22 Aug 2017

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WPTavern: Morten Rand-Hendriksen on What Gutenberg Means For the Future of WordPress

As work continues on Gutenberg, members of the community are discussing its impacts on WordPress' future. Morten Rand-Hendriksen considers Gutenberg to be a watershed moment, "This is a revolution," he said.

"This is a watershed moment for WordPress. This is entirely new and fundamentally different from how WordPress works and how we work with it today. I cannot overstate it enough when I say this changes everything."

Rand-Hendriksen suggests that Gutenberg will allow WordPress to graduate from being a blogging platform to a platform for managing views. If Gutenberg adds complexity to the user interface, he predicts many users will migrate to simpler, hosted publishing systems.

He also predicts that due to the REST API and Gutenberg, permanent fractures may develop between different segments of the community and user base.

It's exciting to think about what could happen to WordPress and the web in general if Rand-Hendriksen's optimism comes to fruition. "Whatever happens to WordPress' user base, once Gutenberg is implemented fully, WordPress' role in the wider web and internet community will change," he said.

"If all these things actually work, and people find them useful, WordPress will herald in a new age of UI and UX exploration. Applications have followed WordPress' lead before and will do it again if the new solution works."

As for the future of WordPress, Rand-Hendriksen says:

With the REST API in core and Gutenberg on the horizon, I am starting to see a new future for WordPress, one that looks nothing like where we are today. But this is true for the web as a whole as well.

Non-pointer interactions, AR/VR/MR, AI, content beyond the screen, all these things are already within sight and the web as we know it is on the cusp of its own wave of revolutionary changes.

The question I'm left to ponder is whether Gutenberg is what brings WordPress into that future.

I encourage you to read the entire post as it provides a lot of food for thought. What do you think about his predictions and the impacts Gutenberg might have on the web as a whole?

22 Aug 2017 1:41am GMT

19 Aug 2017

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WPTavern: Facebook Isn’t Budging on React’s BSD + Patents License

Last month React users petitioned Facebook to relicense the project (and its other open source projects) after the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) added Facebook's BSD+Patents license to its Category X list of disallowed licenses for Apache PMC members. Participants and subscribers to the GitHub thread waited weeks for a decision on re-licensing while Facebook's engineering directors discussed the matter internally. The request has now formally been denied.

"I'd like to apologize for the amount of thrash, confusion, and uncertainty this has caused the React and open source communities," Facebook engineer Adam Wolff said. "We know this is painful, especially for teams that feel like they're going to need to rewrite large parts of their project to remove React or other dependencies. We've been looking for ways around this and have reached out to ASF to see if we could try to work with them, but have come up empty."

The request for re-licensing had received 851 "thumbs-up" reactions on GitHub and many developers commented to say that the ASF's policy disallowing the BSD+Patents license affects their organizations' ability to continue using React and other open source projects from Facebook. Others said they would like to use React but the licensing makes it impossible for their companies.

Facebook Cites "Meritless Patent Litigation" as the Reason Behind Adopting the BSD + Patents License

Wolff's post announcing Facebook's decision said that the team has not done a good job of communicating the reasons behind its BSD + Patents license and offered a more in-depth explanation:

As our business has become successful, we've become a larger target for meritless patent litigation. This type of litigation can be extremely costly in terms of both resources and attention. It would have been easy for us to stop contributing to open source, or to do what some other large companies do and only release software that isn't used in our most successful products, but we decided to take a different approach. We decided to add a clear patent grant when we release software under the 3-clause BSD license, creating what has come to be known as the BSD + Patents license. The patent grant says that if you're going to use the software we've released under it, you lose the patent license from us if you sue us for patent infringement. We believe that if this license were widely adopted, it could actually reduce meritless litigation for all adopters, and we want to work with others to explore this possibility.

The ASF's decision to disallow the BSD+Patents license was for policy reasons, not a legal decision based on incompatibility. Greg Stein, commenting on behalf of ASF on a separate GitHub issue, said that the ASF didn't want downstream users of Apache code to be surprised by the PATENTS grant that was previously in RocksDB and is still in React. The organization wanted users to have no further constraints other than following the ALv2.

