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Updated: 11 hours 33 min ago

WPTavern: Taking the Leap: Building My First WordPress Block Plugin

Tue, 07/06/2021 - 00:28

Like most years, I spent this U.S. Independence Day cooped up with my furry friends. I closed all the windows, shuttered the blinds, switched on a couple of fans for white noise, and clicked the television on. My cats and I relaxed. It is my job to keep them calm while my — usually drunken — compatriots burn hundreds of dollars away in the night sky. It is my ritual, and I enjoy it.

For this holiday, we re-watched Season 1 of Star Trek: Lower Decks, and I learned how to build a block plugin.

This was not my first attempt. When the block editor launched nearly three years ago, I tinkered with a few block type ideas. However, I never got far. Documentation was sparse, and I had almost no experience with JavaScript beyond building trivial bells and whistles for front-end design.

Leaving my day job as a developer to write for WP Tavern also meant limited time to learn block development. And, my free time for the last couple of years has been filled with other projects. Lately, I have had the urge to jump back in and start building things for fun once again. My extended sabbatical from development work gave me time to pursue other interests while allowing my well of creativeness a chance to refill. The break did me some good.

With time to kill yesterday afternoon, I dove right in. After a couple of hours of reading docs, studying other developers’ code, and breaking things, I had a functional block for a breadcrumbs list.

Custom block registered and ready to insert.

Marcus Kazmierczak’s Copyright Block plugin helped me get over one of the initial humps. It was helpful to see real-world, non-example code written in vanilla JavaScript to get to the meat of how the system worked.

My overall thoughts on building custom block types?

It was easier than I thought it would be. Documentation is, at the same time, both overwhelming and limiting. It is tough to find the correct answer if you do not even know what you are looking for. The barrier to entry is much higher than when I built my first plugin in 2007. The Block Type API makes some things stupidly simple but complicates others.

Successfully inserting my first block type into the editor canvas was gratifying. I don’t think that feeling ever goes away as a developer.

Successful insertion and rendering of my first block plugin.

I am excited about the potential for blocks, such as a breadcrumbs list, when the site editor launches. Many similar features do not make sense in the post editor. However, when users can make direct edits to their templates, it will open a world of possibilities.

Learning Curve

I know enough JavaScript to be a danger to myself and others. Having spent almost the entirety of my professional career in the WordPress realm has meant focusing on PHP. But, programming is programming. Once you have a strong understanding of one language, it not an impossible leap to piddle around enough to create a functional script in another. Most of the same foundational concepts are there. The hurdle is often with learning some new syntax.

However, the biggest obstacle with “modern” JavaScript is setting up the build tools, bundlers, and more. It can be a tall order to even type out that first line of code.

Sure, some of the documentation has vanilla JavaScript examples, but when you get into anything more complex than the basics, it is not so vanilla anymore. You will need a way to bundle JavaScript and transform JSX syntax. That means tools like webpack and Babel.

WordPress has its own script for cutting through most of the complexity, but I recommend Laravel Mix. It is simple enough for even the least-savvy JavaScript programmers among us and has thorough documentation. It is a script made for folks who want to worry less about tooling and more about actually writing code.

Block building is also a different kind of leap. Whether it was custom template tags, shortcodes, widgets, or hooks, traditional WordPress development has meant building those in a PHP environment. I suspect that most plugin developers have tons of features that they can bring to the masses via the block editor. They will often rely on server-side rendering. WordPress has a ServerSideRender component for actually handling this.

One of the handiest features of registering block types is the block “supports” system. Want a background color option? Just one line of code will do. Want the user to access the font-size control? That is a single line too. With little effort, I extended my breadcrumbs block to include a ton of styling options for users. And, they adapt to the site’s active theme.

Testing various combination of block-supported styling options.

The list of block-supported features offers an array of standardized options at pretty much no development cost. Even the Customize API, previously the most advanced tool for building form fields, did not come this close.

Building custom inspector controls was straightforward once I got the hang of how the block edit piece of the puzzle worked. For now, I have a simple toggle option for enabling/disabling a feature. Often, the hardest part is just finding what you are looking for. WordPress has a massive library of components to choose from.

At this point, I have a basic block on the client (editor) side. Most of the complexity is handled on the server via PHP. If I could build this in an afternoon while attending to nervous cats, it should not be a stretch for more plugin authors to hop aboard this train. There are thousands of shortcodes and widgets that developers can convert to blocks with minimal code.

I am not ready to release my breadcrumbs block into the wild just yet. There is still some fine-tuning left to do and a few advanced features to implement. Also, a breadcrumbs list is primarily needed in a site editor context where users can drop it into something like their header template. We are not there yet, but I will undoubtedly share the final result with the community when we are.

Next, I will try to build a block that does not rely on server-side rendering. I think I have the hang of it now. Breaking through that initial barrier is always the hardest step.

WPTavern: Taking the Leap: Building My First WordPress Block Plugin

Tue, 07/06/2021 - 00:28

Like most years, I spent this U.S. Independence Day cooped up with my furry friends. I closed all the windows, shuttered the blinds, switched on a couple of fans for white noise, and clicked the television on. My cats and I relaxed. It is my job to keep them calm while my — usually drunken — compatriots burn hundreds of dollars away in the night sky. It is my ritual, and I enjoy it.

For this holiday, we re-watched Season 1 of Star Trek: Lower Decks, and I learned how to build a block plugin.

This was not my first attempt. When the block editor launched nearly three years ago, I tinkered with a few block type ideas. However, I never got far. Documentation was sparse, and I had almost no experience with JavaScript beyond building trivial bells and whistles for front-end design.

Leaving my day job as a developer to write for WP Tavern also meant limited time to learn block development. And, my free time for the last couple of years has been filled with other projects. Lately, I have had the urge to jump back in and start building things for fun once again. My extended sabbatical from development work gave me time to pursue other interests while allowing my well of creativeness a chance to refill. The break did me some good.

With time to kill yesterday afternoon, I dove right in. After a couple of hours of reading docs, studying other developers’ code, and breaking things, I had a functional block for a breadcrumbs list.

Custom block registered and ready to insert.

Marcus Kazmierczak’s Copyright Block plugin helped me get over one of the initial humps. It was helpful to see real-world, non-example code written in vanilla JavaScript to get to the meat of how the system worked.

My overall thoughts on building custom block types?

It was easier than I thought it would be. Documentation is, at the same time, both overwhelming and limiting. It is tough to find the correct answer if you do not even know what you are looking for. The barrier to entry is much higher than when I built my first plugin in 2007. The Block Type API makes some things stupidly simple but complicates others.

Successfully inserting my first block type into the editor canvas was gratifying. I don’t think that feeling ever goes away as a developer.

Successful insertion and rendering of my first block plugin.

I am excited about the potential for blocks, such as a breadcrumbs list, when the site editor launches. Many similar features do not make sense in the post editor. However, when users can make direct edits to their templates, it will open a world of possibilities.

Learning Curve

I know enough JavaScript to be a danger to myself and others. Having spent almost the entirety of my professional career in the WordPress realm has meant focusing on PHP. But, programming is programming. Once you have a strong understanding of one language, it not an impossible leap to piddle around enough to create a functional script in another. Most of the same foundational concepts are there. The hurdle is often with learning some new syntax.

However, the biggest obstacle with “modern” JavaScript is setting up the build tools, bundlers, and more. It can be a tall order to even type out that first line of code.

Sure, some of the documentation has vanilla JavaScript examples, but when you get into anything more complex than the basics, it is not so vanilla anymore. You will need a way to bundle JavaScript and transform JSX syntax. That means tools like webpack and Babel.

WordPress has its own script for cutting through most of the complexity, but I recommend Laravel Mix. It is simple enough for even the least-savvy JavaScript programmers among us and has thorough documentation. It is a script made for folks who want to worry less about tooling and more about actually writing code.

Block building is also a different kind of leap. Whether it was custom template tags, shortcodes, widgets, or hooks, traditional WordPress development has meant building those in a PHP environment. I suspect that most plugin developers have tons of features that they can bring to the masses via the block editor. They will often rely on server-side rendering. WordPress has a ServerSideRender component for actually handling this.

One of the handiest features of registering block types is the block “supports” system. Want a background color option? Just one line of code will do. Want the user to access the font-size control? That is a single line too. With little effort, I extended my breadcrumbs block to include a ton of styling options for users. And, they adapt to the site’s active theme.

Testing various combination of block-supported styling options.

The list of block-supported features offers an array of standardized options at pretty much no development cost. Even the Customize API, previously the most advanced tool for building form fields, did not come this close.

Building custom inspector controls was straightforward once I got the hang of how the block edit piece of the puzzle worked. For now, I have a simple toggle option for enabling/disabling a feature. Often, the hardest part is just finding what you are looking for. WordPress has a massive library of components to choose from.

At this point, I have a basic block on the client (editor) side. Most of the complexity is handled on the server via PHP. If I could build this in an afternoon while attending to nervous cats, it should not be a stretch for more plugin authors to hop aboard this train. There are thousands of shortcodes and widgets that developers can convert to blocks with minimal code.

I am not ready to release my breadcrumbs block into the wild just yet. There is still some fine-tuning left to do and a few advanced features to implement. Also, a breadcrumbs list is primarily needed in a site editor context where users can drop it into something like their header template. We are not there yet, but I will undoubtedly share the final result with the community when we are.

Next, I will try to build a block that does not rely on server-side rendering. I think I have the hang of it now. Breaking through that initial barrier is always the hardest step.

WPTavern: Taking the Leap: Building My First WordPress Block Plugin

Tue, 07/06/2021 - 00:28

Like most years, I spent this U.S. Independence Day cooped up with my furry friends. I closed all the windows, shuttered the blinds, switched on a couple of fans for white noise, and clicked the television on. My cats and I relaxed. It is my job to keep them calm while my — usually drunken — compatriots burn hundreds of dollars away in the night sky. It is my ritual, and I enjoy it.

For this holiday, we re-watched Season 1 of Star Trek: Lower Decks, and I learned how to build a block plugin.

This was not my first attempt. When the block editor launched nearly three years ago, I tinkered with a few block type ideas. However, I never got far. Documentation was sparse, and I had almost no experience with JavaScript beyond building trivial bells and whistles for front-end design.

