WordPress News Roundup (September 2022)
5:30PM Sep 20, 2022
All right, so welcome, everybody.
Glad you are here. We're about four minutes out from the news roundup for September 2022. We should have captioning starting here in just a moment
a multi step process to get this working.
But now we should have transcripts. Everybody see that? Should be working. Yes, yes, yes. All right. So hope everybody's week has started off well.
It's Hey, Vern, welcome from West Virginia.
Oh goodness. If you're just joining us in zoom pop up in the chat and say hi, tell us where you are logging in from it is not black Paul. It is dark. Blue. Thank you very much.
And getting the hassle from the fashion police today already. Good grief.
I'm just gonna turn off my camera.
Oh goodness, three minutes out. Folks. If you are just joining us, let me grab the slide link once again for you. If you'd like to fault oops, that is not it. That is not going to help you at all. Let's try that one. There we go. There's a slide link for you.
You want the captioning API key it's right there in the chat it doesn't help you at all, but there it is.
Ben, I saw that.
I got that notice from zoom as well. Did not get that included in the slide today. But yeah, there is a some sort of a zoom button vulnerability that's happened. So make sure you reset your zoom passwords.
I try to mention that as we get to the security section today.
But again, welcome if you're just joining us in zoom pop up in the chat say hi, tell us where you're logging in from good to see Deb from Texas.
We're going to get started in just about two minutes. Now the link for today's slides is there in the chat. You can follow along if you'd like. It's also important because all the links to all the things are down in the little footer area of every slide so you can click and read more hey classroom Arkansas, Ben from Sweden. Welcome everybody. Glad you are here.
We're just about ready to begin lots of news to cover. This month the WordPress world has woken up after a bit of a summer break many many things
Hey Doug from Toronto.
Oh, Paul, yes
hey Jean Vancouver welcome. We are one minute away now from starting the news roundup for September 2022. Here on iThemes Training. glad you've joined us. Attendee count is ticking up nicely. Here are the slides for today down in the chat. If you're just joining us in zoom pop up in that chat window. Say hi, tell us where you are logging in from grab today's slides and follow along as we go.
All the links to all the things are there in those slides
Hey, Bg from Germany Welcome sir.
Joe just about ready to begin. Welcome Cheryl from Florida Phoebe from New York. Welcome. Welcome everybody. We are just about ready to get started. Here is the link to the slides once again if you're just now joining us
I have a lot of news to talk about. Many things have happened over the last month
all right, it is three minutes after so I'm gonna be quiet for a moment get the recording started again and we will get this news round up on the RE way here.
Well, good afternoon everybody and welcome to the WordPress news roundup here on iThemes Training. My name is Nathan Ingram. I am the host here at iThemes Training and each month we take a look across all the things that are happening in the WordPress space and do our best to give you a summary of the most important news, especially if you are building and managing WordPress sites for clients. We try to really focus in on those things and news that is important to folks doing that sort of work. So let's get started shall we? If you're just joining us in zoom, pop up in the chat window and you will find the link to today's slides. They're waiting on you. If you're watching this on the replay, click the Download handout button just below the video and you can follow along. It's important especially for this webinar, you grab the slides because there's links to everything down in the footer if you want to read more or just grab some of the links for resources. All those links should be clickable there in the slide deck which you can download. Let's start as we usually do with some news from core WordPress. So the WordPress six dot O dot two security and maintenance release dropped a few weeks ago now on August the 30th. That features 12 bug fixes in core, five of those out in the block editor and three security fixes. These were all back ported all the way back to version since WordPress 3.7. This is a short cycle release meaning it was just a few small bugs didn't have to go through the full process and if you want a full list of all those granular changes, you can view it right there on the make wordpress.org core blog WordPress 6.1 roadmap is underway. They the beta one is due out today. Beta two next week and the three release candidate you'll see with the final release date of WordPress 6.1 planned for about a month away October the 25th. And yes, you can still run WordPress 3.7 You can still download it from the WordPress repository. I don't know why you'd want to, but you can do that. Yes. So then there is a new if you've noticed it or not. There is a new wordpress.org homepage and a new wordpress.org Download page. These were published about three and a half weeks ago on August the 15th. They were designed in the block editor designed to showcase the modern way WordPress can look. Ai brings more attention to the experience and benefits of using WordPress so they've totally rewarded the marketing language. A lot of collaboration happened between the WordPress Core Design marketing and meta teams to pull this off, highlighting get better messaging the community that's around WordPress, which is really the best part about WordPress. The news pages were redesigned earlier this year but we're starting to see more and more of those core. The pages on the core WordPress site redesign which is always a good thing. There was actually an interesting article I didn't put in the news roundup, but on the Search Engine Journal. It's an interesting little quote that Matt Mullenweg had in a conversation where he wondered why it took like this long to design these two pages. I said it shouldn't be done quicker and yeah, interesting little follow up there on maybe some of the challenges of designing for the block editor as well. So WordPress 6.1 is on the way right just about a month away. September 13. The release squad hosted a walkthrough of WordPress six, one and all the things that are coming, they look through the 2023 themes. So the new core theme is coming at a riff there's a refined template experience using the full site editing features that had been developed. They walk through all those things. They showcase the fluid typography feature, which we talked about, I believe it was last month on the WordPress news roundup in the Gutenberg update. So that fluid typography that dynamically scales to fit the the container very cool stuff, the tools for locking content, so locking groups, locking blocks, neat stuff, and some other features. There's a one hour replay available that walkthrough down here at the link at the bottom of that slide if you'd like to go and watch it and see what all is coming. It's right there. It's good stuff.
