If you’ve been waiting for us to spill the beans… your patience is about to pay off! We’re coming in hot with the latest, greatest, and best that’s yet to come from WPMU DEV’s world.
It’s crazy that we’re just around the corner from 2022. Where did this year go? With the holiday season upon us, and the last page of the calendar showing, we knew we were due for a roundup.
A lot has happened in the back half of this year. Quite a few big and exciting features in our family of plugins and services were released, and we have even more in the pipeline being polished for the near future.
When all is quiet on the release front (because we’re hunkering down in the code lab), you can always check out our regularly updated product roadmap, to see what’s currently in the works.
Today, however, we’re bringing that info directly to you in one fell swoop―a compilation of all the plugin updates & service boosts we’ve had since this past March, as well as a sneak peak at what’s just around the corner.
It wouldn’t be a proper roundup if we didn’t get a lead-in from the man behind the curtain in Oz, our Farmer in armor―WPMU DEV’s CEO, James.
Busy Busy Busy
“What a year! Courtesy of The World’s Longest Lockdown™ (thanks Melbourne!) I don’t think I’ve ever done so much work, and it felt like everybody at WPMU DEV was pretty much doing the same, hitting product goal after product goal.
From a raft of timesaving new site management tools in The Hub, to a fully featured client billing system, to our managed hosting topping the TrustPilot reviews chart and – of course – some absolutely epic plugin development… it’s been a hoot.
But as my job is basically reading, email, and Slack… you’re much better off hearing from the people actually making this good stuff happen, so read on…”
Huzzah, James! If you’d like to hear James speak on the landscape of hosting and maintaining WordPress websites, check out his guest spot on Josh Hall’s podcast on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.
Here are the jump links for this Roundup:
Now let’s get this juicy cocktail blended and poured.
It seems befitting to kick things off with Hosting, as it’s had a banner sophomore year.
Product Manager Neel came prepped and ready to dish the dirt on hosting.
“It’s been two years since we launched hosting, and I’m pleased to say that ours is one of the fastest-growing, managed WordPress hosting services out there.”
“We have added a few significant tools in the past few months, like the Reset WP, Blackfire profiling, and NewRelic monitoring. We also added advanced options in our Static Site Cache feature, which strives to improve site speed & performance.”
“Another big change is the addition of Pro Plugins, now automatically included in our Hosting packages. That’s over $500 worth of premium WP plugin value yearly―free with every hosting account! And they come pre-installed, accessible via the WPMU DEV dashboard plugin.”
“Site Templates (my favorite feature), along with fresh WPMU DEV Templates, were also released. This feature will speed up the design and site development processes for our members.”
“Last but not least… New, Bigger Hosting plans! Five more have been added, providing multiple options to members who need more powerful droplets than Platinum.”
Here’s a closer look at the hearty list of features Hosting rolled out this year:
- White Label Temporary Hosting Domains – Now instead of an automatically given temporary domain name of insertnamehere.wpmudev.host, new sites you set up will be named insertnamehere.tempurl.host, which aligns much better to a full white label experience.
- Bruteforce Protection – All WPMU DEV hosted sites have measures enabled at the server level to help prevent your site ever going down due to a bot attack. Enabled by default, you can add specific IP addresses or ranges for exemption, or disable it completely.
- Semi-automated adding of DNS records & some basic text improvements in DNS/Domains tab with “How to Go Live” documentation
- Reset WordPress Feature – Allows members to reset their site back to the default / new WP installation. It works for Production or Staging sites.
- NewRelic and Blackfire tools – One-click connect NewRelic or Blackfire to debug performance issues.
- PHP 8 released – keeping you up to date with WP recommended versions.
- Pro Plugins included – 7 of them now come included with our managed WP hosting.
- User Templates – Added the ability to create and sell your own site templates (up to 25) for free with our hosting.
- HUB Manual migration form & some minor tweaks in the FTP migration tool – A new feature where users can directly submit a ticket for manual migration in The Hub.
- Advanced options in Static Site Cache feature – several advanced options for FastCGI added.
- New WPMU DEV Templates – Added 20 new DEV templates, consisting of various themes or builders, along with a search & filter option to simplify finding what you want.
