24 Mar 2017
WordCamp Miami kicked off today with its ancillary workshops for beginners, freelancers, and BuddyPress enthusiasts. The WordCamp is entering its 9th year and organizers are expecting more than 800 attendees. Tickets are once again sold out, but latecomers hoping to attend can sign up for the wait list.
24 Mar 2017 9:52pm GMT
Nearly three months after laying off a third of its staff and publicly admitting that its previous ad-based revenue model was broken, Medium has introduced a new $5 per month subscription program. The internet speculated freely about Medium's next move after CEO Ev Williams said the company would be taking "a different, bolder approach" to the problem of driving payment for quality content.
It turns out the "bolder approach" he referenced is a subscription-based model, one that skeptics are already eager to tear apart as many media organizations have struggled to find success with paywalls. Early subscribers will receive access to curated content, a new reading experience, ad-free browsing, and an offline reading list. Medium will be using the subscription revenue to pay writers for content, some of which will be restricted to members only.
"We will be routing 100% of the revenue from founding members (those who sign up in the first few months) to writers and independent publishers who have important work to do," Williams said. "Those who have hard-won expertise, do exhaustive research, and think deeply. Those who make us all smarter. Those who maximize our understanding of the world but don't necessarily maximize clicks - and, therefore, are at a disadvantage amongst the highly optimized algorithm chum being slung by the truckload by low-cost content purveyors."
Medium's new curated content stream will surface the most worthwhile articles from its network, which grew from 1.9 million posts in 2015 to 7.5 million in 2016 posts. Williams identified the types of content members can expect with their subscriptions in a followup post viewable only to subscribers:
- Politics. What's happening behind the headlines. How to think about it. What to do about it.
- Work. Lessons in business, startups, leadership, management, and money.
- Self. Smart takes on how to be your best you - happier, healthier, more productive.
- Future. Where the world is going - technology, trends, what it all means.
For those who have long regarded Medium as the home of hot takes, open letters, and scintillating rants, the new curated content will feature pieces from those who Williams describes as "doing important work." The list above indicates the platform will be promoting a hefty does of spoon-fed thought and self-improvement topics. In order to make money from the people who have it to spend, the blogging silo must focus on helping those with too much information and not enough time to figure out "how to think about" important issues.
Medium is currently soliciting writers via email, according to one recipient, Adam Hodgkin. This move marks a change in the company where it is essentially becoming a publisher in addition to an aggregator, commissioning content that will deliver that trademark Medium flavor.
Authors should be aware that articles published behind Medium's paywall will lose their potential to go viral. In addition to trading site and content ownership for convenience, those who agree to write for Medium's members will be limiting the potential reach their content may have had if it was published in the open.
"Media is broken," Williams said. "And we need to fix it. I'm super passionate about this. Though we've changed our approach recently, this has been Medium's mission from day one. We saw the feedback loops for publishing content to be a major problem, and we set out to build a new model. We've come a long way since - establishing ourselves as the platform for thoughtfulness, depth, and insight from independent thinkers. But the greater challenge - changing the incentives that drive our consumption of media online - has become even more pressing. It's time to double-down."
If there's something new about this economic model, we have yet to see it. Spotify, Netflix, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other businesses have successfully implemented the subscription model. Using it to fund the type of content that Medium aims to highlight may not be feasible, however, as consumers tend to gravitate towards free content and news that is read and shared in the open.
If Medium's only option for exiting the attention economy is to further lock down users' content inside its proprietary silo, the remedy is worse than the disease. Instead of seeing ads on articles available to everyone, subscribers now pay to read content that is selected by and owned by Medium, a company that still needs to find a way to keep the lights on once all the VC money is gone.
Medium tried the ad-driven publishing model without success and then declared that it was a broken system. Was the model broken because it didn't bring Medium enough money to keep paddling on? Or is it fundamentally broken because it "incentivizes the wrong behaviors," as Williams put it? His newfound idealism behind the push to leave the domain of "ad buyers and social media echo chambers" appears to be a mask for the lack of a concrete monetization strategy.
Williams' closing appeal says everything: "Join us early, and help us figure it out." Medium is still experimenting on publishers to find a way to stay afloat.
24 Mar 2017 9:24pm GMT
The WordPress plugin directory provides information such as version requirements, compatibility, last updated, and active installs for plugins. What it doesn't tell you is how old a plugin is. A new site called Age WP Plugin created by Ahmad Awais and Maedah Batool makes finding this information easy. Simply type in a plugin's slug into the search box and hit enter.
