Podcast Episode

466 – 2019 State of the Word Recap

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2019 State of the Word Recap

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Full Transcript

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On today’s episode, we are going to talk about the State of the Work. Kinda the recap, the TLDW, the too long didn’t watch State of the Word address that Matt Mullenweg gives at Word Camp each year. The main Word Camp, Word Camp U.S. and this is from Word Camp U.S., which was just this last past weekend. We’re gonna talk about everything that he talked about right here on Your Website Engineer Podcast, episode No. 466.

Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer Podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler, I’m excited to be here with you today, because I get to recap what Matt Mullenweg said this past weekend. Word Camp U.S. was amazing, I had a great time meeting a bunch of people that I have had connections with and just friendships, and Word Camp is always a great place for that. I also was one of the organizers for the volunteers. So, I spent a lot of time just kinda making sure people were in the right place at the time, making sure things went flawlessly.

The registration went really, really well. We printed badges this year instead of having hand printer or printed out preprinted badges, which made it really nice. Then we distributed T-shirts, we made sure that there was people organizing each room, helping with lunch and all those good things. So, that was a different challenge, I guess. Word Camp Dayton runs about 150 people-ish and we had a 115 volunteers. So, it was almost like running a Word Camp for volunteers. So, I think there was about 1,700 people that checked in and that was kinda the numbers for the week. But it was a great event and I’ve got some more to share with you in just a couple minutes.

The first thing I wanna talk about is an announcement and then I have a plugin to share. The first announcement and the only announcement this week is BoldGrid joins forces with W3 Edge and it requires a W3 Total Cache plugin. So, BoldGrid is a WordPress product and service company. They joined forces with W3 Edge, which is the parent company behind the popular W3 Total Cache plugin. They acquired the plugin and it’s creator Frederick Townes along with the development and support staff.

The two teams will operate as sister companies, but jointly work on the plugs future in their future roadmap. So, that’s just something that came out this week in the news and it is something just to be aware of if you are a W3 Total Cache user. That there are now some ties in with BoldGrid. So, that is the announcement of the week. Then the plugin I wanna share with you is by a company called Woobie Woo and this is pop-up notifications for WooCommerce or recent sales notifications for WooCommerce. It is a way to have a little pop-up show up on the bottom corner of your page to notify visitors of recently bought items. The visitors then are aware of many other customers purchasing and maybe more confident to make a purchase.

You may have seen this before; I think they do this a lot on Shopify stores. In the bottom of one of the corners it kinda pops up like, “Joel from Wisconsin just bought this, and Mary from Sweden just bought this.” It gives you that feel like, “Oh, people are buying it right now.” So, it gives them that notification and lets people know that hey, there are actively people buying on this website and gives them just a little bit more confidence. So, that is the plugin that I wanted to share with you. You can search for recent sales notifications for WooCommerce in the plugin directory or you can find the link in the show notes for episode No. 466.

All right let’s move right along to Matt’s State of the Word. It was probably one of the shortest State of the Words I've ever seen and that’s mainly because he comes out to the stage. He says hello to everybody, and he wanted to show the Word Camp documentary. It is a new video, it’s about 13 minutes in length and he shares the whole thing. That’ll be in the video replay of the State of the Word, which you can find on the wordcamp.tv and there’s a few other places that you can find it, or WordPress.tv I guess it is.

So, he leaves, and he lets this documentary go. It’s all talking about the community; it’s got interviews from different people in the WordPress space. It’s just a really touching thing. It talks about how you explain what WordPress is and how the WordPress ecosphere works and it’s really cool. So, if you’ve got 13, 14 minutes I recommend spending a little bit of time and watching that. Then he comes back out and he says hello once again and talks to Hello St. Louis.

He tells us a little bit of trivia, it was the location for the Worlds Fair in 1904, which brought a lot of favorite foods to the world. But also brought some amazing technical innovations, like the wireless telephone, the X-ray machine, the electric street cars, and even the first prototype of personal automobiles in both gas and electric. So, that was all at the Worlds Fair. Then he says it seems fitting that this event which looks at WordPress today and into the future. Since it’s a good place to do that since there are so many technological advances that were first seen in St. Louis.

