25 May 2016
Hi there, WordPress users! Version 6.2 of the WordPress for iOS app is now available in the App Store.
Sharing just got easier! Post content from apps to your WordPress.com site with a new Share extension. Also, share a post right from your editor's preview screen.
Improved clipboard support: Working with images? You can now copy and paste single images in your editor.
Login with ease: We improved error messages for self-hosted users.
Enhancements: Because "good" is not enough! Here's the full list of enhancements.
Bugs, be gone! We zapped bugs that prevented images from rendering properly and caused backspaces to misbehave. You can see the full list of bug fixes here!
Thanks to all of the contributors who worked on this release:
@aerych, @akirk, @alexcurylo, @astralbodies, @diegoreymendez, @frosty, @jleandroperez, @koke, @kurzee, @kwonye, @maxme, @nheagy, @rachelmcr, @sendhil, @mattmiklic and @SergioEstevao.
You can track the development progress for the next update by visiting our 6.3 milestone on GitHub. Until next time!
25 May 2016 6:05am GMT
20 May 2016
There's a lot of great WordPress content published in the community but not all of it is featured on the Tavern. This post is an assortment of items related to WordPress that caught my eye but didn't make it into a full post.
Chris Lema Launches Beyond Good
Chris Lema has launched a new site called Beyond Good that provides insight, tips, and methodologies for leading employees to become better than good. If it's anything like his other sites, it's sure to be a hit in the WordPress community.
Remote Jobs, a Remote Worker Specific Jobs Board
Chris Wallace and the team at Lift have launched Remote Jobs, a jobs board specifically catered to remote workers. According to Wallace, "The site exists to help others find remote jobs that connect them with their passions in life." Check out the site as there's already a decent listing of opportunities available for remote workers.
Why .Blog is Worth $19M
Matt Mullenweg participated in a phone interview with VentureBeat. The first question in the interview asks why the .blog domain is worth $19M.
Well, the domain business is actually a really good business because you can sell a domain and people use it and keep it forever. So, if you look at like a Verisign, or people who have TLDs, it's actually an incredible business.
We really wanted .blog to be open, and some of the other applications for .blog were closed, including Google - so, let's say for example, only Blogger could have a .blog domain. And we thought that .blog should be open to everyone, even if they're not using WordPress.
I gotta be honest though, it was a stressful auction.
There are other tidbits of information included in the interview that I highly encourage you to read. If I were Google, I'd be upset as .blog is the perfect complimentary domain for Blogger.
Drupal Association Gives Community Member a Lifetime Ban
DrupalCon New Orleans took place last week and during the event, several speakers experienced online harassment in the form of derogatory racist, homophobic, and misogynistic comments and images from an anonymous Twitter account. Upon further investigation by community members and the Drupal Association technical and event staff, the harassment was tracked to an attendee at the event.
This person was then confronted by members of the Drupal Association staff and the Community Working Group. They were asked to leave the event and informed that they have been banned from attending any future DrupalCons as well as any events produced by the Drupal Association, in accordance with the DrupalCon Code of Conduct, which states, 'We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form.' Shortly after the person left the conference, the account from which the harassing tweets were made was deleted.
This is an excellent example of why Codes of Conduct exist for events. By the way, check out the Code of Conduct that's in place for every WordCamp. If you experience harassment of any kind at a WordCamp, please tell event staff.
Plans Published to Upgrade WordPress Support Forums
Jennifer Dodd published a detailed plan for migrating the WordPress.org support forums from bbPress 1.x to 2.x. The project is a huge undertaking and involves moving massive amounts of data. If all goes according to plan, the support forums will be on bbPress 2.x by the end of the year. I'm sure a lot of support forum volunteers are stoked to hear this news.
What NOT to Name a WordPress Theme
This tweet by Ryan Sullivan gave me a good laugh.