The WordPress security team has made a decision to drop support for WordPress 3.7 to 4.0. Now why is this important? Well somebody just commented in the chat that can we go back to WordPress three, seven, yeah, you can it's all out there. And you know there are some sites that just never updated Right? Very few are out there that are still lingering back from WordPress three seven to four Dotto, but still just like you saw in that most recent maintenance update, there still backporting security patches all the way back to WordPress 3.7, which was released more than eight years ago. So you can imagine the amount of work that's involved for the security team to make sure all these patches actually are compatible with those earlier versions. That's a big deal. A lot of work and look, it's eight years time to upgrade. So they're dropping support for backporting security releases all the way back to four dot O. So in that window, it's going to be starting for dot O and forward they're actually going to be porting the security releases back to an automatically pushing out those security related updates. Clearly, if you're running one of these versions, you should have updated a long time ago. So hopefully you're doing that. And yeah, I think it's a good good, good decision by the security team to do that.
There's an interesting proposal out to in the core blog about making WordPress officially support SQL Lite. Now, if you aren't aren't familiar with SQL Lite, we'll talk about that in a minute. But for many of them WordPress sites that are out there, many many of the sites that comprise the WordPress user base are simple sites that don't get a lot of updates or they have very low traffic. And those basic sites like a brochure site, for example, doesn't necessarily need the complexities of a full MySQL or Maria DB driven database. So those engines that MySQL and Maria can actually create a performance drag on low end servers. So for simple sites, SQL lite actually may be a better solution. So if you've never heard of SQL Lite, it's basically that the easiest way to think about it is it's a database to the file. So rather than it being an actual database that you could access, you know, in PHP, MyAdmin or whatnot. It's a single file. It is the most widely used database worldwide. If you're running PHP unless on your server, which you likely are if you're running WordPress, then it's installed by default. It's there. We just don't really talk about it ever in the WordPress world. It's cross platform, it works well. It's proven. And the proposal here is let's let a user decide whether they want to you know what database type they want. To choose when WordPress is installed that would also allow hosts to create configurable packages based on is this a simple site that just needs you know, it doesn't need a full complex database or you know, is it more complex and needs something like MySQL.
The other cool thing about SQL Lite is, you know, one of the challenges of migrating a WordPress site from one place to another is where you got to wrap up the files and also the database. Well guess what? The database is a file in this scenario. So you could literally zip the contents of the directory and just move that and it works. Pretty interesting stuff. So it's an interesting proposal. There's a great question in the chat about, would users ever know which version they wanted? It's a great question. Those are all questions that will have to be answered in the discussion of this proposal. But the core thought here is you know, the problem maybe the majority of WordPress sites are really simple and could benefit from this. So let's see what happens right? I imagine this will be a long conversation as usually things are in core WordPress in the make blogs. So this is definitely going to be something to follow.
Alright, let's turn the page to some news from Gutenberg development. We follow all the releases of Gutenberg here on the news roundup. Gutenberg 13.9, was released over a month ago, August the 17th. Just after our last news roundup, this was a minor update that was basically focused on user interface and interaction updates. There was some rendering engine work, as well as some bug fixes and block enhancements as usual. Some of the things that happen were, it's the ability to drag a block like that. So here's an image block, you can drag and it'll show the height right there. So that is it's a minor interaction, but a nice positive interaction that just makes it easier to work in the block editor. Also some new keyboard shortcuts so a single quote, turns things into the code font so you can see that happen here. If you use a double quote, it will wrap the text in quotes. So you kind of see that happening here on the little video that's going on here.
So that was dropped about a month ago. There's also now the next version of Gutenberg 14 dot o was released on August the 31st. This team continues on they're just moving forward, pressing forward with the bi weekly updates. So 14 dot o dropped on August 31. There's a new list block, there's axial gap controls and some pseudo elements, dealing with the theme JSON interface. Let's take a look at some of those the inner blocks here in the list. And the way they've changed the list block is rather than it being a single block, look what you can do. The elements of the list block are actually now individual, which is kind of cool. It makes the interacting with them a little easier and nicer I think, so you can interact with it. As a block as individuals and moving on down in the hierarchy. Kind of cool. So again, this is not in core WordPress yet. It will be rolled into core WordPress for 6.1. But to see these features, you will need the Gutenberg plugin and this is just a great time. It's been a while since I did this, but it's a great time to mention the difference between the block editor and Gutenberg. The block editor is this what is actually included in core WordPress. So you won't see what we're showing now in the block editor, unless you have the Gutenberg plugin installed. Now the Gutenberg plugin is the plugin in which all this ongoing development for the block editor is happening. This is a beta plugin it's not advised that you run this on client sites for example, but this is where you can see the development happening. Now in every major release, like 6.0 6.1 6.2 in every major release of WordPress, they'll ball up all the work that's happened in the Gutenberg plugin and drop that over into core and then continue to work in Gutenberg. So that's the way these features are being developed and they're being tested and processed out in the Gutenberg plugin. And that every major release rolled into core
so another interesting feature that was added in Gutenberg 14 dot o are the axial gap controls. So take a look at this. You can change all the spacing right here in this new this new user experience user interface on the side. So it gives you the ability to separate various, the gaps between various items in a group, which is pretty cool. And then they've added something that probably most of us are not going to do much with at least at the level at which many of us function, add these new themes, the themes dot JSON there's now pseudo elements there. What does that mean for us? It means that in the thing that JSON support, it means that developers can now create a centralized, standardized way to communicate theme driven styles to all the blocks that are in the theme. So this is a fantastic ultimately, feature for us. Many of us aren't gonna get into these granular details, but it ultimately is going to make life better for us because theme developers will allow us to keep consistent styles throughout our designs, cool stuff.
