Personal stuff

Awesome spots in Nijmegen

Next February 2019, Yoast is organizing YoastCon in Nijmegen. Yoast’s offices are situated in Wijchen, but unfortunately, Wijchen is too small to hold our conference, so we went to our closest “big” town. Nijmegen is the city I went to high school in, and even studied a bit. It’s also 2,000+ years old and has some gorgeous spots, so I thought I’d share some awesome spots and stories around them.

One of the most gorgeous buildings on the inside in Nijmegen is the conference venue for YoastCon, the Vereeniging. But lots of buildings in Nijmegen are beautiful on the outside, just to stroll around. Let me give you some things you shouldn’t miss, starting with one that’s very close to my heart:

The “Latijnse School”

Some of you may know that I never finished university. I’m one of those “drop outs”. That means that my highest diploma is my “high school” diploma, the one I got from the Stedelijk Gymnasium Nijmegen. My brother and sister went to that school too, as did several of my colleagues (Omar, Yoast’s CTO, to name one). And now, almost 20 years after me, my son is attending that school.

The building of the “Latijnse School” on an old postcard.

That school is kind of special. You see, it doesn’t just teach you about old things (a “gymnasium” in the Netherlands means that classic Latin and Greek are part of the curriculum), it’s also old itself. It’s forerunner was known as the “Latin school” and that school was founded almost 475 years ago.

The building that school was founded in is one of the most gorgeous buildings in Nijmegen’s centre, straight across from its lovely church, the Stevenskerk. I honestly couldn’t find any pictures that do it justice, but here are some fragments:

The Stevenskerk

Right next to the Latijnse School is the Stevenskerk. It towers over all of Nijmegen, and while I personally don’t think it’s particularly beautiful on the inside, it’s got a lot of sentimental value for locals. It’s also relatively old, with its oldest parts stemming from 1273.

The Stevenskerk towering over Nijmegen, seen from the Grote Markt. You get to the church by going through the gates in the bottom center. The “Latijnse School” will be on your left.

Going back from that church to the Grote Markt you’ll walk into the “Waag” building, which is gorgeous too. If you’re looking for a drink, you should go to a pub called “In de Blaauwe Hand“. In the picture above it would be in the bottom right corner, to the left of the large “Waag” building. This is the oldest pub in Nijmegen, having started in 1542, and also one of the nicest ones.

The Valkhof

If you’re done with your drink, walk back on to the Grote Markt, keeping the church to your back. You’re walking in the direction of the “Valkhof”. On the right, you’ll pass the City Hall, another gorgeous building:

The city hall. The Stevenskerk church is on the right behind the leaves. All of this is pretty close to each other.

Walk past it, enjoy it, and then keep walking. You’ll soon have to cross a road a bit and on your left you’ll see a park. That park is the site of what used to be one of the most important castles in the Netherlands, back when Charlemagne was still the big boss in Europe and the reigning emperor over an empire that contained most of the Netherlands too. That’s somewhere around the year 800, and no, I didn’t forget a 1 there.

In this park you’ll see some ruins and a very pretty small chapel. Next to the park is a museum, Museum Het Valkhof, which has a nice collection of archeological finds dating from when Nijmegen was home to a Roman legion (Nijmegen in 2005 celebrated 2,000 years of existence).

Seeing all of these things on foot will mean you’ll have to walk just a tiny bit: 1.4 km or so to walk past all of them and that includes going back and forth a bit. Here’s a link to the short walk.

There are more nice buildings and things to see in Nijmegen, if you know of more that people should definitely go see, do drop them in the comments! Also, if you’ve not bought your tickets for YoastCon yet, I’d start doing that now 🙂


After WCUS: WordPress & Gutenberg FAQ

I just came back from WordCamp US in Nashville, which was awesome. In this post I want to address some of the questions I’ve had a couple of times. So here we go:

What is it you don’t like about Gutenberg?

There is nothing I don’t like about Gutenberg. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but in general, I seriously love it. Gutenberg makes WordPress ready for the web of today. That’s the reason our development team spent so much time to help make Gutenberg better.

How well does Yoast SEO do with Gutenberg?

It’s fine! In fact, it’s better than ever. Gutenberg has some performance issues (in the admin) at the moment that are more obvious when you use Yoast SEO, but I expect the next few minor releases of WordPress 5.0 to fix those. If you’re suffering from them now, installing and activating the Gutenberg plugin and keeping that up to date will get you those changes earlier.

But I thought you were mad about the release?

I was annoyed with the communication failure around the release. Initially, WordPress 5.0 was slated for November. In the post outlining that, a specific choice had been made to skip December, should November not be feasible, and go to January. Then, when the November timeframe proved unfeasible, the team tracked back on that and Matt decided to release in December anyway, with 2 days notice, despite several people’s objections, including my own.

I still do not agree with the timing of the release, but it’s done now. Matt has offered his apologies for the poor communication around that and with that, we’re now looking onward. I’m looking forward to seeing how we, as a WordPress community, can improve the consistency of our communication in the future.

So should I upgrade to WordPress 5.0 now?

Our suggestion is still to wait, as I said in my post on on WordPress 5.0. Yoast SEO is awesome with Gutenberg and I can’t wait for everyone to try it, but if you’re going to try it now, you might think that it’s annoying and slow. If you use it with Gutenberg 4.7 (currently in RC phase, you can get it here), it’s already much much better. This means that if you update in January, you should certainly be OK.

Is your support team suffering under WordPress 5.0?

Honestly: no. It seems to be doing reasonably fine, with very limited support on our end. Only one plugins so far is left that is known to break Yoast SEO’s meta box: Gravity Forms’ Gutenberg Add-On (which is still in beta). I’m assuming that will get fixed.

