Issue #67
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This week in WordPress

WPTavern launches new podcast

WPTavern has launched a new monthly podcast, WPTavern Jukebox, and WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy is the first guest. She talks to host Nathan Wrigley about her ambitious goals for Full Site Editing (FSE), her plans for LearnWP to become a real resource for those new to WordPress, and dealing with contributor fatigue during the pandemic.

"Years ago I said to @wordcampmiami that if I ever spoke briefly about WordPress, it's because I was sick. You can hear it here—I am so excited and committed to this community, I could have talked to Nathan for twice as long 😂," Josepha tweets.

Private Slack channel for sponsored contributors raise eyebrows

A new private Slack channel Josepha Haden Chomphosy has created for full-time sponsored WordPress contributors has drawn criticism. WPTavern's Sarah Gooding says it unclear why the channel has been created and where new sponsored contributors that Josepha hints at will be coming from.

Yoast CPO and Founder Joost de Valk shares, "I'm honestly kind of radical about transparency and think there's too much secrecy already, but I also understand the need to be able to discuss without being interrupted… It's a hard balance."

Meanwhile, Justin Tadlock at WPTavern reports on Upcoming Changes and Steps for an Overhauled WordPress Theme Review System, specifically, "non-negotiable guard rails" for what could prevent a theme from being added to the WordPress.org theme repository and tools and types of access the Themes Team needs. It follows discussion in recent weeks about the lack of creative contributions to the free repository. Josepha says the plan will be "complex to accomplish" but achievable by early 2022.

On WordPress.org, Josepha also shares her Early Thoughts on WP5.8 Planning as contributors work toward April go/no go dates for the merging of FSE into core. She also shares a proposal for a WordPress Project Contributor Handbook, which would share "expectations of how we, as contributors, work together, who we want to build our products for, and the WordPress interpretation of modern, open source best practices." Lots of folks have already put their hand up to help.

Extendify makes another acquisition

Extendify has acquired Editor Plus, a plugin that extends Gutenberg with a blocks library and toolkit. Or, more accurately, Extendify officially bought the plugin months ago but only made it public recently with the release of Editor Plus 2.7. An official announcement is expected to be published next week.

Justin Tadlock says Extendify's co-founders also bought the Redux Framework in November. Other acquisitions over the past year, according to the Extendify website, include Gutenberg Forms, ACF Blocks, MetaSlider, Block Slider, and GutenbergHub.com.

Extendify has largely flown under the radar. Justin's article is the first time the company has been mentioned at WPTavern, yet it offers little in the way of information about the company, its co-founders, and their motivations.

The Extendify website states the project "was started by a passionate team with the goal of building a modern WordPress experience that just works." Single and Unlimited licenses provide access to a library of patterns and templates to make working with Gutenberg easier.

On their LinkedIn profiles, co-founders Chris Lukbert and Artur Grabowski describe Extendify as a "premium platform for WordPress solutions." Both men are former Automattic employees, having worked together in corporate development.

The pair also made their first major hire in January, recruiting Tammie Lister as their Head of Design. Tammie left Automattic after 7+ years as a user experience designer.

WordPress finances: cautious spending necessary

Harmony Romo, a Financial Wrangler at Automattic, has shared a general overview of the financial health of the WordPress Foundation and its subsidiary, WordPress Community Support (WPCS). She explains that WPCS, which began 2021 with just over US$1.3M, has two sources of income: ticket sales and event sponsorship. Due to the many canceled WordCamps and in-person events in 2020, the foudn lost money.

She adds, "Conservative, responsible expense decisions have allowed the program to endure and stay flexible as in-person events slowly return from being on hold. Because a large portion of the cash on hand are sponsor credit balances, cautious spending will still be necessary for the foreseeable future."

"Majority agreement" for dropping IE11

Support for Internet Explorer 11 could be dropped as soon as WordPress 5.8. Automattic Technical Project Manager Héctor Prieto says plans to end support for IE11 have received "majority agreement" and there are two upcoming milestones where it could happen: 5.8 and 5.9.

Héctor explains, "The argument for dropping in 5.8 is to realize the change and improvement quicker, while others are inclined to wait until 5.9 to provide a longer window between the official announcement and the effective date."

In security news…

Wordfence is urging users of the Facebook for WordPress plugin, formerly known as Official Facebook Pixel, to update to the latest version after disclosing a vulnerability to its developers. The plugin has 500,000+ active installations on WordPress.org.

