New WordPress tools, plugins & presentations to learn from

Today, I’d like to highlight a couple of valuable news items from the WordPress Community. We saw some great things happening with new solutions and updates to already existing plugins. Enjoy!

WPCampus Online

WPCampus Online happened on January 31 and featured a lot of great content. If you missed out or want to revisit the conference, the website has links to all the slides and speaker information on their schedule page. All sessions were recorded, just like the last time, and will be made available soon.

PublishPress

When you have a blog that needs an editor workflow – most times because you work with a multi-author blog – you’ll probably want something as nifty as the PublishPress plugin. Especially, now that it’s integrated into Gutenberg. PublishPress has introduced a very cool add-on called Content Checklist. It allows you to specify certain requirements your content should meet before it’s published. They have very cleverly integrated this in the new Block Editor’s pre-publish panel.

New tool: WP Acceptance

Our friends at 10up have released a beta of a new automation tool called WP Acceptance. WP Acceptance runs tests against either a local environment (it works best with WP Local Docker) or a WP Snapshot stored in the cloud. Once a working WP Snapshots ID is committed to the project, anyone on the team can run tests against the same database and permalink structure stored in the Snapshot. It’s available in beta now.

Central panel for Wordfence

Wordfence is a very popular firewall and malware scanner solution for your WordPress sites. In other words, it’s meant to protect your WordPress site and keep unwanted visitors out. They have announced Wordfence Central. Which essentially is a new central panel where you can manage the security of all your WordPress sites in one place. Once you’ve created an account on their panel, you’ll need to connect that account with your websites in order for you to control them all in one place. A huge time saver if you’re using Wordfence on a lot of sites.

Looks like a very handy solution and, quite frankly, makes me wonder why there are still not that many plugins using client dashboards like this.

That’s it for this week! Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments!

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WordPress newsletter recommendations, related events, and Gutenberg writing tips

We’re diving a bit deeper into some of the options to make better use of the Gutenberg editor in this edition of my roundup. Additionally, I’m highlighting two WordPress related events as well as two very different, but highly recommended WordPress newsletters.

WordPress Newsletters

I’d like to highlight two very different kinds of WordPress related newsletters: MasterWP and Post Status. But first off, congratulations to Alex and Ben for publishing their 100th weekly MasterWP newsletter. Together with Post Status‘ newsletter, they are my favorite two WordPress related newsletters. Whereas MasterWP is free and focuses on subjects touching the WordPress ecosphere, PostStatus is more focused on the smaller bits of news happening in the WordPress world.

Both come highly recommended if you’re looking for regular WordPress news.

WordPress Related Events

Not technically just WordPress related news, but I did want to share that YoastCon is this week. And in case you missed it, YoastCon is an SEO & Online Marketing conference that goes deeper and wider than most other SEO conferences. And, there still are some tickets available if you’re looking for a jam-packed SEO conference.

Speaking of conferences. It looks like the sixth edition of PressNomics is in the making. Having attended the fourth edition myself, I can definitely recommend PressNomics as a WordPress event. It’s more geared towards WordPress business owners – or as they say: “for those that power the WordPress Economy” – as opposed to your regular WordCamps, but again, highly recommended for anyone working with WordPress on a day to day basis.

Gutenberg writing tips

Since Gutenberg landed in WordPress Core as the new Block Editor, I’ve focused on extending Gutenberg quite a few times in all kinds of different ways, but I realized this week that I’ve not yet actually shared some useful tips on how to use Gutenberg. So, I thought it’d be good to share three Gutenberg related tips on how to actually put it to good use.

Distraction Free writing mode

One of the things I absolutely love about the new editor is how you can set it to use a distraction free writing mode. Now, of course, we already a version of this in the classic editor, but the new version deserves to be reintroduced.

