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The “Elementor CMS,” ACF Stories, WordPress.com Creator Plan πŸ—žοΈ February 2024 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP

📆  This is the February 2024 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.” 

Hey, WordPress fans! We are back with our first WordPress news roundup covering news that happened in 2024.

While there wasn’t a ton going on this month in the WordPress space, we did manage to dig up some interesting stories and events from the past month.

In a fun story to kick us off, Elementor won a very interesting award (that a lot of people think it had no business winning). We also have two stories about Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), some changes to the WordPress.com pricing plans, and an interview with the creator of the WordPress Media Experiments plugin.

Let’s get to all of the WordPress news from the past month…

February 2024 WordPress News with CodeinWP

Is Elementor a content management system? W3Techs thinks so

In one of the weirder news stories from the past month, W3Techs named Elementor the Content Management System of the Year for 2023.

This award is based on the growth of a CMS from January 1st, 2023 to January 1st, 2024.

Now, I have nothing against Elementor (I think it’s quite good), but this award obviously led to a lot of confusion in the WordPress space because…well, Elementor is not a content management system.

Elementor is a plugin that relies on the WordPress content management system, so it doesn’t really make sense for Elementor to receive the award itself. Without WordPress, you can’t use Elementor, because Elementor does not have its own CMS.

Plenty of people pointed this out on Twitter, with a lot of replies to this tweet from Joost de Valk. The original tweet from W3Techs even got hit with a community note explaining that Elementor is not a content management system.

In the past, WordPress had dominated this award, receiving it every year from 2010-2021, until Wix took the award from WordPress in 2022. So it’s definitely not like W3Techs has an issue with giving the award directly to WordPress.

Because so many WordPress stats rely on the W3Techs usage statistics, I think this kind of oversight is a bit of a weird one and damages W3Techs’s reputation when it comes to CMS statistics

However, it seems like more of an oversight for misclassifying Elementor within their rules-based system for the award, rather than them proactively making the argument that Elementor is a standalone CMS.

Interestingly, the second-place result also faced the same issue, though it didn’t get as much attention as Elementor.

The second place CMS? WooCommerce – which also relies entirely on the WordPress CMS.

Even if the results are a bit nonsense, I think that it is still a positive thing for WordPress that two WordPress-based plugins are achieving such growth.

After all, if Elementor and WooCommerce increase their usage numbers, that means that lots of people continue to rely on WordPress to build their businesses.

If you want an even deeper look, Matt at The WP Minute has a good post on the topic.

Elementor a content management system?

ACF has started locking certain admin features for inactive licenses

Let me start by relieving the stress that any lifetime ACF license holders might be feeling – these changes won’t affect you at all.

However, if you’re a newer customer of ACF who’s using the yearly license (which is the only option now, as ACF no longer offers a lifetime license), there’s been a change that you’ll want to pay attention to.

Going forward, ACF will start locking certain backend admin functionality if your ACF license expires, which I was first alerted to in this January tweet from Jeff Chandler.

More specifically, ACF will lock certain ACF Pro admin features if the license is not active.

This will not affect you or your users/clients adding data to custom fields in the WordPress editor.

If you’ve already added Pro custom fields to your site, you will still be able to add/edit field data in the WordPress editor screens, even without an active license.

This change will also not affect rendering Pro field data on the frontend – that will keep working even without an active license.

However, without an active license, you will not be able to create or edit ACF Pro fields, ACF blocks, and options pages.

Here’s a detailed post from ACF that explains what will and won’t work with an inactive license.

Obviously, the goal here is to encourage people to keep their licenses active, while also not breaking people’s sites if their licenses expire (which is especially important if you’re building client websites).

ACF is also not the first plugin to implement this type of licensing. I know that MemberPress does something similar where it locks the admin screens, while still allowing frontend membership functionality to continue like normal.

Interestingly, most people in the Twitter thread seem to be okay with the change, while most people in the Advanced WordPress Facebook group post that Jeff screenshotted seem to be against it.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of it, but I also understand why developers would want to go with this approach, as it makes it easier to lock in long-term recurring revenue. Still, I think it’s better to go with this approach from the beginning, as making this change after years of handling things differently is probably going to make some people upset.

Of course, because ACF is GPL-licensed, you’re free to go in and modify it to remove the code that locks the admin screens if you don’t like it. Or, if you’re interested in alternatives, Meta Box and Pods are both great options for working with custom fields and custom post types on WordPress.

Note – it appears that ACF might have made this change in late November 2023. However, this is the first time that most people are hearing about it and seeing the effects, which is why I’m reporting it now.

ACF

You may also be interested in:

Advanced Custom Fields vulnerability discovered – update ASAP

While on the topic of ACF, let’s talk about another bit of ACF-related news. This time, it has to do with vulnerabilities.

Given that ACF is a massively popular plugin that people use to add and manage custom fields in WordPress (as well as custom post types, now), any issue found in it is notable.

In mid-January, Search Engine Journal reported that a vulnerability had been discovered in ACF. The ACF team patched the vulnerability in version 6.2.5, which was released on January 16th.

However, there’s a big caveat to that patch. In order to fix the vulnerability, it introduced some potentially breaking changes for people who use the ACF shortcode to display certain types of HTML content.

Here’s a direct quote from the ACF team:

From ACF 6.2.5, use of the ACF Shortcode to output an ACF field will be escaped by the WordPress HTML escaping function wp_kses.

This has potential to be a breaking change if you’re using the shortcode ([ acf field="field_name"]) to output potentially unsafe HTML such as scripts or iframes for textarea or WYSIWYG fields.