All right, Gutenberg 14.1 release died just when was that Thursday, I think the 15th. So in Gutenberg, 14, one, there's consolidation of additional design tools, some Content Locking improvements, nav block improvements, zooming out view from the side editor and some other things. Let's take a look at those. So this is now the new way that you'll be able to see your design tool. So things are popping in and a nice little block makes it easier to see things instead of a long, giant scrolling list, which is kind of cool. You also have the ability to navigate within locked content easier. So take a look at this. We're going to change the image here. And look, you can jump around very easily on the sidebar between all the items that are in a locked pattern, for example, pretty cool stuff. They continue to make iteration after iteration on the user experience and the block editor just keeps getting better and better and it will continue to do so. Every two weeks or dropping updates for this. They've also improved the navigation block. You can see this happening so we click on nav to so you can switch the menus right there. This is all in the site editor, the full site editing area where you can change the this menu block and see what's going on there. And that makes it a little easier to deal with.
Also in block there are about block based theme template parts that are available for classic themes. So under if you have a block theme installed under Appearance and template parts you will see the ability to adjust those now a little bit easier.
There's also a new select icon for your nav block menu. So in mobile, you can see now the icon can be changed from a hamburger to a dual, whatever they call the two lines instead of three. I'm not sure if there's a name for that to a kebab menu to a meatball menu or whatever they call. There's all these creative names now for these various types of menus. But you now have that ability to swap around right there in the block editor for block based themes. They've given us the ability to zoom out view in the site editor. If you haven't played with full site editing yet. It's interesting. It's still a work in progress. Definitely not finished. Not something I would ever try to use just yet on a client project. But it is interesting to just see kind of what's going on. They are continuing to iterate on that and it just continues to get better and better. So the suggestion in the chat for the two line menu is a White Castle menu. Okay, I'll buy that. Thank you Barney for that little tidbit.
All right. So you know, it's always nice if you have a dev site to play around with to go and install the Gutenberg plugin. You don't want this on a live client site but just to be familiar, familiarize yourself with what's happening in that editor. Really cool stuff is happening bi weekly as they drop updates for Gutenberg.
Alright, let's turn our attention to some security news. Here in the WordPress vulnerability Roundup. We publish this publish these every week in the AI things blog, letting you know what plugins are affected with active vulnerabilities. Now, these are plugins that were vulnerable at the time the blog post was published. They may have been updated by now. These by the way have been patched and we're only listing plugins with more than 10,000 installs. So there's just no way we can list all of them but we've we've noticed here the affiliates manager Ajax load more all in one video gallery all in one WP migration autoptimize Beaver Builder, better font awesome booking calendar broken Link Checker, call rail directress DOWNLOAD MANAGER big plugin GSV Oh, all in one for WordPress image hover effects ultimate login no CAPTCHA ninja forms photo gallery post SMTP restricted site access scroll to top site offline social slider feed SVG support Titan anti spam tutor LMS visual composer Website Builder visual portfolio and the wordfence security plugin all those have been vulnerable and patched. Also the WordPress ping optimizer WordPress server health stats socializer WordPress staging up user online P touch and up vivid backup. Make sure you have your plugins updated or these have been patched at the time the blog post was published.
These are a short list of plugins that have no known fix. So if you're running any of these plugins, you need to delete them because simply the activating is not enough the Bajau s better font awesome Bitcoin altcoin calendar event multiview craw data easy org chart flicks top button, get text override catch up restaurant reservations that's an interesting one login block IPS mp3 J player SEO Scout SEO Smart Links simple Bitcoin faucets simple single sign on That's a tongue twister slicker flicker which may be my favorite plugin title of the day. They'd be hotel booking Debbie Baba builder and up taxonomy import again, if you have a vulnerable plug in on your site, the activating it is not enough the code still is there. It's still on your site can still be exploited. So you need to delete them from your site.
The the site scan functionality of I think security is your friend in this even in the free version. Now we offer the site scan, which will let you know if you have a vulnerable theme or plugin on your site. If you're running theme security pro in the version management feature, you can actually tell it to automatically update a vulnerable theme or plugin if the patch exists. So it's a super powerful feature that you can just set it and forget it. And if you have a vulnerable theme or plugin, I think security twice a day as it scans your site will automatically update it so you are protected almost immediately. Really, really good stuff.
One thing we do want to make you aware of in the iThemes community if you've not heard already, we've talked about it several times there was a vulnerability in Backup Buddy that was discovered on August the 27th of this year it was being actively exploited in the wild. It was immediately patched by our development team. It is a high severity vulnerability. So if you're running back up buddy and you are not updated, be sure that you deal with this. This is a high risk vulnerability. It could allow the attacker to view the contents of any file on your server that can be read by your WordPress install. Usually if your server is configured correctly, that means it's contained to just that cPanel for example install but that means they could also they could read your IP config. They could read password files they could read it's it's a it's a high severity vulnerability. There's a full blog post that gives you steps to take beyond the context of this webinar. To explain that fix. But there are things to look for and what you should do. And also if you manage your own server, there's some special recommendations listed as well. Over in a ball over and above important just make sure you are up to date with the latest version of Backup Buddy. And then take a look at this blog post for additional steps. You may need to take if you're a member and have questions about that we can talk about it during office hours with me on Thursday.
All right, so in other news from I iThemes super excited to announce that past keys and biometric logins for WordPress are here in the latest version of I think security pro 7.2 which dropped a couple of weeks ago I believe. This is the easiest way to log into your WordPress site. So if you like me have clients that you can never convince to use a unique complex password on every website. They think password managers are too hard to use. And they have their favorite password written on a sticky note on their monitor.
