Each year, the WordPress core development team meets in person for a week to work together and discuss the vision for WordPress in the coming year. As annual events go, it’s easily my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I love attending WordCamps and local WordPress meetups (which are awesome and you should try to attend if you are able), but at the core team meetup, the focus on working together and getting things done is unique, as is the experience of every person in the room being so highly qualified. This year, instead of just planning a core team meetup, I’m aiming a little higher and shooting for a full-on contributor/community summit.

Core code isn’t the only way to contribute to the WordPress project. We have an active theme review team, support forum volunteers, people writing documentation, plugin managers, community event organizers, translators, and more. The teams have been siloed for too long, so we’ve recently begun the process of bringing them together by having teams elect representatives to facilitate more communication between the contributor groups. These reps will form the nucleus of the contributor summit now being planned for a long weekend at the end of October in Tybee Island, GA. This is completely different from a WordCamp. It will be a combination of co-working, unconference, and discussions among the project leaders, and participation will be by invitation.

In addition to bringing together the active contributor team reps to work together, I think it’s important to include community members who don’t fall into that category (at least not yet!). Successful WordPress-based business, authors of popular plugins and themes, and people using WordPress in unexpected but intriguing ways should have a place at the table, too. That said, part of the magic of the core team meetup is the small size; it allows every voice not only to be heard, but to engage. Since this is my first attempt at bringing together so many groups and points of view, I want to try and keep it small enough to retain that personal atmosphere while at the same time ensuring that the best possible mix of people and businesses in the WordPress ecosystem is represented. This is where you come in!

Taking a cue from events with limited availability like AdaCamp (attendance) and the jQuery conference (speaker roster), I want you to nominate people and/or WordPress-based businesses to participate in the summit. Yes, you can nominate yourself.* You can nominate up to 10 additional people — be prepared to provide URLs and the reason you think they should participate. You can also nominate up to 10 WordPress-based businesses without naming individual people, so if there’s a theme or hosting company (for example) that you think should be there, you don’t need to go looking for employee names. This nomination process will hopefully ensure that we don’t overlook someone who is making a difference in our community when it comes time to issue invitations.

Nominations will be open for a week, after which the survey will be closed and the process of analyzing the results** will begin. The nominations process will lead to invitations in June, confirmations in July, planning in August and September, and the summit itself in October. Hopefully we can stream and/or record some of the activity to share online at WordPress.tv. Additional invitations may be extended up until the event if there are people/businesses that become more active in the community. If you’re thinking to yourself that maybe now’s the perfect time to start contributing time to the WordPress project, good thinking! In the meantime, if you want to weigh in, fill in the community summit nomination form. Thanks, and wish us luck!

* Nominating yourself: Do nominate yourself if you fall into one of the categories described in the post above, or if you believe that you have a unique point of view. Please do not nominate yourself if you just think it would be cool to hang out with this group. This is a working event, and everyone is expected to bring something special to the table.

** I (and/or a helpful community volunteer) will sift through the nominations and compile a shortlist of the most-nominated people/businesses and the most intriguing underdogs. This list will be reviewed by the summit planning committee (made up of team reps) to create the invitation list.

Howdy, folks! Another week, another beta. Since we released Beta 1 last week, we’ve committed more than 60 bug fixes and feature adjustments based on testing and feedback. If you’ve been testing Beta 1, please update to Beta 2 to make sure things are still working for you. If you are a theme or plugin author and have not yet started testing your code against the 3.4 beta, now’s the perfect time to start. And as always, if you find any bugs, let us know! Full details on testing and bug reporting can be found in last week’s Beta 1 post.

Download WordPress 3.4 Beta 2

WordPress 3.4 is ready for beta testers!

As always, this is software still in development and we don’t recommend that you run it on a production site — set up a test site just to play with the new version. If you break it (find a bug), please report it, and if you’re a developer, try to help us fix it.

If all goes well, we hope to release WordPress 3.4 in May. The more help we get with testing and fixing bugs, the sooner we will be able to release the final version. If you want to be a beta tester, you should check out the Codex article on how to report bugs.

