Monthly Archives: March 2019

WordCamp Asia Proposed for 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand

photo credit: Eustaquio Santimano

The organizers of WordCamp Asia, a brand new regional WordCamp, have published a proposal for making Bangkok, Thailand, the host city for a 2-3 day event in early 2020. They are currently planning for February or March to avoid clashing with other regional WordCamps (WCEU, WCUS). The camp has been informally discussed since 2015 while organizers focused on growing new city-based WordCamps across the region.

“WordCamps in Asia have reached a critical mass that will enable a successful regional WordCamp,” Jon Ang said in the introduction to the proposal. “We believe that running this WordCamp will contribute directly to long term efforts in fostering WordPress interest in countries that lack it.”

WordCamp Asia organizers are being mentored by lead organizers of WordCamp Europe and have created an official proposal based heavily on the one submitted by WordCamp Nordic organizers. They have submitted it to the broader WordCamp community leaders for review before submitting and official application to WordCamp Central.

Asia has many vibrant and diverse WordPress communities across distant geographical areas. It technically includes Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey, Israel, and Iran, as well as all of Russia and India and everything in between.

Hugh Lashbrooke commented on the proposal, asking if it is actually a “WordCamp South-East Asia,” given all the currently listed organizers are from this region, or if they intend to include other countries beyond this area. Ang said that the event will certainly include leaders from India and Pakistan and they have discussed forming a global team with two representatives from each country. The leaders currently listed in the proposal are those who were specifically involved in drafting it.

Bangkok is proposed for the first host city due to its relatively affordable location, the ease of obtaining a visa on arrival for attendees from many Asian counties, and the availability of inexpensive flights to most major cities in Asia. The local WordPress community is also experienced at running large WordCamps (500+ attendees) and Bangkok’s local meetup group has more than 1,500 members. WordCamp Asia organizers are planning for 750-1,000 attendees.

Source: WP Tavern

New Gutenberg Playground Offers a Standalone Version of the Editor for Testing Outside the WordPress Admin

The Gutenberg team merged a pull request three days ago that adds a local “playground” development environment for testing outside of the WordPress admin. Riad Benguella, the technical lead for Gutenberg phase 2, said that the playground could grow over time to contain “more than just a standalone version of the editor” and could become a way for developers to test out components in isolation. He shared a screenshot of the playground in action:

During Tuesday’s JavaScript chat meeting, Benguella elaborated on the playground’s intended use.

“Now that we’re expanding the usage of Gutenberg outside of the edit-post and also talking about cross-CMS usage and external usage (in the broad sense), we need a way to run the block editor in a context independent from the WordPress Admin. This means no WordPress admin styles, no API.”

Testing Gutenberg in the playground’s “no-context” mode allows developers to ensure their components don’t rely on WP-Admin styles to be present. Benguella said it demonstrates how core blocks can be used without requiring a post object, which will be useful for architecting the widgets screen.

“This playground could evolve to contain examples of our reusable components (think Storybook),” Benguella said. “It could also serve as a contributor tool. For example, we could include a way to search for selectors.”

The playground was just merged this week, so contributors are working on better documentation. In the meantime, check out the PR for more details on how to test it.

Source: WP Tavern

WordPress 5.2 Beta 1 Released: Help Test New Blocks, Block Manager, and Improved Fatal Error Protection

WordPress 5.2 beta 1 was released this evening with an exciting lineup of new user-facing features that are ready for testing. The upcoming release introduces new blocks for RSS, Search, Calendar, Tag Cloud, and Amazon Kindle embed.

The proliferation of block collection plugins as a block distribution mechanism has caused some WordPress installations to become bloated with too many unused blocks. Version 5.2 includes new block management capabilities that will make it easy to turn blocks on or off and tidy up the block inserter tool for greater efficiency.

This release also introduces fatal error protection that catches errors before they produce a white screen, so that users can still log into the admin to attempt to resolve the issue. This feature was previously targeted for 5.1 but needed a few security issues ironed out before it was ready for core.

If you’re just getting started with testing WordPress, the 5.2 beta is a very approachable release with features that anyone can put through the paces. The easiest way is to install the WordPress Beta Testing plugin and select “bleeding edge nightlies.” Try out the new blocks, experiment with turning blocks and and off. Do the new features seem like they work as advertised? Are there any bumps in the road when trying to use them? You can report any issues to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums or log a ticket on trac.

Developers have a few big items to test as well. Plugin authors can now specify a minimum PHP version that the plugin will support. WordPress is also adding the sodium_compat library, a libsodium-compatible cryptography API for PHP 7.2+.

