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July 05, 2015

Matt: Automattic Challenge

“We have two interesting challenges for you – to write the shortest code possible and to write the fastest code possible.” One of the prizes is a conference ticket and three nights in a hotel. Check it out over at the Automattic React Europe Challenge.

by Matt at July 05, 2015 05:50 AM under Asides

July 04, 2015

Matt: New VideoPress

We launched a shiny new version of VideoPress that makes mobile better, is way faster, has a sleek UI, and is HTML5. This is targeted at WordPress.com users right now, but will expand for everyone soon.

by Matt at July 04, 2015 05:56 AM under Asides

July 03, 2015

WPTavern: Automattic Overhauls VideoPress and Open Sources Technologies Used to Build It

VideoPress, Automattic’s video hosting service, has undergone a complete overhaul. The video player is now responsive and adjusts well to mobile devices. Videos can be embedded anywhere and are easier to share, thanks to permalinks.

There’s also a couple of neat options for sharing videos. Similar to YouTube, you can select a time stamp where the video will start playing. You can also loop and autoplay videos.

VideoPress Sharing OptionsVideoPress Sharing Options

One thing I noticed is that pasting a VideoPress permalink into the self hosted WordPress visual editor does not load the video. This is because WordPress does not have oEmbed support for VideoPress.

To embed videos into posts, you need to copy the HTML embed code from the video and past it into the WordPress text editor. Pasting the code into the visual editor doesn’t work. Guillermo Rauch, who works on the VideoPress team at Automattic says they are working on adding oEmbed support.

The new video player takes up little space and is unbranded. According to Rauch, the player’s skin and behavior is controlled by JavaScript, HTML and CSS. This opens the door for customizations by theme developers in the future. Thanks to major performance enhancements, pages with videos on them will load faster, even for those on slow internet connections. Here’s an example of a video using the new player.

A feature that I think a lot of people will enjoy is real-time seek which lets you skim through videos and helps you start playing at a desired point. Last but not least, the libraries used to build the new video player have been open sourced, including jpeg-stream, pixel-stack, and video-thumb-grid.

If you’re interested in using VideoPress, you need a Premium or Business plan on WordPress.com. The premium plan is $99 per year and includes 13GB of space. Videos take up a lot of space and one has to wonder if it’s worth the cost or if YouTube is a better option. If you use VideoPress, let us know what you think of these improvements.

by Jeff Chandler at July 03, 2015 03:46 AM under videopress

July 02, 2015

Matt: Domain Anonymity and the Brilliance of Entertainment Lobbyists

To rid the internet of piracy, entertainment companies are willing to greatly reduce privacy, at least where website registration is concerned.

Where the entertainment industry views proxy registration as a pirate’s tool for obfuscation, privacy advocates see identity concealment as a feature that can enable free speech and freedom from harassment.

So there’s a new proposal to force any “commercial” website, which could cover pretty much anything, to have real WHOIS/contact info. This is a terrible idea, and of course there are already ample and simple means to bypass proxy services being actually abused with a court order. But they want to go a step further, so potentially a parenting blogger with ads or affiliate links on their site would be forced to put their actual home address and phone number in a public directory anyone on the internet can access, or break the law. What could go wrong? EFF has more about why this impacts user privacy.

I think the better question here, is when has the entertainment industry ever proposed something good for consumers or the internet? I’m not kidding, 100% serious: have they ever been right?

It seems like a good approach for governing bodies like FCC, ICANN, or Congress to just blanket oppose or do the opposite of what MPAA or COA propose, and they’ll be on the right side of history and magically appear to be a very tech-savvy candidate or regulator.

by Matt at July 02, 2015 10:30 PM under Asides

WPTavern: Lasso Adds Real Time Revision Restoring to WordPress

This week Nick Haskins launched an update to Lasso, which introduces real time revision restoring. Lasso, a plugin originally designed to improve the experience of using of Aesop Story Engine, is currently one of the most user-friendly and well-supported attempts at bringing frontend editing to WordPress.

The plugin works with or without Aesop Story Engine. Lasso brings a minimal, unobtrusive approach to editing that keeps the focus on content creation. Haskins hopes to ship version 1.0 of the plugin this fall, and the source was recently made available to developers and testers on GitHub.

“Our goal is simple: be a front-end editor that negates the use of the WordPress post editor,” Haskins said. “One of the last areas to tackle in this endeavor was revisions.”

Lasso 0.9.6 allows users to restore revisions in real time while editing a post on the front end. The plugin introduces a new and unique approach to displaying revisions, removing the default “diff style” comparison in favor of a simpler sliding interface.

lasso-revisions

Lasso displays the last six revisions and users can click on the time to restore a revision live. It functions like a little piece of magic on the front end.

“Because Lasso already operates within the post_content, there wasn’t really a huge technical challenge to overcome,” Haskins said. “The biggest bottle neck was finding a way to do this that would cause no confusion.

“WordPress revisions use a “diff style” comparison, which I don’t think benefits 80% of WordPress users. After all they’re not coders. So we decided to restore the post as it was, and most importantly, the context that it lives in,” he said.

The live revisions restoring supports images, markup, and everything else that you would expect to be parsed into HTML, but Haskins has a few outstanding items he hopes to polish up.

“Things like shortcodes and ombeds are not processed into HTML as they need a page refresh, so finding a way to parse these live is just about the only technical challenge that we still have to overcome,” he said. “This doesn’t prevent things from working, but I think a user expects these items to show as they appear on site.”

