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Issue #77
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This week in WordPress

Delicious Brains acquires Advanced Custom Fields

In a move generally welcomed by developers ("Finally, a plugin acquisition to be excited about!! Congrats, y'all!" tweets developer John Hawkins) but overshadowed by confusion over lifetime licenses (more on that in a bit), Delicious Brains, the company behind WP Migrate DB Pro, has acquired the very popular Advanced Custom Fields plugin.

On the ACF blog, Elliot Condon, who has developed the plugin solo for the past 10 years, says the needs of the project had outgrown his ability to develop solutions. "The last thing I want to do to this amazing community is unintentionally hold back the project, so something needed to change," he says.

In A WordPress Announcement of Epic Proportions, Delicious Brains founder Brad Touesnard says the developer tools-focused company will bring two of its "greatest strengths" to ACF: design (UI/UX) and developer education. Condon and Touesnard talk about the acquisition on the latest episode of the Delicious Brains Waves podcast.

Sarah Gooding covers the acquisition for WPTavern. In the MasterWP newsletter, Ellipsis Marketing founder Alex Denning says Condon has produced a "phenomenal amount of value for the WordPress economy over the last decade" and only captured only a tiny amount of that value. "ACF is a real developer's product and Elliot could have charged vastly more. Credit to him, though: he didn't want to so didn't do it, and instead focused on evolving a product used by just about every WordPress agency I know," Denning writes.

On the Post Status Excerpt podcast, hosts Cory Miller and David Bisset discuss why the acquisition is a win for the WordPress community in the long run and ask: where do you draw the line between owning your product and handing the reins of your creation to someone else when a project has grown to an unmanageable size?

Back to lifetime licenses. "TL;DR - We have committed to honoring ACF lifetime licenses forever. Pleas read the full thread 👇" was Touesnard's clarification after an ACF customer posted a screenshot on Facebook of a private conversation in which Touesnard gave the impression lifetime licenses might not be honored. "The reality is I had put almost no thought into lifetime licenses and I hadn't discussed it with our team at all," Touesnard further tweeted, adding, "After plenty of discussions and thinking, there is now no question in my mind that honoring lifetime licenses is the right thing to do."

Meanwhile, web designer and Speckyboy writer Eric Karkovack has done a really nice thing, tweeting, "#WordPress friends, I think we should start a little appreciation thread for @elliotcondon and all he's done with @wp_acf. So, tell me something you love about the plugin. Did you achieve something amazing with it? Did a particular feature help you out?"

Liquid Web acquires Iconic

In other acquisition news, web host Liquid Web has added UK-based WooCommerce plugin company Iconic to StellarWP, the new software arm of its business. Launched nine years ago, Iconic has developed a solid suite of extensions that serve the needs of a self-reported 16,000 WooCommerce businesses.

According to Iconic Marketing Manager Gina Lucia, the existing team will be "sticking around." "This means with Liquid Web's help, we'll be able to expand our team of experts, roll out updates faster, take our communication to the next level, release new plugins, and so much more," Lucia writes in Iconic Has Joined the Liquid Web Family of Brands.

The deal comes after Iconic partnered with Liquid Web in 2018 to augment its Managed WooCommerce Hosting product line. It also follows Liquid Web's other recent acquisitions, including Restrict Content Pro, The Events Calendar, GiveWP and KadenceWP.

And another acquisition this week: "Guess now that the transfer is all done I can announce that abtestingforwp.com is now in the hands of @JJJ instead of me," tweets Gaya Kessler, the creator of the A/B Testing for WordPress plugin. On handing the reins to long-time WordPress contributor John James Jacoby, Kessler adds, "Didn't feel right to not do something with this plugin since I was neglecting it. I am sure it will be in more capable hands with @JJJ." The plugin was last updated a year ago and has 300+ active installations.

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Jetpack forces contentious security update on users

Jetpack 9.8 was released this week, introducing WordPress Stories. But talk about the release has focused on a security patch that has reignited debate about forced updates when users have auto-update disabled on their sites.

On the Jetpack blog, software engineer Sami Falah says a vulnerability was found in the Carousel feature and while there's no evidence the vulnerability has been exploited in the wild, it's "only a matter of time before someone tries to take advantage of this vulnerability."

As Sarah Gooding reports in Jetpack 9.8 Introduces WordPress Stories Block Alongside Forced Security Update, the vulnerability was severe enough for the Jetpack team to work with WordPress.org to release 78 patched versions – every version of Jetpack since 2.0. The decision to push the forced update was made by the Meta/Security team together with the WordPress.org team.

As long-time WordPress contributor John James Jacoby tweets, the ability for WordPress.org to force updates has been around forever: "It's rare & discretionary. It's necessary & effective at keeping the web safe when exploits are egregious or circulating. Annoying, but for the best."

Still, users with auto-updates disabled were not happy. "So this update was a forced update on WordPress sites even with auto-updates disabled? We had this go live on a prod site at 2am last night that has auto-updates disabled for very specific reasons. Not cool Jetpack," tweets WebDevStudios CEO Brad Williams, adding, "You know how bad this can make a company and/or WordPress look? Sorry client, we disabled updates, but WordPress does whatever it wants.... 🤷🏼‍♂️"

Tony Perez, who co-founded security company Sucuri, delves into the issues around WordPress Forced Updates vs Auto-Updates and Abusing User Defined Intent on the NOC.org blog. He raises concerns about the capability in WordPress to make changes to users' sites without their consent

Meanwhile, Jetpack code wrangler Brandon Kraft has published a guide to Automatic Updates in WordPress.