Hello Dolly is 8 Years Old
Awais created the site after Batool inquired about the age of a plugin for an article she was writing. Using the WordPress.org API, Awais discovered that one of the data points was a plugin's submission date. In addition to displaying a plugin's age, the site also shows the number of downloads it has. In early 2015, the plugin directory was redesigned and replaced the download count with the number of active installs.
The site has received positive feedback from plugin authors in the Advanced WordPress Facebook group. Something I'd like to see added is a list of 10 or 25 of the oldest plugins in the directory. Awais plans to redesign the site using a different color scheme and fix styling issues reported by testers.
24 Mar 2017 7:12pm GMT
23 Mar 2017
PHP 5.6 usage has steadily increased over the past year and has now overtaken versions 5.3 and 5.4 to be the most widely used version, according to W3Techs' stats. PHP is used by 82.6% of all the websites for which W3Techs can detect a server-side programming language. PHP 7 accounts for 3.1% of these websites and PHP 5.x makes up 95.3%, with version 5.6 usage at the top end.
PHP.net's usage stats page hasn't been updated sine 2013 but the project recommends W3Techs' stats for viewing PHP market share by version. W3Techs' methodology takes the top 10 million websites, according to Alexa rankings, to offer a representative sample of established sites without including domain spammers.
PHP 5.6 overtaking older versions is a significant milestone for the PHP community, since it still receives support for critical security issues until December 31, 2018. The older versions that previously dominated usage reached End of Life in 2015 and 2016 and are no longer receiving security updates.
Adoption of supported PHP versions is somewhat slower in the WordPress community. According to the project's stats, more than half of all WordPress sites (55.6%) are using unsupported versions of PHP (versions 5.2 - 5.5).
In early December 2016, WordPress updated its hosting recommendation to PHP 7+, which should help new users who are approaching hosts to request their sites be put on newer versions of PHP. In addition to these recommendations, WordPress' strategy in the past has been to cultivate relationships with hosts to help improve host configurations for users. The project recently launched the Make WordPress Hosting community to facilitate collaboration among those with hosting experience. Participants are currently working on documenting best practices, including recommendations for PHP versions offered, and providing tools for the community.
23 Mar 2017 7:15pm GMT
I joined in for the James Altucher podcast in an episode that covered a lot of ground. One clarification was the point of the story about my Dad not making much at his old job was that companies should be thoughtful about compensation especially for the people who stay with them the longest, not that loyalty is a myth or something to be avoided. It just needs to be two-way.
23 Mar 2017 4:29pm GMT
WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 268 – Behind the Scenes of WordPress Development Course, Up and Running Second Edition
On this episode, Marcus Couch and I are joined by Alex Denning, Fred Meyer, and David Hayes of WPShout to discuss their WordPress Development course, Up and Running Second Edition. We learn why the trio created the course and who it's geared towards.
Later in the show, we have a great conversation surrounding the REST API and its potential impacts on WordPress. Near the end of the interview, we get their thoughts on the state of WordPress education.
Plugins Picked By Marcus:
WP Multisite User Sync lets you Sync/unsync users from one site (blog) to other sites (blogs) in a WordPress Multisite network.
WooCommerce Live Checkout Field Capture plugin saves all activity in the WooCommerce checkout form before it is submitted. This enables you to see who has abandoned their shopping carts with the ability to contact them and remind about the abandoned cart.
After Comment Redirector lets you redirect to a custom page after commenting for all or new commentators. This is a handy way to say thank you to your most engaging readers. You can also give out a coupon, special e-book, or secret content when someone leaves a comment.
Next Episode: Wednesday, March 29th 3:00 P.M. Eastern
Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Itunes: Click here to subscribe
Subscribe To WPWeekly Via RSS: Click here to subscribe
Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Stitcher Radio: Click here to subscribe
Listen To Episode #268:
23 Mar 2017 1:39am GMT
GoDaddy has announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Sucuri Security. Sucuri, founded by Daniel Cid and co-founded by Tony Perez in 2010, is a website security platform that helps clean and protect websites. Details of the deal were not disclosed.
Like ManageWP, Sucuri will operate as a separate entity under the GoDaddy umbrella. Sucuri employees will transfer to GoDaddy while remaining under the leadership of Perez and Cid.
Out of all the companies that Sucuri could have chosen to be acquired by, why GoDaddy?
"Over the years we've seen them live up to their words to be a customer and product centric company," Perez said. "As a product company it give us an opportunity to scale our product from a few hundred thousand domains, to millions. It's something that we only ever dreamed of."
The acquisition comes a few weeks after SiteGround announced its partnership with Sucuri and renamed its site scanner SG Site Scanner. It's too soon to determine how this acquisition will affect Sucuri's partnerships with hosting companies.
