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Home / Blog / January 2023 WordPress News

State of the Word 2022, WordPress.com Newsletter, ChatGPT Writing Plugins 🗞️ January 2023 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP

📆  This is the January 2023 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.” 

Hey, WordPress fans, and happy new year! As we move into 2023, we are back with another edition of our monthly WordPress news roundup, covering all the important WordPress news and events that happened over the past month.

Because of the holidays, December was a quieter month than usual in the WordPress news space. However, we did get Matt Mullenweg’s annual State of the Word address, a new newsletter service from WordPress.com, a WordPress plugin created by ChatGPT, and some other newsworthy details.

Let’s get to all of the WordPress news from the past month:

January 2023 WordPress News with CodeinWP

State of the Word 2022 goes off on December 15th

In the biggest news this month, Matt Mullenweg gave his annual State of the Word address on December 15th.

As we mentioned in last month’s news post, Matt gave the speech in front of a live audience in New York City, and it was also live-streamed for anyone to watch online.

If you want to watch the full two-hour video, you can find it on the WordPress YouTube channel – or, you can see the live video embed below.

As you’d expect, a lot of the main takeaways focus on Gutenberg, the Site Editor, and no-code design.

Beyond that, the WordPress.org plugin directory will also get some new taxonomies to help users find the most relevant plugins, which is an intriguing bit of news. With over 55,000 plugins, it can be tough to browse through them – these new taxonomies could make things easier.

Matt also mentioned WordPress Playground, which is a cool project that lets you run WordPress from inside your browser using WebAssembly – great for quick testing or code snippet examples. We wrote about it in our October 2022 WordPress news roundup.

A number of websites have also published their own recaps of the speech. Here are some of the better ones that I found:

WordPress.com launches its own newsletter service

In December, WordPress.com launched its own dedicated WordPress.com Newsletter service, which seems to be competing directly with similar tools such as Substack.

WordPress.com users have long had the ability to send new post email notifications via Jetpack Subscribe, but Newsletter now offers a more streamlined way to set up a newsletter site in the same vein as Substack.

WordPress.com Newsletter seems to be based on the regular WordPress.com service, but with a more optimized setup process that’s more focused on creating a newsletter than general site building.

For example, WordPress.com Newsletter comes with its own newsletter theme, Lettre (which will soon be available as a standalone theme as well), as well as newsletter-focused block patterns.

WordPress.com also plans to add more newsletter monetization features, which I assume will offer Substack-like functionality for recurring subscriptions. However, WordPress.com users can already set up basic monetization by using the Premium Content blocks.

As far as I can tell, WordPress.com Newsletter isn’t adding any features that aren’t already available to other paying WordPress.com customers – the main differences are in the optimized setup and management flow.

Details are a bit scarce, though, as there isn’t a dedicated WordPress.com Newsletter landing page yet – there’s just this announcement blog post and a new signup flow for the Newsletter service.

One thing that’s interesting about this is that Automattic/WordPress.com already owns MailPoet, one of the most popular all-in-one WordPress newsletter plugins.

I suppose the main difference is that WordPress.com Newsletter is a simpler, more all-in-one solution for creating a newsletter. People who want the simple setup can use WordPress.com, while people who want more flexibility can use MailPoet.

WordPress.com Newsletter

ChatGPT creates its own WordPress plugin

If you’re active on the internet (especially Twitter), it was impossible to avoid the buzz of ChatGPT over the past month.

If you somehow did avoid it, ChatGPT is an AI-powered writer/chatbot that can generate some impressively “human” content based on text prompts that you supply.

ChatGPT doesn’t just work for content, though, as Johnathon Williams found out when he had ChatGPT write a working WordPress plugin – on its first try!

Unfortunately, Johnathon didn’t save the prompt for his first plugin, but you can see the code output from ChatGPT in this GitHub Gist.

He also tried other plugin prompts with mixed results. For example, another working plugin prompt was this:

Create a custom WordPress plugin called “Big Daddy Media” that deletes images older than one year from the media library. OOP. Custom admin screen. one button delete. log the full URL of all deleted media files.

You can see the code of this plugin in this GitHub Gist.

