Podcast Episode

523 – State of the Word 2023 Recap


State of the Word Recap

  • Software Amish barn raising, where thousands of people come together to build something.
  • Gutenberg is now in lots of places. Forums are now using Gutenberg and even places that aren’t WordPress are using it – like DayOne web interface and Tumblr. Matt thinks it will be bigger than WordPress.
  • Meetups grew. They doubled from 2021. WordCamps – 1 in 2021, 22 in 2022
  • WordPress turns 20 in 2023. wp20.wordpress.net for more details
  • Learn.wordpress.com – free education
  • wordpress.org has a new design
  • Lots of enhancements – block themes, styles and variations
  • Theme 2023 will be available with the next release
  • Phase 2 is complete – you can create an entire site with blocks
  • Create blank theme https://wordpress.org/themes/create-blank-theme
  • Zen mode – grays out other areas of your site while you are writing
  • Patterns allow you to build a site and lock the design, but easy for others to change images, etc.
  • 1399 contributors for one of the three releases
  • New classifications of plugins, one-man-shop, community plugins, commercial plugins launching this month
  • Phase 3 –
    • Real-time collaboration.
    • Asynchronous collaboration, multi-author, sharing of drafts, inline block commenting.
    • Editorial flows, customized goals, complete tasks before publishing, etc.
    • Improve post revisions interface and flows, make it block-first.
    • Media library updates, full integration with openverse.
    • Add missing admin management for blocks, patterns, styles, fonts.
    • Admin overhaul and customized user flows, improve list views (posts, pages, comments, etc).
    • Introduce admin search and notifications infrastructure.
  • Phase 4 – make everything multi-language
  • Annual survey – let your voice be heard
  • Chat.OpenAI
    • “Write a short scene in which Matt, founder of WordPress, describes FSE in a single word”
    • Matt, the founder of WordPress, stood on a stage in front of a large crowd of eager developers. He smiled confidently and said, “Full Site Editing in a single word? Transformative.” The crowd erupted in applause as Matt walked off the stage
  • WordPress Playground – a virtual browser version of WordPress. Try out a plugin instantly – https://github.com/WordPress/wordpress-playground

Thank You!

Thank you to those who use my affiliate links. As you know I make a small commission when someone uses my link and I want to say thank you to the following people. For all my recommended resources, go to my Resources Page

Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

**Dustin:** On today's episode, we are gonna talk about the recap of Matt's annual State of the Word address right here on your website, engineer podcast, episode number 523.

Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name's Dustin Hartzler. How are you all? It has been a long, long time since I have stepped behind this microphone and. It's just been a busy fall season, I guess. Um, it's just been really kind of crazy around here and I want to get into that a little bit.

I've got some news to share. And then I'm gonna do a quick recap of the hour long or a little bit longer than an hour presentation that Matt Mullenweg gave yesterday. So that was December 15th, 2022. All about kind of where WordPress is going, what's happened in the, in the year 2020 and things like that.

But first just an overarching recap of where I've been. So if you remember last, the last time I did a podcast was back in September, I was talking a little bit more about Crowdsignal. I had recently joined the Crowdsignal team over at Automattic, and it was a, it, it was a great learning experience.

I was learning how to build custom blocks. I was working a lot in the Gutenberg and just kind of figuring all that kind of stuff out. Again, that's all a React based based language. And it was, it was challenging. It was tough. It was a lot of things going on, and it was just a really, really neat, change from being on VIP doing a lot of PHP and kind of diagnosing and figuring what's broken on other people's websites.

Now it's like, okay, you're responsible for adding this feature. You're responsible for working on this. And so it was all great. I was loving it and I was really getting excited for my next project over on Crowdsignal. And then there was a pivot in some of the Automattic, I guess some of the business units we're trying to figure out a way to make, I don't know.

2022 has been a hard year for like a lot of tech businesses and Jetpack just wasn't growing and Crowdsignal just wasn't growing. Pretty much all of Automattic's products were not growing in the way that they had envisioned or the way that they had forecasted. So they're kind of doubling down, trying to figure out where we can move people to make a bigger.

