Day two of WordCamp US 2016 wrapped up with the State of the Word address, delivered by Matt Mullenweg at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in the heart of the city. With more than 1,800-plus attendees (and 1,800-plus live streaming), guests from all over the world packed the room for the most anticipated event at WordCamp US.

Highlighting the success and notable moments of the past year and what’s in store for the future of WordPress, here’s a recap of this year’s State of the Word featuring WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg.

2016 State of the Word

WCUS 2016: Matt Mullenweg's State Of The Word Address
Matt Mullenweg presents the State of the Word in Philadelphia.
WCUS 2016: Matt Mullenweg's State Of The Word Address
Photo and design by Michael Clayton


Opening Remarks

The State of the Word began with Mullenweg giving a special thanks to the city of Philadephia for hosting WCUS these past two years. He also expressed gratitude towards the sponsors, organizers, and volunteers who all played a role in making this the “smoothest WordCamp ever.”

Next year, WordCamp US will trade in Philly’s cheesesteaks for Nashville’s hot chicken.

wordcamps and Meetups in 2016

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In 2016 there were 115 total WordCamps hosted in 41 different countries.

It was a great year for WordCamps and Meetups. This year WordCamps increased from the previous year’s 89 up to 115 WordCamps.

The total number of organizers, speakers, and sponsors present at WordCamps in 2016.

In addition, total WordPress Meetup attendees in 2016 surpassed 62,500. There were 3,193 Meetups held across 58 countries.

WordCamp to become its own public-benefit corporation & Will support like-minded profits

Mullenweg announced that next year WordCamps will be switched to their own company called WordPress Community Support. This means that WordCamp will become its own public-benefit corporation and will have more flexibility in event organizing.

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“In 2017 we’re going to support like-minded profits,” said Mullenweg. Along with supporting the likes of Hack the Hood, Internet Archive, and Black Girls Code, the WordPress Foundation plans to run educational workshops in underdeveloped countries and promote hackathons to help build websites for non-profits and NGOs.

WordPress’ extended family

The State of the Word continued with a shout out to WordPress’ cousins: BuddyPress, bbPress, and GlotPress, which have all received updates in the past year.

BuddyPress, which helps you build a social layer on top of WordPress, evolved from version 2.4.4 to version 2.7.2. Now a native plugin, bbPress was updated to bbPress 2. Translation software GlotPress also received a big update and is no longer a standalone software on top of BackPress (now a WordPress plugin).

security – Hackerone

HackerOne is a new security bounty hunter program for WordPress.org. So far 65 hackers have contributed to reporting bugs privately to developers. Mullenweg explained that WordPress is looking to expand on this more; expect for this to open up in the coming months.

WordPress.org Feels the Love

“WordPress.org got a lot of love this year;” said Mullenweg. “Support was one of the first things we focused on […] I actually got my start on support forums. I saw someone asking something I already figured out…and look where we’re at now.”

“We’ve also brought all of the Rosetta sites to a new version of P2 called O2,” said Mullenweg.

In addition, the WordPress Plugin Directory has been revamped with a new design. Now running WordPress (it wasn’t before) the search tool has been totally redone so you’ll start to notice much more relevant results. While not live yet, you can see the new design in action on the demo site.

Internationalization drives up plugin usage

This year there was a 20 percent increase in active plugin usage. Plugin downloads are up 34 percent…that’s 1.48 billion downloads!

So what’s driving this increase? According to Mullenweg, the answer is internationalization.

As of November 2016, there have been 17,000 translation contributors to WordPress. While two-thirds of the world speaks 12 languages, WordPress covers them all (and many more). Since the 4.6 release, WordPress covers 50 languages.

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Out of the top 10 plugins, 82 percent are complete in the top 12 languages. So far, 1,598 plugins come with language packs and 1,224 themes use them.

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“WordPress is great but WordPress with plugins is magical,” said Mullenweg. He added, “like a Christmas tree that was a little sad before, all the lights are coming on one by one.”

Learn JavaScript

We all know there’s huge hype around learning JavaScript. In 2015’s State of the Word, Mullenweg urged the audience to “learn JavaScript deeply.” While 28 percent of WordPress is JavaScript, it was about that much last year too.

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So has Matt learned JavaScript yet? “364 days into the request [to learn JavaScript] I submitted my first pull request into Calypso yesterday,” said Mullenweg.

Stressing the importance of learning JavaScript (for developers at least), Mullenweg declared that WordPress 4.7 will finally include the REST API.

Design.blog

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“One of the other projects I started this year is a blog called design.blog,” said Mullenweg. So far the blog has had 40 contributors who write about design and inclusion, with or without tech. He then suggested two essays to read.

The first is an essay by Kat Holms on inclusive design, called Who Gets To Play? The second essay recommended by Mullenweg is one by Hajj Flemings who has started the 100 Project to help develop websites for small businesses in Detroit who do not have an online presence.

