The Site Kit plugin by Google makes it trivial to integrate your WordPress site with various publisher-facing Google services such as Google Analytics. In addition to exposing key insights from these services directly in your WordPress dashboard, it also automatically places the necessary code snippets on your page to ensure these metrics can be gathered properly.
In this post we will look at Google Analytics specifically and how you can customize its behavior in the Site Kit plugin. While the default configuration already gives you access to many valuable metrics, Google Analytics becomes really powerful when you have tailored it to your specific use-cases. With Site Kit currently still in Beta, the user-facing configuration options for Google Analytics are minimal. While we are exploring how we can expose more customization opportunities through the plugin’s settings UI, it may be a while until these improvements are included in a new plugin’s release. Since its beta 1.0.4 release though, the plugin includes filters to modify the Google Analytics configuration, so as a developer you can tweak it in almost any way you like already today.
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The web has been constantly evolving. Over the years we have seen milestones such as the introduction of responsive images, AJAX requests, or location access for some examples. More recently features like Add to Home Screen, which allows you to make websites easily accessible on your phone or desktop, or Web Payments, a standardized way of processing payments on the web, have been made available. Even lazy-loading media is likely to come natively to the web soon.
While all these features are very powerful, they also pose the challenge of using them responsibly, and making sure to not abuse them, which could harm user experience. For example, asking the user to grant location access to a website without making it obvious what this would be used for and without providing a clear user benefit, the resulting pop-up can be more of a distraction than the purpose would justify it. I’m sure you have seen websites where you had to go through way too many pop-ups and consent requests before getting to the content you actually intended to see.
Keeping track of all these web features can be a tedious task, especially in the context of a CMS like WordPress, where much of the codebase (probably even most of it) comes from third parties on many sites. Even if you yourself are a responsible citizen of the web, third-party plugins and themes might have flaws or might be misusing features in ways you aren’t aware of.
This is where two new proposed web standards, Feature Policy and Reporting API, come into play.
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This weekend, I gave a talk at WordCamp Portland, looking into data structures in WordPress. While the session will soon be available on wordpress.tv, in this post I will provide a written version of it. I recommend you to read this alongside the original slides.
When referring to data structures here, it’s not data structures as in computer science. You won’t hear about arrays, doubly linked lists, binary trees. Instead we will look at object types, metadata and options, in other words, how data is organized in WordPress. We will do so from both the database and the code points of view. Knowing the ins and outs of this is crucial for both core contributors and plugin developers.
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Several people have already posted their thoughts and impressions about the new Gutenberg editor for WordPress, to highlight pros, cons and everything in between. Here is my perspective on it.
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A while ago I read this post by Yoast on implementing standardized theme hooks in WordPress so that plugin developers have a unified way to insert their content into a specific theme location. The ideas Yoast included there were, in my opinion, amazing – and I immediately thought that a thing like this should be pushed forward. I also found an interesting Github repository of a thing called “Theme Hook Alliance”, but unfortunately I was not able to contact anyone there and I had the impression that it is not maintained any longer. Although discussions exist about including standardized theme hooks in WordPress Core, it currently doesn’t look like such a feature could possibly be added soon. That’s why, based on the resources mentioned above, I took some time to figure out a set of guidelines that, like I think, would vastly improve the WordPress infrastructure if people maintained this standard: The “WP Theme Standardization Panel” defines these guidelines (in the Github repository you’ll find instructions and a reference file on how to implement them). There is no file that you must necessarily include in your theme, it is just a standard you should maintain in your theme. I hope that this makes its way around so that WordPress developers start discussing about it, adding useful ideas and (best case) implementing it into their themes. And this is in no way a finished set of ideas – please take part in improving as much as there is to improve!
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