Bigger banks for the buck, if you will. So they're trying to find places where, um, engineers can go that will learn more and do more and basically impact the bottom line. That's kind of the, the general nutshells, like how can we use these people in a more efficient manner? So the team that I was working on, the Crowdsignal team actually moved over to Jetpack forms.

And so if you've ever used Jetpack before there's a tool inside of there that you can build forms and they have extra form fields and you can build things like contact forms and here's your hours, business hours. There's some stuff built into Jetpack that you just don't get with WordPress. And I was like, oh, great.

This will be cool. We'll still be working in Jetpack. We'll be, I've never worked on Jetpack before. I'll be working in blocks, I'll be improving blocks. Like that's really where my bread and butter is. Like when it comes to being a developer. I'm pretty good at taking something that's like there and needs to be better or it's like partially working and make it better.

Starting from scratch is really hard for me, but that's where I need to learn and that's where I need to grow. I was all excited about that, but then they decided, and the leadership team over at Automattic and Jetpack was like, it's not gonna be a very good developer apprentice process.

If you're working with a teammates in all your team that has never worked on this platform before, I'll start that. The leadership decided that it probably wasn't a very good experience for a developer apprentice to go through the process of changing teams, but changing teams with a team that has no idea what they're doing.

And so I ended up getting moved to a different Jetpack team, and it is the Jetpack team that is responsible for the Agency Dashboard, and I'll be talking more about this in future episodes, just kind of letting you know what this is, but if you go to cloud.jetpack.com, that's where you can find out more about this agency dashboard.

And it's a basically a, it's a dashboard and a tool that you can manage multiple WordPress sites. So you can go there and you can see like, oh, I have five sites, I have three of them. Plug-in updates. One of 'em has a critical update. I need to take care of this right away. And we're starting to build new functionality in there about downtime monitoring and all of the, all of the features that aren't there yet to make it a very nice tool for agencies or people that have multiple websites to see at a quick glance everything that might be working or broken or needs fixed on a WordPress.

So that's where I am now. That's the team that I'm on. Again, I'll share more about this in future episodes, just kind of like my journey and what I've been learning and whatnot. So that transition happened in the end of October. I had a team meet up and got to meet a bunch of Jetpack people.

I didn't realize the Jetpack team was like 120 ish or 130 people, and there was like 75 or 80 people that came to the division meetup in Denver, Colorado. So that was in the, the last week of October, first week in November. So I got to kind of get a, a lay of the land I got. See who works on what and meet some of my teammates, which was really cool.

And then just been heads down deep into fixing like small little things. And then as of the last week we started a brand new project and I've been cherry picking, just different things to do and it is so difficult. There's a lot of React and it's like I kind of can understand, React, I, I can kind of read it and I kind of understand what's doing, you know, what things are doing, but it's like, wow, I still need to.

Incredible amount of react to be a proficient programmer on this team. And so that's where I've spent the last couple weeks is just, uh, diving into react and learning more and just trying to figure out things while also kind of keeping my eye on the WordPress space and what's going on over there.

If you've been listening for a while, you know that I have a couple sites that I run for my wife and they are all e-commerce or e e-learning platforms as well. So there's all kinds of like videos and courses and lessons and stuff like that. And so I'm trying to work with a new sensei has been revamped, and so I'm gonna move everything from Learn dash to Sensei, and then Sensei came out with a brand new courses block level theme.

Decided that I've learned, I know nothing about block level themes, and so that's a whole nother learning curve as well. So there's just like project upon, project upon project that I need to be working on both this year and in 2023. And so that's a little bit where I'm at and what's going on here and, but it's, it's been an incredible journey.

I've learned so much and I am excited to share like all of the things that I'm learning. About development and kind of switching from that PHP mindset to this React based mindset and, and how all of this works. I found that the WordPress documentation on the React type things like building a custom block is very, very lacking.

