📆 This is the March 2023 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.”
Hey, WordPress fans.
We are back with the latest round of WordPress news from the past month in our March 2023 WordPress news roundup.
As has become the norm, last month saw some big acquisitions in the WordPress space – Awesome Motive acquired WP101, and MemberPress acquired its competitor plugin MemberMouse.
Beyond those acquisitions, the upcoming WordPress 6.2 release moved through its beta stages in February – it will bring a bunch of new features when it’s released at the end of March. And oh yeah, the Site Editor will no longer have its beta indicator.
Finally, if you want to get in on the GPT and AI content generation fun, WordPress.com is experimenting with some new AI blocks that let you generate text and images.
Let’s get to all of the WordPress news from the past month:
March 2023 WordPress News with CodeinWP
Awesome Motive acquires WP101, a popular WordPress learning resource
Just when you thought we might get through February 2023 without a major Awesome Motive WordPress acquisition, they foiled things by getting another recognizable brand added to their portfolio right before the clocks ticked over to March.
More specifically, Awesome Motive acquired WP101, a popular WordPress learning resource that offers tons of video tutorials for WordPress as a whole, as well as specific WordPress plugins.
Individual users could sign up directly with WP101 to learn about WordPress, but WP101 also offers a white-label option that lets WordPress agencies and freelancers provide access to the WP101 tutorials as part of their offerings.
Obviously, there’s a lot of synergy here between WP101 and WPBeginner (also a WordPress learning resource), as well as the many, many WordPress plugins in the Awesome Motive family (which seems to expand every single month).
So far, there aren’t any concrete details on anything changing with the WP101 offering, but Syed Balkhi did say that his goal is “to create the best class-room style WordPress training videos to help WordPress grow in enterprise, government agencies, as well as at the school and collegiate level.”
If you want to see some Twitter discussion about the acquisition, you can see Shawn Hesketh’s tweet here (the WP101 founder).
After selling WP101, it seems like Shawn will be moving onto Motivations.ai rather than sticking with WP101.
WordCamp Asia 2023 finishes up its inaugural event
After having its initial 2020 inaugural event canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic, WordCamp Asia finally got its launch in Bangkok, Thailand.
The event took place from February 17 to February 19.
There were some last-minute changes, though. While Matt Mullenweg had originally been planning to attend the event in person, he had to cancel the visit at the last minute. Instead, he joined the event virtually for an AMA session (Ask Matt Anything).
If you want to experience the event yourself, all of the content is still available on the WordCamp Asia 2023 live stream page.
And if you’re interested in attending WordCamp Asia 2024, next year’s event will be hosted in Taipei, Taiwan in March.
The exact dates have not been finalized yet, though.
If you live in Taiwan and you’re interested in participating, WordCamp Asia 2024 put out a call for organizers. You can apply to be a WordCamp Asia 2024 organizer by using this Google Form.
Gutenberg 15.2 adds revisions for template editing
While changes in the Gutenberg plugin aren’t normally big enough to warrant their own news item, I think this one is because it’s a pretty important feature that’s been missing…until now!
If you’re not familiar with Gutenberg, it’s kind of like the testing ground for block editor features before they’re moved to the core software.
In Gutenberg 15.2, the Gutenberg team added revision support for template editing.
Now, you’ll be able to view past revisions for your templates just like you can view revisions for your posts, pages, and other post types.
When you open the template revisions manager, you’ll be able to see how the code/block markup changed between each revision and restore a previous revision if needed. It works pretty much just like the regular content revision manager, as far as I can tell.
This can be especially helpful if you accidentally made a change that’s causing issues, but it also just generally helps you see how templates have changed over time.
Hopefully this feature makes it to the core WordPress software soon as I think it addresses a common pain point for people using the template editor.
The Site Editor will lose likely its “Beta” label in WordPress 6.2
Since its launch in the core WordPress software, the Site Editor (formerly known as Full Site Editing) has been marked with a red “beta” label to indicate that it was still a work in progress.