Leaving my day job as a developer to write for WP Tavern also meant limited time to learn block development. And, my free time for the last couple of years has been filled with other projects. Lately, I have had the urge to jump back in and start building things for fun once again. My extended sabbatical from development work gave me time to pursue other interests while allowing my well of creativeness a chance to refill. The break did me some good.

With time to kill yesterday afternoon, I dove right in. After a couple of hours of reading docs, studying other developers’ code, and breaking things, I had a functional block for a breadcrumbs list.

Custom block registered and ready to insert.

Marcus Kazmierczak’s Copyright Block plugin helped me get over one of the initial humps. It was helpful to see real-world, non-example code written in vanilla JavaScript to get to the meat of how the system worked.

My overall thoughts on building custom block types?

It was easier than I thought it would be. Documentation is, at the same time, both overwhelming and limiting. It is tough to find the correct answer if you do not even know what you are looking for. The barrier to entry is much higher than when I built my first plugin in 2007. The Block Type API makes some things stupidly simple but complicates others.

Successfully inserting my first block type into the editor canvas was gratifying. I don’t think that feeling ever goes away as a developer.

Successful insertion and rendering of my first block plugin.

I am excited about the potential for blocks, such as a breadcrumbs list, when the site editor launches. Many similar features do not make sense in the post editor. However, when users can make direct edits to their templates, it will open a world of possibilities.

Learning Curve

I know enough JavaScript to be a danger to myself and others. Having spent almost the entirety of my professional career in the WordPress realm has meant focusing on PHP. But, programming is programming. Once you have a strong understanding of one language, it not an impossible leap to piddle around enough to create a functional script in another. Most of the same foundational concepts are there. The hurdle is often with learning some new syntax.

However, the biggest obstacle with “modern” JavaScript is setting up the build tools, bundlers, and more. It can be a tall order to even type out that first line of code.

Sure, some of the documentation has vanilla JavaScript examples, but when you get into anything more complex than the basics, it is not so vanilla anymore. You will need a way to bundle JavaScript and transform JSX syntax. That means tools like webpack and Babel.

WordPress has its own script for cutting through most of the complexity, but I recommend Laravel Mix. It is simple enough for even the least-savvy JavaScript programmers among us and has thorough documentation. It is a script made for folks who want to worry less about tooling and more about actually writing code.

Block building is also a different kind of leap. Whether it was custom template tags, shortcodes, widgets, or hooks, traditional WordPress development has meant building those in a PHP environment. I suspect that most plugin developers have tons of features that they can bring to the masses via the block editor. They will often rely on server-side rendering. WordPress has a ServerSideRender component for actually handling this.

One of the handiest features of registering block types is the block “supports” system. Want a background color option? Just one line of code will do. Want the user to access the font-size control? That is a single line too. With little effort, I extended my breadcrumbs block to include a ton of styling options for users. And, they adapt to the site’s active theme.

Testing various combination of block-supported styling options.

The list of block-supported features offers an array of standardized options at pretty much no development cost. Even the Customize API, previously the most advanced tool for building form fields, did not come this close.

Building custom inspector controls was straightforward once I got the hang of how the block edit piece of the puzzle worked. For now, I have a simple toggle option for enabling/disabling a feature. Often, the hardest part is just finding what you are looking for. WordPress has a massive library of components to choose from.

At this point, I have a basic block on the client (editor) side. Most of the complexity is handled on the server via PHP. If I could build this in an afternoon while attending to nervous cats, it should not be a stretch for more plugin authors to hop aboard this train. There are thousands of shortcodes and widgets that developers can convert to blocks with minimal code.

I am not ready to release my breadcrumbs block into the wild just yet. There is still some fine-tuning left to do and a few advanced features to implement. Also, a breadcrumbs list is primarily needed in a site editor context where users can drop it into something like their header template. We are not there yet, but I will undoubtedly share the final result with the community when we are.

Next, I will try to build a block that does not rely on server-side rendering. I think I have the hang of it now. Breaking through that initial barrier is always the hardest step.

WordPress.org blog: WP Briefing: Episode 12: WordPress – In Person!

Mon, 07/05/2021 - 12:00

In this episode, Josepha Haden Chomphosy talks about WordPress – In Person! The WordPress events that provide the dark matter of connection that helps sustain the open source project.

Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to wpbriefing@wordpress.org, either written or as a voice recording.

Credits

Editor: Dustin Hartzler

Logo: Beatriz Fialho

Production: Chloé Bringmann

Song: Fearless First by Kevin MacLeod

References

The tragedy of the commons

WordPress 5.8 Release Candidate announcement

Transcript

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:11

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing, the podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it, and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Here we go!

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:39

Today we’re talking about one of my favorite parts of the project – WordPress events. The in-person component of the project is the dark matter that helps us build resilience and thrive as a group. A lot of what I’m going to share applies to every WordPress event, whether it’s a meetup or workshop, a contributor day, any other sort of format. But I’ll be focused on WordCamps. It’s been a while since we had any in-person WordCamps. Our last two were WordCamp Malaga in Spain and WordCamp Greenville in the US. But that hasn’t stopped anyone from gathering people together online. Which honestly makes a lot of sense for WordPress. Because there are many reasons we gather, the main three reasons are connecting, inspiring, and contributing. It’s true. It says so right in our documentation, “paper rustling.” All WordPress events should connect WordPress users, inspire people to do more with WordPress, and contribute to the WordPress project. As an aside, I’ll tell you that some groups also get to collaborate and educate in there, but connect, inspire, contribute. Those are the big three. And that’s what I’m talking about today. And if you subscribe to this podcast for the back office deep cuts, I’ll also have a few of those for you. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  01:57

Alright, so first up, connect. WordCamps are generally annual-ish gatherings organized by local WordPress meetup groups. They’re not meant to be big or fancy. The definition of the minimum viable product for WordCamp is 50 people gathered all day to talk about WordPress. They are intentionally affordable to allow people from all walks of life to attend, meet, share and learn. This is made possible by donations and sponsorships from local businesses and larger businesses in the WordPress ecosystem. And this helps us get people connected to those in their community that works with or are sustained by WordPress. That connection feeds into the overall health of the global WordPress project. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  02:45

Next up is inspire. WordCamps do not discriminate. They are open to any WordPress users, developers, designers, or other enthusiasts, regardless of their level of experience. And because of this, sessions generally span a variety of formats. So presentations or live demos to workshops or panels, any other format you can think of. But that also means that there are a variety of skill levels represented. There’s always content about how to use WordPress. That’s a given. But you can also count on content that inspires people to do more with their own dreams and aspirations. When I was still organizing WordCamps, my favorite thing was seeing people who came back year after year, putting into practice something that they learned the year before. It is that Choose Your Own Adventure aspect to WordCamps that lets people see the edge of their ideas and then expand that just a little bit further. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  03:42

And finally, contribute. WordCamps often have a contribution component to them. Sometimes it’s just a talk telling you how you can get more involved in the WordPress project. But sometimes, it’s a whole contributor day. And those range in size from single focus, like everyone, will show up and learn how to review a theme or a focus from every team that we have, like at the big flagship events where we gather hundreds of people into a room just to contribute to WordPress and all of the teams that go with it. Getting started with contributing can be daunting, but it is also essential to avoid something called the Tragedy of the Commons, an economic concept. So I’ll share a link to that in the show notes below. But the most important thing, the most important thing to remember, is that WordPress is open source. And we asked people to help us keep this great tool running by giving back a little bit of their time if they have gotten any benefit from the WordPress project or CMS over the course of their careers. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  04:40

So that’s it. The three big things you can get from a WordCamp. I know that I can’t wait to get back to them myself because while a lot of these things can still happen online and do, it’s really hard to replace the dark matter of in-person connections for open source projects. And since we’re talking dark matter anyway, let’s dig into it a little.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  05:01

At the start of the section, I mentioned that WordCamps are local, locally organized, and people are encouraged to attend locally. But I am part of a group that ends up traveling to a lot of WordCamps. If you don’t know about the unseen work of WordPress, this raises eyebrows. So here is some clarification around the back office work that some of these traveling WordCampers often do. When I listed these out, there were about 20 different tasks, 20 different jobs, which was, frankly, a bit overwhelming when I listed them that way. So I’ve grouped them into kind of two genres, each with a group of current versus future types of work. So my two big buckets, big picture stuff, and then community stewardship. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  05:50

The big picture stuff, our first big genre here, when you’re looking at current topics, current issues kind of information, when we’re working on big picture stuff, you get the clarification of the mission or vision of WordPress, the sharing of open source methods or processes that we use in the WordPress project, and also sometimes those goal-setting conversations that you have to have both because we have a bunch of teams and team reps, that have a lot of really great ideas about what can be done in their teams to help WordPress succeed. But then also, because when you are working, when you’re contributing to a single team in the project, it can sometimes be hard to know how your work relates to the overall goals and visions of WordPress. And so that’s part of the work that gets done that I do there. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  06:43

And when you’re looking at future topics, future issues, the second part of this genre, that stuff like starting conversations or discussions around what the future holds for WordPress, and that’s the project as well as the technology or hearing from people about big things coming up for them. And any content that can support it, anything that I can provide to support those big things. It’s also a good time for me and others to identify trends based on what I see in presentations or what I hear from people at social functions. Really, it’s just a huge opportunity for information gathering to make sure that I know what everyone else in the project is trying to do and if they understand what the project is trying to do. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  07:32

And then the second big genre of things that happen in that dark matter kind of work at WordCamps is what I call community stewardship—so taking care of the community itself for the project itself. And a lot of that work is actually incident response kind of work. So conflict resolution, mediation often happens at in-person events, but also uncovering the shared foundations, the shared understanding for upcoming changes. So a lot of really, in the weeds kind of change management work. And for me, it’s certainly doing my best as a cultural liaison when I do see that there has been some miscommunication or gathering context for the latest disagreement that people are having with me so that I can clarify anything that was misunderstood from what I said. And also a little bit of policy clarification, just explaining why we do things and the way we do them. So for community stewardship, that’s kind of the current stuff that we look at. And that I do when I’m traveling for WordCamps. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  08:36