"I can't speak for our partners, but I truly hope they will trust in us, Sucuri, and in me personally," Perez said. "If we can work to deploy our technology for GoDaddy, at their scale, then I have nothing but confidence we can do this for every other partner out there.
"GoDaddy made this investment because they believe in what we have built as a team at Sucuri, the product solves problems, that doesn't go away and I hope all our customers and partners will give us time to prove this in our actions."
Both companies acknowledged that nothing changes for existing Sucuri customers and that they can expect to see numerous improvements in the near future. Perez and Cid see the acquisition as version 2.0 of the company.
Aaron Campbell, WordPress Security Team Lead who is sponsored by GoDaddy to work on WordPress full-time, says the move should help make more sites secure.
"GoDaddy is committed to offering great services to its clients," Campbell said. "You know as well as I do that Sucuri is exactly that; we've seen them be quite an asset to the WordPress community over the years.
"They're going to remain a standalone product, but I'm excited to see them become part of the GoDaddy team to make some great stuff together. Keeping as many WordPress users secure as possible is obviously my goal and I really think this will help accomplish that."
Reactions to the news on Twitter have mostly been positive with many congratulating Sucuri and its founders.
On the Advanced WordPress Facebook group, reactions to the news are a mix between congratulatory and fears of Sucuri's service declining. These are among the same grievances and fears expressed by ManageWP customers when GoDaddy acquired it.
ManageWP Customers Report No Noticeable Decline in Service
Since being acquired, ManageWP has maintained and improved service levels while continuing to add features. Its most recent feature gives customers the opportunity to create backups, restore, and clone multisite websites.
Bob Dunn, of BobWP, says the service has been stellar before and after the transition.
"To be honest, their services were great before and still are," Dunn said. "I don't manage a ton of sites, but for my needs, it has been rock solid since I first became a customer."
Scott Buscemi, co-founder of Lumen Foundry, has had a similar experience.
"In all honesty, I haven't noticed much of anything since they were acquired - and that's a 'win' in my opinion," Buscemi said.
"I've seen them push out a pleasant list of bug fixes and features that don't affect me, so it's great to still see active development on the primary system. GoDaddy has been working hard to get on the good side of developers and agency owners like me, so I can't imagine they would go through the effort of the acquisition only to spoil the experience and turn things negative."
Even those skeptical with the acquisition have reported no noticeable decline in the quality of service.
@jeffr0 Me, I haven't really noticed any change in the quality of the service (and I was skeptical)
- "so called" Jim Cook (@jm_cook) March 22, 2017
GoDaddy has not announced how it plans to integrate Sucuri into its products and services.
23 Mar 2017 12:53am GMT
22 Mar 2017
Contributor Day is a big part of WordCamp London. This year it was held on Friday 17th March at London Metropolitan University. 100 contributors descended on the venue each aiming to make WordPress better in some wonderful way.
Contributors at WordCamp London 2017. Photo by Pradeep Singh.
Attendees were asked to choose an area of interest. The options were Accessibility, BuddyPress, Community, Core, Design & Flow, Documentation, Polyglots, Support and Themes. 5 of the 100 contributors chose BuddyPress. 2 of the 5 were new to contributing in general but all had used, or had at least heard of, BuddyPress at some point.
After a quick refill of coffee the team convened and began discussing how to get the most from the next 8 hours. Due to a diverse range of skills available within the group, we were able to focus on documentation, coding and localisation.
BuddyPress contributors. Photo by Pradeep Singh.
As a team we managed to identify an issue related to colour contrast in the Twenty Seventeen theme. #7471 was opened and a patch was submitted. We were also able to translate all remaining strings into Italian.
The day was a huge success and all team members indicated they will contribute again going forward.
22 Mar 2017 9:26pm GMT
Foxhound made its debut on WordPress.org yesterday. The React-based theme is the first in the directory to use the REST API endpoints included in WordPress 4.7. Foxhound sports a tasteful blog design with single-page app functionality that loads posts instantly. Check out the live demo to see how fast the content loads.
The theme was designed and developed by Kelly Dwan and Mel Choyce, who have collaborated on several free themes hosted on WordPress.org. They recommend installing the WP-API Menus plugin, as the REST API does not yet support menus. After installing Foxhound, there are only two things required to make it look like the demo: Set the front page to display the latest posts and set up a menu. There are no additional customization settings.
Kelly Dwan notes on Foxhound's GitHub repository that the theme should be considered "experimental" and users can expect a few restrictions:
- The API cannot be blocked by a security plugin. Some plugins recommend blocking the users endpoint, but that is required to show the author archive. If you need to block the user endpoint, the rest of the theme should work but might be unstable if anyone tries to visit an author archive.
