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WordPress 5.4 Beta 3

Posted February 25, 2020 by David Baumwald. Filed under Development, Releases.

WordPress 5.4 Beta 3 is now available!

This software is still in development, so we don’t recommend you run it on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with the new version.

You can test the WordPress 5.4 beta in two ways:

  • Try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (choose “bleeding edge nightlies” or “Beta/RC – Bleeding edge” option in version 2.2.0 or later of the plugin) * you must already have updated to your site to “bleeding edge nightlies” for the “Beta/RC – Bleeding edge” option to be available
  • Or download the beta here (zip).

WordPress 5.4 is slated for release on March 31st, 2020, and we need your help to get there.

Thanks to the testing and feedback from everyone who tested beta 2 (and beta 1) over 24 tickets have been closed in the past week.

Some highlights

Developer notes

WordPress 5.4 has lots of refinements to polish the developer experience. To keep up, subscribe to the Make WordPress Core blog and pay special attention to the developer notes tag for updates on those and other changes that could affect your products.

How to Help

Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages!

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac where you can also find a list of known bugs.

Pop-Up Livestream on February 22

Posted February 20, 2020 by Josepha. Filed under Uncategorized.

As mentioned in this post, Matt will host a livestream on February 22 during Bangkok daylight hours. He opened an invitation to any speaker who was affected by the cancellation, and the livestream will include the following fine people: Imran Sayed, Md Saif Hassan, Muhammad Muhsin, Nirav Mehta, Piccia Neri, Umar Draz, and Francesca Marano as well as a Fireside Chat and Q&A with Matt Mullenweg & Monisha Varadan.

This should be a great way to get to hear from some speakers who have yet to share their knowledge on a global stage. WordPress is enriched by a multitude of experiences and perspectives, and I hope you are as excited as I am to hear new voices from a part of the world that is frequently underrepresented in the WordPress open source project. 

Also exciting, the WordCamp Asia team has announced that they’re aiming for January 2021, so please mark your calendars now! This small but mighty team of trailblazing organizers has shown great resilience over the years they’ve spent, building toward this event. I am personally grateful for the hard work they’ve done and have yet to do, and can’t wait to thank them in Bangkok next year.

WordPress 5.4 Beta 2

Posted February 18, 2020 by David Baumwald. Filed under Development, Releases.

WordPress 5.4 Beta 2 is now available!

This software is still in development, so we don’t recommend running it on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with the new version.

You can test WordPress 5.4 beta 2 in two ways:

WordPress 5.4 is slated for release on March 31, 2020, and we need your help to get there!

Thank you to all of the contributors that tested the beta 1 development release and provided feedback. Testing for bugs is an important part of polishing each release and a great way to contribute to WordPress.

Some highlights

Since beta 1, 27 bugs have been fixed. Here is a summary of a few changes included in beta 2:

  • Block editor: Columns in the Block Library that have unassigned-width will now grow equally.
  • Block editor: The custom gradient picker now works in languages other than English.
  • Block editor: When choosing colors is not possible, the color formatter no longer shows.
  • Privacy: The privacy request form fields have been adjusted to be more consistent on mobile.
  • Privacy: The notice offering help when editing the privacy policy page will no longer show at the top of All Pages in the admin area.
  • Site Health: The error codes for failed REST API tests now display correctly.

Developer notes

WordPress 5.4 has lots of refinements to polish the developer experience. To keep up, subscribe to the Make WordPress Core blog and pay special attention to the developers’ notes for updates on those and other changes that could affect your products.

How to Help

Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages!

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you!

If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.

UPDATE – 20 Feb, 2020: This post was originally misattributed to Francesca Marano. The proper authorship has been corrected.

People of WordPress: Kori Ashton

Posted February 14, 2020 by webcommsat AbhaNonStopNewsUK. Filed under Community, Interviews.

In this series, we share some of the inspiring stories of how WordPress and its global network of contributors can change people’s lives for the better. This month we feature a WordPress entrepreneur on the difference it can make.

The beginning

Kori Ashton

In 1998, Kori created her very first HTML website. Her dad was creating websites for a living at the time. She needed a website for her band because she wanted to be a rockstar. Under his training, and with a little bit of self-teaching, she learned how to build a website.

She had been aware of WordPress since 2005, and, in 2008 a client specifically hired her as a freelancer to develop a WordPress website. Kori went straight to Google and taught herself how to build a WordPress website during a single weekend. She really enjoyed the experience of working with WordPress.

