s a percentage of people that will always want to see all this independent software, but all these companies are technically, okay maybe they’re not all independent because some of them are actually listed on public exchanges, but the opportunity hasn’t been taken away, and if such and such plugin gets acquired by such and such hosting company, I certainly see another hosting company looking for that competitor also happening.

Nathan Wrigley [00:36:01]

Do you feel that, okay, again, rewinding the clock for the second time in this podcast, if we could go back maybe 6, 7, 8 years, something like that, before these companies were buying up suites of plugins and what have you, to bulk out their offering. We basically had independent plugin developers. There may have been a team that grew up over time and they were inventing a solution for a particular problem, and they were really invested in that, and that was great. We want to solve the calendar thing or we want to solve the, I don’t know, the menu thing, whatever it may be. I’m just wondering if we’re maybe getting into the territory of designing things to be acquired. We designed something so that this can happen, so that we can become bought up, taken along for the ride by a big hosting company, and just really whether or not there’s any dynamic that changes the way that instead of serving the customer and always trying to offer the best support for the product, really your whole intention for that business isn’t to create the product for the customer, it’s to create the product for the sell in the future.

Robert Jacobi [00:37:01]

I agree. I think there’s a potential for that. On the correlator, are you getting value in what you want out of that product? So if I use, there’s something I’m going to jump into because it’s happened recently, but on the face of it, it’s a product that is so useful to me that I’m not going to have to do custom code. It’s above and beyond every other plugin competitor in that space. Am I going to use it? I’m going to use it, yes. And to some degree it doesn’t really matter what the incentives for the developer are at that point. If it’s doing what I wanted to do, that I’m going to use it because that’s what I needed to do, and it’s going to save me 10 50, 200 hours of development time to use this plugin as opposed to trying to create something on my own. And that’s question one, or the answer one. Answer two is there certainly is an issue with, what’s a nice word for miscreant. I guess it’s gonna be miscreant, where we’ve seen recently some plugin developers literally switch out what that plugin does and what its value proposition is with, quote unquote, upgrades. And they’ve done it behind your back. Oh, well you signed up for this cute little plugin that makes banners, guess what, now it’s going to do all these things and you have to pay for it just to get banners again, and it’s like really, really is that really what you want to do? And I think those developers are getting called out on it.

The agencies and content creators, certainly in the nearby community are aware of that. I think those kinds of, yeah, they’re not necessarily illegal in any way, shape or form because you can do that, but it doesn’t really stick by the unofficial developer third party ecosystem code of conduct. And I think we’re always going to see exceptions to the rule, but as long as those are just exceptions, I think we’re in a good spot.

Nathan Wrigley [00:38:43]

Let’s pivot again. Openverse. I’ve got to say, this is something that kind of passed me by. The radar wasn’t working properly over the last few weeks since Openverse came along. I’m going to ask you to tell us what Openverse is. I have a very vague understanding of what it is, but I’d like you to tell us why you think it’s important.

Robert Jacobi [00:39:03]

This is a new project in the WordPress ecosystem. I should say WordPress dot org ecosystem. It comes from creative commons search project that was languishing at creative commons. They didn’t have community and developers interested in pushing the search component along and, with support from Automattic, it came into the welcoming arms of wordpress dot org. And it has it’s own thing called Openverse. I’m excited by it. One, because it expands the open source vision of WordPress, WordPress becoming even a greater open source proponent. It’s not just the CMS, but now we also have additional things that we’re caring about, which I think is fantastic. It simultaneously is going to be working on technical aspects as well as open libra software model, or content model, I should say, where the tool will be helping WordPress as well as anyone else, obviously on finding creative commons, open licensed media. So in this case, images. I think it’s a great expansion that’s completely in line with what the project is looking to do. And I think it’s going to be surprisingly helpful and people won’t even realize what’s going on, but they’ll all of a sudden be able to access a bunch of new content natively in whatever application, obviously WordPress will be at that top of the list, but, you’ll be able to access it with Drupal or proprietary systems.

Nathan Wrigley [00:40:40]

What was the problem with the old licensing model? What was broken with it?

Robert Jacobi [00:40:43]

What was broken was there was no one who was going to commit to keeping up the code base to make CC search working and functioning, tweaking it, bug fixes, whatnot. So, as part of the WordPress project, there will actually be active development and maintenance of the creative common search.

Nathan Wrigley [00:41:02]

Okay, so was there any concern that things which you may have downloaded from third-party sites, we all know the ones that we customarily go to, that they were often perhaps changing the license after you downloaded things, and then suddenly you didn’t realize that you were in contravention of a license, which you thought you had full access to download, redistribute, do whatever you wanted and suddenly you realize, oh, okay, that’s no longer the case. This image that I’ve got, I need to take down.

Robert Jacobi [00:41:28]

So, licensing is so fun and entertaining. So a lot of these download an image sites, those licenses still stand. So if you have downloaded it and are using an image that was licensed under creative comments, that’s not going away. Will they relicense new images? Possibly. The point is how easy will it be to find more creative commons based media? And I think that is the purpose of Openverse, to make that as easy and intuitive as possible. So again, it’s taking what used to exist as part of creative, common search, almost like a fork, rebranding it under Openverse and, making it part of an ecosystem that’s open source.

Nathan Wrigley [00:42:15]

And this is going to be completely available inside the WP admin. So you’ll have search integrated there, and if you want to search for, I don’t know, a cat on cushions, for example, you’ll be able to do that and everything that’s returned, you’ll be able to use, hopefully because the search will have returned something valuable to you in this case cat’s on cushions.

Robert Jacobi [00:42:35]

So that is my expectation. Obviously it’s not built into any of that yet, but yeah, that is that’s where I see the project going.

Nathan Wrigley [00:42:40]

But it was a nice philanthropic gesture of Automattic to take this on board and just basically put it into WordPress so that the likes of me, and you can find our cats on cushions whenever we please.

Robert Jacobi [00:43:35]

Right.

HeroPress: How WordPress Has Changed My Life – Gtarafdar

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 06:42

I’m Gobinda Tarafdar from Dhaka, Bangladesh. In short, Gtarafdar. This short form is available everywhere on social media. Actually, while I was a kid, a medicine specialist suggested this short form of my name. From that time, I had a plan to use it. Moving on, now I have become a WordPress Enthusiast Marketer. In this essay, I will share my journey to WordPress with you.

Early Stage Of My Career:

I started my career as a teacher in an academic coaching center back in 2010. I was then a 1st-year student of my 4-year Graduation Program. But the number of my earnings was not sufficient to cover all my livelihood. My parents were giving me support to continue my study at that time. So I was looking for more ways to earn my living. But in our country, it’s tough to get a job without graduation. I tried to find more tutoring jobs but failed to get one. Then I gave stand-up comedy a try. At that time, it became popular. I participated in a TV reality show based on stand-up comedy. But failed to reach the top five. So, didn’t get much success in the comedy sector as well.

In this way, two years passed. After a while, I got the idea of a call center job in the telco industry of our country. I gave an interview to our number one telco company Grameenphone – a sister concern of Telenor. And luckily got the chance to join there. And it’s a game-changing part of my career. I learned a lot about team play, pressure handling, the ability to put myself in a customer’s shoes, and more. But it was a part-time job, and my graduation was about to end. Immediately after finishing my graduation, I got the opportunity to join Grameenphone’s Finance team. However, I had to pass the challenging interview as many other promising candidates were competing with me. Everything seemed so great at that time. Got the opportunity to work in the country’s best corporate office, but bad luck struck again. Didn’t get the chance to be a full-time employee from contractual employee status.

I took a break to join the country’s public service commission. Unfortunately, I failed to get the desired position again. In the meantime, my father retired from his job. All of a sudden, so many responsibilities came upon me. By the way, I forgot to mention, in this time frame, I had completed my Graduation, Masters, and MBA. The year where I’m now in the beginning of 2018. After my father’s retirement, I had no time for an experiment. But the main challenge came then.

No one wanted to give me a chance as I worked at one of Bangladesh’s most prominent companies; they thought I couldn’t fit into their office culture.

