WordPress News and Links — Feb 20, 2021

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Here is this week’s update on the latest WordPress news and links for Outcome Labs WordPress Care Plan customers and our newsletter subscribers.  We provide this so you are current on things that may apply to your site and to highlight opportunities to enhance your site to support your business goals. You can see other WordPress-related posts here.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us.

WordPress Contributors Discuss Scaling Back 2021 Releases

WordPress Executive Director, Josepha Haden Chomphosy did a post this week titled “Making WordPress Releases Easier”. Lots to consider for the WordPress community, but the bottom line is summarized in this quote:

This means that 4 major releases is not a viable plan in 2021.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy

You can read the entire post and see feedback here.

After this post was published, the release schedule for 2020/2021 was updated to show that release dates for WordPress 5.8 and beyond are yet to be confirmed. You can get more insight from this article on WordPress Tavern, “ WordPress Contributors Discuss Scaling Back Releases: “4 Major Releases Is Not a Viable Plan in 2021”.

WordPress Release Calendar

The Outcome Labs team is actively engaged in monitoring and evaluating the roadmap for the core WordPress platform so that we and our clients are always informed and prepared. We will keep you updated as we learn more.   

Gutenberg 9.9 Available—Last Version Targeted for 5.7

Justin Tadlock published an overview of Gutenberg 9.9 on WordPress Tavern.  This will be the last Gutenberg release that will be integrated into WordPress 5.7 which is scheduled to be released in March.  The release includes 157 changelog items. Here is Justin’s usual concise summary of this Gutenberg release:

“Version 9.9 of the Gutenberg plugin landed earlier today. While it includes several minor UI improvements, the biggest user-facing change is the inclusion of icon and background color options for the Social Links block. Theme authors can now add support for rounded image borders. They are also faced with a breaking change to their theme JSON files.”

You can read the entire article here.

Why WP Rocket Chose Gutenberg and How Performance Improved

Key players across the WordPress community continue to migrate to the WordPress Block Editor. WP Rocket is one of the leading WordPress caching plugins on the market. This article explains how the WP Rocket team ended up choosing the Block Editor to redevelop their website and the results, especially in performance, that they have achieved.

The WP Rocket Team highlighted the three reasons they chose to use the Block Editor.

  • Gutenberg is made by WordPress. Every day many contributors work to improve it. Gutenberg is really at the heart of WordPress. When choosing another option, it might not be updated when WordPress makes a change. 
  • Over time, with Gutenberg, you’ll need your theme for new development less and less. For instance, with the Full Site Editing planned in June 2021, you will have the ability to edit all elements of a site using Gutenberg blocks. What’s more important, you won’t need any technical skills to build it. The same goes if you want to create other elements. That’s a big step. And don’t forget that Gutenberg is open source and free.
  • Gutenberg allows you to take a step into the future. Sure, you could ignore it. But innovation doesn’t stop. At some point, it’s not an option anymore.

The WP Rocket team outlined the results they saw in the development process and once they deployed.  One of their key objectives was that the site would be performant.

Being a caching plugin that strives to improve the loading time of WordPress sites, it’s fair to say that web performance is a focus of our own site. In our opinion, Gutenberg is the tool that best addresses the performance issue.

WP Rocket Team

You can read the entire article here.

WooCommerce 5.0 Released

The WooCommerce team announced the availability of WooCommerce 5.0.  Even though they changed the “major” release indicator, this is actually considered a minor release.  Everything is backward-compatible with the prior version.  This version does require a database upgrade.

You can read the release announcement here. Outcome Labs WordPress Care Plan customers who use WooCommerce have already been updated.

Rich results, structured data, and Schema: a visual guide to help you understand

The Yoast team published a visual guide to help you understand how Google generates those prominent and often visual answers to search queries. They are called rich results and they’re powered by a thing called Schema. The article explains how search engines create these kinds of results and what structured data have to do with it.

You can read the entire article here.

Headless WordPress News

Interesting news this week about WP Engine deepening its investment in headless WordPress with the creation of a new team dedicated to furthering the technology developers rely on when opting for this architecture.  As part of this, they hired WPGraphQL creator and maintainer Jason Bahl and will be investing in more engineers and other roles to support decoupled setups.

You can read the entire article here.

The Outcome Labs team has active research projects evaluating static site platforms like Gatsby, NextJS, and others.  We have also been researching how solutions like WPGraphQL can be added to our WordPress toolset.

While it is not clear yet which of these will gain enough market share to go mainstream, we do recommend staying current on key developments in static site architectures.  There is a post on the Yoast blog from last August that is a pretty good introduction.  It is an interview with Miriam Schwab, the co-founder, and CEO of Strattic. Strattic converts WordPress websites into static sites. You can read it here.

WordPress TallahasseeMeetup Reminders

The Tallahassee WordPress Meetup has its next meetup scheduled for Tuesday, February 23, 2021, at 6:30 p.m.   This will be a virtual session on Google meet. You can get more details and register here.

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