WordPress 4.6 Released

WordPress 4.6 Streamlined UpdatesWordPress 4.6 has been released! This release introduces a streamlined plugin and theme update process, native system fonts in the Dashboard (no more remotely-loaded Open Sans), improved link validation, browser storage content recovery, and more!

272 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Dominik Schilling. At the time of writing this, WordPress 4.6 has been out for just a little over 1 hour, and has already been downloaded 150,337 times!

All users can now 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 4.5 Released

illustration-short-inlinelinksWordPress 4.5 has been released! This release introduces inline linking and more formatting shortcuts to the editor, responsive previews and custom logos to the customizer, and more!

277 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Mike Schroder. At the time of writing this, WordPress 4.5 has been out for only 4 hours, and has already been downloaded 415,873 times!

All users can now 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!

Internet Archive: Smart 404 Handler

internetarchiveContinuing our series on the Internet Archive, you may recall the last part on the Wayback Machine. Well, today we’re going to go over one more extension of its power that was big enough to get its own part, the smart 404 handler!

If you have your own site, you have probably deleted a page or post by now. Whether on purpose or by accident, you can control what’s on your site, but you can’t control the links to it that already exist elsewhere. When those links direct to your deleted content, the visitor sees a boring 404 Not Found error. But, what if I told you that you could use the Wayback Machine to offer those disappointed visitors a glimpse of the content they missed?

A few years back, the folks behind the Internet Archive debuted their smart 404 handler for free use, and it still works great! Simply add the code from the earlier link to your custom 404 page, and it will work like magic. If you have a WordPress site, your theme more than likely has a 404.php file. If you have not already, now is a great time to start a child theme, so your changes aren’t lost if the theme is updated. Now, simply find where the content of your 404 page ends in the 404.php file (the content you visibly see on the page, not the entirety of the code), and add the code right below it. Here’s how the relevant section looks in the Sorbet theme’s 404.php file:

sorbet404

You won’t see anything if the former page or post wasn’t archived by the Wayback Machine. If you did it right though, and you land on one that has been archived, you’ll find a welcoming message with a link to the most recently archived version. It will look something like this:

404

Thanks to the smart 404 handler and the Wayback Machine’s over 462 billion archived pages, the experience of missing out on lost content could be a thing of the past.

This bring us to the end of our series on the Internet Archive, for now. If you enjoyed your brief tour, don’t forget that they need donations to be able to provide all this for free. Until next time, enjoy everything the Internet Archive has to offer!

Internet Archive: Wayback Machine

internetarchiveContinuing in our series on the Internet Archive, we have the one thing it might be known best for, the Wayback Machine! There are over 462 billion web pages saved in the Wayback Machine, which leads to some powerful options.

The Wayback Machine is named for the WABAC time machine from the Peabody’s Improbable History segment of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, and like a time machine, everyone has played around with the most basic usage of the Wayback Machine. Want to know what WordPress.org looked like in 2003? No problem, the Wayback Machine has it. How about what Apple.com looked like in 1997, or what Mozilla.org looked like in 1998? The Wayback Machine will be hours of fun if that’s what you’re looking for, but what else does it offer?

The power of the Wayback Machine is in what it stores: everything. The entire source of the page, along with any available media, is stored. First of all, you might be thinking, “I’d better block that immediately!” Don’t. No one is going to purposefully visit your site through the Wayback Machine instead of just normally visiting your site, that’s silly. Allow your site to be archived for history, there’s no reason not to.

So, what does this “everything” get you? Quite a bit actually. Ever wonder what would happen to your site if you found out your backups were bad? The Wayback Machine is here for you to copy and paste whatever text you need to, and to re-upload any media it was able to archive. Does something seem odd in your site lately, something you can’t quite identify? Instead of fully restoring an old backup, compare your site to last month’s archive on the Wayback Machine. If you can identify what’s different, you can even view the source like you would on any normal web page to dig into the deep details.

As a true story of its power, we use the Wayback Machine almost every day in Jetpack support. When you connect Jetpack with your blog, it ties everything to your blog’s URL, and assigns that URL a unique blog ID. If you’re running the Stats module, you can find that ID in the source output towards the bottom. Just look in the source for “blog:’number'” and that number is the blog ID. Sometimes people move their blog to a new domain, and Jetpack will get confused and think it’s a new site (we’re working on ways to improve that). If we can find the old site in the Wayback Machine, we can find the old blog ID in the source, and then we can fix everything.

The Wayback Machine has a lot to offer, and you only need to start digging to get a good grasp of just how much there is. Storing so much data isn’t cheap though, and the Internet Archive needs your donations to keep it running. Dive into history with the Wayback Machine and see what you can uncover! Next time? Smart 404 handler!