Then the community is vibrant it says, and it talks about the Word Camp U.S. had 47 organizers this year, I was one of those. It had 122 volunteers, I guess is the final number, to make sure that everything was moving smoothly all weekend long. Ninety speakers, that is a huge amount of the community that has come together to just give their time away freely to make sure that people know about WordPress and are learning about WordPress. Then there was all kinds of sponsors, Jetpack and WooCommerce and all types of hosting companies had events or had booths inside of the trade center. They were able to give out free swag and give away gifts and all those types of things.

So, he then starts to talk about the road to St. Louis. So, then that kinda recaps since we’re in the final months of 2019. He recaps and reflects on some of the things that have happened since the last State of the Word, which was the end of December or in the middle of December last year. So, there’s been two core releases this year and they’re on their way to the third with 5.3 coming out in the next week or so.

But in WordPress 5.1 Site Health came and that was the great new feature that scans a site for common caches that are known to cause common support issues. It gives a user basic understanding, makes recommendations for steps that they can solve the problems. Users are now impowered to solve some of these common issues on their own without having to reach out to a support rep. If they still need to reach out to somebody, there is a tab that displays the sites technical information and support reps needs. The user can copy and paste the support request to help resolves issues more quickly with less back and forth.

Also, in 5.1, the Cron API has been improved to make the Cron event more reliable and flexible. It’s now even easier for host with sites with a large number of scheduled jobs to switch to an external Cron scheduling mechanism for better performance. Also, 5.1 added site meta. This gives developers a performant way to store arbitrary data for a site as opposed to just dumping everything into the regular options table.

So, that was in WordPress 5.1, 5.2 added the block editor added widgets, so you don’t have to go to a whole new screen. The block manager can hide irrelevant things and reduce the cognitive load on a page or a post. The white screen of death protection adds an easy way for even the most non-technical users to regain access to their site without touching a line of code or even using FTP. Site administrators receive an email with a link that they can use to log into their site while the plugin causing the issue is temporarily disabled. Allowing them to trouble shoot and disable if needed.

Somehow, I had missed that was a feature of 5.2. That’s a huge thing that’s added, because I don’t know how many sites that I have white screened of death in my past and then had to get into an FTP editor and manually changed a code to make it regain and to be able to log back in. Now, WordPress 5.3, which is coming out, I believe it’s next week. Has over 150 new features to the block editor, there’s more accessibility, usability improvement. Like automatic image rotation for all mobile and desktop hybrid users.

There’s a new default theme, 2020, which is powered almost all entirely of blocks. Then there is email verification, a new screen that has been introduced to help insure the sites admin email remains accurate and up to date. The sites admin email is a critical part of maintaining control and ownership for every WordPress site. This new screen will help site owners remain full control over their site, even as the years go by. Then there’s also some time, date component fixes, PHP 7.4 compatibility and some more are all coming in the next week with WordPress 5.3.

Let’s see, other things that core updates and they’ve providing now support for PHP 5.2 to 5.5. Now, bumped the minimum requirement to PHP 5.6. So, they’re making sure that WordPress can do more things. It can have some more advanced features, because they’re using later versions of PHP. There’s been more work on mobile this year for WordPress. The block editor is now available on IOS and Android devices. Offline support is nearly done, it will be complete in the next release. Accessibility internationalization is ongoing and dark mode is done in IOS and available in Android in a matter of weeks.

Of course, people that make up WordPress were busy as well. By the end of 2019, we’ll have seen more than 141 Word Camps and that’s 34 in brand new cities. They’ll be 17 kids camps and more than 5,000 meet up events and 16 do_action charity events. The do_action events are ones where they partner with one or more non-profit organizations. Then a team of people comes in and they volunteer their time and they build websites for these non-profits in cities.

