Read WordPress should deprecate themes — a modest proposal by Mike Schinkel (MIKESCHINKEL.ME)

Personally, I have never found a theme that is 100% useable without some significant HTML+CSS customization and/or PHP/MySQL/Javascript customization. And even the best themes use approaches that result in sites that require a huge amount of time to maintain the content because the themer made easy coding choices rather than build functionality to allow managing content with less effort. Examples include using categories to group content where a custom taxonomy would be better, and a custom post would be best.

WordPress themes as they currently stand should absolutely be done away with, even though the concept of separating presentation from content is an excellent foundation.

Sepearating content from presentation might have been the original purpose of themes, but that definitely hasn’t proved to be the case in practice.

Put more succinctly, the law of unintended consequences strikes again.

As a general rule, I find that themes, (and I’m not including every theme developer or designer here, just lots of them), promise way more than they can ever deliver.

I can’t count the number of sites I’ve worked on over the years in which management of expectations with regard to what a client can do with a theme and what they can’t has played a significant role.

Add to this the complexities of customizing a theme so that it becomes accessible, (something required especially when there’s a lawsuit or demand letter or even just a desire to make the site accessible involved), and you have a recipe for more headache for the developer and the client than there should be.

There’s a reason I won’t touch anything from Theme Forest, which is admittedly the most extreme case but far from the only concentration of trashfire from a code standpoint that’s out there.

And I don’t see any of this changing until one of the least-modernized parts of WordPress, (the theme infrastructure) is gone.

If Gutenberg helps us get there, I’m all for it, even though I still think Matt should spend about three days without his mouse and monitor stuck with a screen reader and Gutenberg.

Read A note by John Carson on , , Gutenberg and the TwentyTwenty theme by John CarsonJohn Carson (Face-down in Mud)

Being a screen reader user, I find it very disturbing that more attention has not been given to accessibility . Just a thought; it would have been much easier and simpler to design and develop for accessibility before starting to code this project. It will be much more difficult to implement accessibility after the fact. Who made the decision to move forward with a project this large without accessibility from the ground up? In my opinion this is the most ridiculously moronic decision I’ve ever encountered!

I met John when I started working for Freedom Scientific.

He had already been with the company a long time, (ever since the days when it was Henter-Joyce and when Jaws 3.0 was new).

He taught me everything I know about screen reader internals, has likely forgotten more about screen readers and assistive technology in general than I’ve ever learned, and did a ton of the scripting work that still makes Jaws for Windows work with websites.

He retired in 2017, and started working with WordPress in 2019. So he can’t be targeted with the “just afraid of change” argument.

I’ve watched him test the TwentyTwenty theme with three different browser/screen reader combos, read through every line of the CSS, and I’ll watch him read through every line of the functions file and other associated templates.

And he was developing with Javascript before there were frameworks.

I’m not saying any of this because we’re friends or otherwise, I’m saying this because he’s earned the right to be listened to.

And yes, his post is pretty damning because this stuff should not still be happening on a project whose leardership continues to claim that WordPress is for everyone despite specifically refusing to put policies in place (accessibility) which are part and parcel of every successful accessibility effort.

Matt, I get it. Gutenberg has been a goal of yours since at least the final WordCamp San Francisco. I get that you and the rest of the Gutenberg team have worked very hard on it, and that you really are trying to move the web forward.

I also get that you’re probably tired of every accessibility advocate, in and outside this community, giving you crap about this stuff. Hearing that you’re not doing a good job, however politely, is not pleasant. It’s not even pleasant when it’s polite, especially in the Gutenberg case, because everybody’s essentially calling your baby ugly.

I can’t speak for anyone else who’s advocated for accessibility in this space, because I’m not them.

Speaking for myself though, I’d genuinely like to quit criticizing you over this, and I’m saying that as someone who has been and will continue to be one of your harshest critics for as long as it takes. No, I’m not forking WordPress and I’m not walking away.

Seriously, quit being so bullish about this. I have no idea why you are as opposed as you are to even the prospect of an enforcible, project-wide accessibility policy, and enforcing same, but setting policy goals regarding accessibility for a project this size, (or really any project), is required for any accessibility changes to be lasting and successful.

An accessibility policy is how you ensure that you don’t keep repeating the same mistakes.

Technical accessibility is the beginning, not the end of accessibility efforts. And if you really want to move the web forward while safeguarding its openness and independence, please do not carry on one of the worst aspects of the free software movement, the one that leaves whether or not people with disabilities are included as part of the “everyone” you champion up to developer and designer and founder choice.

We’re still fighting discrimination in the workplace, and we’re still fighting for equal access when it comes to the technology we use to do our jobs. But the beauty of WordPress and its community is that we can create opportunities for ourselves.“People of WordPress: Amanda Rush” published at WordPress.org

In order for everyone, including people with disabilities, to be able to create opportunities for ourselves, WordPress the project has to make accessibility a priority. The way that happens is through leadership making accessibility a project-wide goal instead of just something individuals work for and fight for.

Last time this became an issue, Web Accessibility Deathmatch happened. If we’re going to keep it positive, and prevent that from happening again, then things have to change and that change has to be led from the top down, since this is a project with a benevolent dictator.

Matt, please rethink your public stance regarding a project-wide accessibility policy.

