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2020 Roadmap Roundup – Hot Off The (Word) Press! - Website design, Online store development, E-Commerce

2020 Roadmap Roundup – Hot Off The (Word) Press!

2020 Roadmap Roundup – Hot Off The (Word) Press!

So it’s been a hot minute since our last roadmap roundup. The last six months have been so jam-packed full of awesome features and releases that it would be practically criminal to not put a post together to present them in all their glory.

Yes, this roundup is super overdue – we promise it will be worth the wait!

We’ve been busy going through the invaluable feedback gathered from surveys, forum responses, social media comments, reviews – you name it!

No matter the source, if someone has something worthwhile to say about our products, we take it on board.

Your requests and suggestions have helped us shape our new developments and features…and we’re pretty darn proud of the finished products!

Image showing Dev Man sorting through feedback, flustered at his desk
Even Dev Man can’t keep up with everyone’s awesome suggestions!

So far, 2020 has seen the introduction of Hub 2.0 (a work of art, if we must say so ourselves), a long list of major improvements to our already awesome form, quiz, and poll plugin, Forminator, and the introduction of email and file management through our hosting – and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

So, before I ramble on too much – behold, as we bring you a complete rundown of everything new and shiny we’ve added over the past 6 months (and a sneak preview of what’s to come!).

  • The Hub
  • Hosting
  • Smush
  • Hummingbird
  • Forminator
  • Defender
  • Hustle
  • Branda
  • Snapshot
  • Smartcrawl
  • Beehive
  • Shipper
  • Integrated Video Tutorials

The Hub

WPMU DEV CEO, James, regularly gets involved in work on The Hub.

Photo of CEO, James

He said “The Hub has really been my personal focus now for some time because in my view it is the future of WPMU DEV and hopefully, to some positive degree, WordPress. In addition to adding Users & Roles for your colleagues and clients and also translating The Hub into a bunch of different languages, recently we’ve also completely transformed the experience of sorting, managing, and ordering multiple sites and – just the other day – we released our new tab designs which are both elegant and also powerful.

“We’ve also done a lot of work on speed, reliability, and general UX. We hope you’ve enjoyed it. And coming up, well… coming up we’ve got some seriously good things, but two I’d like to focus on are:
Complete White Labeling… basically you’ll get to use The Hub with your clients, complete with billing, your own templates, and an entirely agnostic approach to hosting. Game changer.
Configs & Bulk Editing / Quick Start… starting with Defender/Security but covering every aspect of every WPMU DEV plugin you’ll be able to save your preferred config and bulk apply it to as many sites as you like… or use ours for both existing and new sites.
Which I hope will make creating, managing, and providing WordPress sites in 2021…better.”

Some of the features we’ve added include:

Hub 2.0: We launched the Beta of Hub 2.0 back in March, and since then, it’s gone down a storm. The number of new features deserved a full article in itself, so we suggest you check it out.

New and Improved Tabs: We’ve refreshed the design and functionality of your Security, Performance, SEO, Backups, and Overview tabs to give you and your users a much more elegant and improved experience.

New Thumbnail View: You can easily toggle between list view and a brand new thumbnail view in the My Sites section of The Hub.

Labels and Grouping: Easily the most requested feature – you can now label your sites by color and sort them into groups.

New Languages: You can now translate the Hub into Spanish, Portuguese, and French – très bon!

Screenshot of the Hub in French
Manage your sites in one of our new languages.

Improved Users and Roles: So we heard you wanted to add your colleagues and clients to your account, in a kinda ‘seats’ system. Well, we made just that – for unlimited users and for free!

Bulk Updates: Gone are the days of updating your sites one by one – you can now update your WordPress installations in bulk from The Hub.

In the Works

Completely White Label The Hub Experience (The Hub Client): With our upcoming Hub Client plugin (it’s still very much in the early beta stages) you’ll be able to have your very own white-labeled Hub, hosted on your own domain.

This will make it possible to fully white-label and re-brand everything so that your customers never even have to know that we exist – and you can take all the credit!

In future you’ll also be able to offer different hosting and feature plans, set the initial charge and subscription levels, and let your clients purchase a plan. Welcome to your new WordPress SaaS business!

