A New Design is Coming to WordPress News

After many years of a tidy, white-space filled design on WordPress.org/news it’s time to bring new life to the way we present our content. So much has changed since this site was first created: the people who read it, the type and variety of what is published, even the way WordPress works has changed.

Which means it makes sense to change our theme.

Earlier this year, Matt requested a new design from Beatriz Fialho (who also created the State of the Word slides for 2020). The design keeps a clean, white-space friendly format while incorporating a more jazzy, playful feeling with a refreshed color palette.

More detail on this modern exploration have been posted on make.wordpress.org/design. I encourage you to stop by and read more about the thoughts behind the coming updates; and keep an eye out for the new look here and across WordPress.org!

Dropping support for Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) was released over 7 years ago and is currently used by less than 1% of all users on the Internet with usage rapidly declining. A large majority of popular websites have already stopped supporting IE11 (including Microsoft Teams in 2020), and even the Microsoft 365 apps and services will be dropping support later this year.

When WordPress 5.8 is released in July of this year, Internet Explorer 11 will no longer be supported.

If you are currently using IE11, it is strongly recommended that you switch to a more modern browser, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge. IE11 users have been shown a warning that IE11 is considered outdated in the WordPress dashboard for the last 17+ months.

If you are already using one of the more modern browsers above, you will only be positively impacted by this change, as there are performance benefits to dropping IE11 support. However, if any other users of your site are still using IE11, it’s possible they will be affected.

What does “dropping support” mean?

When support for a browser is removed from WordPress, new features are no longer tested on those browsers and are not guaranteed to function optimally.

Automated tools that generate parts of the WordPress Core source code are also updated to exclude unsupported browsers. This means that any feature relying on these generated files will likely have bugs or stop working for users of those browsers.

The block editor will be the area of WordPress most heavily impacted by this change because almost all of the files related to the block editor are compiled using these automated tools. Other areas of the WordPress dashboard also use CSS built with these tools and their appearance will potentially be impacted when using IE11.

All other areas of the code base that are IE11 specific will need to be identified, evaluated, and removed on a case-by-case basis as the rest are manually maintained. This process will begin in the WordPress 5.9 release, and will likely happen gradually over several major releases. Additionally, any bugs which are reported for IE11 will not be fixed.

How will this affect themes?

No changes will be made to any of the default bundled themes as a result of this plan. No code related to IE11 support (or any other browser that may have been supported when each theme was released) will be removed from default themes. However, any new features added going forward will not be tested in IE11.

If you are not using a default theme, it’s still unlikely that your theme will be affected by this change. Themes typically have their own browser support policies, and changes in WordPress Core do not affect those. It’s possible that your theme author may have removed support for IE11 already.

If IE11 support is important to you and you are unsure whether your theme supports IE11, it is recommended that you reach out to your theme’s developer to confirm.

More information on this change can be found on the Making WordPress Core blog.

Welcome to Openverse

Following the recent statement by WordPress’s co-founder Matt Mullenweg and the Creative Commons CEO, Catherine Stihler’s post, I’m happy to formally announce that CC Search (with the new name Openverse) is now part of the WordPress open source project. Both Matt and I are long-time supporters of Creative Commons. I hope that this will provide a long-term, sustainable challenger to closed source photo libraries and further enhance the WordPress ecosystem.

How Does This Affect Current Users?

Current CC Search users will continue searching and using openly licensed images from around the internet. WordPress plans to continue the great work started by the Creative Commons project and expand search capabilities and features.

What’s Next?

We look forward to indexing and searching additional media, such as audio and video. As we expand our capabilities and grow the project, we look forward to integrating directly into WordPress and the media library. We hope to not only allow search and embeds of openly licensed media but pay it forward by additionally licensing and sharing your media back.

How Can You Contribute? 

Stop by the Slack channel, #openverse, and take a look at the code repositories moved under the WordPress organization here on GitHub. You can also follow along with the project on its own make page at: https://make.wordpress.org/openverse. We are working on setting up the new team, process, and procedures.

