26 May 2017

feedWordPress Planet

WPTavern: WordPress to Select New JavaScript Framework for Use in Core

WordPress core contributors have started collaborating more around their JavaScript efforts this year with regular core-js meetings. One item on the most recent meeting's agenda was discussion on choosing a new JavaScript framework for use in core as an alternative to Backbone.

Contributors began by summarizing the criteria for evaluating framework options, includes factors like stability, longevity, maturity, adoption, accessibility, proven in a WordPress context, and extensibility, among others. Most of the discussion centered on the benefits and drawbacks of React vs Vue.

The majority of those who participated in the meeting seemed to favor React, as it is already used with several major WordPress projects such as Calypso, Gutenberg, and Jetpack. WordPress' project lead, Matt Mullenweg, has publicly stated that Automattic is betting on React long-term. Mullenweg has also expressed a desire for Calypso, or a similar interface, to replace wp-admin in the future. The company has been building its products on React for several years and is pot committed at this point when it comes to the framework.

@carlhancock @chriswallace @mattmedeiros Fair, but React is what us, Facebook, and many others are betting on long-term.

- Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) December 13, 2016

WordPress officially adopting a JavaScript framework will likely have a ripple effect that will influence how many products in the ecosystem are built and/or re-written. Proponents of Vue.js find it easy to learn and extend. Those who are advocating for React also cite its extensibility, stability, and its proven use with popular WordPress products.

Contributors present for the meeting agreed they would be hesitant to commit a new framework to core without using it in some way for a core feature. The decision has not yet been made. Anyone with experiences to share on implementing JS frameworks in the context of WordPress is invited to comment in the discussion on the meeting notes and join the next core-js meeting Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 8:00 AM CDT.

26 May 2017 2:49am GMT

25 May 2017

feedWordPress Planet

Dev Blog: WordPress 4.8 Release Candidate

The release candidate for WordPress 4.8 is now available.

RC means we think we're done, but with millions of users and thousands of plugins and themes, it's possible we've missed something. We hope to ship WordPress 4.8 on Thursday, June 8, but we need your help to get there. If you haven't tested 4.8 yet, now is the time!

To test WordPress 4.8, you can use the WordPress Beta Tester plugin or you can download the release candidate here (zip).

We've made a handful of changes since releasing Beta 2 earlier this week. For more details about what's new in version 4.8, check out the Beta 1 and Beta 2 blog posts.

Think you've found a bug? Please post to the Alpha/Beta support forum. If any known issues come up, you'll be able to find them here.

Developers, please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 4.8 and update your plugin's Tested up to version in the readme to 4.8. If you find compatibility problems please be sure to post to the support forums so we can figure those out before the final release - we work hard to avoid breaking things. An in-depth field guide to developer-focused changes is coming soon on the core development blog.

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

This release's haiku is courtesy of @matveb:

Érrese uno
Cien veces y más
Erre ce dos

Thanks for your continued help testing out the latest versions of WordPress.

25 May 2017 11:04pm GMT

HeroPress: Winners Announced for the WPShout Up and Running Scholarship

Two hands holding an ipad so we can see the screen.

After long hard thinking, the winners of the WPShout Up and Running Scholarship are announced!

The winners will be contacted by WPShout with instructions on how to claim their scholarship. Congratulations to those who won!

The post Winners Announced for the WPShout Up and Running Scholarship appeared first on HeroPress.

25 May 2017 6:00pm GMT

WPTavern: JSON Feed Creators Aim to Revitalize Interest in the Open Web with RSS Alternative

JSON Feed, a project created by Manton Reece and Brent Simmons, launched last week. It's a syndication format similar to RSS and Atom but built with JSON.

"The premise was simple: the time is right for a JSON-based approach to feeds," Reece said. "We hope that JSON Feed is straightforward enough to be implemented quickly, and capable enough to push the next decade of blogging software forward. We love RSS too and tried to learn from its success."

Version 1 of the spec was published last week and the intro includes a very simple example. Publishers can further extend their feeds by creating custom objects.

The team has also developed a JSON Feed plugin for WordPress, which is now available in the official WordPress Plugin Directory. They are also working on a JSON Feed Parser for Swift.

If you want to see some example JSON Feeds on the web, check out Daring Fireball, Allen Pike, and Flying Meat. Reece's Micro.blog project also supports JSON Feed for its Twitter-like timeline.

JSON Feed Creators Want to Inspire More Developers to Create Apps for the Open Web

Reece and Simmons decided the time was right to build an updated syndication format, as more and more developers are refusing to work with XML.

"I believe that developers (particularly Mac and iOS developers, the group I know best) are so loath to work with XML that they won't even consider building software that needs an XML parser," Simmons said. "Which says to me that JSON Feed is needed for the survival of syndication."

In an interview on the The Run Loop podcast, Simmons attributed the decline in open web development to developers' growing aversion for working with XML, which always has problems with character encoding. Many developers find JSON to be easier to use and less buggy.