- New Hosting Plans – Five different tiers have been added, scaling our world of hosting to fit larger needs.
Neel had some cool bits to tell us about in this area.
“We’ll be refining some existing features, while adding some new ones. And as always, we’re constantly working to improve our hosting in terms of speed, security, user experience, and all the essential hosting tools that provide faster site creation, to give you the best overall hosting experience.”
Here’s a quick recap of what’s in the pipeline for Hosting:
- PHP 8.1 – initial testing began earlier this month.
- Hourly Backups – big upgrade from our current daily backups. This is critical for ecommerce & membership sites.
- UI Options for redirect – smoothly direct traffic from one URL to another; great for accurate SEO following changes, avoiding errors like 404, and general rerouting within your site.
- Other server performance tweaks/optimization and UX/IX improvements – we continually work on these, and 2022 will be no different.
What do you get when you cross The Hub with a recap? A Hubcap!
Oh, what a shiny, functional beauty this one is.
The Hub is our snappy, sophisticated site manager, for all of your hosted sites (ours, or third party) in a single, well organized place.
Product Manager Mukul was pumped about all the recent and upcoming features for The Hub and The Hub Client.
“Leading with the headline… Client Billing!”, Mukul enthused.
“This was one of our biggest features released in the back half of this year. It’s been high on our most requested list since we launched Hosting, so we’re thrilled to have put it into motion.”
Client Billing is feature packed. Here are just a few topline items:
Q3 & Q4 brought big updates for Plugins Integration. Mukul continued, “Members can now install WPMU DEV Pro plugins, WP.org plugins, upload plugin ZIP files, or use the URL method to install plugins from publicly accessible repositories (e.g., GDrive, Dropbox, etc.). Additionally, all existing plugins can be managed from The Hub 2.0.”
Moving on, he added, “Since the last roundup in March, we have added configs for other plugins and services as well.”
These New Configs are for the following:
The Hub’s robust list of releases from earlier this year follow:
- Ignore Updates – Plugin and theme updates can now be ignored until members decide to update them.
- Site Template Manager – After releasing the Hosting Templates, a dedicated area under Sites > Site Templates was also added to view and manage them. Also, a recent Templates Manager update allows members to upload a thumbnail image to their custom site templates.
- New Hosting Templates – The new default templates library has been growing. There are currently 23 default templates, and we’ll continue to add more.
- Manual Migration for Hosting – Members can now request a free manual migration to WPMU DEV hosting for their sites hosted elsewhere.
- Create New Sites On Any Plans – Until recently, all member sites were first created on the Bronze plan then upgraded to a higher plan afterwards. Now creating new hosting sites can be done on any plan.
- SmartCrawl’s Lighthouse Integration – The SEO service tab on the Hub was adjusted to add support for the SmartCrawl integration with Lighthouse for SEO scans.
- Support Page Migration – from Hub 1.0 to Hub 2.0. UX was improved as well.
- Improved Help Bubble – The UX was updated, and its styling matched with Hub 2.0.
- UI Preferences – Members now have the ability to hide/show certain site services as preferred.
- Multiple UI/UX changes were made across different parts of the Hub, to improve the UX.
Mukul also shared a handful of goodies that are currently in the works, the most notable being…
“Domain Reselling!! Members and their clients will now be able to search and buy new domains… directly from the Hub!”
Check out the other upcoming Hub features below:
- Global IP List (Security) – Members will be able to create a global IP Allow/Block list that will be synced to all of their websites.
- Accounts Page Migration – from Hub 1.0 to Hub 2.0
- DNS Improvements – Specifically, the UX setup will be improved.
The Hub Client has seen a bit of newness as well…
From Mukul: “Earlier this year, we integrated LiveChat and tawk.to, which members can use to provide real-time chat support to their clients”.
As for what’s in the pipeline, Mukul shared, “The Hub Client will be tying into the Reseller Platform and Automations. The Hub & Hub Client teams will be working in tandem to ensure a seamless reselling experience for our members and their clients.”
Time to get mushy over Smush-y. We’re just so proud of our blazing fast, compression crushing, highly rated image optimizer.
