March 2018 WordPress News – This Month in WordPress w/ CodeinWP

 This is the March 2018 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.” 

Hi WordPress lovers! Spring is getting closer and, even though there’s still snow and freezing cold temperatures in our part of the world, the sunny days are not that far away. March is here and we have some nice news to share with you. Okay, not so nice for everybody involved, but very important for you to read. For example, the latest WooCommerce release caused theme conflicts and some stress for developers.

In other news, WordPress quickly switched to the next version after a problem with the auto-update feature, the plugin directory got a small change, the Amazon Polly voice tool was adapted for WordPress, GDPR compliance is being strongly encouraged and adopted in the core, and – bonus! – you’ll get to hear the full conversation on Gutenberg between the two Matts (Mullenweg and Cromwell).

So, we hope you’ll enjoy our March stories and we wish you a beautiful spring ahead!

March 2018 WordPress News

WooCommerce 3.3 Removed From Plugin Directory Due to Theme Conflicts

Probably the hottest news of the month is the removal of WooCommerce 3.3 from the official repository after causing lots of theme conflicts. The guys at WooCommerce were about to launch a new version of their e-commerce plugin, which was ironically meant to increase theme compatibility. It’s just that it did exactly the opposite.

After the release, several third-party theme developers reported that their themes didn’t work properly because of the update, specifically with regards to categories. After receiving a handful of complaints about the issue, the WordPress core team removed WooCommerce from the plugin directory.

Meanwhile, three new releases were needed to fix the conflicts and incompatibilities. WooCommerce 3.3.3 is working and now available for download.

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New Policy Changes in WordPress Plugin Directory

Do you know the yellow banner warning you when a plugin has not been updated in a long time? It still exists, but the copy and functionality changed a bit. The announcement now shows up for every plugin that hasn’t been tested with the latest major WordPress releases (and it also says with how many). If you forget, the previous warning only mentioned the number of years since a plugin had been updated.

Moreover, testing info was added to the sidebar on the plugin page, along with the last update, active installs, languages, and so on. The change will probably put some pressure on developers since there are three major WordPress releases a year, which kind of forces them to update their tool constantly in order to not get flagged.


WordPress 4.9.4 Release – The technical details

Speaking of forced updates, WordPress 4.9.4 appeared this month only one day after the previous version due to a critical bug in the auto-update process. The bug was generating a fatal error when WordPress was scheduled to update automatically.

It seems that, if you haven’t updated already (or if your host doesn’t do it for you), you must do it manually this time because WordPress 4.9.3 is not able to auto-update. By manually, I mean to just click the Update button on your dashboard homepage (the whole process takes around 5 seconds). WordPress 4.9.4 is the first version in over four years (since 3.7) when the users didn’t receive an automatic update. So go ahead and do it yourself because it won’t renew alone.

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Amazon Polly Helps WordPress Speak

Amazon Polly is a tool that came out two years ago with a goal to transform text into speech (i.e. you write an article and the tool reads it aloud, turning it into an audio file). In order to bring the tool to WordPress, Amazon partnered with WP Engine, which led to the development of the Amazon Polly for WordPress plugin that was launched a few weeks ago.

Unlike other similar technologies, Amazon Polly reads the text and reproduces it by voice in a fluent way. It provides multiple voice types that speak in multiple languages, so you can pick the one that fits your topic the most. To publish the audio file, the plugin offers an embeddable player that you can insert into your content and additional media channels like Podcast.


Proposed roadmap: Tools for GDPR compliance

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is the new trend on the internet. Companies are scrambling to make sure their tools and services comply with the regulation.

Our WordPress fellows want to comply with this regulation as well as they seek to add tools that facilitate compliance and privacy to the core. The team of volunteers on this topic gathered online in a Slack channel to discuss the ongoing integration activity.

Some of the presented ideas include:

  • notices for registered users and commenters on what data WordPress collects and why.
  • guidelines on how plugins can become GDPR-compliant.
  • documentation and help for site owners to learn how to use the GDPR-compliant tools.
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Bonus: The full Q&A session with Matt Mullenweg and Matt Cromwell, as part of the Gutenberg Interview Series

Great Articles From Around The Web

What Is The Best Advice You Have Ever Received? Our Community Speaks.

A fun roundup to read, featuring tech specialists who share the best pieces of advice they ever received, words that somehow helped them succeed in their careers. Go through the quotes and get inspired yourself. Do you remember the best advice you got so far?

“My Developer Ruined My Site’s SEO”: Three Huge SEO Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Developers normally care about doing their job correctly and in a professional way. But do they have in mind the side effects of customizing or fixing a client’s site? If you’re a dev, here’s what you should know before ruining what took your client years to achieve: a strong SEO presence.

Refund policies for WordPress businesses

No matter if you have a refund policy or not, you should let your customers know about it. By making it clear on your site, you help your visitors in advance (before they make a transaction) and yourself (avoid future legal problems). Here are the types of refund policies that you can adopt, along with how to handle them when needed.

The Limits of the Support You Provide for Your WordPress Plugins

When you offer support for your own product or for a company, how far are you willing to go? Because sometimes people can be annoying and can ask you to fix issues that didn’t come from your end in the first place. So, if a client of yours needs support, how much time do you want to spend solving their problems?

Do You Know Why Hackers Are Targeting Your WordPress Site?

If you ever feel your site is too common or uninteresting for a hacker to even consider it, well… you should think again. Because these guys don’t really care how famous you are when they break in. Injecting malicious content, spreading viruses, stealing your personal or business information, phishing from your server, hosting pages from your server are just a few of the reasons why someone would ever target your not-so-important website.

12 WordPress Product Owners Share Their Thoughts On Offering Better Support

Speaking of support, here’s some advice on how to handle your tickets so that both you and your clients remain satisfied at the end of the day. Our own happiness engineers – Uriahs, Hardeep, and Poonam – share their thoughts in this regard, too.

How Many Websites Use WooCommerce? Usage Stats 2018

Did you know that there are 1135 WooCommerce themes on ThemeForest and 548 on WordPress.org? And even more plugins. More than that, WooCommerce powers over 28% of all online stores on the web. Isn’t it cool to know that WordPress is doing so great? Check other interesting numbers about the continuous evolution of e-commerce in WordPress by reading this article.

Add Conditional Logic Fields to WooCommerce Checkout Page

Staying in the same area, here’s a tutorial on how to add conditional fields to your product pages, other than the default ones that WooCommerce plugin comes with. For instance, you can ask people if they have any dietary preferences and let them choose from a custom list that you created. Or add exceptions that don’t apply to all your products.

How to Create a Micro-Job Website Like Fiverr with WordPress

Looking to hire people or to host a site with job boards? You can create a mini-Fiverr directly on your WordPress site by reading this article. You can allow people to submit jobs in exchange for a price set by you and permit the unemployed to apply for a position of their interest.

WordPress Content Scraping (Fight Back or Ignore?)

If you, by any chance, found out that someone just stole your content and copy-pasted it on their blog, what should you do? Do you take action or simply ignore it? Here’s this post by Kinsta that will tell you how to detect the content scrapers, what to do next if you find out your article was stolen, and what the consequences are of not reacting in any way.

WordPress Plugin Conflicts: Your Ultimate Guide to Preventing Them, Identifying Them, and Resolving Them

Plugin conflicts happen and the more you have, the higher the probability. Especially if you don’t update them regularly. In this article, you will read about how to identify plugin conflicts in order to prevent them and what solutions to apply in case of an incident like this.

That’s it for March 2018. 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%: