Wordpress News

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 6.0 Release Candidate 3 (RC3) Now Available for Testing

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 05/17/2022 - 16:39

WordPress 6.0 is scheduled for release next week on May 24, 2022! This RC3 release is the final opportunity for you to test and help contribute to making the 6.0 release great.

You can view changes since the RC2 release via Gutenberg and Trac.

Installing RC3

This version of the WordPress software is under development. Please do not install, run, and test this version of WordPress on production or mission-critical websites. Instead, it is recommended that you install RC3 on a test server and site. 

You can test WordPress 6.0 RC3 in three ways:

Option 1: Install and activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (select the “Bleeding edge” channel and “Beta/RC Only” stream).

Option 2: Direct download the release candidate (zip).

Option 3: When using WP-CLI to upgrade from Beta 1, 2, 3, 4, RC1, or RC2 on a case-insensitive filesystem, please use the following command:

wp core update --version=6.0-RC3

Plugin and Theme Developers

All plugin and theme developers are encouraged to complete testing of their respective extensions against WordPress 6.0 RC3 and update the “Tested up to” version in their readme file to 6.0 this week. If you find compatibility problems, please be sure to post detailed information to the support forums, so these items can be investigated further prior to the final release date of May 24.

Review the WordPress 6.0 Field Guide, for more details on this release.

Review additional information on the full 6.0 release cycle.

Check the Make WordPress Core blog for 6.0-related developer notes in the coming weeks which will detail upcoming changes.

Translate WordPress

Do you speak a language other than English? Help translate WordPress into more than 100 languages.

How to Help Test WordPress

Testing for issues is critical for stabilizing a release throughout its development. Testing is also a great way to contribute to WordPress. If you are new to testing, check out this detailed guide that will walk you through how to get started.

If you think you have run into an issue, please report it to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. If you are comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, you can file one on WordPress Trac. This is also where you can find a list of known bugs.

RC3, An (Almost) Final Haiku

It’s near time for six
The reward is the journey
Just one week to go

Thank you to the following contributors for collaborating on this post: @dansoschin, @webcommsat

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 6.0 Release Candidate 3 (RC3) Now Available for Testing

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 05/17/2022 - 16:39

WordPress 6.0 is scheduled for release next week on May 24, 2022! This RC3 release is the final opportunity for you to test and help contribute to making the 6.0 release great.

You can view changes since the RC2 release via Gutenberg and Trac.

Installing RC3

This version of the WordPress software is under development. Please do not install, run, and test this version of WordPress on production or mission-critical websites. Instead, it is recommended that you install RC3 on a test server and site. 

You can test WordPress 6.0 RC3 in three ways:

Option 1: Install and activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (select the “Bleeding edge” channel and “Beta/RC Only” stream).

Option 2: Direct download the release candidate (zip).

Option 3: When using WP-CLI to upgrade from Beta 1, 2, 3, 4, RC1, or RC2 on a case-insensitive filesystem, please use the following command:

wp core update --version=6.0-RC3

Plugin and Theme Developers

All plugin and theme developers are encouraged to complete testing of their respective extensions against WordPress 6.0 RC3 and update the “Tested up to” version in their readme file to 6.0 this week. If you find compatibility problems, please be sure to post detailed information to the support forums, so these items can be investigated further prior to the final release date of May 24.

Review the WordPress 6.0 Field Guide, for more details on this release.

Review additional information on the full 6.0 release cycle.

Check the Make WordPress Core blog for 6.0-related developer notes in the coming weeks which will detail upcoming changes.

Translate WordPress

Do you speak a language other than English? Help translate WordPress into more than 100 languages.

How to Help Test WordPress

Testing for issues is critical for stabilizing a release throughout its development. Testing is also a great way to contribute to WordPress. If you are new to testing, check out this detailed guide that will walk you through how to get started.

If you think you have run into an issue, please report it to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. If you are comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, you can file one on WordPress Trac. This is also where you can find a list of known bugs.

RC3, An (Almost) Final Haiku

It’s near time for six
The reward is the journey
Just one week to go

Thank you to the following contributors for collaborating on this post: @dansoschin, @webcommsat

Do The Woo Community: WordCamp Europe 2022 with Takis Bouyouris and Taeke Reijenga

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 05/17/2022 - 09:00

Takis Bouyouris and Taeke Reijenga, part of the organizing team for WordCamp Europe, joins us in a conversation all about WCEU.

>> The post WordCamp Europe 2022 with Takis Bouyouris and Taeke Reijenga appeared first on Do the Woo - a WooCommerce Builder Community .

Do The Woo Community: WordCamp Europe 2022 with Takis Bouyouris and Taeke Reijenga

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 05/17/2022 - 09:00

Takis Bouyouris and Taeke Reijenga, part of the organizing team for WordCamp Europe, joins us in a conversation all about WCEU.

>> The post WordCamp Europe 2022 with Takis Bouyouris and Taeke Reijenga appeared first on Do the Woo - a WooCommerce Builder Community .

WPTavern: How The Welch News Uses WordPress To Keep Local News Alive in West Virginia

Wordpress Planet - Mon, 05/16/2022 - 15:16
The Welch News Team – photo credit: The Welch News

For 95 years, the people living in the McDowell County coalfields have depended on The Welch News for local coverage of important events. The county sits at the southernmost point of state, with a declining population of 18,363 and a median household income of $27,682.

In the 1950’s, at the apex of the mining industry’s economic influence, McDowell County had close to 100,000 people living there. They mined the coal that built much of the infrastructure for American cities. After the industry became more mechanized and many left to find work elsewhere, the community began to deteriorate, drugs got a foothold, and many local kids are now raised by their grandparents. Property taxes evaporated, as a large number of homes are on homestead exemption, which further lowers property taxes for those who are 65+ or considered disabled.

The Welch News remains in the county as a unifying force that the dwindling populace relies on to stay connected and informed. Publisher Melissa Nester often says she learned how to read by reading the Welch News. Three years ago, she purchased her local newspaper to keep it from shuttering.

“Our previous owner made the decision to close the newspaper at a point we felt we were going strong,” Nester said. “Revenue had declined along with the business population we used to support our operation over the years, however we felt it was an asset to community building and wanted to use it as such.”  

The Welch News Publisher Melissa Nestor – photo credit: The Welch News

Nester purchased the paper, with the promised support of her core team members at the time. Most of them are still working with her today.

“The Welch News had been a staple in all our lives,” Nester said. “When we announced that we would cease to print, the community was outraged. We cried with customers stopping in to see us one last time, most of them sharing stories of their first job being a paper carrier at the newspaper. One of our carriers at the time told us the story of an elderly woman who said all she had at home was a landline phone and The Welch News. It’s all she had. We were absolutely floored as we heard how much our community wanted us to remain.”

The Welch News Launches a Digital Publication on WordPress with the Help of the PaywallProject photo credit – The PaywallProject

After purchasing the paper, Nester held a meeting on May 8, 2018, where she invited everyone she could think of to help her plan a path to move forward. Tyler Channell, creator of the PaywallProject, attended this meeting and listened to the team’s goals and concerns.

“Building simple WordPress-based sites for various businesses is something I’ve done dating back to 2008,” Channell said. “I really started focusing on local newspaper web development in late 2017 after graduate school (journalism) at West Virginia University.”

Channell began helping local West Virginian newspapers, after they reached out with specific questions about generating revenue from their publications.

“Digital ads weren’t cutting it for them (a similar story I hear from publishers across the country),” Channell said. “With Facebook and Google owning virtually the entire digital ad market, newspapers must focus their efforts on generating paid digital subscriptions to remain sustainable. People are willing to pay for local content that they can’t get anywhere else.”

After helping his first local newspaper find success with a paywall he implemented, he decided to put together a simple ready-to-go website solution focused on growing paid digital subscribers for local newspapers across West Virginia and beyond. He now has approximately 20 local newspapers signed on to the PaywallProject’s services. The all-in-one subscription platform for local news costs $199/month and includes website development, a flexible paywall subscription platform with no transaction fees, migration, and built-in ad management.

“I use a number of different themes/plugin-based solutions combined with custom code, payments via Stripe, and hosting through DigitalOcean to bring it all together,” Channell said. “The goal for me is to provide all technical aspects so that local news publishers can focus on publishing content.”

For many small publishers, this is their very first website. Channell said his clients are quick to acclimate to WordPress.

“I think when you remove the technical aspects of digital subscriptions, it reduces the learning curve dramatically,” he said.

“Growing digital subscriptions takes a lot of time and effort. But with each new paid subscriber a newspaper brings on board, local journalism becomes that much more sustainable.”

The Welch News’ WordPress site helped put the publication on a path to sustainability. Within the first ten days of launching their digital edition, they gained 100 new subscribers, and subscriptions keep rolling in from local residents and people all over the country.

“I believe [Channell] was particularly interested when he learned our newsroom was staffed by millennials who cared deeply about the community they live in and hoped to make a positive change,” Nester said. “He realized our staff could easily transition.

“As publisher/owner, at 56 years old, I have probably been the person hardest to train on using the site, but even I am very comfortable posting articles without help.”

Welch News Editor Derek Tyson is the primary person writing and editing articles, approving submissions, and managing ad design and layout for the front page.

“We really enjoy the ease of access WordPress offers,” Tyson said. “I think we all were quite surprised how easy it was to put our articles into the digital format to share with the world at large. The transition wasn’t hard. Changing our office routine after over 90 years of only print publishing was by far the hardest part.  PaywallProject made this transition easy for us.  Trainings happened in our own newsroom, and PaywallProject has always available to help with any issues.”

The Welch News Editor Derek Tyson – photo credit: The Welch News

The entire publication process is still very much a labor of love, as is evident in this video the PaywallProject created featuring The Welch News. The team managing it is far younger than most of the town but fiercely dedicated to keeping this vital community resource going.

Growing paid digital subscriptions in rural Appalachia is possible! @nestergirl2 @thatdamntyson pic.twitter.com/rpOE8fUEqM

— PaywallProject (@paywallproject) May 9, 2022

“Putting ourselves out into the digital world was both exciting and terrifying,” Nester said. “We were skeptical about our content being capable of generating online subscriptions. But it was the best case of being proven wrong in our lives.

“It does sometimes feel unnerving to move from a local publication that is only read via print media in your community, to a publication with a far greater reach.  Sometimes that brings forth ‘internet warriors’ to criticize, as well as ‘internet warriors’ to support.  PaywallProject is knowledgeable in the field of journalism, and that makes a great difference.”

The Welch News Still Prints and Delivers the Paper Three Days Per Week

The Welch News is just one of hundreds of publications that have found WordPress in the post-print news era, but unlike many others who transitioned to purely digital publishing, they are committed to keeping their print version going on their 1966 model printing press. They print three days a week and offer home delivery within McDowell County, as well as mail delivery across the nation.

“We have a high population of elderly residents, and strongly feel that they need the connection with the home delivery drivers three times each week,” Nester said. “We understand this isn’t the greatest business model, and often hear the advice to move to a weekly publication. Our desire to serve our residents in the best way possible keeps us headstrong about a three-day print publication.”

Though nearly everyone from his generation has moved away from the area, Tyson’s commitment to serve The Welch News’ elderly subscribers burns strong.

“We’re here to serve a very vulnerable population that I feel like the modern world is pretty quick to sweep under the rug,” Tyson said in a recent documentary about the county. “I see elderly people suffer, feeling like they’re not important and nobody needs them anymore. That’s just awful. They’re not as strong, they move a little slow, they’ll talk your head off but they’re living human beings that matter, and I’m going to fight for them.”

Local news stands as a guardian for small, economically vulnerable counties like McDowell. In an area that is frequently cited among the five poorest counties in the US, the people still have their own voice through The Welch News. This publication finding sustainability is like a flower growing up through the concrete.

As we witness the slow death of the American newspaper, these little newspapers staying alive to keep the public informed offer a ray of hope. Small publications continue to contend with the greed and corruption of the advertising industry, tech giants that have willfully eroded publishers’ trust through collusion and manipulation of the digital ad market. With affordable publishing tools like WordPress, The Welch News and its contemporaries can have a fighting chance.

“This is very much a heart project to serve and better our community, and we aren’t sure how long we can sustain it,” Nester said. “I’m certain we wouldn’t have survived the income loss from COVID without our website. 

“I often say I quit my job every morning, but go anyway. I quit again by nightfall, and the email comes showing the income from online subscriptions and I decide to try again.” 

Tyson and his small team of journalists believe the best hope for keeping local news alive, when many small outlets have shuttered or consolidated, is maintaing a hyperlocal focus.

“Our strategy has been to shift our content priorities from broad coverage to a hyperlocal focus on issues within McDowell County’s borders,” he said. “With so many forms of media coverage available today, we decided to focus on what you couldn’t find anywhere else and in turn, showing that important things happen in small towns that deserve media attention.”

WordPress and the PaywallProject helped introduce a new stream of revenue for their century-old business. As the subscriptions continued to flow in, Nester said they realized “hyperlocal content did indeed have true value and would not be found anywhere else.” It’s one of the reasons many of the 2022 Pulizter prize winners have won for local stories that would never be covered in the larger news market.

“Citizens near and far should understand the need to fund local newsrooms, and the important work they do,” Nester said. “Understanding that without supporting local journalists, a large sense of community will be lost with each news desert that comes.  If newsrooms are funded through community support, it is a better representation of that community and a means to bring forward local issues for resolution.”

WPTavern: How The Welch News Uses WordPress To Keep Local News Alive in West Virginia

Wordpress Planet - Mon, 05/16/2022 - 15:16
The Welch News Team – photo credit: The Welch News

For 95 years, the people living in the McDowell County coalfields have depended on The Welch News for local coverage of important events. The county sits at the southernmost point of state, with a declining population of 18,363 and a median household income of $27,682.

In the 1950’s, at the apex of the mining industry’s economic influence, McDowell County had close to 100,000 people living there. They mined the coal that built much of the infrastructure for American cities. After the industry became more mechanized and many left to find work elsewhere, the community began to deteriorate, drugs got a foothold, and many local kids are now raised by their grandparents. Property taxes evaporated, as a large number of homes are on homestead exemption, which further lowers property taxes for those who are 65+ or considered disabled.

The Welch News remains in the county as a unifying force that the dwindling populace relies on to stay connected and informed. Publisher Melissa Nester often says she learned how to read by reading the Welch News. Three years ago, she purchased her local newspaper to keep it from shuttering.

“Our previous owner made the decision to close the newspaper at a point we felt we were going strong,” Nester said. “Revenue had declined along with the business population we used to support our operation over the years, however we felt it was an asset to community building and wanted to use it as such.”  

The Welch News Publisher Melissa Nestor – photo credit: The Welch News

Nester purchased the paper, with the promised support of her core team members at the time. Most of them are still working with her today.

“The Welch News had been a staple in all our lives,” Nester said. “When we announced that we would cease to print, the community was outraged. We cried with customers stopping in to see us one last time, most of them sharing stories of their first job being a paper carrier at the newspaper. One of our carriers at the time told us the story of an elderly woman who said all she had at home was a landline phone and The Welch News. It’s all she had. We were absolutely floored as we heard how much our community wanted us to remain.”

The Welch News Launches a Digital Publication on WordPress with the Help of the PaywallProject photo credit – The PaywallProject

After purchasing the paper, Nester held a meeting on May 8, 2018, where she invited everyone she could think of to help her plan a path to move forward. Tyler Channell, creator of the PaywallProject, attended this meeting and listened to the team’s goals and concerns.

“Building simple WordPress-based sites for various businesses is something I’ve done dating back to 2008,” Channell said. “I really started focusing on local newspaper web development in late 2017 after graduate school (journalism) at West Virginia University.”

Channell began helping local West Virginian newspapers, after they reached out with specific questions about generating revenue from their publications.

“Digital ads weren’t cutting it for them (a similar story I hear from publishers across the country),” Channell said. “With Facebook and Google owning virtually the entire digital ad market, newspapers must focus their efforts on generating paid digital subscriptions to remain sustainable. People are willing to pay for local content that they can’t get anywhere else.”

After helping his first local newspaper find success with a paywall he implemented, he decided to put together a simple ready-to-go website solution focused on growing paid digital subscribers for local newspapers across West Virginia and beyond. He now has approximately 20 local newspapers signed on to the PaywallProject’s services. The all-in-one subscription platform for local news costs $199/month and includes website development, a flexible paywall subscription platform with no transaction fees, migration, and built-in ad management.

