Tag: ltc

WPTavern: Jetpack Opens Signup for Membership Block Beta

Jetpack has opened a signup for the beta of its upcoming Membership feature in order to collect feedback from potential testers. The changelog for version 7.3, released two weeks ago, hinted at a new Membership block coming to the plugin. The work in progress was added behind the JETPACK_BETA_BLOCKS constant, presumably in preparation for wider testing.

Based on the feature’s description on GitHub, the first iteration will function like a recurring payment/donation button that uses Stripe as the payment gateway. In this case, “membership” might be a misnomer for the feature. The wording on the beta signup page lends to the confusion: “WordPress.com is currently preparing a feature that will let you enable subscriptions on your site.”

At the moment, it appears that the Jetpack team hasn’t fully decided what this feature will become and seems open to seeing where it will go. Beta testers will likely refine the direction of the block. If you have an interest in using Jetpack’s membership capabilities in the future and want to shape its development, you can sign up for the beta by providing your WordPress.com login and a description of your needs and expectations for the feature.

WPTavern: Jetpack Retires Proofreading Module, Time to Find A New Grammar and Spellchecking Alternative

Jetpack 7.3 was released last week and if you didn’t read the changelog, you may have missed that the spelling and grammar checking module that uses After the Deadline has been retired.

“Grammar and Spelling: Remove from Jetpack. We’ve chekced the spelling alot over the years, but now time to retire.”

From the Jetpack 7.3 Changelog

According to James Huff, an Automattician and volunteer moderator, the module was removed in favor of better options being available.

“We removed the feature as it has become a bit redundant lately,” he said. “Most major web browsers have some form of this already built-in, and free extensions like Grammarly are making huge strides in the field. It felt like the right time to back out of that field and focus more on everything else we offer.”

After the Deadline is a service that was created in 2008 by Raphael Mudge and was acquired by Automattic in 2009. It not only checked for grammar and spelling errors, it did so contextually and provided style suggestions. Mudge moved on from Automattic in 2010 and the service has seemingly operated on auto-pilot.

After the Deadline Proofreading Button in the Calypso Editor

Between 2010 and 2011, the Jetpack team added support for AtD with a proofreading module. Unfortunately, the proofreading button that was available in the Classic editor was not ported over to Gutenberg. This issue was originally reported on GitHub in 2018 but was closed 14 days ago due to AtD support being removed from Jetpack, WordPress.com, and Calypso.

I’ve used After the Deadline for 10 years and although there’s no official statement on when the service will be retired, the writing appears to be on the wall.

I plan to give Grammarly a try but I’ll miss After the Deadline. What grammar and spellchecking services or software do you use and recommend as an alternative to After the Deadline?

WPTavern: VVV 3.0 Introduces New Ubuntu 18 Box, Support for VVV 2 is Discontinued

VVV 3.0 was released this week, introducing a new Ubuntu 18.04 LTS box. The project’s previous versions used Ubuntu 14, which has now reached end of life (EOL).

Support for VVV 2 is now discontinued, due to an unforeseen complication with its PHP dependencies. Ondřej Surý, who maintains all the PHP packages VVV uses, deleted the unsupported ones in response to Ubuntu 14 reaching EOL. VVV contributors had set up a package mirror but only 70% of them were mirrored. As a result, VVV 2 installs were no longer able to provision. VVV maintainers have stopped supporting it and it will not receive any fixes or updates in the future.

Tom Nowell said he and his fellow VVV maintainers had “a mini- Ubuntu 14-apocalypse of sorts when it reached EOL,” so the new Ubuntu 18 box is a big bump up that should cover the project until 2024. It includes Kernel improvements that make Ubuntu faster when used in a virtual machine. The 3.0 update came out of necessity but it includes changes the team had already intended to make.

“We wanted to move from 14 to 18 for a long time anyway, and Anton Vanyukov had written a PR starting that, so we went ahead,” Nowell said. “The internals are based on VVV 2 so 99% of things should still work exactly the same (but a bit better and a little faster).”

