November Enterprise WordPress Roundup

At the risk of early December overshadowing an exciting November, we have to lead off with the biggest headline from the WordPress community in years. Just last week we all celebrated the completion of months of design, development, and refinement: the release of WordPress 5.0 featuring the new block editor! And add to that the release of AMP for WordPress version 1.0, as well as an open source theme based on Big Bite’s new platform for Amnesty International, all in just the past several days. There was a whole lot of November before that, including a BigWP event in New York and launches for Indian ExpressThrive Global, Boston Herald, National University, and SheKnows. Read on and we’ll bring you up to speed with notes from across the enterprise WordPress community.

 

Matt Mullenweg discussed the release and next phases of WordPress 5.0 in his annual State of the Word address at WordCamp US. (Photo by Val Vesa.)

WordPress 5.0 Arrives

  • The future of WordPress is here!  Congratulations to the core team and all of the colleagues, partners, and community members who made the WordPress 5.0 release a reality. VIP clients, check the Lobby for all the details on deployment at VIP and next steps.
  • Project lead Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word (full video) at WordCamp US outlined the next phases of the Gutenberg project, including customization outside the post/page, collaborative editing, workflows, and multilingual innovations.
  • Our own Simon Dickson runs down highlights from the State of the Word as relates to the enterprise WordPress community.
  • Jeffrey Paul, core contributor and team lead at XWP, composed this WordPress 5.0 Field Guide to help you navigate the ins and outs of the new release. 
Hand holding cube with the letter A
First annual Automattic Design Award winners were announced at WordCamp US last week (photo by finalist Ahmad Awais).

News and Releases

  • Nashville welcomed WordCamp US, the largest WordCamp in North America, last week. Check out WCUS on Twitter for conference photos, session takeaways, and lively post-event chatter.
  • Also at WordCamp US, Automattic announced the winners for the first-ever Automattic Design Award! See the full list on the award website
  • BigWP NYC brought our friends at the New York Post, Setka, 10up, and Human Made together along with a packed house. Topics included integrating plugins with AMP, decoupled WordPress architecture for the enterprise, and more. Stay tuned for videos from the talks, coming soon. 
  • When PMC acquired Rolling Stone, they turned to XWP and VIP to bring the beloved brand’s digital experience up to date. The Make WordPress Marketing team just published XWP’s case study documenting the collaboration. 
  • Congrats to the AMP project on the release of version 1.0 of the official AMP Plugin for WordPress.
  • rtCamp worked with the Indian Express team to revamp their flagship website on VIP. Their Gutenberg Fields Middleware plugin, which makes it easier to create custom Gutenberg blocks, is now compatible with WordPress 5.0. And more than a dozen rtCampers attended WordCamp Ahmedabad as proud sponsors and volunteers.
  • K. Adam shared some techniques Human Made are using to bring familiar React-ecosystem developer conveniences to their Gutenberg work.
  • 10up teamed up with StoryCorps for a poignant Google Doodle tribute honoring Veteran’s Day in the US. 
  • Alley wrote about applying scrum techniques beyond the development team. 
  • Big Bite took their latest work building a new block editor-ready platform for Amnesty International one step further. Their new open source theme makes some of those tools available for any organization to use. 
  • Hello partnered with Coral Robots to tackle the $2B robot industry. CEO and Creative Director David Lai published a piece about the lack of Asian American mentors in the design agency world. 
  • Inpsyde is offering an Advent calendar of helpful blog posts to celebrate the season. Here’s the first post of several in the series.
  • Trew Knowledge relaunched Hip2Save on VIP, giving them a refreshed interface and new community features.
  • XWP released the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin and shared their take on why tech companies should invest in WordPress.  
  • Rasmus Lerdorf, inventor of PHP, turned 50 on November 22.

Platform Notes

  • As mentioned above, WordPress 5.0 has been released! VIP clients, you will experience no immediate change to your publishing experience. Check out the Lobby for notes on next steps and working with the Gutenberg plugin as the project moves on to next phases. 
  • Domains have come to the VIP Dashboard. Currently a simple list of domains mapped to your environment, VIP has big plans for its future functionality.
  • VIP CLI was updated to 1.2.1:
    •  We now display a preview for vip sync which details the backup date/time being synced and the search/replace to be performed.
    • We now display the primary domain, instead of the *.go-vip.co domain in and vip app list.
    • More details here.
  • Jetpack was updated to 6.8.1 (Lobby post for VIP clients).
  • VIP MU plugins updates include: 
    • The Query Monitor update from 3.0 to 3.1.1 includes lots of changes such as a logger, accessibility fixes, and bug fixes. This release also introduces a Dark Mode.
    • Fixes and optimizations for purging file URLs from our cache. 