Lead Developer Anton says, “We’ve been hard at work to improve Local WebP Compatibility with as many hosts and servers as we could find!”
Next up, Anton says, “Making sure CDN continues to provide the best in class performance and stability is the object of our focus right now.”.
No doubt we’ll continue to see new records Smushed.
Our fast flying, feat of engineering, full speed optimizer. If those wings could talk, here’s what they’d say…
Lead Developer Anton shared, “Hummingbird has had some amazing features added to its arsenal this year.”
Among them: Asynchronous Loading, Preloading & Preconnect for Assets, Cloudflare APO Integration, a Browser Caching Wizard, and Font Optimization.
Anton continued, “We added a new Performance Report for Database Cleanup, so now you can schedule and send reports for regular cleanups of your DB. We also added Performance Reports for Subsites, so they’re now available in every subsite in multisite installs.”
“We also created a brand new, unified section in the dashboard UI for Notifications, eliminating the need to visit each one individually.”
“A Browser Caching wizard was added as well. It automatically configures your settings if you host with WMPU DEV, and offers options and information for setup if you host elsewhere.”
“Page Cache Integration with WP Ultimo is another new automated feature, helpful for those who use this popular tool.”
Rounding out the list, Anton indicated upgrades in Asset Optimization. “We now have Asset Optimization in multisite, which allows you to choose where Hummingbird should store your modified assets. And, the Asset Optimization Engine is more robust and error-free.”
Great strides for Hummingbird. What’s on the projected flight plan?
“Our next big goal is to automate and simplify the Asset Optimization (AO) Engine”, says Anton. “We want every user to be able to set up their sites without the fear of breaking them.”
“We’re testing out a New Safe Mode feature, as well as enhanced automated configurations, and presets, which will include: adding font optimization to automatic mode in AO, an improved UI for manual mode in AO, and a new onboarding wizard.”
If it wasn’t already clear, Anton drove it home with, “2022 is going to be a big one for Hummingbird!”
Who likes their security like their coffee? Strong, bold, and sets you up for a great day. Here’s the tea on our most able protector, Defender.
Product Manager Nastia had plenty of intel on Defender.
“This was a big year for the Defender plugin team. I’m really proud of everyone for working together and making great steps forward.”
“During the second quarter of 2021, we focused on the user by protecting passwords. Passwords are the weakest link when it comes to security; we’re all guilty of re-using our passwords on multiple sites. Unfortunately, data breaches happen all too often, exposing billions of records. That’s why we’ve added Pwned Password Check, and in the event of a data breach, the option to force all users to reset their passwords.”
“Alongside this, we’ve made improvements to Malware Scanning, and will continue doing so.”
Nastia continued, “Our third quarter was all about providing anti-spam solutions. Here came support for Google reCAPTCHA, a widely known bot mitigation service. We’ve made this flexible enough to work with all default WordPress forms, including logins, registration, and comments, but most importantly, it has been Integrated with the WooCommerce Plugin.”
“For even better protection against malicious bots, we’ve introduced User-Agent Banning, with a list of known bad bots already blocked by the Defender plugin. It protects not only against spambots, but also DDoS, XSS, and SQL injections.”
Nastia gave us a peek into Defender’s pipeline…
“We’re hardening security against vulnerabilities, implementing New Ux Improvements for Malware Scanning & Scheduling, and integrating with The Hub 2.0’s new Global Ip Allowlist/Blocklist feature.”
Do you wanna build a snowman? Take a poll to find out. Or a quiz to see who knows the source of that quote. It’s all possible with Forminator.
Product Manager, Mohammad had lots to share about Forminator.
“In Q3 & Q4, we’ve released a lot of features and improvements. Topping the list is Bulk Import/Edit Options for the Select/Radio/Checkbox fields. In addition, we now have Image Support in Radio and Checkbox fields, as well as Polls.”
“We didn’t forget our quiz lovers out there. In the last quarter, we added Pagination Options, and a Question Description Html Field, which supports any type of media content―even videos!”.
“We’re also excited to mention improvements to Registration Forms. You can now conditionally assign user roles during the registration based on registrar selections. And, we’ve added the option to Bulk Approve Registrars, in addition to other improvements.”
