Howdy WordPress lovers, I’m back with the April 2018 iteration of The WordPress Update.
If you’re not already familiar, The WordPress Update is our monthly segment where we collect all the best WordPress news and articles from around the web, pepper in some of our own thoughts, and share it with you both here and in the newsletter (you can sign up for the newsletter by clicking that big orange box to the right →).
In April, we got a new WordPress release to squash some bugs. And it almost included a dashboard prompt to install the Gutenberg editor plugin.
There were also big changes to the WordPress.org theme directory review process. And a few different sources published quality articles on the upcoming EU GDPR act, which goes into effect near the end of May.
Keep on reading to catch up with everything noteworthy that happened in April 2018.
WordPress 4.9.5 squashes bugs and fixes some security issues
While we haven’t seen WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg yet, April did bring us one new release:
WordPress 4.9.5 was a maintenance and security release, so there wasn’t anything in the way of new features (though you will see one feature that got left out in the next section).
What WordPress 4.9.5 did do though is fix three security issues, as well as 25 other bugs including issues with caption shortcode styles, PHP 7.2 compatibility, confusing error strings, and more.
Because this is a security and maintenance release, you should absolutely update your WordPress site as quickly as possible (if you haven’t already).
We almost had a Gutenberg prompt in the dashboard…before it got pushed back
In late March, WP Tavern reported that WordPress 4.9.5 would also bring a more aggressive prompt to get people to try the plugin version of the Gutenberg editor.
The prompt would have sat in the main WordPress dashboard screen and included a CTA that looked something like this:
However, at the last minute, the team made the decision to hold back on adding the prompt until the next release. Here’s their reasoning:
Change of plans, this won’t be happening in the 4.9.5 release: there are still a few issues we’d like to fix up the callout happens, they won’t be done in time for the 4.9.5 release. I expect there will be a smaller 4.9.6 release that contains this callout, and any bug fixes that happen to be ready.
You can see WPTavern’s original announcement about the notification here. And it sounds like you may be seeing the “try Gutenberg” CTA for yourself once WordPress 4.9.6 drops (unless things change again, of course).
There are big changes to the WordPress.org theme review process
In order for a developer to get their theme listed at WordPress.org, they have to go through a review process to ensure their theme complies with code standards and other rules.
This process is good for end users because it ensures a certain minimum quality level for every single theme at WordPress.org. But theme developers have always had to deal with a lengthy queue to get reviewed, which led to some complaints because of how long it took to get a theme listed at WordPress.org.
That’s going to change with an update to the theme review process at WordPress.org.
Now, the new theme review process offloads more of the responsibility onto the theme author, rather than requiring input from a member of the WordPress Theme Review team.
That doesn’t mean it’s open season, though. Themes will still be reviewed for:
- Malicious or egregious stuff
- Content Creation
And theme developers are still encouraged to follow the other standards.
Moderators will also check themes after they go live to ensure they meet the requirements. If any issues are found, the theme author will be notified to make changes. If the developer doesn’t respond and fix the issue(s), the theme could be temporarily or permanently suspended.
To read the official changes, you can check out this post at WordPress.org. And the comments section of this WPTavern post has some good discussion about the changes, as well. It had well over 90 comments last I checked.
Some quality posts to help prepare you for the upcoming GDPR
If you aren’t already familiar with this little four-letter acronym, GDPR is short for General Data Protection Regulation. It’s a European Union law that deals with data protection and privacy. It’s not just a law either, it’s a major overhaul that will affect any website that does business in the EU.
While it was originally passed in April of 2016, the law included a two-year grace period before it goes into effect. That two year grace period is up on May 25, 2018, when the GDPR officially goes into action.
While it’s probably unlikely that the EU goes after small mom and pop blogs for violations, the law definitely has teeth in the form of monetary punishments. And even something as simple as accepting comments at your blog could run afoul of the GDPR if you don’t make some changes to notify users that you’re storing their information.
Because the GDPR is about to go into effect next month, we saw a bunch of great posts about how the GDPR will affect WordPress sites.
Whether you just want to learn more about the GDPR or you want some actionable steps to make your site compliant, here are some of the best GDPR posts from April:
- GDPR Compliance Tools in WordPress – A post from the core team about how they plan to address GDPR compliance in the WordPress core.
- The Lowdown on GDPR Compliance for WordPress Users – A more comprehensive post from the team at Kinsta.
- Everything You Wanted to Ask a GDPR Expert but Were Afraid to Ask – Another comprehensive post from WPMU DEV. This one is an interview with Kåre Mulvad Steffensen rather than a regular blog post, though.
Jetpack 6.0 also added some new features to make itself GDPR compliant, which helps to paint a picture of how plugin developers themselves will have to change to stay compliant.
You can now build your entire theme with Elementor
Most WordPress users love page builders because they make it easy to design content with drag and drop, rather than needing to know code.
Up until lately, that’s mostly all page builders did – content.
Now, popular page builders are moving into letting you design your entire site – header, footer, templates, etc. with the same drag and drop interface.
We already saw this with the release of Beaver Themer add-on for Beaver Builder last year. Now, Elementor Pro also includes theme building functionality.
All that means that it’s never been easier to build a custom WordPress site!
You can read more about Elementor Pro’s theme building features here.
And you can also check out our original Elementor review for a look at the regular page building functionality.
Learn how Delicious Brains creates its WordPress plugins
Ever wished that you could see behind the scenes of a successful WordPress plugin shop?
Delicious Brains, the makers of highly successful developer-focused plugins like WP Migrate DB and WP Offload S3, published a high-level overview of the process they use for developing plugins from “idea to release”.
You’ll get to learn about cool things like wireframes and automated testing!
The WordPress Accessibility team seeks contributors
Want to be part of helping WordPress maintain its position as the most popular content management system in the world?
Part of that involves making WordPress accessible to everyone.
If you want to get involved, the WordPress Accessibility team is looking for contributors for its handbook project. If you join, you can help create a collection of “tips, resources, tools, and best practices” to educate people about WordPress accessibility.
That wraps up all the most important WordPress news and articles for April 2018.
Make sure to subscribe to the newsletter by using the box below. And also check back next month for all the exciting news that’s bound to drop in May.