Monthly Archives: October 2018

Gutenberg Cloud Plugin for WordPress is Now in Beta

Frontkom, the team behind the Gutenberg Cloud project, has published the beta version of its WordPress plugin to the official repository. Cloud Blocks serves as a connector, allowing WordPress users to browse and install open source blocks from Gutenberg Cloud. The blocks are hosted on NPM and their assets are served from CloudFlare using unpkg.com.

Gutenberg Cloud’s online library of blocks is CMS agnostic, offering blocks for both Drupal and WordPress sites, and more CMSs in the future. The service advertises three key benefits for developers who host blocks on Gutenberg Cloud:

  • Wider adoption: Your blocks can be used outside of WP
  • Discoverability: Your blocks will pop up in the Cloud Blocks UI
  • Faster development: No plugin/SVN needed, just publish to NPM

Frontkom is actively recruiting WordPress developers to add blocks to the cloud to test the process. Documentation for migrating blocks from a plugin is available on GitHub. Frontkom has also produced a new boilerplate generator for building Gutenberg Cloud blocks.

Users should note that the team is still ironing out the experience for developers adding blocks to the cloud, so the plugin isn’t yet ready for general use. It’s currently under active development.

WordPress Developers Say Gutenberg Cloud May Not be the Best Way to Release Blocks but Platform has Potential

I contacted some WordPress developers who have tested sending their blocks to Gutenberg Cloud to get their initial reactions to the platform.

“The idea that folks will be able to install blocks a la carte is interesting,” Co-Blocks author and Theme Beans founder Rich Tabor said. “It’s pretty much as easy as installing plugins.”

Tabor experimented with migrating his Block Gallery blocks and said the process was not difficult but he foresees difficulties in maintaining blocks across parent plugins and Gutenberg Cloud.

“As a developer, I’m still not entirely convinced Gutenberg Cloud is the best way to release blocks, aside from relatively simple blocks,” Tabor said. “I personally lean towards building suites of blocks that share a relative purpose, instead of one plugin (or one Cloud Block instance) per block. For one, it cuts down on maintenance quite a bit, as custom components can be shared between blocks. And there’s much better discoverability on getting relative blocks in the hands of users — if they’re grouped together.”

Block collections have been criticized for making it difficult to search for and discover individual blocks, but Tabor makes some good arguments for improving block discoverability by grouping together features users often need. That is the whole point of successful plugins like Jetpack, but this type of packaging also lends itself to criticism about bloat.

“It’s a similar conundrum when we look at grouped/not grouped shortcode plugins,” Tabor said. “I suppose the main difference is that the nature of blocks is much more complicated than that of shortcodes. History seems to repeat itself.”

Tabor said he is considering distributing a few of his free blocks through Gutenberg Cloud but he hasn’t fully decided yet.

WordPress core contributor, Josh Pollock, who has worked extensively with React and Gutenberg, also tested the Gutenberg Cloud platform. He said he thinks it has a lot of potential for developers who write blocks that are mainly JavaScript already.

“I could see how an agency that builds WordPress sites could save a lot of time and hassle building out a block library,” Pollock said. “As a plugin developer with a lot of little ideas, the pain and time of setting up a block and block environment, which no one has gotten right yet, makes me very excited about this.”

Pollock also reported a positive experience with the create-cloud-block generator.

“The code that create-cloud-block generates is well-written, but not too opinionated,” Pollock said. “The developer experience is both really cool — you preview your block in a functional Gutenberg-powered editor with no WordPress site attached — and a little frustrating as there is no live reload yet. I know they are just getting started and the tool doesn’t lock you into any structure, which is great. I’ll be keeping my eye on this project.”

Frontkom CTO Per André Rønsen said his team will continue testing the cloud internally until they get more developer feedback on the corresponding WordPress plugin. For Drupal users, Gutenberg Cloud will be shipped as a submodule of Gutenberg, which means all sites that install Gutenberg will also get the Cloud module. It can, however, be disabled. Rønsen said his team plans to showcase Gutenberg Cloud for D8 at DrupalCamp Oslo in November.

Source: WP Tavern

WordPress.com and Jetpack Launch New Activity Feature for Monitoring Website Changes

WordPress.com launched a new Activity feature today, a tool for monitoring changes that occur on the site and actions initiated through the admin. It’s also available for Jetpack-enabled sites and the activity log can be viewed on WordPress.com or on the WordPress mobile apps.

