Nine projects for 2019

 After the release of WordPress 5.0, it had been downloaded 9,589,191times till today. Which is not a very good number for WordPress because it has been around a month after the release and yet the counter has not touched ten million. In the last WorldCamp US in Nashville, people gathered and Matt Mullenweg was delivering a speech. 

“There’s been a lot that’s been going on, so I’d like to allow WordPress the chance to re-introduce itself,” Matt Mullenweg said during the preamble of his State of the Word address. He invoked the four freedoms as the project’s constitution and called the community back to its roots.
“It’s the reason we’re here,” Mullenweg said. “WordPress isn’t a physical thing; it’s not a set of code. It’s kind of an idea. WordPress is backed by the full faith and credit of every person and company that depends on it.”

Like I said a few years ago, we’re building a web operating system, an operating system for the open, independent web and a platform that others can truly build on,” Mullenweg said.

Talking about the finance, WordPress’ 32.5% market share and its commercial ecosystem, which Mullenweg estimates at $10 billion/year, give the project the resources to make a powerful impact on the future of the web.

Compelling Case for Gutenberg?

Mullenweg drove home the necessity of Gutenberg by showing a selection of videos where new users struggled to accomplish simple tasks in the old editor. Their experiences were accompanied by painful commentary:

  • “This feels like writing a blog back in 2005.”
  • “This was very finnicky; this does not work.”
  • “How would I add a caption? I have no clue.”

Mullenweg described how he used to effortlessly switch back and forth between the visual and HTML editors prior to WordPress 5.0 but realized that not all users are able to do this.

”This has been our editor experience for over a decade now and many of us have learned to deal with it,” he said.

Implying the importance of Blocks

Millions of early adopters have already embraced the block editor during phase 1 of the Gutenberg project, which closed out with 1.2 million active installs and 1.2 million posts written. There have already been 277 WordCamp talks on Gutenberg, 555 meetup events focused on the new editor, and more than 1,000 blog posts discussing it.

Blocks are taking over the world of WordPress. Version 5.0 shipped with 70 native blocks and there are already more than 100 third-party blocks in existence and 1,000 configurations related to that.

“Blocks are predictable, tactile, and can be simple like a text block, or as rich as an e-commerce interface,” Mullenweg said. He described them as the new DNA of WordPress, from which users can create anything they can imagine.

WordPress.org will be highlighting plugins and themes to push the block ecosystem forward. There are also more than 100 Gutenberg-ready themes available to users on the directory and a new Gutenberg block tag that is currently live for plugins. It will also be available for themes soon.

Mullenweg highlighted tools like the create-guten-block toolkit, Block Lab, and Lazy Blocks that are making it easy for developers to create their own blocks. Block collections and libraries are also emerging. He said one of the priorities for 2019 is to build a WordPress.org directory for discovering blocks and a way to seamlessly install them.

Building on the homework he gave to WordPress developers in 2015, to “Learn JavaScript Deeply,” Mullenweg urged the community to “Learn Blocks Deeply.” Blocks provide a host of opportunities to improve the user experience beyond what Gutenberg’s creators could have imagined in the beginning.

Gutenberg Phase 2

Gutenberg Phase 2 has already begun and focuses on site customization, expanding the block interface to other aspects of content management. This includes creating a navigation menu block. Reimagining menus will be challenging, and Mullenweg said they may even get renamed during the process.

Phase 2 goals also include porting all widgets over to blocks and registering theme content areas in Gutenberg. An early version of phase 2 will be in the Gutenberg plugin so anyone wanting to be part of testing can reactivate it.

During the Q&A time, one attendee asked a question about how this phase seems to include very little about making layout capabilities more robust. He asked if Mullenweg plans to let those the marketplace handle those layout decision or if core will define a layout language. Mullenweg responded that it may be more prudent to see what others in the ecosystem are doing and cherry pick and adopt the best solutions. He also remarked that it would be exciting if users could switch between different page builders in the future and not lose their content.

Gutenberg Phase 3 and 4

Mullenweg announced that Gutenberg phase 3, targeted for 2020, will focus on collaboration, multi-user editing, and workflows. Phase 4 (2020+) is aimed at developing an official way for WordPress to support multilingual sites. When asked what that will look like from a technical standpoint, given the many existing solutions already available, Mullenweg said he didn’t want to prescribe anything yet, as it’s still in the experimental stage.

Other major announcements included a highly anticipated bump in the minimum PHP version required for using WordPress. By April 2019, PHP 5.6 will be the minimum PHP version for WordPress, and by December 2019, the requirement will be updated to PHP 7.

WordPress releases are going to come faster in the future, as Gutenberg development has set a new pace for iteration. Mullenweg said he would like WordPress to get to the point where users are not thinking about what version they are on but instead choose a channel where they can easily run betas or the stable version.

9 Projects as Announced on the WordCamp US. 

  1. Creating a block for navigation menus.
  2. Porting all existing widgets to blocks.
  3. Upgrading the widgets-editing areas in wp-admin/widgets.php and the Customizer to support blocks.
  4. Providing a way for themes to visually register content areas, and exposing that in Gutenberg.
  5. Merging the site health check plugin into Core, to assist with debugging and encouraging good software hygiene.
  6. Providing a way for users to opt-in to automatic plugin and theme updates.
  7. Providing a way for users to opt-in to automatic updates of major Core releases.
  8. Building a WordPress.org directory for discovering blocks, and a way to seamlessly install them.
  9. Forming a Triage team to tackle our 6,500 open issues on Trac.


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