Celebrating the 100th Gutenberg release

Our reflections on this major WordPress milestone

The 100th release of the Gutenberg plugin on February 17, 2021 was a major milestone, and Gutenberg 10.0 has got us reminiscing.

We like Gutenberg (we like it so much that we built part of our product around it), and we aren’t alone. That said, Gutenberg has gone through quite a journey and a lot of pushback to get to this point.

The Gutenberg experience

Gutenberg was created with the user in mind. It responded to many small but significant aspects of WordPress that contributed to users’ dissatisfaction as part of a wider effort to improve the user experience, and combined into plans for major changes.

Many developers, designers, agency owners and others who worked with WordPress on a daily basis pushed back. What would be the impact of such a momentous change? Would websites break? Would they need to be rebuilt? What if clients suffer? Might agencies lose those clients?

There was a community saying if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But in many ways, for users, it was broken.

In his State of the Word address at WordCamp US back in 2018, Matt Mullenweg played user test videos that showed just how broken it was, including a clip where one user said: “This feels like a writing a blog back in 2005.”

Users wanted more, and they expected better. The problems with WordPress had to be fixed. Gutenberg sought to do this, and to deliver the quality of experience that its users expected.

Four years since the project was first announced WordCamp US 2016, as Gutenberg hits its 100th release, we can see just how well it’s transforming the WordPress experience for website owners, visitors and businesses alike.

The building blocks

When they were introduced through Gutenberg, blocks were a new feature to WordPress, and it was so novel to the CMS that Gutenberg was often referred to as the WordPress block editor.

However, blocks won’t have been altogether alien for many website owners. The blocks feature is reminiscent of what’s available on other platforms, including commercial website builders and marketing automation tools like Mailchimp. This is an example of adapting WordPress to improve user experience by giving users the UI, or user interface, that they expect.

There are the basic blocks, like a paragraph of text or a heading, an image or a call-to-action button, but that’s not all. You can hook up a social feed, embed a form, add an alert, and so much more. Website owners benefit, but blocks make the experience better for website visitors too, because blocks expand the potential of what webpages can do.

So much more is within reach because of Gutenberg. WordPress plugin companies can create their own blocks so that their plugin features can be embedded easily on websites, and this widens the scope of many WordPress business offerings.

Take our blocks, for example. FortressDB is your tool to store data securely, but you don’t have to keep it to yourself. We’ve built FortressDB blocks that you can use to share that data securely with the public, or specific groups, through your website:

  • Try the Million Rows Demo at the bottom of our homepage to see how lightning fast data tables can be embedded on your website with our Data Table Block.
  • Engage with web visitors in a whole new way by adding pins, data and your own stories to locations using a Google Maps Block.
  • Show potential customers exactly what your business can do for them by integrating charts to case studies using the Chart Block.

What’s next for Gutenberg?

Gutenberg 10.0 is a major milestone in our books. The 100th release signals the end of the first part of this journey from 1.0 to 10.0, but the wheels are still in motion. One area that promises to make a big impact is full site editing.

Make WordPress introduces the full site editing project by stating its intentions: “The goal of the full site editing project is to utilize the power of Gutenberg’s block model in an editing experience beyond post or page content. In other words, the idea is to make the entire site customizable.”

The extent to which full site editing will empower website owners is really impressive. With higher levels of customization, a website owner has more freedom and control of their site so they can create their vision without compromising. It also enables them to tailor their site more specifically to what their target audience wants, and catering to customers’ needs is bound to be good for business.

On top of this, full site editing potentially widens the scope for WordPress plugin businesses to build and deliver tools for website owners. How businesses in this eco-system will respond is yet to be seen, but we can anticipate innovation.

We’ve got more to come, too. We’ll be releasing a brand new FortressDB Block soon, which you can expect in the early part of Q2 in 2021. Our new Block has been highly-requested and we can’t wait to make it available for you. Watch this space.

WhatsApp: a lesson in communication and privacy

On average, we spend 3 hours and 15 minutes a day on our phones (RescueTime). Shocked? Think about how often you reflexively reach for your mobile throughout the day and that figure might not seem so high. 

Many of us will spend much of those 3 hours and 15 minutes interacting with messaging apps and social networks, sharing and receiving personal and private information with and from friends, family and our wider communities.