And then for the future tasks that we do with community stewardship in the project, that stuff like training, and that’s training team reps, community deputies, or new contributors like it’s, it’s not really one type of training, necessarily. But then also, all of the checking in with our organizers, team reps, volunteers, sponsors, everyone like that, to make sure that what we have in the project and what’s happening in the project, the tools that we have, the experience that contributors have while they are working here, and WordPress is good, and is what they need. We’ve got a lot of tools to get things done in WordPress, and we can always make them better. And so checking in with people to kind of see how those processes are, how the tools are making sure that I have an idea of where our holes are and what needs to be patched, and how we can patch them in the long run. So that’s all of the future planning kind of work and topic stuff, just you know, making sure that WordPress has what it needs to survive long into the future and long after I’m doing anything with it, and long after you’re doing anything with it either. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  09:56

So, lots and lots of unseen work being done at our in-person events. But folks who keep a keen eye on the online global work of WordPress will probably recognize that a lot of that work is also done routinely on make.wordpress.org and within the making WordPress Slack. There’s just, I don’t know, there’s just something different about receiving information from a human being with a face rather than an avatar with a photo. So I guess at the end of the day, that means the dark matter that keeps open source together is really an issue of communication. And you’ll get no arguments for me there.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  10:44

That brings us now to our small list of big things. And there’s really just one big thing. And that’s WordPress 5.8. We are about two weeks away from this big release; the community has been working tirelessly on it. And it’s shaping up to be one of the most tested releases that we’ve had in a long time. Myself, I’m grateful to see so much activity before the release. Since 5.8 and 5.9 releases represent such monumental shifts in our software, I’m incredibly grateful to see so much activity prior to the release, especially in the beta period. We’ve been testing everything for it feels like six or eight months, and we’re really starting to see the positive benefits of that. And I think that we, the WordPress community, should be really proud of everything that we’re going to ship in 2021. Okay, so that was less of a small list of big things and really like one big thing with a generous garnish of encouragement, but you deserve it. So thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress briefing. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.

WordPress.org blog: WP Briefing: Episode 12: WordPress – In Person!

Mon, 07/05/2021 - 12:00

In this episode, Josepha Haden Chomphosy talks about WordPress – In Person! The WordPress events that provide the dark matter of connection that helps sustain the open source project.

Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to wpbriefing@wordpress.org, either written or as a voice recording.

Credits

Editor: Dustin Hartzler

Logo: Beatriz Fialho

Production: Chloé Bringmann

Song: Fearless First by Kevin MacLeod

References

The tragedy of the commons

WordPress 5.8 Release Candidate announcement

Transcript

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:11

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing, the podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it, and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Here we go!

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:39

Today we’re talking about one of my favorite parts of the project – WordPress events. The in-person component of the project is the dark matter that helps us build resilience and thrive as a group. A lot of what I’m going to share applies to every WordPress event, whether it’s a meetup or workshop, a contributor day, any other sort of format. But I’ll be focused on WordCamps. It’s been a while since we had any in-person WordCamps. Our last two were WordCamp Malaga in Spain and WordCamp Greenville in the US. But that hasn’t stopped anyone from gathering people together online. Which honestly makes a lot of sense for WordPress. Because there are many reasons we gather, the main three reasons are connecting, inspiring, and contributing. It’s true. It says so right in our documentation, “paper rustling.” All WordPress events should connect WordPress users, inspire people to do more with WordPress, and contribute to the WordPress project. As an aside, I’ll tell you that some groups also get to collaborate and educate in there, but connect, inspire, contribute. Those are the big three. And that’s what I’m talking about today. And if you subscribe to this podcast for the back office deep cuts, I’ll also have a few of those for you. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  01:57

Alright, so first up, connect. WordCamps are generally annual-ish gatherings organized by local WordPress meetup groups. They’re not meant to be big or fancy. The definition of the minimum viable product for WordCamp is 50 people gathered all day to talk about WordPress. They are intentionally affordable to allow people from all walks of life to attend, meet, share and learn. This is made possible by donations and sponsorships from local businesses and larger businesses in the WordPress ecosystem. And this helps us get people connected to those in their community that works with or are sustained by WordPress. That connection feeds into the overall health of the global WordPress project. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  02:45

Next up is inspire. WordCamps do not discriminate. They are open to any WordPress users, developers, designers, or other enthusiasts, regardless of their level of experience. And because of this, sessions generally span a variety of formats. So presentations or live demos to workshops or panels, any other format you can think of. But that also means that there are a variety of skill levels represented. There’s always content about how to use WordPress. That’s a given. But you can also count on content that inspires people to do more with their own dreams and aspirations. When I was still organizing WordCamps, my favorite thing was seeing people who came back year after year, putting into practice something that they learned the year before. It is that Choose Your Own Adventure aspect to WordCamps that lets people see the edge of their ideas and then expand that just a little bit further. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  03:42

And finally, contribute. WordCamps often have a contribution component to them. Sometimes it’s just a talk telling you how you can get more involved in the WordPress project. But sometimes, it’s a whole contributor day. And those range in size from single focus, like everyone, will show up and learn how to review a theme or a focus from every team that we have, like at the big flagship events where we gather hundreds of people into a room just to contribute to WordPress and all of the teams that go with it. Getting started with contributing can be daunting, but it is also essential to avoid something called the Tragedy of the Commons, an economic concept. So I’ll share a link to that in the show notes below. But the most important thing, the most important thing to remember, is that WordPress is open source. And we asked people to help us keep this great tool running by giving back a little bit of their time if they have gotten any benefit from the WordPress project or CMS over the course of their careers. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  04:40

So that’s it. The three big things you can get from a WordCamp. I know that I can’t wait to get back to them myself because while a lot of these things can still happen online and do, it’s really hard to replace the dark matter of in-person connections for open source projects. And since we’re talking dark matter anyway, let’s dig into it a little.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  05:01

At the start of the section, I mentioned that WordCamps are local, locally organized, and people are encouraged to attend locally. But I am part of a group that ends up traveling to a lot of WordCamps. If you don’t know about the unseen work of WordPress, this raises eyebrows. So here is some clarification around the back office work that some of these traveling WordCampers often do. When I listed these out, there were about 20 different tasks, 20 different jobs, which was, frankly, a bit overwhelming when I listed them that way. So I’ve grouped them into kind of two genres, each with a group of current versus future types of work. So my two big buckets, big picture stuff, and then community stewardship. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  05:50

The big picture stuff, our first big genre here, when you’re looking at current topics, current issues kind of information, when we’re working on big picture stuff, you get the clarification of the mission or vision of WordPress, the sharing of open source methods or processes that we use in the WordPress project, and also sometimes those goal-setting conversations that you have to have both because we have a bunch of teams and team reps, that have a lot of really great ideas about what can be done in their teams to help WordPress succeed. But then also, because when you are working, when you’re contributing to a single team in the project, it can sometimes be hard to know how your work relates to the overall goals and visions of WordPress. And so that’s part of the work that gets done that I do there. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  06:43

And when you’re looking at future topics, future issues, the second part of this genre, that stuff like starting conversations or discussions around what the future holds for WordPress, and that’s the project as well as the technology or hearing from people about big things coming up for them. And any content that can support it, anything that I can provide to support those big things. It’s also a good time for me and others to identify trends based on what I see in presentations or what I hear from people at social functions. Really, it’s just a huge opportunity for information gathering to make sure that I know what everyone else in the project is trying to do and if they understand what the project is trying to do. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  07:32

And then the second big genre of things that happen in that dark matter kind of work at WordCamps is what I call community stewardship—so taking care of the community itself for the project itself. And a lot of that work is actually incident response kind of work. So conflict resolution, mediation often happens at in-person events, but also uncovering the shared foundations, the shared understanding for upcoming changes. So a lot of really, in the weeds kind of change management work. And for me, it’s certainly doing my best as a cultural liaison when I do see that there has been some miscommunication or gathering context for the latest disagreement that people are having with me so that I can clarify anything that was misunderstood from what I said. And also a little bit of policy clarification, just explaining why we do things and the way we do them. So for community stewardship, that’s kind of the current stuff that we look at. And that I do when I’m traveling for WordCamps. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  08:36

And then for the future tasks that we do with community stewardship in the project, that stuff like training, and that’s training team reps, community deputies, or new contributors like it’s, it’s not really one type of training, necessarily. But then also, all of the checking in with our organizers, team reps, volunteers, sponsors, everyone like that, to make sure that what we have in the project and what’s happening in the project, the tools that we have, the experience that contributors have while they are working here, and WordPress is good, and is what they need. We’ve got a lot of tools to get things done in WordPress, and we can always make them better. And so checking in with people to kind of see how those processes are, how the tools are making sure that I have an idea of where our holes are and what needs to be patched, and how we can patch them in the long run. So that’s all of the future planning kind of work and topic stuff, just you know, making sure that WordPress has what it needs to survive long into the future and long after I’m doing anything with it, and long after you’re doing anything with it either. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  09:56

So, lots and lots of unseen work being done at our in-person events. But folks who keep a keen eye on the online global work of WordPress will probably recognize that a lot of that work is also done routinely on make.wordpress.org and within the making WordPress Slack. There’s just, I don’t know, there’s just something different about receiving information from a human being with a face rather than an avatar with a photo. So I guess at the end of the day, that means the dark matter that keeps open source together is really an issue of communication. And you’ll get no arguments for me there.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  10:44

That brings us now to our small list of big things. And there’s really just one big thing. And that’s WordPress 5.8. We are about two weeks away from this big release; the community has been working tirelessly on it. And it’s shaping up to be one of the most tested releases that we’ve had in a long time. Myself, I’m grateful to see so much activity before the release. Since 5.8 and 5.9 releases represent such monumental shifts in our software, I’m incredibly grateful to see so much activity prior to the release, especially in the beta period. We’ve been testing everything for it feels like six or eight months, and we’re really starting to see the positive benefits of that. And I think that we, the WordPress community, should be really proud of everything that we’re going to ship in 2021. Okay, so that was less of a small list of big things and really like one big thing with a generous garnish of encouragement, but you deserve it. So thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress briefing. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.

WordPress.org blog: WP Briefing: Episode 12: WordPress – In Person!

Mon, 07/05/2021 - 12:00

In this episode, Josepha Haden Chomphosy talks about WordPress – In Person! The WordPress events that provide the dark matter of connection that helps sustain the open source project.

Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to wpbriefing@wordpress.org, either written or as a voice recording.

Credits

Editor: Dustin Hartzler

Logo: Beatriz Fialho

Production: Chloé Bringmann

Song: Fearless First by Kevin MacLeod

References

The tragedy of the commons

WordPress 5.8 Release Candidate announcement

Transcript

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:11

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing, the podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it, and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Here we go!

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:39

Today we’re talking about one of my favorite parts of the project – WordPress events. The in-person component of the project is the dark matter that helps us build resilience and thrive as a group. A lot of what I’m going to share applies to every WordPress event, whether it’s a meetup or workshop, a contributor day, any other sort of format. But I’ll be focused on WordCamps. It’s been a while since we had any in-person WordCamps. Our last two were WordCamp Malaga in Spain and WordCamp Greenville in the US. But that hasn’t stopped anyone from gathering people together online. Which honestly makes a lot of sense for WordPress. Because there are many reasons we gather, the main three reasons are connecting, inspiring, and contributing. It’s true. It says so right in our documentation, “paper rustling.” All WordPress events should connect WordPress users, inspire people to do more with WordPress, and contribute to the WordPress project. As an aside, I’ll tell you that some groups also get to collaborate and educate in there, but connect, inspire, contribute. Those are the big three. And that’s what I’m talking about today. And if you subscribe to this podcast for the back office deep cuts, I’ll also have a few of those for you. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  01:57

Alright, so first up, connect. WordCamps are generally annual-ish gatherings organized by local WordPress meetup groups. They’re not meant to be big or fancy. The definition of the minimum viable product for WordCamp is 50 people gathered all day to talk about WordPress. They are intentionally affordable to allow people from all walks of life to attend, meet, share and learn. This is made possible by donations and sponsorships from local businesses and larger businesses in the WordPress ecosystem. And this helps us get people connected to those in their community that works with or are sustained by WordPress. That connection feeds into the overall health of the global WordPress project. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  02:45

Next up is inspire. WordCamps do not discriminate. They are open to any WordPress users, developers, designers, or other enthusiasts, regardless of their level of experience. And because of this, sessions generally span a variety of formats. So presentations or live demos to workshops or panels, any other format you can think of. But that also means that there are a variety of skill levels represented. There’s always content about how to use WordPress. That’s a given. But you can also count on content that inspires people to do more with their own dreams and aspirations. When I was still organizing WordCamps, my favorite thing was seeing people who came back year after year, putting into practice something that they learned the year before. It is that Choose Your Own Adventure aspect to WordCamps that lets people see the edge of their ideas and then expand that just a little bit further. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  03:42

And finally, contribute. WordCamps often have a contribution component to them. Sometimes it’s just a talk telling you how you can get more involved in the WordPress project. But sometimes, it’s a whole contributor day. And those range in size from single focus, like everyone, will show up and learn how to review a theme or a focus from every team that we have, like at the big flagship events where we gather hundreds of people into a room just to contribute to WordPress and all of the teams that go with it. Getting started with contributing can be daunting, but it is also essential to avoid something called the Tragedy of the Commons, an economic concept. So I’ll share a link to that in the show notes below. But the most important thing, the most important thing to remember, is that WordPress is open source. And we asked people to help us keep this great tool running by giving back a little bit of their time if they have gotten any benefit from the WordPress project or CMS over the course of their careers. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  04:40

So that’s it. The three big things you can get from a WordCamp. I know that I can’t wait to get back to them myself because while a lot of these things can still happen online and do, it’s really hard to replace the dark matter of in-person connections for open source projects. And since we’re talking dark matter anyway, let’s dig into it a little.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  05:01

At the start of the section, I mentioned that WordCamps are local, locally organized, and people are encouraged to attend locally. But I am part of a group that ends up traveling to a lot of WordCamps. If you don’t know about the unseen work of WordPress, this raises eyebrows. So here is some clarification around the back office work that some of these traveling WordCampers often do. When I listed these out, there were about 20 different tasks, 20 different jobs, which was, frankly, a bit overwhelming when I listed them that way. So I’ve grouped them into kind of two genres, each with a group of current versus future types of work. So my two big buckets, big picture stuff, and then community stewardship. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  05:50

The big picture stuff, our first big genre here, when you’re looking at current topics, current issues kind of information, when we’re working on big picture stuff, you get the clarification of the mission or vision of WordPress, the sharing of open source methods or processes that we use in the WordPress project, and also sometimes those goal-setting conversations that you have to have both because we have a bunch of teams and team reps, that have a lot of really great ideas about what can be done in their teams to help WordPress succeed. But then also, because when you are working, when you’re contributing to a single team in the project, it can sometimes be hard to know how your work relates to the overall goals and visions of WordPress. And so that’s part of the work that gets done that I do there. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  06:43

And when you’re looking at future topics, future issues, the second part of this genre, that stuff like starting conversations or discussions around what the future holds for WordPress, and that’s the project as well as the technology or hearing from people about big things coming up for them. And any content that can support it, anything that I can provide to support those big things. It’s also a good time for me and others to identify trends based on what I see in presentations or what I hear from people at social functions. Really, it’s just a huge opportunity for information gathering to make sure that I know what everyone else in the project is trying to do and if they understand what the project is trying to do. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  07:32

And then the second big genre of things that happen in that dark matter kind of work at WordCamps is what I call community stewardship—so taking care of the community itself for the project itself. And a lot of that work is actually incident response kind of work. So conflict resolution, mediation often happens at in-person events, but also uncovering the shared foundations, the shared understanding for upcoming changes. So a lot of really, in the weeds kind of change management work. And for me, it’s certainly doing my best as a cultural liaison when I do see that there has been some miscommunication or gathering context for the latest disagreement that people are having with me so that I can clarify anything that was misunderstood from what I said. And also a little bit of policy clarification, just explaining why we do things and the way we do them. So for community stewardship, that’s kind of the current stuff that we look at. And that I do when I’m traveling for WordCamps. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  08:36

And then for the future tasks that we do with community stewardship in the project, that stuff like training, and that’s training team reps, community deputies, or new contributors like it’s, it’s not really one type of training, necessarily. But then also, all of the checking in with our organizers, team reps, volunteers, sponsors, everyone like that, to make sure that what we have in the project and what’s happening in the project, the tools that we have, the experience that contributors have while they are working here, and WordPress is good, and is what they need. We’ve got a lot of tools to get things done in WordPress, and we can always make them better. And so checking in with people to kind of see how those processes are, how the tools are making sure that I have an idea of where our holes are and what needs to be patched, and how we can patch them in the long run. So that’s all of the future planning kind of work and topic stuff, just you know, making sure that WordPress has what it needs to survive long into the future and long after I’m doing anything with it, and long after you’re doing anything with it either. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  09:56

So, lots and lots of unseen work being done at our in-person events. But folks who keep a keen eye on the online global work of WordPress will probably recognize that a lot of that work is also done routinely on make.wordpress.org and within the making WordPress Slack. There’s just, I don’t know, there’s just something different about receiving information from a human being with a face rather than an avatar with a photo. So I guess at the end of the day, that means the dark matter that keeps open source together is really an issue of communication. And you’ll get no arguments for me there.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  10:44

That brings us now to our small list of big things. And there’s really just one big thing. And that’s WordPress 5.8. We are about two weeks away from this big release; the community has been working tirelessly on it. And it’s shaping up to be one of the most tested releases that we’ve had in a long time. Myself, I’m grateful to see so much activity before the release. Since 5.8 and 5.9 releases represent such monumental shifts in our software, I’m incredibly grateful to see so much activity prior to the release, especially in the beta period. We’ve been testing everything for it feels like six or eight months, and we’re really starting to see the positive benefits of that. And I think that we, the WordPress community, should be really proud of everything that we’re going to ship in 2021. Okay, so that was less of a small list of big things and really like one big thing with a generous garnish of encouragement, but you deserve it. So thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress briefing. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.

WordPress.org blog: WP Briefing: Episode 12: WordPress – In Person!

Mon, 07/05/2021 - 12:00

In this episode, Josepha Haden Chomphosy talks about WordPress – In Person! The WordPress events that provide the dark matter of connection that helps sustain the open source project.

Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to wpbriefing@wordpress.org, either written or as a voice recording.

Credits

Editor: Dustin Hartzler

Logo: Beatriz Fialho

Production: Chloé Bringmann

Song: Fearless First by Kevin MacLeod

References

The tragedy of the commons

WordPress 5.8 Release Candidate announcement

Transcript

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:11

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing, the podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it, and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Here we go!

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:39

Today we’re talking about one of my favorite parts of the project – WordPress events. The in-person component of the project is the dark matter that helps us build resilience and thrive as a group. A lot of what I’m going to share applies to every WordPress event, whether it’s a meetup or workshop, a contributor day, any other sort of format. But I’ll be focused on WordCamps. It’s been a while since we had any in-person WordCamps. Our last two were WordCamp Malaga in Spain and WordCamp Greenville in the US. But that hasn’t stopped anyone from gathering people together online. Which honestly makes a lot of sense for WordPress. Because there are many reasons we gather, the main three reasons are connecting, inspiring, and contributing. It’s true. It says so right in our documentation, “paper rustling.” All WordPress events should connect WordPress users, inspire people to do more with WordPress, and contribute to the WordPress project. As an aside, I’ll tell you that some groups also get to collaborate and educate in there, but connect, inspire, contribute. Those are the big three. And that’s what I’m talking about today. And if you subscribe to this podcast for the back office deep cuts, I’ll also have a few of those for you. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  01:57

Alright, so first up, connect. WordCamps are generally annual-ish gatherings organized by local WordPress meetup groups. They’re not meant to be big or fancy. The definition of the minimum viable product for WordCamp is 50 people gathered all day to talk about WordPress. They are intentionally affordable to allow people from all walks of life to attend, meet, share and learn. This is made possible by donations and sponsorships from local businesses and larger businesses in the WordPress ecosystem. And this helps us get people connected to those in their community that works with or are sustained by WordPress. That connection feeds into the overall health of the global WordPress project. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  02:45