I'd strongly consider rebranding. pic.twitter.com/9MeevJTlPq
- Ryan D. Sullivan (@ryandonsullivan) May 19, 2016
Tom McFarlin on Improving the WordPress Plugin UX
Tom McFarlin published a great article that offers ideas on how plugin developers can improve the WordPress plugin user experience. His first suggestion is a key reason I think GravityForms became successful.
Try to make sure that your project tightly integrates with the core WordPress user interface.
When I witnessed GravityForms for the first time in 2009, I loved how it integrated into the WordPress backend as if it were a part of the core software. Fast forward to 2016 and plugins that tie into a service are experimenting with overlay interfaces that replace WordPress'. The most recent example I recall is WP Forms that I reviewed earlier this year.
In my review, I specifically noted that the interface the developers used allowed me to focus on creating forms. It doesn't seem like it's a WordPress core feature and it didn't have too. While the advice McFarlin gives is likely accurate for most cases, there are plugins that benefit from having a unique user interface different from WordPress'.
Don't Edit Core
This comic created by CommitStrip made me smile.
- CommitStrip (@CommitStrip) May 17, 2016
In what is a traditional part of this series, I end each issue by featuring a Wapuu design. For those who don't know, Wapuu is the unofficial mascot of the WordPress project. WordCamp St. Louis 2016, took place last weekend and one of the attendees had a Wapuu tattoo! Wapuu looks good everywhere, including human skin!
- Nile Flores (@blondishnet) May 14, 2016
That's it for issue nine. If you recently discovered a cool resource or post related to WordPress, please share it with us in the comments.
20 May 2016 10:30pm GMT
In early 2015, the WordPress.org Meta team redesigned the WordPress plugin directory and added a number of new features. In an effort to iterate on the page's layout, the Meta Team has published prototypes of a new design for the plugin directory's home and search results pages.
The prototypes are inspired by Get WordPress, a landing page that provides key information about the WordPress project at a glance.
There are a few things to keep in mind while looking at these prototypes. The first is that plugin information displayed on the page is inaccurate. Second, the Pro and Light classifications are for design purposes only. Third, links at the bottom will point to their corresponding pages.
Unlike the current design, the prototype displays far less information. Authors, Last Updated, Compatibility, and Active Installs are absent from the homepage view. Initial feedback highlights the concern that too much information has been stripped away.
In response to a comment on the announcement post, Samuel Sidler, Apollo Team Lead at Automattic and contributor to the Meta team, explains why he doesn't think the information is useful to users.
Author, as you said, is only really useful for insiders. The latter two, meanwhile, are already taken into account in the search results. If a plugin doesn't have a recent compatible version, it will move down the list. If it's too old, it won't get shown at all (which is the case today).
Active installs is more interesting, but we account for it weighting search results as-is. I actually find it refreshing to not show the active installs as it allows for less-popular plugins to get more downloads. Users will be less likely to click the popular plugins (outside of familiar names) and more likely to find the plugin they actually need.
Another commenter suggests creating a simple/advanced view. By default, the page could display a simplistic design while giving power users an option for more details.
"Just like WordPress core, we strive to design for the majority and build features for the 80%," Sidler said in response to the comment. "An 'advanced' view doesn't meet that requirement, in my eyes."
The Meta team is iterating quickly and will soon publish a prototype of the plugin details page. If you have feedback on the plugin homepage and search result prototypes, please leave a comment on the announcement post.
20 May 2016 8:19pm GMT
19 May 2016
In this episode, Marcus Couch and I are joined by James Giroux, Envato's WordPress evangelist. We discuss a number of topics including what he's accomplished since taking over the position in January, the item support policy change, and author driven pricing.
We also find out what his favorite part of the job is and what he enjoys most about his role at Envato. Last but not least, we discover what the company is doing to shorten the length of time it takes to get through the review queue.
Next Episode: Wednesday, June 1st 9:30 P.M. Eastern
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Listen To Episode #235:
19 May 2016 7:18pm GMT
Developers who want to contribute to the project can submit their modules by creating a ticket on BP trac and attaching a zip file that includes the CSS/JS files, a readme.md, and a screenshot.
