Monthly Archives: September 2018

WordCamp Tokyo 2018: Highlights, Recaps, Aftermovie, and More

WordCamp Tokyo 2018 was held two weeks ago on September 14-15 and recordings of the sessions should be published to WordPress.tv soon. The theme of the WordCamp was “Challenge!”, a celebration of the challenges the WordPress project has overcome over the past 15 years, as well as a rallying call for embracing the challenges introduced by the new Gutenberg editor.

WordCamp Tokyo is one of the largest camps in Asia, hosted by one of the most active international communities. The first edition of the camp was held in 2008 with 60 attendees. It was also the very first WordCamp in Japan. Since that time the WordPress community has exploded in the region, spawning dozens of local meetups and WordCamps around the country.

The official WordCamp Tokyo 2018 website has a growing list of more than 40 recaps and articles written about the event. Overall, attendees enjoyed the opportunity to connect and contribute back to WordPress. The after party was held at a disco-like club in Shibuya and you can listen to a selection of the songs that the DJ posted to his WordPress blog.

If you are one of the many people across the globe who love the Japanese WordPress community and wished you could have attended the WordCamp, this aftermovie offers a glimpse of a few of the contributors, sponsors, organizers, and attendees who made the event a success. It captures a bit of the energy in the air and may inspire you to put WordCamp Tokyo on your calendar next year.

Source: WP Tavern

WordPress Theme Developers Begin Marketing Themes as Gutenberg Compatible

WordPress theme developers are starting to advertise their themes as being compatible with Gutenberg, ahead of the new editor’s imminent merge into core. Work on the 5.0 release may be ramping up sooner than expected after yesterday’s announcement that 4.9.9 may be a quick release for PHP 7.3 compatibility or possibly cancelled altogether.

Themeforest, the largest marketplace for commercial WordPress themes with more than 11,000 products, has a specific tag for Gutenberg-compatible theme listings. Searching for themes that mention Gutenberg in the description turns up 139 products. But what does “Gutenberg compatible” mean?

Gutenberg compatibility seems to be more of a buzzword among most of the Themeforest listings, indicating that the theme includes styles for all core blocks. However, in some instances theme authors have also tested shortcodes for compatibility with the new editor. A smaller number include access to premium blocks as part of their advertised Gutenberg compatibility.

Searching the WordPress.org Theme Directory for “Gutenberg” produces 26 results where compatibility is mentioned in the theme descriptions. Themes are noted to be “fully compatible” with Gutenberg or specifically “designed to work with the new editor.” There is a wide spectrum of interpretation on those selling points – from basic styles for core blocks to themes that explore all the possibilities that Gutenberg opens up with features created specifically for manipulation inside the new editor.

Independent theme shops have been leading the charge in creating themes built to showcase what Gutenberg can do through pairing with plugins that offer block collections. Themes like Editor Blocks, Atomic Blocks, and CoBlocks all have accompanying plugins that add custom blocks. This particular approach of packaging blocks into collections may not last very long, as it tends to make individual blocks more difficult to find.

At the moment, advertising a theme as “Gutenberg compatible” is a temporary marketing strategy, as Gutenberg will soon lose its code name and become simply “the editor.” That special distinction will evaporate as soon as WordPress 5.0 lands. Gutenberg support will quickly become a matter of basic WordPress compatibility. The days of using it as a marketable feature are limited, and the pressure is on for theme developers to ensure their products are ready.

In the video below, an excerpt from the “Theming with Gutenberg Course,” Zac Gordon examines considerations for theme developers who are working towards making their products compatible with the new editor. Gordon emphasizes that Gutenberg should work out of the box with any theme. However, there are a few features, such as the full width cover image, that may require special styles in order to work on the front end. The bulk of the compatibility work is ensuring that the editing experience matches the frontend and that Gutenberg blocks are styled harmoniously with the rest of the theme’s features.

