In May, the team continued working on enhancements and bug fixes for WordPress 6.3, and Sergey co-led the 6.2.1 minor release. In June, we traveled to Athens, Greece, to attend WordCamp Europe (WCEU) together with Bluehost and YITH. The event had over 2500 attendees, and our booths were popular. This year’s theme at the Yoast booth was sustainability and reducing your carbon footprint.
Our monthly updates
Core and Gutenberg
During May and June, I focused mostly on accessibility related issues, as usual. With the new WordPress release approaching, it’s very important to test new features and new user interfaces as much as possible. My testing sessions surfaced also some long standing accessibility issues. I made my best to report all my findings in a pretty long series of GitHub issues. That was a very time-consuming task. Little time left for pushing actual fixes but I was able to make a few Gutenberg pull requests anyways.
On the last days of June I had the opportunity to focus on making a small debugging plugin to dump to the browser console the WordPress a11y speak messages. Speak is a small utility tool that allows to easily announce dynamic interface updates to screen readers by using ARIA live regions. It’s widely used in WordPress core and in the editor. However, many contributors aren’t that aware of this tool. Also, many contributors aren’t that familiar with testing with a screen reader, which makes checking the Speak audible messages a task for specialists only, so far. The main goal of the plugin is to make testing the Speak messages a breeze, as they just appear in the browser console. I’m planning to publish this plugin on GitHub soon and later propose to include it by default in WordPress trunk as a built-in debugging tool.
On early June I attended WordCamp Europe 2023 in Athens. It was my first WordCamp Europe in 4 years. It was such a pleasure to meet in person with the entire Yoast team WordPress for the first time. Also meeting with so many new Yoasters was a pleasure. At the conference I enjoyed meeting again with so many old friends and fellow core committers. Getting to know new people and establishing new connections was a joy as well. Four years without getting in touch with the largest European community was a very long break and Athens will always have a special place in my heart because it was a true rebirth.
At the contributor day, I had the pleasure to have a good conversation with Lena Morita and George Mamadashvili. We focused on exploring ideas and options to implement visual regressions testing on CI on GitHub. In WordPress core, Gutenberg, and the Gutenberg storybook there’s already some different flavours of visual regression testing tools. So far, they’re meant for local testing only. Instead, we do believe that introducing automated visual regression testing on CI is paramount for making sure that some aspects of the WordPress user interface don’t regress. In fact, there are features that can only be reliably tested visually. Hopefully, we will have some more news to share soon.
Adding a language attribute for inline text
In May we added a new feature to allow users to define the language of inline text in Gutenberg (see #49985 and #50632). This will be a good improvement to improve the accessibility of multilingual content creation.
I continued working on the SQLite project: The project will no longer be a part of the performance-lab plugin, so we needed to decouple it and write upgrade routines in the standalone plugin. This resulted in the release of two updates to the plugin.
Forms & Inputs blocks
I made some progress in the forms & input blocks: It is now possible to use this as a native comment form in WordPress, so that brings us one step closer to having a final implementation (#44214)
While doing some performance profiling I noticed that the
_wp_array_get function gets called too many times and consumes a lot of resources, so I tried to improve the performance of that function (#58376), as well as reduce the number of times it gets called (#51116).
I pushed some coding-standards fixes and generic code-quality improvements in Gutenberg. As always, a big chunk of my time dedicated to doing code reviews and facilitating the work of others.
What an experience… WordCamp Europe is always a pleasure. Lots of people and excitement, many discussions and meeting friends – old and new. The event was amazing and I can’t wait for next year!
In May, I spent time preparing for my WCEU Workshop, including some speaker training arranged by the WordCamp organizers.
Here are some of the things I have worked on in the past month:
- Aria-label fixes for the cover block
- A small bug with the padding in the navigation block
- A new text direction tool
- A new “back to top” block.
