Releasing Minor Versions

So, you wanna ship a minor version of WordPress? Okay, maybe you don’t want to. Perhaps you need to ship a minor version of WordPress. A 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. is intended for bugfixes and enhancements that do not add new deployedDeploy Launching code from a local development environment to the production web server, so that it's available to visitors. files and are at the discretion of the release leadRelease Lead The community member ultimately responsible for the Release. with suggestions/input from component maintainers and committers. There’s a lot involved with shipping these releases, as documented below. If you’ve been through the release process before and see something missing please add it.

Before Release

Before you’ve decided to release, there are a few things to consider [TODO: Add more to this section]:

  • Is this release because of a security fix?
  • Will this release contain only security fixes?
  • What maintenance fixes should go into the release? Have those maintenance fixes been committed to trunktrunk 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.?

Depending on the focus of the minor release (security, maintenance, or both), there are a few things to consider.

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Security patches should be created well ahead of time. Different patches may be necessary for trunk and stable branches. Currently, we make an effort to back port patches to all versions of WordPress that support autoupdates (4.1+). However, back porting patches is not always possible and those versions of WordPress are not officially supported as a result.

Follow the process in the Security team handbook to make sure that patches are adequately tested for back-compat, bypasses, and real-world cases.

All patches should be well-tested and receive sign-off from the WordPress Security Team at least five days ahead of the scheduled release date. It’s incredibly important to get this feedback early on as security fixes do not have a lot of time to bake on trunk.

For security fixes reported by third-parties, get information on how they would like to be credited. The announcement post on credits third-parties as requested.

12 hours before release (or earlier), you’ll need to lower the TTL in the update APIAPI An API or Application Programming Interface is a software intermediary that allows programs to interact with each other and share data in limited, clearly defined ways. to 60 minutes. This means that, by the time you release, all WordPress installations will be checking for a new version of WordPress every hour. To lower the TTL, update the WP_CORE_SHORT_API_TTL_VERSION constant in versions.php to the impending release version number. This file requires access to a sandbox, so one of them must be on hand for this.

On release day, if a test fails or a security fix is no longer working properly, puntpunt Contributors sometimes use the verb "punt" when talking about a ticket. This means it is being pushed out to a future release. This typically occurs for lower priority tickets near the end of the release cycle that don't "make the cut." In this is colloquial usage of the word, it means to delay or equivocate. (It also describes a play in American football where a team essentially passes up on an opportunity, hoping to put themselves in a better position later to try again.). Do not attempt last minute fixes. Either reschedule the release or do not include the fix in the release. Last minute fixes can lead to major bugs.

Are your security fixes ready? Awesome. Got maintenance fixes? Keep reading. If not, skip the next section.

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Unlike security fixes, maintenance fixes can land on trunk any time. There’s a Trac query dedicated to tickets targeted at the next minor release. If you’re considering a maintenance release, be sure to run through those tickets in addition to any tickets in mind. Once you’ve determined that your release is a maintenance release, start getting patches landed on the branches. The sooner, the better, so there’s less of a rush at the end.

Ideally, all patches land at least 48 hours before release and a 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). is built. This can be a formal release candidate or a nightly build that includes all fixes. If you build a 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. or release candidate, post about it on make/core along with a list of what fixes are in the release. This will help encourage a wider audience to test the new build.

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Regardless of which kind of release you’re planning, there are a number of things you need to do.

