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Issue #106
MailPoet - Zeplin 2019-10-25 17-00-44

This week in WordPress

Yoast SEO launching on Shopify

Yoast SEO is coming to Shopify. Or as CEO Thijs de Valk aptly writes, Yoast SEO for Shopify! Whaaaaaat?

At WPTavern, Sarah Gooding explores how Yoast — self-described open-source fanboys and girls — came to the surprising decision before the Newfold Digital acquisition to build an app for a closed-source platform.

Gooding notes that Yoast's growth over the past decade has been highly dependent on WordPress, which Thijs says, "… makes us a bit vulnerable." In his December 2021 CMS market share analysis, Yoast founder Joost de Valk's notes, "Shopify continues to show amazing growth, in some months in the last 6 months it even managed to match the growth of WordPress in absolute numbers."

"Well well well, definitely should've seen this coming, it's a natural way to expand their market – but is this a harbinger of where the WordPress ecosystem may be headed?" asks industry analyst and strategist Robert Jacobi in Yoast on Shopify.

Ellipsis Marketing founder Alex Denning notes in the MasterWP newsletter, "This may well be the moment that WordPress products start seriously treating themselves as SaaS products, and start to look beyond WordPress."

In related news, this tweet: "Woohoo, YoastCon is back! 🎉This time around, we will be focusing on ecommerce and highlighting the brand new app: Yoast SEO for #Shopify 🛍 We cannot wait to welcome you to our 2022 online #YoastCon event, so make sure to register!" The online event will be held on January 20 at 10.30am EST.

WordPress 5.9 RC2 out now, on track for official release this month

WordPress 5.9 — the first major WordPress release for 2022 after its December release was delayed — remains on track to officially launch on January 25. The second release candidate shipped this week.

Marcus Kazmierczak, an Automattic-sponsored core contributor, has shared what must be one of the biggest field guides to accompany a WordPress release. It details new updates to the Block Editor, performance enhancements, the Core API, internationalization, themes and the Customizer, PHP 8.0 and 8.1, tooling, and other developer updates.

For a deep dive, Carlo Daniele has published an epic guide to What's New in WordPress 5.9 on the Kinsta blog. At Gutenberg Times, Birgit Pauli-Haack has shared a reading list on full-site editing and block themes.

WordPress Community Team proposes stricter rules for in-person events

Growing concerns about loose safety protocols at upcoming WordPress events, and the prevalence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, have prompted the WordPress Community Team to propose stricter Covid-19 safety measures for in-person events, reports Sarah Gooding at WPTavern.

The Community Team wants to make masks mandatory, even in regions that do not have a mask mandate. But as Jeff Chandler at WP Mainline highlights, research shows cloth masks do little to limit exposure and the spread of the Omicron variant. He says there should be additional proposed in-person event guidelines to specify mask type. "Personally, I don't think there is a safe way to host in-person events with how easy Omicron spreads," he adds. Robert Jacobi takes things a step further, suggesting vaccines should be mandated too.

Gooding also reports that WordCamp Birmingham's masking policy has come under greater scrutiny (the event is still scheduled for February 4-5) and WordCamp Europe organizers are pushing ahead with their in-person event, scheduled for June 2-4.

The proposed safety measures come after several people tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the State of the Word in New York in December—that story also from Gooding.

While we're on the topic of events, WordCamp Asia is in the early planning stages for its 2023 event. That's right, 2023, not 2022.

Business Spotlight: Cloudways

Cloudways logo
Cloudways is a managed WordPress hosting provider known for its scalability and reliability. Trusted by over 250,000 WordPress users, Cloudways gives you the freedom to choose from any of the top IaaS providers for ultimate performance. With Cloudways, you can forget all the hosting hassles and experience an ascending glide coupled with a smooth experience.

Folks happy to see the back of 2021 in end-of-year posts

Fun fact: We published just four 2020 year in review posts in the first issue of The Repository in 2021. This year? Below you'll find 16 of our favorites.