VVV now uses a leaner custom built box, but it requires users to destroy their VMs in order to update. Directions for updating to 3.0 are in the release post. This destroys the database but VVV creates its own backups that can be quickly restored with a simple command.

Another major change in 3.0 is that VVV no longer stores MariaDB data inside the VM. The data has been relocated to database/data, which has the added benefit of being preserved when using the vagrant destroy command.

The release also includes quite a bit of restructuring with the removal of the /vagrant mapped folder that eliminates overlapping vagrant shared folders. In addition to several dozen smaller improvements, VVV 3.0 adds a new teddy bear when it finishes provisioning.

The Future of VVV: Version 4 to Focus on User-Friendly Improvements to Provisioning

Although VVV doesn’t yet have a user-friendly interface and requires the use of a terminal, Nowell said the team is working towards making it easier to use. For now, VVV distinguishes itself from other development apps, like Local and DesktopServer, by being a community project that is free from commercial interests.

“VVV does a lot of the things DesktopServer does but for free,” Nowell said. “We don’t charge $99 for PHP7, SSL, or WP CLI. VVV won’t up sell you on hosting either, and you can have as many sites as you want out of the box.

“A lot of people like Local for using Docker containers, but all those containers are inside a boot2docker virtual machine using VirtualBox. They have a pretty UI, and it’s great if you use FlyWheel as a host, but it’s not the easiest to get set up for contributing to WordPress.”

VVV has a specific pre-built version that provides a development environment optimized for contributing to WordPress core. It can be copied onto a USB drive and set up on a user’s machine, even while offline. This pre-built version is often handed out at the beginning of contributor days at WordCamps.

“We’re a community driven project,” Nowell said. “People going to contributor days use VVV – the entire package can be pre-built and put on a USB stick and it runs in a lot more places than some of the docker based setups that some devs use. Until recently you needed to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro to be able to use Docker on Windows. Imagine 100 contributors downloading Windows 10 iso files over conference wifi.”

VVV maintainers and contributors are working on releasing version 3.1 in the next month with all the little things they want to polish. Nowell said they have the basis for what they want to accomplish in version 4. Instead of waiting for VVV to install and configure PHP/MySQL/nginx/etc, the install process will happen on a server somewhere and the user will be able to just download the result, similar to how VVV is pre-built for contributor days.

Nowell identified the major impacts of taking this approach:

  • It doesn’t matter if provisioning works for you, we’re doing that for you.
  • If someone makes a big slip up, that’s ok, users get the last working build and see nothing.
  • Getting everything set up should be much much faster, it will remove about 70-80% of the startup time for a lot of users.

Nowell said the general goal is to “just make it more fun to use” but his personal goal is for people to be able to use VVV without ever touching a terminal. He thinks it can be done with an Electron wrapper and has performed a few experiments with it. In the past, he spent a lot of time improving the messaging for provisioning errors, but the days of trying to preempt those problems may soon be drawing to a close.

“Why fix provisioning for users if they never have to do it in the first place?” Nowell said. “I’d say VVV 4 will come pre-built so it only builds the sites themselves, like how you can grab a docker image with PHP/MySQL already setup, and fill it with a site. Eventually the dashboard itself can become an Electron app where you can turn VVV on/off and adds sites.”

VVV maintainers have some ambitious plans for version 4 that will make it available to a wider population of WordPress users and save existing users more time on startup. The project needs more testers and feature requests. Contributions to the main project are welcome on GitHub. Developers and testers can also contribute to the meta environment to improve how it works with WordCamp sites and WordPress.org.

Crypto Markets See Major Correction, BTC Below $7,350 as US Stock Futures Trade Lower

Crypto Markets See Major Correction, BTC Below $7,350 as US Stock Futures Trade Lower

Friday, May 17 —  after a week of deep green and bullish price performance, crypto markets today are seeing a major correction, with bitcoin (BTC) dropping below the $7,350 mark, as Coin360 data shows.

Market visualization

Market visualization courtesy of Coin360

Bitcoin has taken a steep price hit, dropping 8% on the day to trade at $7,346 to press time. The top coin had brushed $8,300 yesterday, May 16 — a bullish price point not seen since August 2018.

