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Issue #135
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This week in WordPress

Twenty Twenty-Three Theme Now in Development

First up this week, the new Twenty Twenty-Three default theme is now in development. As Sarah Gooding at WPTavern reports, Automattic Design Director Channing Ritter has published a preview of what the base theme might look like with sample variations applied, along with the Figma design mockups.

Last month, Channing proposed creating a new kind of default theme that would bundle a curated set of style variations instead of creating a new theme from scratch. A stripped-based version of Twenty Twenty-Two provides the base theme.
Gooding notes, "One of the most exciting aspect of this project is that WordPress' design contributors have invited the community to take a stab at submitting their own style variations for consideration. The variations that are selected will ship as part of the upcoming default theme."

Sarah Norris, a Senior Software Engineer at Automattic who works on the WordPress Themes Team, tweeted, "Come and join us in building the next default #WordPress theme, Twenty Twenty-Three!"

Mullenweg Criticized for Dropping a 'Matt Bomb'

Speaking of block theme development, work has also kicked off on bringing to life new redesigns for the Home and Download pages amidst some #wpdrama. Or as WP Engine writer Jeff Chandler puts it (for those familiar with Scott Berkun's book about remote working at Automattic), "As coined in the book, 'A Year Without Pants' a Matt bomb lol."

This week, WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg dropped into the comments of Alex Shiels’s Make post about developing the redesigned Home and Download Pages. He tells Shiels — a long-time Automattic-sponsored core contributor — that the work is "not a good use of time" and "we have better places to spend our development time."

"The owner of WordPress complaining (to his volunteers) that a block theme takes too long and they should just update the custom HTML in their current theme…" tweeted MasterWP Editor Brian Coords, adding, "Welcome to the last five years of block editing @photomatt!"
Ukrainian WordPress contractor Andrey "Rarst" Savchenko tweeted, "wait wait wait. is he saying that developing a block theme is so cumbersome it shouldn't even be attempted by WP project itself? 😂"

Others, like #WPTalks co-host Daniel Schutzsmith, were more critical of Mullenweg's apparent public dressing down of an employee-cum-volunteer. Schutzsmith tweeted, "I can NOT stress enough that leadership responding like this completely ruins the good will and achievement made in other areas. I read it and it felt like a punch to the gut. How do I convince people to come to WordPress or help grow the community when the top acts like this."
Sé Reed, the founder of Kerredyn Collaborative, added, "While we are discussing #FiveForTheFuture, this Make WordPress post and subsequent comment from @photomatt exemplifies WP's 'sponsored volunteer' problem. At the very least, this sponsor/employer crossover is awkward AF."

Mullenweg defended his comments, tweeting, "Regardless of whether someone is a volunteer or sponsored, open source developers need to be able to debate and discuss our work in public, as we have since the dawn of wp-hackers, so that we arrive at the best outcome for users."

But he also tweeted, "It me," linking to the tweet on the right from Wired.

Gutenberg 13.8 Now Available, Features Fluid Typography

Gutenberg 13.8 was released on August 3. As Sarah Gooding at WPTavern reports, long-awaited fluid typography support landed in this version. It allows theme authors to define text sizes that can scale and adapt so content looks great on any screen.

Automattic Developer Advocate Birgit Pauli-Haack talks about the latest release, fluid typography, updates to Block APIs, and WordPress 6.1 planning with Grzegorz Ziolkowski, an Automattic-sponsored core contributor, on the latest episode of the Gutenberg Times Changelog podcast.

Meanwhile, the practice of merging experimental APIs from Gutenberg into WordPress core may soon be coming to an end, reports Gooding. Automattic-sponsored contributor Adam Zielinski has published a proposal calling for contributors to stabilize APIs before merging them into core.

"Good. About time. It's always baffled me as to why the concept of backwards compatibility, which has been so intergral to WordPress for so long, has been completely abandoned when it comes to Gutenberg," comments WordPress developer Cameron Jones.

Anonymous reader Bastian highlighted core contributor Dovid Levine's quote from the article: "A return to this sort of stability in core would go a long way to regaining some developer goodwill." Bastian adds, "About time someone in core realized this."