“I use a number of different themes/plugin-based solutions combined with custom code, payments via Stripe, and hosting through DigitalOcean to bring it all together,” Channell said. “The goal for me is to provide all technical aspects so that local news publishers can focus on publishing content.”

For many small publishers, this is their very first website. Channell said his clients are quick to acclimate to WordPress.

“I think when you remove the technical aspects of digital subscriptions, it reduces the learning curve dramatically,” he said.

“Growing digital subscriptions takes a lot of time and effort. But with each new paid subscriber a newspaper brings on board, local journalism becomes that much more sustainable.”

The Welch News’ WordPress site helped put the publication on a path to sustainability. Within the first ten days of launching their digital edition, they gained 100 new subscribers, and subscriptions keep rolling in from local residents and people all over the country.

“I believe [Channell] was particularly interested when he learned our newsroom was staffed by millennials who cared deeply about the community they live in and hoped to make a positive change,” Nester said. “He realized our staff could easily transition.

“As publisher/owner, at 56 years old, I have probably been the person hardest to train on using the site, but even I am very comfortable posting articles without help.”

Welch News Editor Derek Tyson is the primary person writing and editing articles, approving submissions, and managing ad design and layout for the front page.

“We really enjoy the ease of access WordPress offers,” Tyson said. “I think we all were quite surprised how easy it was to put our articles into the digital format to share with the world at large. The transition wasn’t hard. Changing our office routine after over 90 years of only print publishing was by far the hardest part.  PaywallProject made this transition easy for us.  Trainings happened in our own newsroom, and PaywallProject has always available to help with any issues.”

The Welch News Editor Derek Tyson – photo credit: The Welch News

The entire publication process is still very much a labor of love, as is evident in this video the PaywallProject created featuring The Welch News. The team managing it is far younger than most of the town but fiercely dedicated to keeping this vital community resource going.

Growing paid digital subscriptions in rural Appalachia is possible! @nestergirl2 @thatdamntyson pic.twitter.com/rpOE8fUEqM

— PaywallProject (@paywallproject) May 9, 2022

“Putting ourselves out into the digital world was both exciting and terrifying,” Nester said. “We were skeptical about our content being capable of generating online subscriptions. But it was the best case of being proven wrong in our lives.

“It does sometimes feel unnerving to move from a local publication that is only read via print media in your community, to a publication with a far greater reach.  Sometimes that brings forth ‘internet warriors’ to criticize, as well as ‘internet warriors’ to support.  PaywallProject is knowledgeable in the field of journalism, and that makes a great difference.”

The Welch News Still Prints and Delivers the Paper Three Days Per Week

The Welch News is just one of hundreds of publications that have found WordPress in the post-print news era, but unlike many others who transitioned to purely digital publishing, they are committed to keeping their print version going on their 1966 model printing press. They print three days a week and offer home delivery within McDowell County, as well as mail delivery across the nation.

“We have a high population of elderly residents, and strongly feel that they need the connection with the home delivery drivers three times each week,” Nester said. “We understand this isn’t the greatest business model, and often hear the advice to move to a weekly publication. Our desire to serve our residents in the best way possible keeps us headstrong about a three-day print publication.”

Though nearly everyone from his generation has moved away from the area, Tyson’s commitment to serve The Welch News’ elderly subscribers burns strong.

“We’re here to serve a very vulnerable population that I feel like the modern world is pretty quick to sweep under the rug,” Tyson said in a recent documentary about the county. “I see elderly people suffer, feeling like they’re not important and nobody needs them anymore. That’s just awful. They’re not as strong, they move a little slow, they’ll talk your head off but they’re living human beings that matter, and I’m going to fight for them.”

Local news stands as a guardian for small, economically vulnerable counties like McDowell. In an area that is frequently cited among the five poorest counties in the US, the people still have their own voice through The Welch News. This publication finding sustainability is like a flower growing up through the concrete.

As we witness the slow death of the American newspaper, these little newspapers staying alive to keep the public informed offer a ray of hope. Small publications continue to contend with the greed and corruption of the advertising industry, tech giants that have willfully eroded publishers’ trust through collusion and manipulation of the digital ad market. With affordable publishing tools like WordPress, The Welch News and its contemporaries can have a fighting chance.

“This is very much a heart project to serve and better our community, and we aren’t sure how long we can sustain it,” Nester said. “I’m certain we wouldn’t have survived the income loss from COVID without our website. 

“I often say I quit my job every morning, but go anyway. I quit again by nightfall, and the email comes showing the income from online subscriptions and I decide to try again.” 

Tyson and his small team of journalists believe the best hope for keeping local news alive, when many small outlets have shuttered or consolidated, is maintaing a hyperlocal focus.

“Our strategy has been to shift our content priorities from broad coverage to a hyperlocal focus on issues within McDowell County’s borders,” he said. “With so many forms of media coverage available today, we decided to focus on what you couldn’t find anywhere else and in turn, showing that important things happen in small towns that deserve media attention.”

WordPress and the PaywallProject helped introduce a new stream of revenue for their century-old business. As the subscriptions continued to flow in, Nester said they realized “hyperlocal content did indeed have true value and would not be found anywhere else.” It’s one of the reasons many of the 2022 Pulizter prize winners have won for local stories that would never be covered in the larger news market.

“Citizens near and far should understand the need to fund local newsrooms, and the important work they do,” Nester said. “Understanding that without supporting local journalists, a large sense of community will be lost with each news desert that comes.  If newsrooms are funded through community support, it is a better representation of that community and a means to bring forward local issues for resolution.”

WordPress.org blog: WP Briefing: Episode 31: Open Source & Accessibility– Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day With Guest Joe Devon

Wordpress Planet - Mon, 05/16/2022 - 12:00

In the thirty-first episode of the WordPress Briefing, GAAD Co-Founder Joe Devon joins WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy to discuss Global Accessibility Awareness Day and the role of open source in accessibility.

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

Credits References Transcript

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:00:00] 

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 00:00:40] 

Y’all, we’ve got an absolutely jam-packed couple of weeks in WordPress. We’ve got events happening and releases shipping and contributor days being coordinated (I almost said contributor days being contributed). That’s also what they’re doing. I’ll share some of those highlights in today’s small list of big things, but I did want to specifically call out something that’s coming up this week on Thursday (May 19, 2022), and that something is Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

The team of contributors over on the Accessibility team has participated in the Global Accessibility Awareness Day in the past. So I thought it would be interesting to hear from one of the co-founders of this particular day of awareness.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:01:27] 

All right. And with that, Joe Devin, would you like to tell us a little bit more about yourself? 

[Joe Devon 00:01:34]

Sure. So I am the co-founder of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which is a day that goes viral every year on the third Thursday of May. We typically have the Twitter reach on the GAAD hashtag on Twitter of 200 million users, which is, I think, pretty much their active user count. We stopped counting once we hit their daily active user count.

And then, I am Chair of the GAAD Foundation, which we launched last year. And then I have a day job too, where I’m CEO and co-founder of Diamond, which is an inclusive digital agency that builds software accessibly by default.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:02:15] 

Wonderful. Well, we are so excited to have you today. I said we like it’s me and the mouse in my pocket—we in the WordPress community that’s going to listen to this. Super excited to have you today. So you mentioned GAAD, Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Last year was your 10th anniversary, which is very exciting, but like with so many good things, I hear it all started with a blog post and a blog post on WordPress, no less.

So I’d love to hear about how GAAD evolved from that, with, as I understand it, your co-founder of Jennison (Asuncion). That must be where you met him, I assume.

[Joe Devon 00:02:51]

Yes. Yes. So what happened was I started a WordPress blog called My SQL Talk. So it’s a database blog, and I just thought it was a brilliant name. I mean, My SQL Talk, like that, should be super popular.

And it probably had maybe ten people who ever looked. Um, and then my dad was getting older, and my dad was a survivor of the concentration camps, and he was a genius. He spoke ten languages. It, he was one of those people. That, when he walked into a room, he just commanded respect. You knew that there was history. I don’t know how to explain it really, but it was special when my dad walked into the room. And considering all of this that he suffered in his life, watching him get older and struggle, particularly with his banking, was very painful to see. And the bank wasn’t accessible, so I wrote this blog post proposing that we create a Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

Sometimes I get these visions, and they never turn into anything. But while I think about it, I’m like, “all right, let’s write this blog post and this can definitely work. Right?” And then you finish the blog post to hit send, and you’re like, “this is not going to work.”

But I wasn’t even smart enough to do social media on it. But fortunately, WordPress had an auto-tweet feature, and it tweeted it out, and Jennison Asuncion, my co-founder, happened to be around and not out that Saturday night. And he read the blog post, and he said, “this is a great idea. Let’s make it happen.”

And we had two busy people, but we both had a community. He had the accessibility community, and I was building a tech scene in Los Angeles. And what I discovered is if you combine a great idea with the community, great things can happen.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:04:49]

Oh man, you’re speaking my language over here, helping people find their communities, knowing that community is the thing that is the lifeblood of society.

That sounded like a tautology. It is not a tautology. You can have a society with an attempt to not have any sort of community around it, but I bet it doesn’t work very well. Well, that’s, that’s very interesting. And so you all just kind of talked through what that would look like, I assume in confidence, or that would have to take place, right? Or was it on Twitter in those days? 

[Joe Devon 00:05:24]

Oh, you could still look in the comments and see the back and forth of Jennison and a bunch of other people that got pretty involved with GAAD that are some legendary folks in there. It’s kind of mind-blowing because I dunno how, how you feel, but for me, when I used to code, uh, three months later, I’d look back at old code and be like, “oh, I suck,” you know, or write an email even and you look back on it a day later and are like “what a stupid email, how stupid am I?” You know? But I look back on that one after ten years; I was scared to look at it because I’m like, it must’ve been really bad. But you know, it kind of held up, and exactly what I wrote in there happened – to my utter shock.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:06:06]

But also, it’s kinda nice, though, to look back and be like, “oh, I used to be much dumber.”

Cause then you’re like, look how far I’ve come. I’m no longer that dumb. I’m a different kind of dumb now; good for me. I always hope to be a different kind of dumb as I go forward.

So then, okay, so that was your ten-year anniversary last year. GAAD, in general, now has been going on for 11 years, and at the time of this recording, in a couple of weeks, but then probably a week when it finally publishes, you have your next, your next round of that going.

I think it seems safe to assume that awareness of the need for accessibility has increased during that time, but we all know that the work of accessibility is ongoing. And so, I’m just curious to hear from your perspective if the awareness of the need for accessibility has generally started to permeate developer communities.

And are you seeing more developer awareness around the need for accessibility in tech in general? 

[Joe Devon 00:07:12]

Yeah. You know, it’s not enough. It’s certainly improved a lot. I keynoted a conference probably four years after GAAD started, maybe five, and I kind of assumed nobody would have heard of accessibility, and I was taken aback when I asked who had heard of it, and a good chunk of the room had. So even then, there had been a difference, and I’d say now I see accessibility mentioned a lot more in conferences and stuff. But when it comes to actually building it, there’s a tremendous amount of ignorance. There, there still needs to be a lot more awareness.

And I think partially people are a little bit scared to dip their toe because they’re scared that they’re going to be told that “no, it’s not accessible,” or that they’re going to say the wrong word or offend somebody. So I’d say that there’s some degree of trepidation, but also developers, and it’s not just developers, designers, and product people. There’s so much to learn, and it’s like, “oh God, there’s another piece that I have to learn.”

And I’m so glad that you invited me on this podcast because it’s the developers that, you know, I am a developer, not anymore, I haven’t touched code in years, but that’s where I came from. Right? This is my peach, right? Particularly WordPress folks, because I had done a fair bit of WordPress before I moved on to some other things. And, I think we have to talk about usability and understand that accessibility is so much more than how we look at disability.

And if you don’t mind, I’m going to ask you a question. How do you think the typical WordPress developer or designer would define disability?

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:09:05]

in the kinds of conversations that I’ve had over the years, it frequently has to do with visual things. Because it’s just screens all day, right? And that’s a primary area where our designers and developers really have made some effort.

But my personal favorite sort of, of example, for like, when you’re looking at how to make sure that your products are accessible is, what, if you have to use your website, or you have to build your website using only one arm. Because that gives you an opportunity to kind of look at disability from a permanent standpoint.

Like if you have lost permanent use of one arm, but also gives you an opportunity to look at the temporary options for that sort of lack of mobility. Like you’re a mother with an infant, and so you have to be able to, you know, get your stuff done with one arm. And so I know that we paid a bunch of attention to screen readers and what works in not way back in 2018 and 2019 did a lot of work with. Literally zero screen. And can you still do the thing that you need to do, which was incredibly difficult. And I was really excited to see what our developers came up with around that. But I think that that is quite a bit of that discussion as we’re going through it from the beginning to the end.

[Joe Devon 00:10:27]

Yeah. I mean, that’s a great answer, and you definitely understand some of the nuances way better than I think that the average creator, digital product creator, I’m including the, you know, the product people, the designers, and the developers. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:10:42]

We’re very fortunate to have more than just developers in WordPress.

[Joe Devon 00:10:50]

The reason I bring this up is that the WHO (World Health Organization) had to; they’re the ones that did massive research across the globe. And they had to, they had to come up with a definition, and in their definition, they needed to draw a line. Typically, I don’t remember the exact thing cause it’s a 350-page report, and I kept looking for where they defined it again.

It was a little hard to find, but essentially it’s if there’s a major disability or a disability that impacts some significant portion of your day-to-day activities. And that’s really great when you’re trying to do a report on how many disabilities there are out there; what percentage of the population has a disability?

And their figures are something like 15% of the population has a disability, which is a huge number. But at the same time, they also mentioned that 2.2 billion people have a visual impairment. And we also know that over 33% of the population is over 50, and I’m included in that population. And I can say that when you’re over 50, you know, I’ve got clouds in my eyes.

I don’t know where they came from, but they definitely make it harder to see. When I’m in a restaurant, I can’t focus on the person across from me the same way. My hearing is not the same, and anybody over 50 is going to have certain impairments and won’t see as well; color contrast issues are a big deal.

Being able to raise the font is a big deal. And I think that accessibility is connected in most people’s minds with disability. And they’ll attach that to something like being blind or being deaf or hard of hearing or having a missing limb or having some other kind of disability.

And, as a result, they’re like, “well, I don’t even know any people in that category possibly,” and as a result, they’re like, “well, how important is this?” Yes. They might feel guilty. I should do the right thing. This is the right thing to do. But honestly, like how much money should I spend on it? How much, what percentage of my time should I spend on it?

And it’s because they don’t realize that everybody has different abilities. And so, I’m starting to go away from even talking about disabilities and asking people to remember that all of us perceive things differently.

Do you remember the gold dress where they were trying to say, what color is this dress? Is it gold and white or blue and black? And it is blue and black, but to me, all I see is gold and white. And then there was Laurel or Yanny. Do you remember that?. And some people heard it, and typically older people heard it as Laurel, and I’ve, and I do this in some of my presentations. I play that, that sound. And usually, it’s Laurel for me, but sometimes it’s Yanny. Even personally, it changes.

And so, we have a totally different perception. Now think about memory. There’s a different kind of blindness. If you try and remember, let’s say a relative or a friend that is no longer. How well do you see that picture?

Because for me, it is very, very vague, but for some people, they say, and I’ve been asking people, and I’d love your answer as well. How vivid is it? And some people say, I can read the, I can see the pattern on the shirt. It’s as vivid as if I see with opening my eyes, seeing, you know, the regular in front of me, and I can even read a name tag in the memory.

And I’m like, Woah, so maybe I’m blind in a way. Right? So how do you see it? How do you remember things? 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:14:42]

Oh, I’m a, I’m a real visual person and a tactile person. And so, like if I interacted with someone, I’m very likely to be able to picture, like, recreate that mental picture pretty well in my mind. I recently, very recently, met some of my first people in that executive leadership space who were like, yeah, I don’t, I don’t visualize things.

And I was like, what are you, how do you do this work? Because like, you have to be able to do that. And they were like, no, I don’t have mental pictures. 

[Joe Devon 00:15:13]

Some people don’t have an inner dialogue. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:15:17]

I don’t understand that either, 

[Joe Devon 00:15:19]

Me either. So accessibility studies all of these differences with respect to how you’re presenting all of this information.

And if you don’t pay attention to accessibility, you’re really just missing out. And then there’s colorblindness. If you’re creating something like slack that has an online/offline indicator, and you only use red and green for people who are colorblind, they see gray and gray. And so what I’m trying to teach the community with digital product creators is that no, you cannot ignore it.

