Making the future together at WordCamp Europe 2018

Last week, seven of our FastComet members, including thousands of WordPress community members and I have gathered for the WordCamp Europe, and it has been an absolute blast! Just like it is every year. We had to leave bright and early on Sunday morning with heavy hearts, because we really loved all events during this WordCamp and cherished every single moment there. Tired, but at the same time excited, we’re back and ready for a new product launch (more info soon!) and several other ongoing projects. A week later, it seems logical to look back with smiles on our faces when we think about the largest European WordPress event of the year. Let us share our thoughts about it with you.

FastComet Team at WCEU 2018

What’s so special about WCEU?

For those who don’t know what a WordCamp is…yeah, it’s hard to describe. All in all, WordCamp is a conference that’s completely devoted to WordPress. It is an event that’s organized by volunteers only, made to bring people with similar interests together in a certain area and discuss, while also learning more about WordPress, collaborating on projects, networking, and much more.

But in its nature, WordCamp is a lot more than that. A WordCamp today is a good chance to reunite with some friends, make a couple of new ones. You can spread some of your expertise and knowledge with people to help the platform in its further growing and development, or learn everything you don’t know yet. The engagement and connections go beyond any other conference you could have ever attended. That’s really the core of open-source in countless ways.

WCEU is by far the largest annual community-lead WordCamp in Europe, and it’s one of the biggest globally. As such, WordCamp Europe has significant influence over the international spreading of WordPress. The event continued from June 14th to the 16th — only weeks after the WordPress 15th Anniversary. It was great to find out that the number of attendees has risen, while there were much fewer people that have not shown up. This year WCEU brought in 2085 visitors from 76 countries. The whole event was live-streamed to hundreds of viewers on the web. Many attendees were from Europe, but there was also no shortage of people from North America, Asia, etc. Nevertheless, it isn’t always only about the numbers; the event had plenty of memorable moments.

WCEU 2018 Location

After 4 years of hard work, WordCamp Europe 2018 took its place in beautiful Belgrade – the capital of Serbia. It is an old city in the center of the Balkans with great food, culture, amazing architecture, nightlife, and most importantly – an incredible open-hearted WordPress community. This was a wonderful opportunity for Serbia to show its worldwide famous hospitality. WordCamp 2018 is also an affirmation of long years of hard work that local people have been contributing to both the WordPress and open-source communities overall. It is worth noting that in just four years the WP community in Serbia grew exponentially – from 300 to roughly 7000 members! Is that a reason good enough for Belgrade to be the host of the WordCamp EU 2018? No doubt about it!

Belgrade, Serbia

We got a memorable taste of Serbian architecture with the WordCamp being split between two venues. The main conference happened in the colossal Sava Center. A short walk from the Sava was to the second area; the Belexpo Center. It was the primary social focus. Both the after party and contributor day were held inside Belexpo Center’s giant hall.

WCEU 2018 Sava Center

The organization of the whole event was undoubtedly perfect. Hats off to the people who thought about every single detail and made everyone’s experience memorable, ensuring that every person entering the Sava Center experienced a smooth registration process and was informed exactly where to go and what to do afterward.

Notable Sessions

The first day of WordCamp EU went on with a Contributor Day, followed by two days full of great talks. Spirits were as high as they could be and the Sava Center was filled with rookies, developers, designers, bloggers, web hosting professionals and more who were waiting to soak up all the sweet knowledge that industry leaders and influencers would share. The talks were very diverse, ranging from “how-to” workshops, presentations on SEO, finan­cial fore­cast­ing, helpful tips about building a business, social media marketing, and plenty more. With Gutenberg scheduled to go Core in WordPress 5.0, this was always going to be the WordCamp of Gutenberg. However, there was also a good focus on JavaScript, mental health, and accessibility.

FastComet Team at WCEU 2018

Matt Mullenweg: The Future of Gutenberg

The peak of day two was, of course, Matt Mullenweg’s awaited 50-minute keynote session, where he laid out the roadmap in details. Gutenberg will follow it for the next few months and all the things around WordPress they’re actively working on to a full audience. Matt is a huge inspiration for the whole WordPress community and the WordPress lovers always anticipate his lightning talk with lots of excitement.