This is the first time a plugin author has done anything like this with revision display and restore. It transforms the process of reviewing revisions into a visual and interactive experience. Removing the “diff style” comparison makes it much easier for the average content creator to decide on which revision to restore. If you want to test it out or take a closer look at how it works, check out Lasso on GitHub.

by Sarah Gooding at July 02, 2015 07:19 PM under lasso

WPTavern: WordPress 4.3 Beta 1 Now Available for Testing

testing

WordPress 4.3 is right around the corner with beta 1 released and ready for testing. According to the 4.3 project schedule, there will be no more commits for new enhancements or feature requests from this point on. Contributors are now focusing on bug fixes and documentation ahead of August 18th, the target release date.

With all the controversy surrounding WordPress 4.3’s inclusion of menus in the customizer, you may have missed a few other lesser known features that are on track to be included and need to be put through the paces. The new site icons feature was added to trunk this week, along with a text editor for the Press This posting interface.

WordPress lead developer Mark Jaquith has been working on making passwords more secure. As of 4.3, WordPress will no longer send passwords via email. The password strength meter is now more tightly integrated. It will warn users upon selection of a weak password and can also suggest a secure password.

One interesting new improvement added to the post editor is recognition of some basic markdown-esque patterns inside TinyMCE:

Certain text patterns are automatically transformed as you type, including * and – transforming into unordered lists, 1. and 1) for ordered lists, > for blockquotes and one to six number signs (#) for headings

For those who are used to formatting text this way, the post editor in WordPress 4.3. will be a more friendly place for speedy composition.

Admin post and page list tables will take a huge leap forward to become more responsive in this release, improving the experience of using WordPress on smaller screens. Previously, the columns that could not fit were truncated, but WordPress 4.3 will allow columns to be toggled into view.

Check out release lead Konstantin Obenland’s beta announcement post to download a zip of the beta. If you want to help test, the easiest way is to get hooked up via the WordPress Beta Tester plugin. Bug reports are welcome on the Alpha/Beta support forums and can also be filed on WordPress trac.

by Sarah Gooding at July 02, 2015 04:39 PM under wordpress 4.3

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 197 – WordPress Theme Review Roundtable

In this episode of WordPress Weekly, Marcus Couch and I are joined by Chip Bennett, Jose Castaneda, Tammie Lister, and Edward Cassie who are members of the WordPress Theme Review Team. We learn why the team exists, its goals, and what the process is for getting a theme into the official directory.

The team clarified the difference between requirements and guidelines. We discuss the results of three separate surveys that indicate users want to see improvements to the way theme demo content is displayed. Last but not least, we learn how you can get involved with the team.

Stories Discussed:

The WordPress Community (A Comedy of Drama, Ego, Oligarchies, and More)

Plugins Picked By Marcus:

Plugin Grouper allows users to group plugins together to make them easier to manage.

WordPress Import YouTube Liked Videos helps users connect to their YouTube account and import their recently liked videos.

Author Chat is an internal chat system that lets your authors or users with access to the dashboard chat with each other.

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, June 8th 9:30 P.M. Eastern

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Itunes: Click here to subscribe

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via RSS: Click here to subscribe

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Stitcher Radio: Click here to subscribe

Listen To Episode #197:

by Jeff Chandler at July 02, 2015 04:35 PM under Themes

WPTavern: Ship: A New App for Shipping Plugins from GitHub to WordPress.org

One of the small hurdles to hosting a plugin on WordPress.org is the fact that you have to use SVN to ship your updates. Most developers are far more familiar with Git. It’s not difficult to learn how to use SVN for the sake of WordPress.org plugins, but many find it to be inconvenient.

Ship is a new application designed to eliminate this hassle by helping developers ship plugins directly from GitHub to WordPress.org. All you have to do is tag the release on GitHub and the app will automatically push updates to the plugin’s official SVN repo on WordPress.org.

ship

The application was created by Jason Agnew and his team at Big Bite Creative, authors of the Herbert plugin framework. The team built the app in Laravel in just five days. It’s currently hosted on Digital Ocean, but Agnew plans to move it over to AWS once Ship has gained more users.

“We’ve reached a point where most developers are familiar with GitHub, and as a result, Git,” Agnew said in his announcement. “If you plan to do anything open source you’re likely to find yourself on there – even Apple has made the move. Unfortunately WordPress.org uses SVN, which most developers don’t use daily, or are even familiar with. It’s easy enough to pick up, but why should you learn something new to update your plugin?”

With the help of the Ship app, developers won’t have to touch SVN at all during the process of sending updates to WordPress.org plugin repositories.

“For years most plugin developers have used GitHub and then shipped to WordPress.org SVN using a bash script,” Agnew said. “You’ll find plenty out there, but they require you to keep both a Git and SVN repo on your machine — plus you need to remember to run it every time you tag a new release. We thought there must be a simpler way to do this, so we put our heads together. After a few days we had put together the first version of Ship.”

In order to use the app you must have already submitted your plugin zip file to WordPress.org. You can then sign into the Ship app with GitHub and authorize its access to your repositories.

authorize-ship-app

The app will then fetch your repositories and you’ll have the opportunity to select the ones you want to link up with a WordPress.org SVN address in order to start syncing updates.

ship-sync-reops

Big Bite Creative has built many custom plugins over the years, but Agnew said they never had the time to open source them.

“Now with Herbert out there we want to start releasing more plugins on Github – Ship is part of making that process easier,” he said.

In the future, Agnew and his team would like to eliminate the need to first submit your plugin on WordPress.org and instead have that process initiated by Ship. They used “Sign in with GitHub” to save time when initially building the app but would also like to open it up for other services like BitBucket.

