State of the Word 2021, the annual keynote from WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg, happened on December 14. The hybrid event took place in New York City with a small audience (proof of vaccination required). As Matt said, “we had people join by plane, train, and automobile.” Those who didn’t make the trek to the live event watched the livestream from wherever they call home, all around the world.
It was an exciting moment for the WordPress community which also celebrated its first in-person WordCamp in Sevilla, Spain, after a lengthy hiatus for in-person events.
It was thrilling to see so many meetup organizers host watch parties worldwide. Twenty-eight watch parties were held across eleven countries, with more than 300 RSVPs.
Similar to past State of the Word events, Matt covered a broad range of topics. This year was no different. WordPress’ past, present, and future were in the spotlight, with highlights on the growth of the contributors, language translations, recent release milestones, and educational initiatives, to name a few.
Audience members and livestreamers alike viewed product demos showcasing upcoming features that will be the hallmark of WordPress 5.9, such as full site editing, block patterns, global styling options, and enhanced image controls.
Matt took the opportunity to remind everyone of the WordPress roadmap which includes native multi-lingual support and real-time collaborative site editing. He also pointed out that anyone can contribute to WordPress’ progress through a number of different initiatives ranging from creating new features and testing to helping spread the word and educate others.
Matt emphasized the way that open source software gets better by reminding everyone that “The more people that use a program like WordPress, the better it gets.”
Broader topics covering the tech landscape including web3, merger and acquisition activity, as well as the growth and support of open source software, rounded out the energetic presentation.
The one-hour multimedia presentation was followed by an interactive question and answer session where Matt fielded questions that were submitted ahead of the event, as well as questions from the livestream and studio audience.
WordPress 5.9 Beta 3 is now available for testing!
This software version is still under development. Please do not run this software on a production site; install it on a test site, where you can try out the newest features and get a feel for how they will work on your site.
You can test the WordPress 5.9 Beta 3 in three ways:
Option 1: Install and activate theWordPress Beta Testerplugin (select the “Bleeding edge” channel and “Beta/RC Only” stream).
Option 3: If you use WP-CLI to upgrade from Beta 1 or Beta 2 to Beta 3 on a case-insensitive filesystem, please use the following command sequence:
wp core update --version=5.9-beta2
wp core update --version=5.9-beta3 --force
The current target for the final release of 5.9 is January 25, 2022, which gets closer every minute. Your help testing this beta is vital: the more testing that happens, the more stable the release, and the better the experience for users and developers—and the entire WordPress community.
Since Beta 2,14 bugs have been fixed. Here are a few of the changes you will find in Beta 3:
Editor: Add FSE infrastructure from Gutenberg plugin into Core (#54335).
Formatting: Allow PDFs to embedded as objects (#54261)
WordPress 5.9 Beta 2 is now available for testing!
This software version is still under development. Please do not run this software on a production site. Instead, install it on a test site, where you can try out the newest features to get a feel for how they will work on your site.
You can test the WordPress 5.9 Beta 2 in three ways:
Option 1: Install and activate the WordPress Beta Testerplugin (select the “Bleeding edge” channel and “Beta/RC Only” stream).
Option 2: Direct download the beta version here (zip).
Option 3: When using WP-CLI to upgrade from Beta 1 to Beta 2 on a case-insensitive filesystem, please use the following command sequence:
wp core update --version=5.9-beta1
wp core update --version=5.9-beta2 --force
The current target for the final release of 5.9 is January 25, 2022, which is just seven weeks away. Your help testing this version is a vital part of making this release as good as it can be.
SinceBeta 1, 24 bugs have been fixed. Here are a few of the changes you will find in Beta 2:
Block Editor: Block template theme error related to child themes (#54515)
General: Fixing existing links to Customizer when the Site Editor is enabled (#54460)
Media: Media library showing only the selected image (#53765)
Media: Fatal error uploading media on PHP8 (#54385)
REST API: Add Global Styles REST API endpoints from Gutenberg into Core (#54336)
Also, note that some users testing 5.9 Beta 1 faced some fatal errors upon upgrade. In turn, these errors revealed the need for some extra work on the filesystem and upgrader. Those fatal errors are no longer a problem, and the enhancements will be part of version 6.0.