Given the amount of personal information we share on a daily basis, you’d think we would all be paying close attention to how these apps handle our data and, by extension, protect our privacy. The reality for many people however is probably a little different.

Most of us would likely admit to skimming over lengthy terms and conditions—if we read them at all—and are probably unlikely to notice minor policy updates that are often rolled out over time. 

That is, unless those updates hit the headlines, which is exactly what happened earlier this year when WhatsApp announced a change to its terms of service. A standard scheduled policy update led to an unprecedented mass exodus of users from the messaging app.

WhatsApp updates its terms, users panic

On January 6 WhatsApp announced a change to its terms of service: from February 8, Facebook and its subsidiaries would be able to collect users’ data, including phone numbers and locations, from WhatsApp. And if WhatsApp’s users didn’t agree to this change? Then they would lose access to the app.

Unsurprisingly, this didn’t go down too well with many of WhatsApp’s 1.5 billion+ users. Over the following weeks, WhatsApp plummeted from its position as the most downloaded app in the UK at the start of the year to number 23 in the charts in just 12 days (AppAnnie). 

Meanwhile rival apps like Signal and Telegram swooped in to capitalize on the former-WhatsApp users’ quest for a secure, privacy-forward alternative. In less than a month, Signal had gained more than 7.5 million users globally, while Telegram had gained more than 25 million.

Damage control

While users were leaving the app in their millions, WhatsApp was scrambling to carry out damage control. 

After the initial news about the update broke, it seems the changes were potentially misinterpreted. Instead of sharing WhatsApp’s intended message, viral posts across the internet warned that the policy change would ultimately allow Facebook access to the content in users’ messages.

WhatsApp later clarified that this was not the case. Niamh Sweeney, WhatsApp’s director of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said that that update was intended to do two things: enable a new set of features around business messaging, and “make clarifications and provide greater transparency” around the company’s pre-existing policies. (Guardian)

WhatsApp then decided to delay the implementation of its new policy until May 15 and emphasised that “the policy update does not affect the privacy of [users’] messages with friends or family in any way.”

But by the time WhatsApp had released this statement, the damage had been done. People were confused and trust in the app had disappeared. Switching to an alternative messaging service seemed to be the most appealing option for millions of users.

But what does all of this really mean for you?

If you live in the EU or UK, then WhatsApp’s latest update to their terms of service won’t actually make a difference to how your data is handled, thanks to existing data protection laws in these regions.

If you live elsewhere though, you may want to consider whether you are happy with Facebook potentially having access to even more of your data. WhatsApp has confirmed that neither they nor Facebook would be able to read users’ messages or listen to users’ calls. 

Rather the policy change would give businesses “the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts.” This would mean that businesses could potentially use the contents of your direct chats with them for their own marketing purposes. 

If you’re not a WhatsApp user, you might think this whole affair is irrelevant to you. However, that’s not necessarily the case.

Regardless of your preferred messaging app, the WhatsApp saga acts as a timely reminder to review the policies and settings of any apps that you use regularly. Are you still happy with how your data is being collected, stored and processed? If not, maybe it’s time to switch things up.

So should you leave WhatsApp for Signal or Telegram?

If you’re still unsure about whether to change messaging apps, it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of two of the other major players.

Signal has turned out to be one of the most popular alternatives to WhatsApp. Recommended by Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey, Signal was founded in 2018 by Brian Acton and Moxie Marlinspike. Incidentally, Acton also co-founded WhatsApp with Jan Koum.

Signal offers an effective solution for the privacy conscious. Aside from your phone number, the fully open-source platform does not collect and store any of your personal data. All messages and calls sent through Signal are end-to-end encrypted, meaning the contents won’t be seen by any third party, including Signal.

Another popular choice is Telegram. Released in 2013, Telegram claims to deliver messages “faster than any other application”. Unlike WhatsApp, which collects and stores a wide variety of data about you, Telegram only stores your name, phone number, contacts and user ID.

However, unlike Signal, Telegram only offers end-to-end encryption for certain messages, so-called “secret chats”. Telegram probably falls somewhere in the middle of WhatsApp and Signal on the privacy protection scale.

Ultimately, whether you decide to use a new app or not will be a personal preference made on balance. Do your needs for security features like end-to-end encryption outweigh the potential inconvenience and social impact moving away from WhatsApp might have?