Matt Mullenweg: The Future of Gutenberg - WCEU 2018

If by any chance you are still not familiar with Gutenberg, Matt describes it as much more than a simple editor. It’s supposed to be the next phase of WordPress which would keep it thriving for 15 years to follow. One of the main problems Gutenberg solves is the ease of editing content visually. Gutenberg offers editors the opportunity to have much more control over content layouts within a post. It does that simply by providing a flexible block-based user interface, which has been a very hot topic since it was initially announced that it would be included in WordPress version 5.0. You may also check our detailed overview of the Gutenberg WordPress editor.

The refreshed writing experience that will be provided by Gutenberg is only the beginning. Eventually, this new concept of “blocks” would apply to the whole site development and overall design experience. Matt also did not forget to share his excitement in regards to the copy-paste feature which has not been so easily accomplished in the past. You can now easily copy/paste from places such as Microsoft Word, Evernote, Office 365, Google docs, random web pages, and more.

The ultimate question was of course: when will Gutenberg and 5.0 be officially released?

We could have a 5.0 as soon as August. Some of these things that I put up there, I’m very, very sure about. The big thing that we’re not sure about is as we vastly increase the average usage of Gutenberg across hopefully 100,000 sites. “What’s gonna come in?”

The last part of roughly 20 minutes of the session entailed the well-known Q&A, allowing the audience to ask Mullenweg some important questions.

And the full Matt’s Gutenberg roadmap for the following months entails:

June 2018

  • Freeze new features into Gutenberg
  • Hosts, teachers, and agencies, invited to opt-in sites that they have influence over
  • Opt-in for wp-admin users on WordPress.com
  • Mobile App support in the Aztec editor across iOs and Android

July 2018

  • 4.9.x release with a strong invitation to install either Gutenberg or Classic Editor plugin
  • Opt-out for wp-admin users on WordPress.com
  • Heavy triage and bug gardening, getting blockers to zero
  • Explore expanding Gutenberg beyond the post into site customization

August 2018 and beyond

  • All critical issues resolved
  • Integration with Calypso, offering opt-in users
  • 100k+ sites having made 250k+ post using Gutenberg
  • Core merge, beginning the 5.0 release cycle
  • 5.0 beta releases and translations completed
  • Mobile version of Gutenberg by the end of the year

Gutenberg Team

Whether you hate it or love it, the new WP editor is on its way and it’s going to be an actual game-chang­er for the entire ecosystem. It is undoubtedly the current hottest topic in the entire WordPress community.

Also, Gutenberg was in the spotlight of an epic 3 hours workshop with the Gutenberg team, a concurrent 90-minute workshop for block building, and the keynote.

Mental Health

WordCamps are always great events for their focus on accessibility, but this year we also saw a good focus on mental health. This focus came out in the second half of day one with two talks; staying healthy in the digital space and easing the anxious mind.

The second day of the WordCamp was just as interesting and packed with plenty of useful talks and workshops.

Noel Tock: WordPress in 2019

Noel Tock took us along in his vision on how WordPress will look in 2019 (and actually later). According to Noel, WordPress is currently at the peak of its popularity and it has come to a point where it needs to chal­lenge its posi­tion in the mar­ket. The whole environment has radically changed.

WordPress has grown in more ways than we could have ever imagined, but what does the future hold?

However, according to him, WordPress can continue to grow, only we have to look less at the number of downloads or worldwide active installations. We have to start looking at how WordPress offers value to the user. He narrowed three main trends that stand out and are changing how WordPress is being perceived and used:

  • Plugins are losing value and becoming less important: the landscape of SaaS solutions is getting bigger and bigger. They do so well, that you do not want to use that functionality in your WordPress website anymore, but that you want to make use of that SaaS solution. In 2018 WordPress can do everything, but there are other players now which are more effective and efficient, across the spectrum. Think of Shopify, Wix, MailChimp, and Hubspot. And often these solutions focus on very specific problems. Where you used to write emails and send them through WordPress, you would rather do that with MailChimp. Further down the road, even MailChimp is not enough anymore. The tech stack is becoming more and more complex, and SaaS solutions are able to expose more complex business logic to non-technical users.