There are many tutorials available to help theme developers (and agencies preparing client sites) get started with making their themes ready for the Gutenberg era. Check out the resources below:

Things to consider when updating a WordPress theme for Gutenberg

Preparing WordPress themes for Gutenberg with the Block Unit Test

Getting your theme ready for Gutenberg

Source: WP Tavern

WPWeekly Episode 331 – Status Update on Gutenberg With Gary Pendergast

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I are joined by Gary Pendergast, Gutenberg and WordPress core contributor to get an update on Gutenberg’s progress. We discuss its rollout on WordPress.com, the feedback and sentiment shared thus far, and when we can expect to see it merged into WordPress 5.0. We also talk about what the future may hold for WordPress years after Gutenberg is merged into core.

Stories Discussed:

An Update on Gutenberg Tasks
Gutenstats Blog Is Live, Tracking Gutenberg Beta Testing Data
Gutenberg Cloud: A Cross-Platform Community Library for Custom Gutenberg Blocks
Gutenberg is Slowly Rolling Out to WordPress.com Users
Drupal Gutenberg Project Receives Enthusiastic Reception at Drupal Europe

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, October 3rd 10:00 A.M. Eastern

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Source: WP Tavern

Lyft Open Sources ColorBox Algorithm for Building Accessible Color Systems

Lyft has open sourced its color algorithm for creating an accessible color system. The company’s design team also packaged the algorithm as a web tool called ColorBox. It makes it easy for anyone to produce color sets with accessible contrast ratios, as outlined in the WCAG 2.0 standards.

“We made accessibility a cornerstone of our new color system,” Lyft designer Kevyn Arnott said. “We wanted to remove the need to manually check color contrast using third-party tools, and we needed to make it dead-simple for everyone to create accessible products.”

Arnott’s post “Re-approaching color” describes how his team created the algorithm and why it was necessary. As Lyft’s design and engineering teams grew, it became apparent that color naming and selection was not consistent across their products. With thousands of people building products that rely on color, scaling a color system becomes vitally important.

Lyft used what they had already done with color naming and selection and created an algorithm that would standardize the progression of lightness-to-darkness across color hues. The result is that every color 0–50 is accessible (4.5:1) on black and every color 60–100 is accessible (4.5:1) on white.

ColorBox is a mesmerizing and powerful tool to play with. It has inputs for the number of steps, hue, saturation, and luminosity. Each input also comes with different preset curve options, offering greater control over how colors progress in hue and saturation.

“This algorithm allows us to remove all the dependencies we previously had with color selection, so if we have a new designer working on this or we change tools or monitors, we’ll still have the same outcome,” Arnott said. “This algorithm also enables us to quickly modify or scale color as we need to over time.”

Many companies and open source projects seem to be short on accessibility experts, so a tool targeted at making accessible color systems more approachable is a welcome contribution. The JavaScript color algorithm is open source on GitHub (Apache 2.0 license) and can be modified for any project’s specific needs.

Source: WP Tavern

Gutenberg 4.0 RC 1 Will Be Available in A Few Days

Matias Ventura, Gutenberg’s technical lead, published an update on the progress of Gutenberg 4.0 and what users can expect. This version will mark the project’s 40th release.

Ventura outlined a number of tasks that have been completed up to this point. These include, Full Screen, Unified Toolbar, and Spotlight modes to adapt to a user’s creative preferences, adaptive design, and autosave support.

The list provides a great recap of the progress that’s been made since early 2017. Gutenberg 4.0 will initially be a release candidate that will be made available in the next few days.

Due to the “Try Gutenberg” callout in WordPress 4.9.8 and the editor slowly making its way to sites on WordPress.com, the team has received a lot of feedback leading to improved iterations.

“The main feature set targeted for the first version of the editor has been considered complete for a few releases now,” Ventura said. “Since then, however, the large amount of testing being carried out and the great feedback coming from multiple venues has resulted in several further iterations and additions to continue to improve the overall experience to wider satisfaction.

