Monthly Archives: August 2018

Gutenberg 3.7 Released, Introduces Spotlight Mode

Gutenberg 3.7 is available for download and contains a number of changes. The Fixed Toolbar has been renamed Unified Toolbar. This is an optional mode that fixes all of the toolbar icons to the top of the editor, similar to the Classic editor.

The team discovered that experienced users who don’t mind the disconnect between blocks and the toolbar preferred this layout.

Unified Toolbar in Gutenberg
Unified Toolbar

There’s now an animation and icon specifically tailored for the Block Converter action. Hovering the cursor over a block’s icon will display two arrows that represent the ability to change block types.

Change Bock Types Icon in Gutenberg
Change Bock Types Icon

For those who want to focus on one block of content at a time, there’s a new mode called Spotlight. When enabled, the blocks that are not being edited partially fade away and the block outlines disappear. This is an experimental attempt at introducing a Distraction Free Writing mode.

The icons have been updated for Paragraph, Heading, and Subheading blocks to add clarity. Previous to 3.7, the Paragraph block icon looked like an alignment option causing confusion.

Updated Icons for Paragraph, Heading, and Subheading blocks
Updated Icons for Paragraph, Heading, and Subheading blocks

You can find a complete list of changes and links to corresponding issues on GitHub by visiting the Gutenberg 3.7 release post.

Source: WP Tavern

WPWeekly Episode 329 – Gutenberg, Forks, and WordPress Development Cycles

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I discuss the news of the week. We have a candid conversation about what it would be like if Gutenberg were merged into WordPress trunk earlier versus developed as a plugin. We also talk about Classic Editor install numbers, praising forks of WordPress, and some new tools that are available to search Gutenberg blocks. This might be the first episode since Jacoby took over as co-host that ends in under an hour.

Stories Discussed:

Gutenberg Block Library Provides a Searchable Index of Individual Blocks

Gutenberg and Classic Editor Plugins Pass 200,000 Active Installations, WordPress 4.9.9 Planning Underway

WordPress to Support Classic Editor for “Many Years to Come,” Plugin and Theme Markets Expected to Drive Gutenberg Adoption

Gary Pendergast Praises ClassicPress, Extends Invitation for Collaboration

WordCamp for Publishers 2018 Videos Now Available on WordPress.tv

WPCampus 2018 Videos Are Now Available to Watch

New Network Media Library Plugin Creates a Shared Library on a Multisite Network

New WP Glossary Site Translates WordPress Techspeak into Plain English

Picks of the Week:

Jeff – WP Minute by Malcom Peralty over at PressTitan – A new video series by a longtime friend and former co-host, David Peralty that provides quick updates on stories making the rounds in the WordPress ecosystem.

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday,September 5th 3:00 P.M. Eastern

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Source: WP Tavern

Distributor Plugin Now Publicly Available, Adds Gutenberg Support

10up’s Distributor plugin has exited beta and is now publicly available. The free plugin syndicates content across WordPress multisite networks and the web. It went into beta last year and 10up reports that more than 100 organizations and developers participated in the beta program.

“We’ve already integrated many improvements contributed by beta testers, including 10up clients,” 10up President Jake Goldman said. “Distributor has been approved for use on WordPress.com VIP and is ready for enterprise implementations. We have a roadmap of planned enhancements, with ambitious plans including more advanced media distribution and sophisticated ‘take down’ features for the forced removal of distributed content.”

The public release of Distributor also introduces support for Gutenberg for the settings that are available in the edit screen. Users should be aware that this new feature is still in beta, as Gutenberg is still in active development and not has not yet been merged into WordPress core.

image credit: 10up

“We’ve even considered interoperability between the classic editor and Gutenberg, and instances where custom blocks are not registered on remote sites,” Goldman said. “All aspects of the user interface have been carried over to ensure a coherent and cohesive experience.”