Here’s some of what’s new:

  • Theme Customizer with Previewer
  • Flexible Custom Header Sizes
  • Selecting Custom Header and Background Images from Media Library
  • Better experience searching for and choosing a theme

And some of the under-the-hood changes:

  • New XML-RPC API for external and mobile applications
  • New API for registering theme support for custom headers and backgrounds
  • Performance improvements to WP_Query by splitting the query (Please test!)
  • Internationalization improvements (improved performance and locale support)
  • Performance and API improvements when working with lists of installed themes
  • Support for installing child themes from the WordPress Themes Directory

Remember, if you find something you think is a bug, report it! You can bring it up in the alpha/beta forum, you can email it to the wp-testers list, or if you’ve confirmed that other people are experiencing the same bug, you can report it on the WordPress Core Trac. (We recommend starting in the forum or on the mailing list.)

Theme and plugin authors, if you haven’t been following the 3.4 development cycle, please start now so that you can update your themes and plugins to be compatible with the newest version of WordPress.

Download WordPress 3.4 Beta 1

The South by Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSW) holds a special place in the history and heart of WordPress. Though the conference has changed in the years since I first met Matt in the hallway in 2003 — before WordPress even had a name — it’s still arguably one of the most influential events in our industry, and we’ll be there again this year. Will we see you there?

Booth

There will be a WordPress booth at the SXSW trade show March 12-15. Our booth was packed to overflowing last year as we helped people with their blogs and gave away WordPress swag, so this year we’ll have more space to meet as many of you as possible. Stop by if you need a helping hand with your site, or just to say hi. We’ll also have buttons, stickers, and t-shirts again this year.

Party

This year’s WordPress party will be hosted by the WordPress Foundation on Monday, March 12 from 6-9pm. Space is limited, so make sure you RSVP (no SXSW badge is required). The party this year will be at the Buzzmedia Pure Volume House, and the story of how we hooked up with them is pretty cool.

Once upon a time, David Wang had a business called Buzzmedia in Malaysia, with the twitter username @buzzmedia. When David changed gears and started ClickWP, a WordPress support business, he stopped going by the Buzzmedia name. In the U.S., a company also called Buzzmedia wished it had that Twitter username, and asked if they could have it since David wasn’t going to use it anymore.

David, feeling the WordPress community love, said he would give them the name, and suggested they do something in return for the WordPress Foundation. So, everyone talked to everyone else and it worked out that Buzzmedia was willing to donate a fantastic venue for this year’s party as well as covering the bar.

In the end, the Foundation got a great SXSW party, Buzzmedia got their twitter username, and David got the warm glow of having used his power for the good of the WordPress community, and they all lived happily ever after.

Seriously, though, the PureVolume House is always a great SXSW venue, so thank you David and Buzzmedia for your generosity! We’ll have drinks and snacks and a few hundred WordPress-loving partygoers, so you know it will be a good time. Kind of like a WordCamp afterparty without all the work of a WordCamp. :)

The venue can hold 500 people, and based on last year, we’ll hit that pretty quickly. The one requirement is that you use WordPress. On the RSVP form, you will be asked to enter the URL of your WordPress-powered site (if you have more than one, just pick your main site). If you fill in this field with something other than what’s requested (such as “N/A” or putting in a fake url) your RSVP may be deleted, so please make sure to enter your real site.
RSVP Now!

We hereby declare 2012 as the Year of the WordPress Meetup. You’ll want to get in on this action.

meet·up mēt-əp noun
A meeting, especially a regular meeting of people who share a particular interest and have connected with each other through a social-networking Web site: a meetup for new moms in the neighborhood; a meetup to plan the trip; a meetup for WordPress users.1

So what is a WordPress Meetup? Basically, it’s people in a community getting together — meeting up — who share an interest in WordPress, whether they be bloggers, business users, developers, consultants, or any other category of person able to say, “I use WordPress in some way and I like it, and I want to meet other people who can say the same.” Meetups come in different shapes and sizes, but they all carry the benefit of connecting you with potential collaborators and friends, and helping you learn more about what you can do with WordPress. Here are some of the common types of WordPress meetups:

  • Hang out and work on your WordPress sites together
  • Social/happy hour type gatherings
  • Mini-lectures/presentations
  • Developer hacking meetups
  • Show & tell of how group members are using WordPress
  • Formal instruction on how to use WordPress
  • Lecture series (possibly with visiting speakers)
  • Genius bar/help desk

There’s no prescribed format, as each local group can decide for itself what they want to do. Some groups mix it up from month to month, while others have multiple events each month to satisfy the needs of their community.

