30 Oct 2020

feedWordPress Planet

WPTavern: WordPress Auto-Update System Misfires, Updating Live Sites to an Alpha Release

WordPress' Core systems team had an eventful Friday when an error in the auto-update system caused sites to update to WordPress 5.5.3-alpha-49449, including live production sites with no auto-update constants defined.

I just had a random production site auto-update itself to #WordPress 5.5.3-alpha 😨 Anyone else seeing this?

- Mark Root-Wiley (@MRWweb) October 30, 2020

Those who received an email about the update logged into their sites to see the message: "BETA TESTERS: This site is set up to install updates of future beta versions automatically."

Shaun Rieman logged the first ticket about sites being updated to 5.5.3-alpha-49449, which was also incidentally his first WordPress trac ticket. More users and developers confirmed the issue.

"It's worth noting that there's no functional difference between 5.5.2 and 5.5.3-alpha, so there's no need to worry in that regard," core committer John Blackbourn said.

Sites that were accidentally updated also installed all the default themes released over the last decade, as well as Akismet. Developers will need to manually delete the bundled themes that they don't need.

In under an hour, all affected sites were automatically returned to 5.5.2, but the incident has eroded trust and damaged confidence in the auto-update system. Several commenting on the ticket asked how they can explicitly disable development updates.

"The worrying thing is that a single developer can do this, seemingly without any checking or confirmation by other developers," UK-based developer Paul Stenning said. "This is a serious security concern as a rogue developer could push out malicious code in an update that nobody else checks."

WordPress agency owner Rob Migchels, who had approximately 50 websites affected, tracked 18 minutes between the the trac ticket (#51679) and receiving the fix.

"The 5.5.3-alpha issue is a side effect of another issue that occurred on 5.5.2," WordPress engineer and 5.6 Triage release lead Tonya Mork said. Jake Spurlock published an official statement regarding the incident as part of the 5.5.3 release notes:

"Earlier today - between approximately 15:30 and 16:00 UTC - the auto-update system for WordPress updated some sites from version 5.5.2 to version 5.5.3-alpha. This auto-update was due to an error in the Updates API caused by the 5.5.3 release preparations."

Spurlock elaborated on the technical details in a separate post on the WordPress development blog:

While work was being done to prepare for WordPress 5.5.3, the release team attempted to make 5.5.2 unavailable for download on WordPress.org to limit the spread of the issue noted in the section above, as the error only affected fresh installations. This action resulted in some installations being updated to a pre-release "5.5.3-alpha" version.

In a situation like this, where users who haven't elected to run their live sites on beta releases are getting a forced update, site owners might wonder whether this update is actually arriving from WordPress, or if the system has been hijacked.

Security researcher Slavco Mihajloski, who commented last week on the lack of transparency regarding how automatic updates are tested and performed, said this incident highlights the need for more openness surrounding the process.

"Why is transparency important? Because procedure will become public and when public, the community will be able to contribute in order to improve it," Mihajloski said. "At the moment it is more than obvious that this process and the whole security at WP.dot org lacks QA and QC. Each task is left to an individual or closed group. Imagine the following: what if an automatic security update could be pushed only if: - X out of Y (where X < Y) authorities agree that update is fine - have a pilot update on let's say 100 different servers (I hope .org could afford this) where regression tests will be fired against each one. The current problems would not occur."

Automatic background updates for minor releases have saved developers thousands of hours in updating sites. A UI for allowing users to opt into automatic updates for major releases is on the roadmap for WordPress 5.6, expected in early December.

This particular accidental update has betrayed for many developers what was already a somewhat fragile trust in the auto-update system. It doesn't shore up more confidence for selling the idea of core updates when 5.6 is released, but it doesn't mean that auto-updates are not a good idea. WordPress.org will need to put better processes in place in order to win back users' trust.

The incident affected more than 100 sites for WordPress agency owner Robert Staddon. He reports that they all displayed the "Update now" button with the confusing and incorrect text seen below. Staddon said the incident has not yet caused him to change his approach to allowing clients to receive auto-updates.

"I was very grateful for the extraordinarily fast response time to get the problem fixed," Staddon said. "However, it did shake my confidence in the WordPress auto-update process. Considering the number of websites using WordPress, a mistake of this magnitude could end up having a rather catastrophic effect around the web. I would hope that the core team would be able to evaluate how this happened and consider putting some checks in place to make sure it doesn't happen again."

30 Oct 2020 10:57pm GMT

WPTavern: Twenty Twenty-One Blocks Theme Launching as a Separate Project

Twenty Twenty-One in the Gutenberg site editor.

Last Friday, Themes Team representative Carolina Nymark announced the Twenty Twenty-One Blocks theme project. It is a block-based version of the Twenty Twenty-One default theme that is shipping along with WordPress 5.6. It will work with the site editor available in the Gutenberg plugin. Developers will work on the two themes as separate projects.

The original plan was to explore support for full-site editing after the WordPress Beta 1 release for Twenty Twenty-One. Some had hoped that support would land in the theme itself. However, a second theme could be a better path in the long run.

As I wrote in my original coverage of Twenty Twenty-One, it did not seem likely that full-site editing would be far enough along in development for it to be a primary feature for the theme. Since the feature will not be in WordPress 5.6, it makes sense to develop for it outside of the primary theme for the time being.

"Twenty Twenty-One Blocks is an experimental theme created as an example to highlight what is possible with Full Site Editing," wrote Nymark in the announcement. "The theme will need Gutenberg and the Full Site Editing experiment to be enabled. It will not be part of Core, but once complete it will be available in the theme directory."

Currently, there are no plans to integrate the two themes down the road. They will be maintained as separate projects. This sounds like a smart strategy for this theme. It will allow developers to work on the Blocks theme as a separate entity in the coming months without having to worry about potential problems with merging.

I am excited about this project because it means we get a somewhat official, though not technically a default, theme that supports full-site editing. Otherwise, the community would have had to wait another year for the Twenty Twenty-Two theme, which will presumably be 100% built with blocks.

The Q theme by Ari Stathopoulos, a Themes Team representative, is a little farther along at the moment. It is a solid starting point and learning tool. However, there should be a theme project coming from core WordPress developers that is leading the way for other theme authors. There is a sense of trust, particularly for first-time theme authors, when picking apart an officially-supported theme that it is built to current standards. That is why Twenty Twenty-One Blocks is important.

Thus far, little work has gone into the theme, much of it coming from the original pull request to kick off development from Kjell Reigstad. The theme is currently stored in the WordPress Theme Experiments repository. Ideally, the team will split this theme into its own GitHub repository since it will be added to the theme directory and not merely an experiment.

For theme authors who want to cut their teeth on building block-based themes, this would be a good place to begin taking those initial steps. Or, it will at least be a good project to follow because this is as close to an "official" theme that supports full-site editing that we will see for a while.

At this point, the theme does not do a lot. It is minimal and nowhere near a block-based equivalent of Twenty Twenty-One. However, it works as well as most other themes supporting Gutenberg's site editor.

For now, template parts do not seem to be working on the front end. However, template parts have been hit or miss in my tests for a while, sometimes seemingly working only by some randomly magical force that rears its head when I close in on the limits of my frustration - it will likely begin working immediately after publishing this post. That is often the nature of testing alpha-level software. Nevertheless, I am excited about following the development of this theme in the coming weeks and months.

30 Oct 2020 8:35pm GMT

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.5.3 Maintenance Release

WordPress 5.5.3 is now available.

