WordCamp Europe 2020 to be Held in Porto, June 4-6

WordCamp Europe 2020 to be Held in Porto, June 4-6

Another successful edition of WordCamp Europe concluded this weekend in Berlin. The event was the largest WordCamp in history, with 3,260 tickets sold and 2,734 attendees present on the ground. WCEU sold 800 more tickets than the previous year in Belgrade. Contributor Day gathered 611 attendees into 25 teams, and approximately 28% of them (169 attendees) were new WordPress contributors.

To cap off the conference, attendees enjoyed a lively celebration Saturday night, donning vintage outfits for an 80’s themed after party at the venue. The party included a controversial show that some attendees found offensive and unwelcoming. WCEU organizers have addressed this issue in a post. According to WordPress community organizer Andrea Middleton, “that part of the show did not match the expectations that they had set with the venue, and was a disappointing surprise.”

Despite the controversial after party show, the event received mostly positive feedback and many attendees reported that it was “best WCEU” they had ever attended.

In addition to breaking records as the largest WordCamp in history, organizers report that the majority of ticket holders (56%) were first time WCEU attendees.

“Berlin is an amazing city and by far one of the most popular locations for remote work in Europe,” 2019 global lead Milan Ivanovic said. “When we add on top the strong German community, with WordCamps across the country and four monthly WordPress meetups in Berlin alone, it was a no brainer that we would have a sold-out event. We also had an amazing line-up of speakers with 3 tracks and 3 workshops, along with on-time information shared to our attendees.”

WordCamp Europe 2020 to be Held in Porto, Portugal

At the conclusion of the event, organizers announced that next year WCEU is coming to Porto, June 4-6. Porto is Portugal’s second largest city, known for its beautiful beaches, port wine exports, bridges, vineyards, charming cobblestone streets, and affordability. It also has a vibrant and growing WordPress community. Portugal is home to Zé Fontainhas, one of the original creators of WordCamp Europe.

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Jose Freitas, who will be heading up the local team in Portugal, has been working with WordPress since 2008 and has been involved with the community since 2013. He said the Portuguese WordPress community has been working on its application to host WCEU for three years.

“We are thrilled to have WCEU in Porto next year,” Freitas said. “Portugal is indeed a small country but we have a good WordPress community. At Porto we have had a monthly WordPress Meetup since January 2014, without failing a month. WordPress is growing quickly in Portugal and every day we have people joining our community.”

The greater community is connected on Facebook through the WordPress Portugal group, which has more than 4,400 members.

“We found that for some people, mostly beginners, it’s difficult to start using the support forums,” Freitas said. “So we made a Facebook group and people can ask questions and receive help or feedback related to their projects. Most of the users are people that made their own websites and websites for non profit organizations.”

Up until now, Portugal has hosted one WordCamp per year, alternating between Porto and Lisbon locations. Following 2020, local organizers plan to host two camps per year, and WC Lisboa is expected to be scheduled for October 2020.

The Porto community had formidable competition in its journey to securing the opportunity to host WCEU 2020, beating out Athens, Granada, Manchester, and Torino. Freitas attributes his team’s success to its dedication to improving Porto’s application for the past three years, following a disappointing attempt in 2016.

“First it was only a dream,” Freitas said. “After, it was what if… We applied the first time in 2016 to WCEU 2017. We were in the final decision but the event went to Paris, as we all know. So we started right then the application to 2020.

“We made it better, stronger, complete with all the new requirements. Each WCEU was getting something new and in each one we added the new thing to our documentation. We made a strict budget, with realistic numbers in all parameters. I think that was important for the people who made the selection.”

WCEU 2020 sessions will be held in English. Freitas said the majority of Portuguese people have a good understanding of English and most in the WordPress community are fluent in both languages.

The maximum capacity for the venue is 8,000 people. WCEU’s arrangement for 2020 allows attendance to go up to 4,000, in case the event has another record-breaking year.

“We have a wonderful venue in the city center and surrounded by a garden and a balcony with amazing views of the river and part of the city,” Freitas said.

WCEU 2019 local lead Bernhard Kau will be joining the 2020 team as one of the global leads to provide a smooth transition from one year to the next. Attendees can expect some of the successful aspects of the 2019 event to make a return at next year’s WCEU.

“The additions of WP Cafe and Wellness at WCEU were a big success and I would love to have more space for them at WordCamp Europe 2020 in Porto,” Kau said. “There are also some other ideas helping attendees staying healthy, both physically and mentally.

“As I have never been to Portugal, I am very excited to visit another country. I have met some members of the Portuguese Community on WordCamps throughout Europe and they are some of the most friendly people you can find.”

For those who are considering adding WCEU 2020 in Porto to their calendars, Freitas offered a preview of what attendees can expect:

Imagine yourself… it is June, 3, 2020. There’s one day to go before WCEU.