How You Can Help
Do some testing!
Testing for bugs is vital for polishing the release in the beta stage and a great way to contribute.
If you think you’ve found a bug, please post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac. That’s also where you can find a list of known bugs.
Despite the holiday season being around the corner, the WordPress project didn’t slow down. In a recent episode of WP Briefing, Executive Director Josepha Haden shares the first thing she wants people to notice about WordPress, which is also the heart of this open source project:
Now, the first thing I want people to see on that site is that WordPress has not only 18 years of learned knowledge that every single new user benefits from, but that it also has thousands of really smart people making sure it works and gets better every day.
Josepha Haden, Executive Director of the WordPress project
As always, contributors across various teams are working hard to ensure the upcoming release of WordPress 5.9 doesn’t disappoint. With State of the Word 2021 coming up soon, there are many exciting things in the works. Read the November 2021 edition of the Month in WordPress to learn more about what’s happening.
WordPress 5.9: Expected to release on January 25, 2022
WordPress 5.9 Beta 1 was recently released and is available for testing. This version of the WordPress software is under development. Check out the release post to learn more about what’s new in version 5.9 and how you can help testing.
WordPress 5.8.2, a security and maintenance release, was out on November 10, 2021. This release includes two bug fixes and one security fix.
Are you interested in contributing to WordPress core? Join the #core channel, follow the Core Team blog, and check out the team handbook. Also, don’t miss the Core Team’s weekly developer chat on Wednesdays at 8 PM UTC.
Gutenberg releases: 11.9 and 12.0 are out
Two new Gutenberg versions have been released!
Version 11.9.0 brings new Gutenberg blocks for working with post comments, a fullscreen pattern explorer modal, further iterations on the Navigation block, and many other improvements.
Gutenberg 12.0.0, released on November 24, improves the Block Styles preview and includes featured image block visual enhancements, a site Editor welcome guide, official JSON schema updates, and much more.
Team updates: Nominations for some team representatives are still underway
Requests 2.0.0 has been released. This release is fully compatible with PHP 8.0 and 8.1, indicating that a legacy codebase can be modernized, made more stable and secure without breaking backward-compatibility. The Requests project is a dependency of WordPress core, which was adopted into the WordPress organization earlier this year.
Feedback/Testing requests: Test WordPress 5.9 Beta 1; Take the 2021 Annual WordPress Survey to share your experience
WordPress 5.9 Beta 1 is now available for testing and we’d like to hear from you! Testing is vital to ensure the release is as good as it can be—it’s also a great way to contribute. Read the comprehensive guide, “Help test WordPress 5.9 Features,” to learn how to test WordPress 5.9 Beta 1 and report any bugs.
WordPress 5.9 Beta 1 is now available for testing!
This version of the WordPress software is under development. You don’t want to run this version on a production site. Instead, it is recommended that you run this on a test site. This will allow you to test out the new version.
You can test the WordPress 5.9 Beta 1 in three ways:
Option 1: Install and activate the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (select the “Bleeding edge” channel and “Beta/RC Only” stream).
Testing for bugs is a critical part of polishing the release in the beta stage. It is also a great way to contribute. If you’ve never tested a beta release before, this detailed guide will help walk you through what and how to test.
Want to know what’s new in version 5.9? Read on for some highlights.
Full Site Editing
The Styles Interface
Combine all the features that went live in 5.8 with those making their entrance in 5.9, and you get Full Site Editing.
Formerly known as Global Styles, the Styles Interface lets you interact directly with your blocks and elements right in the WordPress Admin. From typography to color palettes, this cohesive design interface means a design change—even a dramatic one—can happen without a theme switch. No code needed.
Introduced in WordPress 5.8, theme.json has been improved to enable features and default styles for your site and its blocks. With 5.9, theme.json can support child themes and the duotone treatment. Coordinate layers of style with theme.json, taking the weight off of your theme’s required CSS.
Other features supported by theme.json include:
Border: color, style, and width augment the border-radius property that landed in 5.8.
Flex layouts: Block Gap support, courtesy of spacing.blockGap.
