It is hard to believe 2022 is coming to a close. After two years of learning how to live and work apart, this year allowed for us to start to come back together. There were more in-person events, more contributions to Core, and three massive releases. The uncertainty of the landscape started to fade, and the perseverance of the community was on full display.
Though we can never fully predict what will happen next, one thing is for certain, the WordPress community will continue to be a pillar of strength through all of life’s ups and downs.
A lot happened this year, let’s get into some of the biggest wins for WordPress in 2022.
In-Person Meetups Ruled
There’s no denying that COVID took a big bite out of in-person events. In 2020 and 2021, a lot of WordCamps were forced to move online or cancel altogether. That was turned on its head this year. While there were some online events, in-person was definitely king in 2022.
- 500 meetups doubled their size in 2022
- 22 WordCamps happened in 2022 (Up from 1 in 2021)
- 34 WordCamps are currently being planned for 2023
Let’s look at some of the big ones:
Finally, WordPressers descended on Porto, Portugal to celebrate WordCamp Europe. After two years of planning, scheduling, and replanning, the organizers got to see their hard work realized.
2,300 people attended the event with 800 of them going to Contributor Day. It was a huge turnout in a beautiful location, with peacocks roaming the venue grounds.
Next year, WCEU will take place in Athens! Get ready for some Olympic-sized learning on June 8-10, 2023.
Another giant among WordCamps returned in 2022, WordCamp US. After two years of cancellations, the conference made its triumphant return in San Diego. This truly felt like a homecoming. While other WordCamps including Europe moved online in 2020 and 2021, US organizers decided to cancel completely. So it wasn’t only the first in-person WCUS but the first one in two years.
The weather was stormy but the spirits were high as people attended talks about design practices and accessibility. One of our favorites was when Developer Advocate at WP Engine, Nick Diego, created a block from start to finish in only 15 minutes. A really cool showing of just how easy Gutenberg is to use.
Needless to say, we are greatly looking forward to next year’s WCUS which will take place in National Harbor, Maryland on August 24-26.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention at least one killer online conference, and that is Accessibility Day. This 24-hour virtual conference is completely free and focuses entirely on accessibility. There were 24 hours of content from 20 speakers. 40 percent of presentations include a speaker with a disability.
The event was originally started by the Website Core Accessibility Team back in 2020 and this year volunteers took over organizing.
According to the website, “Our mission is to demystify website accessibility for WordPress developers, designers, content creators, and users so that they can more easily build websites that work for everyone, regardless of ability.”
This was such a cool event that pulled in people from all around the community, and we hope to attend again next year!
WordPress 6.1 and Site Editing
There were three big Core releases in 2022 but the most notable came at the end of the year with WordPress 6.1, “Misha”. The release, named for Soviet-Norwegian jazz pianist Mikhail “Misha” Alperin, focused heavily on design in WordPress.
Twenty Twenty-Three Theme
As with every end of the year release, 6.1 shipped with a new default theme but Twenty Twenty-Three is not like other themes. Most notably, this theme comes with 10 style variations designed by community members. These variations act as a reskin of your site. Completely change the color palette, fonts, and more with one click.
These style variations are such a huge win for WordPress. Not only do they offer a quick and easy way for users to switch up their sites, it’s a great opportunity for designers to get their work out there. I’m excited to see which variations ship with the Twenty Twenty-Four theme next year!
And That’s Not All
Of course, the theme is just one aspect of an incredibly exciting release that leads us closer to finishing Phase Two of Gutenberg, set to be completed in March of next year. Phase Two is all about Site Editing and block themes and boy did 6.1 deliver.
6.1 introduced Fluid Typography, which allows fonts to change based on the screen size. There’s nothing more annoying than designing a beautiful site and seeing it break on mobile. Fluid Typography takes the guesswork out of creating for multiple devices.
Other huge updates include:
- Borders: You can now adjust the border on any block from the sidebar.
- List Block: You can now drag within the list block. No more retyping and formatting.
- The URL has been moved up right under the Publish date.
- The Preview button has been changed to just View.
Looking Forward: State of the Word 2022
This year wrapped-up with a live streamed State of the Word speech delivered by WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg.
You can find a full breakdown of the speech here, but overall the focus was the future of WordPress and leaving something powerful for future generations.
After two years of lower than normal contributions, Mullenweg announced an astounding number of people volunteered their time this year.
One of the most impressive things about this graphic is that 322 people returned to contributing after taking a break in 2021. WordPress simply cannot exist without volunteers from around the community, so this is very inspiring to see.
Gutenberg Phase 3
As mentioned above, Gutenberg Phase 2 is coming to an end. That means that Phase 3 will begin. This phase will focus on collaborative editing, think Google Docs-like features right in the editor.
This will be a huge upgrade for content creators and editors.
Another big announcement was regarding plugin taxonomies. Four new default taxonomies were added this month to make it easier for plugin authors to categorize their products.
They are as follows:
- Single-player plugin: Created by an individual, might have paid aspects, not accepting contributions.
- Community plugin: Completely free, built by the community, for the community. There are no upsells. Contributions are not only encouraged, they are regularly requested.
- Canonical plugin: A community plugin that has been “blessed” by wordpress.org. The plugin will be featured there, and WordPress core team members will perform frequent security checks. Think Gutenberg.
- Commercial plugin: A plugin owned by a company, may or may not accept contributions.
Finally, Mullenweg announced Playground, a way to test your WordPress site totally in a browser.
You can test out plugins, design choices, updates, and anything else you can think of in real time without using a host, database, or web server of any kind.
This is a very cool tool that you can start playing with today.
Wow, what a year! It is absolutely incredible the things the WordPress community accomplished together. If this year has taught us anything it is that you cannot stop the power of WordPress. The community will not let it fail.
Thanks to all the event organizers, content creators, theme and plugin authors, agencies, and contributors who make WordPress the strongest CMS on the web.
Here’s to 2023 and getting bigger and better!