There was plenty of news to report on as we get closer to the next major release of WordPress, scheduled for 14 December 2021.
WordPress News Roundup
Sarah Gooding published a first look at the new default theme slated to be released with WordPress 5.9, Twenty Twenty-Two. The theme is being developed with a focus on Full-Site Editing, a major feature that will be part of WordPress 5.9. It will also use Global Styles through Theme.json and will ship with a variety of Block Patterns. You can keep track of development on GitHub or bookmark the Twenty Twenty-Two demo site.
WP Africa aims to bring members of the African WordPress community together under one roof. The site was developed by Mary Job who believes there will be a WordPress Africa conference in the next 3-5 years. If you’re interested in participating or contributing to the project, consider joining the WP Africa Slack team.
WordCamp US 2021 has come and gone. According to Sarah Gooding on WP Tavern, more than 3,600 people registered for the event while at its peak, the stream was watched by 400 concurrent viewers. I only had time to watch one presentation but from what I witnessed, everything ran smoothly. It was fun to interact with others in the chatroom during presentations. It was also a nice touch to see WordPress contributor stories in between sessions.
Cate and Topher DeRosia launched the HeroPress Network. The network is a hub that allows visitors to access and check on all of the various projects under the HeroPress umbrella. In an effort to maintain the various projects, the HeroPress Network has opened funding opportunities to allow the community to help ensure the long-term future of HeroPress.
Brainstorm Force, the company behind the popular Astra WordPress theme has announced that it has acquired ProjectHuddle, a popular tool that lets people provide sticky note-style feedback to web projects. When added to a page or project, clients can click a specific area and provide targeted feedback. Brainstorm Huddle explains why they acquired the company:
Having worked a great deal with clients, Andre tried to get them to use many different tools to help streamline project management and provide feedback on wireframes or designs.
There were many solutions on the market, but nothing that was perfect for both agency and client. They were often expensive SaaS offerings that locked you into specific platforms and didn’t always deliver what was needed.
Every time a client needed to learn a new tool, remember another login password, log in and check for feedback frequently, it was creating a lot of friction. After trying probably dozens of different solutions, Andre couldn’t find anything that did what he needed it to do.
According to the announcement, nothing will change for existing ProjectHuddle customers and all existing purchases, including lifetime licenses, will be honored.
VideoPress has undergone another transformation, this time with improvements to the player, full integration with the WordPress editor, drag-and-drop customization options, and no need to use external apps. As part of the remake, VideoPress is now available as a stand-alone product.
You no longer have to purchase the larger Jetpack bundles (i.e. the old Premium Plan, or the current Jetpack Complete plan) to access a feature. You can simply pay for the single feature you would like.”
So, you still have to use Jetpack to use VideoPress, but you can purchase a plan so that VideoPress is the only feature you’re paying for. This move is a continuation of unbundling services and features from Jetpack and putting them in various bundles and packages you can purchase.
Wordfence published details of multiple vulnerabilities it discovered in the Brizy page builder plugin which allows sites to be taken over. The plugin is installed on more than 90,000 websites. Brizy was extremely quick in its response to the discoveries and released a patch on August 24, 2021. As of writing this article, the current version is 2.3.18.
Matt Cromwell has proposed that dynamic share images be added to WordPress.org so that when product authors want to share their work, it looks nice. If implemented, it would basically allow product authors to display something akin to a card on social media. You can view an example of what it would look like in the ticket. So far, support appears to be unanimously positive.
October 14th was a critical day for WordPress 5.9 as it was the day where features proposed for the release would be given the green light or not. All major features proposed for WordPress 5.9 received the green light. This means Full-Side Editing, Block themes, the Twenty Twenty-Two default theme will be part of the release.
TechCrunch has published a four-part series that takes a detailed look at Automattic and how it has built a digital empire. Much of the information in the series contains things long-time WordPress followers probably know. For those new to the space, it’s a good primer but the series requires a paid subscription to TechCrunch with the cheapest option being $5 per month.