This maintenance release fixes an issue introduced in WordPress 5.5.2 which makes it impossible to install WordPress on a brand new website that does not have a database connection configured. This release does not affect sites where a database connection is already configured, for example, via one-click installers or an existing wp-config.php file.

5.5.3-alpha Issue

Earlier today - between approximately 15:30 and 16:00 UTC - the auto-update system for WordPress updated some sites from version 5.5.2 to version 5.5.3-alpha. This auto-update was due to an error in the Updates API caused by the 5.5.3 release preparations (see more here). The 5.5.3-alpha version at this point was functionally identical to 5.5.2 as no development work had been started on 5.5.3; however, the following changes may have been made to your site:

These themes and plugins were not activated and therefore remain non-functional unless you installed them previously. It is safe to delete these features should you prefer not to use them.

If you are not on 5.5.2, or have auto-updates for minor releases disabled, please manually update to the 5.5.3 version by downloading WordPress 5.5.3 or visiting Dashboard → Updates and click "Update Now."

For more technical details of the issue, we've posted on our Core Development blog.

Thanks and props!

Thanks to those who contributed to the 5.5.3 release: @audrasjb, @barry, @chanthaboune, @cbringmann, @clorith, @davidbaumwald, @desrosj, @hellofromtonya, @jeffpaul, @johnbillion, @garubi, @metalandcoffee, @mukesh27, @otto42, @punitsoftac, @sergeybiryukov, @whyisjake, and @xknown.

30 Oct 2020 8:25pm GMT

29 Oct 2020

feedWordPress Planet

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.5.2 Security and Maintenance Release

WordPress 5.5.2 is now available!

This security and maintenance release features 14 bug fixes in addition to 10 security fixes. Because this is a security release, it is recommended that you update your sites immediately. All versions since WordPress 3.7 have also been updated.

WordPress 5.5.2 is a short-cycle security and maintenance release. The next major release will be version 5.6.

You can download WordPress 5.5.2 by downloading from WordPress.org, or visit your Dashboard → Updates and click Update Now.

If you have sites that support automatic background updates, they've already started the update process.

Security Updates

Ten security issues affect WordPress versions 5.5.1 and earlier. If you haven't yet updated to 5.5, all WordPress versions since 3.7 have also been updated to fix the following security issues:

Thank you to all of the reporters for privately disclosing the vulnerabilities. This gave the security team time to fix the vulnerabilities before WordPress sites could be attacked.

For more information, browse the full list of changes on Trac, or check out the version 5.5.2 HelpHub documentation page.

Thanks and props!

The 5.5.2 release was led by @whyisjake and the following release squad: @audrasjb, @davidbaumwald, @desrosj, @johnbillion, @metalandcoffee, @noisysocks @planningwrite, @sarahricker and @sergeybiryukov.

In addition to the security researchers and release squad members mentioned above, thank you to everyone who helped make WordPress 5.5.2 happen:

Aaron Jorbin, Alex Concha, Amit Dudhat, Andrey "Rarst" Savchenko, Andy Fragen, Ayesh Karunaratne, bridgetwillard, Daniel Richards, David Baumwald, Davis Shaver, dd32, Florian TIAR, Hareesh, Hugh Lashbrooke, Ian Dunn, Igor Radovanov, Jake Spurlock, Jb Audras, John Blackbourn, Jonathan Desrosiers, Jon Brown, Joy, Juliette Reinders Folmer, kellybleck, mailnew2ster, Marcus Kazmierczak, Marius L. J., Milan Dinić, Mohammad Jangda, Mukesh Panchal, Paal Joachim Romdahl, Peter Wilson, Regan Khadgi, Robert Anderson, Sergey Biryukov, Sergey Yakimov, Syed Balkhi, szaqal21, Tellyworth, Timi Wahalahti, Timothy Jacobs, Towhidul I. Chowdhury, Vinayak Anivase, and zieladam.

29 Oct 2020 8:41pm GMT

WPTavern: Log Into WordPress By Touch or Face ID Via the Passwordless WP Plugin

Last week, WP Busters released its first plugin titled Passwordless WP. It is a project from full-stack developer Ilya Zolotov that allows end-users to log into their WordPress websites via Touch ID, Face ID, or pin. The goal is to make accessing a site easier and more secure.

Zolotov built the plugin after checking his email on a public database and finding old passwords. He said he now uses a safe browser for work purposes without extensions and scripts. He also said the millions of credentials stolen or compromised every year was a motivator for building the plugin.

"I like this feature of my laptop, and I am using it every day," he said. "As well, I am using it to avoid entering the 'root' password in terminal using my finger, it's comfortable and any sniffer can't capture my password."

Last year, he decided to check browser support for handling passwordless logins but was disappointed that Safari on iPhone only supported external USB keys at the time. He concluded that the technology was not ready yet.

"In Apple's summer news, I saw the update: the platform authenticator would be available in iOS 14 and BigSur on Safari, and passwordless authentication is working in Chrome now. Also, Microsoft will release Windows Hello support. 2020 is the passwordless year. Awesome!"

He then began work on developing the first version using stable cryptographic libraries and building a simple user experience. He believes the technology that allows this plugin to work will be widely supported from now on.

Zolotov assures users that it is a fast, secure, and certified protocol. The plugin does not store any personal data on the server or link to third-party services.

"Other plugins which use SMS or Email to log in, send you code or link," he said when asked about how Passwordless WP differs from similar plugins. "They make your life harder because you need to do more clicks - open email and link, unlock phone, etc. I prefer to enter a password using my manager, which uses my Touch ID."

Other plugins using the same technology do exist. WP-WebAuthn, for example, has a few additional features and has been around for about seven months.

How Passwordless WP Works

Logging into the site via fingerprint.

The plugin requires HTTPS, unless in use in a localhost test environment. It also has a minimum requirement of PHP 7.2. Outside of that, it will work for any WordPress installation. Passwordless logins are handled on the user level, which means that each user on a WordPress site must register a token from their profile page.

The process is simple and takes only moments. Once on the register token screen, users merely need to click a button and choose the authentication method from their operating system.

Registering a token for a user account.

From that point forward, when logging into the site, it is merely a matter of clicking on a username and using your Touch ID or Face ID to log in.

The following is a quick video of the plugin in action:

My experience is with Google Chrome on Windows. The latest release, version 1.1.6, is working well. The previous version had an issue with a missing PHP extension in testing, but the plugin author fixed it quickly and sent out an update once I notified him of the problem.

29 Oct 2020 7:04pm GMT

28 Oct 2020

feedWordPress Planet

WPTavern: EditorPlus Introduces Its First Blocks and Adds a Custom Block Creator

In what seems to be a never-ending onslaught of new features, Munir Kamal has released some major new features to his EditorPlus plugin in the last two updates. Version 2.0, which landed earlier today, includes a set of seven new blocks. The previous release showcased a create-a-block feature that puts more customization options in the hands of end-users.

The block editor has fueled his creativity, and he has not run out of ideas for his block-sharing website GutenbergHub or EditorPlus plugin. Upcoming releases should see an overhaul of the UI for the plugin and a possible API for third-party developers.

He said he will be making sure that EditorPlus is working alongside WordPress's site editor when it lands in the future. Plus, eventual support of WooCommerce's blocks is on the table. For now, the focus is on the plugin features he has launched in recent weeks.

Creating Custom Blocks

With WordPress's core set of blocks already in the hands of users, nearly anything is already possible. These blocks essentially cover all the foundational elements of web design, such as headings, paragraphs, lists, quotes, and more. Sometimes the trick to building something unique is mixing and matching these elements to create something new. That is essentially what this new create-a-block feature is for EditorPlus.