10up has also launched an Enterprise support package that offers faster response for issues, support for custom integrations, and white-labeling. Support packages fund ongoing development and customers have the opportunity to help shape the roadmap of the plugin.

Distributor is available at distributorplugin.com where users can register to get a free license key. The plugin is also available on GitHub.

Source: WP Tavern

Gutenberg Contributors Considering a “Focus Mode” for Writing

After overwhelming feedback from testers indicating that Gutenberg is not well suited for simply writing posts, the project’s contributors are considering a few options for improving the writing flow. These proposals are spread across several tickets on GitHub.

Two weeks ago, Gutenberg technical lead Matias Ventura submitted a PR exploring the possibility of introducing a “Focus Mode” to the editor. This mode would highlight the current selected block with all other blocks faded while the “fix toolbar to header” option is enabled. The video below shows an example of what that might look like:

“The aim is to provide a writing experience that can satisfy those that would prefer an environment with the least amount of distractions at the expense of tool clarity,” Ventura said. “I’ve been testing this and personally find it a very enjoyable mode to toggle when I just want to write for a bit. Paired with a robust set of keyboard shortcuts it could be quite nice to use. In this sense, it’d be important to provide an easy keyboard shortcut to toggle the mode on and off.”

Automattic designer Kjell Reigstad opened another ticket that proposes transforming the “Fix Toolbar to Top” setting into a “Focus Mode.”

“A key feedback point we hear is that Gutenberg’s interface can be a little overwhelming,” Reigstad said. “This often comes from users who more commonly focus on ‘writing’ versus ‘building’ their posts. They find the contextual block controls and block hover states to be distracting: When they’re focused on writing, they don’t necessarily want to think about blocks — they just want to write.”

Reigstad said this same subset of users also misses having the formatting toolbar at the top of the page, as it is in other applications like Google Docs, MS Word, and WordPress’ classic editor. He proposed a solution that addresses these concerns by combining the “Fix Toolbar to Top” option with the following UI changes that would provide a more complete “Focus Mode:”

  • The block toolbar would be pinned to the top of the screen.
  • The editor would be full screen.
  • Block outlines would be removed for both hover and selected states.
  • The block label would appear on a delay, and be toned down visually.
  • Block mover + block options would also appear on a delay.

Reigstad also created a video demo of this concept:

This new “focus Mode” concept is also compatible with Ventura’s proposal for highlighting the current selected block and fading out the others. It could either be present in both modes or available as an add-on feature.

A couple of well-written reviews on the Gutenberg plugin describe how the concept of blocks complicates the writing experience and how Gutenberg’s current writing environment is visually distracting and disruptive. This has been a major concern since the plugin was first released for testing, as there are many users who depend on WordPress for its writing features more than the page building aspects.

The Gutenberg team’s new ideas go a long way towards decluttering the interface for writers. This is especially important for those who want to do their long-form writing inside WordPress, instead of beginning their work in an application that is dedicated to providing a distraction-free writing experience. Introducing a “focus mode” or “writing mode” will solve one of the most critical issues with the new editor and we’re looking forward to seeing how this develops.

Source: WP Tavern

Gary Pendergast Praises ClassicPress, Extends Invitation for Collaboration

Gutenberg and WordPress core contributor Gary Pendergast has weighed in with this thoughts on ClassicPress, a fork of WordPress created by Scott Bowler. Pendergast praises the fork and extended an open invitation to Bowler to collaborate in the future.

As a member of the WordPress core team, I certainly hold no ill-feelings towards them, and I hope they’ll be open to working with us in the future. I hope we’ll be able to learn from their work, to improve WordPress for everyone.

Ultimately, we all share the same goal: creating a free and open web,
for everyone to enjoy. While ClassicPress has styled itself as a protest
against Gutenberg for now, I hope they’ll find their voice for something, instead of just against something.