Next up is inspire. WordCamps do not discriminate. They are open to any WordPress users, developers, designers, or other enthusiasts, regardless of their level of experience. And because of this, sessions generally span a variety of formats. So presentations or live demos to workshops or panels, any other format you can think of. But that also means that there are a variety of skill levels represented. There’s always content about how to use WordPress. That’s a given. But you can also count on content that inspires people to do more with their own dreams and aspirations. When I was still organizing WordCamps, my favorite thing was seeing people who came back year after year, putting into practice something that they learned the year before. It is that Choose Your Own Adventure aspect to WordCamps that lets people see the edge of their ideas and then expand that just a little bit further. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  03:42

And finally, contribute. WordCamps often have a contribution component to them. Sometimes it’s just a talk telling you how you can get more involved in the WordPress project. But sometimes, it’s a whole contributor day. And those range in size from single focus, like everyone, will show up and learn how to review a theme or a focus from every team that we have, like at the big flagship events where we gather hundreds of people into a room just to contribute to WordPress and all of the teams that go with it. Getting started with contributing can be daunting, but it is also essential to avoid something called the Tragedy of the Commons, an economic concept. So I’ll share a link to that in the show notes below. But the most important thing, the most important thing to remember, is that WordPress is open source. And we asked people to help us keep this great tool running by giving back a little bit of their time if they have gotten any benefit from the WordPress project or CMS over the course of their careers. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  04:40

So that’s it. The three big things you can get from a WordCamp. I know that I can’t wait to get back to them myself because while a lot of these things can still happen online and do, it’s really hard to replace the dark matter of in-person connections for open source projects. And since we’re talking dark matter anyway, let’s dig into it a little.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  05:01

At the start of the section, I mentioned that WordCamps are local, locally organized, and people are encouraged to attend locally. But I am part of a group that ends up traveling to a lot of WordCamps. If you don’t know about the unseen work of WordPress, this raises eyebrows. So here is some clarification around the back office work that some of these traveling WordCampers often do. When I listed these out, there were about 20 different tasks, 20 different jobs, which was, frankly, a bit overwhelming when I listed them that way. So I’ve grouped them into kind of two genres, each with a group of current versus future types of work. So my two big buckets, big picture stuff, and then community stewardship. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  05:50

The big picture stuff, our first big genre here, when you’re looking at current topics, current issues kind of information, when we’re working on big picture stuff, you get the clarification of the mission or vision of WordPress, the sharing of open source methods or processes that we use in the WordPress project, and also sometimes those goal-setting conversations that you have to have both because we have a bunch of teams and team reps, that have a lot of really great ideas about what can be done in their teams to help WordPress succeed. But then also, because when you are working, when you’re contributing to a single team in the project, it can sometimes be hard to know how your work relates to the overall goals and visions of WordPress. And so that’s part of the work that gets done that I do there. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  06:43

And when you’re looking at future topics, future issues, the second part of this genre, that stuff like starting conversations or discussions around what the future holds for WordPress, and that’s the project as well as the technology or hearing from people about big things coming up for them. And any content that can support it, anything that I can provide to support those big things. It’s also a good time for me and others to identify trends based on what I see in presentations or what I hear from people at social functions. Really, it’s just a huge opportunity for information gathering to make sure that I know what everyone else in the project is trying to do and if they understand what the project is trying to do. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  07:32

And then the second big genre of things that happen in that dark matter kind of work at WordCamps is what I call community stewardship—so taking care of the community itself for the project itself. And a lot of that work is actually incident response kind of work. So conflict resolution, mediation often happens at in-person events, but also uncovering the shared foundations, the shared understanding for upcoming changes. So a lot of really, in the weeds kind of change management work. And for me, it’s certainly doing my best as a cultural liaison when I do see that there has been some miscommunication or gathering context for the latest disagreement that people are having with me so that I can clarify anything that was misunderstood from what I said. And also a little bit of policy clarification, just explaining why we do things and the way we do them. So for community stewardship, that’s kind of the current stuff that we look at. And that I do when I’m traveling for WordCamps. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  08:36

And then for the future tasks that we do with community stewardship in the project, that stuff like training, and that’s training team reps, community deputies, or new contributors like it’s, it’s not really one type of training, necessarily. But then also, all of the checking in with our organizers, team reps, volunteers, sponsors, everyone like that, to make sure that what we have in the project and what’s happening in the project, the tools that we have, the experience that contributors have while they are working here, and WordPress is good, and is what they need. We’ve got a lot of tools to get things done in WordPress, and we can always make them better. And so checking in with people to kind of see how those processes are, how the tools are making sure that I have an idea of where our holes are and what needs to be patched, and how we can patch them in the long run. So that’s all of the future planning kind of work and topic stuff, just you know, making sure that WordPress has what it needs to survive long into the future and long after I’m doing anything with it, and long after you’re doing anything with it either. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  09:56

So, lots and lots of unseen work being done at our in-person events. But folks who keep a keen eye on the online global work of WordPress will probably recognize that a lot of that work is also done routinely on make.wordpress.org and within the making WordPress Slack. There’s just, I don’t know, there’s just something different about receiving information from a human being with a face rather than an avatar with a photo. So I guess at the end of the day, that means the dark matter that keeps open source together is really an issue of communication. And you’ll get no arguments for me there.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  10:44

That brings us now to our small list of big things. And there’s really just one big thing. And that’s WordPress 5.8. We are about two weeks away from this big release; the community has been working tirelessly on it. And it’s shaping up to be one of the most tested releases that we’ve had in a long time. Myself, I’m grateful to see so much activity before the release. Since 5.8 and 5.9 releases represent such monumental shifts in our software, I’m incredibly grateful to see so much activity prior to the release, especially in the beta period. We’ve been testing everything for it feels like six or eight months, and we’re really starting to see the positive benefits of that. And I think that we, the WordPress community, should be really proud of everything that we’re going to ship in 2021. Okay, so that was less of a small list of big things and really like one big thing with a generous garnish of encouragement, but you deserve it. So thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress briefing. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.

WPTavern: Castos Picks Up $756K in Funding from Automattic and Yoast SEO to Expand Services in the Private Podcasting Market

Sat, 07/03/2021 - 02:18

Castos, a WordPress-powered podcast hosting provider, announced a $756K pre-seed fundraising round today from Automattic, Yoast SEO, and several individuals. The company raised money from all the investors in this round via a SAFE note, which founder and CEO Craig Hewitt said is a fairly standard investment vehicle for companies at Castos’ stage of growth.

“On both the individual and corporate investor side I think the investors see the vision that we have for what the Private Podcasting market can mean for Castos and want to help us achieve that potential,” Hewitt said.

Private Podcasting is a growing trend where creators and organizations broadcast to supporters in a more intimate format that isn’t open to the public. Hewitt likens them to membership sites, except in audio format. It is often used by people who are running membership sites, courses, or online communities as a way to stay connected with members.

“The other application is companies wanting a way to connect with their employees in audio format,” Hewitt said. “Podcasting is perfect for that because it’s mobile-first, on-demand, and can be consumed asynchronously.  We call it the Step Away Experience. Companies that are adopting Private Podcasting internally are giving their team members a way to consume their internal content without being tied to their computer on a Zoom call or glued to Slack.”

Castos is developing a mobile app specifically targeted at the private podcasting market. Hewitt’s team is aiming to have the app become a place where people can listen to all of the private podcasts for which they have a subscription. Listeners would simply use the app instead of going through the process of manually subscribing to all their private podcasts via RSS feed. New episodes will appear automatically in the app for subscribers.

“For our corporate clients, the ability to white label our app with their own branding/style is a big win,” Hewitt said. “It’s also a much more secure way to distribute private podcast content.  There’s no RSS feed to share around, no files to download (our app is streaming only to offer more security to those files).” 

The pandemic ramped up unprecedented interest in podcasting when lockdowns were in place across the globe. Even with vaccines more readily available now, Hewitt said Castos is still witnessing strong growth in the podcasting industry.

“There are all the new podcasters in the market now since so many launched podcasts during the pandemic, but now that people are traveling again and commuting to work we’re seeing listenership going up quite a bit,” he said. “This is a trend we expect to continue into the future.”

In the past 10 months, Castos has grown to serve nearly 3,500 customers and the team has grown from seven employees to 13. The company’s Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin is used on more than 30,000 WordPress sites. Castos is actively hiring for several roles right now, thanks to the new round of fundraising.

“All of the funds will go towards growing our team,” Hewitt said. “This will be pretty evenly split between product (designers and developers) and Sales and Marketing roles – more people, more energy, more great minds working on ways that we can better serve our customers.” 

WPTavern: Castos Picks Up $756K in Funding from Automattic and Yoast SEO to Expand Services in the Private Podcasting Market

Sat, 07/03/2021 - 02:18

Castos, a WordPress-powered podcast hosting provider, announced a $756K pre-seed fundraising round today from Automattic, Yoast SEO, and several individuals. The company raised money from all the investors in this round via a SAFE note, which founder and CEO Craig Hewitt said is a fairly standard investment vehicle for companies at Castos’ stage of growth.

“On both the individual and corporate investor side I think the investors see the vision that we have for what the Private Podcasting market can mean for Castos and want to help us achieve that potential,” Hewitt said.

Private Podcasting is a growing trend where creators and organizations broadcast to supporters in a more intimate format that isn’t open to the public. Hewitt likens them to membership sites, except in audio format. It is often used by people who are running membership sites, courses, or online communities as a way to stay connected with members.

“The other application is companies wanting a way to connect with their employees in audio format,” Hewitt said. “Podcasting is perfect for that because it’s mobile-first, on-demand, and can be consumed asynchronously.  We call it the Step Away Experience. Companies that are adopting Private Podcasting internally are giving their team members a way to consume their internal content without being tied to their computer on a Zoom call or glued to Slack.”

Castos is developing a mobile app specifically targeted at the private podcasting market. Hewitt’s team is aiming to have the app become a place where people can listen to all of the private podcasts for which they have a subscription. Listeners would simply use the app instead of going through the process of manually subscribing to all their private podcasts via RSS feed. New episodes will appear automatically in the app for subscribers.

“For our corporate clients, the ability to white label our app with their own branding/style is a big win,” Hewitt said. “It’s also a much more secure way to distribute private podcast content.  There’s no RSS feed to share around, no files to download (our app is streaming only to offer more security to those files).” 

