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Plugin Directory Changes, Envato Acquired, Our Hosting Survey

Core WordPress news

WordPress 6.5.3 and 6.5.4 address plugin activation issues

In last month’s news roundup, I talked about how a change in the plugin activation process was breaking the setup wizards/tools of a lot of WordPress.org plugins.

The core team initially tried to address these problems by adding a prompt that told users to refresh their browsers after activating a new plugin from WordPress.org. This prompt came as part of WordPress 6.5.3.

However, this still wasn’t a great experience for users, which is why the core team is planning to go back to the original activation system in WordPress 6.5.4, which should be released in early June.

My understanding is that plugin setup wizards will be able to launch automatically again after 6.5.4 is released, which should save developers a lot of struggle (and make it easier for users to set up their plugins).

The WordPress.org Plugin Directory got a redesign

Over a lot of recent news posts, I’ve written about how various parts of WordPress.org have been getting facelifts. At the very end of April, one of the most visible areas finally got its turn – the WordPress.org Plugin Directory.

New plugin directory design
Via https://make.wordpress.org/meta/2024/04/30/the-plugin-directory-gets-a-refresh/

While the changes aren’t huge, the facelift does bring the Plugin Directory more in line with the rest of WordPress.org. The basic layout remains the same, though, so I don’t think anyone will have issues with the change.

WordPress.org Plugin Directory increases the maximum number of active installation counter

While on the topic of the WordPress.org Plugin Directory, let’s talk about another shakeup. For a long time, the highest display limit of a plugin’s active installation count was “5+ million.”

So, whether a plugin had 5,000,001 active installs or 25,000,000 active installs, it would still just show as “5+ million.”

In May, that limit switched, and the active install counter will now go up to “10+ million installs” instead of 5+.

Currently, only a few plugins have managed to exceed the 10 million install count. Those are Elementor, Contact Form 7, Yoast SEO, and…drumroll, please…the Classic Editor plugin (which obviously spawned some additional debate about the Gutenberg project).

There are also more specific numbers in between 5+ million and 10+ million. For example, WooCommerce has 7+ million active installations.

A look at the roadmap for the WordPress Data Liberation project

Recently, Matt Mullenweg has been talking a lot about Data Liberation, especially in the State of the Word 2023 address. That is, letting users easily move their content/data so that they aren’t locked in to a single platform.

In early May, Jordan Gillman released a rough roadmap for what that project will entail.

To me, the most interesting part of the roadmap is the plan for a Data Liberation plugin, which will be able to detect the source platform of a user’s content and help them move it to WordPress.

If implemented well, I could see this plugin saving users a lot of hassle. While WordPress does already include some content importer tools, they’re mainly just for post content. This means that users generally need to perform a lot of other tasks manually to ensure a complete migration.

Having a plugin that offered a more holistic approach to content migration would be a huge improvement.

WordPress plugin, theme, and product news

We published our annual hosting survey on WPShout

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the WordPress hosting space, we just published the 2024 version of our annual WordPress hosting survey.

In the past, we always published these hosting surveys under the CodeinWP brand. However, we’ve since merged CodeinWP into WPShout, which is why you’re seeing the hosting survey published on the WPShout domain name.

This year’s survey includes responses from 1,800+ people about their usage and experiences with WordPress hosting. One of the biggest changes this year is that GoDaddy lost its crown as the most popular host among respondents, having been dethroned by Hostinger.

You can check out the full survey analysis to learn more about popularity, user satisfaction, pricing, usage details, and more.

Anders Norén releases another free WordPress theme

If you’re not familiar with Anders Norén, he’s probably one of the most prolific theme developers when it comes to releasing totally free themes at WordPress.org. What’s more, he’s also been involved in some of the default WordPress themes, including Twenty Twenty.

In May, Anders released a brand new free theme at WordPress.org – Pulitzer.

Anders shared the process of creating the theme on his Twitter account, which is a nice behind-the-scenes look for people who are interested in theme development.

David Bushell breaks down the Twenty Twenty-Four default theme

In a not-so-positive WordPress theme story, David Bushell (a UK-based freelancer) did a breakdown of the default Twenty Twenty-Four theme titled “Modern WordPress – Yikes!”