Accessibility

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Thanks to using WCAG standards for each release, WordPress is now more accessible than ever.

WordPress Growth Council & MARKETING

This year the WordPress Growth Council will amplify efforts to bring open source to a wider audience. According to Mullenweg, there’s an unprecedented amount of advertising dollars that’s being spent on proprietary CMSs; that number is going to wind up around $320 million this year.

“I think we can be a lot more sophisticated with messaging and presentation on WordPress.org to really tell the story about what makes WordPress different,” said Mullenweg.

get ready for PHP 7

The graph above depicts PHP 7 being implemented on WordPress. So far, performance has doubled and CPU fell in half.

Although PHP 7 is not widely adopted yet (only 4 percent of WordPress sites use it), it is to become the official recommendation by WordPress. Because “when you upgrade to PHP 7, you are doubling for free in site performance,” explained Mullenweg.

HTTPS and Let’s Encrypt

Along with moving to PHP 7, WordPress is now recommending and encouraging all partners to get HTTPS and move towards SSL. Right now only 11.5 percent of WordPress sites use HTTPS.

In addition, starting next year WordPress is only going to recommend hosts that give their customers SSL certificates by default. Let’s Encrypt, a free, automated, and open certificate authority is going to be huge.

Calypso, the future of the wordpress interface

Last year Calypso was released and Mullenweg gave some insights on how it’s been doing. In the past month, 68 percent of all posts are on Calypso, 17 percent are written through mobile and only 15 percent of posts are actually written using the WordPress admin.

Mullenweg explained that “the process of building Calypso is like changing the engine of a plane while it’s flying.” This is because it’s like re-building WordPress which took 13 or 14 years to get where it’s at today.

The next step for Calypso is to start making it plugin aware. “We want to open this up to every plugin in the world,” explained Mullenweg. The focus will start with bringing in plugins like WooCommerce, Akismet, Jetpack, and VaultPress. “The hope is that one day it’s what drives the WordPress interface,” said Mullenweg.

wordpress 4.7 to be released 12/6/16

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WordPress Lead Developer and 4.7 release lead Helen Hou-Sandí took the stage to discuss the upcoming release of WordPress 4.7.

Named “Vaughn” after jazz singer Sarah Vaughan, this release is slated for December 6 and will be packed with many new updates. Given the taglines “Your site, your way,” and “Helping you set up your site the way you want it,” here’s a glimpse of what you can expect with the release:

New Default Theme 

The new default theme Twenty Seventeen will include a multi-section home page and has been designed to appeal to businesses and non-blogging applications with its sleek design. The theme will include better menu building as well as live previewing with CSS so you can make tweaks as you go.

The Twenty Seventeen theme will also include video headers for displaying beautiful videos at large, PDF previews, visual edit shortcuts, and User Admin languages.

WP REST API

It’s finally happening! Tuesday’s release of Vaughn will include content endpoints for the REST API.

Examples of sites already using the REST API include guggenheim.org (fully powered by new content APIs), vocativ.com (100 percent React front end), and ustwo.com (completely built in React and using new content endpoint APIs).

A Look At The Past

In the past five years, there have been 14 major WordPress releases, led by 10 different release leads. Also in the past five years, WordPress’ market share has grown to 27.2 percent, which has more than doubled (Drupal is at 3.3 percent and Joomla is at 2.2 percent).

“It’s a testament to how the community has come together and put the user first,” said Mullenweg.

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The Coming Year

So what’s next in store for WordPress? According to Mullenweg, he’ll be putting his product lead hat back on for the year. There will also be a new structure regarding WordPress releases going forward. “We’re at a juncture for WordPress,” said Mullenweg. “What got us here won’t get us there.”

Mullenweg said the focus will steer towards making things simpler and faster along with design leading the way.

REST API
The WP Admin will start using the REST API. “I think we’re going to learn quite a bit about first-party usage of API,” said Mullenweg. He stressed the importance of shifting from thinking about the input, to measuring the output.

The Editor
“It still feels like our editor isn’t to the point of what the core of what WordPress does,” said Mullenweg regarding focusing on improving the Editor for the best possible interface for publishing and writing.

The Customizer
“The customizer is not yet fast enough and flexible enough to meet our current needs,” said Mullenweg. He expressed excitement for what’s to come here, but that there’s also a lot of work to be done.

Get In Touch With Your Poetic Side

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Mullenweg concluded his speech by reading a poem from Elizabeth Alexander called “Praise Song for the Day.”

Ending Remarks

The presentation ended with a Q&A and a variety of questions were asked. You can get a full recap of the questions by viewing the State of the Word in tweets.

And that’s a wrap!

Next year WordCamp US will head south to Nashville and we’re looking forward to seeing what’s improved upon over the course of the next year. Until next time!