Users who want to add a module will need to create a /style-modules/ directory and then unzip the module inside it. The next step requires the user to copy functions from the module's readme file to their theme's functions.php file, a step which provides a significant hurdle for a non-technical BuddyPress community manager.
"Initially this is a trial to see whether we get sufficient interest in the concept to continue and develop further, perhaps enhancing the loading process with enqueueing of files based on directory scanning and loading of files as an array but run from the core theme compat class, removing the need for users to copy the loading functions to their functions file," Ashmore said.
The project's GitHub repository includes an example module that re-styles the members list into a grid layout. Other example ideas Ashmore suggested include a new look for profile entries, a different presentation for the activity posting form, or something as simple as changing the font size for the activity stream.
The experimental initiative will test the waters to see if the BuddyPress community will chip in to provide enough modules to make this a real library. The support policy stated in the proposal doesn't offer much incentive for module authors to submit their work:
Provision of modules and use of them is entirely the discretion of the authors and users, while BP will run some basic checks on the module BP does not guarantee that the modules will work in all given situations or installs, or accept any liability in their use. Support for a module remains the responsibility of the author to ensure the continued effectiveness of the module with updates to themes, WP or BP.
Historically, BuddyPress has struggled to present itself as an easily customizable solution for communities. Theme compatibility, introduced in April 2013, made it easier to use BP with any theme, but unless you purchase a theme specifically designed for the plugin, its default output is rather generic and in need of heavy styling.
The BuddyPress Style Modules concept is an attempt to make it easier for community managers to enhance BP components with different looks, but the project will need to provide a compelling reason for developers to contribute modules and continue to maintain them.
19 May 2016 2:34am GMT
18 May 2016
photo credit: Luis Llerena
Today marks a moment in internet history, as the very first .blog domain is now operational on WordPress.com. Knock Knock, WHOIS There, a subsidiary of Automattic, launched Nic.blog today to begin getting registrars to sign up to sell the new TLD.
Automattic won the rights to oversee the sale and registration of the .blog domain in 2015 via a bidding process that is estimated to have closed around $20 million. The domain extension is so new that Twitter doesn't yet support it as a valid link, but Automattic expects to activate 250,000 new names in 2016.
According to the new nic.blog information site, registrars that sign up to sell .blog domains will be able to participate in an incentive partnership model that rewards a higher volume of sales:
Pricing will be in the standard range for new gTLDs, with premium names available in several tiers. High margins for registrars will be guaranteed by an incentive model, rewarding sales above a certain baseline. Final terms will be published in the coming weeks.
Automattic is opening up the .blog TLD to registrars around the world and companies can sign up on nic.blog to learn more about the requirements. Individuals who are interested in purchasing a .blog domain should review the tentative launch plan published today. Registration will be open to trademark owners during the Sunrise period starting in August 2016, followed by a Landrush period in October.
18 May 2016 11:26pm GMT
Gene Robinson, lead developer of the Thematic WordPress theme, has announced that the project will no longer be developed. Thematic was last updated in 2013 and is actively installed on more than 4K sites. Users are advised to migrate to a different theme as updates will no longer be released. As WordPress core evolves, sites using Thematic may develop incompatibilities.
Continuing The Legacy with a Different Name
Although development on Thematic is discontinuing, Robinson has forked the project and renamed it to Deciduous. The project picks up where Thematic leaves off. Those interested in continuing development can follow it on GitHub where pull requests are welcomed. Robinson is also seeking links to other projects that are derivative of Thematic.
Where to Get Support for Thematic
Users who need support are advised to post on the WordPress.org support forums for the Thematic theme, "The support forums on the Thematic website are shutting down due to the lack of community involvement, moderation, and developer feedback," Robinson said. "Hopefully the greater WordPress support community will be able to help you find a resolution."
A Look Back
The years 2008-2009 is an interesting time frame in WordPress' history. A number of commercial theme and plugin companies, WordPress-centric sites, and projects were launched. Among these was the Thematic theme by Ian Stewart, theme Wrangler for Automattic. Thematic was more than just a theme, it was an opportunity for Stewart to learn how WordPress' theme system works.