Also, I wanted to start my career as a Digital Marketer, and I had no practical experience at that time. I had some certification of Udemy and Hubspot free courses. But I was confident that I had a degree of MBA in Marketing. But all of my confidence was doomed within three months. I stopped applying everywhere, started to do some research on the job sector. Finally, I decided to join the IT industry, and in our country, WordPress Based companies are in the leading position. So, I had my target fixed towards the WordPress industry.

A Huge Risk-Taking State in My Career:

I took a huge risk to start my career in the WordPress industry. After not seeing much job opportunities in the Digital Marketing area in my country, I was planning to join the telco industry again as I was finding no option to cherish my dream. I badly needed a job at that time. But meanwhile, I found a job circular in weDevs. They were looking for a Digital Marketer Intern. So I made my decision to take part in this program. Surprisingly, I got another job offer from a renowned MNC of our country in the sales team. But I took a huge risk and started trying for the weDevs internship program, and refused the salesperson job. My friends Mayeen & Arif helped me a lot to learn more about WordPress. And they guided me on how I could set up localhost on my computer, and from then, I started to explore themes and plugins from the WordPress repository. I must say I got an interesting tool to play with. After passing three stages, I finally got the chance to join weDevs. weDevs is a popular WordPress Plugin making company. It’s famous for Dokan Multivendor Marketplace Solution for WooCommerce.

My Life at weDevs

Ohh, maybe you have a question about how it can be risky to go for the weDevs internship program! Well, the payout of the other company was three times higher than the weDevs internship payout. And I refused to join the other sales team while I still didn’t have any guarantee to join the weDevs team. So now you can judge, isn’t that risky? (Sorry, I can’t share the name of the sales company publicly here due to some policy issue.)

The Journey to WordPress:

From the day when I had installed WordPress in my local host, my journey in this ecosystem started. I found it so easy to use and user-friendly that I felt anyone could create a website. I started to read articles and explore the World of WordPress. Also, weDevs’s internship program helped me a lot to get involved in the WordPress industry. My mentor Afshana Diya and Mainul Kabir Aion guided me a lot to dive deep into the sea of WordPress. Learned the area of content marketing, explored paid mediums, gathered knowledge on social media marketing, and more within three months. The internship program was exact and compact, along with interactive.

Here came another twist. I wanted to be a part of the Digital Marketing Team. But because of my communication skills and interpersonal relationship skills, Mr. Nizam Uddin (Founder & CEO at weDevs) offered me the Business Development executive position. It was an entirely new thing at weDevs. I was the one-man army in the Business Development Team. And it opened up a new world to me. At that time, I got my first chance to attend a WordCamp (WCAhmedabad, India 2018). From that time, I got the motive to be involved in the WordPress Community. I’ll share how WordCamps can help you to join the community closely. Later on, I got the chance to participate in WordCamp Kolkata 2019, WordCamp Nagpur 2019. It was a fantastic journey to join WordCamps in person. In 2019 I took part in WordCamp Dhaka as a volunteer.

My Journey to WordCamps

I’d love to share with you; now, I have become part of the Digital Marketing Team of weDevs. After almost two years of my journey as a business development executive, I got this new opportunity to prove myself again. So I took this opportunity and became a Digital Strategist.

Now I’m dedicatedly taking care of a sole product. It’s an Addon of Elementor Page Builder. It’s HappyAddons for Elementor. I’m the product coordinator of this excellent tool. From zero to now, 100k+ users are actively using this tool. It’s an incredible learning period in my career path. I learned how to grow a product from the ground level. It’s a great achievement for me as a Product Marketer.

How WordCamp Helps Me to Become a Member in the WordPress Community:

WordCamps are the place of like-minded people. When you are in touch with the right people under the same roof, you will get that homely feeling. Also, in WordCamps, you get to meet industry experts. Interestingly, you can collect lucrative swag items. To some extent, you will get an opportunity to make partnerships to expand the business. Moreover, some companies share job boxes where anyone can share their resume. So it could be a place of opportunities. Who knows what you will get. But in my case, I made so many friends. We are now close buddies.

The exciting part, some WordCamps run contributors day. On that day, you will get the chance to know closely about how you can take part in the core programs of WordPress. From WordCamp Ahmedabad, I started participating in WordPress programs, also started joining WordPress teams meetings. I’ve become active on social media as well to spread news and updates related to WordPress.

How I’m Enriching My Knowledge of WordPress:

One line changes my way of thinking. Once I was talking with our Founder & CTO, Mr. Tareq Hasan, regarding this topic. He just said, “Gobinda, you don’t have to learn coding to solve the problems of WordPress; you have to gain the ability to solve the problem by anyhow. You can solve any kind of problem by referring to other WordPress Plugins and tools.”

I got a new meaning of using WordPress. From that time, I have started to check WordPress plugins and themes to learn more about their purpose. WordPress repository now becomes a place of amusement for me. Sometimes, my colleagues refer to me as a ‘plugin man’ as I try to give a quick solution to WordPress-related problems with the help of WordPress plugins.

Still, I’m participating in several Facebook Group discussions. Trying to solve several solutions and learning what problems are usually people facing while creating websites with WordPress. And believe me, there is definitely a solution to each particular problem.

You have to keep patience and search for the solution in the right type of keywords.

For example, yesterday on the Facebook group – WordPressian (Dedicated Facebook Group for those who speak Bangali), a person was looking to create a courier service platform where people can track their package. Most people suggested building a custom-made solution. But I know there is a solution; I randomly found it on the WP repository.

So I just googled this term “WordPress plugin: courier service”. Google didn’t disappoint me.

I got my answer, read the description, reviewed, checked screenshots, and shared the solution with that person.

To increase my knowledge of WordPress, I use another method. I use some Google Chrome Extensions for checking the Builtwith Materials of WordPress sites. When I jump on a WordPress site, I just click on the Chrome Ext. and check the plugins they’ve used to create their site. And it helps me a lot to learn the tools and their purposes. You can do that if you want to increase your knowledge of WordPress.

Lastly, you have to create a site by yourself. Otherwise, you would not be able to know the issue on your own. At least create your own portfolio site. I have learned so many things while creating my portfolio site: gtarafdar.com. You will know some untold facts, and finally, you will get a boost. Mr. Asif Rahman, the founder of WP Developers, gave me this idea. He always inspires me to create a personal website. Also, he forced me to write about WordPress daily. Guided me on how I can create a site with Elementor in 2018. I became familiar with a handy tool that helps me create a site without having coding experiences from that time. Later on, it helped me to take over the Happy Elementor Addons Project.

How you can connect with WordPress Socially:

Twitter is the best medium. I opened my Twitter account in 2010. But I had no motivation to use it as I didn’t have people close to me there. My friends were all on Facebook. I was also trying to involve myself on Facebook. But after joining weDevs, I found my Mentor, Afshana Diya, was so active on Twitter, and she has so many like-minded people on Twitter, and most of them belong to the WordPress community. I got new motivation to use Twitter. I started to connect with WordPress Professionals. Also interacted with them regularly. And I must say it feels really amazing.

I’ve prepared a Twitter list of WordPress Influencers. You can easily follow them from here.

How you can start your career at WordPress:

If you have a passion for coding, you could be a WordPress developer. In our region, here is a myth. To become a developer, you have to be a CSE grad. But it’s not true. Let’s check a fact. In our weDevs, most of the Developers are directly not from Computer Science Engineering backgrounds. In the same way, you may have joined the CSE program at an early stage, but now you may not have that much passion for coding. You can be a Product Manager. In the WordPress industry, there is scope for a Product manager as well. Another exciting sector is the Quality Assurance team. So many companies are hiring in this sector. Moreover, if you like to communicate with people, you can join the Support Engineering team. You can’t imagine how many job openings there are in the support engineering field.

Those who don’t have any coding knowledge but are proficient in English and have a passion for writing can join as Content Marketers. There are plenty of job vacancies in the content marketing area.

