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.


Announcing the release leads for 2016

As announced during the State of the Word this year, we have a brand new selection of release leads for 2016.

Mike Schroder
Previously a co-lead for WordPress 3.9 and long time contributor, Mike Schroder (@mikeschroder) will kick off the year as the release lead for WordPress 4.5.

Dominik Schilling
Following WordPress 4.5, Dominik Schilling (@ocean90) will be the release lead for WordPress 4.6. Dominik has been a core committer for a couple of years now and was a backup release lead for WordPress 4.4.

Matt Mullenweg
Finally, closing out the year, Matt Mullenweg (@matt) will put on his release lead hat and lead WordPress 4.7. Matt previously led the WordPress 3.8 release.

Each of these release leads need your help! Every release is made by hundreds of contributors over many months, not just by its release lead. Additionally, every release lead needs a backup lead or two to help ensure the release moves forward at a solid pace. These backup release leads get great training for the real deal, as they often become future release leads (see both Mike and Dominik above!).

Are you interested in being a backup release lead? Just comment here to let Mike, Dominik, and Matt know.


Release leads for WordPress 4.3 and 4.4

Since WordPress 3.5, we’ve had a rotating release lead. Because of the ever-present demands of the current release’s development cycle, we’ve found it tough to make these appointments well in advance. We’ve always wanted to give leads opportunity to prepare, so they can hit the ground running. (Long term, we’d love for release development to overlap pretty significantly, aided primarily by feature plugin development, but also by branching.)

A release lead determines all important parameters for a release, like schedule, deadlines, which feature plugins are merged; and more generally, scope, goals, vision, and process. They take point when it comes to holding meetings, shepherding contributions, and writing announcement posts and updates. A release lead is a connector and facilitator, identifying bottlenecks and friction wherever they may be. They’re in frequent communication with the developers and plugin teams that are aiming to have something in a given release. The release lead follows what’s being committed, and sets the tone for prioritizing and gardening tickets. Given the constraint of time in hitting deadlines, help with prioritization and ensuring good communication lines are two of the most valuable things a lead can contribute.

Today, I’m excited to announce release leads for both WordPress 4.3 and 4.4.

Konstantin Obenland will lead WordPress 4.3, currently planned for August. Many of you may know @obenland (twitter) from his early work on default themes, but his contributions span across WordPress core. More recently, he shipped the new theme directory. Obenland is a native of Germany and lives in southern California. He’s a code wrangler at Automattic, which donates all of his time to WordPress core and


Scott Taylor will lead WordPress 4.4, due at the end of the year. A committer since 3.7, @wonderboymusic (twitter) has been plowing through major changes to media and pretty much everything else he can get his hands on. Scott is a Tennessee native and lives in New York City. He’s a senior software engineer on the interactive news team at The New York Times.


You’ll hear from both of them in the coming days and weeks as they start to plan out their releases, including potential features, deputies, and strategies. Congratulations 🎉 and best of luck to both!

Not an April Fools’ joke.

#4-3, #4-4, #release-lead

Dev Chat Summary, January 21st


  • @drewapicture is the 4.2 release lead.
  • @wonderboymusic will be feature lead for a lot of media/image stuff.
  • 4.1.1 will drop within a week.
  • All 4.1 guest committers are renewed for 4.2.
  • The tentative target release date for 4.2 is April 8th.
  • Wednesday meetings will continue as usual.
  • Weekly Friday bug scrubs start next week.
  • This Week in Core posts will resume.
  • The 4.2 feature plugins are, tentatively: Press This, Customizer Theme Switcher, and Shiny Updates. Customizer Menus is a possible long shot.
  • The general focus of 4.2 will be polishing existing UIs in terms of mobile and accessibility.


  • @nacin will post about guest commit renewal on make/core.
  • @drewapicture will post weekly bug scrub times on make/core.
  • @dh-shredder will start This Week in Core posts while permanent contributors are located.
  • @johnbillion will add a page to the core handbook on development processes for mobile.
  • @pento will post about contributing to Shiny Updates on make/core.
  • All feature plugins will post an update to make/core.
  • Component maintainers will make a list of the main issues affecting their components.
  • @johnbillion will post a call for component maintainers on make/core.

Links Mentioned

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#4-2, #meeting, #release-lead

Drew Jaynes is the 4.2 Release Lead

I’m pleased to share Drew Jaynes (@drewapicture) is the release lead for WordPress 4.2.

Drew will be kicking off 4.2 today in about 7 minutes in #core on Slack (the regular weekly meeting). This is a follow up to yesterday’s excellent chat that I led on feature plugin development, which has highlighted a few things:

  • Menus in the customizer need additional development and user testing, and may or may not be a 4.2 candidate. Extra time here is not a bad thing.
  • Theme switching in the customizer needs user testing. It is a possible 4.2 candidate.
  • Press This has been in the wild for some time and is a possible 4.2 candidate.
  • Update improvements initially discussed for 4.1 is gonna get started in 4.2.

