WP Potpourri

Running Time:  10:17

WordPress 5.7 is the first of three scheduled major releases of 2021. Like its recent predecessors of the past two years the focus is on improving the Gutenberg block editor as well as the rest of WordPress core.

There were many enhancements to a wide range of blocks as well as to working with the block editor.

Here are some of the highlights which I demonstrate in this video:

And What About The Rest Of WordPress?

As usual, non-Gutenberg parts of WordPress were improved or introduced as new features.  Here are a few that jumped out at me:

And, as usual with each new version of WP were security patches to make your site even less likely to be compromised.

What's Next?

All this is making way for a huge change we will begin to to see in WordPress 5.8. That is when we are likely to see the net phase in Gutenberg – the introduction to Full Site Editing.

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WP Potpourri

Running Time:  1:35

Here are two reasons why knowing the version of WordPress your site is using is important:

1. To troubleshoot any conflict you may have with a theme or plugin which may not be compatible with the version of WordPress you are using.

2. To know that you are keeping up-to-date using the current version of WordPress. Using an older version of WP will make your site less secure and more prone to hacker attacks.

As you’ll see, there are 3 easy ways to find out what version you’re using.

About 3 times a year a new version of WordPress is released. When you login to your site you will be prompted to update to the newest version with a single click.

See an exhalation of the WordPress updating system.

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WP Potpourri

Running Time:  33:40

Elementor is the most popular WordPress page builder plugin. But a better description for what it does is turn WordPress into a web design system.

If you’ve been using Elementor for sometime but aren’t sure how to unlock its power with templates this video is for you.

Here you’ll see how to build your site with templates that you can change to meet your design requirements. Templates are a great way to build your site as you don’t need to start from scratch when it comes to design.

I show how to use a template to create a home page then how to make and use templates for your header and footer sections that apply across your entire site.

There are a lot of goodies packed into this video so have fun and learn a ton.

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WP Potpourri

Running Time:  5:57

You should never share your login credentials (username and password). It’s a sure fire way to weaken the security of your site.

If you need to have someone login to your WP Admin the better practice is to add that person as a
New User to your site.

Fortunately, WordPress makes this fairy easy to do.

With this method there will be no need to send credentials via email (never a good idea). And if you need to revoke access for that user it’s very easy to do.

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WP Potpourri

Running Time:  6:41

When you need to change a page’s title, the date it was published, or a post’s category it’s typical that’s you’ll go to that page or post’s edit screen and make your changes from there.

But there’s a much faster way to make those and other changes by using the Quick Edit feature as shown here. I also show what Bulk Actions are and how to use the Edit function to make changes to more than one page or post at a time.

Quick Edit and the Edit function in Bulk Actions are real time savers that a lot of WP users don’t know about.

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WP Potpourri

Running Time:  11:33

In early December, the third of three major WordPress updates in 2020 was released in version 5.6.

Along with this upgrade comes a new stock theme, Twenty Twenty-One. It is designed to show off what the block editor can do and opens the door for major changes to take place as Full Site Editing comes our way in 2021. The new theme pushes accessibility further than any previous stock theme as it meets the high bar of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 Level AAA.

To be sure, there are not nearly as many notable changes in 5.6 as there were in this summer’s release of 5.5.

This video demos these 3 new features in the block editor aka Gutenberg:

  • the ability to add subtitle and captions to your vidoes
  • selecting multiple blocks to place them within columns
  • adding a tiled (repeated) background to the cover block

Here are the highlights of the over 220 changes that I didn’t review in the video.

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Factoids

  • Last of 3 major updates in 2020
  • Most women developers than any previous update
  • The past 10 updates from the Gutenberg plugin up to 9.2 are included
  • One step closer to Full Site Editing (FSE) that we will see in 2021

Changes To Gutenberg's Interface

With each new version of WordPress, the Gutenberg UI continues to evolve and improve the user experience.  Here are some noticeable changes.

1. A Better Way To Find Block Patterns

Screenshot of Block Patterns

In WP 5.6, Block Patterns now sports a dropdown making it easier to get to the blocks you wish to use.

2. Info Box Gets A New Layout

Screenshot of Info Box

The Info Box got a makeover. An outline of the page’s elements is there too.

3. "Document" Now Has A Better Label

Screenshot of Document Box

A small but nice change is that you will now know you’re working with a Page or a Post (and not just a Document).

New Stock Theme: Twenty Twenty-One

  • Leverages all that the block editor can do
  • Meets WCAG 2.1 Level AAA requirements
  • Supports Dark Mode
  • Built in Accessibility Statement

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WP Potpourri

Running Time:  24:37

In mid August, 2020, a major update to WordPress was released.