This is how you make the best use of the Block Editor:

  1. Activate the Top Toolbar Option

    When you open the new Block Editor, you can access the settings menu via the three dots on top of each other in the top right of your screen (It’s right next to the Yoast toolbar icon). Under View you have to option to activate the Top Toolbar option by clicking on it.
    This will move the hovering toolbar you’d normally see for every single block move to the top toolbar. The first big part of the distraction is now gone.

  2. Active the Fullscreen Mode

    In that same menu as where you found the previous option, you’ll also find the option Fullscreen Mode. Clicking on it will set your editor in the desired distraction-free mode by going fullscreen. You now no longer have the WordPress Dashboard menu on the right or any of the other normal WordPress distractions.

  3. Hide Settings (optional)

    The last thing left to do is optional. I don’t use it myself personally, but if you truly want to remove all distractions and just write, then there’s one thing left to do. By clicking on the gear icon in the top right of the Gutenberg toolbar you’ll hide the settings sidebar on the right.

That’s all you have to do to get the most out of the new distraction-free mode.

Gutenberg Keyboard Shortcuts

There a few keyboard shortcuts I use daily that I’d like to share.

  1. Just by typing 1. as the beginning of a new paragraph, the block editor will turn that into a numbered list item.
  2. Just by typing an asteriks (*) + a space, the block editor will turn that into a list item.
  3. Instead of clicking on the circle with the plus icons to start looking for your next block, you can actually type the forward slash ( / ) as well.
  4. Just by typing anywhere between two or six hashtags in a row + a space, the block editor turns that into a corresponding header. Meaning: ### + space will turn the block into a H3 header.

Moving multiple blocks around

Whenever you find yourself wanting to move a couple to a different position in the editor, just select the blocks you want to move with your mouse. Once you release your mouse button you’ll see that the blocks are all highlighted with a blue background. Right next to the top one on the left, you’ll find the normal Move Up and Move Down arrows and they will move around all the blocks you’ve selected.

That’s it for me this time around. If you know of any other smart ways of using the block editor, do share those tips here in the comments.

Site Health Check postponed to 5.2

WordPress 5.1 Beta 3 was released just before the weekend and with it came a notice about the new Site Health Check featured. Unfortunately, it’s being postponed to the WordPress 5.2 release as stated in the Beta 3 release post:

Some potential security issues were discovered in the implementation: rather than risk releasing insecure code, the team decided to pull it out of WordPress 5.1

WordPress.org News

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More Gutenberg integrations, eCommerce solutions and an updated Roadmap

Today’s edition of my roundup consists of lots of little interesting bits and updates. It’s been a relatively quiet week, as far as news from the WordPress Community is concerned. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to share! Let’s talk some more about Gutenberg integrations and eCommerce solutions!

More Gutenberg integrations

In my previous Roundup, I listed a couple of interesting Gutenberg related solutions, and quite a few people reached out to me privately that they’d like to see this more often.

MathML Block

So, with that in mind, I’d like to share Adam Silverstein’s MathML block for Gutenberg. This Gutenberg block uses MathJax to render MathML formulas in the editor and on the front end of a website. It’s a niche plugin, for sure, but a very cool one for those of us that need to display fancy math formulas on our sites.

CoBlocks

You may think that Gutenberg isn’t quite ready yet for building full web pages, but Rich Tabor suggests otherwise. With more than a dozen custom blocks already available in his CoBlocks plugin, the addition of Row and Columns blocks takes things to the next level. You can now add one, two, three, or four column block areas and, with that, start crafting beautiful web pages within the block editor.

WordPress Roadmap

As you may have read in my previous Roundup, Joost took on a new role for the WordPress Project as Marketing & Communications Lead of WordPress. One of the first things he managed to get done in his new role is a much-needed update to the WordPress Roadmap. If you have never read it, now would be a good time, as it now clearly lists the 9 priorities for 2019.

WordPress and eCommerce

Extending your WordPress site with an eCommerce plugin nowadays is quite easy to do. Especially with one of the two largest eCommerce solutions out there for WordPress: EDD and WooCommerce. And even though there’s very little you cannot do with either of those two plugins, there’s always room for more options. One of the companies seeing room for improvement is BigCommerce. They’ve been around for a while, but recent updates to their plugin make their solution more interesting. Check out their recent announcement post to see what makes them stand out.

Bonus read

There’s one more thing I’d like to share. I came across an interview with Ernst Pfauth that I’d like to share with you. Even though this only slightly touches WordPress, I do think you’ll find it interesting. Ernst is co-founder and CEO of The Correspondent. And no, that’s not built on WordPress, but Ernst did start using WordPress back in 2006. The interview, over at our friends from Post Status, has lots of great insights that I think are also relevant for our WordPress world.

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New roles in the WordPress project, blocks and WordPress 5.1

Today’s roundup is a nice collection of interesting things that happened in the WordPress Community in the last couple of weeks. There’s some very exciting news about expanding the WordPress leadership team and I’ll discuss a couple of new features of the next version of WordPress.

Expanding WordPress Leadership

Matt Mullenweg published a post this week on the Make WordPress site where he announced two new roles to be added to the WordPress Leadership team. The first new role is that of Executive Director and will be taken on by Josepha Haden. The second role is that of Marketing & Communications Lead and our very own Joost de Valk will be taking on that role. This is what Joost had to say about it:

WordPress is paving the cowpaths for the web with projects like Gutenberg, I’m looking forward to leading marketing & comms for WordPress and working with everybody to tell the story of this awesome project and community.

Both new roles combined mark a great step forward for the growth of the WordPress Project as a whole.

Genesis 2.8 introduces Gutenberg based onboarding feature

Genesis, the leading theme framework, has introduced an onboarding feature that is based on Gutenberg. Basically, a set of preformatted and configured blocks (called Block Templates) are made available when you activate a Genesis Child Theme. This is what they had to say about it in the Genesis 2.8 announcement post:

Genesis 2.8 includes a new onboarding feature theme that authors can use to define which demo content is loaded when a user installs a new theme. One-Click Demo Install makes it easy for theme authors to load in plugins and perfectly-designed Gutenberg blocks onto the home page of a new site using that theme.

 

The Gutenberg project may have had some people doubting over the need for a new editor, but integrations like this – alongside an improved editing experience – that make it awesome. And this is only the beginning: it’s one of the first types of integrations like this.

Block plugins

In fact, there are already a couple of really interesting plugins out there that provide for extra custom blocks. We, of course, have our own Yoast SEO How-To and FAQ block (and there are many more on their way), but here are six interesting block providing plugins you should definitely check out:

As I’ve mentioned in a previous roundup, WordPress.org has a dedicated view for plugins that provide blocks as a library or as an enhancement to their already existing core functionality. You should definitely check that out if you haven’t already.

What next for WordPress 5.1

The next WordPress release is called 5.1 and is scheduled for the 21st of February 2019. The work for 5.1 began long before the launch of WordPress 5.0 and therefore it’ll have two very interesting features:

Fatal Error Protection

WordPress 5.1 will introduce a so-called WSOD protection (white-screen-of-death protection). This feature will recognize when a fatal error occurs, and which plugin or theme is causing it. With this new feature, you’ll still be able to access the WordPress Dashboard and the respective plugin or theme will be paused. This allows users to still log in to their site so that they can at least temporarily fix the problem.

PHP upgrade notice

If your site is still running on an old and insecure version of PHP, WordPress 5.1 will let you know after the upgrade. The lowest PHP version still receiving security updates is currently 7.1. This means all the PHP 5.x versions are outdated and insecure and the PHP upgrade notice is intended to get people to have their hosting companies change the PHP version. With the latest PHP versions seriously boosting your performance as well, trust me, you want to be on the latest and greatest, as it will make your site faster.

You can read more about these features in Felix Arntz’s introduction post on the Make WordPress Core blog. And that’s it for this roundup. What are you most excited about?