Typography: font families, font style, font weight, text decoration, and text transform.
A New Navigation Block
Welcome to the most intuitive way to build navigation: the Navigation Block.
Here are the features that need testing the most:
Responsive menu options you can turn off, have always on, or opt to use only for small screens.
Built-in keyboard accessibility. For accessibility, for speed, or both.
Add extra blocks like Search and Site Icon blocks (and customize them to your liking).
Submenu items with styling options.
Horizontal or vertical alignment.
Reusable navigation? Even across themes? Yes. Because the Navigation Block you build gets saved as a custom post type.
A Better Gallery Block
What if you could treat single images in your Gallery Block the same way you treat the Image Block? Now you can.
Make every image in your gallery different from the next, with inline cropping or a duotone and change layouts with the ease of drag and drop. With the improved gallery block, every image is its own Image block.
Building template parts can take a level of focus all its own because you’re making decisions for the entire site. So WordPress 5.9 adds a focus mode that shows you only the part you’re working on right now (and you can get back to the regular view with a keystroke).
Block Pattern Directory
The Pattern Directory offers a range of prebuilt block patterns, from a couple of blocks that show an image and text, to an entire page layout with columns and sections. Since the 5.8 release, the directory has become a hub for exploratory UI and patterns, taking submissions and offering them to the community. So now, your creation can help other people build out their perfect site.
Twenty Twenty-Two Default Theme
A whole new way of building WordPress themes.
WordPress 5.9 introduces features that make Full Site Editing possible, including the first default block theme.
Using minimal CSS, theme styles reside in theme.json so that you can configure them in the Styles interface of the WordPress Admin. Make this theme take on its own personality site-wide, with a wide array of color schemes, type combinations, page templates, premade components (forms), and image treatments to choose from.
More Improvements and Updates
Do you love to blog? New tweaks to the publishing flow let you add new posts just seconds after hitting Publish on your latest post.
List View lets you drag and drop content as easily as you could always cruise through it – and collapse entire sections – so you can concentrate on a task or get the bigger picture.
In this series, we share some of the inspiring stories of how WordPress and its global network of contributors can change people’s lives for the better. This month we feature a translator and campaigner who uses WordPress to highlight good causes and helps people in her area benefit from the open source platform.
Going to a WordCamp can be a life-changing experience, as Devin Maeztri discovered. Every event she attends is a further step on a journey of discovering the WordPress community and its many opportunities.
Devin’s first experience with camps came when she volunteered impromptu at an Indonesian event, WordCamp Denpasar, Bali in 2016.
Here, she made a profound discovery: “WordCamps can bring people who will give back to the community, even if they don’t get anything from WordPress directly.”
With every WordCamp after that first experience, she became more interested in WordPress and the community.
Over time, Devin found she wanted to be part of WordPress events more often. She became a regular at Meetups in Ubud and Jakarta, joining as a co-organizer at WordCamp Jakarta in 2017 and 2019. Later, she took on the role of co-organizer for Meetups in Jakarta and Ubud.
Smitten by what WordCamps can offer and how they can bring people together across national borders, she joined the organizing team for WordCamp Asia 2020. Sadly, this event was to become the first major WordPress event to be cancelled in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Naturally, Devin hopes WordCamp Asia will happen someday very soon. Beyond the expected WordPress learning and sharing that event will promote, she believes its very scale will showcase how WordCamps add international tourism and cultural understanding everywhere they take place.
Showing how WordPress can be used locally
After experiencing several events, Devin had questions: “At WordCamps and Meetups, you hear stories about how WordPress powers the web. How it changes the lives of so many people, how it helps dreams come true. It made me think, considering WordPress is that powerful, why are there not even more people in Indonesia using websites, and more using WordPress? Why aren’t more talented Indonesian WordPress users, developers, designers, and business owners taking part in WordPress.org projects? Language, for me, was the main answer.”
The solution Devin felt was to make WordPress available in the main local language. She said: “I believe, the more content translated into Indonesian, the more Indonesian WordPress users see WordPress as more than just a blogging platform or a content management system. They will realize it’s a huge open source community that works together to make the web a better place. The more plugins and themes translated, the easier the work of the developer and designer will be. The more people see how WordPress can enhance their life, the better the ecosystem for business owners becomes.”
