Podcast Episode

447 – June News Updates

Full Transcript

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On today's episode, we are going to talk about all the things that happened in June when it comes to WordPress. We're talking about WordPress and news right here on Your Website Engineer podcast, episode number 447.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name's Dustin Hartzler. And today, we're going to be talking about the updates that are happening, and the things that have happened in the last month when it comes to WordPress.

So, we're going to talk about WordPress news. And we're just going to talk all about Op-Ed Monster and a campaign that I'm going to run to give away a free – a few free license for Op-Ed Monster. But I've got it all started to get set up, but I wanted to see what the results looked like as people start to sign up. And as I get a page all set up on my website so that you can go and see what that page looks like. And we'll talk about that all in next week's episode. So, I just want to dive in just a little bit more in Op-Ed Monster. And then give you an update next week.

Okay. Let's start off on the news. The first thing is coming from WordPress.org. And this news is released obviously in June and June 18th, and it is all about WordPress. A 5.2.2 is now available. It's just a small maintenance release, and it fixed 13 bugs. And it adds a little bit of polish to the Site Health feature that made its debut in 5.2.

It looks like 5.2 is only slotted as the only fix, if you will, for 5.2. And then they are looking at working on a 5.3. And so, there are more details over on make.wordpress.org/accord if you're interested. The other thing they got updated this month was Jetpack. Jetpack 7.4 is now available. It is something that's got some more blocks in it. So, now there's a Business Hours Block. And so, if you wanted to create a page on your website, or an area that has different blocks, whether you're open on Monday or Tuesday, closed on Thursday, whatever that looks like. Now, the Business Hours Block is going to be perfect for you.

There is also a Slideshow Block. And so, it's a another block built into Jetpack. There's a Tiled Galleries Block. And this is – if you prefer the way that the tiled galleries… So, they're kind of different images that are different sizes, and different heights, and aspect ratios.

And so, they've made some changes there. And so, that's a new block. And then there's a Carousel. And it's basically a way to add a Lightbox effects to your galleries in single images. And so, those have been fixed, and been added in the Carousel Block.

There's also a part with sharing. You can do this now in a block as well. You can do – you can configure them, and then you can set them up so they go in a block. So, if you wanted the last thing on your post to be a "share this page" you can do that with the Jetpack Block sharing feature.

So, that's what's going on. It does require you to use a WordPress 5.1 and newer. And it requires you use a peachpea higher than 5.3.2. And so, that's what's happening in the land of Jetpack.

Moving right along to the other big new that just broke this last week. And it is all about WP Engine is acquiring Flywheel, or Flywheel has been bought out by WP Engine. And so, that is a little bit – and that is the headline of the story.

Flywheel was founded back in 2012 by a guy named Dusty Davidson, Tony Neckler, and Rick Nedson. And I've met all of these guys at WordCamps. They travel around the globe to different WordCamps and whatnot. And they've just been a really cool team. I didn't realize, but their company was more than 200 employees around the world. Most of the headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.

But the cool part about – what I really like about Flywheel is they had done a really neat job of kind of making it a lot easier to sign up for hosting. And none of this is going to change right away. They've said that they're still – they're just getting funding and whatnot from WP Engine, but they are going to continue the brand of Flywheel. And they're going to continue the way that things work there.

But the cool thing that Flywheel did – and I used them for years as a host for yourwebsiteengineer.com – is they had a really slick interface that made it super simple to go in and make adjustments or changes to the dashboard or backend. And the other cool part is, you could set up a staging site for a client. And they could see their website being developed at a staging url. So, it was whatever.mystagingurl.com. Whatever that was.

And then, once they were ready to go, then you could change over the billing to your customer – and very simply. And it just made the headaches and complications of setting up a host and hosting company for a client – it just made it really, really easy. So, I still recommend Flywheel. They are a world-class WordPress host. They do a really great job. They're speeds are remarkable on their website, but check out getflywheel.com for more information if you're interested in wondering about – there's not a lot of details on what's happening, and what the process is going to look like as the merger. But from what I've read is everything's going to stay exactly the same up until the point – well, I don't even know when.

