Hey, everybody. Welcome to WP Review. A show that provides analysis on what’s happening in WordPress and what it means for users and business owners in the ecosystem. I also tell you about helpful tools to build better WordPress websites. This podcast is brought to you by GoDaddy Pro. My name is Joe Casabona. Now let’s get to the review.
Happy, happy July. It is July 1st as I record this and it’s been, it’s been a summary couple of weeks, right. After maybe six straight weeks of big WordPress news acquisitions and things, stuff has finally calmed down. But I still have some top stories for you before we get into our main segment, which will be contributing to WordPress. Let me count the ways. And of course, as I said at the top of the show, this episode, and this entire show is brought to you by GoDaddy pro. You’ll hear about them a little bit later. But first, I want to bring in the first story.
The first story here is a happy birthday. Happy 10 year anniversary, I guess. I guess companies don’t have birthdays. A happy 10 year Anniversary to Ninja Forms. I know lots of the folks over at Ninja Forms, including James Laws, who as their parent company is Saturday drive. They supported the initial iteration of this project, the WP Year in Review 2020. And very generous, fantastic people working over there. And I am very happy to wish them a happy 10 year anniversary. I guess when they first launched, there were a whole lot of questions about whether or not another forms plugin would be viable In the very competitive forms plugin WordPress space, or forms plugin for WordPress space with Gravity Forms and Contact Form Seven. And they answered that question unequivocally, ‘YES’. They had a different business model. It was a freemium model. They built a really great product when They relaunched with their new interface. It was pretty different I think from what most other forms builders were doing, and they do a lot of cool stuff. So I use Ninja Forms on a few of my websites. I’m a big fan of the company in general. So, congratulations, Ninja Forms on turning 10. And here’s to the next 10 years.
Okay. So, next up is WP Engine makes Local Pro, Free for everyone. This is really exciting for me because I love Local by… Well, I guess it’s just called Local now. It was called Local by Flywheel and then WP Engine bought Flywheel. And I guess colloquially, it was just called Local by Flywheel because you can’t say Local, right? This is local. does that mean geographically? Does that mean like the server on your computer? So, you know, that’s, I just call it Local by Flywheel. I’ll try to call it Local Pro.
But WP, this is from the Tavern I’m quoting. Everything will be in the show notes over at [wpreview.io]. But WP Engine announced on June 30th that Local Pro, the commercial upgrade for its local WordPress development product is now free for all users. Beginning with version six, all features that formerly required a paid subscription are now available with a free local account. These include Live Links Pro, Instant Reload, Link Checker, and Magic Sync.
Now, I’ve been using Local for a long time before they rolled out pro. And then after the changes, Live Links was one of my favorite features that I’m glad its back. You can basically spin up a local site and generate a public URL for it. So you’re developing something locally. Maybe there’s no staging site, or maybe you’re not ready to push to a staging site yet, or, and you want to show it to the client, or maybe you just want to test across multiple devices. So you can have these kinds of single persistent URLs with HTTP’S privacy mode and fun stuff.
Some of the other features I haven’t checked out that were mentioned were cloud backups. So this is great. Keep your workspace safe, backed up to Google Drive or Dropbox. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve switched computers and lost local environments because of it. So I’m pretty happy about that. For the important stuff, I take a backup, but you know, if I’m just kind of switching computers and like, “Oh, I probably don’t need this.” And then I realized I needed it. You know, stuff like that. Live Links, being able to hot-swap environments, and things like that. So, this is if you are looking for a local environment and you haven’t tried Local because maybe of the pro features, definitely check it out. It’s completely free now.
If I can provide some analysis here, I suspect that, well, maybe Flywheel, again, I don’t want to say this, but, you know, maybe Flywheel, the business plan for Local wasn’t super clear. Maybe the hope was that Local would always be free and that it would get people to upgrade to Flywheel hosting, right? Because this is still the case with Local. You can push to Flywheel and WP Engine server. So, if you are a WP Engine customer and you develop locally, you can just push it right there.
