The last couple of years have been quiet in the CMS world.
Large, existing projects produced almost no major releases.
New projects often showed steady improvement, but none have yet reached the mainstream.
However, in 2015, I sense that big change is coming and that this will a really important year for web platforms.
It's time to open up the crystal ball and make some predictions for 2015.
#1. A new generation of user interfaces
CMS design has stagnated for several years and as a result, Ghost blew people away with their initial proposals in 2013. It seemed like an interface revolution was coming. Many of those promised changes haven't arrived yet, but we can expect accelerated progress in 2015, before Ghost reaches version 1.0.
Ghost is not alone. Magento 2 is looking a lot better than the current version:
Let's also highlight the Grav team who are working on interesting design ideas:
#2. Conferences Outside the US and Europe
Until 2014, PHP conferences were very US and Euro-centric.
It's great to see that starting to change.
Joomla went to Mexico in 2014 and held half their international conference in Spanish. They're going to India in 2015.
DrupalCon went to Australia in 2014 and is off to Colombia in February. The Drupal Association are looking at India too.
WordPress is a little behind. They've only had a European conference for 2 years and are lack a dedicated team to organize international conferences. However, they have already scheduled a major US conference this year and that may lay the ground work for international events.
No, it won't be easy to hold conferences in many of these countries and in fact we've already seen several hiccups. But, it's wonderful to see open source communities reaching outside their comfort zones.
#3. The Biggest Hack So Far
Security was a constant issue 2014. We saw Drupalgeddon and a whole series of attacks on WordPress plugins. Many of these issues impacted hundred of thousands or even millions of sites.
We saw with Drupalgeddon that the hackers could take a new exploit and attack millions of sites inside hours. The next major hack may hit old WordPress sites, Drupal 6 sites, Joomla 1.5 sites or perhaps it will hit elsewhere. But our guess is that 2015 will bring the biggest hack we've seen so far.
#4. Open Source Launches Are SaaS-First
There was a noticeable change in 2014: projects such as Ghost and Discourse promoted their SaaS options above their their self-hosted offerings.
Yes, they both Ghost and Discourse use technology stacks that require developer expertise, and offering a SaaS option is smart.
But, the trend is deeper than that. Gone are the days of open source projects launching without a business mode or with a non-profit organization at the head. Now open source projects almost always launch with a business plan and a revenue model.
New open source projects are betting that SaaS offers a much faster route to profitablity than selling add-ons or services.
#5. SSL All The Things
The open source community still considers SSLs to be an exotic extra feature that most people don't want..
- Many hosting companies charge up to $30 or $50 extra to use an SSL.
- Many developers still don't routinely test their code behind an SSL.
- Most site-builders don't want the extra hassle and cost of using an SSL.
Two things will change this in 2015:
- Google will keep signaling that having an SSL is a positive ranking factor. And, more importantly, the cost of SSLs will come down, perhaps even to free.
- There are moves by several players to make SSL certificates free in 2015.
2015 is the right time for SSL certificates to become the default option.
Hosting companies will need to adjust their pricing and technology. Developers will need to improve their testing and make it easier of site-builders to use SSL.
PHP 7 is scheduled in mid-October.
Can PHP launch a successful new version while the vast majority of current installs are insecure and out-of-date? No, not easily.
Back in 2007, there was a GoPHP5 movement, supported by many CMS's, which encouraged people to leave PHP 4.
There's likely to be a similar movement in 2015. Someone has already registered gophp7.org.
#7. Drupal 8 Launches "Early"
Drupal 8 has been a long undertaking.
Last year, we predicted the release of DrupalCon Europe, so we won't try to guess a date again.
In our next prediction, we say that Joomla's future is in more, smaller and faster iterations. The same is true with Drupal.
By the old standards, Drupal 8 only gets released when there are 0 critical bugs. That goal is still a long way away. There are already voices in the community suggesting that the best approach is to pick a data, release 8.0, start getting user adoption and iterating. Our prediction is that those voices will be heard. The Drupal release cycle has already changed once during the development of D8 and it can change again.
We predict a change in the schedule that allows an "early" release of 8.0 and a series of iterative releases towards version 8.1 and 8.2.
#8. Joomla 3 is the One True Version
Yes, this is the same prediction we made for Joomla in 2014.
Joomla community has just said goodbye to version 2.5 at the end of 2014. There are still a large number of sites that need to make the small migration to Joomla 3.
It's hard to see a way forward that doesn't involve standardizing the community on Joomla 3 and improving that version piece-by-piece. Why not adopt the WordPress release strategy, building on Joomla 3?
#9. WordPress Changes Much Faster Than in 2014
WordPress had a quiet year for changes in 2014. The last sizable update was in December 2013 with the new admin area design.
Expect WordPress to move more quickly in 2015, starting with the integration of the WordPress API.
Plus, expect to see a lot more interface ideas thrown around, from re-designing the (somewhat clunky) menus page to complete redesigns of the dashboard (see prediction #1) and the WordPress mobile apps.
#10. This Will Be a Defining Year For PHP Projects
- Drupal 8 is coming. Can Drupal successfully move the community through such a major transition?
- Magento 2 is due. It has been due for long, long time. Can the eventual release bring momentum back to the project?
- Can Joomla gather momentum behind version 3?
- WordPress is enjoying an unparralled run of success. Can they possibly sustain growth for yet another year?
- Symfony 3 is due in November. It won't be backward compatible. How will Drupal, phpBB, eZ and other Symfony 2 users adapt?
- Can phpBB survive the major hack of phpBB.com and competition from Discourse?
Don't get me wrong: these are challenges that come with success and longevity. Many projects of these are over 10 years old and still used and loved by millions. That's incredibly admirable and speaks well for the open source community. But, 2015 will go much further than any recent year in defining the future of the PHP world.
Over to you ...
What do you see coming in 2015?
Do you think 2015 will be an exciting, rollercoaster year, or will be it be quieter than we predict?