443 – May News Updates

Full Transcript

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On today’s episode, we are going to run through the things that happened in May newsworthy-wise that I didn’t cover in the last couple episodes, right here on Your Website Engineer podcast, Episode No. 443.

Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler, and a lot has happened in the month of May. Things are just kind of crazy around here, other than on the personal side of things. Like, I had a team meetup, and I went on vacation, and a tornado came through – actually, five tornadoes came through the Dayton area just the other night, and that was on Monday night. And luckily, we had no damage here. It was all a little bit north of where we live currently. It’s right where we lived previously, where our house was in Beavercreek, Ohio. It was no more than probably a half a mile away, the main storm, running through where our old house was.

And so, luckily, there was no damage here. We didn’t lose any trees or anything. We just had a lot of lightening, and we were safe. We brought the kids down to the basement and kind of hung out in the basement for a little while, and then everybody went back to sleep and whatnot. So, Monday night around midnight or so is when the tornadoes were happening. On Tuesday, then, I ended up helping out one of my friends who actually lives right in the path of the tornado, right across the street – one of the bigger streets – those home were damaged, but his house was fine, but he had two gigantic trees that needed removed. And so, I spend the better part of five hours yesterday, and that was mainly because I’m on sabbatical, I don’t have work-related requirements to do and what not. So, I went over there. So, during the time when I would’ve prepped for the show and gotten ready, I was over there helping out.

And then in the evening, I was getting ready to do, again, prep, and I’ve got some test sites set up, and I was trying out some new plugins and some things I wanted to talk about, and then all of a sudden, I saw my battery was getting low on my MacBook, and I took it and tried to plug it in, and it didn’t start charging. And so, I ran a whole series of tests using a bunch of different chargers and different outlets and all these things, and nothing allowed that thing to work. And so, of course, I wasn’t gonna waste battery juice to try to figure out what I was gonna talk about in the show until I got to the Apple store. I ended up taking it to the Apple store this morning as soon as they opened, and there is some sort of hardware issue, so they shipped off my Mac, and I do not have a MacBook anymore, and I have to wait a week for that to return.

In the meantime, I bought an iMac – or not an iMac, but a Mac Mini, and I’m getting that thing all set up, and so I can just use it for a week, and then I’ll take it back and use it with my big monitor that I have for my desk. So, in two-and-a-half minutes, that’s what’s happening in my personal life here in the month of May. And so, just some crazy things. All the timing didn’t really work out super well, but it is what it is, and so today, I’ve got a whole bunch of tabs open here, whole bunch of things we’re gonna talk about in the news, and then we’ll move on. And hopefully, I can get a test setup set up for next week, so I can give you some more reviews of these plugins like I’ve been doing over the course of the summer.

But one of the news pieces that I need to talk about in sure today is about the WordPress, a 5.2.1 maintenance release that’s now available. It fixed 33 bugs, including some improvements to the block editor, accessibility, internationalization, and the Site Health feature that was introduced in 5.2. It was a short-cycle maintenance release, and 5.2.2 is expected to follow in about two and a half weeks, and so that’s actually about a week from now. So, just keep an eye on the WordPress space in your dashboard, and when it says to update to the latest version, you can go ahead and do that. So, that’s the first news, WordPress 5.2.1.

Another thing that I didn’t mention that happened a few weeks ago was Jetpack 7.3, and this is titled Start Strong and Stay Healthy. And so, this basically is allowing you to get a new site up and running quickly. The startup is much more streamlined, and it has the Site Health features that are built in. There’s a bunch of features that are built in as well.. I’m letting you know about the PHP version, the language that WordPress and Jetpack use, if it’s outdated and all those good things, and so there’s a huge, long changelog. There’s a link in the show notes if you’re interested in reading that and seeing what is happening there in Jetpack 7.3

The other thing is on May 28th I believe, so I believe yesterday, or May 27th I guess, was WordPress’ Sweet 16th birthday, and so that is back all the way in May 27th, 2003 is when the first official release of WordPress was. And the article that I’m reading here over on WP Tavern, I have a link to it in the show notes, but it shows what WordPress actually looked like back then, and it is very, very basic. Again, the menu items – so the posts, and teams, and options, and categories, and templates – those are all across the top, and then the post edit screen is down below. You’ll have to take a look at it because it is very interesting of what it looks like and what the web looked like way back in 2003.

And so, one of the things in the article here, it says that 16 years later, WordPress software is available in more than 200 languages, is now used by 33.9% of the top 10 million websites, and the uncommon growth can be attributed to its unique combination of leadership, stability, and community of thousands of contributors and entrepreneurs that empower by its own open-source licensing.

And Mullenweg estimates about a $10 billion/year commercial ecosystem because of WordPress, so that’s hosted sales, and giveaways, and promotions – these things were happening because of the promotions or whatnot, but people were doing it because of the Sweet 16 and whatnot, but tons of people are making full-time careers and livings just by helping other people start WordPress sites and maintaining WordPress sites and all that good stuff. So, that is what’s out there. I have a link to this article as well, so you can see all of the tweets that people are saying about WordPress. So, just a couple days ago, WordPress now is old enough to drive a car, which is very, very scary.

