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SMF WP Digest #4

Welcome to the fourth installment of the SMF WP Digest. This is the blog version of our internal bi-weekly email which we use to inform, enlighten, and titillate our minds on some of the latest happenings in WordPress-land.

Release News

  • WordPress is very transparent about the things they are working on in upcoming versions. They regularly post up recaps of their progress, touching on large and small pieces like, “changed h3 to h2 on this page for better accessibility” and stuff about moving a php class from one core file to another. You can completely skip these, but if you find any of this interesting (like I surprisingly do), check out this recent post to get an idea of that they post up.
  • The Shortcode API Roadmap has been laid out. There’s a lot to digest here, but nothing that needs action right now. 4.4 will introduce new syntax, 4.5 will deprecate old syntax, 4.6 will upgrade old posts to use the new syntax and 4.7 will end support for the old syntax. So we have some time before we’ll need to update any themes that have custom shortcodes, but it’s worth keeping on the radar to stay ahead of it (more here). Something to keep in mind is that the syntax itself will likely change due to extensive feedback, but the schedule could very well move forward. Here’s the ongoing discussion.
  • WordPress folks are in the early stages of mapping out taxonomy term metadata. This would be very cool…currently you would need a plugin to do this or use the options table to store the data, which isn’t really very logical. Here’s more on the early stages of this discussion.
  • The responsive images changes I discussed in the last issue are now in the process of being worked into a patch candidate for core. If all goes well, we’ll probably see that coming down the pike in a release relatively soon.
  • HTTP/2 doesn’t necessarily mean anything needs to change with WP, but they have a team looking into it anyway to make it more seamless. For example: for HTTP/2 to work, HTTPS is required, so one area of focus is looking at how WP handles ssl and if there are improvements to be made there. More info.
  • WordPress core has been getting ready for PHP7. PHP7 is currently slated for Nov 12 release and this is also the date that WP intends to fully support PHP7. Because a lot of hosts probably will not upgrade php for a while, WP will not drop support of older version until usage numbers show minimal negative impact. More info.

SMF & WP: A Match Made in Heaven

  • As mentioned in previous issues, I have been working on a WP Multisite plugin to make managing Advanced Custom Field data easier across networked sites. The idea of having to create/edit/etc fields manually across all sites in a network seemed silly, so spent a couple days looking for ways to hook into the ACF php export feature. It turns out that ACF Pro has a local JSON feature built into it which saves JSON files with all ACF field data into a folder in the theme directory. Any site in the multisite using this theme will then automatically have those fields. The tricky part is that every site would still have ACF interfaces, so changes to the ACF fields on one site would risk overwriting the field data for another one. To remedy this I created a plugin that adds a page to the multisite network admin. On this settings page you can select the site that will control field data and then select the sites that will inherit that data. The “secondary sites” have ACF’s Lite Mode enabled which hides the interfaces.

Extending WordPress

  • The WordPress folks are working on an oEmbed plugin (eventually to be rolled into WP Core). This plugin makes WordPress an oEmbed provider, so you can embed blog posts just like YouTube videos or tweets. Pretty cool stuff. More here.
  • For sites using WP comments, these can be difficult to moderate because the default interface separates comment replies from their parent content. Show Parent Comment is a concept plugin to help with this issue. It’s currently unsupported and really intended to serve as an idea for future core improvements. If you want to give it a whirl, here it is.
  • Jetpack 3.7 is out and has a simpler interface and support for development sites. If you are interested, here is a rundown of the changes.

WP Drama

The dirty side of dev.

  • The new proposed Shortcode syntax has raised some concerns that it’s too complicated for users to wrap their heads’ around…making the whole point of shortcodes kind of moot. There are also lots of concerns about usability, rolling out changes and breaking themes/plugins, etc. WordPress has listened and is reevaluating how things will change. WordPress lead developer Andrew Nacin said, “The proposed syntax significantly clashes with the proposed vision and given all of your feedback, we’re clearly going to have to go back to the drawing board. Please note that we still need to do something, but maybe we can think further outside the box.”

Misc

I don’t know where to file this crap.

  • WordCamp Sacramento will be Nov 7, in case anyone in CA is interested in attending.
  • Tickets are on sale for WordCamp US (Dec 4-6, Philly). You can find them here.

That’s all for now. Check back in two weeks for another rundown.