Despite today’s major correction, bitcoin retains a strong gain of 16.61% on the week.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Largest altcoin by market cap ether (ETH) has seen a slightly milder drop, and is down 6.3% on the day to press time to trade at $240. The dip follows an intra-week high of above $270 yesterday. Nonetheless, the altcoin retains a 38.7% gain on its 7-day chart.

Ether 7-day price chart

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

XRP has taken a double digit percentage tumble, dropping 10.9% on the day to trade at $0.38 by press time. As in the wider market, XRP saw an intra-week high yesterday. Even with today’s substantial correction, XRP nonetheless holds a strong 27.3% gain on the week.

XRP 7-day price chart

XRP 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Among the top ten cryptocurrencies, all are red, except for stablecoin tether (USDT). The market-wide price downturn includes an 11.8% loss on the day for stellar (XLM), an 11% loss for cardano (ADA) and a 10.2% loss for bitcoin cash (BCH).

Eos and litecoin (LTC) are down 7.9% and 8.6% on the day respectively, while native exchange token binance coin (BNB) is showing relative resilience — down 2.35% on the day — notwithstanding the recent high-profile hack of the exchange.

Widening out to the top twenty, all coins are again in the red, except for 17th largest altcoin cosmos (ATOM), which has seen a non-correlated 7.3% price hike. Red market action spans an 11.2% loss for tron (TRX), a 10.6% loss for dash (DASH) and a 12.3% loss for bitcoin SV (BSV).

Tezos (XTZ) has seen the mildest price hit, losing just 1.15% on the day to trade at $1.66 to press time.

The total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is currently around $230.15 billion — down from over $262 billion on May 16.

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies. Source: CoinMarketCap

In response on today’s major market correction, eToro analyst Mati Greenspan has commented that:

“IF the pullback does reverse now and we continue past the recent highs, there is virtually no major levels of resistance until $20,000.”

In crypto regulatory news, leading cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex yesterday announced it will stop offering nine coins to United States-based customers due to uncertain regulations, citing a lack of clarity over their interaction with federal securities laws.

In regard to the ongoing legal action against Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange, the New York Supreme Court yesterday accepted modifications to the New York Attorney General’s injunction order, which affects both Bitfinex and affiliated stablecoin operator Tether.

In traditional markets, United States stock index futures opened lower this morning, as a mark of ongoing trade tensions between the US and China, as CNBC reports. As of 3:00 a.m. ET, Dow futures reportedly fell 62 points, CNBC notes, with futures on the S&P 500 Index and Nasdaq also slightly down.


The post Crypto Markets See Major Correction, BTC Below $7,350 as US Stock Futures Trade Lower appeared first on One Btc News Today.

WPTavern: Block building without JavaScript: Testing ACF, Block Lab, and Lazy Blocks

Not everyone is able or willing to build blocks in JavaScript just yet, and sometimes you have to install three or four block collections until you find the blocks you would like.

There is a third way: plugins that create the blocks for you from a set of specific custom fields, with a template to control the frontend display of the blocks. The three most popular options for doing this include: Block Lab, ACF (Advanced Custom Fields) and Lazy Blocks.

My use case for this test is a small task I set out to accomplish with each of the plugins – to create a block for team members of a company that includes the following fields: first name, last name, headshot, bio, phone number, and email address and use the block on a page in a two-column display with two team members.

For each plugin I will demonstrate

  • how to create the Fieldgroup,
  • how to create the template for the frontend and
  • how to use the blocks to create a team page.

I used Local by Flywheel as my local development tool. The test site ran on WordPress 5.1.1, Gutenberg 5.4 and the Business Theme from WordPress.com

After reading this post you will be able to select the plugin that fits your needs.

Creating a Team Block with Block Lab

Members of the  XWP team built Block Lab and it is available as a free plugin with a commercial version. I used Block Lab first, installed the plugin and then started a new block.

Here is the video on how to set-up the fields.

The next step is setting up the block template

When I looked at the expected location, the template will be made part of the theme directory in a subfolder called /blocks/ That’s something a developer needs to remember, as there is some content lock-in when switching themes.

