WordPress 5.9 Revised Release Schedule

A revised release schedule for WordPress 5.9 is available, with the final release planned for 25 January 2022.

Why the delay?

Near the end of the original alpha release cycle, issues arose that related to multiple major features planned for the 5.9 release, including:

  • Full Site Editing (FSE), which is a collection of features, such as global styles interface, Navigation BlockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience., block themes, template editors, and site editing flows.
  • The Twenty Twenty-Two (TT2) theme, which depends on these FSE features.

The 6.0 release isn’t due until April 2022—too long for the community to wait for them. After processing this list of issues, CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. Editor team saw the features could ship in 5.9 with the revised schedule. 

This decision, to delay the 5.9 release, was not made lightly. The following section shares the decision-making process.

The decision-making process

Careful, thoughtful, open discussions happened in the release squad channel, that considered  options and impacts:

  • Move the specific pieces needing fixing to 6.0.
  • Move the fixes to a 5.9 minor releaseMinor Release A set of releases or versions having the same minor version number may be collectively referred to as .x , for example version 5.2.x to refer to versions 5.2, 5.2.1, 5.2.3, and all other versions in the 5.2 (five dot two) branch of that software. Minor Releases often make improvements to existing features and functionality..
  • Move the fixes to 6.0.
  • Move these major features to 6.0.
  • Delay 5.9 to include fixes.

As the FSE features are very closely intertwined, removing some of its pieces would risk making the release unstable. To avoid delivering a sub-optimal experience, moving fixes to a 5.9 minor or 6.0 was ruled out.

It came down to a choice between:

  • Option 1: Remove these major features from 5.9 to target shipping in 6.0 in April 2022.
  • Option 2: Delay the release to ship the promised major features in 5.9 in January 2022.

After consulting with advisors from previous release squads and the Core Editor team, based on the current information available, the release squad determined shipping these major features sooner rather than later would have more benefits and less impact.

The release squad respects that the community has expectations and plans for these features. The extra time in the new schedule will help everyone involved deliver the 5.9 features the community has been waiting for.

Seasonal considerations

The 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. and RCrelease candidate One of the final stages in the version release cycle, this version signals the potential to be a final release to the public. Also see alpha (beta). release cycles have two jobs: to get the community involved in testing and delivering feedback, and to give contributors a block of time to fix identified issues before the final release.

The third major releasemajor release A release, identified by the first two numbers (3.6), 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. of the year was originally scheduled for the middle of December. Historically, fewer people are available the last two weeks of a year and the first week of a new year, because of various holidays, time off, and end-of-year and annual planning. This means there would be fewer people to test, give feedback, fix reported issues, and help package each release.

The revised schedule takes into account the realities of year-end and offers an optional Beta 4 if needed.

A schedule that delivers the full release 

5.9 is still in feature freeze. Work from here on is strictly to address the changes that get the release to a stable state.

The revised schedule also has a number of built-in safety measures:

  • More transparency. Constant communication between the release squad and Core Editor team throughout each week, so everyone involved knows the status of relevant items and can surface (and meet!) needs as early as possible.
  • 🔺blockers merged by Beta 1. An agreement that blockers (identified as🔺 in the list) must be ready by Beta 1 or risk getting moved to 6.0. (Update: these items were merged last week and are no longer blockers.)

How can you help?

Above all, please help test everything.

  • Get involved in the FSE Program testing calls including testing the site-editing experience. You can find a record of all the FSE Outreach exercises; feel free to go back and test any that interest you, but keep in mind that features have evolved.
  • Spin up a test site that uses Twenty Twenty-Two. If you find issues, please report them by opening a Trac ticket
  • Important: Try to break things to find things that may not work for your test sites. 
  • If you’re available, come to the Beta and Release Candidaterelease candidate One of the final stages in the version release cycle, this version signals the potential to be a final release to the public. Also see alpha (beta). (RC) release parties, and bring friends! Test the packages when they drop. The parties take place in the Core channel of the Make WordPress SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/..
  • Come to the Slack meetings for Core and the Core Editor, and keep reading the posts on the Make.WordPress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/ blogblog (versus network, site).
  • Share feedback! The teams need to know everything that breaks, and everything that works really well, too.
    • For issues with GutenbergGutenberg The Gutenberg project is the new Editor Interface for WordPress. The editor improves the process and experience of creating new content, making writing rich content much simpler. It uses ‘blocks’ to add richness rather than shortcodes, custom HTML etc. https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/, create an issue on GitHubGitHub GitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that can easily be shared, copied and modified by other developers. Public repositories are free to host, private repositories require a paid subscription. GitHub introduced the concept of the ‘pull request’ where code changes done in branches by contributors can be reviewed and discussed before being merged be the repository owner. https://github.com/.
    • For issues anywhere else, start a ticket on TracTrac An open source project by Edgewall Software that serves as a bug tracker and project management tool for WordPress..

Props @marybaum, @annezazu, @costdev, @webcommsat, @cbringmann for collaborating and proofreading this post.