What to expect from WordPress in 2017


Matt Mullenweg and the New WordPress Order

WordPress founder, CEO of Automattic Matt Mullenweg gave a ’The State of the Word’ speech at WordCamp US 2016 by outlining the future frames of the further development of WordPress. The key takeaway is that: WordPress has its own evolution and its future governance will be inevitably different.

He organised his speech around three topics: 1) general goals ahead of WordPress development; 2) information about end-year WordPress release; 3) major prerequisites of future releases.

General goals in WordPress Improvements

  • Dismantling further the linguistic barriers

    There has been a lot work going on in this regard, whereby 1,598 plugins are now using language packs, and 1,224 themes use them. It is crucial to have WordPress able to work on every language. New work will be going into P2/O2, which are used for the Make WordPress.

  • WordPress barded with the power of design

    There is a need for a new WordPress plugin repository, which finally uses WordPress itself, and has a whole new design. Every one of you can see the new design in action on the new demo site.

  • Keeping abreast with time via deepening JavaScript, building on PHP7, HTTPS

    Currently, WordPress is basically JavaScript in 28%. This aspect is particularly important, especially as the REST API gets included in WordPress 4.7; and it will be even more important in the future. Additionally, the entire WordPress.com is now on PHP7. Matt Mullenweg accentuated that org will now recommend PHP7 by default. Moreover, 11.45% of WordPress websites are now served via HTTPS. WordPress will no longer promote hosting partners unless they provide an SSL certificate by default for all accounts.

  • Utilising synergies

    Calypso, an Automattic owned interface, offers the default method of publishing on WordPress.com, so that includes the desktop website, desktop app, and mobile app. In this respect, Calypso is expected to be more “plugin aware”, so that prominent plugins (most Automattic plugins included) would be recognized and manageable via Calypso. So now plugins can include custom code to be manageable via Calypso.

  • Innovating the WordPress organisational design

    It is crucial to recognise the organisational, corporate governance related challenges (crises in various growth phases, see Figure 1) as growth happens. With the open source, that is to say, collaborative way of business of WordPress, and with the fact that how it has been developed and has been led by the pro-active involvement of Matt Mullenweg (i.e. WordPress has grew from 13.1% to 27.2%, and this kind of marketshare for a CMS is “unprecedented”; Mullenweg’s intention is to be involved heavily in further WordPress development while He has other obligations in Automattic where 514 people are employed and he got reporting in a huge volume time to time), organisational innovation is a must to govern better: WordPress is in Phases 4-5 (see Figure 1). Matt has therefore emphasised the role of a newly introduced growth council, which will support as a guide of product direction in WordPress.

Figure 1. The five phases of growth (Greiner model)


Source: adopted from Greiner (1998)

WordPress release by the end of 2016

WordPress has been further developed time after time via the force of being open source (475 contributors submitted code to 4.7, 42% of those were first contributors). WordPress 4.5-4.7 will have been released by the end of 2016. WordPress 4.7 will be named “Vaughan”, after jazz musician Sarah “Sassy” Vaughan. WordPress 4.7 will be released on Saint Nicholas Day, 6th of December 2016.

WordPress 4.7 will contain per-user language choices. WordPress will include a new default theme that with a multi-section home page that’s a brand new WordPress feature. Theme setup will also be enhanced. Theme setup in 4.7 can define content that ships with the theme, such as a navigation menu setup, sample page content, a password protected page, and other content that would be utilized in the theme. Bettering menu handling is not only on the cards but it will become a reality for more comfortable user experience. For example, creating a draft straight from the menu screen will be possible. In addition, thumbnail previews for PDFs and user dashboard languages are developed further by allowing the users to use different languages. The inclusion of the WordPress REST API Content Endpoints in 4.7 is also a big development.

Major prerequisites of future WordPress releases

The central of Mullenweg’s considerations was that: new major versions of WordPress will not be released until these features are ready. The major prerequisites of any future release are culminating in at least three areas that are as follows:

1) The WordPress REST API

New metrics are inevitable to better capture outcome rather than measuring inputs. In addition, this effort will include shipping authentication tools in WordPress core, so that external applications can connect to WordPress websites.

2) The Editor

We are not living in a perfect world, where every WordPress user is an omnipotent one and unable to commit a fault. Consequently, editing is often inevitable of which process shall be more comfortable and easier in the future.

3) The Customizer

The main aim is to reach out fast, flexible operation to meet current and emerging new needs.

In our opinion, these features may form the indispensable base of the future WordPress to be more vigorous, sustainable, and inclusive.