WordCamp US 2023 took place in National Harbor, Maryland. The conference was packed with activities and sessions for all to enjoy during the three day schedule, and concluded with a private social event at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
In this article we will cover the events, speakers, and sessions from WCUS 2023, including the future development of the WordPress open source project.
WordCamp US kicked off with Contributor Day, a dedicated time in the conference for WordPress enthusiasts from diverse backgrounds to come together and contribute their skills, insights, and passion to the project’s development.
Contributor Day stands as an integral part of the WordCamp US experience, offering attendees a unique opportunity to actively engage with the WordPress project and leave their mark on its history.
This day is dedicated to hands-on collaboration and collective efforts aimed at enhancing the WordPress ecosystem.
Attendees join forces with fellow enthusiasts to work on a diverse range of tasks, such as coding, design, translating, and improving documentation. By participating in these collaborative workgroups, attendees contribute directly to the platform’s growth and evolution.
Beyond the immediate impact on the WordPress project, Contributor Day embodies the open-source spirit that has propelled WordPress to its prominent position today.
It reflects the ongoing commitment of the community to sharing knowledge, fostering innovation, and building a better digital landscape.
WordCamp US 2023 Recap
With nearly two-thousand attendees, WordCamp US 2023 was the largest WordCamp conference recorded, surpassing pre-pandemic numbers. The conference took place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center and was backed by 49 sponsors. InMotion Hosting was proud to be an Editor level sponsor for WCUS this year.
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Speakers and Workshops
An integral part of the WordCamp experience, keynotes led by experts and thought leaders, brought new ideas to the conference. This year, 39 speakers stepped on the podium to discuss a variety of topics, including the following:
For All Userkind: NASA Web Modernization and WordPressHow to Use WordPress to Make a Difference in the WorldAccessibility Without Compromising CreativityBlackPress: Amplifying Black Professionals in WordPressLearn WordPress: A Resource for You and Your Community
Similarly, hands-on workshops were available for all attendees, providing insights, practical skills, and deeper understanding of the CMS.
Some of these sessions included:
Hands on with NASA’s New Digital PlatformOne File To Rule Them All, and With Composer, Install ThemModern WordPress DevelopmentMake It Real: Use AI To Successfully Deliver An Authentic Content Creation Process
Speakers not only showcase the latest trends and innovations in WordPress, but also offer diverse perspectives, addressing the multifaceted needs of the community.
Through these sessions, WordCamp US becomes a melting pot of ideas and experiences, fostering a culture of continuous learning and collaboration.
To get a full list of WCUS 23 keynotes and workshops you can visit the official website. All sessions are available on the WordPress YouTube channel.
Future of WordPress Keynote
Josepha Haden Chomphosy, Executive Director of the WordPress project, started the keynote focusing on the 20th anniversary of the CMS, and how it has changed and continues to change with the help of the community.
“How to make [the WordPress project] resilient regardless of what the future holds?” was the question presented by Josepha to the audience.
The focus of the Community Summit and Josepha’s keynote brought back attention to the accessibility of WordPress to new users. Breaking down accessibility issues, and allowing the project to be customized to a person’s needs.
“We exist for as long as people want to use our software.”
The future of WordPress relies on its users, and the community that builds it. By continuing to improve the software and creating accessible spaces for all users WordPress is creating the foundation to thrive in the future.
Gutenberg: Next with Matt Mullenweg
Matt Mullwenweg revealed the release of WordPress version 6.3 “Lionel” to the audience with a video displaying the new features introduced and improved.
The space theme of the video was an homage to the session “For All Userkind: NASA Web Modernization and WordPress” where NASA announced the redesign of their website on WordPress.
The new default theme for twenty-twenty-four is tailored for entrepreneurs and small businesses, photographers and artists, and writers and bloggers, per WordPress.org. Mobilizing the interest of WordPress and WooCommerce to expand its user market to more users.
Per Mullenweg, Gutenberg is entering the third phase of its mission, Collaboration. Users will soon be able to collaborate with others on the same page or post and be able to differentiate what person made edits, something not possible as of yet. As these are part of Gutenberg rather than WordPress any technology that builds on top of Gutenberg would get access to these features. Such as Drupal integrating the Gutenberg builder as a possible extension.
As all WordPress plugins share the same code, however as the platform changes and Gutenberg continues to implement advances, the thought of collaboration has been on Mullenweg’s mind.
“It’s kind of a beautiful example of what I think was originally inspired by open source. […] It’s this idea of a positive sum capitalism. Where we can all work together, […] we all have so much more in common than we have differences.”
It was with this that he expanded on Guteberg’s collaboration phase with the introduction of WordPress LMS.
Learning Management System plugins help users create online courses (lessons, quizzes, etc.) right in their website, rather than using a third party.
Tutor LMS, LearnDash, Lifter LMS, and Sensei (owned by Automattic) partnered together to discuss the data models used across these plugins.
These changes could ensure all LMS plugins share the same SQL column names or remove singular plugin logins to facilitate data migration.
The heart of the project focuses on creating industry standards for this partnership, so users have the freedom to choose among a fair variety of plugin choices that agree on good standards for customers.
“And I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t get me thinking on how to get this interop in the SEO plugins, and the builder plugins? […] How can we get them [to agree] on data models so there’s a more standard and performant way to put all this in.”
This project is separate from Canonical plugins, and a work in progress; therefore it is likely that more changes may come in the future.
The final topic Mullenweg focused on was the concept of Long-Term Thinking and how it applies to WordPress as a whole.
In the Q&A session following Mulleweg’s keynote, he mentions that his vision for the Longevity of WordPress is the project continuing to thrive past his lifetime.
“My vision is [WordPress] outlasting me for sure […] How I think about it is how we approached this long-term thinking. What’s the magic that makes WordPress work? What are structures that get us wound around our axles? What does good leadership look like? Where do we mess it up sometimes?”
With the topic of long-term thinking taking an important role in the WordPress community, Matt announced that Automattic would now be offering 100 year hosting plans at $38,000 USD.
As the CMS grows, Mullenweg highlighted the importance of the community and mutual collaboration that has made WordPress possible, calling to the podium the WordCamp US Organizer committee for this year’s conference.
With a record-breaking attendance of nearly 2,000 individuals, WordCamp US 2023 showcased the unyielding dedication of the community to come together, learn, and collaborate.
The event’s resounding success highlights the importance of fostering connections and knowledge-sharing within the WordPress ecosystem.
WordCamp US 2023 will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact, inspiring us all to embrace change, celebrate unity, and look ahead to a future where WordPress’s potential knows no bounds.