Clear communication and transparent policies are key

Aside from the immediate question of whether it’s time to ditch WhatsApp for a rival messaging app, there is one learning that all organisations operating in today’s data-centric world could benefit from: clear communication is key.

By providing your website or app users with clear, up-to-date policies (see highly-regarded policy generator Termageddon for help), and ensuring that any updates are communicated early and transparently, your business can help to manage users’ expectations and maintain their trust, hopefully helping to avoid a WhatsApp-style scenario.

Implications for other businesses

History has shown that empires fall. Remember Block Busters? They had the chance to buy Netflix for $50M, but laughed at the price. We all know what happened next. That revolution was the result of a technological evolution, initially DVDs and later streaming. WhatsApp isn’t going to collapse this month, but it has taken a big hit, the migration was swift and significant. It underlines that consumers care about their data privacy. Many people will remember the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica controversy, which no doubt added to the mistrust.

The attraction of online companies is that it’s easy to sign up to their services, the danger is that it’s equally easy to leave and move on.

Learn from others’ mistakes

Whether you decide to leave WhatsApp or not, there are simple lessons we can take as both users and business owners.

Users, there is no time like the present to review the apps you use to make sure that you’re satisfied your data is being handled responsibly.

Businesses, consider reviewing your website and data protection policies and, if you’re planning an update, learn from WhatsApp’s mistakes: communicate any and all changes clearly.

Did you decide to move on from WhatsApp? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

FortressDB is a secure, high-speed database plugin for WordPress form data. Learn more and try it for free at fortressdb.com

2.0.16 of FortressDB is released

We’ve just released version 2.0.16. There are 3 main updates.

Gravity Forms integration

The biggest update is that we have now included integration with Gravity Forms. Gravity is one of the most-used form plugins in the WordPress world. We hope it will enable new users to benefit from FortressDB.

Support tickets directly from the plugin

We want to make it as easy as possible to contact us. We are here to help. With this in mind, we’ve added a new menu item to the FortressDB plugin. From the WordPress admin dashboard, select FortressDB -> Support. This shows the following form.

Submit support tickets directly from FortressDB plugin in WordPress admin

One of the biggest challenges with support is that there are so many different ways to host WordPress. Different hosting companies, or self-hosted, plus any combination of plugins and themes, different versions of WordPress itself or PHP.  WordPress has a handy feature called Site Health.  Tools -> Site Health -> Info.  This provides all of the information described above, plus a few more things.

Site Health is a really useful tool within WordPress

Our support form includes a checkbox, if selected, the site health info will be sent to us as well. This helps us to understand how you use WordPress, and diagnose any bugs. Please note it is opt-in, if you don’t want to send us the information you don’t need to.

Improved error messages

Some of our error messages were a bit vague. This isn’t helpful to anyone, ourselves included. Apologies for that. We’ve now improved the error messages to better describe why something isn’t working.  This is mainly for developers using our APIs directly, most users won’t even notice.

New year, new habits: a monthly checklist to optimize your WordPress website

The older and larger your website, the easier it is to start letting things slide. Before you know it, your media library is bursting at the seams, unwanted draft posts are taking up valuable database space and you’re wondering why your site has slowed to a snail’s pace. 

Just like solving a coding problem, you can solve your website’s situation by breaking the matter down into manageable chunks. 

By regularly running small, simple optimization tasks, you can maintain your website’s health, speed and security without it feeling like a huge burden. 

The monthly checklist

Small jobs often build up and if you keep putting them off “until you have more time”, they can seem even more overwhelming.

By committing time to website maintenance every month, you can save yourself work in the long run and make sure your site is offering visitors the best experience. 

To help you “eat the frog”, we’ve rounded up a few quick tasks you can carry out on a monthly basis to optimize your WordPress website.

Ramp up the speed

A faster website makes for a better user experience, can lead to higher conversion rates and can even give your Google search ranking a boost. Make the most of the many WordPress plugins on the market to regularly check and improve your site’s speed.

  1. Run a speed test

Several plugins, including Speedguard and WP Speed of Light, will do the hard work for you, running daily speed checks and sending you reports with ways to improve loading times.

