Issue #62
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This week in WordPress

WordPress releases could be scaled back in 2021

WordPress contributors are discussing scaling back the number of releases this year after WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomposy flagged that "four major releases is not a viable plan in 2021."

Sarah Gooding at WPTavern says Josepha cites several challenges, including update fatigue, risk of contributor burnout, a lengthy onboarding process for contributors skilled at doing the administrative work required during a release, and a lack of seasoned core developers to keep the process moving efficiently. "Entering into year two of a global pandemic has undeniably impacted contributors' availability and momentum, and Haden Chomposy's post seeks feedback on a way forward that will avoid putting WordPress's dedicated contributors under additional strain," writes Sarah.

In Making WordPress Releases Easier, Josepha says she's been "exploring the problem of making the release process easier with WordPress contributors for 3+ years." To get the project ready for more releases she says would take 3-4 dedicated developers, a project manager, 1-2 internal communications people, and a year or more of work — and that's fully resourced and working at full capacity.

Ryan McCue, Product Director at Altis DXP, a Human Made project, says the predictability of the release calendar was a major step forward for the project and for companies like his that build on top of core. "Seeing this change pretty last moment is not encouraging, and is going to have real repercussions for us," he adds.

And as David Bisset developer and contributor tweets, "Personally less concerned about timing and more about mental health of teams, quality and predictability."

The most prolific individual contributor to WordPress can’t use Slack

In Western countries, people take free access to apps like Slack for granted. But what happens when you start work for the day and the popular communications platform doesn't load? And more importantly, what happens when the most prolific core contributor to WordPress in recent years can't communicate with other contributors?

"Apparently @SlackHQ has blocked access from Russia. Can't find any announcements, the 'Learn more; link is not exactly helpful either. This will make my work on WordPress more... 'interesting'. 🤔" tweets Yoast-employed core committer Sergey Biryukov.

Yesterday he tweeted Slack was working again, and then it wasn't. WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy has intervened, tweeting simply, "How can I help?" Here's hoping Sergey can get back on Slack ASAP.

Search trends show big jump in WooCommerce keywords as pandemic pushes stores online

After exploring how searches for WordPress keywords changed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic (they increased 52%), Ellipsis Marketing founder Alex Denning has followed up with WordPress search trends for 2020: amazing for WooCommerce, good for plugins, bad for themes.

Alex's latest investigation offers insights into where WordPress's stellar growth is coming from. Searches for WordPress keywords overall increased 14% last year compared to 2019, while plugin keywords increased by 18%. WooCommerce keywords jumped by 44% as many bricks-and-mortar stores took their business online.

TL;DR: Alex summarises his post in a great Twitter thread.

First cloud service for WordPress that decouples the media library

Long-time WordPress pros and life-long friends, Aaron Edwards and Joshua Dailey have launched Infinite Uploads, a new media delivery plugin and service that moves the WordPress media library to the cloud. It's the first media cloud service for WordPress that decouples the media library, making scalable, enterprise-grade cloud media possible.

Joshua, who's also CMO at Aspen Grove Studios, says using the local uploads folder or media library in WordPress is not sustainable for small organizations with media-heavy sites. "Hosting-provided storage and bandwidth is often too little for today's websites, forcing a premature upgrade to more expensive plans," he says. "With image files getting larger and video and audio streaming growing at a record breaking pace, figuring out how to efficiently share media has become a common problem."

Aaron, a cloud architect who's been the CTO at WordPress platform WPMU DEV since 2009, says Infinite Uploads is built on the same code base he's used to grow multiple WordPress libraries to over 20 terabytes and more than 90 million files. WPMU DEV is the company behind the popular Smush image optimization plugin.

As an aside, on Aaron's LinkedIn page he says, "Instead of wasting 2020 in quarantine binge-watching The Office I built a magical #WordPress product with my best bud!"

Gutenberg plugin celebrates 100th release

Version 10.0 of the Gutenberg plugin was released this week, marking its 100th release since the project began four years ago. "Nothing extraordinary, just a regular release: it improves on the existing features, fixes bugs, adds new features and experiments with new ideas," writes Automattic JavaScript engineer Riad Benguella, who is leading the technical side of the project.

Riad also shares some of the challenges the project has faced, adding, "It’s a delight to see some people who had very strongly disagreed with the initial vision or approach to Gutenberg gradually come to enjoy using the editor and join the project to carry on its vision." He says while others might still not like Gutenberg and some won’t ever use it, the Gutenberg team will continue doing its best.