So there's a lot of like troubleshooting and trying to figure out why this works or why this doesn't work. But it's all been really good and it's. I've been learning an absolute ton. So that's kind of an update of where I've been for the last three months. I hope to be more regular in the coming year and, and just getting out more content because this is my favorite way to give back to the WordPress community.

And just giving back in, in the, in the form of audio content and, um, media and however I can explain things and make sure that you are updated with things that are happening in WordPress.

All right. Well, it's been three months. I could go through a whole list of announcements, but I'm not gonna do that today just because there's been a lot of things that have happened, and we'll catch back up on news as I continue to do shows in a regular basis. But the big thing is that there are, there's been some updates to obviously Jetpack and WooCommerce and WordPress.

There has been an update to the WordPress of Reader. So if you have a bunch of sites using wordpress.com or you have a wordpress.com account, you're using Jetpack with a wordpress.com account. You can use wordpress.com. RSS reader. So there's been some redesign there and there's a link in the show notes.

You can check that out for episode number 523. And there's also the annual state of the word survey. Um, we'll talk a little bit about this in the recap of the, the State of the Word, but it is the annual survey that goes out to make sure that you have your say or you. Are, uh, you have the ability to voice your opinions and voice your concerns and like, just share how you're using WordPress.

And they use that kind of for the stats for the next year's state of the word address. So I think that's all.

If you've been following around in the tech space over the last couple weeks, you've seen this chat.open ai and it is like a new kind of a chat bot. You can ask it questions, it forms things. And there'll be a funny story here at the end that you can hear about this, but there is one that was like explain to me WordPress like I'm five years old.

And it says, WordPress is a very special type of tool that can help promote websites. A website is like a big book that you can read on the internet, and WordPress is like a big box of crayons and stickers that you can use to make your website look nice and colorful. With WordPress, you can choose different colors or fonts for your websites.

You can add pictures and videos to make it more interesting. You can even add special buttons that let people interact with your website, like a button that lets them allow them to leave a. And a button that lets them to share their website with their friends. WordPress is very easy to use, even for kids, and because it's free and open source, anyone can use it to make their own website and share it to the world.

So if you wanna make your own website, you can use WordPress to help you. It's a lot of fun and it's a great way to be creative and share your ideas with other, I was like, oh, that's a, that's a really neat description of what WordPress is. And then there's a follow up question that's like, explain like I'm five years old, wordpress.com.

And it says, wordpress.com is a very special kind of website that helps people make their own websites. It's like a big playground where you can go and play and make your own. To you. Use wordpress.com. You first need to sign up for an account and then choose a name for your website and pick a special theme, which is like a set of colors and fonts that you can use to make your website look nice and colorful.

You can also add pictures and videos with your website. You can add a special button and let people interact with your website like a button that allows them to leave a comment or a button that allows you to share their website with friends with wordpress.com. You don't need to know how to code or any, do any fancy computer stuff to make your own website.

You can use. You can use it to make your website that's all your own and you can share it with the world. It's a lot of fun and it's a great way to be creative and share your ideas with other, I thought that was pretty cool. Like, I, I don't know much about this chat AI thing and what all it can do, but I thought it was kind of a neat thing that you can, um, it, it did a really good job of describing the differences between WordPress and what WordPress is and what wordpress.com is.

And so, um, yeah, so I just wanted to share that. I thought that was really interesting and something to, um, to listen to this week, so.

Okay, let's dig into the State of the Word. If you don't wanna watch the whole thing, I do recommend you do watch it cuz it's really interesting and Matt does a good job of answering the questions. I find that you can watch it a little bit faster than regular speed. It's on YouTube.

There'll be a link in the show notes for that and you can you can watch it. I watch things at two x and I can comprehend everything. And it's just a really neat way to kind of see the facial expressions and visuals. There's a lot of visuals that are good to see in the presentation. So he started it off.

