WordPress 4.6 is scheduled for release on August 16th. This release streamlines the installation, activation, and update process for plugins, uses native system fonts for the WordPress backend, and improves the post editor. It also includes a number of enhancements under the hood.
Outside of the improvements to the plugin and theme management process, there’s not much else that excites me. In fact, I haven’t been excited about a WordPress release in a long time and I’m not the only one who feels this way.
It’s not the fault of WordPress core developers or the hundreds of people who contribute to the project. WordPress is maturing software that’s 13 years old. In the last 13 years, WordPress has implemented a number of features and the development process has changed as well.
On average, there are three major versions of WordPress released per year. That’s one major version every four months. The amount of time release leads have to work on and merge features into core is about 6-8 weeks. It’s tough to generate a wow factor three times a year with such a short window of opportunity.
Because of WordPress’ maturity and the short development cycle, major features are getting few and far between. By looking at the Beta tab on the WordPress plugin directory, visitors can view projects that may end up in future versions of WordPress. The only project on the page that excites me is the Front-end Editor but based on how long it’s been in development, I’m not holding my breath.
WordPress is used by millions of people across the globe and I realize that the features and enhancements in each new version that don’t excite me are useful and exciting to someone else.
WordPress development takes an iterative approach but the small improvements from release to release are typically not groundbreaking. I wonder if the days of creating and implementing innovative new ways to accomplish tasks in WordPress core are over.