It's worth highlighting that working too much, stress, and burnout are common themes that run through many of these reflections. Let's take care of ourselves and each other in 2022 🧡

A year in WordPress Core: by the numbers

"Took me some time to put this together, but here is my little surprise for the end of the year…" tweets Jb Audras, a core contributor and Whodunit's CTO, who pulled together core contributor data for A Year in WordPress Core — 2021 on the Make WordPress Core blog.

There are some interesting data insights, but it's when comparing the graphs that an interesting story emerges: Automattic continues to top the list of contributions by company (785 commits), followed by Yoast (379 commits) and Advies en zo (191 commits). But while Automattic sponsored 85 employees to contribute to WordPress and Yoast sponsored 18, Advies en zo sponsored just one – self-employed consultant Juliette Reinders Folmer (who, interestingly, doesn't use or offer WordPress services.)

Reinders Folmer tweets, "There's something seriously out of whack when a tiny one-person company like Advies en zo (=me) is listed as nr 4 based on number of contributions to WordPress in 2021 in a list of ALL companies contributing…" She adds, "Maybe time for more companies to step up and start contributing?"

At WPShout, David Hayes notes, "I don't think this is cause for massive alarm. Applause for Juliette's tirelessness perhaps. But certainly important to remember that these open source systems can be made big and great by fewer people than you think, for both better and worse."

WP Engine open sources Frost block-based theme

Brian Gardner closed out 2021 with the news that WP Engine acquired his block-based theme project Frost. Gardner launched Frost in August, shortly before joining the web host to lead its developer relations team. In WP Engine Adds Frost to Open Source WordPress Project, he says his team at WP Engine will continue to develop the theme.

WPTavern's Sarah Gooding explores the detail of acquisition in WP Engine Acquires Brian Gardner's Frost, Opens It to the Public.

Gardner, a premium themes pioneer, blazed a trail when he launched the Revolution theme back in 2007. He went on to sell StudioPress and the Genesis framework to WP Engine in 2018 before stepping away from WordPress for a year. He told the Press This Podcast in November that launching Frost and re-joining WP Engine was his "second coming" in the WordPress space.

In other acquisition news, WP Experts has acquired Rich Tabor's Login Designer plugin. Tabor, who's the Head of Product at Extendify, says the deal is a win for users since he was spending less time on it compared to his Gutenberg-first projects, such as Iceberg.

Lee Shadle, a WordPress developer at WP Draft, tweets, "YASSSS! Go Rich!! 🎉 I was just lurking Login Designer the other day thinking how beautiful it is…"

Speaking of Extendify, the company is spinning out the popular Editor Plus and EditorsKit plugins from its platform for a more dedicated focus separately on plugins and Extendify services. Co-founder Chris Lukbert says developer Munir Kamal and a dedicated team will manage the ongoing development and support of the plugins. The news comes after Extendify joined forces with Kamal and and his team behind Editor Plus and Gutenberg Hub in December 2020, and adopted EditorsKit in June 2021.

In related news, Justin Tadlock at WPTavern reports Kamal has launched a block-based WordPress theme directory that pulls themes from WordPress.org.

#WPCommunityFeels: Thijs de Valk

Cartoon image of Thijs de Valk, CEO at Yoast.
This week, what's inspiring Yoast CEO Thijs de Valk.
A podcast worth listening to: I don't listen to a lot of podcasts, to be honest! I've obviously listened to all Yoast SEO podcasts, but I find having to listen takes up a lot more of my time than reading posts.

A concept worth understanding: I’m very much into data and analytics, and a concept I think is really worth understanding is that numbers/data mean nothing without the right context. Not sure if this is actually a concept, but this is what the question made me think of!

A Twitter account worth following: Just one? Wow. The one that immediately comes to mind is Aleyda Solis. She produces awesome content, and also shares great content.

An article worth reading: I would have to say Joost's CMS market share analysis articles. They give some very good insights on how WordPress and the rest of the CMS's are doing and where they seem to be going.

A habit worth forming: Oh, you're asking a behavioral scientist! I don't think there's one specific habit worth forming, as the need is different for every person. But for me personally I've found it's very useful, and enlightening, to ask for clarification, even when I think I understand something. This often leads to interesting conversations!

Getting started with block-based themes

block themes
When building a site with WordPress, one of the first things you’ll do is decide upon a theme to use. That might include block-based themes, depending on the site needs. Whether you build from scratch or use a premade theme, consider what functionality you and your clients need from the theme.

