Issue 247 – 5.9 out

This is an archived edition of MasterWP from January 26, 2022, written by Alex and Ben.

a screenshot of the gutenberg editor

This is an archived edition of MasterWP from January 26, 2022, written by Alex and Ben.

WordPress 5.9 “Josephine” Released, Introduces Full Site Editing and New Twenty Twenty-Two Default Theme

5.9 is out

WordPress 5.9 was released yesterday is available for download/update. 5.9 introduces full site editing to Core. With a compatible theme (such as the new default theme), you can now edit your full site* from the new template editor. This replaces the customiser, and gives a visual preview of everything in real time.

This is a major milestone for ​​WordPress, and a step closer to delivering on the vision of the block editor. There’s now much less of a disconnect between editing a post or page with the block editor, and editing the rest of your site.

The new default theme looks really nice, and comes with an array of block patterns that look equally nice. This is something you’ve got to try out and see for yourself.

“No code” has become an extremely trendy topic in the last couple of years, but as a phrase it’s mostly passed WordPress by. WordPress has, to some extent, always been “no code” if that’s how you want to build your site. In a landscape of shiny templates from “no code builders” from the likes of Squarespace or new market entrants, I do think this is a good and important evolution in how ​​WordPress sites are built. Shoutout and thanks to everyone who contributed! – Alex.


Google Replaces “Floc” with “Topics API”

Privacy FTW
Last year Google proposed a new browser feature that would allow browsers (mostly Chrome but potentially others) to track user behaviours across websites without the use of third party cookies.

It was meant to be anonymous but lots of concerns were raised, including within the WordPress project, and these appear to have been taken onboard. I haven’t fully digested all the details but from my understanding the new proposal has been thought through much more completely and addresses all of the concerns originally raised.

On the proposal page Google has outlined some of the concerns about Floc and how the new Topics proposal addresses them. There’s all sorts of things I like, the reduced (removed) fingerprinting possibilities, and the ability for sites to opt out in particular.

I also like that all processing is now happening browser side. The less stuff that happens on third party servers the happier I will be.

Of course “happier” is relative, I’d rather we didn’t have to work with this sort of thing at all. Why not target the adverts based upon the content of the page/ site rather than the behaviour of the visitor? As a website user I think this would be much more preferable to having (poorly) targeted ads following me around. – Ben.


UK COVID-19 dashboard built using Postgres and Citus for millions of users

Case study

At the start of the pandemic, the UK miscounted the number of cases for a period because new cases were being tracked in an Excel spreadsheet, and someone added them as new columns rather than new rows. Within a couple of weeks, the spreadsheet hit the limit for the number of columns, so new cases weren’t counted. That’s a pretty appalling mistake to make. It certainly makes me feel better about spreadsheet errors I’ve made!

It’s a long way from getting your spreadsheet setup wrong to having a really good and up-to-date COVID-19 dashboard, with live breakdowns of cases area-by-area, vaccination rates, new cases etc etc. The dashboard actually works and works really well. The post I’ve linked is a write-up/case study by Microsoft of how it all works, and there’s more insight in there than you might expect! Good read. – Alex.


Tools for Static Sites

Including Headless WordPress

This article is by Strattic, a static WordPress host, so they are focused on the WordPress angle, but many of these sites and services can be used by anyone who wants to enhance their website.

I don’t use them much, but I really like the concept of No-Code solutions. They’re a bit like WordPress in that they democratise something traditionally considered complex.

My website Brush.Ninja is entirely static, it’s built with a combination of Jekyll and Gulp and rendered out as static HTML, JavaScript and CSS – and that is what is deployed, there’s no server side code. As such I use Formspree for my contact forms, and Buttondown for newsletters. I don’t need much more than that but I can see how these services could be helpful for more advanced things – and you can make some really advanced things with no-code solutions – including complete apps. I know Alex uses Zapier extensively as part of his automation setup for GetEllipsis.

I like looking at things like this since they can sometimes spark ideas, or be useful in future projects.

If you’re interested in no-code as a concept then there are loads of websites around devoted to the subject. This is a great way for non-technical people to get involved with building things. Ideal for MVP’s. – Ben.


How I Got Pwned by My Cloud Costs

Have I been pwnd?

We occasionally link Troy Hunt’s stuff: Troy runs Have I Been Pwned, which tells you if your email is on lists of compromised passwords. It’s good! This is a good write-up and cautionary tale of letting really specific cloud costs get out of control, and notes on avoiding it. Troy has in the past written about optimising his cloud costs, so it’s interesting to see the edge cases. – Alex.

Quick links

“Always implement things when you actually need them, never when you just foresee that you need them.”

– Ron Jeffries

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Rob is the CEO of HDC and the Publisher of MasterWP.

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