I loved meeting old friends and making new acquaintances during the WordCamp. I met some amazing people for the first time and also had many opportunities to introduce other WordPress contributors and extenders to one another. It was also the first time I attended a speaker/sponsor/volunteer social at WordCamp Europe. I have restocked my wardrobe with some new T-shirts and socks from other sponsors. I lost count of how many people approached me to thank me for the fullsiteediting.com site, which I appreciated ❤️ (I also appreciated the more quiet upstairs area and the silent rooms at the venue…).
During the contributor day, I was one of the leads for the Theme’s table. I am very glad that Maggie Cabrera wanted to co-lead with me and that we had additional support from Ben Dwyer. We had two tables that grew to three because there were not enough seats for everyone, and it was hectic. We worked on a block theme called Blue Note, which is part of the community themes initiative started by Maggie. The attendees paired up to work on separate issues, for example, to create the archive page, 404, or single post templates. Together we made seven pull requests for the theme and theme-related Gutenberg issues. I believe the attendees who stayed until the afternoon gained a good understanding of the challenges when transforming a design into a block template.
On the last day of the WordCamp, I facilitated a no-code workshop on the topic “Create a theme using the Site Editor – Without coding!”
This was my first time doing a workshop at this scale, and everyone who knows me knows that this was a very big step and a personal achievement because public speaking is not easy for me.
I was confident in my content, but 30 minutes before the workshop, I was waiting in the so-called “green room,” and my voice still hadn’t warmed up. With Sjögren’s syndrome, my voice can become harsh, and right then, I could barely make myself heard.
Thankfully another speaker was there and could help me warm up my voice and help me calm down by engaging in conversations; Suddenly, it was my time to go to Workshop Room 1, and I was not panicking anymore. Thank you, Luigi.
During the workshop, the room was about half full (out of 100 seats). I forgot some things, and I showed some WordPress features in the wrong order compared to how I had prepared, but overall I think it went OK. I don’t know if the attendees actually created a whole new block theme – but I know that several people came up to thank me afterward and were excited about what they had learned.
The workshop was recorded and will be on WordPress.tv when it has been processed.
A written step-by-step guide on how to create a theme without coding, links to the required WordPress plugins, and an example theme are available at wordcamp.fullsiteediting.com
I was a co-lead for WordPress 6.2.1. This is a security release that features 20 bug fixes in core, 10 bug fixes for the block editor, and several security fixes. All versions since WordPress 4.1 have also been updated.
For the past month I continued triaging and reviewing tickets for the next major release, WordPress 6.3, as part of my duties as a Core Committer.
Some notable changes include:
- Create a temporary backup of plugins and themes before updating. See ticket #51857 for more details.
- Continuing with various coding standards fixes in core. See ticket #57839 for more details.
- Replacing usage of
strpos()in core with
str_starts_with(). See ticket #58012 for more details.
- Improving performance of the
_wp_array_get()function. See ticket #58376 for more details.
- Updating the jQuery library to version 3.7.0. See ticket #58083 for more details.
In early June, I attended WordCamp Europe 2023 in Athens. This was my first WordCamp in four years, after WordCamp Thessaloniki 2019.
WordCamp Europe is one of the flagship events of the year in the WordPress space, each time held in a different country so that the attendees could get more familiar with other cultures. To me, it feels like a family reunion. I enjoyed catching up with old friends, making some new connections, attending a tai chi session, watching a few interesting talks, and learning more about Greece.
On the contributor day, I helped leading the Core table. The goal of a contributor day is to help people find their way around one or more teams making WordPress, and answer their questions so they could get started with contributing. By the end of the day, we created a new sustainability focus on Core Trac, which already has some tickets.
The day after the WordCamp, I enjoyed the views from Mount Lycabettus, found a mini zoo at the Athens National Garden, watched the sunset from the Areopagus Hill, and had a nice dinner at one of the many cafés with Greek food around the Acropolis area.
The journey was a bit long (about 36 hours one way, same for the return journey) due to the wait time between multiple connections and different types of transport. But I am still very grateful for this opportunity to reunite with the WordPress community in person.