Types of WordPress themes

Using a block theme and customizing site content and custom functionality will not rely as heavily upon knowing how to build the entire theme with PHP. This can be a big win for low-code developers, as well as those eager to build with JavaScript and React.

There are four main types of themes in WordPress:
  • Classic theme: a theme built the way we’ve been used to with PHP templates, functions.php, and more. Example: WordPress Default theme or a theme framework like Underscores.
  • Block theme: a theme made for FSE using HTML templates and theme.json, allowing one to manage all parts of their site with blocks. Example: Twenty Twenty-Two.
  • Hybrid theme: a classic theme that adopts a feature(s) of FSE, like theme.json or the template editor. Example: Astra.
  • Universal theme: a theme that works with both the Customizer and the Site Editor. Example: Blockbase.
Read more: Getting started with block-based themes.

In even more WordPress news...

  • WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy has started a discussion on 2022 major release timing. While some contributors want as few releases as possible, Aaron Jorbin, a WordPress core committer and Director of Editorial Technology at Penske Media Corporation, thinks should be aiming for twelve.
  • The WordPress Accessibility Team wants to know what accessibility improvements folks would like to see shipped with WordPress 6.0. A discussion to identify major team goals will be held on January 23 at 4am GMT+11 in the #accessibility channel on Making WordPress Slack.
  • On January 6, the WordPress Security Team pushed WordPress 5.8.3 to all WordPress installs that support automatic core updates. Wordfence Threat Analyst Ram Galls says the release patched four high-severity vulnerabilities and were backported to every version of WordPress since 3.7.
  • In a first-time ruling by Italian courts on open source licensing, a plugin company has lost a civil case after failing to comply with GPL requirements. The case involved Ovation's Dynamic.ooo plugin, which extends Elementor. Two former employees redistributed the plugin — which is allowed under the GPL — but failed to acknowledge the original work. The court ordered the defendants to pay a fine every day until their software was brought into compliance.
  • Ellipsis Marketing is open-sourcing its financial model spreadsheet for WordPress businesses. Founder Alex Denning says most businesses have a really difficult time getting accurate financial data and the spreadsheet has helped him get an accurate handle on his revenue numbers. Denning has also published a piece on the Freemius blog: Acquisitions & Exits: How Much Is Your WordPress Business Worth?
  • Courtney Robertson is experimenting with ways to teach folks WordPress. The WordPress Training Team contributor, who's also a Web Design and Developer Advocate at GoDaddy, has started a short, daily series on TikTok that focuses on everything from installing WordPress to learning development skills.
  • Jill Binder has shared the WordPress Diverse Speaker Training Groups' 2021 report and the stats are impressive. The group expanded to three programs, held 26 events for 146 people in 16 countries, and increased Diverse Speaker workshop attendees' public speaking confidence by 20%.
  • On The Matt Report podcast this week, Rae Morey from The Repository talks to Matt Medeiros about how she built the newsletter. She also shares her background in journalism, how hard it is turning WordPress news into a real business, and what it takes to make it work.
  • Can Matt Mullenweg save the internet? Protocol's Editorial director David Pierce asks the question in his 4,000-word profile on the WordPress co-founder and his belief that open-source software is the future of everything. (But can he save the internet? On his blog, Mullenweg says alone he can't, but a movement can.)
  • More Matt: He also appeared on CNBC TechCheck on December 28 to talk about the future of the internet. In the five-minute interview, he focused on Web3 and the difference between open and closed platforms.
  • HeroPress Network has launched a new press release service called Press It WordPress. The services allows companies, individuals and services related to WordPress to post press releases for free.
  • Post Status will host its first Twitter Conference on May 24. Michelle Frechette says the WordPress and web industry-focused event will feature two presentations every hour from 9am-4pm EST centered on the theme Give. Grow. Together.
  • There's a new WordPress Product Community on LinkedIn. Courtney Robertson and Stunning Digital Marketing CEO Rob Cairns launched the group, which has attracted over 8,000 members in just four weeks.
MailPoet - Zeplin 2019-10-25 17-00-44

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