Join us in welcoming the team and community. As a treat, check out the most recent WP Briefing episode, The Commons of Images, in which Matt and I discuss CC Search and our hopes for it as part of the WordPress community.

Curious About Full Site Editing?

The second major release of the year is right around the corner. You might have heard a bit of buzz about full site editing around your WordPress circles, so this post will give you some big picture things to know as well as a few wayfinding links for anyone who wants to know more.

For Site Owners and Operators

If you own and operate a WordPress site, updating to version 5.8 should be a seamless experience, just like any other update. All the conversation around full site editing is very exciting, but shouldn’t be alarming—everything in the next release that relates to full site editing is opt-in. To experiment freely with it, you need a theme that is built for it. Check the links at the end to see a few examples!

For Agencies and Theme/Plugin Developers

If you extend the functionality of the WordPress CMS for clients, updating to version 5.8 should also be seamless. As always, it’s smart to spot-check custom implementations in a staging environment or fully test when the release candidate is made available. Want to test your products and get everything client-ready? Check out any of the testing options below.

For Contributors and Volunteers

If you contribute time and expertise to the WordPress project, you can join us in the interesting work leading up to the WordPress 5.8 release and update your site with the deep satisfaction of a job well done. There is a lot that goes into every release—from design and development to documentation and translation; if you’ve got some time to spare, and want to help support the project that supports the tool that supports your site (whew!), check out the links below.

Resources

Equity and the Power of Community

Over the past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. I have been thinking about white supremacy, the injustice that Black women and men are standing up against across the world, and all the injustices I can’t know, and don’t see. 

The WordPress mission is to democratize publishing, and to me, that has always meant more than the freedom to express yourself. Democratizing publishing means giving voices to the voiceless and amplifying those speaking out against injustice. It means learning things that we otherwise wouldn’t. To me, it means that every voice has the ability to be heard, regardless of race, wealth, power, and opportunity. WordPress is a portal to commerce; it is a canvas for identity, and a catalyst for change.

While WordPress as an open source project may not be capable of refactoring unjust judicial systems or overwriting structural inequality, this does not mean that we, the WordPress community, are powerless. WordPress can’t dismantle white supremacy, but the WordPress community can invest in underrepresented groups (whose experiences cannot be substituted for) and hire them equitably. WordPress can’t eradicate prejudice, but the WordPress community can hold space for marginalized voices in our community.

There is a lot of racial, societal, and systemic injustice to fight. At times, change may seem impossible, and certainly, it’s been too slow. But I know in my heart that the WordPress community is capable of changing the world. 

If you would like to learn more about how to make a difference in your own community, here are a few resources I’ve gathered from WordPressers just like you.

State of the Word: the story of the slides

During the State of the Word at WordCamp US 2019, Matt Mullenweg shared that Gutenberg was used to create his slides and the presentation was powered by the Slides plugin. Using WordPress to power a slide deck isn’t an obvious choice, so we wanted to showcase the process and give some tips for making slide layouts using Gutenberg.

This post is co-written by Ella and Tammie, who (along with Mel, Mark, Enrique, Q and a cast of supporters) helped create this year’s State of the Word slide deck.

How it Started

Ella Van Durpe was selected to speak at JSConf and ReactEurope and wanted slides for her presentation. 

In the past, she’d used Reveal.js to create slides and enjoyed the freedom to create anything using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. These languages were comfortable, familiar, and also can be published on the web in their native format. 

For these new presentations, she wanted to use Reveal.js again but didn’t feel like writing all the HTML by hand. Creating blocks of content visually, without having to actually write any code, which can be published natively to the web, is exactly what Gutenberg was built for.

The plugin was prototyped quickly, with hardcoded styles on the slides and zero options. At the end of each presentation, Ella shared a brief demo of the Gutenberg-based slides and the audience was amazed.

As WordCamp US approached, Ella suggested that her plugin be used for State of the Word. Since it was such a hit with her audience members, it seemed like this would be a great chance to share it with the WordPress community as a whole.

