A year of (subtle) changes

On December 4, 2019, I published a post with a recap of the feedback received for the WordPress 5.3 retrospective. It included a list of “Next Steps”. This post aims to check what was done and what wasn’t.

Done

  • Continue with the release squad model.
  • Mentorship model: focus leads of 5.3 help 5.4 and so on.
  • Make an open call for volunteers. Team reps and previous release leads can nominate people that:
    • Are willing to take part in this.
    • Are a good fit.
  • Add a Design Focus Lead.
  • Add another Documentation Focus Lead to ensure a timely publication of Dev Notesdev note Each important change in WordPress Core is documented in a developers note, (usually called dev note). Good dev notes generally include: a description of the change; the decision that led to this change a description of how developers are supposed to work with that change. Dev notes are published on Make/Core blog during the beta phase of WordPress release cycle. Publishing dev notes is particularly important when plugin/theme authors and WordPress developers need to be aware of those changes.In general, all dev notes are compiled into a Field Guide at the beginning of the release candidate phase. and Field GuideField guide The field guide is a type of blogpost published on Make/Core during the release candidate phase of the WordPress release cycle. The field guide generally lists all the dev notes published during the beta cycle. This guide is linked in the about page of the corresponding version of WordPress, in the release post and in the HelpHub version page. and facilitate the addition of a “docs-updating” stage.
  • Add a Test Focus Lead.
  • A private channel for the release team. It provides the new focus leads a safe space to learn and ask questions that they might feel intimidated by asking in the CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. channel. No decisions are made in the channel.
  • Continue using a sticky post to announce bugbug A bug is an error or unexpected result. Performance improvements, code optimization, and are considered enhancements, not defects. After feature freeze, only bugs are dealt with, with regressions (adverse changes from the previous version) being the highest priority. scrubs and publish in advance the list of bugs that will be tackled.
  • Triagetriage The act of evaluating and sorting bug reports, in order to decide priority, severity, and other factors. team
  • Avoid introducing new technologies without a prior discussion and/or updating external libraries close to BetaBeta A pre-release of software that is given out to a large group of users to trial under real conditions. Beta versions have gone through alpha testing in-house and are generally fairly close in look, feel and function to the final product; however, design changes often occur as part of the process.

Work In Progress

  • Write a description for each role involved.
  • Add some tasks to the release coordinator role:
    • PingPing The act of sending a very small amount of data to an end point. Ping is used in computer science to illicit a response from a target server to test it’s connection. Ping is also a term used by Slack users to @ someone or send them a direct message (DM). Users might say something along the lines of “Ping me when the meeting starts.” component maintainers and core committers at the beginning of the cycle and every few months to ensure there is a clear picture of availability
    • Ping active component maintainers weekly to give a status report. This could be done in two steps: automated post on the Core blogblog (versus network, site) followed by ad hoc pinging in case of no reply.
    • Office Hours to facilitate cross-team collaboration
  • Rethink the roles of the release to give better credit. Define roles (are they even needed beyond the squad?) and be generous with props.
  • Publish the agenda for the dev chats 24 hours prior to the chat with a more structured model.
  • Call for tickets and component focuses
  • Recap of the above with reasoning behind the decisions taken regarding the features that will be considered
  • Propose schedule, scope, and focus leads at the beginning of the release cycle and publish all the milestones.
  • Communicate the release to a wider audience – Marketing Team
  • Increase the release cadence – Release Model Working group (dormant)

Not addressed

  • Reviewing and updating the release cycle documentation
  • Creation of a TrelloTrello Project management system using the concepts of boards and cards to organize tasks in a sane way. This is what the make.wordpress.com/marketing team uses for example: https://trello.com/b/8UGHVBu8/wp-marketing. board for birds-eye project management

Next step

Focusing on the low hanging fruits proved to be a good idea, and in fact the above report shows that the smaller the tasks were, the easier they were achived.

I will ping people that are somehow involved with the “Work in Progress” and the “Not addressed” tasks to check what can be done to move them forward or close them.

Thank you all!

#retrospective