You can ignore accessibility, but then you’re not good at your job. I mean, I don’t mean to say it in an offensive way, but you’re not good at your job if you’re unaware. If you break a rule on purpose, great. But if you don’t know the rule, it’s just a lack of craft, and you absolutely should make it a priority.

And you’re not doing it as a charity. You’re doing it because you care about your users, and you care about your craft, and you want to build things well, and it’s a necessity. And I think that this is the kind of message that our community needs to hear. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:16:31]

I want to touch on something that you sort of brought up a bit, um, at the start of the answer there.

So you brought up the concept of usability. And in the last time that I did a podcast about accessibility, I defined accessibility as a subset of usability. Do you think that if we were to consistently draw that line for people so that it’s not just like accessibility is this thing that you should do outside of usability?

If we were to more consistently draw that line, do you think that that would help people to see and understand better that its shades of existence, usability, and accessibility?  

[Joe Devon 00:17:10]

Oh, 100%, a hundred percent. And in my company, we kind of realized that that’s exactly what we have to do. We have to see this as usability.

And I don’t, we talk about accessibility a lot, but I don’t want to. It’s part of the plumbing for us. We’ve made it part of the plumbing, and I can tell you it’s a struggle to take accessibility and make it part of an organization, even when you’re bringing it top-down, believe it or not. For our teams, particularly the designers, they are blown away by what they’re learning because they’re improving their craft.

And design is typically where there’s a struggle to get accessibility accepted because there seems to be a very strong idea of what a design should look like. And I think it’s really about the approach because UX and design it’s all about empathy for people. And when you approach it, not as, even though empathy should mean that, that, you know, do the right thing at the same time, it’s more about empathy for your user, and your user includes so much more than just people with disabilities that you haven’t run into somebody that has that disability and therefore you build it better, and it’s, it’s completely blown their mind. They love it. They love doing it. And I’m not hiring people with accessibility coming in. We’re training them to work accessibly.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:18:34]

So I think it’s interesting that you talk about empathy as part of being able to make sure that you’re creating something that’s accessible because I actually feel like empathy is. Like it’s being considered this gold standard for many, many things right now. And I think it actually is more harmful in the long run than instead making altruistic choices.

And so, I have a blog post that I will link in our show notes that will kind of help everybody see more fully my concept there. But when you rely on empathy, you do kind of have to rely on one, being able to run into all of the issues you were mentioning. You have to know people who have problems in order to know that the problems exist.

And then you also kind of have to assume that once you have willingly put yourself into the discomfort of that kind of disability, whatever, wherever it exists on that spectrum, your experience of that discomfort is the same as someone who lives with it. And I just don’t think that we can necessarily do that.

I always think that trying to do the altruistic thing, like doing your research and figuring out what it is and trying to make decisions on behalf of other people as best you can, which is a terrible thing. Still, like decisions that take into account the experiences that people are sharing with you and then going to them and saying, “does this make that experience better or worse?” is the more sustainable option from my perspective, this is specifically leadership. Still, I think it’s true for accessibility as well, and probably product design as a whole, but it’s very difficult. Like people really feel like they understand the concept of empathy right now. And I do think that sometimes that leads us down the wrong path for things.

What’s your thought on that? I think you kind of agree based on what your answer was 

[Joe Devon 00:20:33]

Oh, no, absolutely. And you know, we, you, can’t never about us without us, as the common saying, and we’ve gathered a group of a hundred people with a wide variety of disabilities for research. Whenever we do any UX and research, and sometimes we’re asked to just do research projects, we go out and ask the users.

We had some really interesting companies approach us to do innovation and accessibility, and they had strong assumptions. We looked at the assumptions and agreed with it, but we’re like, all right, they were smart. They said, “vet this with users for us, please,” because they didn’t want to gather their own group.

We vetted with users, and we’re blown away, always blown away because there are so many things you just don’t know unless you’ve lived with a particular disability. You can’t guess, and you’ve got to speak to your users and a wide variety of them.  

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:21:30]

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. What role does open source play in expanding accessibility, either in specifically the digital space or just accessibility in general?

[Joe Devon 00:21:42]

I guess if the question is, what role does it play? I would say the role it plays is it is, unfortunately, it makes accessibility worse because, for the most part open source is not very accessible. And it’s a personal passion of mine, so I’m really glad that you brought that up.

You know, it is so bizarre. You write a blog post and then it goes viral, and it goes viral every year to a degree that you can’t even believe it, that all these companies that you know are running events. Privately, publicly talking about it. And then you get all these people thanking you for what you’ve done year after year.

And then one year, you read on Twitter, The Blind Onion; I’m sure you’re familiar with The Onion, the satirical clip, there’s the Blind Onion. And they tweet out, “Now that Global Accessibility Awareness Day is over, we look forward to 364 days of global accessibility oblivion.” And that really hurt at the time, but at the same time, and I was told to ignore it, don’t worry about it, but I’m like, no, this is coming from a place of pain.

And the point of GAAD was to make a difference. It wasn’t too to just give everybody an opportunity to say, “Hey, look at what we’re doing,” and then not make a difference. So, as a result of that, I started to think about, well, where are we with this? And, and so I’ve created a state of accessibility report that through my company, we’re able to run for a few years, and it’s not, you know, the state is not great.

And I’m like, well, what can we do to change things? So, as a result of all of this, I really wanted to figure out, well, what can we do to make sure that GAAD does make a difference? And so, I came up with the idea of the GAAD pledge, which is specifically meant for open source frameworks.

And the idea of the GAAD pledge is that an open source framework, when they are ready, takes the pledge to make accessibility a core value of the framework. Now, terms of what that actually entails are different for every single project because every project is unique. We did create a bit of a framework, which had the idea of saying, okay, you’re going to, first of all, create an accessibility statement that says that this framework is going to conform to whatever, WCAG, which is Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, to whatever WCAG level is decided and is appropriate for the framework. That there’s going to be documentation for anybody that is downloading this piece of open source project and trying to implement it, that there should be guidelines for them, that all of the examples should be accessible.

It’s really important because even the frameworks that try to pay attention to accessibility. You’ll often see that people from the community will provide examples, and they’re inaccessible. And it’s really sad when you see that because so many people are just copy-pasting. That’s typically how it works, and they’re going to copy-paste something bad. So putting a statement around it, I think, would be really great.

And what we’re hoping to see is that lots and lots of big open source communities decide to take the pledge. And then it’ll sort of be table stakes that any new open source projects as well look, all of these frameworks that made it, they took the pledge and therefore we should take the pledge as well.

And so the very first year, we had React Native take the pledge, and they put a lot of effort into their accessibility. The second group to take it was Ember.js, and they always put a lot of effort into their accessibility, and they continued that effort. We’re about to announce the next one, but we’re still two weeks away.

So I can’t say anything yet, but yeah, we’re, uh, we’re hoping for a lot more uptake on, on the gap pledge because it, it affects so many people downstream. WordPress’s what percent of the web right now? 43%? So there you go. That’s so many people. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:25:57]

So many people. Yeah, fun fact Gutenberg, our current rewriting of the editing experience in WordPress, primarily uses React. And so, I’m glad to hear that they have taken that pledge as well.

As with any good cooking, it starts with good ingredients.

[Joe Devon 00:26:12]

You said it. That was great. I wish I was a cook, though.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:26:23]

I love it. All right. Let’s what keeps you up at night when it comes to the state of accessibility? 

[Joe Devon 00:26:29]

What keeps me up at night is how to move the needle. It is such a big thing to change. And there are so many angles that you can approach this with, but at the end of the day, it’s, it’s a monster.

It’s a monster. There are so many legacy sites out there. If you look at WebAIM, they do a yearly report on the state of accessibility as well. They call it the WebAIM Million, and they’re typically seeing 97% inaccessible, 98%. It goes up and down a little bit every year. And that’s, that’s just a huge boat to move.

I think we need to at least get the newer, uh, newer websites and mobile apps to move. And what we’ve seen in our state of accessibility report is that only the very top companies seem to put in the effort to make their products accessible. There is a big push with the enterprise companies to do it.

The CEOs are starting to talk about it, but what we need is the entire culture of software development to change. Or I should even say digital product development change and to move that boat is massive. And that’s I put it in my tagline in my email like that’s my mission in life, and I hope to achieve it before I die.

So that keeps me up at night.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:27:52]

I think that would keep me up at night as well. I mean, it seems like you are really just personally mission-driven and impact-driven. Do you feel like, in the event that the work that you’ve accomplished so far is what you accomplish, you feel still like you’ve had an impact?

I feel like you have had an impact.

[Joe Devon 00:28:13]

I’m not one of those people that tries to have a legacy or like tries to focus on what my impact is and all of that. I just try and do good work. And hopefully, it just shows at the end of the day. I’m just trying to have the impact without the accolades.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:28:34]

I get it. Well, Joe, thank you so much for joining us here on this episode of WP Briefing. You have been a delight to chat with.

[Joe Devon 00:28:42]

Likewise, it’s really been a pleasure to meet you, and uh, and I appreciate the opportunity.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:28:54]

And now it’s time for our smallest of big things. As I mentioned at the start, it is packed. Number one tomorrow, May 17th, RC3. So one of the final RCs that we’re going to have for the WordPress 6.0 release, unless something goes horribly, horribly wrong, which I don’t think it will.

And then, two days after that, Global Accessibility Awareness Day, as I mentioned, will be on May 19th. So, this coming Thursday.

And then next week, we have the 6.0 release. We have the WordPress 6.0 release on May 24th.

Three days after that, WordPress turns 19 on May 27th, starting its final teenage year before we turn twenty in 2023. So that was the rapid-fire dance card for the next two weeks.

The stuff that is happening with and around WordPress for everyone to know. As a heads up, also, many people are headed to WordCamp Europe in Porto(, Portugal). The first week of June, I am going to do a live from WordCamp Europe episode. It will not be live. I’ll just record it live. And so. You know you’ll get to hear me with my hoarsest voice and maybe singing to my computer. Cause that almost always happens at these things.

And that, my friends, is your small list of big things. 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 31: Open Source & Accessibility– Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day With Guest Joe Devon

Wordpress Planet - Mon, 05/16/2022 - 12:00

In the thirty-first episode of the WordPress Briefing, GAAD Co-Founder Joe Devon joins WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy to discuss Global Accessibility Awareness Day and the role of open source in accessibility.

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

Credits References Transcript

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:00:00] 

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 00:00:40] 

Y’all, we’ve got an absolutely jam-packed couple of weeks in WordPress. We’ve got events happening and releases shipping and contributor days being coordinated (I almost said contributor days being contributed). That’s also what they’re doing. I’ll share some of those highlights in today’s small list of big things, but I did want to specifically call out something that’s coming up this week on Thursday (May 19, 2022), and that something is Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

The team of contributors over on the Accessibility team has participated in the Global Accessibility Awareness Day in the past. So I thought it would be interesting to hear from one of the co-founders of this particular day of awareness.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:01:27] 

All right. And with that, Joe Devin, would you like to tell us a little bit more about yourself? 

[Joe Devon 00:01:34]

Sure. So I am the co-founder of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which is a day that goes viral every year on the third Thursday of May. We typically have the Twitter reach on the GAAD hashtag on Twitter of 200 million users, which is, I think, pretty much their active user count. We stopped counting once we hit their daily active user count.

And then, I am Chair of the GAAD Foundation, which we launched last year. And then I have a day job too, where I’m CEO and co-founder of Diamond, which is an inclusive digital agency that builds software accessibly by default.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:02:15] 

Wonderful. Well, we are so excited to have you today. I said we like it’s me and the mouse in my pocket—we in the WordPress community that’s going to listen to this. Super excited to have you today. So you mentioned GAAD, Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Last year was your 10th anniversary, which is very exciting, but like with so many good things, I hear it all started with a blog post and a blog post on WordPress, no less.

So I’d love to hear about how GAAD evolved from that, with, as I understand it, your co-founder of Jennison (Asuncion). That must be where you met him, I assume.

[Joe Devon 00:02:51]

Yes. Yes. So what happened was I started a WordPress blog called My SQL Talk. So it’s a database blog, and I just thought it was a brilliant name. I mean, My SQL Talk, like that, should be super popular.

And it probably had maybe ten people who ever looked. Um, and then my dad was getting older, and my dad was a survivor of the concentration camps, and he was a genius. He spoke ten languages. It, he was one of those people. That, when he walked into a room, he just commanded respect. You knew that there was history. I don’t know how to explain it really, but it was special when my dad walked into the room. And considering all of this that he suffered in his life, watching him get older and struggle, particularly with his banking, was very painful to see. And the bank wasn’t accessible, so I wrote this blog post proposing that we create a Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

Sometimes I get these visions, and they never turn into anything. But while I think about it, I’m like, “all right, let’s write this blog post and this can definitely work. Right?” And then you finish the blog post to hit send, and you’re like, “this is not going to work.”

But I wasn’t even smart enough to do social media on it. But fortunately, WordPress had an auto-tweet feature, and it tweeted it out, and Jennison Asuncion, my co-founder, happened to be around and not out that Saturday night. And he read the blog post, and he said, “this is a great idea. Let’s make it happen.”

And we had two busy people, but we both had a community. He had the accessibility community, and I was building a tech scene in Los Angeles. And what I discovered is if you combine a great idea with the community, great things can happen.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:04:49]

Oh man, you’re speaking my language over here, helping people find their communities, knowing that community is the thing that is the lifeblood of society.

That sounded like a tautology. It is not a tautology. You can have a society with an attempt to not have any sort of community around it, but I bet it doesn’t work very well. Well, that’s, that’s very interesting. And so you all just kind of talked through what that would look like, I assume in confidence, or that would have to take place, right? Or was it on Twitter in those days? 

[Joe Devon 00:05:24]

Oh, you could still look in the comments and see the back and forth of Jennison and a bunch of other people that got pretty involved with GAAD that are some legendary folks in there. It’s kind of mind-blowing because I dunno how, how you feel, but for me, when I used to code, uh, three months later, I’d look back at old code and be like, “oh, I suck,” you know, or write an email even and you look back on it a day later and are like “what a stupid email, how stupid am I?” You know? But I look back on that one after ten years; I was scared to look at it because I’m like, it must’ve been really bad. But you know, it kind of held up, and exactly what I wrote in there happened – to my utter shock.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:06:06]

But also, it’s kinda nice, though, to look back and be like, “oh, I used to be much dumber.”

Cause then you’re like, look how far I’ve come. I’m no longer that dumb. I’m a different kind of dumb now; good for me. I always hope to be a different kind of dumb as I go forward.

So then, okay, so that was your ten-year anniversary last year. GAAD, in general, now has been going on for 11 years, and at the time of this recording, in a couple of weeks, but then probably a week when it finally publishes, you have your next, your next round of that going.

I think it seems safe to assume that awareness of the need for accessibility has increased during that time, but we all know that the work of accessibility is ongoing. And so, I’m just curious to hear from your perspective if the awareness of the need for accessibility has generally started to permeate developer communities.

And are you seeing more developer awareness around the need for accessibility in tech in general? 

[Joe Devon 00:07:12]

Yeah. You know, it’s not enough. It’s certainly improved a lot. I keynoted a conference probably four years after GAAD started, maybe five, and I kind of assumed nobody would have heard of accessibility, and I was taken aback when I asked who had heard of it, and a good chunk of the room had. So even then, there had been a difference, and I’d say now I see accessibility mentioned a lot more in conferences and stuff. But when it comes to actually building it, there’s a tremendous amount of ignorance. There, there still needs to be a lot more awareness.

And I think partially people are a little bit scared to dip their toe because they’re scared that they’re going to be told that “no, it’s not accessible,” or that they’re going to say the wrong word or offend somebody. So I’d say that there’s some degree of trepidation, but also developers, and it’s not just developers, designers, and product people. There’s so much to learn, and it’s like, “oh God, there’s another piece that I have to learn.”

And I’m so glad that you invited me on this podcast because it’s the developers that, you know, I am a developer, not anymore, I haven’t touched code in years, but that’s where I came from. Right? This is my peach, right? Particularly WordPress folks, because I had done a fair bit of WordPress before I moved on to some other things. And, I think we have to talk about usability and understand that accessibility is so much more than how we look at disability.

And if you don’t mind, I’m going to ask you a question. How do you think the typical WordPress developer or designer would define disability?

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:09:05]

in the kinds of conversations that I’ve had over the years, it frequently has to do with visual things. Because it’s just screens all day, right? And that’s a primary area where our designers and developers really have made some effort.

But my personal favorite sort of, of example, for like, when you’re looking at how to make sure that your products are accessible is, what, if you have to use your website, or you have to build your website using only one arm. Because that gives you an opportunity to kind of look at disability from a permanent standpoint.