Advanced Custom Fields Team

Going forward, the ACF team has plans to continue to improve on fixing these problems and create a more elegant solution. However, until that happens, you might need to do some debugging if you run into issues. Again – this change should only affect you if you’re using the ACF shortcode to display “unsafe” HTML.

To help you debug the problem, you can check out the full ACF 6.2.5 release post on the ACF website.

WordPress.com changes its “Business” plan to “Creator” plan

When I was recently checking out the WordPress.com pricing page, I noticed an interesting switch.

The WordPress.com Business plan has been rebranded to the WordPress.com Creator plan.

This is the WordPress.com plan that you need to install your own custom themes and plugins, along with accessing other features. The higher-tier Ecommerce plan has also been rebranded to the Entrepreneur plan.

I’m not sure exactly when this switch happened because I can’t find any news articles about it. However, I do think it marks an interesting shift in WordPress.com’s focus, moving from focusing on “businesses” to trying to capitalize on the “creator economy.”

This shift isn’t just about naming, either. You can see the same focus in a lot of the features that WordPress.com has launched recently, such as the WordPress.com Newsletter product that lets people create a paid newsletter (which competes with Substack and other similar platforms).

On a related note, Automattic also launched the Jetpack Creator plan back in November 2023, which also ties in with this shift. It’s a bundle that offers a lot of Jetpack features for one price, including letting self-hosted WordPress sites access the Newsletter functionality powered by Automattic’s servers.

In January 2024, Matt Medeiros spoke with Mike Scott, one of the leads behind Jetpack Creator, about the new plan. You can check out that interview here.

Mike was the creator of the Zero BS CRM plugin, which was acquired by Automattic/Jetpack and rebranded into Jetpack CRM.

The WP Tavern is still empty (over two months now)

For a long time now, WP Tavern has been one of the best spots for unbiased WordPress news.

In fact, I relied on it heavily for putting together these monthly posts, which is why you probably saw it referenced so much.

However, since Sarah Gooding left on November 17, 2023, the tavern has pretty much been empty, barring one State of the Word 2023 recap post from Ioana Mureşan.

Originally, Matt Mullenweg said that he would aim to hire someone new by the end of November 2023. More specifically, Matt was actually aiming to hire two people, which was traditionally the staffing level for WP Tavern.

Based on his post, it seems like Matt fully handles the WP Tavern hiring process himself.

However, we’ve now made it through January 2024 with no news of any hiring. I’m not sure if that’s because Matt hasn’t been able to find a suitable candidate or if there’s been some other issue getting in the way of things.

Either way, it’s a bummer to not have new content coming out of WP Tavern, and I hope that this situation is not permanent.

WordPress.org launches a new centralized Events landing page

In December, WordPress.org launched a brand new Events landing page – located at events.wordpress.org.

This is another bit of news that I’m a little late in catching up on, but I still thought it was worth sharing because it’s a really handy resource for people interested in attending in-person events. There were also some new updates in January, which also merit it being included this month.

The new Events page aims to be a central hub for all WordPress events across the entire world. As I’m sitting here writing this in January 2024, the page lists 3,925 events in 108 different countries, including both WordCamps and smaller meetups.

It also covers both in-person and online events, so you might find something interesting even if you’re not planning to attend anything in person.

In January, Rocio Valdivia put out a call for feedback on the new WordPress Events page design. The team plans to keep iterating the design based on user feedback, so your thoughts could play a helpful role in making it even more useful.

There’s already some good feedback in the comments section of that post. For example, Joost de Valk pointed out that the Events page is hosted on a subdomain for some reason, while most other parts of WordPress.org use subfolders.

A look at the WordPress Media Experiments plugin with Pascal Birchler

Back in December, Pascal Birchler released a really interesting plugin named WordPress Media Experiments.

True to its name, the plugin is sort of a proof-of-concept proving ground for a number of interesting media-related features, including the following:

  • Record yourself right from the block editor using your computer’s webcam and microphone.
  • Generate local thumbnails when uploading a video.
  • Convert GIFs to videos.
  • Transcoding and compression for images, videos, and audio files.
  • Client-side image downsizing and thumbnail generation.
  • Generate preview images for PDF files.

In January, we got a chance to interview Pascal one-on-one about the WordPress Media Experiments plugin. 

We talked with him about some of the under-the-hood technical difficulties and challenges, as well as whether or not he thinks some of the WordPress Media Experiments features could ever find their way into the core WordPress software.

Check out the full interview to read all of Pascal’s thoughts. 🎙️

WordPress 2024 Global Community Sponsors announced

Lastly, WordPress revealed its five Gold-level Global Community Sponsors for 2024 in January. Those organizations are:

  1. Automattic – the company behind WordPress.com, Jetpack, and many other big names.
  2. Woo, formerly WooCommerce – Automattic also owns Woo, but Woo seems to be doing its own sponsorship on top of Automattic.
  3. Bluehost – one of the most popular WordPress hosts.
  4. GoDaddy – another huge name in the web hosting and domain space. GoDaddy has been making a big push into WordPress over the past few years, including some big acquisitions.
  5. Awesome Motive – the company behind WPBeginner and a bunch of popular plugins. Awesome Motive has also been on an acquisition tear over the past few years.

Because these are global sponsors, they’ll show up on all 2024 WordCamps and event websites.

That sums up our February 2024 WordPress news roundup. Anything we missed?

Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. Learn more below:

 

Layout and presentation by Karol K.

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