Another interesting option is joining the Designing team. If you find interest in the designing sector and love to play with the designing tools like Figma, Adobe Tools, Sketch, you can definitely join the design team of a WordPress company.

Later on, other job sectors like HR management, Accounts, Business Development, and other necessary areas are also available on WordPress companies. More interestingly, you can work remotely in so many companies. WordPress founding company Automattic is running its whole operation remotely. You just have to find your perfect niche. Otherwise, you can be frustrated.

I’ve prepared a list of WordPress companies where you can apply for jobs.

Finally, don’t be frustrated, my mate. I often hear from my fellow friends and juniors always blame God, parents, and the government because of their unemployment problem. But when I reach them and personally request to gain some technical skills, they just run away most of the time. Not even reply to my messages anymore. Even some of them block me. Lol. Also, some other groups are available; they knock me for jobs and share their family issues, but when I ask them to learn more about web development, they just fly like a bat. I don’t know what their problem is. If you are in the same category, then my mate, you are in huge trouble. Change your mindset. Gain some skills. It could be anything. Try one by one. Then choose the best one for you. But again, don’t be frustrated. Keep focusing on your goal. And dive into it.

What’s The Challenge on Working in WordPress Industry:

I’ve shared all the positive things about joining the WordPress industry. But there is a significant challenge you have to face while you will join the community. In my region, very few people know WordPress. Only tech-savvy people are familiar with that. Even most of the people don’t have any prior knowledge about remote job life. I have personally experienced so many funny incidents. Last year when my family members found me in front of my Mac and sometimes talking with some people, sometimes in English, they found me as an alien in my house. Even most of the time, I failed to give proof of how the whole work was done. You will face the same situation if you belong to the rural area of Bangladesh. But don’t worry, I prepared a comic book on Describe WordPress To Non-Techies. You can read the conversation with my Grandpa. I have tried to give an idea about WordPress. I hope this will help you to introduce WordPress to the non-tech guys.

How I’m Contributing to the WordPress Community and how you can start:

Usually, I try to attend the weekly meeting of WordPress teams. I have attended several coffee-talk sessions of WordPress Teams. It helps me join with the members. Also, I’m trying to contribute to the Polyglot team. I have started to give suggestions of translating WordPress in Bangla. But mostly, I contribute in different ways. I have conducted local WordPress meet-ups, volunteered on WordCamps. I spread the news and updates through my social media accounts. Help WordPress people to find jobs. Recently, I’ve started my YouTube Channel(Gtarafdarr). I have begun to create how-to tutorials on WordPress.

If you want to join WordPress core teams, you will need a WordPress Slack Account. From here, you can join WordPress Slack.

From here, you will find the meeting schedules of different teams. Don’t get puzzled. You can sort out your desired teams and add the meeting reminders to your calendar.

Everyone in the WordPress community is so helpful. If you find any difficulties, raise your hand and people will guide you in the right way.

Also, there are so many WordPress Facebook communities. Some are locals, and few are international, like WordPress, Advanced WordPress, WordPress For Non-Techies by WPCrafter, The WP Admin Bar, WPLeague, WPBeginner Engage – WordPress Help for Non-Techies, etc. Local Communities are, WordPressians, Kolkata WordPress Community (WPKolkata), etc. You can join these groups to get help from experts. Also, you can help others if you know the answers of the queries.

This How WordPress Changed My Life

Finally, I’m really thankful to WordPress. Because of this community I have overseas friends. We talk and meet virtually. All of them are so helpful. I get new motivations to do something extraordinary in my daily routine. I’m thankful to my parents and my younger sister as they rely upon me. They help me to take the risk to chess my dream. I’m grateful to weDevs and Tareq Hasan, Nizam Uddin, Asif Rahman, Afshana Diya, Mainul Kabir Aion, and my friends Arif, Mayeen, Shahriar, Mazhar, and so on. They all have played a significant role in helping me become Gtarafdar, a WordPress enthusiast. Also, thanks to the HeroPress team for reaching me and encouraging me to share my story here.

I’m still learning about WordPress and have to go further. If you want to connect with me, you can follow me on Twitter: @Gtarafdarr. Let’s contribute to WordPress and hold the glory of the supreme power of an open-source platform.

The post How WordPress Has Changed My Life – Gtarafdar appeared first on HeroPress.

HeroPress: How WordPress Has Changed My Life – Gtarafdar

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 06:42

I’m Gobinda Tarafdar from Dhaka, Bangladesh. In short, Gtarafdar. This short form is available everywhere on social media. Actually, while I was a kid, a medicine specialist suggested this short form of my name. From that time, I had a plan to use it. Moving on, now I have become a WordPress Enthusiast Marketer. In this essay, I will share my journey to WordPress with you.

Early Stage Of My Career:

I started my career as a teacher in an academic coaching center back in 2010. I was then a 1st-year student of my 4-year Graduation Program. But the number of my earnings was not sufficient to cover all my livelihood. My parents were giving me support to continue my study at that time. So I was looking for more ways to earn my living. But in our country, it’s tough to get a job without graduation. I tried to find more tutoring jobs but failed to get one. Then I gave stand-up comedy a try. At that time, it became popular. I participated in a TV reality show based on stand-up comedy. But failed to reach the top five. So, didn’t get much success in the comedy sector as well.

In this way, two years passed. After a while, I got the idea of a call center job in the telco industry of our country. I gave an interview to our number one telco company Grameenphone – a sister concern of Telenor. And luckily got the chance to join there. And it’s a game-changing part of my career. I learned a lot about team play, pressure handling, the ability to put myself in a customer’s shoes, and more. But it was a part-time job, and my graduation was about to end. Immediately after finishing my graduation, I got the opportunity to join Grameenphone’s Finance team. However, I had to pass the challenging interview as many other promising candidates were competing with me. Everything seemed so great at that time. Got the opportunity to work in the country’s best corporate office, but bad luck struck again. Didn’t get the chance to be a full-time employee from contractual employee status.

I took a break to join the country’s public service commission. Unfortunately, I failed to get the desired position again. In the meantime, my father retired from his job. All of a sudden, so many responsibilities came upon me. By the way, I forgot to mention, in this time frame, I had completed my Graduation, Masters, and MBA. The year where I’m now in the beginning of 2018. After my father’s retirement, I had no time for an experiment. But the main challenge came then.

No one wanted to give me a chance as I worked at one of Bangladesh’s most prominent companies; they thought I couldn’t fit into their office culture.

Also, I wanted to start my career as a Digital Marketer, and I had no practical experience at that time. I had some certification of Udemy and Hubspot free courses. But I was confident that I had a degree of MBA in Marketing. But all of my confidence was doomed within three months. I stopped applying everywhere, started to do some research on the job sector. Finally, I decided to join the IT industry, and in our country, WordPress Based companies are in the leading position. So, I had my target fixed towards the WordPress industry.

A Huge Risk-Taking State in My Career:

I took a huge risk to start my career in the WordPress industry. After not seeing much job opportunities in the Digital Marketing area in my country, I was planning to join the telco industry again as I was finding no option to cherish my dream. I badly needed a job at that time. But meanwhile, I found a job circular in weDevs. They were looking for a Digital Marketer Intern. So I made my decision to take part in this program. Surprisingly, I got another job offer from a renowned MNC of our country in the sales team. But I took a huge risk and started trying for the weDevs internship program, and refused the salesperson job. My friends Mayeen & Arif helped me a lot to learn more about WordPress. And they guided me on how I could set up localhost on my computer, and from then, I started to explore themes and plugins from the WordPress repository. I must say I got an interesting tool to play with. After passing three stages, I finally got the chance to join weDevs. weDevs is a popular WordPress Plugin making company. It’s famous for Dokan Multivendor Marketplace Solution for WooCommerce.

My Life at weDevs

Ohh, maybe you have a question about how it can be risky to go for the weDevs internship program! Well, the payout of the other company was three times higher than the weDevs internship payout. And I refused to join the other sales team while I still didn’t have any guarantee to join the weDevs team. So now you can judge, isn’t that risky? (Sorry, I can’t share the name of the sales company publicly here due to some policy issue.)