Like if you have lost permanent use of one arm, but also gives you an opportunity to look at the temporary options for that sort of lack of mobility. Like you’re a mother with an infant, and so you have to be able to, you know, get your stuff done with one arm. And so I know that we paid a bunch of attention to screen readers and what works in not way back in 2018 and 2019 did a lot of work with. Literally zero screen. And can you still do the thing that you need to do, which was incredibly difficult. And I was really excited to see what our developers came up with around that. But I think that that is quite a bit of that discussion as we’re going through it from the beginning to the end.

[Joe Devon 00:10:27]

Yeah. I mean, that’s a great answer, and you definitely understand some of the nuances way better than I think that the average creator, digital product creator, I’m including the, you know, the product people, the designers, and the developers. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:10:42]

We’re very fortunate to have more than just developers in WordPress.

[Joe Devon 00:10:50]

The reason I bring this up is that the WHO (World Health Organization) had to; they’re the ones that did massive research across the globe. And they had to, they had to come up with a definition, and in their definition, they needed to draw a line. Typically, I don’t remember the exact thing cause it’s a 350-page report, and I kept looking for where they defined it again.

It was a little hard to find, but essentially it’s if there’s a major disability or a disability that impacts some significant portion of your day-to-day activities. And that’s really great when you’re trying to do a report on how many disabilities there are out there; what percentage of the population has a disability?

And their figures are something like 15% of the population has a disability, which is a huge number. But at the same time, they also mentioned that 2.2 billion people have a visual impairment. And we also know that over 33% of the population is over 50, and I’m included in that population. And I can say that when you’re over 50, you know, I’ve got clouds in my eyes.

I don’t know where they came from, but they definitely make it harder to see. When I’m in a restaurant, I can’t focus on the person across from me the same way. My hearing is not the same, and anybody over 50 is going to have certain impairments and won’t see as well; color contrast issues are a big deal.

Being able to raise the font is a big deal. And I think that accessibility is connected in most people’s minds with disability. And they’ll attach that to something like being blind or being deaf or hard of hearing or having a missing limb or having some other kind of disability.

And, as a result, they’re like, “well, I don’t even know any people in that category possibly,” and as a result, they’re like, “well, how important is this?” Yes. They might feel guilty. I should do the right thing. This is the right thing to do. But honestly, like how much money should I spend on it? How much, what percentage of my time should I spend on it?

And it’s because they don’t realize that everybody has different abilities. And so, I’m starting to go away from even talking about disabilities and asking people to remember that all of us perceive things differently.

Do you remember the gold dress where they were trying to say, what color is this dress? Is it gold and white or blue and black? And it is blue and black, but to me, all I see is gold and white. And then there was Laurel or Yanny. Do you remember that?. And some people heard it, and typically older people heard it as Laurel, and I’ve, and I do this in some of my presentations. I play that, that sound. And usually, it’s Laurel for me, but sometimes it’s Yanny. Even personally, it changes.

And so, we have a totally different perception. Now think about memory. There’s a different kind of blindness. If you try and remember, let’s say a relative or a friend that is no longer. How well do you see that picture?

Because for me, it is very, very vague, but for some people, they say, and I’ve been asking people, and I’d love your answer as well. How vivid is it? And some people say, I can read the, I can see the pattern on the shirt. It’s as vivid as if I see with opening my eyes, seeing, you know, the regular in front of me, and I can even read a name tag in the memory.

And I’m like, Woah, so maybe I’m blind in a way. Right? So how do you see it? How do you remember things? 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:14:42]

Oh, I’m a, I’m a real visual person and a tactile person. And so, like if I interacted with someone, I’m very likely to be able to picture, like, recreate that mental picture pretty well in my mind. I recently, very recently, met some of my first people in that executive leadership space who were like, yeah, I don’t, I don’t visualize things.

And I was like, what are you, how do you do this work? Because like, you have to be able to do that. And they were like, no, I don’t have mental pictures. 

[Joe Devon 00:15:13]

Some people don’t have an inner dialogue. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:15:17]

I don’t understand that either, 

[Joe Devon 00:15:19]

Me either. So accessibility studies all of these differences with respect to how you’re presenting all of this information.

And if you don’t pay attention to accessibility, you’re really just missing out. And then there’s colorblindness. If you’re creating something like slack that has an online/offline indicator, and you only use red and green for people who are colorblind, they see gray and gray. And so what I’m trying to teach the community with digital product creators is that no, you cannot ignore it.

You can ignore accessibility, but then you’re not good at your job. I mean, I don’t mean to say it in an offensive way, but you’re not good at your job if you’re unaware. If you break a rule on purpose, great. But if you don’t know the rule, it’s just a lack of craft, and you absolutely should make it a priority.

And you’re not doing it as a charity. You’re doing it because you care about your users, and you care about your craft, and you want to build things well, and it’s a necessity. And I think that this is the kind of message that our community needs to hear. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:16:31]

I want to touch on something that you sort of brought up a bit, um, at the start of the answer there.

So you brought up the concept of usability. And in the last time that I did a podcast about accessibility, I defined accessibility as a subset of usability. Do you think that if we were to consistently draw that line for people so that it’s not just like accessibility is this thing that you should do outside of usability?

If we were to more consistently draw that line, do you think that that would help people to see and understand better that its shades of existence, usability, and accessibility?  

[Joe Devon 00:17:10]

Oh, 100%, a hundred percent. And in my company, we kind of realized that that’s exactly what we have to do. We have to see this as usability.

And I don’t, we talk about accessibility a lot, but I don’t want to. It’s part of the plumbing for us. We’ve made it part of the plumbing, and I can tell you it’s a struggle to take accessibility and make it part of an organization, even when you’re bringing it top-down, believe it or not. For our teams, particularly the designers, they are blown away by what they’re learning because they’re improving their craft.

And design is typically where there’s a struggle to get accessibility accepted because there seems to be a very strong idea of what a design should look like. And I think it’s really about the approach because UX and design it’s all about empathy for people. And when you approach it, not as, even though empathy should mean that, that, you know, do the right thing at the same time, it’s more about empathy for your user, and your user includes so much more than just people with disabilities that you haven’t run into somebody that has that disability and therefore you build it better, and it’s, it’s completely blown their mind. They love it. They love doing it. And I’m not hiring people with accessibility coming in. We’re training them to work accessibly.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:18:34]

So I think it’s interesting that you talk about empathy as part of being able to make sure that you’re creating something that’s accessible because I actually feel like empathy is. Like it’s being considered this gold standard for many, many things right now. And I think it actually is more harmful in the long run than instead making altruistic choices.

And so, I have a blog post that I will link in our show notes that will kind of help everybody see more fully my concept there. But when you rely on empathy, you do kind of have to rely on one, being able to run into all of the issues you were mentioning. You have to know people who have problems in order to know that the problems exist.

And then you also kind of have to assume that once you have willingly put yourself into the discomfort of that kind of disability, whatever, wherever it exists on that spectrum, your experience of that discomfort is the same as someone who lives with it. And I just don’t think that we can necessarily do that.

I always think that trying to do the altruistic thing, like doing your research and figuring out what it is and trying to make decisions on behalf of other people as best you can, which is a terrible thing. Still, like decisions that take into account the experiences that people are sharing with you and then going to them and saying, “does this make that experience better or worse?” is the more sustainable option from my perspective, this is specifically leadership. Still, I think it’s true for accessibility as well, and probably product design as a whole, but it’s very difficult. Like people really feel like they understand the concept of empathy right now. And I do think that sometimes that leads us down the wrong path for things.

What’s your thought on that? I think you kind of agree based on what your answer was 

[Joe Devon 00:20:33]

Oh, no, absolutely. And you know, we, you, can’t never about us without us, as the common saying, and we’ve gathered a group of a hundred people with a wide variety of disabilities for research. Whenever we do any UX and research, and sometimes we’re asked to just do research projects, we go out and ask the users.

We had some really interesting companies approach us to do innovation and accessibility, and they had strong assumptions. We looked at the assumptions and agreed with it, but we’re like, all right, they were smart. They said, “vet this with users for us, please,” because they didn’t want to gather their own group.

We vetted with users, and we’re blown away, always blown away because there are so many things you just don’t know unless you’ve lived with a particular disability. You can’t guess, and you’ve got to speak to your users and a wide variety of them.  

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:21:30]

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. What role does open source play in expanding accessibility, either in specifically the digital space or just accessibility in general?

[Joe Devon 00:21:42]

I guess if the question is, what role does it play? I would say the role it plays is it is, unfortunately, it makes accessibility worse because, for the most part open source is not very accessible. And it’s a personal passion of mine, so I’m really glad that you brought that up.

You know, it is so bizarre. You write a blog post and then it goes viral, and it goes viral every year to a degree that you can’t even believe it, that all these companies that you know are running events. Privately, publicly talking about it. And then you get all these people thanking you for what you’ve done year after year.

And then one year, you read on Twitter, The Blind Onion; I’m sure you’re familiar with The Onion, the satirical clip, there’s the Blind Onion. And they tweet out, “Now that Global Accessibility Awareness Day is over, we look forward to 364 days of global accessibility oblivion.” And that really hurt at the time, but at the same time, and I was told to ignore it, don’t worry about it, but I’m like, no, this is coming from a place of pain.

And the point of GAAD was to make a difference. It wasn’t too to just give everybody an opportunity to say, “Hey, look at what we’re doing,” and then not make a difference. So, as a result of that, I started to think about, well, where are we with this? And, and so I’ve created a state of accessibility report that through my company, we’re able to run for a few years, and it’s not, you know, the state is not great.

And I’m like, well, what can we do to change things? So, as a result of all of this, I really wanted to figure out, well, what can we do to make sure that GAAD does make a difference? And so, I came up with the idea of the GAAD pledge, which is specifically meant for open source frameworks.

And the idea of the GAAD pledge is that an open source framework, when they are ready, takes the pledge to make accessibility a core value of the framework. Now, terms of what that actually entails are different for every single project because every project is unique. We did create a bit of a framework, which had the idea of saying, okay, you’re going to, first of all, create an accessibility statement that says that this framework is going to conform to whatever, WCAG, which is Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, to whatever WCAG level is decided and is appropriate for the framework. That there’s going to be documentation for anybody that is downloading this piece of open source project and trying to implement it, that there should be guidelines for them, that all of the examples should be accessible.

It’s really important because even the frameworks that try to pay attention to accessibility. You’ll often see that people from the community will provide examples, and they’re inaccessible. And it’s really sad when you see that because so many people are just copy-pasting. That’s typically how it works, and they’re going to copy-paste something bad. So putting a statement around it, I think, would be really great.

And what we’re hoping to see is that lots and lots of big open source communities decide to take the pledge. And then it’ll sort of be table stakes that any new open source projects as well look, all of these frameworks that made it, they took the pledge and therefore we should take the pledge as well.

And so the very first year, we had React Native take the pledge, and they put a lot of effort into their accessibility. The second group to take it was Ember.js, and they always put a lot of effort into their accessibility, and they continued that effort. We’re about to announce the next one, but we’re still two weeks away.

So I can’t say anything yet, but yeah, we’re, uh, we’re hoping for a lot more uptake on, on the gap pledge because it, it affects so many people downstream. WordPress’s what percent of the web right now? 43%? So there you go. That’s so many people. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:25:57]

So many people. Yeah, fun fact Gutenberg, our current rewriting of the editing experience in WordPress, primarily uses React. And so, I’m glad to hear that they have taken that pledge as well.

As with any good cooking, it starts with good ingredients.

[Joe Devon 00:26:12]

You said it. That was great. I wish I was a cook, though.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:26:23]

I love it. All right. Let’s what keeps you up at night when it comes to the state of accessibility? 

[Joe Devon 00:26:29]

What keeps me up at night is how to move the needle. It is such a big thing to change. And there are so many angles that you can approach this with, but at the end of the day, it’s, it’s a monster.

It’s a monster. There are so many legacy sites out there. If you look at WebAIM, they do a yearly report on the state of accessibility as well. They call it the WebAIM Million, and they’re typically seeing 97% inaccessible, 98%. It goes up and down a little bit every year. And that’s, that’s just a huge boat to move.

I think we need to at least get the newer, uh, newer websites and mobile apps to move. And what we’ve seen in our state of accessibility report is that only the very top companies seem to put in the effort to make their products accessible. There is a big push with the enterprise companies to do it.

The CEOs are starting to talk about it, but what we need is the entire culture of software development to change. Or I should even say digital product development change and to move that boat is massive. And that’s I put it in my tagline in my email like that’s my mission in life, and I hope to achieve it before I die.

So that keeps me up at night.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:27:52]

I think that would keep me up at night as well. I mean, it seems like you are really just personally mission-driven and impact-driven. Do you feel like, in the event that the work that you’ve accomplished so far is what you accomplish, you feel still like you’ve had an impact?

I feel like you have had an impact.

[Joe Devon 00:28:13]

I’m not one of those people that tries to have a legacy or like tries to focus on what my impact is and all of that. I just try and do good work. And hopefully, it just shows at the end of the day. I’m just trying to have the impact without the accolades.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:28:34]

I get it. Well, Joe, thank you so much for joining us here on this episode of WP Briefing. You have been a delight to chat with.

[Joe Devon 00:28:42]

Likewise, it’s really been a pleasure to meet you, and uh, and I appreciate the opportunity.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:28:54]

And now it’s time for our smallest of big things. As I mentioned at the start, it is packed. Number one tomorrow, May 17th, RC3. So one of the final RCs that we’re going to have for the WordPress 6.0 release, unless something goes horribly, horribly wrong, which I don’t think it will.

And then, two days after that, Global Accessibility Awareness Day, as I mentioned, will be on May 19th. So, this coming Thursday.

And then next week, we have the 6.0 release. We have the WordPress 6.0 release on May 24th.

Three days after that, WordPress turns 19 on May 27th, starting its final teenage year before we turn twenty in 2023. So that was the rapid-fire dance card for the next two weeks.

The stuff that is happening with and around WordPress for everyone to know. As a heads up, also, many people are headed to WordCamp Europe in Porto(, Portugal). The first week of June, I am going to do a live from WordCamp Europe episode. It will not be live. I’ll just record it live. And so. You know you’ll get to hear me with my hoarsest voice and maybe singing to my computer. Cause that almost always happens at these things.

And that, my friends, is your small list of big things. 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: WordSesh 2022 Kicks Off Monday, May 16, Featuring a World-Class Speaker Lineup and Hands-On Workshops

Wordpress Planet - Fri, 05/13/2022 - 19:35

WordSesh 2022, the live, virtual conference for WordPress professionals, is right around the corner. The event runs from May 16–20, 2022. While previous WordSesh events have always been high quality, this particular edition is jam-packed with a diverse selection of industry experts – many who have been building high impact projects with WordPress for years.

A sampling of the speakers for WordSesh 2022

This year’s WordSesh will feature 20 sessions, 3 keynotes, and two in-depth workshops. On May 19, at 8PM EDT, frontend developer Ellen Bauer from Elma Studio will guide users in a workshop on how to “Convert a Classic Theme to a Block Theme.” If you are a theme developer who hasn’t taken the leap into block themes, this workshop will get you started:

Together, we will set up the header and footer in a block theme, learn to work with Templates and Template Parts, set up page contents, and dive into how Styles work.

Throughout the workshop we’ll discuss which website projects can benefit from the new FSE features the most, what limitations we are still facing, and how the future of WordPress themes will most likely look.

The second workshop will be given by Tiffany Bridge, Product Manager at Nexcess, on May 20. She will give attendees an overview of how to prepare their web properties for a high traffic event.

One of the most exciting sessions on the schedule is the keynote on May 19. The team that rebuilt WhiteHouse.gov on WordPress in just six months will join the event to talk about the project. Other topics on the schedule include custom block development, headless WordPress, hacking, client services, performance, accessibility, and user experience.

In 2021, Brian Richards, founder of WPSessions.com and organizer of WordSesh, has transitioned the event to be more inclusive of timezones around the world. This year’s event will happen over the course of four days, with time offsets that accommodate a global audience. The first block of sessions is optimally timed for attendees across Asia and the Pacific. Day 2 is designed for attendees across Europe, Middle East, and Africa, and day 3 will cater to attendees in the Americas, Iceland, and Greenland.

“In 2019 and 2020 I ran entirely separate events for each region, but in 2021 I brought them back together as a single event,” Richards said. “I found it was a lot easier to get people excited about and paying attention to one big WordSesh event.

