27 Mar 2015
Welcome to The Excerpt, part of the Post Status Draft podcast, which you can also find on iTunes. Draft consists of two formats: long form interviews like I've done for a long time, and The Excerpt for a summary of news around the WordPress ecosystem.
With The Excerpt, we cover a few of our favorite stories from the Post Status Club over the last week or two. The primary goal is to keep it short and informational: we keep the podcast to 15 minutes.
Content covered in The Excerpt will largely be samples from the members only content, but may also cover free articles and resources. You don't have to be a member to enjoy The Excerpt, but it is a nice way to preview what members get every day.
Here's Episode 2, which Julie Kuehl hosted with me:
- Shiny Installs removed from 4.2, in Beta 3 release, (Beta release and Aaron's post).
- Pagely and WP Engine are growing.
- Finding your place, by Rarst on HeroPress
- 1.2 of the REST API (Original release post).
- Partner feature: Design Palette Pro.
27 Mar 2015 3:27pm GMT
26 Mar 2015
A few days ago, we highlighted how WordPress 4.2 radically improves the installation and update process for plugins. Several readers commented on the article expressing that automatically activating plugins after installation is a bad idea. A decision was made during the March 25th, WordPress core developer chat to remove enhanced plugin installs from WordPress 4.2 and punt it to a future release. However, enhanced plugin updates will remain in WordPress 4.2.
It's uncommon for functionality to be removed from WordPress this late in the development cycle. Drew Jaynes, who is leading the 4.2 release cycle, explains that the feature just isn't ready.
Prudence demands that we decide whether to do things now vs do things right. In this case, we want to make sure we handle the user experience of activating plugins after installation the right way for most use cases. So we still have 'Shiny Updates', but we're going to have to fall back and regroup on 'Shiny Installs'.
On the Make WordPress core blog, Aaron Jorbin outlined three issues caused by auto activating plugins.
- Plugins that require after activation steps (such as connecting to Jetpack or Google Analytics, updating permalinks for BuddyPress, etc) aren't obvious. We need a way for plugins to provide a notice upon activation that shows what to do next.
- Since the menu isn't updated, users still need to do a page refresh in order for the changes to actually go in effect and for them to use the features of many plugins.
- There are plugins such as maintenance mode ones that users will not want to be activated right away.
The idea of installing plugins inline is sound, but until the user experience issues are addressed, the plugin install process will remain the same.
26 Mar 2015 8:50pm GMT
In this episode of WordPress Weekly, Marcus Couch and I are joined by Joshua Strebel, CEO of Pagely. We learn how Pagely was founded and the advantages of being an independently owned company. Strebel explains how he's managed Pagely's rapid growth while maintaining exceptional service. Last but not least, we discuss the competitive nature and lack of integrity throughout the webhosting industry.
Plugins Picked By Marcus:
Plugins Speed Test shows the impact installed plugins have on your site's speed.
Disable Emojis disables the new emoji functionality in WordPress 4.2.
Auto Post FB Comment embeds a Facebook comment form on your blog and automatically inserts a user's comment to the WordPress database.
Next Episode: Wednesday, April 1st 9:30 P.M. Eastern
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Listen To Episode #185:
26 Mar 2015 7:46pm GMT
Are you in or near Tokyo? I'm going to be in town and doing a meetup this Sunday, and I'm looking forward to hanging out with the local community. I'm told you can read about it on this link: WordBench東京 3月スペシャル『春のマット祭り』 - WordBench東京.
26 Mar 2015 4:51pm GMT
DNSPerf is a cool service that measures the speed of different DNS providers, Cloudflare and WordPress.com rank very well.
26 Mar 2015 3:23am GMT
Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.
You can find out if your site is ready by testing it with the mobile-friendly testing tool created by Google. It will give you a rough idea of how the Googlebot views your pages.
Google Webmaster Tools has a new Mobile Usability Report that will also give you a more detailed breakdown of any mobile usability issues with your site.
Although Google hasn't published an exact guide to how the new ranking algorithm will work, it provides a guide for mobile SEO. The documentation for the Principles of Site Design on Web Fundamentals is also a great resource with practical suggestions for making your site better for mobile users.