As you may know, Drew led the massive year-long effort to document every hook in WordPress. This showed off his impressive management and organizational skills that we know will translate nicely to running a release. Also, don’t be fooled — while his focus has been inline docs, he’s an engineer at 10up.

Additionally, Scott Taylor (@wonderboymusic) will be taking point as a core feature lead for a lot of media and image efforts underway, including two feature plugins (image flow and also responsive and HiDPI images), media on mobile, and such. This effort spans not only 4.2 but also 4.3 and really 2015. There will be more on all of this in the coming days.

#4-2, #release-lead

John Blackbourn is leading WordPress 4.1 (and announcing new committers!)

I’m pleased to share John Blackbourn (@johnbillion) is the release lead for WordPress 4.1. But please hold your applause until the end, I have a few announcements to get through!

WordPress 4.1 will be kicking off at WordCamp Europe this weekend. As noted yesterday, the first meeting will be at 1400 UTC on Monday, September 29.

You’ve probably seen John in action over the years (his first contribution was more than seven years ago). I’ll also add it’s pretty awesome that @simonwheatley and @s1m0nd of Code for the People (a six-person shop) jumped at the chance to donate a large chunk of John’s time through the end of the year back to the WordPress project. (See also this post for more on the release lead role.)

New committers for WordPress 4.1

As many of you know, the lead developers review and appoint new committers to serve each release cycle, often to work on a particular component or feature. This guest commit access comes up for review after each release and can be renewed. I in particular work closely with every guest committer, providing feedback.

I’m pleased to announce our largest guest committer class ever: Gary Pendergast (@pento), Boone B. Gorges (@boonebgorges), Konstantin Kovshenin (@kovshenin), Aaron Jorbin (@jorbin), and Jeremy Felt (@jeremyfelt).

Konstantin and Gary both enjoy diving into internals and getting their hands dirty with tough bugs and regressions. Jeremy will be continuing to push multisite forward. Jorbin will be focusing on testing and tooling. Boone has been working on a set of great improvements to tax, date, and meta queries, with test coverage to come with it.

These five should be strangers to no one — they’ve all been around the community for years, and not only are they top-notch contributors who embody the project, but they’re generally just really good people.

This will also be John Blackbourn’s third release as a guest committer. I’d also like to welcome back Ian Stewart (@iandstewart), who previously was a committer during the development of Twenty Eleven, and will be back to take the commit reins for the next default theme, Twenty Fifteen.

Scott Taylor (@wonderboymusic) was on fire during 4.0, especially if this terrific post is any testament, continuing a great run. Scott’s WP origin story is pretty great — right as he was getting ready to leave the WordCamp San Francisco 2011 after-party, @koop convinced him to stick around a little longer. We were introduced, and not long after (from the party) his first patch got committed. A thousand contributions later that have made an indelible impact, Scott is now a permanent WordPress committer. We hope to have him around for a long time.

About a year ago Drew Jaynes (@DrewAPicture) was given commit access to lead the hook documentation effort. This was hugely successful. After the effort was complete, Drew’s role evolved into maintaining all inline docs, which has just been wonderful. We appreciate his attention to detail and his dedication to this never-ending effort. Drew is now a permanent committer.

Congratulations to John, Drew, Scott, Gary, Konstantin, Jeremy, Jorbin, Ian, and Boone!

#4-1, #commit, #release-lead

Helen is the WordPress 4.0 release lead

Mike and I are pleased to pass the release lead baton to Helen Hou-Sandí for WordPress 4.0. I don’t think this will come as much of a surprise to most of you, but please offer @helen your congratulations, which are well-deserved.

We’ve already discussed 4.0 a bit in our last two meetings. Expect today’s weekly meeting at 2000 UTC in #wordpress-dev to be the kickoff for WordPress 4.0.

@DrewAPicture, @wonderboymusic, and @johnbillion have all been renewed for guest commit for 4.0. Additionally, I’m happy to announce that, after more than a year as guest committers, Dominik (@ocean90) and Sergey (@SergeyBiryukov) both have permanent commit access. Their prolific contributions have left a lasting mark on WordPress and I hope to see them at it for years to come.

A release lead, if anyone is curious, determines all important parameters for a release, like schedule, deadlines, which feature plugins are merged, and more generally, scope and goals. They take point when it comes to meetings, shepherding contributions, announcement posts, and updates. A release lead is a connector and facilitator, identifying bottlenecks and friction wherever they may be and at the service of the developers and plugin teams that are aiming to have something in a given release, and be in frequent communication with them.

The release lead should should follow what’s being committed, and set the tone for prioritizing and gardening the milestone on Trac. Given the constraint of time in hitting a date, help with prioritization and ensuring good communication lines are two of the most valuable things a lead can contribute.

The last five release leads were lead developers, but that’s not a requirement, nor is being a committer. I always thought of my “code reviewer” and “committer” hats as being separate, additional responsibilities. (Helen, of course, also wears these same hats.) Regardless: the release lead has the final call on all important decisions related to the release.

Addendum: For those unaware, for WordPress, version 4.0 sounds like a “big” version number but it’s just another major release for us, like 3.9 and 4.1, constructed over the same ~4-month release cycle. But don’t tell Helen that! Here’s to 4.0 being awesome.