- Permalinks for pages and archives are changed by this theme. They will be reset if/when you deactivate the theme. You might want to set up redirects using something like Safe Redirect Manager.
- This theme does not support hierarchical category archives - only parent category archive pages can be displayed. This may be fixed in a later version of the theme.
- Plugins may not work as expected, especially if they add content to the front end of the site. Most Jetpack features do still work.
Because Foxhound is so different from traditional WordPress themes, it could not go through the usual theme review process. Themes that require the WP REST API are currently reviewed outside of WordPress.org when a theme author pings the Theme Review team. They apply a "Special Case" tag that allows the theme to bypass Theme Check. (The tag is also used for other themes that break the rules in innovative ways.)
"We don't have a lot to go on yet with those types of themes," Key Reviewer Justin Tadlock said. "Foxhound was the first. We're supposed to be looking over another soon. As more of these types of themes come in, we'll be able to figure out ways of making it easier to submit them."
22 Mar 2017 7:21pm GMT
As a college guy, I believed in being different and outperforming the best of my lot. Coming from a modest family background, the realization of achievement dawned over me. I never favored being a 9 to 5 corporate professional and a having a 'boss' was simply not my cup of coffee. I was never interested in the classes held in the college because I was being more productive at the 'reality' front of the life. I envisioned getting involved in tasks that were strongest at the core.
Where It All Started
Computer technology was in its nascent state in India the time I started my tryst with web pages. I began with designing my own college's alumni website while pursuing MCA at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. Eventually, I was assigned the task of the event websites too. I was happy because all this brought about a sense of power to me. Though not initially refine, my work still appealed to many and it also made me realize the power technology had.
The Seed of Seriousness
The very first seed of the idea of taking this up as a serious profession was sown by a friend who told me about how creating web pages and blogging could be a source of monetization. Google pages was my first shot as a techie, wherein I started with contributing content through blogs to several clients.
Saw and Attempted
I can still recollect the time I received my first pay cheque. Initially, I had tested all Content management systems and had started with Joomla and Drupal. With absolutely no knowledge about coding, I went forward to scale the web designing mountain. WordPress came and was well recognized as a blogging platform; suitable to what I worked on. I bumped into WordPress in 2009 and like many other users, utilized it for my blogging endeavors. Little did I know that someday it would be the answer to my 'coding gap'. I remember working on a 6-month project for my MCA final where I took up WordPress as the core subject and in there I talked about custom plugins and themes. The teacher was happy to receive the unique project and awarded me good grades for my sense of initiation with new approach.
That Leap of Faith
Now, I knew how I had to take this WordPress awesomeness forward. With a little exposure to learning new technology, I was baffled for a while but had the will to scale this one too. 6 months, and I thoroughly decoded the WordPress codex for me. This was a giant step forward where my future lay in my own hands.
Personally, I feel that WordPress does not constrict you to a certain limit or a line of functionalities. If you have a core foundation, you can toy with it and make awesome end results. WordPress was now my pillar of strength. WordPress successfully justified my choice of not joining the job placement drive at the college.
Now was the time to materialize my skills and have a material turnaround for the work I was capable of doing. After a 4-month hunt for some serious web designing projects with not a single task at hand, disappointment gripped me. The lack of proper work infrastructure due to poor Internet connectivity and local electricity supply were some of the other reasons I had to plan withdrawing my resources from Varanasi. I could have fallen or would have made a leap; it was about to be my choice for the rest of my life.
Hello to New Beginnings
It was frustrating because Varanasi had been my abode for 7 good years and leaving the place was a huge decision to make. I mustered up my wits to start afresh by withdrawing my base from Varanasi and shifted to Lucknow, India in order to try out seeking new opportunities yet again.
The work stars favored me and with the help of elance-oDesk (now, Upwork) and other freelancing platforms, I received many life-changing projects of my life. Things moved forward and with many clients in a row, another year went by. I collaborated with more people who were willing to join me on the platform - people who wanted to leave a mark; never to look back. What remained constant throughout these years was my capability to work hard each day.
A Better Picture/ Wbcom Designs
I upfront admire WordPress because it has been a driving force for my existence. Time has moved slowly and with 6+ years of experience and self-discovery, I now run a fully-fledged WordPress based company Wbcom Designs that has many developers and freelancers onboard with me.
While additionally serving BuddyBoss as a Product and Support Manager, now I plan to infuse new changes in the pattern we operate at base as well as the firm through strategic planning. It's time to give back to the WordPress community through the development of free plugins, theme customization and spreading the WordPress fandom at local level.