Matt came up, he's dressed in a suit and tie as, as usual for this, this type of event. And he has the, he's got a pin on his lapel on his, let's see, it would be his left lapel. And it is, it's the double blue check mark. And this is also something that came up in my hiatus of podcasting that, you know, Twitter got taken over by Elon Musk and he was charging people for the important blue check mark while Tumblr launched the same feature.

It's kind of like a trolling type thing, that basically said, Hey, look, we can, we can sell this too. And it was a one time cost of $7.99 for a blue check mark, but you could buy as many as you wanted. So the joke was if you had two blue check marks, you were double verified and you were, I don't know, like, it was just kind of a funny thing.

So Matt had two of these check marks on as part of the presentation, which. Quite funny actually. So he was, he was doing it live in New York, um, I think it was at, actually at the Tumblr offices in New York, and there's a handful of people there, and there was some q and a afterwards. But I wanna go through some of the, the high level points and the things that he talked about so that you can get an idea and you don't have to watch the whole thing, but you can hear it in the next five minutes or so.

So it was kind of cool. He, he mentioned that the software like WordPress is kind of like an Amish barn racing where thousands of people come together and build something. If you're not familiar, I grew up in the, in northeast Ohio, and there's lots of Amish in the area, and they would have these barn racing par parties essentially, and it would be like Amish would come from.

All over the, the community and they could build a barn in a day. Like they had enough people to do all of this. And so this was essentially kind of saying like, WordPress is kind of like this. We have people from all over that just come together and they build this thing. Obviously it takes longer than a day to build WordPress, but um, it's kind of, that was his, um, he said it a couple times in the presentation.

Gutenberg is also now in a lot of places, and so forums are using Gutenberg. Even places that aren't WordPress are using it. Like day one has a web interface that's powered by Gutenberg, and the Tumblr interface is Gutenberg as well. And it's not in WordPress, but it's Gutenberg. Matt thinks that it'll be bigger than WordPress someday, that the Gutenberg editor will continue to make leaps and bounds and get more and more market share. And it'll be in a bunch more places. And we'll start to see it when we're on, different web platforms when we're building. When you're writing text boxes and things like that.

Let's see. Meetups had grew, they doubled from 2021, uh, word camps. There was one in 2021 and there was 22 in 2022. So there's been a lot more Word camps. Of course there was the big ones this year. Word Camp US Word Camp Europe. Um, and then they're looking at Word Camp Asia for next year.

WordPress turns 20 in 2023, and you can find out more@wptwenty.wordpress.net for more details. It'll be. He said there was gonna be celebrations and parties and like all kinds of fun things happening because of WordPress turning 20. There's a lot of free education over@learn.wordpress.com. Uh, wordpress.org has a brand new site design.

Uh, and this is something that also Matt said that it's gonna be a long process to turn, um, all of that over the entire website. It's like thousands of different types of pages and it's gonna take a while. But they're starting to work on, um, um, different things on WordPress dot. There's been a lot of enhancements over the three releases in 2023 block themes, styles, variations, patterns.

All this stuff has come to fruition over the last year. 2023 is a new theme that will be available next year. It's gonna be built on block themes. There's kind of a cool, uh, question and answer, um, a question by one of the audience that Sam, like, will there ever be like multiple themes or will we just dev, will we just release the block theme?

That's it. Like just one block theme. And that's the only theme that really we need cuz you can create whatever you want. And Matt's like, ah, I don't think that's gonna be a thing for a while yet. Anyways. And so I think we'll still see these themes, especially themes coming out with a new release or a new year or something like that.

He said that there's a four stages of a, of a four stage plan of like releasing stuff, I guess. Um, releasing code and phase two is finally complete. You can now create your entire site with blocks so you can edit the, the header, the menu, the footers, the sidebars, all that stuff. And you can now edit with sites or with blocks.

And so that was kind of phase two. There's a, there's a theme out there called Create Blank Theme. It's over at wordpress.org/themes/create blank dash theme. And so you can go there and you can basically, it's like, um, kind of a template. Like you just get started and then you start customizing every single thing.