The Journey to WordPress:

From the day when I had installed WordPress in my local host, my journey in this ecosystem started. I found it so easy to use and user-friendly that I felt anyone could create a website. I started to read articles and explore the World of WordPress. Also, weDevs’s internship program helped me a lot to get involved in the WordPress industry. My mentor Afshana Diya and Mainul Kabir Aion guided me a lot to dive deep into the sea of WordPress. Learned the area of content marketing, explored paid mediums, gathered knowledge on social media marketing, and more within three months. The internship program was exact and compact, along with interactive.

Here came another twist. I wanted to be a part of the Digital Marketing Team. But because of my communication skills and interpersonal relationship skills, Mr. Nizam Uddin (Founder & CEO at weDevs) offered me the Business Development executive position. It was an entirely new thing at weDevs. I was the one-man army in the Business Development Team. And it opened up a new world to me. At that time, I got my first chance to attend a WordCamp (WCAhmedabad, India 2018). From that time, I got the motive to be involved in the WordPress Community. I’ll share how WordCamps can help you to join the community closely. Later on, I got the chance to participate in WordCamp Kolkata 2019, WordCamp Nagpur 2019. It was a fantastic journey to join WordCamps in person. In 2019 I took part in WordCamp Dhaka as a volunteer.

My Journey to WordCamps

I’d love to share with you; now, I have become part of the Digital Marketing Team of weDevs. After almost two years of my journey as a business development executive, I got this new opportunity to prove myself again. So I took this opportunity and became a Digital Strategist.

Now I’m dedicatedly taking care of a sole product. It’s an Addon of Elementor Page Builder. It’s HappyAddons for Elementor. I’m the product coordinator of this excellent tool. From zero to now, 100k+ users are actively using this tool. It’s an incredible learning period in my career path. I learned how to grow a product from the ground level. It’s a great achievement for me as a Product Marketer.

How WordCamp Helps Me to Become a Member in the WordPress Community:

WordCamps are the place of like-minded people. When you are in touch with the right people under the same roof, you will get that homely feeling. Also, in WordCamps, you get to meet industry experts. Interestingly, you can collect lucrative swag items. To some extent, you will get an opportunity to make partnerships to expand the business. Moreover, some companies share job boxes where anyone can share their resume. So it could be a place of opportunities. Who knows what you will get. But in my case, I made so many friends. We are now close buddies.

The exciting part, some WordCamps run contributors day. On that day, you will get the chance to know closely about how you can take part in the core programs of WordPress. From WordCamp Ahmedabad, I started participating in WordPress programs, also started joining WordPress teams meetings. I’ve become active on social media as well to spread news and updates related to WordPress.

How I’m Enriching My Knowledge of WordPress:

One line changes my way of thinking. Once I was talking with our Founder & CTO, Mr. Tareq Hasan, regarding this topic. He just said, “Gobinda, you don’t have to learn coding to solve the problems of WordPress; you have to gain the ability to solve the problem by anyhow. You can solve any kind of problem by referring to other WordPress Plugins and tools.”

I got a new meaning of using WordPress. From that time, I have started to check WordPress plugins and themes to learn more about their purpose. WordPress repository now becomes a place of amusement for me. Sometimes, my colleagues refer to me as a ‘plugin man’ as I try to give a quick solution to WordPress-related problems with the help of WordPress plugins.

Still, I’m participating in several Facebook Group discussions. Trying to solve several solutions and learning what problems are usually people facing while creating websites with WordPress. And believe me, there is definitely a solution to each particular problem.

You have to keep patience and search for the solution in the right type of keywords.

For example, yesterday on the Facebook group – WordPressian (Dedicated Facebook Group for those who speak Bangali), a person was looking to create a courier service platform where people can track their package. Most people suggested building a custom-made solution. But I know there is a solution; I randomly found it on the WP repository.

So I just googled this term “WordPress plugin: courier service”. Google didn’t disappoint me.

I got my answer, read the description, reviewed, checked screenshots, and shared the solution with that person.

To increase my knowledge of WordPress, I use another method. I use some Google Chrome Extensions for checking the Builtwith Materials of WordPress sites. When I jump on a WordPress site, I just click on the Chrome Ext. and check the plugins they’ve used to create their site. And it helps me a lot to learn the tools and their purposes. You can do that if you want to increase your knowledge of WordPress.

Lastly, you have to create a site by yourself. Otherwise, you would not be able to know the issue on your own. At least create your own portfolio site. I have learned so many things while creating my portfolio site: gtarafdar.com. You will know some untold facts, and finally, you will get a boost. Mr. Asif Rahman, the founder of WP Developers, gave me this idea. He always inspires me to create a personal website. Also, he forced me to write about WordPress daily. Guided me on how I can create a site with Elementor in 2018. I became familiar with a handy tool that helps me create a site without having coding experiences from that time. Later on, it helped me to take over the Happy Elementor Addons Project.

How you can connect with WordPress Socially:

Twitter is the best medium. I opened my Twitter account in 2010. But I had no motivation to use it as I didn’t have people close to me there. My friends were all on Facebook. I was also trying to involve myself on Facebook. But after joining weDevs, I found my Mentor, Afshana Diya, was so active on Twitter, and she has so many like-minded people on Twitter, and most of them belong to the WordPress community. I got new motivation to use Twitter. I started to connect with WordPress Professionals. Also interacted with them regularly. And I must say it feels really amazing.

I’ve prepared a Twitter list of WordPress Influencers. You can easily follow them from here.

How you can start your career at WordPress:

If you have a passion for coding, you could be a WordPress developer. In our region, here is a myth. To become a developer, you have to be a CSE grad. But it’s not true. Let’s check a fact. In our weDevs, most of the Developers are directly not from Computer Science Engineering backgrounds. In the same way, you may have joined the CSE program at an early stage, but now you may not have that much passion for coding. You can be a Product Manager. In the WordPress industry, there is scope for a Product manager as well. Another exciting sector is the Quality Assurance team. So many companies are hiring in this sector. Moreover, if you like to communicate with people, you can join the Support Engineering team. You can’t imagine how many job openings there are in the support engineering field.

Those who don’t have any coding knowledge but are proficient in English and have a passion for writing can join as Content Marketers. There are plenty of job vacancies in the content marketing area.

Another interesting option is joining the Designing team. If you find interest in the designing sector and love to play with the designing tools like Figma, Adobe Tools, Sketch, you can definitely join the design team of a WordPress company.

Later on, other job sectors like HR management, Accounts, Business Development, and other necessary areas are also available on WordPress companies. More interestingly, you can work remotely in so many companies. WordPress founding company Automattic is running its whole operation remotely. You just have to find your perfect niche. Otherwise, you can be frustrated.

I’ve prepared a list of WordPress companies where you can apply for jobs.

Finally, don’t be frustrated, my mate. I often hear from my fellow friends and juniors always blame God, parents, and the government because of their unemployment problem. But when I reach them and personally request to gain some technical skills, they just run away most of the time. Not even reply to my messages anymore. Even some of them block me. Lol. Also, some other groups are available; they knock me for jobs and share their family issues, but when I ask them to learn more about web development, they just fly like a bat. I don’t know what their problem is. If you are in the same category, then my mate, you are in huge trouble. Change your mindset. Gain some skills. It could be anything. Try one by one. Then choose the best one for you. But again, don’t be frustrated. Keep focusing on your goal. And dive into it.

What’s The Challenge on Working in WordPress Industry:

I’ve shared all the positive things about joining the WordPress industry. But there is a significant challenge you have to face while you will join the community. In my region, very few people know WordPress. Only tech-savvy people are familiar with that. Even most of the people don’t have any prior knowledge about remote job life. I have personally experienced so many funny incidents. Last year when my family members found me in front of my Mac and sometimes talking with some people, sometimes in English, they found me as an alien in my house. Even most of the time, I failed to give proof of how the whole work was done. You will face the same situation if you belong to the rural area of Bangladesh. But don’t worry, I prepared a comic book on Describe WordPress To Non-Techies. You can read the conversation with my Grandpa. I have tried to give an idea about WordPress. I hope this will help you to introduce WordPress to the non-tech guys.

