2022 State of the Word Q&A

State of the WordState of the Word This is the annual report given by Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress at WordCamp US. It looks at what we’ve done, what we’re doing, and the future of WordPress. https://wordpress.tv/tag/state-of-the-word/. 2022 was held in New York City on December 15, 2022. It was a welcome feeling to gather together again in person for this annual and anticipated event. After a keynote address that looked at the year’s successes and a peek at what’s to come in the year ahead, the WordPress project’s co-founder @matt engaged in a warm and insightful question and answer session with the in-person attendees.

State of the Word 2022

As with events past, this post will list the questions from WordPress users and contributors that could not be answered live. 

Q1. “Own your content” has long been a rallying cry of WordPress. How does this fit with Tumblr’s model of a centralized content server? WordPress.comWordPress.com An online implementation of WordPress code that lets you immediately access a new WordPress environment to publish your content. WordPress.com is a private company owned by Automattic that hosts the largest multisite in the world. This is arguably the best place to start blogging if you have never touched WordPress before. https://wordpress.com/ allows me to own my content because I can export it to an independent instance. Will we see a standalone Tumblr, like WordPress?

A1. Think of both of them as having different frontends but the same great coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. (WordPress) on the backend. Tumblr is a SaaS service and, from the standpoint of owning your content, quite a bit of work has gone into data portability. It’s true that Tumblr’s not quite yet open sourceOpen Source Open Source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. Open Source **must be** delivered via a licensing model, see GPL. yet, but a lot of work is planned to unify APIs, support RSS, and generally make it more open overall.

In a recent Hallway Chats podcast (beginning at 29:07) with Topher DeRosia and Nyasha Green, Matt offered the following analogy:

“My hope is that basically Tumblr and wordpress.com, they’ll be essentially like two different restaurants that share the same kitchen. You have a different vibe, different dishes, different experience, different kind of front-end experience, but on the back end, the same great ingredients, the same attention to detail, same infrastructure, same sort of stuff that makes it excellent. Food is actually a good analogy.” 

Matt Mullenweg; January 6, 2023

Q2. Will WordPress be a thing after the entire focus is moved to GutenbergGutenberg The Gutenberg project is the new Editor Interface for WordPress. The editor improves the process and experience of creating new content, making writing rich content much simpler. It uses ‘blocks’ to add richness rather than shortcodes, custom HTML etc. https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/

A2. WordPress is here to stay. The purpose of the Gutenberg project is to evolve WordPress and its capabilities. The Gutenberg pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party itself is a tool for early testing and stabilization of features that will land in and improve WordPress Core, but will not replace it. Matt addresses this further during the State of the Word.

Q3. Are we doing enough for the open-source Contributors and what more can we do to recognize or give back to the community to grow the number of Contributors?

A3. It’s hard to define what “enough” is when it comes to supporting open source contributors. Everyone is invited to celebrate the work done within the project, and a simple way to do so is to recognize folks in the Making WordPress Slack #props channel. There is always room for improvement, though. If you’ve got thoughts about how we can do that, we’d love to hear them! Join the discussion on how to improve the contributor experience. 

Q4. Can we perhaps have a second Q&A event with Matt each year to allow for more active feedback and comments from the community in person?

A4. Several other Q&A opportunities with Matt occur throughout the year at most flagship WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. events in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. This year the Community Summit will resume, which is also another great opportunity for contributors to exchange feedback and ideas in person. Submit your topic by January 16.

Q5. Why is polylingual functionality in Core less important than collaboration? More than 50% of WordPress installs are not in English.

A5. WordPress is committed to making itself available in as many languages as possible. As part of that commitment, Multilingual is on the roadmap for Phase 4 and set to commence immediately after Phase 3: Collaboration and Workflows, which begins this year.

From a technical point of view, making WordPress natively multilingual is quite challenging. Adding collaboration tools in advance will help support Phase 4 technical’s implementation and provide tools to manage multilingual content out of the box, like translation and review workflows. So Phase 3 will not just “inform” Phase 4 but will actually create the infrastructure and features central to making Phase 4 possible.

Listen to Matt’s full response here.