"It has kind of made me sad these past five or ten years where it seems like development for the open web has slowed down a lot, particularly when we talk about the intersection of the Mac desktop and the open web," Simmons said. "There just isn't that much going on. I realized that one of the reasons is that people really hate XML and will go out of their way to avoid it. If they see XML APIs or XML stuff they're not interested. That's yucky, old, weird, hard stuff. But everyone likes JSON, all the cool APIs are JSON, even the not cool APIs are JSON. Everyone uses JSON."

Simmons said he is hopeful that the existence of JSON Feed will inspire developers to build new things for the open web.

"What I'm hoping to see is that particularly Mac and iOS developers will consider doing new and innovative stuff on the open web, rather than writing yet another Twitter client or something that does something with Facebook. I want to see apps that do something with data that is not stored in somebody's silos. I'm sick of corporate ownership of our data and of what I look at."

It's not surprising that Simmons decided to partner with Reece, who built micro.blog out of similar convictions regarding the open web. They worked together on the project since February and recruited a dozen different peers to review the specification before launching last week. Now that version 1 is published, its creators hope JSON Feed will make its way into other parts of the web and applications.

"What I'm hoping is that this is part of a bigger thing," Simmons said. "The idea is to revitalize interest in the open web, in blogging, in syndication, and all of that kind of stuff."

Feed Readers are Beginning to Add Support for JSON Feed

Initial reactions to JSON Feed have been mixed. Many proponents wonder why it has taken so long for something like this to emerge, but critics ask why the web needs yet another syndication format. A few common criticisms on Hacker News that echo the sentiments of many who oppose the idea:

"We don't really need another syndication format that no reader is going to support or support well for years." - @oefrha

"If you're going to make a new feed format in 2017, I'm sorry but copying what came before it and throwing it into JSON just isn't enough." - @russellbeattie

"One has to wonder whether Simmons is just trying to revive the old RSS ecosystem. "What do developers like these days, JSON? Let's do RSS in JSON!" … This does not help. The real challenge these days is to replicate the solutions Facebook and Twitter brought to feeds (bi-directionality and data-retention in particular) in a decentralized manner that could actually become popular. Simply replicating RSS in the data-format du jour is not going to achieve that." - @toyg

Despite critics, feed readers are already starting to add support for JSON Feed. The good news for publishers is that they don't have to abandon their RSS feeds. Publishers can add support for JSON Feed alongside their existing feeds.

The new JSON Feed Viewer app is built on top of JSON Feed. NewsBlur announced support for the spec this week, along with Inoreader, News Explorer, and Feedbin.

Ben Ubois, founder of Feedbin, addressed one of the most common criticisms that feed readers aren't likely to add support for the new JSON Feed spec because of the prevalence of RSS:

"One of the criticisms I've seen of JSON Feed is that there's no incentive for feed readers to support JSON Feed," Ubois said. "This is not true. One of the largest-by-volume support questions I get is along the lines of 'Why does this random feed not work?' And, 95% of the time, it's because the feed is broken in some subtle way. JSON Feed will help alleviate these problems, because it's easier to get right."

JSON Feed also has a few additional features that existing formats don't offer as easily. Simmons highlighted a few graphics-related features in his interview with The Run Loop podcast:

For instance, when you define an author, you can provide a URL of an avatar image. You can imagine someone doing kind of a Twitter-like view of a feed with avatars for different posts. It also has support for things like the URL of the featured image or banner image that you can specify for an article and your RSS reader can format it somewhat like it would look like if you had actually gone to the web page with the banner image in the background. It has a way to specify fav icons and a larger icon for your feed, which right now news readers have to guess what your favicon is or scrape the homepage looking for the metadata tag that says where it is. They have to make all these additional requests to find out some of the basic graphics about your feed or about the article and that stuff is all specified inside the JSON feed. People who actually use those get a much nicer interface on the reading side.

Dave Winer experimented with the idea of JSONified RSS in 2012, but it didn't catch on. His reaction to the new JSON Feed spec is "pretty neutral, kind of a shoulder shrug."

"If developers have a hard time using XML in their apps, if that's the problem, why not attack it right there?" Winer said. "Work to make it easier. I work in Node and the browser, and in both places XML and JSON are equally easy to use. The same could be done for any environment. In fact in the browser, XML is integrated deeply into the programming model, because the web is made out of XML."

In contrast, John Gruber thinks it's the right time for the project and didn't hesitate to add a JSON feed for Daring Fireball. He is eagerly supporting the JSON Feed project and is closely monitoring its adoption, publishing links to all the apps and feed readers that have already added support.

"I think this is a great idea, and a good spec," Gruber said. "I even like the style in which the spec is written: for real humans (much like the RSS spec). If you want to see a real-life example, Daring Fireball has a JSON Feed. I've got a good feeling about this project - the same sort of feeling I had about Markdown back in the day."

With the momentum from quick adoption by smaller news readers, JSON Feed has the potential to revive news syndication if some of the larger ones add support. Developers may even be more inspired to create new feed readers, given the ease of implementing the new spec.

Manton Reece said that if JSON Feed had come along when blogging was at its peak, when there were fewer problems, he thinks there would have been less of a pressing feeling that the web needs a new syndication format.