How I’m Contributing to the WordPress Community and how you can start:

Usually, I try to attend the weekly meeting of WordPress teams. I have attended several coffee-talk sessions of WordPress Teams. It helps me join with the members. Also, I’m trying to contribute to the Polyglot team. I have started to give suggestions of translating WordPress in Bangla. But mostly, I contribute in different ways. I have conducted local WordPress meet-ups, volunteered on WordCamps. I spread the news and updates through my social media accounts. Help WordPress people to find jobs. Recently, I’ve started my YouTube Channel(Gtarafdarr). I have begun to create how-to tutorials on WordPress.

If you want to join WordPress core teams, you will need a WordPress Slack Account. From here, you can join WordPress Slack.

From here, you will find the meeting schedules of different teams. Don’t get puzzled. You can sort out your desired teams and add the meeting reminders to your calendar.

Everyone in the WordPress community is so helpful. If you find any difficulties, raise your hand and people will guide you in the right way.

Also, there are so many WordPress Facebook communities. Some are locals, and few are international, like WordPress, Advanced WordPress, WordPress For Non-Techies by WPCrafter, The WP Admin Bar, WPLeague, WPBeginner Engage – WordPress Help for Non-Techies, etc. Local Communities are, WordPressians, Kolkata WordPress Community (WPKolkata), etc. You can join these groups to get help from experts. Also, you can help others if you know the answers of the queries.

This How WordPress Changed My Life

Finally, I’m really thankful to WordPress. Because of this community I have overseas friends. We talk and meet virtually. All of them are so helpful. I get new motivations to do something extraordinary in my daily routine. I’m thankful to my parents and my younger sister as they rely upon me. They help me to take the risk to chess my dream. I’m grateful to weDevs and Tareq Hasan, Nizam Uddin, Asif Rahman, Afshana Diya, Mainul Kabir Aion, and my friends Arif, Mayeen, Shahriar, Mazhar, and so on. They all have played a significant role in helping me become Gtarafdar, a WordPress enthusiast. Also, thanks to the HeroPress team for reaching me and encouraging me to share my story here.

I’m still learning about WordPress and have to go further. If you want to connect with me, you can follow me on Twitter: @Gtarafdarr. Let’s contribute to WordPress and hold the glory of the supreme power of an open-source platform.

The post How WordPress Has Changed My Life – Gtarafdar appeared first on HeroPress.

WPTavern: InstaWP Launches New Service for Disposable WordPress Testing Sites

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 04:25

Competition in the sandboxing products space is heating with the entrance of InstaWP, a new service for setting up disposable WordPress testing sites. Founder Vikas Singhal created the tool to provide a quick way to set up live testing sites online or to show something to a client or team.

InstaWP joins the ranks of services like TasteWP and WPSandbox but with a few unique options. At setup, users can select from WordPress versions back to 4.7 and may even choose to spin up a site using the latest beta or release candidate. Like other services, InstaWP allows you to choose your PHP version. The ability to disable WP cache and browser cache is coming soon. Users can create a custom name for their sites or leave it blank for a randomly generated name.

Free WordPress instances stay live for 8 hours, and users can link their accounts via email to extend it to 48 hours.

InstaWP, not to be confused with InstantWP, a local WordPress installation tool, was built on an nginx + Apache server without any containers. Singhal said he found containers to be too heavy for this particular use case. He runs a WordPress plugin/theme shop along with an agency on the side, both of which could benefit from InstaWP’s quick testing sites.

“I wanted to build a solution for ourselves where we can quickly launch WP instances for a variety of reasons – testing a feature of WP, testing a plugin/theme, testing in different versions of WP/PHP and last but not the least – creating an ‘instant’ test environment for the clients for them to test our plugins/themes,” he said.

Singhal started InstaWP a month ago and received so much positive feedback on Reddit and from the Post Status community that he hired two dedicated developers to work on the project. Testers have commented on how fast the service spins up sites. Version 1.1.0 introduced Slack integration, which allows users to instantly set up a site by typing /wp in Slack. The release also added WordPress admin auto login for quick access without username and password.

InstaWP has a public road map. Features on deck for future releases include the following:

  1. Slack and cli commands
  2. Download Files and DB Backup from the UI
  3. Direct push to FTP or cPanel
  4. nginx and nginx + Apache configurations
  5. Finer controls on PHP settings
  6. Save configurations for instant launch of pre-configured WP
  7. Integrations with hosting providers
  8. Map custom domains
  9. Multiple servers around the world (USA, Singapore, London, etc.)

Singhal said he was aware of TasteWP as a competitor but plans to differentiate InstaWP based on simplicity and feature set.

“My vision with InstaWP is make it a default tool for WP learners, enthusiasts, freelancers, and agencies – basically everyone,” he said.

Singhal plans to monetize the tool for both end-users and plugin and theme authors. Users will have to upgrade to gain access to increased limits, custom domains, FTP access, and the ability to reserve a site. WordPress product authors can upgrade to provide 1-click demos to their clients and prospective customers.

Singhal said so far more than 500 instances have been created and teams from Yoast and some agencies are already using the tool. Several prominent WordPress businesses have requested agency pricing that would allow their users to test their plugins via a 1-click preconfigured install. The service is still under active development and Singhal plans to iron out pricing in the near future. Testers who have suggestions for InstaWP can log them on the tool’s idea board for future consideration.

WPTavern: InstaWP Launches New Service for Disposable WordPress Testing Sites

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 04:25

Competition in the sandboxing products space is heating with the entrance of InstaWP, a new service for setting up disposable WordPress testing sites. Founder Vikas Singhal created the tool to provide a quick way to set up live testing sites online or to show something to a client or team.

InstaWP joins the ranks of services like TasteWP and WPSandbox but with a few unique options. At setup, users can select from WordPress versions back to 4.7 and may even choose to spin up a site using the latest beta or release candidate. Like other services, InstaWP allows you to choose your PHP version. The ability to disable WP cache and browser cache is coming soon. Users can create a custom name for their sites or leave it blank for a randomly generated name.

Free WordPress instances stay live for 8 hours, and users can link their accounts via email to extend it to 48 hours.

InstaWP, not to be confused with InstantWP, a local WordPress installation tool, was built on an nginx + Apache server without any containers. Singhal said he found containers to be too heavy for this particular use case. He runs a WordPress plugin/theme shop along with an agency on the side, both of which could benefit from InstaWP’s quick testing sites.

“I wanted to build a solution for ourselves where we can quickly launch WP instances for a variety of reasons – testing a feature of WP, testing a plugin/theme, testing in different versions of WP/PHP and last but not the least – creating an ‘instant’ test environment for the clients for them to test our plugins/themes,” he said.

Singhal started InstaWP a month ago and received so much positive feedback on Reddit and from the Post Status community that he hired two dedicated developers to work on the project. Testers have commented on how fast the service spins up sites. Version 1.1.0 introduced Slack integration, which allows users to instantly set up a site by typing /wp in Slack. The release also added WordPress admin auto login for quick access without username and password.

InstaWP has a public road map. Features on deck for future releases include the following:

  1. Slack and cli commands
  2. Download Files and DB Backup from the UI
  3. Direct push to FTP or cPanel
  4. nginx and nginx + Apache configurations
  5. Finer controls on PHP settings
  6. Save configurations for instant launch of pre-configured WP
  7. Integrations with hosting providers
  8. Map custom domains
  9. Multiple servers around the world (USA, Singapore, London, etc.)

Singhal said he was aware of TasteWP as a competitor but plans to differentiate InstaWP based on simplicity and feature set.

“My vision with InstaWP is make it a default tool for WP learners, enthusiasts, freelancers, and agencies – basically everyone,” he said.

Singhal plans to monetize the tool for both end-users and plugin and theme authors. Users will have to upgrade to gain access to increased limits, custom domains, FTP access, and the ability to reserve a site. WordPress product authors can upgrade to provide 1-click demos to their clients and prospective customers.

