Another year, another State of the Word.
Last year saw the introduction of Calypso, a complete rework of the WordPress admin made 100% with JS. Also the idea of a complete WordPress API as part of core WP, as well as the first pieces of it introduced into the core.
Matt introduced some prestigious examples of websites using the Rest API and JS to do interesting things, like power a mobile app, or use WP on the backend of a website while using JS on the front end.
And he kept that promise, submitting a pull request to Calypso, but not the WordPress core. (But given how he feels about Calypso and the future of WordPress, this makes sense.)
Rest API, Now
The goal last year seemed to have been to include the Rest API content endpoints in core quite early on in 2016. This didn’t become a reality until WordPress 4.7 was released on December 6 this year.
More plugins make use of the Rest API to complete their tasks, and there has even been a theme or two based on it released.
Still one of the most popular use cases is using the API to power a mobile app. The main point of a REST API, is to allow other things use the data in your website. Whether that is other websites, computer programs or mobile apps. This makes it an ideal tool for creating an app for a website.
The most notable examples of sites using the REST API is probably, The New York Times using the WP REST API to power their live coverage blogs. And also the website StoryCorps, that used it for their mobile app. But these were both mentioned during last year’s address.
Matt believes that Calypso, or an admin interface like it, is the right step forward for WordPress. No one else is currently working on that for WP.org. Because of that, it seems like there will be a push towards integration with Calypso. (Matt has committed previous Calypso contributing JS developers from Automattic to work on WP core.)
He gives some interesting statistics from WordPress.com, where 68% of posts are written using Calypso, 17% of users use mobile devices and only 15% are using the WP Admin area for that.
One of the problems with Calypso (other than it not being inherently a part of WP.org, but rather produced by Automattic, a separate for-profit entity) is it’s incompatibility with current plugins. Matt announced that Automattic has created code that allows plugin authors to make their plugins compatible with Calypso. At first, it will only be released to plugins with 1,000,000 or more active installs.
But as time goes on, the plan is to make this code available to all plugin authors. This will finally make Calypso compatible with plugins. This means that in the near future, you could potentially completely manage all of your websites from the Calypso interface with no hick ups at all.
A problem I had with using Calypso last year, was that it was not interacting properly with my media libraries. For whatever reason, it would only display the 20 most recent media items. This could be a bit of a nuisance when wanting to make use of images you often use in your posts, but the issue was fixed back in November.
Side-Note: International Availability Of WordPress and Plugins/Themes On The Way Up
With the new Translate WordPress program launched last year to allow polyglots to translate WP Core, as well as plugin and themes they have no association with, WordPress has become a lot more international. Completely translated to more than 50 languages. The top 10 plugins have 82% coverage of the top 12 most spoken languages in the world (in which 2/3 of the world are fluent.)
The Way Forward In 2017?
Matt said that while it’s ‘unprecedented’ that WordPress has gone from 13 to 27% market share over the past five years. But he followed that up with, “What got us here, won’t get us there.”
And this was followed by probably the biggest announcement of all: There are no planned major releases for next year.
Matt wants to be heavily involved as a project lead again, and foresees better results with a different approach; mainly focusing on three major parts of WP first:
- The Editor
- WP REST API
- The Customizer
Matt believes that developers should double down and focus on user experience moving forward. He wants to see “design leading the way”.
Perhaps particularly focusing on inclusive design, as his goal still seems to be total web domination, or as close as it’s possible to get. This means making WordPress easy enough to use that anyone who currently is or will be a website admin can use it.
He thinks the editor’s user experience is lagging behind WordPress’ functionality. He wants major work on it to be the starting point for WordPress improvements in 2017. And he definitely has a point. If we take into consideration front page editors are now available from third party plugins/themes, and taking a quick look at the user experience of WordPress competitor Medium, WordPress’s editor is looking almost archaic.
While there’s been huge improvements in the Customizer in the last year, instant editing for example, Matt doesn’t feel like it fast or flexible enough just yet.
Obviously there will be bug fixes and small patches along the way, to deal with minor issues. And surely there will be smaller releases for minor functionality as well. For things that deal with other parts of WordPress than the aforementioned 3 priorities.
WP Rest API
Matt admits that as far as the success of the WP REST API goes, there were not as many examples as he would have liked, and that the scope of sites being made using it is probably still in the thousands.
In hopes of making the API more available, they will start doing first party usage, meaning WordPress itself will use the API to do certain tasks. This will likely help with the development of a truly flexible, user friendly API.
Even more deeply.