9 Things I Learned from WordCamp Europe 2022

Some WCEU Highlights

I watched WCEU remotely by live stream, so these reflections have nothing to do with the in-person experience. I'm sure there is much to share about the social opportunities, the parties, and the safety protocols that couldn't be seen on camera, plus other behind-the-scenes stuff, the contributor day hackathon, sponsor booths, etc. These are the things that struck me as important, sometimes surprising, and new or seldom discussed topics within the talks and Q&A .

Sidenote: I don't think this is a clickbait title ('10 things you might have missed” certainly would be) — but it's definitely something Buzzfeed might do. Post Status is not Buzzfeed. Carry on.

1. PHP and WordPress might not be tied to each other forever.

When a PHP developer asked Matt if WordPress is heading toward 100% JavaScript, Matt did say that he believes Gutenberg provides a better interface with JavaScript over PHP where a page refresh is usually required. A little later Matt also mentioned that “maybe in 5 years there could be a converter that could convert the PHP that powers WordPress into another server-side language.”

I think I see where Matt is coming from. The dream is to get Gutenberg (which according to Matt is more important than WordPress) out on as many platforms as possible. I personally don’t see a converter on this scale happening in 5 years — or ever, honestly. I think it would be a mess. Matt acknowledged that “for the foreseeable future,” the WordPress back end will be powered by PHP.

I don’t think PHP developers (like yours truly) have anything to worry about, but this is the first time I can remember this subject getting more than a passing comment in public. Milana Cap recently noted we're not talking enough about it, and we think she has a point.

2. Sustainability has a WordPress Slack Channel now.

A #sustainability channel was created in Making WordPress Slack within 10 minutes of Nora Ferrerio asking Matt and Josepha, “what can we do to improve Sustainability?” Twenty-four hours later, the channel had 37 members (which has now doubled), and everyone is getting to know each other. This is a good first step (better late than never!) toward a very complex, challenging problem. If it's new to you, check out this collection of great podcasts/videos on WordPress and sustainability, especially the interviews Steve Burge has done with leaders in this space.

3. WordPress 6.0 is being adopted quickly.

5% of all known WordPress installs in the world are already on 6.0, according to Matt, although he didn't indicate the source for that data. He also noted WordPress 6.0 was adopted “10% faster” than WordPress 5.9.

“No selling, no credit cards… There’s been a push to sell on WP.org, but it’s not a place for us to invest right now.”

4. A WP.org Marketplace? NOPE!

If you wish the WP.org repositories let developers and product owners sell support license subscriptions or collect donations, it's not going to happen. Matt was very clear about this:

“No selling, no credit cards… There’s been a push to sell on WP.org, but it’s not a place for us to invest right now.”

5. Frontity was abandoned because of Full Site Editing.

Remember Automattic’s acquihire of the Frontity team? Their product, a React framework for headless WordPress, was essentially abandoned after the acquisition. Now at Automattic, Frontity co-founder Pablo Postigo explained why they took this course and left the Frontity codebase to the open source community of its users.

While the block editor made their modifications of React with WordPress challenging, the full site editor would have made it nearly impossible for Frontity to continue as a project. They just didn’t have the capacity to provide a good editor experience in future versions of WordPress. With the arrival of FSE, the writing was on the wall, so to speak. I wonder how other companies building or modifying the editor experience in WordPress are faring.

6. Tumblr will add 300k domains to WordPress market share and is already using Gutenberg.

According to Matt on Saturday, Tumblr has 300,000 domains. That's the size of 10% of Twitter. It's already using Gutenberg, and Tumblr will soon be adding to WordPress market share numbers.

“Metrics at scale show performance in WordPress isn’t doing well right now.”

7. The State of WordPress Performance.

Felix Arntz's talk about WordPress core's performance was honest, at least: “Metrics at scale show performance in WordPress isn’t doing well right now.” Felix’s breakdown of the pros and cons remind us of some practical reasons why making WordPress fast is hard. Wix and Squarespace are making big strides and should be regarded as platforms to beat in performance. In the long-run, WordPress has lots of opportunities to excel and is already heading in a good direction.

You can't quantify the value of personal connections and relationships. WordCamp sponsorship is a lot more than a traditional marketing opportunity to put brands in front of eyeballs. It's an opportunity for business development.

8. WordPress products need “competitors” to grow.

Getting your plugin in the WordPress.org isn’t enough for most product owners looking for a path to profitability. Jonathan Wold stressed the importance of partnerships and collaborative approaches to win together in the commercial WordPress ecosystem. Later that day, Shane Pearlman expressed the importance of just being present at WordCamps and conferences (“hallway tracks”) to meet and network if you want your business to grow.

Networking, partnering with industry peers, and showing up for (or sponsoring) a WordCamps is harder for small companies, especially for those who aren't standing out much in the product community. But this is the reality for product owners today: it's even harder to go alone.

As Cory and the rest of the team at Post Status often say about WordPress events (and associations like Post Status) — you can't overestimate the value of personal connections and relationships in the WordPress community. WordCamp sponsorship is a lot more than a traditional marketing opportunity to put brands in front of eyeballs. It's an opportunity for business development — with the help of your competitors.

9. WordPress market share will get wonky.

Matt addressed WordPress's market share in general. He wasn’t asked about the slight recent dip Joost de Valk observed, so that wasn't discussed or avoided. (Not a great question to ask anyway, in my opnion.)

Matt likes to quote market share numbers — as we all do — and he has used them prominently in his State of the Word in the past. You could say this weekend he had a different emphasis, especially when he was asked if getting above 50% market share was still a goal.

Matt acknowledged W3Tech data will soon be “stale” (thanks to its main source, Alexa, being sunsetted.) He mentioned Builtwith as a potential datasource to look at, but they put WordPress “in the 30% range.” Measurement of WordPress market share is going to get “wonky in the coming years,” Matt predicts. Josepha mentioned she’s been talking with Matt about a “reliable” method of getting WordPress market share measurements and maybe even publishing that data on make.wordpress.org.

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