Saving a custom block is simple. Users must first wrap their blocks into a core Group block. Then, from the "more options" menu in the block toolbar, select the "Add to Custom Blocks" option. The plugin will ask for a block title before saving.

Saving a custom block.

Not to be confused with reusable blocks, which are resources that remain the same from post to post, created blocks are like any other blocks. They are accessible via the block inserter under the "My Custom Blocks" category.

Custom blocks available from the block inserter.

A couple of minor details are missing that would be great additions for the long term. The first is the ability to select a custom icon for the block. Currently, all custom blocks share an icon. The second is the ability to add a preview in the block inserter.

Kamal built this feature so that end-users could create simple blocks for themselves. It is also a tool for developers to quickly create blocks for client websites.

"For example, almost all business websites need a Testimonial block, but there is not one in core for that exact purpose," he said. "Of course, you can create it using the combination of core blocks, and that's the way to do it. I've seen many block plugins bringing such blocks like Testimonial, Team, Pricing, etc., but those can be easily created with core blocks."

He has already shown the community how far you can stretch the core blocks to create unique layouts with his block and template libraries. So, it is not outside the realm of possibility that users could build some of these things directly from the editor.

The block creator seems like it would be better handled as a block pattern creator. In essence, users are creating custom patterns, which are groupings of blocks. Kamal said that a pattern creator is on the to-do list too.

"As Gutenberg has both these pieces to use for creating content/layouts, I will add both features," he said. "Save as block has been added, 'save as pattern' will be added too. It will be up to the user to use whatever way they want to according to their workflow."

I lean toward sticking with the existing pattern paradigm, a single feature that handles groups of blocks. However, it will be interesting to see what users prefer. In the long run, what matters most is that they have easy access to the tools they need to build their pages.

The "Missing" Blocks

Using the Progress Bar block in the editor.

Earlier today, Kamal released what he calls the "missing" blocks for WordPress. These are a set of seven custom-built blocks that handle types of content not possible with the existing core blocks. In the past, he has been hesitant to create any blocks, preferring to extend the tools that WordPress provided out of the box.

"My original idea and still is to extend Gutenberg for what is missing and to make it more powerful for creating beautiful designs visually without code," he said. "And, after creating hundreds of templates/designs, I've realized a need for some important missing blocks that are most commonly used around the website builders but missing in Gutenberg. So I am only adding those blocks in EditorPlus that are missing, must be needed to create modern designs, and can not be created using a combination of core blocks easily. For example, a tabs block, accordion block, or all other blocks added are those that fit these criteria."

The plugin includes the following new blocks:

Some of these require additional JavaScript, which is why they do not make good candidates for core WordPress. However, they are good options for plugin developers, and these are not uncommon blocks from other library-type plugins.

The thing that sets them apart is the integration with the plugin's styling system, which Kamal may be opening up to other plugin developers in a future release. The current plan is to create an independent Styles API for letting users customize any block. He has already gotten some feedback from the Advanced WP Facebook group on the idea. Much of the feedback is wishing that such a system would land in WordPress itself.

One interesting feature of the plugin's new blocks is that when clicking on a sub-element of a block, its design options are automatically triggered in the block options panel. For example, the star rating block has "title" and "rating" elements. When clicking on the title, its design options open in the sidebar, and the same happens for ratings. This is a departure from the typical organization of EditorPlus's design options on the core blocks, which are grouped by CSS properties. The focus is put on the individual element, and it makes it much easier to find a specific option.

This experimentation is a bit of a precursor to what Kamal is working on for a future update. One of his big goals is to do some cleanup of the UI - there are a lot of options in the plugin - and let users more quickly customize their blocks.

28 Oct 2020 9:08pm GMT

WPTavern: WordPress Contributors Discuss Launching an Official Block Pattern Directory

Block patterns were one of the most exciting and transformative features introduced in WordPress. 5.5, giving users a giant head start on building pages by allowing them to insert sets of pre-designed blocks. Core now includes a handful of default patterns available in the block inserter but contributors are exploring the idea of expanding this small selection into a full-blown pattern directory.

Alex Shiels opened a discussion on make.wordpress.org to get feedback on how it might be implemented. He suggested that the pattern directory would be similar to the block directory, minus the need to install plugins in the background. Community-contributed patterns could be searched and added via one-click installation from the block inserter.

Shiels asked for feedback on several questions, such as how block patterns could be represented in search results and how previews could accurately reflect how a pattern might appear with different themes. One of the most important considerations he raised: Should the Block Pattern Directory be limited to patterns using only core blocks?

If patterns can only contain core blocks, that leaves it to third-party markets to provide patterns that include blocks from plugins. It seems more likely that block plugin developers would opt to ship their own selection of patterns inside their plugins, instead of contributing to the pattern directory. Having it open to all blocks hosted in the directory would encourage a more diverse range of patterns. Patterns requiring a non-core block might include a prompt to download it.

The WordPress community has already created many different unofficial pattern libraries, although the terminology can be confusing. Gutenberg Hub's template library may be one of the most prominent. It provides section patterns and full page templates that users can browse and then copy the code to paste into their own sites. Jeffrey Carandang's "Share-a-Block" site also offers a selection of patterns to download.

WordPress.com has just launched its own pattern library today with more than 100 patterns pre-designed patterns available. Automattic plans to add more patterns based on user feedback and requests. This new free library will make site building easier for millions of users and also creates a strong incentive for using the block editor.

Wpcom pattern library

Patterns leverage all the best things about the new editor. Inserting a pattern is easier than wrangling shortcodes or wading through theme options to try to get the right combination to reproduce the demo. Patterns are more approachable than page builders and don't require learning a new interface.

As the momentum around block patterns increases, I think we will see more commercial theme and block plugin creators using patterns to showcase their products and provide starter packs. It is the best way to help users understand the wide range of possibilities that the block editor enables.

Having an official directory of community-contributed patterns could be an interesting way for creators to cross-promote their free blocks and designs, while opening up a whole new world of design options for self-hosted WordPress users. How many times have you been shopping around for just the right WordPress theme and found that you like certain sections and layouts offered in several different themes? Patterns give you the ability to cherry pick different sections to create your own unique layout for each page/post, without having to wrestle with the limitations of your theme.

The ability to browse and access community-contributed patterns directly within the editing interface may have a long list of technical challenges to solve, but it would undoubtedly put more design power into users' hands.

Not everyone can take a blank canvas and artfully combine blocks to produce sophisticated designs. Putting patterns at users' fingertips would make site building more of a delight, especially for users who are new to the block editor. It might also allow users to save their favorite patterns for future use, in the same way you can save your favorite themes and plugins.

The discussion on WordPress.org is just getting underway. A few of the original contributors on the idea have created a GitHub repository to track and explore some of the more technical considerations of launching an official block patterns directory. If you have ideas to contribute on how this could be implemented or want to share other considerations, make sure to comment on the post.

28 Oct 2020 7:12pm GMT

HeroPress: A Life Changing Journey With WordPress – जीवन में मिले रंग वर्डप्रेस के संग

Pull Quote: A Life Changing Journey With WordPress

वर्डप्रेसने मुझे मेरे ज़िंदगी में कुछ अलग करने का मौक़ा दिया।

One fine day, I was checking my Twitter account and suddenly, got a message from HeroPress. I was astonished after getting a message from such a huge platform. I got to share a lot with Topher while having a long chat session with him. He then asked me to write an article for HeroPress.

It took me a while to think about what to write as writing about technical never excites me that much. Soon, I realized that what's better than writing my own story and telling the story about how an introvert girl from a small village of India chased her dreams and gave a direction to her life.