  1. Check for breaking changes that would require a dev notedev 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, and 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.. Ensure that those are published ahead of the release and tagged with the minor release number, related 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. number, and the 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, and 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. tagtag A directory in Subversion. WordPress uses tags to store a single snapshot of a version (3.6, 3.6.1, etc.), the common convention of tags in version control systems. (Not to be confused with post tags.) (e.g., “4.9, 4.9.2, dev notes”).
  2. Verify that the latest version of Akismet is included in WordPress builds. You no longer need to reach out to the Akismet team to see if there is a pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party release coming soon to include in the update. This is is important and prevents a user from seeing an update prompt immediately after creating a new site. This has been automated (related discussion). Here’s an example of a commit to build.svn that bumps the Akismet external to the latest version (this is the old, manually method).
  3. Ask a member of the Security team to run the private security unit testunit test Code written to test a small piece of code or functionality within a larger application. Everything from themes to WordPress core have a series of unit tests. Also see regression. suite, to make sure no regressions are introduced. If any are found, avoid discussing the details publicly, because some sites (like 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. run trunk or beta/RCs in production. Instead, notify the Security team privately.
  4. You’ll want to notify hosts that a release is coming a couple of days ahead of time. Three days is the recommended time frame, but is not always possible depending on release timeline. The security team can assist you with the message to hosts. This message should not go out until all security patches are ready (if a security release).
  5. If there will be string changes in your release, notify the Polyglots teamPolyglots Team Polyglots Team is a group of multilingual translators who work on translating plugins, themes, documentation, and front-facing marketing copy. ahead of time.
  6. Do a diff on the src/ directory between the last release tag and the release branchbranch A directory in Subversion. WordPress uses branches to store the latest development code for each major release (3.9, 4.0, etc.). Branches are then updated with code for any minor releases of that branch. Sometimes, a major version of WordPress and its minor versions are collectively referred to as a "branch", such as "the 4.0 branch". and confirm there are no new files introduced, since these will often break automatic upgrades.
  7. A news post is needed for the news blogblog (versus network, site). Generally speaking, you should start this at least a day ahead of time (the more time, the better). You can copy the format from previous releases. Be sure to grep logs to get a complete list of all contributors to the release. The list of props can most efficiently be gathered by someone who has access to a sandbox to run wporg/bin/core/props-parser.php.
  8. Alert the systems team (e.g. @barry, @abbe, @sysmonk) about your release so they can plan to have someone available in case there are any issues. The sooner you’ve set a time for release, the sooner you can do this.
  9. Prepare Codex pages for each version you intend to release, using the Wiki Template of Release (directions are included on that page). If your release is security-related, these pages can be mostly blank until the actual release day, but need to exist as we link to them in WordPress itself.

Now that you’ve done all of that, it’s on to release day.

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Release Day

You’ve made it. Release day can be stressful. The best way to survive release day is to stay calm. Things will go wrong. It’s okay, just regroup and keep moving forward. Here’s a list of things that need to get done on release day:

  1. The relevant credits file needs to be updated to list any new contributors. That file lives in the meta repository.
  2. If you’re running a security release, security patches need to be committed to all relevant branches.
  3. Once any security patches are committed, move the release process to the #coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. channel.
    • start by making an announcement (using the /here SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at command) welcoming people to the release party
    • post a request that committers hold off on any commits until the conclusion of the release, for example: @committers please refrain from committing during the release process.
  4. Version bumps need to be committed on all relevant branches. Here’s an example. Any core committercommitter A developer with commit access. WordPress has five lead developers and four permanent core developers with commit access. Additionally, the project usually has a few guest or component committers - a developer receiving commit access, generally for a single release cycle (sometimes renewed) and/or for a specific component. can do this step. When committing a version bump on the most recent branch please update both the version.php and about.php files. The package.jsonJSON JSON, or JavaScript Object Notation, is a minimal, readable format for structuring data. It is used primarily to transmit data between a server and web application, as an alternative to XML. and package-lock.json files may already be updated for the current branch but will need to be updated for any previous branches (example).
    • package.json and package-lock.json have a single simple bump to X.Y.Z (this will likely already be correct, due to the post-release version bump described later in this doc).
    • version.php has one bump to X.Y.Z-src. Note the -src suffix that should always be included when committing to develop.svn.
    • about.php needs a number bump to Z in the “Maintenance and Security Release(s)” heading and a paragraph added describing the changes in the release, using existing strings as defined at the bottom. These strings differ from branch to branch, so please make sure to use the ones from the correct version. It is easiest to copy and paste the appropriate paragraph from elsewhere. If this is the first minor release for a branch, there is also a wrapping div and the aforementioned h3 to add after the nav tabs. Make note of the possible string combinations for single and multiple security and/or 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. fixes. Checkout a more complete explanation of the differences.
    • Prepare these changes well in advance and ask for a review. This will help avoid hold-ups during the release process. The version bump and about page can be committed together, they do not need to be separate.
  5. On all branches, the release needs to be tagged. Many people run releases from SVNSVN Subversion, the popular version control system (VCS) by the Apache project, used by WordPress to manage changes to its codebase. and rely on the tags to do that. Tagging can be completed by using following commands (be sure to update with your relevant branch and release): svn cp -m "Tag 5.7.2" If you’ve double- and triple-checked to ensure that is the repository root for your checkout, you can use the ^ shortcut, which would result in this command: svn cp ^/branches/5.7 ^/tags/5.7.2 -m "Tag 5.7.2"
  6. The release packages need to be built in mission control, from the tag of each version being released. Once it’s packaged, it needs to be tested well, including manually testing updates. (How do you do that? Checkout the docs.)
  7. Kick off the Installation Tests and the Upgrade Tests workflows once the packages have been built.
  8. Autoupdates need to be enabled in the versions.php file, located in the dotorg repository. (This file requires access to a dotorg sandbox, so one of them must be on hand for this.) To enable autoupdates, set the WP_CORE_LATEST_RELEASE constant to be the new version number, and set the time that autoupdates should start in WP_CORE_AUTOUPDATE_RAMP_START, this should be a few minutes after the anticipated deployDeploy Launching code from a local development environment to the production web server, so that it's available to visitors.. You should also update the array wporg_get_version_equivalents() to match all of the new versions, and the corresponding old version should be added to the array of old versions.
    • The percentage on offer will ramp up from 50% to 100% availability over the course of a specified time. This is controlled by the WP_CORE_AUTOUPDATE_RAMP_START and WP_CORE_AUTOUPDATE_RAMP_PERIOD constants. These work in conjunction with the previous WP_CORE_AUTOUPDATE_PERCENT constant to automate and remove the need for us to manually alter WP_CORE_AUTOUPDATE_PERCENT to a lower value during some releases.
    • If it’s a security release, you should also bump wporg_get_secure_versions() to match the legacy versions within each branch that is not insecure.
    • Deploy
  9. Verify that everything is working as expected, then bump WP_CORE_AUTOUPDATE_RELEASE and deploy.
  10. Check auto update stats to make sure they’re normal (success rate above 99.9%, with the remaining 0.1% being safely aborted or rolled back).
  11. Language packs for the release need to be built by bumping versions in translate/bin/ and deployingDeploy Launching code from a local development environment to the production web server, so that it's available to visitors.. (This file requires access to a dotorg sandbox.)
  12. The post needs to be published.
  13. At this point the release party is complete as only administrative tasks remains
    • thank attendees for their assistance testing during the release
    • let committers know they can commit again: @committers feel free to commit as usual, thank you for your patience during the release
  14. Open a Request for Minor Release Amplification issue on the Marketing Team’s issue tracker detailing the version number, type of release and a link to the announcement post.
  15. Alert make/polyglots that you have released. Some locales produce their own builds instead of relying on the automatic builds and need to package things on their own. Here’s an example.
  16. Update all HelpHub Version pages:
  17. Update the Codex CurrentVersion Template with the new version.
  18. If there were any changes to the REST APIREST API The REST API is an acronym for the RESTful Application Program Interface (API) that uses HTTP requests to GET, PUT, POST and DELETE data. It is how the front end of an application (think “phone app” or “website”) can communicate with the data store (think “database” or “file system”), update the REST API changelog over at dev hub.
  19. In TracTrac An open source project by Edgewall Software that serves as a bug tracker and project management tool for WordPress., create (a) new milestone(s) for X.Y.Z+1 and mark the old milestone(s) as completed. This must be done by a Trac adminadmin (and super admin).
  20. In Trac, create a new version for the X.Y.Z+1 release (including the most recent branch with backports). Delete the date from the Released date field. This too must be done by a Trac admin.
  21. Bump the latest stable branch version to X.Y.Z+1-alpha-$REVNUM-src and the package.json version to X.Y.Z+1 for the next release. After updating, you will also need to run npm install to update the package-lock.json fie (example commit).
  22. Rebuild the latest stable branch’s nightly

