452 – July News Updates
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On today’s episode, we are going to look at all the news that happened in the WordPress space in July right here on Your Website Engineer podcast, Episode No. 451.
Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name’s Dustin Hartzler, and today, we are wrapping up July, and we are also wrapping up my sabbatical, getting back to work on August 1st, and so that is coming up right around the corner, and it has been a – it seems like this summer’s went fast and it’s went slow all at the same time, and I really haven’t spent a whole lot of time in the WordPress space. So, the next couple days, I’ll be catching up with things at work and figuring out what’s changed and what’s new and all of those things when it comes to WooCommerce, and Jetpack, and WordPress.com, and all that good stuff.
So, today, I just wanted to run through some of the announcements and the things that had happened, some news items. There honestly hasn’t been a whole lot that’s taken place over the month of July. I did think that the summer months are a little bit slower, that things don’t progress quite as fast just because there are lots of vacations that are taking because kids are off school and whatnot.
All right, let’s dive right in. The first announcement, or the first thing that I have newsworthy that I wanna share today is Jetpack updated to Version 7.5. It makes every step of using Jetpack smoother, and one of the big things is “magic links”. Now, this will allow you to log onto a WordPress mobile app with one click. There’s no passwords, no password manager, no repeat incorrect logins from typing on a tiny, tiny keyboard on your phone. You just visit the main Jetpack dashboard of your site’s admin area and email yourself a magic link by clicking on the “Log in with WordPress mobile app” shown in the – it’s what’s there in the Jetpack settings. And then, you check your email on your mobile device, click the link, and voila, you are logged in.
And then, all of the UI items, there’s just been a bunch of icons that are updated buttons and phrases – everything, all the tool tips, all that kind of stuff has been just worked through in the Version 7.5. It just goes through and makes sure that everything is very clearly described. There’s significant detail listed for all the things and they use a consistent language, and so that’s what happened. There’s also some bugs that they squashed, they improved some compatibility with hosting environments and whatnot, and the release of 7.5 does require you to use WordPress 5.2 and newer as well as a PHP Version 5.6 or higher. And so, in the month of July, it went to Jetpack 7.5, and then by the time we got to July 1st or July 4th, it updated to Version 7.5.2 to address a few issues that were happening with the site’s connection to WordPress.com when it was in safe mode. So, that’s the first announcement that I wanna share.
The second thing is something that I should’ve been paying attention to and should’ve let you know a week or so ago, but we are now looking for volunteers to help at WordCamp US. WordCamp US is happening November 1, 2, and 3, and that is going to be in St. Louis this year, and I’m actually on the volunteer team. I’m on the team that’s helping to find enough volunteers to run the behind the scenes of a WordCamp, and it’s all kinds of things, whether signing in at the registration table and checking people in or making sure that the speakers get to the right rooms at the right time. There’s also just tons of different opportunities. If you are into photography and you wanna take some still images of speakers and just people having fun at WordCamp, then we are looking for all kinds of volunteers along those lines.
And it doesn’t pay anything, but you do get a free ticket into WordCamp US, which is about $50.00 is what it costs to be there. So, if you’re planning on coming anyways, if you don’t wanna pay to get in, and you want to do a little bit of work each day, then you can sign up, and you can look at the volunteer call for WordCamp US is now open. Look for that article over on the US.WordCamp.org site, and there’s a link in the show notes to get you right there if you are interested. And it should be a lot of fun. I’m excited to see St. Louis in the fall and spend some time with WordPress folks, so that is that.
The next one, when it comes to WordCamps and the next news item that I wanna share with you is there is WordCamp Asia, and this is the first time for WordCamp Asia, and it’s set for February 21-23 in Bangkok, and that’s in Thailand. So, if you are on that side of the world and don’t get an opportunity to come to WordCamp US or WordCamp Europe which happens in the summer, then WordCamp Asia is all set for February. And so, they launched a teaser website, and they announced the dates, and it’s really a first regional camp on the continent of Asia, so it looks like it should be a big event. It’s probably not gonna be quite as big as WordCamp US or Europe right off the gate, but there is a ton of people that live in that side of the world that don’t have the opportunities to go to WordCamps, and so that’s why starting they’re starting WordCamp Asia. So, that is the next thing on my list.