The new Ship app effectively gets around WordPress.org’s SVN requirement for plugin repos, which has long been a minor deterrent and annoyance for developers wanting to host their work in the directory. If Ship is successful in making plugin developer’s lives easier, the result will be more open source extensions available to WordPress users. Agnew and his team welcome feedback on the app and have created an empty repo on GiHub to capture any suggestions or issues.

by Sarah Gooding at July 02, 2015 01:13 AM under wordpress plugin directory

WPTavern: Which One of These Six Cities Should Host WordCamp US?

When Matt Mullenweg put out the call to cities interested in hosting WordCamp US, we learned the criteria they would have to meet in order to qualify. Venues would need to seat approximately 1,000-2,00 people, have hotels within 3 miles of the venue, hotel costs for a range of budgets, and average flight costs from the West Coast, East Coast, Midwest, Mexico, and Canada.

Applications to host WordCamp US 2015 officially closed today. Six cities submitted applications to host the event, they include:

  • Chattanooga
  • Chicago
  • Detroit
  • Orlando
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix

On the Make WordPress Community site, Cami Kaos says applications are being carefully reviewed and organizers of the host city will be contacted as soon as possible. Dates for the event won’t be given until a host city and venue is chosen.

Out of all the cities selected, I want WordCamp US to be in Chicago. I love Chicago and it’s a quick flight from Cleveland. The city also has awesome pizza. Take the poll below and vote for which city you think should host WordCamp US. This poll is only for fun and will not affect the outcome of the host city.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

by Jeff Chandler at July 02, 2015 12:28 AM under wordcamp us

July 01, 2015

WPTavern: It’s Not a WordPress Problem, It’s a People Problem

Tom McFarlin published a thoughtful piece on what he perceives to be the sad state of the WordPress community. Too many people are participating in behavior that is embarrassing from the outside looking in. It’s a long read, but it highlights the need for members of the WordPress community to stop and reflect on our actions.

The WordPress community is described by many as being open, friendly, with a willingness to help. It’s all of those things but in the past few months, discussions on hotly debated topics such as the Customizer have brought the worst out of people.

Criticism is one thing, personal attacks are another and simply unnecessary. Unfortunately, text is a difficult medium to decipher context. Emoticons and emoji help, but it doesn’t solve the problem. We as a community need to approach discussions with open minds. We can have different perspectives and viewpoints but we need to clearly communicate them without tearing the opposition down in the process. We must also learn to agree to disagree.

McFarlin’s post is an inward facing moment for the WordPress community. Is this how we want people on the outside to portray us? WordPress is software created by passionate people who work tirelessly to improve the web. Let’s all take a deep breath, collect ourselves, and do more to listen and understand each other.

by Jeff Chandler at July 01, 2015 11:21 PM under tom mcfarlin

WPTavern: WordPress 4.3 Adds New Site Icons Feature and a Text Editor to Press This

WordPress 4.3 is on track to include a new site icons feature, which will allow administrators to easily upload an image to be used as the favicon and app icons for a site. Favicons have traditionally been handled by WordPress themes or plugins, but the new core support means that users no longer have to hunt down an extension to handle this basic site feature.

This addition landed in 4.3 in response to a four-year old trac ticket requesting an easier way for non-technical users to upload and crop an image to use as a favicon. Konstantin Obenland, release lead for 4.3, committed the feature to WordPress trunk this week, along with the following summary of its current capabilities:

This v1 marries Jetpack’s Site Icon module with the Media Modal, reusing code from the Custom Header admin. For now, the core-provided icons will be limited to a favicon, an iOS app icon, and a Windows tile icon, leaving .ico support and additional icons to plugins to add.

After testing WordPress 4.3-alpha, I found that the experience of adding a favicon in the settings panel is smoother and more intuitive than any plugin I’ve ever tried. The screen offers users a nice preview of the image as a favicon and mobile icon. It also doesn’t burden you with any notices about sizes and image quality, unless you attempt to upload an image that is less than 512px in width.

wordpress-site-icon

If you want to test the feature, you can provide feedback on the ticket or via the announcement post.

Another major enhancement added to 4.3 this week is a text editor for Press This. Many WordPress users appreciate the streamlined simplicity of the Press This post editor but were held back from using it to compose posts due to the lack of HTML editing support. The addition of a text editor offers the same capabilities as the standard editor in post-new.php.

press-this-text-editor

Press This will also receive a few polishes in addition to the text editor, including auto-scrolling when the caret moves out of the viewport while the user is typing (similar to editor-expand) and auto-resizing for the textarea. WordPress 4.3’s improvements to Press This are not exactly a replacement for the dearly-departed distraction-free writing mode, but the post editor at wp-admin/press-this.php is quickly becoming one of the more zen-like interfaces in the admin.

by Sarah Gooding at July 01, 2015 08:50 PM under wordpress 4.3

Matt: Safari the new IE?

“In recent years, Apple’s strategy towards the web can most charitably be described as ‘benevolent neglect.'” Nolan Lawson throws the gauntlet down by asking Is Safari the new Internet Explorer?

by Matt at July 01, 2015 06:28 PM under Asides

Matt: Gut Bacteria and Mood

Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood? Answer: Maybe.

by Matt at July 01, 2015 06:00 AM under Asides

WPTavern: WordPress for iOS 5.3 Released With Refreshed Stats and a New Layout for Posts and Pages

WordPress for iOS 5.3 is available on iTunes and has a few new features. Post listings display more content making them easier to browse. A search feature has been added to the post listing screen that displays results as you type.