Google also created a mobile-friendliness guide specifically for WordPress users. It encourages site admins to update to the latest version of WordPress and to use a theme that that is mobile-friendly.
If you want to test your site on various mobile devices, the Google Chrome browser has a "mobile device emulation" feature that can be found under the "Developer Tools" menu.
Find a Responsive WordPress Theme
Out of the 3,000+ themes listed on in the official directory, filtering by "Responsive Layout" under "Features" currently returns only 947 themes. This doesn't necessarily mean that 2/3 of themes hosted on WordPress.org are not responsive. These are simply the ones that have been tagged with "Responsive Layout."
The Theme Review Team posted a notice about the update to encourage developers to examine their themes for mobile-readiness ahead of time. If your theme is not responsive, Emil Uzelac suggests adding responsive media queries:
Mobile-Friendly can be a Responsive design, but also an App that turns your theme into a "mobile version".
Since we don't accept themes with mobile Apps because that would fall into a plugin territory, our choice is Responsive and media queries instead of browser sniffing tools.
Now, for the mobile-friendliness, responsive media queries will be enough and that is the very basic to be qualified as "mobile-friendly".
Not all WordPress.org theme developers will be willing to update their themes with a responsive layout, as some of them are abandoned and no longer maintained. If your theme is failing Google's mobile friendly test, the most important change you can make is to update to a theme with a responsive layout. Even if site ranking and SEO are not important to your objectives, improving the experience for mobile users should be enough motivation to make the change.
26 Mar 2015 1:16am GMT
25 Mar 2015
Despite not hitting his funding goal of $60k, Topher DeRosia took the feedback and support he received and moved forward with the HeroPress project. HeroPress now focuses on delivering information through text and images instead of video which significantly decreases costs. It also provides more translation opportunities as it's easier to translate text versus video.
Although the project has new life, its mission remains the same: To develop the WordPress heroes of the world by sharing the accumulated wisdom of the community.
HeroPress has taken its first step in accomplishing this mission by publishing an essay by Andrey "Rarst" Savchenko entitled, "Finding Your Place". The essay describes Savchenko's journey in finding his place within the WordPress community.
It's an inspiring read filled with peaks, valleys, and sound advice. If the first essay is any indication of what to expect out of HeroPress, I think the WordPress community is in for a treat. I for one can't wait to read the next one.
25 Mar 2015 9:31pm GMT
ThemeReview.co, the theme review service started by Emil Uzelac and Justin Tadlock earlier this year, announced StudioPress and Envato both recommend using its service. Those who create themes for Genesis or ThemeForest can now have them reviewed by both before selling them in the marketplace.
Themes developed for ThemeForest that are reviewed by Uzelac and Tadlock will receive a secondary review by the ThemeForest theme review team. Since both Uzelac and Tadlock are senior reviewers for the WordPress.org theme directory, reviewed themes are more likely to do things the WordPress way instead of locking users in.
ThemeReview.co is only three months old, but partnering with the largest WordPress theme marketplace ought to provide an unlimited amount of business. The question is, will ThemeForest authors spend the money to have their themes reviewed by a third-party?
25 Mar 2015 8:48pm GMT
WordPress trainer and coach, Bob Dunn, wants to know how you learn WordPress. Once the survey concludes, Dunn will publish the results in an infographic.
With so many options available to learn WordPress, I'm interested to see which method comes out on top. I learned WordPress by trial and error and using tutorials I found through Google. I also used the WordPress Codex as my go-to resource since there weren't many educational resources in 2006-2007. These days, users have plenty of options to learn WordPress through trainers like Dunn, WordPress.tv, WordCamps, and hundreds of free tutorials.
If you learn best by reading, I highly encourage you to check out the following handbooks, which are condensed guides focused on a specific subject. Keep in mind that they're works in progress.
Share your guides, techniques, and resources for learning WordPress in the comments.