The pandemic ramped up unprecedented interest in podcasting when lockdowns were in place across the globe. Even with vaccines more readily available now, Hewitt said Castos is still witnessing strong growth in the podcasting industry.

“There are all the new podcasters in the market now since so many launched podcasts during the pandemic, but now that people are traveling again and commuting to work we’re seeing listenership going up quite a bit,” he said. “This is a trend we expect to continue into the future.”

In the past 10 months, Castos has grown to serve nearly 3,500 customers and the team has grown from seven employees to 13. The company’s Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin is used on more than 30,000 WordPress sites. Castos is actively hiring for several roles right now, thanks to the new round of fundraising.

“All of the funds will go towards growing our team,” Hewitt said. “This will be pretty evenly split between product (designers and developers) and Sales and Marketing roles – more people, more energy, more great minds working on ways that we can better serve our customers.” 

WPTavern: WordPress Biratnagar Announces Plans for Ujwal Thapa Memorial Scholarship

Fri, 07/02/2021 - 23:25

Earlier this week, the WordPress Biratnagar Facebook group announced a WordCamp scholarship in honor of Ujwal Thapa. The goal is to honor the legacy left behind by one of Nepal’s leaders both inside and outside of the WordPress community.

Thapa passed away a month ago at age 44 from complications with COVID-19. He was a political activist, founding the Bibeksheel Nepali party, originally a peaceful movement against corruption and social injustice. He was the co-founder of WordPress Nepal, a group that has grown to 8,000 members. He was also a close friend and mentor to many in the community and helped many more launch careers in the IT industry.

“After the untimely death of WordPress contributor and co-founder of WordPress Nepal Ujwal Thapa in 2021, due to COVID-19, the WordPress Biratnagar community decided on this scholarship,” wrote the WordPress Biratnagar team. “Ujwal was a dedicated patron to the WordPress community in Nepal, and the WordPress Biratnagar decided to pay applause to his memory in this way.”

The scholarship will cover the following:

  • Travel to Biratnagar from within Nepal.
  • Hotel stay for the duration of the event.
  • A ticket to WordCamp Biratnagar.
  • Local transportation.
  • Meals outside the official event.

Nepal is still struggling with getting COVID-19 cases under control at the moment. The CDC lists the country as “very high” risk and recommends avoiding travel. There is no date set for a physical conference, and a WordCamp Biratnagar 2021 event is unlikely. The organizing team may not be able to grant a scholarship until next year at the earliest.

WordCamp Biratnagar lead organizer Ganga Kafle said they are just waiting for the situation to return to normal but cannot be sure when that will happen. While there is no date for the next WordCamp, they are still holding regular meetups.

The group is still discussing the details of the scholarship. Currently, they plan to consult with other community groups within Nepal and the global community. Any help creating and maintaining such a scholarship system would be welcome.

The WordPress Biratnagar team did agree to some guidelines. Once submissions open, applicants must be Nepalese. “We believe that empowering community members is an excellent way to honor his memory and carry on his legacy,” wrote the team in its announcement.

Group leaders mostly agreed to award the scholarship to those meeting the following criteria:

  • People with disabilities.
  • People from lower-income families.
  • Women interested in WordPress.

The group said the selection process would be completely transparent, and the awarded scholarship would be at the discretion of the current WordCamp Biratnagar organizers.

Kafle said the scholarship would also be annual. The team plans to keep this going in honor of Thapa and paying respect to the man who helped jump-start many of their careers and involvement with WordPress.

WPTavern: WordPress Biratnagar Announces Plans for Ujwal Thapa Memorial Scholarship

Fri, 07/02/2021 - 23:25

Earlier this week, the WordPress Biratnagar Facebook group announced a WordCamp scholarship in honor of Ujwal Thapa. The goal is to honor the legacy left behind by one of Nepal’s leaders both inside and outside of the WordPress community.

Thapa passed away a month ago at age 44 from complications with COVID-19. He was a political activist, founding the Bibeksheel Nepali party, originally a peaceful movement against corruption and social injustice. He was the co-founder of WordPress Nepal, a group that has grown to 8,000 members. He was also a close friend and mentor to many in the community and helped many more launch careers in the IT industry.

“After the untimely death of WordPress contributor and co-founder of WordPress Nepal Ujwal Thapa in 2021, due to COVID-19, the WordPress Biratnagar community decided on this scholarship,” wrote the WordPress Biratnagar team. “Ujwal was a dedicated patron to the WordPress community in Nepal, and the WordPress Biratnagar decided to pay applause to his memory in this way.”

The scholarship will cover the following:

  • Travel to Biratnagar from within Nepal.
  • Hotel stay for the duration of the event.
  • A ticket to WordCamp Biratnagar.
  • Local transportation.
  • Meals outside the official event.

Nepal is still struggling with getting COVID-19 cases under control at the moment. The CDC lists the country as “very high” risk and recommends avoiding travel. There is no date set for a physical conference, and a WordCamp Biratnagar 2021 event is unlikely. The organizing team may not be able to grant a scholarship until next year at the earliest.

WordCamp Biratnagar lead organizer Ganga Kafle said they are just waiting for the situation to return to normal but cannot be sure when that will happen. While there is no date for the next WordCamp, they are still holding regular meetups.

The group is still discussing the details of the scholarship. Currently, they plan to consult with other community groups within Nepal and the global community. Any help creating and maintaining such a scholarship system would be welcome.

The WordPress Biratnagar team did agree to some guidelines. Once submissions open, applicants must be Nepalese. “We believe that empowering community members is an excellent way to honor his memory and carry on his legacy,” wrote the team in its announcement.

Group leaders mostly agreed to award the scholarship to those meeting the following criteria:

  • People with disabilities.
  • People from lower-income families.
  • Women interested in WordPress.

The group said the selection process would be completely transparent, and the awarded scholarship would be at the discretion of the current WordCamp Biratnagar organizers.

Kafle said the scholarship would also be annual. The team plans to keep this going in honor of Thapa and paying respect to the man who helped jump-start many of their careers and involvement with WordPress.

WordPress.org blog: The Month in WordPress: June 2021

Fri, 07/02/2021 - 15:11

Once you step into contribution time, your main concern is the users of WordPress, or new contributors, or the health of the WordPress ecosystem as a whole or the WordPress project. So you get all this subject matter expertise from competitive forces, collaborating in a very “us versus the problem” way. And when you do that, you’re always going to find a great solution.

In the “WordCamp Europe 2021 in Review” episode of the WP Briefing podcast, Josepha Haden talks about the importance of collaboration, which is vital in building WordPress. This edition of The Month in WordPress covers exciting updates that exemplify this philosophy. 

Updates on WordPress 5.8

Get excited, folks! The beta versions and the first release candidate of WordPress 5.8 are out. Beta 1 came out on June 9, followed by Beta 2 on June 15, Beta 3 on June 23, and Beta 4 on June 25. The first release candidate of WordPress 5.8 was published on June 30. You can test the beta versions and the release candidates by downloading them from WordPress.org or by using the WordPress Beta Tester plugin. WordPress 5.8 will be out by July 20, 2021, and is also ready to be translated.

Want to contribute to WordPress core? Check out the Core Contributor Handbook. Don’t forget to join the WordPress #core channel in the Make WordPress Slack and follow the Core Team blog. The Core Team hosts weekly chats on Wednesdays at 5 AM and 8 PM UTC. Help us promote WordPress 5.8 by organizing meetups about the release, producing social media marketing materials for 5.8, or testing the release.

Gutenberg versions 10.8 and 10.9 are out

We said hello to Gutenberg version 10.8 and version 10.9 this month. Version 10.8 adds rich URL previews, enhancements to the list view, and an updated block manager. Version 10.9 offers several performance enhancements, along with more block design tools and template editor enhancements.

Want to get involved in building Gutenberg? Follow the Core Team blog, contribute to Gutenberg on GitHub, and join the #core-editor channel in the Make WordPress Slack. The “What’s next in Gutenberg” post offers more details on the latest updates. 

WordCamp Europe 2021 concludes

One of the biggest and most exciting WordPress events, WordCamp Europe 2021, was held from June 7-9, 2021. A team of 40 members organized the event, which had 3200+ registrations, 42 speakers, and 43 sponsors. What a success! You will find more details in the event recap. One highlight was a Gutenberg demo hosted by Matías Ventura and Matt Mullenweg. You can watch the event recording on the WordCamp Europe YouTube channel, and videos are now available on WordPress.tv as well. The team has announced WordCamp Europe 2022, which is being planned as an in-person event in Porto, Portugal. Want to be a part of the 2022 WCEU organizing team? Their call for organizers is now open. Apply now!

Full Site Editing updates

Don’t miss the latest Full Site Editing (FSE) Outreach program testing call: “Thrive with theme.json”, which is aimed at a developer-centric audience. The deadline is July 14. Also don’t miss a hallway hangout on testing theme.json on July 7 at 5 PM UTC. The team has published a recap of the Published Portfolios testing call, which shares some interesting results. 

BuddyPress 8.0 is out!

The first major BuddyPress release of 2021, version 8.0 “Alfano,” came out on June 6. The short-cycle release offers features such as the ability to recruit new members, an improved registration experience, and profile field types. Download it from the WordPress.org plugin directory or check it out from its Subversion repository.

Further reading

Have a story that we should include in the next “Month in WordPress” post? Please submit it using this form

WordPress.org blog: The Month in WordPress: June 2021

Fri, 07/02/2021 - 15:11

Once you step into contribution time, your main concern is the users of WordPress, or new contributors, or the health of the WordPress ecosystem as a whole or the WordPress project. So you get all this subject matter expertise from competitive forces, collaborating in a very “us versus the problem” way. And when you do that, you’re always going to find a great solution.

In the “WordCamp Europe 2021 in Review” episode of the WP Briefing podcast, Josepha Haden talks about the importance of collaboration, which is vital in building WordPress. This edition of The Month in WordPress covers exciting updates that exemplify this philosophy. 

Updates on WordPress 5.8

Get excited, folks! The beta versions and the first release candidate of WordPress 5.8 are out. Beta 1 came out on June 9, followed by Beta 2 on June 15, Beta 3 on June 23, and Beta 4 on June 25. The first release candidate of WordPress 5.8 was published on June 30. You can test the beta versions and the release candidates by downloading them from WordPress.org or by using the WordPress Beta Tester plugin. WordPress 5.8 will be out by July 20, 2021, and is also ready to be translated.