You go to the city center to know a little of the city. You walk in small and narrow streets and find that some of those have a history of more that a thousand years. You ask some directions, because you don’t want to use smartphone maps, and people are nice and even offer to take you to the place that is only 500 meters way.

You go to the very old part of the city and realize that it wasn’t changed for many, many years. It was not changed because people didn’t want to and because now it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site.

You sit near the river and look at the bridge designed and build by a student of Eiffel (yep, that Eiffel). The sun has made the Douro river look like silver and you finally get why the Romans gave the name of Porto (port) to the place.

It’s time to lunch some tasty and delightful Portuguese food. Don’t skip the dessert. To burn some calories you’ll go to the check the venue.

You pass the old Reitoria building (the place were the university principal used to work) – Porto has the biggest Portuguese university – and see a garden with trees, flowers and even some peacocks.

You enter there and find the way to the venue: it looks like the top of a spaceship, like the ones in the movies. There’s a banner: “WordCamp Europe 2020.”

Now you feel that you’re only a few hours away from the moment you have been waiting for. But, let’s go because you have to see other parts of the city.

The next day, you join hundreds of WordPress people who are helping the community in Contributor Day. There is a lot to do before the two conference days and workshops, before visiting the sponsors area, before meeting some of the nice folks that you didn’t see since last year, before making new friends.

After all, it’s possible to make new friends in an event of thousands of people.

WordCamp Europe is made possible every year by a massive team of organizers and volunteers who help keep costs low, in addition to sponsors.

The 2020 team put out the call for organizers after announcing the host city. In the first 24 hours, the team has already received 30 applications. The deadline to apply is July 15, 2019. Calls for sponsors, volunteers, and speakers will come after organizers are selected, as the year-round work of organizing WCEU continues again for 2020.

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Matt Mullenweg’s Summer Update at WordCamp Europe 2019: Gutenberg’s Progress and a Preview of Upcoming Features

Matt Mullenweg’s Summer Update at WordCamp Europe 2019: Gutenberg’s Progress and a Preview of Upcoming Features

image credit: WCEU Photography Team

Matt Mullenweg took the stage at WordCamp Europe in Berlin this afternoon to give a summer update on the progress of the block editor. He attributed much of its continued success to the availability of the Gutenberg plugin, which allows for quick iteration and testing. More than 150,000 posts are published per day using the block editor, which Mullenweg said is “a testament to the long development period” that gave the team an opportunity to work out bugs and make it usable for a large number of people.

Since its initial release, the block editor has added a host of notable improvements, including block management capabilities, a cover block with nested elements, widgets as blocks, block grouping, and snackbar style notices.

Mullenweg highlighted a few beautiful and innovative examples of Gutenberg in the wild. Two projects from Human Made showcase Gutenberg-powered designs (artefactgroup.com) and an AI integration that analyzes a user’s writing in the editor (ingenuity.siemens.com.)

Election season is ramping up in the U.S. and Gutenberg-powered sites, like hurst4delegate.com, are starting to pop up. Mullenweg noted that 21/24 of the current democratic candidates for President are using WordPress for their sites. Whitehouse.gov also switched from Drupal to WordPress earlier this year.

Mullenweg also gave a quick preview of some of the upcoming Gutenberg features that are currently being developed on GitHub. Most of them are still in the prototype stage. The team is creating a system to install new blocks online, which will tie into the planned block directory. Mullenweg said Blocks could become a new top-level menu item in the WordPress admin, with screens dedicated to block discovery.

He showed demos of the navigation block in progress, a prototype for adding realistic motion to block movement, an experimental footnotes block, and a demo of resizing images with “snap to grid” capabilities. Mullenweg said one of the goals with Gutenberg is to “make it possible to create beautiful experiences, because that’s part of what the web needs to win.”

Mullenweg also gave an update on Gutenberg’s progress in the mobile apps. He said the new editor is operational but development is slow moving because the mobile engineers essentially have to duplicate all of the work that has been done by hundreds of Gutenberg contributors thus far.

Q&A Highlights Governance, Core Maintenance, and the Future of WordPress Themes

The Q&A portion of the session featured a variety of topics, ranging from an aggressive tirade about licensing and Envato, to more relevant inquiries about the future of WordPress themes. While this format of interaction has its shortcomings, it gives community members the opportunity to check on the status of issues where they have a particular interest.

One attendee asked if WordPress.org plans to implement a more democratic structure for decision making. Mullenweg seemed to interpret the question as referencing a system where tens or hundreds of millions of WordPress users would participate in making decisions on features through a vote or some other form of feedback. In contrast, he said WordPress’ current approach is for leadership to try to get a sense for what the most common issues are through polls and public channels and allow those issues to help shape the project’s roadmap.