“It feels more inclusive this way, even though the separate events were also open to attendees from around the world. I think that’s primarily because there is something that is conveniently scheduled for someone no matter where they live. And with a single event, watching the recordings feels more akin to catching up on the pieces you missed rather than trying to watch talks for an event that was designed for somebody else.”

The scheduling modifications seem to be working, as the last event in 2021 hosted 3,600 attendees, making WordSesh the second largest WordPress community event behind WCEU 2020.

Richards continues to curate a high-quality speaker lineup year after year, through the help of attendee surveys, which reveal where people are spending their time, attention, and money. WordSesh pays its speakers and Richards also invests time for personal outreach. Through this combination, he said the schedule fills up fast.

“I think paying the speakers certainly helps with recruiting such incredible presenters, but I imagine that’s more icing on the cake for most speakers,” Richards said. “Probably the biggest draw is the history WordSesh now has (this is the 9th year and 12th event, officially), helped by the ever-increasing reach of my own personal network.”

Until 2021, Richards had been running the events entirely by himself. Last year he hired a part-time assistant and also started contracting out the video editing, which has helped him keep the event running more efficiently. It is quite a feat to have hosted WordSesh so many years running when many comparable virtual WordCamps of this caliber often rely on a large team of volunteers and organizers.

Registration for WordSesh is still open and it’s free for anyone to attend. The event will be live captioned by real people and all sessions will be recorded for purchase later on WPSessions.

Do The Woo Community: WooBits: Dropping My .02% About WordPress Marketshare

Wordpress Planet - Fri, 05/13/2022 - 09:54

In light of the recent article and discussion of the drop in the WordPress marketshare, well, I felt it my duty to weigh in, ever so small.

>> The post WooBits: Dropping My .02% About WordPress Marketshare appeared first on Do the Woo - a WooCommerce Builder Community .

WPTavern: A Farewell from Justin Tadlock

Wordpress Planet - Thu, 05/12/2022 - 22:47

Around three years ago, I was at a crossroads. I had spent nearly my entire adult life and most of my professional career within the WordPress space. However, the responsibilities of being a solo theme/plugin shop owner were like a boulder upon my shoulders that I could no longer hold up. After 11 years in the business, I was ready to throw in the towel.

My work was my life, and my life was my work. I was not sure if I even knew how to do anything else. I briefly considered returning to South Korea for another year-long stint teaching English as a second language. But, I had already spent years rebuilding my life and relationships back in my home state of Alabama. Plus, I was not prepared to say goodbye to my cats for that long.

The only other practical experience I had was gardening and farming work. I have spent many summers working watermelon fields and hauling hay under the heat of the Alabama sun, and I have piddled around in my own garden over the years. However, I was not in a financially stable position to start my own farm. It was too risky a proposition at that stage in my life.

I was also not quite ready to let go of WordPress. There was more that I wanted to accomplish, but I still faced the reality of needing to move on from the place I was at or find some way to get more joy out of the work I was doing.

It was not until a few months later that the writing position for WP Tavern opened. I was hesitant about it at first. I figured I had the credentials and experience to do the job, but daily writing, editing, and publishing would be unlike anything I had taken on before. Sarah Gooding, who has been the best colleague anyone could ask for, convinced me that I should pursue this job.

It turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me.

As I got into the swing of things and began to find my voice, I was once again genuinely happy to be involved with the WordPress project. Since I have been here, I have rekindled the flame I once had with our beloved platform.

I have made wonderful friends along the way. It has been a blessing to have the Tavern and its readers in my life.

Today, I am ready for a new challenge. I am stepping down from my role as a writer at WP Tavern.

No, I am not ready to start that farm just yet. Y’all cannot get rid of me that easily. I will stick around the WordPress community for a while, but today is not about my new role. It is a celebration of the Tavern.

I have published 647 stories and written 857 comments as of this post. I can only hope that, somewhere along the way, I have made an impact in some of your lives or work.

As I leave, I have one request: be kind to one another.

I believe we all want WordPress to be successful. We might have different opinions about how to make that happen. Sometimes, those ideas clash, but if we all treat one another with respect and have constructive discussions, things will work themselves out.

To our readers, thank you for going on this journey with me.

There are two remaining questions I want to answer before closing this chapter in my part of that journey. Feel free to continue reading. Otherwise, thank you for making it this far.

Writing About WordPress Photo by David Chandra Purnama.

Someone messaged me a week or so into my employment at WP Tavern about writing for WordPress. They wanted to know how they could become a writer on WordPress-related topics and one day work in the field. At the time, I did not have a great answer to the question. Maybe I still do not, but I will take a crack at it.

We might as well start with the advice of one of the most prolific writers in modern history, Stephen King. At the end of The Stand, one of my favorites from him, he answered this same question, and it has always resonated with me.

When asked, “How do you write?” I invariably answer, “One word at a time,” and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time, man. That’s all. One stone at a time. But I’ve read you can see that mother— from space without a telescope.

I think he may be wrong about seeing the Great Wall from space (Where’s a fact-checker when you need one?), but it is still generally sound advice.

I have been writing about WordPress for 17 years. Sometimes on my personal blog. At other times, I have taken one-off jobs. And, of course, I have written 100s of posts here at the Tavern. What has always helped me is sticking to topics I am passionate about. There are days when the job can be a grind (especially during slow news weeks), so you must love what you are doing to sustain any sort of career in writing.

I have a B.A. in English with a secondary concentration in journalism. However, my education merely provided a solid foundation. It is not a prerequisite for doing the job.

No one can teach you how to build those habits necessary for a sustainable career. They are too personal, and you can only figure out what works by practicing.

No one can give you your voice. That is a discovery that only you can make, and writing is a discovery in and of itself.

My advice to would-be writers is to give National Novel Writing Month a shot this November. It is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I have won twice and hope to do it again this year. I guarantee that you will figure out everything you need to know about yourself as a writer if you push yourself through the challenge. It is OK to fail. Just dust yourself off and try again if you have your heart set on it.

To the person who asked this question: I am sorry for not remembering your name. It has been over two years, and my memory is not what it once was. But, I hope you are reading now.

Spilling the Beans Coffee Beans. Photo by Chuck Grimmett

There is a question I get asked. A lot. Some of you probably already know what it is and have, perhaps, asked it or some variation of it yourself.

Does Matt dictate or control the content that we cover?

Since it is my last day on the job, I might as well let readers peek behind the curtain. And the answer is no.

Sorry to let down our conspiracy-theory-loving readers, but the truth is just not that juicy.

I always joke that I have only talked with “the boss” a handful of times while working here. That is pretty close to the truth (I have not actually kept count).

From the day I arrived until today, I have had complete independence to thrive or fail by the result of my work. It felt like our small team had been left on an island to fend for ourselves at times. We must go through the same channels as other publications for information and have never been given special treatment.

This level of autonomy is vital for journalistic integrity.

The WordPress community will always need a publication where its writers have the independence to do their work without conflicts of interest. The Tavern has always been that place, and I do not expect it to change going forward.

I appreciate that our readers have trusted our team to perform this job. It is a responsibility that has not been taken lightly. I am proud to have contributed in at least in some small way.

Do The Woo Community: Education, the LMS Ecosystem and WooCommerce with Ronnie Burt

Wordpress Planet - Thu, 05/12/2022 - 14:00

Ronnie Burt from Sensei LMS shares insights and thoughts from his years of experience in education, WordPress, and WooCommerce

>> The post Education, the LMS Ecosystem and WooCommerce with Ronnie Burt appeared first on Do the Woo - a WooCommerce Builder Community .

WPTavern: WordPress Community Attributes Declining Market Share to Performance Issues, Increased Complexity, and the Lagging Full-Site Editing Project

Wordpress Planet - Thu, 05/12/2022 - 04:57

For the first time in WordPress’ nearly 19-year history, the software’s usage stats are showing signs of declining market share. Its remarkable ascension to 43.3% market share took a turn in March 2022 and usage has slowly declined since then, according to a new WordPress market share report from Joost de Valk that references stats from W3Techs.

CMS usage stats since January 2011 – source: W3Techs

In a post titled “WordPress’ Market Share Is Shrinking,” de Valk highlighted the numbers from the last few months, which now conclusively demonstrate a decline:

source: Joost de Valk

de Valk’s analysis elaborates on how WordPress’ market share, and that of its open source contemporaries, is being eroded by competitors like Wix and Squarespace. He attributes this change to two major factors: WordPress’ lack of focus on performance, and the complexity of the unfinished full-site editing project:

If you look at cwvtech.report you’ll see that in the last year, sites on Wix and Squarespace on average have improved their site speed more than WordPress sites. WordPress has a performance team now, and it has made some progress. But the reality is that it hasn’t really made big strides yet, and in my opinion, really should. Project leadership still seems unwilling to focus on performance though, which has to do with the next point:

WordPress’ full site editing project is not done yet. Anecdotally, more and more people are having a hard time deciding how to build their site on WordPress. Wix and Squarespace are simply way simpler tools to build a site. As they improve their SEO tooling, there’s less and less reason to switch over to WordPress.

The post inspired rampant speculation in the community, and the discussion has splintered off into different pockets across the web – various Twitter threads, Post Status Slack, and a post in the Advanced WP group on Facebook that has already received more than 100 comments.

It’s not realistic to expect any CMS to make gains every month, even if it has grown steadily in the past. WordPress is still far and away the market leader, but many see the new decline in market share as a symptom of a deeper problem. No one can definitively say why WordPress is losing market share but the community has a few prevailing theories.

Performance is one of the contributing factors that is easier to measure than many others. According to data from HTTP Archive, WordPress trails its closest competitors when it comes to percentage of sites with good Core Web Vitals scores.

“I’m not excited to see the percentage drop, but it confirms even more that something needs to change,” Google-sponsored contributor Felix Arntz said. “It’s also worth adding that the growth rate of other CMSs like Wix or Shopify has already long surpassed WordPress even before this. My session at WordCamp Europe is precisely going to focus on this topic.

“All this is why we started the WordPress performance team a couple months back, we need to make more solid performance decisions out of the box for WordPress. Let’s work together so that we can turn this around over the next few years.”

Many saw the news of WordPress’ declining market share as an opportunity to weigh in on their pet grievances about WordPress and the Gutenberg project in general, but there are some legitimate concerns about the condition of the software when it’s rolled out to millions of users.

“Full site editing and its deployment into core before it has really been ready isn’t doing us any favors for newcomers to WordPress,” WordPress developer Daniel Schutzsmith said. “It throws them off and scares them because it feels broken in many aspects.”

WordPress’ increasing complexity is another strong factor many participants cited as a possible influence, particularly those who build websites for clients. The software has become more sophisticated, enabling users to do more things than ever before, but it’s not getting easier to use.

“I don’t do much WP dev anymore, but after needing multiple articles and a YouTube tutorial for me to understand the new Navigation block, I knew WP was in serious trouble,” developer Alexis Rae said. “That 5.9 pushed out full site editing as the only option (that I can tell) while it’s a beta is insane.”

Multiple participants in the discussions on Facebook and Twitter said they have recently been building some of their clients’ sites with other technologies to make it easier for their clients to manage their websites.

… for the last few years, this hasn't been our experience and eyes are wondering towards other solutions. We've already delivered sites on Webflow, and even a couple on Squarespace. That would have been unthinkable two years ago.

— Nick Wilmot (@nickwilmot) May 11, 2022

“From working with clients I notice that the quality of the admin interface is really becoming an issue that turns people off from WordPress,” Florian Fermin said. “On the lower end, this drives people to go to Squarespace and Wix instead. On the high end, I have now migrated multiple sites away from WordPress to CraftCMS and clients have been delighted with the clean interface it provides, and they’re confident to make small changes themselves, allowing me to put my energy in more exciting stuff.”

WordPress gained popularity early on by being the best free software available for blogging, and then later for its flexibility as a CMS. The transition into a nocode style site builder has been difficult with extensive periods of growing pains. As most of the energy and resources put into core seem to go towards Gutenberg, other older aspects of the software have gone neglected.

“WordPress has really developed into jack of all trades and master of none,” Fermin said. “In my experience, this has meant in the last years that when I have to recommend a CMS for the use case of a client, more and more often the answer has been something else and not WordPress.”

WordPress used to be one of the strongest solutions on the market for building small, simple sites but competitors are making it faster and easier to launch these kinds of sites. Meanwhile, WordPress themes are going through a rocky transition towards better accommodating full-site editing features.

“For my clients (mostly government), FSE is not the way to go,” WordPress developer Roy Tanck said. “I spend a lot of my time disabling new features now. If WP continues to become a ‘site builder,’ traditional CMS clients will likely start to look elsewhere.”

In his conclusion, Joost de Valk contends that the full-site editing project is taking far too long.

“That’s causing the rest of the platform to lag behind current web trends,” he said. “Without a drastic change in this approach I think WordPress will continue to lose market share for the next few years.”

Although some may agree that the project is taking a long time to reach a polished state, much of the feedback on social media indicates that developers do not find FSE user friendly enough for their clients.

“WordPress is just too complicated for the majority to use effectively,” development agency owner Jon Brown said.

“WordPress ought to be way more opinionated on accessibility and performance such that users should not even have to think about them. The problem with the current WP philosophy it is ‘let’s do as little as possible to leave options for the user or make the user rely on plugins’… No! Stop that. Do more by default and then give the user the option to override that if/when necessary.”

Brown said this applies to core WordPress but is most evident in WooCommerce, where, after ten years, “you still need 25 add-ons just to get a basic store up and running.”

“This is why Shopify is devouring e-commerce market share,” he said.

“And simple personal sites, way easier to setup a five-page site on Squarespace or Wix for laypeople than it is to navigate WordPress.

“How to regain market share? Simplify.”

Is WordPress losing touch with every day users? After two years of drastically reduced WordCamps and meetups, this is a genuine possibility. Many months before WordPress’ market share growth started leveling off, the strangely feverish push to return to in-person events during a pandemic seemed to betray an insecurity about what might happen to the community if required to continue on in isolation. WordPress usage numbers could be impacted by missing out on some of the grassroots growth and momentum that in-person events often generate.

WordPress’ relationship with the common user seems strained at the moment. It is no longer considered one of the easiest ways to get a website off the ground. Those who are eager to see WordPress succeed and grow can likely agree at almost any point in time that WordPress is not yet easy enough to use. A veritable army of Gutenberg contributors are working day and night to make full-site editing possible, but the project cannot afford to shelve usability concerns for too much longer, or it risks becoming software that is only used by an elite, knowledgeable few.

WPTavern: Gutenberg 13.2 Adds Persistent User Preferences and a Visualizer for Margin and Padding Controls

Wordpress Planet - Thu, 05/12/2022 - 04:30

Gutenberg 13.2 was released earlier today. While much of the developer community is gearing up for the WordPress 6.0 release in two weeks, work continues steadily on the plugin, driving future updates. The latest release is not as hefty on enhancements as previous updates but includes around four dozen bug fixes.

Despite a heavy focus on squashing bugs, there are several welcome improvements in the plugin update. Persistent user preferences will make for fewer surprises when opening the editor. New visual updates for block spacing and the Post Comments Form block make it easier to design layouts.

Developers should look at the early work on a new settings hook. This represents one step toward creating the concept of “sections” that can house settings and styles for block instances and descendants. Patterns are a prime example of the necessity of sections. Matias Ventura covered the various uses in a separate open ticket.

The latest release also removes spotlight mode for template parts, and I say, good riddance. The editor already has such a mode for all blocks, and users who prefer it can enable it.

Persistent Editor Preferences Welcome to the editor popup.

Have you ever visited the WordPress editor and noticed the “welcome” popup, despite dismissing it ages ago? Or, logged in with a new browser only to reconfigure settings, such as enabling top toolbar support and turning off fullscreen mode? Annoying, right?

This has been a long-standing issue caused by WordPress storing user preferences in the browser. In Gutenberg 13.2, these preferences are now saved as user metadata in the database and should no longer pose an issue.

Sarah Gooding took a deeper dive into this problem and solution in an earlier post on the Tavern.

Padding and Margin Visualizers Adding margin to the Group block.

Landing in the pretty-neat-and-nice-to-have category is a new “visualizer” feature for block margin and padding. Essentially, it displays a colored box, representing the space when one of the two options is adjusted. It quickly fades out and returns the canvas to its default look.

I am a fan of this change. It draws the eyes back to the canvas and allows users to visualize how the block spacing is applied.

Comments Form in the Editor Comments Form Block in the site editor.

