📆 This is the February 2024 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.”
Hey, WordPress fans! We are back with our first WordPress news roundup covering news that happened in 2024.
While there wasn’t a ton going on this month in the WordPress space, we did manage to dig up some interesting stories and events from the past month.
In a fun story to kick us off, Elementor won a very interesting award (that a lot of people think it had no business winning). We also have two stories about Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), some changes to the WordPress.com pricing plans, and an interview with the creator of the WordPress Media Experiments plugin.
Let’s get to all of the WordPress news from the past month…
February 2024 WordPress News with CodeinWP
Is Elementor a content management system? W3Techs thinks so
In one of the weirder news stories from the past month, W3Techs named Elementor the Content Management System of the Year for 2023.
This award is based on the growth of a CMS from January 1st, 2023 to January 1st, 2024.
Elementor is a plugin that relies on the WordPress content management system, so it doesn’t really make sense for Elementor to receive the award itself. Without WordPress, you can’t use Elementor, because Elementor does not have its own CMS.
Plenty of people pointed this out on Twitter, with a lot of replies to this tweet from Joost de Valk. The original tweet from W3Techs even got hit with a community note explaining that Elementor is not a content management system.
In the past, WordPress had dominated this award, receiving it every year from 2010-2021, until Wix took the award from WordPress in 2022. So it’s definitely not like W3Techs has an issue with giving the award directly to WordPress.
Because so many WordPress stats rely on the W3Techs usage statistics, I think this kind of oversight is a bit of a weird one and damages W3Techs’s reputation when it comes to CMS statistics
However, it seems like more of an oversight for misclassifying Elementor within their rules-based system for the award, rather than them proactively making the argument that Elementor is a standalone CMS.
Interestingly, the second-place result also faced the same issue, though it didn’t get as much attention as Elementor.
The second place CMS? WooCommerce – which also relies entirely on the WordPress CMS.
Even if the results are a bit nonsense, I think that it is still a positive thing for WordPress that two WordPress-based plugins are achieving such growth.
After all, if Elementor and WooCommerce increase their usage numbers, that means that lots of people continue to rely on WordPress to build their businesses.
If you want an even deeper look, Matt at The WP Minute has a good post on the topic.
ACF has started locking certain admin features for inactive licenses
Let me start by relieving the stress that any lifetime ACF license holders might be feeling – these changes won’t affect you at all.
However, if you’re a newer customer of ACF who’s using the yearly license (which is the only option now, as ACF no longer offers a lifetime license), there’s been a change that you’ll want to pay attention to.
Going forward, ACF will start locking certain backend admin functionality if your ACF license expires, which I was first alerted to in this January tweet from Jeff Chandler.
More specifically, ACF will lock certain ACF Pro admin features if the license is not active.
This will not affect you or your users/clients adding data to custom fields in the WordPress editor.
If you’ve already added Pro custom fields to your site, you will still be able to add/edit field data in the WordPress editor screens, even without an active license.
This change will also not affect rendering Pro field data on the frontend – that will keep working even without an active license.
However, without an active license, you will not be able to create or edit ACF Pro fields, ACF blocks, and options pages.
Here’s a detailed post from ACF that explains what will and won’t work with an inactive license.
Obviously, the goal here is to encourage people to keep their licenses active, while also not breaking people’s sites if their licenses expire (which is especially important if you’re building client websites).
ACF is also not the first plugin to implement this type of licensing. I know that MemberPress does something similar where it locks the admin screens, while still allowing frontend membership functionality to continue like normal.
Interestingly, most people in the Twitter thread seem to be okay with the change, while most people in the Advanced WordPress Facebook group post that Jeff screenshotted seem to be against it.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of it, but I also understand why developers would want to go with this approach, as it makes it easier to lock in long-term recurring revenue. Still, I think it’s better to go with this approach from the beginning, as making this change after years of handling things differently is probably going to make some people upset.
Of course, because ACF is GPL-licensed, you’re free to go in and modify it to remove the code that locks the admin screens if you don’t like it. Or, if you’re interested in alternatives, Meta Box and Pods are both great options for working with custom fields and custom post types on WordPress.
Note – it appears that ACF might have made this change in late November 2023. However, this is the first time that most people are hearing about it and seeing the effects, which is why I’m reporting it now.
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That sums up our February 2024 WordPress news roundup. Anything we missed?
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