"While we respect this decision, it hurts to see so many great ASF projects get churned for policy reasons after using this license for years," Wolff said in Facebook's announcement. The company made it clear that they will not be re-licensing React or any other projects simply to satisfy ASF's policy requirements.

"We have considered possible changes carefully, but we won't be changing our default license or React's license at this time," Wolff said. "We recognize that we may lose some React community members because of this decision. We are sorry for that, but we need to balance our desire to participate in open source with our desire to protect ourselves from costly litigation. We think changing our approach would inhibit our ability to continue releasing meaningful open source software and increase the amount of time and money we have to spend fighting meritless lawsuits."

Many from the OSS community expressed disappointment and frustration in their initial reactions on Twitter:

"People like to sue us," is a poor rationalization. This is weaponizing OSS under the guise of sharing. The whole post is disingenuous.

- Nicholas C. Zakas (@slicknet) August 19, 2017

Facebook is often the ideal open source partner - but their patent stance here makes React use untenable to me. https://t.co/97VIR0le36

- Adam Jacob (@adamhjk) August 19, 2017

The React license allows Facebook to violate patents of companies that use React, and those companies can't sue to stop Facebook

- Feross (@feross) August 19, 2017

Yep, my team's required to pull all use of React because of the license. It's a corporate wide issue.

- Tyler Fitch (@tfitch) August 19, 2017

The issue requesting re-licensing has been closed on GitHub and is now locked and limited to collaborators.

It's not clear how this decision will affect WordPress, as the project has yet to announce which JS framework it will be adopting for core. Automattic is heavily invested in React, having built Calypso and Jetpack's admin interface with it. WordPress' new Gutenberg editor is also built using React, as the project's chief contributors are employed by Automattic. The company's legal counsel has said in the past that they are comfortable using React for its products under the current license, but other companies in the WordPress ecosystem may not be as amenable to having the framework included in core.

19 Aug 2017 3:52am GMT

18 Aug 2017

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WPTavern: WordPress.org to Add New Page Educating Users on Benefits of Upgrading PHP

WordPress' Core PHP team has created a new GitHub organization for initiatives focused on improving the use of PHP in the project. The first one they are tackling is a new page on WordPress.org dedicated to educating users about the benefits of upgrading PHP. Contributors are collecting third-party articles and tutorials on PHP upgrades to find inspiration for the project, which is temporarily codenamed "servehappy."

WordPress' stats page shows that 14.2% of the all the sites it is tracking are running on PHP 7.0+. 40.6% of sites are on PHP 5.6, which is no longer actively supported but will receive security fixes until January 2019. This leaves 45.2% of all WordPress sites running on older, insecure PHP versions that have already reached end of life and are no longer receiving security updates.

WordPress PHP Versions - 8.18.2017

Contributors are using the issues queue of the servehappy repository to collect benefits and statistical data they can use to sell the "update PHP" proposition to users. The project is currently in the brainstorming phase, but the team will eventually whittle the ideas down to present the most effective benefits.

"The primary task for the 'servehappy' repository will be to open issues for the benefits we've come up with over the past few weeks, and discuss them one by one, whether they qualify for the page and how they can be framed in the most convincing way," Felix Arntz said.

In addition to proposing the benefits of upgrading PHP, the page will also include a call to action and information about how to upgrade or how to approach your host for an upgrade. Contributors are discussing the page's outline and are aiming to tackle the project in a friendly and sensitive way that doesn't put stress on users.

"The section 'What should you need to know before doing an update?' must not unnecessarily make the user worry," Arntz said, recapping the thoughts contributors expressed during the team's most recent meeting. "Let's highlight possible issues, but not overestimate them. People should see upgrading as a good thing, and we should point them to how they can determine whether their sites are ready."

The Core PHP Team will be getting in touch with WordPress' marketing team to request their expertise on refining the page's approach. Anyone is welcome to contribute third-party resources or ideas to the servehappy project on GitHub. Check out the most recent meeting notes for a full summary of the project and its needs.

18 Aug 2017 8:37pm GMT