November Roundup: Bye to PHP 7.4, hello WordPress 6.1, hello new accessibility checklist and more

WordPress roundup

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In today’s roundup, we are going to discuss the end of an era, what’s new for Gutenberg in WordPress 6.1, the new WordCamp Accessibility checklist, the Great Plugin Data Saga, and how you can apply for a diversity scholarship for WordCamp Asia.

You ready to ride?

Giddy up.

End of PHP 7.4: what it means for enterprise WordPress

It is the end of an era. PHP 7.4 was released November 28, 2019. As of November 28, 2022, it will reach its end of life.

It had a good run, 3 years in fact, but now we must move on.

Jon Ang explains,

“The majority of active WordPress installations still use PHP 7.4 (56.9%). PHP 7.4 is no longer maintained beginning November 2021, and has only been on minimal security maintenance support until 28 November 2022. By that date, PHP 7.4 will be officially declared end of life.”

PHP jumped to 8.0 almost a year after the release of 7.4, so here we are, in the world of PHP 8.0.

Ang explains that upgrading has benefits, but the biggest benefit is using something that is actively supported.

Updating for smaller teams is a lot easier than updating for enterprise clients and the article by Ang gives some great advice for that.

The great thing about your MainWP dashboard is you can see your PHP version right there!

Screenshot MainWP Dashboard
Screenshot My MainWP Dashboard

No time to wait!

What’s new with Gutenberg in 6.1?

At one point, I got a bit excited about Gutenberg. The Gutenberg editor, or Core Editor, as they call it. I felt like the editor needed an update, but in some ways, the experience is quite different.

That means learning the ins and outs can be time-consuming, and when you are publishing often, that can cost you time.

There is, of course, the whole debate about what to call it, Gutenberg Project or Gutenberg Editor, Full Site Editor, or blocks.

Nevertheless, WordPress 6.1 is out and there are updates.

You can see all the changes that are tabbed as improvements at Make WordPress.

Admittedly, a neat new feature is the addition of your website’s favicon in the Gutenberg Editor.

WordCamp Accessibility checklist

After WordCamp US, Michelle Frechette pointed out some problems with accessibility at the hosted venue.

She called attention to this post with grace and concern.

Apparently, her points were heard.

Now WordCamps have an accessibility checklist to use.

If you are hosting or helping organize a WordCamp, you can see that here

Nyasha Green gives her take and a fantastic summary of the checklist in this article at MasterWP.

Have you ever experienced issues with accessibility at WordCamps?

Plugin data saga continues

Last month, the call was made to discontinue the Active Install Growth Data for Plugins. This, of course, caused a big stir!

There were lots of discussions and even a ticket filed in Trac.

Even more discussion continues as Sarah Gooding points out at this WP Taven article, but behind closed doors.

According to Gooding,

“In a recent appearance on the WPWatercooler podcast, [Samuel Otto] Wood elaborated on the decision, which he says was made in May through private channels via Slack DMs in a discussion initiated by Matt Mullenweg.”

Apparently, the chart was not giving accurate data.

Some raised the concern that it was implied the decision to remove the chart data was based on security issues.

Funny thing, when people don’t know what’s happening, they get upset, yet those deciding were surprised by the firestorm.

Gooding says,

“They (the decision makers about the chart) did not anticipate the firestorm the charts’ removal would create in the Trac ticket where developers were pleading to have them restored.”

And the model of plugins could be changing. Alex Denning has argued that WordPress Repository really isn’t helping with distribution, especially new plugins.

With the gap in plugin data, a third party has stepped up.

Plugin owners can find that information at WP Rankings.

So, this is fascinating. How much will plugin developers rely on WordPress.org to get more installs?

The saga continues.

WordCamp Asia Diversity Scholarship, apply today!

If you are looking to attend WordCamp Asia but struggling with the funds to make the trip, you may have an option.

The WordCamp has announced a diversity scholarship for the event in February 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Your application needs to be submitted by November 10, so there isn’t much time.

Those interested can learn more at the WordCamp Asia website.

Wrapping it up

What do you think about Gutenberg? Are you a regular user?

Have you struggled with accessibility issues at a WordCamp before?

Have upgraded your PHP?

Share your thoughts in the MainWP Users Facebook Group.

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Donata Stroink-Skillrud
Donata Stroink-Skillrud
President of Agency Attorneys