Singhal said so far more than 500 instances have been created and teams from Yoast and some agencies are already using the tool. Several prominent WordPress businesses have requested agency pricing that would allow their users to test their plugins via a 1-click preconfigured install. The service is still under active development and Singhal plans to iron out pricing in the near future. Testers who have suggestions for InstaWP can log them on the tool’s idea board for future consideration.

WPTavern: Duotone Filters: WordPress 5.8 Puts a Powerful Image-Editing Tool Into Users’ Hands

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 02:04

Features such as the upcoming block-based widgets system, the template editor, theme-related blocks, and others have taken up much of the spotlight as of late. However, one of the best user-focused tools shipping with WordPress 5.8 is a duotone filter for Image and Cover blocks.

The term “duotone” in this sense means combining two colors as a filter. Then, layering it over an image or video. More specifically, one color is used for the shadows (dark elements), and the second color is used for the highlights (light colors).

When the feature first landed in Gutenberg 10.6 back in May, I spent a couple of hours just tinkering around with it on that first day. Since then, I have racked up a few more. It is a powerful media-editing tool that does not require users to dive into image-editing programs, allowing them to change the mood of a story at the click of a button.

Duotones can be anything from a simple grayscale to a mixture of any two colors. Shadows and highlights can even be inverted, depending on the shades chosen.

The following shows the difference between an original image of kittens (because who doesn’t love kittens?) and one with a grayscale filter:

Original image vs. grayscale duotone version.

WordPress offers a set of eight duotone color sets by default. This includes a grayscale, dark grayscale, and various combinations, making for some fun filters. Some will work better than others, often depending on the media file uploaded.

Applying the WordPress purple and yellow duotone filter.

Like many other features awaiting users with WordPress 5.8, theme authors are those who need to dig in to offer a range of ready-baked options for users. The new theme JSON file configuration allows developers to define a set of duotone colors that match their theme.

Defining custom duotone filters is as easy as plugging a name, a slug, and two colors into a theme.json file. The theme developer handbook includes examples of creating such presets.

Custom “emerald scale” duotone filter from a theme.

Users are not limited to the filters that WordPress or their themes offer. The duotone popover allows them to choose from any range of colors for custom shadows and highlights.

Duotone typically works best when an image has a high contrast, which means a wide-ranging spread between the light and dark colors. Darker shadows and lighter highlights make for more visually stunning filters.

When used with the Cover block, users can add filters to both image and video backgrounds. However, they also have access to the typical overlay color or gradient option. This provides a ton of flexibility for customizing media.

Duotone filter + gradient overlay on a Cover block.

Because the duotone feature works with an inline SVG file under the hood, it also means that using it does not permanently change image or video files. Users can still use their original media elsewhere on the site without uploading a second copy.

Duotone is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other possibilities outside of just laying a couple of colors on top of an image. Bence Szabó wrote an extensive tutorial on using SVG filters for patterns on CSS-Tricks. This could be a route for background options in the future — wood grain, anyone? Maybe not every possibility is suitable for core WordPress, but I would love to see plugin authors taking a stab at some alternatives.

WPTavern: Duotone Filters: WordPress 5.8 Puts a Powerful Image-Editing Tool Into Users’ Hands

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 02:04

Features such as the upcoming block-based widgets system, the template editor, theme-related blocks, and others have taken up much of the spotlight as of late. However, one of the best user-focused tools shipping with WordPress 5.8 is a duotone filter for Image and Cover blocks.

The term “duotone” in this sense means combining two colors as a filter. Then, layering it over an image or video. More specifically, one color is used for the shadows (dark elements), and the second color is used for the highlights (light colors).

When the feature first landed in Gutenberg 10.6 back in May, I spent a couple of hours just tinkering around with it on that first day. Since then, I have racked up a few more. It is a powerful media-editing tool that does not require users to dive into image-editing programs, allowing them to change the mood of a story at the click of a button.

Duotones can be anything from a simple grayscale to a mixture of any two colors. Shadows and highlights can even be inverted, depending on the shades chosen.

The following shows the difference between an original image of kittens (because who doesn’t love kittens?) and one with a grayscale filter:

Original image vs. grayscale duotone version.

WordPress offers a set of eight duotone color sets by default. This includes a grayscale, dark grayscale, and various combinations, making for some fun filters. Some will work better than others, often depending on the media file uploaded.

Applying the WordPress purple and yellow duotone filter.

Like many other features awaiting users with WordPress 5.8, theme authors are those who need to dig in to offer a range of ready-baked options for users. The new theme JSON file configuration allows developers to define a set of duotone colors that match their theme.

Defining custom duotone filters is as easy as plugging a name, a slug, and two colors into a theme.json file. The theme developer handbook includes examples of creating such presets.

Custom “emerald scale” duotone filter from a theme.

Users are not limited to the filters that WordPress or their themes offer. The duotone popover allows them to choose from any range of colors for custom shadows and highlights.

Duotone typically works best when an image has a high contrast, which means a wide-ranging spread between the light and dark colors. Darker shadows and lighter highlights make for more visually stunning filters.

When used with the Cover block, users can add filters to both image and video backgrounds. However, they also have access to the typical overlay color or gradient option. This provides a ton of flexibility for customizing media.

Duotone filter + gradient overlay on a Cover block.

Because the duotone feature works with an inline SVG file under the hood, it also means that using it does not permanently change image or video files. Users can still use their original media elsewhere on the site without uploading a second copy.

Duotone is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other possibilities outside of just laying a couple of colors on top of an image. Bence Szabó wrote an extensive tutorial on using SVG filters for patterns on CSS-Tricks. This could be a route for background options in the future — wood grain, anyone? Maybe not every possibility is suitable for core WordPress, but I would love to see plugin authors taking a stab at some alternatives.

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.8 Release Candidate 3

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 01:09

The third release candidate for WordPress 5.8 is now available!

WordPress 5.8 is slated for release on July 20, 2021, and we need your help to get there—if you have not tried 5.8 yet, now is the time!

You can test the WordPress 5.8 release candidate 3 in any of these three ways:

  • Install and activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (select the Bleeding edge channel and then Beta/RC Only stream)
  • Directly download the release candidate version (zip)
  • Use WP-CLI to test: wp core update --version=5.8-RC3

Thank you to all of the contributors who tested the Beta/RC releases and gave feedback. Testing for bugs is a critical part of polishing every release and a great way to contribute to WordPress.

Plugin and Theme Developers

Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.8 and update the Tested up to version in the readme file to 5.8. If you find compatibility problems, please be sure to post to the support forums so we can work to solve them in time for the final release.

For a more detailed breakdown of the changes included in WordPress 5.8, check out the WordPress 5.8 beta 1 post. The WordPress 5.8 Field Guide, which is particularly useful for developers, has all the info and further links to help you get comfortable with the major changes.

How to Help

Can you speak and write in a language other than English?  Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages!

If you think you have found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We would love to hear from you! If you are comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.

Props to @cbringmann, @chanthaboune, and @marybaum for peer-reviewing!

Code is poetry
Jazz is improvisation
Both are forms of art

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.8 Release Candidate 3

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 01:09

The third release candidate for WordPress 5.8 is now available!

WordPress 5.8 is slated for release on July 20, 2021, and we need your help to get there—if you have not tried 5.8 yet, now is the time!

You can test the WordPress 5.8 release candidate 3 in any of these three ways:

  • Install and activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (select the Bleeding edge channel and then Beta/RC Only stream)
  • Directly download the release candidate version (zip)
  • Use WP-CLI to test: wp core update --version=5.8-RC3

Thank you to all of the contributors who tested the Beta/RC releases and gave feedback. Testing for bugs is a critical part of polishing every release and a great way to contribute to WordPress.

Plugin and Theme Developers

Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.8 and update the Tested up to version in the readme file to 5.8. If you find compatibility problems, please be sure to post to the support forums so we can work to solve them in time for the final release.

