Today Matt Mullenweg delivered his annual State of the Word address at WordCamp San Francisco, with roughly 1,000 WordPress enthusiasts and contributors in attendance and hundreds more watching via livestream.
Before jumping into the results of the survey, Mullenweg announced that this would be the last event held at Mission Bay conference center.
— WordCamp SF (@WordCampSF) October 26, 2014
WordCamp San Francisco will become WordCamp USA next year. The name of the conference, location, date, and details are yet to be determined. The event has outgrown the Mission Bay venue and the organization team wants to be make room for more people and presentations.
With the undeniable success of WordCamp Europe two years in a row, pan-continental WordCamps may become more common in connecting people in various regions of the world. In fact, Mullenweg envisions that a number of “anchor WordCamps” will surface in the near future.
— David Bisset (@dimensionmedia) October 26, 2014
Internationalization Improvements to Connect the Global WordPress Community
This year 33,000 people responded to the WordPress user and developer survey. Mullenweg stated that 2014 is likely to be remembered as a turning point for the project, noting that this was the first year that non-English downloads surpassed English downloads.
Mullenweg encouraged attendees to see locale as a wider concept that includes language, timezone, and date formats. WordPress may soon be able to provide per-user internationalization features. For example, if someone leaves a comment in Japanese, an English-speaking post author would receive the notification in English.
Language packs are coming to more plugins and themes by early 2015. Mullenweg announced that fully localized plugin and theme directories will be available in the dashboard starting with WordPress 4.1. He believes that internationalization improvements will be one of the most impactful things for WordPress’ growth over the next decade.
“If WordPress is going to be truly global, truly inclusive, it has to be fully available for other languages,” he said. The upcoming improvements give WordPress the potential to be a truly global experience.
The Importance of Responsive Mobile
As he has in many recent interviews, Mullenweg highlighted the continuing importance of responsive mobile. “There are now more phones on the planet than human beings. We need to cater to them or they’re just going to replace us,” he joked.
The future of the platform depends on having a strong mobile presence, but Mullenweg has a larger vision for how WordPress can lead the way for the next generation of the mobile web.
“Online communication is one of the great equalizers of our time,” he said. This goes hand-in-hand with the WordPress mission to democratize publishing. As mobile devices now have the capacity to do more things, Mullenweg is inspired by the idea that people can always be connected. He believes that WordPress as an application platform is poised to the lead the way.
The 2014 survey results revealed that WordPress usage as a blog and as a CMS is declining every year. However, its usage as an app framework is steadily growing.
Mullenweg highlighted the WP REST API as critical to WordPress’ ability to rapidly iterate in the future. The new API will pave the way for “completely bespoke posting interfaces,” he said. WordPress developers have often asked him when the platform will allow for theming the admin. Mullenweg hopes that the new API will make it possible for “1,000 different WordPress admins to bloom.”
Exciting New Tools for WordPress Contributors: GitHub and Slack
WordPress runs on contributions and communication. There were 785 people who contributed on five major releases since the last WordCamp San Francisco. The software recently crossed the one million commits mark. During the State of the Word, Mullenweg highlighted recent release leads and new committers, making a point to personally thank those who create the software that now runs 23% of the web.
He also delivered several announcements to the delight of contributors in attendance. After asking the audience who has used Git and GitHub, he exclaimed, “Whoah, that’s all the hands!” He followed that up with the announcement that core contributors will soon be able to submit pull requests on GitHub.
For the first time in 11 years, the project will experiment with not using IRC as its primary communication tool. Mullenweg announced that the community will be trying out Slack for real-time communication for contributor teams. The tool is mobile friendly and has a number of strong advantages over IRC for asynchronous communication. If a ticket is mentioned in Slack, it will be linked with trac. The #wordpress support IRC channel will still be used. Participation on Slack is now available to every single WordPress.org contributor, replacing IRC and ad hoc Skype chats. You can visit chat.wordpress.org to initiate your invite.
The #wordpress support IRC channel will continue on. Slack will be used for contributing to the WordPress project, be it code, design, documentation, etc.
— David Bisset (@dimensionmedia) October 26, 2014
Results of the 2014 survey showed that a full quarter of those surveyed make their living using WordPress, representing more than a billion dollars of economic activity per year. Mullenweg referenced his Five for the Future post encouraging companies to support the project with 5% of their time. Very few open source software projects thrive as long as the 11 years that WordPress already has, Mullenweg said. He featured three companies that have publicly committed 5% to WordPress, including Gravity Forms, WPMUDEV, and Automattic.
“This is what is going to take us from 23% to 30% or 40%,” he said. With hundreds and thousands of freelancers and companies all over the world giving back to WordPress, the project will have the momentum to continue its unprecedented growth. WordPress has now outgrown the venue of its flagship WordCamp. It has also outgrown its old communication tools. WordPress is about to explode on a global scale. Years from now we’ll look back on 2014 as a year where many key improvements positioned WordPress to further dominate the web.