Issue #53
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This week in WordPress

Yoast and Whodunit on why they contribute to WordPress

Automattic may be the biggest player in WordPress, but it's not the only one with influence. Two other companies—Whodunit, a relative newcomer to contributing, and Yoast, a WordPress core veteran—are actively developing features they want in core. And they're encouraging other companies to join them in putting more people and resources into the WordPress project.

The Repository spoke to Yoast CEO Marieke van de Rakt and Whodunit CTO Jb Audras for our exclusive story: Yoast and Whodunit on why they contribute to WordPress core—and the features they're pursuing.

Yoast and Elementor join forces

Speaking of Yoast…. "I'm a little embarrassed how much this excites me," tweets digital marketer Chris Boulanger, linking to the announcement this week that Yoast SEO now seamlessly integrates with Elementor.

"Exciting news: Yoast SEO and @elemntor, two of the biggest players in the #WordPress ecosystem, have built a seamless integration. It allows millions of users to build an optimized page in one single workflow, all within the #Elementor editor," tweets Yoast. Yoast strategic content specialist Edwin Toonen shares more about the integration in Yoast SEO 15.4: Seamless integration with Elementor.

CEO Marieke van de Rakt tells The Repository that Elementor's large user base had been unable to use Yoast SEO to its full potential. "As of today they can: real-time content analysis within the Elementor framework," she says. Elementor CEO Yoni Luksenberg says he's also excited about the partnership, adding, "… Yoast is synonymous with SEO in WordPress, and so we're thrilled to be able to offer this seamless experience to Elementor users."

Both Yoast SEO and Elementor power a vast number of sites. Currently, Elementor is installed on 6+ million sites and Yoast SEO has surpassed 11 million sites, firmly positioning both products in the top 5 most popular WordPress plugins.

"Shockingly excited this morning as a blogger to realize that @elemntor and @yoast now work together. Blogging life made easier. Love it," tweets Beloved Brands founder Graham Robertson.

Discussion: How can the WordPress Community return to hosting safe, in-person events?

Too soon? The WordPress Community Team is discussing a return to in-person events. Sarah Gooding reports at WPTavern that Community organizer Angela Jin has put a call out for feedback, citing recent successful vaccine trials as a prompt for the discussion.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of many WordCamps and Meetups this year, with some going virtual after the Community Team banned in-person events for the rest of 2020. In August, all in-person flagship events were canceled until 2022.

While countries like Australia, Taiwan and New Zealand seem to have contained the coronavirus, the U.S., Europe, India, and Russia have cases spiraling out of control. Sarah points out the elephant in the room: "The discussion seems oddly timed, as this week the U.S., which is leading the world in deaths, has seen daily deaths climb to 2,804, surpassing the previous record of 2,607 reported on April 15, during the first wave of the pandemic."

Amongst the comments in the discussion, Dreamhost's Mika Epstein says she's surprised there's no mention of a vaccine being a requirement for in-person events. She notes: "The risk of COVID is human life. That means that unless WordPress (or any public event) has a way to ensure that no one will contract (and die) of COVID, then they have no business having any event, indoor or outdoor."

WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg is the first to comment on Sarah's article: "It would be awesome to see some in-person WordPress start to happen again in places like Taiwan or New Zealand."

New database: Underrepresented in Tech

"Did you know that @michelleames and I created a tool to help people with businesses, podcasts, and events connect with diverse and talented folks? The goal: Representation without tokenization," tweets WP Buffs Community Manager Allie Nimmons, linking to Underrepresented in Tech.

Allie tells The Repository it's a free database where people from underrepresented groups in tech—women, people of color, queer people, people with disabilities, and people older than you normally see in tech—can add their information and others can search and get in touch.

"Many business owners, podcast hosts, event organizers, etc. know their projects need to be more diverse, but don't want to reach out to underrepresented folks for fear of tokenizing," she says. "This tool is meant to highlight underrepresented people while relying on their skills and specialities first and foremost as a hiring or recruiting factor."

Keeping in touch with the community when it matters the most

Staying connected has been challenging this year. And for WordPress, known for its volunteer community of WordCamp organizers, contributors and forum moderators, everyone's had to adapt quickly to keep this thriving community going.

At Weglot, we initially developed our multilingual solution specifically for WordPress (now we're compatible across all technologies), so we've always had a deep connection with the community from the beginning.

After starting out collecting feedback from WordPress users in our early days to now supporting more than 60 WordCamps and over 40 WordPress Meetups in 2019 alone, we wanted to check in with WordPress community leaders to see how they're doing this year.

The burning question? How are our WordPress Meetup organizers keeping things active?

According to Juan Hernando, a Meetup organizer in Pontevedra: "We've joined forces with the other local Meetups in our region and continue to hold a joint monthly meeting. We take advantage of the fact that we can have speakers from far away to do the events, and at least the organizers and regulars keep in touch."

For some Meetups, there's positive news: membership numbers have increased since going online. Carlos Macìas from WordPress Vigo says, "In our case, the Meetup group has grown in terms of users and continues to do so despite not being able to see us in person."

Other top tips for keeping things going include: making Meetups shorter but more frequent to reduce time spent in front of screens (Singapore), recording sessions so no one misses out (Hong Kong) and using social media accounts to stay connected.

One thing's for sure, there's no stopping the WordPress community!

We talked to several other Meetup organizers to see how they've been handling this challenging year. On our blog: Here's what they told us.
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In other WordPress news...

  • WordPress 5.6 Release Candidate 3 is now available for testing. "Happy testing, and here's to a smooth final release!" says WordPress 5.6 Core Tech Lead Helen Hou-Sandì, who's also 10up's Director of Open Source Initiatives.
  • Isabel Brison, the Editor Tech Lead for WordPress 5.6, has published a Core Editor Overview. The Automattic JavaScript engineer says with WordPress 5.6 around the corner, "this post is your ‘one-stop shop' for all of the new core editor related features and changes coming to your sites."
  • Gutenberg 9.5 improves the site editor and adds new options for cover and code blocks, reports Justin Tadlock at WPTavern. He says the development team is continuing work on features we'll start seeing in WordPress 5.7 and beyond. The big user-facing highlights for this release include a full-height alignment option for the Cover block, font-size support in the Code block, and improved previews for block patterns.
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