“This includes things like editor modes and tweaks to the inserter, transformation, and toolbar mechanisms. That has pushed us back a little in being able to fully focus on bug fixing.”

With the initial feature set complete and the WordPress 5.0 release cycle about to begin, a merge proposal appears imminent even though specific timelines have yet to be determined.

Source: WP Tavern

WordPress 4.9.9 Release May Shift Focus to PHP 7.3 Compatibility, Gutenberg Merge Proposal Timeline TBD

The plans for WordPress 4.9.9 are currently in limbo after today’s core developers’ chat. Here’s what we know right now: Discussions are underway regarding making it a quick PHP 7.3 compatibility release or cancelling it in favor of moving ahead with the 5.0 release cycle.

“Progress and communication on 4.9.9 has been very vague as of late, and I apologize for that,” WordPress 4.9.9 release co-lead Alain Schlesser said. “There were things that needed to be clarified first, but we can now finally share the big news with you: It’s just about time to begin work on the 5.0 release cycle.

“Because of this, @antpb and I will step back as release leads and we’ll wind down the 4.9.9 release. Over the next couple of weeks we will start coordinating the transition to ease into this major release cycle. This includes going through the hard work that teams are already in the middle of and planning how best to proceed. As we’ll figure out the next steps and the best path forward, we’ll share further details in future updates.”

After Schlesser’s announcement, there was some discussion about whether or not 4.9.9 is still needed, but the matter seemed to be already settled. Josepha Haden, who leads the open source teams at Automattic as a full-time sponsored volunteer on the WordPress project, is assisting in transitioning important items from the 4.9.9 release.

“I think we all know that a lot of work has gone into 4.9.9 planning already,” Haden said. “So the next couple of weeks will be all about reaching out to team reps and discussing what you’ve been working on and what we can do to keep things moving forward for everyone. But I will probably be helping with the 4.9.9 transition things, and I will say that the final timelines will almost certainly will be contingent on what I hear from team reps who were collaborating on 4.9.9.”

Haden confirmed that Schlesser was sharing the overall plan for the release but that feedback from the discussions indicated there may be items with earlier deadlines to consider. After gathering information from the team representatives, they will work to prioritize items that may need to land before 5.0. There may be time for a tightly-focused 4.9.9 release aimed solely at PHP 7.3 compatibility.

“I think it will be possible to wrangle a small 4.9.9 release with PHP 7.3 related bug fixes, while 5.0 is ramping up,” Gary Pendergast commented during the meeting.

“Given a good part of 4.9.9’s focus was on supporting things for Gutenberg, not sure we ‘need a 4.9.9 release if we would just include the work done to support Gutenberg with the Gutenberg merge proposal coming for 5.0,” Jeff Paul said. Gutenberg technical lead Matias Ventura confirmed that the plugin is ready for the team to begin collaborating on a merge proposal.

“We have kept development in the plugin for as long as possible for speed / convenience, etc, but it’s been ready for starting 5.0 process for a bit,” Ventura said. “From the Gutenberg side, things should be ready to start planning the merge.”

At the moment, a quick 4.9.9 release is under consideration for PHP 7.3-related bug fixes. It may happen while the gears are in motion for 5.0 or it may yet be cancelled in favor of going full speed ahead with the 5.0 release cycle. The decision has not yet been officially announced.

Source: WP Tavern

Creative Commons Beta Search Tool Adds Access to 13 Content Providers, Improves Metadata with AI Image Tags

In February 2017, Creative Commons launched the beta version of its new multi-source search tool, built on a lean budget by a single contractor over seven months. Since that time a new tech team has taken over the project to further the mission of finding and indexing all 1.4 billion+ CC-licensed works on the web.

The first iteration added access to images from Rijksmuseum, Flickr, 500px, the New York Public Library, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Today’s update to the search tool adds access to more than 10 million images and a total of 13 content providers, including Behance, Geograph UK, IHA Holiday Ads, several other museums, and a handful of smaller sources.