  1. Install a caching plugin

While we’re talking about helpful plugins, unless your hosting provider offers server-level caching already, you could benefit from a caching plugin like WP Rocket or Comet Cache

Specific features may vary, but essentially caching plugins will take a snapshot of all of your pages, posts, categories, links and so on. You will then have the option to decide when to serve your site visitors a cached version of your content to save having to load it from the server.

  1. Optimize your images

Images and media files can really bloat your website, slowing things down and taking up valuable storage space.

As part of your checks, it’s worth going through your media library to delete all unused images and media files. 

Depending on the size of your library, you might want to use a plugin like Media Cleaner to help – just make sure to back-up your content first.

Finally, if you’re not already optimizing your images pre-import, now’s a good time to start. Large image files can make websites slow for you and your users. You could also use a plugin like Smush to compress, optimize and lazy load your images.

Clean out the cobwebs

Speed checks done, next up is general housekeeping. 

  1. Delete, delete, delete: check for unused content

We’re all guilty of hanging on to half complete drafts of posts, “forgetting” to check our sites for broken links, unused tags, categories and so on that can be deleted.

Dedicate some time to delete unused content and check for broken links, irrelevant or duplicate tags and categories. This will make it easier for visitors to navigate your site.

To check for broken links:

To check for unused tags:

  • Go to Posts > Tags in your WordPress dashboard. Click on “Count” in the upper-right corner and delete any with a count of 0.

To delete unused content:

  • We don’t have a handy plugin suggestion for this – just bite the bullet and sift through your draft posts!
  1. Check for updates: plugins and themes 

This is another task that’s good to carry out regularly: make sure all of your themes and plugins are up-to-date with the latest security patches and bug fixes.

Go to the Updates page in your WordPress dashboard to see if there’s anything you can update. 

Don’t forget to delete any unused plugins and related database entries and tables while you’re at it.

  1. Upgrade WordPress and PHP

Finally, check you’re running the latest versions of WordPress core and PHP. This will ensure you have the latest security fixes to protect your site and will make sure your code is running smoothly.

You’ll find news of WordPress releases on the Updates page in your dashboard – be sure to make a back-up of your site before installing any upgrades!

Updating your PHP version may take a bit more effort. Kinsta has a useful guide on how to carry this out safely.

Lockdown your security settings

Perhaps the most important task of all is to review your security settings. Regular checks can help you avoid having to handle a compromised site or security breach.

  1. Review user access and roles

Careful management of your WordPress user access and roles is essential to the security of your site.

WordPress has 6 pre-defined user roles: Super Admin, Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor and Subscriber. Each role gives users different permissions. Make sure to check the Users page in your dashboard to review these regularly for out-of-date logins and to make sure each user has the correct level of access.

  1. Reset passwords

As well as reviewing user roles, another good habit to get into is regularly resetting passwords. 

Reset passwords from your WordPress dashboard by going to Users > All Users, clicking on the desired user and then clicking the “Generate Password” button on the edit screen. See Google’s tips on creating a strong password.

If you need to reset all users’ passwords at once, you can do so by going to Users > Emergency Password Reset and clicking “Reset all passwords”.

Hopefully these tips will help keep your website healthy, fast and secure. Do you have any

How to secure your WordPress site in 5 steps

Securing WordPress

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems available (CMS). Powering more than 38% of the web, it’s the CMS of choice for a whole range of uses, from personal blogs to government websites.

Its flexibility and ease-of-use make WordPress attractive to a huge and varied user base. Unsurprisingly, this user base makes WordPress sites particularly attractive to hackers.

Is WordPress secure?

While the WordPress Security and Core teams are continuously working to monitor and mitigate security risks, vulnerabilities in the software and third-party extensions do exist and hackers are quick to exploit them. 

A 2019 report by security plugin Sucuri found that of the security breaches they investigated, 90% related to WordPress sites, with third-party themes and plugins the primary route of attack. 

How to secure your WordPress website

Research has found that the average cost of a hacked website is $2,518. As anyone who has had to pay out to recover a site or has endured the stress of a breach will know, when it comes to website security, prevention is better than cure. 

So what can you do to secure your WordPress website?

There are numerous ways you can protect your site against malicious attacks and data breaches – but where to start? We’ve put together five simple steps you can take to secure your WordPress website today.

Stay up-to-date  

Step one is a relatively quick and easy way to avoid pain later: make sure you’re running the latest version of any software used on your site.