"I'm amazed with the traction it's gotten," Manton Reece said in a recent interview on the Core Intuition podcast. "Of course some people will be negative about it and some people won't like it. We certainly expected a lot of pushback on it. Everybody knows we need this, but it's daunting. Who is going to try to push something like this when there are millions of RSS feeds? It feels like why even bother, it's impossible. But things change over time and I think this is important enough and blogging is important enough that it's worth making the investment now. Tomorrow the web is not going to be any different, but over time it might be a little different. Everybody knows that we need something like this but there hasn't been something everybody could get behind until now."

25 May 2017 5:51pm GMT

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 274 – WordPress Commercials, Storefront, and the Customizer

In this episode, John James Jacoby joins me to discuss the news of the week. We give our take on the new WordPress.com commercials and whether or not they hit the mark. We share what's new in Storefront 2.2.0 and the problems some people are facing trying to get visas to attend WordCamp Europe. Last but not least, we discussed the Customizer having a variable width in WordPress 4.8. Beginning with episode 275, Jacoby will be my co-host for WordPress Weekly.

Stories Discussed:

WordPress.com's TV Commercials Are Confusing
WordCamp Europe Attendees Are Being Denied Visas Because Conference Ticket Price Is Too Low
Storefront 2.2.0 Released, Includes Design Refresh and Major Improvements to New User Experience
WordPress 4.8 Increases Maximum Width of the Customizer Sidebar to 600 Pixels
Cape Town to Host 4th Annual WordPress Charity Hackathon on July 15

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, May 31st 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 #274:

25 May 2017 1:43am GMT

24 May 2017

feedWordPress Planet

Matt: Profile of Anker

As a computer accessory enthusiast, I'm excited that Verge did an in-depth profile of Anker, which makes some of the best chargers, cables, and batteries around. It also makes me more curious about the story behind Aukey and Jackery.

24 May 2017 3:08pm GMT

HeroPress: My Life, Designed by WordPress!

Pull Quote: I dreamt of a community to help me; people who will encourage me.

It has been a short time since I joined WordPress community and learnt a lot of things at the age of 12. It took me a day writing this essay as I wish I could write my whole mind in it.

"Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. - Arthur Ashe"

So, here's the start I had:

From my childhood, I've been wondering about Software Technologies. I always wondered about the constructions of website, and a program. It was the time when my mother Yogita, just introduced me Google, the God of websites! All the curiosity I had was strengthened when using Google.

Do you know what shaped my career? A search string on Google which said 'How to make a website'! Not much useful, but the slow start I had was everything I need. That was 2012. (Me, 8 yrs old) When I tried an online web designing tool named SimDif. Just then, I got to know Weebly. I made my first permanent website, mathsbuzzz.weebly.com and the curiosity went deeper.

Now I thought of making a website myself, with no tool, with real programming! That was 2013. At that time, Microsoft Frontpage was nearly coming to an end of popularity. I embraced it. Though it couldn't be called programming, but I liked it as I went one step further.

I also learnt a bit of HTML from a book I had at home. It's not even half of the story I'm telling. The time I was introduced to WordPress is much further. That's 2016.

What in 2015?

I had a course of advanced HTML/CSS in 2015 where I got to know completely about Framing, Coding and Publishing a website. Then, I practiced it a lot and then thought about putting a step forward to PHP.

It's 2016

Summer vacations were to get over and I had a course of PHP. There's where I came to know about the REAL PROGRAMMING. I started making my first coded website and it was completely published in September 2015. It was my mother's online store. And then, from November 2016, I made another website and completed the project in February 2016. That was my first blog, IQubex.com made with simple HTML/CSS and no PHP.

I was actually equipped with HTML/CSS knowledge and was practicing PHP. But, I never got what I dreamt of. I dreamt of: "My exposure in Web Developing World. A community, which will help me in my needs. People, who will encourage me."

Dream became true.

When WordPress Came In My Life

Its still 2016, when striked an article in Newspaper about WordCamp Nashik 2016. My mother read it and thought that it would prove like a miracle for me. It was the start of October 2016. Nashik is my city and so it was always easy for me to attend WordCamp Nashik.

It was for developers, bloggers and all the people who maintained their interest in Web Technologies. I knew that I too fit in that category.

Now came, 16th October 2016

We all know how cool experiences we get in a WordCamp. But this was the best for me as it was the first WordCamp of my life. From then, I migrated my blog to WordPress and got everything better. I saw how people program for WordPress and how big is the WordPress world.

So, what did I miss? Nothing. I got a helping community. I got nice friends. I got people who are much more experienced and their knowledge which will help me throughout the life. What more? The best thing I received is Motivation.

I used to write less on my blog as it was not equipped with PHP and was basic HTML/CSS. Due to that, I uploaded articles every now and then. But after the arrival of WordPress in my life, I wrote frequent articles, more beautifully, with more customization and with more interest. Then progressed my blog!

What next?

It was WordCamp Pune 2017 where I became the youngest speaker of WordCamp. I had an interview with Rahul Bansal Sir. He met me at WordCamp Nashik. So, I was able to talk in front of people. This is how my confidence got a boost positively.

Now I run more than 3 websites and constructing more. I also developed a plugin on WordPress. Learning about making theme. I'm also aiming to be a good developer in future. After all, there is a lot of time left. I'm 13 yrs old.

So, simply saying, before WordPress I was unaware of what I have to do in future, and now I can see the complete scene of my future career. Thanks to WordPress and its Community.

The post My Life, Designed by WordPress! appeared first on HeroPress.

24 May 2017 11:00am GMT

WPTavern: WordPress 4.8 Improves Accessibility on Admin Screens

In WordPress 4.3, the Accessibility Team restored H1 headings to the admin screens. This paved the way for the team to change the headings hierarchy in WordPress 4.4. In WordPress 4.8, admin screens are more accessible thanks to organizing the header text on pages.

The headers on admin screens typically contain more than text. For example, the Add New button on the Posts and Pages admin screens is included within the Posts and Pages header text.

This makes it difficult for assistive technologies to help users navigate different sections of a page. The changes in WordPress 4.8 turn the headings on admin screens into their own elements.

Before WordPress 4.8 the HTML looked like this:

<h1>
Posts
<a href="... /post-new.php" class="page-title-action">Add New</a>
</h1>

Now it looks like this:

<h1 class="wp-heading-inline">Posts</h1>
<a href="... /post-new.php" class="page-title-action">Add New</a>
<hr class="wp-header-end">

Andrea Fercia, WordPress core committer and a member of the accessibility team, explains what theme and plugin authors need to know.

"If your plugin or theme follows the previous WordPress pattern of adding extraneous content to the main heading, please update your plugin or theme to make the heading cleaner," Fercia said.

"All you need to do is move the extraneous content outside of the heading. WordPress 4.8 ships with new CSS rules to take care of the new markup structure and in most cases, no additional changes will be required."

These improvements are three years in the making. After much discussion and being punted to future releases, Fercia says the Accessibility team decided to handle the changes in smaller commits versus one large patch. This provided the necessary momentum to get the changes in core.

24 May 2017 4:33am GMT

23 May 2017

feedWordPress Planet

WPTavern: Cape Town to Host 4th Annual WordPress Charity Hackathon on July 15

Cape Town will be hosting its fourth annual do_action WordPress Charity Hackathon on July 15 this year. The objective of the event is to build websites for 10 different non-profit organizations in one day, an ambitious endeavor that requires a mix of different web and marketing talents working in highly concentrated teams. Participants help non-profits kick start their websites so the organizations can focus on doing what they do best - helping the local community.

Hugh Lashbrooke, who is leading the organization of the event again this year, said the team has secured a new venue that will be better suited to a hackathon. Workshop17, a collaboration and meeting venue, will host the charity hackathon's 70 participants (7 people per team). The event is currently half-full and is recruiting another 35 participants.

"One thing the event has done for me, and others in the community, is open us up to the rest of what is happening in the city," Lashbrooke said. "Our skills may seem pretty self-serving (building websites to make money), but they can be used for a lot more. Everyone who participates has so much fun on the day that I think they forget that it's really work."

This year's charities include the following organizations:

The Cape Town WordPress community pioneered the concept of using WordPress to lift up local charities and this type of event has now spread to other areas of the world. As a member of the WordPress project's Community Team, Lashbrooke has been working on making the do_action charity hackathons easily reproducible. It's now part of the WordPress Community Program with guidelines in the community events organizer handbook.

The new doaction.org website lists the upcoming hackathons and takes care of all the manual admin work that Lashbrooke did for himself for the first couple of events. The functionality is built on top of his experience in running the events.

"There has been a ton of interest in the event from communities around the world, and we've already seen successful events in Austin and Johannesburg," Lashbrooke said. "More hackathons are scheduled for Pretoria, Beirut, and Montreal later this year. A few of the other cities that have shown interest and applied, but have not scheduled anything yet, are Fort Myers, Denver, New York City, and Ahmedabad, amongst others."

Bringing the do_action charity hackathons under the official WordPress community program allows the team to offer logistical and financial support to organizers in the same way they already support WordCamp and meetup organizers. They do not have an official mentorship program set up yet, as the event types is still new, but Lashbrook said the community team does what it can to help hackathon organizers get started.

23 May 2017 7:52pm GMT

Matt: What’s in My Bag, 2017 edition

I am a road warrior who has racked up several million miles over the past decade, and since I'm also working more-than-full-time running Automattic (a totally distributed company) and leading WordPress I need the ability to be productive wherever I can find a comfortable place to sit. I carry a backpack with me almost all the time and obsessively tweak and iterate what's in it, which led to posts in 2014 and 2016. This is the latest edition, and I hope you enjoy it.

