WordPress Performance Team Releases New Feature Plugin For Testing Improvements In Progress

WordPress’ performance team has released a new feature plugin called Performance Lab that includes a set of performance-related improvements for core. The team, which formed just five months ago, is led by Yoast and Google-sponsored core contributors, and has had more than 250 people join its Slack channel, with many participating regularly in weekly chats.

This first release includes the following modules, which are in varying states of development:

The purpose of the plugin is to make it easy for users to test improvements in progress. Each of these modules can be enabled or disabled under a new Settings > Performance menu in the admin.

The WebP upload module can be tested by uploading JPEG images and then checking to see that the WebP versions are generated in the Media Library and displayed on the frontend. The other performance modules are checks that will show up on the Site Health status screen:

WordPress Core Committer Felix Arntz emphasized that the plugin should be considered a beta testing plugin, not a quick fix for making your WordPress site faster.

“The plugin is not going to be a suite of all crucial performance features you need to make your site fast – that’s where the existing performance plugins have their market, and the Performance Lab plugin should indeed not falsely raise an impression of wanting to compete with them,” Arntz commented in a GitHub ticket regarding the plugin’s branding.

Users should be aware they may have unexpected results when testing the plugin, especially when enabling the more experimental features that are not turned on by default. It should not be considered a replacement for other more established performance plugins. Performance Lab may also change over time, as new features are proposed for core.

“Because the Performance Lab plugin is a collection of potential WordPress core feature modules, the list of modules included may drastically change over time,” Arntz said. “New modules may be added regularly, while other modules may be removed in a future plugin version once they have landed in a WordPress core release.”

The goal for the feature plugin is to get performance improvements in progress tested more widely, weeding out edge cases before shipping the modules in a core release. Testers can log issues as GitHub issues or as wordpress.org support forum requests.

7 responses to “WordPress Performance Team Releases New Feature Plugin For Testing Improvements In Progress”

  1. A useful tool to have. Recently our devs came up with a custom solution to convert JPEGs to WebP. A lot of photos are uploaded to the page each week and fighting PageSpeed Insights results manually was a chore.

  2. This seems to offer a way to make WordPress create .webp thumbnails when uploading a .jpeg file (and the other way around!).

    I know support for .webp has been added with WordPress 5.8, but there was no core support for creating fallback .jpeg thumbnails when uploading a .webp image, nor would .webp thumbnails be generated when uploading a .jpeg.

    A full-size image in the opposite format is not being generated, though.

    Will this behaviour be added to core in the future? Alternatively, will hooks be provided to enable the behaviour? Or are they already available? Or do we simply need to install this Performance Lab plugin for this?

    Of course I would very much like this to be available in core without any extra plugins. Using a hook to enable generating .webp images from a .jpeg and vice versa would be a solution as well.

  3. It’s a handy tool to have. Our developers have devised a bespoke technique for converting JPEGs to WebP. Each week, a large number of photographs are added to the website, and manually battling PageSpeed Insights reports was a time-consuming task.

  4. Too little too late, people are already considering Duda and others as alternative because of the performance. WordPress should make improvements yesterday, not in a distant future or it will risk becoming the Firefox of the CMSes.

  5. When I tested the Performance Lab plugin, the results were not good. I would recommend doing it manually instead – Avi Kerendian

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