Early Life

I was born in Banera, a small village in India. After completing my primary education there, I moved to my uncle's place in a nearby city for higher education. There I decided to become an engineer. Being from a rural background, people in my village refuse the idea of sending their girl child to another city for further studies. Fortunately, that was not the case with me because my parents are immensely supportive and loving. They've always encouraged me to believe in myself and fulfil my dreams. With their support, I pursued my engineering in Electronics & Communication, and yes, that's an entirely different field looking at my current profile.

Introduction to Web Development

Although I did my engineering in Electronics and Communication, I was not sure about having a future in this field. I was completely blank about my career and had no clue of what to do next. First, I thought about doing masters, but I was already tired of studying all those subjects. I applied for jobs, but there was no success. That was when one of my friends suggested that I should explore Web Development. The idea interested me, and then I started looking for some learning resources. Later I got an Internship as a PHP Developer. It was an unpaid internship, but still, I did it because I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to learn with real professionals.

Getting Started with WordPress

After doing the internship for three months, I got my first job. Before knowing WordPress, I got the chance to explore many CMS. I'd worked on Joomla, Magento and ExpressionEngine. Then my boss assigned me a small project on WordPress. At first glance, I found it very interesting. I found it surpassing and much better as compared to the other platforms I've worked on earlier. Its vast knowledge base made it easy for me to learn. I soon got comfortable managing WordPress, playing with plugins and themes, and started exploring it more in-depth.

There comes the next phase of my life. I was about to get married to Anand. He was in the same field as mine, and this helped me gain more confidence to pursue my interest. During our courtship period in 2015, he left his job and started his WordPress based Web Development Agency - WPVibes. Soon we got married, and I joined him as the first team member of WPVibes. Being part of a new startup gave me a lot of experience. I got to be involved in new processes. We started with Web Development, and soon we began exploring opportunities in plugin development. We started providing custom plugin development services as per the client's requirement and created some free and paid plugins. We found it much more exciting and productive. Today, WPVibes is a team of 10 members.

Interaction with WordPress Community

I started following some WordPress based groups on Facebook, and there I got to know about WordCamps. Soon I got the opportunity to attend my first WordCamp - WordCamp Ahmedabad. There I learned how amazing WordPress Community is. WordCamp Ahmedabad has one of the best WordPress communities in India, and everyone, including organizers, attendees were so humble and welcoming. There I listened to speakers from India and abroad. Some of them shared how they got into WordPress and how WordPress has changed their lives. One of the most inspiring sessions was by Rahul Bansal. He talked about contributing to WordPress and giving back to the community. He also explained how contributing to WordPress can help you to enhance your knowledge. It inspired me to contribute to WordPress. At that time, I couldn't manage to get involved with WordPress due to my busy schedule. The WordPress community of Ahmedabad immensely inspired us. Later, we started a WordPress meetup group in our city - Ajmer and found it a way to contribute to the community.

In the next WordCamp, I also attended the contribution day. Most of the contributors were inclined to contribute to Core, but I decided to choose a different path. I joined the team of WordPress TV Contributors.

WordPress TV is a platform where you can explore videos of WordCamp sessions. You can learn more about it here, https://make.wordpress.org/tv/.

Then I started contributing to WordPress Training. WordPress Training team manages the lesson plans and prepares content to educate people about building stuff for WordPress. The training team has recently launched a new platform for learning WordPress https://learn.wordpress.org/ (I am a proud contributor to this platform)

The year 2019 came with an exciting moment in my life. I got selected as a Volunteer for WordCamp Asia in Bangkok, Thailand. This was the very first edition of WordCamp Asia. After this, I got more involved with the community. I was very excited about playing this big role, attending my first WordCamp outside India, and that too, by being a part of the volunteering team. But due to the Covid pandemic, the event got cancelled. It was quite heartbreaking. Since all bookings were already made, we (me and my husband) didn't cancel the trip and enjoyed a vacation to Thailand.

My message to WordPress Community

What I have learnt in my life is it doesn't matter from where you come and what background you have. All that matters is your hard work and positive attitude towards life.

I have a message for all the WordPress lovers and also for those who are starting with WordPress. There is a huge community to help you with your learning, so start learning and try to give back to the community. It doesn't matter if you are not comfortable with programming; there are many different ways in which you can contribute.

Jai WordPress!

जीवन में मिले रंग वर्डप्रेस के संग

उस दिन मैं अपना ट्विटर अकाउंट देख रही थी की तभी मुझे हीरो प्रेस की तरफ से एक संदेश आया| उसे देख कर अचम्भित रह गयी| मैं हीरोप्रेस पे बहुत से लेख पढ़ चुकी थी, तो ऐसे में अचानक से उसकी ओर से संदेश आने पर मेरा अचम्भित होना स्वाभाविक ही था| उसके बाद मेरी Topher (हीरो प्रेस के संस्थापक ) से लंबी बातचीत हुई और उसके बाद उन्होंने मुझे मेरा लेख लिखने के लिए कहा और साथ ही यह अनुरोध भी किया की मैं अपने लेख को अपनी मातृभाषा हिंदी में भी लिखुँ|

मुझे ये तय करने में काफी समय लगा की में इसमें क्या लिखूं| तकनीकी लेख लिखने में मेरी ख़ास रूचि नहीं थी| फिर मुझे लगा की क्यों ना इसमें खुद की कहानी ही लिखी जाए| लिखा जाए की कैसे भारत के एक छोटे से गाँव की एक अंतर्मुखी लड़की ने अपने सपनों को पूरा किया और अपने जीवन को एक दिशा दी|

प्रारंभिक जीवन

मेरा जन्म भारत के एक छोटे से गाँव बनेड़ा में हुआ था| मेरी प्रारंभिक शिक्षा वहीँ हुई| चूँकि हमारे गाँव में उच्च शिक्षा की कोई सुविधा नहीं थी अतः उसके लिए मुझे पास ही के शहर में

अपने ताऊजी के पास रहना पड़ा| उसके बाद मैने इंजीनियरिंग करने का विचार बनाया, परन्तु उसके लिए मुझे फिर किसी और शहर में जाना पड़ता| उस समय के ग्रामीण परिवेश में पढ़ाई के लिए ज्यादा दूर भेजने को सही नहीं माना जाता था, और वो भी खासकर जब बात एक लड़की की हो|

परन्तु मेरे मामले में मुझे मेरे माता पिता का पूरा सहयोग प्राप्त था| उन्होंने हमेशा ही मुझे आगे बढ़ने और अपने सपनों को पूरा करने के लिए प्रोत्साहित किया| उनके सहयोग से ही मैंने इलेक्ट्रॉनिक्स एंड कम्युनिकेशन (Electronics & Communication Engineering ) में इंजीनियरिंग करी| जी हाँ, ये मेरे वर्तमान कार्य क्षेत्र से पूर्णता भिन्न था|

वेबसाइट डवलपमेंट से मेरा परिचय

जैसा की मैंने बताया की मैंने इंजीनियरिंग बिलकुल ही अलग क्षेत्र में करी थी| मैंने कभी सपने में भी नहीं सोचा था कि सेमीकंडक्टर और सर्किट की पढ़ाई करने के बाद मैं वेबसाइट बनाउंगी| पर वक्त को शायद यही मंज़ूर था| इंजीनियरिंग पूरी करने के बाद मेरे पास २ विकल्प थे, आगे की पढ़ाई (M.Tech) करूँ या फिर नौकरी की तलाश करूँ| आगे पड़ने का मेरा मन नहीं था, तो मैंने नौकरी करना ही सही समझा| परन्तु काफी प्रयास के बाद भी मुझे कोई मनमाफिक नौकरी नहीं मिली|