To create the template, I opened my code editor, created the file block-team-member.php, and added the HTML + and minimal PHP to reference the fields.

<?php block_field( 'first-name' );?> 
<?php block_field( 'last-name' );?>

You can reach
via email or
via phone:

In the last step, I finished the configuration of this block with the Block Properties

  • I set the icon to a person,
  • selected the “Layout Elements” as Category and
  • added “team member, team” as keywords

All this is necessary for the Block inserter in the editor.

Let’s see how it works.

I added a new Page called Meet our Block Lab Team and added the team members, using the Block “Team Member”.

For now, I decided to have all the information filled within the block editor boundaries. During setup of the fieldgroup, I had also the choice to display form controls in the Block Options tab in the sidebar. For the moment, I have determined that’s it’s just personal preference. Once you click outside the block, the form disappears and the block is rendered similar to its frontend representation.

Now that I have the block finalized, I can add more team members to the page. I decided, I’d like them in a column block with two columns.

So far, so good. I was not thrilled that the location of the template points to the theme folder.

When I want to switch out the theme, I still would like to keep the block and the layout for the block with my site, so I would need to make sure to copy the blocks folder to the new theme’s directory. Another way is outlined in the  documentation for Blocklab on Github. It offers two filters to change the default location of the template:

“To use a different template inside your theme, use the block_lab_override_theme_template( $theme_template ) filter. To use a different template outside your theme (for example, in a plugin), use the block_lab_template_path( $template_path ) filter.”

This was fairly easy to set up, even if you are not a PHP developer, you can probably use the one PHP function block-field() and make sure to reference the right field names.

Block Lab, in essence, provides you with a method to create the fields and configure the block properties in one screen, and then you need to add the corresponding block template to a folder /blocks/ in your theme’s directory.  It’s fairly straight forward.

Creating a Team Block with ACF 5.8

ACF (Advanced Custom Fields) version 5.8 came out with a block builder (only available in the Pro version). For my test I used ACF 5.8 RC 1. The final release is available now.  Elliot Condon is the plugin’s author and the first version was released in 2011. The plugin has grown into a hugely popular developer tool for freelancers and agencies alike and has over 1 million installs.

Its success and versatility make the creation of the field group a more involved process compared to the other two plugins. The Pro version 5.8 contains the first release of its block building tool.

This is the admin view of the Field group “Team Member”.

Now how do I make this into a block? The documentation is comprehensive enough.  Note: In this test I went in a slightly different order…

I started with the Field Group and I needed to get back to that admin screen after I registered the block (see below) .

I  used two files. First, I needed to register the block in the functions.php of my theme. For the template/block rendering code I used content-block-team-member.php also to be stored in the active theme’s folder.

You will see how those two fit together in a second. The rest of the work is done by the plugin in the back end.

So let’s write the Block Code in PHP

The first snippet is the block registration. I gave it a name, title, a description, point to the render template, give it a category, an icon and some keywords, under which the content producer can find the block in the Block Inserter. I scrolled all the way to the end of my theme’s functions.php and added this snippet:

function register_acf_blocks() {
   // register a team member block.
       'name'              => 'acf-team-member',
       'title'             => __('ACF Team Member'),
       'description'       => __('A custom team member block created via ACF 5.8'),
       'render_template'   => 'content-block-team-member.php',
       'category'          => 'formatting',
       'icon'              => 'admin-comments',
       'keywords'          => array( 'team member', 'team' ),
// Check if function exists and hook into setup.
if( function_exists('acf_register_block') ) {
   add_action('acf/init', 'register_acf_blocks');

This code is straight from the documentation and I just changed a few values.

In the next section I created the block rendering template. The file name needs to match the “render_template” attribute in the above text, which is “content-block-team-member.php

I also just followed along ACF’s documentation and only changed a few values and updated the display code.

" class="team-member ">

" alt="" alt=" " width="150" style="float:left;padding:4px;margin;2px;"/>

As I started with the Fieldgroup, I needed to go back and make sure that the group is associated with the block I just registered.  Below the Fieldgroup screen I created a rule for the Location: It needs to read: “Show this field group if the Block is equal to ACF Team Member.  