Mohammad closed out this section saying, “Let’s talk about our recent awesome Payment improvements. Forminator Pro now has Stripe Subscriptions for Recurring Payments, and you can create multiple recurring pricing plans (fixed or dynamic). Oh, I almost forgot to mention, you can now conditionally use Stripe or Paypal payments on the same form, so your users can select their preferred payment method.”
If you haven’t tried Forminator yet, you’re really missing out on an eye-catching, multi-functional customer interactive plugin.
Mohammad had this to say about what we can expect soon from Forminator…
“We’re pleased to announce that we’ve been hard at work adding two more conditional features. The first one will allow users to Assign Submissions to any Integration conditionally based on the submitter’s selections. The second will allow users to Change After-Submission Behavior, based on the submitter’s selections―which will be very handy for users who want to redirect submitters to different pages (post-submission), based on their selections and other scenarios.”
“We’re also adding a great timesaver, Global Appearance Presets. This will allow users with multiple forms added to their sites to set their appearance settings (once applied) to all their forms, and avoid wasting time styling each one individually.”
“And finally, by the end of this year, we’ll be rolling out TWO of the top requested features: Grouping Fields, and the Repeater option. Grouping fields will allow grouping a number of fields to apply the same rules once, instead of adding to each field individually (such as visibility conditions, required or optional, and custom Appearance settings). Then you can enable the Repeater option on the frontend, so users can repeat a field or group of fields manually or conditionally.”
Sounds awesome! Can’t wait to try all of these out.
The CEO of SEO, the diva of schemas, taking you on a brilliant run through Google’s Rich Results Test tool… it’s SmartCrawl.
“We’ve been cranking things out this year!”, said SmartCrawl’s Project Manager, Mohammad.
“Most recently, Schema Builder got a big upgrade. Local Business support has been added, along with the option to add Multiple locations. And SmartCrawl now has 60+ subtypes to cover most types of businesses.”
In addition to local business, the following types have been added, as requested from WPMU DEV users:
- Recipe schema
- Job Posting schema
- Movie schema
- Course schema
- Book schema
- Software Application schema
Mohammad continued, “In addition to the WooCommerce custom schemas presets we added, we’ve improved the default WooCommerce schema, which now supports open graph product tags (price and currency), and added Recommended Rules to Robots.txt and No-index Hidden Products.”
“Another feature we released over the summer, which we’ve gotten great feedback on, is the Lighthouse SEO Scan in SmartCrawl. We added a new and more reliable SEO audit tool, the Lighthouse SEO Checkup. It’s designed to ensure that pages are optimized for search engine results ranking, and is built with contextual help for each audit. Also, we improved our SEO Audits reporting system to support conditional reports.” For example: If score is less than 70%, send a report.
Rounding out the features released earlier this year are:
- SmartCrawl Configs – Configs can be set to apply automatically on newly created sites.
- Multisite Sitewide Permission – with the new permission module, Super Admin can decide who has permission to access SC settings on subsites―Super Admins or Site Admins―and which modules should be activated on Subsites.
- Google News Sitemap – has been added, to list news articles and posts published in the last 48 hours so that they show up in Google News.
Mohammad filled us in regarding what’s on the horizon for SmartCrawl.
“Redirection Module Improvements is coming. This will add bulk import and search functionality to the Redirection module, as well as supporting regex redirections and more.”
Snapshot’s got you when it comes to safe and efficient WordPress backups. Access, manage, and restore in a snap.
Product Manager Nastia shared the Snapshot team’s accomplishments this year…
“In the second quarter of 2021, the main issue raised by our members was that they had insufficient WPMU DEV storage. We listened, and doubled the storage space for all new members―at no additional cost. Alongside this, our team worked hard to resolve issues with backups taking too much storage space. We’ve also added an option to limit the number of backups and improve the rotation process.”
“Another member request was the ability to restore a site through the Snapshot UI when the site was inaccessible. As a result, we came up with the FTP Restoration Method, where a site can be restored directly to a server by simply providing FTP credentials.”
“Additionally, in the third quarter, we developed our most requested destination: Dropbox. We also added Configs, and integration with The Hub 2.0.”