Mullenweg shared that one particular issue on his mind right now is the problem of “how do I make my theme look like the demo?” He said contributors are experimenting with different types of models for making decisions that move WordPress in the direction to solve these types of problems.

He said that the project’s decision making is fairly transparent, without a lot of mystery, and that the community has tons of feedback mechanisms. This is a somewhat controversial claim, as regular project contributors have expressed frustration with the lack of communication surrounding important planning and decisions, such as release dates and project timing, as it pertained to how WordPress 5.0 landed. The community was frustrated by a lack of effective ways to communicate critical issues and complaints to project leadership. As a followup to this specific feedback, Josepha Haden, the new Executive Director of the WordPress project, has been diligent to track and communicate how leadership is working to improve communication.

Another attendee asked if WordPress themes will become obsolete after Gutenberg gains more site-building capabilities. Mullenweg predicted they will always be a part of WordPress but seemed inclined to let the market decide the fate of themes.

“I don’t know,” he said. “They are going to change for sure. I don’t think they ever go away.” He said he could see developers offering an array of different designs that could be used as a starting point. Although a WordPress theme has a very specific definition right now (as far as what types of files are included), Mullenweg said he can see that definition evolving over time. He said he could see themes becoming like a starter template or a library of patterns to choose from, or even a set of complex layouts that could work across different themes.

“I think we’re going to decouple themes a little bit but I don’t know how or what that will look like,” Mullwenweg said. He also noted that a lot of themes right now represent a similar aesthetic, often business minimalist that use white and blue colors. Design trends have the potential to shift dramatically as Gutenberg and themes evolve to allow users more control over how their sites are designed.

It is no secret that the WordPress development community is eager to switch to GitHub or another Git-based infrastructure for core development. Most of the recent feature projects have successfully matured on GitHub, with the majority of work and discussion taking place outside of Trac. One attendee asked about the possibility of moving away from Trac in the near future. Mullenweg said that this year the team that works on WordPress.org is prioritizing changes to the directory, but in the meantime anyone with Python knowledge is welcome to contribute to tweaking Trac for improvements in the interim before WordPress moves to Git-based development.

In response to a question about blockchain technology and WordPress, Mullenweg said he has long been an enthusiast in this area and loves the idea of open source applying to money, as well as having a distributed ledger.

“But I can’t think of any problem in core WordPress right now that the overhead of a blockchain would really improve,” he said. “Everything I could think of right now would probably be plugin territory.” However, he said that the WordProof plugin’s timestamping WordPress content on the blockchain is among one of the best ideas he has seen for this technology so far.

When asked how he plans to “balance chasing the new and shiny with all of WordPress’ existing legacy APIs,” Mullenweg said that “PHP is going to be crucial to us for many years to come.” He recognized that the project has fallen behind in maintenance with some of its older APIs but that work on Gutenberg can be done in parallel.

The new triage team is currently going through all the tickets, refreshing patches, and working on taking them to resolution. Mullenweg noted that WordCamp Europe hosted the first ever triage table at its contributor day and said that this new area is ripe for contribution.

The REST API, despite its broad support and noteworthy contributors, is one area that Mullenweg said has held Gutenberg back. He said it still does not have the demonstrated use that its advocates predicted when working to get it merged into core and cautioned that WordPress should always use an API first before shipping it to the world.

Mullenweg concluded the Q&A by estimating that Gutenberg is only 10% of the way down the road towards solving the problems that WordPress contributors set out to tackle. He predicts that building on this initial effort will carry into the next decade.

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WordCamp Europe Publishes 2019 Speaker Lineup, Contributor Day Registration is Now Open

WordCamp Europe Publishes 2019 Speaker Lineup, Contributor Day Registration is Now Open

WordCamp Europe 2019 is 66 days away. The event will be held in Berlin on June 20-22, occupying 13,000m² of the Estrel Congress Center. More than 2,266 tickets have been sold so far, roughly 100 tickets short of what the event sold last year.

All 59 speakers have now been announced and the schedule is published on the website. Organizers added a third track this year to accommodate the various lightning and traditional talks, workshops, and panels.

WordCamp Europe received a record-breaking number of submissions and applicants this year after making a stronger effort to improve representation of the diversity of the WordPress’ community. Organizers received 453 submissions from 267 applicants, a 20 percent increase over 2018 submissions. Approximately 1% (4 applicants) identified outside of the gender binary, 34% were female, and 65% male. The breakdown for 2019 selected speakers is 43.4% female and 56.6% male.

Contributor Day registration opened today and will close May 31, 2019. The event will take place on June 20, one the day before the main conference in the same venue. Organizers have build a new Contributor Orientation Tool to help new contributors identify one or more of the Make WordPress teams where they can apply their skills. Tickets are free for WCEU attendees but spots are limited. There were only 157 Contributor Day tickets remaining this morning and those places are going quickly.