WPMarmite study: majority of theme shops feature Gutenberg compatibility

"WordPress 5.8 is coming with its #FullSiteEditing features. Are #WordPress theme shops involved/ready for it? We were curious so we conducted a study on 127 WP theme shops. Check out our FSE study's results," tweets WPMarmite.

The WordPress tutorial company links to their massive Full Site Editing Study: Will WordPress theme shops embrace this new paradigm? According to the study, 57% of theme shops feature their Gutenberg compatibility in some way. The team also surveyed 22 of the shops directly to dive deeper into what the future might look like when FSE is bundled into WordPress core, and found 86% believe FSE is a breakthrough for WordPress users.

"Nice analysis!" tweets Post Status. Justin Tadlock breaks down WPMarmite's 127-shop FSE study at WPTavern.

In other block-related news, the Automattic Theme Team has released Blockbase, its new block parent theme. Tadlock says for theme authors who have yet to dip their toes into the block-theme pond, Blockbase might be the starting point they need.

Review Signal launches dedicated WordPress hosting site

"Kevin over at @ReviewSignal has done it again. If you're haven't seen it already, check out," tweets WordPress evangelist Jonathan Wold, who links to Kevin Ohashi's new mini-site dedicated WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks. The results are broken out by pricing tiers, and Ohashi runs tests aimed at peak performance and consistency.

In the latest MasterWP newsletter, Ellipsis Marketing founder Alex Denning shares, "The main takeaway for me is that there's quality WordPress hosting available at any price point, and hosting being a competitive space seems to be good for consumers. Well worth a read."

Former WooCommerce community lead starting WordPress app store

Speaking of Jonathan Wold, the former WooCommerce community lead recently left the company and is working on An App Store for WordPress.

He explains that "WordPress as an operating system needs an App Store, a centralized marketplace where creators can purchase plugins, themes, and blocks in a way that supports sustainable business for the extenders who build them and the hosts who facilitate the connections."

"I'm sure @bradt would have some thoughts on this," tweets GoDaddy Pro Global Field Marketing Sr. Manager Adam Warner, linking to Jeff Chandler's 2013 WPTavern article about Brad Touesnard's experience trying to establish a WordPress App Store.

Vatu web developer Dave Barr tweets, "With designs at helping creators, developers & hosting companies alike. Proposed by @sirjonathan who I'll be keeping an 👀 on."

Yoast Care Fund recipients announced

Yoast has announced its 2021 Yoast Care Fund recipients. Congratulations to Allie Nimmons, Bego Mario Garde, Maciej Swoboda, Muhammad Kashif, Foteini Vavitsa, Bet Hannon, Jenny Dupuy, Giacoma Allegretta, Alice Orrù, and Estela Rueda.

Yoast has published interviews with each of the recipients, who volunteer across the Community, Polyglots, Support, Core, and Docs & Design teams.

"It was an honor to nominate my friend & colleague @allie_nimmons for the @yoast Cares Fund. Allie is a dynamo with representation & diversity at the forefront of all she does. Thank you, Yoast, for honoring Allie's work! Congratulations, my friend!," tweets GiveWP Director of Customer Success Michelle Frechette, who co-founder Underrepresented in Tech with Nimmons.
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In other WordPress news...

  • WordCamp Europe is due to kick off on June 7, reports Sarah Gooding for WPTavern. If you haven’t got a ticket yet to the free event, it’s too late – registration closed on June 5. The speaker lineup and schedule for the three-day conference includes lightning talks, workshops, discussion panels, and interviews. Two tracks will run simultaneously. WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg will close out day three when he joins the event for a virtual chat.
  • WordPress.org/news is getting a redesign. Earlier in the year, Matt Mullenweg asked Automattic designer Beatriz Fialho (who also created the State of the Word slides for 2020) to redesign the news site. Fialho has shared her preliminary designs, which are inspired by the playfulness of jazz, on the Make WordPress Design blog.
  • WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy has launched make.wordpress.org/project, a new blog for all-project communications and cross-team collaboration. “This blog should make it easier to host and find discussions that affect all teams, and make WordPress project ‘back-office’ work more transparent,” Haden Chomphosy writes.
  • WordPress co-founder Mike Little was left scratching his head last week after he was left off the 40 key milestones in the WordPress journey towards powering 40% of the web page published on WordPress’s 18th birthday on May 27. “Wow! I really wouldn't expect someone writing for WordPress dot org to miss me out of the WordPress story! Happy 18th birthday WordPress. #AmITheDisownedParent,” tweeted Little, who now works as a community engineer at Human Made. Josepha Haden Chomphosy quickly updated the page, tweeting, “I feel like a real banana for missing that. I always try to keep our accurate history alive as much as I know it—and I definitely know this part.”
  • Members of the Nepalese WordPress Community have paid tribute to Ujwal Thapa, a founding member of the community, who died this week after battling multiple health complications due to Covid-19. Justin Tadlock at WPTavern has published a fitting obituary for the 44-year-old, who in a 2015 interview with Nepal Buzz said his proudest WordPress-related achievement was helping to build the Nepalese WordPress Community, in turn helping to create thousands of jobs and opportunities in Nepal.
  • Security company Wordfence is urging Fancy Product Designer to update to the latest version as soon as possible after discovering a critical file upload vulnerability in the plugin is being actively exploited. The WooCommerce extension, which is available to buy at CodeCanyon, is installed on over 17,000 sites.
  • Registration is now open for WP Engine Summit/2021, a virtual conference for developers and marketers on June 24. Now in its sixth year, the event will feature a mix of live-streamed and on-demand content, including networking opportunities. Keynoting Summit/2021 will be Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code and the Marshall Plan for Moms as well as an attorney, author, Congressional candidate, social activist and host of the award-winning podcast Brave, Not Perfect.
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