Q6. Can Media Library finally get a refresh? We need to be able to organize the images in there. 

A6. Yes! Revamping the Media Library and providing better management, discovery, and collaboration tools for media content are on the roadmap for Gutenberg’s Phase 3.

Q7. Are you concerned about the implications of AI image generation being built on top of the copywritten work of artists without their knowledge or consent?

A7. The WordPress open source project supports a free and open web; as long as AI image generation supports initiatives that abide by CC licensing requirements, then AI image generation can be a good thing that helps augment natural human creativity. Listen to Matt’s thoughts on the subject in the Q&A session.

​Q8. Will there be preferred browsers for playground dev?

A8. Currently, WordPress Playground works across all browsers apart from Edge. To learn more and to start using the tool, please visit: ​​https://developer.wordpress.org/playground/ 

Q9. WordPress introduced and pushed “post formats” with the 2014 theme. Regarding the development in the Twitterverse, what are your thoughts on the post format asides? And what do you think of post formats in a blockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. editor world?

A9. Currently, post formats are in a stable state; they are still supported and usable, but there are no real plans to foster adoption or add additional functionality around them. There are no plans to focus on them during the remaining phases of the Gutenberg project, but if there were a group of motivated contributors who wanted to spend some time on post formats, we would welcome those contributions!

Q10. 2022 shows some progress in the design of mobile features in WordPress: fluid typography, fluid spacing, gaps, etc. However, there are some missing functions: is there some plan to add responsive block order, show/hide, and more features for responsive menus? We work with some African companies and their customers are almost all on mobile (80%). So for them, mobile-first is the rule.

A10. Continued improvement of the mobile experience is absolutely on our collective minds for 2023. There is an active discussion about the limitations of breakpoints vs the opportunities represented by intrinsic web design principles. You can follow and participate in that topic on GitHub.

Q11. Does the project have any plans for future updates to the full administrator UIUI UI is an acronym for User Interface - the layout of the page the user interacts with. Think ‘how are they doing that’ and less about what they are doing., i.e. “the dashboard,” as it appears dated particularly when compared to other website builders? 

Several State of the Word attendees asked about the modernization of the dashboard and its UXUX UX is an acronym for User Experience - the way the user uses the UI. Think ‘what they are doing’ and less about how they do it./UI. This question has been modified to reflect that.

A11. Revamping the administration interface (which many of us refer to as “wp-admin” or “the dashbaord”) is included in plans for Phase 3 as it is arguably intrinsic to better collaboration. So far the features being explored are new content management screens (for blocks, styles, fonts, etc.), new admin tools like a global search, and a refresh of notifications.

Q12. What is the word on the need for child themes when customizing block themes?

A12. Block themes are much simpler to customize than classic themes, so while the creation of child themes is supported by block themes, it’s often not needed. Child themes are still valuable, though, when seeking to extend themes from other developers or Core.

Q13. What is the state of the traditional theme?

A13. While the future belongs to block themes, many modern WordPress features are supported by classic themes to help smooth the transition and upgrade path. For example, WordPress 6.1 allows block template parts in classic themes.

Q14. Is the style guide also visible for non-block themes?

A14. There isn’t a guide currently because Styles aren’t available for non-block themes. You can learn more and discuss on this GitHub issue

Q15. Will the plugin directory for developers always use subversionSVN Apache Subversion (often abbreviated SVN, after its command name svn) is a software versioning and revision control system. Software developers use Subversion to maintain current and historical versions of files such as source code, web pages, and documentation. Its goal is to be a mostly compatible successor to the widely used Concurrent Versions System (CVS). WordPress core and the wordpress.org released code are all centrally managed through SVN. https://subversion.apache.org/.? Or are there any plans to go full git?

A15. There are no plans to move toward git at this time. There are ongoing discussions on how to support more integrations with GitHubGitHub GitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that can easily be shared, copied and modified by other developers. Public repositories are free to host, private repositories require a paid subscription. GitHub introduced the concept of the ‘pull request’ where code changes done in branches by contributors can be reviewed and discussed before being merged be the repository owner. https://github.com/ or GitLab that you can learn more about here.