This is a great answer for them. Because what the new version of I think security will do is allow them to use past keys and biometric logins so on a phone for example, or on a laptop that has a fingerprint access, or a face ID or touch ID.
You can log into your WordPress site seamlessly using I themes security Pro, it works really, really well. We had a great webinar about a month ago with the lead developer for I think security Timothy Jacobs. That link is right down here at the bottom of the slides. And he walks through this whole process and it is now it has not yet been released when we did that webinar, but it is now out there. 7.2 has been available for download for several days now. There's a great blog post here on the i iThemes blog that walks through all the features and how they work but I want to just give you a bit of a summary of this. How can pass keys help you they solve the problem of stolen passwords. 81% of all breaches are due to come compromise passwords and password pass keys. Eliminate this risk because a password is not stored on a server anywhere that can be compromised the data never leaves your device, but the biometric login, it can help protect you from phishing attempts because past keys just by virtue of how they work are phishing resistant. And if you want the technical details, the blog gives you a lot of great insight into that. This is and by the way past keys and biometric logins are not something I themes indented. These are security features that are used by all major browsers now strongly now integrated into the new MacOS and the new iOS. And Android support is coming even more is coming soon. And it's going to be widely supported by everybody. I think security though, is the first WordPress security plugin to to allow you to log in just exclusively by past keys and biometric logins. Some other ones out there allow it like as a two factor but this will eliminate two factor authentication all together and give you a good reliable, easy and secure login for your WordPress site. So they're very easy to use. Even a technically challenged client will be able to use these. They make mobile logins easy just hold your phone up to your face like anything else and you can log in and they are simply the most secure login method available for WordPress. Really, really cool stuff. Again, if you want to know how they work, the technical details, read this blog post. If you want to watch and see it in action, watch this replay and by the way, we are planning another pest keys webinar to go through all these things again answer questions again in mid October. I don't have the date on the calendar yet but it'll be coming in the next week or so. So just watch the firstname.lastname@example.org ithemes.com and we'll have that pasties webinar scheduled in the next few days. Good stuff from I think security.
Our customer spotlight this month is on Brooklyn Taylor is Brooke here today. She is not here with us today but her great story is there at ithemes.com/customer-spotlights You can check Brooke out email@example.com She does some great work. I really excited about this month's premium event on I iThemes Training it is our website policies masterclass with De nada and Hans from term again. So this is a two day four hour training one to 3pm each day coming up next week, next Tuesday and Wednesday one to 3pm Central. We're going to be talking all about the legal side of website. So if you're concerned about your exposure for privacy policies and terms of service and cookie policies, and what your responsibilities are, as a manager of websites for your clients, and you know how to talk to clients, about about privacy, how to design websites with privacy in mind, that's what this event is about. You get a little bit of a summary of each day right there. It's going to be great stuff. These are pros in the field. So de nada is actually now she was just elected as the chair of the E Privacy Committee for the American Bar Association. She is the real deal. So she's an attorney and this is she lives and breathes website privacy issues. Hans is a former agency owner in the Chicago area, and he actually sold his agency to start term again. And so he has a great understanding of how these things work from the agency side. And so we're going to be we have the great opportunity to learn from both of them. Next week. Tuesday, Wednesday, September 27 and 28th. From one to three this is a members only event, you can sign up at the link below. And if you are not an AI iThemes Training or not an AI iThemes toolkit member, you can get a month free and access that event if you'd like at no cost whatsoever. A few other premium events that are scheduled for the fall we don't have the landing pages up for these yet. We'll have the October event up in the next week or so. But we have a fully committed now been written or the founder of Kadence will be with us in October, probably the last Tuesday and Wednesday of October to do the Kadence Developer course now this is a code based course. So you'll need to know at least to kind of be okay with copying PHP code snippets. This is an under the hood look at Kadence. We are also inviting Kadence bum bundle members to participate in this event as well along with our iThemes Training and silicate members. It's going to be a great great course. It'll be a two day four hour course as usual. With Ben where you can ask your questions and get sort of insider tips on using Kadence better it's going to be pretty awesome. Now coming out of that we have our two courses that we run each November in December here on iThemes Training. Creating an optimizing your starter site with yours truly will be taking all the things we learned in the Kadence Developer course and building out a Starter Site with Kadence. The idea here is we'll be creating a site that we will replicate for future client projects. And I'm bringing into that lots of tips from my work on the agency side that we still have my time is spent doing agency work working with clients. And we've got a pretty well optimized Starter Site. And so I bring that in in the first one we're going to build it and the second one we're going to optimize it. The first one has to do with a lot of tech installing WordPress and behind the scenes stuff, getting a good plugin stack, building out the site so that it's easily replicatable to save you time on future web projects. The optimizing event in December is going to be about systems and processes to make this more consistent in your workflow. It's gonna be a lot of fun. We'll have all the landing pages for these three events up pretty soon, probably at least the Developer course will be up in the next week and the other two will be up shortly thereafter.
Good stuff uh, we keep getting requests that we've run these Starter Site webinars now for the last several years and we continually get requests are are you going to do them again this year? Yes. Because it's always a lot of fun and they it's changes from year to year and things we need to brush up on so it's always a fun time in those two trainings.