My mind was absolutely blown when I saw the drag and drop options inside of menus to create dropdowns and a form builder. 

Kori Ashton

She suggested to her dad that WordPress could be a solution for their customers who wanted to be able to access their own websites. Previously, they had found this was not as easy for clients unless they had specific software and knew how to code. So, Kori and her dad worked to learn WordPress over the next few years. 

Then in 2012, Kori and her parents launched their new business in San Antonio, Texas, US. It started out small, with just Kori and her parents. Soon, they started subcontracting design work and quickly continued to grow their team.

Going big time in WordPress development

Even though the business was in a saturated industry in San Antonio – more than 700 freelancers and agencies were providing similar services. Five years later, Kori and her parents were able to sell their company, with a multi-million dollar valuation. There were five major choices they made early on that led to that success.

1. They picked a niche: WordPress specialists 

At the time, there were no WordPress-specific agencies in San Antonio. They emphasized the fact that WordPress was the only CMS their company would use. Prospective clients looking for a different type of CMS solution were not the right fit for their business. They also offered on-site, WordPress training and weekend workshops that were open to anyone (including other agencies) as one of their revenue streams. They soon were established as a city-wide WordPress authority.

2. They cultivated a culture

Kori wanted a great culture and environment in her company and to make that happen, she needed to hire the right people. She believes you must be careful about who you bring into the culture of your business, but particularly when hiring leaders into that community. You can’t teach passion so you’ve got to find people that are excited about what you do. You also need to look for integrity, creativity, a love for solving problems, and an eagerness to keep getting better. 

You can teach code all day long, but be sure to find people with the right hearts to join your community and then train them up the right way. This way you will grow your culture in a healthy way.

Kori Ashton
Kori and her two sons

3. They learned how to build sustainable revenue streams using WordPress

Like many other web development agencies, their firm started out with the “one-time fee and you’re done” business model. This business model is known for unpredictable revenue streams. Hearing about recurring revenue business models at WordCamp Austin was a lightbulb moment for Kori. She started drafting a more sustainable business model on the way back home. 

Support packages were key to their new business plan. Clients needed ongoing support. They decided to include at least 12 months of post-launch support into their web development projects. This doubled their revenue in one year and allowed them to even out their revenue streams.

4. They knew the importance of reputation

Kori believes that every client, whether they have a $5,000 or a $50,000 budget, should get the same type of boutique-style, concierge relationship.

Every single project results in the absolute best solution for a client’s needs. In addition to that, offering training helped boost their reputation. Explaining the lingo of the web development and SEO fields and showing the processes used, added transparency. It helped set and meet expectations and it built trust. 

5. They proactively gave back to the WordPress community

Kori heard Matt Mullenweg speak about Five For The Future at a WordCamp US. In this talk, he encouraged people in the audience who make a living using WordPress, to find ways to give back five per cent of their time to building the WordPress software and community. Matt talked about how firms and individuals could give back to the community. He suggested, for instance to:

  • start a WordPress Meetup group
  • present at a Meetup event 
  • facilitate a Meetup group where maybe you’re just the organizer and you never have to speak because you’re not a fan of speaking
  • help organize a WordCamp
  • volunteer at a WordCamp
  • write a tutorial and tell people how to do WordPress related things 
  • run a workshop
  • make a video
If you’re making an income using WordPress, consider giving 5% of your time back to building the software and/or the community.

This gave Kori another light bulb moment. She could make videos to give back. So her way to give back to the WordPress community is her YouTube channel.

Every Wednesday, she published a video on how to improve your online marketing. This made a huge impact, both inside the WordPress community, but also in her own business.

Understanding

So, how did Kori and her family turn their business into a multi-million dollar buyout in just five years? 

Ultimately, it was about understanding that you have to build value. About keeping an exit strategy in mind while building your business. For instance when naming your company. Will it stand alone? Could it turn into a brand that you could sell as an independent entity?

  • Think about revenue streams and watch sales margins.
  • Be sure to include healthy margins. 
  • Don’t hire until you have no further option.
  • Make sure to structure your offerings in such a way that you’re actually recouping your value. 
  • Understand entrepreneurship, watch Shark Tank, read more tutorials, watch more videos.
  • Get involved in the WordPress community. Get to know its core leaders, the speakers that travel around to all the WordCamps. Start following them on Twitter and try to understand what they’re sharing. 

In the end, the fact that Kori was so active in the San Antonio community helped enable the sale of the business.