The Post Comments Form block was simply a placeholder in the editor in past releases. This did not allow end-users to see how it would look on the front end of their sites.

Gutenberg 13.2 updates this to show something closer to what it will look like on the front end, at least for logged-in users. This also lets the user see how color and typography customizations will be displayed.

This is a two-part change. The Comments Query Loop block now outputs the form within its default template. This way, users and creators will not need to build out each part of the overall comments area.

There is still much work to do for the Post Comments Form block in the long term. It needs a broader selection of design tools for starters. However, it could also use a revamp that provides fine-grain control over the various elements shown for logged-in and logged-out users. That may even mean splitting the form into multiple blocks. For now, the additional visualization will have to suffice.

Margin Support for Separators Adding top and bottom margin to a Separator block.

The Separator block now supports top and bottom margins. Users can adjust it from the spacing tools in the sidebar.

It is a small change but a welcome one. Users could previously increase the space between a Separator and sibling block through other means, such as setting the margin on the sibling or using a Spacer. However, those were often unintuitive solutions. And decreasing the space sometimes seemed an impossible task.

Post Status: Getting to ‘Yes’ on Plugin “License Hell”

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 05/11/2022 - 21:40

Is there a win-win solution for plugin owners fighting churn and their professional WordPress customers, like agencies and freelancers?

I appreciate Rob Howard's response to the insightful discussion that emerged on Twitter over MemberPress's new subscription renewal interface in the WordPress dashboard. I learned a lot, and I was reminded this controversy goes back a long way. In 2015 we wrote about unhappy customer reactions when JetBrains adopted an Adobe CS payment model for PHPstorm. Beyond the WordPress bubble, this sort of thing is old news.

Even if they hand off this responsibility to the site owner or cover it with ongoing maintenance and support services, managing license keys will still be hell for someone.

Maybe there's a win here for everyone

There are separate questions about design and business ethics. Is completely locking out users when there's not a valid support key out of step with a community ethic, i.e. “The WordPress Way?” That's a big and important topic, but there's some low-hanging fruit in the far less contentious problems Rob helpfully focused on. Maybe there is a potential win-win solution. His ideas might satisfy the two most legitimately frustrated (but seemingly opposed) perspectives in this controversy:

  1. Plugin owners fighting subscriber churn so they can sustain their businesses.
  2. Their customers and colleagues in the WordPress ecosystem, especially WordPress agencies and freelancers. They're also trying to run their businesses and don't want the extra work and potential embarrassments license management can create.

As Rob points out, aggressive upsells and lockouts are aimed at the mass market of common WordPress users. They're for people who don't understand what they've installed or why they might pay for it. The target is not highly WordPress-literate people — especially those who are building sites professionally.

Unfortunately, we all get the same annoyances in our WordPress dashboards anyhow.

Small agencies and site builders are your friends

Site builders, small web dev teams, and WordPress agencies don't want their clients confused or hassled with upsells. Worse, they don't want a license to expire and break functionality on a client's site. Even if they hand off this responsibility to the site owner or cover it with ongoing maintenance and support services — something Syed Balkhi recommended in 2015 — managing license keys will still be hell for someone.

I haven't thought about Crate in a long time, but it has been around for quite some time. It's a way to get out of “license hell” — and deal with other challenges that won't apply and can't be afforded by a lot of small to mid-sized WordPress businesses. Rob's WP Wallet is aimed at that broader market. It sounds like a worthwhile project, along with WP Notify and Clarity. For those who work with WordPress on a daily basis, getting control of notifications and aggressive advertising in the WordPress back-end is universally wanted.

It would be fantastic if more plugin shops catered to the needs and concerns of agencies and freelancers who don't want their clients to ever see an upgrade notice or an upsell pretending to be one.

Is license hell necessary?

It's not hard to see that people who want to pay for plugins (and essentially resell them to their customers) are the people you want to keep happy and maintain a good relationship with, as a plugin owner. It would be fantastic if more plugin shops catered to the needs and concerns of agencies and freelancers who don't want their clients to ever see an upgrade notice or an upsell pretending to be one. (Or to be locked out of anything.)

Educating newcomers to WordPress and shaping their expectations about your product is good for everyone.

Whiny free-riders are people (and potential customers) too

I'd also like to stick up for the frustrations of people who just don't understand what a support license subscription is and why they should happily pay for continuous upgrades. Yes, they often look like and act like free riders. We can't expect different if we don't market and communicate effectively to them.

Educating newcomers to WordPress and shaping their expectations about your product is good for everyone. If customers or potential customers are upset because they're being pressed to repeatedly pay for something they don't understand (it’s not a buy-once, own-forever product!) that's on the seller. Rob has some good ideas for how to better communicate the proper expectations to customers. Giving options to people who want to pay one time or less frequently than an annual cycle is one solution that ought to appeal to professional WordPressers too.

Product or service? What am I paying for? What do I own?

A decade ago (and even before that) I used to keep local copies of WordPress plugins (and add-ons for other CMSes) even though I knew it was pointless because they'd be obsolete quickly. I was treating plugins like my music collection in the early days of iTunes. I knew it was crazy, but the drive to “own” something is strong. Many of us are now paying to access music we previously owned on CDs, tapes, etc.

This is still a new and evolving digital media culture. There are good reasons many people resist the SaaSification of everything. It's a model that makes sense for a lot of commercial plugins: mimic Netflix's marketing and sell a plugin as a service . But I agree with Eric Karkovack that more needs to be done to help potential customers understand the value of continuously paying for software updates. Why can't that involve a good user experience too?

WPTavern: #26 – Courtney Robertson on How the Learn Project Is Educating People About WordPress

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 05/11/2022 - 14:00

On the podcast today we have Courtney Robertson.

Courtney is a Developer Advocate at GoDaddy Pro who has a passion for teaching and learning, specifically about how to use WordPress.

Her work for GoDaddy Pro involves outreach to developers but it also includes time to help contribute to WordPress as well. Courtney uses this time to assist with the WordPress Training Team as well as Learn WordPress.

If you’re new to WordPress, or have been using it for years, there’s always something new to learn. WordPress never stands still. In the recent past the adoption of blocks and Full Site Editing has meant that the way of interacting with WordPress has changed entirely. You could of course figure out how everything in WordPress works all by yourself, but it would be great if there were freely available materials which you could use to accelerate your knowledge. That’s what Courtney is involved in and what this podcast is all about.

We talk about the history of the project and how it was started as a way to assist people in putting on WordCamps and Meetups. Since then the scope of WordPress training has grown enormously.

We discuss what areas of WordPress are covered by the learning materials, what constraints there are on the type of content that is made, and what formats they take.

Who creates the content and how do they ensure that it’s up to date and of a high enough standard? Can people become certified if they complete different learning paths?

We round off by talking about how you can become involved with the team if you’re keen to help others learn more about WordPress.

Useful links.

Courtney’s website

Learn WordPress

WordPress Training Team

What does the WordPress Training team do?

Brand Usage Guidelines

Promotional Guidelines

Training Team Goals for 2022

May 2022 Sprint

Learn WordPress Github repo

Lesson Plan template

Lesson Plans

Workshops

Courses

Social Learning Spaces

Pathways to Learn WordPress

High-Level Roadmap to Learning WordPress Development

Who can Learn WordPress help?

Upcoming WordPress Meetings

Ensuring high-quality video contributions to Learn WordPress

Transcript

[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the Jukebox podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley. Jukebox is a podcast which is dedicated to all things WordPress, the people, the events, the plugins, the themes, the blocks, and in this case, learning about how WordPress works. If you’d like to subscribe to the podcast, you can do that by searching for WP Tavern in your podcast player of choice, or by going to wptavern.com forward slash feed forward slash podcast.

And you can copy that URL into most podcasts players. If you have a topic that you’d like us to feature on the podcast, I’m keen to hear from you and hopefully get you or your idea featured on the show. Head over to wptavern.com forward slash contact forward slash jukebox and use the contact form there.

So on the podcast today we have Courtney Robertson. Courtney is a developer advocate at GoDaddy Pro who has a passion for teaching and learning, specifically about how to use WordPress. Her work for GoDaddy Pro involves outreach to developers, but it also includes time to help contribute to WordPress as well. Courtney uses this time to assist with the WordPress training team, as well as Learn WordPress.

If you’re new to WordPress or have been using it for years, there’s always something new to learn. WordPress never stands still. In the recent past, the adoption of blocks and full site editing has meant that the way of interacting with WordPress has changed entirely.

You could of course, figure out how everything in WordPress works all by yourself, but it would be great if there were freely available materials, which you could use to accelerate your knowledge. That’s what Courtney is involved in and what this podcast is all about.

We talk about the history of the project and how it was started as a way to assist people in putting on WordCamps and meetups. Since then, the scope of WordPress training has grown enormously.

We discuss what areas of WordPress are covered by the learning materials, what constraints there are on the types of content that is made, and what formats they take. Who creates the content and how do they ensure that it’s up to date and have a high enough standard? Can people become certified if they complete different learning paths? We round off by talking about how you can become involved with the team if you’re keen to help others learn more about WordPress.

If you’re interested in finding out more, you can find all the links in the show notes by heading over to wptavern.com forward slash podcast, where you’ll find all the other episodes as well.

And so, without further delay. I bring you Courtney Robertson.

I am joined on the podcast today by Courtney Robertson. Hello Courtney.

[00:03:29] Courtney Robertson: Hello Nathan, how are you today?

[00:03:31] Nathan Wrigley: I’m really good. Thanks for joining us on the podcast today?

We are going to talk about learning all about WordPress, how you might learn about the things that are going on in WordPress and potentially how you may contribute to that learning process for other people.

But before we get into that, Courtney, I always ask a fairly generic question at the start. I want some orientation really, so that people who are listening know who you are. Would you mind just telling us a little bit about yourself and your relationship with WordPress.

[00:03:59] Courtney Robertson: Sure. So I first found WordPress because I was teaching in a classroom in 2006. Needed both an LMS and a blog. And at that time, LMS was not an option inside of WordPress yet. WordPress was really just getting started. So I remember, I think around WordPress version two, installing it and figuring out what was going on.

I have spent some time building sites for clients. And then I found myself back to teaching again with high school students. Teaching WordPress development this time. And it would have been around 2015 in a career technical school. Later I went on to work at a few plug-in companies. I got a lot of experience in The Events Calendar. Writing technical documents, knowledge-base articles, making sure front of sight was updated along with all of our releases.

And then later found myself teaching WordPress development at a front end dev bootcamp. So I had both high school students and adults that were laid off due to Covid, going through a program free of charge to them. And in fact, our high school students were paid to do this. My students got to speak for WordCamp Philly, so that was really exciting.

And then I found that I really wanted to go a level up, and make the training material that any institution could use. I found the material needed to teach WordPress development successfully, to get folks actually employed in the WordPress industry. And so an opportunity opened up at GoDaddy Pro for me as a developer advocate, and that affords me some time to continue contributing to the training team.

[00:05:37] Nathan Wrigley: Would you be able to just elucidate a little bit more about the GoDaddy Pro angle? How does that work? Are you essentially employed by GoDaddy Pro and they allow you to have a proportion of your time over at the learn project that we’re going to be talking about later?

[00:05:52] Courtney Robertson: Yes, that would be correct. So I am a developer advocate, which means that my internal work involves our outreach and our community efforts, specifically oriented for developers. But also this role is one that involves contributing to WordPress itself. And the avenue that I take with that is to contribute on learn.wordpress.org or the WordPress training team.

So in companies that have folks contributing to the project. Some are full-time sponsored. Some get a certain number of hours per week, or per month, or however the company chooses to allocate that to contribute towards WordPress.

[00:06:32] Nathan Wrigley: Now I’m guessing, and we’ll come to that a little bit later. I’m guessing that there’ll be an opportunity in this podcast to talk about how other people may become involved. Before we get to that, let’s just deal with what the whole learn project is. And again, it’s a fairly generic question.

Would you just give us some, some understanding of what we might find, what the history of learn is over the last few years? Basically, what is the learn project all about?

[00:06:57] Courtney Robertson: Yeah. So the team behind the learn project is the training team. And we’ve been around since 2013, and have been working on creating content that would be published eventually on learn. learn.Wordpress.org launched in 2020, during the height of Covid. So we already had a stockpile of content ready to go, and we’re able to load that up.

Learn has several different purposes or formats. Different audiences can come to learn. So the training team began with a mission of creating material for meetup organizers. If you’re hosting a meetup and you’re doing the work of preparing the meetup, but then you also need to figure out what’s my topic and who’s presenting and all of these things.

Well, the training team has been making lesson plans available, so that a meetup organizer already has topics at the ready. With research done, and all of the resources available. Indicating, cover this topic, here’s how to present the information. But also those same lesson plans have been used in a few different week long type of workshops.

So we have quite a good bit of material in that regard. We also have workshops. Workshops are videos. They’re on demand, and their audience is direct learners. So somebody that wants to find out how to do the thing, at any time of day can come and watch the video. The videos could also be played, I have heard that several meetup groups have done this during a meetup or string, a series of them together.

And then we have courses. And courses are sort of a roll-up of both of those pieces. So if you think of your years in school. You had a specific subject that you were studying. That was an entire course. And each day your instructor or presenter would have a smaller segment for just that day to cover.

So a course would bring in some of the content from lesson plans and some of the content from workshops. And it would be self-paced, on demand. And those courses, when you complete them, do show a completion notification, I would say, on your wordpress.org profile. So if you’re looking at your wordpress.org profile and you look at the activity, you would see if somebody has completed a course.

We have a proposal out to move those to its own designated tab. Going to give the heads up ahead of time, we’ll never call them batches because teams use badges to indicate contributors to teams in WordPress. But learn.wordpress.org is a great resource for somebody that wants to come and learn all kinds of things.

Whether you are teaching others, or on demand learning, and you just need that one specific piece or want to go through an entire course. And at this time, I believe we’ve got five courses on getting started with WordPress, all the way up through using FSE, full site editing, to build out a site. And we have a few contributor courses that have moved over that the community team had housed previously, to help folks get onboarded with contributing.

And then finally we have social learning spaces. And you may see those in your WordPress dashboard on the upcoming events area, but you also can find them on learn.wordpress.org. It is technically a meetup group under the hood and uses Zoom. These are sessions that happen and there are several throughout the week. Every week, there are several going on that you could swing by for about an hour. Sometimes an hour and a half or so, and learn whatever the topic is that’s being presented that day. Great folks like Daisy Olsen have been running a lot of those along with Sarah Snow. I’ve got one coming up soon with Anne and Sarah. Anne, a lot of us know, Anne McCarthy. We’ll be doing a call for testing using one of those social learning spaces.

[00:10:31] Nathan Wrigley: That’s fabulous. I genuinely didn’t know that prime mover of the whole learn project was to assist people putting on meetups. Was the intention there just to facilitate people who were potentially, maybe trying it out for the first time. We were all in lockdown, as you said, and, and it’s quite daunting, isn’t it to

[00:10:49] Courtney Robertson: Yeah.

[00:10:49] Nathan Wrigley: to begin something like that, and just the process of setting one up might be daunting enough, but then to actually find material that you can talk about, was that the intention there? Just to bootstrap and kickstart more and more meetups?

[00:11:00] Courtney Robertson: That was the intention in 2013. It has grown significantly, as you can imagine in that time. As has WordPress and the WordPress community. So in 2013, meetups were really just a new thing. And we were looking at ways to support meetup groups. And as things have evolved, we now want to help the job pipelines. We would like to provide some official guidance as to what should be covered for what skillsets.

[00:11:29] Nathan Wrigley: It’s a really exciting time in WordPress. There’s so much happening. A lot of that centered around the new editor and full site editing and so on. So there’s definitely lots and lots of opportunities for things to be taught. I’m just wondering, in terms of the types of content that you will be putting or potentially that you will have put. Do you have any sort of constraints on the remit of the project?

So for example, is it always going to be focused on the core of WordPress? Things that you can do inside of Core? What I’m really asking there, I suppose, in a backhanded way is do you stray into other areas, for example, things like third party plugins and things like that?

[00:12:07] Courtney Robertson: Good question. We began our delve into third party plugins at WordCamp US in 2015. Those that have been around a while may know this. If you wanted to add some custom CSS to a site, before the customizer had it available, we needed Jetpack to do that. So as a team, we essentially indicated we want to make use of third party plugins.