Plugins Config Integration: Create and save the exact setup and configurations of your WPMU DEV plugins and instantly apply these configs in bulk to other sites of your choice.

Dark Mode is Coming: You’ll soon be able to unleash your inner dev and switch The Hub to dark mode!

Hosting

It has been just over a year since we formally launched our hosting service.

Photo of CBO, Ronnie.

According to our Chief Business Officer, Ronnie, “since launch we have continued to see steady and encouraging growth as more and more members migrate their sites over and start new ones. We’re to a point where we feel our hosting and its features stack up with anyone. The goal going forward is to keep pushing the boundaries with new plans, better white-labeling, and tools for agencies and freelancers that aren’t found anywhere else.”

Some of the features we’ve added include:

Clone Your Sites: Build one amazing site and then use it as a template for more. We’ve even added a stash of expertly-built sites to choose from if you fancy something a bit different.

DNS Management: With our new DNS hosting, you can just point your nameservers at us and we’ll manage and set up all your DNS records for hosting and email.

10 Free Email Accounts: Each site now comes with 10 free name@domain.tld email addresses that can be created in just a few clicks.

New File Manager: Hopefully our new file manager is already a staple part of your site management. It makes it soooo much easier to quickly do what you need to do without taking a risk with third-party plugins or spending the extra time it takes to connect using SFTP.

Screenshot of the new file manager showing all of WordPress' core files.
Dip in and out of your files in a couple of easy clicks.

Free Wildcard SSL for Multisites: Setting up SSL on Multisite subdomains was complex and expensive…until now! Free Wildcard SSL is now automatically included on all hosted sites.

Bulk Pricing Discounts: Ok, so not technically a new feature, however we know that this was something our members were crying out for and is something we’re super glad to finally be able to offer. The more sites you host with us, the more you save – simple!

Introduction of WAF: WPMU DEV’s Hosted Web Application Firewall (WAF) is your first layer of protection to block hackers and bot attacks before they even reach your site. Websites hosted with WPMU DEV can now use this advanced WAF by enabling it via your site’s Security or Hosting tab in The Hub.

Static Server Cache: Much faster than any PHP plugin, Static Server Cache greatly speeds up your site and allows for an average of 10 times more concurrent visitors. It is disabled by default but you can easily toggle it on for any sites hosted with us.

In the Works

New AU Datacentre: Just watch this space!

Email Service Improvements: Including a “catch all” email address alias, simplified email setup, and a new default ‘from’ address.

More Options: We’re also testing many different new plans to give you more choice, access to scale, and more value for resellers.

Smush

Our team are always working hard to ensure Smush is the best image-optimization plugin on the market.

Photo of lead dev Anton

Head Of Development, Anton, has big things in the pipeline. He said “Smush has a huge range of improvements coming your way – local WebP support, improved CDN lazy load compatibility. We’re also testing a lot of new stuff – support for the AVIF image format, image quality controls, per image CDN cache purge.

“Personally, I am really proud of the work done to test how far we can push integration with various services. For example, offloading page parsing to Cloudflare workers to reduce load on your sites from Smush CDN and lazy load processing. We aren’t aware of any other plugin doing something like this before. We’re so excited for the upcoming new year.”

Some of the features we’ve added include:

WordPress 5.5 Lazy Load Compatibility: In August, WordPress launched the new Core Version 5.5 that introduced native HTML lazy loading by default. With Smush, you can decide if you’re willing to use limited native lazy loading or utilize the JS-based approach that supports all the browsers and has additional support for iframes, loading animation and much more. On top of this, Smush offers its own implementation of native lazy load support that will integrate with Smush’s lazy load settings

Integration With Soliloquy Slider: We’ve integrated Smush’s CDN and lazy loading with Soliloquy Slider, which means no more bugs, and a seamless experience.

Support for Images in REST API Responses: All images in REST API responses will be served by the CDN, when it’s enabled.

Media Library Filter: If you have a large media library, sometimes it can be hard or even near to impossible to find images that haven’t been optimized by Smush. We’ve added a new filter to the Media Library that allows users to retrieve all images which haven’t been compressed.

Lazy Loading For WebP Images: WebP images were being overlooked by the lazy loading feature – we’ve now applied a fix for this.

