The WP-CLI open source project will be coming under the WordPress.org umbrella in 2017. After recent talks with Daniel Bachhuber, WP-CLI’s official maintainer, Matt Mullenweg announced WordPress’ support for the project, calling it “one of the highest impact developments for WP in many years.” The wp-cli.org website will soon be migrated to WordPress.org and a CLI Make site with its own P2 is now available to contributors.
“As we head into 2017, I wanted to make sure that its future is certain for everyone who builds on it, and that the major contributors to the project, chiefly Daniel Bachhuber, are able to work on it even more in the coming year,” Mullenweg said. Now that the project is part of WordPress.org, Mullenweg said he will be leading a coalition of companies to “solidify their financial support” of the existing fundraising effort that Bachhuber launched in mid-December 2016.
The logistics of the new funding model haven’t yet been completely ironed out, but Bachhuber says runcommand will not be shutting down.
“Runcommand’s sole focus will be to hire people to work on WP-CLI,” he said. “This hybrid approach better ensures WP-CLI’s long-term future (e.g. the project is under the wing of the WordPress project), while also being a creative way for paying for dedicated resources to it.”
Bachhuber explored different funding models for WP CLI throughout 2016 without much success. When discussions about making it an official WordPress core project first began, he was leaning towards keeping WP-CLI operating as an independent project. The new hybrid approach gives companies the opportunity to financially support an official WordPress project via runcommand, where Bachhuber hopes to hire additional maintainers on a part-time basis.
“I’ve thought a lot about funding open source over the last year,” Bachhuber said. “In the context of WP-CLI, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have confidence in WP-CLI being a completely independent project + financially sustainable business.”
Bachhuber said he feels “reasonably confident” about the future of the project after recent developments and hopes to have funding for a few part-time maintainers.
“I think part-time is key because each of us needs to be working / solving problems in the real-world, and then taking those solutions back to the project,” Bachhuber said. Although many open source projects operate without paying people for contributions, he believes there is an important distinction between maintainers and contributors.
“Contributors act in a voluntary manner (e.g. contributing code when they have a couple hours free),” Bachhuber said. “Maintainers take responsibility for the project, showing up every day, and doing most of the unglamorous work. I think maintainership is an important aspect of a healthy open source project. Everyone has an example of an open source project they use that’s no longer maintained and how painful it is to be dependent on it.”
Responses to the news of WP-CLI gaining official WordPress.org support were overwhelmingly positive, as the tool is critical to the WordPress developer community. The decision to have WP-CLI operate under WordPress.org’s umbrella makes it better positioned to drive the financial support needed to sustain the ongoing burden of maintainership.
Bachhuber said the current fundraising effort, which is based on a patron support model, is approximately 1/5 of the way to his funding goal. He is still waiting to hear from a number of large players but the funding drive will remain open indefinitely for now. Bachhuber said they will re-evaluate once they reach the goal.
“I consider this the best possible outcome of my efforts trying to identify sustainability for the project over the last year,” Bachhuber said in the first post on the Make WordPress CLI site. “The decision to make WP-CLI an official WordPress project also means there’s a clear path forward for me to invest more of my own time into the WP-CLI roadmap. Concurrent with the transition process over the next couple of months, I want to move forward the conversation of how we realize a future where WP-CLI is the fastest way to do anything with WordPress.”