Encouraging others to translate WordPress
After talking with others about how WordPress could be even more useful in Indonesia, Devin felt she had to make a personal commitment to reviving the polyglot project in Indonesia. With another volunteer contributor and through promotion, the local polyglot team got bigger and the interest in translation grew. She also took on the responsibility of a General Translation Editor for the language.
Through the efforts of Devin and the other translation editors, Indonesia took part in WordPress Translation Day in 2020, and in 2021 held sprints and learning sessions spanning the whole 30 days of the event.
Her enthusiasm and dedication to helping others translate WordPress locally and promoting the global community were recognized in the Polyglot Appreciation Nominations for 2021.
Helping to give access to more diverse audiences
Through her involvement in translation, Devin noticed there were not many women involved in the WordPress community in Indonesia. Often, she found herself the only woman at an event.
So, along with a couple of community members, she started Perempuan WordPress, a local initiative. This group is open for everyone to join, but prioritizes women as event speakers.
Devin has gone on to support the work of the Diversity Speaker Training group in the Community Team, translating materials and promoting initiatives in Indonesia. She is keen to encourage others to get involved with this initiative which helps increase the diversity of presenters at Meetups and WordCamps.
In her professional roles, Devin is an advocate for WordPress as a tool for people with a wide variety of skill sets. She does not code, but uses the platform extensively for her projects. In 2014, she signed up for a free account on WordPress.com to keep and share notes about what she saw or was thinking about as she commuted on public transport to work. This site did not turn into a blog, but instead introduced her to other opportunities and the vast capabilities of the platform.
WordPress can support your skills and passions
With a background in environmental activism, Devin has worked for international development organizations on everything from policymaking to campaigning.
Behind the desk, she worked with policymakers and organized conferences and meetings. That meant doing a lot of writing and translating and working with people on the ground who were impacted by the policies. “My work on the ground usually involved researching, movement building and community empowerment,” she noted.
Her work with events inspired Devin to get involved in WordCamps and Meetups and share her energy for making things happen. As in her professional work, she felt WordPress was an opportunity to work and share with people about something that can make a positive impact on someone else’s life.
“For me, everything comes from the heart. I do things that I feel so strongly about. Things that call me, and things that I am good at but still giving me room to learn and become better at. WordPress can be the perfect place for this.”
While she was between jobs, Devin was encouraged to volunteer at WordCamp Denpasar 2016. With some help, she created an online CV. She also learned to manage a WordPress site, navigate the wp-admin, and make the content appeal to potential employers.
She eventually got a job as a campaigner to build a movement online and offline. The brainchild of many university friends in America, who used digital campaigns to go global, the campaign used WordPress.
Devin worked alongside a digital campaigner and helped shape the content, the call to action, and the user experience. She also had to use the wp-admin to make some amendments. As a global movement, it developed its resources in English, so she also reviewed the work of the translators she worked with.
She left her job as a campaigner at the end of 2018 to concentrate on freelancing – and to spend more of her free time contributing to the WordPress community. She also took up the initiative to help street cats in Jakarta.
Devin said: “So, I am busy helping these cats but also learning how to fundraise using a website. I’m learning to use online forms, set up a payment service provider, work on SEO, and do other new things I need to learn to grow my initiative. I do have the privilege to learn directly from a personal guru. The same person who convinced me to volunteer at WordCamp Denpasar, and who I married in 2018.”
WordPress gives everyone a chance to learn
Devin was so enthused by being a contributor for WordPress, she took part in the video shorts following the Translation Day events.
She is also active in other Contributor Teams and decided to become a Community Team Deputy to support meetups in new cities across Indonesia and perhaps future WordCamps.
She said: “One of the things that I like about WordPress is that it is very welcoming and open to people like me, who don’t code at all. At the same time, it shows me a different way of looking at the world.”
Devin believes in the power of WordPress to give ‘everyone a chance to learn new things’ and allows her to contribute and share her knowledge and experience. “By contributing, I hope to make a difference in someone’s life. I hope they feel the benefit of using WordPress and want to give back to create a healthier WordPress community.”
