Making the future together at WordCamp Europe 2018

Last week, seven FastComet members, including thousands of members of the WordPress community and me came together 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 a heavy hearts, because we really loved everything we were part of at this WordCamp and cherished every moment we spent there. Tired, but nevertheless excited, we’re back with full power, ready for a new product launch (more info soon!) and several other ongoing projects. A week later, it seems natural to look back on the biggest European WordPress event of the year and share our thoughts on it.

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. In a nutshell, a WordCamp is a conference devoted to all things WordPress. It’s an event organized solely by volunteers and designed to bring people in a certain area together to discuss and learn about WordPress, networking, collaborate on projects, and so much more.

But in its nature, WordCamp is a lot more than that. A WordCamp today is a chance to see some old pals, make some new ones, teach and learn everything you can, and, best of all, share your expertise and knowledge with others to help the platform grow and develop. The engagement and connections go beyond any other conference you could have ever attended. That’s really the heart of open-source in so many ways.

WCEU is by far the largest annual community-lead WordCamp in Europe, and it is one of the biggest WordCamps in the world. As such, WordCamp Europe plays a significant role in spreading WordPress globally. The event ran from June 14-16— just weeks after the 15th Anniversary of the first WordPress release. Great news to hear was that the number of passionate attendees rose and the no-shows dropped. This year WCEU brought in 2085 visitors from 76 countries around the globe. The event was live-streamed to hundreds of viewers across the web. Many of the attendees were from the EU, but there was no shortage of visitors from North America, Asia, and other regions. But it isn’t always about the numbers; the event had many memorable moments.

WCEU 2018 Location

After 4 years of hard work, WordCamp Europe 2018 was held in the beautiful city of Belgrade. The capital of Serbia, Belgrade, is an old city in the center of the Balkans with fantastic food, culture, great architecture, nightlife, and most importantly – an incredible open-hearted WordPress community. This was a wonderful opportunity to show the hospitality Serbia is famous for and is also an affirmation of years of hard work that people from this region have contributed to the WordPress and open-source communities in general. It is worth noting that in just four years WordPress community in Serbia grew from 300 to almost 7000 members! How’s that for good enough reason for Belgrade to host WordCamp Europe 2018?

Belgrade, Serbia

We got a good taste of Serbian architecture with the event split between two venues. The main conference was held in the colossal Sava Center. A short walk from Sava was the second area; the Belexpo Center. This was the main social focus with both the after party and contributor day held inside the giant hall.

WCEU 2018 Sava Center

The organization of this event was nothing less than perfect. Hats off to the entire organizing and volunteer team who took into account every single detail to make the experience of everyone truly memorable ensuring that everyone entering the Sava Center had a smooth registration process and knew exactly what to do and where to go afterward.

Notable Sessions

The first day of WordCamp Europe started with a Contributor Day, followed by two days full of great talks. Spirits were high and the Sava Center abuzz from rookies, developers, designers, bloggers, web hosting professionals and more who were ready to soak up knowledge from industry leaders and influencers. The talks were very diverse, ranging from “how-to” workshops, presentations on Search Engine Optimization, finan­cial fore­cast­ing, tips for building your business, social media marketing, and so much 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 detailed roadmap Gutenberg will go 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, it is what Matt describes as more than an editor and the next phase of WordPress that will keep it thriving for the next 15 years. One of the key problems that Gutenberg solves is making it easier to edit content visually. Gutenberg allows editors to have more control of content layouts within a post by providing a simple and flexible user interface based on blocks. This has been a hot topic of discussion since it was first announced that it would be included in WordPress version 5.0. You may also check our detailed overview on the Gutenberg WordPress editor.

But the new writing and content experience that Gutenberg will provide is just the beginning. Eventually, the concept of content “blocks” will apply to the entire website development and design experience. Matt also mentioned his excitement surrounding the copy and paste feature which has not been easily accomplished in the past.  You can now copy and paste from places like Microsoft Word, Office 365, Evernote, random web pages, Google docs, 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 20 minutes of the session included the well-known Q&A, allowing members of the community to ask Mullenweg pressing questions.

And the full Matt’s Gutenberg roadmap for the upcoming months looks like this:

June 2018

  • Freeze new features into Gutenberg
  • Hosts, agencies, and teachers invited to opt-in sites 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

Hate it or love it the new editor of WordPress is on its way and yes, it is going to become a real game-chang­er in the entire ecosystem. It is arguably the hottest topic in the WordPress community right now.

Gutenberg was also 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 emerged 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 Europe 2018 was equally interested and packed with so many 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 make emails and sent via 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). Today’s network platforms aid the creation of entirely new markets by connecting producers and consumers with each other.
  • Digital Experience Platforms (DXP): also pitched as next evolution of CMS, DXP comes from the rise of needs that digital must fulfill for customers, and for the enterprises that cater to these customers. Digital is no longer just in Marketing’s hands, 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 tagging of images 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. Characterized by a blend of old-fashioned “retro” styles with futuristic technology, the retro-futurism accent of the party explored the themes of tension between past and future, and between the alienating and empowering effects of technology. If that sounds fun, well, it was! You could see Jedi and aliens, almost everywhere, running around the place 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 quickly hit 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 organizers, volunteers (more than 200!), speakers and sponsors 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/

Next Stop: Berlin?

It is no secret that WCEU 2019 will be held 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. Hope to see you again next year!

Were you at WordCamp Europe 2018? How was your trip there and did you have fun? Share your experience with me and others in the comments below.

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.