The date for the WordPress 3.9 release has now been set for April 15th, which coincides with tax day in the US. American developers may want to do their taxes early, because the 3.9 release schedule will be keeping everyone busy. Tentative dates for the 4.0 and 4.1 releases are mid-August and early December, respectively.
The second order of business during the regularly scheduled WordPress dev meeting this week was to discuss feature plugins that might be in the mix for 3.9.
Possible Feature Plugins for 3.9
Shaun Andrews mentioned that the Widgets UI Refresh team is working on the Widget Customizer and believes it will be ready for 3.9. The Widget Customizer plugin offers live previews of widgets while you edit them and is available on WordPress.org if you’d like to help test it.
Shaun Andrews’ Better Widgets plugin may also have enough momentum to make it into the 3.9 merge. These two widget-related plugins were the only ones mentioned in the meeting that might be ready for the feature review and merge process in 3.9, which should happen at the end of January into early February. The plugins are not guaranteed to be in 3.9 but they do have strong possibilities.
Iterative Enhancements for Existing Features
In addition to feature plugins, Nacin also identified a few areas where WordPress 3.9 could stand to iterate on previous releases: “Things like audio/video, even the theme browsing experience to the theme installer, are iterative and could totally take place in 3.9.” This is important because we can’t always focus on building shiny new features without looping back around to improve the ones we already have.
The development meeting concluded with a brainstorming session on how to make it easier for people to contribute to WordPress. All of the recent improvements to trac, especially the new reports and keyword designations, should help contributors to isolate and find tickets that they can jump in on.
If I have my choice of new features:
#1 – Theme & Plugin commenting improvements built into WP that post to WP.org Make it easier for us to report the good, the bad, and the really ugly, and do it within the WP admin – include access to the FAQ access for themes and plugins.
#2 – create a better way to record plugin and theme incompatibilities on WP.org It’s great that it indicates what WP version it is tested with, but too many plugins and themes have combinational incompatibilities that should be recorded as well.
#3 – show date edited and last updated as an option for all posts and pages – standard in WP
#4 – restrict commercial messaging in plugins distributed through WP.org – and stop of the public messaging of “Plugin By” all this is doing is telling hackers what’s under the hood for them to exploit
#5 – country block security option – while there are good security tools that do this if you know how to block IP ranges, this needs to be easier, and is a big part of keeping WP self-hosted sites secure.
#6 – that all third-party theme developers MUST list their themes on WP.org so we know if there are updates, and so we can review them and determine compatibility – they may or may not be available for download, but they should be listed like all the free themes
#7 – a simple bug report system built into WP that would allow any site visitor to click a link to report bugs, problems, or site-wise comments, that will appear in the Admin Dashboard – this could be entered in to an AUTOMATIC database for WP developers could have access to it as well
#8 – total control of link REL statements from the add link feature – not just nofollow, but cononical, me, author, etc.
#9 – an AUTOMATIC service to provide a SAFETY/ANTI-HACK monitoring and badge to indicate safe WP self hosted sites.
#10 – a custom CSS feature under Appearance that would be part of Wp and not the theme, you would be able to retain formatting of your posts regardless of the theme.