Yesterday, I covered a lot of the lessons learned, myths debunked, and some of the fun of WordCamp 2007. Today, I want to give you some of the WordPress-related news and some of the interesting things we learned about how WordPress and the WordPress Community works.
In a nutshell, WordPress.com is the free hosted blog service run on WordPress and WordPressMU, the multi-user version of WordPress. It’s still WordPress, but allows a company, organization, or group to offer more than one blog for multiple bloggers with one core interface for the back end administration. Besides WordPress.com, Edublogs.org is a great example of WordPressMU in action with more than 50,000 bloggers, all educators.
WordPressMU is not for the average user. It’s not even for a blogger who wants to run three or four blogs. It’s for the group that wants to offer thousands of blogs.
The unique thing about WordPress.com is that it runs on WordPress, therefore, it serves as a testing ground for all things WordPress. With more than a million users, Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, can test drive new features in a controlled environment with more than a million beta testers.
With this kind of testing, each new version of WordPress released for full version users gets stronger, faster, and more flexible as many of the kinks have been worked out on WordPress.com users.
Developers, Matt Mullenweg, Ryan Boren, and Barry Abrahamson, among others, talked about how important it is that they speed up how WordPress works, controlling the efficiency of interaction on the database. Work that developer, Michael Adams, is doing on a new feature called “BackPress” will help share the data structure and add data to the database for things like the Windows Live Writer, a desktop-client, and do even more to allow WordPress to interact with other programs and services.
While some dis WordPress.com’s free blogging service, it makes many very happy with its carefree blogging (no code to fuss over, nor updates), and provides serious testing for WordPress development.
Here are some other WordPress news bits and pieces you might be interested in.
In Matt Mullenweg’s “State of the Word, he covered a lot of stats about WordPress and WordPress.com.
There have been ten releases of WordPress, 1,090 commits to the core programming of WordPress, and over 2.8 million downloads in the past year of WordPress.
On WordPress.com, there are now over a million blogs hosted, with each one offering at least 4 RSS feeds each – which is a lot of feed power. More than 20,212,994 posts have been published with over 1.6 billion page views. That is a lot of action on the WordPress.com servers.
Akismet has nailed billions of spam. It’s community interaction has helped slow down the release of comment spam on blogs and forums beyond WordPress, with every blog and forum administrator helping protect others by marking comment spam as spam.
WordPress has now taken over the WordPress Themes Viewer and cleaned out a lot of the “dead wood” Themes, which included copyright violators, duplicated Themes, link spammers, advertisement-filled Themes, and such. There are now 1,600 WordPress Themes and Matt Mullenweg has announced the start of the WordPress Theme Viewer Version 3.0, asking for help and input on how the new WordPress Theme Viewer should work.
WordPress Ideas is where WordPress users can give feedback and offer suggestions on what features they would like to see in upcoming versions of WordPress. The Ideas include voting and comments so you can let your voice be heard. There have been more than 713 ideas submitted with more than 36,000 votes. Many of these suggestions, such as tags, removing sponsored Themes from WordPress, creating a better Plugin database, making the default category optional, and many more have already been implemented into the core programming, and a lot more are seriously under consideration.
One of the other benefits of running WordPress.com is how it helps WordPress developers learn more about the impact of WordPress on host servers. The development of Automattic’s Hyperdatabase (HyperDB) is improving the speed and efficiency of handling the loads on WordPress.com, including their VIP Hosting service used by CNN, Om Malik, and other heavy traffic sites. WordPress.com is handling over 40 million hits per day of static and dynamic content with 7,000 database queries a second and 80,000 mem cache calls per second. Could your web host claim the same?
WordPress Features and Development
Matt admitted that while little work has been done to improve installation, upgrades, and WordPress Plugin updates, those are a priority for the WordPress development team over the next year.
He said that by the end of the year, WordPress Plugin updates should begin to appear in your WordPress Administration Panels linked to the database in the WordPress Plugin Directory. This will improve updating WordPress Plugins, especially when preparing to upgrade WordPress.
A new cache proxy called WPCP is coming soon, expected to speed up caching, and also provide validating the cache.
Basic storage handling features are improving, especially for storing images, videos, and other multi-media on-site and off-site. Also expect to see improvements in image and multimedia handling in upcoming versions.
The long awaited tag feature will be out in the September release of WordPress 2.3. It will function fairly similarly to the popular Ultimate Tag Warrior Plugin.
Liz Danzico of Happy Cog described some of the new WordPress Administration Panels coming in the WordPress 2.4 release around the end of the year. It is designed to put what users use the most in the fore and improve comments and posting for efficiency. It shouldn’t be a drastic update, but will increase efficiency and access.
Improvements to the Manage Panel with more control over how the posts are viewed by category, author, and date, as well as handling post drafts, are already in play on WordPress.com, including a new “draft” feature which saves a post as “Pending Review”. This is a great feature for multiple contributor blogs which require posts to be edited and reviewed by the administrator or editor before publishing.
A lot of discussion and suggestions were made for improving how WordPress handles comments, such as incorporating AJAX into the Comments panel to allow replying to comments from there instead of from the actual post, and threaded comments views in the Admin Panels, so expect to see improvements in that area over the next year.
The WordPress Community
The WordPress Community of volunteers and contributors is still alive and working hard. They are also looking for new blood.
Help is needed always on the WordPress.com Forums and WordPress Support Forums. If you have a handle on WordPress and would like to help others for a few minutes to a few hours a week, your help is needed.
WordPress Theme developers and Plugin authors are also encouraged to stay up to date with changes in the versions so they are ready for the next version of WordPress. Work is ongoing with the new WordPress Themes Viewer and Plugin Directory to keep authors informed up upcoming releases, though you can follow them through the WordPress Roadmap.
Work is underway to add and update information in the WordPress Codex, so stay tuned for more information on that.
A lot of help is needed for translating WordPress in to different languages and offering support for WordPress in those languages, too.
There are Mailing Lists for all volunteer activities, so sign up and catch up with what has been happening and get involved.
There is also a very strong desire by many to “take back” the WordPress IRC Live Chat and shunt off the social WordPress group that hangs out there to another channel and return that channel back to support. There should be news on that soon as well.
WordPress and Automattic are made up of listeners. It was amazing to be able to talk to the people who make our life of blogging much easier, and feel that they were indeed hearing our complaints, concerned about how we blog and how to make it better…many people told me that they appreciated the open honesty and integrity they felt from the whole WordPress crew.
For more information on the weekend conference, see WordCamp 2007 and the WordCamp 2007 Report by Patrick Havens and other contributors. And much thanks to all of Automattic and WordPress for a fantastic conference.