Podcast Episode

467 – WordPress 5.3 Release


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Thankyou Coupons for WooCommerce encourages loyalty and repeat customer purchases.

WordPress 5.3 Release

For all the release notes, please see the official post

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Full Transcript

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On today's episode, we are going to talk all about WordPress 5.3. The newest and latest release from WordPress. Right here on Your Website Engineer Podcast Episode No. 467. Hello. And welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer Podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler and today I am excited to be with because, of course, we've got another version of WordPress. And they hit deadline – the target date. And release date was November 12. And we're gonna talk all about that here in just a couple of minutes. But let's go ahead and first dive into a couple of the announcement that are coming or that came out this past week. The first thing that I want to share is a new way to earn money on WordPress.com. This is an article from the blog over at WordPress.com. It's a new recurring payments feature, which is a feature from WordPress.com and Jetpack powered sites. It basically is, it's kind of a – it's almost like a Patreon.

It's built into your WordPress site. So, it's a monetization tool for content creators who want to collect repeat contributions from their supporters and it's available with any paid plan on WordPress.com or Jetpack. So, that's what that is. You can allow your subscribers or your followers to support you with periodic or scheduled payments and you can charge for a weekly newsletter or accept monthly donations. You can sell yearly access to exclusive content and you can do it all with an automated payment system. And it's just three steps to set up. You connect or create a free stripe account. You put a recurring payments button on your site and then you can customize the details of the recurring payment. There's a link in the show notes so you can see all the steps and a video of how that works and, who knows, maybe I'll spend a little time in the future – we'll talk about why I haven't had a lot of time here in a second.

But we'll talk about that and maybe I'll transform my Patreon account over to a WordPress.com site or a WordPress.com recurring payment just so that it works a little bit better. Maybe it stays with the interface a little bit better. Just to kind of see and play with that feature. I do have a Jetpack Pro account and this is because of working at Automatic, we get that as part of one of the benefits and so that's nice to have on my website. So, I will check that out in the coming weeks. The other thing that I want to share is about the WordPress annual survey. It is a survey that they tend to do about once per year, usually around this time. It'll take less than 10 minutes to complete. And it basically is – the answers on the survey will help people who make WordPress. The results will be published on the WordPress.org on the news blog and all the data will be anonymized. But it's basically asking you how you use WordPress.

Do you make money from WordPress? How much money do you make from WordPress? And some things along those lines. It is basically the general survey that happens each and every year. And so, that is – and then the last thing that I want to share is a – just an update from that conference that my wife and I did. Actually, it was this past weekend. We spent tons of time building out the website. We talked about that in the past, how I built that site from a html template and how it turned into a WordPress site. All that good jazz. Well, the conference was finally this weekend. And, it was a little bit tricky to get everything up and running and getting email notifications sent at the right time. And I'll probably do a recap post a little bit later because I'm going from a – everybody that purchased it ended up just – it was just a simple product tuning. They picked a product and which one they wanted to pay for.

And now I'm converting that into a membership or a members only area so that customers that paid for a video recording will have access to that and have access to their dashboard. And so as I'm thinking through this, like, oh, well there'll probably people who that want to upgrade to that addon, that feature, so I'm gonna talk about the process of, you know, creating all of these products that people that I hadn't involved and then turning them into accounts – all the steps and details about that. So, in the hindsight, I should have went ahead and just created, allowed every WooCommerce customer as they went through it would automatically create an account. That way all the accounts would be created but it's not too big of a deal to go through and add all the accounts. So, that's what I wanted to share about that as it updates. So, everything else went smashingly well. The Zoom recorded perfectly so I didn't have any outages there.

And we didn't have any internet flubs which we thought we might have and everyone was able to log in to Zoom for the most part. There were one or two people that needed a little bit of help. But other than that, things went well. My monitoring the progress really there was nothing to do. Which was really good when you're running an online conference like that. Those are the announcements for the week. I do have a plugin that I want to share with you today and this one is called Thankyou Coupons from WooCommerce. And it is a plugin that was just created by Chris Bibby. And this is a plugin that will encourage more loyalty in repeat customers by offering them a personalized coupon code on the checkout thank you page. So, this a page that happens once you have went through the order process and just above the order details page.

And it can say, you know, we've created a personalized code for you. You know, you could say that it's DUSTIN- and then some letters and numbers and it feels like a very personalized code. But basically, when you use this, you can generate this personalized option based on their billing first name so you can populate that and then you can choose between a percentage or fixed cart amount discount. You can allow free shipping. You can, you know, you can set all of these parameters up. You know, maybe if they order between $100-$200 worth of products and then you say you get this much off or whatever that looks like. You can do all of that with this plugin called Thankyou Coupons. You can find that in the WordPress repository by searching for that term or as always, you can search for that in the show notes for Episode No. 467.

All right, today we're going to talk, like I said, all about the new version of WooCommerce or actually, the new version of WordPress. I've got WooCommerce on the brain. And my whole goal this weekend, I put this in my show notes, so last weekend when I was preparing, I was going to spend all this time installing the new version of WordPress 5.3. I was going to install Gutenberg on a separate site. I was going to compare the things and see what all the new features are. Some of the blocks that have changed and all that good stuff. And then, I woke on, I guess it was on, let's see what today, I guess it was on Monday afternoon. My site just – my local debsite just didn't load. I got the error establishing database connection. So, it wasn't a big deal.

I have some other test sites that are running on servers and so I was able to kind of work around my work for the day and then in the evening I rebooted figuring that was going to solve any problems and issues and then I spent all day on Tuesday just going through and spending just hours upon hours trying to fix my test sites and it was not very successful. I was using – I've talked about this in the past but I've used a software called Valet Plus and it is more of a command line interface to setting up just local site. And I had a very – it was sweet combination of that and the command line Indemnity PCLI and Sequel Pro and just all of those pieces worked really, really well for me. And then, it just broke. And I kind of figured it out that it was some sort of reason why MySQL couldn't start then I finally got MySQL started and then somehow the password changed. And then I couldn't figure out how to reset the main password for MySQL.

If you have any ideas of how I could get up and running, I would immensely grateful. You can email me at dustin@yourwebsiteengineer.com and I would gladly take any help on that. But, in the meantime, I had to install a local by Flywheel and then I had to move some of my sites over to there. And then all of that just like ate up all of my time. And so, I didn't even get to play with this new version of 5.3. I did notice though, some of my sites when I logged in today, the dashboard just looked a little different. There are a few visual things that have changed and I can't quite put my eye on it or I can't quite articulate what it is. I originally thought that it was the Chrome had updated. But then it was sent the same in Chrome and Firefox and Safari and I said, oh, well, maybe this is, you know, something that's WordPress.

And then kind of comparing WordPress 5.3 and 5.2, again is really hard because all of my sites auto updated but none of my debsites can load so I couldn't really compare them side to side. But I think some of the buttons and a few things have just – they just seem a little bit different, a little bit off. So, I think that that one of the changes. But going back to WordPress 5.3. It was released on November 12. It is called Kirk. It's in honor of jazz multi-instrumentalist, Rahsaan Roland Kirk. And it expands – the big thing is that it expands and refines the block editor. It's got more interactive interactions or intuitive interaction and improved accessibility. New features in the editor increased the design freedoms, provide additional layout options and style of variations to allow designers more control over the look of their site.

It also introduces Twenty Twenty theme giving the users a more design flexible and theme that's built with integration with the block editor. So, creating beautiful a web page with advanced layouts has never been easier and now you can add those big, wide images and you can do block quotes and you can do all of those types of things. The enhancement-focused update introduced over 150 new features and usability improvements, including improved large image support for non-optimized, high-resolution pictures taken from your smartphone. It also has accessibility improvements which include the integration of block style editors in the admin interface. These will just help tremendously when it comes to accessibility issues, the color contrast on the form fields and buttons, consistency between the editor and admin interfaces, a new snackbar notice. Whatever that is. I think those are the things across the top.

And all kinds of things that are built in that were all in the Gutenberg release. Now if you go over to Gutenberg. Gutenberg is now currently running on Version 6.8. Remember it was like – I forget what it was when it actually was merged into WordPress 5.0, but they have had just dozens and dozens of iterations as we got closer and closer to 5.3. Some of the things that we're – I guess right here in the WPE Tavern article, it talks about that it was at Gutenberg 5.5. 5.5 was about where it was when WordPress 5.0 came out. So, and then the 5.5 change added new group blocks for nesting child blocks. It added – 5.7 added new block appenders for group and columns blocks so and then you could append blocks into groups and columns. 5.8 released a prototype of new block widgets screen. And the 5.9 brings major improvements to block grouping. 6.0 added a layout picker to columns.