Read Indieweb Thoughts Post State of the Word by David ShanskeDavid Shanske (David Shanske)

It has been a while since I wrote out some thoughts on where the Indieweb is on WordPress. Sitting here, after hearing Matt Mullenweg gave the State of the Word at WordCamp US, and after I assisting Tantek Çelik in his talk on Taking Back the Web, which was one of the contributing factors to my being at WordCamp US.

Read Coming in WordPress 5.3: What is the PHP Spread Operator? by Justin Tadlock (WordPress Tavern)

On October 9, Juliette Reinders Folmer announced on the core WordPress blog that WordPress 5.3 will use the spread operator. The spread operator was one of the new features made available in PHP 5.6, a version released in 2014.
WordPress abandoned PHP 5.2 – 5.5 with the release of WordPress 5.2. This means the core team can start taking advantage of relatively new features, or at least 5-year-old features. For plugin and theme developers who maintain the same minimum version support as WordPress, they can also start exploring this feature.

Read Long-Needed Date/Time Improvements Land in Core by Justin Tadlock (WordPress Tavern)

After more than a year and several WordPress updates, an overhaul of the core Date/Time component concluded. WordPress 5.3 will ship with fixes for long-standing bugs and new API functions.

Not all heroes wear capes.

The core Date/Time component is a rabbit hole which is not for the faint of heart, and I’m glad to see these changes coming to WordPress 5.3.

Read Accessible Death – Songs by Joe O’Connor

I’m putting together this play list for my wake and writing about my life while I am able. Time will come when I won’t have the strength. I want to make sure that my daughter Siobhan ( born with severe intellectual disabilities) understands what is happening and that she feels included in the process. I’ve used some songs she will recognize. In this way she’ll hopefully feel included.

I’ll update this post later once I can manage to get my thoughts together so that the words I’d like to say while Joe is still with us are in some kind of order instead of a jumbled mess mixed with grief and swearing.

I’ll try to do it quickly. Hopefully there’s enough time.

If you don’t know who Joe is, he’s one of the original gangsters of WordPress Accessibility.

Through this connection he is someone very dear to me.

Read NORMS OF COMPUTER TRESPASS by Orin S. Kerr (Columbia Law Review)

This Essay develops an approach to interpreting computer trespass laws, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, that ban unauthorized access to a computer. In the last decade, courts have divided sharply on what makes access unauthorized. Some courts have interpreted computer trespass laws broadly to prohibit trivial wrongs such as violating terms of use to a website. Other courts have limited the laws to harmful examples of hacking into a computer. Courts have struggled to interpret authorization because they lack an underlying theory of how to distinguish authorized from unauthorized access.
This Essay argues that authorization to access a computer is contingent on trespass norms—shared understandings of what kind of access invades another person’s private space. Judges are unsure of how to apply computer trespass laws because the Internet is young and its trespass norms are unsettled. In the interim period before norms emerge, courts should identify the best rules to apply as a matter of policy. Judicial decisions in the near term can help shape norms in the long term. The remainder of the Essay articulates an appropriate set of rules using the principle of authentication. Access is unauthorized when the computer owner requires authentication to access the computer and the access is not by the authenticated user or his agent. This principle can resolve the meaning of authorization before computer trespass norms settle and can influence the norms that eventually emerge.

Read Scraping A Public Website Doesn’t Violate the CFAA, Ninth Circuit (Mostly) Holds by Orin S. Kerr (Reason.com)

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has handed down a groundbreaking decision today on the federal computer hacking law,  the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).  In HiQ Labs v. LinkedIn, the court held that scraping a public website is likely not a CFAA violation.
Under the new decision, violating the CFAA requires “circumvent[ing] a computer’s generally applicable rules regarding access permissions, such as username and password requirements,” that thus “demarcate[]” the information “as private using such an authorization system.”  If the data is available to the general public, the court says, it’s not an unauthorized access to view it—even when the computer owner has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the visitor telling them not to visit the website.
This is a major case that will be of interest to a lot of people and a lot of companies.  But it’s also pretty complicated and easy to misunderstand.   This post will go through it carefully, trying to explain what it says and what it doesn’t say.

This decision is critical to maintaining an open web, at least in the United States.
Read Why I Have a Website and You Should Too by Jamie TannaJamie Tanna

A persuasive look at the many reasons why you should have your own website, and some of the benefits it will bring you.

This post has a lot of takeaways for non-developers and even non-technical people. You don’t need to be a geek to have a website.

Personally, I think it’s vitally important, for example, to use a website to maintain a record of all the free accessibility testing you do as a person with disabilities. While I’d rather that the “f*ck you, pay me” approach be adopted instead of every organization and its brother jumping on mailing lists and social media asking for free work from persons with disabilities, maintaining a record of all the free work you do that can be used later to complete the experience section of your resume is the next best thing.

Read How To Big Up Your Theme With Options for Twenty Seventeen by Claire Brotherton (A Bright Clear Web)

Released mid-2016, the Twenty Seventeen theme is still incredibly popular, with over 1 million sites using it. One downside is that it comes with very limited customizations compared to other themes.

This plugin appears to be an excellent option if you’re using the Twenty-seventeen default theme and don’t have the funds to hire a developer or designer to do customization work.

It never occurred to me to package customizer options for a theme into a plugin. I’m not sure why because I do this for custom post types and other theme-specific code snippets all the time.

The customizer is relatively accessible at this point, so I’ve begun using it more and more on my own sites instead of just leaving all the fun for my clients.

And the idea of packaging customizer options in a custom functionality plugin is one I’m definitely stealing.