Originally, contributors were aiming to remove this label in WordPress 6.1, which was released on November 1, 2022. However, they weren’t able to fully meet the criteria in order to do so – some of the main blocking issues are documented here.
Now, however, the time seems to have finally come, as the latest version of the WordPress 6.2 beta no longer includes the “Beta” label on the Site Editor.
I suppose it’s still possible that this could be rolled back before WordPress 6.2 is released. But for now, all indicators point to the Site Editor losing its beta label.
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WordPress.com starts testing AI-generated content and images
With ChatGPT, Bing’s new GPT-powered search, and Google’s new Bard-powered search, AI content has been all the rage over the past few months.
Now, WordPress.com is planning to get into the action with its new AI-powered content blocks:
- AI Paragraph – this block helps you generate AI text content. You can use it to generate a new paragraph from your existing content or completely generate a blog post based on the title alone.
- AI Image – this block lets you generate a brand new image based on a text prompt. It generates four different images and users can click a Use this image button to select one of the choices.
The blocks are working through a partnership between Automattic and OpenAI, so I assume the text is powered by GPT-3 and the image generation is powered by DALL-E. I don’t see this specific anywhere, though, so I’m not 100% sure.
Right now, these blocks seem more like a fun experiment than a serious feature. For example, you can’t edit the AI-generated text in the AI Paragraph block, which seems like a pretty large issue for serious implementations.
The driving force behind them seems to be Artur Piszek, who introduced the blocks as “Jetpack AI” in the WordPress.com support forum (though I’m not sure if that’s an official name).
If you want to try them out, you can go to WordPress.com and play around with the blocks.
For example, here’s the text that the AI Paragraph block generated when I added it to a post named “CodeinWP WordPress.com AI Block Examples”. You can see that it did that GPT thing where it took some liberties with the truth and made up a few facts for fun.
For example, we don’t currently offer any “CodeinWP WordPress.com AI Blocks” to let you customize user experiences using AI, though GPT seems to think we do.
For the AI Image block, I asked it to generate “A large elephant standing in a crowded coffee shop” and here are the images that I got:
It did fulfill the prompt kind of (the elephant isn’t that large in some of the pictures), but none of the images blew me away.
If you want to learn more, WP Tavern also has a post about the topic, including some discussion in the comments section.
WordPress 6.2 moves through its beta stages
Speaking of WordPress 6.2, February also saw the upcoming major release move through its various beta stages:
- WordPress 6.2 Beta 4 – March 1
- WordPress 6.2 Beta 3 – February 22
- WordPress 6.2 Beta 2 – February 15
- WordPress 6.2 Beta 1 – Feb 7
If you haven’t had a chance to play around with the WordPress 6.2 beta yet, here’s a quick rundown of some of the biggest new features:
- Lots of improvements to the template editor.
- Improved navigation menu support in the Site Editor.
- Option to add custom CSS directly to your theme or specific blocks in the styles editor.
- Option to copy and paste block styles (rather than just entire blocks).
- A new “Style Book” in the Site Editor that lets you see how all blocks are styled in your theme.
If you want to test these new features out for yourself, you can install the beta version on a testing site. Or, you can just wait for the final release.
WordPress 6.2 is currently scheduled for release on March 28, 2023.
MemberPress, a membership plugin, acquires MemberMouse, a membership plugin
In addition to the direct Awesome Motive acquisition of WP101, there was also another February acquisition in the Awesome Motive family – though not directly under the Awesome Motive umbrella.
MemberPress, a popular membership plugin that’s a participant in the WPBeginner Growth Accelerator, acquired MemberMouse, another popular membership plugin.
MemberMouse has a pretty unique approach to helping users create a membership site, though, offering more of a SaaS-type offering (and not being GPL like most other WordPress plugins).
Despite being competing products, MemberPress will not be combining the products. Instead, Blair, the MemberPress founder, plans to still run the two separately and grow both products.
Given that the two plugins have different approaches to running a membership site, it does seem like a feasible idea to keep them separate and grow both.
If you want to learn more, you can read the acquisition post on the MemberPress blog.
That sums up our March 2023 WordPress news roundup. Anything we missed?
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