"Hands up, when I first looked at Gutenberg I hated it. Now, two years on, do a mix of Gutenberg and Kadence Theme and blocks and you can build virtually anything," comments web design and printing company TLCOnline.

For more on what's new in Gutenberg 10.0, Sarah Gooding covers the details for WPTavern.

Security company offers free services to schools impacted by pandemic

Security company Wordfence is offering free site cleaning and site security audit services to K-12 public schools around the world that use WordPress to power their website. Director of Marketing Kathy Zant says the company is helping schools with sites infected with malware or are looking for an expert analyst to audit their website security posture.

"We've actually been pretty busy with the program," Kathy tells The Repository. "We've worked with schools all over the world now, from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France and Poland, and it's working quite well."

She says since the start of the lockdowns, many staff at Wordfence have been helping their children learn remotely or know educators who have found the rapid transition to online learning really challenging. "We wanted to help where we could. Our site security team that provides both site cleaning and site audits came up with a way to help a lot of schools, and it's been a resounding success."

Schools that would like a free cleaning or site security audit worth $490 are invited to complete a request form.

Meanwhile, Mark Maunder, CEO of Defiant, Wordfence's parent company, tweets: "Our free site cleanings for K12 schools initiative @wordfence has worked out amazingly well. No promises, but we may have spare capacity for another group that helps keep vulnerable folks safe. Any suggestions who else to provide free site audits/cleanings to? Thanks."

Announcing the new GoDaddy Pro

We're stoked about launching the new GoDaddy Pro, an experience totally tailored to the unique needs of website designers and developers. At its heart is the Hub, a platform designed to be the ultimate tool for website and project management. The Hub gives you access to every client and their website from a single dashboard.
It includes features like bulk WordPress updates, client shopping carts, and uptime monitoring. It's purpose-built to reduce the amount of time required for routine tasks. In fact, people who use the Hub report saving, on average, three hours each month for every site they're maintaining for clients.

If you're curious to see real-world proof of GoDaddy Pro and the Hub helping other web designers and developers, you can read about their experiences in stories we regularly publish about them.

We built GoDaddy Pro based on insights from real people, and we're going to continue doing that. You can catch up with us online a bunch of different ways:
This new experience is meant to be more intuitive and seamless, but we have so much more coming and are committed to bringing the vision to life. (You should seriously check it out.) Sign up for free.
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In other WordPress news...

  • WordPress 5.7 Beta 3 is now available for testing. The final release is expected to ship on March 9, just three weeks away. And the WordPress 5.6.2 Release Candidate is also available to test. It fixes five bugs, including three related to the block editor.
  • Wordfence threat analyst Chloe Chamberland is urging Ninja Forms users to update to the latest version after the security company identified four "severe" vulnerabilities. The popular forms plugin is installed on more than 1 million sites. Chloe says the security flaws could be used to take over a WordPress site and redirect site owners to malicious sites.
  • WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg and Josepha Haden Chomphosy joined WordCamp India for a virtual fireside chat last weekend, reports Sarah Gooding. During the conversation, Matt shared that Automattic recently made "a pretty large investment" in Indian company Titan, which he says will be a big part of how WordPress.com offers email going forward.
  • Nominations are now open for Torque’s Plugin Madness 2021. The annual contest, now in its sixth year, is a bracket-style competition that starts with 64 WordPress plugins nominated by Torque readers. They're split into four groups: ecommerce, maintenance, marketing and optimization. Plugins are pitted against one another over several rounds, with the final plugin named the champion. Plugin Madness is run by Torque, WP Engine's digital publication for WordPress. Last year's winner was page building plugin Elementor.
  • Last year was a busy one for Cloudways. In Cloudways Year-In-Review: A Look Back at 2020, Marketing Manager Owais Khan shares how the hosting company experimented, adapted and reinvented itself to help customers improve their digital presence during the COVID-19 crisis. As well as enhancing the Cloudways platform, the company expanded its team globally.
  • Theme company Pixelgrade has shared its latest Transparency report. It details how the Romanian-based outfit faired during the pandemic (Hint: fairly well, with revenue returning to pre-pandemic levels) and how the team redesigned its headquarters. CEO George Olaru says during the pandemic, his team learned to accept the areas where they had little to no control and instead focused on where they could "realistically move the needle."
  • Automattic has released its Newspack Newsletters project to the WordPress.org plugin repository, reports Sarah Gooding. It’s the first Newspack-related plugin the company has made available outside of GitHub or its custom platform. Newspack is a service geared toward small and medium-sized publications and aims to work with news industry leaders to create a platform for bringing WordPress to more newsrooms worldwide.
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