Gary Pendergast

In the comments of the article, Pendergast received harsh criticism for writing blog posts instead of working on Gutenberg’s 1K plus issues on GitHub. In an example of showing grace, Pendergast responds to the person’s question of whether or not Gutenberg’s development team is correctly prioritizing their time.

“Personally, I believe we’re doing a reasonable job, though we could probably lean a little more towards blogging than we are now,” he said. “There’s been valid criticism that the Gutenberg team has been less communicative than it could be, which we’re working to address.”

Additionally, Pendergast compared the number of open issues in other projects and dismissed it as a measurement of software quality or readiness.

Personally, I miss reading blog posts about WordPress from core developers. Many of the people on the Planet WordPress feed no longer work on the project or write about WordPress.

I always enjoyed when they shared their deep knowledge of the software or explained why they decided to lead the project in a certain direction. Pendergast’s post is a breath of fresh air and something I’d like to see more often from other core contributors.

Source: WP Tavern

New WP Glossary Site Translates WordPress Techspeak into Plain English

Anders Norén has launched a new website called WP Glossary that contains definitions for terms that people encounter when using WordPress. The resource was born out of a need to provide documentation for client projects.

“The last time I updated the glossary for a new client documentation, in the middle of May this year, it hit me that there must be a website for this,” Norén said. “A list of WordPress definitions written not for WordPress developers, but for those who manage WordPress websites either as part of their work or in their spare time.”

Norén said he found resources written for developers but nothing satisfactory for regular WordPress users. Inspired to fill this gap, he bought a domain name and built the site over the next couple weeks. WP Glossary contains definitions for nearly a hundred WordPress-specific and industry-related terms, with more than 25,000 total words.

image credit: Anders Norén

Norén, who has recently jumped into client work with a new agency, is better known for his popular minimalist themes on WordPress.org. His 17 themes have a cumulative rating of 4.97 out of 5 stars and more than 2.1 million downloads. He designed the WP Glossary site, wrote all the definitions, and credits Thord Hedengren for feedback on the design and editorial assistance.

Each glossary term includes a plain English definition and common use cases with a bit of WordPress history sprinkled in. The terms also link to related documentation and some also have related WordPress.tv links. The Default Themes term is the longest article on the site with 1,744 words. Each term has a “Send Corrections” link that visitors can use if they see a term that could be improved.

WP Glossary was enthusiastically received when Norén announced it on Twitter. Many commented that the site will be useful for meetups with members who are new to WordPress and need a quick way to look up some of the jargon they encounter.

Norén’s glossary project overlaps with a glossary the WordPress Marketing team published earlier this year. WP Glossary is more in-depth and contains less techspeak than the marketing team’s copy. It is also targeted at people who use WordPress as part of their job or as a hobby.

The sheer volume of terms on this site reveals how much insider language one encounters while managing a WordPress site. If you’re working in the WordPress world every day, it’s easy to forget how unfamiliar these terms are to new users. WP Glossary is released under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY 4.0) so freelancers and agencies that want to duplicate, modify, and share the material have permission to do so with attribution.

Source: WP Tavern

A Proposal for Improving the Change Block Type User Interface in Gutenberg

In Gutenberg 3.6.2, the development team moved the Convert Block option to the left most icon in the toolbar. As long as the toolbar is visible, so is the option to change block types. However, there are a few user experience issues with this approach.

Convert Block Option

The first is obvious. The paragraph block icon looks like an alignment option. The second issue is that the icon represents the current block being edited, sort of like a block label. Unless a user hovers their cursor over the icon, it’s difficult to realize that it’s for changing block types.

Kevin Hoffman, a WordPress developer and core contributor, has proposed a new user interface suggestion that aims to solve the issues mentioned above.

Suggested Changes by Kevin Hoffman

Hoffman suggests changing the icon to a drop-down menu, similar to the one in the Classic Editor. The menu would make the ability to change block types more discoverable. It removes confusion associated with icons and is a workflow that’s already established.