Spotlight

The Dekode team in their Oslo office

Dekode, based in Oslo, Norway, is the leading enterprise WordPress agency in the Nordics. They blend design, development, and strategy work to build cost-effective, self-sustaining solutions for enterprise clients like Tidal, Facebook, and the Norwegian government. Read more about what they’re building in our latest partner profile.

Upcoming Events

  • The Inland Press Association’s Mega Conference is slated for February 25-27 in Las Vegas. Topics span digital subscriptions, newsroom transformation, advertising sales, audience monetization and more.
  • MWC Barcelona (formerly Mobile World Congress) is the largest mobile event in the world, bringing together the latest innovations and leading-edge technology from more than 2,400 leading companies. It’s happening February 25 – 28, and it’s not too late to grab a pass
  • Speaker applications are open until January 7 for the first-ever WordCamp Nordic coming to Helsinki March 7-9.  
  • Fancy a warmer clime? Join IRE and NICAR in Newport Beach, CA on March 7-9 for their annual conference devoted to data journalism. 

State of the Word 2018 and Enterprise WordPress

Last week saw the release of WordPress 5.0, the project’s first major update in a little over a year. It’s most notable for the addition of the new Gutenberg editor component, which introduces blocks as the new mental model for WordPress content management.

In his 2018 State Of The Word speech, project lead Matt Mullenweg told attendees at WordCamp US that the pace of change would remain high. Gutenberg, he explained, was only the start of a process to address some fundamental problems in the software’s overall user experience.

Here’s our selection of key highlights for VIP clients and the enterprise WordPress community.

WordPress is all-in on blocks

Blocks have been designed to be predictable and tactile. They can cope with the full range of functionality expected of any WordPress site: they can be simple, like a text block, or as rich as an entire e-commerce interface.

They reflect the reality of HTML structure, making it (finally!) possible to meet user expectations on things like copy-and-paste from applications like word processors. But as developers we’re able to simplify their presentation, make their function readily apparent to users, and make them reusable across the interface.

Already we’ve seen an explosion of creativity within the community. Creators of well-established plugins have made early efforts to adapt their interfaces to exploit the potential of blocks: Matt specifically highlighted the popular Yoast SEO and AMP plugins, which provide feedback on a block-by-block basis. And new plugins are being created, bringing structured content into the editor area without the clumsy use of shortcodes.

We’re also seeing the growth of libraries, toolkits and tutorials, making it easier than ever for developers to surface complex functionality or embed external services within the authoring experience. It won’t take long for users to expect to find a block for every purpose.

Matt Mullenweg, State Of The Word 2018

Blocks will break out of the text box

Matt confirmed that the next challenge for Gutenberg is to take the same block concept beyond post content. He showed examples of how blocks might replace what we currently know as ‘widgets’ and ‘menus’. Configuration would take place within the WordPress admin area, in the Customizer – or perhaps even inline, on the front end.

Development of phase two will take place, as before, in plugin form – giving developers plenty of visibility into the process, and plenty of time for experimentation and testing.

Key enterprise functionality ahead

Matt also shared his thinking for the third and fourth phases of the Gutenberg initiative, both with particular appeal to large scale professional content publishers.

Phase three is set to focus on collaboration and workflows. It is likely to include content locking based on blocks, rather than pages as now. This will be especially valuable to newsrooms working on breaking stories: we know many of our clients already have elaborate workarounds to allow journalists to work on different parts of the same article simultaneously.

Matt admitted: “One of the reasons that copy-and-paste from Google Docs to Gutenberg is so good, is that when I’m writing a post that I’m going to collaborate on, Google Docs is better for that. But if we can integrate these workflows directly into WordPress, we can integrate them with user systems, we can integrate them with revisions, and we can allow them to be fully extensible in a way that a SaaS service will never, ever be.”

Phase four will finally bring an official way for WordPress to support multilingual publishing. Numerous proven approaches already exist, of course. But the lack of a canonical solution within WordPress core is often cited as a weakness, and existing solutions often cannot guarantee to be compatible with other plugins and services.

Both these phases, proposed for 2020 and beyond, are likely to have implications for existing solutions, including plugins created and recommended by VIP. We’re excited to contribute our experience in these areas to the core initiatives, and encourage all of our clients to get involved as well. Feedback and participation from VIP clients provided the core team with critical insights during phase one, and those insights become even more pertinent as the team takes on the next areas of focus.