We just kept hammering on the fact that we were the go-to place here in San Antonio for WordPress. We kept training, we kept doing free opportunities, going out and speaking at different events, and people kept seeing us. We kept showing up, kept giving back and kept establishing ourselves as the authority.

Kori Ashton

In this series, we share some of the inspiring stories of how WordPress and its global network of contributors can change people’s lives for the better. This month we feature a WordPress e-commerce specialist on the difference it makes.

Contributors

Alison Rothwell (@wpfiddlybits), Yvette Sonneveld (@yvettesonneveld), Abha Thakor (@webcommsat),  Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune), Topher DeRosia (@topher1kenobe). Thank you to Kori Ashton (@koriashton) for sharing her #ContributorStory.

This People of WordPress feature is inspired by an essay originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. It highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories might otherwise go unheard. #HeroPress #ContributorStory

WordCamp Asia Cancelled Due to COVID-19

Posted February 12, 2020 by Matt Mullenweg. Filed under WordCamp.

I’ve arrived at the difficult decision to cancel the inaugural WordCamp Asia event, which was planned to take place in Bangkok on February 21st. The excitement and anticipation around this event have been huge, but there are too many unknowns around the health issues unfolding right now in the region to explicitly encourage a large public gathering bringing together over 1,300 people from around the world.

We’re going to explore if speakers — including myself — can do our sessions with the same content and at the same time that was originally planned, just online instead of in-person so we can achieve our goal of bringing the pan-Asian community closer together without putting anyone’s health at additional risk.

Regardless, I greatly appreciate the work everyone — from organizers to attendees,  speakers to sponsors — put into making this a big success. So many people have come together to create an event to inspire and connect WordPressers, and I am confident that this passion will carry through into the event next year. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the virus so far, and we sincerely hope that everything is resolved quickly so that this precaution looks unnecessary in hindsight.

WordPress 5.4 Beta 1

Posted February 11, 2020 by Francesca Marano. Filed under Development, Releases.

WordPress 5.4 Beta 1 is now available for testing!

This software is still in development, so we don’t recommend running it on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with the new version.

You can test the WordPress 5.4 beta in two ways:

WordPress 5.4 is slated for release on March 31, 2020, and we need your help to get there!

While the primary goal for 2020 is full-site editing with blocks, contributors to WordPress are working across every area of the project to ensure the software continues moving forward.

Testing for bugs is an important part of polishing the release during the beta stage and a great way to contribute. Here are some of the big changes and features to pay close attention to while testing.

Block Editor: features and improvements

WordPress 5.4 Core will merge ten releases of the Gutenberg plugin. This means there’s a long list of exciting new features. Here are just a few:

  • Two new blocks: social links and buttons.
  • More color options for Button, Cover, Group and Column blocks .
  • A Welcome Guide modal.
  • Tools for adding featured images in the Latest Posts block.
  • Easier navigation in the block breadcrumbs.

Some additional changes to make note of:

  • On mobile, the toolbar stays on top, so you can’t lose it.
  • Easier image sizing in the Gallery block.
  • Drag-and-drop images into the featured-image box.
  • Several new APIs.
  • Friendlier offline error messages on REST API request failures.
  • Table block captions.
  • You can now color just parts of the text in any RichText block.

Accessibility improvements

  • Easier multi-block selection. 
  • Support for changing an image’s title attribute within the Image block.
  • Easier tabbing. This had been one of the editor’s biggest accessibility problems, but now tabbing works with the block’s sidebar.
  • Visual switch between Edit and Navigation modes and enable screen reader announcements.

To see all of the features for each release in detail check out the release posts: 6.6, 6.7, 6.8, 6.9, 7.0, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4 and 7.5.

Continuing efforts to improve performance

The block editor team has achieved a 14% loading time reduction and 51% time-to-type reduction, for a particularly sizable post (~ 36,000 words, ~1,000 blocks) since WordPress 5.3.

Wait! There’s more

Site Health

When a project powers 34% of the world’s websites, there must be a focus on security. This is why contributors continue working so hard on the Site Health Project.

WordPress 5.4 adds a widget on the dashboard that warns administrators of potential issues that could affect their site’s performance or security. A call-to-action button directs them to the Site Health screen for details and suggested fixes.

Accessibility improvements

WordPress strives to improve accessibility with every release, and this release is no different. Version 5.4 will contain the following accessibility enhancements:

  • Better focus management in Menu, Customizer and Site Health screens, to fix some existing keyboard navigation issues.
  • Easier keyboard navigation for better semantics in the Media modal.
  • An easier-to-read Privacy Policy Guide.

