Release Leads: Call for Volunteers

WordPress 4.6 will be released in a couple of weeks, and Helen Hou-Sandí is preparing to lead 4.7, the final major release of 2016. With five months left in 2016, it’s time to start considering release leads for 2017.

Giving release leads time to prepare is beneficial to the success of the release. It might seem advantageous to announce a year’s worth of release leads, but it puts the first and even second release lead at a disadvantage. Going forward, identifying and pre-announcing the next two release leads will help give them time to prepare. For example, at the start of the 4.8 cycle, both the 4.9 and 5.0 release leads should be confirmed.

Leading a release is a substantial time commitment. It blends aspects of being a product manager, project manager, engineering manager, and release manager. The release lead works across teams to ensure the success of the release. They are supported by the lead developers, permanent committers, and deputies of their choosing. Release leads do not need to be developers, but having experience contributing to WordPress is recommended.

Here’s how some previous release leads have described the role:

Leading a release of WordPress is both a highly satisfying and highly draining experience. It’ll take as much of your time as you let it, but this comes with the opportunity to help millions of folks tell their stories and make a living.

My experience was that it is 75% volunteer coordination and 25% project planning/execution, but this can vary depending on your skills and those of your deputies. Being a release deputy is a great way to give it a try and learn about the process, but with a smaller time commitment.

I highly recommend consulting your significant other, previous release leads, and your boss before volunteering for either one.

— Mike Schroder, 3.9 co-lead and 4.5 release lead.

I found leading a release to be both daunting and supremely rewarding at the same time. When I led the 4.2 cycle, I found it to be a valuable lesson in organizing priorities and resources. I also got a crash course in project management that ultimately translated into approaching my daily work in a much more efficient way.

It’s fun, though also a lot of hard work corralling all of the little details and coordinating communication between teams. Remember: there’s nothing saying a release lead has to be a developer or a designer or a project manager or whathaveyou. The only real must is having a reasonably good handle on how core development works and the philosophies that govern decision making. Everything else is up to you.

If you feel like you’re looking to level up on contributing to WordPress, leading a release might be just the challenge for you.

— Drew Jaynes, 4.2 release lead.

Are you interested?

If you are interested in volunteering to be a release lead, please comment here or contact either myself (@jorbin) or Helen (@helen) on Slack.

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