  1. This is a grey wool buff, which works as a scarf, a hat, or an eye cover if I'm trying to sleep. I tried this out because of one of Tynan's also-great gear posts.
  2. Theraband resistance band, which I aspirationally carry around to help stretch in the morning. Hat tip: Jesse Schwartzman of this blog post fame.
  3. Some generic Maui Jim polarized sunglasses with rubber nose pads, which I like for running or hiking because they don't move around or slip even when you're hot.
  4. Tzukuri "Ford" + charger, a super-cool Audrey company that is like a combination of a Tile and cool sunglasses. They connect via bluetooth to your phone and can notify you when you leave them behind, or use the app to locate them. A charge lasts 30 days. I think this is only available in Australia right now, but should be coming to other countries soon. (Or just buy them on vacation in Australia.) These replaced my fancy Maison Bonnet sunglasses.
  5. Westone ES49 custom earplugs, for if I go to concerts or anyplace overly loud. (3rd year)
  6. A Tile, which was a gift from my sister. I keep this in a pocket in my backpack and it helps me locate it if I lose it, or if I can't find my phone I can press the button and it'll make it beep. Surprisingly handy. Hat tip: Charleen.
  7. Hermes business card holder. (3rd year)
  8. A cut-out of a chamois cloth, which I use for cleaning smudges and such off glasses and screens. Mine is from Amazon but you can get at any car place or Walmart, use this guide to prepare, and then cut pieces off. Hat tip: Dean.
  9. Airpods. These are just fantastic, and I highly recommend them. I use them for calls, podcasts, audiobooks, meditating, Duolingo… they've become an essential daily product for me. A cool trick is to use one ear while the other is charging in the "floss" case. Hat tip: Jony.
  10. Bose QuietComfort 35, wireless bluetooth headphones. I misplaced my cool WordPress Sennheisers and picked these up in an airport before a long flight. They're extremely comfortable, great battery life, and I keep an audio splitter and Lightning audio adapter in the case. I've hated on Bose many times in the past, but these are decent and I get why people like them, especially the comfort aspect. I am listening to them as I write this. I used Audeze EL-8 Titanium for a while, which obviously sound better, but the lightning cable was unwieldy and it was annoying (and ridiculous) I couldn't plug them into my laptop. Hat tip: Every airport electronics store.
  11. Jabra Sport Pace bluetooth earbuds, which replaced my Powerbeats for running and working out. They have been way sturdier. Pretty inexpensive, too, right now about $60. I know in theory you can run with Airpods, but I'd be too scared of one going down a street drain.
  12. Cool carbon fiber money clip, which I use to hold a little cash for places like street vendors that don't take credit cards, or if I'm in another country and need to carry around currency. The site is a little sketchy, they should upgrade to WooCommerce. Also pictured: The EasyPay XPress NYC Metro Card, which is super handy in New York as it auto-refills. Only downside is it doesn't work on the PATH trains. Hat tip: Tynan and Rose.
  13. Vapur Shades roll-up water bottle. Can hold a full liter, and rolls up to be small like this. Kind of new so I don't have a strong opinion yet. Hat tip: Lululemon Lab in Vancouver.
  14. Fidget spinner, I think this one from Amazon. Try one of these if you haven't yet, they're surprisingly addictive. If you go over to 14 on the left you'll see a custom metal one a friend made for me. Hat tips: Zach and Xa.
  15. Apple Magic Mouse 2. A classic. (3rd year)
  16. This is the latest Lululemon Para backpack, and unlike last year's Cruiser it's currently available in stores and online. I dig this iteration: it has a little less padding on the shoulders, but the big front zipper pocket is super handy and in general it's a lot more streamlined and water resistant. Om clued me in to a similar one from Aer, I don't know who designed it first. Hat tip: Rose.
  17. So… there are two laptops, a custom prototype 13″ Automattic-logo Macbook touchbar, and the stickered 15″. I generally only travel with one of these, the 13″ for shorter trips or the 15″ if I'm going to be on the road for more than a few weeks. The performance is just better on the 15″. My favorite things about both are the 4 USB-C ports, that you can charge on any of them, and the Touch ID. (Automatticians after 4 years of tenure can get a custom Macbook, which we now offer with the WordPress, Automattic, or Jetpack logo. I usually get the test ones to make sure the quality is up to snuff.) I carry around the larger 87W brick from the 15″, and keep the extension cable now so it's easier to plug in on those weak plugs on planes.
  18. Kindle Oasis. I still love the Kindle. I've started listening to audiobooks this year and the integration with Audible is cool. The Oasis is great because of the real buttons and the fact that you can flip it to hold in either hand, but it's been the most annoying model in a few generations because the screen brightness isn't adaptive, and it gives "low battery" warnings when the extra battery cover is low but the actual device is not, which seems to defeat the purpose. Great form factor and ergonomics though.
  19. Passport, because you never know when you'll need to leave the country.
  20. A pocket-sized Baron Fig notebook, which I use in meetings to avoid my phone.