“Lastly, you can now upload your backups to an FTP/SFTP destination, and back up password-protected sites.”
Nastia had this to say about Snapshot’s future…
“Currently in the works are some some big design improvements, and a super secret feature we can’t share yet, but know this―it’s BIG.”
Two snaps up!
It’s your WP Dashboard, but on steroids. Link your sites to our super servers for added features, more control, and one-click access to our 24/7 support, all while making your site more secure.
Lead Developer Joel gave us the rundown on Dashboard.
“One-Click Bulk Install & Activate options for Plugins was a big deal this year. Users have long been clamoring for this one, and we’re getting a lot of positive feedback on it.”
“Another major update was upping Support for PHP to 8.0. We also presented a new UI for user permissions management.”
Here’s the full list of releases from earlier this year:
- One-click Bulk Install & Activate
- PHP support upgraded to 8.0
- Link custom logo using a URL for White label
- Supports premium plugins and themes updates (Hub and Automate)
- White label WPMUDEV plugin menus and icons from Dashboard plugin
- Ability to reset plugin settings to default
- Optional data and settings cleanup on uninstallation
- Force sync from Hub
- Ability to hide support tickets in Dash plugin from Hub
- Improved Analytics Widget UX
Joel hints that 2022 is shaping up nicely.
“We’re planning improvements in premium plugins and themes updates support, as well as for Analytics. Also coming is the ability to install plugins from the Hub using zip, plus various improvements in white label support.”
Dash-ing through the snow, more goodies comin’ your way…
Because smiling is contagious, and laughter is good for the soul, we added a new category to WPMU DEV’s portfolio this year: the funnies.
Lead comic artist (and fellow blog writer) Nate was eager to chat about it.
“Back in early September, we released The DEV’s Pixels. It’s a new feature that includes original comics created in-house, then shared on our site and available to download.“
“Covering a variety of tech topics, from development, computing, internet, and client relations, to other relatable material for agencies and freelancers, we publish one new comic a week, and add it to our inventory.”
When asked what spawned the idea, Nate replied: “Comics can benefit your agency in many ways. They are great marketing tools for your email, social media, blog, etc., and ours can be used and shared freely.”
Nate didn’t stop there… “In addition to the regular comics, we also launched our own Caption Contest! Anyone can submit an entry (or multiple entries) for a chance to win. It’s already rather popular, with submissions rolling in as soon as we publish. In fact, due to participation growing so rapidly, we just added reaction emojis so everyone can get in on the fun.”
Sign-ups are available through email, if you want to get notified when a new one drops and add your quip to the queue. 😄
Click here to see what a winning caption looks like.
Another fresh component we introduced this year was a crossover between our member forums and our company blog.
Here to tell us about it is Lead Editor, Martin.
“Earlier this year we launched The Blog XChange, a collaborative forum where members can post original and useful content ideas for new articles and tutorials from their personal knowledge and experience of WordPress. If selected, WPMU DEV gives the contributor a shoutout, and links promoting their business in the published post, plus generous hero points ―which can be used to earn free hosting credits…or even a lifetime membership!”
Martin continued, “Since launching The Blog XChange, we’ve received 80+ submissions from over 20 members, and published several new articles and tutorials as a result. We’ve also got a number of new post ideas in the pipeline for next year, so we’re pretty excited.”
“The Blog XChange is a win-win initiative for members and WPMU DEV. I encourage all members to read our guidelines for posting, and submit their content ideas.”
If you’re not already a regular reader of our blog, you’re missing out on a lot of great content. We publish new articles multiple times a week. Come check it out!
Cheers! We hope you enjoyed this literary libation as much as we enjoyed serving it to you.
As hard as we work and as much as we accomplish, we also know that tech is constantly evolving, which means our products and services are never done and dusted. There are always new goals in front of us, and we’re ever in motion to clear that next hurdle.
This is what we love to do… but it would mean nothing without our WPMU DEV-ers.
So a quick note of appreciation to you, our devoted members, for continuing to provide valuable input and feedback. We take your comments and suggestions to heart, giving them all due consideration in the boardroom and developers room.
Keep ’em coming!