The security company has also warned that two recently patched vulnerabilities in Thrive Themes legacy themes and its plugins are being actively exploited in the wild. Threat Analyst Chloe Chamberland says an estimated 100,000 WordPress sites are using the vulnerable Thrive Themes products.

In other security news, security platform WebARX has rebranded to Patchstack. Justin Tadlock says that outside of customers getting the name wrong, the company had grown beyond its original SaaS product to provide other services, like PlugBounty, an open-source bug-hunting platform. Earlier this year, they also acquired WordPress security provider ThreatPress. Combining the three created an opportunity to relaunch the brand.

accessiBe: from a solution to a full-blown accessibility hub

While accessiBe's new roadmap includes a variety of accessibility areas, the main goal is the same as it has always been for the company since day one: making web accessibility achievable and practical for everyone, regardless of coding experience, accessibility background, and budget constraints.
accessiBe's founders (from left to right): Shir Ekerling, Gal Vizel, and Dekel Skoop.
accessiBe's founders (from left to right): Shir Ekerling, Gal Vizel, and Dekel Skoop.
In order to achieve this goal, the roadmap focuses on 4 pillars: increasing awareness and education, creating opportunities for people with disabilities and businesses to connect, developing technological tools and services for both developers and businesses, and contributing to the development of accessible web infrastructures, standards, and guidelines by engaging with open source and accessibility communities.

accessiBe has already set out to establish the new initiatives and create the new services, while simultaneously significantly increasing awareness efforts surrounding web accessibility and inclusion. Read about accessiBe's exciting new roadmap and find ways to be involved!
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In other WordPress news...

  • BuddyPress 7.2.1 is now available. It addresses five security issues which, were reported privately to the BuddyPress team by user Kien Hoang. The team also conducted a comprehensive security audit on all BuddyPress REST API endpoints, which led to three further improvements. Contributor Mathieu Viet adds, "Our deepest gratitude goes out to Kien for practicing coordinated disclosure and being extremely patient while we worked through these issues."
  • The Atarim Web Agency Summit kicked off on March 23 and finishes up today (March 26). Industry analyst and strategist Robert Jacobi has published the event's speaker schedule. UX/UI designer Rafael Azuaje tweets, "I just want to say that these 3 days were AMAZING & MIND BLOWING Exploding head at the Web Agency Summit from @atarim_io @elemntor I learned a lot of new things to apply and to improve! Congrats guys! Cheers from #Chile."
  • Ionut Neagu, founder and CEO of CodeInWP and ThemeIsle, has made another "another small acquisition in the WordPress space," this time buying WP Cloudflare Page Cache. "If you are interested in working on making edge caching accessible to everyone, dm me," he tweets. The acquisition comes after he tweeted last month that he had bought optionistics.com last year and was "still looking to acquire plugins, SaaS, or media products in WP or financial space, generating around $20k per month."
  • WordPress will again apply for Season of Docs, a Google program that offers open source projects an opportunity to improve their documentation. Documentation Team rep Justin Ahinon, who's a Yoast-sponsored contributor, has put the call out for WordPress projects with docs that need improving, mentors for technical writers, and a backup organization admin to help him out.
  • Plugin Rank's Iain Poulson has launched WP Trends, a new monthly newsletter that provides WordPress market insights, trends and acquisition opportunities. "Great insights on the first edition, congrats! 👏🏼🎉" tweets Strattic WordPress Engineer Nate Finch, adding, "Interesting to see that even plugins with $10k - $20k ARR are getting acquired 🤔 Amazing how hungry buyers are for profitable plugins."
  • Wholegrain Digital celebrated its 14th birthday this week. Managing Director Tom Greenwood reflects on how he and Vineeta Greenwood started the WordPress agency as an "experiment in sustainable business." The agency is now a Certified B Corp, has open-sourced its sustainability policy, created incentives for its team to use renewable energy at home, and has been a leader in getting environmental sustainability onto the agency of the web design sector. All that is in addition to working with "dream clients" including Ecover, Oxfam and Unicef.
  • The team at WebDevStudios is spending today giving back to WordPress as part of WordPress' Five for the Future (5FTF) initative. Some of the agency's 5FTF projects have recently gained attention, including Support Engineer Michael Beckwith's Blogroll Block plugin, which allows users to "show off your blogroll" with the block editing experience, and Lead Engineer Darren Cooney's Gutenberg Block Manager, a tool that allows for fine-grained block management.
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