The month of May was chock full of innovation, progress and new ideas over at Make WordPress Core. Basically, the developers were pretty damned busy and to save you some time, I’ve gone through the dev chats and blog posts and put together the highlights for you from the last month.
In a nutshell, this ongoing series of posts (at least, that’s our plan!) – published near the beginning of every month – enables you to remain on the cutting edge of WordPress.
Since there’s so much to cover, let’s just jump right in, shall we?
Dev Chat – May 7th, 2014
Back during the 05/07 dev chat, several ideas were proposed for WordPress 4.0.
For starters, there will be several multisite enhancements added, like SSL. The team has also proposed new office hours to make progress on the multitude of changes easier to manage.
Other ideas include the addition of background images in the theme customizer, improvements for oEmbed discoverability and several improvements to the plugin installer – more information and improved search to name a few. There are also several APIs proposed for posts, comment types, and statuses. Improvements to the mobile experience can also be expected with better upload flow and a ‘Press This’ feature plugin.
This dev chat also covered some of the themes anticipated to be included in the release. That is, broad trends in development. These included the addition of more “visual cues” in the admin area for specific user tasks, better editing and media functionality, and improved API across the board to “make devs happy.”
There were also a few more details about Feature Plugins, particularly the Front-end Editor. It’s anticipated to remain a feature as a plugin after 4.0 but the team is discussing how it can be integrated into Core at a sooner date. Work is also being done on the Media Grid View and Press This plugins.
Another major discussion this month on the Make WordPress Core blog was written by Andrew Nacin and had to do with internationalization goals for WordPress 4.0.
In fact, he says he’d like to “close the loop” on internationalization by 4.0’s release. This can be accomplished by adding five key features. What follows is a description of these features along with an explanation of how they can be accomplished.
1. Adding language selection options at WordPress installation, prompting the remainder of installation to be in that specified language.
The idea here is that regardless of a user’s entry point into a WordPress installation – i.e. via setup-config.php or through a hosting control panel – the appropriate prompts for language pack downloads are included. The proposed solutions involve offering language file downloads immediately or bundling some language files for the installation screens.
2. The ability to change your preferred language in general settings, prompting the download of a language pack.
According to Nacin, WordPress MU had this feature before and it’s still in multisite, though its functionality isn’t ideal. What is ideal is for single sites to retrieve whatever languages are available from WordPress.org and display them in a drop-down on the General Settings page. If for some reason network access isn’t available, previously installed languages will only be displayed.
3. Dashboard-integrated search for language-specific plugins and themes.
The idea here is to have theme and plugin directories on translated versions of WordPress.org that are localized. This way, any plugin or theme in your preferred language can be displayed. This would translate (if you’ll pardon the pun) to the install screens as well. Translatable readme files are on the to-do list as well.
4. Automatic generation and availability of localized packages as part of core release.
Nacin says a “localized” package would contain all the regular WordPress Core files with some translated files. Some locale-specific concerns that he says must be addressed include oEmbed providers that are locale-specific, CSS modifications, transliteration, official license translations, and better tracking for readme file translations and wp-config-sample.php.
5. Localized packages are to be used for WordPress.org downloads, and are then to be substituted with language packs during updates.
To avoid double upgrades and general awkwardness, Nacin proposes using localized packages first, then resorting to language packs. Basically, language pack offers would replace localized package offers.
It sounds like the dev team has a lot of work to do! And as always, if you want to get involved, be sure to check out the open tickets.
Plugins Page Improvements
I love it when bits of WordPress that have been a bit stagnant for a while get an overhaul, and that’s precisely what’s being proposed for the Plugins page. It’s barely changed in five years, so it’s definitely time! The idea is to shift the focus from users looking to troubleshoot plugins to users looking to find and install new plugins. Basically, to make the page more helpful.
A few ideas the team has are to:
- change the default plugin page to plugin-install.php to make it more intuitive for new users,
- adopt a unified search option rather than “Search Installed Plugins,” and
- offer customized search results based on the current version of WordPress you’re running.
Another idea is to change the tags in the “Add New” page to be more helpful and defined by categories that are commonly used like “image galleries” or “security.” Plugin directory search would also be improved to show ratings, age, stats, and updates more readily.
The Install Plugins page would also get some changes, namely modifications to the current tabs shown. Ratings averages would also be modified to be less prone to error and the columns in Search Results would be changed to be more helpful. More support for developers has also been proposed.
Dev Chat – May 21, 2014
One of the last updates over at Make WordPress Core in May offered general and team update details. For instance, it was pointed out that the Make blogs should be better utilized by development teams to initiate in discussions and offer progress updates to the community at large.
There was also a reminder that plugin developers should be encouraged to engage in “rapid and possibly wild experimentation,” and that meetings are designed for helping one another get “unstuck,” but that devs should still make use of async (Trac, P2) and adhoc (IRC) whenever possible.
Regarding team updates, there was mention of the WordPress 4.0 goals we already discussed here and how Nacin is seeking people to help out with it. It also looks like Media Grid may not be as robust as initially intended but will still definitely be included in 4.0. Finally, some improvements were proposed for the Editor in the form of a proof of concept plugin.
As always, there’s never a dull moment in the land of WordPress development. The team is hard at work on implementing new features and making modifications that make the experience of using WordPress better for everyone involved. From talk of better language support to a more robust plugins page, these changes are designed to make for a more intuitive experience for WordPress users, old and new.
We’re thinking about making these Core update posts a regular thing. What do you think? Do you appreciate this simplified distillation of all Core dev goings on? Would you rather see something else in its place? Or, do you just want to comment on one of the in-progress or proposed ideas discussed above?
Please let us know in the comments section below!