Gutenberg developer Joen Asmussen thanked Hoffman for the feedback and listed a number of things to consider with his approach. These include the editor’s need to be responsive, scale to editors with thin columns, accessibility, and accommodating long block names.

Gutenberg technical lead Matías Ventura also commented on the proposal.

Just wanted to say thanks for all the constructive voices here and willingness to find better solutions. If there’s anything that is fairly clear is that the current ‘block switching’ interaction is not as obvious as it could be.

I think using the paragraph icon instead of the one that is easily confused as alignment, @jasmussen‘s update in #9310, plus the addition of the drop-down arrow are a good baseline to check on the next release and see if we need something more involved. @kevinwhoffman it’d be great to expand on your proposal and see how it might look across more blocks and nested contexts.

Matías Ventura

Depending on your workflow, changing block types will be a common action. For example, I often press enter at the end of a paragraph block which creates a new paragraph block automatically. Being able to easily identify and use the change block type option will improve my writing experience.

Those with feedback on Hoffman’s proposal are encouraged to respond to the issue on GitHub. It’s also worth noting that the team is experimenting with using an icon that’s designated specifically for changing block types.

Source: WP Tavern

WordPress to Support Classic Editor for “Many Years to Come,” Plugin and Theme Markets Expected to Drive Gutenberg Adoption

During the 2017 State of the Word address, Matt Mullenweg announced the availability of the Classic Editor plugin for site owners who are not ready to adopt Gutenberg when it makes its debut in WordPress 5.0. Since its release, the community has speculated about what the plugin’s active installation numbers mean and how long it will be supported.

Matt Mullenweg has confirmed that support for the Classic Editor will be available for “many years to come,” which should come as a relief to those who feared that WordPress would drop support for the old editor after a year or two.

“I love that people are using the Classic Editor plugin!” Mullenweg said in comment on a recent post. “There is an infinite number of ways that WP can be used and not all will be ready for Gutenberg when 5.0 is released, Classic allows people to still be able to update core and stay current with releases, and with the click of a button try out Gutenberg again in the future if they want to. It’s also trivial to maintain because Gutenberg also uses TinyMCE, so Classic Editor users will still get improvements and updates to TinyMCE — I won’t say ‘forever’ but I don’t see any reason why we can’t maintain classic for the edit screen for many years to come.”

These assurances about the continued availability of the classic editor mean that WordPress product developers will need to decide if they want to provide support for both editing experiences or go full steam ahead with Gutenberg, limiting support to WordPress 5.0+. We don’t yet know how many users will be installing the Classic Editor after WordPress 5.0 is released but that may inform more product decisions in the future.

The Market Will Drive Gutenberg Adoption

During the Q&A following the State of the Word in 2017, WordPress developer Kevin Hoffman asked a question about the prospect of developers having to support two different editing interfaces:

Hearing you suggest the Classic Editor plugin and different ways to undeclare support for Gutenberg leads me to this idea that we are headed towards a split admin interface with no finality to the transition, meaning that I don’t see a time in the future where everyone will be on Gutenberg. We will always have these people in classic mode. As plugin and theme developers, we will always have to support two different types of users. How do we reach that point where we are past the transition, however long it might take, where we can not have this box of chocolates effect where you click “edit post type” and you never know what you’re going to get?

Mullenweg said his hope and expectation, based on how this has worked out with new interfaces in the past, is that over time product developers would adopt the latest interface. He cited the Customizer as one example where one is now very hard-pressed to find a theme developer who is rolling their own options panel after the Customizer was introduced as the new standard. It was just three years ago in 2015 when WordPress.org began requiring theme options to be built using the Customizer and now it is used everywhere.

“The truth is, if you are a plugin or theme developer, people are going to expect things in Gutenberg, so you really need to develop for Gutenberg,” Mullenweg said. “And then, at some point, I’m totally ok if you drop support for the Classic [Editor]. There will be themes and plugins that will say you need to have Gutenberg, [WP] 5.0 or newer if you want to use this.

