How we’re tackling GDPR in WooCommerce core — Apr 10, 2018

How we’re tackling GDPR in WooCommerce core

What we’re up to in WooCommerce land right now.

Develop WooCommerce

Stronger rules on data protection from May 2018 mean citizens have more control over their data.

GDPR is coming, and we’re working hard to get new tools in WooCommerce core to help store owners comply. If you’re not familiar with GDPR yet, Hannah wrote a great introduction to GDPR on the main WooCommerce blog which you can read to get caught up.

It’s important to note that this new law doesn’t just apply to stores in the EU – this applies globally to stores that sell products to EU residents.

We’re currently building new tools into our upcoming 3.4 release to help store owners deal with GDPR requests and surface things such as privacy policies on the checkout. Some of the tools are built already, or are in progress, notably:

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Debugging “unexpected token” in WooCommerce 2.4+ — Nov 12, 2015

Debugging “unexpected token” in WooCommerce 2.4+

When the WooCommerce checkout is processed it requires that gateways return an array (which is then converted into JSON) telling the checkout whether or not it was successful. It’s been this way since v1. Here is a basic example from the PayPal gateway:

return array(
    'result'   => 'success',
    'redirect' => $paypal_request->get_request_url( $order, $this->testmode )
);

The above for example returns a successful response and tells the checkout to redirect the user to the URL provided.

In 2.4+ this was made more strict in that the response must be valid JSON. Anything else in the response (such as HTML, notices or whitespace) will invalidate this JSON and you may see an error along the lines of:

SyntaxError: Unexpected token

WooThemes own gateways have all been tested for 2.4, however, we’ve seen some less-supported gateways break due to returning invalid content.

I’ve seen a few vocal users complaining about this recently on the forums (some even feeling the need to attack me personally, thanks guys) and thought it best to post a few steps on how you can narrow down the issue.

First off its always best to rule out your plugins and theme by disabling them, even though a lot of users seem to ignore this step. It is only temporary and helps narrow down the issue. Much better than shouting at me on WordPress.org.

Lets assume this does not narrow down the issue for a moment. How would you know if content is being output? The answer is in your browser console.

Lets simulate an error. In the paypal gateway, just before the array is returned I’ll add:

trigger_error( 'Uh oh' );

This triggers the error as expected:

2015-11-12 at 16.29

Now lets try to debug this like someone who does not know where the error is coming from.

In Chrome, go to View > Developer > Javascript Console whilst viewing the checkout.

Now trigger the error again.

After the error is shown, in the console go to the Network tab and click XHR:

2015-11-12 at 16.31

In the list you’re see one which looks like this: ?wc-ajax=checkout. Click on that and go to the response tab:

2015-11-12 at 16.32

Notice in my above example, there is the notice. This invalidates the JSON.

A valid JSON response {starts and ends with a bracket} – if there is an error, white space or content before or after those brackets, that is your issue.

In some cases the error will be obvious and allow you to patch or disable the cause.

Hopefully that helps.

User onboarding for WordPress plugins slides #WCNL — Sep 26, 2015
On joining Automattic — Jul 27, 2015

On joining Automattic

By now you’ve probably heard the news that Automattic (A8c) acquired WooThemes, where I was working as a developer for 3 years. July 1st I officially became an Automattician.

blog_woomattic_v2@2x

The weeks leading up to the acquisition were surreal; full of questions, a few awkward moments (it was top secret after all) but exciting nevertheless, and I was happy to be invited along with several others to New York to meet fellow Automatticians and be there for that bombshell of an announcement.

If acquisition were inevitable, I’m genuinely relieved that it was Automattic showing the interest. WooThemes and Automattic are very similar culturally and have similar aspirations. I know the team and products are going to be well looked after, and all the people I have met so far from A8c have been really friendly. So far my day to day activities have changed very little and everything feels completely natural.

The only challenge for me personally in this transition was parting ways with a side project/business of mine; WP Job Manager. This was a highly successful (and profitable) project with a user base 30k strong which I enjoyed working on in my spare time. Brian Krogsgard covered the story on poststatus.com in depth back in June and explained;

Automattic has a strict policy that employees cannot have paid side projects, whether client or product work. For Mike to stay at Automattic, he had to figure out what the future of WP Job Manager would be.

