On December 11, WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg traveled to beautiful Madrid, Spain, to deliver his annual State of the Word keynote. It was the first time this event took place outside the United States. Against the backdrop of Palacio Neptuno—an iconic architectural gem and UNESCO World Heritage site—nearly 200 contributors, developers, extenders, and friends of the project came together to hear from Matt, with millions more joining online.

An introduction from the Executive Director

Kicking off the event, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, Executive Director of the WordPress project, spoke about the community’s heart and spirit as what fuels hope for the future, ensuring the freedoms of the open web for all. She invited Matt on stage with a closing statement of confidence that such values and characteristics will move the project forward into the next 20 as it has for the last 20.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy, Executive Director of the WordPress project, speaking at a podium

Looking back at 2023

Taking the stage, Matt shared his excitement about the event being the first international State of the Word. He honored the Spanish WordPress community for hosting, citing their past WordCamp accomplishments. From there, Matt jumped right into a reflection of this year’s notable moments. He recalled the project’s 20th-anniversary celebrations, how the software has evolved, and how much more the community came together this year—doubling the number of WordCamps to 70, taking place in 33 countries.

We’re always aiming to learn and improve. Tell us how to make meetups better.

Matt continued with callouts to several resources on WordPress.org: the all-new Events page, the redesigned Showcase, a new WordPress Remembers memorial, and the award-winning Openverse. He also demoed WordPress Playground, a tool allowing users to experiment with WordPress directly in their browsers, as well as the versatile Twenty Twenty-Four default theme.

Matías Ventura, Lead Architect of Gutenberg, speaking on stage at State of the Word

Collaborative editing and more

Matt recapped the four phases of the Gutenberg project, noting that work has begun on Phase 3: Collaboration before passing the microphone to Matías Ventura, Lead Architect of Gutenberg. 

After a quick interlude in Spanish, Matías acknowledged how much progress had been made on the software this year. He spoke about the aim of the Site Editor to become both an exemplary writing environment and a superior design tool while noting improvements to the Footnotes Block and the ease of Distraction Free mode.

While there was no set timeline for collaboration and workflows, Matías was excited to share a working prototype in the Editor. He showcased some of the most interesting aspects of collaborative editing, including establishing a sync engine that allows real-time edits to be visible across sessions. He invited contributors to test the prototype in the Gutenberg plugin and share their feedback in Github.

From there, Matías highlighted other exciting developments, including the emphasis on Patterns and their continued evolution as a powerful tool for workflows, and the ability to connect blocks to custom fields. He was thrilled to speak about performance improvements, noting that work is in progress to make the Editor at least twice as fast. Speaking about front-end performance, he shared what’s to come with a demo of the Interactivity API, showcasing how it can make transitions, search, and other interactions instant—all with standard WordPress blocks and features. 

Matías concluded with a look at how the Admin redesign will take cues from the Site Editor, eventually allowing users to shape their WordPress Admin experience based on their unique needs.

WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg speaking at a podium

AI and Data Liberation

Matt returned to the stage to expand on the future of WordPress, reinforcing his past advice to learn AI deeply. He expressed his excitement about what can be accomplished with the wealth of AI tools available, how contributors are already experimenting with natural language processing and WordPress Playground to create and build.

Finally, Matt introduced an additional focus for the project in 2024: Data Liberation, with the goal to make importing from other platforms into WordPress as frictionless as possible. He spoke about the tendency of content management systems to keep users locked in as part of his motivation to unlock digital barriers. The Data Liberation initiative will work on one-click migration and the export format from WordPress. 

More than just tools, Data Liberation reflects the project’s ethos to allow seamless contributions. With that, Matt invited anyone interested to jump into the action, noting a new Data Liberation GitHub repository and forthcoming Making WordPress Slack channels as places to get started.

Questions and answers

Following the presentation, Matt fielded questions from the live-stream and in-person audiences during an interactive question-and-answer session hosted by Jose Ramón Padrón (Moncho).

Additional questions from the live session will be answered in a follow-up post on make.WordPress.org/project. Subscribe to our blog notifications to be sure you don’t miss it. And don’t forget to mark your calendars for next year’s WordCamp Asia (Taipei, Taiwan), WordCamp Europe (Torino, Italy), and WordCamp US (Portland, Oregon, United States).

Thank you to @laurlittle, @eidolonnight, @nilovelez, @fepr, @cbringmann, and the many others who made this event and post possible.

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