WordPress 3.6 Status Update

I’ve received some emails and Twitter responses asking me if I knew any information as to when WordPress 3.6 would be released. After looking around, it was clear that not a lot of information about the upcoming release is available. I stopped by the WordPress developers chat today to figure out what was going on and here is what I know. There is still quite a bit of work to be done before 3.6 is officially released. When I posed the question of when could we expect either a new beta or 3.6 to be released, here was the answer I received from Andrew Nacin:

When it’s done. There’s no new timeline because we just need to get things done and ship, and we don’t know how long that’ll take just yet.

The last thing I want to do is be a hindrance on the core developers of WordPress and ask a silly question like, “When will so and so be released” especially if the answer to that question is already answered on the make.core.wordpress site but in this instance, it wasn’t and it’s been two weeks since the public has had any news on what is going on. At the same time, I’ve been reminded that if there are no updates on the Make.Core.WordPress site it’s because the developers are knee deep in code trying to get things fixed.


20 responses to “WordPress 3.6 Status Update”

  1. I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled too poised for the next release, there is something to be said about ‘it will be ready when it’s ready’ that means it’s not being rushed! Reminds me of the Matrix when the Oracle was baking cookies… Perfect!

  2. I’m really looking forward to seeing the post-mortem on this release. Obviously it should only be released when its ready, but I also know the team has pushed for more consistent cadence for quite some time — as not to repeat some of the overly-long delays that have happened in the past.

    It’ll be interesting to know what happened in the dev process that caused the scope to change so widely and for features to be pushed back to the future.

  3. Although the earlier idea (Trumpeted Promise) of the gleaming-clean core has gradually acquired some noticeable tarnish, I’ve been hopeful that the goal remains central to WordPress policy & strategy, and that the compromises were grudging and not too systemic.

    Adding a big flagrant hotel-service to core – as the heart of an entire release, no less – had me worried.

    Not only are the aesthetics and principles of core-separation attractive & commendable …. but this is what the mixing of core & peripheral services leads to, and why it pays in the long run to deflect suggestions & suppress temptations to take the shortcut.

  4. I understand the desire to get things right and there’s been a lot of rework, having to remove Post Formats, but I can’t help but think that if there was some sort of public consultation on what people’s most desired feature is, we wouldn’t be in situations where code is almost ready to ship, with the community by-and-large saying that they don’t like what’s being worked on and would really rather it wasn’t there at all.

  5. @Chuck Reynolds – I couldn’t agree more. The Post Formats UI should have stayed in core – the current state of Post Formats has no standardisation and it creates confusion when trying to figure out how to configure your post to work with the theme’s way of managing each post format.

  6. @Christina Warren

    It’ll be interesting to know what happened in the dev process that caused the scope to change so widely and for features to be pushed back to the future.

    The blackout thus far seems inauspicious for meaningful forensics.

    It was a serious issue that needed radical action, which has already been costly.

    There are weighty commercial considerations, and standing within the industry at stake.

    Who was the Post Formats UI in core really for? WordPress bloggers and theme-retailers? Hmm.

    When something like this happens, the analysis & explanation is likely to be foregone in favor of fostering the restoration of morale & team-cohesion. People at the heart of WordPress are devastated. Mistakes or misjudgments probably happened … and rather than “accounting”, WP now needs everyone who may have been involved, doing their best work on the recovery effort …. the involved folks probably among the finest & most-crucial on the team.

  7. Post formats should have been “plugin territory” (like core devs love to say) from the start. I echo Dave Clements’ sentiments concerning some sort of public consultation on what people’s most desired features are. It’s sad that the Ideas section on wordpress.org is completely ignored.

  8. Post formats seem besides the point. It is just one way to think about UI improvements on the posting side of things. Theme developers have been doing the “post format” thing for a decade (only using taxonomies to control styling rather than post formats).

    The thing that I like about Tumblr is not the post formats but the simple UI.

    I think there is a need for some UI improvements on the posting side of things, but I don’t know that post formats are the solution in and of themselves…

  9. @Toby Cryns

    Theme developers have been doing the “post format” thing for a decade (only using taxonomies to control styling rather than post formats).

    Are theme people using the ‘format’ or ‘post format’ idea/concept, and the taxonomy mechanism, as a ‘back-door style-sheet’. Is this a type of end-run around or replacement/alternative for CSS?

    I must say, there is a lot I don’t ‘get’ about Post Format. Why do we need a “Quote” format, since we have a Quote button & standardized styling for quotes, right there in the Editor, and the theme style sheet. Wanna Image? The button is already there…

    Even before the UI in core issue came up, my questions had for some time been building, rather than resolving.

    Mark Jaquith is right:

    … [It] just isn’t compelling, or obvious, or any of the things that it should be.

    Of course, in the context, he is refering to the new Post Format UI per se, rather than PF more generally.