V5.5 is packed with many changes of note. These will alter the way you work with WordPress.

Major changes to WordPress happen about 3 times a year and this is the second such update for 2020.

V5.5 is loaded with significant changes to the Gutenberg block editor as well as to the rest of WordPress.

The Major Changes To Gutenberg

The block editor is moving in the direction of being a page editor and eventually will be the cornerstone to a Full Site Editing experience.

V5.5 is a major step in that direction.

Three new features are now built into Gutenberg.

Gutenberg Looks A Little Different

In my video you’ll see that the Inserter (that’s the UI where all the blocks are located) is now docked to the left side of the screen, making it look like a real Page Builder.

Screenshot of WP 5.5 UI
The block Inserter is now docked to the left side of the screen.

It will be very noticeable that the editing screen is now very clean, and editing tools appear only when needed. Even the right sidebar is hidden by default but shows up when you’re working inside of a block.

Also, many of the icons got makeovers or were removed altogether.

The Block Directory

Part of the master plan for Gutenberg, the Block Directory, is new and part of V5.5.

The idea is simple. Rather than download a plugin which provides a collection of blocks – many of which you’ll never use – the Block Directory makes it easy to search for a single-purpose block, download it, and install it into Gutenberg without ever leaving the page or post you are working on.

The Block Directory is very cool but – as I write this – it is in its infancy. Currently it contains about 200 of these one-of blocks ready for use, but over time there will be thousands to choose from.

Block Patterns

Like the Block Directory which is in the Search tool of the Inserter, Block Patterns can also be found within the Inserter.

Think of Block Patterns as pre-built blocks (i.e. templates) that you use for a page. It’s a big time saver and, of course, any block pattern can be changed to suit your needs.

Screenshot of WP 5.5 UI
Screenshot of the new Block Directory as part of the Inserter.

Block Patterns will be a huge help to theme developers as it gives them the opportunity to suggest block patterns best suited for their themes.

Like the Block Directory, look for Block Patterns to have a major role in Gutenberg’s evolution.

Image Editing

WordPress’s Gutenberg can hardly be confused with Photoshop – or any image editing app – but V5.5 does make it easier to work with images.

We now have a crop tool which lets us zoom in on a part of the image that we want to display. Within the crop tool, there is now a way to change the aspect ratio of an image, making it possible to show a chosen area of the image.

In addition to the crop tool is the image rotation tool which lets you rotate the image in one of four positions.

Currently, both the crop and rotation features work only with a simple image but I’m looking forward to seeing them work for other image types, such as the cover image and gallery images.

The Major Changes To The Rest of WordPress

Not to be forgotten, the non-Gutenberg part of WP also got some love in V5.5.

Auto-Updating

With V5.5 you now have the option to switch on automatic updates for your plugins and themes.

Failure to keep WordPress software up-to-date is the leading cause of risking your site to being compromised. With this new feature, you can opt-in to have any plugin or theme automatically updated as soon as a new version becomes available.

(Auto-update does not apply to WordPress core itself. Your web host handles it or you have to do it yourself.)

A word of caution – an update can cause issues with other plugins or your theme, so it’s a good idea to use this feature sparingly, if at all. Best practice is to make sure you have daily backups to your site readily available in the event you need to rollback to an earlier version.

XML Sitemap

A sitemap is a file which provides road map details on how your site is structured. It is what Google and other search bots use to determine how to index your site so your pages can show up when anyone queries Google.

By default, until V5.5, there was no sitemap built into WordPress.

If you’re not sure how a site map works, have a look at the one used for this site. This is what a search bot crawls.

Note: SEO plugins, such as Yoast, RankMath, and All In One SEO, already provide a site map.

Lazy Loading

Previously for a page with many images, WordPress would download all those images even if the user never scrolled down the page to see them. With Lazy Loading, images are downloaded only when they are needed, that is, actually seen by a user. Think of it as “just in time” images.

WP V5.5 Is Loaded

There are so many changes in this version of WP it’s hard to keep track of them. Wait till you see what is coming in WP V5.6 in late 2020!

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WP Potpourri

Running Time:  10:43

When you’re building your site or when you want to make it inaccessible to the public after it’s launched you can use the WP Maintenance Mode plugin to accomplish this task.

While your site is “offline” you will be able to do any work you normally can do as a logged in administrator.

The plugin is really easy to configure. There are plenty of options if you’re ambitious or fussy on how you want your “Maintenance Mode” or “Coming Soon” page to appear when anyone sees your home page.

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