Kinsta rolled out their development, local development environment, and I have a video on that on my YouTube channel. And it’s good. It’s not as fully featured as Local is naturally cause a local is several years old. But I’m wondering if maybe people weren’t seeing the value in a, I think it was $20 a month for a Local Pro. Perhaps this is, you know, from an indie developer standpoint, didn’t really feel I needed to pay for a Local Pro. And you know, maybe it’s cause I’m not developing every day anymore. Maybe if I was, I would see the value.
And then from an agency standpoint, I mean, first of all, it’s your clients aren’t exclusively on WP Engine or Flywheel, you know, there’s not the benefit of pushing to the servers. You’re probably going to have your own environment anyway. And if you have a lot of people on the team, it’s probably not going to be locked down to a specific development environment. So I think it was interesting. It probably would have done better as like 99 bucks for this version. Right? So you pay 99 bucks for version five of Local, or Local Pro. And then you get all of the updates up until version six while you were, maybe you pay an upgrade fee. This is a common model for Mac apps, especially. I mean, not just Mac apps or computer apps in general that aren’t on the subscription model. Right. So I think that subscription fatigue is probably a real thing. And There was a lot of, why would I pay for Local when I get most of the features for free or when I can do it on a map for free, or I don’t even really use a local environment or I just installed a patchy or whatever. So there were probably a lot of reasons for it. And of course, you know, it’s good that WP Engine has decided to do this. It does help the community by giving us better development tools. And you know, they mentioned, you know, that they want to do that. That’s part of the reasoning or doubling down. So this is from their announcement on their blog. “We’re doubling down on our commitment to give back to the WordPress community by making all local tools and features, including those formerly only available with a pay Local Pro-subscription-free and available to all local users.” Seth Halpern, Senior Vice President and General Manager, small and medium business for WP Engine (That’s a very long title) So, you know, this is generally good. But I just, I’m just wondering if it is a viable business model, probably wouldn’t make the, you know, you probably wouldn’t make it completely free. Maybe you’d slash the price to make it more accessible. But, those are just my thoughts. I haven’t talked to anybody at WP Engine about this. So this is not like, I don’t know. But that’s just interesting.
Okay. And up next, the third and final story here is from WP Trends. So I will link this is Iain Poulson’s, newsletter, where he basically covers like the main thing that he covers in this newsletter is acquisitions. And so he recapped all of the acquisitions, mentioned marketplace changes. And then he also, but I really liked his coverage of another big piece of news in the online space.
So Shopify at the Shopify developer conference earlier this week, Shopify announced that they’re dropping commission fees for developers, for their first million in revenue. And so, there was a 20% commission dropped to zero for the first million in revenue. And then I need to seek, I should’ve written this down, but, I think it’s after. Oh, right. Okay. There is a screenshot here in the newsletter. 15% after that, which is incredible. I think that this is a really great thing. Shopify is making the right move here showing its commitment to developers. I don’t think a lot of big companies have done that. Right.
Apple, when they did something similar either last year or earlier this year, they kind of said, “Okay, like, we’ll drop the commission fees for your first million, but, you have to apply. And then once you cross that, you are no longer in the program. And then if you drop below that you need to reapply again” or whatever. So it’s not very friendly.
And then WooCommerce. WooCommerce takes 40% of sales from developers selling exclusively on their marketplace. And then 60% for non-exclusive sellers. So WooCommerce is saying, “Hey, if you’re going to sell these other places, we’re going to take more than half, which, you know what Apple’s argument is? Well, you wouldn’t make money without us. What WooCommerce is saying is yeah. I mean, you could probably make money without us. So we’re going to take a huge cut. And the plugin ecosystem is, you know, as Iain says in his newsletter is flourishing despite this. But this is not, you know, this is not developer-friendly. I also, don’t know if this is still the case, but you know, you don’t even get customer data. Like you can’t email your customers directly. I think 40% is just too much If you’re going to lock me in to this platform, like, you need to prove to me that I’m going, that it’s going to be worth it for me to do this, instead of just putting. And it’s just, instead of selling it on my own or through premium or whatever. I’m not convinced that’s the case, you know, on the WooCommerce store. And then 60% for non-exclusive sellers. Are you kidding me? Not even a 50/50 split that like, that’s obnoxious. So, I just, but there’s more here. I’m not like reading the whole article to you but, I would check it out. And so I would subscribe to Iain’s newsletter. It’s really good. There’s a lot of good business news in here. And his take on acquisitions is unique and helpful. And he has good…I mean, most of the acquisition news I get is either from him or Post Status. The news I bring to you. So, which, you know, keep listening of course. But, maybe listen to me and then go to them for enough or for deeper analysis or whatever, or don’t.