    What does seem compelling obvious is that the hangup or glitch with the UI stems from/is an expression/outgrowth of problems in the Post Format mechanism that the UI is attempting to present to the user.

    Mr. Jaquith goes on:

    … [I]t seems to be a fundamental issue with the concept.

    What “concept”? The concept of providing a UI for the mechanism? Nah … the concept of the mechanism – Post Formats – itself.

  10. Of course, being used to a release coming out soon after Beta 3 – if not Beta 2 – it isn’t all that surprising that people are beginning to wonder. Perhaps the release of Beta 3 was a little bit too early?

  11. @Ted Clayton – That is correct. Basically, themers have been setting categories on individual posts and then styling the output via CSS. At the end of the day, this is really all post formats do for us on the front end.

    Plugins like Advanced Custom Fields and MasterPress are making post formats less and less useful, since they are solving the UI problems.

    There is still a lot of room for a UI improvements during the post creation and edit process, but I don’t see how post formats will help.

    From a theming end, I understand how post formats help – basically we no longer need to hack front end display stuff (as noted above). But what end users want is a slick UI, which really has nothing to do with post formats.

  12. @Toby Cryns – Thank you. Several nice clues/pointers!

    Plugins like Advanced Custom Fields and MasterPress are making post formats less and less useful, since they are solving the UI problems.

    I have looked at ACF, and others that seemed related. I hesitated, though, not understanding/seeing how the data shin-bone was apparently supposed to connect to the Post Formats etc elbow-bone … so-to-say.

    As long as we are talking “fields”, and “records”, and the Tables & Queries & Reports of the database, I’m on solid footing. I’ll go Hierarchical, I’ll go Relational Algebra, I’ll go Heap & Neural Network … let’s just know what our words mean & what we’re actually talking about.

    It’s when terms & concepts morph & shape-shift that I start feeling a little woozy. ;-)

  13. I think we all understand that things are Done “When it’s done”.
    I doubt anyone has an issue with that.
    The issue I have is “we don’t know how long that’ll take just yet”.

    We moved to an agile methodology, Scrum specifically, for 3.5 and 3.6, because the previous 4 releases were (respectfully) fairly poorly project managed (and all released late). Obviously, this has gone out the window, or never properly implemented in the first place. We’re at the stage where a 3 month dev cycle is now at 5 months, and closing in on 6 months. An underestimation of work by 100% scares me as a project manager. But then, the view of core devs is:

    “nonsensical project management stuff” is “completely meaningless to real-world software development”
    Otto – http://make.wordpress.org/core/2013/04/23/post-formats-schedules-and-philosophy/#comment-8599

    The specifics of the delay are 3.6 are not the issue. The lack of communication and planning are the issues. The project schedule was changed with no tweet, irc, blog post, or comment on make./core, with the old version removed. Communication and Openness? Yes? Yes.

    It takes 30 seconds, to send a tweet once a week saying “We’re estimating the release date as XX/XX, confidence is 60%”.

    WordPress has some genuinely amazing developers, who continue to do simply incredible work. There does come a point in time where we have to realise that developers alone are not enough (It’s why we now have UX, Designers, and Accessibility folks). Project Management is a unique skill-set. Just because someone is an amazing developer, does not automatically make them an amazing project manager, or tester, or bus driver, or butcher, or soccer player, or president. Maybe it’s time we embraced it the whole way through a release cycle, and not just throw it out the window when it gets to the parts we don’t like.

    Maybe thats 15 years of project management talking though…

  14. @Kevinjohn Gallagher

    The Mythical Man-Month – 1975

    And when Brooks wrote this, it was not new or penetrating insight. It had been plain for many years.

    Planning software creation is extremely fraught, and counterproductive. Getting excited and trying to cajole the process, is herding cats.

    No, seriously. The recent-years tendency to view scheduled release cycles and timed production goals as realistic & rational practice is the aberration … not that these efforts don’t work.

    The truth about ‘planning’ software production, is that soas not to consistently embarrass oneself, generous ‘padding’ must be built into the projection. Both time & cost will be saved, by accepting that it will be done when it’s done.

  15. So instead of releasing 3.6, they release a 3.5.2 update. LOL! I will laugh if they release it next week or two, just after the 3.5.2 update. People always do things that make no sense at all.

  16. @Michael – The real v3.6 might come out very soon, or it might not come out very soon. Sometimes, companies just skip a number that they crash & burn on … sorta like a memorium. “Sorta like 3.6, eh? What 3.6? Exactly.”

    Nah; v3.5.2, if it does call for an interpretation, is to show that the WordPress crew has been discharged from the psych-trauma ward and have resumed normal activities, like work. We’re in the saddle, bright-eyed & bushy-tailed, and tending to our user’s real interests, (like security).


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