For a more detailed breakdown of the changes included in WordPress 5.8, check out the WordPress 5.8 beta 1 post. The WordPress 5.8 Field Guide, which is particularly useful for developers, has all the info and further links to help you get comfortable with the major changes.

How to Help

Can you speak and write in a language other than English?  Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages!

If you think you have found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We would love to hear from you! If you are comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.

Props to @cbringmann, @chanthaboune, and @marybaum for peer-reviewing!

Code is poetry
Jazz is improvisation
Both are forms of art

WPTavern: UK State of Open Report Finds 97% of UK Businesses Surveyed Use Open Source Software

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 04:20

OpenUK, a WordPress-powered not-for-profit company, has released its State of the Open report with data from the UK in 2021. The company advocates for open source software, open source hardware, and open data, while providing a central point of collaboration for people working in the open sectors.

The State of the Open report offers a broad overview of the UK’s open source ecosystem. This collection of research includes surveys of UK companies, interviews, industry reports, and analysis from different publications. It was sponsored by GitHub, SUSE, and the Open Invention Network, and conducted by Smoothmedia consulting firm under the direction of ethnographer and social researcher Dr. Jennifer Barth.

Key findings in Phase 1 of the report include research demonstrating that open source software contributes an estimated £43.1 billion to the UK economy, with the UK ringing in as Europe’s largest contributor.

Phase 2 covers open source adoption in the UK. Researchers found a staggering 97% of the 273 UK businesses surveyed use some form of open source software:

We found that 97% of businesses of different sizes in all sectors of the UK economy use open source software technology. Although resources became a more pressing concern during the pandemic, 64% of businesses in our sample experienced business growth which translated into a high recruitment drive for roles relating to open source software in the past 12 months (see recruitment findings). Further, we find that almost half of businesses surveyed (48%) are using open source software more as digital adoption becomes embedded in organisational culture and business.

Other key findings from Phase 2 include the following:

  • 53% of non-tech organizations contribute to open source software projects
  • 77% of UK public sector looks to open source for skills developmen
  • Over half (54%) have written policies and processes for open source contributions
  • 89% run open source software internally in their business
  • Approximately two thirds (65%) contribute to open source software projects

One interesting observation from the contribution data is that smaller companies are more likely to contribute back to open source than larger companies. Smaller companies are also more likely to use open source software in their businesses.

From the #StateOfOpen report from @openuk_uk, it's clear that businesses of all sizes make key use of open source. The report correlates company size and open source involvement, showing smaller companies more active in contributing to open source. https://t.co/A7dz3pjqFm pic.twitter.com/L5qeRrs9Xc

— Aiven (@aiven_io) July 12, 2021

Survey respondents cited “saving on costs” as the main reason for adopting open source (75%), followed by more collaboration (72%), skill development (64%), the quality of code (61%), and security (52%).

Phase 3 is planned to be published in September 2021. This report will focus on UK data with a methodology tailored to reveal the value of open source software to the digital economy. It will also include case studies that demonstrate the non-economic, intangible benefits of open source software, such as skills development and collaboration.

The published reports are lengthy but will be of particular interest to companies working in the UK and Europe, especially consultancies that may need to justify using open source technologies in engineering decisions. OpenUK plans to conduct a further survey in 2022 as part of this effort to estimate the impact of open source on the UK economy.

WPTavern: UK State of Open Report Finds 97% of UK Businesses Surveyed Use Open Source Software

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 04:20

OpenUK, a WordPress-powered not-for-profit company, has released its State of the Open report with data from the UK in 2021. The company advocates for open source software, open source hardware, and open data, while providing a central point of collaboration for people working in the open sectors.

The State of the Open report offers a broad overview of the UK’s open source ecosystem. This collection of research includes surveys of UK companies, interviews, industry reports, and analysis from different publications. It was sponsored by GitHub, SUSE, and the Open Invention Network, and conducted by Smoothmedia consulting firm under the direction of ethnographer and social researcher Dr. Jennifer Barth.

Key findings in Phase 1 of the report include research demonstrating that open source software contributes an estimated £43.1 billion to the UK economy, with the UK ringing in as Europe’s largest contributor.

Phase 2 covers open source adoption in the UK. Researchers found a staggering 97% of the 273 UK businesses surveyed use some form of open source software:

We found that 97% of businesses of different sizes in all sectors of the UK economy use open source software technology. Although resources became a more pressing concern during the pandemic, 64% of businesses in our sample experienced business growth which translated into a high recruitment drive for roles relating to open source software in the past 12 months (see recruitment findings). Further, we find that almost half of businesses surveyed (48%) are using open source software more as digital adoption becomes embedded in organisational culture and business.

Other key findings from Phase 2 include the following:

  • 53% of non-tech organizations contribute to open source software projects
  • 77% of UK public sector looks to open source for skills developmen
  • Over half (54%) have written policies and processes for open source contributions
  • 89% run open source software internally in their business
  • Approximately two thirds (65%) contribute to open source software projects

One interesting observation from the contribution data is that smaller companies are more likely to contribute back to open source than larger companies. Smaller companies are also more likely to use open source software in their businesses.

From the #StateOfOpen report from @openuk_uk, it's clear that businesses of all sizes make key use of open source. The report correlates company size and open source involvement, showing smaller companies more active in contributing to open source. https://t.co/A7dz3pjqFm pic.twitter.com/L5qeRrs9Xc

— Aiven (@aiven_io) July 12, 2021

Survey respondents cited “saving on costs” as the main reason for adopting open source (75%), followed by more collaboration (72%), skill development (64%), the quality of code (61%), and security (52%).

Phase 3 is planned to be published in September 2021. This report will focus on UK data with a methodology tailored to reveal the value of open source software to the digital economy. It will also include case studies that demonstrate the non-economic, intangible benefits of open source software, such as skills development and collaboration.

The published reports are lengthy but will be of particular interest to companies working in the UK and Europe, especially consultancies that may need to justify using open source technologies in engineering decisions. OpenUK plans to conduct a further survey in 2022 as part of this effort to estimate the impact of open source on the UK economy.

WPTavern: Contributing to Open Source Is ‘Better Than Any College Degree’

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 00:40

A week ago, I published my thoughts on the block system from a developer’s perspective. Taking a weekend-afternoon deep dive into creating custom block types meant learning some tough lessons and familiarizing myself with a programming language I had little experience using.

Programming has always been a trial-and-error affair for me: write code, refresh the browser, read the error message, and attempt to fix the problem. Then, simply rinse and repeat the process until the program is not broken. Those mistakes are woven into the art of coding, the layers underneath that poetry on the visible canvas.

I have absolutely made the same mistake twice. And, thrice. Probably a lot more than that if I am being honest with myself and you. Eventually, I stop making those same mistakes, and some method or procedure is permanently seared into my brain.

I have written a few hundred WordPress tutorials in the past decade and a half. I am a twice-published author of development books and served as a tech editor on another. However, I am not much of a reader of tech books and documentation. For one, programmers are not necessarily the most engaging writers. Plus, book smarts can only get you so far. You need the street smarts of programming to become good at it, which means learning from experience.

While I firmly believe that reading is a central part of that, there is no replacement for getting your hands dirty. Building things, making mistakes, and learning to fix them is what makes programming fun.

Working on open-source software like WordPress is one of the best ways to do that. There is no upfront cost, assuming you have access to a computer, a prerequisite to programming of any kind. There are usually people willing to lend a hand or answer questions, and there are always problems to solve for those ready to dive into them.

As WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy chatted with Matt Mullenweg on the Openverse project a couple of months ago, there was a moment that I found myself nodding my head in agreement.

Because, of course, you know, contributing and being involved with open source is probably the best way to learn a technology, better than any college degree.

Matt Mullenweg, WordPress Project Lead

I have learned more about WordPress, PHP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript by contributing to open-source software than I ever learned in a college course.

I grew up in a generation that was told that we must get a college degree. It was an integral part of the American dream that would result in suburban life in a neighborhood with perfectly aligned rows of houses, ending in a cul-de-sac. It was the first step toward a two-car garage, white-picket-fence, 2.5 kids, and a dog. College was the promise that my peers and I hinged everything on. It was expected of us, and so many of us did our duty.