Now let’s see how this works in the Block editor when I add two members.

It was an interesting experience. You can use the form in the editor section to enter the data. Another option is to enter the data in the form fields available in the the sidebar and you see the block update in real time. You can toggle between the two methods but clicking on the Button “Switch to Edit” or “Switch to Preview” depending which method you are using right now.

The block editor UI works well. It’s worth going through the more elaborate setup and code necessary.

Creating a Team Block with Lazy Blocks

The third plugin in this test is called “Lazy Blocks” by Nikita of nkdev.info, the same team that also published the GhostKit block collection.

It not only allows me to store information in post_content but I also get a choice to store it in the post_meta table.

Here is a video of using the interface to create the fields.

As this admin screen is focused on getting all the information to create the blocks, on the left I created my fields and in the sidebar.  I filled in the information needed to register a block with the editor.

Underneath,  I was able to add the HTML for frontend and backend. The syntax is even easier than Block Lab, and of course much easier than ACF’s  templating.

I didn’t need to add any code to my theme’s functions.php nor did I need to create additional files with my template code.

You can add it all right here, aided by syntax highlighting and merge tags rather than function calls.  The documentation shows multiple ways to write your template code. I am definitely a fan of Handlebars (semantic templating) as it is in this context much closer to other systems’ merge tags.

I copy/pasted the same code into the “Editor HTML” tab, so I could see the frontend display below the form fields.

Let’s use it.

This seems to work. It was little bit awkward that the form didn’t disappear when I unselect the block. It takes up a lot of real estate in the editor. Although, I wanted to have the team members in a two-column block, I did not succeed in dragging and dropping the two blocks into a Column Block. I mentioned this in my support topic and nK answered: “…hiding controls when the block is not selected is a good feature, that already added in ACF Blocks and will be added in Lazy Blocks soon.” Here you have it – all in due time.

Conclusion: Complex, Evolved, or Easy.  

ACF 5.8  has a very robust block building feature, and every one who has been using the plugin to build sites will be very happy to be able and create dynamic blocks for their customers. It’s well thought through, and developers of all skill sets will get up and running quickly.

Someone, who is not well versed in PHP will have her fair share of trial and error to get it all going. It will get even more complicated when the requirements for the blocks get more involved and beyond this test’s use case. This is not a tool for WordPress beginners or DIY site implementers who don’t write a lot of code themselves.  

For now, only the ACF 5.8 Pro version comes with the block builder feature. Condon is contemplating making it a stand alone plugin. (See what the Twitteratti think about the idea… )

Block Lab is in its early stages of development. It succeeds in abstracting most of the block architecture and reduces the amount of code that needs to be written. The documentation is very helpful. The template is stored in a separate file, and needs to be maintained with the rest of the theme files. If we at my company would use it for any of our projects, we would store the template file with one of our helper plugins, so our customers are able to switch themes without losing the content and display of the blocks built with Block Lab.

The Pro version boasts additional features, such as repeater fields, import/export of blocks, user object fields, map field and many more block features.

XWP is an agency working with enterprise clients on the WordPress.com VIP hosting and other corporations. Their team members are contributing to other big ideas in the WordPress space, including the Customizer,  AMP and Tide. I expect the plugin to stay around and grow with Gutenberg Phase 2 into a robust system for site implementers, agencies, and theme developers.

Lazy Blocks is a delight to set up and as mentioned, I am a fan of the Handelbars templating syntax. It’s easy to learn even for beginners, and with a little practice, a site owner would be able to create specific Gutenberg blocks for their site. The block handling in the editor although functioning, is a little clunky, as the display doesn’t switch between block select state and unselect state at the moment.

If there is a requirement of having additional fields for a page or a section of a post, Lazy Blocks is a great tool to prototype and get quickly from idea to proof of concept.

The only caveat: I was not able to find out who the people are behind nkdev.info and the name Nikita. The website only reveals that it is a young company but nothing more. If you use the plugin, make sure you have Plan B in place just in case the developers abandon the plugin before it takes off.

