Hey folks, I’m back with another installment of The WordPress Update.

If you didn’t catch our previous news drop, The WordPress Update is our new monthly feature where we collect the best news of the month, spice it up with some of our own thoughts and commentary, and share it with you all here and in the newsletter (you should sign up for the newsletter so that you don’t miss out).

This month, we have goodies on back-to-back WordPress updates, Facebook users’ opinions on WordPress, developers doing cool things with Gutenberg, the WordPress Philosophy, and lots more fun stuff.

Let’s get started!

The fastest update release ever – WordPress 4.9.3 followed by WordPress 4.9.4

In early February, we got a quick succession of WordPress updates.

First, WordPress 4.9.3 was released on February 7th. WordPress 4.9.3 was a basic maintenance release that fixed 34 different bugs in total, including some Customizer issues and PHP 7.2 compatibility.

It wasn’t an especially exciting release…

What was exciting was the fact that WordPress 4.9.4 was released just hours after the initial WordPress 4.9.3 release.

So why such a quick turnaround?

WordPress 4.9.3 unintentionally released a critical error in the WordPress core automatic update process. WordPress 4.9.4 fixed that bug. You can read more about the entire issue at this WPTavern post.

But, unless you’re hosting at a managed WordPress host that handles updates for you, you’ll still need to manually update to WordPress 4.9.4 from WordPress 4.9.3 (if you haven’t already).

Assuming you’re still stuck on WordPress 4.9.3, you can do this by going to Dashboard → Updates and clicking the button to update WordPress.

Facebook users chime in with what they expect from WordPress

If you’re plugged in to the WordPress community, it’s pretty easy to put yourself in an echo chamber. You find the people that mesh with your views on things and forget that there are a lot of different WordPress users out there (remember – WordPress powers over 29% of all the websites on the Internet. That’s a lot of users!).

That’s why I found this post from Cloudways especially interesting.

Basically, Mustaasam Saleem went into two popular Facebook groups and asked people a question (with a $100 hosting credit for some incentivization). The question was pretty general:

Being a WordPress user, what improvements you would like to see in the WordPress core, plugins, themes and hosting providers?

You should read the whole post for all the responses. But what I found noteworthy was the diversity of responses.

Some of the common threads were:

  • Some type of core support for caching, as it’s such an essential function. Basically everyone installs a caching plugin anyway – so why not make it a part of the core?
  • Better options for managing plugins. For example, notifications when a plugin has been removed from the WordPress.org directory or when a plugin hasn’t been updated in a long time.
  • A better editor. We’ll see if Gutenberg can check that box soon!

WordPress Developers are digging into Gutenberg

As the Gutenberg Editor draws closer and closer to its release in WordPress 5.0, we’ve seen a bunch of great posts from existing developers and WordPress products about how they’re going to integrate with Gutenberg.

Here’s a roundup of some of the best from February:

The popular Gravity Forms plugin created a Gravity Forms block that lets you embed a form into a post or page. Beyond a nice live preview, the block also lets you set conditional logic controls for when the form should display.

In the future, they plan to add support for things like login forms and polls, as well.

George from The Events Calendar also has a neat post on their plans for Gutenberg, including some options for how to handle the metabox.

Finally, GiveWP also introduced a new #PlayingwithBlocks ongoing series that will detail their experiments and plans for the Gutenberg editor. You can check out the first post in that series here.

As I see these types of posts from developers, I’m becoming more and more excited about the potential future with Gutenberg. I’m still worried about the sudden shift in WordPress 5.0. But once Gutenberg is out in the wild, I think developers will do some awesome things with it.

Matt Cromwell shares the WordPress philosophy

There’s definitely something unique about WordPress and the WordPress community. You’ve probably felt it when you asked a question and found four hundred blog posts and two hundred helpful people willing to put in time and effort to help you fix it. For free.

In this post, Matt Cromwell introduces you to “The WordPress Way” and explains why it matters.

This is the first post in an ongoing series, so expect an update on The WordPress Bill Of Rights next month!

Jetpack adds lazy loading for images

Lazy loading images is a popular tactic to speed up WordPress by optimizing the way your images load. Essentially, it works by delaying loading images that appear below the visitor’s visible area until that visitor actually starts scrolling down the site.

Because the images don’t need to be visible until they’re actually going to appear on the visitor’s screen, you can load less content on the initial page load.

While there are several quality lazy loading plugins already in existence, lazy loading just got a whole lot easier for casual users.

Here’s why:

Jetpack 5.8 added a new lazy loading images module that you can turn on for your site. You can see more about how the feature functions in the video below:

Given the popularity and ease of use of Jetpack, this makes lazy loading a whole lot more accessible.

If you’re already using Jetpack, give this new feature a try and see if it’s able to speed up your site’s load times!

Help get a WordCamp in your city

The WordCamp incubator program is back and accepting applications for 2018.

If you’re not familiar, the WordPress Incubator program helps provide support for underserved locations trying to host their first WordCamp event.

If you’ve been trying to get a WordCamp going in your city but haven’t been able to reach critical mass, you can apply to the Incubator and try to get some extra help! The deadline for applications is March 15, 2018.

You can read more about the WordPress Incubator program in this announcement post.

Automattic gets a new President

While Automattic and WordPress.com aren’t WordPress, it’s hard to deny the major role that they play in the WordPress ecosystem.

That’s why it’s worth checking out this interview with the new WordPress.com President, Kinsey Wilson. Kinsey’s coming from a background at NPR and the New York Times, so he definitely has some interesting experience to bring to bear on WordPress.com.

How WordPress shaped my path as a Developer

If you have no interest in development, this one might not resonate with you. But I think a lot of us in the WordPress community have at least some passion for development…even if it’s not something we’re experts at (or even trained in).

That’s why I like this post from Razvan Onofrei of PixelGrade. Razvan talks about his previous experiences, how they made him the developer that he is, and some tips for doing things in a smart way.

I hope you guys enjoyed the best WordPress news from February 2018. Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter and check back next month to catch up on all the cool stuff that’s bound to happen in March.

Posted by Colin Newcomer

Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer for hire with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. He helps clients grow their web visibility by writing primarily about digital marketing, WordPress, and B2B topics.