This Month on the OpenLab: January Release


Image Credit: Marko Verch

January 2019

On January 17, version 1.7.28 of the OpenLab was released. It included updates for all themes and plugins, as well as for WordPress and BuddyPress, the software that powers the OpenLab. The release also included a number of new features and plugins, as well as some bug fixes.

Block Editor / Gutenberg

Gutenberg, or the block editor, is the new editor for WordPress posts and pages, which marks a significant change from the editor we’ve been using on the OpenLab. To ease the transition, we kept the usual “classic editor” as the default, but site admins have the option to choose which editor to enable on their sites, and site members can also choose which editor to use on the level of individual posts.

Starting at the end of this summer (2019), we will enable the block editor as the default, while still allowing members to use the classic editor if they prefer.

You can learn more about the block editor on’s Gutenberg site, where you can also try it out, and find links to more advanced resources. If you’d prefer to watch a video, WP Tavern has posted a quick introductory video.

New Features

1. More options for member roles

One of the new features included in this release is the ability for admins to choose the default roles for members on the profile and site when they join a course, project, or club. For example, if you want members to receive email notifications and have your site included in their “My OpenLab” page, but not allow most members to post on the site, you can now set such combinations of profile and site roles when you first create the site, or edit the roles in Settings for existing groups.

2. First Year Learning Community badge

Another new addition in this release is a badge for First Year Learning Communities (FYLC), similar to the Open Education Resources (OER) badge. Courses with an FYLC badge can also be searched for in the courses directory. You can read more about FYLC badges in our help section.

3. Anthologize improvements

As part of our improvements to the Anthologize plugin, the latest update adds “author” as an option when searching for posts to add to an Anthologize project.

4. Improved formatting on Settings pages

We cleaned up a few small formatting inconsistencies in the Settings > Settings section of course, project, club, and portfolio profiles. These changes are likely not noticeable to most of our members, but nonetheless improve the appearance of these pages.

New Plugins

We added two new plugins in this release.

1. Shortcodes Ultimate provides more than 50 shortcodes that can be used in the post or page editor to add different kinds of functionality and visual elements, such as dropcaps, accordions, tabs, sliders, and more, to posts and pages. You can preview the available shortcodes on the plugin site.

2. Search and Filter allows you to add advanced options for searching and filtering posts on your site, such as the ability to allow people to filter posts by tags within particular categories, and more.

Bug Fixes

There were a number of bug fixes included in this release.

1. There was a problem with email notifications causing daily notifications to not be sent out properly in some groups with more than 300 members. This has been fixed.

2. There was another email notifications bug fixed that was preventing weekly and daily digest notifications from being sent.

3. We fixed an issue in the OpenLab Twenty Sixteen theme, that was causing the bottom horizontal borders of dropdown menus to extend a little farther to the left than they should.

4. We fixed a bug causing faculty and staff offices to appear as options along with departments, for students creating ePortfolios. The offices no longer appear.

5. There was a bug causing the required fields of “major” for students and “department/office” for faculty and staff to no longer be required when creating an account. This has been fixed.

As always, please contact us with any questions!

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