Breaking: New Features Selected To Merge Into WordPress 3.8 Core

Today was an important day for nailing down the features that will be moving forward in WordPress 3.8. In an epic three hour planning and decisions meeting, Matt Mullenweg opened up the discussion by asking plugin leaders to provide a status for their proposed features. I’ve summarized a few of the highlights.

Widgets Area Chooser Plugin Gets a Green Light

Widgets Area Chooser
Widgets Area Chooser
The meeting started with discussion on the accessibility benefits of the Widgets Area Chooser plugin, which we recently featured on the Tavern. Shaun Andrews submitted a proposal at the last minute for its inclusion in 3.8.

Matt said, “I think this is a small but useful addition, and the trac ticket should allow any code issues to be worked out.” In the next day or two the plugin should be live on WordPress.com so that the team can gather a wider range of browser and user testing. It looks like this feature will be getting the green light.

Omnisearch Needs More Refining

During the meeting it was determined that the Omnisearch plugin needs more discussion on implementation and features, so work will continue there before it will be cleared to move on to core.

DASH Plugin Will Be Merged Into Core

Dave Martin, otherwise known as @lessbloat and the Dash plugin team leader, has been paired with core developer Mark Jaquith who will be working with them on merging the plugin into core. No major roadblocks were raised in the discussion of this feature.

When asked what the screen looks like for a site that doesn’t have much content, @lessbloat posted a screenshot of a brand new dashboard:

New dashboard
New dashboard

This feature is looking pretty solid and is cleared to merge into core. WordPress users can expect a beautiful new dashboard in the next release.

THX – All Systems a Go!

The Theme Experience plugin is now on its way into 3.8. WordPress users can expect a much improved way of viewing themes in the next release.

Theme with multiple screenshots
New theme experience demo with multiple screenshots

A few points were raised about enhancing what the plugin already does and making its features more discoverable in the UI. There’s plenty of time to polish it up. Matt noted that testing this feature with lots of themes will be important in order to ensure that the experience stays speedy.

MP6 Finally Cleared for Takeoff

Some work needs to be done on browser support and performance but other than that the plugin is looking pretty solid right now. MP6 will finally be rolled into the core in WordPress 3.8.

“MP6 is a shot in the arm,” Matt said. “It forces plugin devs to up their game, makes WP feel modern, and the importance of the responsive aspect of it cannot be overstated.” MP6 is a vast improvement upon the current admin design and is arguably the most highly anticipated addition to WordPress 3.8.

Twenty Fourteen – Not Yet a Lock For 3.8

Twenty Fourteen will be the next WordPress default theme. Because this is the most fully featured theme so far, a major challenge will be helping users discover what is possible with Twenty Fourteen. The development team is aiming to push as many of the customizations as possible into WordPress’ Customizer so that it’s easier to work with. Lingering development concerns mean that Twenty Fourteen’s inclusion in 3.8 is not yet a lock. The worst case scenario would be holding it back for the 3.9 release, but it hasn’t yet been decided.

Features Are Merging into the WordPress Trunk

During the 3.8 development meeting Matt paired each incoming feature with a core developer as a “buddy” to the plugin leader. “The role of the buddy is a support one to try to sherpa the plugin getting in as friction-free as possible,” he said.

The trunk is about to get a bit more volatile, so developers might want to turn off those nightlies for awhile. As features are merged into the trunk, Matt encouraged developers to see the trunk as “a place where things can and will break, versus a museum of perfect code that we all svn up to in production every morning at 5am.” Things may be a bit messy in the transition, but this is a good sign that WordPress is growing and improving in many new ways. Core development is ramping up for a very exciting 3.8 release in December.

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