Issue #65
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This week in WordPress

WordPress 5.7 "Esperanza" now available

WordPress 5.7 is out and named in honor of modern musical prodigy Esperanza Spalding. For WordPress.org, release lead and WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg runs through the key features in WordPress 5.7 "Esperanza."

Sarah Gooding's headline for WPTavern offers a quick summary: WordPress 5.7 Introduces Drag-and-Drop for Blocks and Patterns, Streamlined Admin Color Palette, and One-Click Migration from HTTP to HTTPS.

As Sarah explains, version 9.3-9.9 of the Gutenberg plugin are rolled into this update, bringing hundreds of enhancements and bug fixes that make working in the block editor more efficient and enjoyable.

"Just tried the new 'Switch to HTTPS' function in WordPress 5.7. What I used to explain to users with an epic description now takes exactly one single mouse click. That is so… 🤯 … 😍😘👏🏻💖 My hero of the ~day~month: @felixarntz 🥂🍾" tweets WordPress trainer Bego Mario Garde, referring to Google Developer Programs Engineer and WordPress core committer Felix Arntz.

Putting his WordPress Support Team hat on, Bego adds, "WordPress 5.7 must be a super cool release. Haven't heard a single complaint in support so far 🙌🏻,"

Props to the small and experienced squad who worked on this release, along with the 481 volunteer contributors who made WordPress 5.7 happen.

For more, Yoast's Content Manager Camille Cunningham looks at what's new in this release, and Communication Coordinator Kristen Wright covers the Top 21 Features & Improvements for iThemes.

WordPress businesses and their ads

What ads are WordPress businesses running, anyway? asks Ellipsis Marketing Founder Alex Denning. His analysis follows recent news regarding Bluehost's misuse of the WordPress trademark in its ads and criticisms of Elementor for using the term "Full Site Editing".

Alex says WordPress hosts are all running the same ads, apart from Bluehost whose ads are based around the controversial text "recommended by WordPress."

He sums up Elementor's ad strategy as "a glimpse at the future: someone was hired to write these ads, and in insolation they're good ads!" But he adds that "They don't, however, adhere to the unwritten norms and expectations of the community. We can't expect everyone coming into the WordPress economy to immerse themselves in the history of the project, and more funding is going to bring more people into the WordPress economy."

Meanwhile, web developer Dumitru Brînzan adds to the controversy plaguing WordPress's recommended hosting page in Yet another Conflict of Interest? WordPress.org gives priority to a handful of Hosting Providers. He points to recent design changes to WordPress.org's Get WordPress page, which now shows WordPress hosting options above the fold, pushing the big blue button to download WordPress further down the page.

More on accessiBe and their WordPress.org reviews

Last week, we covered recent news about the removal of some of accessiBe's reviews at WordPress.org after they were found to be fake. The automated accessibility company's Affiliate Program Director Ran Regev said it was "questionable timing" that Sarah Gooding's article WordPress.org Removes Fake Reviews for accessiBe Plugin was published the same day the ads were removed. Ran also said the company received no warnings or request to respond and "the only reviews that were left were the 1 star reviews, which we know for a fact were not written by our customers."

According to the Plugin Reviews Team, accessiBe was contacted on February 15 after the reviews were taken down, three days before Sarah's story was published on February 18.

A rep for the team tells The Repository its policy is to inform plugin developers after reviews are removed. "Either they get warned not to sock-puppet OR they get told we found someone else going after them, but in both cases we give them the bare minimum information: we discovered reviews that were determined to be invalid, they were removed."

The rep also says, "We can assure you, accessiBe (and everyone else who had reviews removed) has been contacted. This has been our standard for almost 5 years now."

Should Gutenberg have dual licensing?

"Justin Tadlock takes the dual licensing question and puts it in user friendly terms," writes industry analyst and strategist Robert Jacobi in Dual Licensing Gutenberg – Gutenberg API?. He links to Justin's article Proposal and Steps To Dual-License Gutenberg Under the GPL and MPL.