According to the notes from today’s core developer chat, there are currently 116 open tickets that contributors plan to address in three betas. The goal is to slash that number down to 66 before beta 2. WordPress 5.2 is targeted for April 30, 2019.

Source: WP Tavern

rtCamp Releases GitHub Actions for Automated Code Review, Deploying WordPress, and Slack Notifications

rtCamp, a 60+ person agency and VIP service partner, has released three new GitHub Actions that handle automated code review, WordPress deployment, and Slack notifications.

The PHPCS Code Review action takes advantage of GitHub’s pull request review feature. It performs an automated code review on pull requests using PHPCS. This Action is based on VIP’s GPL-licensed review scripts.

“Our action is a wrapper around the original vip-go-ci project,” rtCamp CEO Rahul Bansal said. “VIP’s project uses Teamcity which is expensive and very hard to get up and running. We built a wrapper around it to get it working with Github. Still huge props to them for sharing what we consider to be the USP of the VIP platform to the public at large.”

The Deploy WordPress GitHub action uses the tool to deploy code changes. Using it requires your git repo to match rtCamp’s WordPress Skeleton which is very similar to the VIP Go Skeleton. The action includes optional support for Hashicorp Vault, which is useful for managing multiple servers.

“Our action supports secrets fetching via HashiCorp Vault project,” Bansal said. “For small teams or indies using Vault might be overkill. But at scale, such as our hosting dept, where they are responsible for more than 100+ servers, Vault streamlines WordPress Deploys. It’s partly because of Vault, devs can simply change the hostname on the fly and everything still works.”

rtCamp has also released a GitHub action called Slack Notify that sends a message to a Slack channel. It can be customized to notify a channel about deployment status. The Site and SSH Host details are available if the action is run following the Deploy WordPress GitHub action. All three of the new Actions are designed to work seamlessly together.

rtCamp plans to add more Actions to its GitHub Actions Library in the future. Bansal said they are currently working on build actions to cover Sass, Webpack, and Grunt, as well as Testing actions for phpunit and QUnit. Further down the road they are planning to build an action that will automatically update their theme and plugin products in their EDD store when there is a GitHub release.

Source: WP Tavern

How Will Gutenberg Phase 4 Impact Multilingual Solutions for WordPress?

During the 2018 State of the Word address, Matt Mullenweg announced that Phase 4 of the Gutenberg project would be aimed at developing an official way for WordPress to support multilingual sites. There are no technical details available yet for what approach core will take, because it’s still in the experimental stage. The site building objectives in Phase 2 are currently the primary focus of the Gutenberg team.

Although Phase 4 is still a long way off (targeted for 2020 and beyond), WordPress multilingual product owners are starting to speculate about the impact of core offering its own standardized solution for multilingual sites. At WordCamp Nordic I had a quick chat with Robert Windisch, CIO of Inpsyde, a large WordPress agency in Germany and the creators of the MultilingualPress plugin.

Windisch predicts a culling of the multilingual solutions for WordPress after Phase 4, in the same way that Gutenberg has challenged page builders. Maintaining a plugin with thousands of users takes a toll on a company, because users require support and product owners need to have a way to continue offering something that isn’t already available by default in core.

“It’s the same with Gutenberg and all the page builders,” Windisch said. “You need to adapt. If core tackles 80-90% of the features the plugin does, then I’m sure some will decide to pursue other roads or extend core features with a new plugin.”

Windisch doesn’t see any issues for his company’s multilingual solution because of how it is architected to closely align with WordPress core in its use of multisite. The MultilingualPress website advertises the product as having “future-proof, WordPress core-based architecture.” Windisch said that big agencies and companies with local sites tend to opt for MultilingualPress’ solution because of the separation of access that multisite provides.

After some consideration, he said he found that Mullenweg’s timeline for getting multilingual support in core made sense, because existing solutions mean there is no pressing need to provide this functionality.

“Currently nobody waits for the multilingual in core, because there are already solutions out there,” Windisch said. “There’s not really the pressure to have it right now.”

Check out the quick interview below to hear more thoughts on how Gutenberg Phase 4 may impact other multilingual solutions:

Source: WP Tavern

Codecademy Launches New Free PHP Course

Codecademy introduced a new free course today called Learn PHP. The company, which offers free coding courses, is rebuilding its PHP education after removing all of its PHP courses in 2017.