6.1 in Gutenberg introduced animation of moving actions and block-based widget screens. Some things are starting to move in a more fluid motion. 6.2 adds nesting capabilities to cover, media and text blocks. 6.3 improves accessibility with new navigation and edit modes. Gutenberg 6.4 adds a new typewriter experience, cover blocking and block editor help panel. That typewriter experience means that as you continue to type, the page continues to go up so your text is always in the middle of the screen. That is a really nice feature. And the Gutenberg 6.5 adds experimental block directory search to insert and new social link and features block. And those are some of the things that I'm just a high-level nutshell of the different releases and what's happening when it comes to Gutenberg. And, like I said, it does come with the Twenty Twenty theme. This is one of these ones that it's really cool to see the progress of themes.

You know before in the past you used to have to customize themes in the customizer and there wasn't – well, I guess before the customizer, people would – theme developers built their own theme settings and then you'd have to go in and you customize those and every theme settings were different. And this was, I mean this was back in 2011, 2012, 2013 period. And so, you would go in, you're like, oh well, I'm in this canvas theme, all of my settings are here. In this theme, all of my settings are here. And then as we continue to move forward and get, you know, closer to the present time, then we went from, okay, then we put things in the customizer. But there were only limited options and it was kind of hard for plugin authors to add the features that they needed inside the customizers. So, then we moved into the builder experience. So, we've got Beaver Builder and we've got, you know, Elementor, and Divian.

You know, all those are, you know, kind of moving towards as we're getting closer to 2019. Then having all these blocks and experiments and here's how we can create this perfect theme in the page for exactly what we're looking for. And now, 2019, we're at 5.3. Now you can do a lot of this with just built-in WordPress. I know there's been huge controversaries over, you know, going to 5.0, using the block editor, using Gutenberg, but – and it's made some issues with my workflow from changing how I do my show notes to how I post different things. And it's been a learning curve, but I think it's been so exciting because there are so many cool things that can be done. And I think if you are a theme developer, it would be something that you could, you know, spend a little bit of time – like seeing what you can create as a theme.

I'm kind of taking a look at Twenty Twenty, seeing what they did as a theme and then taking that time and taking that theme there and then building those features into your own theme so that you can have those pages be created exactly the way the user wants based on the block editor. Let's see what else is in this release that's happening. We've got automatic image rotation. This is an improvement for everyone. Your images will be correctly rotated upon upload according the embed orientation data. This is a feature that was proposed nine years ago and made possible by the persistence and perseverance of many dedicated contributors. They've improved the site health check options. And so, these improvements in 5.3 make it even easier to identify issues so you can expand your recommendations to highlight the areas that may need troubleshooting on your site from the health check screen.

There a new admin email verification notice and you will be periodically reminded to confirm that your email is still active and it's valid. This just helps you reduce the chance of getting locked out of your site. Basically, it will allow you to use that forgot password link and then the email will go somewhere that you can actually restore your password. So, that's really nice and that's built into WordPress 5.3. Then for some developers, there are now features – 7.4 PHP is now fully compatible which is nice. And they've fixed some date and time component fixes. Again, those are some minor things and there has been a ton of other things. I'm not going to read all of those out. But, basically, that is kind of in a nutshell what is going on with WordPress 5.3. There's a huge team that was involved with this. There was 645 generous volunteer contributions and they fixed 658 bugs.

And I forget, I saw somewhere the number of people that it was the first time contributing to WordPress but this is a huge, huge release. And I think even Matt said in his State of the Word that, you know, each release normally has x amount of people and this one was twice as many or three times as many. It's just been a ton of people giving their feedback on so many things and getting props in the release notes for WordPress 5.3. So, hopefully by next week I'll have a chance to restore some of these test sites that are broken and defunct on my website. And then I can go ahead and play around and give you a little bit better of an understanding of what's going. My knowledge today is going over the past steps that I've done. The past testing of Gutenberg and reading the news right from WordPress.org.

So, I don't have a lot of first-hand experience, but from what I've seen in the videos – it seems like it's a really good release and I'm excited to dive in and spend just a little bit more time figuring out how this thing works and how we can continue to utilize and use the new block editor and the new features that are coming in WordPress. I know like the widgets area; I haven't even spent any time with whatsoever and seeing what that new feature looks like and how those are gonna work in WordPress 5.3 is really exciting to me. So that's what I've got for you this week. Again, I have got tons of work to do to get my test sites back up and running so I can continue to develop and figure out what's happening in the WordPress space. But, until next week, hoping that you don't have that problem and we'll talk again soon. Bye. Bye. For more great WordPress information, head on over to YourWebsiteEngineer.com