Earlier this month, I described how the features as plugins first model is a mess. Drew Jaynes, who is leading the development cycle for WordPress 4.2, is already making headway into improving the model. Unlike previous release cycles, feature plugins that are likely to be merged into WordPress have been assigned a core mentor at the beginning of the cycle. Assigning mentors at the beginning of the dev cycle should help make the merge process smoother and keep each project within scope.
One of the biggest issues I have with feature plugins is the lack of communication regarding their progress on the Make Core blog. This issue is being addressed with weekly updates that explain what’s changed, things to test, and where focus is needed. The following plugins are candidates that may be included in 4.2:
- Press This – Uses the Press This tag on the Make Core blog.
- Customizer Theme Switcher – Uses the Customer Theme Switcher tag on the Make Core blog.
Improved Testing Opportunities
If you browse to the Add New plugins screen in a development version of WordPress, you’ll see a Beta Testing tab. The tab provides easy access to feature plugins that are currently in development. My primary gripe with testing feature plugins is that they’re usually not synched with their Github counterparts where most of the development occurs.
WordPress core developer, Dion Hulse, created a script specifically to sync feature plugins on Github to the WordPress plugin directory. This allows feature plugins to have nightly releases which are available from the plugin directory. This small but important change makes it a lot easier to keep up with and upgrade feature plugins.
It’s still early in the development cycle, but I’m impressed with Jaynes organizational abilities. He’s addressed some of the largest pain points to the feature plugin process. If the changes put the experimental model back on track, future lead developers will have an easier time managing the program.