Okay. So those are the top three news stories. Now, I’m very excited to tell you that this podcast has an exclusive annual sponsor. GoDaddy Pro is sponsoring this podcast for the whole year. They were also one of the big sponsors of WP Year in Review. So I want to thank GoDaddy pro for their continued support of this project. I’d like you to know about GoDaddy Pro.
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All right. Let’s get to the main attraction, the main segment, and that’s contributing to WordPress. The many ways to contribute to WordPress. So first, let me just say that I gave, I will, I was supposed to give a talk at the last in-person WordCamp US. But due to flight delays, just a quick behind-the-scenes story I guess is, it was in the middle of the week. It was on Halloween. It started on Halloween and it was Halloween where my daughter for the first time was kind of old enough to understand what Halloween was. And so I wasn’t going to miss that. She wanted to be Woody from Toy Story. So I dress up as Buzz, and my wife dressed up as Jessie, and it was just a grand old time. So I have no regrets there. But as a result, I was flying out on November 1st in the morning, slated to talk on November 1st in the afternoon. And then my flight was epically delayed. And I didn’t get to give the talk. So I do have a talk up on YouTube, a short one about how to contribute to WordPress through speaking. And that’s because I think that a lot of people believe contributing to WordPress means contributing code.
But if you go to [make.wordpress.org], there are a lot of ways to get involved. Like, yes, core code is one of them. But there’s also, you know, design, there’s accessibility. There’s translating WordPress through a polyglot. There’s support documentation. There’s community. Community is the one that speaking generally falls under. So if you want to organize a meetup or a WordCamp, give a talk, you know, there’s, that’s a great way to do it without code. Training is another good way to teach people how to use WordPress. And so, there is a lot of different ways to contribute to WordPress. There’s also a Test group. And I’m mentioning this specifically because I mentioned Anne McCarthy previously. She’s doing, she’s kind of the part of the developer or the outreach program for Full Site Editing, and she’s just doing a bang up job. But she has these regular tests for Full Site Editing features. These don’t require you to know any code or have any development skills. And you basically just try out new versions of WordPress and then report back on your experience. So I think that’s a great way to contribute to WordPress.
There’s also, I did a video on this recently on my YouTube channel, how to create Block Patterns for the Block Pattern directory. I’ve currently submitted two. One has been approved. One is under review. My design skills are not as good, as maybe anybody would like. But the idea is, or at least there. And so what you do here is create a block or a set of blocks in the block editor, maybe something that you use frequently, and then submit it to the Block Pattern directory. And that’s a way to contribute to WordPress without knowing code. Cause now you’re contributing an interesting pattern that you thought of. So the two, that I contributed are the podcast subscription block, where you have an embedded episode, and then underneath you have subscribed buttons to various services.
The one that’s under review that I submitted is like a Link Tree clone. Right. So if you’ve seen these link tree links, I usually see them in Instagram profiles, but you know, there are a lot of places where it’s like a headshot and then a bio and then a list of links because you say something like a LinkedIn profile on Instagram. And you don’t want to have to update that single link every time. So Link Tree will do it for you. So I created that pattern and submitted it to the Block Pattern directory. And, you know, that’s at the very least a way to get these ideas out there. So if you’re hanging out in the block editor a lot and you’re coming up with cool and interesting designs, I would encourage you to check out the video. I’ll put it in the show notes over at [wpreview.io] and you can see how you can create and submit Block Patterns to the Block Pattern directory.
So just to kind of enumerate the ways that you can get involved In WordPress, if you want to get involved Right. If you’re like, I want to contribute to WordPress in some way, but I don’t want to write code, or I don’t know how to write code. I know how to write code and I have no interest in contributing to the core team because…(how do I put this nicely?) if it, well, getting the development environment up and running is like one thing, right? I don’t want to have to like install a billion things to get it all up and working. Right. If I’m not developed, as I said earlier, I’m not developing every day. And so I don’t necessarily want to spin up this whole different development environment for contributing code.