Enterprise takeaways in brief

  • The next phases of the Gutenberg project will continue to take place in plugin form. This will allow enterprise teams to test and adopt new functionality gradually as it comes out, and evaluate it in the context of existing workflows and customizations.
  • Phase two will focus on admin elements outside of pages and posts, further simplifying and streamlining the experience for users.
  • Phase three will focus on collaboration and workflows, which will be particularly useful for busy newsrooms as well as brand and product teams.
  • The fourth phase will take on multilingual publishing, bringing a canonical solution into core.

There are lots of ways for you to participate in the project! Whether directly through the many points of entry outlined on Make.WordPress.org, by sharing a private demonstration and feedback session with us at your offices, or simply by testing and working with the new features as they are developed, you can play a critical role in the project’s success.

Photos courtesy of: Brian Peat, Jen Hooks, Val Vesa. Thank you!

Six Questions with Dekode

This series profiles each of our featured partner agencies.

Dekode is a digital agency based in Norway focused exclusively on WordPress platforms for the enterprise segment. Dekode strongly believes the best digital solutions are crafted when the disciplines of design, development, and strategy work in cross-functional teams. They have been a WordPress.com VIP Featured Partner since 2015.

Dekode team in their Oslo office

What’s your agency’s origin story?

Magne Ilsaas founded Dekode in 2009, bringing a background in design and establishing a strong tech and creative team from the start. In the Nordics, WordPress historically has not been known as a big media CMS like in other parts of the world. As big believers in the platform, Dekode set out to grow and evolve its reputation in the region.

Since its founding, Dekode’s focus has been to demonstrate the value and foundation of WordPress for Enterprise, B2B, B2C, and marketing sites in their local market. 

Pick three words that describe your agency culture.

Pragmatic, compassionate, honest.

Consultant Christian Buksti and Dekode’s CEO Magne Ilsaas

Tell us about a client project you are especially proud of.

We’ll mention two:

  1. Design and code frameworks: The Norwegian Government Security and Service Organization is responsible for digital services for the governmental secretaries and the Prime Minister’s office, as well as a number of other public institutions such as the Supreme Court and the Parliament. DSS operates 50+ web pages on WordPress. These require thorough quality control and continuous development of functionality.

    Dekode is the trusted advisor for these projects. As a reflection of our commitment to delivering cost-effective, self-sustaining solutions for our clients, we’ve built a design framework rather than a one-off platform for NGSSO. With this flexible theme, NGSSO can create new websites themselves. Currently, they have 60+ websites without the help of Dekode and at no additional cost.

  2. Community for Down Syndrome: Today, most conversations about Down syndrome amongst parents happen on social media and especially on Facebook. These shared experiences and discussions are often vital to the lives of children with Down syndrome, but as soon as they are published they fall down the drain of the Facebook feed. This knowledge does not have an expiry date, but in a year or five years, there is no possible way to retrieve it. We wanted to do something about it.

    We recently launched our new community platform oppsiden.no (The Upside). It’s a social knowledge sharing community for Down Syndrome. This was a Dekode-initiated project and the culmination of months of collaboration with the Norwegian Network for Down Syndrome. We are extremely proud Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg came to our office and officially launched the platform.
Norwegian Prime Minster Erna Solberg at Dekode’s office celebrating the launch of oppsiden.no

What are you most excited about in the WordPress community right now?

We are currently excited about the launch of the Gutenberg editor. From our experience thus far, when it comes to custom blocks, it has been really promising. We’ve been big fans of using Advanced Custom Fields for tailoring modular websites for a long time now. Gutenberg will make this a native experience to WordPress, and the experience for editors will be a really big and important upgrade. Gutenberg has the potential to be a fantastically open-ended system – themes, plugins, and possibilities on steroids. We’re looking forward to developing sites and platforms that harness that open-endedness to deliver the kinds of focused and dialed-in editorial experiences enterprise use cases tend to require.

What’s your favorite conference or event of the year, and why?

This year, one of the best “conferences” Magne attended was a boat of startups, founders, and investors who all disconnected from their busy online lives. What amazed him on this trip was the willingness to share knowledge on how to run and scale your business in a sustainable way. This is something we at Dekode want more than anything else for the WordPress ecosystem: to share and collaborate on our businesses the same way we do with code.

Large white ship, the Christian Radich, under sail
The EntrepreneurShip

What are you looking to accomplish in 2018?

As 2018 comes to an end our immediate goals are transitioning our design and code framework to Gutenberg.  We’re also excited to launch our new community/ intranet platform and continuously position WordPress as a proper enterprise alternative.

