State of the Word, 2016

Last weekend was WordCamp US (WCUS ), during which Matt Mullenweg gave his yearly “State of the Word” keynote speech. It’s interesting, particularly this year, as it’s not just about the previous year but also about what to expect from WordPress in the coming year.

The key parts of interest to me were..

  • New recommended requirements for WordPress of SSL and PHP 7 (which this site already runs under)
  • A renewed focus on the REST API, the editor and the customizer
  • There will be no set releases of WordPress
  • Design will be leading the way
  • Calypso is plugin aware and the top plugins (1m+ active users) have already been invited to make the required changes

As always, I can’t disagree with Matt’s plans. The focus points are exactly spot on and will ensure that WordPress remains relevant over the next year.

However, apart from what can be potentially done with the API, I don’t know whether this is enough to push WordPress much higher than its current market share (27.2% – I was paying attention!). Some bold decisions in the near future may be required – pushing Calypso, for example, for full integration into both .com and .org, to become the default interface.

And speaking of Calypso, having worked with it recently, I would suggest that there are 3 things that need specific focus…

  1. Easy integration with self-hosted sites
  2. Make plugin aware for any developers
  3. Add missing components – some of the functions of WP Admin have not yet been added to Calypso (e.g. deleting categories, resizing images, etc).

These are the facts but, as always with me, it’s often key quotes that remain with me the longest. Something, not just for the next year, to consider.

We should be candid about our shortcomings

If you’re not, how do you ever improve? It’s critical for anybody to understand their own failings – only then can you act upon them, rather than continue to build upon poor foundations.

Matt wants to focus on the editor because he recognises this as a shortcoming of WordPress. Rather than “hide his head in the sand” and believe that everything is fine with the editor, he’s facing the issue head-on to tackle it.

You cannot learn to walk unless you’re prepared to fall

Charles Dyson made thousands of prototypes of his new vacuum cleaner before he got it right. He didn’t give up and, each time, he learnt from his mistake to make incremental improvements. It would be too easy to just give up but persistence paid off.

Matt wants the WordPress community to do the same – be daring, be persistent and, yes, it will sometimes not go well, but sometimes it will lead to great things which makes everything else worthwhile.

The book Black Box Thinking, by Matthew Syed, covers both of these off in great detail and I highly recommend for anybody to read.

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