Search bar in WordPress for iOS 5.3Search bar in WordPress for iOS 5.3

I tested the search feature on two different sites. The first site is on WordPress.com and doesn’t use featured images. Search results displayed quickly with little lag.

The second is a self hosted WordPress site that uses featured images. I noticed lag as the app tried to display real-time results as I typed which also lagged the app. I couldn’t do anything else within the app until the search query finished.

I don’t use the search feature often and this experience has me concerned. Instead of being fast and fluid, it’s chunky and slow. I also don’t see the need to display featured images in search results. I think this would make the search query and the app faster.

WordPress.com and self hosted WordPress sites are now combined under My Sites. Instead of seeing a spinning circle when checking stats, there’s a progress bar at the top. This gives the appearance that the stats page loads faster. The stats page also has a subtle color scheme change that makes things more pronounced.

WordPress for iOS 5.3 Stats PageWordPress for iOS 5.3 Stats Page

Last but not least, 5.3 includes several bug fixes. Overall, 5.3 is a decent update. Remember to use caution when searching a site with a lot of posts that use featured images. WordPress for iOS 5.3 is available for free on iTunes. If you encounter any issues in 5.3, please report them in the support forum.

by Jeff Chandler at July 01, 2015 12:26 AM under WordPress for iOS

June 30, 2015

WPTavern: Filter to Disable the Customizer Shot Down on WordPress Trac

photo credit: shutoff - (license)photo credit: shutoff(license)

WordPress 4.3 will introduce menu management via the customizer, providing live previews on the frontend for adding, deleting, and ordering menu items. Although users still have the option to manage menus using the admin interface, developers who are not keen on the feature are searching for an easy way to disable the customizer and remove its links throughout WordPress.

In certain scenarios involving client work, the customizer can be more trouble than it’s worth and may not be a beneficial addition to a custom-tailored WordPress admin.

Gabe Shackle, an application developer and UI engineer at Risdall, created a ticket on WordPress trac last week, requesting a filter to disable the customizer. His patch offers developers an easy way to enable the ‘no-customizer-support’ class within the body tag.

Due to the fact that the ‘customizer-support’ class is added via JavaScript on page render, it cannot be manipulated using any core filters or actions currently.

By setting the filter value to false, the Customizer is essentially hidden from the admin and the links that were currently pointing at the Customizer (widgets, themes, etc…) are reverted to their previous dashboard destinations.

Currently, developers who want to disable the customizer have to employ a combination of different methods in order to effectively remove everything that the customizer introduces into the admin.

“This filter makes this process into a simple boolean filter so that developers who do not want or need the Customizer can easily remove it,” Shackle said.

WordPress lead developer Dion Hulse replied to the ticket to say that although he doesn’t use the customizer much himself, he doesn’t think that WordPress users would benefit from an easy way to turn it off.

Personally as much as I don’t use the customizer a lot of the time, I think offering a filter to disable it is probably not in the best interests of WordPress users.

The customizer, as much as some dislike it, is a major component of the future of WordPress UX – whether that is a good or bad thing remains to be seen by some – but like it or hate it, it’s here.

Hulse suggested, as an alternative, that a better way to disable it would be to remove the customize capability from the roles.

Shackle further explained that he was attempting to follow the precedent of the admin bar, which he considers to be a similar type of UX component.

“The Admin Bar can be disabled not only by a filter but by a global variable, core function, and user profile setting,” he said. “The Customizer has none of these options.”

Nick Halsey, the developer of the Menu Customizer plugin that is being merged into 4.3, replied based on assumptions about why Shackle might request a filter to disable the feature:

I have yet to see a valid reason for something like this. In most cases, concerns about not wanting users to have access to the Customizer stem from the fact that you’re not giving them the appropriate capabilities. And the customize capability can be used to turn off the Customizer if you really must.

While you can remove the customize meta capability (or re-map it or whatever), doing so simply because you don’t want to train users or don’t want to use the Customizer is doing yourself and your users an enormous disservice. As dd32 mentioned, the Customizer will only continue to grow in importance within WordPress. Additionally, user testing has shown that the Customizer experience is generally easier for users to grasp than the admin, which largely stems from the value of having live-previewing available. We’re putting a significant amount of time into the Customizer every release to continue improving it, conducting frequent user tests along the way to optimize usability.

Halsey promptly closed the ticket following this exchange. I followed up with Shackle to find out why the proposed alternative to remove the customize capability is inadequate for his purposes.

“Mostly I was hoping that the Customizer could be treated more like the admin bar, which has 3+ methods for disabling it,” Shackle said. “Having a clearly labeled filter is, in my opinion, more legible than modifying user capabilities. A PHP developer with virtually no WordPress knowledge could most likely understand much quicker what’s happening with a filter named ‘enable_customizer_support’ rather than ‘map_meta_cap’.”

Obviously, not all tickets and patches will be considered valid by the maintainers of WordPress core components, but Shackle was disappointed by the defensive response to the discussion.

“Honestly, had the reply simply been something along the lines of ‘You should just use the customize capability to achieve the same effect’ I really wouldn’t have had any issue,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it seems any approach other than ‘Customizer for all things!’ means I get to be told multiple times how much of a disservice I’m doing my clients and what a lazy developer I am for not just re-training my clients how to manage their sites’ appearance.

“It feels like the Customizer team themselves have an all-or-nothing approach to the project and that anyone who questions this is wrong, regardless of their reasoning,” Shackle said.