ऐसे में मेरी एक सहेली ने मुझे वेबसाइट डेवलपमेंट में हाथ आजमाने की राय दी| कॉलेज के दिनों में मैंने थोड़ी PHP और HTML, CSS पढ़ी थी, तो मैंने उसी को और गहराई से समझना शुरू किया, कुछ कोर्स भी करे| मुझे जल्द ही PHP डेवलपर के तौर पर एक इंटर्नशिप मिल गयी| इसमें मुझे कोई वेतन नहीं मिलने वाला था, पर मुझे विश्वास था कि किसी कोर्स के बजाय ये एक बेहतर मौका है कुछ सीखने का|

वर्डप्रेस से मेरा जुड़ाव

३ महीने की इंटर्नशिप के बाद मुझे एक नौकरी मिल गयी| वहां वर्डप्रेस पर काम करने से पहले मैंने कई दूसरे CMS पर भी काम किया, जैसे कि Joomla, Magento, Expression Engine आदि| फिर कुछ समय बाद एक प्रोजेक्ट में वर्डप्रेस पर काम करने का मौका मिला| मुझे ये काफी ज्यादा दिलचस्प लगा| इससे पहले मैंने जिन CMS पर काम किया था, उनके मुकाबले यह बेहद सुलझा हुआ लगा| इसके बारे में जो जानकारी चाहिए वो आसानी से इंटरनेट पर उपलब्ध थी जिससे मुझे इसको सीखने में बिलकुल भी कठिनाई नहीं हुई| धीरे-धीरे वर्डप्रेस चलाने में, Plugins और Themes का उपयोग करने में मेरा आत्मविश्वास बढ़ता ही गया और मैं इन सबको और भी गहराई से सीखती गयी|

इसके बाद मेरे जीवन का एक अगला पड़ाव आया - शादी| नवम्बर २०१५ में मेरी शादी आनन्द से हुई|

वह भी वेबसाइट डेवलपमेंट के क्षेत्र में ही काम कर रहा था और इससे मुझे मेरा रुचिकर काम जारी रखने में कोई भी दिक्कत नहीं हुई| हमारी शादी के कुछ समय पहले ही आनन्द ने नौकरी छोड़कर अपनी खुद की वेब डेवलपमेंट कंपनी (WPVibes) शुरू करी| इसमें भी मुख्यतः काम वर्डप्रेस पर ही था| शादी के बाद मैँ भी पहली टीम मेंबर के तौर पर कंपनी से जुड़ गयी| एक बिलकुल ही नयी कंपनी से जुड़ना एक अलग ही अनुभव होता है| आपको कई ऐसी चीजें सीखने को मिलती है जो आप एक बड़ी स्थापित कंपनी में काम करके नहीं सीख सकते| शुरुआत में हम वेबसाइट ही बनाते थे, पर जल्द ही हमने Plugin डवलपमेंट में भी संभावनाएँ तलाशना शुरू किया| हमारी क्षमता को देखते हुए यह हमें ज्यादा रोमांचक और उत्पादक लगा|

वर्डप्रेस कम्युनिटी और मैं

मैं फेसबुक पर वर्डप्रेस से संबंधित कुछ ग्रुप से जुड़ी| यहाँ मुझे बहुत कुछ सीखने को मिला और मुझे वर्डकेम्प (WordCamp) के बारे में भी पता पड़ा| जल्द ही मुझे मेरे पहले वर्डकेम्प - वर्डकेम्प अहमदाबाद में भाग लेने का मौका मिला| यहाँ मुझे एहसास हुआ की वर्डप्रेस समुदाय (community ) कितना जबर्दस्त है| वर्डकेम्प अहमदाबाद, भारत में होने वाले श्रेष्ठ वर्डकेम्प में से एक है|

यहाँ मैंने देश विदेश से आये हुए कई लोगों के वक्तव्य सुने| इनमें से सबसे ज्यादा प्रेरणादायक राहुल बंसल का वक्तव्य लगा, जिसमे उन्होंने वर्डप्रेस समुदाय को अपनी ओर से कुछ वापिस देने के बारे में (Give Back to the Community) चर्चा करी| उन्होंने यह भी बताया की किस तरह वर्डप्रेस में योगदान करना आपके लिए ज्ञानवर्धक भी साबित हो सकता है| इससे मुझे वर्डप्रेस में अपना योगदान देने की प्रेरणा मिली| हालांकि किसी कारण वश उस समय में वर्डकेम्प के Contribution Day में भाग नहीं ले पायी थी| वहां की वर्डप्रेस समुदाय से प्रेरित होकर हमने हमारे शहर अजमेर में भी वर्डप्रेस मीटअप (Meetup) की शुरुआत करी और लोगो को वर्डप्रेस से जुड़ने और इसके बारे में जानकारी देना शुरू करा| यह भी वर्डप्रेस में अपना योगदान (contribute) देने का ही एक माध्यम है|

अगले वर्डकेम्प में मैंने Contribution Day में भी भाग लिया| ज्यादातर योगदानकर्ताओं (Contributors) का झुकाव Core की तरफ रहता है, ऐसे में मैंने कुछ हटकर करने की सोची और वर्डकेम्प टीवी (WordPress TV) में योगदान करने के बारे में सीखा| वर्डप्रेस टीवी एक वेबसाइट है जहाँ आप पूरी दुनिया के वर्डकेम्प से जुड़े वीडियो देख सकते हैं| इसके बारे में अधिक जानकारी के लिए आप यहाँ देख सकते हैं https://make.wordpress.org/tv/

इसके बाद मैंने वर्डप्रेस ट्रेनिंग (WordPress Training) में भी योगदान करना शुरू करा| वर्डप्रेस ट्रेनिंग की टीम वर्डप्रेस के बारे में जागरूक और शिक्षित करने के लिए पाठ्य सामग्री तैयार करती है|

हाल ही में शुरू करी गयी एक वेबसाइट https://learn.wordpress.org/ में भी मेरा छोटा सा योगदान हैं|

वर्ष २०१९ मेरे लिए एक बहुत ही अच्छा मौका लेकर आया| मेरा चयन पहली बार होने वाले वर्डकेम्प एशिया २०२० (WordCamp Asia 2020) में वालंटियर के तौर पर हुआ| इसका आयोजन बैंकाक (थाईलैंड) में होने वाला था| मैं इसे लेकर काफी उत्साहित थी| ये भारत के बाहर किसी वर्डकेम्प में भाग लेने का मेरा पहले मौका था और वो भी एक वालंटियर की तरह| परन्तु कोरोना महामारी के कारण ये मात्र एक सपना ही रह गया| इसके आयोजन के कुछ दिन पहले ही इसे रद्द कर दिया गया|

फिर भी मैंने मेरी यात्रा रद्द नहीं करी और आनन्द के साथ थाईलैंड में कुछ दिनों की छुट्टियों के मजे लिये|

वर्डप्रेस समुदाय के लिए मेरा संदेश

मैंने अपने अभी तक के जीवन से यही सीखा है की इससे कोई फर्क नहीं पड़ता की आप कहाँ से आये हैं और क्या आपकी पृष्ठभूमि रही है| यदि आप मेहनत कर सकते है और एक सकारात्मक सोच रखते है तो आप अपने रास्ते खुद बना सकते हैं|

सभी वर्डप्रेस के चाहने वालो और खासकर उनके लिए जो अभी वर्डप्रेस से जुड़े हैं या जुड़ना चाहते हैं उनसे मेरा यही कहना है की आगे बढ़े, आपकी मदद के लिए एक बहुत ही बड़ा समुदाय (community) है| तो भी शुरू करें और जब भी हो किसी भी तरह से अपना भी योगदान देने की कोशिश करें| जरूरी नहीं की आपको प्रोग्रामिंग आती हो, अगर आप अपने एक मित्र को वर्डप्रेस के बारे में बताते है या सिखाते हैं तो ये भी एक तरह का योगदान ही है|

जय वर्डप्रेस !

