Congratulations to the open source WordPress Coding Standards (WPCS) project for its recent milestone release of version 1.0. WPCS provides WordPress-specific rulesets for PHP Codesniffer (PHPCS) to help developers learn about and adhere to WordPress coding conventions. The 1.0 release contains important breaking changes and “tons of bug fixes”.
The release of version 1.0 is a landmark moment and a culmination of 9 years of work. We are very proud of our participation in the WPCS project over the years, and will continue to do so into the future. With 54 contributors since the project began, 5 of them from VIP, and 7 for this latest release, WPCS has been a hugely successful team effort.
If you are a VIP client and you are not using the alternative rulesets, then we would strongly recommend switching to these. If you used the WordPress-VIP ruleset for any other reason, you should use WordPress-Extra or WordPress instead.
As with all open source projects, WPCS are always grateful for any contributions, from reporting bugs in the current rulesets to assistance with the actual code. If you are interested in assisting them, please get in touch with them via their Github page.
Featured image credit: WordCamp London Contributor Day 2017, photo by Pradeep Singh.
This guest post was contributed by Brad Campeau-Laurion (@potatomaster) of featured partner Alley, and also one of the organizers of WordCamp for Publishers. VIP is proud to sponsor and participate in this great event.
WordCamp for Publishers is a community-organized event bringing together folks who use WordPress to manage publications, big or small. Our goal is to empower participants by coaching them on best practices, and encourage collaboration in building open source tools for publishers. Anyone who actively manages a publication with WordPress will benefit from attending.
Our schedule is up now and includes speakers from national media organizations, smaller publications, and agencies that work with media companies. We’ll have a main track of talks and panels that are all about 45 minutes each with time for Q&A and a separate track of 90 minute in-depth workshops around topics that will give you actionable takeways to bring back to your publications. There will also be openings for our unconference sessions which you can self-organize at the event with your fellow attendees.
For people that prefer the hallway track, there will be opportunities to connect with people from many top media organizations. We’ll be working to organize formal mentorship sessions especially for those from smaller publications and underrepresented markets. You can also chat with our sponsors who come from top agencies and media technology companies.
Of course, you can also expect a lot of fun at WordCamp for Publishers. We’ve arranged events including an architectural boat tour of Chicago and a White Sox game. If you’re able to stick around all three days, there’s also a Contributor Day on Friday where you can learn how to contribute to WordPress or any of the numerous plugins and projects that support publishing on the platform.
Our team is excited to see Gutenberg’s full integration into WordPress on the horizon. Our clients, partners, and colleagues are shipping useful, powerful projects with the new content editor everywhere you look. However, if you think back a few months, there was some initial anxiety around how we’d get our arms around a big bag of unknowns.
One of the most challenging of those unknowns was plugin compatibility. Like any group that supports active plugins, we wanted to make sure our code would work with Gutenberg as quickly as possible. And until we dug into it, we didn’t know if that was going to require a little work, a ton of work, or something in between.
Facing this uncertainty, we took a big deep breath…and started testing! We’re in a pretty good place now, and want to help others get there, too. We’re sharing our findings and process here for those who may be at that “I don’t yet know what I don’t know” stage in their Gutenberg transition.
First, we had to decide where and how to focus our efforts. For us, we needed to think about how our plugins are used within VIP/Automattic and how they’re used by the WordPress community at large. We also had to consider all the third-party plugins clients may be using on our platform. And although we can only directly impact the first of those two areas, we decided to cast a wide net and study all three, to see what we could learn and share.
We’ve been advocating for a transitional approach to Gutenberg, so we decided to break this project into manageable stages for ourselves:
Assessment > test plugins to ascertain their level of Gutenberg readiness
Compatibility > make sure stuff doesn’t break with Gutenberg
Optimization > update plugins to make full use of Gutenberg’s features (Gutenberg native)
Next, we had to define “compatible”, and come up with concrete testing steps for our team. Daniel Bachhuber has already done awesome work in this space. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, we based our approach on his very well thought-out definitions he developed as part of the community plugin compatibility database project here.
A plugin is compatible with Gutenberg when:
A user can perform the same functional task with Gutenberg active (feature-parity), and;
There are no (obvious) errors when the plugin is active alongside Gutenberg.
A plugin can be marked as ‘Likely Compatible’ based on reasonable assumptions (e.g. a caching plugin probably doesn’t expose editor-specific functionality).