Let’s see, they also began showcasing people of WordPress on the news blog and helping the world see more faces of the people who make WordPress possible. It’s been an eventful 11 months with lots of up and downs. WordPress is powered by contributors all over the world. By thousands of WordPress enthusiast and volunteers come together to learn and grow and to give back to the software has changed their lives.

Now, talking a little bit about WordPress and the Gutenberg journey, here’s what’s happened. Last year it was Word Camp U.S., 5.0 was released the next day. People were coordinating work from airplanes; they were impromptu groups of core developers testing and packaging releases in the hallways. Polyglots and marketers and support teams were updating things as quickly as possible, “All of this was happening because I’d asked you to join me in a journey to make a big change in WordPress.” This is I as in Matt Mullenweg, “To disrupt ourselves, to empower more WordPress users, to make the open web more welcoming to more people.”

Then throughout 2018, leading up to the release. It was one of the most controversial years in WordPress history. There were headlines and tweets saying things. There were people saying how painful it was, how much they hated the editor. That work was being done too fast, they felt left behind. Lead developers just didn’t feel like they were doing a good job of bringing people a long the ride. They missed opportunities to build trust with conversations about accessibility, adequate testing and even the choice of hosting on GitHub.

The release date moved a lot, it change a lot of times and all these were legitimate concerns. But we got through it together, there have been more than 20 Gutenberg releases since 5.0, there were 47 before it came out in 5.0. So, Gutenberg has been continuing to change. Gutenberg contributors have doubled, it’s went from 200 contributors to almost 500. WordPress contributors are up to 1,100 this year compared to 590 last year in 2018. Sixty-two percent of the sites are running 5.0 and later, with most of them being at 5.2. Then 24.5 million active installs of 5.0 and 6.5 of them include the classic editor.

There’s tons of post every day, they just passed 50 million post made with Gutenberg or made with the new block editor. So, there are just major things happening in the WordPress space, especially when it comes to Gutenberg. They’ve added some performance increases, there was a stat that Matt shared. Matt said at 5.0 there was an average of 8.3 second average load time and 170 second average time to type a character. Those were just some performance things that they worked on. Now, it’s down to an average of – down from 8.3 down to 4.0 average load time and the average time to type a character is now down to 53 seconds. I think that might be milliseconds, that seems like an awful lot. You have to wait a minute to actually start typing.

But anyways, that is in WordPress 5.3 release [inaudible 00:12:24]. They’ve added some things with motion, helps to contextualize the changes of block ordering. So, it respects motions sensitivity settings and it words with child blocks. So, as you move a block it feels like it’s moving versus just kinda jumping place to place. They have a typewriter effect, so it allows you to keep a vertical place on your page. This avoids the jarring jumps in case of blocks getting close towards the bottom, it will keep all of your text right towards the middle of the screen.

There’s block previews, so this is all stuff that’s coming with the new Gutenberg that they’ve been working on that’s gonna be shipped in 5.3. The block previews, as the block library grows it guides users by showing how each block looks before they insert them. This API’s public, so you can add your own previews. So, some libraries have done so, like code blocks is one. Previews are generated on the fly and will work with the upcoming block directory. There’s a quick navigation mode, so it helps with usability and accessibility by allowing us to navigate quickly through blocks. Each block is properly announced, press escape to go to navigation mode. So, that is all stuff coming.

With all these improvements, there are still some things that’s just the beginning steps of what’s gonna happen with Gutenberg. There’s almost 250 thousand installs of Gutenberg and it’s letting people continue to test and retest and see some of the new functionality. So, some things that you can test now are social icons, navigation menu, gradients, multiple buttons block. These are things that are all working in the new Gutenberg.

This was something that was pointed out to me as a side note. All throughout the weekend, they’re like, “Have you seen the new stuff that’s coming to Gutenberg?” I was like, “I honestly haven’t installed Gutenberg since before 5.0.” Almost a year, so some of these things I’m gonna have to start looking at and testing myself just to kinda give you an update and share the things that are coming. Also, some other things that are coming with Gutenberg is grid exploration. So, it will allow more grid or complex layouts while ensuring the users cannot break the design. The block patterns, there’s some different things that you can do with blocks and there’s full site editing. So, that’s something else that’s gonna be coming in the future with Gutenberg.

