This week a lot of contributors to the WordPress open source project are coming back to work after the summer holidays. The WordPress Core team is busy, as usual, and excited to tackle yet another release of WordPress.org, which is shaping up to be exciting in multiple areas. Let’s see what everyone has worked on since our last update.
Our weekly team updates
Last week, we had a special post on the importance of mentoring in WordPress, so my update includes two weeks.
Last week I continued looking into some early tickets for WordPress 5.9. This is part of my duties as a Core Committer.
One notable change was displaying a message on Plugins list table if a plugin requires a higher version of PHP or WordPress. Installation and activation of incompatible plugins was previously disallowed in WordPress 5.1 and 5.2, respectively. But if you were to install such a plugin manually, there was nothing on the Plugins screen that would show its compatibility status. Showing an appropriate notice with a documentation link makes the UI more consistent and improves user experience.
WordPress Unit Test Suite
In a series of changes, unit tests for the
wp_list_sort() functions were moved to their own files, to match the name of the function being tested. See ticket #53987 for more details.
Last week I said goodbye to Andrea in writing. This week I had a call with her that ended in bittersweet tears. I am incredibly excited for the future of my mentor: I owe Andrea a lot. In fact, if it wasn’t for her warm welcome and guidance back in 2015, I don’t think I would have stuck around.
I am thinking more and more about how do we scale mentorship. How do sponsored contributors work on the project full time and guide new contributors? It’s a “chicken or egg” issue, but gut feeling says it’s one to tackle sooner rather than later. The lack of in-person events surely doesn’t help. I hope WordPressers will soon be able to meet again in person.
Luckily, in Italy, in-person events are allowed again. So this week I am attending the Freelancecamp (Italian only, sorry folks!) on the Adriatic Coast with my colleagues Laura and Enrico. We will be staffing the Yoast booth there. Although, at this event, it won’t look like anything you are used to seeing at tech conferences. Because the Freelancamp is a barcamp that happens at the beach. If you ask me, this should be a requirement for every event in the summer, but I digress.
Attending this event is incredibly useful and interesting: a lot of attendees have WordPress websites, but they don’t contribute to it. It’s very easy to get into navel-gazing mode when you are heavily involved with the project. So talking to users in a relaxed setting has always led to interesting conversations. The conference is attended by a number of SEO specialists and copywriters: I am interested in hearing their take on the latest Google news and what they expect to see in WordPress.
WordPress 5.9 is scheduled to be released on December 14th, 2021. It’s never easy to pick a date for a release: we take major holidays for the biggest religions into consideration. This will be the first time since WordPress 4.1, Dinah, in 2014, that a release is around mid-December and not wrapped up before December 8th, at the latest.
I won’t lie, I am a bit worried about a mid-December release. At the same time, it gives the project three weeks to stress-test PHP 8.1, which will be released on November 25th. Time, and a retrospective, will tell if it was the right time. After all, trial and error is one of the first concepts you learn in programming ;-)
Update the updater
By the time this post is published, the first two outcomes of the initiative might be merged into Core. The next two, “Have managed updates (database migrations)” and “Create a unified JSON convention for requirements and dependencies” are a bit trickier. The first one needs an additional API, the latter is, for the lack of better words, a controversial topic. If you build upon WordPress, I invite you to read the (very long) conversation. The goal is definitely not reinventing the wheel, AKA rewriting Composer, but to inform users that to make an addon plugin work they need a parent plugin. As usual, easier said than done when you write code for almost half of the web!
Last week I had an accident which resulted in a broken knee, so I had to spend a few days offline. As a consequence, there were delays on some projects I was working on. Thankfully, I was able to get back to work after just a few days.
Update the updater
I finalized the patch to improve stability of plugin and theme updates (#1492), and it is now in a state that can be merged in WordPress Core. Hopefully, by the end of the week the patch will be merged so it can be included in WordPress 5.9.
I continued working on a webfonts API proof of concept. The proposal first came in #46370 and there is already a lot of good feedback on that ticket. So I am turning that feedback to code and implementing a solution that developers will be able to use.
The API is an extension of the existing API for stylesheets, so it will be able to take advantage of all existing hooks & implementations.
I have finished my sprints on the special project team at Yoast last week, and am now back on the WordPress team full time. Currently, I’m fully focused on e2e testing in WordPress Core, with a priority to identify and prioritize tests to implement. On the other side, I’m also testing a proposal from a Gutenberg contributor to change the headless browser API for testing.
It’s really great to be back in the WordPress team, after a great experience with special projects.