A8c expressed interest in acquiring the plugin and we came to an agreement which was a huge relief for me as I wanted to ensure whomever took over would actually look after the plugin and its users.

Anything was an option, including making WPJM free or selling it to a third party, but I’m glad we came to the solution we did. Since WPJM is part of Automattic now there’s no real or perceived conflict to the continuing work on it or revenue from it.

– Matt Mullenweg

Backed by A8c I think the project has a bright future. I’m still working on the dev side and I imagine more hands will be added in the coming months to keep things moving.

Looking ahead, I’m excited to continue and focus my attention on WooCommerce. Up until now we’ve had a tiny team (of ~4 developers) and it’s done fantastically well, but with more resources and people at our disposal who knows what we can achieve. We’ve already had some new people come over on rotation and its great to get fresh eyes on all of the projects and extensions.

Overall, I think that my move to Automattic, and consequential winding down of side projects, is going to have a positive impact on my life in general. I already have more free time, and things will be even better now that I don’t need to deal with tedious accounting and VAT returns for my businesses. I was even able to enjoy a vacation without the worry of supporting my products which I’ve not been able to do for years. It felt great.

And of course I may be able to blog a little more often 🙂

p.s. Please consider working with us – we’re always looking for talented devs and support staff!

Handling EU VAT on WPJobManager.com with WooCommerce — Dec 19, 2014

Handling EU VAT on WPJobManager.com with WooCommerce

eu

Ah the EU. Always with their bright ideas. If you haven’t heard about the upcoming changes surrounding EU VAT, first off, where have you been hiding?

To put it simply, essentially they require everyone selling digital products to customers in the EU to charge EU Tax based on the customer location, regardless of where your business is based. You can read more about the changes in the blog post I wrote on WooThemes.com here.

Being based in the UK, and selling plugins on WPJobManager.com, I am affected by these changes and so I’ve been doing a lot of research, speaking to accountants, and preparing my site for the changes.

In this post I’ll explain what I’m doing and hopefully this may give you some ideas/resources if you’re struggling with compliance.

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Parting Ways with the Download Monitor Plugin — Dec 8, 2014

Parting Ways with the Download Monitor Plugin

Download Monitor is old. Around 8 years old in fact and was one of the first plugins I made for WordPress, back in the time before custom post types and all the other luxuries developers enjoy today.

It has been rewritten 4 times, seen well over 100 releases, and been downloaded 600,000 times. The latest ‘v1’ reboot has been praised and I often receive nice comments from users even though development has slowed of late.

But but therein lies the problem; time. The biggest, most exciting projects I’m working on (WP Job Manager, and WooCommerce at Woothemes) take up most of my time, so without sleeping at my desk I don’t have sufficient time to maintain and grow the plugin.

So rather than let it die a slow and neglected death, I’ve taken the difficult decision to abandon the project.

But Don’t Worry, It’s Being Adopted

He is dead serious about development, honest
He is dead serious about development, honest

Developer Barry Kooij (previously with Yoast and now a coworker at Woo) will be taking over the development of the plugin going forward.

The repositories have been transfered and work has already begun on the next version, so it looks like the plugin will be going for a few more years after all. Good luck to him!

With Download Monitor off of my plate, I can now focus on my other projects which are really taking off in a big way and demanding more of my focus. I’m really excited about it’s future, and I’m happy that Download Monitor is in safe hands.

Launching WPJobManager.com — May 5, 2014

Launching WPJobManager.com

I’m happy to announce I’ve finally flipped the switch on WPJobManager.com, a site which I’ve been working on for a few months now in my spare time. I felt it was about time that I had a better sales platform and a dedicated place for the plugin which has been steadily growing in popularity during the past year.

WP Job Manager download stats growth
WP Job Manager download stats growth

Up until now I’ve been selling add-ons via Gumroad. It’s a fun service, and it’s easy to use, but it lacks the flexibility I need. In particular I’m talking about licences. Without some kind of licencing system I have no way to verify a customer when it comes to updates and support, the sale is one off (something that’s not sustainable with this type of product), and I have no way to limit distribution of my plugins.

Its alive Therefore, I made the decision to switch over to WooCommerce (what else?) and have a proper marketplace for the plugin. Hosted on DigitalOcean and powered by WordPress and WooCommerce, WPJobManager.com is now live.

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