State of the Word, 2015

Matt Mullenweg has just completed the 2015 State of the Word, the annual speech where he highlights the last year of everything WordPress and what we can anticipate in the future.

The State of the Word started differently this year, with a formal introduction of Mullenweg by Philadelphia city councilman David Oh. December 5th is being recognized by the city council as “WordPress Day” for the city of Philadelphia.

This is the tenth ever State of the Word. Matt teased the councilman, by calling himself Matt Mullenburg, as the councilman first introduced him.

The top four sponsors (Jetpack, WooThemes, Bluehost, and Sucuri) donated more than $275,000 to make the first WCUS happen. I understand the full budget for the event was close to half a million dollars.

Looking back

Matt started his talk by focusing on Thanksgiving and how much we have to be thankful for. He also paused for a moment of silence for Alex King and Kim Parsell, both whom were influential community members and passed away this year.

WCUS is the biggest WordCamp ever, with 1801 tickets sold. He walked through each WordCamp SF, prior to WCUS’s existence, and compared the event to how the dashboard looked at the same time.

Milestones release

Next week, Milestones: The Story of WordPress will be released officially. Written by Siobhan McKeown, the book was under development for a year and will continue to be iterated on.

Community milestones in 2015

WordCamps

There have been 89 WordCamps in the world this year, with over 21,000 attendees from thirty-four countries. There were also over 40,000 people whom attended more than two thousand events.

WordPress.org and tooling improvements

The WordPress.org website has moved to, “a more activity based” metric system, so that now both themes and plugins show active installs.

Also, Slack is now the primary live communication tool for the WordPress project, with over 2 million messages sent in the past year.

WordPress.tv code is being redesigned and the code for it will be open source, which is true for most WordPress projects these days.

Translations

The plugin directory is available in more languages now, and all themes and plugins support language packs, which allows translation to happen at a community level, and doesn’t require shipping translations as part of the plugin package.

Plugin activity

Over 9,000 plugins were added to the official repo in 2015, and they have cumulatively downloaded more than 1 billion times since the start of the repo.

WordPress passed a milestone recently, and now powers 25% of all websites in the world.

WordPress Releases in 2015

Three releases have occurred since the State of the Word last October: WordPress 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3. And WordPress 4.4 is due on Tuesday, December 8th. The three month schedule has proven successful for WordPress.

  • 4.1 was led by John Blackbourn
  • 4.2 was led by Drew Jaynes
  • 4.3 was led by Konstantin Obenland
  • 4.4 is being lead by Scott Taylor

WordPress 4.4

Scott was invited on stage to talk about WordPress 4.4.

WordPress 4.4 will have many long awaited developer features, including responsive images, term meta and the first half of the WordPress REST API, as well as user facing features like oEmbed for posts and the release of the Twenty Sixteen default theme.

I like what Scott said about responsive images, when he noted that, “When WordPress adopts modern technologies, the Internet adopts modern technologies.” WordPress’s marketshare allows the core team to be a leader in enabling great new features on the web.

Bluehost updates for WordPress and PHP

80% of Bluehost’s more than 2 million websites were not on the latest WordPress version last year. They created a scanning process looking for out of date WordPress websites and helping guide automated updates for those websites. They were able to update almost all websites to the latest version, and it created only a minimal level of support to do so.

Updating WordPress and PHP aren’t the same thing though.

I interviewed a team member of Bluehost about this and will have more on it in a podcast. However, Bluehost and other hosts are going to work together to maintain a script that would allow for updating PHP as well as WordPress, and to do so without breaking websites.

Upcoming WordPress release leads

  • WordPress 4.5: Mike Schroder
  • WordPress 4.6: Dominik Schilling
  • WordPress 4.7: Matt Mullenweg

Six new committers have been added so far in 2015, and seven new committers were announced today:

  • Mike Schroder
  • Mel Choyce
  • Eric Lewis
  • Joe Hoyle
  • Rachel Baker
  • Pascal Birchler
  • Michael Arestad

Featured WordPress projects

There are a lot of awesome WordPress projects, and Matt highlighted some.

REST API in action

  • Microsoft Dynamics AX is a project by WebDevStudios that uses the WordPress REST API to interface between Dynamics AX and the web.
  • NomadBase: A tool built by Human Made to allow for checking in and updating your location all over the world. It’s built with Mapbox and React to allow for a JavaScript frontend and the WordPress Backend.
  • StoryCorps: StoryCorps uses the REST API as the connecting piece between a mobile app and the website, to allow people to create stories by interviewing their family, and uploading them through the app. I did a feature on this project earlier this year, and interviewed a member of the StoryCorps team.

Matt looked back at a previous state of the word, where he anticipated WordPress could be better utilized as an app platform. Today, he notes that this is happening, and in many cases it is due to the WordPress REST API

Calypso

Matt spent some time discussing Calypso, which is the name of the project behind the new WordPress.com web interface and a native Mac App.

Calypso is a single page application that’s built with JavaScript, using a Node.js web layer and React. You can find more on Calypso both on the post I wrote about the launch, as well as an interview I did with Matt about the project.

Calypso is already having an impact on conversations happening about WordPress, and will likely be influential for years to come, especially as more PHP-first developers better learn a JavaScript-centric development approach. Dozens of Automattic employees learned JavaScript during the development of Calypso.

JavaScript and APIs in WordPress’s future

Matt said, “I believe that JavaScript and API-driven interfaces are the future.” While he doesn’t think PHP is going anywhere, and WordPress will always have many PHP components, he notes many of the benefits of JavaScript centric development.

“There might be something on the other side that’s worth breaking backwards compatibility for,” Matt said in regard to how important he thinks enabling a faster JavaScript-driven experience is for WordPress.

Matt spent some time discussing the importance of API driven development as a key to an open web.

With the scaffolding layer of WordPress 4.4, themes and plugins can register their own endpoints and expose all sorts of data and functionality to external apps.

Launches that affect WordPress

A couple of cool projects have launched just this week that will affect WordPress.

Going SSL with LetsEncrypt

LetsEncrypt is a project that just launched that makes enabling SSL on the web free. With SSL certificates from LetsEncrypt, a significant burden has been lifted in the process for better securing the web.

PHP 7

PHP 7 just launched, and Matt calls it the most significant version of PHP that has shipped since the start of WordPress. PHP 7 is faster than any other PHP ever, and has better stability upon upgrade than pretty much any other version bump.

Languages and WordPress

Translations and various elements of multi-lingual support have been a trend for years in WordPress.

Language packs were introduced to core in WordPress 3.7, and now language packs are available for all themes and plugins. Matt announced that the team behind Translate.WordPress.org is working to translate the top 100 plugins and themes in every available language.

Customization

WordPress’s first single page application was the Customizer. Matt believes the customization experience in WordPress will be incredibly important for improving the new user experience of WordPress.

Homework: learn JavaScript

Matt says he has homework for us: “Learn JavaScript, Deeply.” He says he’ll also follow his own advice, and learn JavaScript himself, which he’ll prove by committing code to WordPress that’s JavaScript based — by 4.7. He gives himself a healthy amount of time to learn, and it will be incredibly important for all WordPress developers to do.

WordCamp 2016: December 2nd – 4th

Matt closed by saying that Philadelphia will host the second WordCamp US as well, on December 2nd – 4th of 2016.