  21. Google Pixel. Best Android phone I've used, uses USB-C which I love, I love the size. I use this mostly for testing and staying current on Android, or as a backup. I use Google Fi for service on this one.
  22. Forerunner 735, charger, and heart rate strap. I actually switched to the 935 since this picture was taken, but my notes apply to both. (Here's a great review of the new 935.) Garmin makes the best fitness smartwatches in the world right now. Aspects are clunky: the app is not the most elegant, the add-on watch faces and such leave something to be desired, the sleep tracking is way worse than Fitbit, and there is no fine-grained control over notifications. That said, the battery life goes 8-10 days (!) so I often don't even bring the charger when I travel. The stats are unparalleled especially for running. It's waterproof and can also track swimming and biking. Finally my favorite feature: the screen is always on. I know that sounds basic, but I have been driven crazy by years of Fitbit and Apple Watch require tapping or wrist gesticulations just to see the time. (Extra awkward in a meeting.) My hardcore fitness friends love this one too. Hat tip: Aaron.
  23. Three little fun personal care items: a great chapstick from Japan I don't know what it's called, but it says retaW aoyama / tokyo fragrance lipcream on it, Aveda Peppymint breath refresher, and an Aesop Ginger Flight Therapy roller similar to the Blue Oil one from last year. Hat tip Esther, Naoko, and my mom.
  24. Belkin car mount, really handy when renting a car and navigating around. (3rd year)
  25. This is a more-expensive but not-better version of what I had last year, which I'll quote and actually recommend: "This is probably the least-travel-friendly thing I travel with, but the utility is so great I put up with it. It's the Sennheiser Culture Series Wideband Headset, which I use for podcasts, Skype, Facetime, Zoom, and Google Hangout calls with external folks and teams inside of Automattic. Light, comfortable, great sound quality, and great at blocking out background noise so you don't annoy other people on the call. Worth the hassle." I leave the USB-C adapter attached to this. Cable still annoys me.
  26. iPhone 7 Plus, on Verizon, with a Bellroy 3-card case. If you're a guy I highly recommend trying out a phone wallet case, it's a game-changer to only have one thing to keep track of and not having a wallet in your back pocket is good to avoid getting misaligned. I have three cards in it, an Amex, a Visa, and my drivers license. In NYC I also squeeze in the Metrocard. Hat tip: Craig (a previous Bellroy model).
  27. The Japanese company Maruman makes this awesome grid-paper lie-flat notebook, which I fill and occasionally draw in. I love this thing, and having a work area where I can have my laptop, mouse, iPad, and this notebook all set up next to each other is my happy place. The paper is soft. Hat tip: Brian.
  28. 9.7″ iPad Pro + smart keyboard cover on AT&T. I didn't expect to, but I really love this device. It gives me way more joy than my phone or my laptops. Gorgeous screen, long battery life, always connect, I can tether to it, write on it with the pen in 32, the keyboard is fast and silent, split screen is handy… I don't know how to describe it. Like the Airpods, this product just excels in every area. I still have and need to use a laptop, but it's less of my day and mostly because of some internal tools and security stuff we have.
  29. I ended up with this beast Cable Matters USB-c mega-dongle to cover ethernet, VGA, HDMI, and old USB. Warning! To use the ethernet on MacOS you need weird drivers. Hat tip: Amy.
  30. I'm not sure why I started using this Plantronics Voyager bluetooth headset, but it's really good. This might not make the cut next year as the Airpods are pretty good, but if I'm going to be on a regular (non-Facetime) phone or conference call for a few hours, this is what I turn to. Hat tip: An Uber driver.
  31. Lockpick set. (3rd year)
  32. An awesome Hobonichi Techo pen (they have cool notebooks too), a sharpie (for signing fans' items), and Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro.
  33. Two rings: one Margiela one which has my lucky number 11 circled (for a long reason related to their numbering system), and one with the WordPress logo that was also a swag prototype for a ten-year tenure gift. I might wear these to remind me of something I'm trying to remember or focus on during a day.
  34. I'm digging this Imazing 10k charger: it's a cool color, smaller and lighter than last year's, has a USB-C port, and outputs well. I found I never needed the 20k capacity of last year's, hence the downsize to 10k.
  35. This Aukey 30W / 6A travel wall charger I wish was all USB-C ports. I sometimes trickle-charge the laptop off this overnight.
  36. A really mediocre Native Union two-port USB I got from TED. Not going to link since it's not very good because of the way it plugs in. Since the photo I replaced it with the much-more-useful Aukey 2-port, which I highly recommend and give away all the time.
  37. A pretty handy Ventev dashport car port charger that's small and light. I found myself rarely using the USB-C on last year's so I opted for smaller size and less weight in this one.
  38. Mintia mints from Japan, yum. (I buy these there or ask friends to bring them back, they are much cheaper there than the cost on Amazon.)
  39. This rat's nest of cables and adapters is embarrassing, and I will further apologize and rant in the epilogue.
  40. A random used mystery book I picked up at the Paper Hound Bookshop in Vancouver.

