Written by Steve Burge
We're all in a constant state of motion.
Website technologies used to come and go in years. Now it feels as if they rise and fall in months or even weeks.
Our careers, and yours, heavily depend on correctly predicting what's going to change. So, I chatted with our team and got their thoughts about the year ahead.
Some of these predictions are fun, but we'll be betting parts of business on some of the other forecasts.
Here are our CMS predictions for 2014 ...
1) Drupal 8 launches at DrupalCon Amsterdam
If this prediction is correct, Drupal 8 will arrive in September.
The arrival of Drupal 8 will also signal the end of the "blockbuster" era in CMS development. Drupal 8 is like a blockbuster movie: years of planning, a cast of thousands and a huge party when it finally arrives.
The web is moving towards iterative releases. It used to be common to wait several years for one mammoth release which rebuilt the whole code-base. Not any longer. Drupal 9 will likely be a far smaller and quicker release.
2) There will not be a new version of Joomla
When people use Joomla 3, they seem to love it. The interface and features are far more user-friendly than previous versions. So there's really no rush to move on to version 4. The community is still absorbing Joomla 4 and there's a lot sites that still need to upgrade to Joomla 3. Most people just aren't ready for version 4 yet.
We predict the Joomla team will keep developing and improving version 3. Development will begin on a Joomla 4 branch, but there won't be a release in the foreseeable future.
3) WordPress always updates automatically
Automatic updates are in WordPress in a small way. However, Matt Mullenweg has made it absolutely clear that automatic updates should be possible at any time. Read Matt's full comments on auto-updates here.
Our guess that automatic updates for major versions will arrive with version 4. From there, the WordPress team will work to push code to WordPress installs on a far more regular basis.
5) Ghost starts slow, steady growth
We have sung the praises of Ghost as the most likely new platform to suceed. Ghost has a great brand name and a strong developer following. However, Ghost is still hipster software in several important ways. For example, I don't see ordinary people preferring markdown to a WYSIWYG editor any time soon. And Node.js still remains too difficult to install and use, even for the average professional webdesigner.
Plus, it's still a very young project. Almost everyone I know who's tested the early version of Ghost says, "It's very promising, but not ready for prime time yet. Give it time to grow."
6) Flat file sites do not take off
If Ghost is somewhat hipster, static sites are still 100% hipster. We've explained this prediction in more detail, but this is the short version:
Fragmentation. There are dozens of options and none have really caught the eye of the marketplace.
Static sites are still solving developer problems rather than user problems. Sorry, the mass market does not care how your database is stored.
Many of them remain pay-for-download even for their core code.
There's room for static sites to become huge, but my guess is that we may be a couple of years away from a breakout success.
7) Acquia has an IPO and Automattic follows
Acquia have been very open and honest about the fact that their path leads to an IPO eventually. It will probably happen in 2014. What that means for Drupal isn't easy to predict because not many open source communities have been through such a move. Acquia have broken new ground in many areas and they'll do so again here.
Here's my outside prediction: once Acquia goes public, there will be some pressure on Automattic to follow. Automattic is a late-stage private company with some heavy-duty investors. At some point, those investors want their money back. It's worth noting that Toni Schnider, a key V.C. figure linked to Automattic, just stepped down as CEO and into a new role.
8) Freelancing becomes less attractive
There's been a strong trend in the last couple of years for freelancers to quit and join larger companies. There's several reasons behind this:
The economy. Enough said. It not getting much better any time soon.
Burn-out. A lot of webdesigners have been doing this for 10 to 15 years now. Often they've been working alone and bearing the burden of sales, accounting, project management and more. A lot of freelancers I've spoken to are burned out and looking to become part of a team.
Remote work. Freelancing used to be one of very few ways to get a good job and still work at home. Now many more companies have the tools and the willingness to allow remote work.
We only expect those trends to strengthen in 2014.
9) CMS technologies become more fragmented
Our final prediction is that our use of technologies will continue to fragment. The web is getitng more complex and increasingly it's hard for one platform to meet many needs. Rather than a handful of popular technologies and frameworks, web developers will split off to work with in niches. We're seeing that even large platforms such as Drupal or WordPress are used in increasingly fragmented and uncoupled ways. The future looks more like Android than iOS.
10) Over to you ...
Are we likely to be wrong with any of these predictions?
Do you have any predictions on where the CMS world is headed in 2014?