Activity logs the following actions and presents them in an easy-to-read timeline on WordPress.com:

  • Published or updated posts and pages
  • Comment submission and management activity
  • Settings and options modifications
  • Login attempts by registered site users
  • Plugin installations, updates, and removals
  • Theme switches, installations, updates, and deletions

The Activity log can be useful for debugging client sites where the client cannot remember the actions they performed that changed their website. Users can also update plugins and themes directly from the activity log.

WordPress.com’s new Activity feature is reminiscent of XWP’s Stream plugin, which launched in 2013 with similar admin logging features stored locally. It offers support for multisite as well as several popular plugins, such as ACF, bbPress, BuddyPress, EDD, Gravity Forms, WooCommerce, Yoast SEO, and Jetpack. Stream hasn’t gained much traction in recent years with just 30,000 active installations.

In 2014, Stream’s creators explored offering Stream as a service where the logs were stored in AWS and included configurable SMS notifications. The service was shut down in 2015 in favor of storing the activity logs locally due to the expense of cloud storage. Shortly after that it was acquired by XWP.

Automattic is also exploring offering its new Activity feature as a paid service. Currently sites on the Free plan only have access to the last 20 most recent events. Access is tiered based on the plan. Personal and Premium users have access to activities from the last 30 days and Professional users can see all activities for the past year. The ability to filter activities by type is also restricted to paid users only.

Jetpack site owners should note that Activity is activated by default – it’s not a module that can be turned on or off. The feature doesn’t send any new data to WordPress.com but rather offers a new interface for data that is already synced.

The full list of activities the feature collects, as well as privacy information related to data retention, is available for WordPress.com and Jetpack sites in the documentation for the feature. Users can report bugs to the Calypso GitHub repository.

Source: WP Tavern

WordPress Accessibility Team Delivers Sobering Assessment of Gutenberg: “We have to draw a line.”

Shoes on the street
photo credit: classroomcamera DSC03657(license)

WordPress’ accessibility team has published a statement on the level of overall accessibility of Gutenberg. The team, largely a group of unpaid volunteers, collaborated on a detailed assessment that publicly challenges Gutenberg’s readiness for core in a way that no other WordPress team has done through official channels to date. After a week of testing the most recent version of the plugin, the team concluded that they cannot recommend Gutenberg to be used by anyone who relies on assistive technology.

The Accessibility team – like any team in WordPress – has no specific authority over the project. Because we’re a small team of volunteers, we’ve been pragmatic in how we apply the guidelines. We have made tradeoffs in prioritization. Gutenberg is a place where we feel it is necessary to draw a line. The ability to author, edit, and publish posts is the primary purpose of WordPress.

Accessibility team rep Joe Dolson, speaking on behalf of the team, cited cognitive load and complexity, inconsistent user interface behavior, heavy reliance on keyboard shortcuts, and difficulties with keyboard navigation through blocks, among other concerns about Gutenberg. He outlined an example of the keyboard sequence required to do something as simple as change the font size in a paragraph block. It currently requires 34 separate keyboard stops, and even more if the tester doesn’t have prior knowledge of how to navigate Gutenberg.

“Because the complexity of interaction with Gutenberg is an order of magnitude greater than in the classic editor, we believe that Gutenberg is less accessible than the existing classic editor, though it offers many great features that are not available in the current editor,” Dolson said.

This assessment echoes many of the common themes found in Gutenberg’s reviews on WordPress.org, even among the most recent reviews of the latest version. Ratings are currently hovering at 2.3 out of 5 stars. Users have repeatedly said the interface is “far too heavily reliant on hover based functionality.” Even those without accessibility needs find it confusing, unintuitive, and difficult to navigate content. Some testers find it nearly impossible to do what they want to do with it.

The positive reviews recognize the software as a work in progress and testers seem more aware of the overall vision for the plugin. They are excited about some of the more advanced features that blocks offer, but many positive reviewers urge WordPress to give it more time before making it the default editor.

The accessibility team is convinced that the main accessibility issues in Gutenberg stem from design issues.

“Gutenberg is the way of the future in WordPress, but the direction it has taken so far has been worrying,” Dolson said. “We do not want to miss the opportunity to build a modern and inclusive application for WordPress, but in order to achieve that goal, accessibility needs to incorporated in all design processes in the project.

“These problems are solvable. Retrofitting accessibility is not an effective process. It is costly in terms of time and resources.”

In a recent post titled Iterating on Merge Proposals, Gary Pendergast, who is leading the merge of Gutenberg into core, acknowledged that they could have asked for the accessibility team’s help much earlier in the process.