They're going to continue to keep the company separate. And then, eventually, we'll probably see them kind of merge, and kind of work together in that way.

So, that is the biggest news that happened in the WordPress space this week.

Other things that happened: WordCamp Europe was just a few days ago. That happened this past weekend. And Matt Mullenweg took the stage there in the afternoon. This was in Berlin. And they talked about some of the successes of Gutenberg. Talked about how more that 150,000 posts or publishes every single day using the block editor, which is a testament – like Matt says, that it's a testament to a long development period that gave the team an opportunity to work out bugs, and make it usable for a large amount of people.

They talked about a whole bunch of things. And I will link here – all these links for the things I'm talking about today are in the show notes for episode number 447. But he highlighted a couple websites that have – that use Gutenberg-powered designs. He also talked about some of the upcoming changes in Gutenberg, and some of the things that are being worked on right own. And some of them – or most of them are still in the prototype stage. And they're working on a system to install new blocks online, which will tie to the planned block directory.

And he says there could be a new top level menu item in the WordPress admin with screens dedicated to Block discovery. So, that will be pretty cool if that actually happens. Talked a little bit about – he did a question/answer section. You know, answering tons of different questions that are happening. And I also saw somewhere that it was possibly the biggest WordCamp, especially the biggest WordCamp Europe with almost 3,000 attendees. And so, that was a big, big deal.

That, like I said, was in Berlin. And the other thing that I want to share is next year in 2020; it's going to be held in Porto. I guess it says right here in this article that it was the largest WordCamp in history with 3,200 tickets sold, and 2,700 attendees present on the ground.

WordCamp Europe sold more than 800 tickets more than Belgrade, which was last year. And the Contributor Day gathered at 611 attendees into 25 teams. And approximately 28% of them were new WordPress contributors. So, that was kind of the recap of WordCamp 2019. And then, they talked about where it's going to go in 2020. And it's held in Porto, Portugal. And it's on June 4th through the 6th. So, it is in Portugal's second largest city called Porto. And it's known for its beautiful beaches, port wine exports, bridges, vineyards, charming cobblestone streets, and affordability

So, that's where it's heading, and be exciting to see, and excited to see if it breaks that 4,000 ticket mark, because that would be an extremely huge, huge event. So, that is all about WordCamp Europe. I wasn't able to go. I – well, I'm not working. So, I didn't go as part of the automatic team. And so, that's what I get, I just get to do the recap, and read what's happening.

And the next thing on my list is a new thing that's on the WordPress.org user profiles. And its named a new section called Contributions. And you can go in and say if you are sponsored to work on WordPress, how many hours per week, and the teams that you're working on. And there are optional fields. And it will just show up if you have added this information. And it's just a way that people can continue to see who's contributing, or what those – or if those contributions are sponsored.

So, if your company pays you, to work on WordPress for 10 hours per week, or whatever, that shows up there. And that will be in the profile. So, if you're interested in putting your contribution level on your WordPress.org user profile, you can go ahead and you can edit that with all of your other general setting inside the WordPress.org profile page.

Couple more things on my list this week is a free event that's happening on July 8th and 9th. It is Post Status is to stream a Publish Online Conference. This is a event geared towards WordPress professionals, and it's usually been limited to club members, but this year they're opening up the livestream for everyone to watch for free. And it will feature 14 presentations from community leaders who are deeply invested in the WordPress ecosphere. And the talks will be centered around WordPress core processes, vision, mixed with some web development topics.

So, you have to register for the event. You can find out more at poststatus.com. But some names that are there that will be presenting. We've got Matt Mullenweg, we've got Pippen Williamson of Easy Digital Downloads, we've got Yoast from Yoast SEO. We have Jake Goldman who is the lead of 10up. We've got Becca Rice who works at Pros Press, and does a lot of the Wu Commerce integrations there. And just a whole handful of other people.