Noel Tock: WordPress in 2019 - WCEU 2018

  • The rise of platforms: With the growth of WordPress platforms are becoming one of the most important concepts in business today. Think of WooCommerce or Codable (a platform to outsource WordPress development). Current network platforms help in the creation of entirely new markets by connecting producers with consumers and vice versa.
  • Digital Experience Platforms (DXP): also pitched as the next evolution of CMS, DXP comes from the current rise of needs that digital has to fulfill for the customers. This also has to be done for the enterprises that are catering to those customers. Digital is not just in Marketing’s hands anymore. With all that changed, now the entire business is responsible for it. Users are presented with personalized content nowadays, can talk to devices (Alexa and Siri) and measure their heart rate during exercise on their smartwatch. The solutions become smarter and therefore offer the user a better experience.

The future of WordPress – and with Gutenberg in the short term – is that it will become a smarter CMS with a strong focus on analyzing, creating and publishing content. With smart autocorrect software, automatic image tagging in the media library and simple copy and pasting of text from a variety of editors, WordPress becomes more valuable to the users. According to Noel, WordPress should not only grow in numbers but in value. And that value comes by focusing on what WordPress is good at and making the system as smart as possible.

After Party – Inspiration from the past, aspiration for the future

Of course, no cool event ends without an after-party and so was with WordCamp Europe! The spectacular official WordCamp retro-futuristic show was a great ending to the 48 hour intensive WordPress experience. Represented by a blend of “retro” styles with a touch of futuristic technology, the retro-futurism accent of the party went through the subjects of tension between past, future, and the overall alienating and empowering effects of technology. If that sounds fun, well, it was! You could see Jedi and aliens, almost everywhere, running around with beer and snacks. No doubt, Yoast team totally nailed it!

FastComet Team having a blast with Yoast Team - WCEU 2018

It was the very first WordCamp After Party with live music, so people did not hesitate in hitting the dancefloor. Of course, we were among the people rocking the dance floor – because that’s what we do.

WordCamp Europe 2018 was amazing

Kudos to all of the coordinators, volunteers (more than 200!), sponsors and speakers, for making WordCamp Europe 2018 such an amazing experience. You did a great job!

FastComet and Pleask teams at WCEU 2018

What really makes WordPress great is the community that surrounds it. Community means a lot. It is what we do together that makes community matter. The WordPress community is always so friendly and open that you can always start conversations with a variety of people.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favor to ask. Community is solidarity, spreading love and sympathy. We’ve always believed in the pow­er of com­mu­ni­ties to change the world, espe­cial­ly when they are open-source, as Word­Press is. Today we are spreading the word about WordPress Spanish Community campaign #WPLovesCarla. She is a freelancer, co-organiser of WordCamp Madrid and a member of the WordPress community who needs a helping hand. Be sure to check and support https://wplovescarla.com/

… we have a small favor to ask. Community is all about solidarity, spreading love and support. We’ve always been strong believers in the pow­er that communities possess. They are able to change the world, espe­cial­ly when they are open to everyone like Word­Press. Today we are letting the world know more about the WordPress Spanish Community campaign a.k.a. #WPLovesCarla. She is a freelancer, co-organiser of WordCamp Madrid and a member of the WordPress community who needs a helping hand. Be sure to check and support https://wplovescarla.com/

Next Stop: Berlin?

It is no secret that WCEU 2019 will take its place in Berlin, Germany next June. The German WordPress community is known to be one of the most active in Europe.

WCEU 2019 Berlin Announcement

And if we thought the Sava Centre was big, then the Estrel Hotel and Congress Center take it up a notch with room for 12,000 people.

You can see pictures from WordCamp Europe in our Facebook album. We hope to see all of you again next year!

Were you a part of WordCamp Europe 2018? How was your trip there? Did you have as much fun as we did? Share your thoughts and experience with us. Let’s discuss in the comment section!

Elena

Elena oversees all Marketing, Product Management and Community efforts for FastComet and is in charge of telling the brand's story. Always pitching, she’ll share the FastComet vision with anyone who’ll listen. Elena helps our customers make the most of their web sites' and focuses on our inbound marketing efforts; everything from developing new online growth strategies, content creation, technical SEO, and outreach within the FastComet community. Her background includes Sales and Customer Relationship development, as well as Online Marketing.