Nyasha Green: "We Need More Mentorship in WordPress"

Nyasha Green put it out there this week that WordPress mentorship contributions should extend beyond WordCamps and count as part of Five for the Future. Green is the Editorial Director at MasterWP, a software developer at Howard Development and Consulting, and—as she tells Allie Nimmons in the latest episode of the Underrepresented in Tech podcast, A Guide for Tech Mentors and Mentees, Pt. 2—she mentors up to 50 people at a time.

ICYMI, Green joined Dan Knauss on the Post Status Draft podcast last week to discuss building and sustaining the WordPress community through mentorship. Green believes that WordPress could better embrace growth and change by enlarging its circles of leadership, innovation, and talent.

Courtney Robertson, a developer advocate at GoDaddy Pro and a WordPress Training Team rep, tweeted, "Would love to see something like this eventually kick up in WP too." She links to the Drupal Mentoring Team's page.

Joe Casabona: "You Can't Expect Everyone to Contribute"

"I asked @jcasabona to share his thoughts on WordPress, discuss the 'free rider problem in open source,' and teach us a little bit about the creator economy," tweeted MasterWP Editor Brian Coords, linking to Joe Casabona on Free Riders and the Creator Economy.

Or as Casabaona, a podcaster and course creator, says in the interview, "How many different takes on Josepha's Free Rider article could I possibly read before I get sick of reading the same different takes?"

In his interview with Coords, Casabona picks up where he left off in his recent WP Review podcast, A Tale of Two Keynotes, where he describes the WordPress economy mindset ("You should do this for free for the good of the project") versus the creator economy's mindset ("You should be able to make money as easily as possible").

Not yet done, he also recorded a follow-up episode of WP Review this week, If You Really Want to Democratize Publishing, You Need Free Riders, also tweeting, “As I continue to think about what WordPress means for podcasters and creators at large, I can't help but think of the hostility towards those who don't contribute,"

WordPress expert Paul Lacey tweeted, "There I was just coming to terms with being a Parasite, and now I'm a Free Rider too. I'm just glad I'm not yet an existential threat."

WordCamps Asia Sold Out, WordCamp US Just Four Weeks Away

Between WordCamp Asia 2023 in Bangkok and WordCamp US 2022 in San Diego, California, we have plenty to look forward to in the coming months. WCAsia is off to a great start—organizers sold out of first-batch standard and micro sponsor tickets in just one day. The second batch of tickets will be available soon.

So far, 20 organizations have stepped forward to support speakers from underrepresented groups and help them get to WCUS 2022. Visit the Underrepresented Speaker Support page to donate to the fund or ask for support if you are part of an underrepresented group.

WCUS has also published its speaker schedule, which covers block editor theme design, the creator economy, and much, much more. Those who weren’t able to snag tickets will be able to tune into the WCUS livestream, which will include the sessions in the Sun track and Palm track (but not those from the Surf track).

If WCUS will be your first time visiting San Diego (or even if it won't be), MasterWP and XWP have put together guides to help you choose your own San Diego adventure. From museums and beach walks to beer gardens and rollercoasters, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this balmy coastal city.

ServerPress’ Marc Benzakein Reflects on Closure

ServerPress' Marc Benzakein joined The Matt Report on Wednesday to reflect on DesktopServer’s closure, the beloved local server solution that closed its doors last week. Benzakein shared what it was like to partner with Steve Carnam and Gregg Franklin and how ServerPress evolved over the past decade in the WordPress space.

In light of DesktopServer’s closure, Post Status editor Dan Knauss wrote Local Development Tools and the Open Web. He details the current local development climate and how DesktopServer's closure might appear typical of the product consolidation culture we’ve seen as of late, in which big hosting platforms continue to aim at vertical integration in a number of popular areas like edutech and subscription services. His post also digs into the history of local development—including that of Flywheel's Local—and how the advancement of this area is, like many things, a double-edged sword.

Business Spotlight: LearnDash

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LearnDash is taking cutting-edge e-learning methodology and infusing it into WordPress. We're trusted to power the learning programs for major universities, small to mid-size companies, startups, entrepreneurs, and bloggers worldwide.

#WPCommunityFeels: Leonardo Losoviz

This week, what's inspiring Leonardo Losoviz, an open source developer and technical writer working at the intersection of GraphQL and WordPress.
A podcast worth listening to: Concerning WordPress, I enjoy Nathan Wrigley's two podcasts: WP Builds and the WP Tavern Jukebox. I also appreciate The Matt Report, as the interviews by Matt Medeiros make me feel like being among a group of friends. Finally, Press the Issue was launched recently by MasterWP, and it seems to not shy away from difficult topics, so I have high hopes on it.

