Issue #75
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This week in WordPress

ProfilePress pulls bait and switch, surprising WP User Avatar users

Developer Collins Agbonghama has come under fire for acquiring the popular WP User Avatar plugin and repurposing it as ProfilePress, a completely different plugin, virtually overnight and without warning users.

As WPTavern's Justin Tadlock reports, the ProfilePress author has transformed WP User Avatar, a simple avatar plugin, into a full-fledged user registration, profile, login, and membership management plugin — and people are using the WordPress.org review system "in the way it was meant to be used." As of publication, there have been more than 130 one-star reviews this week. At least one user has forked the original plugin and released it to the WordPress repository. "Let them rain down all manner of hell on plugin authors who do this," Justin adds.

Big Orange Heart Director Dan Maby is everyone who was shocked to find a different plugin had been installed on their site, tweeting, "For a short moment, I was trying to work out if the site that had this plugin installed on, had been hacked. In no way is this a plugin ‘update', it's a switch and bait."

Helping to fuel the uproar, it's understood Agbonghama recently removed the original and relatively unpopular PluginPress plugin from the repository so he could re-brand WP User Avatar as the new ProfilePress and leverage its 400,000 users.

WPTavern reader BK points out the obvious: "I think the problem here is not plugin users expected to be treated as paying customers. It is that the new plugin owner expects to turn the 400,000 users into paying customers."

Agbonghama explains his actions on The WP Minute podcast, telling host Matt Medeiros that WP User Avatar lacked functionality that crossed over with ProfilePress, and says many of the plugin's users were already ProfilePress users.

Web designer and Speckyboy writer Eric Karkovack shares, "A lesson in how to take a #WordPress plugin that people like and severely damage any good will. Rebranding and adding features is one thing, but this is a whole other ball o' wax."

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WPTavern: Gutenberg development team taking "massive strides"

WPTavern's resident Gutenberg reporter, Justin Tadlock, reports the Gutenberg development team has taken "massive strides" in the latest 10.6 release, adding duotone filters, Query block improvements, and returning the most-used tags selector.

The development team is working towards the inclusion of Full Site Editing (FSE) features in WordPress 5.8. Core contributor and freelance consultant Koen Van den Wijngaert explains in What's new in Gutenberg 10.6? (12 May) that much of the work behind the scenes has focused on experimental features, including stabilizing theme-related blocks, theme.json integration, per-post templates, block-based widgets, and new block design controls.

Tadlock adds, "Much of the work on those features is still underway. However, some of them are starting to take shape, and it could make the upcoming WordPress 5.8 release in July an exciting one as they are integrated."

In other FSE news, Anne McCarthy, the program manager for the FSE outreach experiment, has put out a sixth call for FSE testing. This latest round asks for volunteers to build a WordCamp landing page using the new template-editing mode, which is expected to land in WordPress 5.8.

Speaking of testing, core contributor and Automattic code wrangler Andrei Draganescu has also put a call out for help testing the new block-based Widgets Editor. As Dan Knauss notes at Post Status, widgets became a part of the WordPress lexicon when they entered core in 2005 and FSE will eventually replace them with blocks.

Vaccination status could be added to event safety checklist

The WordPress Community Team is discussing adding vaccination status to their in-person Meetup safety checklist, reports Sarah Gooding at WPTavern. Andrea Middleton, an Automattic-sponsored Community Team contributor, has proposed allowing places that don't currently pass the checklist to hold WordPress meetups for vaccinated attendees if vaccines are freely available in the area and local authorities are permitting gatherings.

Meanwhile, virtual events are still going strong. WordSesh 2021, a free virtual event targeted at WordPress professionals, kicks off next week. Sessions will be broadcast on May 24-28, followed by hands-on workshops on May 27-June 4. Presentations will be recorded and published to WPSessions after the live event.

As Justin Tadlock explains in Register Now for WordSesh, the event's creators pioneered virtual events years ago when WordPress conferences were predominantly in-person events. After experimenting with three regional events last year, this year's WordSesh will be one global conference run at all hours over several time zones.

On the WPShout blog, David Hayes shares, "I doubt I'm alone in feeling a little 'behind and overwhelmed' as we swing into the second year of COVID-19-infected reality. So attending WordSesh may be just the thing to get me ‘back on the horse.' (And if not, that's OK too ❤️)."

Strattic means static headless WordPress sites made easy

We all adore WordPress for its ease of use. But even we can’t deny that the effort of making WordPress fast, secure and reliable can be frustrating. While we still love WordPress (a LOT!), we’re not alone in wishing there was a way to remove the headache of patching plugins and ensuring sites are ever-ready, no matter how viral your next marketing campaign gets.

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In other WordPress news...

  • In security news this week, Wordfence is urging WP Statistics 600,000+ users to update the latest version after the security company recently disclosed a vulnerability to the plugin's developers at VeronaLabs. Threat analyst Ram Gall says the vulnerability, which has been patched, allowed any site visitor to extract sensitive information from a site's database via Time-Based Blind SQL Injection.
  • The long-awaited release of WP-CLI 2.5.0 was shipped on May 19. WP-CLI maintainer and core contributor Alain Schlesser says the delay was due to several factors, including the pandemic drastically reducing the pool of contributors, and Travis CI deciding to effectively drop open source support, forcing a migration to GitHub Actions for testing and deployment. Post Status' David Bisset notes that Schlesser also mentions an end-of-year post by core contributor Juliette Reinders Folmer, who explains the challenges maintainers faced in 2020.
  • WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg has described Squarespace's CEO Anthony Casalena as "a thoughtful, creative leader" following the company's debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. "From our conversations I know how seriously he takes the craft not just of designing great products, but designing great organizations that will stand the test of time," writes Mullenweg about Squarespace's direct listing on his blog. "If I had to pick between Squarespace or Wix, I'd pick Squarespace every time… They've built a great brand through their marketing and rightly earned trust with their customers and within the community as a good business, and they have a founder-led path to success for many years to come." CNBC journalist Ari Levy reports Casalena started Squarespace from his dorm room at the University of Maryland in 2003 and is now worth $2.4 billion.
  • ICYMI last week, Liquid Web's acquisition of GiveWP came as a surprise to many people in the WordPress community, writes David Bisset for Post Status. He says WP Business Reviews, which also belonged to the Impress.org brand, was part of the deal too. GiveWP and WP Business Reviews will join under a new brand, StellarWP, which will house all of Liquid Web's software assets.
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