25 Mar 2015 6:25pm GMT
Shortcake, a plugin that adds a UI to make shortcodes more user friendly, is now an official WordPress feature plugin. The project is led by Daniel Bachhuber, currently the interim director of engineering at Fusion, the company where Shortcake originated. Contributors include Matthew Haines-Young and the folks at Human Made.
The plugin is being developed on GitHub but is also now available for download on WordPress.org. Developers who want to utilize Shortcake can register a UI for their shortcodes alongside add_shortcode, which will expose Shortcake's user-friendly interface.
Shortcake transforms your ordinary shortcode to render a preview in a TinyMCE view:
It also supplies a user-friendly UI to add shortcodes via the "Add Media" button. After selecting your shortcode, you'll have the ability to edit its content and attributes.
Version 0.2.0 enhances the post element interface in the following ways:
- Shortcodes are sorted alphabetically, making it easier to skim and find shortcodes.
- Shortcodes can be filtered by name using the "Search" field, reducing complexity when a site has many dozens of shortcodes.
- The "Insert Element" button is disabled until a post element is selected, providing a visual cue to the user.
This release also makes a number of significant changes to the structure of the plugin. It has been retooled using an MVC architecture that relies on Browserify. Shortcake contributor Jitendra Harpalani explains the reasons behind the changes:
Does Shortcake have a chance to make it into WordPress core?
Although shortcodes make it easy to insert and structure complex content, they're an eyesore in the post editor. Including multiple shortcodes the old fashioned way can quickly become messy.
Shortcake is a well-conceived solution that brings new life to shortcodes and makes them significantly less confusing to implement. Contributors on the project believe in it enough to start working on the steps necessary to make the feature plugin ready to be proposed for core.
If it does land in core someday, it will be interesting to see how well the feature is adopted. If some developers register a UI for their shortcodes and others don't, it could be confusing to know which shortcodes are available if they don't show up on the "Insert Element" screen. Then again, that problem already exists without Shortcake. Without the help of an additional plugin, there's no easy way to know which shortcodes are available.
If you think Shortcake has potential and want to get involved, follow the updates on make.wordpress.org/core and join the development team for a meeting on WordPress.org Slack.
25 Mar 2015 10:59am GMT
24 Mar 2015
Why Remote Work Thrives in Some Companies and Fails in Others, by Sean Graber in the Harvard Business Review.
Why are some organizations reaping benefits but others not? Conditions are seemingly ideal: More and more people are choosing to work remotely. By one estimate, the number of remote workers in the U.S. grew by nearly 80% between 2005 and 2012. Advances in technology are keeping pace. About 94% of U.S. households have access to broadband Internet - one of the most important enablers of remote work. Workers also have access to an array of tools that allow them to videoconference, collaborate on shared documents, and manage complex workflows with colleagues around the world. So what's the problem?
24 Mar 2015 8:50pm GMT
Between support costs, website maintenance, and development time, managing a WordPress plugin can be expensive. Despite the costs associated with maintaining Pods, it's remained free of charge since the day it was created. In September 2011, Pods lead developer, Scott Kingsley Clark, created a Kickstarter campaign asking for $1,500 to help fund Pods 2.0 development. By the time it ended, he received $4,177 with 91 backers.
According to Clark, sponsorship money from Automattic and donations from users are just enough to keep the support team going with little left over to put towards website and plugin development. In what may be a first for a WordPress plugin, Clark has launched a "Friends of Pods" funding campaign that works similar to public television.
There are four tiers to choose ranging from $5-$300 per month. Each tier has perks and benefits including, shirts, stickers, tweets, and placement on the Pods website. You can also donate a one time amount or become a pillar sponsor. Those who donate $25 a month or more are eligible to choose rewards every six months, which are provided by reward partners.
The funding will be used to decrease private development of Pods and focus more on Pods core, related plugins, and integrations. It will also free up time to work on Pods 3.0 and improve its documentation. "Through Friends of Pods, we will grow both in terms of improving the code and strengthening our community. We also plan on adding "Pods Development Partners" to the Friends of Pods site soon as well as other cool tools to help our friends grow with Pods," Clark said.
