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WPTavern: Genesis Framework and StudioPress Themes Add Gutenberg Compatibility, More Gutenberg Features Coming Soon

WPTavern: Genesis Framework and StudioPress Themes Add Gutenberg Compatibility, More Gutenberg Features Coming Soon

After WP Engine acquired StudioPress in June, the company began investing in expanding the Genesis team. WP Engine is hiring new people to work on the framework and expand support and community activities.

On the latest episode of the newly revived StudioPress.fm podcast, StudioPress founder Brian Gardner said one of the reasons he sold the company was because he needed outside help to take it where it needed to go in the Gutenberg era. The Genesis community has nothing to worry about when the new editor launches in WordPress 5.0, because StudioPress has already made its framework and themes Gutenberg-ready.

“With regards to Genesis, the good news is that it has no substantial backwards-compatibility issues with Gutenberg,” WP Engine CTO Jason Cohen said. “The main focus of updates to the StudioPress themes are focused on adding styles for the new Gutenberg blocks. However, what we’re most excited about are the brand new features we will be adding to Genesis and the StudioPress themes, that Gutenberg helps enable.”

Cohen said the Genesis community can expect their entire product line to become Gutenberg-first themes that add new features to enhance users’ experience in the editor.

“Beyond just being ‘compatible,’ Genesis will play a big role in being Gutenberg-First,” Cohen said. “That means not only supporting the software and ideals of Gutenberg, but using them for new features. In doing so, it’s our intention to light the way for the countless agencies and developers who use WordPress to fuel incredible digital experiences that are made even easier with Gutenberg.”

Cohen said WP Engine will update all StudioPress themes to include additional features for Gutenberg once the new editor launches in WordPress 5.0. If the release stays on its current schedule, users can expect to see 5.0 on November 19.


After WP Engine acquired StudioPress in June, the company began investing in expanding the Genesis team. WP Engine is hiring new people to work on the framework and expand support and community activities. On the latest episode of the newly revived StudioPress.fm podcast, StudioPress founder Brian Gardner said one of the reasons he sold the company was because he needed outside help to take it where it needed to go in the Gutenberg era. The Genesis community has nothing to worry about when the new editor launches in WordPress 5.0, because StudioPress has already made its framework and themes Gutenberg-ready.…

Source: WordPress

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WPTavern: Gutenberg Team Addresses Accessibility Concerns, Highlights Tools and Features that Surpass the Classic Editor

WPTavern: Gutenberg Team Addresses Accessibility Concerns, Highlights Tools and Features that Surpass the Classic Editor

The Gutenberg team has officially responded to recent concerns about the new editor’s accessibility. Matias Ventura, the project’s technical lead, published a post with examples of the accessibility efforts the team has made, many which may not be easy to discover. These include features such as keyboard shortcuts, slash command and insertion, high-contrast mode, and mechanisms for navigating regions and blocks with the keyboard.

Ventura highlighted the audible messages feature that works with screen readers and posted a demo of the fully automated end-to-end testing. It allows contributors to test a sequence of operations with the keyboard (without mouse controls). He also identified several fixes landing in the next releases, including accessibility improvements to the date and color picker features, block navigation, and better focus management.

“A large amount of work and effort has gone in building mechanisms necessary to make the editor accessible for a wide user base,” Ventura said. “For example, it is entirely possible right now to recreate the ‘demo post’ that comes with the Gutenberg plugin using the keyboard. In many ways, these tools are better and more sophisticated than what we offer in the current editor.”

Although 270 accessibility-specific tickets have been closed to date, Ventura acknowledged there are still more than 90 remaining. “The goal is to make this experience as seamless as possible for all users,” he said.

Early reactions to the post do not dispute that accessibility work has been done but concerns about Gutenberg’s overall complexity remain. Fixing this may not be as simple as targeting isolated interactions in the editor.