ACF 5.8 is quite complex; Block Lab is a very flexible and only semi-complex; and Lazy Blocks is adequately named and the easiest to use. None of them lets you get away without writing code, as each block needs some display output in HTML.

Let me know what you think about these three block generating plugins. Also, if you found another plugin that allows you to build blocks without getting into Javascript, I want to know about it! Please share your thoughts and discoveries in the comments!

Matt: Introducing the Distributed Podcast

I’ve been meeting with some brilliant people for Distributed, my new podcast dedicated to exploring the future of work. The first episode is a conversation with Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, about how they built a distributed culture, and how flexible work will shape the future of the global economy.

Unlike Automattic, Upwork does have an office in Silicon Valley (albeit one with a remote receptionist!). It was interesting to hear how Stephane’s teams balance in-person culture with inclusiveness for all employees, no matter where they live. Read more about Stephane’s work at Distributed.blog, and subscribe at Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

WPTavern: HostCamp: An Unconference For Advancing the WordPress Infrastructure

HostCamp is a small, semi-informal, invitation-only, event with an unconference style that is bringing leaders together from within the hosting industry to discuss and share ideas on how to advance the WordPress infrastructure across the web.

The organizing team is comprised of, Jonathan Wold, Ecosystem Consultant, Formerly VP of Strategy at XWP, Mile Rosu, Co-founder and CEO of Presslabs, Mihai Grescenko, Head of Design at Desero, Anna Maria Radu, Event producer for DigiTales, and Andreea Oproiu, Communication and PR specialist for DigiTales.

Speakers will present on a variety of topics including, malware, ethics in WordPress hosting, PHP versions, portability, and more. Betahaus, a network and co-working facility in Berlin, Germany, is hosting the event.

Betahaus Facility in Berlin, Germany

Rosu describes the unconference as, “A launchpad for innovations in the hosting industry where opportunities in WordPress infrastructure are encouraged and promoted.”

If you’re interested in attending, there is an application form near the bottom of the HostCamp site that is available until June 1st. Tickets are scheduled to go on sale June 19th for €200 or $223.47. Refunds are available if you contact the organizing team 30 days prior to the event.

It should be noted that WordCamp EU is taking place in Berlin, Germany, as well and begins a day after HostCamp.

WPTavern: Matt Mullenweg Launches New Blog and Podcast on Distributed Work

photo credit: Min An

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg has launched a new blog and podcast at Distributed.blog where he will be sharing what he has learned over the past 15 years of managing a distributed workforce. In 2019, Automattic now employs more than 900 people from 68 countries who have all worked in a distributed fashion since day one.

“With the Distributed podcast I wanted to take a closer look at how some of the most innovative companies and brilliant minds think about the future of work,” Mullenweg said. “Not just the binary questions of ‘remote work’ vs. ‘office work,’ but the wider spectrum of what’s possible and why it matters. How can we work better and smarter in the decades to come—and what’s the moral imperative driving our desire to change?” 

The first episode of the podcast features Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel, who is deeply embedded in the labor market for remote work. His company offers a global platform for connecting businesses with freelancers. Upwork went public in 2018 and is expected to do more than $1.7 billion in business this year. Kasriel has a wealth of knowledge to share from his experience managing more than 1,100 remote freelancers in 500 countries, in addition to 400 on-site employees.

“Our mission at this company is to create economic opportunities for people to have better lives, and the way we measure that is how much money goes into people’s pockets,” Kasriel said.

Both Mullenweg and Kasriel are passionate about seeing more companies embrace remote work and the first part of the podcast goes deeper into what is currently broken about work. Those living in big cities are often paid well for their talents and expertise but will spend a large portion of that money on the cost of living. Kasriel said he believes Upwork can be a “driving force in creating a better future” by championing remote work as the economic catalyst for improving working conditions across the globe.

“This distributed-company movement is the awakening of the tech industry [to the reality] that we are part of the problem,” Kasriel said. “Part of the reason why jobs have been destroyed in plenty of places in the country while all the new jobs were created in a small number of areas is because of tech.”

