Issue #80
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This week in WordPress

WordPress 5.8 Beta 3 out now, final release on July 20

With WordPress 5.8 due out in just over three weeks, Beta 3 is now available for testing. Since Beta 2, 38 bugs have been fixed and there are changes to the Block Editor, bundled themes, media, and more.

Milana Cap, a freelance WordPress/PHP engineer and WordPress Documentation Team co-rep, tweets "Playing with #WordPress 5.8 beta 😍 As a user I'm amazed by Block Pattern Directory. I can see it being used. Heavily. As a developer I'm slightly worried by the amount of choice it gives to users. I can see it being used. Heavily."

Speaking of blocks, "This post has the official list of blocks! :)" tweets Yoast-sponsored core contributor Carolina Nymark. She links to Riad Benguella's post Introducing the template editor in WordPress 5.8 on the Make WordPress Core blog where the Automattic JavaScript engineer, who's the technical lead for Gutenberg project, runs through, well, technical stuff.

Over at WPTavern, Justin Tadlock says WordPress 5.8 users will get their first taste of one of his favorite new features: template-editing mode.

Elsewhere, WPBeginner covers What's Coming in WordPress 5.8, and on the Make WordPress Communities blog, Automattic-sponsored community manager Hari Shanker R shares some Meetup group resources: Talking points for WordPress 5.8.

Default themes get block pattern revamp

Twenty Ten through to Twenty Fifteen have been given some block pattern love, shares Milana Cap in Bundled themes changes on the Make WordPress Core blog.

Justin Tadlock says jumping back over a decade to update past themes "might seem extreme" but the full suite of default themes are still some of the most popular in the WordPress Plugin Directory. He delves into the changes in A Throwback to the Past: Refreshing Old Twenty* WordPress Themes With Block Patterns.

Meanwhile, Gutenberg 10.9 is now available. As GoDaddy-sponsored core contributor George Mamadashvili explains, this version introduces rich URL previews for Link Control, the ability to expand/collapse nested blocks in List View, and a new name for the Query Loop block – Post Template. There are also enhancements and bug fixes for the Widgets Editor. Justin Tadlock dives into the details at WPTavern, and says one of his favorite low-key upgrades is a new set of add-card, bug, key, post author, and security icons by Filipe Varela, a product designer at Automattic.

Universal themes, and are blocks encouraging theme lock-in?

Automattic code wrangler Ben Dwyer, who recently joined a WordCamp Europe 2021 discussion panel on The future of WordPress themes, shares some ideas on Universal themes on the ThemeShaper blog.

"With the Full Site Editing (FSE) project well underway, themes developers need to be thinking about what the future holds for themes," he writes. He says while universal themes — themes that allow users to easily migrated from classic to FSE — are just an idea right now, and there are still many unresolved questions about how they could be achieved, Quadrat is one example of a theme trying to take a universal approach.

At WPTavern, Justin Tadlock deep dives into another themes issue: WordPress Theme Lock-In, Silos, and the Block System, a topic that reader and Quicker Themes owner Nick DerAvedissian says "keeps me awake at nights."

Tadlock says while the goal has always been to "avoid trapping a user into the perpetual use of a particular theme," as WordPress's design system grows and themers can configure more pieces, "users will become more locked into their existing theme. Or, they may be locked into one developer's or one shop's way of doing things."

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WooCommerce partners with Paystack in Africa

"I'm super excited to share that @WooCommerce & @paystack have partnered to make eCommerce easier for businesses and developers across Africa," tweets Joel Bronkowski, Paystack's Head of Partnerships and Growth. He links to the news that Paystack is now the preferred payments partner for WooCommerce in Africa.

Bronkowski also tweets: "This deal feels particularly special because of the role Woo has played in my life." He was previously WooCommerce's Chief Business Development Officer.

Sarah Gooding is covering the story at WPTavern and reports that over 20,000 merchants are using the free Paystack WooCommerce Payment Gateway plugin and searching for and downloading the plugin separately is no longer required. Store owners can now easily select Paystack as a payment method when inside the WooCommerce dashboard.

