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Automattic Meetup 2018

This year, Automattic went to Orlando, Florida for our annual Grand Meetup. We had almost 800 employees spanning the globe, suddenly just spanning 1 hotel for the week. It’s great to build things in person with people you usually only communicate with via text. Sure, it’s a little bit overwhelming, but I always walk away with a few new friends.

We built and learned quite a bit this week, and though there are no specific announcements yet, please watch the the Jetpack Blog, the WordPress.com Blog, and the WooCommerce Blog for exciting news. As for myself, I have a few photos to share:

In case you’re wondering, those last few photos are of our very talented band of Automatticians.

For more photos, stop by the a8cgm tag on WordPress.com and on Instagram too.

If any of this looks interesting to you, we’re always hiring!

WordPress 4.9.6 Released

WordPress 4.9.6 has been released, and it provides new tools to assist with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance. The update is recommended for everyone, because the GDPR protects all European Union citizens, regardless of where your site is based.

All users can safely update from Dashboard -> Updates or download and update manually, though you should probably backup first just in case, unless you’re already using VaultPress, which you really should be.

The release post will offer some how-to information, and more info will appear in your Dashboard when you update WordPress. Also, if you are a theme or plugin developer, do be aware that there are some important notes for theme and plugin developers.

The tools provided by WordPress only cover the data that WordPress itself collects. All of Automattic’s products have a general page for GDPR info, and WooCommerce has a very helpful guide on managing your store in compliant with the GDPR. If your theme or plugins collect any data, you should definitely check with their documentation or support for specifics on GDPR compliance.

Overall, these tools only assist you with compliance. It is up to you as your site’s owner to take the steps required to be compliant with the GDPR and any local variations that may be introduced.

Happy New Year! the 2018 edition

2018 begins today, so it’s a great time to start using some basic privacy tools, make sure your browser is up to date, update all of your passwords, and setup two factor authentication wherever you can.

This site’s top five items last year were Custom Fonts Without Plugins for WordPress Themes, Modern Aircraft Accident Investigation Equipment and Techniques, Fix for Stuck Health App (iOS 8), Cloudup: Free File Sharing from Automattic, and Postmodern Jukebox’s Great Arrangements, so I guess those old items really do have some staying power. 🙂

We’ll need more people sharing their voices and experiences this year, so please considering launching your own site with WordPress (and Jetpack) or WordPress.com, or start posting again if you already have one!

Now, let’s all have a great 2018, or perhaps 12,018 HE!

WordPress 4.9 Released

wordpress customizer illustrationWordPress 4.9 has been released! This release introduces some big improvements to the customizer, the code editors, and theme switching, along with a new gallery widget!

443 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Mel Choyce and Weston Ruter. At the time of writing this, WordPress 4.9 has been out for about 17 hours, and has already been downloaded 2,075,053 times!

All users can safely update from Dashboard -> Updates or download and update manually, though you should probably backup first just in case, unless you’re already using VaultPress, which you really should be.

If you run into any problems, stop by the known issues first, and please let us know if it’s not covered there!

WordPress 5.0 is next, and it sounds like the promised fully rebuilt editor is still on schedule. If you want to try it out or contribute to its development, please feel free to start with the Gutenberg plugin.

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Automattic Meetup 2017

Like last year, Automattic went to Whistler, British Columbia for our annual Grand Meetup. We had almost 600 employees spanning the globe, suddenly just spanning 2 hotels for the week. It’s great to build things in person with people you usually only communicate with via text. Sure, it’s a little bit overwhelming, but I always walk away with a few new friends.

We built and learned quite a bit this week, and though there are no specific announcements yet, please watch the Jetpack Blog, WordPress.com Blog, and WooCommerce Blog for exciting news. As for myself, and as usual, I have a fair amount of photos to share:

In case you’re wondering, those last few photos are of our very talented band of Automatticians.

For more photos, visit colleagues Lisa Schuyler, Stephen McLeod Blythe, Ryan Cowles, and many more on Instagram. If any of this looks interesting to you, we’re always hiring!

Photo of Ryan Cowles, Richard, and James Huff, by Lisa Schuyler

Photo of Ryan Cowles, Richard Archambault, and James Huff, by Lisa Schuyler

Net Neutrality Day of Action

net neutralityNet Neutrality is a big issue that everyone should be concerned about. When you request a website, or any information over the internet, you expect your ISP to deliver it as requested with no interference. This is what the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules protect. Without Net Neutrality rules, your ISP could block sites they don’t like or slow down access to sites that don’t pay a fee, and those rules are in jeopardy.