Thank you, Dekode!

More on Dekode:

Petter Walbø Johnsgård of the Dekode team

Agency focus and specialties:

  • WordPress platforms, for clients with long term recurring digital needs
  • Design and code systems that enable brands with multiple sites to reuse components and scale their digital ecosystem in a sustainable way
  • Enterprise intranets on WordPress
  • Operationalizing their client’s business strategy while challenging stagnant thinking

Currently working with:

  • The Norwegian National Library
  • Facebook
  • Tidal
  • The Norwegian Government
  • Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue
  • The Church City Mission
  • Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Agency highlights:

  • Largest WordPress specialist agency in the Nordics
  • Recently launched an Enterprise intranet product on WordPress
  • Creating a design and code system for the Norwegian government enabling them to launch websites themselves
  • Global Diamond Sabre Award winning campaign for NORAD, a learning solution for youth about foreign aid

October VIP Roundup

With the projected release date for WordPress 5.0 fast approaching on November 27, there’s lots of October news around the Gutenberg project and the new editor it’s bringing to 5.0.  Read on for updates from WordPress core, releases from Kaiser Family Foundation and The New York Post, Intercom, and XWP for the AMP Project. Don’t miss the call for entries for the brand new Automattic Design Award.

view from a train in Ireland
An Automattician’s office view for the day, from a train in Ireland.

Gutenberg News and Notes

The latest updates about WordPress 5.0 and the new editor.

  • 5.0 is coming! The updated WordPress Core timeline calls for WordPress 5.0 release on November 27, with release candidate 1 coming on November 12. VIP clients, keep an eye on the Lobby for updates as we draw closer.
  • As of this post, WordPress 5.0 beta 3 is the latest release, which came out on November 5. WordPress 5.0 beta 1 came out on October 24th. Naturally at this stage beta releases include Gutenberg as the default editor, the Twenty Nineteen theme, and all previous default themes updated to include block editor styles.
  • The Core team has announced that the Classic Editor Plugin will be supported until at least December 31, 2021. You’ll find lots of additional detail at that link as well.
  • We recommend all projects using the Gutenberg plugin today to upgrade to at least version 4.1 to assure a smooth transition. Gutenberg 4.2 is now available for testing. The updated formatting API makes it easier to extend Rich Text options throughout the editor. Developers can now add their own block categories and assign icons for better visual cues.

VIP’s Shannon Smith talking React at WordCamp Vancouver.

News and Releases

Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • Our own Shannon Smith presented at WordCamp Vancouver, demonstrating how theme and plugin developers can use React to make the most of the new Gutenberg editor experience.
  • Mother Jones offers a fresh take on U.S. midterm election coverage thanks to feedback from audience engagement tool Hearken.
  • The Institute for Nonprofit News launched the INN Index, a comprehensive study of nonprofit news outlets. One key finding? Over half of INN’s newsrooms have 3 or more revenue streams.
  • Hear Joel Davies’ talk from BigWP London on how The Sun optimized their World Cup coverage this summer to draw 23 million unique visitors a day during the tournament.
  • From that same event, watch Big Bite’s Jason Agnew explore their work with Gutenberg on two major client projects.
  • 10up helped Intercom transition from ‘blog’ to ‘publication.’ They also spoke at React.js in Capetown and sponsored WordCamp Islamabad.
  • Alley created a sleek interactive map for Kaiser Family Foundation and launched a new Style section for the New York Post’s Page Six.
  • Dekode launched Oppsiden.no, a social knowledge sharing platform for the Down Syndrome community. Launch party special guests included Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg.
  • Human Made helped Greenpeace reinvigorate their global web presence, realigning with open technology and principles along the way. They also updated and re-released the extensively researched whitepaper, “Headless WordPress: The Future CMS.”
  • You can now start testing the first release candidate (RC1) of the AMP Plugin thanks to work from XWP and Google, who recently celebrated AMP’s third birthday. Here’s how to make AMP run even faster.
  • Inpsyde published a video guide on installing MultilingualPress.
  • Reaktiv Studios released Design Palette Pro 1.5
  • A team of 6 rtCampers attended the AMP Roadshow Mumbai 2018 where Pradeep Sonawane delivered a talk about “WordPress with AMP.” Up next? Nirmal Desai will attend WordCamp Kochi and share his experience working with Enterprise publishers.

Platform Updates

Spotlight

A beautiful translucent cube with rich organic texture
Honoring the best site, solution, style of 2018 – Enter by November 16!