“We already have that existing now. Plugins only support so far back in PHP in WordPress. There will be plugins that don’t support under WordPress 5.0. It’s not going to be that much different from supporting different WordPress versions where people choose sometimes to go way way way back, sometimes a year or several years, and support WordPress 3.8 and 3.9. And some don’t bother anymore. There’s lots of APIs and other things that changed during that time. At some point you just have to make a cost benefit analysis and do things like maybe Yoast is doing for upgrading PHP, and say, ‘Hey, if you really want the best of this, check out this new thing.’”

As Gutenberg blocks become the standard way of extending WordPress’ editing and customization capabilities, the market will drive its adoption. This is already happening with new blocks and block collections being released every day. The new Gutenberg Block Library offers a glimpse of that and there are many more blocks on GitHub that are not yet commercially marketed.

During that December 2017 Q&A, developers seemed to be excited about the Gutenberg demos they had just seen but their uneasiness was palpable in their questions. Now, eight months later, the current proliferation of Gutenberg themes and plugins demonstrates that WordPress developers are ready to embrace the new editor and build the creative extensions that Gutenberg’s creators’ had always anticipated.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what the design and developer community can build with it and where their imaginations can take us from there,” Gutenberg technical lead Matías Ventura said when I interviewed him in June. “Core is going to supply the infrastructure and the main building blocks but it’s everything that can be built around it that’s going to be exciting, as always with WordPress.”

The extension ecosystem that made WordPress a success in the first place is going to be a key influence in driving adoption for the new editor. Major players in the product market are not waiting to see how users react to the new editor before building their Gutenberg-compatible interfaces. Users may not be compelled by the writing experience, but Gutenberg’s block model will provide a better framework for site customization and a core standard for page builders that interface with WordPress. If the blocks pouring into the ecosystem right now are any indication, the plugin market surrounding Gutenberg is going to offer an exciting variety of tools for site building.

Source: WP Tavern

Gutenberg Block Library Provides a Searchable Index of Individual Blocks

An avalanche of blocks is pouring into the WordPress ecosystem ahead of Gutenberg’s inclusion in core. A few block collections, such as Atomic Blocks, Stackable, and CoBlocks, can be found on WordPress.org, but it’s not easy to search the individual blocks they contain. Other collections and standalone blocks are spread across the web. WordPress theme developer Danny Cooper has built a centralized library of Gutenberg blocks that are currently available to extend the new editor.

The library loads blocks into a grid with infinite scroll. It is searchable, so visitors can easily find individual blocks that are part of a collection. Blocks are also tagged, which makes it possible to compare a group of similar blocks. Individual listings display screenshots of the block in action and its settings panel, as well as a link to the author and a link to download.

The Gutenberg Block Library currently has more than four dozen blocks. Visitors and block creators can submit a block that is missing from the library.

Cooper is the owner of Olympus Themes, a small collection of free and commercial niche-focused WordPress themes. He has also created his own blocks collection called Editor Blocks, which focuses on blocks for business sites. His corresponding Editor Blocks theme is available for free on WordPress.org with support for all the business blocks.

“As a theme developer I’d been waiting for a way to build themes in a way where what you see on the backend matches what you will see on the frontend,” Cooper said. “That can be achieved to some extent using the Customizer, but it’s hard to craft more than one complex page using that method.”

Cooper comes from a PHP/jQuery background and said he didn’t have a strong enough understanding of ES6, Webpack, Babel, React to create Gutenberg blocks right away. The learning curve was a little steep but after getting a handle on the basics he is now able to make small contributions to the Gutenberg project.

“It felt like I was hitting a brick wall every five minutes when I started,” he said. “Zac Gordon’s course helped me get past that stage. The #core-editor slack channel was a big help too. Other than that I just studied the code of the core blocks and used Google. As my knowledge increased I’ve tried to reach out by submitting bug reports to other Block Libraries and making minor contributions to the Gutenberg project on Github.”