Here is the thing that our parents did not know. The internet would change everything.

I graduated high school in 2002. This was during that stretch where the online world was exploding. All of the world’s knowledge would soon be at our fingertips. Today that is truer than ever. Anything you will ever need to learn about writing code is available through an internet connection.

My experience with college-level courses in programming was mixed, but I learned a necessary life lesson from them: I was not cut out for a degree in software engineering. I am glad I wised up early on and pursued a different degree, saving myself some time and money.

I rocked my half-summer C programming class, my introduction to writing code. I also had a passionate professor who once worked on U.S. missile projects as a bug-tester. It was probably not the most glamorous job, but he always made it sound exciting because he loved what he was doing. Our class was tasked with building various programs throughout the course, but we usually had a choice in what we were building. For my group’s final project, we created vending machine software.

I was on the fast track to becoming a software engineer after that first class. I had built a way for merchants to get paid for delivering sugary treats and soft drinks to customers. It was capitalism meeting programming, and I had a taste for it.

The fall semester rolled around, and I was motivated to move beyond the realm of procedural programming in C. Java, an object-oriented programming (OOP) language, would be my next challenge.

The most advanced thing our class built for an entire semester was a basic calculator. I skipped nearly every lecture because I could not stay awake watching the professor chicken-peck his way through programs for three hours every week. I attended the mandatory “labs” — basically a fancy way of saying an extra class where the professor’s assistants would teach the actual coursework.

Needless to say, my fire died down. While calculator programs are handy tools, I wanted to branch out and build things that mattered.

You know what reignited my flame for programming? At first, it was general web development. But, WordPress was what I really became passionate about. And, I have not looked back since I started using it in 2005.

WordPress was my gateway into a world where I could create things that interested me. I could jump ahead into a project far more advanced than my skill level, trial-and-error my way ahead, and eventually build something that others found value in.

Unless universities have changed, most teach step-by-step foundational lessons to their pupils. Some students may luck out and land in that unique professor’s class who gives them leeway to explore various ideas. However, there is no substitute for creating something of your own, solving a problem that you see.

And, that is what programming is all about — solving problems.

In 2007, I released my first WordPress plugin into the wild. It automatically listed all of the subpages of the currently-viewed page. Dozens of similar plugins have been written since and probably before (it seems WordPress would have a simple “list subpages” function by now).

Last week, after writing a new plugin, I was reminded of the free education that the WordPress community has given me over the years. Some of it has been reading documentation. Some from WordPress Stack Exchange answers. Other bits have been studying from those who came before me, building upon their open-source code. All of it was from other people giving something back to our community.

This is not necessarily a knock on college. Some people perform better in that structured environment, and there is value in all forms of education. However, there are alternatives for those who cannot afford college or learn better in a different environment. And, there is no discounting the experience you get from contributing to something bigger.

If you are one of our readers thinking about getting into programming, just dive in. Make some mistakes. Build. Learn.

WPTavern: Contributing to Open Source Is ‘Better Than Any College Degree’

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 00:40

A week ago, I published my thoughts on the block system from a developer’s perspective. Taking a weekend-afternoon deep dive into creating custom block types meant learning some tough lessons and familiarizing myself with a programming language I had little experience using.

Programming has always been a trial-and-error affair for me: write code, refresh the browser, read the error message, and attempt to fix the problem. Then, simply rinse and repeat the process until the program is not broken. Those mistakes are woven into the art of coding, the layers underneath that poetry on the visible canvas.

I have absolutely made the same mistake twice. And, thrice. Probably a lot more than that if I am being honest with myself and you. Eventually, I stop making those same mistakes, and some method or procedure is permanently seared into my brain.

I have written a few hundred WordPress tutorials in the past decade and a half. I am a twice-published author of development books and served as a tech editor on another. However, I am not much of a reader of tech books and documentation. For one, programmers are not necessarily the most engaging writers. Plus, book smarts can only get you so far. You need the street smarts of programming to become good at it, which means learning from experience.

While I firmly believe that reading is a central part of that, there is no replacement for getting your hands dirty. Building things, making mistakes, and learning to fix them is what makes programming fun.

Working on open-source software like WordPress is one of the best ways to do that. There is no upfront cost, assuming you have access to a computer, a prerequisite to programming of any kind. There are usually people willing to lend a hand or answer questions, and there are always problems to solve for those ready to dive into them.

As WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy chatted with Matt Mullenweg on the Openverse project a couple of months ago, there was a moment that I found myself nodding my head in agreement.

Because, of course, you know, contributing and being involved with open source is probably the best way to learn a technology, better than any college degree.

Matt Mullenweg, WordPress Project Lead

I have learned more about WordPress, PHP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript by contributing to open-source software than I ever learned in a college course.

I grew up in a generation that was told that we must get a college degree. It was an integral part of the American dream that would result in suburban life in a neighborhood with perfectly aligned rows of houses, ending in a cul-de-sac. It was the first step toward a two-car garage, white-picket-fence, 2.5 kids, and a dog. College was the promise that my peers and I hinged everything on. It was expected of us, and so many of us did our duty.

Here is the thing that our parents did not know. The internet would change everything.

I graduated high school in 2002. This was during that stretch where the online world was exploding. All of the world’s knowledge would soon be at our fingertips. Today that is truer than ever. Anything you will ever need to learn about writing code is available through an internet connection.

My experience with college-level courses in programming was mixed, but I learned a necessary life lesson from them: I was not cut out for a degree in software engineering. I am glad I wised up early on and pursued a different degree, saving myself some time and money.

I rocked my half-summer C programming class, my introduction to writing code. I also had a passionate professor who once worked on U.S. missile projects as a bug-tester. It was probably not the most glamorous job, but he always made it sound exciting because he loved what he was doing. Our class was tasked with building various programs throughout the course, but we usually had a choice in what we were building. For my group’s final project, we created vending machine software.

I was on the fast track to becoming a software engineer after that first class. I had built a way for merchants to get paid for delivering sugary treats and soft drinks to customers. It was capitalism meeting programming, and I had a taste for it.

The fall semester rolled around, and I was motivated to move beyond the realm of procedural programming in C. Java, an object-oriented programming (OOP) language, would be my next challenge.

The most advanced thing our class built for an entire semester was a basic calculator. I skipped nearly every lecture because I could not stay awake watching the professor chicken-peck his way through programs for three hours every week. I attended the mandatory “labs” — basically a fancy way of saying an extra class where the professor’s assistants would teach the actual coursework.

Needless to say, my fire died down. While calculator programs are handy tools, I wanted to branch out and build things that mattered.

You know what reignited my flame for programming? At first, it was general web development. But, WordPress was what I really became passionate about. And, I have not looked back since I started using it in 2005.

WordPress was my gateway into a world where I could create things that interested me. I could jump ahead into a project far more advanced than my skill level, trial-and-error my way ahead, and eventually build something that others found value in.

Unless universities have changed, most teach step-by-step foundational lessons to their pupils. Some students may luck out and land in that unique professor’s class who gives them leeway to explore various ideas. However, there is no substitute for creating something of your own, solving a problem that you see.

And, that is what programming is all about — solving problems.

In 2007, I released my first WordPress plugin into the wild. It automatically listed all of the subpages of the currently-viewed page. Dozens of similar plugins have been written since and probably before (it seems WordPress would have a simple “list subpages” function by now).

Last week, after writing a new plugin, I was reminded of the free education that the WordPress community has given me over the years. Some of it has been reading documentation. Some from WordPress Stack Exchange answers. Other bits have been studying from those who came before me, building upon their open-source code. All of it was from other people giving something back to our community.

This is not necessarily a knock on college. Some people perform better in that structured environment, and there is value in all forms of education. However, there are alternatives for those who cannot afford college or learn better in a different environment. And, there is no discounting the experience you get from contributing to something bigger.

If you are one of our readers thinking about getting into programming, just dive in. Make some mistakes. Build. Learn.

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