He regularly shared his knowledge with the community through ThemeShaper.com, a site now owned by Automattic that features contributions from other members of the theme team. It was the wild west of theme development in 2008 and any person who regularly shared theme development techniques became an influential member of the community.
Two years after launching Thematic, Stewart joined Automattic as a theme wrangler.
What can I say besides awesome, awesome, awesome? The enormous opportunity for learning and improvement; all the super-talented, friendly people; the chance to work on so many really, really cool projects-it's almost unbelievable. This is a dream job for me.
The hiring allowed him to make available all of his commercial child themes built on the Thematic framework available free of charge to the community.
Did You Learn From Thematic?
It's bittersweet and slightly nostalgic to see the theme come to an end. When I launched the Tavern in 2009, I regularly linked to tutorials and articles published by Stewart. I'm almost certain Thematic and its creator helped out a number of budding theme developers between 2008-2011. Let us know in the comments if you used Thematic for any projects or what you learned from its code.
18 May 2016 8:45pm GMT
Welcome to the Post Status Draft podcast, which you can find on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and via RSS for your favorite podcatcher. Post Status Draft is hosted by Joe Hoyle - the CTO of Human Made - and Brian Krogsgard.
Joe and Brian discuss WordPress as a Headless CMS. They talk about what a Headless CMS is, WordPress's strengths and weaknesses as a Headless CMS, popular frameworks to utilize, and offer up example websites to check out.
- React vs Angular 2
- Lean, an Agular for WordPress framework
- Decoupled CMS
- What is a Headless CMS?
- We Need to Talk about the REST API
- Introducing the REST API Authentication Broker
- Human Made's REST API White Paper
Today's show is sponsored by OptinMonster. OptinMonster allows you to convert visitors into subscribers. You can easily create & A/B test beautiful lead capture forms without a developer. They recently released OptinMonster 3.0, with an all new builder interface and other great features.
18 May 2016 5:47pm GMT
When WordPress 3.7 "Basie" was released in 2013, it brought automatic updates to the masses. By default, WordPress automatically updates to point releases. Using additional constants within wp-config.php, you can configure WordPress to automatically update themes, plugins, and major releases.
If you want granular control over the WordPress update system without touching code, check out Easy Updates Manager. Easy Updates Manager is a free plugin that's active on more than 70k sites. It's maintained by Matthew, Ronald Huereca, Roary Tubbs, and BigWing Interactive.
Countless Number of Configurations Available
Once activated, you'll find the options page by browsing to Dashboard > Update Options. There are two different interfaces for configuring updates. The first includes a number of toggle switches that disable/enable updates. The second is a traditional screen with radial buttons.
Traditional settings page for Easy Updates Manager.
One of the highlights of Easy Updates Manager is the ability to enable automatic updates for individual themes and plugins. It's a convenient way to update themes and plugins that rarely cause issues. There's also a built-in logging feature that when enabled creates a new table in the database. It logs the username, update type, version, action, status, and date.
Logging is listed as a beta feature and should be used at your own risk. It also may not work with all commercial themes and plugins. Here's what the log looks like after I updated three plugins.
Easy Updates Manager also includes the ability to exclude users from manipulating the plugin's settings. The plugin contains additional features that I encourage you to explore by using it on a test site.
Thanks to the number of options available, users have a countless number of update configurations to choose from. I tested the plugin on WordPress 4.6 alpha and it works as expected. You can download it for free from the WordPress plugin directory.
18 May 2016 7:17am GMT
17 May 2016
Among the improvements coming in WordPress 4.6 are accessibility enhancements to the Category and Tag management pages. The flow of each page has been changed so that the visual order of elements match the tab order. This allows those who navigate with keyboards to access the Add New Tag or Add New Category area first.