Happy New Year! the 2016 edition

2016 begins today, so it’s a great time to make sure your browser is up to date, update all of your passwords, setup two factor authentication wherever you can, start a blog with WordPress (and Jetpack) or WordPress.com, or start posting again if you already have one!

MacManX.com had a great 2015, and I’m sure you’ll have a great 2016!

MacManX.com in 2015

2015statsAccording to this report from the good folks at Jetpack, 2015 was another big year for MacManX.com. Along with some interesting stats, the report sums it up best:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

2015 was a bit slower for MacManX.com than last year, so I’ll see what I can do about publishing a bit more content in 2016. 🙂

WordPress 4.4 Released

2016ipadWordPress 4.4 has been released! This release introduces the new default theme Twenty Sixteen, responsive images, post embeds, the basic infrastructure for the upcoming REST API, and more.

466 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Scott Taylor. That’s a new record for WordPress, almost doubling the last release! At the time of writing this, WordPress 4.4 has been out for only 30 minutes, and has already been downloaded 58,192 times!

All users can now 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!

The WordPress.com Desktop App

wpappThere’s a new desktop app for WordPress blogs, this time from the good folks at Automattic, the people behind WordPress.com. I know many of you have heard me say that WordPress.com and WordPress are two entirely separate entities, so let me clear this up right now. You can use this app with both WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress(.org) blogs! Despite the app’s name, you can connect your self-hosted WordPress blog to WordPress.com with Jetpack and it’s Manage module, allowing you to work with your self-hosted WordPress blog in both WordPress.com and the app.

The new desktop app is mostly a wrapper for Calypso, the new WordPress.com interface packed full of the latest web technology. Calypso is where the real fun lies, conceived as an answer to “What if we rebuilt WordPress from scratch today?” It’s fast, responsive, and open source, with real-time notifications, the ability to work with multiple sites through the same interface, and a thoroughly re-built editor.

The desktop app brings Calypso to you in a browser-free app, free of occasionally troublesome browser extensions and poor support of the latest web technologies from certain browsers I dare not name, leveraging the processing power and local storage of your computer. It’s a whole new way to experience WordPress, packed into one convenient application.

Try the new WordPress.com Desktop App today, or even just Calypso at WordPress.com itself, you won’t be disappointed. 🙂

Gallery

Automattic Meetup 2015

This year, Automattic went back to Park City, Utah! The big difference this time? Our “almost 300” has grown to 400 employees spanning the globe, many joining us from the WooThemes acquisition earlier this year. With so many colleagues from around the world, it’s great to see everyone at least once a year, and build great things in person.

Some aforementioned great things were indeed made this year, keep your eyes on the WordPress.com Blog and the Jetpack Blog for news, but perhaps more interesting (or at least more fun) was the introduction a live band made up of some of my more talented colleagues. I don’t think the band will be producing any albums, but it sure made for a fun night! 🙂

For more photos, visit colleagues Adam Heckler and Greg Stewart, and don’t forget that we’re always hiring!

James and Greg

James and Greg

WordPress Security and Auto-Updates

autoupdatesWordPress 4.3.1 was released six days ago and included three security fixes. If you haven’t done anything silly to disable auto-updates, you would have been automatically updated within an hour of the announcement (and in some cases even before the announcement). If you have disabled auto-updates, your site was publicly at risk until you manually updated, and if you still haven’t updated, you had better do so now.

Auto-updates are not only crucial, they are almost quite literally the least you can do to protect your site. When a security update is announced, along with the vulnerabilities being made public, you could trust your site to update itself quickly and efficiently with no effort on your part, or you could disable all of that and keep your site vulnerable until you got around to doing it yourself. Sure, there is a very slim possibility that a feature of a plugin on your site may momentarily break until its developer fixes it, but such a thing is insignificant compared to recovering a hacked site, or losing an unrecoverable hacked site, just because you decided to let it live with publicly known vulnerabilities.

This doesn’t just extend to WordPress core. Plugins and themes get occasional security updates too. While WordPress doesn’t automatically update those by default, you can make it do so by modifying wp-config.php, using a plugin, or a service like Jetpack Manage. Just like with WordPress core, the updates will be applied within an hour of the release. And, if you’re worried about losing theme modifications, make sure that you’re using a child theme or a plugin like Jetpack Custom CSS so that you can modify your theme in a way that still allows you to safely update the parent theme.

When it comes to securing WordPress, there’s a lot you can do, but allowing auto-updates to function is by far the best way to keep your site secure, and almost quite literally the least you can do. Enjoy the freedom and security that auto-updates afford to you and your site.