Brand-New Tutorials Within the UI: Learn everything you need to know about optimizing your images with Smush right from its dashboard.

Screenshot of Smush's tutorials direct from the UI.
Smush’s new tutorials will have you optimizing your images in no time.

Improved Compatibility With Various Plugins: Translate Press, NextGen gallery, S3-Uploads, Vimeography, Soliloquy slider plugins, Oxygen, Thrive Architect, Tatsu themes…and that’s just to name a few!

In the Works

Non-CDN WebP Support: You’ve been asking, and we’ve been listening! Long-awaited support for local WebP, the modern image format that provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web, is in the works.

SVGs via the CDN: We’re committed to helping you achieve the best site speed possible, which is why SVG images will be served via the CDN.

Hummingbird

Our developers are always testing new ways to improve Hummingbird to make sites even faster.

Photo of lead dev Anton

“With Hummingbird, one of our main goals is to simplify configurations,” said Anton, Head of Development. “We’ve already pushed out a release with new automated Asset Optimization presets, and we’re planning on taking this  one step further with presets for common themes and plugins.

“Another major change will be in how we use PageSpeed Insights recommendations. Google changes those on a regular basis and we want to make sure users have all the latest recommendations on improving performance right inside Hummingbird.”

Some of the features we’ve added include:

New Automatic Modes: As an alternative to manually compressing and optimizing your assets, we have introduced two automatic options – Basic and Speedy. They both offer one-click solutions to asset optimization…we love making things simple!

Screenshot of the new asset optimization settings showing the basic and speedy options.
These two new options make optimizing your assets a breeze.

Cache Page Headers: Headers are important, they often contain important information on access control, cache, age, location, servers, and so on. Previously, Hummingbird used to support only the default headers, we have now added a new setting which allows all the headers to be saved and served with your cache.

Redis Object Cache Integration: We’ve added an integration with Redis, the 3rd party cache provider.

Lazy Loading Comments: For sites that have a lot of comments, this should help boost page speed. This new feature works just like lazy loading images – it will only load comments above the fold.

FCGI Integration: If you host your site with us, you can manage server static caching with Hummingbird.

In the Works

Network-wide Cache Control: No more logging into sites one by one to clear Hummingbird’s cache. Save a bunch of time and clear the cache of all your sites at once.

New Health Page: Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Imagine a dedicated page that shows you basic health stats and helps you fix issues. We analyzed our most reported problems and came up with solutions. With our new “Health Page” fixing problems becomes a reality in this release.

Forminator

This little plugin has seen a whole host of changes this year.

Photo of PM, Mukul.

Product Manager, Mukul, said his long-term vision is for Forminator to be “as feature-rich as possible and with such a great user experience that users won’t ever have to look beyond WPMU DEV when it comes to building any type of forms. Considering Forminator is still a young form-builder plugin, it’s seen a huge list of features and improvements requested since it’s inception.

“Our goal this year has been to push some of the highly requested features such as the Login/Registration module, E-sign, and Lead Capturing on Quizzes to name a few. We’ll continue to add more features such as Subscription Payments, Repeater field, and many more in the releases to come, while maintaining the existing features.”

Some of the features we’ve added include:

Capturing Leads on Quizzes: Our brand new release – you can now link a form to your quiz and collect details from participants.

Login and Registration Templates: WP’s default login and registration forms are not editable, but now with Forminator, you get the flexibility to add any fields into these forms. For example, if you want to charge a one-time fee to become a user, you can do that by adding a Stripe/PayPal field into your custom registration form. These templates also support multisite so on a network, in addition to registering new users, you can allow your visitors to register their own subsite as well.

Importer for CF7 & its Third-Party Add-Ons: You can now automatically import your existing forms built with Contact Form 7 over to Forminator – hurrah!

Efficient Loading of Style Sheets: We’ve changed the way that Forminator loads CSS. Long story short – a simple contact form is usually around 50.4KB in size, but with the changes to the way Forminator compresses CSS, we’ve reduced the data consumption on your visitor’s device to just 6.1KB.

Introduction of eSignatures: Add this new field to your form to collect eSignatures – fancy!

Screenshot of the eSignature box
With this new field, your forms can serve many new purposes.

Advanced Date Picker: Want to run a booking system where your customers can only book more than 5 days in advance? This is just one of the many things you can do with the new advanced options – you should really check them out.

Full HubSpot Integration: Admins can map their form data to as many HubSpot fields as they want – all fields are now supported!

In the Works

Subscription Payments: The one you’ve been waiting for…collect recurring/subscription payments with PayPal and Stripe! You’ll also be able to add both Stripe and PayPal options onto a single form so that your visitors can choose the one they prefer.

Conditional PayPal Payments: You can already add conditional Stripe payments – soon you’ll be able to do the same for PayPal. You’ll be able to offer visitors the flexibility to submit the form without completing the PayPal field,

Repeater Fields are Coming: Let’s say your visitor is filling out a job application created with Forminator – they will be able to add sets of required fields in clusters, i.e. company name, date started, date left, responsibilities. Front-end users will be able to add as many instances as they require.

Defender

We’re always working on improvements to our one and only site security plugin.

Photo of PM Nastia

Product Manager, Nastia, said “Security is one of our main priorities – not just for Defender, but across the whole of WPMU. Soon enough, Defender will give the option to add a reCaptcha for WordPress login pages – one more step forward for safer sites!

“We are also working to improve Defender’s resource consumption during malware scanning, so you can decide how much of your resources you want Defender to use during a site scan.”

Some of the features we’ve added include:

Port Your Preferences: Thanks to this update, you only have to configure Defender once. You can save your settings and import/export between sites.

Brand-New Tutorials Within UI: Make sure Defender performs at his best by following these awesome tutorials and making your site impenetrable.

Screenshot of the tutorials within Defender's UI.
Get the most out of Defender with these great new tutorials.

In the Works

More Integrations: We’re adding more integrations for 2-factor authentication including Authy, 1Password, LastPass, and Microsoft Authenticator.

Put a Stop to Bad Bots: Block those pesky User Agents! You will soon be able to ban User Agents with nefarious intentions from crawling through your site.

Hustle

There’s a lot in the pipeline for Hustle.

Photo of lead dev, Danae

“We’ve been aiming to give more flexibility when creating modules,” said Lead Developer, Danae. “The bunch of design options we’ve introduced and separate mobile appearance settings allow you to create beautiful and fully responsive modules – goodbye to those old boring styles! And they came with pre-made templates so you’re ready to go in just a few clicks.

“Our visibility conditions were also improved. Now you can easily target more specific groups of people. We’re currently focusing on polishing the design possibilities, introducing new templates, and improving the appearance configuration experience.”

Some of the features we’ve added include:

Pre-built Module Templates: You can now choose one of our awesome templates each time you create a new module.

You’ll be spoilt for choice with our 10 new templates.

New Appearance Settings: We’ve added a bunch of new appearance options for more flexibility. You can now create even more beautiful modules without custom CSS.

New Preview Interface: The new preview displays the module as it would appear on your homepage. It also allows you to select the device to use for the preview, and reload the module for better visualization of the animations.

Module Scheduling: No more logging in out of hours to turn promotions and announcements on and off – you can now set start and end times for your modules.

Cookie Visibility Condition: A very powerful new addition – you can now choose whether a module is displayed to a visitor based on the existence of specific cookies.

In the Works

New Integrations: Watch out for integrations with Mailster and MailPoet – you’ll be able to add subscribers to your newsletter straight from Hustle’s pop-ups!

Add Multiple Triggers: Create a pop-up with multiple triggers! Got a super important message you need visitors to see? Set your pop-up to appear on click, scroll, and exit-intent!

Tutorials in the UI: We recently produced some awesome tutorials which are already on our blog, but soon you will be able to access them straight from Hustle’s UI!

Even More Appearance Settings: These will include multiple CTA buttons and new placements for the pop-up close button.

Branda

One change to Branda in particular has been a bit of a big deal.

Photo of lead developer, Hassan.

“We spent a lot of time this year working towards making Branda available for free on WordPress.org,” said Lead Developer, Hassan.

“We’re now working towards making it easier for our users to quickly enable coming soon or maintenance mode on their site and allow customization of each element. That’s why we’ve been working on an intuitive theme and templating system which will make it a breeze for you to put your site in coming soon or maintenance mode.”

Some of the features we’ve added include:

New SMTP Logs Module: The addition of the SMTP logs module allows you to keep track of emails from directly within Branda.

Remove “Proudly Powered by WordPress”: Exactly what it says on the tin – you can now remove this message without tampering with code.

Free on WordPress.org: OK, not a new feature, but still a pretty big deal. Back in May, we moved Branda over to WordPress.org, giving thousands of new users the opportunity to transform the back-end of their sites, free of charge!

Screenshot of Branda from WP.org
Branda has certainly brightened up WP.org

In the Works

Full Revamp of Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode: Template builder for coming soon and maintenance mode pages? Yes please! This section of Branda is undergoing a complete overhaul, making it easier for you to keep your customers in the loop – in style!

Snapshot

Our Snapshot team have had their work cut out recently.

Photo of PM Nastia

Product Manager, Nastia, said “Snapshot has just had a major overhaul, with big improvements to its API and the way backups are stored.

We’re now focusing on more and more backup destinations, as requested by our members. We have just released Amazon S3 as well as some S3 compatible destinations, and in near future we’ll have Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, FTP and possibly more.”

Some of the features we’ve added include:

Incremental Backups: As of version 4.0, Snapshot Pro’s backups are incremental, meaning they’re much quicker and take up far less space.

Amazon S3 as a Backup Destination: Our first backup destination has just launched! You can now upload your backups to Amazon S3 and as compatible destinations Digital Ocean, Wasabi, Backblaze and Google Cloud.

View Hosting Backups in the UI: If you host your site with us, you can now view all your backups within Snapshot!

Screenshot of the hosting backups announcement from Snapshot
Keep an eye on all your backups in one easy-to-navigate place.

Email Notifications: Users now have the option to receive an email notification if a backup fails.

In the Works

New Backup Destinations: There are more on the horizon, including Google Drive and Dropbox.

Manage Your Hosting Backups: You can now view your hosting backups in Snapshot, but we plan to take it a step further and let you manage them too!

Password-Protect Your Backups: A future update will require you to input your WPMU DEV password before deleting backups.

SmartCrawl

It’s schema-central over at SmartCrawl right now.

Photo of Product Manager, Mohammad.

Mohammad, SmartCrawl’s Product Manager, hints at exciting things ahead for this plugin. He said “SmartCrawl is living in very interesting times, as the plugin is in an overhaul process. We are working on improving the UX one release at a time as well as adding new valuable features.

“In the next release, we are adding a very important feature that many of our members asked for, which is the Schema Markup Editor Tool. It will then be followed with releases that focus on improving the user’s experience and redesigning any element that could cause confusion for members. We’re also looking to improve our SEO checkup and recommendations tools.”

Some of the features we’ve added include:

Options for WordPress 5.5 Core Sitemap: In version 5.5, WordPress introduced a core sitemap. We’ve added new options which allow you to customize the core sitemap or use SmartCrawl’s instead.

Macro Support in Metabox Optimum Length Indicators: In SmartCrawl’s SEO metabox, the title and description length indicators now take the actual length of macros into account. For example, %%category%% will be expanded to the actual categories linked to the post, and the indicator will show the red-yellow-green color based on the categories.

Full Support for Default Schema Types: Version 2.8.0 introduced a new schema page with tons of settings for changing your site’s schema output.

Screenshot of the SmartCrawl schema update announcement.
Check out SmartCrawl’s latest update for a list of all supported schema types.

Ability to Set rel Attribute for Links in Post Editor: Google recently introduced new values for the rel attribute of ‘a’ tags. SmartCrawl has added toggles to WordPress’ default link tool for easily setting rel attributes.

In the Works

New Schema Builder: Looking for a tool that automatically generates schema markup for WP posts? Our upcoming custom schema builder will do it!

More Schema Types: We’ll also be supporting more schema types, including Article, Webpage, Rating & Review, Products, Local Business.

Setup Wizard: Keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming 5-minute setup wizard!

Beehive

There are a lot of exciting things on the cards for Beehive.