Andrea Fercia, WordPress core committer and a member of the accessibility team, explains why the changes matter, "For accessibility, the visual order should always match the tab order. The main functionality in a page should just be the first thing in the source markup and other parts of the user interface should never be 'skipped'."
The following image shows the tab order of elements on the Tag management screen in WordPress 4.5. In order to reach the Add New Tag section, you need to tab through a number of checkboxes, each tag in the tag cloud, and various quick edit links. This is a time-consuming and frustrating process.
In WordPress 4.6, the Add New Tag section is the first visual element as well as the first section accessed when pressing the tab key.
The new flow is more logical and provides consistency between the tag and category management screens, "From an accessibility point of view, the content structure and organization will be easier to understand and navigate," Fercia said.
WordPress theme and plugin authors who have added custom functionality to these screens are advised to double-check their code against the bleeding edge version of WordPress 4.6. There's also an in-depth ticket where developers and users can see how the team reached a consensus to implement the changes. If you have any questions or concerns please leave a comment on the announcement post.
17 May 2016 7:30pm GMT
BuddyPress 2.5, released in March, introduced customizable emails via a new BP Email API. This new feature allows community managers to easily edit BuddyPress-generated emails in the admin and make design changes in the customizer.
It didn't take long for developers to think of bringing this same customizability to bbPress emails. Brandon Allen has just released BP Emails for BBP, a plugin that sends forum and topic subscription emails using the new BP Email API.
Once installed, administrators will find templates for new forum topics and topic replies under the same Emails menu item with the 16 customizable BuddyPress core emails.
Allen noted that the plugin sends emails differently than bbPress, which puts every subscriber email in the BCC field and sends one email. Instead, it sends a separate email to each subscriber, which Allen said may improve deliverability given that some email providers look unfavorably on emails with large BCC fields.
I tested the plugin and found that it works as advertised for customizing and sending bbPress emails. There are no settings to configure. It simply adds the same functionality that users now expect from BuddyPress core emails with all the same customization options.
BP Emails for BBP is available on WordPress.org. It does not work with bbPress alone but requires both bbPress 2.5+ and BuddyPress 2.5+ to be active. With the help of this plugin, a community manager can brand all the email communications generated by the site so that the design and wording is consistent across both plugins.
17 May 2016 5:32am GMT
In an exceptionally well-documented commit message, BuddyPress lead developer Boone Gorges introduced a new API to manage single item navigation, thanks to contributions from core developers Mathieu Viet and Raymond Hoh. Gorges summarized the changes to how BuddyPress will handle navigation in the upcoming 2.6 release:
The new BP_Core_Nav overhauls the way that BuddyPress registers, stores, and renders navigation items. Navigations are now component-specific, eliminating the potential for confusion and conflict between navigation items with similar names in different components, and opening the possibility of generating navs for separate objects of the same type on a single pageload.
The previous navigation system used bp_nav and bp_options_nav, global properties that managed nav and subnav across all of BuddyPress' components. Developers had a difficult time extending navigation and sometimes ended up stepping on each other's toes when adding similar navigation items.
"The new system eliminates most of these problems, by removing direct access to the underlying navigation data, while providing a full-fledged API for accessing and modifying that data," Gorges said.
Although the new API ensures backward compatibility with the legacy bp_nav and bp_options_nav, plugin developers whose extensions depend on these methods will want to update their code. With the exception of certain configurations running PHP 5.2.x, most plugins should work the same as before.
However, Gorges' commit message details a handful of small ways that the new API may break backward compatibility in a few rare instances. BuddyPress plugin developers will want to review these ahead of the upcoming 2.6 release. Beta 1 is just one week away from release on May 25 and the official release is targeted for June 15.
17 May 2016 5:06am GMT
16 May 2016
To get the most out of Learn Redux, students should have a decent foundation of React and ES6. Bos recommends those who are not comfortable with React to start with his React for Beginners course.
- Access to all 20 videos
- All starter files
- Webpack Build Templates
- Stepped and finished solutions
Bos spent more than 100 hours producing this series in partnership with Sentry as a sponsor. Anyone who signs up receives a $50 Sentry credit.