The FCC is considering repealing the Net Neutrality rules, but there’s still time to stand up for what’s right. The FCC is currently requesting your feedback, and the first comment deadline is July 17, so make sure that you send your feedback to let them know what Net Neutrality means to you. Next, join the Net Neutrality Day of Action protest tomorrow (July 12). There are many ways you can participate listed there, and if you have a WordPress site, use the Fight for the Future Alerts plugin.

Millions of people spoke out in 2014 to establish the Net Neutrality rules, and hopefully we can do the same this year to save them.

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Help Test the Future WordPress Editor

Last week, WordCamp Europe 2017 was filled with lots of opportunities to make WordPress better, including the announcement that the future WordPress Editor (codenamed Gutenberg) is now available for use as a plugin. The future of WordPress editing will be built on positionable blocks, where each block can be pretty much any kind of content, like this gallery:

There have already been plenty of great posts that go in depth on the current state of Gutenberg, so I won’t bore you with the details here, but the short version is that folks who are new to WordPress may find this to be an intuitive experience while long-time WordPress users may encounter a bit of a learning curve. Fortunately, Gutenberg won’t replace the existing WordPress editor until WordPress 5.0, so there’s plenty of time to install that plugin and start contributing.

P.S. This post was originally written with Gutenberg 0.2.0 on WordPress 4.8, but required a few tweaks after publishing, so please help us test this and contribute to make it better. 🙂

WordPress 4.8 Released

WordPress 4.8 has been released! This release introduces new widgets for images, videos, audio, and rich text, as well as new link boundaries to cure editor frustrations and a new Dashboard widget which displays nearby WordPress events!

346 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Matt Mullenweg and Jeffrey Paul. At the time of writing this, WordPress 4.8 has been out for about 9 hours, and has already been downloaded 1,315,250 times!

All users can safely update from Dashboard -> Updates or download and update manually, though you should probably backup first just in case, unless you’re already using VaultPress, which you really should be.

If you run into any problems, stop by the known issues first, and please let us know if it’s not covered there!

HTTPS Changes in Firefox and Chrome

For as far back as I can remember, browsers have always denoted HTTPS pages with a padlock icon, a tiny warning to let you know that anything you submit on the specific page will be securely encrypted. As with all never-changing warnings though, I imagine you’ve stopped noticing it as much as you used to years ago, and that effect combined with HTTPS usage reaching over half of all web pages and the popularity of extensions like HTTPS Everywhere, has spurred some changes in how Firefox and Chrome approach this.

Launched this week, Firefox 51 and Chrome 56 have reversed that age-old warning. Login forms over HTTP now display a “Not Secure” warning. This new warning should be enough to catch the attention of those of us who have begun to ignore the time-honored padlock, but I imagine site owners might be caught a bit off guard.

If you own a site with a login form over HTTP, don’t worry (sort of), your login form isn’t suddenly not secure … it has never been secure. If you’re the only person who uses that login form, and you never use it over a public internet connection, you generally have nothing to worry about.

If other people are expected to log in to your site over HTTP, or you often log in over a public internet connection, it’s time to start moving your site over to HTTPS. You’ll need to acquire an SSL/TLS certificate from a certificate authority to being with, and in the past those have been ridiculously expensive, but all of that changed when Let’s Encrypt premiered, offering free SSL/TLS certificates for everyone. Today, you’ll most likely find that your hosting provider either offers free or incredibly inexpensive certificates, like all of WordPress’s recommended hosting providers do. If your hosting provider still wants to charge you a ridiculous rate for a certificate, you might as well take this opportunity to check out the rapidly growing list of hosting providers who offer free Let’s Encrypt certificates.

Once you have your certificate, setting it up is generally just a matter of consulting the documentation from your hosting provider (though this is typically automated if you acquire the certificate from them) and your website’s software. If you use WordPress, the process is very simple.

As site owners, let’s do what we can to proliferate HTTPS and thus provide a more safe and secure web for everyone.

Happy New Year! the 2017 edition

2017 begins today, so it’s a great time to start using some basic privacy tools, make sure your browser is up to date, update all of your passwords, and setup two factor authentication wherever you can.

This site’s top five items last year were Modern Aircraft Accident Investigation Equipment and Techniques, Custom Fonts Without Plugins for WordPress Themes, RWBY: Anime Beauty and the Beast?, Fix for Stuck Health App (iOS 8), and Internet Archive: Smart 404 Handler, so I guess those old items really do have some staying power. 🙂

We’ll need more people sharing their voices, the news, and their experiences this year, so please considering launching your own site with WordPress (and Jetpack) or WordPress.com, or start posting again if you already have one!