A Codecademy representative explained that the courses were outdated and that their team thought PHP was declining in popularity:

The PHP courses were very old, buggy, and outdated. They were the least used courses on Codecademy by far, and declining in use all the time, just as PHP itself is declining in popularity in the web development world. Student demand was far higher towards making, for example, more content in other languages like JavaScript or offer all-new languages like C#, rather than continuing to maintain PHP. Continued support and maintenance of any course for us costs money, and hiring PHP specialists to rewrite a course costs more money, but the market for PHP is very small. So, the decision was clear – to sunset this course.

PHP was created in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf, and it is still going strong 25 years later. Roughy 80% of websites run on PHP. Redmonk’s 2019 language rankings put PHP at #4 behind JavaScript, Java, and Python, based on data from GitHub and Stack Overflow.

Codecademy’s new Learn PHP course offers users an introduction to the fundamentals of PHP with language-specific syntax. Prerequisites include basic HTML. Students will learn about PHP variables and the string and number data types. Codecademy Pro users will get more quizzes and will create a portfolio project to showcase their new skills, but the basic course is free. The course currently takes approximately three hours to complete, and the company plans to add more content in the future.

Source: WP Tavern

Gutenberg Cloud Team Advocates for Making’s New Block Directory a CMS-Agnostic Library

Frontkom‘s presentation at WordCamp Nordic introduced the audience to the Gutenberg Cloud project, which allows developers to share JS-only blocks across CMS platforms. Marco Fernandes and Thor Andre Gretland, representatives of the 45-person agency based in Europe, are also part of the Drupal Gutenberg project that brings WordPress’ open source editor to Drupal via an optional module. The module’s release candidate has been downloaded more than 9,000 times.

In the video below, I had the opportunity to sit down with the team at WordCamp Nordic to discuss the progress on their Gutenberg-related projects. Frontkom has clients using the Drupal module in production and their experience echoes a theme that seems common among those who are using the Gutenberg editor with clients.

“We see that especially people who don’t have too much experience in general working with visual content online, they find it easier to use than the ones that are into a routine where they expect some behavior,” Gretland said.

Drupal’s Gutenberg module could become a primary driver for the Gutenberg Cloud project, as access to the cloud blocks is included by default for all installations. The Cloud Blocks plugin for WordPress has been much less popular so far, with an estimated 100 active installations.

We discussed the potential of Drupal adopting Gutenberg as its core editor and the Frontkom team predicts that it will likely remain a separate module. Their vision for both Drupal Gutenberg and the Gutenberg Cloud is to make Gutenberg “the go-to solution for editing rich content on the web.” It is still achievable as a separate module but would have more impetus behind it if Drupal adopted it for its default editor.

Gretland said idea behind the Gutenberg Cloud was to provide “a sustainable ecosystem of blocks but also ease of use.” The project is a precursor to’s planned JS-only single block library. We discussed whether they perceive any competition between the two directories.

As the discussion on was just developing at the time of the interview, I contacted Frontkom CIO Per Andre Rønsen later on to get their thoughts on’s planned block directory. He had commented on the proposal, asking if this could become a library of truly CMS-agnostic blocks.

“I commented on the Make WP blog post right away, because I simply loved the idea of a directory of JS-only blocks,” Rønsen said. “We haven’t discussed it directly with Matt, but have had some good chats with the core Gutenberg team, and are planning to meet on a weekly basis. If Gutenberg Cloud can serve as a proof of concept that can later adopt as their own, we are happy. As the spec is very similar to what we already have created, porting between the two will be easy.”

Rønsen is advocating for a more open approach that isn’t so strictly tied to WordPress’ infrastructure.

“A more ideal approach however, would be to merge the two efforts,” Rønsen said. “The key for us, is to make the infrastructure open to other communities, not just WP developers. We are happy to put our project in the hands of the WP core team – given that they share the same open vision.”

A CMS-agnostic library for Gutenberg blocks is part of Frontkom’s long term vision for improving the open web. This is one of reasons the team created Gutenberg.js, which provides a foundation for using Gutenberg on any CMS or framework. Gretland said they see it as “more than just a new editor but a platform that enables communities to build new features.” This is the vision the team came to share at WordCamp Nordic. Check out the video below to hear more about how the Gutenberg Cloud team is working to make Gutenberg an editor that more open source communities on the web can share.

Source: WP Tavern

WPWeekly Episode 349 – Sandy Edwards and the Kids Event Working Group Initiative

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I are joined by Sandy Edwards. Sandy gave us a behind the scenes look at what it takes to organize a WordPress event for children and teens.