The post A Life Changing Journey With WordPress - जीवन में मिले रंग वर्डप्रेस के संग appeared first on HeroPress.

28 Oct 2020 2:31am GMT

27 Oct 2020

feedWordPress Planet

WordPress.org blog: Take the 2020 WordPress Annual Survey (and view the 2019 results)!

For many years, WordPress enthusiasts have filled out an annual survey to share their experiences and feelings about WordPress. Interesting results from this survey have been shared in the annual State of the Word address and/or here on WordPress News.

This survey helps those who build WordPress understand more about how the software is used, and by whom. The survey also helps leaders in the WordPress open source project learn more about our contributors' experience.

To ensure that your WordPress experience is represented in the 2020 survey results,

Take the 2020 Annual Survey! (English)

You can also take the survey in French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish! The survey will be open for at least 6 weeks, and results will be posted on this blog.

2019 Survey Results

View the 2019 Survey Results (Slides)
Download the 2019 Survey Results (PDF or PPT)

The 2019 survey included some new questions to better understand why people continue to use WordPress as their preferred CMS, as well as a section directed toward WordPress contributors. For the first time in 2019, this survey was translated into 5 different languages: French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish.

The first WordPress Contributor Survey was conducted in 2015, but unfortunately the results were never published. This report includes Contributor Survey results from both 2015 and 2019.

Survey Segments

Major groups in the survey included: WordPress Professionals, WordPress Users, and Others.

The WordPress Professionals group consists of those who: work for a company that designs/develops websites; use WordPress to build websites and/or blogs for others; design or develop themes, plugins, or other custom tools for WordPress sites; or are a designer, developer, or other web professional working with WordPress.

This WordPress Professionals group is further divided into WordPress Company Pros (those who work for a company that designs/develops websites) and WordPress Freelancers/Hobbyists (all other professional types) subgroups.

The WordPress User group consists of those who: own or run a blog that is built with WordPress; own or run a website that is built with WordPress; write for or contribute to a blog/website that is built with WordPress; use WordPress for school as a teacher; use WordPress for school as a student, or are learning to build websites using WordPress.

The Others group consists of those who did not self-identify with any of the options provided for the question, "Which of the following best describes how you use WordPress?"

2019 Survey Results Summary

WordPress remains the platform of choice for future projects among those surveyed. Overwhelmingly, the reasons cited for this are that WordPress is the CMS people already know, and that the community supporting it is valuable. Professionals and users report similar levels of frustration with updates and Gutenberg. Both groups also love the ease of use they find in WordPress.

The number of professionals who report providing a heavily customized experience to clients has increased substantially, while at the same time the amount of time reported on creating those sites has decreased. Regardless of frustrations felt with various features, this seems to indicate that ease of use has been on the rise.

More details on sentiment, usage, and other interesting topics are available in the report: check it out!

Before you go: take the 2020 Survey!

Knowing why and how people use WordPress helps those who build WordPress to keep your needs and preferences in mind.

The survey will be open for at least 6 weeks, and results will be published on this blog. All data will be anonymized: no email addresses or IP addresses will be associated with published results. To learn more about WordPress.org's privacy practices, check out the privacy policy.

Like last year, the 2020 survey will be promoted via a banner on WordPress.org, as well as by WordPress enthusiasts. Each of the translated surveys will be promoted through banners on their associated localized-language WordPress.org sites. Please encourage your WordPress pals and social media followers to take the survey too!

To ensure your WordPress experience is represented in the 2020 survey results… don't delay!

Take the 2020 WordPress Annual Survey!

(Also available in French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish!)

27 Oct 2020 10:44pm GMT

WordPress.org blog: WordPress 5.6 Beta 2

WordPress 5.6 beta 2 is now available for testing!

This software is still in development, so we recommend that you run this version on a test site.

You can test the WordPress 5.6 beta in two ways:

WordPress 5.6 is slated for release on December 8, 2020, and we need your help to get there!

Thank you to all of the contributors that tested the beta 1 development release and provided feedback. Testing for bugs is an important part of polishing each release and a great way to contribute to WordPress.

Some highlights

Since beta 1, 53 bugs have been fixed. Here is a summary of a few changes included in beta 2:

Developer notes

WordPress 5.6 has lots of refinements to the developer experience as well. To keep up, subscribe to the Make WordPress Core blog and pay special attention to the developers' notes for updates on those and other changes that could affect your products.

How to Help

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.

27 Oct 2020 10:02pm GMT

WPTavern: Carrd-Like Theme Experiment Provides a Glimpse Into the Future of Theming

Carrd-like theme front page template.

It is no secret that I think the future of theming with WordPress is bright, that the Gutenberg project will eventually pay off. As a former full-time theme developer, I lived through the years where there were no standards for how to build certain features. It was much like the Wild West. There were vast, unexplored territories. Each themer was setting off to find gold with the latest tricks and techniques they had learned.

One of the reasons I remain a fanboy of the Gutenberg project is because of experiments like the Two Column Landing Page theme (yes, that's literally the theme name) that Kjell Reigstad put together in less than an hour. It is a Carrd-like layout. It is a simple one-page theme that is essentially an "about me" page. Under the hood, it required no custom framework or non-standard options. It simply utilized existing tools from WordPress and Gutenberg.

Two Column Landing Page is an unfinished product. Technically, it is a pull request that has yet to be officially merged into the WordPress theme experiments repository. Automattic Theme Wrangler Ian Stewart passed a Carrd demo link along, and Reigstad pieced together a block-based version for WordPress.

The theme was easy to customize via the site editor, which continually improves with each release of Gutenberg (9.2 had some nice improvements with its template switcher).

Customized theme front page.

For anyone who wants to give the theme a spin, they will need to grab the two-column-landing-page theme folder from the try/two-col-landing-page branch of the theme experiments repository. Enabling full-site editing within the Gutenberg plugin is also a requirement.

Why This Theme Is the Future

This Cardd-like theme is special not because it is anything extraordinary from a front-end design standpoint. It is special because it showcases how simple WordPress theming can be.

Theme authors will continue to build and experiment with old and new ideas. It will simply be much less hassle to do so. With traditional theming, developers who wanted to achieve this same Carrd-like layout for the front page of the site would have needed to build several customizer options and often provide extensive instructions on how to piece it together. When full-site editing finally lands in core, themers will be able to define a single template with predefined blocks.

No hooking into the customizer.

No need to register a database option.

No need to register a form field.

No need to sanitize user input for security.

No conditional checks before outputting front-end content.

WordPress will handle all these bits. If theme authors are not excited about this, they have not been paying attention. Now is the time to start.

This has been the problem with theme "design" over the years. More and more, it has become a business of learning relatively advanced PHP just to build out basic options. Because WordPress fell so far behind alternative solutions, far too much responsibility was placed onto the shoulders of theme developers. They were doing less and less design work and an increasing amount of programming. They were forced to build custom solutions to push past the shortcomings of WordPress.

Full-site editing is flipping the switch. It is transitioning toward a design framework that simplifies the process of building themes.