A plugin can be marked as ‘Optimized’ if it is making best use of Gutenberg features (e.g. shortcode has been converted to blocks).
Finally, we had to collate a list of plugins for testing, and enlist volunteers*! We divvied up our own plugins amongst VIP team members and reached out to 3rd party plugin vendors encouraging them to test their work and share their results with us.
*A HUGE thank you to all the plugin authors who responded: Daniel Bachhuber, Michael Bester, Lester Chan, Brad Kofoed, Chris Northwood, Chris Scott, Justin Tadlock, 10up, Alley, Codepress, Delicious Brains, Getty Images and @scribu. Your contributions were extremely helpful for us, and will help the entire community as we all work towards this brave new Guten-world!
Helpful Tips for Plugin Testers
Breaking it down into realistic, manageable stages made this task achievable. We’d definitely recommend this approach to other developers with a similarly large portfolio.
Be on the lookout for plugins which add media buttons in the classic editor. Those buttons are unlikely to be exposed in Gutenberg unless the author has made special provision for it, making this a common culprit for incompatibility.
Plugins that contain metaboxes may be compatible without doing anything. If they are, the compatibility argument should be added in the short term. Long-term, metaboxes should be converted into blocks to be considered optimized.
There are ~167 different plugins running on VIP.
39 of those plugins are maintained by Automattic/VIP, of which:
All 39 have been tested
34 are compatible or likely compatible
5 are not compatible
128 of those plugins are by 3rd party developers, of which:
14 have been tested
10 are compatible or likely compatible
4 are not compatible
If your assessment reveals that you support active plugins that haven’t yet been accounted for, the best place to share what you find is the plugin compatibility database.
We will take a closer look at the 5 Automattic/VIP plugins found not compatible and take appropriate action to remedy. Testers have recommended 3 of them to be deprecated. Others will be updated for Gutenberg compatibility.
Civil is a new platform using the blockchain to support, distribute and protect journalism. Last month, Civil launched its “First Fleet” on WordPress.com VIP. A group of what will ultimately be 13 Newsrooms focused on local, international, investigative and policy journalism that received grants from Civil to be the first to officially publish on its platform, Civil’s First Fleet share a common commitment to the ethical standards enshrined in the Civil Constitution and enforced through Civil’s blockchain technology. Civil itself has an ambitious and worthy mission: to “help power sustainable journalism throughout the world.”
Prior to launch, VIP’s Ryan Sholin caught up with two of Civil’s co-founders: Matt Coolidge, Brand Strategy and Communications lead, and Dan Kinsley, Engineering lead. Both were excited to discuss their work at Civil and what blockchain and crypto-economics can do for journalism.
Can you talk a little bit about the idea behind Civil and what it has been like to build out new models? It seems like you’re doing a lot of trailblazing right now.
Matt Coolidge: It’s interesting when we’re talking about “building new models.” I always think it’s a really helpful baseline to start any conversation like this by really making clear that Civil’s mission is journalism. There’s one very key thing that we don’t need to reinvent and that is what constitutes ethical journalism.
I think that the models that have proliferated in recent years have made it harder to incentivize quality journalism in a sustainable way. We’re introducing a new model that’s based on blockchain and crypto-economics that is incentivizing quality journalism and rewarding individuals for helping to curate a marketplace for high-quality journalism.
You mentioned incentivizing people to contribute and incentivizing people to participate. It seems there’s a whole democratic process built in.
Matt Coolidge: When we talk about incentives, I think there’s the obvious ideological incentive. Certainly, we want people that believe in quality journalism to identify us as a marketplace that shares their values, and certainly, support the independently owned and operated newsrooms that run on Civil.
Going a level beyond that and recognizing that human nature is not always pure or idealistic in its intent, we think that there’s a great opportunity to introduce very real economic incentives that also help this model proliferate. Part of that is, how can we introduce incentive structures that essentially outline an economic gain, which is, spot the unethical newsroom and keep it off the marketplace and if you do so successfully, you can be economically rewarded.
“How can we get people onto a new marketplace that offers what we think is a healthier and more pro-journalism incentive structure?” –Matt Coolidge
What is the day-to-day role of blockchain in the production and consumption of journalism at Civil?
Dan Kinsley: The key part of Civil’s protocol is a crypto-economic system called a Token Curated Registry, a whitelist of approved newsrooms. We have a token called the CVL Token, that is essentially used to provide financial incentives for people to curate this list.