Coming up on I think straining for members of course office hours every Thursday the website policies masterclass we just talked about is next Tuesday, Wednesday, plugin Roundup is our next free webinar on October the fourth. If you're new with us today, I invite you to come back for plug in Roundup. It's always a lot of fun. It's the longest running series here on iThemes Training. Every month we take a look at the WordPress plug in directory we grabbed 12 to 15 plugins that are interesting and demonstrate those and it's always a lot of fun taking a look at some of the creative work of plugin developers. Of course WordPress news roundup coming up on the 18th of October and then for those of you in that are I think training or toolkit members fly 2022 subject for October is proposals and contracts. Like I mentioned before, if you're not a member yet you can get one month free sign up for a 30 day free trial and I think.com/training we are focused on training for solopreneurs and agencies who work with clients to build and manage WordPress sites come join the community.
All right, let us take a look at our news all about plugins. big celebration is that on September the 13th One week ago today, the plugin repository past 60,000 plugins.
That's a lot. That's a lot of plugins for WordPress. So major threshold has been crossed. And big big list congratulations to I guess to WordPress right to the community it benefits all of us.
This is a little bit of interesting news that happened that maybe you saw this the WP optimized plugin which is a long standing plugin been around for a long time. They were accused of cheating speed metrics. So I Guido Varghese who's a developer who calls himself a web performance enthusiast, who by the way in full disclosure, does have some competing speed optimization plugins with the Optimize, doesn't make what he said less true, but just that's the truth.
JP optimized developers weighed in and said they weren't aware of the issue. They did some research and found the code was added back in January 2020. As part of some integration work, they're actually pursuing a partnership with another plugin called that you may have heard of, called fast velocity minify. So you may remember that a couple of years ago, WP optimized went away from just optimizing your database to providing some speed optimization functionality, and that was to prepare for a potential partnership or maybe acquisition with fast velocity minify that ultimately fell apart. But it appears that the code that ended up in WP optimize came from perhaps fest philosophy minify it's kind of hard to understand, but that seems to be what happened. I don't know. But David Anderson, the lead developer said the developers who did this are no longer with the company. They haven't been with the company for a while. And he concluded that his team needed to re examine things and make sure that this you know, they weren't aware of what happened. So there you go.
Another little bit of news is that jetpack has taken over the WP Super Cache plugin. So this is a very popular plugin. It's been around for a long time, like 15 years. I think it has a huge footprint of users. It is one of the oldest and most used static caching plugins for WordPress. So after more than 15 years of development, the developer has handed over maintenance and development to the jetpack performance team. This is not an acquisition because the developer has been an automatic employee all along and in fact, he was the first employee that automatic ever hired and of course Jetpack is owned by automatic This is it all stays in the family, right? And so he said that the plugin is moving sideways in the company, from a single developer to a team. So if you use they'd be super cash. I don't think there's anything at all to be worried about here. It's probably better because it's not just one single developer managing the plugin anymore.
Jetpack assured users that they will be able to enjoy its core features without a new plugin or having to connect it to jetpack. They have a 4.3 out of five star rating 1300 reviews, it's well known well supported plugin, likely the support for the plugin in the forums. will improve because again, it's a team now instead of one developer, and users can possibly expect to see more improvements as the plugin has a team behind it rather than the single person so probably all in all, good news for JP supercash. But yeah, Jetpack is now responsible for that plugin. Interesting right.
Another bit of news that hit this past month is that BuddyPress is seeing their usage on the decline.
wordpress.org reports active installations at 100,000 Plus, last month, they were at 200,000 Plus now. That's a huge drop in a month, so I'm not sure what's going on there. But it's important to note they are rounded, and the usual active install number is meal may just be under 200,000. So the way the wordpress.org ratings work if you have 201,000 active installs, it'll say 200,000 Plus, if you have 199,000 installs, it'll say 100,000 Plus, so it's not like they probably dropped 100,000 In the last month.
Yeah, that's probably more like they're in the high hundreds, right but it's still a 20% drop of active installs in the last 12 months. And there's a chart here that they'd be tavern put together. That shows the year over year growth of BuddyPress. BuddyPress is actually an incredibly powerful plugin. Where it struggles is on the core user interface. It's a little clunky, and I think that might be why they're starting to see some user drop off. It peaked around 2016 2017. And in this BuddyPress developers meeting that just happened that actually triggered this dopey tavern story. They have identified a couple of issues lack of any recent front end improvements yet the front end is just not great. I mean, it's, it's okay. It's not spectacular. The hesitancy to install a big plugin like BuddyPress if you just need a single feature like forums of the lack of privacy tools that work with BuddyPress or a media component to manage media uploads the growth of alternative tools like Microsoft Teams and slack that may kind of take that same function and do it outside of WordPress. A lot of businesses went to teams and slack and people have gotten used to using those. But the last reason I think is perhaps one of the main reasons is that buddy boss is marketing like crazy. I don't know if you all have seen buddy boss. It is slick. It is slick as a patch of ice and Buddy boss takes the core functionality of BuddyPress and just makes it beautiful like you can publish your own private Facebook style social media network with Buddy boss in just like an afternoon and it works and it works well and the support is good.
So yeah, it's pretty cool stuff.
I think that's probably the reason why things have fallen off.
All right in the wake of WordCamp us Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, co founder of WordPress has published a renewed call to adopt a plugin first approach when developing new features in core. So the way WordPress has always done this is using something called canonical plugins. And for example, you see this happening with Gutenberg Gutenberg is a canonical plugin. New features that are intended to be added to WordPress core in the future are developed in a canonical plugin.
The REST API was developed this way for example, the WordPress speed enhancements are being developed this way. Lots of the standard like the web piece support is being developed in a canonical plugin.