This exchange demonstrates that since core contributors view the customizer as a major part of the future of WordPress, this is one feature where there will be little willingness to support efforts to make it more modular. Disabling support for the customizer will continue to require use of ‘map_meta_cap,’ the same method the creators of the Customizer Remove All Parts plugin have employed.

by Sarah Gooding at June 30, 2015 11:08 PM under customizer

WPTavern: UpThemes Adds Managed WordPress Hosting to Theme Club Business

upthemes

After five years of selling themes and support, UpThemes is branching out into the managed WordPress hosting business. Last week the company announced the new hosting venture and partnership with Aesop Interactive:

We are excited to announce UpThemes Hosting, a managed WordPress hosting solution that includes 40+ premium WordPress themes including our entire theme library, all themes from the collection of Aesop Interactive (makers of Aesop Story Engine), as well as a curated selection of beautifully-designed themes from WordPress.org.

For $20/month customers can host one WordPress site with 5GB disk space and 100GB monthly bandwith. Tech support is included along with 40+ commercial themes from UpThemes and Aesop Interactive. Users have control over their sites as they would with a standard WordPress installation, i.e. FTP access, ability to install plugins and themes, etc.

upthemes-hosting

“This is actually a partnership with Pressed.net, a division of Site5, that sits on top of their managed WordPress hosting architecture,” UpThemes co-founder Chris Wallace told the Tavern. “We’ve looked at many opportunities for a hosting partnership over the years and none of the options felt quite right to us, so we waited until there was one that provided our customers with the best hosting service and support.

“Site5 understood that need and we’ve worked hand-in-hand for many months to finally release this product. We’re very proud of it and think it provides more value than the typical WordPress hosting product.”

The hybrid combination of hosting plus a theme club is fairly unique in the WordPress ecosystem, but Wallace believes it provides an easier path for UpThemes customers looking to build an online presence.

“Our audience is mainly DIYers who just need a site up and running,” he said. “We’ve always been looking to make it as easy as possible to purchase and install an UpThemes theme so a hosting platform where all our themes are pre-installed seemed like the perfect solution to the problem of ‘which theme do I pick’ and ‘how do I install a theme’ and ‘will your theme work on my webhost?'”

The new hosting product also helps UpThemes deal with the financial volatility and unpredictability of managing a theme club business.

“From a business perspective, selling themes alone has always made it difficult to pin down our customer acquisition cost and churn rate (meaning the number of customers who stop paying their annual renewals),” Wallace said.

“Since we offer an annual license, we don’t know if a customer will renew for a whole year, which, as you can imagine, makes it hard to know the lifetime value of the customer. It’s a hard thing to analyze. Some people care enough to renew but most people don’t understand the value enough to care.”

UpThemes will continue to serve the small business and DIY market and Wallace hopes to add more journalists, storytellers, and photographers with the new Aesop Interactive partnership.

“Beyond our new hosting venture, we also serve thousands of blogs on WordPress.com, which helps us offer a one-click method of buying and using our themes without any sort of installation required,” Wallace said.

“I think that really is one of the key points for us: closing the gap on how much knowledge you need to use our themes. We’d like to make it even easier for certain types of customers (e-commerce, for example) to hit the ground running.

“There are so many variables to creating a successful online business and we just want to give less technical WordPress users an easier path to success.”

by Sarah Gooding at June 30, 2015 05:54 PM under upthemes

Matt: Loyalists vs Mercenaries

Finally, think about being somewhere other than the Bay Area or NYC. Yes, they are great places to start companies, find talent, and get investment. But they are also places where others start companies, get investment, and find your talent. It’s a ratrace, a treadmill, and it’s grueling. If you can avoid it, you owe it to yourself to try.

Fred Wilson on Loyalists vs Mercenaries in companies. I’m so happy to see the non-SF/NYC company idea continue to pick up steam, and I think its natural conclusion is distributed work as Automattic does. Like any relationship, I think the most rewarding employee/employer relationships are the ones that grow over decades, not just years.

by Matt at June 30, 2015 06:00 AM under Asides

WPTavern: The Recommended Hosting Page on WordPress.org Starts Over From Scratch

One of the most difficult tasks for new WordPress users is choosing a good webhost. The process can involve getting recommendations from friends, searching Google for reviews, and taking advantage of trial offers. Since 2005, WordPress.org has had a recommended hosts page featuring companies that meet certain criteria.

WordPress.org Recommended Host Page in 2005WordPress.org Recommended Host Page in 2005

Over the years, new companies would rarely be added to the page. For several years, Bluehost, DreamHost, and Laughing Squid were the only companies listed.

Recommend Hosts Page in 2014Recommend Hosts Page in 2014

I’ve spoken to a number of people in the webhosting industry in the last two years and the general consensus is that, to get on the list, you need to pay Matt Mullenweg a lot of money, which isn’t true. Bluehost is often used as an example as they’re owned by Endurance International Group who invested in Automattic in 2014. Bluehost has been on the list since 2005, long before any investment took place.

A Fresh Start to The Recommended Hosts Page

Currently, Bluehost is the only recommended webhost on the page because it’s going through a revamp. Near the bottom of the page is a paragraph that admits a lot has changed in the industry over the years.

Much has changed in the hosting world since this page was originally set up. There are now many types of dedicated and cloud accounts that are as easy as shared hosting was a generation ago, and shared and managed hosts have evolved significantly to become more tailored to WordPress. WordPress is often now the most commonly used application on major web hosts!

I asked Mullenweg if hosts that were on the page before are eligible to be re-added, “Of course, anyone is up for consideration and Bluehost is up for being removed.”

The WordPress.org team is starting over from scratch and as such, webhosting companies are asked to complete the following survey by July 31st.