A concept worth understanding: Social media is a terrible place for engaging in meaningful conversations as it allows emotion to play a more significant role than reason. As the WordPress community experienced some controversy following a tweet by Matt Mullenweg, we need to consider that part of the problem came from the medium itself. When writing on a blog, we consider carefully its contents before hitting "publish." Twitter, on the other hand, makes it too easy to post something that we come to regret later on. That's why we need to be mindful of how we engage with Twitter.

A Twitter account worth following: I wouldn't know, since I do not engage on Twitter. (I mostly use it to scan relevant hashtags when it benefits my work, e.g. to follow what's going on during some conference, or new developments for headless WordPress.) As an alternative, I'll share a blog worth following: Patrick McKenzie's Kalzumeus, where he shares tips for software developers, including how to negotiate a salary, how to be productive, and a lot more.

An article worth reading: I've recently read the book Deep Work by Cal Newport, and its message is very important for knowledge workers: If we want to produce impactful work, then we need to stay away from the "always-on" state demanded by social media and mobile connectivity. By keeping long stretches of time offline, we are better able to focus on one task at a time, produce high-quality work, and get the sense of bliss that comes when we achieve our demanding goals.

A habit worth forming: Not looking at your phone screen when talking to people, particularly friends or family members, as to not make them feel secondary to whatever else is happening on the phone.

GoDaddy Pro Virtual Events

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An image of Angela Blake against a yellow background, along with text about GoDaddy Pro's Native Stripe Payments Integration chat on August 17.
It’s a fact that each plugin you add to your WordPress site comes with a maintenance burden. This is especially true of payments plugins, which require an additional level of security and reliability. But what if you didn’t need to install an additional plugin to take payments at your WooCommerce site? Even better, what if it still allowed you to use one of your favorite payment processors, Stripe?

With GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress Ecommerce platform, you can now add your Stripe payments integration directly within the WooCommerce site without the need for an extra plugin! Why would you want this? Here are just a few reasons:
  • No need to keep a Stripe payments plugin up-to-date
  • One-click connection to Stripe (no need to dig for API keys)
  • Get information about chargebacks, etc right inside your website
Join Angela Blake, Product Manager at GoDaddy, to learn more about these benefits and others in this overview of just one of the newest additions to the Managed WordPress Ecommerce platform by GoDaddy! We’ll have a time for Q&A afterwards as well.

This free virtual event is presented by GoDaddy Pro and will take place on Wednesday, August 17, 2022 at 3pm EDT.

Read more and register here.

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In other WordPress news...

  • WordPress is big enough for everyone to thrive—as long as we push the boundaries of our respective comfort zones. That’s according to Akshat Choudhary, founder of BlogVault, MalCare, WP Remote, MigrateGuru, and AirLift, whose blog post "Life At The End Of Your Comfort Zone” discusses his rollercoaster of a 12-year WordPress journey and how he found the courage to be imperfect.
  • Remote work is often lauded for its relatively low barrier to entry, but developer Paul Bearne says WordPress takes this a step further. In this week’s episode of WP Tavern’s Jukebox, Bearne talks about the many ways in which it’s possible to work within the WordPress ecosystem, especially when someone’s seeking work that suits their specific lifestyle.
  • Allie Nimmons is hoping to hear from WordPress contributors as she conducts research for an upcoming podcast episode. If you’re a WordPress contributor, please consider filling out her survey; it's anonymous and takes less than 5 minutes!
  • The WordPress Community Team is calling on all meetup members and organizers to complete the 2021-2022 Annual Meetup Survey. Please take a moment to respond or spread the word; your feedback will help strengthen the WordPress meetup program for years to come.
  • WP Core’s default site tagline might be replaced with an empty string for future WordPress installations. As of now, the default tagline is "Just another WordPress site."
  • WooCommerce 6.8 is now available. You can see all of the recent updates—including Smart Shipping, base tax for local pickup, and more—by checking out the WooCommerce site.
  • The latest episode of The Gamechangers video series features Chris Lubkert and Artur Grabowski, co-founders of Extendify. The duo explain how WordPress founders can build a network of potential buyers early on to enhance the sellability of their product for a future exit.
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