Submit your best work in site, solution, and style categories for the brand new Automattic Design Award, recognizing the very best in Gutenberg-ready, accessibility-enabled projects from 2018. A truly amazing panel of judges includes Khoi Vinh from Adobe, Kat Holmes from Google, and Jeffrey Zeldman from A List Apart. Representatives of the VIP family include Sarah James of 10up, Ant Miller of Human Made, Rahul Bansal from rtCamp, Joshua Wold of XWP, and Simon Dickson representing VIP.

What We Read

Upcoming Events

  • The next BigWP Meetup takes place November 13 at the New York Post headquarters featuring enterprise WordPress talks from speakers at the New York Post and VIP partners Setka, Human Made, and 10up. Tickets are now all gone, but we’ll have coverage on the blog. Join the meetup group to be the first to hear about the next event.
  • WordCamp US is coming right up, Dec. 7-9 in Nashville. Organizers recently released the full speaker schedule. You might notice several familiar faces from Automattic, 10up, Human Made, XWP, Yoast, and many more. See the full speakers list here and grab your ticket while you still can.
  • The Computer-Assisted Reporting conference offers story ideas, inspiration, and tools to power data journalism. It’s slated for March 7-10 in Newport Beach, California. Get more details here.
  • Have you gotten your ticket for WordCamp Europe? It goes down June 20-22 in Berlin. While it may seem like a long time from now, tickets always sell out, so grab yours fast.

Entries Now Open For The First Automattic Design Awards

Automattic is putting together our first ever Design Awards, and we want you to be a part of it.

Earlier this year, in his talk at WordCamp Europe, John Maeda announced plans for an Automattic Design Award, to highlight and encourage examples of great design work in the WordPress ecosystem.

With WordCamp US fast approaching, we are now inviting entries at automatticdesignaward.blog. Submissions need to be in by November 16, with the announcement of the winners on December 3.

There will be nine awards in total, with three trophies presented in each of three categories – Best Site, Best Solution and Best Style.

We aren’t just looking for your prettiest pieces of work. At WordCamp Europe, John talked about the need for ‘deep design’ – rather than just sprayed-on design, added as an afterthought. Too often we focus simply on shipping; and whilst that may have been acceptable in the past, today’s users know they can and should expect more.

So we’re looking for work which demonstrates thorough processes of discovery, consideration, delivery, and listening to users’ responses.

 

There are two core eligibility requirements. Submissions must be ready for the arrival of Gutenberg, the new WordPress editor; and they must demonstrate accessibility as a ‘need to have’, not just a ‘nice to have’.

At VIP we’re fortunate to work with some of the most ambitious design and development teams in the WordPress space. We see many examples of smart, sophisticated design in the projects we support; and we’ll be encouraging our clients to put themselves forward. But we’re particularly excited to see what’s happening elsewhere in the ecosystem, especially behind the scenes.

Full details of the awards, the assessment criteria, the judging panel and the beautiful trophies can be found at automatticdesignaward.blog.

Photo: Ivan Gatic, via Flickr, CC BY-SA

Using Gutenberg In Production: One Agency’s First-Hand Experience

The WordPress core development team has just announced a draft schedule for the next WordPress release, which will include the long-awaited new editing component, Gutenberg. But for many leading WordPress agencies, Gutenberg has been a fact of life for several months already.

One such agency is VIP partner Big Bite, whose technical director Jason Agnew described the experience of implementing Gutenberg on a number of enterprise-level projects at September’s BigWP gathering in London, hosted by our friends at News UK.

Big Bite have recently been working with a major global bank, to produce an internal news app for consumption primarily via iOS and Android smartphone apps, but managed in WordPress using Gutenberg blocks. And as profiled here previously, they delivered a block-based solution for Amnesty International to build and manage pages in visual form.

Jason describes how Big Bite nominated one team member to become their in-house expert, giving him the time he needed to build his own knowledge, which he could then spread across the company.

Developing with Gutenberg can feel a lot slower, Jason says: ‘you can’t really build the site until you have all the blocks.’ His rule of thumb is that it takes a week to build a block: but if a client is in it for the long run, ‘it’s definitely worth the investment now.’

Discussing Gutenberg with clients has been really easy: some even described the authoring experience as ‘fun’, which is rare indeed in the world of content management systems! Project owners expressed concern at using beta or newly-merged functionality; but Jason has explained that it’s worth a little bit of risk now, in order to save a lot of upgrade costs in the future. ‘Most people can relate to that,’ he says.