I don’t know enough about theme development to have my own thoughts, but I did see the post generate a good amount of discussion about the current state of developing WordPress themes (which David responded to in an update).

So, if you are in the theme development space, I think it might be worth a read.

Joost de Valk releases a plugin to deal with WordPress tags

Understanding the difference between categories vs tags and when to use tags has always been an issue for a lot of WordPress webmasters, especially those on the less technical side of things.

This confusion has led to a lot of webmasters using tags in a wasteful way that creates a confusing site architecture.

To address this, Joost de Valk just released a new freemium plugin called Fewer Tags. The free version is simple – it automatically hides tag archive pages if a tag has fewer than ten posts associated with it.

The premium version adds more features, such as the ability to merge and delete tags and easily create redirects.

If you know your site’s tags are messy but are scared to deal with the problem, I think this plugin could be really handy.

WordPress business news

Shutterstock acquires Envato for $245 million

In one of the biggest WordPress-related acquisitions that I’ve ever seen, Shutterstock acquired Envato for a whopping $245 million cash in early May (or $373 million AUD, as the company is located in Australia).

While Envato is not exclusively WordPress, it is the company behind some of the biggest WordPress marketplaces – ThemeForest and CodeCanyon – along with a number of other offerings.

While $245 million is nothing to sneeze at, it is a bit of a step down from where the company was before. In 2020, Envato was estimated to be worth over $1 billion by some people and hit some pretty impressive measures, including $1 billion in total community earnings, over $200 million in 2020 revenue, and $18.75 million in 2020 operating profit.

In 2022 and 2023, Envato shrunk the size of its staff, dropping from 657 employees in June 2022 to 581 in June 2023.

For more details, you can read Envato’s post about the acquisition.

Google rolls out AI Overviews in search for all US searchers

While this one isn’t WordPress-specific, it will affect a lot of WordPress businesses, especially businesses that rely on search traffic from Google.

In May, Google made the decision to fully roll out AI Overviews for all searchers in the US. While the AI Overviews won’t trigger on every search, they are now active for everyone, and there’s no way to disable them, short of using a browser extension (which has some people feeling a bit annoyed).

Personally, I’m not a fan. I don’t think they’re fair to website owners and there are still lots of issues with inaccurate information, such as its tendency to suggest that users drink urine to fix health problems.

Going forward, it will be important to monitor how AI Overviews affect traffic to publishers’ websites, which Google has been a bit cagey about.

Already, Google seems to have reduced the frequency at which AI Overviews trigger, partially in response to coverage that the feature was receiving. Google also manually removed some of the weirder overviews.

In late May, Google also published a response to some of the criticisms.

Some of Google’s Search algorithm ranking factors leaked

While on the topic of Google, let’s cover another juicy news story from May – a leak of some information about the Google algorithm.

While it’s not a complete leak and we don’t know how recent the documentation is, it’s still a rare look inside the Google search algorithm (or at least part of the algorithm). There are also some details that contradict what Google spokespeople have publicly shared, which is a bit awkward for the Google team.

If you want to dig into the leak, I recommend starting with this post from Rand Fishkin on the SparkToro blog, which kicked things off. Mike King from iPullRank also has a good breakdown of some key takeaways.

Some of the details that I found most interesting were these:

  • There does seem to be a “sandbox” for new sites, despite Google’s denials. I think pretty much every webmaster knew this intuitively, but it’s nice to see some confirmation that we aren’t all crazy.
  • Google does, or at least did experiment with, using click data to affect rankings in some way.
  • Google does, or at least did experiment with, using Chrome user data to affect rankings in some way.

MemberPress makes another membership plugin acquisition in AccessAlly

In other acquisition news, MemberPress/Caseproof continued its quest to consolidate the WordPress membership plugin space by acquiring the AccessAlly plugin.

I believe this marks the third membership plugin acquisition for MemberPress, having previously acquired WishList Member and MemberMouse in 2023.

As with those other acquisitions, MemberPress will continue to run AccessAlly as its own product. Additionally, the entire AccessAlly team will continue working there, including the founders (Robin Li and Nathalie Lussier).