“The Accessibility team should’ve been consulted more closely, much earlier in the process, and that’s a mistake I expect to see rectified as the Gutenberg project moves into its next phase after WordPress 5.0,” Pendergast said. “While Gutenberg has always aimed to prioritize accessibility, both providing tools to make the block editor more accessible, as well as encouraging authors to publish accessible content, there are still areas where we can improve.”

At this time there has been no official response to the accessibility team’s assessment. It does not look like it will meaningfully impact the release date, as Beta 2 went out last night and RC 1 is planned for release today. If the core dev chats are any indication, contributors involved in 5.0 seem to be on board with the ambitious timeline for its release.

In a post titled “Accessibility in Gutenberg is not a one-more feature,” core developer Drew Jaynes urges the project’s leadership and contributors not to compromise core accessibility standards for the sake of an expedited timeline.

“Please let’s not make the ‘new standard’ be that we’re willing to ship technically accessible but perhaps not entirely usable-for-all features; let’s not define it as one that sacrifices standards core to the WordPress experience in the name of perceived expediency; let’s not define it as the new default authoring experience for all users when not all users can use it well,” Jaynes said.

WordPress 5.0 release lead Matt Mullenweg has frequently said the release will ship when it’s ready. He contends that the interface has been continually modified for accessibility needs throughout the process of developing Gutenberg.

Matthew MacPherson, Gutenberg’s accessibility lead, was not immediately available for comment on the team’s assessment. Ultimately, the decision to delay the release will fall to Mullenweg and his leadership team. The accessibility team, however, will not lend its endorsement of Gutenberg at this time:

The accessibility team will continue to work to support Gutenberg to the best of our ability. However, based on its current status, we cannot recommend that anybody who has a need for assistive technology allow it to be in use on any sites they need to use at this time.

Gutenberg is now 20 days away from landing in WordPress 5.0, but this does not leave enough time to solve the design and architectural issues the accessibility team has identified. They have proposed a notice on the 5.0 release to inform administrators of Gutenberg’s inadequacy for users of assistive technology, with a prompt to install the Classic Editor plugin. Many people with accessibility needs depend on the WordPress editor in order to do their work and will need to stick with the old interface. The proposal has been closed with a note indicating that 5.0 will point users to the Classic Editor plugin if they need it.

The mistake of not having consulted accessibility experts in the design phase cannot be easily rectified at this point, but the Classic Editor is still available for those who need to preserve their same workflow. The conflict lies in whether WordPress should ship a new editor that those with accessibility needs cannot immediately use. It is a somewhat painful and frustrating outcome for those users when the entire ecosystem is rapidly moving towards Gutenberg as the standard.

Either the accessibility and usability issues the team identified are not as bad as they purport or this document is a last-minute clarion call that could prevent WordPress from shipping an editor that excludes users who rely on assistive technology. Due to the gravity of their claims, the accessibility team’s statement on Gutenberg demands an official response.

Source: WP Tavern

php[world] 2018 to Feature Full-Day Gutenberg Development Workshop

The fourth annual php[world] conference is just two weeks away. The event is dedicated to uniting the PHP community and will be held November 14-15, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

This year the organizing team created a “Content Advisory Board” to ensure the event included sessions that will appeal to everyone. The board includes two WordPress Developers, two Drupal developers, and two more more general PHP developers. They reviewed all incoming talk submissions and gave organizers ideas on what they thought would be of greatest interest to each community.

php[world] has traditionally included several topics and speakers from the WordPress world. This year the program features a full-day training workshop on Gutenberg development led by Josh Pollock and Zac Gordon. The workshop is called The Future of WordPress Development and is available through a separate day ticket.

“We’ve always tried to focus php[world] on being the PHP conference that appeals to WordPress and Drupal developers as well,” conference co-chair Eli White said. “We all write PHP (and JavaScript) code, and the DC area is full of WordPress and Drupal development shops. In fact, the majority of people in the local PHP user groups are doing WordPress development anyway. So we should all just be learning from each other.

“For WordPress, that was obviously Gutenberg. Currently the release date for WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg is November 19th, just a few days after php[world], and so it’s a really important topic for any developer who works with WordPress to be familiar with.”

Workshop attendees can expect to become better acquainted with extending Gutenberg. The instructors plan to cover the basics of block creation as well as more advanced topics like making blocks dynamic and creating advanced blocks with the WordPress REST API and Redux.