“We need to continue to develop close feedback loops with different users interacting through their preferred tools to make sure what we build is relevant to their experiences,” Ventura said. Throughout the process of building and testing Gutenberg, contributors have referenced “short feedback loops,” an agile process term that seems to make its way into these conversations.

However, the frequent built-in checkpoints don’t seem to have served accessibility needs well, as the accessibility team in convinced that having their input much earlier in the design process would have made a bigger difference further downstream.

“We’ve been begging for React development assistance focused on accessibility since the beginning,” Accessibility specialist Joe Dolson said in a post addressing what he perceives to be common myths about Gutenberg’s accessibility. “None of us were already primarily JavaScript-focused, let alone React-focused, and with limited time (spread across Gutenberg, the rest of WordPress, all of the WordPress sites themselves, and theme concerns), managing to keep up with the breakneck pace of development was never feasible.”

WordPress core contributor John James Jacoby commented on Ventura’s post, calling attention to the complexity of the interface for all users, including those with and without accessibility needs.

“My concern is that many of the above things do not really improve accessibility in the broader sense,” Jacoby said. “Instead, they make a complex user interface more complicated by littering the landscape with hidden keyboard shortcuts that are likely to be undiscoverable by regular-bodied folks, let alone folks who lack dexterity in their hands or fingers or eyes to find/understand/navigate/enjoy them.

“These are users who demand a semantically simpler application to get their jobs done. Though they’re used to quickly navigating the useless mixed-up garbage-markup soup that comes from web development as a whole, it doesn’t help to add extra ‘accessibility-centric’ approaches – we should be making the existing approaches accessible first, and adding new approaches after.”

Dolson echoes that sentiment in his recent post. “Where Gutenberg falls down is on the overall use of the system,” he said. “Even though most individual interactions are handled effectively, the overall complexity of the system creates an enormous barrier to users if they are keyboard dependent or using a screen reader.”

The community has advocated for a myriad of different needs and wishes during the course of Gutenberg’s development, but any interface created for the millions of people that WordPress aims to serve will inevitably have to deliver some compromises. Matt Mullenweg answered the feedback regarding complexity from his perspective as the project lead:

“We think that the current interface could be a ton more streamlined, but we’ve compromised a lot of the alternative approaches we’ve wanted to take based on accessibility feedback and trying to have a single interface that serves all types of users,” Mullenweg said. “If we branched, it would be a different discussion and possibly serve multiple audiences better. There’s a lot of FUD though, ie, that’s going to be illegal in EU.”

Ventura’s post is tightly focused on Gutenberg’s existing accessibility features and makes no mention of the audit that would have measured if it meets WordPress’ own stated accessibility standards. These standards require that all new or updated code released in WordPress must conform with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines at level AA. Without an examination of how the product meets these standards, much of the the discussion revolves around subjective opinions about complexity. It’s difficult to quantify issues like cognitive overload.

“It is entirely possible that Gutenberg will come within a hair of passing WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 at level AA at release, but still be inaccessible,” Dolson said. “This is because the micro-interactions are being managed well but the macro-interactions are not. This is a flaw with using WCAG 2.0 as a standard; it does not handle address large scale issues effectively. The cognitive load inherent in the current navigation requirements for assistive technology is overwhelming, and that is an accessibility issue – just not one effectively reflected in our current standards requirements.”

One of the myths Dolson’s post dispelled is that the Gutenberg team doesn’t care about accessibility. Ventura’s post calls attention what he believes to be “a significant volume of accessibility-specific tools and functionalities” in Gutenberg that surpass those of the Classic Editor. The team has worked hard to address accessibility concerns but needs better communication across teams in order to continue serving the wider community of WordPress users with accessibility needs.

“There have been a lot of issues on the way that could have been avoided if a React developer had been available to assist with significant dedicated time earlier than 6 weeks before the proposed release; but those were issues coming from ignorance, not a lack of compassion,” Dolson said.

“I don’t know what Gutenberg will be at release. But the accessibility team and the Gutenberg team are working hard to try and reach the best solutions we can.”