The tough part? Running a popular group takes time and money. Just as we worked last year to remove the financial burden for WordCamp organizers and provide logistical support so they could focus more on their event content and experience, we want to start extending that kind of support to meetup groups as well. We don’t want it to cost anything for someone to run a WordPress meetup, or to attend one — building local communities should be as free as WordPress itself!

Since there are so many more meetups than there are WordCamps, we’re going to start with the cost that is the same for every group: meetup.com organizer dues. We’re setting up an official WordPress account on Meetup.com right now, and over the next couple of weeks will be working with existing meetup group organizers, people who want to start a new meetup group, and the helpful folks at Meetup.com to put this program in place. WordPress meetup groups that choose to have their group become part of the WordPress account will no longer pay organizer dues for that group, as the WordPress Foundation will be footing the bill.

This is exciting for several reasons. First, it means local organizers who are giving something back to the project by way of their time won’t also have shell out $12-19/month for the privilege. That alone is a big step. Second, it will open the door to more events and leaders within a community, since leadership and event planning won’t need to be tied to “owning” the meetup group. Third, more active meetup groups means more WordCamps, yay!

In addition to the financial aspects, we’ll be working on ways to improve social recognition of meetup activity by incorporating feeds from the official meetup groups into the WordPress.org site, and including meetup group participation in the activity stream on your WordPress.org profile.2 I’m also hoping we can do something around providing video equipment to meetup groups (like we already do for WordCamps) to record presentations and tutorials that can be posted to WordPress.tv, helping meetup groups offer WordPress classes in their community, and getting involved with mentoring WordPress clubs at local schools and universities. Oh, and we’ll send out some WordPress buttons and stickers to the groups that join in, because everyone loves buttons and stickers.

We’re also putting together some cool resources for people who want to start a new meetup group. There will be a field guide to getting started and some supplies to help you get your group going, and a forum for organizers to talk to and learn from each other.

Over time, we’ll be talking to organizers and looking at what other expenses we can absorb and what other support we can provide to local groups. For now, we’re starting with the organizer dues. If you currently run a WordPress meetup group (whether you are using Meetup.com or not) or would like to start a WordPress meetup group in your area, please fill out our WordPress Meetup Groups survey. Filling in the survey doesn’t obligate you to join the official group, it just gives us a starting point to a) find out what groups are around/interested, and b) get some information on existing groups and their expenses and needs. Meetup.com will contact the group organizers who’ve said they’d like to join the new program, and will walk them through the logistics of the change and answer questions before helping them to opt-in officially.

So, if you currently run a WordPress meetup group, or you would like to start one, please  fill out our WordPress Meetup Groups survey. I can’t wait to see more meetups!

1 – Adapted from “meetup” definition at dictionary.com.
2 – Didn’t know about profiles? Check out http://profiles.wordpress.org/users/yourwordpressdotorgusernamehere (put in the username you use in the WordPress.org forums) to see yours!

WordPress.org is officially joining the protest against Senate Bill 968: the Protect IP Act that is coming before the U.S. Senate next week. As I wrote in my post a week ago, if this bill is passed it will jeopardize internet freedom and shift the power of the independent web into the hands of corporations. We must stop it.

On January 18, 2012 many sites around the web — from small personal blogs to internet institutions like Mozilla, Wikipedia, reddit, and I Can Has Cheezburger? – will be going dark in protest and to drive their visitors to sites like americancensorship.org to take action and help fight the passage of the Protect IP Act. So will WordPress.org.

If you want to join the protest by blacking out your WordPress site or applying a ribbon, there is now a variety of blackout plugins in the WordPress.org plugins directory. While joining the protest in this manner is laudable, please don’t forget to also make those phone calls to U.S. Senators — they’re the ones with the voting power.

You are an agent of change. Has anyone ever told you that? Well, I just did, and I meant it.

Normally we stay away from from politics here at the official WordPress project — having users from all over the globe that span the political spectrum is evidence that we are doing our job and democratizing publishing, and we don’t want to alienate any of our users no matter how much some of us may disagree with some of them personally. Today, I’m breaking our no-politics rule, because there’s something going on in U.S. politics right now that we need to make sure you know about and understand, because it affects us all.

Using WordPress to blog, to publish, to communicate things online that once upon a time would have been relegated to an unread private journal (or simply remained unspoken, uncreated, unshared) makes you a part of one of the biggest changes in modern history: the democratization of publishing and the independent web. Every time you click Publish, you are a part of that change, whether you are posting canny political insight or a cat that makes you LOL. How would you feel if the web stopped being so free and independent? I’m concerned freaked right the heck out about the bills that threaten to do this, and as a participant in one of the biggest changes in modern history, you should be, too.