I recently took the opportunity to sponsor 'Nashik WordCamp' 2016, WordCamp Pune 2017, WordCamp Udaipur 2017, and WordCamp Kochi 2017. I am glad I was able to take a step forward in my plans to pay back to the WordPress community. To set the ball rolling at local level, I have recently come up with a local MeetUp group at Lucknow, India so that locally organized, face to face events can be organized that will accelerate the understanding of the WordPress CMS among the masses. I also plan to bring about WordPress awareness at the school and college level in my zone so that more and more young people know why this CMS is so amazing.
To this day, my first love is my work desk. Whenever in an emotional or professional fix, I seek recluse through this amazing platform. Unlike others, working destresses me. There is a long way to go with this ideal because I want people to know how powerfully stable the WordPress is.
Like they say,
"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success."
I want to see the developer community going for heights that have never been achieved before and I want to be a part of this huge step-up.
I am all open up for this WordPress community for contribution and assistance. For WordPress enthusiasts, I want to tell them that sky is not the limit. WordPress has accepted me as its own and it's time for me and others to give back in the best possible manner.
22 Mar 2017 12:00pm GMT
Jesse Petersen, a longtime member of the WordPress community and founder of Genesis The.me, needs our help. Petersen is battling Cystic Fibrosis and earlier this year after visiting a clinic, discovered that his lung function was at 22%.
Due to decrease lung function, Petersen missed five weeks of work, required home IVs, and visited many doctors. He is currently on a double-lung transplant list with a lung allocation score of 38.859.
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, the LAS is a score used to prioritize waiting list candidates based on a combination of wait list urgency and post-transplant survival.
In order to maintain his health for a transplant, doctors have recommended that he work a maximum of two hours per day with quality rest.
His family has a small emergency fund available that they thought would allow Petersen to work up until his transplant surgery. However, there's no estimated time frame for when a transplant will be available.
Outside of his product based business, Petersen is a work-from-home freelancer with contract work that needs to be completed. He and his wife have two adopted children. His wife volunteered to get another job to supplement their income but relatives rejected the idea as she is his primary support person.
Petersen has two products for sale on GenesisThe.me with two more ready for launch by the end of March.
His family is asking for $20K to help pay for expenses and allow Petersen to take an extended medical leave to focus on his health. So far, the campaign has raised $5,075 or about a quarter of the amount needed.
You can donate as much as you're able to or choose from one of five predetermined amounts ranging from $25 to $1K. You can also choose to donate monthly in six month increments.
Petersen is no stranger to the WordPress community's generosity. In 2016, it helped him raise nearly $20K to help pay for costs associated with adopting his second son. If you are able, please consider donating to Petersen's medical leave fund.
22 Mar 2017 10:35am GMT
Adding images to sidebars in WordPress is a cumbersome task that requires users to upload an image to the Media Library, find the URL, copy it, and paste it into a Text widget along with additional HTML. Nearly two years ago, Mel Choyce opened a ticket on WordPress Trac proposing that a media widget be added to core. This widget would allow users to easily add images to sidebars.
Throughout the discussion, the idea of creating a catch-all media widget was brought up that would allow users to add images, audio, or video to a sidebar. After developers spoke to Matt Mullenweg about the direction of the project, the team decided to create three separate widgets to handle each media type. Choyce outlined the benefits this approach provides:
- We can focus on creating more tailored experiences for each widget.
- We'll be able to launch new widgets without having to worry about constantly updating one central widget, or potentially breaking anything.
- It'll be easier for people to discover new media types since they won't be buried within one widget.
- This will more closely mimic the approach we're taking to content blocks in the future, which should provide an easier transition.
Out of the three core widgets in development, the Image one is nearly complete ready for user testing. To test, first download and activate the Core Media Widgets plugin. Once activated, navigate to Appearance > Widgets in the WordPress backend and in the available widgets section, locate the Image widget.
Core Image Widget UI
Clicking the Select Image button displays the media library modal where you can either select or upload an image. Once an image is selected, click the Add to Widget button in the bottom-right corner. This is what the widget looks like after an image is added.
Core Image Widget With an Image
Here is what the widget looks like on a page using the Twenty Seventeen default theme.
Core Image Widget in Action
The core image widget is incredibly easy to set up and is a significant improvement over the Text widget approach. The user interface is much simpler compared to the image widget supplied by Jetpack. Jetpack's image widget UI doesn't take advantage of the media library modal and instead, requires the user to know the image's URL.
Jetpack Image Widget UI
Many of the fields are the same as what's provided by the media library modal. Not surprisingly, WordPress.com uses the same interface and requires the user to know the image URL.