And thereby well known reputable developers with community input. And they're developed again with the end in mind it's going to be included in core WordPress Mullenweg said that canonical plugins will be plugins that are community developed rather than single developer driven and address the most popular functionality quest requests with superlative execution. So there's been some concern that things are just showing up in core WordPress. And so Matt is really pushing to let's make sure we focus on what's worked in the past. The plugin directory is like the Wild West in terms of what users can expect from plugin authors. That is absolutely true. We've had some recent questions even in office hours about how do we know what WordPress plugins we can trust. And that's, that's interesting. So Mullenweg cites several scenarios that are bad for users, for example, a plugin being controlled by a single company that removes previously free functionality and puts it behind an upgrade wall. You see that happening a lot, right? And then the the ability to alleviate the pressure of including features and cord before they are ready. And a lot of that we see that happening right now in this web P debate on whether or not we're going to include web P support in core WordPress.
Matt said I'm very conscious that when people are aiming to have something in core a no or not now can be frustrating, and sometimes create artificial pressure to put something in core before it's ready, as I believe happened with the REST API and WordPress four out for that was a bit of a mess. And we certainly don't want to see that again. And he actually did cite that web P and HEI C support in core, which has stirred a lot of controversy that we've talked about in previous WordPress news roundups. Our own Timothy Jacobs, who was at I think, sponsored contributor to core WordPress. He is the maintainer of the REST API, including in addition to his word, his work as I think security developer, he is not necessarily in support of adding more options to core but thinks that canonical plugins can be presented in a similar way to option so for example, like in Kadence, for example, you install the Kadence pro plugin, you have options in the customizing under customize, and Kadence, where you can toggle on features. And perhaps canonical plugins could work that way. Like I want web P support toggle on and it would install that extra plugin. That might be a really great way to approach this. That's what's timet that's what Timothy suggestion was, and I think quite frankly, that makes a lot of sense. He says the canonical plugins could be exposed and maybe a settings like UI. So maybe there's a spot in WordPress where all these canonical plugins exist, and you can toggle on the features that you want. I think that's a brilliant solution to this. So we'll see how this shakes out. This is definitely something that could affect the WordPress that we know and love. And I think if they move this direction, it's for the better.
All right, if you are a Gravity Forms user, which I am, you'll be interested to know about this new Gravity Forms. 2.7 I had an extended conversation with the folks from Gravity Forms when I was at WordCamp us about 10 days ago or so. August 23, Gravity Forms dropped beta 2.7. Now this is a huge release. It includes, among other things, a built in form template library. So let's say you want a contact form you just push contact form and it appears. So it's kind of it's a template it's baked in. Previously a pre created with common fields for various form types like an Event Registration Form, a gift certificate, order form, a newsletter signup form, and employment application form. This is pretty good, right? And it's I think, honestly, it's high time Gravity Forms started doing something like this. They've fallen behind a lot of the other form plugins, I think, over the last few years. Something else that is super exciting about Gravity Forms to seven is a new form of theme styling. So you'll be able to style at the for at the Gravity Forms level like set a site wide form styling theme, essentially where you can all my forms look like this. And then when you drop a form in inherits that styling this is really great. And if your Gravity Forms user like me, I'm like it's about time this is this is good stuff. So they are welcome, especially for me as the competition in the WordPress forms market pushes Gravity Forms to innovate. No date yet for the final release of Gravity Forms to seven as you can imagine, these are significant additions to the core plugin. So they're asking for testers right so you can click the blog link down there. If your Gravity Forms user, they'll point you to where you can download the beta and give you some instructions on things to test and provide feedback. So good, good information there.
Let's turn the page to some ecommerce news back on September the 14th. Just last week, that last Wednesday WooCommerce 6.9 was released and it was immediately followed by six dot 9.1 Because there was a fatal error on some stores. So this is WooCommerce is always one of those plugins that we use, you know, we're gonna wait about a week or more to make sure there's no blowback from unintended consequences. This was one of those times where the core release caused a problem. So some new things that are happening in WooCommerce, six nine, there's a new cart block and a new checkout block. We showed those during last month's news roundup, and they've been adopted into core WooCommerce now they were previously a standalone plugin. It was released over two years ago, this the WooCommerce blocks plugin, but it's just now making its way into WooCommerce. They feel like they've got it. The development is solid enough to where they can just roll that out to all the WooCommerce stores which are like 40% of all ecommerce stores. So it's a lot of responsibility. The WooCommerce team has to make sure that updates work. The new blocks work with more than 12 payment and shipping options. The cart block just drops in your cart and gives you some some styling options as well as likely in the future. Some additional customization options from within the block settings.
The the other WooCommerce blocks are going to improve filtering products by updating the URL and they will also no longer register customizer options if you're using a block theme. Most of us are not using block themes yet. And a block theme by the way is a technical term in WordPress for a theme that is blocks first it's designed for full site editing.
You know if you're using more you know a lot of the larger themes like right now like Kadence like generate press like Astra these are not blocked themes and you know the themes like Kadence they've been around for a while, you know we're Kadence is building blocks support. It's not a block theme because nobody quite knows where site editing is going to land. It's the dust hasn't settled yet. And we know Bennis been written or the founder of Kadence has said multiple times, it's gonna be supported. We just need to see where they land before we build that support into the theme. So but if you're actually using a block theme, the customizer goes away. And so they've pulled WooCommerce stuff out of the customizer, if a block theme exists, a lot of other enhancements and so forth. And we'll get to this highperformance order storage in just a second. That's a big bit of news in WooCommerce.
