4 Big Improvements in WPSSO Core in the Last 2 Weeks

It’s been a very productive two weeks of coding for both the WPSSO Core plugin, and it’s WPSSO Schema JSON-LD Markup add-on.

On April 26th – just two weeks agoWPSSO Core v4.0.0 was released, which included support for the new Gutenberg editor. Since then, WPSSO Core v4.1.0, v4.2.0, and v4.3.0 were also released (the last one just today), along with WPSSO JSON v1.25.0 and v1.26.0.

In case you missed all the update notices and posts about those versions, the following is a quick summary of the big changes and improvements in both WPSSO Core and its JSON-LD add-on. And at the end of this post, you can also find a summary of our release schedule philosophy, and why we chose to release four big improvements, in four different versions, in just two weeks. ;-)

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WPSSO Ditches WordPress & Gutenberg Notifications

The release of WordPress 5 and the new Gutenberg editor are just around the corner, and Gutenberg developers still have not tackled a serious design issue with the current Gutenberg notification system — notices in Gutenberg are being displayed over the content area, forcing users to dismiss notifications to gain access to their content — and in some cases, where several non-dismissible notices are displayed, users may not have access to the content area at all.

The notification system in the current version of WordPress is nothing fancy — and can feel a bit intrusive when several notices are displayed at once — but it’s a lot more flexible and functional than the proposed Gutenberg notification system. :-) As an example, here are some typical SSO (Social and Search Optimization) notifications when editing a test post in the current version of WordPress, in the Gutenberg editor, and with the upcoming release of WPSSO Core v4.2.0 that moves SSO notices into the admin toolbar.

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WPSSO Core v4 with Support for Gutenberg

The new Gutenberg editor for WordPress v5 may not be ready yet — and I can certainly attest to that, lol — but it’s coming soon, and WPSSO Core is ready for Gutenberg!

This latest version of WPSSO Core (scheduled for release this week) includes several key changes aimed specifically at integrating WPSSO Core with the new Gutenberg editor. The Social and Search Optimization metabox is now refreshed when the Gutenberg post is saved, and any SSO notices are displayed using the new Gutenberg notification system. The notices themselves have also been improved by including more information about the dismiss button — either simply hiding the notice (Gutenberg default), temporarily dismissing it for 1 hour, 3 months, etc, or dismissing it permanently.

Have you tried the Gutenberg editor yet?

WordPress v5 is coming soon, and if you haven’t tried the new Gutenberg editor in a staging environment (contact your hosting provider for details), then you could be in for a major surprise! Many plugins will not be compatible with Gutenberg, and for those few and rare plugin authors that are still actively maintaining their plugins, updates to support the Gutenberg editor may take some time. Save yourself the headache – install the Gutenberg editor in a staging environment now, and make sure all your plugins are compatible. ;-)

WPSSO Core v4.0.0 beta is available now.

If you’re a WPSSO Core Pro user — and have a staging environment — you can select the “Beta and Up” version filter for WPSSO Core in the SSO > Update Manager settings page, to install and test the latest beta version. You can also re-select the “Stable / Production” version filter at any time to re-install the last stable / production version.

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Choosing your PHP Image Extension for WordPress

WordPress supports two different PHP image processing extensions — ImageMagick and GD — with a preference for ImageMagick over GD (even when ImageMagick is not installed). The GD extension can still be used in cases where the preferred WordPress ‘WP_Image_Editor_Imagick’ class does not provide support for the requested mime-type or class method.

In some cases, the ImageMagick extension might not be installed, or might be unreliable (old versions of ImageMagick can be buggy). You can hook the WordPress ‘wp_image_editors’ filter to manage the preferred order of WordPress image classes.

For example, here’s a filter and function to remove the ImageMagick class altogether:

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Fix “sslverify = false” for Pro Plugin / Theme Updates

This is a pet peeve of mine – some plugin and theme authors (to make their lives easier) set “sslverify = false” in their Pro version update checks and/or other HTTP requests.

Luckily a few security and error checking plugins like the Query Monitor plugin (for example), will show a warning if the WordPress wp_remote_get() function is executed with “sslverify = false”. To make sure this is never the case, you can use the following filters in your functions.php file.

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Monitor and Fix Incorrectly Coded Content Filters

I’ve just released version 1.1.0 of JSM’s Block Filter Output – a new plugin to monitor the content filter and fix incorrectly coded filter hooks (that send text to the webpage instead of returning it, as all filter hooks must).

A notice is also sent to the PHP error log when webpage output is detected:

[01-Oct-2017 01:48:28 UTC] Block Filter Output: The “ClassName::echoText” filter hook with priority 10 in the “the_content” filter has mistakenly provided some webpage output. All WordPress filter hooks must return their text – not send it to the webpage output. Please contact the author of that filter hook and report this issue as a coding error / bug. Incorrect webpage output:
—BEGIN—
<strong>Some output that should have been returned instead of echo’ed.</strong>
—END—

The plugin is fully tested and compatible with PHP v7.x (PHP v5.3 or better required).

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New Plugin – WPSSO Ratings and Reviews

A new WPSSO Ratings and Reviews (WPSSO RAR) extension for WPSSO has been released. This Free plugin extends the WordPress comment system with a new star rating and review feature — ratings and reviews can be enabled / disabled per post, new reviews are labeled as reviews (not comments), a star rating can be required before reviews are accepted, replies to reviews are properly labeled as replies / comments, and the colors of star ratings can be customized from the settings page.

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New Plugin – WPSSO User Locale Selector

A new WPSSO User Locale Selector (WPSSO UL) extension for WPSSO and WordPress version 4.7+ has been released. This Free extension provides a user locale / language / region selector in the WordPress admin back-end and front-end toolbar menus. This allows users to easily change their preferred locale setting from the toolbar instead of having to update their WordPress profile page.

The default WordPress behavior is to apply the user locale preference to the admin back-end only — this plugin can optionally extend the user locale preference to the front-end webpage as well (enabled by default in the SSO > User Locale settings page).

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New Plugin – WPSSO Tweet a Quote

A new extension for WPSSO called WPSSO Tweet a Quote (WPSSO TAQ) is available to include Twitter-style quotes in your content, with an easy (and optional) Tweet link for readers.

WPSSO Tweet a Quote – Easily add Tweetable quotes to your WordPress content! ;-)

WPSSO TAQ uses your existing WPSSO settings to shorten URLs, add the Twitter Business @username, and recommend the author’s @username after sharing — and developers / advanced users will appreciate the ability to completely re-style the quote text and Tweet link. ;-)

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New Plugin – WPSSO Strip Schema Microdata

If you’re using the WPSSO Schema JSON-LD Markup (WPSSO JSON) extension (and if not, you really should), you may have noticed that Google’s Schema validation tools can pickup additional incomplete / inaccurate Schema markup from your theme templates. WPSSO JSON defines its JSON-LD markup as the “main entity” for the webpage — so Google will prefer this markup over any other found in the webpage — but you may still want to cleanup that incomplete / inaccurate Schema Microdata from your theme templates. The new WPSSO Strip Schema Microdata (WPSSO SSM) extension is a Free plugin that removes Schema Microdata markup from the webpage body section automatically, leaving the Schema JSON-LD markup as the only Schema markup in the webpage.

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