If you want to be ready to dive into the next generation of WordPress site and application development with knowledge of one of the most popular JS frameworks, the free Learn Redux course offers all the tools necessary for getting started with React.js, Redux, and React Router.
16 May 2016 9:50pm GMT
WPTavern: Daniel Bachhuber Discusses WP-CLI, the WP REST API, and the Challenges of Contributing to Open Source on Roots Radio Podcast
Daniel Bachhuber, maintainer of the WP-CLI project and a contributing developer to the WP REST API, joined Chris Carr and Austin Pray on a recent episode of the Roots Radio podcast. Bachhuber discussed his recent experience crowdfunding his work on "A More RESTful WP-CLI" as well as the challenges he's encountered as a contributor to various open source projects over the years.
In the first part of the episode, Bachhuber shared how he spent the 283 hours of time that the WordPress community funded to advance the WP-CLI and WP REST API projects. The funding gave him the opportunity to dedicate time split between the two projects. Bachhuber put in approximately 95 hours towards the REST API in January and February but the bulk of the hours went towards making WP-CLI more friendly for developers who work with the REST API.
"WordPress developers are going to be putting a lot of time now towards writing REST endpoints that expose their functionality to the world, and it would be really nice if WP-CLI interoperated nicely with that and allowed you to use that functionality at the command line without having to separately write your own WP-CLI commands," Bachhuber said.
He discussed the challenge of scoping out this broad goal and what he learned about crowdfunding during the process.
"The RESTful WP-CLI kickstarter project was intentionally ambitious, because I'm a guy who has big ideas and likes to do big things," Bachhuber said. "There are some things I feel really happy that I've been able to ship and produce so far, and there are other features that, for one reason or another, I haven't quite been able to execute yet and that's a bit frustrating.
"It's a whole different ball game trying to manage the expectations of your Kickstarter backers than it is a single client. I've got 107 clients that I have to make happy," he said.
Nevertheless, Bachhuber said he was able to get the issue backlog for WP-CLI down to less than 60 issues and the dedicated time has allowed him to resolve old issues that have "languished since the dawn of time."
As part of the rewards offered for contributors to the crowdfunding campaign, Bachhuber offered his time consulting with individuals and organizations, which he found to be easier than traditional physical swag rewards.
"I'm really glad that I chose [consulting] over having to give out physical swag, because it's very difficult to procure and ship to everyone, particularly when you have international backers," he said. "Even though I've spent a lot of my time fulfilling the rewards and talking with people and having calls with them and meeting up with them in person, it's a much easier effort to manage than sending 100 coffee mugs across the world."
When asked if he'd do it again, Bachhuber said yes but emphasized that spending this much time on an open source project only works if you keep a healthy balance with other aspects of life.
"I think it's really important that if you're contributing to open source projects on a regular basis or even maintaining them, that you balance your time between that and other things," he said. "It's really easy to get burned out on said open source project if you spend 100% of your time on it for a whole month or six months.
"I was pretty intentional to say that the money I was raising was going to cover my involvement with the project for six months, a certain number of hours, and that it was going to be a part-time thing. That was a really healthy way to approach it. I think I would have gotten burned out if I had just tried to dive into it, crank it out, and move on to the next thing," Bachhuber said.
The Emotional Challenges of Working on Open Source Projects
During the course of the interview Bachhuber was asked to share his feelings on what he referred to as "the kerfuffle with the REST API" that happened in February. The REST API team had written a merge proposal in September 2015 that recommended merging the API in two parts - the infrastructure in 4.4 and the posts, comments, terms, and users endpoints in 4.5 or 4.6. After partially executing on that proposal, the team held a status chat to discuss the plan moving forward.
Bachhuber said that the discussion became "a very emotionally fraught event" after Matt Mullenweg said the project needed feature parity with the WordPress admin before any of the endpoints could be considered for merge. After putting hundreds of hours into the project alongside a handful of dedicated contributors who were already spread thin, he found this new requirement was a difficult pill to swallow.