“For the workshop, our goal is to get folks comfortable with what they could do with Gutenberg,” Josh Pollock said. “We’ll cover the anatomy of a block, and different patterns for creating simple and complex blocks. We’ll go over each of the types of block types you can create and have hands-on time to play with these new skills and ask real time questions.

“Developers should leave with an understanding of the different types of blocks they can build and why. They’ll also get plenty of example code, links, and advice they can use when it’s time to build blocks for their own WordPress projects.”

The event includes a few other sessions geared towards WordPress developers: David Wolfpaw is giving a workshop called “Building WordPress Themes: A Primer” and Mo Jangda from Automattic is giving a talk on “How to Handle a Site Outage.” There is another full-day training on modern PHP security that happens the day before the Gutenberg workshop that White said the WordPress Developers on the content board urged them to include.

The main conference is also hosting many sessions that would benefit WordPress developers who want to sharpen their PHP skills. A few highlights include:

Check out the full schedule on the php[world] website.

Source: WP Tavern

WooCommerce 3.5 Introduces REST API v3, Improves Transactional Emails

WooCommerce 3.5 was released this week. It’s a minor update that has been in development since May and began testing in September. The release should be backwards compatible to version 3.0 of the plugin but users are always advised to test all of their themes and extensions before updating.

Store owners can expect to see a change in the copy of the default transactional emails. They have been updated to be friendlier and more human. This is particularly important for the customer-facing emails. All of the following have been updated: on-hold, processing, completed, refunded both full and partially, invoice both with a pending and non-pending status, customer notes, password reset, new account. The default content in the store admin emails has also been improved.

The WooCommerce team anticipates that the updates to the transactional emails will reduce the need for store owners to customize their email templates. It also gives customers a better, friendlier connection to the store. More updates to the email content editing experience are planned for 2019.

Store owners may also benefit from the new option to set a low stock threshold in the inventory tab for individual products, export products by category to the CSV exporter, and define custom product placeholder images that will resize to correct store aspect ratio.

The WooCommerce REST API continues to evolve with v3 introduced in this release. It adds new endpoints required for the wc-admin feature plugin, the React-powered WooCommerce admin interface that was featured at last week’s WooSesh. REST API v3 also adds new features to existing endpoints while maintaining backwards compatibility with legacy API versions.

WooCommerce 3.5 introduces support for the Custom Product Tables feature plugin, which is being developed to improve store performance and scalability. In some cases storing product data in custom tables has brought 30% faster page loads.

In version 3.5 the “Preview Changes” button was removed from the publish meta box when editing products. If you’re missing it, Rémi Corson published a quick CSS snippet to bring it back.

Check out the release post for a full rundown of all the updates, deprecations, and template file changes in version 3.5.

Source: WP Tavern

WP Engine Acquires Array Themes

WP Engine has acquired Array Themes and Atomic Blocks from Mike McAlister for an undisclosed amount. McAlister has been developing WordPress themes since 2009. He initially sold his themes on ThemeForest. In 2011, he founded Array Themes.

I reached out to McAlister to learn why he chose to be acquired, what excites him most about Gutenberg, and what the plans are going forward.

Interview with Mike McAlister

What ultimately made you decide to move on from managing your own theme and products company to a larger, more established company?

The catalyst was when Brian Gardner reached out this summer and started a conversation about joining his team at WP Engine. As I told him at the time, he certainly wasn’t the first to make that offer, but he was definitely the most interesting. I had always respected Brian’s ethos on quality and design and really enjoyed our chats over the years.

Once I started meeting folks at WP Engine like Jason Cohen and David Vogelpohl, it became obvious that we were all striving for the same future and outcome for customers. It just made sense to join forces to make it happen together.

This was also a unique opportunity for me to start fresh and focus on crafting products with a stellar team. Although I was able to create an industry-respected theme collection and recently the Atomic Blocks plugin for Gutenberg, I wanted a new challenge.

Couldn’t Array Themes have been built to directly support the Genesis framework without being acquired by WP Engine?

It would be a lot of work to infuse the Array Themes collection and Genesis. The idea wasn’t exactly to bring Genesis to Array, rather to bring the expertise and craft of Array and Atomic Blocks to WP Engine, StudioPress and Gutenberg.

StudioPress already has one of the biggest and best theme collections out there and is doubling down on Gutenberg support. I’m going to contribute what I’ve learned building Array Themes and Atomic Blocks to make the StudioPress offering even better.

Will future themes require the Genesis framework?

Although there will not be any new themes released under the Array Themes brand, some of the designs will live on as StudioPress themes in the future and those will be powered by the Genesis framework.