It's unclear whether this model will work, but it gives Clark and his team an opportunity to receive recurring income without charging for Pods. If the experiment is successful, it would give plugin developers another option to earn recurring income while keeping their plugins free.
24 Mar 2015 7:07pm GMT
The WordPress REST API plugin version 1.2 was released today after roughly nine months of development. Version 1.1 was released in June 2014 with the addition of taxonomies and terms routes and a focus on increasing test coverage for all endpoints.
Version 1.2 has test coverage for taxonomies and terms at 98%. Meta is 87% and all others are above 50% (Comments: 67%, Users: 60%, Posts: 54%). According to Rachel Baker, one of the lead developers on the project, said the team is shooting for >80% on the 'develop' branch.
Version 1.2 adds handling for Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) OPTIONS requests, request hijacking, better errors, and a slew of bug fixes. This release received contributions from 29 people, and the full changelog for 1.2 is available on GitHub.
If you're a developer who is currently using the WP REST API in one of your projects, you may be wondering about compatibility for updating to 1.2.
"Some internal functions were deprecated, but compatibility impact is really minor," Baker said. All of these changes are noted in the changelog under "Deprecation warning" or "Compatibility warning."
What's Next for Version 2.0 of the WP REST API?
Version 1.2 is the last stop on the 1.x branch of the plugin. "We've been working hard over the past four months, with the aim of releasing a beta for version 2.0 next month," Baker said in her release post.
"For existing code written for version 1.x we will issue a final 1.x release as a compatibility shim to seamlessly connect existing code to version 2.0."
Developers are eager to find out when the WP REST API will land in WordPress core. There's no set timeline, but the next release cycle of the plugin is geared toward polishing it up for prime time.
"The #1 goal of v2.0 is to merge into WP core," Baker told the Tavern. In reply to a commenter inquiring about the time table, she said, "The timeline for that is 'sometime in 2015.' Our goal is to make the WP REST API too impressive to refuse."
Version 2.0 development will focus on the following highlights:
- Route versioning and namespacing (for future core updates and plugins)
- Reducing the code to create custom endpoints
- Overall implementing feedback we received on version 1.0
The WP REST API team has outlined a Core Merging Plan for the API. Follow the checklist on GitHub to stay informed on the progress.
24 Mar 2015 6:45pm GMT
One of the features I'm looking forward to in WordPress 4.2 is the improved plugin install and update process. Gary Pendergast and a team of volunteers have spent the last six months collaborating on shiny updates.
When you update or install a plugin in WordPress 4.1, you're taken to a screen that shows its progress. When it's done, you can either activate it or navigate back to the plugins screen.
Here's what it looks like when you update a plugin in WordPress 4.2.
Last but not least, here's what it looks like when you install plugins in WordPress 4.2. It's important to note that when a plugin is installed, it's automatically activated.
At the March 11th developer chat, the team decided to scale back shiny updates to focus on plugins for 4.2. Fancy updates for themes will be added in a future release and will continue to use the classic update/install routine. You can follow the progress by watching tickets 31529 and 31530.
During testing, I was able to install 10 plugins in under a minute. Removing friction from the update and install process not only saves mouse clicks, but it's a great user experience. In fact, the process is so quick, it might make sense to add a visual indicator that tells the user a plugin is installed. For instance, when a plugin is installed, a notification model window would pop up and fade away.
If you'd like to try shiny updates for yourself, install WordPress 4.2 beta 2 on a test site. If you encounter any bugs with shiny updates or a different part of WordPress, post them to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums.
24 Mar 2015 5:31pm GMT
Post Status: Happytables 3 is taking on Squarespace and Wix for restaurant websites with a brand new platform
Happytables was one of the first major hosted initiatives after WordPress.com, and launched in early 2012. You can see the post I wrote about them then. They've matured a lot since that time, investing more into products, finding their footing from a sales perspective, and expanding their team.
Human Made has a products team of six people, including some WordPress back-end development heavyweights. The new Happytables 3 is built using a custom REST API to make it unrecognizable from WordPress, though it's built completely on WordPress. Ryan McCue, who is leading the official WordPress REST API project, is lead on the Happytables API as well.