Q16. Years ago, it was much easier to grow a plugin for WordPress and make an impact. What can plugin devs do outside of Freemium/Premium/Paid Add-On models? Donors/sponsors are difficult to find

A16. Plugins are quite similar to consumer products, and finding the right product-market fit and building it to ensure the highest quality are key factors in terms of finding success for a plugin. Careful market landscape research and quality checks will help plugin devs evaluate whether their efforts find the right fit with users. 

Q17. Will Canonical Plugins get a blue checkmark?

A17. There isn’t yet a specific plan for how canonical plugins will be displayed on the plugin directory, but this is a wonderful suggestion for Make Design.

Q18. Regarding backend UX/UI, can consideration be given to a standard way of grouping/organizing plugins in the menu? Multiple plugins that insert a link into the menu can make it cluttered.

A18. Though this part of very future forward work, this topic is currently being explored in this post under the section “Make it extensibleExtensible This is the ability to add additional functionality to the code. Plugins extend the WordPress core software..” 

Q19. How is WordPress addressing the incessant notifications in the WP dashboard – will there be a Notifications ban in the dashboard and the set up of a Notifications Central point? If not, why not?

A19. The feature notifications project work is ongoing, and there is renewed interest in getting the MVPMinimum Viable Product "A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development." - WikiPedia completed this year. Some new contributors have been joining the conversations, and anyone interested in this feature can join the #feature-notifications channel in the Make WordPress Slack.

Q20. The notification interface, is it also for promo and banners?

A20. As recommended in the Plugin Developer Guidelines, the WordPress notification interface is not intended to be used for advertisements or promotions.

Q21. How will Collaboration will be developed: as a Gutenberg plugin or WP Core integration? And when 6.2 or 6.4?

A21. Collaborative Workflows will be developed within the Gutenberg plugin. While it’s too soon to tell when and what collaboration tools will land in WordPress core, using the Gutenberg plugin allows for early access to all these features as soon as they are available

Q22. When was the last time someone actually used “Post via email” in the settings area?! (followed up with: more along the lines is why is it still in core? I get users totally confused by it all the time as they think it’s email settings, etc..)

A22. That is still in use! The feature was originally created as a parity tool for Posterous and has remained in Core. A helpful guide for support is located here.

Q23. What about the third-party Site Builders, are they a thing of the past?

A23. The Block Editor provides numerous APIs for third-party site builders, which they are encouraged to use to leverage the benefits of storing content in block format.

Q24. Will ActivityPub support be added to WordPress and will Mastodon publishing be added to Jetpack?

A24. Yes, the ActivityPub plugin is up for review as a canonical plugin later this year, and Mastodon publishing is also due to be added.

Q25. How does WP support the GDPR, privacy, e.g. relating to territorial disputes regarding privacy issues between the EU and the US and increased cyber threats?

A25. Many of these issues relate to how and where each individual site is operated, so it is difficult to find and apply a global solution in WordPress Core. Solutions are best found in the various plugins and integrations available.

Q26. Not sure if this is the right platform, but the removal of “Active Installs” raised a few questions. Maybe shed some light on the idea behind that.

A26. Others have raised this topic recently, which has been deeply discussed on this Trac ticket.

Q27. I’m wondering about the custom post types/custom fields.. are we going to see them baked in Core soon?

A27. These are currently supported in core programmatically, and there are currently no plans to expose a UI in the dashboard for the management/creation of these. There are existing plugins that fill this need if required.

Q28. Is there any plan or conversation about integrating Composer into WordPress for sites to manage their dependencies (plugins, themes, custom libraries, Core) via code?

A28. Within the WordPress community, composer holds different definitions for different groups. For example, there’s a non-WordPress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/ packager that many WordPress-via-composers use, like https://wpackagist.org/. The work on the Plugin Dependency feature is ongoing too. Read more about the recent work on this Trac ticket or this call for testing plugin dependencies

Enormous thanks to @akirk, @zieladam, @annezazu, @bengreeley, @cbringmann, @dd32,   @harishanker, @priethor, @psykro, @jpantani, @mcsf, @eidolonnight, @rmartinezduque for their help in researching, answering, and editing this post.

#qa, #wcus2022, #wordpress