A glossary for contributors

As part of the core contributor handbook, there’s going to be a glossary. Here’s what I’ve put together so far.

Something missing? Leave a comment. Feel free to also weigh in on new and existing definitions, examples, and the like.

a11y: Accessibility, or the act of ensuring that user interfaces are accessible for persons of all abilities and disabilities.

back compat: Backwards compatibility — a desire to ensure that plugins and themes do not break under new releases — is a driving philosophy of WordPress. While it is a commonly accepted software development practice to break compatibility in major releases, WordPress strives to avoid this at all costs. Any backwards incompatible change is carefully considered by the entire core development team and announced, with affected plugins often contacted. It should be noted that external libraries such as jQuery do have backwards incompatible changes between major releases, which is often going to be a greater concern for developers.

backport: A port is when code from one branch (or trunk) is merged into another branch or trunk. Some changes in WordPress point releases are the result of backporting code from trunk to the release branch.

bleeding edge: The latest revision of the software, generally in development and often unstable. Also known as trunk.

blocker:Â A bug which is so severe that it blocks a release.

branch: A directory in Subversion. WordPress uses branches to store the latest development code for each major release (2.8, 2.9, etc.). Branches are then updated with code for any minor releases of that branch. Sometimes, a major version of WordPress and its minor versions is collectively referred to as a “branch,” such as “the 2.9 branch.”

commit (noun):Â An individual change to WordPress, identified by an incremental revision number. Also called a changeset.

commit (verb): To make a change to WordPress. Only committers can commit code, but often the code is contributed by developers without commit access.

committer: A developer with commit access. WordPress has five lead developers and two permanent core developers with commit access. Additionally, there are two developers with commit access for a specific component, and the project sometimes has one or more guest committers — a developer receiving commit access, generally for a single release cycle and for a specific component.

conflict: A conflict occurs when a patch changes code that was modified after the patch was created. These patches are considered stale and will require a refresh of the changes before it can be applied, or the conflicts will need to be resolved.

CSS: Cascading Style Sheets.

dogfood: The practice of using one’s own software, typically bleeding edge (trunk), thus “eating one’s own dogfood.”

i18n: Internationalization, or the act of writing and preparing code to be fully translatable into other languages. See also localization. Often written with a lowercase i so it is not confused with a lowercase L or the numeral 1. Often an acquired skill. 🙂

invalid: A resolution on the bug tracker (and generally common in software development, sometimes also notabug) that indicates the ticket is not a bug, is a support request, or is generally invalid.

IRC: Internet Relay Chat, a network where users can have conversations online. IRC channels are used widely by open source projects and by WordPress. The primary WordPress channels are #wordpress and #wordpress-dev, on irc.freenode.net.

JS: JavaScript, a web scripting language typically executed in the browser. Often used for advanced user interfaces and behaviors.

L10n: Localization, or the act of translating code into ones own language. See also internationalization. Often written with an uppercase L so it is not confused with the capital letter i or the numeral 1. WordPress has a capable and dynamic group of polyglots who take WordPress to more than 70 different locales.

major release: A release, identified by the first two numbers (3.2), which is the focus of a full release cycle and feature development. WordPress uses decimaling count for major release versions, so 2.8, 2.9, 3.0, and 3.1 are sequential and comparable in scope.

make/code: The development updates P2 blog at make.wordpress.org/code. Formerly wpdevel. [todo]

make/ui: The UI working group P2 blog at make.wordpress.org/ui.

P2:Â A free theme for WordPress, known for front-end posting, used by WordPress for development updates and project management. See our main development blog and the other workgroup blogs.

patch: A special text file that describes changes to code, by identifying the files and lines which are added, removed, and altered. It may also be referred to as a diff. A patch can be applied to a codebase for testing.

PHP: The web scripting language in which WordPress is primarily architected. WordPress requires PHP 5.2.4.

point release: A minor release of WordPress, identified by the third number (the 2 in 3.1.2). These releases are for maintenance and security fixes only. Feature development is limited to major releases. Changes to point releases are carefully considered and are only critical or blocker-level bugs and security enhancements, hardening, and fixes are accepted.

priority: The seriousness of a bug report or ticket in the eyes of the project. Generally, severity is a judgment of how bad a bug is, while priority is its relationship to other bugs.

regression: A software bug that breaks or degrades something that previously worked. Regressions are often treated as critical bugs or blockers. Recent regressions may be given higher priorities. A “3.1 regression” would be a bug in 3.1 that worked as intended in 3.0.

severity: The seriousness of the ticket in the eyes of the reporter. Generally, severity is a judgment of how bad a bug is, while priority is its relationship to other bugs.

SVN:Â Subversion, the popular version control system (VCS) by the Apache project, used by WordPress to manage changes to its codebase.

tag: A directory in Subversion. WordPress uses tags to store a single snapshot of a version (2.8, 2.8.1, etc.), the common convention of tags in version control systems.

ticket: Created for both bug reports and feature development on the bug tracker.

Trac:Â An open source project by Edgewall Software that serves as a bug tracker and project management tool for WordPress.

triage: The act of evaluating and sorting bug reports, in order to decide priority, severity, and other factors.

trunk: A directory in Subversion containing the latest development code in preparation for the next major release cycle. If you are running “trunk,” then you are on the latest revision.

UI: User interface

UX: User experience

wontfix: A resolution on the bug tracker (and generally common in software development) that indicates the ticket will not be addressed further. This may be used for acceptable edge cases (for bugs) or enhancements that have been rejected for core inclusion.

worksforme: A resolution on the bug tracker (and generally common in software development) that indicates the bug reported cannot be reproduced.

wpdevel: Formerly the development updates P2 blog at wpdevel.wordpress.com. It is now ‘make/code’ and resides at make.wordpress.org/code. [todo]