VIP has been helping clients and developers prepare for the arrival of Gutenberg. We have a test environment showcasing the Gutenberg experience: just go to testgutenberg.com and start clicking around, no login required. We also have a series of free how-to videos for developers; and a free plugin allowing site owners to manage the rollout of Gutenberg functionality across their site at their own pace.

September VIP Roundup

Welcome to the September roundup! Even though this is October material, we’d be remiss not to start off with the big news coming out of the Gutenberg project this week, Matt Mullenweg’s Plan for 5.0 update and Gary Pendergast’s follow-up Proposed Scope and Schedule. We’ll keep you updated as 5.0 plans continue to come together.

Meanwhile, there’s lots to catch up on from September. The Online News Association’s annual event is always a highlight of the year and ONA 2018 in Austin was no exception. We came back energized and excited about all of the work going on across the digital journalism community. And thank you to Human Made and News UK for co-hosting our latest BigWP London, with great talks which will be available on YouTube shortly.

Read on for news and updates from across enterprise WordPress, including a new section called, “What We Read,” a carousel of articles (and podcasts) that inspired, informed, and influenced us this month.

Gutenberg News and Notes

The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0.

  • As mentioned above, plans for the WordPress 5.0 release are starting to take shape. Matt Mullenweg posted a plan and Automattician and core contributor Gary Pendergast gave further details in this proposed scope and schedule, identifying November 19 as the target release date.
  • Earlier in September, Gutenberg version 3.9 shipped with a host of UX improvements within the editor, in addition to the ability to create reusable templates and import/export reusable blocks.
  • The Gutenberg plug-in has surpassed 500,000 installs.
  • Automattician and core contributor Riad Benguella released a helpful technical overview of Gutenberg integration into WordPress core.
  • Yoast SEO 8.2 is making it easy to automatically add structured data with Gutenberg content blocks.
  • Peek behind the scenes at the custom blocks powering Amnesty International‘s new platform developed by Big Bite, also embedded in the spotlight below.

BigWP London kickoff capture via @PrimaryImage

News and Releases

Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • VIP teamed up with Human Made to host Big WP London, featuring talks from 10up, Big Bite, Inpsyde, and News UK. Video from the talks coming soon!
  •  Alley helped the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation answer the question, “Does where you live affect how long you live?” by building a life expectancy estimator using data from 73,000 U.S. Census tracts. They also redesigned the Online News Association’s VIP-hosted resource portal just in time for #ONA18.
  • 10up CEO John Eckman shared slides from his talk at WordCamp NYC on rethinking his approach to GDPR and privacy.
  • Jenny Wong of Human Made penned a comprehensive (read: 5,000 word) piece on the most useful features of GitHub.
  • XWP released AMP plugin v1.0-beta4 and announced a new leadership team.

Platform Updates

Spotlight: Amnesty International

Take a video tour of the custom Gutenberg blocks powering Amnesty International’s new platform, built by Big Bite for the new WordPress editor. Their team is also working on one of the largest Gutenberg-built applications to date, with a global financial organization.

What We Read

FeaturedJournalists Just Can’t Quit Microsoft Word. But Some Are Trying (Slate)

VIP take: “Still exchanging Microsoft Word documents with contributors to make edits? Apparently, some publications are still redlining their way to a final draft, while others have made the shift to Google Docs. If you’re happy with the collaborative editing features in Google Docs, try out this add-on to send your drafts straight to your WordPress site.” — @ryansholin

Other stories:

Recent Events

VIP was thrilled to be a part of ONA again in 2018, which went down in Austin, TX from September 13-15.

To kick things off, we and our partners at Alley co-hosted a pre-conference meal where we broke bread with clients and friends. At the conference itself, VIP’s very own Steph Yiu, Ryan Sholin, and Shannon Smith teamed up to present “The Future of Content Creation in WordPress” which gave an inside look at the intersection of publishing, WordPress, and Gutenberg. Ryan also joined a panel on “Remixing Content: Refining Your Workflow to Make Your Work Flow,” sharing tips to make workflows meet your newsroom’s distribution needs without bloating them.

Overall, the VIP team was inspired to see how journalists and newsrooms are using WordPress to create new frontiers in digital publishing. To learn more, visit the VIP-hosted journalists.org.