The Gutenberg team has officially responded to recent concerns about the new editor’s accessibility. Matias Ventura, the project’s technical lead, published a post with examples of the accessibility efforts the team has made, many which may not be easy to discover. These include features such as keyboard shortcuts, slash command and insertion, high-contrast mode, and mechanisms for navigating regions and blocks with the keyboard. Ventura highlighted the audible messages feature that works with screen readers and posted a demo of the fully automated end-to-end testing. It allows contributors to test a sequence of operations with the keyboard (without mouse controls).…

Source: WordPress

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WPTavern: Learn How to Build an Interactive Prototype with Dave Martin’s Free JavaScript for Designers Course

WPTavern: Learn How to Build an Interactive Prototype with Dave Martin’s Free JavaScript for Designers Course

Product designer Dave Martin has published a free video course called JavaScript for Designers. The course is made up of 46 bite-sized videos that walk students through the basics via a hands-on tutorial for building an interactive HTML prototype.

Martin said he created the course specifically for designers who have been putting off learning how to code with JavaScript. He focused on concepts that are applicable to designers in their jobs, teaching skills that help them communicate to developers exactly how they want an app to behave.

Coming from a designer’s perspective, Martin said most JavaScript tutorials are “dry and boring,” because they are written by developers. Ordinarily, these types of courses begin with JavaScript’s historical roots and progress from variables to arrays to objects, losing many learners along the way. Martin’s course is built more like a tutorial. Students will replicate some of the functionality found in a site like Dribbble. At the end, students should have a sufficient foundation of JavaScript that enables them to build an interactive HTML prototype.

One of the other important ways this course is different is that the giant “Get Started” button on the page doesn’t take you to a registration form or make you sign up for dripped emails. It simply scrolls down the page so you can dive into the videos. Participants can download the code and follow along with the tutorial.

Today’s announcement from WooSesh that WooCommerce is testing its new Javascript-driven interface is just another reminder that JavaScript is overtaking modern UI design and architecture. JavaScript knowledge is going to become increasingly in demand, and designers who have a decent grasp of it will land themselves higher paying positions. Even if you’re not a designer, Martin’s course may hold your interest better than traditional JavaScript beginners’ courses. Check out the videos at jsfordesigners.davemart.in.


Product designer Dave Martin has published a free video course called JavaScript for Designers. The course is made up of 46 bite-sized videos that walk students through the basics via a hands-on tutorial for building an interactive HTML prototype. Martin said he created the course specifically for designers who have been putting off learning how to code with JavaScript. He focused on concepts that are applicable to designers in their jobs, teaching skills that help them communicate to developers exactly how they want an app to behave. Coming from a designer’s perspective, Martin said most JavaScript tutorials are “dry and…

Source: WordPress

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WPTavern: Gutenberg Accessibility Audit Postponed Indefinitely

WPTavern: Gutenberg Accessibility Audit Postponed Indefinitely
photo credit: pollascc

Discussion surrounding Gutenberg’s independent accessibility audit is heating up. Two weeks ago, Matthew MacPherson, who was named WordPress 5.0’s new accessibility lead, proposed the audit and agreed to it being performed by an independent third party. The audit had gained strong support among accessibility contributors and others following the ticket.

After soliciting detailed proposals from four companies, MacPherson has since rescinded the offer to coordinate the audit at this time and it seems he was unaware that he didn’t have the authority to authorize it in the first place.

“For at least the time being, Automattic has decided to forgo conducting an Accessibility audit on Gutenberg,” MacPherson said. He cited the following reasons:

  1. “an audit will not be actionable given our release timeline, because…
  2. the audit will not affect release timing, so…
  3. it would be more prudent to explore an audit on a less rushed timeline in the future”

MacPherson apologized for “getting hopes up and then failing the community” on this particular issue. He is supportive of getting an audit but it is not a priority to complete before Gutenberg’s merge proposal.