She also provides background information on a new group that’s been formed called the Kids Events Working Group. This group is responsible for setting the foundation for organizers to create and manage WordPress events geared towards children.

John recaps his experience at WordCamp Miami last weekend and we discussed some noteworthy news items.

Stories Discussed:

WordCamp Miami Draws 100+ for Kid’s Camp, Plans to Host Standalone Kid’s WordPress Conference in Summer 2019

WordPress 5.1.1 Patches Critical Vulnerability

Dark Mode WordPress Plugin Up for Adoption

Gutenberg 5.3 Released

FireFox 66.0 Released

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, March 27th 3:00 P.M. Eastern

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Source: WP Tavern

WordPress Ends Support for PHP 5.2 – 5.5, Bumps Minimum Required PHP Version to 5.6

WordPress has officially ended support for PHP 5.2 – 5.5 and bumped its minimum required PHP version to 5.6. The plan announced last December was to bump the minimum required version in early 2019 and, depending on the results, bump it again to PHP 7 in December 2019. Sites on PHP 5.5 or earlier can still get security updates but will not be able to upgrade to the latest major WordPress version.

Today only 2% of WordPress sites remain on PHP 5.2. Roughly 20% are on versions 5.5 or earlier. Nearly half of WordPress installs are on PHP 7.0+.

One might wonder why WordPress’ approach isn’t to just bump it all the way up to PHP 7. With its influence and dominant market share, this requirement would inevitably force users to get on board. However, WordPress contributors believe in supporting users who, for whatever reason, need more help upgrading PHP. Steamrolling this requirement has not been the WordPress way, despite years of immense pressure from the developer community.

“Leaving users behind for technical reasons creates a two-folded web with only few being able to leverage its power,” WordPress Core Committer Felix Arntz said. “Collaborating with and supporting these users gives that power to everyone in the long run.”

Gary Pendergast shared a few stats about how effective WordPress 5.1’s PHP update notice has been in prodding site owners to get on newer versions of PHP:

For WordPress 5.0, sites updated their PHP version from PHP <= 5.6 to PHP 7+ at the rate of 1 basis point per day. That is, the percentage of WordPress 5.0 sites using PHP <= 5.6 dropped by 0.01 every day, prior to the release of WordPress 5.1.

For WordPress 5.1 (after adding the update notice), that has increased to a steady 5 basis points per day. Doesn’t sounds like much? Every day, that’s hundreds of extra site owners choosing to go through the (frankly, terrifying) process of updating their PHP version. All they needed was a little extra nudge, and a little bit of information.

Scary EOL notices and attitudes of “well, we’re just bumping our supported PHP version, too bad if you don’t know what to do next” don’t help. Giving people the information they need to help themselves works.

WordPress folks are doing our part to help clean up the ancient PHP installs that are still running a large percentage of the internet, and we’re find that this isn’t an insurmountable problem. It just requires a bit of patience and empathy to solve.

WordPress developers around the web sent out celebration tweets after the news was announced. Although PHP 5.6 is the new minimum required version for running WordPress, the project’s technical requirements page recommends users ask their hosts for PHP version 7.3 or greater. PHP 7+ offers massive performance gains for users and developers will be able to update their plugins to use more modern syntax.

Source: WP Tavern

Gutenberg 5.3 Introduces Block Management, Adds Nesting to the Cover Block

Gutenberg 5.3 was released today with basic block management, a feature that will be included in WordPress 5.2. It is a new modal that can be launched from the vertical ellipses menu, inspired by Rich Tabor’s CoBlocks implementation. Users can turn individual blocks on/off or even entire sections, such as Common Blocks, Formatting, and Embeds. Block management should help users avoid the bloat that happens when installing block collections with more blocks than they need.

This version’s updates to the Cover Block make it possible to nest other blocks inside of it. Users can now add buttons, paragraphs, and headers to easily create a call to action. It’s not immediately evident that nesting blocks is possible, despite the floating inserter. It takes a little bit of time to discover that it is available. There are still some quirks with this feature, but overall it makes the Cover Block much more useful than previous versions.

A few contributors commenting on the Cover Block’s nesting PR said that it seems like the work on this iteration is essentially a light version of a section block. They questioned if it might be better to finish the work on the Section block (#4900) and build from there. Many developers and designers are eagerly awaiting the addition of a Section block to core, which will provide a standard for the plugin and theme industries to build on.

