The WordPress blogging service started with only 5 developers and 2 blogs. In the beginning, the developers focused on building a system for friends who were not technical to help them join the web community. The goal was to develop something that was both simple and user-friendly. WordPress has had a strong development schedule which has continued to accelerate. Currently, WordPress.com has about 4 million new posts and 6.5 billion page views per month.
WordPress 2008 Year-in-Review
In 2007 there were 1090 commits made, and so far, in 2008, there are already 2840. WordPress has made 11 releases in the last year alone, which is much higher than normal. The WordPress team added 3 new core developers increasing the development team back to five full-time members. The upcoming WordPress 2.7 release is currently scheduled for November 2008.
In 2007, there were 2,849,349 downloads of WordPress tracked, and in 2008, they already surpassed 11 million downloads. This number does not include the number of downloads and installs from hosting companies, significantly increasing that number.
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Combating Blog Spam
Over 5 billion spams were caught last year with 99.925% accuracy using the WordPress Akismet plugin. This shows that Akismet is staying very high on accuracy. There is a new type of spam that is now getting through due to spammers being very clever. They are starting to copy comments on other posts and change the URL referenced to gain a free link. Spammers are also paying people to go in and leave relevant comments and spam you with their links in them. The most common are spammers leaving kind remarks and compliments and having the webmaster approve the messages due to feeling flattered by the positive remarks.
Due to the website-friendly nature of the iPhone and the success of the iPhone application (over 100k installs), WP is considering the creation of some new apps for other platforms as well, including the blackberry and other mobile handsets.
WordPress plans to improve its observance of plugin stats. Mullenweg mentioned a plan to watch the bottom 1000 plugins to find the new and upcoming trends. It is easier to see what is gaining fast popularity when monitoring the tail end of the plugins. He also mentioned the use of intelligent tails or the monitoring of plugins and packages to gain valuable intelligence from the free market. Currently, there are a huge number of features brought in via plugins. He mentions a few examples, one that does real estate management and another that is an independent record label system.
Thoughts on PHP5
Matt Mullenweg predicted that PHP5 would fail early on due to its lack of major changes. He was wrong and fully admitted it. PHP5 is now being used to host WordPress in 79% of WordPress installs. This means that when PHP4 usage falls below 10%, they will pull the trigger and move ongoing development and support to PHP5 only. This will allow them to speed up and optimize the WP system.
The Future of WordPress – WordPress 2.7 Live Demo
Included during his speech was a live demo of WordPress 2.7. Version 2.7 is expected to be released sometime during November of 2008 and currently has 13,000 blogs testing it. One of the key features of 2.7 will include a dashboard redesign. Mullenweg began by apologizing for the lack of tests regarding usability with a previous dashboard redesign. This time there is much more focus on ensuring that there won’t be issues such as many user complaints that came with the removal of the edit feature in comments.
Version 2.7 also introduces several major changes, with one of the largest being the dashboard navigation being moved to the left-hand side. This new navigation has expandable categories that can be viewed in real-time when you click them (i.e., no waiting for the page to reload, etc.) The right side of the default dashboard setup has a quick blog post, and the center features an inbox. The dashboard still has stats, and other dashboard features WordPress blog owners will be familiar with. The whole dashboard has been built in Ajax which allows changes to be made on the fly. Therefore, users will be able to drag a section in between columns to move stuff over and around, as well as the ability to hide or show specific sections.
Other key changes include:
The new sticky posts will allow bloggers to keep important or interesting posts at the top of their blog’s homepage. An insert media button has been added, allowing one-click uploading of pictures, video, audio, etc. WordPress will automatically know what to do with the media uploads and will set them up appropriately. Inline editing – you can see your actual blog and quickly edit tags, categories, etc., or mass edit an entire batch of posts at once to add new tags, etc.
Comments API – most commonly, people edit comments and check stats. Now you can moderate, approve, delete, etc. and reply to comments via your mobile phone and the dashboard. Comments can now be threaded (you can enable it and have limits set, etc.), allowing conversations without the current hacks that people do to keep a conversation linear.
Keyboard Shortcuts were introduced for moderating comments.
Automatic plugin installation and upgrades via the browser. This includes the ability to search, upload, upgrade, install, and manage plugins within the dashboard. It will also allow for one-click installs for plugins that are in the WordPress.org library. Mullenweg also mentioned a goal of including this same feature for themes in the future (i.e., search, install, upgrade, etc., all with a simple, intuitive interface).
Upgrades – one-click installers built into the WordPress.org website.
Security is an increasingly important aspect of WordPress development. Currently, over 20 US government entities are using WP, including Air Force, Army CIA, Coast Guard, Department of Energy, Homeland Security, State Treasury, DEA, Marine Corps, FBI, National Security Agency, Navy, National Reconnaissance Agency, Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Mullenweg also discussed what he considers to be upcoming blogging trends. The use of media, namely photo galleries and videos, will become more mainstream in blogs. Additionally, this includes bloggers making posts that can be a comment, a video, or some small item on its own, and the ability to include the media content in line with your post. This will allow WordPress to become a complete hub of information.
He continued to discuss WordPress as a hub noting that people’s blogs will become their best possible social profile, and they intend to make it so when you post something on another social site such as Twitter or YouTube, and it will work on WordPress. Of important note there, he mentioned that your data would live on your blog and in your database, so you don’t have to worry if the other site goes down; you will still have all the data and stay in control. This hub system is a long-term goal of their team.
BackPress is another system he discussed that will help show the underlying framework for WP and Theme Press, their user systems, internationalization, security systems, etc., making it easier for developers to use the WordPress base.
Another exciting development in the works is BuddyPress. This will allow users to have to take a group such as a Boy Scout, church, or team and build a small “Facebook in a box” type of system in which you can have a full set of plugins and extensions that build a small social network with activities, profiles, interests, photos, groups, etc. – all in a small private group. BuddyPress will allow small groups the ability to develop their own public or private social networking site.
Mullenweg also discussed an improved feedback loop – trying to incorporate user feedback and testing earlier in making updates. A core goal with this is the desire to incorporate more “normal” people in development.
Mullenweg also mentioned how he feels that this is the year of themes. While everything used to be plugin-driven, themes are really taking off with new automatic plugins built into them. They are being used for a monotone theme which can make your site change the backgrounds to be complementary to the photos you are updating.
What Else if Coming Up for WordPress?
Launching shortly will be WordPress.tv, a video site with screencasts that will show WordCamp videos, including key speakers. This service will be searchable, include tags, and will also include HD video content.
Some Interesting WordPress Statistics
WordPress Usage Statistics:
5,671,649 WordPress.org Blogs – also includes WordPress.mu (multi-user version that hosts multiple blogs)
4,831,429 blogs on the system have run updates are now using the most up-to-date version.
- WordPress Plugins
- The average WordPress blog has 4.96 active plugins per blog.
- Some Popular WordPress Plugins
Some of the currently most popular plugins are:
1. Akismet (anti-spam)
8. WP Automatic Upgrade
10. cforms (contact forms)