Two plugins have already been updated:
WPML you should update to 4.1.2 or higher.
Pods has been fixed in 2.7.11, so update to that, or a newer version.

In general, many plugins will probably need to update a few more times the next few days and weeks.

Should people stick with the classic editor?

No! You’re missing out on lots and lots of cool stuff, so sticking with the classic editor should not be a long term solution. It might be fine for a few months as plugin and theme developers work out their issues with Gutenberg, but I’d suggest switching it on as soon as you can.

There are always going to be people who don’t like interface changes, and such is the case with this release too. The awesome teams in the WordPress forums are helping those people where they can and I assume a few of them will continue using the classic editor for now.

What are you looking forward to in WordPress?

In Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word he announced a longer term roadmap than we’ve had for a while, something I really like. He announced the next phase of Gutenberg, which looks promising, and 9 focus points for the next year, which all seem to be very nice projects. On top of that he announced the intent for WordPress core to support multi-lingual sites, something I’ve been asking for as a core feature for quite some time now.

Was this post just an excuse to use the Yoast SEO FAQ block?

No, not really… Well, maybe a little 😉

My experience: I had to switch to using the Gutenberg 4.7 RC as I was doing this. Otherwise it does indeed become slow when you have more than ~ 5 questions in an FAQ block. As soon I switched to the 4.7 RC though, it immediately became useful and in fact, very nice to work with.

At the same time, I’ve found some minor issues that we’re going to have to solve in our FAQ blocks, so those will get an update too.

Have more questions for me? Drop them in the comments, I’ll answer them there!


WordPress 5.0 needs a different timeline

For the last few months, the WordPress developer community has been moving towards a release of WordPress 5.0. This is the highly anticipated release that will contain the new Gutenberg editing experience. It’s arguably one of the biggest leaps forward in WordPress’ editing experience and its developer experience in this decade. It’s also not done yet, and if we keep striving for its planned November 19th release date, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Update November 9th: WordPress 5.0 has been moved
The new release date is November 27th, 2018. See the Make/Core post for details. While I’m happy that it’s been postponed, I’m not sure whether this is enough to get WordPress 5.0 to be as accessible and stable as I think it should be. Time will tell, I guess.

Let me begin by stating that I love Gutenberg. It’s the best thing since sliced bread as far as content editing is concerned. I’m writing this post in Gutenberg. I started writing it on my iPhone. It rocks. But it also still has numerous bugs. In fact, the editor broke on me during writing this post and failed to autosave all the contents. Luckily I saw it breaking and copied the paragraphs to an external editor.

Reasons for delaying

There are a two main reasons why the November 19th timeline is in my opinion untenable:

  • There are some severe accessibility concerns. While these aren’t new and a few people are working hard on them, I actually think we can get a better handle on fixing them if we push the release back. Right now it looks to me as though keyboard accessibility has regressed in the last few releases of Gutenberg.
  • The most important reason: the overall stability of the project isn’t where it needs to be yet. There are so many open issues for the 5.0 milestone that even fixing all the blockers before we’d get to Release Candidate stage next week is going to prove impossible. We have, at time of writing 212 untriaged bugs and 165 issues on the WordPress 5.0 milestone.

People are working hard

The amount of work being done every day right now by the development team is bordering on the insane. Look at the work for the last three days:

I’d normally be happy with this for a week. This is 3 days, also including a Sunday. It’s been like this for a while. I appreciate all these people doing the hard work, but moving this fast only increases the chance of regressions.

When I mentioned earlier today in the WordPress Slack’s #core-editor channel that I think we should push back, the response was pretty positive:

Let’s get this straight: this is in the channel with a large part of the people working on this release. I’m not the first to say this. I hope this post will help the powers that be come to the same conclusion.

Conclusion: push back, and zoom out

All these things considering, my conclusion is simple: we need to push back the release. My preference would be to January. This would allow us to zoom out a bit, prevent regressions and overall, lead to a better product, with finished documentation. Something that’s worthy of the label RC when we decide to stick that on it. Right now, I feel that the beta is more of an alpha, and we’ll end up with an RC that’s more of a beta.

 “Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.”

Allen Ginsberg, from Ginsberg, a biography

Gutenberg and Yoast SEO

I’m typing this as I sit in Track 1 of WordCamp Europe in Paris. Matt Mullenweg just announced Gutenberg as a plugin is available so I installed it on here and am writing this post in it.

Gutenberg is a radical rethinking of the post screen and that means we at Yoast have to rethink how we integrate with it. Some of what we do, our real time content and SEO analysis will still have to be visible all the time. Our snippet preview though, might actually move to a pre-publish workflow, a concept that the Gutenberg team has been thinking about.

None of this is set in stone yet, I look forward to building an integration that works well. I would also love, if you're reading this, your ideas on how we could integrate with this.

Accessibility and Gutenberg

One of the things that we at Yoast worry about is the accessibility of Gutenberg. We have a team member, Andrea Fercia, who's very active as a WordPress contributor. We have freed him up to work on accessibility on this project so it can be merged into WordPress soon without losing the accessibility that the current editor has.

Install Gutenberg

You should really install Gutenberg on a test site and play with it:

Search Opinion

Blogging about not SEO

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while: blogging for fun, on a domain separate from Blogging about stuff I do outside of Yoast, which, surprisingly to some people, is more and more. I will blog here about the investments Marieke and I make with Altha, our investment company and my advisory work, when I’m allowed to.

I’ll also use this to vent my political opinions every so often. I like discussion, so, if you do too, I’ll see you in the comments 🙂