“I’m hopeful we’ll explore an audit going forward, but unfortunately it will not happen before the merge proposal and thus I’m closing this issue as a won’t fix,” MacPherson said. “I would still like to blog about the state of Gutenberg accessibility, both the good and the bad. We’re making some improvements to keyboard navigation, color contrast, focus behavior, and date/color-pickers just this week.”

Those following the ticket were disappointed in the decision and several heated replies have been hidden and/or moderated. The issue has since been locked and unlocked several times since the announcement that Automattic has decided to forgo the audit.

“Literally every person with disabilities who has tested Gutenberg, both recently and at the outset, has flagged blocking issues as to why it’s not accessible,” Accessibility team member Amanda Rush said. “And user testing is just as important to accessibility as is WCAG 2.0 level AA compliance.”

Because MacPherson said the decision came from Automattic, dissidents on the other side of the issue are saying that the company is acting in its own interests, as the decision was delivered without much explanation beyond an audit not fitting into Gutenberg’s timeline.

“The idea of accessibility being punted to meet a release deadline is what people have been worried about for over a year, and those concerns have not been alleviated,” Morten Rand-Hendriksen said during a recent Accessibility team meeting on Slack before the audit was post-poned. “A clear message about what would happen should the audit come back with substantial issues and recommendations would greatly improve communication and take some of the tension out of the conversation in my opinion.”

In response to one contributor asking how the audit might affect Gutenberg’s timeline, MacPherson said he doesn’t have veto power over the release, nor does he have the data to make that assessment.

“I’m still not convinced there are sufficient Accessibility issues that prevent a release,” MacPherson said. “If the second point changes, I’ll relay that info. I plan to be an advocate, but I don’t set the timelines and I also don’t have solid data around accessibility. That’s the point of the audit: so we can speak from a place of hard data.”

An independent accessibility audit would have revealed whether the team’s current perceptions of Gutenberg’s lack of accessibility are accurate or inflated. It would also give the team’s new leadership the data he needs in order to make the most accurate recommendations regarding its readiness for the world. Kevin Hoffman advocated for pushing on with the audit regardless, in case WordPress 5.0 comes on a later timeline.

“The January 22, 2019 date would allow more than three months between today and the release of 5.0 to complete an audit and take action,” Hoffman said. “The reasons above suggest that we cannot get an audit completed and significantly improve accessibility in three months time. If true, that is all the more reason to start the process now and respond to the audit by fixing as many issues as we can before 5.0 releases.

“The idea that the timeline will become less rushed after 5.0 (when it’s in the hands of real-world users who need it most) makes no sense at all.”

While Twitter’s court of public opinion cannot answer the question of whether or not Gutenberg is accessible, an independent audit would give contributors a good shot at resolving the most critical issues.

“I really like the idea of a professional audit, though I don’t recall us ever doing one of these in WordPress, certainly not a condition for a release,” Gutenberg merge lead Gary Pendergast said. “I’d love to see something like it happen at some point. WordPress has always tried to get most of the way there on accessibility by sticking to common patterns and semantics, with the difference covered by key efforts of volunteers everyone on the Accessibility team doing testing and filing actionable bug reports. Gutenberg’s move to being an entirely JavaScript-based application has made it harder to apply those patterns, but we can work together to establish new patterns, a new baseline.”

Although there is no precedent for it, in this instance where Automattic’s perception of the editor’s accessibility differs wildly from that of the community, an outside audit might mitigate some of the conflict surrounding the issue.

Pendergast said that despite best intentions and prioritizing accessibility, there is a possibility the Gutenberg team may not be able to deliver an “acceptable UX for assistive technology users by the time 5.0 is released.”

“I’m sorry,” Pendergast said. “Despite the best intentions of everyone on the Gutenberg team, we haven’t done enough. I can honestly say that accessibility has always been a priority, but it hasn’t been a high enough priority, and we’ve done a poor job of communicating where accessibility has been improved. I mentioned some of those improvements in my earlier comment, but those improvements are of no benefit if we haven’t hit the baseline accessible experience.”

