Co-founder of WordPress Matt Mullenweg took the stage in Belgrade to give a mid-year update on where the CMS has been and where it is going. He referred to this as a “summertime update.”

Over the past six years, Mullenweg has held a Town Hall during WordCamp Europe, but this year he decided to present what has been happening since WordCamp US in December, and what will happen in the coming months.

He began by announcing St. Louis will be the 2019-2020 WCUS location, then he moved onto his updates.

Core

There have been six core releases since WCUS. Customization was improved by turning widgets to blocks. The WP-CLI saw two new releases, and we can expect version 2.0 in July, which will show better packing for dependencies.

The REST API was a huge focus this year because Gutenberg is built on it. The core team improved Gutenberg groundwork, autosaves, and search, getting it ready for the eventual Gutenberg merge.

Mobile apps have had a huge few months. There has been improved RTL and according to Mullenweg, mobile apps are one of the most accessible ways to interact with WordPress today and in the future. In just the last month, 1.3 million posts and 3.7 million photos have been posted via mobile apps.

Gutenberg

One of the biggest updates was centered around Gutenberg. There have been 30 releases of Gutenberg since its inception and 12 since December. 1,764 issues have been opened and 1,115 have been closed in that time, and 14,000 sites are currently using it.

The major features we’ve seen so far are block-based writing experiences, it is fully adaptive across all devices, optimized for direct manipulation of content, block API with support of static and dynamic blocks and more.

One of the things Mullenweg himself was most excited about the copy and paste feature. Previously it’s been very difficult to make something that has been copied and pasted into WordPress look good. Now, copy and paste is fully supported from places like Microsoft Word, Office 365, Evernote, random web pages, Google docs, and more with Gutenberg.

Mullenweg also touched on how Gutenberg is moving forward.

During the month of June, there will be new features in Gutenberg. The core team will encourage hosts, agencies, and teachers to opt-in sites they have influence over, and there will be an opt-in available for wp-admin users on wp.com. Key data and information will be gathered from these users. Lastly, mobile app support for Gutenberg will be enhanced in iOS and Android.

The next phase of Gutenberg will happen in July with the next release. With that, there will be a strong invitation to either install Gutenberg or opt for the Classic Editor plugin. Instead of an opt-in option for wp.com, there will be an opt-out. The team will pay attention to who opts out and why. There will be heavy triage and bug gardening that will try to get the blockers to zero. July will also see an exploration of expanding Gutenberg beyond just the post and into site customization.

August is the hopeful release of 5.0, though Mullenweg couldn’t guarantee a date, this seems like the most likely. At this time, all critical issues will be resolved, there will be integration with Calypso. Mullenweg is hoping to get 100,000 sites and 250,000 posts using Gutenberg by that time, and of course Gutenberg merge with core.

Moving Forward

The presentation ended with a Q&A section. Many members of the audience stood up and asked questions.

Being in Europe there was little chance GDPR wouldn’t come up. One attendee expressed his concern over not having a WordPress representative in meetings with decision-makers working on the online data and privacy laws. Mullenweg lightened the mood by first asking the attendee if he would accept a cookie, and handing him one. He then admitted that though there are members of the open web at these meetings, there isn’t official WordPress representation. Instead, he suggested hammering out a WordPress policy on the matter then seeing how the community feels about it.

When asked what problem Mullenweg is trying to solve with Gutenberg he responded with what he sees for the future of the platform itself.

“The foundation of WordPress that is now served us well for 15 years will not last for the next 15. When WordPress started, there was barely any Javascript in the entire application. Gutenberg not only provides a modern interface, it leapfrogs the best of what all modern web builders are doing out there,” he said.

Emily Schiola

Emily Schiola is the Editor of Torque. She loves good beer, bad movies, and cats.

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