While these aren’t the most complex plugins, it’s pretty incredible that ChatGPT is able to do this from a plain text prompt of just a few sentences.

If you want to see an interesting discussion about this topic, check out the comments section of the WP Tavern post where I originally found this tidbit.

ChatGPT writing WordPress plugins

You may also be interested in:

MC4WP (Mailchimp for WordPress) founder is interested in selling for €1.6M

Ever wondered how much a popular WordPress plugin earns (and how much it’s worth)? Maybe more than you thought…

In this news tidbit, we get an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the financials of a popular, but niche, WordPress plugin.

MC4WP, AKA Mailchimp for WordPress, is the most popular solution for – unsurprisingly – integrating Mailchimp with WordPress.

If you’re not familiar, Mailchimp is a popular email marketing service, though there are also lots of Mailchimp alternatives worth considering.

Beyond a very basic list subscribe form plugin, Mailchimp actually doesn’t offer much functionality for general WordPress sites (though it does for WooCommerce), so MC4WP is the top option that most people encounter.

MC4WP is also very old and well-established – it’s been around for a decade at this point, which has given it a lot of time to build an audience.

These factors have led to a whopping €36,000 per month in recurring revenue, on just around 16 hours of work per month for the founder and €2,000 per month in expenses for two freelancers. That’s around €432,000 in yearly revenue and €408,000 in yearly profit.

Not bad for four hours of work per week! That’s how much time Danny Van Kooten (the plugin creator) says he spends on the plugin.

In a Hacker News comment, Danny indicated that he would be interested in selling the plugin for “in the ballpark of €1.6M.”

That would be around a 3.7-3.9X multiplier (depending on whether you’re using revenue or profit), which seems pretty fair given what other websites/apps have sold for.

Overall, it’s pretty impressive that Danny is able to generate such revenue with only a few hours of work per week.

Of course, the WordPress space has gotten a lot more competitive, so achieving these types of numbers for a new plugin in 2023 might not be feasible (at least not if you’re working four hours per week). But still, there’s a lot of money floating around in the WordPress space.

This WP Tavern post has more, including a response from Danny in the comments section.

MC4WP for sale?

The Site Editor interface gets a big upgrade in Gutenberg 14.8

In December, the newly named Site Editor got a big facelift for its interface. These changes are currently only in the experimental Gutenberg plugin, but they’ll likely be rolling out to the core WordPress software at some point in the near future.

The biggest addition is a new Browse Mode feature, which lets you navigate and/or create templates and template parts from a sidebar menu on the left.

It also adds a new Style Book feature as a subset of the Styles panel. You can use the Style Book to manage styles for official and this-party blocks from one central location.

To learn more, check out the official Make WordPress Core blog post. And if you want to test it out yourself, you can install the Gutenberg plugin (but I don’t recommend doing this on a live website).

If you want to learn more about the Gutenberg project, you can check out our detailed guide on how to use Gutenberg.

ClassicPress debates re-forking WordPress 6.0 (without Gutenberg)

When ClassicPress first launched, it was a fork of WordPress 4.9 (the last core version not to include the Gutenberg project features).

Over the years, however, ClassicPress has fallen behind the WordPress software in areas that go far beyond the Gutenberg project. For example, PHP 8 support. ClassicPress 1.5 will have full PHP 8 support, but it took a lot of effort to get there, as PHP 8 pretty much ate up most of the contributors’ focus.

This lag has led to the community considering re-forking the core WordPress software using version 6.0 (and then removing all of the Gutenberg features).

To see what the community wants, ClassicPress created a poll to see how users feel between re-forking WordPress 6.0 and continuing as-is.

When I’m writing this post, the 38 community responses are pretty much split evenly, with 18 wanting to re-fork and 20 wanting to continue as-is.

I think this poll highlights one of the biggest problems with ClassicPress. If it’s just “WordPress without Gutenberg,” users can already pretty much achieve that using the Classic Editor and Classic Widgets plugins.

Unless/until the core WordPress software stops supporting those plugins, I don’t see any major benefits to using ClassicPress over sticking with the much more heavily resource WordPress software.

That sums up our January 2023 WordPress news roundup. Anything we missed?

Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. Learn more below:

 

Layout and presentation by Karol K.

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