Upcoming Events

  • WAN-IFRA is hosting the Digital Content Expo (DCX) and World Publishing Expo parallel to each other from October 9-11 in Berlin. While the World Expo focuses on print strategies, DCX examines digital trends for content production, distribution, management, and monetization.
  • WordCamp US is coming to Nashville again on December 7-9. Organizers just announced the fifth round of speakers. November 1 is the deadline to get a printed badge (and share your preferred shirt size).
  • NICAR is slated for March 7-10 in Newport Beach, California. Sign up for the NICAR mailing list to stay up to date with conference announcements.
  • The first batches of tickets have dropped for WordCamp Europe! It goes down June 20-22, also in Berlin. While may seem like a long time from now, tickets always sell out, so grab yours fast.

Amnesty and the Power of Gutenberg, the New WordPress Editor

See how Big Bite’s custom blocks streamline publishing for Amnesty International.

Update: Big Bite and Amnesty have rolled many of the features you’ll see below into Benenson, a new open source theme any organization can use.

The most exciting thing around the WordPress community right now is the new editor experience. The Gutenberg project has transformed what it’s like to create content and manage pages and sections. It has also offered a new approach to matching a team’s existing workflow, and allowing editorial teams to work in the context of what the site and pages actually look like. And it has made a flexible, granular reusability of individual elements across projects and even across the community much more directly available.

Agency partner Big Bite has built an entirely new site platform for Nobel Peace Prize Winner Amnesty International, with the new WordPress editor as its foundation, via the Gutenberg plugin. They focused on developing custom blocks and a core theme that serve as the heart of Amnesty’s digital efforts moving forward. More than a new site, this is a framework for applying consistent brand identity, design, and user experience standards to many new sites and for allowing creators to spin up new, powerful sites quickly and with ease. And as a part of Big Bite’s and Amnesty’s shared commitment to give back to the community, large parts of the project will be released as open source components for anyone to use.

In the short video above, you’ll see a quick overview of what it’s like to build new sites quickly and publish and manage content in Amnesty’s new platform launching in September.

August VIP Roundup

August kicked off with the second annual WordCamp for Publishers in Chicago, IL, where presentations and discussions centered on how publishers can protect and nurture the open web and all of its core values.

Meanwhile, as awareness efforts kicked up a notch, the new WordPress editor Gutenberg plugin surpassed 100,000 active installs within a week (and is now past 300,000). It’s now a central component of many new enterprise site projects slated for Q4 launch.

Speaking of new site projects, here at VIP we’ve supported a flurry of diverse launches over the last several weeks across business sectors, too many to cram in to a friendly introductory paragraph. To name a handful, we’ve welcomed Wikimedia Foundation, Shionogi, The Online News Association (ONA), Facebook Connectivity and Politics, and Dentistry For Children.

Read on for news, updates, and this month’s profile with featured partner 10up.

A fitting signoff as WordCamp for Publishers 2018 drew to a close with a day at the ballpark

Gutenberg News and Notes

The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0.

  • After several releases in August bringing issue fixes and user experience enhancements including the new “Spotlight Mode” and Unified Toolbar design, the Gutenberg plugin is now at version 3.7.
  • Currently at 300,000+ active installs, the plugin crossed the 100,000+ threshold just a week after the “Try Gutenberg” prompt appeared in the WordPress dashboard.
  • Prominent plugins announced Gutenberg readiness: Advanced Custom Fields as of ACF Free version 5, Yoast for Gutenberg,  Beaver Builder as of version 2.1, 10up’s Distributor at release.
  • Automattician and core contributor Gary Pendergast offered big picture thoughts on the long range vision and benefits of the Gutenberg project.

News and Releases

Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.

  • Catch up with notes and highlights from the second annual WordCamp for Publishers with co-organizer and Automattician Alexis Kulash’s comprehensive recap.
  • Get to know new VIP technical partner Setka and their print design-inspired, Gutenberg ready, content creation tools.
  • The Brightcove Video Connect plugin version 1.5 is now available, bringing multiple enhancements and bug fixes.
  • Matthew Ingram at Columbia Journalism Review interviewed VIP client Civil‘s founder Matthew Iles ahead of the CVL token sale coming up on September 18th.
  • Congratulations to the 10up team for the successful launch of nobelprize.org. Learn more about their origins and work in VIP’s latest partner profile. And check out the public release of Distributor, which uses the REST API to make it easy to reuse content across sites.
  • Austin Smith, CEO of Alley, authored an extended report and recommendations around the future of local news for Lenfest, also excerpted in a piece for Nieman Lab.
  • Reaktiv Studios wrote an ode to Bootstrap, their favorite CSS.
  • Congratulations to rtCamp for their contributions to WP-CLI v2!
  • XWP shared a case study on their work improving front end performance for Heavy.