The parameters need to be that it’s in the wordpress.org repo. As things have launched, our main focus has started really with how to use WordPress to put a basic site together. However our audience for who can learn help is really vast. So we’ve formed some guidelines around third party plugins, and also for those that are hosting some social learning spaces. If somebody volunteers to host one, and many folks do volunteer to host those, we can’t be overly self-promotional, and if we are mentioning in any of our training materials, any type of plugin or something to that effect, that it be available, plugins, themes, be available through wordpress.org.

We try to draw on the theme unit test data for our dummy content. We use the photos repo for our media. We use the showcase for showing off what WordPress is capable of doing. So we reference our own material as absolutely much as possible in that process, and have some just general guidelines for how we can cover the material safely for everybody.

[00:13:37] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, I feel that you’ve answered that really comprehensively. It feels very much like the same kind of constraints that we might have if we were, for example, putting on a WordCamp or something. The nature of the conversation that we could have as a presenter would feel like it’s falling under the same kind of boundaries.

Yeah, that’s really cleared it up, thank you. Now, the project itself, the WordPress project, as I just alluded to a minute ago, it is really changed over the last few years. If you roll back the clock five or six years, the way WordPress behaved, the way that you created content is now completely different.

And we’ve got all sorts of things which are coming down the pipe and they’re coming thick and fast. Things like full site editing and all of that kind of stuff. I’m just wondering what your priority list is? It feels to me like this question is basically asking what’s the roadmap? What kind of things that you’re prioritizing? Because there must be a limited amount of hours in everybody’s day that’s connected to the team and you’ve got to decide, okay, this feels like it matters more right now. Can you give us some idea about what are you thinking for the learn platform in the near future?

[00:14:40] Courtney Robertson: Yeah, that’s a great question. So our team is comprised of both sponsored and self-sponsored or volunteers in all capacities. So that looks like there are a few folks that are sponsored by Automattic led by Hugh Lashbrooke, to be part of our team, as well as delightful project manager, Hauwa Abashir, and a plugin co-founder Pooja Derashri.

And so that’s the core of our team. However, we have a lot of contributors and I say this first, because in open source, we can have some high-level type of priorities, but as you know, when it comes to people volunteering to do something, they’ll volunteer to what they want to do, and they’re not going to volunteer for what doesn’t interest them all the time.

So with our priorities, we have a few ways of looking at priorities. The content priority is lately focused on doing as much as we can that is geared towards a release as close to release as possible. We have some great ways of trying to work a little bit into the future. So that right now we’re already preparing material that will come out with the next release.

That would be 6.0 at the time of today’s recording. But we also have some other priorities as well, as you can imagine. We’re managing a website, a large website that is on a massive multi-site install. And so some of those other priorities look like, we just moved the team from Trello over to GitHub to help track all of the activity of what we’re creating and what our roadmap actually looks like and what our priorities are. That also helps surface our activity and contribution to the project, because that too then will help track with our .org profiles.

We have some needs, some really big needs coming up. There is ideas around merging lesson plans and workshops. So that would be the instructional materials as well as the video that coincides with it, that would need to develop a resourcing. We would like to do a little bit more with the UX. We had a UX audit come back and we would like to do some more with the front of site. But again, that too would need some developer lift.

And at this time our theme is not block-based and in our case, that could be helpful for us to help lay out that content in a way that would be more beneficial for learners as they come in. To find our roadmap, there will be lots of show notes available. To find our roadmaps, we have a few places, and I know that seems a little tricky. Go to make.wordpress.org/training, and from there, you’ll find a big blue box that talks about the training team’s goals for 2022. One of the next goals aside from content is a needs analysis. So that means actually talking to the WordPress community and saying, everything from a hobbyist, a small business owner to a large scale enterprise level agency.

What do you need for training your staff? How can we help you reach those goals? What do you think the highest priority of content should be? And in what order should that happen? Get the feedback of what actually matters. And what’s going to be most beneficial. Who’s using this and how can we make it better?

We also have sprints, and those sprints are, what are we working on just this month that is both content or the other annual goal type of projects? And so each month we’ll publish at the beginning of the month, what we’re doing this month, and at the end of the month, we’ll post a recap. How did it go? What did we get done? And we have our issues in GitHub and there’ll be some links available for those too. So if you want to see what’s the highest priority thing that I can contribute to, you could go right to our GitHub repo that shows you exactly that issue.

[00:18:23] Nathan Wrigley: I have to say Courtney, you’ve done a fabulous job of giving me links. Virtually everything that Courtney is mentioning is going to be referenced in the show notes. So firstly Bravo, thank you for making my life easier and doing that. That’s brilliant. But just to say if you are curious about any of these bits, you’ll be able to find a portion in the show notes, which relates to each of the questions that we’re asking and in most cases there’s several links to follow through there.

I’m just going to ask a question related to what we’ve just talked about, and that is, I’m going to use an example, and the example I’m using is the BBC, which is the British Broadcasting Corporation. The BBC is funded by tax payers essentially. We all have to contribute if we have a television set, and because of the fact that we’re all contributing there’s a thing called the BBC charter, and the BBC charter, now it may be imperfect, but it’s what they got. The charter compels the BBC to make programming for everybody.

So it may be that there’s a giant audience for this type of program, and there’s a considerably smaller audience for this type of programming, but the charter, in theory, compels the BBC to make programming despite the fact that the audience may be smaller. You can see where I’m going with this probably. I’m just wondering if you have any of those kinds of things. Does it always come down to the numbers? In other words, if you can see that there’s a giant need for this, because everybody’s clamoring for this kind of tutorial or whatever, well, that’s obviously important, but there may be something over here, a bit of an edge case, really truly crucial to the people who need it, though their numbers may be small. I’m just wondering if there’s any those, kind of, bits that fit into the bigger jigsaw.

[00:20:02] Courtney Robertson: They do. Those are areas that we would often allow the individual that has such an idea for that topic to help develop. Because again, open source, we allow the contributors that would like to do something. If they say this is the one thing that I am willing to do, then, okay then, we’ll work with that.

That said we do have some priorities as you indicated, but some things will work across multiple pathways. And so by a learning pathway, what I mean is, if you think about who can learn help, and there’s actually a post that is cross-referenced to something that Josepha had helped create. I want to say it was about two years ago.

When you think about all the edge cases of who can WordPress help, how is WordPress used? Josepha and Mark Uraine wrote a piece on make WordPress updates awhile ago about care and influence, a theory about the WordPress community. And it’s this broken down idea that we have, Core, central folks contributing. Then we have contributors on the project. We have extenders that are using WordPress. That will be what we’re doing right now. That’d be like a podcast about WordPress. Users of sites and also visitors of sites. And so when you break that down into actual kinds of careers or professions, or even just hobbyists, right?

That is a lot of things. In the extenders category you have podcasters and you have newsletters, and you’ve got people that use WordPress for marketing purposes. Some are developers, some are in quality assurance. Some are support staff at companies. So who can learn help? Well, there’s a lot of varying needs like that.

And I could see a lot of those edge cases that you mention, still applying to a lot of people. So learns really important. I think that learn is a great tool to help folks into not just the community in terms of events, but the community in terms of understanding what can I do with WordPress? And if WordPress is related to my profession, what do I need to know, and how can I best leverage, what learn has to offer to help me get there.

[00:22:11] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, thank you. Okay, let’s move on to the people who may be asking those questions of you. If I was to come to you and I had a particular topic in mind, and there was something that was really troubling me, and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. Are there any ways that I can ask, I don’t know, beg, plead maybe the right words for certain content to be created?

[00:22:31] Courtney Robertson: Yes. So one of the ways is that if you need a little bit of extra help in doing that, if you are able to get to the make WordPress Slack and the training team inside of that, and you can find the link again from the training team site at make.wordpress.org/training. We are glad to give a little extra hand holding through that process.

The other thing that we welcome folks to do is, go to our GitHub repo and submit a topic as a lesson plan idea. That does not mean that you need to create the lesson plan. If you would like to help create that or create a workshop, you may absolutely do that. But if it’s just, I have this one idea, this one thing, or I have got a vision for a course, and I could tell you every step along the way of what needs to go into the course, we are happy to work with you in that process.

So we would begin with starting an issue in our GitHub repo and to be clear, if you’re not accustomed to GitHub, it’s about on par with submitting a form or a comment on a site. So our way of submitting an issue will look similar to that. You’ll get some preloaded template that asks you to fill in a little bit more information for us. And then we’ve got that idea of ready to go.

[00:23:44] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, GetHub can be very intimidating to look at can’t it, if you’re there for the time, but like you say, it’s merely a, a set of comments, so, oh, that’s really helpful, thank you. In terms of who is making the content, how the content is made, what does that look like? I’m going to sort of cross two questions here, and we’ll get onto learning paths and things like that, but just wondering, who’s actually putting the content together.

Do you have particular panel, do you give certain members of the team the job of going away and create a video for that particular thing based upon these guidelines? Is it always the same people or can other people contribute their content? In other words, could I contribute my content? And if that was the case, are there any guidelines that would be helpful to know about?

I mean, there’s obviously going to be things which are out of the remit, boundaries that I shouldn’t cross and probably ways that you would prefer me to curate that content.

[00:24:35] Courtney Robertson: Yeah, absolutely. I would love to have you create a video. I love listening to your voice. Anyone is most welcome to help create that content. In fact, when learn launched, because we had this stockpile of lesson plans over the years, I counted nearly 200 contributors, at the launch of learn that had contributed over the years to the training team. That’s a staggering number for the work that we did.

And I think back at all of those WordCamps when we had contributor days and all the folks that we met. It was great. So we have lots of people help create the content. But as you can imagine, during Covid, a lot of activity came to an absolute halt. I myself just resurfaced within contributing during that time, and none of the folks were around or available then. Literally no meetings had happened for several months and I had a hard time finding folks. We’ve grown since then, a lot. And the folks that are contributing these days, as I mentioned, there is a contingent of folks by Automattic that are contributing.

I am there a good bit as well by making content, but we have a lot of people that are not sponsored. And I had spent about seven years in that category myself. And so I want to be very thoughtful. We’ve got a lot of folks that are absolutely delightful to work with. Speaking highly of my team reps as well.

They do contribute so much in the way of content and proofreading. We open up opportunities to help folks proofread the material that goes out or create some feedback for others that are creating that content. So anybody is welcome to help come and make this stuff too.

[00:26:12] Nathan Wrigley: In terms of the guidelines though, what would cut muster for inclusion? Presumably there’s barriers in terms of, okay, that’s too short. That’s far too long. The quality of the audio there is too poor. I think we probably could have covered the topic in half the time or whatever it may be. There are probably guidelines for keeping the quality high.

[00:26:31] Courtney Robertson: That is true. We are working on improving that quality, and we do have a post that I did not provide a link to it ahead of time, and I will dig that back out for you. But it is basically the idea when we first launched, we’re new, in terms of creating videos. We’re new in terms of creating courses and let’s get going and learn as we go, what we’re doing.

Our earliest videos, we learned a lot about needing to keep content current with revisions. That’s a really big struggle. When WordPress ships a big update, we have to come back and revise things. Also we have learned a good bit about, if we need the person’s video, their face on screen or not, about how to create these videos.

The kind of quality that we’re looking for. We are flexible still within those parameters. In fact, one of our highest videos, I think was done during a contributor session for WordCamp India. And there was a bit of background it. So we’re learning. As we make learn, we’re learning and we would love to have lots of global representation. We would love to have a high quality production to it, but we’ll help each other get through that process.

[00:27:43] Nathan Wrigley: I love the meta there. We’re learning to learn. That’s brilliant. The different formats that you do, actually no, I’ll come back to that in a moment. I’m going to ask about the way that your team meets, because we’re currently talking about people contributing their time, and you mentioned that you can go and do things like contribute in GitHub with comments and so on.

But I’m just wondering if you became much more involved in the team and you were there regularly, not just committing a piece of content once in a while, but really digging into the team and trying to help out on a regular basis. It would be quite helpful to know what that might look like. Where do you hang out? Where do you do the work?

[00:28:17] Courtney Robertson: Sure. So, forgive my American mindset about time, but on Tuesdays at noon Eastern time. On Thursdays at 7:30 AM Eastern or, oh, I forget exactly what time it is for Pooja, but she runs an APAC specific time zone meeting. And so it’s the same time and option available for both of these meetings. Those happen by the way, all in Slack, those are entirely Slack based chat messages, as you would find across the 20 now different WordPress teams. We conduct our meetings through Slack. We have coffee hours as a get to know folks session. Those are delightful to stop by and see. We’re running those Fridays at 9:00 AM Eastern. However, we are open to exploring alternative times for that.

We’ve got some folks that are traveling that are our normals that help conduct these. So we’ll give it a few more weeks before we start looking into different time zones. We do those through Zoom. We find that that generally meets the most accessible needs and we have the accessibility team rep often join us too. So that’s delightful. And then you can find us, hopefully in the near future at a WordCamp close to you at a contributor day.

[00:29:31] Nathan Wrigley: That would be nice.

[00:29:32] Courtney Robertson: Yes.

[00:29:33] Nathan Wrigley: Let’s hope that’s true. Now my understanding is that broadly speaking people fall into different types of learners. You may be kinesthetic, or you may be auditory or visual or what have you. That is going to inevitably lead to people, desiring different types of content. And you mentioned a moment ago, you called it learning paths, I think you said. What different formats have you got? I mean it may be that that is still to be explored. Maybe you’re going to invest time and effort into different things in the future, but whether you’ve got it live at the moment or whether it’s just a, an aspiration, tell us the thinking behind that.

[00:30:06] Courtney Robertson: Yeah. Our content types, are lesson plans, workshops, courses, and social learning spaces. Our audience is quite vast, but then if you break it down into an individual, an individual may learn in different methods. So some folks really like videos. Some people really like to read, like it’s a book. And so our courses approach different learning styles.

And the more that we can do that, the better. Our courses do suggest projects to extend upon what you’ve already learned. So often that would look like doing the work along with the course, and that would be delivered both in text and video form. And then having a suggested, now here’s a challenge to try on your own. To give you that hands-on experience without being guided. The more ways that we can continue to help cater to individual learning styles, the better.

Also along those lines my teaching hat background comes in here. It really matters to me that we are available in the global space. And so that also looks like translation opportunities, because one of the things about learning styles is that, if you think about folks in, you and I both speak English. English second language individuals, that would be a student in a school whose first language was not English often needs a little extra support when they’re just beginning to be immersed English.

And so, I don’t find it to be particularly reasonable or fair that somebody that is not primarily English is only presented training materials in English. We need a lot of support around getting the content available in as many languages as we possibly can. We also need then to help work on the initiatives that WordPress has to be multi-lingual.

So at this time that’s on the roadmap, but it’s not until I think phase four in the Gutenberg project to be fully multilingual. So that presents a challenge then on Learn, because how do we make our courses available in different languages? We need some help.

[00:32:08] Nathan Wrigley: Well, let’s hope that somebody listening to this is, uh, is going to step in and assist you with that. Just a thing, I may be jumping the gun here, and it may be something that you’re unable to talk about. You mentioned in our exchanges prior to recording that there was potentially in the future, some path towards certification. So I’m guessing, you know, you put the time in, and as a result, you are handed something in exchange to prove that you pass the test, if you like. You achieved what it was and you got through it all. Just tell us the thinking on that, even if none of it’s particularly concrete right now.

[00:32:42] Courtney Robertson: Yeah. So this is a podcast for WP Tavern. If you’re interested in the history of WordPress entertaining the idea of certification, you may search the archives here. I will say that certification as we see it. I also had some questions about several years ago, I would say, but what changed my mind first and foremost was that when I was teaching in the bootcamp and I presented to my leaders, here’s what individuals need to be job ready, and here’s the timeframe that that could be delivered in and what would be adequate for the amount of each programming language, plus then how WordPress pulls that together. It wasn’t provided, it was a challenge then to get individuals placed for jobs.

The resourcing for such material wasn’t readily available. So having a definitive here is what it would take to being basically job ready as a common industry accepted standard suddenly became a high priority in my mind. I realized, oh, if that was in place, it would be really easy to point to and say, here’s what folks need to be able to do. And here’s a pathway for how to learn that.

So at this time we are not ready to begin starting a certification initiative. We are looking in quarter four of this year. So the last three months of 2022, of beginning, a discovery session. A discovery session means to, again, talk to folks about what they need, what their concerns are. Also look at other open source projects and see what worked and what didn’t work.

I’ve been checking in with the folks that help form the certification over at Joomla. And I’m learning a bit about what has and has not worked for them. I’m keeping loose eyes on what Drupal is doing, but I think there’s something to learn from other open source initiatives that are not even about a content management system.