The other news that isn’t specific to WordPress itself – well, it kind of is, it’s a plug-in for WordPress, but it is all about the MailPoet plugin, and the article is all about MailPoet Premium is now free for up to 1,000 subscribers. And so, if you don’t have a lot of subscribers, or just a small list for a niche website, or maybe you’re just getting started or whatnot and you wanna have all the features of MailPoet and everything that’s included with MailPoet, then as long as you have less than 1,000 people – 1,000 subscribers – you can get MailPoet Premium for free. It saves you, I don’t know, I think it’s about $150 per year for the paid version of MailPoet, but you can go ahead and check it out and see with premium, you get detailed stats, you get segmentation so you can send different emails to different people in your list, you can do automated WooCommerce emails, and you can also remove MailPoet’s logo in the bottom footer, and so that’s a premium feature. You can send unlimited emails, you can send to engage subscribers only, you can do fast delivery. I guess MailPoet is extremely fast delivery, and it includes fast priority support as well. And so, one of the big reasons to use MailPoet, other than the fact that now it’s free for up to 1,000 people, is it keeps everything inside of WordPress, so you don’t have to copy your latest article from WordPress, and then switch tabs, and then paste it into MailChimp, and then upload images into MailChimp. All the steps that it would take to do that, you can do that all within the WordPress dashboard and it can just automatically generate an email based on the content of your post or your page. It’s really cool. I used to use MailPoet a lot, and I really, really enjoyed it. And then, I think the free tier was 200 at the time, and then I moved to another platform, if you will, but I really did like MailPoet when I was there. So, that was an item on the news that I thought was pretty interesting.
Then of course, the month has things happening with Gutenberg. There have been a few different updates. We’re all the way up to Gutenberg 6.2, and the big feature there or one of the things that they’ve added is the ability to when you create a button inside of Gutenberg, you can customize the target of the button, so you can open it in a new tab or open it in the same window. You can now customize that. And so, that was one of the big features. They also had a lot of people asking for the possibility to use all different kinds of blocks in the Cover and Media & Text blocks, so they’ve removed the nested block restrictions, which I didn’t even realize there was nested block restrictions there. But they limit the maximum height of an HTML block, they show the page preview button on mobile viewers, they’re doing all kinds of enhancements and making a bunch of bug fixes as well.
There’s a link in the show notes for everything that’s happening new with Gutenberg, and we’re using the new block editor, but they’re still developing and adding new things into Gutenberg, the plug-in, and then when they’re all ready for prime time, then they’ll move all the code from the plug-in into a WordPress core itself. And so, that is what’s happening in Gutenberg news.
And then, lastly, I saw an article over on the WordPress.org site that we haven’t had any updates really for WordPress this month, but I was over there, and I saw that there was a link to and an article from HeroPress. And so, I read a little bit of information over on HeroPress, and that’s at HeroPress.com. And basically, it’s a website that was started by Topher – his name’s Topher DeRosia, and he’s out of the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, and he was just interviewing a bunch of people – it’s just text-based interviews – and just asking people their story and how they got connected to WordPress.
And now, though, some of the essays that are there, there’s usually an essay maybe once, twice, 3-4 times a month. It depends on how many people Topher can get to give an interview for HeroPress, but basically, now on WordPress.org news, once a month, the first Friday of every month, there is going to be an article on the WordPress.org news page just highlighting somebody in the community, highlighting one of the stories that’s on HeroPress. And so, I thought that was kind of cool. If you’ve never checked out HeroPress before, I recommend going to just HeroPress.com, and you can see all about some of the titles that are posted over there is “Becoming a Successful WordPress Freelancer in India” and “History and the Future of Kids Heroes in WordPress,” and so this is one about it was somebody that started and worked with the kids’ area at WordCamps and whatnot.
So, lots of cool stories there, especially for people who might not have grown up in a place that really focused on code or had any code whatsoever, and then kind of turned the corner and learned a whole bunch, and now spends all day, every day inside of WordPress. And so, there was one article there was “I Grew Up With WordPress, then WordPress Saved Me”. So, a lot of cool stories over on HeroPress, and so I recommend checking that out.
All right. Well, that’s going to do it for this week. That’s all the news that there is. Again, it’s a very slow month, but we’re gonna start back with regularly scheduled episodes starting next week, Episode No. 452. We’ll get back into the regular swing of things with a plug-in of the week, and as I get back into my daily routine with actually having to go to work, I’m going to build all that time back in to spend time learning about WordPress and teaching WordPress-y things over the course of the next few months. So, that’s what I wanted to share with you this week. Take care and have an awesome start of August. We’ll talk again soon. Bye-bye.