Platform Updates

Spotlight

Group photo of 10up outside at the annual 10up summit

This month we profiled VIP agency partner 10up, whose work includes enterprise WordPress tools including Distributor and Ads.txt Manager. They have also contributed greatly to efforts around the new WordPress editor. 10up comprises more than 150 full-time staff members globally, and works with a wide array of clients including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, the State of California, ESPN, and AARP. Read the full profile to find out about 10up’s agency history, vision for the future, and why they chose the three words “Dedicated,” “Creative,” and “Welcoming” to describe their culture.

Media and Marketing Notes

Research and perspectives on the business of media and the practice of marketing.

“Unless we build in natural alternatives to ad revenue models we can’t be an honest authentic media brand.”

Frederik Anderson in Digiday explains Vice’s strategy to grow its revenue streams through ‘offline activations’ like music festivals and food courts.

“Even as they draw from journalism standards and training, podcasters seem to embrace the idea that their tone, style and motivations go beyond traditional techniques, defining their craft in non-journalistic terms such as intimacy and connection.”

Janet Saidi of the LA Times on how podcasts are changing journalism.

“The best parts of Chicagoist, the ones that Chance would be wise to preserve, were its broad editorial freedom and its focus on niche neighborhood stories that might escape the attention of larger outlets.”

Kim Bellware speculates on the implications of Chance the Rapper’s purchase of local news site Chicagoist.

Upcoming Events

#ONA18, the Online News Association‘s annual conference is just a few days away! Sept. 13-15 in Austin, Texas. Find us at the Midway when you get there. VIP is proud to support ONA as both a sponsor and the platform for ONA’s sites. You’ll find us in several spots on the schedule, including Steph Yiu’s Table Talk and a session with New York Times’ senior editor Hamilton Boardman called, “OMGWTFBBQ: Breaking News Without Breaking Your Site.”

The latest BigWP London is also just around the corner, September 13th at News UK headquarters in London at 6:30 pm. The four flashtalks are as follows: WordPress Multisite for large and high traffic multilingual websites by Giuseppe Mazzapica of Inpsyde; Rebuilding NobelPrize.org by Gabe Karp of 10up; How we won the World Cup by Joel Davis, News UK; and Using Gutenberg in production, by Jason Agnew, Big Bite. Space is limited and signups will close 24 hours before the event.

September WordCamps include Tokyo, Rome, and NYC, the latter featuring talks by John Eckman of 10up on privacy by design and Rick Viscomi of Google on site performance tools.

Look out, too, for a surprising amount of WordPress-related content at Drupal Europe! Automattic will again be sponsoring the event’s Open Web Lounge, to promote sharing and networking between open source projects, communities and influencers; and there are several familiar names from the WordPress world on the session program.

Welcome, Setka!

We’re excited to announce our newest technical partner, Setka! Setka creates tools that make it easy for content creators to produce beautiful, customizable, multimedia content pages that work across platforms.

Part of what makes the Setka Editor special is it brings the elements we love about print design into the interactive environment of the screens we use today. It puts power directly in the hands of editors and designers to create stunning content with beautiful features—without much extra effort (and without always having to rely on developers). They can change page layouts, add interactive and multimedia elements, and make other design decisions based on what will serve their content best. The user-friendly WYSIWYG interface combined with customizable layout and style templates give the people producing content creative freedom while making sure they stay on-brand with design.

While the user experience is a breeze, the Setka Editor is working hard behind the scenes. It’s already compatible with the new Gutenberg editor, and will stay on track as WordPress moves to version 5.0. It pairs with the AMP for WordPress plugin to generate eye-catching Accelerated Mobile Pages. It generates the mobile version of your article pages automatically. The HTML is stored in the database, so your content design stays the same even if you uninstall the plugin, and pages can be exported in any necessary formats. The plugin seamlessly integrates into both editorial processes and scaling technical infrastructures to keep everything moving efficiently.

“We’re so proud to be a WordPress.com VIP Partner, since VIP and the WordPress community value design as much as we do. We can’t wait to keep adding more features to help you easily produce amazing content,” said Katya Bazilevskaya, co-founder and CEO of Setka, who spoke on visual storytelling at this year’s VIP Workshop in Napa.

If you’d like to know more about how Setka can improve your daily workflow, drop us a note.

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No matter where you are in the planning process, we’re happy to help, and we’re actual humans here on the other side of the form. 👋 We’re here to discuss your challenges and plans, evaluate your existing resources or a potential partner, or even make some initial recommendations. And, of course, we’re here to help any time you’re in the market for some robust WordPress awesomeness.