If I’m a newsroom, I could apply to be on this registry. I want to be on this registry because it’s going to be a sign of credibility. When people come to my newsroom, they’ll trust that we’re following the rules of the Civil Constitution.
When you apply, all of the other token holders can then play this game where they say, “Will having them on the list increase the value of the list and increase my holdings?” Then as the value of the list gets better, it increases the demand of other newsrooms to be on that list, so then it becomes this virtuous cycle of, as there’s more demand to be on the list, the list gets higher and higher quality and more people want to play the game of curating the list.
Matt Coolidge: One parallel I’d draw is Airbnb (or you can just as easily plug in Uber, Amazon…pick a platform model). Airbnb we admire in particular for its ability to say, “Hey. You want to travel? There are two ways to travel. You can travel like a tourist and go to Expedia or whatever and stay at a Hilton or you can travel like a local and you can stay with an Airbnb host in a neighborhood of your choice.”
Certainly, Airbnb is not the only platform that is doing what they’re doing, but they’ve been so effective in creating this network effect. I think we have the same opportunity with a platform model with Civil to say, “Hey. Civil is ultimately a protocol and it has this definition of what does and does not constitute ethical journalism that is spelled out in a document known as the Civil Constitution.”
Do you think a statement of core values has been missing from the corporate media world?
Matt Coolidge: I don’t think we’re looking to vilify say, “the corporate media world,” but there is certainly an issue of trust and questioning bias and what is information and what is misinformation and where is this really coming from? When you look at the mass consolidation right now, something like 85% to 90% of mainstream outlets is owned by five corporations here in the US.
That does not engender trust and it questions who is the holding company and what shareholders are they beholden to? [Civil creates] a decentralized network where ownership of this network is represented by owning these Civil tokens. Come here and launch a platform knowing that you’re beholden to your readers alone.
How will you know what success looks like? What is going to make Civil sustainable in the long run?
Dan Kinsley: A sign of success is having diverse opinions: having conservative newsrooms, liberal newsrooms, newsrooms in Asia, newsrooms in South America. Having everybody with a voice being empowered to tell their stories. Providing tools for these publications to establish credibility and trust with their constituents.
Matt Coolidge: Attracting additional readers and compelling them to support Newsrooms is the most important metric. We’re committed to always placing the reader <> journalist relationship at the center of Civil, and never standing between the two. Along those lines, we’ll never take a direct cut ourselves from a subscription fee that a reader pays a Newsroom. We don’t want to have a stake in that process and risk compromising that relationship by ever seeking to influence the behavior of one party or another.
Developers will also play a significant role in Civil’s growth. With this crypto-economic structure, there is a very novel and interesting opportunity for open source developers to come in and to really be fairly compensated for their work in a way that doesn’t necessarily thrive outside of these crypto-economic structures. This is hopefully going to be a compelling draw for some really talented developers to come and help build the apps, the tools, the services that we think readers will very quickly demand and that will definitely outpace our own capacity to do so.
“We want to find the best of breed providers in each part of this value chain, give them a big hug, and say, ‘Hey. Do you guys want to start a newsroom?'” – Dan Kinsley
How did you approach the selection process for Civil’s First Fleet?
Matt Coolidge: We wanted to focus on areas that we saw as hardest hit by 20 plus years of mass media consolidation. We decided to focus broadly on local, international, policy, and investigative journalism because we think that there’s a huge demand right now that far exceeds the supply of quality journalism serving those markets. Each of the 13 newsrooms we have right now are a nod to those four beats.
Now, certainly the Civil marketplace is not going to be confined to those, but those are areas that readers are very passionate about and already very inclined to support. Introducing this subscription economy predicated on reader support, I think is going to help newsrooms get to sustainability very quickly, especially when they’re run by folks like Nushin Rashidian from the Tow Center or Seamus Toomey who used to be the managing editor at DNAInfo who really understand not only the editorial but the publishing side and can really help set important precedents around best practices.
What about WordPress made it such a good fit for the First Fleet newsrooms to get started?
Dan Kinsley: Everything we do, we want to do open source. Like I said, we’re a protocol and we found WordPress just aligns very tightly with our values. It’s a great solution because it just works, right? We actually started to go down a path of building our own CMS and we upended it and we said, “Well – why – when we can have way more reach with WordPress?” They have an extensive plugin system so we can build plugins there. Once we went down that path, it seemed like a no-brainer.
Is the plan to open source everything?
