Issue #57
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This week in WordPress

Is Gutenberg’s performance eroding the dominance of page builders?

Sarah Gooding's article Gutenberg's Faster Performance Is Eroding Page Builders' Dominance has got folks talking at WPTavern.
She highlights Kyle Van Deusen's recent post Damn. Gutenberg Smokes Elementor. In it, the co-host of The Admin Bar shares his experience building a simple landing page using Elementor and then Gutenberg. After running the two pages through Google PageSpeed Insights, the scores are like "night and day," with Gutenberg achieving a near-perfect 99% on desktop.

But performance isn't the only consideration when designing sites for clients. The time it takes to build a site (it took Kyle three times longer with Gutenberg) counts too. He says:
"While I think we can conclusively say, at least for performance, Gutenberg is the clear winner — it's just not at a point where a guy like me can jump ship…. Gutenberg is fun to play with, and I enjoy dreaming of the day when it's viable for me— but I like to put food on my table. Elementor still helps me do that more efficiently."

In the post at WPTavern, Ladder founder Salman Mohammadi comments: "Building pages with Gutenberg is very frustrating and Gutenberg can not beat Elementor in terms of features and ease of use. Anyway after reading this post I've decided to develop simple websites for my clients with Gutenburg." Meanwhile, Menhirprod's Pierre says, "Compared to Elementor, Gutenberg at this time is really time consuming. It needs me 8 hours to replicate a homepage made with Elementor. But what a result! 500KB instead of 1MB and 700 ms to load instead of 3 sec! I think 2021 will be the year of Gutenberg."

Competition amongst WordPress products to get more intense, says marketing expert

As if 2020 wasn't intense enough, Ellipsis Marketing owner Alex Denning is predicting competition for WordPress products is going to get significantly more intense, and there's a need to start looking at product categories with much more sophistication.

In Competition and positioning for WordPress products in 2021 and beyond, he says if WordPress products are going to mature further, we need to tackle bigger problems and start looking beyond the boundaries of "WordPress." Or as he puts it on Twitter: "Why be the best WordPress form plugin, when you can just be the best form solution – full stop!"

"Always remember, the riches are in the niches. It couldn't be more true with WordPress products. It's easier to be found, recommended, you can easily own the niche if you know what you are doing," tweets Adam from WPCrafter.

Automatic updates an ethical dilemma for plugin developers

"Recently, a popular #WordPress plugin turned on automatic updates without informing users. There were some strong reactions from the community and a few broken sites as well. Here are my thoughts on the ethical dilemma it poses for developers," tweets web designer Eric Karkovack. He links to Without User Consent: An Ethical Dilemma for WordPress Plugin Developers at speckyboy.com.

Should users be notified when a developer enables automatic updates for a plugin? Yes, says Eric. After canvassing the views of the Advanced WordPress Facebook group following All In One SEO's fateful decision to turn on auto-updates last month, he argues "the ethical thing to do is to tell users about these types of changes. Or, at least make an honest effort to do so."

WordPress Core Team rep shares fascinating WordPress 5.6 stats

Jb Audras, a WordPress Core Team rep and CTO at Whodunit, shares some fascinating WordPress 5.6 Core Stats that have sparked discussion on Twitter. Key stats include:
  • 605 people contributed to WordPress 5.6. Of these, 236 people (39%) were first-time core contributors.
  • Of the 57 countries represented, the United States had the largest number of contributors (121), followed by India (46) and the United Kingdom (24).
  • Of the 57 companies that contributed, Automattic had the most contributors (70), followed by Yoast (16) and 10up (8). Human Made, GoDaddy, WP Engine and rtCamp each had five contributors and Google had four.
  • Automattic is still the most prolific company with employees credited in 1002 contributions, followed by Yoast with 467 contributions.
Automattic's continued dominance is not lost on long-time core contributor and Sandhills Development software developer John James Jacoby, who tweets: "Automattic's ability to devote more staff resources to navigate the growing complexity of teams, processes, history, and initiatives gives them a disproportionate advantage when it comes to influencing the future of WordPress".
He also tweets: "Automattic, directly and indirectly, has a large say in the future of the free and open web. They can genuinely say: 'We're just doing our 5% for the future.' But that results in Automattic outsizing nearly all other organizations by a factor of ten."

"Just as devil's advocate, Automattic is a for-profit company that employs a ton of people, why would they want to give up control over their primary product?" tweets PressTitan co-founder Malcolm Peralty.

WordPress Community Team proposes checklist to restart in-person events

Ahead of WordFest Live 2021, which kicks off in just a few days, organizers have shared what makes the online festival different from other WordCamps and virtual events.

"In short… the people," says lead organizer and Big Orange Heart founder Dan Maby. "A gathering of like-minded people, willing to share their knowledge and experiences with each other. Yes, we want to introduce elements of fun and celebration, this will come as the community gathers together."

He says Big Orange Heart has worked tirelessly over the past nine months to bring a unique experience for people to gather online. He hopes the experience will reduce the cognitive load some early virtual events have required.

The 24-hour event starts on 21 January at 23:00 UTC and spans four time zones:
  • It starts in Oceania from 10 AM-4 PM AEDT, January 22, 2021.
  • Then onto Asia, 10.30 AM-4.30 PM IST.
  • Next up: EMEA at 11 AM-5 PM UTC.
  • Finally arriving in the Americas from 12-6PM EST.
It's free to register for WordFest Live 2021, with all donations going to Big Orange Heart's work supporting the mental health and well-being of remote workers. Participants get access to the livestream as well as the library of archived talks after the event.

WordPress Community Team proposes checklist to restart in-person events

"The #WordPress Community team has a ✨proposal✨ for a checklist that organizers can use to decide whether or not they can safely host in-person #meetups! Check it out and share your feedback," tweets Angela Jin, a community builder for WordPress sponsored by Automattic. She links to Proposal: Decision making checklist for safe, in-person meetups.

Sarah Gooding explains in WordPress Community Team Proposes Using a Decision Checklist to Restart Local Events for WPTavern the checklist would allow Meetup organizers to restart in-person events in places where it's safe to do so instead of following a blanket global policy.

The checklist includes questions like "Is your country's (or state's) average positivity rate over the past 28 days under 4%?" and "In the past 28 days, has your country or area's basic reproduction number stayed under 1?"

To say there's a strong desire in the WordPress community for in-person to restart would be an understatement: "What's your heart's desire today?" tweets GiveWP Head of Customer Success Michelle Frechette. "In-person #WordPress events," replies Yoast Support Engineer Jeroen Rotty.
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