First Page of The SurveyFirst Page of The Survey

The survey is 40 questions long and includes questions such as:

  • What’s the WordPress-specific landing page you’d want /hosting to point to?
  • What type of customers do you target?
  • Please describe your technology stack, and why you like it.
  • Is 100% of the code included or promoted with your WordPress install GPL or compatible?

It may seem like a tedious process, but those I’ve spoken to in the past affiliated with companies once on the list say it generates thousands to millions of dollars in signups. This should motivate companies to complete the survey accurately. Even if a company is not listed on the page, those who fill out the survey will be giving WordPress.org a lot of information that may come in handy for other uses.

It’s About Time

The recommended hosting page is long overdue for a revamp. There are companies such as, A2 Hosting, Pagely, WP Engine, InMotion Hosting, and countless others that are doing a great job hosting large and small WordPress sites. Perhaps it’s time they become the ones recommended instead of the standard three. If you own or operate a webhosting company with an emphasis on WordPress, fill out the survey, as it’s the best chance you have to getting on the recommended hosts page.

by Jeff Chandler at June 30, 2015 03:52 AM under wordpress hosting

June 29, 2015

WPTavern: VaultPress Comes Out on Top in Recent Survey of WordPress Backup Tools

Vault Featured Imagephoto credit: Code(license)

Steven Gliebe asked 21 WordPress professionals what they use to generate backups for their personal sites and published the results on the Pro Plugin Directory blog. The results are split into two groups of people – writers and developers.

All of the writers mentioned VaultPress as their go-to backup solution. Some of the developers use VaultPress but most rely on backups generated by their webhost in addition to a plugin or custom strategy. BackupBuddy by iThemes ended up with the second most mentions.

Although WP Migrate DB Pro is used primarily to migrate WordPress sites, Gilbert Pellegrom of Dev7studios, uses it to backup his databases and user uploads with a setup similar to this.

Bill Robbins of Organized Themes, says WPEngine provides a prompt reminding users to generate a full backup before upgrading. This sounds like a great idea and is something I think more hosts should look into doing. Daniel Espinoza of Shop Plugins, uses a backup strategy that allows him to own his data.

To learn why these 21 people use the backup strategies that they do, I encourage you to read the full article. What plugins and services do you use to backup your sites?

by Jeff Chandler at June 29, 2015 10:40 PM under vaultpress

WPTavern: Theme Hybrid Experiments with Free Signups for Club Membership

photo credit: 16th st - (license)photo credit: 16th st(license)

Justin Tadlock, creator of Theme Hybrid, announced today that the seven year old theme club is experimenting with a radical change in club pricing. Club membership is now free for anyone who wants to sign up. Although Theme Hybrid’s plugins and themes have always been free, standard club membership (which includes access to the support forums), was previously $25/year.

In a post titled “Steering the Ship Back Home,” Tadlock explains his original purpose for the club. Theme Hybrid entered the WordPress theme market with free, open source products back in the day when very few commercial theme sellers were fully adopting the GPL.

“When I first laid the groundwork for Theme Hybrid, or Project M as it was originally called, seven awesome years ago, the idea was to face off against ‘premium’ theme authors,” he said. “I wanted to provide a free alternative to the marketplace and show that it could work.”

Tadlock described how, overall, the Theme Hybrid experience has been positive, but during the past year he faced creative blocks, burnout, and a lack of focus. As part of regaining motivation, he decided to refocus Theme Hybrid back to its radical roots.

“I always knew I wanted to provide awesome free/$free WordPress themes and plugins,” he said. “However, $free doesn’t exactly put food on the table. While seven years has been a good run, I don’t think I ever found the right balance between philosophy and practical concerns.”

As part of a fresh start, Tadlock is opening up his club membership in an effort to expand the community that has kept the site going over the years. In addition to the free memberships, which provide access to the forums, he is also slashing prices on the tiered memberships.

“Today, I have at least a couple of months of wiggle room to try something new while figuring out the direction I want to take the business aspect of this site,” Tadlock said.

Theme Hybrid’s radical shift in club pricing is another example of WordPress businesses giving away more for free, whether it be commercial products on GitHub, a suite of e-commerce themes, or live training events.

Theme Hybrid has always erred on the side of providing free products and tutorials for the community, as opposed to locking them up. Will giving away more for free translate into a higher number of people willing to pay for support? This question is at the core of the freemium business model, the boundaries of which Tadlock has been willing to push for the past seven years.

“While trying new things is certainly frightening, I’m excited about some of the prospects,” he said.

by Sarah Gooding at June 29, 2015 09:45 PM under theme hybrid

WPTavern: Vienna, Austria to Host WordCamp Europe 2016

photo credit: RubenSutiloFotophoto credit: RubenSutiloFoto

The local WordPress community in Seville welcomed a diverse group of attendees to WordCamp Europe 2015 over the weekend. WordPress enthusiasts and professionals from Europe and beyond made strategic connections, contributed, found jobs and employees, and enjoyed presentations from a selection of world class speakers.

At the conclusion of the WordCamp, organizers announced that the 2016 event will be held in Vienna, Austria, June 24 – 26. Applications for the host city were opened in March and closed at the end of April.

The WordCamp Europe organization team received strong applications from the WordPress communities in Vienna, Bratislava, and Berlin. Some of the most important criteria in the selection process included organizer experience, location, venue, contributor day, and budget.

Berlin was ruled out due to lack of experience among the organizers.

“The reason that we ruled out Berlin is that there hasn’t yet been a WordCamp in Berlin and we felt that the team needed more WordCamp organizing experience,” Siobhan McKeown said in the official announcement. “We’d love to see a WordCamp Berlin in the future – such a wonderful city needs a wonderful WordCamp.”

