📆 This is the April 2023 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.”
Hey, WordPress fans. We are happy to be back with you sharing all of the latest WordPress news and events from the past month.
In the biggest news of the month, WordPress 6.2 went live, bringing a number of improvements to the Site Editor experience. It was, however, a day late – learn why below!
Beyond that, we got a look at what the real-time collaboration features in Phase 3 of the Gutenberg project might look like, there were some more WordPress acquisitions, and we announced our fun 15-minute WordPress design challenge here at CodeinWP (there’s a $1,000 cash prize if you win!)
Let’s get to all of the WordPress news from the past month…
April 2023 WordPress News with CodeinWP
WordPress 6.2 “Dolphy” released after a short delay
After a short delay, WordPress 6.2 was officially released into the wild on March 29.
WordPress 6.2, named “Dolphy” after Eric Allan Dolphy Jr, was originally scheduled for release on March 28. However, a regression with date formats was discovered during the final 24-hour freeze before the release.
Fixing this issue required another 24-hour code freeze before the release, which is why WordPress 6.2 didn’t go live until March 29.
As has become the norm for recent releases, most of the big feature additions and changes in WordPress 6.2 involve the WordPress block editor and/or the site editing experience.
First off, WordPress 6.2 brings a revamped Site Editor interface. A new browse mode makes it easier to navigate through various templates and template parts and easily create new templates as needed.
It also brings improvements to the Navigation block (which greatly needed help). In part, it’s now easier to manage menu items via a new sidebar in the Site Editor.
The Block Inserter also got a facelift – there’s now a new “Media” tab in addition to the “Blocks” and “Patterns” tabs. The Media tab will let you more easily add files from your Media Library to your designs. You can choose a specific media type – e.g. “Images” or “Videos” – and see the ten most recent files for that media type.
There’s also a new Openverse option in the “Media” tab that lets you explore more than 700 million creative works, all of which are licensed under a Creative Commons license or already in the public domain.
Finally, another notable addition is a new Distraction Free editing mode that hides a lot of the block editor interface so that you can focus on writing content.
If you want to learn all about the smaller features and enhancements, you might be interested in Kinsta’s WordPress 6.2 deep dive or WP Tavern’s WordPress 6.2 release post.
Real-time collaboration is finally coming to WordPress
While most of the recent WordPress releases have focused on the Site Editor, the Site Editor is just one phase of the broader Gutenberg project (Phase 2, to be exact).
The next phase – Phase 3 – is now on the horizon, which will bring some tantalizing new features to the WordPress core.
Gutenberg Phase 3 will focus on real-time collaboration in the editor, similar to the type of collaboration that is available to Google Docs users.
On March 25, Matias Ventura published an outline of some of the features that might be included here:
- Multiple users being able to work on the same content/designs across all block editors.
- Asynchronous collaboration such as inline block commenting, assignment reviews, improved version control, task management, and more.
- Multi-step publishing workflows. These are already available via a number of content workflow plugins, but the idea would be to bring them into the core.
- Improvements to the post revisions interface, such as making it aware of individual blocks and more visual in general.
- Improvements to the Media Library, as well as the library for managing blocks, patterns, styles, and fonts.
As with Phase 2 of the project, it’s not like all of these features will come in a single release. They’ll likely be dripped out and improved over time.
Additionally, this phase is still in the exploratory phase, so things could change and features could be added or removed before prime time.
Overall, though, these features should be an attractive addition for organizations and teams who use WordPress.
However, I think the benefits for solo users will be more limited, so individuals might not see big improvements during the Phase 3 releases.
CodeinWP announces its 15-minute WordPress challenge
Let’s spice things up with a bit of WordPress news that’s closer to home.
A few days ago, we were happy to announce our 15 Minute WordPress Challenge. 🎯 🏋️
If you want to participate in the challenge, the goal is to use WordPress to build an educational website for kids in 15 minutes or less.
If your site wins the challenge, you’ll earn $1,000 in cold hard cash, plus free access to all of Themeisle’s premium themes and plugins.