WordPress.org may be able to benefit from a centralized block library in the future, as people will be frequently searching for blocks after Gutenberg lands in core. Cooper said if WordPress.org had a library like this it might even be possible to find and install blocks from inside Gutenberg.

“I could build a block that searches my library but it wouldn’t be able to install them as most are part of a ‘collection,’” Cooper said. “I’m not sure if in the future the ‘collections’ will continue to grow or people will move towards releasing individual blocks.”

In the meantime, the Gutenberg Block Library provides a helpful resource for early adopters. Browsing through the listings, it’s exciting to see the variety of block functionality that the community is creating. Users who fully embrace Gutenberg in WordPress 5.0 will find dozens of blocks (and perhaps hundreds by that time) available for the new editor, if they know where to look.

Source: WP Tavern

WPCampus 2018 Videos Are Now Available to Watch

WPCampus 2018 was held July 12-14, 2018, at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Educators, staff, and those in higher-education gathered to learn how WordPress can be and is used in higher-education environments.

If you couldn’t attend in person or watch the live stream, you can now watch all of the sessions for free. Visit the event’s schedule page and click the Watch Session button. Alternatively, you can click on a session’s title to read a brief description and then watch the embedded video.

Videos are hosted on YouTube which makes it easy to share and embed them. There are also links to view the presenter’s slides.

If you have time, I recommend watching GutenReady for the Gutenpocalypse by Brian DeConinck and Jennifer McFarland who work at North Carolina State University in the Information and Technology Department.

In this presentation, the duo explain what they’re doing to get staff, students, and campus sites prepared for Gutenberg.

In addition to the presentation above, I also recommend listening to episode 324 of WordPress Weekly where McFarland describes their experience so far in transitioning sites to Gutenberg, building custom blocks, and discussing what the future of themes might be like once the project is merged into WordPress.

WPCampus organizers are in the beginning stages of planning next year’s event.

Source: WP Tavern

Gutenberg and Classic Editor Plugins Pass 200,000 Active Installations, WordPress 4.9.9 Planning Underway

photo credit: reingestalter numeral types(license)

It has been three weeks since the “Try Gutenberg” prompt was sent out in WordPress 4.9.8 and the plugin has now passed 200,000 active installations. The callout has increased the visibility of the Gutenberg project and brought necessary feedback to the development and design of the new editor.

Prior to WordPress 4.9.8, Gutenberg reviews held a 2.7-star average on WordPress.org. Negative reviews continue to pour in and the average rating has slipped to 2.3 stars. Users are reporting that the new editor is too complicated, cumbersome, and that it offers an inferior writing experience. A few positive reviews are sprinkled in between, calling the editor a “necessary step forward,” and those reviewers seem hopeful that others will feel the same once they get past the learning curve. The vast majority of reviews, both positive and negative, report that Gutenberg’s interface is not yet intuitive to use.

The Gutenberg team’s responses to reviews have improved to be less “canned” since the initial reactions a few days after the Gutenprompt went out. However, the team still appears to be combing the feedback for bugs with the existing interface. Overall, the team’s responses are unified in a general unwillingness to admit that there are critical flaws preventing the interface from being more well-received.

Active installations of the Classic Editor plugin, the official antidote for those do not wish to adopt Gutenberg when it ships in WordPress 5.0, have climbed to more than 200,000. This number is about equal to the number of sites that have Gutenberg active. The Gutenberg team does not view Classic Editor installs as an important metric for understanding Gutenberg adoption or rejection but rather see these installs as a healthy intermediary step for sites keeping the same workflow while preparing for Gutenberg.

In response to recent discussion surrounding the ClassicPress fork of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg said, “No plans to ever have direct vote determine strategic direction in WP, but we are having a bit of a referendum in the adoption of the Gutenberg and Classic Editor plugins, people are voting with their usage. The people are deciding.”