The search page is also sporting a new design, featuring Creative Commons’ top categories and top images.

Previously, search results were displayed as a masonry style grid, supporting images of varying sizes and orientations. The updated results are displayed as a slice of a landscape-oriented image on mobile and desktop, which is not optimal for seeing what the image is without clicking on it. This doesn’t seem like an improvement, but the search tool’s development team is still working through bugs and the site is in active development.

This update to the search tool also adds AI image tags generated by Clarifai‘s image classification system. More than 10.3 million images have been tagged using the image recognition software, in addition to the user-defined and platform-defined tags gathered from web crawl data. This should make the search results more accurate for users in the future.

Lists and collections were a feature of the first beta but private lists are no longer available in the beta update. (Users can request they be manually retrieved by emailing Creative Commons.) The feature has been updated to allow users to create public lists of images without having an account. A new shares.cc link shortening system is now available for sharing images and lists.

The Creative Commons library is an excellent resource for finding images for blogging or for use in WordPress theme and plugin development. Images that are CC0-licensed are GPL-compatible for use within WordPress products. Creative Commons has a recommended implementation for using CC0 to release software.

A WordPress plugin for bringing images in from the Creative Commons library does not yet exist but there are many that pull CC-licensed images from resources like Flickr or Pixabay. For now, users will need to search directly on the Creative Commons beta search website. The new search tool allows users to filter by collection, license, and license type.

Source: WP Tavern

Gutenberg 3.9 Introduces Reusable, Exportable Templates for Multiple Blocks

Gutenberg 3.9 was released last week with a new feature that allows users to group multiple blocks into reusable templates. The templates can also be exported and imported as a JSON file.

The idea of reusable templates is an expansion of the concept of dynamic reusable blocks that Gutenberg technical lead Matias Ventura proposed in June 2017. Reusability is even more powerful when applied to multiple blocks. The import/export capabilities make it possible for templates to be easily shared across WordPress sites.

If you want to test it, you can select multiple blocks by selecting the content inside a block and dragging outside the boundaries of the block to extend the selection to multiple blocks. The multi-select feature was originally added for the purpose of deleting or moving multiple blocks but it has now become indispensable for creating reusable templates.

This feature lays the ground work for a full-fledged layout builder in the next phase of Gutenberg development. Reusable templates should make it a breeze to build WordPress sites with pre-defined layouts that users and developers can share. They are much more intuitive to implement than page templates.

“Holy wow, imagine this: wp-blueprints.com, where people can group blocks together and share their JSON strings with nice little copy buttons,” Gutenberg designer Joen Asmussen commented on the PR. “Categories for top rated, most downloaded, search, etc? This is going to happen because of this magic.”

Matias Ventura’s demo video shows the reusable templates in action. It also highlights a new tool for visually comparing possible ways to convert an invalid block. The editor now includes a diff UI for blocks, which Ventura said could possibly scale in the future to provide an improved UX for revisions as a whole.

A few other notable additions in the 3.9 release include improvements to the drag and drop handle, collapsible groups for the block toolbar, and the ability to convert a cover image block to an image and back. Dark editor style support is now available for theme developers, making Gutenberg more friendly for use with dark WordPress themes. Check out the 3.9 changelog to see a full list of enhancements and bug fixes.

Source: WP Tavern

New commonWP Plugin Enables WordPress Sites to Use the Free jsDelivr CDN

Milan Dinić, a WordPress developer based in Serbia, has released his commonWP plugin that enables WordPress sites to use the free, public jsDelivr CDN. Last year jsDelivr was revamped to allow any file from GitHub and npm to be served by the CDN. WordPress’ mirror on GitHub made it possible for Dinić to create a plugin that works with the CDN.

commonWP aims to speed up performance by offloading JavaScript and CSS files to jsDelivr, including the following:

  • All files from WordPress core (unless development version of WordPress is in use)
  • All files from plugins hosted by WordPress.org Plugins Repository (unless author of specific plugin doesn’t use SVN tags for releasing)
  • All files from themes hosted by WordPress.org Themes Repository
  • All files from plugins and themes hosted on GitHub that support GitHub Updater
  • All files marked as available on npm in any type of theme, plugin, or MU plugin

Dinić said he designed commonWP with a emphasis on keeping it lightweight, easy-to-use, and secure. He claims the approach he used in the plugin is safer than any other plugin that employs a CDN for WordPress files:

First, commonWP will only rewrite file to point to one on jsDelivr if that remote file is identical to local one. Second, during comparison, it generates subresource identity hash of remote jsDelivr file and includes that hash in page’s source code so browser won’t load remote file if it doesn’t have exactly the same hash.

Dinić recommends the plugin for users who are not already using a CDN, have limited budgets, or live in less developed countries.

“Using a CDN is generally recommended, and with this one they might get even more speed because some files might be already cached by their visitors,” he said. “Imagine if jquery.js, jquery-migrate.min.js (most common files) are always served from one place. You wouldn’t need to get them from each WordPress site you visit. You would get them once and they would be in your browser’s cache, and initial page load would be faster.”

Dinić referenced a Trac ticket where using a CDN is proposed for serving assets like jQuery, but no action has been taken on the proposal yet. One benefit he cites for WordPress’ global user base is that a CDN like jsDelivr allows visitors to get files from their own content, country, or even the same city. jsDelivr has a large multi-CDN network with infrastructure built on top of other networks, including StackPath, Cloudflare, Fastly, and Quantil. It also has custom servers in locations like China where other public CDNs have little or no presence.

commonWP doesn’t have any settings for users to configure. The plugin fills up its cache in the background after it is activated. Developers can fine tune it for their needs and Dinić has published some code examples to GitHub.

In his release post, Dinić referenced a Serbian site getting a 1-second loading improvement and has done other tests but said he’s still looking for a good way to present the data. The plugin’s FAQ outlines which factors influence whether or not commonWP can bring performance improvements:

  • How many of your files are available on jsDelivr and can be rewritten – the more files on jsDelivr, the more speed; the more files used by the page are rewritten to jsDelivr, the more speed.
  • The further your site’s visitors are from the server your site is hosted on, the more speed you can get.
  • The slower your server is, the more speed it can get.
  • If your visitors already visited WordPress site(s) with commonWP activated, there is more chance that some of the files you use on your site are already cached by them so they can get more speed.

Not every site will see drastic improvements for site owners testing performance, but visitors from other parts of the world may be able to load certain files faster. Dinić recommends users test their sites using webpagetest.org and select a higher number of tests to get an average. He also recommends testing with different locations and different connection speeds. Test with the plugin activated and deactivated and when the site has a full cache. In general, the further the location is from the server and the larger number of files sent to jsDelivr, the bigger the performance improvement will be.

Source: WP Tavern

Gutenstats Blog Is Live, Tracking Gutenberg Beta Testing Data

Matt Mullenweg tweeted out a link to Gutenstats.blog this evening, a new site dedicated to tracking Gutenberg beta testing data. The site shows there are currently more than 420,000 active installations of Gutenberg, a slightly more precise number than reported on the WordPress.org plugin page (400K+).

Gutenstats also tracked 213,000 posts written with the new editor and 8,142 posts written yesterday. These numbers were collected from posts made on WordPress.com and Jetpack sites since late August 2018 and a note on the site says the actual number is higher.

In June, Mullenweg unveiled a roadmap for Gutenberg to land in WordPress 5.0. At that time the plugin was active on just 14,000 sites. He proposed 100K+ sites having made 250K+ posts using Gutenberg as a threshold for adequate pre-5.0 testing.

Gutenstats tracking shows testing has far exceeded the original goal for active installations and should reach the posts written goal in just a few days. Mullenweg said they plan to add some block stats to the tracking page in the future.