You may have heard people talking/blogging/twittering about SOPA — the Stop Online Piracy Act. The recent SOPA-related boycott of GoDaddy was all over the news, with many people expressing their outrage over the possibilities of SOPA, but when I ask people about SOPA and its sister bill in the Senate, PIPA (Protect IP Act), many don’t really know what the bills propose, or what we stand to lose. If you are not freaked out by SOPA/PIPA, please: for the next four minutes, instead of checking Facebook statuses, seeing who mentioned you on Twitter, or watching the latest episode of Sherlock*, watch this video (by Fight for the Future).

Some thoughts:

  • In the U.S. our legal system maintains that the burden of proof is on the accuser, and that people are innocent until proven guilty. This tenet seems to be on the chopping block when it comes to the web if these bills pass, as companies could shut down sites based on accusation alone.
  • Laws are not like lines of PHP; they are not easily reverted if someone wakes up and realizes there is a better way to do things. We should not be so quick to codify something this far-reaching.
  • The people writing these laws are not the people writing the independent web, and they are not out to protect it. We have to stand up for it ourselves.

Blogging is a form of activism. You can be an agent of change. Some people will tell you that taking action is useless, that online petitions, phone calls to representatives, and other actions won’t change a single mind, especially one that’s been convinced of something by lobbyist dollars. To those people, I repeat the words of Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

We are not a small group. More than 60 million people use WordPress — it’s said to power about 15% of the web. We can make an impact, and you can be an agent of change. Go to Stop American Censorship for more information and a bunch of ways you can take action quickly, easily, and painlessly. The Senate votes in two weeks, and we need to help at least 41 more senators see reason before then. Please. Make your voice heard.

*Yes, the latest episode of Sherlock is good. Stephen Moffatt + Russell Tovey = always good

The third (and hopefully final!) release candidate for WordPress 3.3 is now available. Since RC2, we’ve done a handful of last-minute tweaks and bugfixes that we felt were necessary.

Our goal is to release version 3.3 early next week, so plugin and theme authors, this is your last pre-release chance to  test your plugins and themes  to find any compatibility issues before the final release. We’ve published a number of posts on the development blog that explain important things you need to know as you prepare for WordPress 3.3. Please review this information immediately if you have not done so already.

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. Or, if you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac. Known issues that crop up will be listed here, but let’s all keep our fingers crossed for a quiet Sunday so we can get these new features into your hands early next week!

To test WordPress 3.3, try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (you’ll want “bleeding edge nightlies”). Or you can download the release candidate here (zip).

It’s almost that time again, when the WordPress core development team gets together in person to review the year’s progress and talk about priorities for the coming year. Next week Matt Mullenweg, Mark Jaquith, Peter Westwood, Andrew Ozz, Andrew Nacin, Dion Hulse, Daryl Koopersmith, Jon Cave, and I will meet at Tybee Island, GA, the same location as the last meetup.

Last year we wanted to do a video town hall, but ran into technical and scheduling difficulties. This year we’re planning ahead, and will definitely make it happen. We’re currently taking questions, and will record a series of town hall-style videos where we answer your questions. Ask about the roadmap, code, community, contributing, WordCamps, meetups, themes, plugins, features, you name it. No topic (as long as it is about WordPress) is off limits, and we’ll do our best to answer as many questions as we can while we are together. The videos will be posted to this blog and archived at WordPress.tv.

Last year the people who were in attendance also posted pictures and updates to Twitter using the #wptybee tag. We’ll use the same tag this year, so if you’re interested in following along, add it to your Twitter client as a search.

What do you want to know from us? Ask away!

The march toward 3.3 continues!

With all our major tickets closed, we are very close to a release candidate. In Beta 4 we’ve fixed a bunch of bugs, cleaned up the UI, added real text in some of the screens that still had placeholder text in Beta 3 (post-update screen, the Dashboard welcome area, new feature pointers), and generally tightened things up. We updated to jQuery 1.7.1 and addressed a LOT of bugs.

If you are a plugin or theme developer (or distributor), please test against Beta 4 to ensure there are no issues.

If you find any problems, please report them as usual. Many thanks!

Thought 3 was the last?
Ha ha! Beta 4 is here –
Better get testing!

Download WordPress 3.3 Beta 4