Although Berlin has actually hosted three WordCamps in the past, including WordCamp Germany 2010, WordCamps Berlin 2012 and 2013, other more weighty factors pushed Bratislava and Vienna ahead as potential host cities.

Bratislava brought a strong and diverse local team to the table, but Vienna ultimately surpassed the other applicants when it came down to logistics.

“In the end, the venue, location, and available dates for the WordCamp won out,” McKeown said. “We loved the Bratislava application, but none of the venues were completely suitable for our event.

“The venue in Vienna, however, was perfect. We also have 100% confidence in the Vienna local team: they organized a successful WordCamp Vienna in 2015, and Paolo Belcastro, the lead applicant for WordCamp Europe 2016, has been involved in WordCamp Europe for the past three years. This means that the local team will have a leader with a ton of WCEU experience.”

With a successful WordCamp Europe 2015 in the bag, the organization team will now set its sights on Vienna and continue its year round planning efforts. Speaker selection usually begins five or six months in advance for this event, so those planning to apply have plenty of time to prepare.

by Sarah Gooding at June 29, 2015 05:54 PM under WordCamp Europe

Matt: Obama Delivers Eulogy

 

by Matt at June 29, 2015 06:48 AM under Asides

Alex King: More micro-blogging workflows

Manton writes about a few workflows here the follows it up with the post I’ve linked to.

FWIW I’ve posted to my own site first then passed stuff along to Twitter and Facebook since we released the Social plugin for WordPress back in 2011. Each of my posts has a link to its counterpart on Twitter and Facebook, and reactions on those networks are brought back in as comments on this site. Special handling is done to thread comments based on Twitter’s reply_to property, as well as a retweets, etc. More details about how this works can be found in the blog post I wrote back in January on the Crowd Favorite blog.

When I’m mobile, I’ve found that using the WordPress admin web interface is better for my needs than the iOS app. Mainly because of additional post meta that I utilize on this site.

#

by Alex at June 29, 2015 01:53 AM under WordPress

June 28, 2015

Matt: Fight Against Uber

The Parisian taxi drivers are partly protesting against economic regulations in cities where taxi drivers have to pay for expensive medallions while Uber drivers do not. But, in a larger sense, they’re actually protesting against our increased impatience.

Om Malik: The Long History of the Fight Against Uber.

by Matt at June 28, 2015 12:46 AM under Asides

June 27, 2015

Post Status: Announcing: WordCamp Europe 2016

The WordCamp Europe 2015 conference’s second day is now closing, and it’s been a weekend full of fantastic and diverse content. This was the 3rd, of a now annual, pan-European WordCamp and every year it gets better.

That’s a pretty exciting prospect, as we receive the announcement of next year’s WordCamp Europe 2016 which will take place in Vienna, Austria, 24-26 June 2016.

On larger WordCamps

As described on WordCamp Central:

WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.

Generally speaking, WordCamps are based around a local community in a specific city. WordCamp Europe is one of two annual WordCamps that span a larger region. The other is WordCamp San Francisco, which is widely considered to be “the mother ship”, and will likely evolve into WordCamp US in its next incarnation.

This new approach of embracing larger WordCamps seems to me to be a sign of a maturing community and project. The content of these WordCamps also seems to reflect this maturation, as topics tend to be less technical and more high level. Covering issues like ethics and cross-community relations.

Other regions

As individual regions begin to reach similar levels of maturity, the move toward these larger WordCamps is a natural progression. Earlier this year at WordCamp Brisbane in Australia, there were a number of attendees from the wider Asia Pacific region. The same will be true of WordCamp Kansai in July this year with attendees from outside of Japan travelling to attend and speak.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the not-too-distant-future, we’ll also see a pan-Asia Pacific WordCamp being organised. Particularly when you look at the size of WordCamps already in places like Tokyo, with attendance approaching 1500 people.

Moving forward

The European community has set a wonderful example of how a large, roaming, pan-regional WordCamp can and does work. Embraced by the community, and growing every year, with attendance from all over the world.

I’m very much looking forward to WordCamp Europe 2016 in Vienna, Austria, as we all continue to grow as a community and push WordPress together. Hope to see you there!

Special thanks to Marcel Schmitz for the featured image.

by Japh at June 27, 2015 04:14 PM under Everyone

Matt: Celebrating 10 Years

We did an official ten year post and video.

by Matt at June 27, 2015 03:58 AM under Asides

June 26, 2015

WPTavern: Get WordPress Notifications as a Daily or Weekly Digest

photo credit: Jan Vašekphoto credit: Jan Vašek

One of the most persistent underlying causes of stress in the digital age is the feeling of drowning in communication. Nearly every Monday on Twitter begins with a litany of complaints from friends about the sheer volume of email that is waiting to be answered. Notifications for all the apps that were supposed to make our lives easier have piled up and the pressure to be “always on” suffocates any spark of creative thinking.

If you want to keep a clean inbox, you have to be very intentional about managing and consolidating as many email notifications as possible. Fortunately for WordPress site owners there’s a new plugin that will help keep your website from becoming part of the problem.

Pascal Birchler and the folks at required+ have just released Digest Notifications, a plugin that aggregates your notifications into one manageable digest. Its settings panel allows you to set the frequency to either daily or weekly at a set time of day. This allows users to limit these notifications to work hours, if so desired.

digest-settings

The digest consolidates the following events into one email:

  • New Core Updates
  • New comments that need to be moderated (depending on your settings under ‘Settings’ -> ‘Discussion’)
  • New user sign-ups
  • Password resets by users

Here’s what an example digest email might look like:

digest-email

The plugin is also extensible and includes a number of well documented hooks that developers can use to add to the digest queue and modify the email message.