"For better or for worse, as a maintainer or even a participant of an open source project, you have to have a thick skin and realize that all the time the decisions that are made are not about you - they are about the project," Bachhuber said. "Even if you are personally offended by the decision, it doesn't matter because it isn't about you. It's really difficult to deal with emotionally."
Bachhuber's years of contributing to and maintaing open source projects has taught him a few things about managing stress and conflict that he plans to share at WordCamp Europe in a talk titled, "My condolences, You're now the maintainer of a popular OS project."
"I find a lot of joy in maintaining open source projects," Bachhuber said. "I also have to actively work to address the emotional side of the equation to make sure I'm in a healthy space to continue maintaining the project and the project is not affecting me personally. It's taken me years to come to a point where I'm comfortable with that."
In the case of the WP REST API, Bachhuber has come to a place where he can compartmentalize his emotional reactions and responses to the differing opinions.
"I've come to a point now where I care but I don't care," he said. "I care in the sense that I'd still love to see those endpoints go into core and see the fruits of our labors realized. I don't care because I'm not emotionally attached to that happening on any particular time frame. I honestly would rather it happen when it's ready to happen over prematurely, and I realize I might not be the best qualified person to make that decision."
In the remainder of the episode, Bachhuber and Carr discuss React, Redux, Karma, Enzyme, and other tools for testing and developing with the REST API. Check out the recording of the episode on Roots Radio for more details about Bachhuber's work on WP-CLI and his crowdfunding experience.
16 May 2016 6:03am GMT
14 May 2016
WPTavern: The WordPress.org Recommended Hosting Page is Revamped, Features Flywheel for the First Time
DreamHost, Flywheel, and SiteGround have joined Bluehost on WordPress.org's new recommended hosting page. In mid 2015, Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of the open source WordPress project, announced the page would be revamped. To have a chance at being listed webhosting companies needed to fill out a 40-question survey.
This is Flywheel's first time on the page. Flywheel, launched in 2013, is a managed WordPress hosting company with an emphasis towards designers and agencies. I asked Dusty Davidson, co-Founder and CEO of Flywheel, what it means to be included on the page. "We're obviously excited to be included, and think it really reflects on the work we've done to create a great experience for WordPress users," he said.
The recommended webhosting page on WordPress.org is incredibly lucrative. Based on conversations I've had with employees of hosts listed, it can generate millions of dollars in revenue. I asked Davidson what impact this will have on his company, "I'm sure it will undoubtedly send a good deal of traffic, but honestly we're just humbled and excited to be recognized," he said.
A New Round of Controversy
Over the years, companies have come and gone from the recommended hosting page. However, Bluehost in particular has consistently appeared on the list, including the most recent iteration. Bluehost is owned by Endurance International Group who invested in Automattic in 2014. Because Mullenweg is the CEO of Automattic and controls who is listed on the page, it's easy to see why it regularly generates controversy.
Kevin Ohashi of ReviewSignal.com, criticized the lack of transparency regarding the process for how hosts.
Who is responsible for this revamp? What were the selection criteria? How often will it be updated? Will existing companies be continuously re-evaluated?
These are important questions to ask and there are no publicly documented answers. In a follow up post, Ohashi investigated what criteria needs to be met for being listed on the page. The post contains a number of screenshots of his private conversation with James Huff, who has volunteered for the WordPress project for 12 years and has worked at Automattic for five years.
Huff was directly related to the project and influenced who was chosen thanks to his involvement on the WordPress Support Team. Within the conversation, he shares details of the process and mentions that no money exchanged hands. Early in the conversation, Ohashi tells Huff that he wants to learn and publish how the process works. However, Huff had no idea that everything he said would be made public.
"I was invited to what sounded like a friendly chat over direct message from a concerned community member, after he was referred to me by a friend," Huff said. "At no point was it clarified or even implied that anything discussed would be made public."