Although the book was published in 2013, I recommend reading A Year Without Pants by Scott Berkun. The book describes Scott’s journey as an automattician around the time Jetpack was initially being developed. You’ll learn about teams and the remote work ethic inside of Automattic. I’ve yet to read a book that’s as detailed about the inner workings of Automattic as this.
In a Twitter thread, Ben Pines announced that after six years at Elementor, he is stepping down from his role but not from the community at large.
Working at Elementor, I got to have the dream job – building a loved brand from scratch. We’ve done many amazing projects over the years.
Six years is a long time, especially in terms of a career in tech. I have been fortunate enough to experience how Elementor evolved and grew over the years, always maintaining a clear vision and a no-compromise approach regarding being user satisfaction oriented.
See you later, not farewell! In case you are wondering – I’m still here! I will still be part of the Elementor community, just not as an admin, but as a member.
Ben witnessed and took an active part in Elementor going from thousands of active installs to millions. That is quite the accomplishment and I’m sure he has plenty of lessons he’s learned that he’ll be sharing in the coming weeks.
Cate and Topher DeRosia launched Find It WP earlier this month, another project under the HeroPress Network. Find It WP is a collection of practically anything WordPress-related whether it be a podcast, a blog, plugin, theme, etc. The site is powered by FacetWP and SearchWP. Find It WP is a dream for anyone looking to gain more exposure.
“There are no fees associated with it. The size of your marketing budget or number of employees is irrelevant here. This is a place for equitable visibility. Another ‘stage’ from the HeroPress Network that anyone can step on to and be seen. And the community as a whole is richer for it.”
Users are able to submit resources which are then vetted by site administrators. Once approved, those users will be able to update the information allowing them to keep it up to date.
WooCommerce 5.8, a minor release that is backwards compatible with previous versions includes a few improvements to the REST API such as supporting the modified_before and modified-after fields for product, order, and coupon endpoints. For a full list of changes, be sure to check out the changelog.
There is an ongoing debate on what to rename reusable blocks to. Matias Venture, the Lead architect of Gutenberg, started the discussion by explaining the reasoning behind the name change.
Reusable blocks have a long history now. The started as “saved blocks” and went through some renaming iterations until we settled on “reusable blocks”. This worked alright at the beginning, but with the introduction of patterns its meaning has started to become more fuzzy and confusing (see related comment). In the end, patterns are also reusable pieces of design.
Given the nature of these blocks is to have content in sync wherever it’s displayed — edit once; update everywhere — I propose we change the name in the UI to “Synced Blocks” and adjust the block description a little bit to clarify that.
So far, it looks like Global Blocks has garnered the most support but the discussion continues. The interesting thing about blocks is that some of them contain functionality that overlaps with others so naming them based on functionality is not an easy process.
The Writing Experience in WordPress
There has been a lot of talk this month about the writing experience in WordPress and most of the opinions I’ve read have not been good. The first was published by Justin Ferriman where he describes that Gutenberg at this point is not a good solution for building pages or writing content.
In response to Ferriman’s post, Joe Casabona agrees that WordPress is not an excellent writing tool and he makes some good points as well. In fact, Casabona believes that WordPress is never the ideal place to write.
I’ve been vocal about my struggles when it comes to writing content in WordPress but I refuse to use a third-party tool. I am going to weather the storm and I’m hopeful that when most of the workaround Gutenberg and the block editor is complete, I can look back and tell Matt Mullenweg that it was worth it. The struggles, the pain of blocks, not being able to write the way I want, this, that, and the other was all worth it.
Similar to what happened with VideoPress, Jetpack Backups has been separated from the Jetpack plugin as a whole and is now its own plugin. This means agencies or anyone interested in utilizing the Jetpack Backup service will no longer need to install a bunch of things they don’t need or use as Rob Pugh explains.
But we also appreciate that the WordPress community is incredibly diverse and that everyone’s needs are unique. Many developers and site owners asked for the flexibility to use specific components of Jetpack as part of their own, custom-built “tech stack” of plugins. We listened.
Jetpack Backup now joins the ranks of independence with Jetpack Boost, Jetpack CRM, and VideoPress.