The archive pages, the, the blog post pages, and you can do it all with blocks. It completely, he was basically saying you could take this theme, then you can find any website on the. and you can duplicate, you know, you can make a, a lookalike version with starting with this blank theme. There's a new zen mode.

I didn't realize this, but there's a zen mode in WordPress that will allow you when you're editing a poster page, that if you want to kind of get rid of the distractions, that it will kind of gray out. The text above and below. So if you're like writing in the block editor, it will, it will get rid of that text.

It obviously gets rid of the sidebar and just makes it a really nice place to write. I thought that was pretty neat that I hadn't seen before. Patterns allow you to build a site and lock in the design, but other make it easy for others to change images or different things like that. So if you think about like, I created this brand new site for this customer and I want them to be able to rotate these pictures if they want to so you can lock it down so they can change certain things, but not.

A whole bunch of things and break a bunch of things, which is pretty nice. In the three releases in 2023, there were 1,399 contributors for one of those releases, and there was one of the releases came out. It was an all female release squad, which was the first time that that had ever happened.

There's new classifications for plugins. This is something that will be rolling out soon. Basically. Um, he said you can tag them as like a one man shop type of a thing, or like, this is a, um, this is a plugin that somebody does like, kind of on the side. It's not a commercial plugin or whatnot. Then they have community plugins that are like free plugins that are, you know, the community kind of runs them and people contribute to them and whatnot.

And then there is, um, commercial plugins. And like those are the ones that well might have a free version, a premium version. Matt says that all of them are perfectly fine in the WordPress ecosphere, but sometimes people just don't know what they're gonna get into when they're looking at plugins. You know, maybe they're putting together a free site and they don't need any premium version for anything, and they just want to select and search through the WordPress repository for those free community plugins.

And so he said that that would be launching this month. And then he talked a little bit about phase three. So phase three sounds like it's gonna be a few year process, but it's going to bring, um, some really cool things. It's gonna bring real-time collaboration. So basically think of like a Google Doc where multiple people can be writing in the same document or the same post or page at the same time.

There'll be asynchronous com uh, collaboration, multi-author sharing of drafts in like black co block comedy. Basically, it's gonna, trying to turn WordPress into like a Google Doc type thing, which I think is really cool. So one of them, one of the things was like you could write APL a post and you could share that with somebody that's not an author on your site and they'll be able to see it without having to, um, log in and look at it.

Or if they are an editor on the page, they can come in and leave notes for you on the side and you can see those. Notes instead of, um, just overwriting the content. I thought that was pretty cool. There'll be editorial flows and customized goals and complete tasks before publishing. All that kind of stuff will be, um, built in, improve post revision user interface and flows make it much more easy to kind of see like the history of the post.

I don't know if you've ever looked at the block or the, the revisions for a poster, a page. There's that slider across the top. It kind of works, but you never really know which way, um, are you move when you move the slider? Are you picking the, the old version or the new version? It's kind of a hard interface.

They're gonna rework that whole thing. They're gonna work rework, um, the media library and add some updates there. They're gonna do full integration with open verse, which he talked about a little bit of this place where you can upload your pictures to be open source and to be have a, like the Creative Commons license that anybody can use.

Um, and so like it's gonna integrate completely with that. So if you can go to your media library and you can just type panda, um, you're gonna find people's, um, uploaded pictures of panda bears and you can just use them for free and it's all gonna kind of work together. Um, they're gonna add

also in part three is they're gonna add missing admin management for blocks and patterns and fonts. There's some things that are still missing and they're gonna admin overhaul. Um, And they're gonna overhaul and customize the. And they're gonna overhaul and customize the user flows, improve, uh, list views, post pages, comments, et cetera.

And they're also gonna introduce admin, search and notification infrastructure. So that's a lot of things in phase three. Like we're not all gonna see those in the very next version coming out, you know, in early 2023. That's gonna take, it sounds like several, several gears to get all of those pieces in the puzzle and then it'll feel like the entire word.