We’re working on some really exciting new themes and features for Genesis that are going to continue making it the go-to solution for creating beautiful websites on WordPress, especially in the Gutenberg era.

What do you think of the consolidation of brands in the WordPress space?

We’re seeing a very unique and transitional time in the WordPress industry. The old way of doing things is going out the window as WordPress and its community changes before our eyes.

Now, more than ever, WordPress needs companies with stellar talent to help usher it through to the next era and contribute to its long term success. I’m excited to be part of a team that is willing to take on that challenge!

I can’t speak to the motivations of other businesses in the WordPress space, but the WP Engine acquisition of the Array product suite makes a lot of sense.

With their recent acquisition of StudioPress, Array Themes, and Atomic Blocks, WP Engine is showing its customers and the WordPress community that they are doubling down on quality, design, Gutenberg, and an unmatched customer experience. These are all shared qualities between these individual entities and part of the long term strategy at WP Engine.

What excites you most about Gutenberg?

I’ve been excited about Gutenberg for over a year now. I was one of the first WordPress product developers to release a blocks plugin, a Gutenberg-friendly theme, a blog with tutorials, and the Gutenberg News site.

I created all of these resources as a way of learning Gutenberg as well as contributing back to the community, and I will continue to do that with WP Engine and StudioPress!

Gutenberg unlocks the WordPress editor and the endless opportunities that follow for content creators, developers, and everyone in between. Gutenberg is already responsible for a flood of new products and new solutions to problems the classic editor couldn’t solve and it hasn’t even been merged into core yet!

The reality here is that Gutenberg isn’t just the future of WordPress, it’s the future of the Internet.

Discounts Available for Array Themes Customers

McAlister is joining WP Engine as a full-time employee. In addition, John Parris, a code wrangler for Array Themes has also joined WP Engine.

StudioPress and WP Engine are offering discounts to single theme and theme club members. Those who purchased a lifetime membership will receive free access to the StudioPress Pro Plus All-Theme package with support and updates.

To learn more about these discounts and how the acquisition came about, check out McAlister’s post where he says thanks and farewell to his customers.

Source: WP Tavern

WPWeekly Episode 335 – Introduction to BigCommerce with Topher DeRosia

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I are joined by Topher DeRosia, a developer evangelist for BigCommerce. DeRosia introduces what BigCommerce is, why users and developers should take a look at it, and why they’re making a big push into the WordPress space. He also provides an update on HeroPress and why next year, you’ll be seeing him at a lot more WordPress events.

Stories Discussed:

Polldaddy Rebrands to Crowdsignal
The New Woo Adopts Gutenberg Components, User Interface Driven by React
Gutenberg Team Addresses Accessibility Concerns, Highlights Tools and Features that Surpass the Classic Editor

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, October 31st 3:00 P.M. Eastern

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Listen To Episode #335:

Source: WP Tavern

WPCampus is Pursuing an Independent Accessibility Audit of Gutenberg

WPCampus is looking to hire a company to perform an accessibility audit of the Gutenberg editor. The organization is a community of more than 800 web professionals, educators, and others who work with WordPress in higher education. WPCampus director Rachel Cherry published a request for proposals detailing the organization’s specific concerns:

Our organization is sensitive to the legal requirements set by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The recent 508 refresh brought these requirements in line with WCAG 2.0 level AA, an industry standard that helps ensure accessibility. WCAG 2.0 is also commonly used as a baseline for policies governing many WPCampus participants outside the United States, with the European Union already moving to WCAG 2.1.

The audit is aimed at determining potential legal risk for institutions upgrading to WordPress 5.0 and will also identify specific challenges that Gutenberg introduces for assistive technology users and others with accessibility needs.

WPCampus is funding the audit and is not soliciting contributions from the community at this time. However, Pagely has offered to donate $1,000 to the organization in order to offset the costs of the audit.

“Contributions wise, at this point, we’d love for folks to share to help ensure we receive a wide variety of proposals,” Cherry said. WPCampus will publish the results of the audit to share with the greater WordPress community.

“Beyond our institutions’ legal obligations, colleges and universities worldwide have committed to providing an accessible digital experience to their diverse communities,” Cherry said. “This is consistent with the broader culture of higher education, which values inclusivity and an exchange of ideas free from artificial barriers.

“While the WordPress accessibility coding standards require new code to meet WCAG 2.0 AA, the new editor has not received a full accessibility audit. Lacking such an audit, the overall accessibility of Gutenberg is unclear. This makes it difficult for colleges and universities to determine the best course of action once WordPress 5.0 is released with Gutenberg as the default editor.”

