One of the stated goals of the Genesis team at WP Engine is to
“make the Genesis community one of the fastest-growing and most open communities in WordPress.”
There are many ways we plan on achieving this goal, including increasing product feedback in mediums like Slack and Github, but also by introducing new ways for people from across the community to have a voice in the future of Genesis.
We’re excited to announce the launch of one of these initiatives: The formation of the Genesis Shapers!
The Genesis Shapers are a hand-selected and diverse group of people representing companies from across the community who have come together to be a representative voice in the strategic direction of the Genesis roadmap.
The Genesis Shapers will meet in person twice a year (roughly around WordCamp US and WordCamp Europe) and participate in ongoing working groups and Slack meetings in-between. The first meeting of the Genesis Shapers took place in Nashville during WordCamp US—as Brian mentioned in his recap—and all members of the Shapers group were in attendance either in person or by video. Here’s a great picture of the Shapers along with the Genesis R&D team at WP Engine.
Through the lens of being the most open community in WordPress, we also wanted to share with you what we discussed at this first meeting.
Getting to know each other
Many of the people in the Genesis Shapers group knew each other from their participation in the community; however, that wasn’t true for everyone. We started the meeting by doing a quick round robin where everyone shared their connection to Genesis, a little bit about their business, and their Genesis origin story.
While this took up quite a bit of time, it was a great starting point for everyone to orient to each others’ perspectives and get to know each other a little better.
A special message from Brian Gardner and Jason Cohen
After the acquisition of StudioPress and Genesis by WP Engine in late June of 2018, there have been a lot of questions around the future of Genesis and how WP Engine intends to support the Genesis community. To address this, we invited StudioPress Co-founder Brian Gardner and WP Engine Founder and CTO Jason Cohen to say a few words at the beginning of the meeting.
Brian shared some interesting stories around how he and his partners ultimately decided to sell StudioPress and how their journey led them to believe that WP Engine would be good stewards of Genesis and its community. He also shared his excitement for the future of what that relationship, investment, and attention means for Genesis and the community.
Jason also shared his thoughts about the future and how the Genesis engineering team has an opportunity to do great things for the community that relies on that product. He addressed the need for innovation that matches the speed of innovation in WordPress core, and how as product and community leaders, we have an obligation to help the community not just address the new Gutenberg era, but also benefit from it and lead within it.
Quick roadmap rundown by Nathan Rice
Nathan Rice—the lead developer and co-creator of Genesis—took some time to review the existing Genesis roadmap with the Shapers group so everyone would be aware of what has already been planned. As published in many places including the StudioPress blog, GitHub, and Slack, Nathan shared the following:
- 2.8 – With Genesis 2.8 we will be extending the power of Gutenberg to help you spin up sites faster allowing you to autoload demo content and we’ve included other optimizations for Gutenberg. This will include phase 1 of the demo content feature with further improvements to come.
- 2.9 – Will include much needed refactoring including a bump for what minimum versions we support in an effort to make Genesis faster and to simplify the code base in order to help the Genesis community take advantage of the advances in the underlying technologies of Genesis. This is in alignment with similar efforts and timing within WordPress core.
- 2.10 – This release will continue on the refactoring efforts of 2.9 including moving settings and layout APIs to classes among other improvements.
- 3.0 – In addition to further refactoring, we plan on adding in a few more capabilities to help with mobile including a special AMP integration the Genesis R&D team is working on in partnership with Google.
As always, we’ll be releasing beta versions for each release for testing and direct feedback from everyone in the community.
Strategic discussions on the future of Genesis
After the formalities of introductions and announcements, Shapers group members were finally able to focus on a discussion around product strategy.
In order to frame this discussion and make it more efficient, we decided to discuss specific assertions the Genesis R&D team has made when thinking about the future of Genesis. This is based off an exercise where the team makes assertions on what will/won’t be true in the future (backed by data), sets goals based on those assertions, and then identifies tactics to achieve those goals.
For example, the goal “to be the most open community in WordPress” and the tactic “create a representative group from the community called Shapers,” came from this exercise around assertions, goals, and tactics.
For the Shapers meeting, we decided that we would surface one of the assertions that had generated a ton of internal debate within the Genesis R&D team.
The assertion that was discussed was that…. “In five years, Gutenberg will have full site-building features (vs. page building), and WordPress/Gutenberg will continue to allow for advanced customization and integration by developers.”
As I’m sure you can imagine this sparked a lively debate not only around the role of the developer in the future full-Gutenberg world, but also the role of a theme framework in that world.
Of course, this was exactly the point of the Shapers meeting!
As is always the case, we had more ideas than time, but it was a special moment for the Genesis R&D team to get direct feedback from leaders within the community.
What have the Shapers done since WCUS?
The Shapers are furthering the discussion on how Gutenberg will change the role of a theme framework. This is happening over Slack; we’ll be sharing the results with you. The most interesting part of these discussions so far has been deciding on a firm answer to the question: “What will a theme be in five years?”
The Shapers will continue this journey of helping shape the future of Genesis along with you as you provide feedback in Slack and during beta releases.
How can you shape the future of Genesis?
We will be cycling membership within the Shapers group over time to give others a chance to participate; however, there are tons of ways you can shape the future of Genesis today!
Genesis GitHub – watch for new versions of Genesis or tickets related to upcoming features to see what’s being planned and leave your own comments and feedback.
Genesis Framework Slack – Join various real-time discussions with Genesis core contributors and the Genesis R&D team about upcoming features and strategy.
Sign up for the Genesis Developers announcements – Get on the developer’s mailing list to receive email updates for forthcoming betas, features & announcements about Genesis.
Subscribe to the StudioPress Blog – We always announce newly released features, betas, and releases on the StudioPress blog, so subscribe to keep up to date with all the latest happenings with Genesis.
The Genesis Shapers
- Bill Erickson – Billerickson.net
- Jon Brown – 9Seeds
- Jennifer Bourn – Bourn Creative
- Sara Dunn – 11Web
- Tonya Mork – XWP / KnowTheCode
- Lauren Gaige – Restored 316
- Gary Jones – WordPress VIP (Automattic)
- Sridhar Katakam – SridharKatakam.com
- Lee Anthony – SEO Themes
- Robin Cornett – Robincornett.com
- Greg Boser – Foundation Digital
- Carrie Dils – CarrieDils.com
- Jonathan Jeter – ClickHereLabs