For Developers

5.4 also contains a bunch of developer focused changes.

Calendar Widget

The HTML 5.1 specification mandates that a <tfoot> tag must follow <tbody> tag (which was not the case in the calendar widget). WordPress 5.4 moves the navigation links to a <nav> HTML element immediately following the <table> element in order to produce valid HTML.

apply_shortcodes() as an alias for do_shortcode()

Instead of using do_shortcode(), apply_shortcodes() should be utilized instead. While do_shortcode() is not being deprecated, the new function delivers better semantics.

Better favicon handling

Now favicon requests can be managed with more flexibility. Administrators can choose a favicon in the Customizer, or upload a /favicon.ico file. The WordPress logo will always load as a fallback.

Other changes for developers

  • Clearer information about errors in wp_login_failed.
  • Site ID has been added to the newblog_notify_siteadmin filter for multisite installs.
  • Support has been added for the required WordPress and PHP version headers in themes.
  • Embed support has been added for TikTok.

Keep your eyes on the Make WordPress Core blog for  5.4-related developer notes in the coming weeks, breaking down these and other changes in greater detail.

So far, contributors have fixed more than 255 tickets in WordPress 5.4 with more to come.

How You Can Help

Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages!

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac where you can also find a list of known bugs.

The Month in WordPress: January 2020

Posted February 3, 2020 by Angela Jin. Filed under Month in WordPress.

Following an action-packed December, 2020 is off to a fine start with some new releases and announcements. Read on to find out what happened in the WordPress project in January.


Release of Gutenberg 7.2 & 7.3

Gutenberg 7.2, the first Gutenberg release of 2020, was deployed on January 8th and included over 180 pull requests from more than 56 contributors. This was followed soon after by Gutenberg 7.3. New features include a new Buttons block, support in adding links to Media & Text block images, improvements to the Navigation and Gallery blocks, performance improvements, and accessibility enhancements. These releases also included many additional enhancements, fixes, new APIs, documentation, and more.

Want to get involved in building Gutenberg? Follow the Core team blog, contribute to Gutenberg on GitHub, and join the #core-editor channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Proposal for an XML Sitemaps Feature Plugin

In June last year, a team of contributors proposed a feature plugin that would bring standardized XML sitemaps to WordPress Core. Since then, the team has been working to bring this to reality and have now published a working plugin to demonstrate this new capability.

The plugin is still in development, but the included features already provide much-needed functionality from which all WordPress sites can benefit. You can install the plugin from your WordPress dashboard or download it here.

Want to get involved in bringing this feature to Core? Follow the Core team blog, report any issues you find on GitHub, and join the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

A New Block-Based Themes Meeting

The Theme Review Team has announced that they will be holding bi-weekly meetings in the #themereview channel focused on discussing block-based themes. If you are interested in discussing themes within the context of Gutenberg’s full-site editing framework, this will be the place to do so! The first meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 5, at 16:00 UTC.

Want to get involved with the Theme Review Team or become a reviewer? Follow their blog, and join the #themereview channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.


Further Reading

  • The Core team has started work on WordPress 5.4 and kicked off their planning with a summary post. You can follow all the v5.4 updates by watching the version tag on the Core team blog.
  • The inaugural WordCamp Asia event is taking place in February. This will be the largest WordPress event in the region, bringing together around 1,500 WordPress enthusiasts from around the world.
  • Two WordPress community leaders, @chanthaboune and @andreamiddleton, were nominated for CMX awards due to their work on the WordPress project, with @andreamiddleton winning the award for Executive Leader of a Community Team.
  • A feature plugin has been proposed that introduces lazy-loading images to WordPress Core, which will be a huge step forward in improving performance all across the web.
  • The Core team has put together an extensive and informative FAQ to help new contributors get involved in contributing to the project.
  • One key priority for Gutenberg is the ability to control the block editor. There are already a number of APIs that control the experience, but there is a lack of consistency and missing APIs. A method to address this has been proposed.
  • The Design team published detailed information on the recent design improvements in Gutenberg.

Have a story that we should include in the next “Month in WordPress” post? Please submit it here.

See Also:

Want to follow the code? There’s a development P2 blog and you can track active development in the Trac timeline that often has 20–30 updates per day.

Want to find an event near you? Check out the WordCamp schedule and find your local Meetup group!

For more WordPress news, check out the WordPress Planet or subscribe to the WP Briefing podcast.

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