Core releases. Static robots.txt for faster load time. Self-care. Health check. Which metric is lying to you? Dev notes and bottom lines.

Core Concerns

A WordPress 5.9.1 Maintenance Release is out, so make sure your sites are updated. There are quite a lot of bug fixes in this release — over 80!

Gutenberg 12.7 has been released. Patternmaking is easier to discover now. There are some list view improvements and smaller enhancements, bug fixes, and new APIs.

Jonny Harris announced that he has merged a patch into WordPress core for a 12-year-old ticket that “could have a massive effect on performance for custom pages.”

Konstantin Kovshenin explained how this works with an example on Twitter back in December 2021: “To display the default robots.txt, [which is not static] a fresh WordPress install will run 15 SQL queries” and trigger over “42,000 function calls at 5.46 megs peak memory, about 100 ms wall time.” (Wall time is the actual duration elapsed, possibly beyond CPU time due to disk access.)

Self and Health Checks

Josepha Haden Chomphosy says when it comes to supporting your community, “start small” and realize that “you do not personally hold all the responsibility for ‘making things work’ today.”

Josepha is also featured in a recent Automattic Women post sharing what a typical day for her is like and what drew her to Automattic. Notably, Josepha is identified as “community steward” instead of “Executive Director” of WordPress (.org). We haven’t seen that before, but it appears on the WordPress Foundation’s profile at GuideStar.

Tonya Mork talks about some personal and health challenges in her life and how WordPress helped her “find [herself] again.” Tonya was both the Core Tech Lead and the Release Coordinator for WordPress 5.9, and now she is moving on to new adventures — in teaching.

“I’m on a mission to give back and make a difference. Teaching is how I will do it.”

Plugin Updates

Marius Jensen says the Health Check plugin — which he has maintained since 2017 — needs updating. He shares some possible solutions for the need to maintain backward compatibility and feature parity between WordPress core and Health Check.

WPExperts has acquired the Post SMTP plugin from its former developer, Yehuda Hassine. Sarah Gooding covers the story and notes that current users “can expect development and support from a much larger team of professionals, as well as new commercial add-ons in the near future.”

WP Concern has acquired WebFactory‘s Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode Page plugin. This is the seventh acquisition we’ve heard of this year.

Dev Notes

Julia Evans compiled a list of responses she got on Twitter to the question of what in programming used to be hard but now is “easy.” If you’ve been in programming and tech long enough, this is a fun trip down memory lane — if you don’t mind feeling old.

Rebecca Monteleone and Jamie Brew explore what makes writing more readable and how algorithms try to assess readability. They feel it’s a “real possibility that plain language will be outsourced to blackbox technologies that are grounded in antiquated data,” which will hurt accessibility:

“Ultimately, the effectiveness of plain language translations comes down to engagement with your audience. Engagement that doesn’t make assumptions about what the audience understands, but will instead ask them to find out. Engagement that’s willing to work directly with people with disabilities or limited access to education, and not through intermediaries. As disabled advocates and organizations led by disabled people have been saying all along: “Nothing about us without us.”

Bottom Lines

Jason Cohen, CTO of WPEngine, offers a reliable way to check for bad data and misleading metrics that impact your bottom line: look at more than one indicator and ask “Who’s lying?”

“If a metric is important enough to watch it every day, and to act if its behavior deviates from expectation, then it’s important enough to be double-checked. Both for accuracy, and for completeness of comprehension.”

Does the existence of “developer pricing” mean developers are cheap? Developers are cheap says Keith Casey, but that’s not why developer pricing is needed. “The real purpose of developer pricing is to let developers build without doing paperwork.

Is it time to raise your rates due to inflation? Rob Howard thinks so, but he also says there’s a right way to do it. You can offer updated rates to new clients who are probably seeing inflation-related price increases everywhere and raising their own rates.

Ryan Breslow started a worthwhile Twitter thread with the assertion that “Shopify is eating their ecosystem.” Shopify has become the second biggest CMS and the biggest competitor to WooCommerce. Ryan takes a look at Shopify’s tactics for growth and how it’s treating its developers.

Tom Willmot, co-founder and CEO of Human Made, shares how the company did in 2021: 25% employee growth with almost 100 employees, 3 clients with $50B+ in revenue, and growth for the AltisDXP digital experience platform. Not too shabby!

For a digest of everything happening in core this week, see This Week at for February 28.