Want to contribute to WordPress core? Check out the Core Contributor Handbook. Don’t forget to join the WordPress #core channel in the Make WordPress Slack and follow the Core Team blog. The Core Team hosts weekly chats on Wednesdays at 5 AM and 8 PM UTC. Help us promote WordPress 5.8 by organizing meetups about the release, producing social media marketing materials for 5.8, or testing the release.

Gutenberg versions 10.8 and 10.9 are out

We said hello to Gutenberg version 10.8 and version 10.9 this month. Version 10.8 adds rich URL previews, enhancements to the list view, and an updated block manager. Version 10.9 offers several performance enhancements, along with more block design tools and template editor enhancements.

Want to get involved in building Gutenberg? Follow the Core Team blog, contribute to Gutenberg on GitHub, and join the #core-editor channel in the Make WordPress Slack. The “What’s next in Gutenberg” post offers more details on the latest updates. 

WordCamp Europe 2021 concludes

One of the biggest and most exciting WordPress events, WordCamp Europe 2021, was held from June 7-9, 2021. A team of 40 members organized the event, which had 3200+ registrations, 42 speakers, and 43 sponsors. What a success! You will find more details in the event recap. One highlight was a Gutenberg demo hosted by Matías Ventura and Matt Mullenweg. You can watch the event recording on the WordCamp Europe YouTube channel, and videos are now available on WordPress.tv as well. The team has announced WordCamp Europe 2022, which is being planned as an in-person event in Porto, Portugal. Want to be a part of the 2022 WCEU organizing team? Their call for organizers is now open. Apply now!

Full Site Editing updates

Don’t miss the latest Full Site Editing (FSE) Outreach program testing call: “Thrive with theme.json”, which is aimed at a developer-centric audience. The deadline is July 14. Also don’t miss a hallway hangout on testing theme.json on July 7 at 5 PM UTC. The team has published a recap of the Published Portfolios testing call, which shares some interesting results. 

BuddyPress 8.0 is out!

The first major BuddyPress release of 2021, version 8.0 “Alfano,” came out on June 6. The short-cycle release offers features such as the ability to recruit new members, an improved registration experience, and profile field types. Download it from the WordPress.org plugin directory or check it out from its Subversion repository.

Further reading

Have a story that we should include in the next “Month in WordPress” post? Please submit it using this form

WPTavern: WordPress Green Lights In-Person Meetup Events for Vaccinated Attendees

Fri, 07/02/2021 - 02:52

After considerable discussion, the WordPress Community Team is lifting the requirements of the in-person meetup safety checklist for meetups that gather fully-vaccinated attendees. The checklist is still applicable to all meetup groups but in places where vaccines are freely available, meetup organizers can now forego its requirements if they limit gatherings to those self-reporting as fully vaccinated.

When Andrea Middleton proposed adding vaccination status to the checklist in mid-May, the idea was met with a wide range of concerns and strong opinions. WordPress’ global community has experienced the pandemic in different ways, living under a spectrum of local restrictions, with disparate access to vaccines and varying responses to available vaccines. Some participants in the discussions were concerned about organizers having to request information about vaccination status from attendees, which is illegal in many places. Middleton clarified that attendance would be based on the honor system, and organizers would not be requesting any health information from individuals.

“The WordPress community team is not expecting or requiring local organizers to organize in-person events for fully-vaccinated people — we’re simply removing the barrier to doing so,” she said. The decision announcement includes a flow chart for the conditions that are now in place:

Middleton characterized the proposal as contentious and something that may be an unpopular decision. Participants in the discussion got heated in expressing their opinions, which varied greatly based on each person’s unique pandemic experiences and convictions.

While some think it overstepping to prohibit unvaccinated people from attending meetups, others think only allowing vaccinated attendees would create a “two-tiered” meetup program.

“This proposal means that multiple groups of people will no longer be allowed to attend our meetings,” Taco Verdonschot commented. “They’re limited to the meetings that are streamed online. They’re basically second class citizens in our community now. They can’t join the party, they have to watch through the window. Just this idea makes me extremely uncomfortable.”

Verdonschot cited several examples of people who might be excluded by the proposal to restart meetups for vaccinated attendees:

  • People with a low income in areas where the vaccines aren’t provided for free
  • Younger people in countries where vaccinations are administered to the elderly first, and only slowly make their way to the younger generations (like The Netherlands)
  • People who cannot get a vaccination for medical reasons, for example, because of known allergic reactions to vaccinations
  • Pregnant women
  • People with a limited immune system
  • People whose religion doesn’t allow them to get vaccinated

“I realize there are some on the team who do not agree, and I hope that these guidelines are flexible enough that you are able to disagree and commit in this case,” Middleton said in the decision announcement. 

“While I agree that it’s only a matter of time when fully-vaxxed-only meetups are a thing of the past, I do think it’s important to make that possible for our communities.”

WPTavern: WordPress Green Lights In-Person Meetup Events for Vaccinated Attendees

Fri, 07/02/2021 - 02:52

After considerable discussion, the WordPress Community Team is lifting the requirements of the in-person meetup safety checklist for meetups that gather fully-vaccinated attendees. The checklist is still applicable to all meetup groups but in places where vaccines are freely available, meetup organizers can now forego its requirements if they limit gatherings to those self-reporting as fully vaccinated.

When Andrea Middleton proposed adding vaccination status to the checklist in mid-May, the idea was met with a wide range of concerns and strong opinions. WordPress’ global community has experienced the pandemic in different ways, living under a spectrum of local restrictions, with disparate access to vaccines and varying responses to available vaccines. Some participants in the discussions were concerned about organizers having to request information about vaccination status from attendees, which is illegal in many places. Middleton clarified that attendance would be based on the honor system, and organizers would not be requesting any health information from individuals.

“The WordPress community team is not expecting or requiring local organizers to organize in-person events for fully-vaccinated people — we’re simply removing the barrier to doing so,” she said. The decision announcement includes a flow chart for the conditions that are now in place:

Middleton characterized the proposal as contentious and something that may be an unpopular decision. Participants in the discussion got heated in expressing their opinions, which varied greatly based on each person’s unique pandemic experiences and convictions.

While some think it overstepping to prohibit unvaccinated people from attending meetups, others think only allowing vaccinated attendees would create a “two-tiered” meetup program.

“This proposal means that multiple groups of people will no longer be allowed to attend our meetings,” Taco Verdonschot commented. “They’re limited to the meetings that are streamed online. They’re basically second class citizens in our community now. They can’t join the party, they have to watch through the window. Just this idea makes me extremely uncomfortable.”

Verdonschot cited several examples of people who might be excluded by the proposal to restart meetups for vaccinated attendees:

  • People with a low income in areas where the vaccines aren’t provided for free
  • Younger people in countries where vaccinations are administered to the elderly first, and only slowly make their way to the younger generations (like The Netherlands)
  • People who cannot get a vaccination for medical reasons, for example, because of known allergic reactions to vaccinations
  • Pregnant women
  • People with a limited immune system
  • People whose religion doesn’t allow them to get vaccinated

“I realize there are some on the team who do not agree, and I hope that these guidelines are flexible enough that you are able to disagree and commit in this case,” Middleton said in the decision announcement. 

“While I agree that it’s only a matter of time when fully-vaxxed-only meetups are a thing of the past, I do think it’s important to make that possible for our communities.”

WPTavern: Automattic Releases Sketch Block for Drawing in the WordPress Editor

Fri, 07/02/2021 - 01:50

Automattic released a new plugin titled Sketch Block earlier today. It is a one-off block that allows end-users to draw directly in the editor. The plugin is marked as a beta release and requires Gutenberg to be activated to use. It is a part of the company’s Block Experiments project.

To be perfectly honest, I spent an excessive amount of time playing around with this block plugin today. And, if I am going overboard with that honesty, most of that time was just trying to write out my name. It was hard not to. Drawing things directly in the editor is just kind of fun.

Attempts to write my name with Sketch Block.

I am unsure how many practical uses the plugin actually has at its current stage, but not everything needs a purpose outside of pure entertainment. Like an embedded Block-a-saurus game and ghost-written headings, sometimes we just need reminders about the wild and whacky side of the web. We also need to experiment with new ideas from time to time, which can lead to unexpected discoveries, creating the foundation of future technological advancements.

Sometimes we just need to relieve some stress and sketch out our names in a new tool.

I tested the block using my laptop’s trackpad — not an ideal method for freehand drawing. Unfortunately, I did not have access to a larger touchscreen device for a more thorough test.

The block offers a limited number of controls as of version 1.0.7. Users can select between three different stroke widths and choose from their theme’s color palette. The block’s height can be resized, but there seems to be a minimum of 200px.

I did manage to break it a few times, running into the “This block has encountered an error and cannot be previewed” error. There also seemed to be an unknown minimum width, which could not be adjusted. My goal was to create a columnized team page with each member’s signature beneath their profile photo. However, the Sketch block kept breaking outside of my columns. In the end, I created a single-member bio section:

Creating a profile card with Sketch Block

The plugin is built on top of the Perfect Freehand JavaScript library. When comparing Automattic’s block implementation to the library’s demo, the plugin falls short of offering the same experience in block form.

Perfect Freehand’s demo felt smoother. I was able to consistently draw with more accuracy using my laptop’s trackpad. I do not know if just the size of the drawing area made a difference or if the editor interfered with the feeling.

Drawing in the Perfect Freehand demo.

The JavaScript library has a ton of extra options too. Users can transform even the worst drawing into something a bit cleaner with the thinning, smoothing, streamline, and other controls. I would love to see the Sketch Block plugin integrate the full suite of tools available through Perfect Freehand.

Despite a few bumps, the plugin is a solid first release for a beta project. I am eagerly waiting for what future versions have in store. I also wonder what applications it might have outside of piddling around for fun, such as notetaking or animations.

WPTavern: Gatsby WP Themes Launches New Marketplace

Thu, 07/01/2021 - 05:07

The Gatsby WP Themes project has launched a new marketplace for developers who are building WordPress-powered sites with Gatsby on the frontend. Originally founded by Zac Gordon and Alexandra Spalato, the commercial venture is now primarily managed by Spalato and Paulina Hetman.