What blows me away making this list is that since last year almost every single item has changed, unusually high churn. I see now why y'all were tweeting me to update this post.

Two bonus items: Even in the summer I'll often have something like this light Lululemon running jacket stuffed in a pocket for over air conditioned places or at the end of a flight when it gets chilly. I'm also currently testing out the assisted meditation device The Muse, but it hasn't really stuck yet and I usually just turn to Calm.

Ensuring network continuity: One thing you'll notice is the iPhone is on Verizon, which has the best network in the US, the iPad is on AT&T, and the Pixel is on Google Fi. This allows me to have a diversity of network access which is occasionally handy in the US and has saved my butt a few times when overseas. Whichever device has the best connection I'll just tether the others to it. I almost never join coffee shop or hotel wifi these days, a good LTE connection is usually better.

USB-C Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Oh, USB-C, I love you. You're reversible, fast, and work for everything, like I can charge my laptop with almost anything, and many new devices like Google Wifi use you for power. The dangerous cable on Amazon thing seems to have worked itself out, and having 4 ports on the laptop is amazing, I can charge everything I need off it. But as you can see from the mess of cables and how many other legacy USB things I'm carrying around, we're (still!) in this really awkward in-between phase for computing. First, there are no good retractable cables, especially ones that have USB-C on one end and Lightning or Micro-USB on the other. I wish my headset, headphones, sunglasses, and Kindle didn't need Micro-USB, and I wish the Airpods, iPhone, iPad Pro, Magic Mouse would just give up on Lightning and support USB-C instead. But we're in this liminal space, and the number one thing I hope is better by next year's post is that the USB-C accessory world has flourished and I just have a couple of neat retractable USB-C cables and things like the battery, wall charger, and car charger in 34, 35, and 37 just have all USB-C ports. A boy can dream, right?

In Closing

Partly because the backpack is a little smaller, I've really tried to streamline and a lot of things from last year, like a small digital camera, the Chromecasts, travel router, etc I don't bother carrying around in my backpack anymore. I hope these can get simpler and shorter every year. I tagged these with an affiliate ID for Amazon this year but mostly just to see if anyone actually buys stuff from these posts. I walk millions of steps a year with my backpack and wouldn't carry something around unless I really believed in it, which is also why I'm always testing and trying new things. As you can tell a lot of this kit has evolved from recommendations, so if you have any please leave a note in the comments. I've also considered doing something similar for shoes, clothes, apps, suitcases, or toiletries, so holler if you'd like any of those. Alrighty, that's it until next year!

23 May 2017 5:05pm GMT

WPTavern: WordCamp Europe to Halt Regular Ticket Sales May 31, Fewer than 400 Tickets Remain

WordCamp Europe organizers will be ending regular ticket sales on May 31. The event has sold out well in advance in previous years, but the logistics of managing a budget for an estimated 3,000 attendees prompted organizers to opt for ending ticket sales two weeks before the event:

As WordCamp Europe is a community event, we have to be extra careful with every penny that's spent. We are invested in things that improve the event's accessibility and inclusivity, and we'd like to have the precise number of people attending to avoid unnecessary costs (for example, ordering extra lunches - something that we need to do two weeks in advance).

As tickets have been on sale for nearly a year, the majority of those who are planning to attend have already purchased their tickets. A few already-purchased tickets may also become available at the last minute due to France denying visas to prospective attendees. One reason officials cited in several instances is that the ticket price is too low to justify international travel.

Rocío Valdivia, an organizer on WordCamp Europe's Community Team, reports that approximately 10 attendees have been denied entry for the Community Summit due to visa issues.

"A lot of them were from India and one from Indonesia," Valdivia said. "100% of them were from Asia." Several who were denied have resubmitted their visa documents with updated invitation letters and are waiting to hear from officials.

Last-minute attendees who miss the May 31st regular ticket deadline can still purchase a micro-sponsorship for € 150.00, which includes a ticket to the event.

23 May 2017 3:39pm GMT

WPTavern: WordPress 4.8 Increases Maximum Width of the Customizer Sidebar to 600 Pixels

WordPress 3.4 introduced the WordPress Customizer API and over time it has evolved from being a theme customizer to a framework for live-previewing changes to WordPress.

Since its inclusion, one of the most common complaints about the Customizer is its narrow sidebar. Even on widescreen monitors, the Customizer sidebar is only 300px wide.

This limitation was one of the motivating factors behind the Customize Pane Resizer feature plugin created in 2015. Although Customize component maintainers tried to get the feature plugin ready in time for WordPress 4.5, it didn't make it.

In WordPress 4.8, the Customizer Sidebar Has a Variable Width

Weston Ruter, Customize component maintainer, announced that the Customizer sidebar in WordPress 4.8 has a variable width.

"Ticket #32296 was created to allow the sidebar pane to be user-resizable with a grabber just like the Dev Tools pane in Chrome can be resized," Ruter said.

"After a lot of back and forth, the scope was reduced to remove the user-resizable aspect and to instead address a more fundamental issue that the sidebar is exceedingly and unnecessarily narrow on high-resolution displays."

The sidebar has a minimum width of 300px and a maximum width of 600px. What users see depends on the width of their screen. I use a 21 inch widescreen monitor and the width of the sidebar on my screen is 345px.

345 Pixel Wide Customizer Sidebar

While not a huge change, the extra width is noticeable. WordPress theme and plugin developers who have built custom controls into the Customizer are highly encouraged to test WordPress 4.8 to ensure that they display properly on large screens.

"Custom controls in plugins and themes should utilize alternative approaches to doing layout than using pixel widths," Ruter said.

