📆 This is the March 2022 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.”
Hey, WordPress fans. While you may have spent last month getting acquainted with the new WordPress full-site editing features that were released in WordPress 5.9, the WordPress train never stops chugging along and we’ve got more juicy tidbits from the last month.
The German courts had a ruling that will affect a ton of WordPress sites with respect to Google Fonts, we got a look at some of the features that might arrive in WordPress 6.0, we also got a new WordPress 5.9.1 release, and WordPress.org got another bit of design love.
If that’s not enough for you, there’s a new adblocker for the WordPress dashboard that…well, some people love it and some people hate it.
Want to learn what all of it means? Keep reading our March 2022 WordPress news roundup.
March 2022 WordPress News with CodeinWP
Fined for using Google-hosted fonts? It happened.
One of the biggest stories from February isn’t WordPress-specific, but it is something that will potentially affect a ton of WordPress users.
On the very last day of January, a German court ruled that using Google Fonts hosted on Google’s servers is a violation of the GDPR.
Why? Because the act of loading fonts from the Google Fonts’ servers sends some visitor data to Google, such as IP addresses, advertising IDs, and cookies.
Hence, if you’re using those Google-hosted fonts on your WordPress site without receiving explicit permission from visitors, you’re violating the GDPR…or at least that’s what the German court said.
The court only issued a token fine – €100. But it did send some shocks through the digital ecosystem as tons of WordPress sites load fonts directly from Google’s servers.
Okay – so let’s say you want to comply with this ruling, but you also still want to keep using Google Fonts – what are your options?
The best solution is to host the fonts locally on your WordPress site’s server instead of serving them from Google. Beyond being more privacy-friendly, this method can also be a little more performance-friendly. So – win-win.
How can you do this?
While you can do it all manually by uploading the font files to your server and using some CSS, the simplest option is to just use a plugin that handles it for you.
The most popular option is the free OMGF (Optimize My Google Fonts) plugin at WordPress.org. There are some other free options and some premium performance plugins also include this feature. For example, Perfmatters offers one-click implementation for optimizing and self-hosting Google Fonts.
The WordPress 6.0 roadmap: What might we see?
While WordPress 5.9 is still fairly hot off the presses, the core team is already looking ahead to WordPress 6.0, which gives us a peek at what might be happening.
WordPress 6.0 is supposed to wrap up the second phase of the Gutenberg project, which deals with full-site editing, block patterns, block themes, and global styles.
Justin Tadlock has a great roundup at WP Tavern that looks at the potential new features, but here’s some of what you can expect:
- Global style variations for themes – themes can create style variations to let people choose their own look across the entire site. This is similar to something that the Astra theme just recently started offering in its starter site import process (and Kadence has offered for a while).
- Improved Navigation block – expect further improvements and refinements to the Navigation block.
- More emphasis on patterns – patterns will continue to become a more integral part of creating content. We could also see patterns used for template creation, which I think would help a lot of people get more value from full-site editing.
To see some more potential features, read Justin Tadlock’s full post.
Currently, the tentative release date for WordPress 6.0 is May 24, 2022, though that obviously might change. The first beta is due in mid-April.
You may also be interested in:
- No New Default Theme? More Pricing Changes, Possible “FSE” Name Change 🗞️ August 2022 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP
- New WordPress.org Homepage, Cloudways Acquired, WebP on Hold 🗞️ September 2022 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP
- WordPress 5.9, Yoast SEO for Shopify, WooCommerce Custom Tables, and More 🗞️ February 2022 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP
Does WordPress need its own adblocker?
In mid-February, Stanislav Khromov released a new plugin named Clarity that hides annoying dashboard nags and upsells in the WordPress dashboard. Think of it kind of like an adblocker, but specifically built for the WordPress dashboard.
It doesn’t hide all notices, but it does hide those that it deems to be outside of its “acceptable ads policy,” which you can read here.
Currently, the list of blocked notices is updated manually rather than being automated. It blocks notices by targeting the relevant CSS class/ID, which would make it fairly easy for plugin developers to circumvent if they wanted to.
If you want to give it a try, you can check out the plugin at WordPress.org. There are no settings – you just activate it, and it starts blocking notices right away.
A plugin like this generates discussion on a few important questions, with people coming down on both sides of the issue:
- Is a plugin like this even necessary? Is the situation so bad that we need a dedicated plugin?
- Is the plugin ethical? Don’t people who make free plugins deserve a chance to earn some money?
To answer the first question, I think it really depends on which plugins you use on your site.
Personally, my stack of plugins is pretty unobtrusive, so I don’t have any issues that would necessitate me to install an adblocker. On the other hand, I do know that some plugins are persistently aggressive, in which case this tool might be helpful.
I can also see a use case for people who build client sites, where developers want to deliver a clean dashboard experience and avoid confusing the end users with dashboard nags that the developer can’t control.
In terms of ethics, I don’t really see an issue. Developers certainly have a right to try to earn an income, but users also have a right to control their dashboard experiences. If developers don’t like users modifying code like this, maybe working in the open-source, GPL-licensed space isn’t the right place to be.
I’ll also say that I personally see dashboard nags as just about the most ineffective way of convincing me to upgrade to a paid version. I find it far more convincing when the developer just clearly marks “Pro” features in the interface so that I know what I’m missing out on by not upgrading.
Currently, Clarity only has 80 active installs, so it’s not exactly going to blow up the WordPress freemium plugin economy. But it will be interesting to see what happens and how it grows.
Alternatively, WordPress could improve its notification system and solve this issue so an adblocker isn’t necessary. To that end, we’ll have to see what happens with the WP Notify project – the latest update is here.
Current Version: 1.3.221026
Last Updated: October 26, 2022Clarity – Ad blocker for WordPress
WordPress 5.9.1 fixes 33 bugs in core and 52 bugs in the editor
Enough about future releases! Let’s talk about an actual release that just hit the presses.
On February 22, the core team released WordPress 5.9.1. This is primarily a maintenance release that fixes a number of bugs.
More specifically, it fixed 33 bugs in the Core and 52 bugs in the Block Editor.
Personally, I always wait until the first maintenance release to upgrade after a major release, like WordPress 5.9, so this gives me the confidence to finally apply the update on my sites.
Side note – you should never wait to apply security updates. It’s only okay to wait to apply major updates because those deal with new features rather than security fixes.
If you want to see the full bug fix list, you can check out the WordPress.org news post. Speaking of the WordPress.org news page…
More redesigns at WordPress.org
Last month, we talked about the new header design at WordPress.org. This month, we’re back with another redesign – the news page.
While the old WordPress.org news page was functional enough, it undoubtedly looked a little dated.
The new news page has a much more modern look. The news listing page has a big blue header image and individual posts get large, bold featured images (whereas the previous page didn’t really have any imagery).
The new design also fits better with the new header design from last month.
Convesio raises $5 million in funding
WordPress hosting is big business!
As proof of that, Convesio just picked up $5 million in funding to further grow its Docker-powered WordPress hosting platform.
While it’s not quite the $250 million that WP Engine raised in 2018, it does show that there’s a lot of money sloshing around in the WordPress space (if all the 2021 acquisitions didn’t already demonstrate that enough).
Convesio will use the money to speed up its development, with the overall goal of growing faster.
If you’re not familiar with Convesio, it uses a unique container-based approach that makes it easy to scale resources up or down based on the needs of your site(s), including setting up automatic scaling rules based on CPU, memory, or PHP worker usage.
While it’s more complex than the average WordPress user needs, this approach can be really helpful for enterprises, agencies, or other mission-critical sites.
That sums up our March 2022 WordPress news roundup. Anything we missed?
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