There are also other prizes, with the People’s Choice Award getting $500 in cash and access to Themeisle’s themes and plugins, and eight finalists getting free access to Themeisle’s themes and plugins.
Again, the requirement is that you build your site in under 15 minutes, so you don’t need to invest much time to participate.
If you want to join the contest, here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Create a screen recording of you building your website in under 15 minutes.
- Make sure the website is publicly available on a URL (you’re free to use a subdomain of an existing site or something like InstaWP if you don’t want to purchase a new domain).
- Submit the form on the 15 Minute WordPress Challenge page.
To learn more about the requirements for your website, you should read the “Website entry requirements” on the challenge page.
If you want to participate, you have until April 16 to submit your website.
You may also be interested in:
Automattic acquires the ActivityPub plugin
As far as I’m aware, Awesome Motive didn’t acquire any new companies over the past month. But that doesn’t mean the WordPress acquisition beat slowed down.
In the first bit of acquisition, Automattic acquired the ActivityPub plugin (and also convinced the developer to continue working on the plugin with Automattic).
If you’ve never heard of the ActivityPub plugin, you’re not alone. This is my first introduction to the plugin, as well, and it only has 2,000 active installs according to WordPress.org.
So – why the acquisition of such a small plugin?
Well, the ActivityPub plugin helps WordPress sites implement the ActivityPub protocol, which is an open protocol for social networking.
The protocol has gotten a lot of publicity because of Mastodon, but it’s not limited to just Mastodon.
Matt Mullenweg had already announced that Tumblr (owned by Automattic) would add ActivityPub support back in November 2022.
It seems like Automattic’s ActivityPub acquisition will help them further expand ActivityPub’s popularity with WordPress websites. Beyond the plugin itself, they’re also hiring the developer to work full time on continuing to expand the ActivityPub integration.
However, the TechCrunch article linked above notes that Automattic’s focus on open social protocols is not limited to just ActivityPub – the company is also playing around with other protocols like Nostr and Bluesky.
If you want to learn more, WP Tavern also has a post about the acquisition.
Advanced Ads plugin acquired by MonetizeMore
In another big acquisition from the past month, the popular Advanced Ads plugin was acquired by MonetizeMore.
If you’re not familiar with Advanced Ads, it, along with competitor Ad Inserter, is one of the most popular solutions for managing and/or selling advertisements on WordPress.
You can use it to insert ad platforms like AdSense and Media.net, add your own custom banner ads, promote affiliate products, or sell advertisements directly to businesses.
What’s interesting here is that MonetizeMore is not a WordPress plugin company, which is how most other WordPress acquisitions go. Instead, it’s a service for ad revenue optimization.
Given that, the acquisition seems like a strategic move to help MonetizeMore expand further into the WordPress space.
Thomas Maier, the Advanced Ads founder, will continue to work on the plugin, but with less of a focus on the administrative details. The rest of the Advanced Ads team will also be coming along for the ride.
According to Maier, there are no plans to change the pricing of Advanced Ads or make other large changes.
If you want to learn more, you can check out these posts:
Themekraft publishes an open letter describing issues with the WordPress.org plugin review process
Over the years, it seems like there’s always been drama surrounding the WordPress.org plugin and theme directories.
It makes sense – the stakes for developers can be very high, with any problems or suspensions leading to serious issues and loss of revenue (Ionut’s August 2016 transparency report details how this affected the Zerif Lite theme, a since-discontinued theme that was part of the family).
Fast-forward to March 2023 and these same types of issues are still getting publicity.
In this case, it’s Themekraft’s open letter to the plugin review team (and about the plugin review process in general).
It’s one of those situations where you can sympathize with both sides:
- For the plugin review team, it’s a difficult and often thankless job (or sometimes “thankless” would be an upgrade as they need to deal with vitriol).
- For developers, the rules do seem to be arbitrarily applied in some situations, such as Themekraft’s examples of WooCommerce being able to break the same types of rules that get other plugins suspended.
If you want to dig into the issue, you can start by reading the original Themekraft letter. There’s also some discussion from other product owners in the comments on that post, as well as some chatter on Twitter.
That sums up our April 2023 WordPress news roundup. Anything we missed?
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