Core Image Widget May Be Ready in Time for WordPress 4.7.4
The team is specifically seeking feedback from those who use image widgets provided by plugins on WordPress.org. Once the image widget is merged into core, the video and audio widgets will be added to the Core Media Widgets plugin. Users can leave the plugin enabled until all three widgets are added to core.
"Once a widget has been thoroughly tested by users, we can then copy it into core for a release while then also disabling the widget in the plugin," Ruter said.
If you encounter a bug or discover an incompatibility with a plugin or theme, please create an issue on the project's GitHub page. According to Ruter, the team is working hard to get the widget to a point where it can be merged into core. Depending on how testing goes, it could be merged into core as early as WordPress 4.7.4.
22 Mar 2017 1:18am GMT
21 Mar 2017
photo credit: Oli Dale
The WordPress Theme Review team (TRT) has turned a corner and is approaching a major milestone of getting the review queue under 100 themes. As of today, 189 themes are lined up in what was previously a 1,000+ backlog. Key reviewers are confident that number will be closer to zero in the near future.
Emil Uzelac, one of the key reviewers, shared the ticketgraph for the backlog on Twitter today, demonstrating that the team is in a better place where new theme submission isn't causing overload issues as it did before. Themes continue to flow in but are not significantly affecting the queue.
In 2015 the TRT hit a wall with an influx of themes flooding into a legacy review system that wasn't working. The team couldn't keep up and was forced to spend much of 2016 changing the review process to better handle the large number of themes coming in. The TRT is working hard to make 2017 the year they get back on track.
Uzelac identified a few of the measures that have helped in taming the queue:
- One theme submission per author
- More reviewers
- A new guideline where reviewers close the ticket if the review surfaces more than 5 distinct issues
"Around Christmas was when many on the team started seeing a tiny sliver of light at the end of a long tunnel," Key Reviewer Justin Tadlock said. "In the past few days, seeing the queue get below 200 themes has been a high point. Folks on the team are excited because our ideas are paying off."
Tadlock can't say when exactly the team turned a corner but describes it as more of an iterative process that started with small ideas they could implement themselves. This has significantly reduced the wait time from 7 or 8 months a year ago to two months today. Themes also go through an admin queue that adds a bit to the review time but Tadlock said they hope to tackle that in the next Review Shindig, which happens on the first weekend of every month.
"That number is shrinking," Tadlock said. "By the end of April, we could be looking at 3-4 weeks. I'm a bit optimistic, so don't hold me to that. It could be May or June in reality."
Tadlock said once the team gets to the 50-100 range they will be at the place where they're really only handling new themes that are coming in, instead of working the backlog. Once they reach that milestone, they will be able to more accurately track how long it takes for a theme to make it through the review process.
"That's where we'll need to really start refining the process so that it works even better in the future," Tadlock said. "A well-coded theme could potentially make it through the process in 2 months right now. Another theme might be 4-5 months. There are a lot of factors to consider. It's my hope that we eliminate many of those factors that are holding up the process."
The new rule that limited authors to submitting one theme at a time has had a significant impact on cutting down the queue. The rule was meant to be temporary and will be up for reevaluation when the queue is under 100 themes. Tadlock said the team will likely pull the rule, but it has been instrumental in rooting out copies that contained only minor changes to the original.
"For most authors, this [rule] is not a huge problem," Tadlock said. "It definitely hurts a few of the more prolific authors in the short term. However, it helps stop the flow of theme companies who are just copying/pasting the same theme with minor changes. We've had theme companies with as many as 17 themes in the queue that were just copies. This new rule has helped us find those and put a stop to the practice." The team was able to track down an entire ring of theme authors with multiple accounts with dozens and dozens of themes.
Tadlock said most of the issues the team deals with in reviews are related to security. The content portability issues that were highlighted in the recent Zerif Lite suspension are more uncommon.
"The 'draconian stuff' people talk about probably represents 1% of the issue," Tadlock said, referencing Matt Mullenweg's recent comments on the current requirements. "99% of the issues are the things people don't talk about." Tadlock has been speaking with theme authors about how they can "create" content within the guidelines, as there are ways to do it that are both future-proof and portable.
The team is currently spending a lot of time reviewing code that shouldn't need to be manually reviewed. The next item on the TRT roadmap is incorporating better automation into the review process.
"The big thing we're working on now is the new Theme Check plugin," Tadlock said. "It's going to solve lots of problems. It's based off the code sniffer (PHPCS, I believe). It'll help theme authors start submitting better coded and more secure themes right off the bat. Humans easily miss those things looking through it with their eyes. This will definitely make theme authors better coders and users will have even more secure themes. Then, we can focus on those 1% issues."