Dan Kinsley: The core protocol, and everything you need to build anything that we would ever build, will be open source. Some people call that model “Open Core.” In the future, we envision building what you could call a Civil version of the Twitter Firehose, so there’s all this activity that happens on the blockchain. You have all these little islands. Each newsroom is publishing to the blockchain and there is all this activity.
Then we’ll have a service that listens to all that and then builds an API. You could then subscribe to that Firehose and build either your own client or your own curation service. Maybe it’s built for screen readers or it’s focused on certain industries or whatever. Stuff we haven’t even imagined yet. I imagine you could build your own Firehose, but we’ll probably have a proprietary version that we’ll have. Other than that, everything will be open source.
“To “experience Civil” can be as simple as coming and reading and supporting an outlet in any payment method that you choose.” –Matt Coolidge
What qualities are you looking for as Civil builds partnerships, and how did you land on VIP as part of that process?
Dan Kinsley: What I liked about WordPress.com VIP is they get our model and the value we want to bring to the industry. We want to empower newsrooms. We want to lower the barrier to entry. I think that’s actually in your mission statement. Like, democratize publishing. That’s what we want to do, right? We want to find the best of breed providers in each part of this value chain, give them a big hug, and say, “Hey. Do you guys want to start a newsroom? Go talk to WordPress.com VIP if you need hosting. Go talk to our friends over here at Pico if you need payment. Go talk to our friends at Alley if you need site development.” Again, just really lower the barrier to entry.
Matt Coolidge: We want to upend a system where you have this duopoly between Facebook and Google where they’re controlling something like 70% of digital ad revenue. It’s choking publishers off. It’s not giving them many options.
How can we get people off and onto a new marketplace that offers what we think is a healthier and more pro-journalism incentive structure? I think part of the way we do that is to breed familiarity and to really reward and promote beloved tools and approaches that journalists and publishers are already using to great success.
As the First Fleet launches, what should people know? What’s the next step for them after they read a story?
Matt Coolidge: One of the most important things that we can’t stress enough about Civil right now is that we have this novel economic game-based approach that is running on this token economy.
The vast majority of people at least initially that are coming to Civil to read and support journalism are probably not going to touch that system. They are more than welcome to, and we want to be very transparent and encourage as many people as possible to do so, but at the end of the day, Civil is a publishing platform on which this great new crop of journalistic outlets are going to launch and to “experience Civil” can be as simple as coming and reading and supporting an outlet in any payment method that you choose.
If you do want to go below what we call the ‘water line‘ and play this economic game and help to really promote a high-quality marketplace for journalism, you can absolutely do so.
Dan Kinsley: This First Fleet is just that. The first ones; they’re the vanguard. There’s such a pent-up demand for independent publications. I would encourage people to don’t think that they can’t. If they have an idea, then there’s probably something there. We can provide the tools and don’t sell yourself short. I know that sounds corny, but there are lots of publications that I think could be created on this model.
Check out Civil’s First Fleet:
Documented NY covers New York City’s immigrants and the policies that shape their lives
Sludge focuses on the nontraditional, often shadowy ways that special interest groups advance agendas
ZigZag is a podcast about capitalism, journalism, and changing the course of women’s lives
Note: The following post was originally written and published for an internal audience here at WordPress.com VIP.
Since Annapolis is my home, I wanted to share some thoughts on the tragedy in my community that occurred on June 28, 2018, since it has a ripple effect on our industry. On that day last week, I was at SRCCON 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota – an interactive gathering of journalists, editors, technology professionals and media publishers of all stripes in the news industry. Just a few hours before the attack, I was engaged in friendly conversation with an engineer from the Baltimore Sun about local Maryland publications and shared my appreciation for the valuable information his team published for the recent Maryland primary elections. My wife texted me that she was at a store near the area when heavy police activity began but was safely on her way out. Later, we would learn that a journalist who wrote occasionally for the regional magazine my wife worked at was among those killed. The Baltimore Sun engineer who I had just met also found out that someone he knew was killed.
The attack on my local paper was a direct assault on media publishers and their freedom to publish. The Capital Gazette and its parent organizations, The Baltimore Sun and tronc, have the same mission as many of the people we support every day at VIP. A free press is a cornerstone of American democracy as well as for free countries around the world. The free press in my community was maliciously targeted by someone who did not agree. This fact was not lost on the organizers and participants at SRCCON who shared information about the tragedy and donation information to benefit The Capital Gazette. This gunman may have held a personal grievance but given the current divisive and threatening rhetoric recklessly issued from the highest levels of American government and echoed in some media outlets, it is not difficult to imagine any other media publisher counted among those branded as the “enemy,” especially when the truth happens to be inconvenient.