This is essentially true in that users can decide if they want to adopt Gutenberg or not, for as long as the Classic Editor is supported. The Classic Editor plugin is an option people demanded but now the reality of two different admin experiences is nearer than before. The notion of a fork, though perhaps not a serious threat to the project, makes it painfully clear what some users are willing to do in order to avoid Gutenberg.

With the number of Classic Editor plugin installations on the rise, WordPress is headed towards a fractured admin experience. For some it may be a healthy transition option, but in the end, the number of Classic Editor installations indicates how many sites will be running an alternative editing experience because site owners are either not ready or not willing to adopt Gutenberg.

At some point in the future, WordPress will need to unite the editing experience, either by winning these users over to Gutenberg or by discontinuing support for the Classic Editor. In the meantime, WordPress product developers will need to provide support for both editing experiences or go all in on one or the other. It has the potential to erode WordPress’ momentum for a few years, especially if Gutenberg doesn’t become more intuitive.

WordPress 4.9.9 Is Expected to be a 6-8 Week Maintenance Cycle

WordPress contributors met this week to discuss WordPress 4.9.9.

“As of now there’s no specific timeline for 4.9.9,” Jeff Paul said. “That will get set once release leads are in place. However, I’d like to try and finalize leads in next week’s meeting or shortly thereafter so that we can begin 4.9.9 planning and coordination as we get into September.” Paul requested contributor submit nominations for release leads, for themselves or others, ahead of next week’s meeting.

“Until we have a confirmed timeline and plan for 5.0, my assumption is that we’ll continue with our minor release cadence of ~6-8 weeks with specific focus on items needed in support of 5.0,” Paul said.

During his announcement at WordCamp Europe in Belgrade, Matt Mullenweg said WordPress 5.0 could happen as early as August. It’s now looking more likely that 5.0 will drop closer to the end of the year. This gives WordPress users and developers more time to prepare their sites to be compatible with Gutenberg and ready to take advantage of the new features it offers. The schedule for releasing WordPress 5.0 is not yet set but the release is expected to happen in 2018.

Source: WP Tavern

New Network Media Library Plugin Creates a Shared Library on a Multisite Network

WordPress core committer John Blackbourn has released a new plugin called Network Media Library that provides a shared media library across all sites on a WordPress multisite network. Blackbourn is an engineer at Human Made and the plugin is one he created for a client by forking Frank Bültge and Dominik Schilling’s Multisite Global Media plugin.

By default, the plugin uses site ID 2 for the central media library, but the site ID can be customized via a filter hook. Access to the network-wide library is currently restricted to users who have Author level permissions with the upload_files capability on the central media site. In the plugin’s description Blackbourn said the plan for future versions is to remove the need for users to be added to the central media library.

After testing it locally, I discovered what the plugin’s description meant by “transparently” uploading media to the central media site. Unlike other plugins that perform a similar function (i.e. Network Shared Media and Multisite Global Media), there is no indication that files are part of a network-wide library. For example, Multisite Global Media adds a “Global Media” tab to the media library to indicate which files are aggregated from sites on the network. The Network Media Library plugin works in an invisible way without adding a separate tab to the media library.

Frank Bültge, co-author of the Multisite Global Media plugin, asked Blackbourn why he opted to fork the plugin instead of enhancing it. Blackbourn said the main difference is that the original plugin supports local media files and his fork does not.

Developers who implement Network Media Library on their sites should be aware that it is still under active development. It currently has built-in compatibility with the Regenerate Thumbnails and WP User Avatars plugins. The plugin also has been confirmed to be compatible with BuddyPress, Extended CPTs, Gutenberg, Stream and User Profile Picture. Blackbourn plans to test and support many more plugins in the future, including CMB2, ACF, and assorted gallery and media management plugins.

Network Media Library is MIT-licensed and available on GitHub. It requires WordPress 4.9+ and PHP 7.0+. The plugin can be installed as a mu-plugin or network activated.

Source: WP Tavern