21 Mar 2017 9:53pm GMT
Yoast SEO 4.5 was released today with a handful of improvements and, most notably, a big push for users to upgrade to PHP 7.
"In Yoast SEO 4.5, we are urging site owners whose sites run on servers with an outdated version of PHP to update to a more recent version," Joost de Valk said. "To move the web forward, we need to take a stand against old, slow, and unsafe software."
WordPress' minimum PHP requirement is still at 5.2.4, six years after PHP 5.2 reached end of life in 2011. This version is now vulnerable to many security issues. Current usage stats show 5.4% of WordPress sites are running on PHP 5.2. As this likely represents millions of users, WordPress' core leadership is reluctant to bump the minimum requirements. Only 8% of sites are on PHP 7+, as hosting companies are slowly adding support.
"Because web hosts are not upgrading PHP, we have decided to start pushing this from within plugins," de Valk said. He contends that the WordPress ecosystem is losing good developers because the project is moving too slowly. He also makes the case for security and speed.
"WordPress is sometimes said to be slow, but it actually doesn't have to be slow at all," de Valk said. "If it's running on old versions of PHP, however, it is, most certainly, slow. PHP 5.2 is more than 100% slower than PHP 5.6, and a whopping 400% slower than PHP 7."
De Valk decided to throw the weight of Yoast SEO, which he estimates to be 6.5 million active installs, behind the movement to push hosts to upgrade their customers to PHP 7. The latest release of the plugin displays a notice to WordPress administrators running sites on PHP 5.2, urging them to upgrade to PHP 7. The notice is "big, ugly, and non-dismissible," de Valk said. It is generated by an error that auto-resolves when the user fixes their outdated PHP version.
"The notice will also encourage people to contact their host if they don't know how to upgrade their PHP," de Valk said. "Yes, this could be painful for some hosts. This notice is deliberately intended to make them work."
De Valk said the plugin will start displaying the notices for PHP 5.2 and will add 5.6 as soon as it is no longer supported. Through experience with his customers, de Valk has found that outdated, slower versions of PHP are damaging Yoast SEO and WordPress' reputations, as neither are optimized for PHP 5.2. Although older versions are not holding the plugin back from new features, it makes it difficult for the team to clean up the code.
"There aren't many features I cannot build right now, but code quality is suffering because we can't use namespaces, short array notation, etc," de Valk said.
The Yoast SEO team has created WHIP, a WordPress package to nudge users to upgrade their software versions and made it open source for plugin and theme developers to implement in their own extensions. The project includes a filter for linking to the WordPress.org hosting page, which includes a selection of hosts that offer PHP 7.
Most of the large hosting companies already have documentation for upgrading PHP versions. Ultimately, it's the end users who will have the power to get more hosting companies on board. De Valk said he doesn't know how big the impact will be but encourages users to vote with their pocketbooks by leaving hosts that are unwilling to assist in upgrading PHP.
"It might be entirely possible that your host is not willing to work with you," de Valk said. "If so, think about moving web hosts. A web host provides the engine your site runs on and that better be a damn good engine."
21 Mar 2017 7:56pm GMT
20 Mar 2017
WPTavern: PressShack Forks Edit Flow to Create PublishPress, Aims to Improve Multi-User Editorial Workflow in WordPress
Last week Steve Burge and the team at PressShack released PublishPress, a fork of Automattic's Edit Flow plugin. PressShack is operated by the same team behind OSTraining with a focus on creating publishing plugins for larger organizations.
Edit Flow has more than 10,000 active installs but is updated sporadically and is not very well supported. The PressShack creators saw an opportunity to fork the plugin and sell commercial support and add-ons. PublishPress is now available on WordPress.org with a seamless migration for Edit Flow users.
The first release offers the same features as Edit Flow along with a complete face lift, making interaction with the plugin's settings more user-friendly. The new tabbed interface puts all the settings on one screen. PressShack has also tweaked the language of the plugin, changing Story Budget" to "Overview", and simplifying other terms.
PublishPress introduces a few changes to the calendar, allowing users to click anywhere on a date to add content. It exposes the iCal or Google Calendar feed and uses icons to show post statuses, saving space for other information.
Burge said that PublishPress will be making a fresh start and will not be following and incorporating updates from Edit Flow. The team plans to add a host of new features that improve the publishing workflow to handle multiple users:
- Multisite and multiple site support: Content creators log into one site but can publish to multiple sites
- Pre-publishing checklists: For example, featured image, word count, Yoast SEO green light
- More use cases beyond media sites: In addition to magazine-style user groups for reporting, PublishPress plans to add more use cases, such as WooCommerce products, EDD downloads, bbPress topics, and The Events Calendar listings
- Multiple authors: Assign multiple author bylines to a story
Most of these feature are slated for release in mid-2017 and will be offered as commercial add-ons. The team is currently still focused on writing unit tests for the core plugin and adding improvements to it on WordPress.org.