The Accessibility Team is Preparing a Statement on Gutenberg’s Current Level of Accessibility

Accessibility has been one of the most pressing concerns regarding Gutenberg’s readiness for the world. The accessibility team met Monday and established a new weekly meeting time: 15:00 UTC on Fridays. They discussed a communication plan for Gutenberg accessibility feedback, particularly in regards to Matthew MacPherson’s call for accessibility testing on the plugin. User testing was conducted in March but a lot has changed since then. MacPherson has called for another round of tests from the community after Automattic decided to forego his proposed independent audit on Gutenberg.

The discussion became somewhat contentious after Gutenberg phase 2 lead Riad Benguella urged the accessibility team not to make its assessment in comparison to the classic editor but instead look at the larger picture.

“Gutenberg is meant for the whole site editing (even if it’s not at the moment) which means it’s the customizer + editor + menus + widgets at the same time,” Benguella said. “Just compare apples to apples, please, and if you see Gutenberg as an editor, you missed it. For the sake of iteration, it’s being shipped as an editor for now.”

Several members of the accessibility team took issue with statement because Gutenberg will replace the classic editor in WordPress 5.0 (even if users can bring it back with a plugin).

“It is crucial we compare these two experiences, because the one completely replaces the other,” Joe Dolson said. “It doesn’t matter that the new editor aims to do a lot more, it still must accomplish the same tasks effectively.”

Amanda Rush, a blind WordPress user and accessibility specialist, concurred with Dolson’s assessment.

“As someone trying to use Gutenberg as it currently stands with a screen reader, I promise you that future goals for the project are the absolute furthest thing away from my brain at the time,” Rush said.

“Let’s put it this way. Imagine that you are someone who must use assistive technology, or is otherwise reliant on something to do with Accessibility, and you have Gutenberg in front of you and you are trying to accomplish a task. Right now, the only task you can accomplish is writing or editing a post. So, as you are becoming more and more frustrated with the state of things, and trying to get your work done at the same time, imagine what it would be like if someone walked up to you in the middle of this frustrating experience and said well, if you’re calling as an editor you’ve missed it. Because this is going to be so much more than that. That is completely useless, doesn’t have any bearing on what you were trying to accomplish at the time, and promises, whether fairly or not, just more frustration down the road.”

Beta 1 has arrived before the next round of accessibility testing has been completed, and Gutenberg has only recently arrived at UI freeze within the last week. The accessibility team is collaborating on a detailed article with a general and professional statement on the level of overall accessibility in Gutenberg. They plan to publish the statement on Friday.

In the meantime, WPCampus has taken it upon themselves to spearhead an independent audit to determine if Gutenberg is in compliance with the industry standard WCAG 2.0 level AA, a standard which the accessibility team adopted as a requirement for all new or updated code released in WordPress. WPCampus’ submission deadline for proposals is November 7, and the organization will select a vendor by November 30. The goal is to release the audit no later than January 17, 2019.

The timeline WPCampus has identified would not deliver results in time to meaningfully impact WordPress 5.0’s release date. As Gutenberg has already been merged into core, it seems neither the accessibility team’s assessment nor an independent third-party audit would be considered a factor in delaying the release.

“The goal with the timeline is to allow adequate time to do it right,” Cherry said.

The WordPress community has responded positively to this independent effort to get more information on Gutenberg’s accessibility issues.

“I’m excited for this process as an example of how the community can tackle large tasks like this in creative ways,” Jeremy Felt said in response to WPCampus’ taking the initiative to get an audit. “It also has an opportunity to provide great insight and instruction on the accessibility of a complex React application with many interacting pieces.”

Accessibility is part of WordPress’ stated mission: “WordPress is software designed for everyone, emphasizing accessibility, performance, security, and ease of use.” The accessibility pages on the project’s website advertise WordPress as committed to ensuring all new and updated code conforms with WordPress Accessibility Coding Standards. Many in the community have expressed concern that if WordPress 5.0 ships a critically inaccessible new editor, it will be violating both its stated mission and its standards.

A great deal of friction has surrounded Gutenberg’s journey towards becoming an accessible tool for millions of users. The struggle has highlighted areas where the WordPress project can improve its collaboration across teams. It has inspired many to share their personal stories and some have even pledged to ramp up their accessibility contributions.