The challenge of building in accessibility at the design stage, instead of retrofitting it after the fact, is one that WordPress is still struggling to get right in the Gutenberg era. Accessibility experts with React skills are few and far between, so it’s not easy to get fixes for all the issues testers are finding.

“In some meetings we’ve discussed how to make accessibility integrated in the design process (design in its broader sense) since the beginning,” Accessibility specialist Andrea Fercia said during the team’s most recent meeting on Slack. “This is certainly an area were our communication and knowledge sharing should improve.”


photo credit: pollas – cc Discussion surrounding Gutenberg’s independent accessibility audit is heating up. Two weeks ago, Matthew MacPherson, who was named WordPress 5.0’s new accessibility lead, proposed the audit and agreed to it being performed by an independent third party. The audit had gained strong support among accessibility contributors and others following the ticket. After soliciting detailed proposals from four companies, MacPherson has since rescinded the offer to coordinate the audit at this time and it seems he was unaware that he didn’t have the authority to authorize it in the first place. “For at least the time being,…

Source: WordPress

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WPTavern: ACF 5.8 Beta 1 Introduces Blocks Feature, Release Slated for November

WPTavern: ACF 5.8 Beta 1 Introduces Blocks Feature, Release Slated for November
photo credit: Adabo! 3d printed tetris blocks(license)

Advanced Custom Fields is now actively testing its new block creation feature in ACF 5.8 beta 1, released this week. ACF Blocks is a feature aimed at PHP developers who have not taken the deep dive into JavaScript yet. It essentially offers a shortcut to creating custom blocks using PHP and HTML instead of JavaScript.

“We believe that ACF Blocks is one of the more important features ever added to our plugin,” ACF representative Eric Karkovack said. “It levels the playing field and allows more developers to take advantage of Gutenberg’s key feature.” The feature was designed to allow WordPress developers who use ACF to maintain their current workflow for extending the editor.

ACF Blocks allows developers to register a custom block type from a functions.php file. From there they can create a field group and use any ACF fields in the block. Rendering the block is the same process that’s used for displaying custom fields, with the notable addition of wrapping the HTML + PHP in a function.

The ACF team plans to include the new blocks feature in version 5.8, which is anticipated to arrive in November.

Creating custom blocks in this way seems like a stopgap measure for developers who haven’t had the time to learn how to extend Gutenberg before WordPress 5.0 arrives. This feature may be a useful abstraction for those who need to maintain their current workflow with ACF but it postpones the inevitable for developers who want to be truly proficient at extending the new editor. JavaScript skills will be required to properly understand what is going on under the hood.


photo credit: Adabo! 3d printed tetris blocks – (license) Advanced Custom Fields is now actively testing its new block creation feature in ACF 5.8 beta 1, released this week. ACF Blocks is a feature aimed at PHP developers who have not taken the deep dive into JavaScript yet. It essentially offers a shortcut to creating custom blocks using PHP and HTML instead of JavaScript. “We believe that ACF Blocks is one of the more important features ever added to our plugin,” ACF representative Eric Karkovack said. “It levels the playing field and allows more developers to take advantage of Gutenberg’s…

Source: WordPress

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WPTavern: WordPress Privacy Contributors Begin Work on V2 Roadmap, Form Cross-Platform Working Group

WPTavern: WordPress Privacy Contributors Begin Work on V2 Roadmap, Form Cross-Platform Working Group
photo credit: Infosec Images Privacy blue(license)

Contributors to WordPress’ core Privacy component are collaborating on a V2 roadmap to address broader privacy and data protection issues that fall outside of legal requirements. The group organized at the beginning of the year to work on GDPR-specific objectives but has since expanded its scope to tackle concerns that are not attached to any specific piece of legislation.