The new Happytables dashboard is catered directly to restaurant owners. It simplifies much of the decision making for theming, utilizing a single standard template and offering customization options through a front-end editor and available content blocks.
The end result of the customizer is a mobile-centric website that's catered quite well to common restaurant tasks. They cite that over 50% of their current traffic is mobile, and they have made every effort to make the mobile experience on Happytables websites good.
Editing restaurant-centric content like menus is straightforward.
I spent about half an hour on the Happytables site yesterday, exploring the platform and starting a restaurant website for a friend of mine. I was impressed with how far the product has come from a usability standpoint, answering the questions I had, as I encountered them.
Noel Tock, who is a partner at Human Made and runs products, has spent a lot of time talking to and pitching restaurant owners. They've invested years into research and the first iterations of the platform, and they were able to build Happytables 3 with more real customer insights than ever before. The research shows, both in the UX and the impressive integration options; they offer integrations with menu, reservation, and reviews services that cater to Europe and the United States.
They also make it as simple as possible to sign up. The first question is to type your restaurant name or address, and they auto-import as many details as they can.
Goals and milestones for Happytables
Happytables has been successful so far, but in ways different than you may first assume.
Human Made has two deals for white-labeled versions of Happytables currently. They are an exclusive partner with IENS, a directory platform in the Netherlands that was acquired by TripAdvisor. Also, they provide US-based online ordering service ChowNow with a white-labeled version of Happytables.
Current and past deals like these have been both profitable and educational for Human Made.
Restaurant growth is a different beast than partnerships. Individual restaurants also often require 1:1 sales, a service the Happytables team offers up. The hard part isn't convincing them Happytables is a good option, it's assuring them that there is, "someone on the other end of the line," as Noel Tock once put it to me. These restaurant owners can't get very good (human) support with more mainstream providers like Wix or Squarespace.
Human Made would like to see 5,000 new paying customers on the Happytables platform between now and the end of the year. They are pouring most of their product resources into the project, making a big bet on Happytables and its potential in the restaurant website market.
As for current websites they host, I don't know the exact numbers and they aren't sharing them publicly. But they do state that they are serving close to 1 million pageviews per month from the restaurants they already host.
Targeting Squarespace and Wix
Happytables isn't targeting other WordPress centric solutions, or even other restaurant website builders. When they talk to restaurant owners on sales calls, they discover that their competition is most often the likes of Squarespace and Wix - other hosted options, but not restaurant specific.
Restaurants, while not the only market for such hosted options, is a big niche for them. Happytables wants to take it away, and they know they can only do that by offering a far superior product. With Happytables, they hope to wow restaurant owners with something they've never seen before.
I know when I used it yesterday - despite some minor quirks (that they were already working on) - I came away incredibly impressed. At $39 a month, I went ahead and sent the demo URL to my friend who is opening a restaurant. We're having lunch on Thursday, when he'll sign up for his account. It's exactly the kind of thing he was hoping for, so he can get back to working on his restaurant and not worry about his website.
24 Mar 2015 5:09pm GMT
That is really good for a piece of software released less than seven months ago. The years long effort into making upgrades easier and more reliable are paying off nicely.
When I looked at PHP and MySQL version usage that is where things got strange. I know that PHP upgrades at some hosting providers happen at a very slow pace, but I didn't fully appreciate how slow.
The most reported MySQL version for active WordPress sites is 5.5, at nearly 60%. The first MySQL 5.5 General Availability release was two years ago ( February 2013 ). Considering how sensitive data storage is I'd consider that a good upgrade rate.
Turns out to be significantly faster than PHP.
Less than 47% of active WordPress sites report using PHP version 5.4 or newer.
The first release of PHP 5.4 was three years ago ( March 2012 ). I could see not wanting to upgrade on the initial release, so I'll discount that to two years with PHP 5.4.13 in March 2013. That still leaves PHP 5.4+ at 47% compared to MySQL 5.5+ at 66%.
I didn't expect to see hosting providers upgrading MySQL faster than PHP.
24 Mar 2015 3:41pm GMT