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WordCamp US 2018, WordPress 5.0.1 and what’s next?

In case you missed it, WordPress 5.0 was released almost two weeks ago, one day prior to WordCamp US 2018 (December 7-9). At WordCamp US, Matt Mullenweg gave his yearly ‘State of the Word’, outlining what’s been going on with the WordPress Project. A reflection, but, most certainly also a look at the future. Let’s dive in!

WordPress 5.0.1 and what’s next?

As discussed before, WordPress 5.0 is the biggest change in WordPress in years. The introduction of the brand new Gutenberg editor into core is by far the biggest change we’ve seen in the writing experience. Since there are so many things hooked into the editor, this update has a lot of consequences. So many, that we at Yoast, in fact, recommend postponing updating to 5.0 to January. If you do decide to update now, we recommend you test WordPress thoroughly, but, again, we suggest you wait until January before updating to the 5.0 branch.

We’ve already seen the first update to the 5.0 branch in the shape of 5.0.1 which addressed a bunch of security issues. The next point release is scheduled for this Wednesday and this upcoming 5.0.2 release will focus on performance improvements. Specifically in relation to the new WordPress editor.

WordCamp US 2018

Team Yoast was present at the largest WordCamp in the United States in Nashville. We attended, sponsored, spoke at and volunteered for the second WordCamp edition in the Music City of the US. And it’s been a great one! There are a couple of talks I’d like to highlight:

  • Morten Rand-Hendriksen gave an inspiring talk about Moving the Web Forward with WordPress and introduced the WordPress Governance Project initiative. It’s an initiative that intends to explore how to effectively represent and embody the spirit of democratized publishing. With WordPress now having 32.5% market share, the project leaders’ decision-making processes need to be clearer than they are now. Anyone can sign up via this Google form to participate in future meetings.
  • Marieke and Joost co-presented an inspiring talk as well about the importance of valid business models to surround our (but any, really) open source community so it can thrive. Their presentation explained that a community becomes unstoppable when every company in an open source community gives back to it.
  • Gary Pendergast gave one of the first Gutenberg-related presentations on the first conference day with the title The Future of WordPress is Gutenberg. Gary brought up an interesting view stating that the next iterations in WordPress will move us closer to platform agnosticism. In other words, with Gutenberg, we’ll end up with true separation of content from presentation.

(As soon as these presentations are uploaded to WordPress.tv, I’ll update this post and link to these presentations directly.)

State of the Word

In his yearly ‘State of the Word’ at WordCamp US, Matt Mullenweg discussed a couple of interesting points that I’d like to highlight and share here:

  • As Matt Mullenweg demoed in a video how the new editor blocks offer a better experience, he showed a very nice example of copying and pasting from Microsoft Word and Google Docs into the WordPress editor. You should give a try if you’ve updated to WordPress 5.0.
  • There is now a dedicated section in the plugin repo where you can find plugins that provide Gutenberg blocks.
  • Gutenberg will be available in the mobile apps for WordPress, with a beta release expected in February 2019.
  • One of the goals of 2019 is to start working on optional auto-updates for plugins, themes, and major versions of WordPress.
  • WordPress will finally start updating its minimum PHP version. The proposed plan is to move to PHP 5.6 by April 2019 and to PHP 7.0 by as early as December 2019.

You can watch the 2018 State of the Word in full on YouTube.

Gutenberg phase 2

With Gutenberg now being the default editor in WordPress, you’d think that’s the last we’ll hear about the Gutenberg project, right? Well, not quite. During his State of the Word, Matt Mullenweg discussed the focus of the next phase of Project Gutenberg. Phase 2 is going to focus on Menus, Widgets and Customizer Integration.

I, for one, am very excited with everything Gutenberg already allows us to do, but this next phase makes me even more excited. How about you?

Read on: Should you update to WordPress 5.0 »

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