Lead developer, Joel, said “One of the main goals for our team is creating a great user experience. We want to make complex analytics as simple as possible with Beehive’s easy-to-use interface.

As well as bug fixes and general performance improvements, over the next few months we’re planning to add FB pixel integration and enhanced e-commerce tracking focusing on Woocommerce. We are also planning to integrate the Beehive analytics reports to the Hub.”

Some of the features we’ve added include:

Google Tag Manager Integration: Take your analytics a step further by linking your Google Tag Manager account to Beehive.

Screenshot of Beehive's Google Tag Manager announcement stating that you can use the container ID on your site and set variables.
Sleek, easy-to-use interfaces for all your analytics tools with Beehive.

New Settings Manager: We’ve introduced the ability to control who can access Beehive’s settings, so that you never log in to any unwelcome surprises.

In the Works

Facebook Pixel Support: You’ll be soon able to view your reports within Beehive’s UI.

WooCommerce Reports: Add an option to send daily, weekly, and monthly WooCommerce reports.

Exclude Tracking for Users: The option to stop GA tracking based on user roles – you’ll be able to prevent users visiting the page from the front-end while logged in from counting towards your stats.

Google Search Console: We’re working on an integration with Google Search Console – we’re always trialing ways to make Beehive’s analytic abilities more powerful.

WooCommerce Event Tracking: The ability to track WooCommerce events such as items being added to or removed from a cart, a visitor beginning the checkout process, and orders being refunded or cancelled.
Integration with popular form plugins (need we name any names?)

New Ways to View Reports: Reports will be integrated with The Hub…you’ll even be able to have them emailed to you!

Shipper

Nastia, Shipper’s Product Manager, made it clear that the team is working hard on this plugin right now.

Photo of PM Nastia

She said “Shipper is going through major improvements that will speed up the whole migration process. Not only that, but we’re working on an improved log feature so each migration step can be tracked.

“We also want to give to our users an awesome option to migrate subsites from one multisite to another, and import single sites to a multisite installation.”

Some of the features we’ve added include:

Multisite to Single Sites: Shipper can now migrate your multisite to a single site. We promise it’s not magic, just a lot of awesome code written by our amazing developers.

Screenshot fro Shipper's setup screen where it states you can migrate multisite to single.
Shipper has your back throughout your entire migration.

Our Captain’s Had a Makeover: Not only has Shipper himself had a tidy up and a trim, his whole UI is new and improved and looking rather smart!

Extra Security: There’s nothing worse than finding out your site has been hacked and migrated to a second-rate host (ok that’s never happened to us, but it sounds like a nightmare!). Shipper will now ask for your WPMU DEV password before a migration is initiated.

In the Works

More Speed: Shipper’s upping his speed game so he can best his competitors. *Hint the main one he’s gunning for rhymes with “Shoeplicator”

Free Migrations: We’re also working on a free version for WP.org *gasps*

Integrated Video Tutorials

This plugin has just undergone a pretty major renovation, but we’re not stopping there.

Photo of lead developer Joel

Lead developer, Joel, said “We’re planning improvements to the UX to make it easier to filter, search, and manage videos & playlists. Also, we’ll be adding more video providers (Metacafe, Dailymotion) to the custom videos feature as well as a new Gutenberg block to insert videos into your pages or posts.

“This plugin’s designer, Afia, is currently trawling through member requests to find even more awesome features we can add to future updates.”

Some of the features we’ve added include:

Brand New UI: We’ve completely revamped our UI, making this plugin easier to navigate and adding in a new dashboard screen.

Screenshot of the new IVT dashboard
The new dashboard is looking swiiiish.

Video Customizations: You can now edit the name and description of videos and assign them to playlists – basically you have a lot more freedom over how videos are displayed!

In the Works

New Export/Import Feature: Easily import videos, playlists, and settings from one site to all your client sites

New Integrations: Integrations with custom video providers such as DailyMotion and Metacafe.

Until Next Time…

We told you this roundup was worth the wait!

We promise we’ll do these more regularly so that you never miss any of the amazing new additions to our products.

Feel free to leave me a comment to remind me in a couple of months’ time, and keep an eye on the roadmap in the meantime!