A week with us: recap of the latest contributor day and team update
This week, the team worked on several interesting projects and ended the week with the first internal contributor day at Yoast for 2021!
Contributor day recap
In addition to having a dedicated team of full-time WordPress contributors, at Yoast, we organize regular contributor days for our employees. On a contributor day, everyone is encouraged to contribute to WordPress any way they can. For some, that means translations; for others testing issues on trac, helping with design, or any area where they feel they can make a difference.
With WordPress 5.7 on the horizon and the first beta version already out, we felt it was essential to focus our attention and various skills on testing it.
Planning the day
Planning for our contributor day started two months prior. Just a few days after we had our second contributor day, we started working on the next one. Preparations intensified in the last two weeks, with a focus on documentation so people could read about it in advance and get ready. Our tasks included:
- Laying down the steps required to set-up a local environment for testing a beta version of WordPress.
- Preparing instructions on how to set-up a development environment for people who wanted to contribute with code.
- The organizers and “table leads” compiled a list of tickets that needed testing for WordPress 5.7. Each ticket had a description, testing instructions, and an outline of the expected behavior.
We prepared a document with all the information: feel free to make a copy of it in your Google Drive or download it to organize a testing drive for your organisation as well!
Francesca also recorded a video for our daily vlogs (yes, those are a thing at Yoast) to explain to our colleagues what we were aiming to do. Check it out!
Rooms, tables and zoom
Friday, February 5, we started a zoom call and invited everyone to join. The day began with an introduction of what we want to do and an explanation of the processes. We set up “breakout rooms” akin to tables at an in-person contributor Day. This structure allowed us to have several focuses and allowed participants to switch rooms at any time, jumping from table to table depending on their expertise or what they were eager to work on at any given time.
- Main room + Help Desk – This was the main room where we started. It stayed open all day and served as a general chat channel where we could stay connected, have a coffee break or answer questions.
- Core Development Room – In this room, participants worked on testing patches, so they needed to have coding and unit tests experience.
- Core testing for non-developers – In this channel, we tested things that did not require code expertise. When the day started this is where we held a walkthrough for setting up localhost and a testing environment.
- Gutenberg testing – In this room, we tested editor tickets merged in WordPress 5.7, and later in the day Full-Site Editing.
In addition to these rooms (or tables), we also had 4 “free-flowing” tables where our colleagues could focus on other things. This was useful as throughout the day. People had the freedom to collaborate on tasks that needed more attention in dedicated tables without sidetracking their colleagues.
Participants were able to pick up a ticket, test it and report their findings in a collaborative document. If someone had trouble understanding what they are supposed to do or how some things work in WordPress, they would share their screen. This accomplished several things:
- Participants were able to get guidance from table leads on how to accomplish certain tasks.
- Table leads were able to see how someone not familiar with WordPress perceives the interface. It also pinpointed some pain points and what we should do to improve things in WordPress.
- All participants were able to pitch in, help each other and discover things. This was beneficial both to participants and table leads, as we all saw things from someone else’s perspective and learned from each other.
More than 30 of our colleagues participated, and we had fun contributing to WordPress. We tested 17 tickets in WordPress-Core and Gutenberg, created lots of tickets for things that need improving, and we worked on documentation for other commuters and testers in the community.
We can’t wait for our next contributor day!
Wait! There is more: our weekly team update
My days are usually filled with calls with my team, other colleagues for cross-team collaboration and fellow Core contributors from other companies to make sure we are all aligned to make an impact on WordPress.org.
Last week, in particular, I focused on two big tasks. Of course, I worked on preparing the Yoast contributor day. I was also jotting down ideas for possible changes to WordPress Core procedures and structure so we can achieve four releases in 2021 without burning out our contributors or our users.
Contributor Days were my favorite part of in-person WordCamps. I miss them. I am happy we get the chance to do one every couple of months at Yoast. This one was particularly exciting. In the last year, I started digging into some new topics, like accessibility and testing. I try to show up every Friday afternoon for Test Scrubs, and with the documentation produced by the Yoast team on this latest contributor day, I am confident we can increase user engagement in testing and get important feedback.
Last week I focused on testing WordPress 5.7, and I created tickets and patches to update the latest default theme, Twenty Twenty-One.
During our contributor day, we tested WordPress 5.7-beta1. More precisely, we focused on the drag-and-drop from the inserter and the changes to the button block. We found some issues and created tickets in the Gutenberg GitHub repository. In some cases, tickets for our findings already existed, so we confirmed them.
Overall the impression was that it is sometimes difficult to see where the block will be added in the editor when dragged.
We also tested activating Full Site Editing and changing colors with global styles. In addition, we extensively tested the site-title and navigation blocks and created new issues in the GitHub repository where appropriate.
I was happy to learn that other contributors helped test patches to Twenty Twenty-One, and was impressed by the work that was put into writing tests!
I continued to work on improving the developer documentation for the block editor. With other contributors, we are currently working on a new structure for the table of contents of the documentation. The goal is to make it consistent and to make the documentation easier to read. This step is almost finished, and very soon, the new table of contents should be live.
The last contributor day at Yoast was one of the most wonderful ones I’ve ever attended. I was at the WordPress test instruction documentation table, along with several other colleagues who were as interested as I was. We mainly worked on creating test cases that will guide contributors and users to test different versions of WordPress. It’s a document that currently doesn’t exist in the WordPress contributor handbooks. And the ultimate goal is to find a place for this documentation in the Make/Core handbook.
The colleagues at Yoast did a really great job, and it was nice to see the results of this collective effort.
I’ve been keeping up with the WordPress core design issues as the design lead for the upcoming version 5.7 release. Last week we reached beta 1, which means that all the notable new things we wanted to add to core in this release have been merged. They may not be fully polished yet, but the basic functionality is there. In the next few weeks, we will make sure everything is in tiptop shape for March’s release!
Contributing days are exciting! I’ve been passionate about giving back to the community for a long time, and seeing the words “WordPress” and “contribute” close together makes my heart beat faster.
Last Friday we tested WordPress 5.7-beta1 and some tickets that were specifically marked as “needs-testing” before being committed. Most notably:
- Redesigned Privacy Settings screens.
- Using system fonts for the block editor, for better privacy and performance.
- Addressing jQuery Migrate warnings in WordPress core and bundled themes after updating to jQuery 3.5.
- Bug fixes for the Twenty Twenty-One theme.
In addition to preparing tasks for the contributor day, I also continued to work on the upcoming major release of WordPress, as part of my duties as the Core Tech lead. I made over forty commits to WordPress Core, I ran mission control for WordPress 5.7 Beta 1, attended several WordPress 5.6.1 release parties (we will write a post about those, stay tuned!), and triaged new tickets incoming into Trac (the bug tracking system that WordPress uses).
This week I focused on a continued effort to improve the sustainability of WordPress Full Site Editing themes by improving the way styles get loaded on the frontend. I’m hoping we can land this feature in Core soon and backport that logic to non-FSE themes.
We did a lot of Full Site Editing tests during our contributor day, located some pain points and things that are not clear to users that have never seen FSE before. We created tickets in the Gutenberg GitHub repository and will add more as I review my notes from the day.