The team’s first project involved porting the Twenty Twenty WordPress Theme to a Gatsby WP Theme. They are now focused on creating commercial themes targeted at developers and agencies who can use them to save time when building clients’ sites. Gatsby is more well-suited to sites that don’t have a lot of dynamic content, such as marketing or documentation sites.

Gatsby WP Themes is launching with several starter themes with different styles for each child theme. They include designs suitable for blogs, personal sites, businesses, restaurants, and portfolios.

Gatsby themes have several distinct advantages over just grabbing a starter or boilerplate Gatsby site from GitHub. Spaloto identified a few reasons why developers might opt for using a theme:

  • Gatsby themes allow Gatsby site functionality to be packaged as a standalone product for reuse.
  • All of your default configuration lives in an npm package.
  • Themes are versioned packages that can be updated like any other package.
  • If you created multiple sites using the same theme, you can just update the central theme to push changes across all of them.
  • Themes are composable: You can install a blog theme alongside a notes theme, alongside an e-commerce theme (and so forth).

All themes in the new Gatsby WP Themes marketplace include built-in support for dynamic comments, search, Mailchimp integration, sitemaps, Google analytics or Google Tag Manager, and various widgets. The marketplace also includes Gatsby plugins that make popular WordPress plugins more compatible with Gatsby frontends. The current offerings add support for Contact Form 7, lightbox functionality, and Yoast SEO.

Spalato and Hetman are aiming at connecting with WordPress users who don’t code, those who don’t know React but want to use Gatsby, agencies, developers, and marketers. They have not promoted the marketplace much but already have more than 800 subscribers on Mailchimp. The team plans to release new themes and/or starters frequently as they continue building up their catalog of products.

WPTavern: Block Patterns Will Change Everything, Part 2: Headers and Footers

Thu, 07/01/2021 - 02:06

It is hard to believe that it was over a year ago — March 23, 2020, to be exact — that I wrote a post on why block patterns would be the future of WordPress. It has been a slow process as I have patiently waited for the feature to mature into a powerful tool for end-users. I am still as much a believer now as I was then.

WordPress is betting big on patterns too. The feature is now a top-level site-editing component with several sub-features under development. As Gutenberg project lead Matias Ventura noted, “From directory browsing to placeholder setup to transformations, patterns are crucial component of the entire site editing scope.”

A year ago, patterns were just an idea, almost a footnote compared to other upcoming features. Since WordPress 5.5 included the Patterns API for developers, over 100 themes in the official directory bundle them.

A new pattern directory is launching on WordPress.org next month alongside the version 5.8 release. There are already over 30 community-contributed patterns approved. More are likely to land in the coming weeks. The directory will also eventually be open to anyone who wants to submit new designs. Any WordPress user will have the choice to select from this collection directly from their WordPress admin interface.

These ideas are just scratching the surface.

At its core, the block patterns feature is a simple way of bundling one or more blocks into a preconfigured design. Users can point and click to insert them into their post or page content. The goal of the block system is not just to be a page builder where users must create everything from scratch. While we want it to be flexible enough to do that, most users should have the ability to simply insert sections of a design and customize them. This could be as simple as an audio player with a background to a portfolio layout that showcases their latest projects.

Right now, the user experience is only set up to handle a dozen or patterns at a time — too many choices can be a less-than-ideal adventure. As the library grows, the interface will need to evolve with it.

How can we build experiences on top of this foundation that mitigates some of the complexity?

The Gutenberg development team is already working on multiple solutions, such as contextual suggestions for a selected block. However, one of the more promising features is patterns registered for specific block types. In this case, template parts.

For example, if a user wants to select a new pattern for the header of their website, they should not have to sort through every option to find something. With Header patterns, the editor presents the user with a carousel of choices to scroll through specific to that template part.

Scrolling through header patterns.

This same feature is possible with footers too:

Selecting a footer pattern.

Those who have been beta testing WordPress 5.8 or running the Gutenberg plugin in the last few months may have noticed some similarities to the Query Loop block (formerly named Query). It is the same underlying system that allows developers to attach patterns to a specific block.

Users can already select from multiple Query Loop patterns when first inserting the block:

Selecting a Query Loop pattern.

“Recent improvements to the Template Part and Query Loop blocks has opened up a whole new world for how patterns can be used,” wrote Kjell Reigstad in a recent ThemeShaper blog post. “Both blocks can now display a carousel of block patterns in their setup state, allowing users to choose between a menu of pre-designed versions of these blocks. These patterns can be bundled with your theme, so that users have a wide range of pre-designed header, query, and footer options available to choose from in the Site Editor.”

Reigstad has an open ticket for several core header and footer patterns. The following is a short video clip of how this works:

As any theme developer knows, you cannot simply plop anything into the header and make it look good. It is one of the most specialized areas of theme design. One wrong turn and the entire design falls apart. The downside to this feature will be third-party patterns coming from the directory. Some will work. Others will not fit into every theme design, but they are not necessarily meant to. It could be a support nightmare for theme authors or an opportunity.

Theme developers will be able to steer their own ship, offering a range of choices that are perfectly molded to their designs.

I can already see it…multipurpose themes with 50+ header patterns listed in their marketing material.

While it is unlikely that many people had this in mind during the conceptual stages of block patterns, they are evolving. They will be more than just something users can stick into their post content at random. They are that semi-controlled experience that will give users the flexibility of choice, but the theme serves as a guide for making intelligent decisions.

If a theme author offers four or five well-designed Header or Footer template patterns, users are more likely to select from those. It is easier than building from the ground up.

Such a system also opens more commercial opportunities. Imagine upselling specialized pattern collections for niches. A restaurant site header might want to focus on an “order online” button. A news website could feature a “latest stories” ticker above the site title and navigation. There are endless ideas, all awaiting a savvy theme developer to implement and monetize them.

As always, I am eager to see where patterns go. They are still the most exciting WordPress feature, offering the API that theme authors have needed for the past decade.

WPTavern: WP Engine Makes Local Pro Free for All Users

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 04:28

WP Engine announced today that Local Pro, the commercial upgrade for its local WordPress development product, is now free for all users. Beginning with version 6.0, all features that formerly required a paid subscription are now available with a free Local account. These include Live Links Pro, Instant Reload, Link Checker, and MagicSync.

“We believe Local Pro features benefit a broader WordPress developer community and we want to deliver the full value of Local to more developers than ever,” WP Engine Senior Vice President Seth Halpern said. “We want to empower the freedom to create on WordPress by making all Local features available for free.”

WP Engine’s recently published research estimates the WordPress economy at $596.7B. The company may be in a better position to gain customers for its hosting products if they make Local completely free, as the tool was designed to seamlessly connect with WP Engine and Flywheel’s hosting. It is currently used by more than 300,000 developers. Over the years Local has gained popularity due to how easy it makes setting up WordPress development and testing environments.

Version 6.0 also introduces Local’s new Cloud Backups add-on, which will allow users to backup to Google Drive or Dropbox. Cloud backups can be restored from the Tools tab. The 6.0 release post details a few features that have been moved to new locations in the interface:

  • MagicSync is now a global preference, and the default push/pull experience can be toggled in the Preferences menu. 
  • Live Links Pro, now Live Links, will be accessible for all users by connecting your Local account.
  • Link Checker and Instant Reload have been moved to the Local Add-ons Library. 
  • Xdebug Add-ons have moved from the Utilities tab into the Tools tab within Local.

Existing Local Pro subscribers will have access to priority support until September 1, 2021. After that time, dedicated ticket support will be discontinued in favor of directing users to the community forums and help docs. WP Engine is offering customers full or prorated refunds, which will be sent out before July 31, 2021.

WPTavern: Add Editor-Only Notes via the Markdown Comment Block WordPress Plugin

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 00:15

Rich Tabor, the Senior Product Manager of WordPress Experience at GoDaddy, tweeted that he had an idea for a new block at the end of last week. Shortly after, the Markdown Comment Block plugin appeared on WordPress.org.

The plugin is a one-off block. It allows users to enter notes directly into the post editor that will not appear on the front end of the site. Tabor said he came up with the idea when working on an article for building single-block plugins.

There are few things I love more than simple plugins with a tight focus, performing a single function. Markdown Comment Block lands in this category.

The plugin creates a new block that works nearly the same as a typical Paragraph block:

Adding inline comments to a post.

Users can change the text color, but they will not have access to the typical Rich Text controls. Those should be unnecessary anyway.

As someone who does long-form writing almost exclusively in Markdown, the block’s use of the double percent-sign syntax for comments intrigued me. Technically, the Markdown spec does not support any sort of special characters for them. It handles HTML comments. However, those appear in the source code on the front end when the document is rendered. I have only seen the %% mark to denote comments in the Inspire Writer app for Windows. Tabor said he had seen the same in Ulysses. The feature also exists in the Iceberg editor for WordPress, which Tabor created alongside Jeffrey Carandang.

The plugin also introduces the %% keyboard shortcut. Typing it directly in the editor will create a new Markdown Comment block.

My primary use case for the plugin would be leaving notes for my later self. However, it could also be handy in users’ publishing flows. The block adds a “Resolve” button to the toolbar. Clicking it deletes the comment.

Clicking the “Resolve” button will delete the block.

The block itself will not likely offer a robust enough feature set for complex workflows. However, pairing it with a plugin like Post Descriptions could round out the experience for larger teams of writers and copyeditors.

The Post Descriptions plugin allows users to add notes on the post level. These notes appear on the post-management screen, letting other team members know when to check an article. However, it may be hard to provide the full context of what issues need to be resolved before publishing. Markdown Comment Block adds an inline comments system, letting team members pass in-text notes.

Theme developers should appreciate that the block uses CSS custom properties too, which makes it easy to overwrite its default style rules. In moments, I was able to make it match my theme:

Custom color, font, and line-height styles.

The --markdown-comment-font-size, --markdown-comment-line-height, and --markdown-comment-color variables are available for theme developers who want to add in support.

The one complaint I had about the block is its title: “Comment.” It is easy to confuse it with the six other comment-related blocks already in the WordPress block list. And, there will only be more in upcoming versions. Giving it a title of “Markdown Comment” would better distinguish it from others.

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