Thing. Um, the entire project, the software project has been touched and has been edited, and, and every piece has been touched in the last 20 years. And then phase four is to make everything multilingual. And this is one of the things that Matt hears every single time that he comes to, uh, to any events.

Like people always ask him, when is phase four gonna start? When is phase four is gonna start? And the multilingual basically means like you can write a post and um, you can write a post in English, but if your site also includes Spanish, then it will, um, you can click a button and you can say, here's the translation.

Page, and then here's the translation of this text, and it'll just work as part of the, the, the built-in WordPress itself, or you won't need any extra plug-ins like you do now. There was also, I was talk about like, how do you know when text needs updated? So like if you update a page on your website, there should be some notification that goes out to another person that maybe is the translator for your website.

And so they see like, oh, the homepage has been updated. Let me go and update the, the translated version or whatnot. So there's some cool things that'll be built in there. Doesn't sound like it'll be till like 20 24, 20 25 at the earliest. And Matt said like they want to get all this other stuff working and done so that when they do the translation piece it's gonna translate everything.

So all the widgets and sidebars and all that kind of stuff will get fixed and be translatable when that time comes. Um, so I talked a little bit about the chat.open.ai. Um, that's kind of a website that's going out there right now that you can go and you can. Silly questions and see how it forms, um, sentences and whatnot.

And they, they put up this in the presentation. It was like, write a short, short scene in which Matt, the founder of WordPress deci, describes full site editing in a single word, . And it said on the slide, Matt, the founder of WordPress, stood on a stage in front of a large crowd of eager developers. He smiled confidently and said, full sight editing in a single word.

Transformative and the crowd erupted in applause as Matt walked off the stage and the crowd did erupt, but Matt didn't walk off. It wasn't the end of the presentation, but he, uh, I thought it was really cool like that , that was exactly what happened or what would've happened, and that, that transformative word feels like a word that Matt would've used.

So, um, so yeah. So that was a almost the end of the presentation and then, Thing. And they had said they had launched it yesterday as part of the presentation, but um, it kind of broken. They're still working on it, but it's called the WordPress Playground. And there's a link in the show notes where you can go and look at it, but it's basically a virtual browser version of WordPress.

And so you can use it to instantly, eventually, they want to be able to like instantly test out plugins. So if you're on the plugin repository, Say you're looking at the YO plugin and you're like, I wonder if this works. You can click a button and it'll in your browser, spin up a WordPress aversion and log you in and install that plugin so you can start working on it.

Or like, you can look at the settings and see if it's gonna work. And it sounds like you can, they, they wanna get to a point where they, you can clone your WordPress site using this tool and just work on it and figure out what you want. And they said it'll, it just spins it up, it works in your browser, and then when you close the browser tab, it just completely erases and.

And closes everything down. And I thought that was a pretty neat thing and excited to see where that goes in the future.

That was the recap of the State of the Word this week. And I think every time that Matt kind of shares his vision of WordPress, like I get super excited. I know that I'm not the one writing the code or I'm not in there helping out and, and I just like to kind of sit back and see these new things come and try to figure out how it works and try to break them and, um, how can I use this new technology and like, how do.

Uh, can I make my website better? And things like that. Um, but I find every time that I sit down and listen to him speak just about kind of the future and the vision of where WordPress is gonna go and things like that, like I just get excited. And so if you've got a little bit of time, you know, maybe in the next week or so when maybe you're off celebrating the ho.

The holidays and you have a little bit of time off work. I just think it's a really cool way to sit down and listen and kind of hear the vision of what's to come, what happened in 2022 and what's to come in 2023. And so that is the state of the word or recap. I will continue to keep you updated with my journey and the developer apprenticeship over at Automattic, what I'm learning and React and how you can take, um, some of those things and, and add 'em to your own site and I'll continue to produce, um, brand new content coming in 2023.

So that's what I wanted to share with you. Take care, and we'll talk to you soon. Bye-bye. For more great WordPress information, head on over to YourWebsiteEngineer.com.