"Use of percentage-based widths or flexbox will help ensure that controls will appear properly in larger displays, while also making controls future-compatible when the sidebar width could be user-resizable."

If you'd like to be able to adjust the width of the sidebar, check out the Customize Pane Resizer plugin. I tested it on WordPress 4.8 beta 2 and it works as expected. There's also the Fluid Customizer plugin which also allows you to manually resize the sidebar.

23 May 2017 2:46am GMT

Dev Blog: WordPress 4.8 Beta 2

WordPress 4.8 Beta 2 is now available!

This software is still in development, so we don't recommend you run it on a production site. Consider setting up a test site just to play with the new version. To test WordPress 4.8, try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (you'll want "bleeding edge nightlies"). Or you can download the beta here (zip).

For more information on what's new in 4.8, check out the Beta 1 blog post. Since then, we've made over 50 changes in Beta 2.

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

If you think you've found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We'd love to hear from you! If you're comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.

WordPress four point eight
One step closer to release
Please test Beta 2!

23 May 2017 12:02am GMT

22 May 2017

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WPTavern: Storefront 2.2.0 Released, Includes Design Refresh and Major Improvements to New User Experience

WooCommerce's flagship Storefront theme released version 2.2.0 today. The release has been more than five months in the making since planning began in early December 2016.

Storefront 2.2.0 focuses on improving the new user experience. Getting all of the right widgets and design settings in place to set up a new store has been a challenge for users in the past. This release introduces a new setup and configuration wizard in the Cusotmizer that takes advantage of WordPress 4.7's Starter Content feature. If the user is starting with a fresh store, the wizard will automatically import example products, create the homepage and set the correct template, assign the 'full width' template to the cart and checkout pages, and remove unnecessary widgets.

Storefront setup wizard in the Customozer

This release also brings an overall design refresh that includes a new homepage hero section. The Storefront development team replaced the theme's previous dark header background with a white one in order to put the focus on product images and improve the appearance of site logos. This small but important change gives the theme an overall lighter look and will be important for child themes to account for in their styles.

Storefront 2.2 also adds subtle changes to typography, font weights, and button styles for a more minimalist, less-opinionated base design.

Storefront design refresh

These changes are in line with what Matt Mullenweg said about Storefront when we interviewed him in December. He said Storefront was due for a design update and has a lot of potential for improvement.

"With the Storefront theme there's actually a lot we can do there to make it look like a really cool store out of the box, much like the default themes in WordPress," Mullenweg said. "Part of the reason we change them every year is what was cool in 2012 is not cool in 2017. Fashions change, trends change. I think Woo should evolve Storefront in the same way. There's kind of a look for independent stores right now. They've got a certain vibe. Let's make it easy to do that vibe, so that you don't have to be on Etsy or Amazon or one of the e-commerce monoliths to keep people coming to you and supporting your product."

Whereas many Storefront users had to opt for a child theme in order to have a more product-focused homepage in the past, the design and user experience improvements in the 2.2.0 release make the theme a more compelling option for use by itself.

There are more than 90,000 stores using Storefront as a base for their sites WordPress.org lists eight child themes using Storefront as a parent and WooCommerce.com also has a directory of free and commercial child themes. This major release will likely affect all stores using these themes in one way or another. To avoid any surprise design updates, the WooCommerce team recommends that users test version 2.2.0 in a development environment before updating.

22 May 2017 8:13pm GMT

21 May 2017

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Matt: Boarding Wrong Flight

The Economist writes about who's wrong when flyers end up in the wrong cities. This has actually happened to me! Probably 7-8 years ago, it was an Air Canada flight from New York to Montreal, and I accidentally boarded the one to Toronto. The mistake was realized when we were on the ground, but had pulled away from gate. Being Canadian, they were exceedingly nice and asked me to stay on the flight but they'd find me one from Toronto to Montreal after I landed.

21 May 2017 10:45pm GMT

20 May 2017

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Matt: IBM Goes Non-Remote

Like Yahoo a few years ago, IBM, an early pioneer of distributed work, is calling workers back to the office.

The shift is particularly surprising since the Armonk, N.Y., company has been among the business world's staunchest boosters of remote work, both for itself and its customers. IBM markets software and services for what it calls "the anytime, anywhere workforce," and its researchers have published numerous studies on the merits of remote work.

If "IBM has boasted that more than 40% of employees worked outside traditional company offices" and they currently have 380,000 employees (wow), then that's 152k people on the market.

As I said when Yahoo did the same, it's hard to judge this from the outside. A company that was happy about how they're doing wouldn't make a shift this big or this suddenly. It's very possible the way distributed folks were interacting with their in-office teams wasn't satisfactory, especially if they were forced to use subpar in-house tools like SameTime instead of Zoom or Skype. Yahoo didn't have the best trajectory after they made a similar move, and hopefully IBM isn't going to follow the same path.

In the meantime, Automattic and many other companies are hiring. If you aren't going to work in a company's headquarters, it is probably safest to work at a company that is fully distributed (no second tier for people not at HQ) rather than be one of a few "remote" people at a centralized company.

20 May 2017 7:21pm GMT