So, a couple more things here. There is one of the frequent fears that Matt said that people heard of when they haven’t made the switch yet. It comes down to not sure if their favorite features are available in Gutenberg yet. If you’re not able to find a block, you need to find what kinda block would suits your needs. So, the new block directory will help. It will help you install a block right there from the block directory, which is pretty cool. There are some co-blocks, there’s a GoDaddy sign up that’s part of a block. There are a few things that you can do with the new block directory and this is something that he just kinda glossed over. So, it’s gonna be something that I need to spend a little more time on figuring out exactly what that looks like.

Then he talked a little bit about their fundamental building blocks were looking at how people were using them. We’ve seen some envelope pushing implements of Gutenberg out in the wild. So, seeing examples that are both interesting and enlightening, because there’s nothing that reveals weakness more than working on things right out of the open like that. So, some examples are there is a rtCamp has created a Gutenberg block for it’s own newsletter that can be edited in Gutenberg itself. There is some examples with what Word Camp Phoenix is doing, Nine Publishing is using the interface in two different newsrooms for mail outs per day. They’re estimate is by using Gutenberg, we’re saving up to 15 hours of time for block editors across both newsrooms.

Some other – he just had a bunch of examples. Now, he said last year you might remember that he talked about Gutenberg being 10 percent done. He said now we’re about 20 percent done. Some important changes take time, even when we’re eager to get it done now. Then he talks a little bit about some of the things that are still coming on some of the things. So, they basically have been working on easier editing and customization. So, those were the two – that’s phase one and phase two. Phase three is collaboration and phase four is the multiple languages.

So, they’re still very much at the beginning of the journey. Help be the change; he talked about contributing. Helping with contributor day, which was on Sunday. Just different ways that you could help out, there are some testing and ticket triages vital to make sure we find as many bugs as possible. There were different ways to try out and test out some of the great blocks and patterns and see how those work. You can empower, you can help teach change by empowering more users. So, there was a get involved station at Word Camp and you could talk about – you could go there, and you’d see how you can share your knowledge.

If you wanted to give presentations at a Word Camp or your local meet up group or whatnot. They give you tons of different ideas there. Then they can help you, the other thing was to help the open web by welcoming more people into the open web. So, that’s taking the WordPress.org survey and there will be a link to that in the show notes. Remember the Five for the Future and how organizations and individuals can now publicly pledge their time to work on WordPress in a way that is visible to the community at large. To help WordPress continue to grow and let us know you’re helping by making a pledge today. So, you could do that as well.

So, he just continued to talk about just a few things that were coming up, Kind of an overall recap of the event. How kinda the weekend and whatnot had went, then he took time for questions. Even the questions this year were very short, he cut them off after about 40 minutes or so. I know in the past he’s gone multiple hours for these questions. But you can see the entire video, there’s a video for both the questions and answer, and for the State of the Word. So, I do recommend watching the State of the Word.

I just like hearing from Matt himself and he always gives some enthusiasm. It’s always really exciting to hear from him, and I always get excited about the future of WordPress. So, that’s what I wanted to share then. He got everybody up on stage, all the organizers on stage, all 50 of us or so. It was a huge crowd to look at over the entire room, it was very full. So, that was what happened this past weekend in Word Camp U.S. It was in St. Louis Missouri, like I said. It was a lot of fun and it was great to connect and make new connections and see faces that you’ve talked to online before.

So, that was my recap of State of the Word and I hope next year if you are interest, it’s going to be I believe in October sometime of 2020. So, if you are in the St. Louis area, I recommend checking it out. There were tons of people that I met from St. Louis, so it was a great vibrant community there and tons were in participation there at the Word Camp. So, that’s what I wanted to say this week. Next week I don’t know, maybe we’ll talk about the block editor. We’ll look at Gutenberg and see what’s happening over there and some of the new, fun features that are coming. But until then, take care and we’ll talk again soon, bye-bye.