Start by updating to the latest version of WordPress. Each version includes security patches and additional features aimed at helping to improve the security of your site, so it’s worth staying up-to-date.

But running a recent version of core alone isn’t enough. Every time you install a plugin or theme, you run the risk of opening up your website to security vulnerabilities. To mitigate this risk, WordPress recommends checking for updates via the Plugin Screen in your admin every three to six months.

Finally, make sure to use the latest PHP version. As well as increased security, your site will likely benefit from performance improvements. Like WordPress, PHP is maintained by a global community, all working to develop useful security features and patches. Ensuring you have the latest PHP release is a simple way to stay on top of the security game. 

Take stock of your plugins

Following on from step one, if there are any plugins or themes you’re no longer using, don’t hang on to them for sentimental reasons – get rid. Your website will thank you.

By fully removing unused extensions, not only will you benefit from increased loading speeds thanks to all that freed-up memory, but you’ll also shut down potential access routes for would-be hackers. 

Note that simply deactivating and deleting any old plugins might not be enough – you may also need to clean out unused database entries or extra code. Check each plugin’s readme file for full instructions on how to remove all traces.

Finally, when deciding to install a new plugin, make sure it has a positive reputation and, ideally, in-built security features to protect your website and your visitors’ data. For example, contact form plugins weForms and Forminator have been built with security in mind. They use reCaptcha to prevent bots spamming your site with unwanted entries and attempting malicious SQL injections.

Lock down access to your site

Step three sounds simple but is often overlooked: check your website access and permissions.

Easy-to-guess passwords and using ’admin’ as your default user are two surefire ways to a compromised website. Make sure all passwords associated with your site are unique and strong, then store them securely. For example, in 1Password or Last Pass

Double-down your efforts by activating two-factor authentication. This will mean you’ll need to provide additional authentication each time you log in, but it will help to prevent malicious users from gaining access to your site. 

While we’re talking about website access, did you know that by default WordPress doesn’t limit the number of login attempts on your site, leaving you open to attack from bots and hackers? Combat this by installing a plugin like Limit Login Attempts Reloaded and changing your settings.

Finally, make the most of native user roles. FortressDB uses the built-in roles in WordPress to ensure that any files stored on our servers can only be accessed by users with the correct user role and permissions, reducing the risk of sensitive data falling into the wrong hands.

Make sure your database is working for you, not against you

Step four: make sure your database isn’t leaving you exposed.

WordPress is accessible, easy-to-use and comes with several important security features, including SSL certificates, as standard. However, when it comes to keeping your data secure, WordPress has one key flaw.

By default, WordPress stores uploaded images, videos and all other media files in the wp-content/uploads folder. And the wp-content/uploads folder are public. This means that uploads to your site could end up in Google search results, making sensitive data visible to everyone. Worrying, right?

FortressDB was developed, in part, to resolve this very issue. The database plugin stores uploaded content directly onto its secure servers, removing any risk of it being made visible to the wider web.

Not only that, but all data sent from WordPress to FortressDB’s secure servers is sent over SSL. This means your data is encrypted and kept safe from prying eyes, even if you’re using an insecure public network.

Choose safe, secure WordPress hosting

Last, but not least: choose a reliable, security-focussed WordPress hosting provider.

Hopefully if you’ve taken the above steps to secure your website, you won’t have to handle a compromised website. However, hackers and bots are using increasingly advanced methods to target security weaknesses.

A recent report by SiteLock showed a 52% increase in website attacks in the past year, with the average website facing 94 attacks per day. With figures like these, it’s best to be as prepared as possible.

One final step you can take to prepare is to ensure you’ve chosen a reliable, security-conscious hosting provider. There are two key reasons for this: added protection and back-ups.

There are a number of well-known secure hosting providers including WP Engine, Kinsta and SiteGround, among others, which have all been developed with security in mind. They come with a range of features to help protect your site, from automatic WordPress core and plugin updates, to malware scans and features to protect your site from DDoS attacks.

In addition, most hosting providers will offer automated back-ups. This could prove essential in the worst case scenario that your site becomes compromised, helping to restore your content and reduce your website’s downtime.

With these benefits in mind, it’s worth doing your research and paying a little more for the added protection offered by a secure hosting provider.