Source: WP Tavern

ACF 5.0 Released with Updated UI and Gutenberg Compatibility

ACF version 5.0 landed on WordPress.org this week with Gutenberg compatibility now available for more than one million sites where the plugin is active. The release is a welcome update for developers who were concerned about what would happen in real world usage of Gutenberg on sites with ACF-powered customizations. ACF’s Gutenberg compatibility is arriving well ahead of WordPress 5.0’s TBD schedule for merging the new editor, giving developers time to get their clients’ sites ready.

“You can expect to see lots of Gutenberg related items in our changelogs over the coming months as we edge nearer to WordPress version 5.0,” the ACF announcement stated. “You’ll also want to take note that ACF 5 is the only version that will provide Gutenberg support. Previous versions will not be compatible.”

The version numbers across ACF Pro and the free version on WordPress.org are somewhat confusing. This particular release is significant in that it brings several years of development from the Pro version into the plugin hosted on WordPress.org. Now both products are technically on v5.7.6.

ACF 5.0 introduces a redesigned UI, performance improvements, and the plugin’s new Local JSON feature, which saves field group and field settings as .json files within the user’s theme. This reduces database calls and allows for version control of field settings.

image credit: ACF

Version 5.0 adds six new fields, including a link, group, accordion, oEmbed, date time picker, and clone fields (an ACF pro feature). It also introduce a new Tools page where users can export and import field groups as JSON.

For more information on items related to upgrading ACF and add-on compatibility, check out the official 5.0 release post.

Source: WP Tavern

WPForms Acquires Pirate Forms, Plugin to be Retired

photo credit: Reiterlied Plundering San Francisco Bay(license)

WPForms has acquired Pirate Forms, a popular WordPress contact form and SMTP plugin originally created by ThemeIsle in 2015. The announcement coincides with International Talk Like a Pirate Day but the pirate branding of the plugin is set to be retired and its users will be given the option to migrate to WPForms.

Pirate Forms was purchased in what WPForms co-founder and CEO Syed Balkhi describes as “an all-cash deal.” Although the plugin currently has more than 300,000 users on WordPress.org, its features and capabilities are inferior to the more modern WPForms and its creators lacked the resources to bring it up to speed.

Pirate Forms had gained popularity in its earlier days by providing a simple forms plugin (without all the builder functions) for sites that required just one contact form.

“Where most of the other plugins aim at ‘mega functionality’ with tons of customizations, add-ons and whatnots, Pirate Forms has made a bet on simplicity,” ThemeIsle representative Karol K said in the plugin’s farewell post.

“In other words, it just works(ed) right after the installation, with no particular setup required (other than adding your form to a contact page). This was a nice refreshment compared to the usual ‘get through tons of onboarding wizard screens before you can use the plugin’ -approach.”

Pirate Forms could no longer deliver what users expect from a forms plugin in 2018 and ThemeIsle opted to find a buyer in order to free up resources to focus on releasing the Hestia 2.0 theme.

“This acquisition further strengthens WPForms’ position in the WordPress ecosystem,” Balkhi said. The expectation is that a large number of users will migrate their forms to WPForms as the result of Pirate Forms discontinuing active development.

A migration path to WPForms is built into the latest version of Pirate Forms and Balkhi describes the process as a seamless transition. Users are also free to select another forms plugin but they will not have the benefit of the migration tool, which also imports the notification email and confirmation settings from users’ existing forms. Those who have purchased Pirate Forms Pro will receive a free one-year license to WPForms Pro.

WPForms has more than 1 million active installs and currently maintains a 4.6 out of 5 star average rating on WordPress.org. The drag-and-drop WordPress form builder is much more advanced than Pirate Forms and the free version allows users to create contact forms, subscription forms, payment forms, offline forms, multi-page forms, and many other types of customized feedback mechanisms. It is also compatible with all of ThemeIsle’s themes.

Source: WP Tavern