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Assuming you’re following the instructions above and have an ideal schedule (all the time in the world), you’ll want to use the following schedule:

T-7:00:00Triagetriage The act of evaluating and sorting bug reports, in order to decide priority, severity, and other factors. all targeted tickets.
T-5:00:00All security patches created, tested, and cleared by the WordPress Security team.
T-4:00:00Commit all non-security patches to the relevant branch(es).
T-4:00:00Run the private security unit test suite
T-3:00:00Notify hosts that a release is coming.
T-1:00:00Create the blog post (as draft).
T-0:12:00If there are security fixes, lower the TTL in the version-check API to 60 minutes. (WP_CORE_SHORT_API_TTL_VERSION constant in version.php.)
T-0:05:00Commit security patches and run unit tests and security tests.
T-0:00:31Version bumps on all relevant branches.
T-0:00:30Build the release package in mission control. Test package and manually test updates.
T-0:00:00Turn on autoupdates. (WP_CORE_LATEST_RELEASE constant, and the wporg_get_versions() and wporg_get_version_equivalents() functions in version.php.)
T+0:00:01Post the blog post.
T+0:00:15Update credits (before or after release).
T+0:01:00Autoupdates complete (for the most part).
T+0:01:00Tag the releases. Many people run WordPress from SVN and need a tagged release to deploy.

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Selecting About Page Strings

There are 5 options for strings to choose from for the About page paragraph describing the release.

  • If there is 1 security issuesecurity issue A security issue is a type of bug that can affect the security of WordPress installations. Specifically, it is a report of a bug that you have found in the WordPress core code, and that you have determined can be used to gain some level of access to a site running WordPress that you should not have. and no bug fixes: <strong>Version %s</strong> addressed one security issue.
  • If there are more than one security issues and no bug fixes: <strong>Version %s</strong> addressed some security issues.
  • If there are one or more bugs, _n() is used with the strings <strong>Version %1$s</strong> addressed %2$s bug. and <strong>Version %1$s</strong> addressed %2$s bugs. to the determine the proper string for the localeLocale A locale is a combination of language and regional dialect. Usually locales correspond to countries, as is the case with Portuguese (Portugal) and Portuguese (Brazil). Other examples of locales include Canadian English and U.S. English..
  • If there is 1 security issue and one or more bug fixes, _n() is used with the strings <strong>Version %1$s</strong> addressed a security issue and fixed %2$s bug. and <strong>Version %1$s</strong> addressed a security issue and fixed %2$s bugs. to determine the proper string for the locale.
  • If there are more than one security issues and one or more bug fixes, _n() is used with the strings <strong>Version %1$s</strong> addressed some security issues and fixed %2$s bug. and <strong>Version %1$s</strong> addressed some security issues and fixed %2$s bugs. to determine the proper string for the locale.

Defer to other recent point releases for examples on how the strings change along with the numbers. Check the strings and have them reviewed before commit.

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Testing Package Builds

There are a few ways to test package builds, but using WP-CLIWP-CLI WP-CLI is the Command Line Interface for WordPress, used to do administrative and development tasks in a programmatic way. The project page is is a fast, effective way. Here’s a run down of commands you can use to test upgrades between versions. This example will be testing between 4.5.2 and 4.5.3 and will assume that some version of WordPress >= 3.7 is already installed.

  • $ wp core download --version=4.5.2 --force This will retrieve the version you want to start from.
  • $ wp core update-db Get the database where it needs to be.
  • $ wp core update Update to the package you’re testing.
  • $ wp core update-db Make sure any database updates run.

Then check your test site to make sure everything is well. Happy upgrade testing!

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