For those who are curious about how CEOs and managers make distributed work a success, the first episode includes discussions on some of the more practical issues of managing a remote work force. Mullenweg and Kasriel discuss the challenges of working across timezones, strategies for improving communication and preventing employees from feeling a sense of isolation, and managing productivity and performance.

The topics included in the episode are even applicable for smaller distributed companies that are just starting out. Kasriel shared tips on establishing a strong culture of employee satisfaction for both on-site employees and those working remotely, navigating conflict, integrating new employees into remote culture, and allowing people to “delocate” from on-site work.

After listening to this episode, I found that Mullenweg and Kasriel presented a compelling case that distributed work is not just a buzzword in the tech industry. It is actually a movement with a powerful economic impact that is poised to change the world. Remote work also has the added benefit of creating opportunities for people who have a difficult time participating in the traditional labor market, effectively increasing the diversity of a company’s employees by offering a more inclusive model for working.

The podcast is produced by Mark Armstrong and the team at Charts & Leisure. There’s a lot of valuable information efficiently packed into just 37 minutes. If you manage a distributed team or are part of one, this is a high quality new show to add to your subscriptions.

WPTavern: Gutenberg 5.7 Adds New Block Appender for Group and Columns Blocks

Today’s release of Gutenberg brings a major improvement to the usability of the Group block. In previous versions of the editor, it wasn’t easy to see if a block had been inserted as a child block, especially since the default behavior was to insert an empty paragraph block. Gutenberg 5.7 brings more clarity to the UI for Group blocks by displaying the new block appender as the default state when no inner blocks are detected. (The “appender” is the fancy name for the button with the plus sign inside it that opens the UI for inserting a new block.)

The Columns block has also been updated to add the new block appender, and this release adds support for setting column widths. The inflexibility of the Columns block has been a frustration for users since it was introduced, but this release makes progress on one of the most common requests. Users can now set a percentage width for the columns in the block settings. The UI for this is a bit clunky, but a more interactive, draggable column resizer handle is coming in a future release. Future iterations may also include “quick-select” template options for users to select from when setting up their columns.

Other new features in this release include support for showing post content or an excerpt in the Latest Posts block and support for header and footer toggles in the Table block.

One handy little addition to Gutenberg 5.7 is the ability to update images using drag & drop. Users can now drag an image onto an image block that already contains an image. The image will be uploaded and will replace the previous one, saving users many clicks in the process of changing an image. Future updates may also add the same behavior to the audio, video, file, and Media & Text blocks.

Gutenberg 5.7 includes dozens of bug fixes and accessibility improvements, with several suggestions that originated from WPCampus’ accessibility audit. It also brings a significant boost in performance with a 14% faster loading time than the previous version.

The project’s documentation has a new home on WordPress DevHub and has been reorganized for better navigation.

A list of all the changes in the 5.7 release is available in the release post.

WPTavern: Site Health Tool Manager Provides A Convenient Way to Disable Unnecessary Site Health Check Tests

WordPress 5.2, released last week, added two new pages to the WordPress backend to help users diagnose common configuration issues. The Site Health Check page runs a series of tests and categorizes the results as critical, recommended, and good. This helps users prioritize which issues require immediate attention.

WordPress 5.2 adds filters for developers to add, edit, or remove tests but these filters may not be as accessible as a plugin. Site Health Tool Manager by William Earnhardt is a new plugin that provides an easy way to disable tests.

Site Health Tool Manager Settings

In some situations, consultants may want to disable certain tests to prevent the results from panicking a client. For example, if a consultant has configured a site to not receive automatic updates because the site is managed with version control, the site health check test is unnecessary.

Disabling unnecessary tests can also increase a Site’s Health Percentage score. However, in the plugin’s description, Earnhardt stresses that the plugin should, “only be used to disable tests with a legitimate and acceptable reason for failing. It should not be used to hide tests which can be fixed.

Site Health Manager also supports the tests that were recently added in Jetpack 7.3. Site Health Tool Manager is free and can be found on the WordPress plugin directory.