So if you have a WooCommerce site that you've had for a while that's got a lot of stuff in it. You may notice that slowly your site begins to slow down, right. And that's because WooCommerce has many things in the database, like all of your orders. And so the WooCommerce team recognizes this and they have been working on a solution for this that was previously called custom order tables. They have renamed it to something they've calling now h POS or high performance order storage. Not sure why they decided to change that label because customer order table sounded just fine to me. But you know, whatever. The idea is it's improved performance by storing the orders in a different way. Now this is a major change that's going to impact extension developers in lots of different ways. So it's coming soon. They have it planned for the next major release of WooCommerce which is 7.1. They've been testing it extensively and they started upgrading WooCommerce owned extension so the core woo extensions are getting support for this. But if you're if you are managing WooCommerce stores, and you're using third party non WooCommerce official extensions, you're going to want to dig in to do these extensions support this new H POS which is going to be dropped sometime in November. So if you want to read more about this, there's a great article on the Developer blog for WooCommerce. There's also a good article on WP tavern about that if you need a simpler approach to H POS.
So coming in the chat, I hope it doesn't mean they're going away from the custom order tables. No they just renamed it and they're calling that now. custom order tables equals h POS. So it's just a different name. But yes, this is definitely something that's needed, but it will be a big change in WooCommerce specifically if you're not using WooCommerce official extensions, so just be aware of that.
Alright, let's pick up on some other news.
First of all, maybe you heard about this figma which is a really nice wireframing and design tool has now been acquired by Adobe for 20 billion with a B dollars many dollars. So for years figma has been a rival of Adobe in the mockups and design space, but on September the 15th figma accepted the buyout from Adobe with kind of a if you can't beat them join them offer for 15 or for pardon me for $20 billion.
Now the deal allows Adobe to incorporate Figmas popular design tools into its own products. Probably you'll see these things happening in Adobe XD which Dobby has really not developed very much lately. So we'll see if figma just becomes part of the suite as it is. Who knows. Adobe has a history of buying smaller apps by the way did you know that even Photoshop was an acquisition by Adobe many, many years ago. It was so Adobe, you know they bring in products by acquisition make them available as the Creative Suite designers are concerned. There's a lot of chatter on social media about this affinity which is a great suite of tools that I use in addition to Adobe they say the acquisition could reduce innovation, probably so but for now the figma team will continue to maintain complete autonomy and not a lot of word on how you know it's figma going to become in the Creative Suite is going to cost more no information on that just yet but we shall see.
Another bit of interesting news is a report from wordpress.com. About demands a Russian originated demands to take down information. So every year every twice a year automatic publishes a transparency report where they show any takedown requests for copyright infringement or defamatory speech, those sorts of things, you know, you can make a request to a content provider to pull content that you for some reason find to be offensive or copyright infringed or, you know, whatever. So over the past six months in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have seen a marked increase in the number of takedown demands that target content, which is critical of the Russian government and Associates, says Stephen McLeod Bly, who is a wordpress.com community guardian.
Specific examples of Russian takedown demands have included fundraising sites for the Ukraine, outlining Russian history with a perspective on what led to the war in Ukraine alleged criminal activity on the part of Russian oligarchs and their personal connection to Putin and publishing commentary from former Russian soldiers who were critical of the military involvement in Ukraine. So content that had those subjects was lots of requests that are that were Russian or of Russian origin to take down that content just to block that news out actually. So Blythe reiterated their commitment to continue to be transparent in their reporting of information. And in all of these cases, given our concerns about access to critical information from within Russia, and the implications for freedom of expression, we made the determination that we would not geoblocked the content at issue. I applaud that on behalf of wordpress.com.
All right, another bit of news, maybe you saw this is that Dropbox has launched a new tool called shop. So Dropbox shop allows creators to sell digital content that resides in their Dropbox. It introduced the ability to add this to sites that are of certain levels, which I didn't list on this slide. It's not helpful at all. So basically, this is a fully customizable storefront URL very simple, but it works. HTML embed code to drop in other places on your website. It's been in private beta since the last year, you can create a full ecommerce storefront using Dropbox or again you can just grab a snippet, which is kind of cool. Like if you want to sell just a simple product on your WordPress site, drop in the Dropbox, embed code and there it is, right. You can pay through stripe PayPal and Google Pay.
content might be educational courses materials, digital art, et cetera. Oh, here it is. It's available today to interval individual users on Dropbox basic Plus and Pro Plus plans, but only for users in the United States right now. So if you are not in the US, sorry, hopefully they will expand support. It's probably has to do with the payment gateways if I had to make a guess. on why this isn't available more widely, internationally. So I would imagine they're going to open that up. But for now, it is just for us based users in this open beta.
All right, some acquisitions happened this month, Digital Ocean maybe you saw this Digital Ocean has acquired cloudways interesting news there. cloudways has supported it's a it's a really nice actually web interface that sits over the top of Cloud Hosting like Digital Ocean vulture Linode and other other Amazon lights Amazon servers, Google servers, but it's like a UI that sits over the top of those cloud based hosting platforms. Digital Ocean has now acquired them it'll be interesting to see if they continue to support hosting on their competitors or what's going to happen there should be interesting. Rocket genius, which is the company behind Gravity Forms has acquired gravity flow plus and gravity experts, which is the agency that was behind gravity flow. So if you're a gravity flow user there they are now a rocket genius company that's probably good for everybody.
By the way, you you have made maybe you've seen that Gravity Forms has introduced new levels of plans that include more and more advanced features. They may start to pull in some of these gravity flip. I have no idea but it would make sense to me that an acquisition like this might be if they're going to pull in some of those gravity flow products and put it into their higher level memberships, which is interesting and also, for those of us who have long time memberships that are grandfathered in at a low rate, you may also have noticed that some of these newer features and Gravity Forms are not available under that level of membership. So I mean, developers need to be supported. So you know, they may actually push me towards an upgrade of my long standing Gravity Forms.