Meanwhile, PayStack's Head of Growth Emmanuel Quartey is expanding the team, tweeting, "I'm looking for an experienced leader w/ background in product-led growth to help @paystack acquire & retain Africa's most ambitious businesses."

Automattic launches Windows app, and Jetpack launches mobile app

This week, Automattic released an official WordPress.com app to the Microsoft Store, allowing Windows users to access their WordPress sites from their desktop. Interestingly, the app has been given an Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating of M for Mature 17+.

As Windows Central writer Robert Carnevale explains, "Due to WordPress' emphasis on user interactions (it is a blogging platform, after all) which aren't moderated and censored to ensure a completely family-friendly blogging ecosphere, this app shares the same ESRB rating as the likes of Quantum Break and Grand Theft Auto V, which feature intense gun violence, language, and all other manners of things that get a piece of software hit with the ‘M for Mature' label."

Carnevale adds: "If it's not clear, that M rating is probably the only mildly amusing item about this app's release. Otherwise, it's a pretty straightforward bit of news."

In other Automattic-related news, Jetpack has launched a new mobile app. Sarah Gooding reports the app is available for iOS and Android and is aimed at people who have sites using Jetpack but don't need the WordPress.com features that are built into the official WordPress apps.

Extendify rules out competing with Block Pattern Directory

ICYMI: Extendify has adopted EditorsKit, increasing its block plugin collection. As Justin Tadlock at WPTavern reports, Extendify has been scooping up some successful block-related plugins in recent months. It acquired the Redux Framework in November 2020 and followed it up with the purchase of Editor Plus and Gutenberg Hub in December.

Extendify's Head of Design Tammie Lister is excited about the adoption, tweeting, "I am so happy about this. I for a long time have had a huge space in my heart for this plugin. I am giddy with excite over the typography add-on being free. Art direction should be accessible to everyone and tools like this work towards that ♥️"

Extendify's adoption of EditorsKit includes other projects created by developer Jeffrey Carandang, including ShareABlock, a site where users can share block designs and templates. He launched the site in December 2019, long before any work began on the official WordPress Pattern Directory, which is set to launch with WordPress 5.8.

Tadlock says with a few tweaks, ShareABlock could be a serious contender as an alternative directory. He has opened a ticket for allowing third-party vendors to hook into the system. But Extendify co-founder Chris Lubkert has shot down the idea, telling WPTavern "we don't see ourselves competing with the pattern directory (or anything else in core Gutenberg)."
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In other WordPress news...

  • Hari Shanker R has been busy publishing posts this week. As well as writing talking points about WordPress 5.8, the Automattic-sponsored community manager has answered some FAQs on WordPress trademarks and their usage on the WordPress Foundation blog.
  • "On Sunday nights, after a week of vacation, I get a bit reflective. :)" tweets Chris Lema, VP of Product at Liquid Web. He links to The Future of the Success of WordPress where he shares his thoughts on WordPress's shortcomings and how they could be overcome. "Chris is such a good storyteller. And these ideas for making WordPress even better for end users are spot on IMO," tweets John Doherty, CEO of Credo and EditorNinja. Lema also shares his Reflections on a WordPress Acquisition Marketplace following FlipWP's launch last week.
  • The team at WebDevStudios dedicate the last Friday of every month to Five for the Future, an initiative designed to encourage WordPress companies and individuals to give 5% of their time to the WordPress project. Marketing strategist Laura Coronado shares the team's #5FTF tweets from the past month showing what they've been working on, including senior WordPress developer Aubrey Portwood who tweets, "Major thanks to @thriftydev and the @LocalWP + Github community, (for #5FTF) I have an update to TablePlus for Local that should fix some things I broke in v1.0.3 and v1.0.4... I hope to get it on the addons page soon!" For companies wanting to contribute, Coronado says WebDevStudios will be presenting Giving Back: How a Company Can Successfully Implement Five for the Future at WordFest Live on July 23.
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