“I think the cover block has very specific functionality that the section may not have like the focal point selector,” Automattic JavaScript engineer Jorge Costa said. “It is also important to note that the adjustments we make here to the way nesting works will also benefit a future section. This also allows us to test nesting a little bit more, before going to the section block. I expect the section block to be widely used in the community and will probably serve as a basis for many things being built in the future so it is important that we get it right. Exploring in cover will contribute to that.”

Gutenberg 5.3 adds an experimental Legacy Widget Block that allows existing WordPress widgets to be added as Gutenberg blocks. It offers a dropdown of available widgets. After selecting one, the block populates that area with the widget’s settings.

This version also improves block outlines for the hover and selected states for a more accessible UI with less distraction. Performance benchmarks show a slight decrease in performance with Gutenberg 5.3. Check out the release post for a full list of enhancements and bug fixes. This is the last plugin release that will be rolled into the upcoming WordPress 5.2 release.

Source: WP Tavern

WordCamp Miami Draws 100+ for Kid’s Camp, Plans to Host Standalone Kid’s WordPress Conference in Summer 2019

The 11th edition of WordCamp Miami was held this past weekend, a three-day event that featured multiple learning workshops and six different tracks. The speaker ratio was 50% male and 50% female, and nearly half of the speakers were new to WordCamp Miami.

One of the highlights of this year’s event were the WordPress stories coming out of the Kid’s Panel. WordCamp Miami has been hosting learning experiences for kids since 2014 and for the past four years has included a two-day Kid’s Camp along with a Kid’s Panel. More than 100 children (not including parents and guardians) attended this year’s event. Some of the kids who are more experienced with WordPress shared their experiences during the Kid’s Panel.

Kids reported that they using WordPress for blogs, science projects, and robotic competitions. One fifth grade student, who has been using WordPress for three years, said she plans to continue using it to document her life and share her future educational experiences:

“I plan to be using it later in my life when I go to college, so I can be talking about what my life journey was and what I’m going to be studying, which is software engineering.”

Miami to Host New One-Day WordPress Event for Kids and Teachers

The growing popularity of WordCamp Miami’s kids events has inspired organizers to host a new one-day event for kids and teachers. The date has not yet been set but the plan is to have it scheduled for summer 2019.

The event will be divided into two tracks, one for kids aged 6 to 18 and another for teachers and educators. The kid’s track will include talks on WordPress, MineCraft, STEAM/STEM activities, and ways they can improve their coding skills. Teachers and educators will have a dedicated track with talks that will help them incorporate coding, WordPress, and broader STEAM/STEM activities into their curricula.

In their announcement, WordCamp Miami’s organizers said they believe the next generation of WordPress users are “vital to the growth of the open web.” They are looking for sponsors to cover the costs of snacks and lunch for approximately 100 students, volunteers and speakers to give presentations on various subjects for kids and teachers, and people to spread the word to schools in the Dade/Broward area.

Kids engaging with WordPress is one of the most inspiring things happening in the community right now. It’s the spark of a new generation of users who are embracing the concept of sharing their ideas on the open web. WordPress’ Community team also has a new Kids Event Working Group that kicked off last month to support the growth of these kinds of events around the world. They are currently working on documentation, training guides, legal documents, supply lists, and other resources. This is another way to get involved if you don’t live near a local kid’s event.

Source: WP Tavern

New Tools for Theme Developers: Theme Sniffer Plugin and Automated Accessibility Testing

WordPress contributor teams have shipped several new tools for theme developers in the past couple weeks, which have the potential to raise the quality of new themes coming into the ecosystem. The Theme Sniffer plugin is a new effort from the Theme Review team that uses custom sniffs for PHP_CodeSniffer to test a theme against WordPress coding standards and check for PHP version compatibility.

The plugin is useful for both theme reviewers and developers who want to get their themes approved for the directory. It includes several optional standards to test against beyond the ruleset for theme review requirements. Passing the Theme Sniffer checks is not required for themes entering the directory but reviewers can use the plugin to speed the process up.

The Accessibility Team also published a new tool called WP Theme Auditor that runs Axe tests against a theme for automated accessibility feedback. Axe is an open source library and testing engine created by the accessibility experts at Deque. The WP Theme Auditor package can be installed into a theme’s root directory. Developers can then add test cases. Examples are available in the project’s README file. The tests are run against http://one.wordpress.test by default but developers can specify a different test environment URL.

The Accessibility team plans to expand the test cases in the tool to include all the content from the current Theme Unit Test Data package. In the most recent team meeting, they decided to recommend WP Theme Auditor as a WordPress testing tool and plan to post more details about it on the blog.

Source: WP Tavern