They're also using an extra discounted rate for the Post Status online premium content area. That's discounted to $79.00 per year up ahead of this publish online event. So, that is another event. I think it would be a really good one to sit down and watch. It just got a ton of information, and I'm sure that all of the talks will be – it looks like you can stream it for free live on the day of the event.

So, it doesn’t show anything about whether or not it will be recorded. You might have an opportunity to watch it again if you are a Post Status member, but that is the Post Status Publish: Online Edition happening – that's July 9th – or 8th and 9th in 2019.

So, I think if you head on over to the link, it shows the details about the different speakers, and whatnot, and what they're going to be talking about. And then, links to their websites and WordPress profiles, and Twitter, and all that good stuff. So, that is about that.

And then, the last thing in the news, and haven’t talked about it a whole lot, but Gutenberg continues to get developed. And so, we had this plug-in, it was called Gutenberg. And that was before we got the Block Editor in WordPress, but believe it or not, they're still working on that. They're still continuing to add new features. And then, eventually, once those features are ready, then they'll role into the next version of WordPress. So, we're all the way up to Gutenberg 5.9. It's available if you are using a plug-in, you can still use that Gutenberg plug-in if you want. And it works seamlessly if you have the Block Editor in WordPress. So, 5.0 or higher, plus the Gutenberg plug-in. They work together.

So, they don't clash, or whatnot. And then, you get all the extra features that are coming in the development of Gutenberg. And so, the 5.9 release brings significant improvements to the grouping capabilities to allow users to group and ungroup blocks inside a Container Block. And so, if you are interesting in having – you now, the Block Editor – probably the biggest thing that I hear about it is like, "Oh every time you hit 'Enter' it adds a new block."

Well, with Grouping, you can group some of those things together. So, if it's like a paragraph, and then some bullets, and then maybe an image, that's all part of one thing, you can group all of those together so that you can move it as a block together. And you don't have to move each individual piece.

So, that is one of the features that is in Gutenberg 5.9. You can also use – click through each layer to configure and navigate into the different blocks. And so, that makes it really, really nice. And then, they're also introducing something they're calling Snackbar notices to communicate completed actions in the Block Editor that do not require any additional information.

So, the term Snackbar doesn’t really adequately describe the way that these notices behave. The concept was inspired by a design – a material design that was traditionally used for providing brief messages about app processes at the bottom of the screen. And so, these new little Snackbar pop-ups disappear after a short delay. So, the notice doesn’t have to be dismissed.

So, for example, if you hit the "publish" button, this little Snackbar is going to show up in the bottom left hand corner. And it's going to say "Post published. View post." And it's kind of like then, if you've used Gmail recently. Like, Gmail has this feature when you do a – when you archive a message. And then, it shows up a little window in the bottom left hand corner. And it says, "Undo" If you need to undo that task, it's just there and it's ready to use whenever you need it.

And so, it's kind of the same thing along those lines. There's a link in the show notes for the article on WP Tavern that talks about this. And there's an animated image that shows exactly what this looks like. And I think it's kind of cool. It shows up when it needs to. You don't have to dismiss it. And so, it will just kind of go away after that. And I think it will help to keep the dashboard a little bit more organized, and not as many notices that you see that go the full width across. And so, I like that. I think that I'm a big fan of this feature.

And so, that's in 5.9. It doesn't really say anything about when these changes will be rolled into WordPress, but that might be on the big point release. So, WordPress 5.3 or whatnot.

So, those are the news pieces that are happening this week. Remember in June we're going to be talking about Op-Ed Monster. We're going to be giving away a couple free licenses to Op-Ed Monster. And so, I'll talk all about how to enter that contest, and whatnot, next week.

And we'll talk about what Op-Ed Monster is, how it works, and my impressions of it. And whether it's worth the investment, or not. So, that's what to stay tuned for. And that's what to talk about next week. And that was all the news that happened in June.

Well, I'm sure there are a lot of other things, but those are the big things that I want to talk about today.