Many contributors were disappointed after Automattic decided to forego the independent accessibility audit on Gutenberg, given the company’s strong messaging about their passion for inclusive design. However, one positive outcome is that the company is now looking to hire a product designer who specializes in accessibility.

Rian Rietveld’s resignation from the accessibility team was a great loss for the project but it served as a catalyst to bring more visibility to the efforts of WordPress’ accessibility contributors. WPCampus’ initiative to get an accessibility audit for Gutenberg is one example of how the community is rallying around the accessibility team and working to help make the new editor a success for all users, including those with accessibility needs.

Source: WP Tavern

WordPress 5.0 Beta 1 Now Available for Testing

WordPress 5.0 is marching forward with beta 1 released this evening. Major items that need testing include the Gutenberg editor, the new Twenty Nineteen default theme, and all previous default themes, which have been updated to be compatible with the new editor.

You’ll want to make sure you are using Gutenberg version 4.1 before updating your site to WordPress 5.0 beta 1. Gutenberg is now considered feature complete as of the 4.1 release. It is active on more than 580,000 installations.

WordPress 5.0 beta 1 has arrived five days after its expected release on October 19. Contributors expressed concern in today’s dev chat over the large number of issues on GitHub in milestones related to 5.0.

Gary Pendergast, who is responsible for leading the merge, said the dates for RC can be changed if necessary.

“We can shift RC if we need to, which won’t necessarily affect the final release date,” Pendergast said. “If we have to shift RC a long way, that would be a good time to have another look at the release date.”

The Gutenberg team has not published a merge proposal to date. In September, Pendergast said “the Gutenberg leads are ultimately responsible for the merge proposal” but the timeline was still to be determined. Unless a proposal is forthcoming, the project seems to have bypassed this stage, which has frequently been a requirement for new themes, APIs, and feature plugins in the past.

Volunteers contributing to the Gutenberg handbook met for the first time today in the #core-docs channel. Chris Van Patten is coordinating the documentation effort to clean up and prepare Gutenberg-related docs for 5.0 over the next  five weeks.

Testers are advised to consult the list of known bugs before reporting to the Alpha/Beta forum or filing a bug on trac.

If this release stays on schedule, Gutenberg is now 26 days away from shipping in WordPress 5.0.

Source: WP Tavern

WCEU Team is Working on PWA Support for All WordCamp Websites

WordCamp Europe’s new PWA (Progressive Web App) was one of the highlights of the 2018 event in Belgrade. It allowed attendees to view the schedule, venue map, create bookmarks for sessions, and provided offline access in case of network failure. Attendees could add the app to their home screens and opt to receive push notifications for important updates about the event.

The first iteration of the PWA was not ready to be scaled for use at other WordCamps across the community, but volunteers from the WCEU organizing team are working towards that goal.  The app was originally built using React on the frontend and was hosted on a node server. It used WordPress for content management on the backend, along with the WordPress PWA plugin and OneSignal Push Notifications. The team working on scaling the app for use at other WordCamps is still debating the technologies they will use moving forward.

Hugh Lashbrooke posted about the app’s progress and invited the community to contribute to WCEU’s PWA repository on GitHub. 

“The next stage in the process is for the WCEU Design team to create some designs and wireframes for what the app could look like, posting them for feedback,” Lashbrooke said. “We will keep posting updates here as things progress; for now it would be helpful to gather some input from other WordCamp organizers.”

Lashbrooke said the goal is that each WordCamp site will have its own PWA so the app is unique for each camp. Since it loads in a mobile browser, it doesn’t require additional app installations.

Weston Ruter, one of the collaborators on the PWA for WordPress feature plugin, emphasized in the comments that the PWA should not be separate from the main site and that users need not even know about the app.

“After all, a PWA is just a website,” Ruter said.  “A PWA does not have to be installed to their homescreen to take advantage of PWA capabilities. They just continue go to their WordCamp website as they do normally, except that it also works when they are offline. The interactive schedule is important, but it’s not really PWA territory: rather it’s just a JavaScript component used on a page.”

Ruter encouraged those working on the app to view it as a progressive enhancement on top of the existing WordCamp sites, not an entirely separate application. Ideally it will use the same style and theme used on the main website.

Lashbrooke asked for developers and WordCamp organizers to leave feedback and feature requests in the comments of his post. Requests submitted so far include a “you are here” feature and the capability for users to log in with their WordPress.org account to sync schedule favorites across devices. Not every feature request will make it into the first version, but the team will consult the list for future versions of the project.