If you’re interested in securing your WordPress website and protecting your visitors’ data, you might want to try FortressDB, a secure, safe and fast WordPress database plugin. With various pricing plans and a free trial option, there’s nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

Mike Demo talk: Increase Form Conversions and Protect your Information

Mike Demo, our friend from WebVentures, BoldGrid and weForms, gave a great talk this week on GoWP. GoWP have lots of fantastic webinars, if you want to see what’s coming up, or watch a previous one, go to www.gowp.com/webinars/.

Demo is strong open source advocate, with extensive knowledge of WordPress. He has given many talks at WordCamps, MeetUps and online.

You can follow Mike Demo on Twitter, @mpmike, or visit his website, mikedemo.com.

Risk-free file uploads: weForms and FortressDB

We’ve partnered with weForms to make file uploads through forms secure.

What we love about weForms is that they are highly customisable. This allows you to adapt your forms to ensure they fit your web visitors’ needs, improving the experience with an intuitive, user-friendly process. Plus, you can see a live preview, which helps you picture how a web visitor might interact with your form while you tinker with it in draft mode.

One of the stand-out weForms features is their file uploader. Just as you can personalise each form, you can use weForm’s advanced file-upload features to change the settings of your file upload field to suit your purpose.

If you are expecting basic documents to be uploaded through your form, rather than heavier formats like media files, you might want to keep things light by setting a file upload limit. You can also set the type of files that you will accept and the maximum number of files that a user can upload, giving you maximum control.

This can be useful if your form is collecting files for a very specific purpose like CVs for a job vacancy, particularly if you want to ensure that candidates upload the right types of files in the right places (or perhaps you want to test their attention to detail, but that’s your call).

Is the personal information you collect through forms at risk?

As forms built with weForms are so easy to customise, you could create all sorts of forms: anything from simple contact forms to loan applications or patient intake forms that collect highly personal information. However, when personal information is involved, special care needs to be taken to ensure that form data is kept private and secure, which is where FortressDB comes in.

Even though you don’t intend for private information to be leaked from your form, the truth is that anyone could stumble across the data if it is stored insecurely in the default WordPress database, because of its privacy and security issues. Files uploaded through forms into wp-uploads are at risk of coming up in Google searches, and if you asked for file uploads with financial or medical information in your form, that would be very bad news.

Plus, it can be slow to search and filter data in the WordPress database. Due to the way it’s built, it gets bloated, which could be especially tricky if your form is collecting media files like MP3s or videos.

FortressDB solves those security, privacy and speed issues. Our WordPress plugin provides a secure database for WordPress forms with privacy measures guarding against data breach risks, security features that keep your data safe and a high-speed database for instant searching, filtering and data processing.

To benefit from all of that, you can access these features by using the FortressDB plugin for WordPress as a weForms integration.

Use the weForms discount

Our partnership with weForms brings benefits for weForms users, and not just in terms of securing WordPress form data and speeding up form databases. We’re also giving weForms users a special discount so they can set up their forms securely at a reduced rate, and there’s a free version for you to try first.

weForms links

Website: https://weformspro.com/

WordPress.org: https://wordpress.org/plugins/weforms/

Getting started with Forminator and FortressDB

We’re delighted to have partnered with Forminator from WPMU DEV. It’s a great form plugin and has wonderful features like e-signatures fields.

Not just Pro users

The latest version of Forminator (1.13.3) has now been released on wordpress.org. This means that even free users can take advantage of using Forminator and FortressDB together. FortressDB also has a free version.

Getting started video

To help people get started, we’ve created the following video. It shows how to connect FortressDB to Forminator.

Feedback

We love feedback, the good, the bad or the ugly. We’re a new product, and need your help to make it awesome.  Please email us admin@fortressdb.com if you have anything to say.

WPMU DEV members get a discount

That’s correct, as part of our partnership with WPMU DEV, we’re giving a discount to their members. If that’s you, go to their partners page.  You need to be logged in to see the discount code. 

Signed on the dotted line: FortressDB & Forminator

FortressDB & Forminator bring secure e-signatures to WordPress forms

“It’s alive!” Our integration with Forminator, that is. Even more fitting: “It’s secure!”

FortressDB has joined forces with ‘the most magical and completely expandable drag-and-drop forms plugin for WordPress,’ Forminator, giving you everything you need to collect information through your WordPress forms with risk-free privacy and security measures in place.