Conversations held in a private matter should remain private unless given permission to publish them, something I discovered the hard way. Unfortunately, the post comes across as a public interrogation of Huff. I asked Huff, who was shaken by the experience, how it has affected him moving forward as it relates to the WordPress project.
"I'd be lying if I said my feelings weren't at least shaken by the experience, especially considering how polite he was to my friend and how hostile he was towards me apparently just because I work for Automattic, but this isn't the first time that has happened to me and I don't expect it to be the last," he said.
"There's an usually prevalent negative bias against Automatticians who contribute to WordPress."
Mullenweg Provides Clarification
Mullenweg commented on the post where he not only sticks up for Huff, but answers some of the controversial questions raised by Ohashi. Mullenweg explains how the applicants were chosen, how the criteria is weighted, who makes the final decisions, and how much money is involved. Here is his comment in full.
'I would like to see some transparency in the process'
As stated on the page, the listing is completely arbitrary. The process was: There was a survey, four applicants were chosen, and the page was updated. That might repeat later in the year, or the process might change.
'how criteria are weighted'
There is no criteria or weighting. It ultimately is one person's opinion. Information that is important is reflected in the questions asked in the survey, but that is not everything that is taken into account. (I have looked at this site in the past, for example.)
'who is making the decisions'
I am. James helped in sorting through the many submissions that came in, doing additional research, and digging on finalists, but ultimately the decision was mine. You can and should blame me fully for any issues you have with it. I appreciate James' help in this go-round, but he will not be involved at all with any future updates. (So, please leave him alone.)
'how much money is involved'
There was no money involved. Obviously being listed on the page is hugely valuable and impacts the listed (or unlisted) businesses a great deal. This is why I take full responsibility for the listing, now and in the future - I have been fortunate to be extraordinarily successful and no financial or business consideration any of the applicants could offer matters to me. A host could offer $100,000,000 to be listed on the page for 1 day, and I would say no.
It's unfortunate that the information in Mullenweg's comment is not published in an official post announcing the changes to the recommended hosting page. If an official post was published that included the same information in his comment, it's possible it would have eliminated most of the confusion, uncertainty, and doubt surrounding it.
Should WordPress.org Have a Recommended Hosting Page?
Due to the investments EIG has made in Automattic, Mullenweg's role at the company, and him making the final decisions, there will always be a potential conflict of interest despite taking full responsibility of the page and the processes associated with it.
Should WordPress.org have a recommended hosting page? What if the page was replaced with information people could use to make informed decisions on choosing a host? It would eliminate potential conflicts of interest and if there was a host Mullenweg felt strongly about, he could label it as a partner of the project. This would make it clear that any financial connection with the company is a business relationship.
Are you hosting with any of the companies listed on the recommended hosting page? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments.
14 May 2016 4:39pm GMT
13 May 2016
The World Health Organization estimates that 285 million people worldwide are living with some form of visual impairment and 39 million of those are estimated to be blind. Many people with low vision depend on speech recognition technology to navigate the web and communicate their thoughts. This type of software also assists people who have carpal tunnel, RSI (Repetitive Stress Injuries) and/or limited mobility in their hands and arms.
Rian Rietveld and the Accessibility team are working to improve the experience of using WordPress with speech recognition software, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking (widely considered as one of the best for desktop use.) In particular, the task of adding media to a post has a number of obstacles that make it nearly impossible for those using speech recognition software.
Rietveld posted three tests to the Accessibility team's blog today, inviting those who use Dragon Naturally Speaking or other assistive technology to help the contributors determine the roadblocks that need to be removed for adding media. These tests include actions like adding media, editing attachment details, and creating a gallery.
If you use WordPress with assistive technology for speech recognition, completing these tests and offering your feedback is one way to get involved as a contributor. You don't necessarily have to use Dragon Naturally Speaking, as there are many newer alternatives such as Windows Speech Recognition (Cortana) and Chrome's speech recognition powered by Google Speech to Text. Testers can report their experiences, along with the assistive technology/browser/OS, in the comments on Rietveld's post.
13 May 2016 10:40pm GMT