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ManageWP.org Closed, Astra News, #WCEU 2021 Online, Unsplash Plugin 🗞️ August 2020 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP

📆  This is the August 2020 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.” 

Hello WordPress-ers! Welcome back to another roundup of news from our community. Starting with this edition, we’re changing the format of the post a little bit but you’ll still be getting the same amount of information as before.

A lot of important things happened in the past month and we’re happy to present them to you. To give you a sneak peek, ManageWP.org is out of business (the content aggregator, not the site management dashboard), the Astra theme hits 1 million active installs, WCEU 2021 will not take place in person, WordCamp US 2020 is 100% canceled, Unsplash launched its own WordPress plugin, while a vulnerability in All In One SEO Pack puts its users at risk.

But this is just a preview. We have more interesting headlines that you shouldn’t miss, so read further to get your monthly dose of WordPress stories.

August 2020 WordPress News with CodeinWP

Goodbye, ManageWP.org; Hello, WP Content

If you’ve been in the WordPress business for a long time, you’ve probably posted your content on ManageWP.org before. At least for us, it was a tradition to promote our monthly news roundups on this platform. But all good things come to an end apparently because the project was closed.

Why did ManageWP.org shut down? It seems that, among other reasons, the team couldn’t maintain it and spend time to keep it up to date anymore. ManageWP, the company owned by GoDaddy still exists, it’s only the news-sharing platform that was discontinued.

And what good timing that was for WP Content, which Delicious Brains launched as an alternative to ManageWP.org. WP Content offers the same features and lets you share your latest stories with the community via its modern interface. So, while we’re sad to let ManageWP.org go, let’s welcome this new content-sharing opportunity for authors.

WP Content

Celebrating 1 Million Active Installs! The Highest Number Any WordPress Theme Has Achieved

Astra becomes the first theme to ever reach one million active installs in the official repository, outside of the default WordPress themes. In the post above, Sujay Pawar, the co-founder of Brainstorm Force, published the timeline of Astra’s ascension, where you can see that it took the theme only three years to make one million users.

Astra stands out through its simple, basic, and flexible interface that, first of all, allows people who don’t have any technical background to create websites easily. Second of all, the theme also makes a great framework for all the developers out there to build websites for their clients. So it’s like a foundation that gives you all the right tools to elevate your own structure in a very intuitive way.

If we were to list the top five of the most popular non-default WordPress themes in the directory by active installs, Astra is followed by OceanWP (600,000), GeneratePress (300,000), Hello Elementor (300,000), and Storefront (200,000).

We dug into some of these popular options in our Astra vs Neve vs OceanWP vs GeneratePress comparison.

Astra with 2 mil installs

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WordCamp Europe 2021 will be online

This is an announcement that probably surprised most of us. If this year’s event had a good reason not to happen in person, it felt kinda ahead of schedule to receive the news about canceling the conference for the next year too. So, no WordCamp Europe in 2021 either, Porto has to wait.

The reason behind this hard decision is the uncertainty of these times and the danger of bringing together so many individuals from all the countries in the world in one space. The work everyone is putting into organizing a physical event could be in vain given the fact that the COVID-19 situation is not getting any better. Let alone the attendees’ eventual hassle of canceling flights and accommodations.

But the conference will still take place online, just like this June. If you didn’t attend it last month, maybe you’ll change your mind for the next season. And we actually might have to get used to online meetings for the near future since all the offline events of 2020 will be virtual.

WordCamp US 2020 is canceled (not just online)

In other big WordCamp news, there will be no WordCamp US 2020 – not even online. Originally, the team had opted to move WordCamp US 2020 online because of the pandemic. However, in late July, the organizing team made the decision to officially cancel the event due to “online event fatigue for attendees” and “the desire for WordCamp experiences to be traditional WordCamp experiences.”

With that being said, the WordPress Community Team and some organizers are still working on some ideas, like a potential 24-hour contributor day, so all might not be lost.

Unsplash Launches Official Plugin for WordPress

Unsplash, probably the most known provider of free images for the web, launched its own WordPress plugin this month. The tool brings over one million images into your dashboard that you can use freely in your posts and pages. You can simply import them via the block editor with one click, without having to leave your dashboard and download the files separately. Just search within the library and choose the image you want to add to your content. Unsplash can also help you deliver them via its own content delivery network (CDN).

But the joy of releasing the official plugin for WordPress didn’t last long because a few voices in the community – Matt Mullenweg included – started to question Unsplash’s terms and image licensing. They say that there’s no clarity regarding the restrictions and the rights of reusing certain pictures (this leads back to 2017 when Unsplash made its libraries incompatible with GPL and with WordPress themes and plugins).

Luke Chesser, the co-founder of Unsplash, responded: “As you know, themes have a requirement that themes and their content be GPL compatible. Outside of themes, WordPress’s application of GPL doesn’t apply to content in plugins. That’s why you can have a YouTube plugin, a Getty Images plugin, a Giphy plugin, etc. — none of this content is licensed under GPL. In most cases, plugins serve content that has a very narrow usage license, much, much more restrictive than the Unsplash License.”

Sarah Gooding at WP Tavern also has some good follow-up reporting on the whole kerfuffle.

2 Million Users Affected by Vulnerability in All in One SEO Pack

If you’re using All In One SEO Pack, you need to update the plugin as quickly as you can because it has a vulnerability that can put your site at risk. The vulnerability allows authenticated users with at least a contributor level to inject malicious scripts into your WordPress code. The plugin authors released a new version right after they discovered the security issue so make sure your site is up to date.

Wordfence labeled this as a medium-severity problem because it can lead to an entire site takeover, which leads, further on, to the possibility of losing crucial data.

The good news about this vulnerability is that it requires a high level of permissions to place the intruder code, which might give the attackers a hard time utilizing it.

This kind of issue is a reminder of why you shouldn’t give full access to all the users on your site. If someone must contribute, you can give them the least level of privileges so that they can perform their task and you can downgrade the level after they finish their work. Or delete the accounts that no one is using anymore.

What’s Coming in WordPress 5.5 (Features and Screenshots)

WordPress 5.5 is almost ready for launch, with its release candidate being available for everyone to download and test. There’s still some time left until August 11th, but let’s have a preview of what’s in it for us with the next release. Apart from the obvious block editor improvements, let’s bring up to the table other long-awaited features.

Auto-updates for themes and plugins is a feature that will save you precious time from updating manually and will have a significant contribution to the overall security of the WordPress sites. Speaking of updates, WordPress users will also have the ability to update themes and plugins via a ZIP file, by uploading their latest versions (no more needing to delete and reinstall them).

On another note, default lazy loading for WordPress is a proposal that came up some time ago and will be soon available for all the users. If you want to add lazy loading scrolling to your site, you just need to enable it and that’s all (no third-party plugins or additional code required).

Last but not least, an important feature for SEO is the new built-in XML sitemap that, from now on, will be generated by default, sparing you from installing plugins to do it for you.

And some good news for developers, you can soon pass data to template files via core template loading-functions.

Great Articles From Around The Web

That sums up our August 2020 WordPress news roundup. Anything we missed?

Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. With some simple fixes, you can reduce your loading time by even 50-80%:

 

Layout and presentation by Karol K.

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