The other thing I wanna talk about, I don’t know if it was in last week’s show with the get options podcast, but it talks about Automattic has acquired Prospress, and its flagship WooCommerce subscriptions product. And so, Prospress had 20 employees, so that will be joined to Automattic to continue to develop and support their products. I have no idea what this looks like. For me, as a WooCommerce Happiness Engineer, I’m sure that I get to work with some of their support team to kind of get them up to speed when I go back to work, of course, in two more months, but that’s what some news is there. It came as a big shock to me because I wasn’t at work, and then I had to find out through the different sites like WP Tavern. I saw it on Post Status. I saw it a few different other places.

And so, nothing’s changing with WooCommerce subscriptions. It’s going to continue to run and function exactly as it has been, and you’re still gonna get the same high-quality support and whatnot that you would have been receiving if you had any questions or you submitted a topic through WooCommerce subscriptions. So, that is a plugin. It can be bought through WooCommerce.com, and it will continue to work. They also had a few other things called AutomateWoo and Robot Ninja, which offered automatic checkout testing for WooCommerce stores, and so that was something that those are all being acquired as well. Let’s see… so that is the news with Automattic acquiring Prospress.

There is a survey that I also wanted to talk about, the 2019 WP&UP Mental Health and Well-Being Survey. WP&UP is a mental health and well-being charitable organization founded by Dan Maby in 2018, and whose mission is to promote positive mental health through the WordPress ecosphere. And so, they’re hosting a survey, and there’s a link in the show notes there that you can get to, and the questions cover general work environment and general mental health and well-being – in specific, work-related mental health and well-being. The survey will close next week, and all the results will be anonymized, open sourced, and shared with the WordPress community. So, that’s WP&UP, the Mental Health and Well-Being Survey.

Moving on to the next news item, Elementor launches a Hello theme on WordPress.org. It’s a new one that’s been released in the directory, and the theme already has more than 10,000 active installs. It’s basically a blank starter theme that offers 100% compatibility with Elementor. If you’re not familiar with Elementor, it’s one of those page builders that has a huge, loyal user base, and it’s in a unique position to influence the WordPress theme market. So, loyal users will often select a page builder before choosing a theme from a limited pool, and then it doesn’t work right or whatnot, so Elementor has more than 2 million installs and has a 4.8 start average rating on WordPress.org.

And that’s one of the things that are on my list to checkout. I’ve never played with Elementor, and that’s something that I wanna spend some time this sabbatical and just spend some time in. I’m gonna try it out now with this new Hello theme on WordPress.org, so I can figure out and see exactly what it looks like with this theme. And so, if you are an Elementor user and you want to check out that, it’s called Hello, and you can find it on the WordPress.org repository.

A couple more things that I wanna share with you this week, and this one is that Loveland Public Library is to host a free beginner WordPress class online, and this was actually on May 22nd. So, it’s kind of interesting just to hear about it in the past, but it was something that was started at a public library, and they streamed it, and they sent all of the information there. I don’t know if they recorded it or whatnot. It went from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30, Mountain Time zone, but they are planning on having another one on July 2nd, for those who were unable to attend. And so, I have a link in the show notes for this where you can sign up if you’re interested. It’s almost like going to a Word Camp, but you can do it right from the convenience of your home, and it’s just getting started with a WordPress website.

I’m not sure exactly, it looks like there’s step-by-step basics of creating the website, including posts and pages, using media, installing a theme, and using plugins. So, I’ve always found that even if you are more than just a beginner, you’ve used WordPress for a while, going through some of these beginner classes, the instructors will point out things that you may or may not know, and it may save you some time or some steps when you’re creating a new post, or page, or category of things on your website. So, it was from the Loveland Public Library. So, again, there’s a link in the show notes to see all about that.

And then the last thing that I have here on my list is that there is a new Membership block beta for Jetpack, and so this is something that went along with the 7.3 release, which we talked about earlier in the show, and it’s basically allowing to allow you to take a recurring payment and donation button that uses Stripe as a gateway. So, this is kind of like a membership, but it’s not really. It’s just a way for creating buttons on your website and creating ability on your website to take reoccurring payments on your site. And so, this is a new block that’s coming out that’s gonna be part of Jetpack. It’s in beta, and if you’re interested in finding out more about that, you can sign up for the beta, and there’s a link in the show notes on how to do that as well.

All right, well, that’s what’s happening in the news all of May. I’m gonna continue to do these maybe at the end of June and the end of July and give you the updates and the things that are happening for the month. That way, I can batch record some shows. I’ve got tons of projects. I’ve got a deck that’s gonna get started in June. I’ve got a basement that just all – I’ve been itching to get started on the basement buildout, my perfect office. I’ve got a bathroom. And to finish out the basement down here, I’ve got lots of work to do, and so I’m gonna batch record some shows once I get my computer back, so I can do some testing and some reviews.

I’m gonna set a day aside and just spend some time digging into some of the new things that I’ve never touched, like Elementor, and maybe even Divi, and some of those different page builders, and a few other tools that I’ve got on my list that I’m like, “I’d really like to see how this works,” and I just haven’t had a chance to do that because work got in the way. So, that’s what I wanted to share with you today. All the updates, the things that are happening in my life, and the things that are happening in the WordPress space. Until next week. Take care, and we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye-bye.