As Justin explains: "At the moment, the WordPress for Android and WordPress for iOS apps use Gutenberg. Both of these apps are also licensed under the GPL, so it is a non-issue for them. However, it is uncommon for mobile apps to use the GPL. Thus, it limits Gutenberg's potential reach."

"This ⬇️ is what I'm used to when it comes to relicensing efforts for open source software with a diverse set of authors," tweets engineer Matthew Wilson, who builds infrastructure services at Amazon Web Services. He highlights part of Justin's article: "The problem with switching licenses is that Gutenberg needs permission from every contributor who has added code to the project to make this change. The GitHub repository lists 721 individual contributors since the project began in 2016. To change licenses, each one must consent because they still own the copyright to their code."

Robert offers his own solution, suggesting a Gutenberg API connection to a user's site, adding, "Gutenberg has a brilliant future, and I think we should take advantage of the best features without necessarily trying to shoehorn it into apps where it may not be as strong."

WordPress.com launches WordPress Stories

WordPress.com launched WordPress Stories this week, a new publishing feature that draws on the Stories format made popular by Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.

As WPTavern's Justin Tadlock points out in WordPress.com and Jetpack Launch Story Block for Mobile Apps, solutions for Stories already exist in the WordPress space, such as Google's Web Stories and the MakeStories plugins. Both options provide a more robust experience than WordPress.com's offering right now, but Justin says WordPress Stories offers a more streamlined process.

The new WordPress.com feature is already gaining fans. "Believe it or not, that's a new feature of Wordpress... ‘Stories' they call it, and I am a fan of the simplicity too!" tweets designer zen, replying to freelance software engineer Tom Duncalf's tweet: "Love this slideshow/video style review of @WeAreROLI @playlumi from @inputmag, looks really cool (and thanks for the kind words!)" He links to Lumi Keys review: Like ‘Guitar Hero' but for learning the actual piano, where you can see WordPress Stories in action.

Matt Mullenweg: "It was a hundred times harder" pre-recording the State of the Word in 2020

Pre-recording the State of the Word in 2020 was one of the "harder things I did work-wise last year," admits Matt Mullenweg, who joins Michelle Frechette on the WPCoffeeTalk podcast this week. Matt shares his experiences during the pandemic over the past year, saying "it was a hundred times harder" delivering his annual address to an empty room than speaking live at WordCamp US, which was cancelled last year due to the global pandemic.

Also on the podcast, Matt says he'd like to see WordCamps and Meetups start happening again in places where it’s safe to do so, like Australia and Taiwan, where COVID-19 has been all but eradicated.

He also shares a fun fact: WordCamps charge for tickets because of no-shows. Three hundred people registered for the first WordCamp in San Francisco in 2006, which was free. Organizers went ahead and bought barbecue and t-shirts. Matt says 80-90 people didn't show up, so he had to take home 25 pounds of brisket, which he lived off for four months. So the decision was made to charge a low ticket price so people would show up but still be able to afford the event.

"Much thanks to Matt Mullenweg for recording the 100th episode today! As expected, Matt is gracious and kind, and I'm happy to have spent an hour learning more about him," tweets Michelle.

No matter which web accessibility approach you take, user experience is #1

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Web accessibility has become a hot topic recently, and rightfully so. While the industry has been around for more than two decades, new players have entered the field introducing technological advancements that offer different approaches to web accessibility.
The result is millions upon millions of inaccessible websites being churned out. Not to mention, the 350 million websites in the US alone that already exist, which are currently inaccessible and need to be addressed.

But what is the definition of an accessible website? Sticking to guidelines that may or may not be relevant for your website? Combing through lines of code, or ignoring them completely? A website is not accessible because someone calls it so, but rather because the users of the site can experience it whether they happen to be persons with a disability or not. No matter which approach you choose to take for web accessibility, the user should always be the main priority. It's about their experience first and foremost. The rest comes after.

Read more from accessiBe's Chief Vision Officer, Mike Hingson.
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