If you want to engage your web visitors through interactive polls and quizzes, Forminator is for you. Equally, you can rely on Forminator for your basics like contact forms and surveys. It’s a great tool for everyone, and our integration gives you the opportunity to store your form data securely.

Using FortressDB, your form data and files will be kept in a database with high-level encryption, instead of the WordPress database where it is at higher risk of privacy and security breaches.

Why is this important, you ask? Well, you might be receiving personal, private, or sensitive information through your forms. However, data stored within the default WordPress database is vulnerable and files are saved insecurely in the wp-uploads public folder, meaning bots can find files and bring them up in a Google search.

FortressDB stores data and files differently. It’s completely secure, so you can be comfortable that the privacy of your form data is protected.

Signed on the dotted line

The importance of securely storing form data really comes into play with Forminator’s latest feature: e-signatures.

One of the most exciting things about our collaboration with Forminator is that FortressDB will support you to collect e-signatures from your WordPress forms securely.

The consequences of letting your web visitors’ signatures out into the wild are… well, yikes. Let’s not go there. Better to keep them locked away in a database using the FortressDB plugin.

You’ll control exactly who has access and can relax knowing that nobody unexpected will be able to get their hands on your customers’ signatures.

The following video show how to add an e-signature field to a form, and how that is stored securely in FortressDB.

How to start creating secure forms

The integration is currently available to Forminator Pro users (yes, you can try it out right now… go, go, go). You’ll have to wait a little bit longer if you aren’t a Pro, but it will soon be made available on WordPress.org for free.

You can start using FortressDB with the Forminator plugin from your WordPress dashboard. There’s no need to visit any other sites, you can install and activate the plugin and connect to a secure database all from WordPress within a couple of minutes.

Once connected, you can start using the FortressDB integration with your Forminator forms and the data will be stored in a secure database. You can view and interact with this data within WordPress, but it is no longer stored insecurely using the WordPress database.

Some things are meant to be kept private. Use FortressDB with Forminator to store your form data securely.

WPMU DEV members get a discount

That’s correct, as part of our partnership with WPMU DEV, we’re giving a discount to their members. If that’s you, go to their partners page.  You need to be logged in to see the discount code. 

Learn more about Forminator and FortressDB

We have more information on our Forminator page.

An acknowledgement of launching in 2020

We started FortressDB in January of this year. Since then, life as we know it has changed considerably.

Under normal circumstances, we’d be using our first blog to shout about the great benefits of our product, but this time there’s something more important to say.

Instead, we have chosen to use this first blog post to acknowledge what has changed, the challenges we are facing all over the world, and that continue to impact our lives.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the whole planet. We are all sick of the word unprecedented, but that’s exactly what this is.

People have died. People are mourning. People have lost their jobs. People are scared. So much has been put on hold and nobody knows what’s next.

We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the world’s key workers who have given everything they have to help others. They are putting their lives at risk, and in very sad cases, making the ultimate sacrifice.

Thank you to everyone on the front line, and not just those in the medical professions, but also teachers, retailers, public transport staff, cleaners, and every other key worker we rely on. Every one of you is making a difference.

But this isn’t just about COVID-19. During the global health crisis, light has been shed on another pandemic, one which has been taking innocent lives for much longer: racism.

The tragic death of George Floyd is a story that’s, sadly, not unique. His death has triggered peaceful protests, not just across America, but many countries across the world, including the UK and our home of Bristol.

In some cases, the response to these protests has been further violence and further deaths. There is no excuse for this.

We acknowledge racism as a systemic problem and publicly commit to doing everything in our power to help support change. Black lives matter and it’s outrageous that we even need to fight for that.

Our hope is that, as ugly and tragic as this period is, it will lead to real change. We 100% support the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

If there is anything we can do to help related charities and non-profits, please reach out to us. If our product is of use to you, we’ll happily give you a free licence.

Right now, many people are angry, and many people are scared. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t choose 2020 as our year to launch, but life isn’t that simple.

As a start-up, we need to rely on momentum, and pausing for 6 or 12 months isn’t an option.

So, we are launching. Despite all the challenges of this year so far, we hope our plugin will help some of you to manage your data.

Stay safe,

The FortressDB Team