Subscription we'll see what happens. A few more things that fall under news worth a look, these are things we uncovered as we were researching all the other bits of news and we thought they were interesting, and you might like to see, first of all, if you want to geek out on the themes dot json file, Chris who's on my team and helps me prepare for these things. sat through a very long and tedious session at WordCamp us and loved every minute of it about the themes dot JSON and he's just enthralled with all this. So if you are a similar fellow geek, you also might like to read about the global styles filters that are there on the Developer blog for wordpress.org fun stuff. If you love the developer type things. Also, if you want to learn more about the block dot JSON, you can do so on the new tutorial at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you aren't familiar, learn that wordpress.org is a a learning initiative of the WordPress foundation where they're publishing more and more educational content free content about using core features in WordPress. If you'd like to know how to split WordPress, posting the multiple pages and encourage your visitors to read longer form posts the great article there on how to do that. And here's another one. This is interesting search engine journalist reporting that posting every day does not improve your Google ranking. That's interesting, isn't it? You are into SEO and you'd like to learn more about that great s EJ article you should read. Also, if you use QR codes, you might like this. We've actually confirmed how QR codes are actually made and here it is that was tweeted by the only Mikey and it made me chuckle So there you have it.
Once you like that, all right, wrapping up today with news on WP community events. Our word camp us 2022 is in the books. That is me on stage. Had a lot of fun presenting to a room there at WordCamp us about 650 in attendance 35% of those responses. There's a strong emphasis on accessibility, developing block themes and enhancing the WordPress community. All the live streams are available at this link you can go back and rewatch those now. There are some really great talks that I think you might enjoy the the location for WordCamp us 2023 has been announced as National Harbor, Maryland the date set for August 23 to 25th 2023. You want to search Twitter for the things that happened just use hashtag WC U S.
the WordPress community team is asking for your feedback on the WordPress annual meetup survey if you haven't done this, we've talked about this for the past couple months but make sure if you haven't taken the survey yet please do it takes less than five minutes to fill out. The survey results helps to strengthen the community and the way meetups are organized and some of the things that happen there too quick, too quick answer. Just fill that out and it will be very helpful to the community team to get as much data as possible as they're making decisions about community going forward.
November The second and third is WordPress accessibility day. It's a free 24 hour virtual event hosted by Joe Dawson and Amber Hines. Amber just did the accessibility bootcamp with us a couple of months ago and equalize digital she's fantastic. Joe Dawson is someone we've also had here presenting a few years ago. He's the author and maintainer of the WP accessibility plugin. He's also a part of the core WordPress accessibility team. A really smart and smart guy and genuinely good human being. The previous accessibility days are run by the core accessibility team. But this year Joe and Amber are taking that over just to get it out there and make it happen. So if you'd like to learn about it, it's WP accessibility dot day and the link is right there free event to learn more about accessibility. I strongly recommend that you would do that if you'd like to speak at a P accessibility day. The call for speakers and sponsors is currently open. So go out there and apply word fest live is planned for November the 18th. It's the fourth wordfest Live Event 24 hour virtual event focused on remote working. It is sponsored by big orange heart who is it's a great organization focused on supporting and promoting positive well being and mental health in remote working communities. Great human beings involved with word Fest and big orange heart. You can learn more about it right there at word fest dot live and we're seeing word camps coming back super excited about this year in Spain WordPress Ponte Vedra is in September next week actually, WordPress, Valencia, Spain and October 24 and 21st and 22nd and we're currently on in France is October the 28th. Stateside word camps them to y'all Birmingham February 2023. Can't give you the exact dates yet, but it's gonna be a great weekend, the first weekend to Birmingham. That's all I'm gonna say about that. You can sign up for news at the P all.com. You'll see me there and as well as several others were camp Phoenix is planned for March 2023 and work camp Buffalo New York for May 2023.
That link is wrong. That should be 23. So just go there or just click on the Schedule link and it'll take you to the right spot. So there is actually US base word camps that are starting to happen. We'll see more of those filling in the calendar for the first quarter of 2023 very soon. I would hope they're at central.workcamp.org/schedule WordCamp. Europe 2023 is being planned for June the eighth and ninth in Athens, Greece. They're looking for organizers if you are in the EU and you'd like to help deadline to apply is September 22. So it's coming right up there you can apply for late ply as an organizer at the link below. If you're in the EU This is a great way to make connections in the WordPress community. This is a flagship event for WordPress. It's really good stuff the WP awards are back that is October 1 through November the 30th you can voting will be open at the WP weekly awards. Right there. The previous award winners are here. This is you know best themes best plugins best you know, a various category so I go and pick your favorite themes and plugins so they can get an award this year. Again, it'll be open to vote October 1 through November the 30th. We'll be mentioning that again next month as well.
If you'd like to plug into what's happening on WordPress, there's a great new little project that the events calendar has taken on WP dot events is built to be a central spot for anything WordPress so not just core WordPress community events but anything that's happening in the WordPress community. It's one spot to show all those things. So if you would like to see a spot where everything exists for WordPress, maybe find some stuff in your area. WP dot events. If you want to submit your event you can do so this is a project of Michelle fourchette, who was just a wonderful person. She is part of the stellar marketing team. And I like working with her. She's great.
Well folks that ends the WordPress news roundup here on iThemes Training for September 2022. And I'm going to share one more time in the chat the slide link if you need that. Download that you can have all the links that you've seen on the screen. And that's going to wrap it up for us today. We're back. There's no webinar tomorrow, but we're back Thursday for members with Office Hours here on I iThemes Training where we go further together.