October 2020 WordPress News: WordPress Plugin Hacks + 5 More Stories

Following the release of WordPress 5.5.1 and Gutenberg 9.1 in September, we’ve moved into a busy October. 

The WordPress team has once again updated expectations for the release of WordPress 5.6 in December and the progress of Full-Site Editing with the new block structure. 

Catch up with the latest news and resources in the WordPress community, including:

  • Delays with the Block-based navigation screen
  • WordCamp Los Angeles virtual event scheduled for October 2020
  • WP Accessibility Day
  • Theme.json Creator Project released in response to Gutenberg 9.1
  • Six popular WordPress plugins hacked
  • Launch of Cloudflare Automatic Platform Optimization

Navigation Screen Experiences Further Delays

Despite being scheduled for release with WordPress 5.6, the block-based navigation screen has yet to be launched in WordPress core. The WordPress team has now confirmed that block-based navigation will not be available until 2021.

This is the second delay for block-based navigation, which was initially planned to launch with WordPress 5.5. 

The WordPress team claims the navigation screen is still in the developmental stage and will require a lot of work before it’s functional and accessible. Contributors will instead shift their focus to ensuring the release of the Widget screen for 5.6. 

Given recent issues with Block-based widgets and block-based navigation delays, contributors expect that Full-Site Editing will not be complete in time to release with WordPress 5.6 as the roadmap initially stated.

WordCamp Los Angeles and WordCamp Austin Went Virtual

Given the difficulties of travel and restrictions on large gatherings due to the 2020 pandemic, WordCamp events have shifted to a virtual format. 

WordCamp Los Angeles (WCLAX) and WordCamp Austin both took place during October 2020. For these virtual events, standard tickets were free of charge and offered access to the full Camp experience. 

Although the events are over at publication, sessions will be made available on WordPress.tv.

WP Accessibility Day

On October 2, WordPress celebrated WP Accessibility Day

It can be easy to overlook certain parts of a website that make it less usable for people with varying abilities. This event highlighted opportunities for users to expand their website’s reach and be more inclusive. 

WordPress hosted speakers from around the world to talk about various subjects, including: 

  • Screen readers
  • Social digital transformation
  • Accessible theme choices
  • Conscientious use of color in design

In her talk, marketing professional and writer, Meryl K. Evans, spoke about the benefits of captioning for more than just the deaf and hard of hearing. 

Beyond the importance of making videos more accessible, captioning videos can attract users who listen to videos with no sound or users with English as a second language. Captioning can even help with search engine optimization (SEO). 

View this session and others on the WordPress Accessibility Team’s YouTube page.

Theme.json Creator Helps Developers Move from Traditional Themes Towards Block-based Themes

When Gutenberg 9.1 was released in September, it came with significant backward changes to the theme.json file that developers use to create block-based themes. 

However, the principal designer at Automattic, Jon Quach, released a UI-based solution called Theme.json Creator. Quach’s project creates JSON code for theme authors while staying current with the Gutenberg changes.

The Theme.json Creator allows theme developers to pick and choose which options they want to support. The tool takes in custom values and delivers JSON code as an output. At the moment, the Creator does not support custom CSS variables. 

The Theme.json Creator focuses mainly on global styles; however, it also allows developers to control style at the block level.

Ultimately, future WordPress changes will allow for more accessibility and flexibility within WordPress theme development. In the meantime, tools like the Theme.json Creator will help theme developers navigate the bumpy journey away from traditional theme development to block-based website design.

WordPress Plugin Hack: 6 Popular Plugins Breached

WordPress has long been popular because of the flexibility it offers companies and web developers. Through the use of plugins, each WordPress admin can customize the functionality of their website. 

While WordPress core remains protected by several security measures, plugins are much more vulnerable

It’s no secret that hackers and malicious actors can expose vulnerabilities through third-party plugins. And, turns out, the most popular plugins are often popular targets. 

In the past couple of months, security breaches of six popular WordPress plugins surfaced. 

The affected plugins include: 

  • File Manager
  • Page Builder
  • GDPR Cookie Consent
  • Duplicator
  • Site Kit by Google
  • InfiniteWP Client

What does this mean for you?

Plugin developers typically respond quickly to security breaches. Check the developer’s website to see what data might have been compromised and when they repaired the breach.

For extra security, learn about ways to prevent hacking on your WordPress website or explore WordPress security plugins.

Launch of Cloudflare Automatic Platform Optimization

Cloudflare is a Content Delivery Network (CDN) that supports millions of websites with its databases located around the world. 

Many WordPress website creators use Cloudflare to speed up their websites and add extra security. On October 2, 2020, Cloudflare announced its new Automatic Platform Optimization (APO) service.

The new service was released to its WordPress customers and results in significantly faster content loading for website pages. The new service also helps circumvent issues traditionally caused by shared hosting and buggy plugins. 

APO runs on Cloudflare’s Edge servers for increased speed, security, and scalability.

Free Cloudflare users can get the service for $5 per month. Otherwise, if you’re a paying Cloudflare customer, the service is automatically included. 

WordPress continues to press forward with the development of full-site editing using block widgets. With that in mind, there are still going to be delays and rough patches. 

However, with the help of plugins, developer tools, and CDNs you can still create fast user-friendly sites with WordPress. 

There’s no doubt that the new changes will lead to a more intuitive website-building experience and add some much-welcome accessibility to the platform. To learn more about the most recommended fast and secure web hosting, explore Bluehost’s WordPress plans today.

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Machielle Thomas
Machielle Thomas | Content Manager
Machielle Thomas writes and curates web and email content for marketing professionals, small business owners, bloggers, and more.

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