How it Works

Technical information

The plugin registers a custom post type called “presentation” and a new “slide” block. The slide block is a sort of enhanced “Group” block, which is restricted to the root of the post, but you can put any other block inside it. As a result, you have a post filled with only slides at the root and slides filled with content. This maps perfectly to the Reveal.js markup, which requires content in HTML section elements.

Since these slides each have their own design, the theme styles are disabled and styling is set from each slide. A custom presentation template is provided by the plugin to render the custom post on the front-end.

Then Ella added options to style the slides. For example, she added options to control the slide background and font, at both the document level and individual slide level. She also added Reveal.js options, which allow you to change the transition style and speed. Lastly, she added a custom CSS field to allow style overwrites.

For the State of the Word, she also added speaker notes and a speaker view.

How it’s Designed

The inspiration for the slide designs came from Blue Note album covers (which were also the inspiration for the 2011 State of the Word slides). These album covers inspired the recent “About” page in WordPress core and the starter content for the new Twenty Twenty theme. This style consists of strong, geometric shapes and simple forms with clean lines. Photography and bold typography are at the heart of this look.

Various color palettes and font pairings were explored before selecting the best combination for the presentation.

A strong photographic element was needed for the slides. Past WordCamps are a great source of photos, so we dug through years of photo galleries to find just the right shots. With colors, fonts, and photos, we laid the foundation to build the deck.

Tips for Making Gutenberg Slides

Tip One: columns are your friends

If you want slides with a precise layout, use columns. As you can see here, we used a 3 column layout to center content within a slide:

Tip Two: spacer blocks are useful

Want to really unlock the power of columns? Combine them with the spacer block! We used spacer blocks to position content over background images, like in this slide:

Tip Three: test on large screens

It’s important to preview and test your slides as you go. Make sure to design for the size and aspect ratio of the projector you’ll be using and do a visual check in presentation mode from time to time.

Tip Four: check your videos

A good demo video is integral to showcase new features. Joen Asmussen has a great post on creating effective demo videos.

Lessons learned

I’d love to make the art directed compositions easier to create.

Mel Choyce-Dwan

As Gutenberg evolves, one big improvement is that art direction will get easier. Even with the improvements this year, creating some layouts in Gutenberg was trickier than expected. For the more complicated compositions, we relied on SVGs. Eventually, the need for hacks will dissolve away, and a new world of exciting possibilities will open for everyone.

Browsers offered one of our biggest learnings in this presentation, more than they would if you use Keynote or Powerpoint, for example (tools most of us have used). Often, we found that what we created in the editor varied a when viewed full-screen. We were able to mitigate this by updating the plugin to use a fixed size, instead of using the entire browser window.

Wrapping it up

If you would like to check out the State of the Word, you can watch the video and read all about it in a post.

The Slides plugin is not only available on the plugin repo, but you can also get the code from GitHub and help translate.

One-third of the web!

WordPress now powers over 1/3rd of the top 10 million sites on the web according to W3Techs. Our market share has been growing steadily over the last few years, going from 29.9% just one year ago to 33.4% now. We are, of course, quite proud of these numbers!

The path here has been very exciting. In 2005, we were celebrating 50,000 downloads. Six years later, in January 2011, WordPress was powering 13.1% of websites. And now, early in 2019, we are powering 33.4% of sites. Our latest release has already been downloaded close to 14 million times, and it was only released on the 21st of February.

Graph showing the growth of WordPress market share relative to other CMS's like Joomla, Drupal and others. Starting at just over 10% in January 2011 to 33.4% now.
WordPress market share on the rise over the last 8 years. Image source: W3Techs.

Over the years WordPress has become the CMS of choice for more and more people and companies. As various businesses use WordPress, the variety of WordPress sites grows. Large enterprise businesses all the way down to small local businesses: all of them use WordPress to power their site. We love seeing that and we strive to continuously make WordPress better for all of you.

We’d like to thank everyone who works on WordPress, which is built and maintained by a huge community of volunteers that has grown alongside the CMS. This incredible community makes it possible for WordPress to keep growing while still also remaining free. And of course, we’d like to thank all of you using WordPress for using it and trusting in it. To all of you: let’s celebrate!