With block-based themes and the site editor, theme authors can simply define an HTML template with blocks. The user can then customize it how they like via the site editor.

To non-developers, it is hard to explain how revolutionary it is to take this step back from programming and a step toward designing. Themes are getting put into their proper place. This Carrd-like layout may be simple. However, with traditional theming, it would have been massively more complex.

The Two Column Landing Page theme supports other views, such as the posts page, single posts, and more. However, it should not have to. The future of theming should mean that the theme itself could be nothing more than a front-page.html file - the template that controls the front page output - and nothing more.

This means that the Themes Team, the gatekeepers to the official theme directory, may need to loosen the reins a bit. While the team currently allows experimental block-based themes, guidelines in the new era will need to be scaled back to the point that they are almost nonexistent if we want to see an explosion of artistry in the theme directory. Many of those rules were put into place because of the limitations of the system. When full-site editing lands in core and developers are building themes from blocks, many of the rules will become antiquated.

27 Oct 2020 9:22pm GMT

26 Oct 2020

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WPTavern: Dragging and Dropping Meta Boxes Might Not Be So Simple in WordPress 5.6

If you have been testing the latest development version of WordPress in the past week or so, you may have noticed that the ability to drag and drop meta boxes seemingly disappeared. This is not a bug. Nine days ago, lead developer Andrew Ozz committed a change that requires end-users to click the "screen options" tab to expose the ability to rearrange meta boxes.

Ozz opened the original ticket and has spearheaded the effort to change how users interact with meta boxes. The issue he would like to solve stems from a change in WordPress 5.5. WordPress's last major release introduced visible "drop zones" in cases where a meta box container did not contain any meta boxes. These zones let users know that they can move meta boxes into those areas. This change was to fix a regression from a previous release. Needless to say, it was a rabbit hole of changes to chase down. Nevertheless, the problems with meta boxes were presumably fixed in WordPress 5.5.

Empty meta box holder on Dashboard screen.

Ozz opened the ticket to remove the always-visible drop zones when no meta boxes were present. The argument is that the ability to move meta boxes around the screen is technically a "screen option." Thus, it should only be triggered when the end-user has opened the screen options tab.

Another side issue is that he wanted to address accidental dragging, which he described as more common on laptops with trackpads than other devices.

Some readers may be thinking that meta boxes are going the way of the dinosaur. For those users who have migrated to 100% usage of the block editor, there is a good chance that their only interaction with meta boxes is on the Dashboard admin screen. For users on the classic editor, meta boxes are tightly interwoven into their day-to-day workflow. Many plugins also use the meta box system on custom admin screens.

The biggest counter-argument is that, because meta boxes look and feel like draggable elements, the ability to do so should be active at all times.

The point of contention is primarily about whether dragging and dropping meta boxes is technically a screen option. One side sees the WordPress 5.5 implementation as a broken user experience. The other side sees the new method as broken.

Without user data to back it up, no one can say which method is truly the best option. However, changes to a standard user experience that is more than a decade old are likely to be problematic for a large number of users.

This seems like one of those if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it situations. With years of muscle memory for existing users and an expectation for how meta boxes should work, relegating the ability to drag them around the interface to the little-used screen options tab is a regression. At the very least, it is a major change that needs heavy discussion and testing before going forward.

"Nothing breaks, per se," said John James Jacoby, the lead developer for BuddyPress and bbPress. "Nothing fatal errors. Nothing visually looks different. Yet, a critical user interface function has now gone missing. In my WP User Profiles plugin, for example, there are 15 registered meta boxes. Previous to this change, users with the device and dexterity to use a mouse/pointer/cursor could rearrange those meta boxes with simple dragging and dropping. After this change, no user can rearrange them without first discovering how to unlock the interface to enable rearranging."

The problem is illustrated by the following screenshot from the WP User Profiles plugin. Each of the highlighted boxes represents areas where end-users would typically be able to click to drag a meta box around the screen. If the current change is not reverted, many users may believe the plugin is broken when they upgrade to WordPress 5.6.

Meta boxes from the WP User Profiles plugin.

"Is there a plan for letting existing users know that moving metaboxes is now only when Screen Options is open?" asked Helen Hou-Sandì, the core tech lead for 5.6, in the ticket. "I'm not sure I would ever discover that as an existing user and would be convinced everything was broken if I updated with no context."

The current solution is to drop a note in the "What's New" section of the WordPress 5.6 release notes to let users know of the change, which may not be visible enough for most users to see. If it does go through, ideally, users would be welcomed with an admin pointer that describe the change directly in their WordPress admin interface.

There are also accessibility impacts to consider. Joe Dolson, a core WordPress committer and member of the accessibility team, said the user experience for keyboard users would become difficult and that the feature would be harder to discover.

"I can't see a way in which this change, as currently implemented, improves the experience for anybody," he said. "The proposal from the accessibility team is how we could compromise to reduce the visual impact of the movers without compromising the usability of the system at this extreme level; but just not doing this would be something I'd find entirely acceptable, as well."

So far, most people who have chimed in on the ticket have given numerous reasons for why this is not a good idea. There is almost no public support for it at this time. However, it currently remains in the latest development/trunk version of WordPress. If not reverted in the coming weeks, it will land in WordPress 5.6.

Update: This change was reverted in WordPress core on October 27, 2020.

26 Oct 2020 8:43pm GMT

WPTavern: WordPress Contributors Explore Adding Dark Mode Support to Upcoming Twenty Twenty-One Theme via a Plugin

WordPress 5.6 is set to include a new default theme, Twenty Twenty-One, designed to give users a blank canvas for the block editor. The theme doesn't fall under any particular category and is meant to be suitable for use across different types of websites. One new feature that has very recently come under consideration is support for a dark mode that can be toggled on or off.

Contributors have raised the possibility of including a dark mode in several issues while the theme has been in development. Mel Choyce, who is leading the design on the default theme, published a summary of the team's recent discussions about which options the theme should make available for site owners and viewers in support of dark mode, or if the feature should simply be scrapped.

"We've built in a Customizer setting that lets site owners opt their sites out of supporting Dark Mode, for greater design control," Choyce said. "Additionally, we're considering adding a front-end toggle so site viewers can turn Dark Mode on/off, regardless of their OS/Browser preference. This setting would only show if a site allows Dark Mode support."

Twenty Twenty-One Light and Dark Modes

Choyce outlined five different combinations of options for supporting it, including two options that allow site owners to disable it, regardless of the user's selection in their OS/browser. Two other options require the site to support dark mode but differ in whether or not the visitor is allowed to toggle it on or off.

Does Twenty Twenty-One Need a Dark Mode?

Dark mode was a late addition to the default theme's development. Choyce said the idea seems like a good opportunity to explore but ideally the team would have intentionally designed the feature before development started.

In the comments of the post, contributors are discussing the many intricacies of adding this feature to a theme that will be on by default for new WordPress sites. A few commenters noted there might be issues and surprises with logos and transparent images. For this reason, several made the case for shipping it as an opt-in feature and not on by default.

Others did not see the need for users to be able to toggle dark mode on/off for individual websites when they already have controls available through their system or browser preferences.

Kjell Reigstad contends that users' expectations have not yet translated into demand for this feature.

"As much as I'm a fan of dark mode in general (I use it on all my devices and it definitely helps to reduce eye strain), I think the general public views it as 'a thing that apps do' - not something that websites do yet," Reigstad said. "As mentioned above, this theme could be a step towards changing that perception, but the feature's novelty is something to keep in mind."

WordPress 5.6 core tech lead Helen Hou-Sandí suggested it might be better to develop the feature as a plugin, instead of pushing for it to be ready in a short time frame.