Stories like this one are an unfortunate reality in America today. My belief that one day, peaceful citizens in a peaceful country should be able to do their job in a public space without fear of it being converted to a war zone is strong. My belief that a free press in a free country should publish without fear of retribution is uncompromising.
If there is some hope that can be drawn from this tragedy, it would be that The Capital Gazette courageously continued publishing within hours of the attack and published the news on schedule the following day. Let that be an inspiration for us all to keep publishing. Let that inspire us all to help our clients and other publishers around the world to do the same.
“We’re here to report the news. Whatever the news is… I guess there might be bad people but I don’t care about them. The world is full of good people.”
There are lots of summer launches across the VIP family to celebrate, including Rolling Stone, Civil‘s First Fleet, and top Venezuelan news site La Patilla. A bigger, better, and bolder WordCamp Europe brought news of the next steps and roadmap for the Gutenberg project. And we released the first building block in our focus on empowering developers on VIP, the VIP CLI.
Read on for June highlights from across the enterprise WordPress community, including a look ahead at must-attend summer and fall events including ONA and WordCamp for Publishers.
Gutenberg News and Notes The latest tools, demos, and updates around the block-based editor coming to WordPress 5.0.
As of June 21st, the Gutenberg plugin is at version 3.1, and includes a tips system for new users, improvements to the block sibling inserter, and much more as detailed in Matias’ latest What’s New post.
The public version of our Gutenberg Ramp plugin is now available (Lobby post for VIP clients). We created this version for anyone in the community with sites hosted elsewhere who want to take advantage of the same functionality we created for our users on the VIP platform (Lobby post about using Ramp on VIP Go). The plugin allows users to turn Gutenberg on for certain post IDs, page IDs or content text, making it easier to test and activate Gutenberg at your own pace, instead of flipping the switch site-wide in one go. We have lots of additional resources as well, including how-to videos and TestGutenberg.com where you can experiment with the latest version.
10up published the results of a Gutenberg usability test, including heatmaps and verbatims from participants.
News and Releases Updates from around VIP, our clients, and our agency and technical partners.
Earlier this month we released VIP CLI, a new and direct way for developers to interact with their applications hosted on the VIP Go platform. (Lobby post, announcement post)
The new automated build and deploy workflow for VIP Go means you no longer have to manually build, commit, and push your code (Lobby post).
We profiled agency partner Big Bite Creative in our latest Six Questions With…. Read all about their origin story, their values, and the impressive work they’re doing in enterprise application development using Gutenberg and React Native.
SketchPress is 10up’s new library of WordPress admin interfaces, symbols, and icons aimed at saving designer’s time when wireframing. 10up also created Simple Podcasting, an intuitive and lightweight plugin that includes beta support for Gutenberg. Check out what went down at their annual summit in this video.
Alley joined the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) annual meeting to present their work with Freer|Sackler including TMS Connect, which allows museums to synchronize their collections and objects into WordPress, and an Alexa Skill that works with their VoiceWP plugin.
Big Bite Creative redeveloped PMC’s recent acquisition Sourcing Journal, integrating Vamp footwear and Rivet denim as well.
Siobhan McKeown of Human Made spoke on the Yonder podcast about hiring remote workers.
Inpsyde implemented an encryption feature in their plugin BackWPup Pro to make backups GDPR Compliant.
Reaktiv Studios wrote a prediction for the future of Gutenberg (tl;dr the ‘Gutenlook’ takes over the world).
#NABJ18, hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists, goes down Aug. 1-5 in Detroit. This year’s theme is “Driving Journalism, Technology & Trust.” Drawing over 3,000 journalists, media executives, PR professionals, and students, this annual convention is part conference, part job fair and features special events with Tyler Perry, KEM, Tamar Braxton, and more.
Tickets are still available for the second annual WordCamp for Publishers, Aug. 8-10 in Chicago. This is a community-run event with organizers volunteering from Alley, Mother Jones, PMC, Dow Jones, iOne Digital, Hand Built, and here at VIP. The sessions listing is now available on the site and there are topics of interest to engineering, product, and editorial teams, with speakers from national media organizations, niche publications, and agencies. Last year’s event produced incredibly useful talks and materials, and this year’s is sure to offer the same.
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.