Thank you to Abha Thakor (@webcommsat) and Mary Baum (@marybaum) for the interviews and writing this feature, and to Devin Maeztri (@devinmaeztri) for sharing her story. Thanks to Meher Bala (@meher) for work on the images, and to Chloé Bringmann (@cbringmann) and Collieth Clarke (@callye) for proofing.
This People of WordPress feature is inspired by an essay originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. It highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories might otherwise go unheard. #HeroPress #ContributorStory
Although attending State of the Word in person would be ideal, not all WordPress community members get to enjoy the experience of attending the speech live with friends.
This year, as State of the Word is streamed live for the second time, we want to restore that in person camaraderie through State of the Word watch parties for WordPress Community members around the world.
We encourage WordPress meetup organizers and community members worldwide to (safely) host State of the Word 2021 watch parties —read this handbook to learn more.
Why organize a watch party?
If you are a WordPress meetup organizer, many folks in your meetup may be unaware of the State of the Word, and a watch party could be a great opportunity to introduce or remind them.
As meetup organizers slowly bid goodbye to a tough year, the watch party could be an excellent opportunity to revitalize your group, especially if you haven’t had many events this year.
Along with your Meetup group members, you get a platform to ask questions directly to Matt Mullenweg.
And last but not least, even if you are not a Meetup Organizer, a watch party can be the perfect opportunity to reconnect and have a blast with your WordPress friends!
How do I organize a State of the Word watch party?
You can choose to host a watch party online or in person. Check out our handbook for detailed instructions on how to schedule an event (including event templates).
The simplest way to organize an online watch party is to schedule an online event for your WordPress group and add the State of the Word YouTube streaming link directly on Meetup.com. Alternatively, you can schedule an online meeting using tools like Zoom and broadcast the live stream over there by screen sharing––thereby facilitating better engagement.
If your region meets the guidelines for in person events (if vaccines and testing are freely available), you can organize an in person watch party event (for fully vaccinated OR recently tested OR recently recovered folks) for your WordPress Meetup! Group members can hang out together (following local safety guidelines of course) and watch State of the Word live.
We have prepared some email templates that Meetup Organizers can use to spread the word in their Meetup groups.
Don’t forget to share on social media about your watch party events using the hashtag #StateOfTheWord so we can join in on the fun!
NOTE: The guidelines in this post are primarily aimed at WordPress Meetup organizers. However, you do not need to be a Meetup organizer to schedule a watch party! You can simply hang out together with your friends online or in person (while following local safety guidelines) and catch the event live!
Join a State of the Word Watch Party near you!
We have compiled a list of State of the Word Watch Parties around the world. If you don’t see a watch party in your region listed here, check this page on Meetup.com to see if your local WordPress group is organizing one. If not, why don’t you consider organizing a watch party on your own? 🙂
If you are planning a watch party for State of the Word, and have questions, please drop us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. We are happy to help you in the best way possible.
New design tools will allow you to create exactly what you want, from adding filters to all your images to fine-tuning the border radius on all your buttons. With WordPress 5.9 providing more design control along with streamlined access to patterns, you can easily change the entire look and feel of your site without switching themes.
No matter what you’re editing, whether it’s crafting a new post or working on a header, improvements to List View make it simple to navigate content regardless of complexity. More improvements and features for everyone are to come in this release and we can’t wait to see what you create with WordPress 5.9!
To join State of the Word 2021 online, check your Meetup chapter for a local watch party, or simply visit wordpress.org/news, where the livestream will be embedded.
If you would like to participate in person in New York City, please request a seat by filling out the registration form by Sunday, November 28. Not all requests will receive a seat due to venue capacity, but everyone who requests one will receive further notification on Tuesday, November 30.
In person attendees will be asked to show their COVID vaccination card at the venue entrance, and are expected to follow the safety measures in place. Because of these safety measures, there is a maximum of 50 attendees.
Whether you participate in person or online, we are so excited to see you on December 14! Don’t forget, State of the Word will be followed by a Question & Answer session. If you have a question for Matt, you can send your question ahead of time to email@example.com, or ask during the event in the YouTube chat.