And then I’m not in the core chat enough, right? This is the other thing. You can sign up for Slack. They use, if you go to [make.wordpress.org/chat], you would use your [wordpress.org] username and password, and then you can get access to the WordPress organization open-source project chat. I’m just not in there enough to participate in discussions and this and that. So, there are a few reasons, but I would just prefer not to contribute code directly to the core. But I do contribute through speaking. I was on the training team for a while before my kids were born. You know, coming up with lesson plans and things like that. And then the speaking, the testing, I teach Gutenberg and Full Site Editing in my courses. So I’ve been trying it out making videos on how to use it.
So there are a lot of ways for you to contribute to the open-source project. But I’m talking about it now because submitting to the Block Pattern directory is a new way If you’ve been looking for a way to, you know, pretty low barrier of entry if you use the block editor. You create the blocks, copy the blocks, submit them to the directory, and then know there’s a little bit of back and forth about does this work does, how do we want to do this? But it’s a pretty low barrier of entry.
So, there you go. Main segment contributing to WordPress. There are a lot of ways to do it. And now there’s a relatively new way with the Block Pattern directory launching later this month with WordPress 5.8. So you can get in early if you would like to.
Okay. So let’s wrap up this show with some recommendations. First of all, I do want to mention since I’m an official media partner, I want to mention WordFest. If you go to [wordpress.live], it’s a free global event put on by Big Orange Heart. And so, it’s going to be 24 hours of WordPress-related talks, interviews, activities, things like that. All virtual and totally free. So definitely check that out, [WordFest.live] I participated last year. It was a lot of fun. I’ll be participating again this year, conducting some community interviews, and, yeah. It’s a free event. Register. When you register, you’re given the opportunity to donate $10, which would go to I believe proceeds all proceeds will go to Big Orange Heart, which is dedicated to helping, to mental health, dedicated to mental health, specifically, or especially in the WordPress space. Check them out.
For the plugin. I want to mention the Markdown Comment Block. Rich Tabor, always doing really good work. The Markdown Comment is an editor-only block. You can add markdown and you have your block editor. Maybe you want to make a note to yourself about, you know, something with text or, you know, maybe like, I want to add something later, right? Maybe you have a paragraph that you want to add to a blog post later, or, if you are working on a post with other people, maybe you have an editor, they want to leave comments without making changes and you want to do some collaborative stuff. Yeah. You can use this Markdown Comment Block. It’s called Markdown Comment Block. It’s available in the [wordpress.org] plugin directory for free. And it looks really cool. I will 100%…
So actually, Rich essentially describes my use case here. I honestly enjoy drafting articles either locally in Ulysses, which is exactly what I do, or on my blog using the Iceberg editor. While I do love Iceberg, once I published an article, I typically bring back the default Gutenberg experience, thus removing any comments I previously added. So I haven’t used the Iceberg editor. It looks neat and it looks very pretty and it looks like it’s a markdown editor where you can leave comments to yourself. But switching back to Gutenberg, you lose that experience. So Rich is scratching his own itch as he often does. And I recommend checking this out, especially if you work on the site with more than one person. I know my VA is in my WordPress site a lot, and now I can leave her comments on certain things directly in line so she doesn’t have to keep referencing stuff. So thanks to Rich for creating this really nifty plugin. I dig it.
All righty. That my friends is it for this episode. So we talked about Ninja Forms, Local Pro, WP Trends. Thanks to GoDaddy Pro for sponsoring this podcast. Then we talked about contributing, and then we wrapped it up with recommendations.
If you liked this episode, leave us a review, a rating, and review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. And, cause it’ll help people discover the show. This show is still relatively new. It’s in, I think an increasingly competitive WordPress news kind of space. But, something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. So if you enjoy it, or if you have any feedback, you know, leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Check out all the show notes over at [wpreview.io].
Thanks so much for listening. And until next time. I’m Joe Casabona, and I’ll see you out there.