The Privacy team meets weekly and has approximately a dozen contributors who show up regularly to work on tickets and issues. The working V2 roadmap identifies a list of common international privacy concerns, such as data minimization, data integrity, transparency and notice, and contributors will explore their impact on a few core focus areas:

  • Core privacy features
    • Gravatar privacy controls
    • Embed privacy controls
  • Plugin privacy
    • For administrators
    • For developers
  • Consent and logging
  • WP-CLI support
  • Multisite support

The team has agreed to use a Privacy by Design (PbD) approach, which uses a proactive framework to anticipate privacy issues before they are a problem for the user.

Privacy team contributors are also monitoring two specific pieces of legislation that may impact WordPress site owners in 2019 – the US California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and the EU ePrivacy Directive overhaul. They plan to examine specific requirements once that information is available and will assist site owners in reaching compliance.

New Privacy Working Group to Facilitate Collaboration across Open Source Communities

At Drupal Europe 2018 a group of WordPress and Drupal contributors met to discuss the possibility of welcoming teams from major open source projects to work together on shared concerns. WordPress Privacy team contributor Heather Burns attended the first test run of the working group in the Open Source Lounge at the conference.

“For the working group we have the big three – Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla – and we also spoke with representatives from the smaller projects like Neos and Typo3,” Burns said. “We’re all dealing with similar issues but from different approaches.”

Burns said one of the goals of the working group is to push the idea forward that privacy is a common, positive, proactive value which can be taught and shared across projects. Members will discussion questions like whether privacy fixes belong in core or modules, how privacy notices pull information from different plugins and modules, and what laws are coming up that would require open source CMSs to build in some functionality in advance.

“It’s a way of pooling resources, code libraries, and briefings, as well as giving us a forum to share experiences,” Burns said. “For example, we’re going to arrange for Drupal’s privacy lead to give a live video demo of their GDPR tools to our core group, and we’re going to do the same for them.”

The privacy working group is being set up through the Drupal community structure and members are in the process of coordinating some funding. More information on funding will be available in the next few weeks.

Privacy Contributors Seek to Change the Perception of Privacy to a Positive, Proactive Value

In addition to collaborating across the broader open source community, the privacy working group endeavors to educate their communities on the inherent value of privacy instead of simply focusing on the consequences of companies being forced to pay a fee if they don’t meet legal obligations.

“We’re very keen to also shift the perception of what privacy is, and that it’s not just seen as being about negative legal obligations for GDPR, CCPA, etc.,” Burns said. “We want people to think of privacy like accessibility: just the right thing to do for user protection.”

Burns speaks about privacy at WordPress and Drupal conferences and how projects can have differing cultural, historical, and legal approaches to privacy. Cultural barriers to the recognition of privacy as a core value is one of the privacy team’s biggest challenges in advocating contributions that respect and protect users’ rights.

“What I’m proudest of this year is helping people to understand each other better,” Burns said. “We all come to the table assuming we share the same cultural, historical, and legal views of what privacy means and what role it should play, when the truth is there are wildly different views held even within project teams.

“To paraphrase that awful quote, we don’t know what we don’t know. What I do is help people to understand where we’re all coming from and what we don’t actually know. From there, I define what a healthy approach to privacy should involve outside reactive legal obligations, using a methodology derived from a number of international frameworks and treaties on privacy. It’s a matter of inspiring people to realize that as open source project contributors, we are people of enormous power and influence over privacy on the web. The actions we take within our projects, however small, can help to protect people from those who would use their data to hurt them. That’s the most important thing any developer can ever do.”


photo credit: Infosec Images Privacy blue – (license) Contributors to WordPress’ core Privacy component are collaborating on a V2 roadmap to address broader privacy and data protection issues that fall outside of legal requirements. The group organized at the beginning of the year to work on GDPR-specific objectives but has since expanded its scope to tackle concerns that are not attached to any specific piece of legislation. The Privacy team meets weekly and has approximately a dozen contributors who show up regularly to work on tickets and issues. The working V2 roadmap identifies a list of common international privacy concerns,…

Source: WordPress

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