"My instinct right now is that it would be best to split dark mode for Twenty Twenty-One out into a plugin as a form of opt-in, primarily because I think that will both ease the burden for meeting the bar for core ship and also gives space for the feature to be iterated on outside of the core development cycle," Hou-Sandí said. She also noted that users will be doing things with the theme that core contributors cannot anticipate and a plugin is an easier route for responding to those needs.

"By separating it out, I think it has a better chance of reaching a point where it encompasses enough by default to be a theme setting without too much futzing on the user's part, or even enough of a thing to be a feature for all themes at large," Hou-Sandí said.

Choyce and Carolina Nymark agreed with this suggestion and announced a decision in the WordPress Slack #core-themes channel this morning, based on feedback on the post.

"Carolina Nymark and I made the decision to move Dark Mode out into a plugin," Choyce said. "This will allow us to better address all of the edge cases we've been encountering without slowing down the progress of bug fixing within the core theme."

The plugin is being developed on GitHub where contributors will explore how to support the feature moving forward.

26 Oct 2020 6:47pm GMT

WordCamp Central: Get your free ticket to WordCamp Finland Online!

WordCamp Finland 2020 is just right around the corner and speaker announcements have started to roll out! The online event with two session tracks takes place November 12 at 12-17 UTC+2. Our organizing team is super excited about the event and upcoming content!

Tickets for WordCamp Finland Online 2020 are absolutely free! We strongly recommend registering for a ticket, as this will give you the full WordCamp experience. This will give you access to Q&A sessions, networking opportunities with speakers, sponsors and other attendees. If you would rather not register, you will still be able to watch the talks.

Register free for the WordCamp Finland Online.

First speakers have been announced and more speakers as well as the full schedule will be announced shortly! Make sure to follow us on Twitter to get the news about new announcements.

There's also still open call for volunteers to help us during the event day. Being a volunteer is more than lending a hand, it is the secret sauce that makes a wordcamp a WordCamp! Make sure to apply if you'd like to help make the event.

26 Oct 2020 3:00pm GMT

25 Oct 2020

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Akismet: Happy Birthday Akismet

Akismet was launched 15 years ago today, when Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg announced it on his blog in a post describing what Akismet was and what it could become. Given how much the world has changed in the last decade and a half (back then spammers were pushing cheap flip phones and counterfeit Livestrong bracelets), we thought it would be fun to see whether Akismet succeeded in meeting the hopes and dreams that Matt laid out back in October 2005.

"Akismet is a new web service that stops comment and trackback spam. (Or at least tries really hard to.)"

Fact check: true! Akismet has stopped 500,000,000,000 pieces of comment and trackback spam since October 2005. That's an average of a thousand spam per second, every second, since before Twitter existed. Plus another thousand in the time it took you to read that sentence. And this one. (And this one.)

"The service is usable immediately as a WordPress plugin and the API could also be adapted for other systems."

Akismet is still usable as a WordPress plugin, and there are now dozens of Akismet clients for non-WordPress systems, plus countless other implementations for custom platforms. Some people say that Akismet is the most open anti-spam API on the Web. Some people are right.

"If nothing else, I hope this makes blogging more joyful for at least one person."

According to an informal survey we just performed, Akismet has made blogging more joyful for multiple people. If you're one of those people, put on a party hat, grab a piece of cake, and join us in wishing Akismet a very happy 15th birthday.

25 Oct 2020 7:00am GMT

23 Oct 2020

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WPTavern: Yext Launches a WordPress Plugin To Connect To Its Answers Platform

Last week, Yext launched its Yext Answers plugin to the WordPress community. The goal was to bring a platform that won the Best Software Innovation category of the 2020 Global Search Awards to WordPress. However, my experience was far from satisfactory.

"For people searching on a WordPress website, the Answers Connector provides a seamless search experience," said Alexandra Allegra, the Senior Product Marketing Manager at Yext. "For businesses and organizations that integrate it, it drives higher rates of conversion, which generates more revenue. It helps lower support costs because when businesses can deliver detailed, official answers, customers don't have to call customer service. And finally, it unveils valuable customer insights, because businesses can see new questions coming in - in real-time."

Yext Answers is essentially trialware. Technically, the plugin itself is free. However, Yext is currently running a 90-day free trial for access to its Answers platform. The website does not seem to provide an easy way to find what the true cost will be after that initial 90 days. To upgrade, users must contact the Yext team via email or phone.

The website does provide an estimated cost calculator. The lowest tier available via this calculator is for 20,000 searches per month at $5,000. It is unclear if there are lower pricing options. The Yext team provided no further details when asked about billing.

The plugin is marketing itself primarily toward business users. It can replace a WordPress site's traditional search, which is customizable to suit various site owner's needs, according to the Yext team.

Over the past week, I have discussed this plugin with a representative from the company, watched demo videos, and attempted to test the plugin. Thus far, it has been a subpar experience. I typically forgo writing about plugins that do not pan out. However, after the initial investment into what looked to be an interesting project, I wanted to share my experience, and my hope is that it helps the team build a better product in the long term.

I have yet to get the Yext Answers plugin to work. It requires an account with the Yext website. It also requires that end-users enter multiple fields on the plugin settings screen in WordPress. Unfortunately, after a frustrating amount of searching, I was never able to successfully find all of the correct information or get the information I did have to work. I gave up on the endeavor.

The demo video does show the promise of a somewhat interesting plugin:

Perhaps people who are already familiar with the Yext platform may have better luck. However, I would not recommend it to anyone new, at least in its current state.

There are far better options for connecting via third-party APIs that would be simpler for the average end-user (or even a developer of 15+ years such as myself). The one-click login process provided via the MakeStories plugin, which I covered recently, is a prime example of how to do things right.

We are at a point in the internet era in which end-users should have simple, no-fuss connections between sites. Entering IDs, keys, and other complex fields should be tucked under an "advanced" section of the options screen, not as part of the default experience. Or, they should be so easily available that no one should have trouble finding them.

Launching with Shortcodes Instead of Blocks

Two years after the integration of the block editor into WordPress, the Yext team is launching its Yext Answers plugin with shortcodes, which require manual entrance by end-users. Currently, the plugin does not have block equivalents for its shortcodes.

The team was either unwilling or unable to answer even the most fundamental questions about their decision to use shortcodes rather than launching their plugin - in the year 2020 - with at least block alternatives. At points, they even seemed confused about the subject altogether.

The closest the team came to providing feedback after a lengthy discussion was the following, attributed to Rose Grant, the Associate Product Manager:

We're looking forward to feedback on the initial release of our plugin before iterating further on it, including introducing custom blocks. For this version of the plugin, we wanted to prioritize supporting clients who are using older versions of WordPress.

Packaging a set of shortcodes within a plugin is still a good practice, even for plugin developers who have transitioned fully to supporting the block editor. It allows them to support users who are still working with the classic editor. However, at this point, developers should be building from a block-first mindset. Blocks do not require that users remember specific shortcode names. They provide instant, visual feedback to users in the editor. And, block options (as opposed to shortcode arguments) do not rely on the oftentimes faulty input of user typing.

At this point, all plugin developers should consider shortcodes a legacy feature and useful only as a backward-compatible option for users on the classic editor.

The Communications Strategist for the company pointed out that this is Yext's first venture into WordPress plugins and that the team may not be able to provide perspective or commentary on such questions related to blocks and shortcodes. However, this is the third Yext-related plugin associated with the plugin author account on WordPress.org.

23 Oct 2020 8:17pm GMT