PressShack Takes Inspiration from Drupal for Expanding Content Workflows
PressShack's creators also work closely with other open source publishing platforms. Burge said the team took some inspiration from the Drupal ecosystem, which offers more advanced features for modifying editorial workflows.
"In Drupal, the workflow features are being demanded and developed by large organizations that use the platform," Burge said. "As a result, Drupal does have a very big head start in this area. "In Drupal 7, the main workflow module was called Workbench. It was built to meet the needs of large customers such as universities, media outlets, and government agencies who have many different content managers."
Prior to having editorial workflow tools available, Burge said that Drupal agencies kept losing projects to rivals such as Adobe and OpenText, because they had publishing workflows built for multiple users. Building better publishing tools became a necessity for Drupal agencies that wanted to win projects from large organizations.
Drupal 8 moves many of these editorial workflow improvements into core. Drupal 8.3, which is slated for April 2017, will introduce the ability to create multiple types of content workflows.
"What's really interesting about the Drupal 8 implementation is that they are thinking beyond just content publishing," Burge said. "It will soon be possible to put whole sections of your site into a workflow. The demand for these features is still coming from enterprise customers: much of the work is being done by a team of Drupal developers inside Pfizer."
Burge cited a few examples of typical users requiring more elaborate publishing workflows:
- A university with 50+ academic departments and several hundred content creators
- A pharmaceutical company with hundreds of products and a micro-site for each one
- A newspaper that employs writers and at least one layer of editors
- A publicly-listed company that needs approval from several staff members to ensure that the content it publishes is 110% accurate
WordPress core is tailored to a single-author blog workflow, and there are relatively few plugins that modify the default editorial workflow for large teams. CoSchedule is one alternative to Edit Flow and PublishPress that has 10,000 active installs. It takes a SaaS approach and has more of a content marketing slant. Burge said he thinks the WordPress ecosystem's scarcity of options for extending publishing workflows may be due to current limitations in core.
"It's possible there are some technical hurdles: for example, WordPress core has fairly limited user permissions," he said. "It's also possible that now is the right time for WordPress to start adding these features."
"WordPress agencies are building more enterprise sites and these demands are popping-up," Burge said. "Matt just announced the Google Docs integration as a quick way to bring some collaborative features into WordPress. I think we'll see more and more tools available for teams, rather than single authors."
20 Mar 2017 9:21pm GMT
18 Mar 2017
If you post to a WordPress blog on a regular basis like I do on In Photos dot Org you'll no doubt recognise the fatigue that comes from adjusting the publish date every single time on a new post so it appears a day later. If you have multiple posts like on a daily photoblog you have to remember what day the last post was made and adjust the date accordingly.
A few years ago I wrote a small plugin that I never released to help schedule posts. In the media uploader you could select multiple photos and click a few buttons to be brought to a new page where you could enter title, content and tags for each image. Based on this experience, I suggested it as an idea to one of the teams at Automattic who built Post Bot. I used that for a long time and it has its strengths. If you're posting content that has the same or similar tags you can copy and paste the tags from one post to another. I posted lots of black and white street images from my home town this way and it was super useful!
I got tired of manually typing out tags, and unfortunately the site broke a few times, with posts not scheduling or one time they scheduled all in one go. Luckily the problems were quickly fixed. However, I started using the WordPress post editor again and scheduling a bunch of photos that way.
Manually editing the publish date quickly became a chore. Lazarus, the form saver Chrome extension, would sometimes popup if I didn't click exactly on the date, or as I said before I had to remember when the last post was made. They say there's a plugin for everything, and there is for this too. Check out Publish to Schedule.
You tell "Publish to Schedule" which days and how many posts should be published and when you go into the post editor the next available date is picked for you! The date doesn't change until you hit Publish but I already used it to schedule a number of posts and it works really well.
Edit: I forgot to mention Daily Image a new plugin by Sam Hotchkiss that does the same sort of job as Postbot but it runs on your own server. The first time you load the plugin it will show you every single unattached image in your media library which can be quite a number of images but it allows you to enter tags and quickly schedule images for posting in a simple manner.
Since my focus here is on image posts I should really mention the WordPress Export Plugin for Lightroom. When installed you can create a new export target that will resize and sharpen your image and upload it to your blog, even if it's not a WordPress.com site.
18 Mar 2017 4:50pm GMT