PHP Meeting Recap – August 28th

This recap is a summary of this week’s PHP meeting. It highlights the ideas and decisions which came up during that meeting, both as a means of documenting and to provide a quick overview for those who were unable to attend.

The meeting’s chat log.

Attendees: @brainfork @dnavarrojr @davidsword @flixos90 @jdgrimes @joyously @mte90 @nerrad @ptasker @schlessera @screamingdev @sergey @sobak @tfrommen @vizkr

Announcement

Last week saw an important milestone for the efforts of the PHP initiative, as plugin authors are now able to specify the minimum required PHP version in each plugin’s header. For now this will only be information displayed in the plugin repository (here is the meta commit that did it 🎉), but eventually it will have an effect on core behavior as well, as core will be able to warn users and prevent upgrades that would not be compatible.

For the latter, the “Serve Happy” page in the works will be a major foundation, to have a location to point site owners to when they encounter such an issue.

Chat Summary

The agenda for this week was to finalize the section outline and its suggested contents that have been discussed in the past couple weeks in order to present these ideas to the marketing team. One or two sentences should be provided for each suggested sub-section, or at least a bullet point on what each respective section will be about. This recap heavily builds upon the work from last week, so reading the previous recap in advance is especially recommended this time. The discussion on GitHub will help as well.

  • The outline should be finalized for the site owner context, as this is the most important group that needs to be addressed in order to grow the number of people on supported PHP versions.
  • Out of the three previously suggested approaches, it was decided to go with the “probability approach”: It should be highlighted that almost half of all WordPress sites are running in a way that has significant drawbacks. Readers should become curious on what they can do to run their site in the most efficient way possible.
  • In addition, the “detected issue approach” should be used conditionally, based on a certain GET parameter that will be set when the user is directed to the page from WP-Admin. This will allow the page to be targeted correctly, indicating issues precisely.
  • The term PHP should not be brought up in the introduction, but rather in the second section where more information is provided. If it was in the introduction, it could too easily scare away people from continuing reading. The paragraph that was so far used for the “technology approach” is a good start for that one.
  • The “technology approach” is also something that could be used for an eventual PHP whitepaper, similar to the existing security whitepaper. However that is another topic that can be worked on once the “Serve Happy” page is completed.
  • The “What is PHP?” section should also include general information on PHP versions/upgrades and why they are needed. The latter was previously suggested for a later section, but explaining versions and upgrades is required to follow the actual objective of the page a bit later.
  • It has to be explained why WordPress can’t deal with PHP upgrades itself and also why there are simple one-click WordPress updates, but not one-click PHP updates.
  • It will be helpful to include a wireframe illustration of a common WordPress stack, to help users understand where the responsibilities lie with WordPress, PHP, MySQL etc.
  • Indicating potential problems with upgrading PHP should be hinted at already when explaining why WordPress cannot deal with the problem by itself. In the actual “How to upgrade PHP for your website” section, this should only be referenced briefly as the focus should be put on which steps to perform in order to prepare a PHP version upgrade.
  • A GitHub issue has been opened to collect and discuss ideas to include in the steps to prepare an upgrade.
  • At the end of the meeting, it was decided that, while there aren’t actual drafts for everything yet, there is a clear idea now of what every section and sub-section should contain. As such, the outline is now ready to be shared with the marketing team. After the meeting, an initial meeting with the marketing team was scheduled, taking place at the marketing team’s regular time (see “Initial marketing collaboration meeting” section further below).

Suggested page outline

This is the current outline suggested (some sub-sections have actual drafts, while the ones in square brackets simply explain what they should be about):

  1. Introduction
    • You want your site operating at its full potential. Is it? Almost half of the sites running WordPress are not. This page will help you determine if your site is one of them and how you can fix that.
  2. What is PHP?
    • One of the important software components that enables WordPress to run on all sites is PHP. [briefly explain in a non-technical way what it is]
  3. Why PHP matters to you as a site owner
    • Every WordPress website requires PHP to run. PHP has many different versions, and as it is with most things in our technology world the more recent the version, the better experience you get. WordPress makes it easy for you to get started by supporting a wide variety of PHP versions, but if you want your website experience to be better, you want to make sure you’re running the latest PHP version.
    • [educate the user about what the problems with an outdated PHP version are]
    • [highlight benefits of using a current version of PHP]
    • While it would be stellar if WordPress could solve the PHP problem itself, unfortunately it is not in charge of the PHP version, since PHP runs on the server that powers your website. Furthermore there can be incompatibilities between certain PHP versions and certain WordPress plugins or themes, which it cannot detect automatically.
  4. How to upgrade PHP for your website
    • Before you proceed with the update, you should try to make sure that your website including its plugins and themes work correctly with the PHP version you want to upgrade to.
    • [provide steps to prepare an update to PHP]
    • [give instructions on updating PHP]
    • [help troubleshoot issues]

Initial marketing collaboration meeting

A little later today, the initial meeting for our collaboration with the marketing team will take place. The agenda will be to touch base, present the section outline and answer possible questions. In addition to the general introduction, plans on how to proceed and collaborate efficiently should be developed. The meeting will take place today (August 30th, 2017, 15:00 UTC) in the #marketing channel on Slack. Please join in if you’re interested, as this will likely determine how the collaboration will work going forward.

Next week’s meeting

The next meeting will take place on September 4th, 2017, 18:00 UTC as always in #core-php, and its agenda will be to review progress and discuss next steps based on the outcome of the meeting with the marketing team. If you have suggestions about this but cannot make the meeting, please leave a comment on this post so that we can take them into account. See you next week!

#core-php, #php, #summary