Depending on how active your site is, the plugin may not make a huge dent in your email load but it can help to keep WordPress from becoming part of your email problem. If you have an active blog with a global readership, then you are likely getting dozens of comment moderation emails throughout the day and night. New user signups can also quickly flood your inbox during times of peak activity.

Not all notifications are so imperative that you need to receive them by email immediately but you probably don’t want to turn them off entirely either. This plugin offers you a happy medium. If you’re struggling to stay afloat in your inbox and WordPress-generated emails are piling up, install Digest Notifications to stay in the loop while keeping emails to a minimum.

by Sarah Gooding at June 26, 2015 09:54 PM under wordpress notifications

WPTavern: Automattic Celebrates 10th Anniversary

photo credit: Peter Slutskyphoto credit: Peter Slutsky

Automattic is celebrating its 10th year in business this week. WordPress.com opened its doors in the summer of 2005 and is now closing in on a globally distributed team of 400 employees. Against all odds, CEO Matt Mullenweg, a college dropout with no initial startup funding, built a company that is now valued at $1.2 billion dollars, while successfully maintaining the free, open source WordPress project alongside it.

Mullenweg took to his blog to reminisce about hiring employee #1 in the early days of the company.

When you think about it, Donncha was incredibly brave. WordPress had far less than 1% market share. I hadn’t joined Automattic yet — I was still working for CNET, paying Donncha with my salary, savings, and credit cards. He was leaving a Real Job for a Barely a Job; I hardly knew how to wire money to an international account to pay him.

Fast forward ten years and Automattic has grown to become the most successful WordPress-based business on the books, without compromising its open source principles or users’ freedoms.

It also seemed like the decks were stacked against us. We were going to try and build an open source business model different from what we had seen before, a hybrid of a downloadable open source project combined with a web service that ran the exact same software. Up to that point companies built on open source projects had usually suffocated the communities that spawned them.

The open source community continues to thrive, thanks in part to the many contributions from Automattic.

With 17 acquisitions under its belt, including the recent WooCommerce deal, Automattic has judiciously added to its numbers and expanded its horizons to include a number of non-WordPress technologies. Mullenweg strives to maintain a spirit of experimentation at the company, rather than simply focusing on their successful products.

WordPress.com was recently recognized in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Who Has Your Back report, for achieving a perfect score in protecting users’ rights against government requests. The company’s unwavering commitment to push back against unlawful censorship is one of the things that sets it apart from others and helps to further democratize publishing across the globe.

As of 2015, WordPress.com stats show 137 languages have been used to publish more than 2.5 billion posts. Automattic is digging in its heels, as WordPress’ global marketshare continues to grow beyond 24%. For Mullenweg, these past 10 years are just the beginning:

“We’re building something that gives people all over the world a voice and that people can trust to be thriving a century from now, and that’s huge.”

by Sarah Gooding at June 26, 2015 07:35 PM under automattic

WPTavern: Matt Mullenweg Appoints Nikolay Bachiyski as Security Czar for the WordPress Project

While on stage at WordCamp Europe answering a question related to WordPress’ security track record, Matt Mullenweg named Nikolay Bachiyski as the first Security Czar for the WordPress project.

Bachiyski is employed by Automattic and has been a member of the WordPress community for more than 10 years. Over that time period, he’s established trust with a number of people in and outside of the WordPress ecosystem. The role allows Bachiyski to focus on communication and triage security reports.

Mullenweg admitted on stage that there have been communication issues in the past. He didn’t specify any examples, but one that comes to mind is WordPress 4.2.1.

In April 2015, security researcher Jouko Pynnönen, published details of a security vulnerability in WordPress hours before the team released a patch. He tried contacting the WordPress security team using a variety of channels, all of which came up empty.

WordPress has refused all communication attempts about our ongoing security vulnerability cases since November 2014. We have tried to reach them by email, via the national authority (CERT-FI), and via HackerOne. No answer of any kind has been received since November 20, 2014.

According to our knowledge, their security response team have also refused to respond to the Finnish communications regulatory authority who has tried to coordinate resolving the issues we have reported, and to staff of HackerOne, which has tried to clarify the status our open bug tickets.

No one from the WordPress security team officially announced why or how the breakdown in communication occurred. Hopefully, with Bachiyski as Security Czar for the WordPress project, breakdowns in communication like these decrease or disappear entirely.

by Jeff Chandler at June 26, 2015 06:04 PM under security

WPTavern: Help Improve bbPress by Taking the 2015 User Survey

If you use bbPress, it’s time to voice your opinions and let the development team know what you think by taking the 2015 bbPress user survey. It has 25 questions that determine skill level, use cases, and provides opportunities to give feedback.

2015 bbPress Survey Questions2015 bbPress Survey Questions

In 2014, survey results indicated users are disappointed with a lack of features. It wouldn’t surprise me if this tops the survey again as its biggest weakness.

Between May 2014 and June 2015, there have been four versions of bbPress released. All of them contain bug fixes, security patches, or a combination of the two. New features are few and far between. You have to go back to November 2013 when bbPress 2.5 was released to find a version that adds new user facing features.

Hopefully, this years results show improvements in some of the areas considered weaknesses in 2014. If you use bbPress or have in the past, please take the survey. The more people who participate, the more data the team will have that will help influence future decisions.

by Jeff Chandler at June 26, 2015 02:26 AM under survey

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July 05, 2015 11:15 PM
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