So look at how do they do this? What have they learned? How would that potentially work for us? Would that work for us? What other concerns does the community have? So, disclaimer, folks. Yes, this is a hot topic. Yes, it’s had a history. We’re interested. We want to talk. That’s where we’re at at this time. We want to talk about it and the conversations happening starting around October of 2022.

[00:34:59] Nathan Wrigley: Oh, a perfect time for us to release this then. You’ve got the people thinking about that in time for October. That’s fabulous. You mentioned earlier about resources for the learn project. And again, I don’t know if you’ve got an insight to deliver here. I’m just wondering how it is, how it is all funded essentially. Now you mentioned that your seconded from GoDaddy, forgive me the word wasn’t seconded it was whatever it was. GoDaddy provide you with the financial support so that you can lend your time to the project. What other resources are brought to bear. You mentioned that other people were seconded, there were volunteers and so on, but

[00:35:37] Courtney Robertson: Yeah.

[00:35:37] Nathan Wrigley: Is there anything else? Are there pots of money, which you can dip into provided by, I don’t know, sponsorship or different organizations who contribute to the project.

[00:35:47] Courtney Robertson: Wouldn’t that be delightful if I just had unlimited money to use on this. Oh, where could we go? So our team does have some resources provided for our team. In addition to, there are contributors across multiple other organizations, I will say as well, that do periodically pop by for some contribution to the project as well.

But we do have some resources. So a lot of teams in WordPress use Helpscout. Even Slack itself is a paid Slack instance, and I could be mistaken, but I believe that a lot of that financial work overhead is through Automattic. I would love to be corrected if so. We are using Sensei Pro, which is a learning management system. It is a plugin. The pro version just recently released, but that is owned by Automattic. Sensei has been an Automattic product for about 10 years. We do have an access through VideoPress. Should we need it? And VideoPress for WordPress TV is also how we embed our videos. So again, those two are provided through Automattic with Jetpack.

Meetups that would run through WordCamp central. We recently received both WP Sandbox and Insta WP as options that we can use. So when somebody is going through a course, when we’re new to learning WordPress, the hardest challenge is to get a WordPress environment set up. And with both of these tools, we are able to, whether it is social learning spaces or courses or something to that effect. We’re able to very quickly get folks a single link that takes them to WordPress install. That’s got today’s theme, plugin and some demo content ready to go so they can get to work on doing the activity, not be stumped by how to set WordPress up. So those are fantastic resources that we do have available at this time.

[00:37:30] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you very much. Is there anything else that I failed to ask you? Obviously, you know, you’ve really deeply embedded in this project and I’ve asked the questions that I wish to ask, but quite happy for you to tell us about something that I missed.

[00:37:43] Courtney Robertson: Sure, I mentioned that we focused in early on, on just getting started using WordPress, but we make space for all of these other types of things that folks might want to learn how to do with WordPress. There’s really almost no limit, other than if we’re mentioning a plugin or a theme, keep it within WordPress dot org, so other people can access it and use it.

But we do have some beginning workings of a developer content roadmap. I began forming this when I was planning what I needed to do at the front end dev bootcamp. I looked at it like at what point along the journey from installing WordPress and activating Hello Dolly to I’m going to build a multi-site WordPress instance, that power s thousands of sub-sites or something like that.

How do you learn how to do all of these things? How do you begin learning? At what point do you learn APIs? What about build tools like Webpack. Those that are high into development with no, oh yeah, at some point I learned this and that, and what logically would happen with that?

So we do have a higher level, how to learn everything from just getting started all the way through, I want you to do the most complex possible things available there. And I’m really excited that we will soon be joined by Jonathan Bossenger, as a developer educator. He is coming in again, sponsored by Automattic.

And will be contributing developer oriented content. So that, that roadmap that I began laying down while at the bootcamp will hopefully come into play with creating more dev oriented content. If you’re interested in seeing what is everything in a logical order, again, challenge, we, we need dev resourcing to help develop the site as well here.

So we have a pathway that is everything that we have made available. And it’s in a logical order, but it’s just a table at this time until we can get some more development on the site. So there’s a learn pathway link that I can provide. And then finally, again, the call-out is there, contribute, contribute.

We love to partner with folks along the way. I know this is a lot. I’m coming in as a former second generation computer teacher. So I have a bit of a runway and I’ve been working with the project since 2013. We’ve talked about a lot today. It seems a lot of a lot. We’re happy to help slow it down and connect you with exactly where you need to go. Because again, our team is made up of a lot of folks that think like teachers.

[00:40:16] Nathan Wrigley: In the course of this podcast, we’ve mentioned so much as you described, just to reiterate, if you’ve been listening to this podcast and you, you know, you’re maybe listening to it on your headphones whilst you’re driving the car or something like that. Don’t forget that the show notes will have all the links that Courtney’s provided and hopefully you’ll be able to get to the exact thing that piqued your interest. However Courtney, there’s one thing missing off those show notes, and that would be how we might contact you. If somebody has a need to speak to you on the back of this podcast, what’s the preferred way or ways of getting in touch?

[00:40:51] Courtney Robertson: Yeah, so to help lighten the load, if it is specific to the training team or learn, please swing through the channel inside of make.wordpress.org/training. You’ll find our link to get to our Slack channel there. That helps the right folks get connected with you, so if it’s a general team question. If you would like to find me specifically courtneyr_dev on Twitter, Courtney Robertson on LinkedIn, courtneyr.dev is my website. You can find everywhere I am there.

[00:41:19] Nathan Wrigley: Courtney Robertson thank you for joining us on the podcast today. I’ve really enjoyed it.

[00:41:24] Courtney Robertson: Delightful, thanks for having me.

WordCamp Central: WordCamp Europe 2022 is just around the corner

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 05/11/2022 - 08:13

Only a few weeks left to join the European WordPress Communities and celebrate the 10th anniversary of WCEU.

Nearing WordCamp Europe 2022 – the first in-person flagship WordCamp since the pandemic, things are getting exciting backstage.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of WordCamp Europe makes WCEU 2022 the best way to welcome back in-person events. So, what are the things you can expect from WordCamp Europe 2022? We’re listing all the updates, so keep reading!

The Speakers are already announced

An amazing lineup of speakers covering topics such as Business, Design, Gutenberg, Development, Accessibility, Headless, and more have been announced. For details, find out more here.

The Schedule is posted on the WCEU 2022 website

After announcing a wide range of great speakers in the past few weeks, the full schedule of WCEU 2022 is now revealed. There will be 40+ exciting sessions & workshops along with a fun and amazing After Party. Click here if you can’t wait and want to check out the complete event schedule.

And the Contributor day is on!

Contributor Day will take place, as usual, one day before the main WordCamp Europe event, on Thursday 2nd June 2022, at the same venue as the rest of the camp – the Super Bock Arena in Porto. It is a full day of contributing and networking with other passionate WordPressers! In order to participate at Contributor Day, please complete this registration form.

HOORAY!

So only a few weeks to go before WordCamp Europe 2022.

The organizing team behind the scenes of WordCamp Europe 2022 can’t wait to meet you! Everyone is giving their best efforts to make sure you will enjoy an amazing event.

WordCamp Europe 2022 takes place 2- 4 June in Porto, Portugal.
For more information, check the WCEU website.

Fired up and ready to be a part of the WordCamp Europe family?

Grab your ticket

WPTavern: Catch FSE Is a Bold, Business-Friendly WordPress Block Theme

Wordpress Planet - Wed, 05/11/2022 - 03:27

And another theme shop hops on the block bandwagon. Catch Themes’ first block-based theme, Catch FSE, landed on WordPress.org over the weekend.

The company is one of the most prolific authors in the official WordPress theme directory, touting a total of 109 themes. There are only a few others with such an impressive body of work, at least in sheer numbers. Averaging over 10 new releases each year for the last decade is no small feat, and that just accounts for the company’s free themes.

At a time when WordPress is still in a transitioning phase between classic, PHP-based themes and those built entirely from blocks, the community needs leaders in the space pushing the project forward.

With WordPress 6.0’s slew of features, I expect we will see more and more authors join the ride.

When reviewing new themes, I typically install them a few days ahead of time and test them off and on. Then, I decide if they are worth sharing with the Tavern audience. However, in this case, I am going in blind. Well, not entirely blind. I am familiar enough with some of Catch Themes’ past work to know the company has produced some well-designed projects. Plus, I had quickly peeked at the demo.

My immediate reaction after installing and activating Catch FSE was disappointment. The homepage did not look like the theme’s screenshot or what was shown in the demo. Instead of the business-friendly layout I expected, I gazed upon a standard blog post listing.

Default homepage blog posts.

This should not be happening in the block themes era.

Theme authors are not entirely at fault for this problem. Those who have submitted their designs to WordPress.org have been conditioned over the years to do this. This was a necessity in the classic theme era because users did not have the same control as they do now over their homepages. The site editor gives them that freedom, and it also breaks the shackles that have been holding theme authors back for years.

Now is the time to be bold. Now is the time for theme authors to put their signature on their work, showcasing their design skills with those custom homepages they have always wanted to provide out of the box. Now is the time to break free of those draconian guidelines from an era that block-based themes are leaving behind.

Catch Themes, if you are reading this, I want to see a front-page.html template in version 2.0 that outputs the following:

Homepage design from the Catch FSE demo.

Give users an immediate solution instead of forcing them to create a new page, select a template, and move into the template editor to customize it.

A blog post listing is a perfectly acceptable default for a theme, and Catch FSE’s works well enough—those gradient “read more” buttons are also sweet. However, if the screenshot and demo showcase a custom homepage, that is what I expect to see upon activation. And, based on my somewhat educated guess, it is also what the average user will expect.

After tinkering around with the theme for a while longer, I realized how well-designed it was. The typography made for an enjoyable reading experience. Each template was well laid out. The footer “widgets” even felt right. Catch FSE was suddenly making a beeline toward the top of my favorite themes list this year.

And, I must take another moment to appreciate the gradient used for buttons in the theme, as shown in this screenshot of the About Us pattern:

“About Us” block pattern.

Those who have followed me long enough know that I often dislike dark designs. Automattic’s Livro made me rethink my position earlier this year. With Catch FSE, I am moving beyond merely tolerating such designs to enjoying them. Well, some of them. Let’s not get crazy.

What Catch FSE does as well as any theme is offer a well-designed set of block patterns. In total, it ships 15 that users can pick and choose from.

Inserting a call-to-action pattern in the page editor.

From a development perspective, other theme authors should take notes. Following the DRY principle, Catch FSE routinely reuses its own patterns in its templates and parts.

The theme registers 10 block styles, but it is impossible to know what most of them do without trying them out first. The user-facing label simply reads “Theme Style” for eight of them. What does that even mean? If it is the theme style, should it not be the default?

Most are generally design variations for the various blocks they are attached to. They might alter the typography, colors, or other styles, as shown in the following screenshot of the Blockquote block with the “Theme Style” assigned to it:

Assigning a custom style to the Blockquote block.

That is actually a well-designed Blockquote style, but I would have never known it was something I would want to use if I had not been digging. Custom block styles suffer from a bit of a discoverability problem by default, and cryptic names for them are doing users no favors.

Most of the issues I had with the theme were around the comments list design. However, it is not yet using the new Comments Query Loop block shipping with WordPress 6.0. In a future release, I would like to see the author put more time into bringing it up to par with the rest of the theme’s design. At the moment, it feels like a feature that was tacked on as an afterthought.

Catch FSE is a freemium theme with a commercial add-on plugin that offers three custom blocks and 10 patterns. I like seeing the upsells focused purely on value-adds.

I have often said that the next generation of freemium themes cannot be like the last. Developers will need to focus on enticing users with solutions to their problems instead of nickel-and-diming customers, locking necessary features behind a paywall. The block system is changing the game, and when most users can flesh out their site designs via the built-in WordPress site editor, the old-school upsells will not cut it.

Turnkey, plug-n-play solutions are needed. I may be so far off-base that I am not even in the ballpark, but I foresee block patterns being a central part of that. Once commercial theme authors figure out how to market and build with these new tools, we will see an explosion of growth in the block-based themes space.

Catch Themes’ 10 commercial patterns represent a start, but I imagine the company will need to continue pushing limits to see a worthwhile return on its premium upsell. Now is the time for experimentation while the field is wide open.

My biggest nit-pick? The name.

Attention all developers: Can we stop naming themes “Something FSE” and “Guten Something”? It is confusing and makes it tough to remember which project is which. Take some time to come up with something that stands out in the crowd.

Catch FSE is a bold and beautiful business-ready theme, but it needed a name to match its personality. I only hope folks remember it.

WPTavern: WPSiteSync Shuts Down, Commercial Extensions Now Available on GitHub

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 05/10/2022 - 22:15

WPSiteSync, a content syncing plugin from the team behind DesktopServer, has discontinued support for its free, core plugin and commercial extensions. The plugin lets users sync specific content, such as posts, pages, featured images, and taxonomies, without having to migrate the entire database. Commercial extensions allowed users to sync things like WooCommerce products, Gutenberg blocks, EDD product information, custom post types, Beaver Builder projects, and more.

It has been nine months since the WPSiteSync plugin was updated and more than a year since a major release. After six years, the ServerPress team has published a statement explaining their reasons for shutting down:

After a lot of consideration and discussion, we have concluded that we will no longer be updating WPSiteSync and its Premium Extensions. This was a difficult decision for us to make as we know that many of you rely on it in order to enhance your WordPress Workflow. The decision was made due to the fact that with each extension being dependent on the code of the plugin that it supports, we could not keep up with their changes as we enhanced our library, and frankly, there was not as much demand for it as we had hoped. Additionally, we found that our time supporting WPSiteSync took away from our ability to move our flagship product, DesktopServer, forward.

The ServerPress team plans to integrate some of WPSiteSync’s functionality into its DestopServer product and is making the current iteration of the plugin and all of its commercial extensions available for free on GitHub.

PublishPress founder Steve Burge, whose business followed a similar monetization path, commented that WPSiteSync chose “an honorable and honest way to end the commercial life of a WordPress plugin.” He said his company considered a similar set of features “but it seemed as daunting as they describe.”

This is an honorable and honest way to end the commercial life of a WordPress plugin: https://t.co/DQ1dKnjvMC

(We'd considered a similar set of features for PublishPress, but it seemed as daunting as they describe)

— Steve Burge (@SteveJBurge) May 9, 2022

The free core with commercial extensions business model can work well, but it can also stretch a development team thin if they are also responsible for a flagship product on top of maintaining such a diverse set of extensions. Keeping up with changes in Gutenberg, WooCommerce, Beaver Builder, EDD, and many other fast-moving plugins is an ambitious endeavor. It’s easy to see how the support and maintenance of these extensions could become untenable.

“Just as an example, the Advanced Custom Fields extension might take X number of hours to code and then they might make one small change in how it writes to the database and then our extension would lose its functionality,” ServerPress Operations Director Marc Benzakein told the Tavern. “This often meant that instead of continually sticking with a production schedule, we would have to change our focus to support the ACF plugin. The more plugins WPSiteSync supported, the more untenable it became and the more man-hours it took to support it.”

Benzakein also said another reason ServerPress decided not to sell is because they are exploring the idea of approaching it from a more manageable direction, to have WPSiteSync features available as an integration into their other workflow tool.

WPSiteSync has hovered at approximately 3,000 active installs for the past two years. Putting the plugin and extensions on GitHub gives WPSiteSync and its extensions the opportunity to be forked and supported by a new team with more incentive and resources. Shutting down may be disappointing for current users and customers, but, after so long without updates, it’s better that the software is officially released to the public for a chance at new life.

Customers who purchased WPSiteSync’s “Premium Bundle” within the last 30 days can request a refund.

“We will support our current customers as far as we can,” Benzakein said. “By and large the plugin and its extensions still work and the core plugin, which is available on the repo, will likely continue to work for some time as well.”

Post Status: Celebrate Small Businesses

Wordpress Planet - Tue, 05/10/2022 - 19:45

There are 455,000,000+ websites running WordPress. There are a lot of small businesses supporting those sites! Our Post Status community represents a number of those companies and my guess is that most of you receiving our newsletter own or work with small businesses as well.

In May we celebrate small businesses in the United States to honor everyone who is stepping out on that ledge. We can honor them by choosing to shop differently this month, by sending notes of thanks to those who support us, or by sharing our small business story with others. Would you like to share your small business story with us? We would love to add it to our blog this month! (Just comment here, use our contact form, or reach out on Twitter: @LindseyMillerWP.)

I hope you take some time to recognize and celebrate others who are on this path with us.

– Lindsey Miller

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