For more details, you can read the MemberPress acquisition post here and the AccessAlly acquisition post here.

Convesio brings Growmatik back from the dead

If you’re not familiar with Growmatik, it’s a WordPress marketing automation tool from Artbees (which also makes the popular JupiterX theme). I always found it to be cool, but it seems to have struggled to gain traction and was eventually shut down on March 31 after a long winddown period.

However, in May, the product was brought back from the dead after an acquisition by Convesio, a managed WordPress hosting provider.

While that’s great for new users, there is one problem for existing users. As part of the long wind-down process, Growmatik deleted all of the customer data when it was shut down. So, if you’re an existing Growmatik user who wants to get back to using it, you’ll need to re-create your account and campaigns from scratch.

StellarWP acquires LearnDash add-ons from WisdmLabs

If you’re not familiar with StellarWP, it’s essentially Liquid Web’s holding company for all the WordPress plugins/brands it’s acquired, including LearnDash, The Events Calendar, Restrict Content Pro, GiveWP, and SolidWP (formerly known as iThemes).

In early May, StellarWP made another acquisition, snapping up all of the LearnDash add-on plugins from WisdmLabs. WisdmLabs also makes a number of WooCommerce extensions, but I don’t believe those were part of the acquisition.

Obviously, the goal here is to offer even more value to LearnDash users. I imagine that we’ll also see them add these as built-in features for the LearnDash Cloud platform.

Important security notes

Here are some of the most notable security issues and vulnerabilities discovered in May.

All of these updates have since been patched, but you’ll need to make sure that your site is using the latest version(s) to benefit from the fixes.

  • MemberPress – Authenticated (Contributor+) Blind Server-Side Request Forgery via mepr-user-file Shortcode published on May 21 and patched in version 1.11.30.
  • Fluent Forms – Missing Authorization to Settings Update and Limited Privilege Escalation published on May 17 and patched in version 5.1.17.
  • Tutor LMS – Missing Authorization published on May 15 and patched in version 2.7.1.
  • Business Directory Plugin – Unauthenticated SQL Injection via listingfields Parameter published on May 21 and patched in version 6.4.3.
  • LearnPress – Unauthenticated Time-Based SQL Injection published on May 9 and patched in version 4.2.6.6.
  • AI Engine – Authenticated (Editor+) Arbitrary File Upload published on May 7 and patched in version 2.2.70.
  • WPZOOM Addons for Elementor – Unauthenticated Local File Inclusion published on May 21 and patched in version 1.1.38.
  • WP STAGING – Authenticated (Admin+) Arbitrary File Upload published on May 28 and patched in version 3.5.0.

WordCamp and community news

WordCamp Europe receives a “Patronage” from the European Parliament

In May, WordCamp Europe announced that it officially received a “Patronage” from the European Parliament.

According to the European Parliament website, a Patronage is a way for the European Parliament “to associate itself with an event by providing its moral support.”

There are no financial or material incentives (to my knowledge), but it does raise the status of the event. Congratulations to the WordCamp Europe team!

StellarWP plans to host a new virtual WordPress conference

In early May, StellarWP announced its plans to host a new virtual WordPress conference on July 19.

The conference will include “speakers from all over covering many topics and interests, including areas for any level of WordPress user – from blogger to developer.”

StellarWP also put out a call for speakers, but the deadline (May 15) has already passed at this point.

WP Tavern goes quiet again

In some previous news posts from 2023, I talked about how WP Tavern had gone quiet with the departure of Sarah Gooding.

After a long hiatus, it got very active, with Matt Mullenweg running a trial period with a number of different writers. The idea was that he would then choose one or two of those writers to become permanent contributors after the trial period.

However, WP Tavern seems to have gone dark again, with over two months of no new content. As I’m writing this, the last post was on March 14.

I’m not sure if Matt just hasn’t had the time to make a decision yet or if none of the writers made the cut.

Either way, it would be great to see WP Tavern get back to publishing again, as I think it’s a great resource for the WordPress community.

That sums up our June 2024 WordPress news roundup. Anything I’ve missed?

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