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How a life event changed my priorities. Some sneak peeks into upcoming products and features.

Published 10 months ago • 5 min read

Let's get life-changing...

About two months ago, a little before my 42nd birthday, my girlfriend convinced me to go to the emergency room when I was having trouble breathing. I thought they were going to give me some asthma medicine and call it a day. The doctor was concerned after an image of my lungs was taken, so I was transported to another hospital where I awaited further tests.

The diagnosis was technically pneumonia at that point, so the fluid was drained and I was to have surgery to clear out the rest of the lungs.

The morning of, however, the surgery was canceled. A "heart" doctor came into my room, accused me of a lifetime of hard drugs, and explained that my heart was operating at 25% of normal.

I asked family if this was a normal thing for a person of my age, and the consensus was its your genetics.

To say I'm in denial is an understatement, but it's given me a lot to think about. Everyone around me is concerned, and I am too, just not as much so.

Armed with extra meds and a heart vest (insert shock puns), I've had a lot of time to think about the products and projects I'm working on.

Which is a mild segway into...

Photo block updates

Selecting alt text from a photo block in data mode.
A 16x9 Cropped Image in a photo block

The photo block has taken a back seat of late to other items I've been working on, and there honestly hasn't been much interest aside from a few who have tried it.

If you haven't already, I encourage you to try out your own demo. It'll launch an admin where you can play around with the block settings. I haven't finished the frontend yet. That's still a work in progress.

The project is on GitHub (lots of React goodies in this one) with the intention of it being released for free on WordPress.org. If you're into or wanting to learn React in a block setting, I could honestly use the help in getting it across the finish line.

If you want a deep, deep dive into the project's current status, please read my developer diary entry on the anatomy of a photo block. It's a long, but entertaining look into the UI decisions I made when designing out the look and behavior of the block.

Comment Edit Pro and plans for the future

I spent the weekend working on Comment Edit Pro. I completely rebuilt the landing page, so it's worth a visit to marvel at my creation (sarcasm).

After fielding a few support requests and releasing a bug fix, I decided to brainstorm new features. I've researched comment features in the past, and one idea I had was for a featured comment block.

I found that ThriveComments has a similar feature, but it displays at the top of a comment section and I couldn't find a way to feature a comment within a post or page. Core has nothing similar, and a quick Google search revealed a few blocks that were in waiting list mode.

As I planned out the new featured comment block, I discovered I'd need three large pieces:

  1. I'll need a way for admins to select a featured comment from a post or in the admin.
  2. I'll need an interface for selecting a featured comment from the block editor. This will need a lot of UI/UX design.
  3. I'll need an initial design and to code it for the comment block appearance. This will take some time, as I'm a trial-and-error designer.

I'd also like it to be able to be output the featured comment via shortcode, so I'll have to figure out a way to have both a fully-featured block and a shortcode with similar functionality and options.

Adding to that, I'd like the output to be easy to style, so DIYers can do some deeper customization.

I'm still in the beginning phases of the block and feature (pun?) development, but I think building the comment selection interface will be both a challening and rewarding project that I can reuse in some features I've been putting off, like a way to move comments within a post visually.

A few projects in the planning phases

Archive Pages Pro

I develop and maintain a free WordPress plugin that can map archive pages (post type archives, term archives, 404 page) to an existing page. The main issue with the plugin is its blocks. Or for the block lovers, the archive mapping. It's a plugin that does too much.

So I've considered breaking off the mapping portion of the plugin and developing it into its own plugin. The plan is to update the blocks in Custom Query Blocks to keep its existing user base alive, and perhaps add in a few new ones.

The archive mapping in Custom Query Blocks will remain the same, but the add-on will get an easier interface, and a shortcut in Settings->Reading to create block templates for archives if you have a block-enabled theme.

In addition, it'll provide author archive mapping as well, so you can lay out author archives in pages. The ability to have custom author endpoints and/or username changing built-in is under consideration.

The plan for now is to generate a landing page to gauge interest before I put in any additional coding work.

Comment Favorites

Also needing a landing page is Comment Favorites, and I'm still debating whether this should be a standalone plugin or an additional feature of Comment Edit Pro.

I'd like a way for a logged-in user to favorite (or heart) a comment. Favorites will be stored, and the user can view and modify their existing favorites at any time. Users can change their favorites page from private to public by requesting a vanity URL, which an editor or above can approve.

As users publish their favorites and share them, you'll find them to be a self-hosted walking and breathing advertisement for your commenting community.

I've filed this project under: things to consider for the future.

Featured WordPress Plugin

Safe SVG

If you find yourself doing any layouts and landing pages in the block editor or page builder, you'll find SVGs to be a lightweight and easy way to provide extraordinary visuals. But SVGs are insecure by nature, so being able to upload and output them safely is dreadfully needed. This plugin ensures those SVGs are secure and allows you to upload them like images.

I personally use SVGs quite heavily with the bonus-featured plugin GenerateBlocks, which is honestly the only layout block suite you'll need once you've mastered it.


Phew, this has been a long one!

I covered a lot in this newsletter. I went from heart failure to talking about hearting comments. I really do appreciate you being a subscriber. Until next time.


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