Andrew Nacin announced on the Make Core blog that Konstantin Obenland will lead the release of WordPress 4.3, while Scott Taylor will lead 4.4. Obenland’s latest contribution to WordPress is the redesigned theme directory. Taylor is largely responsible for the audio and video improvements in WordPress 3.9.
Nacin defines a WordPress release lead as someone who sets the parameters for a release like schedule, deadlines, and helps to decide which feature plugins are merged. They also direct discussions in core development chats, write announcement posts, and shepherds contributions.
Usually, release leads are not chosen until the beginning of the next development cycle. However, so many people volunteered to lead WordPress 4.2, it gave the team an opportunity to choose them in advance.
Obenland says it’s too early to determine what he will focus on for WordPress 4.3, but there may be some incremental flow and user experience improvements.
I’m still in the process of gathering information and getting a feel for what’s cooking and what could be ready for 4.3. As of right now (three days into the process) there is no clear headline feature emerging but it looks like there will be a number of nice incremental flow and user experience improvements.
I asked Obenland what it means to him and the WordPress project for release leads to be chosen this far in advance.
First of all it means I actually get to do the above, plan ahead of time. So far, Release Lead appointments happened somewhat last minute so there wasn’t a lot of time to prepare. I now have the luxury of being able to compose a list of proposed features ahead of the kick-off meeting, rather than having to come up with that list during the meeting, which will hopefully lead to a more efficient discussion and evaluation of those features.
Scott is able to groom feature plugins to get them ready for 4.4, which has been the goal for Release Leads for a while. Going forward, we’ll be in a position where not only Release Leads, but the community, get a chance to plan ahead more than one release at a time. This should have a positive impact on the quality of feature plugins and make for less hurried merges.
Choosing release leads in advance removes friction and enables a smoother transition from one lead to another. It also gives the core team momentum to transfer from one development cycle to the next.
It will be interesting to see how this impacts feature plugin development and whether or not the team will be able to maintain momentum into the WordPress 4.5 dev cycle.