Source: WP Tavern

New Plugin Adds Elementor Templates as Gutenberg Blocks

One of the most pressing concerns for users in the Gutenberg era is how page builder plugins will respond. Speculation about the new editor “killing off page builders” has run rampant, but these plugins are slowly evolving ahead of Gutenberg’s imminent inclusion in WordPress 5.0.

In February, Elementor, one of WordPress’ most popular page builders, announced the plugin would be completely compatible with Gutenberg beginning with its 2.0 version that was released a few months later. Like many other plugins, that meant a nominal compatibility without any custom blocks built specifically for the new editor.

This week marks a major milestone for the page builder, as Elementor introduced its new Elementor Blocks for Gutenberg plugin. The plugin goes beyond basic compatibility, allowing users to insert any Elementor template into Gutenberg with one click. Its custom block functions as a pipeline to the Elementor library, pulling in content and designs the user has already created in the Elementor interface.

Elementor Blocks for Gutenberg lets users compose with the new editor while maintaining convenient access to items designed in the page builder. It makes it possible to bring more advanced layouts into Gutenberg and preview them inside the editor. Users can select from more than 300+ pre-designed blocks and 100+ pre-designed pages. The plugin will eventually be incorporated into Elementor’s core plugin.

The availability of this new plugin demonstrates Elementor’s commitment to evolving with WordPress as it adopts the editor and tackles customization in Phase 2. The page builder has more than a million active installations and a 4.8-star average on WordPress.org. Achieving this level of success in the page builder market has required a certain level of tenacity and perseverance. Elementor CMO Ben Pines made it clear their product is not going to be sidelined by Gutenberg.

“Elementor was launched in a saturated market, with many page builder and website builder alternatives,” Pines said. “We managed to become the leaders of our market by offering the best solution, and we plan to continue to lead the way. We will continue in our mission in full collaboration with WordPress.”

Elementor and Gutenberg share similar goals in helping WordPress users design their websites without having to touch the code. Pines also emphasized the benefits for developers.

“Elementor, Gutenberg, and the veer towards code-free website customization, presents a huge improvement for developers,” he said.

“Instead of being tied up in endless menial tasks like button or headline customization, and having to hand-hold the designer every step of the process – developers can now focus on greater challenges.

“This improvement creates a positive loop. Developers have time to build more tools, which in turn help the designers workflow.”

Other popular page builder plugins, like Divi Builder (500k+ installs) and Beaver Builder (500k+ installs), have announced initial support for Gutenberg but in both instances this constitutes a button that lets users toggle between the builder and the new editor.

Elementor is leading the way among page builders by making its content available inside Gutenberg. It essentially builds in an extra step so users can continue with their existing workflow in the page builder and insert those designs into the new editor.

Gutenberg’s current customization capabilities pale in comparison to what popular page builders offer, but phase 2 of the project may precipitate another avalanche of blocks pouring into the WordPress ecosystem – the same way it did after Gutenberg’s roadmap was unveiled in June at WordCamp Europe.

Page builders may not reproduce all of their exiting features in custom blocks until WordPress core is more advanced on its road to Gutenberg-powered customization. This would split the creation interface across two admin screens. At some point users may want to see a deeper integration between the editor and page building capabilities. The exciting thing about Elementor’s new blocks plugin is that its users don’t have to choose between Gutenberg and their favorite page builder.

Source: WP Tavern

Upcase Developer Learning Platform is Now Free

Upcase, a subscription learning platform for developers, is now free and open to the public. The content, which includes workshops, videos, flash cards, and coding exercises, was built by thoughtbot, a design and development consultancy.

“We’ve loved building Upcase, both as a business and as a way to share what we’ve learned with the community,” thoughtbot development director Chris Toomey said. “But while we’d love to keep investing in Upcase and producing tons of new content, we’ve been moving in a different direction—back to our roots, in fact, as we focus on our core consulting business.”

Thoughtbot employees work four days a week and Friday is devoted to learning new skills, working on open source, blogging, and other projects. The company found there was a lack of quality learning resources for intermediate and advanced topics, so they built Upcase with the content they wished had existed. Topics and courses include Git, intro to React, React Native, Unit Testing JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, Haskell, workflow and developer tooling, and techniques and patterns for building maintainable large scale applications.

Upcase creators said they have seen thousands of customers improve their skills and gain new levels in their careers since launching the site in 2012. The consultancy has created hundreds of hours of videos and screencasts based on their collective expertise. To start on any of the Upcase learning “trails” you can sign in with your GitHub credentials for free access.

Source: WP Tavern