#4-0, #commit, #release-lead

WordPress 3.9 planning

We were supposed to discuss WordPress 3.9 during the weekly meeting last week, but in the absence of a decision on a release lead, and with a lot of 3.8.1 things to get through, it got pushed to today. 2100 UTC, #wordpress-dev (so, in an hour).

I’ll be the release lead for WordPress 3.9. Expect some familiar faces helping me out, including Andrew Ozz, who will be overseeing all of the TinyMCE work already underway this cycle; Helen Hou-Sandí, who will be spending most of her time working on and advising ongoing feature plugins efforts; Sam Sidler, who will be helping with project management; and Mike Schroder, who will be backing me up for this release.

Today we’ll be:

  • Setting a schedule. The tentative 2014 roadmap decided in December slated 3.9 for April 15. That’s 90 days from now, and sounds good to me.
  • Reviewing feature plugins. Lots of things in progress — let’s take a quick look.
  • Brainstorming on what this release should be focusing on. There are plenty of possibilities when it comes to iterating on existing features (especially those added in the last five releases — the customizer, media, audio/video, theme browser, admin UI), general bug-fixing, long-standing architecture and API improvements, and such.
  • Discussing changes to workflows. Changes to Trac, ticket reporting, re-doing our components tree, a new Git mirror, and such make this release look a lot like 3.7, when we kicked off the new core development repository. We could use continual help to identify how we can make it easier to contribute, break through bottlenecks, etc. We also need to tag some tickets as good-first-bug!

Hope to see you today. Have any idea, thought, or suggestion about 3.9 or for today’s meeting in particular? Please leave a comment so I can prepare for it. Talk soon.

#3-9, #release-lead

WordPress 3.8 meeting Thursday, August 8

In his State of the Word keynote, @matt announced that WordPress 3.7 and 3.8 will be developed simultaneously. Trunk would represent 3.7, while for 3.8, potential new features would be developed first as plugins. (3.8 starts at 35:00 in the video.)

This “features as plugins” method* will allow teams to conceptualize, design, and fully develop features before landing them in core. This removes a lot of the risk of a particular feature introducing uncertainty into a release (see also 3.6, 3.5, 3.4 …) and provides ample room for experimentation, testing, and failure. As we’ve seen with MP6, the autonomy given to a feature team can also allow for more rapid development. And in a way, 3.7 provides a bit of a buffer while we get this new process off the ground.

As announced at WordCamp San Francisco, Matt is leading the 3.8 release. He identified MP6 as a likely candidate for 3.8, along with the Twenty Fourteen theme. WP 3.7 will be released in October, at which point we’ll begin short window (probably two to three weeks) for any features to be merged for 3.8. If a feature isn’t ready for release by this point in the development cycle, it doesn’t land in core and moves to the next release. The target for WordPress 3.8 is early December.

On August 8 at 18:00 UTC, Matt will host a WordPress 3.8 meeting in #wordpress-dev on Freenode.

Thursday’s meeting is a great time to propose features that you’re interested in working on, keeping in mind they may or may not make it into WordPress 3.8. But keep in mind an early December timeline sets up WordPress 3.9 to kick off no later than January. Bring your ideas and thoughts as 3.8 development begins!

To recap this post and the previous 3.7 post:

* Yes, this is more or less “feature branches,” but our rich plugin architecture makes it an obvious choice to follow the plugin-based model set by MP6. We have built features in plugins before — distraction-free writing in 3.3, the customizer in 3.4, and media in 3.5 all started as plugins. But they were pegged to a specific development cycle and did not have full teams developed around them, two issues we are now trying to fix.

#3-8, #agenda, #release-lead

WordPress 3.7 meeting tomorrow, August 7

If you haven’t caught @matt‘s State of the Word keynote at WordCamp San Francisco last weekend, you should. It contains a lot of great insight into how WordPress is used (using data from the 2013 user survey) and what should be expected for WordPress 3.7 and 3.8. (Talk about 3.7 starts at around 33 minutes in.)

Here’s what was announced: WordPress 3.7 will be released in two months — early October. (Wat.) Jon Cave (@duck_) and I will be leading the release. It will be a quick “platform-focused” release, with a focus on stability and security.

There are three main things we’d like to get done — language packs, auto-updates for minor releases, and some enhancements to help strengthen user’s passwords. Beyond that, though, the major goal of 3.7 is to offer a bit of a “reset” — which includes a huge cleanup of Trac. We’re currently at 3,800 open tickets, and we’d like to whittle that down as well as make things more manageable for the future. That includes reorganizing our Trac components, making it easier to contribute to certain areas of core (rather than, say, drinking from a single Trac firehose), and trying to organize teams around these components.

Outside of core, there will also be work on, which will include a hosted code reference and developer handbooks. As part of this, there will be a lot of inline documentation cleanup in 3.7 — potentially including an inline documentation standard for actions and filters.

Better development tools will also be a goal in 3.7 — see also the post on from earlier.

This is just the beginning. Please join me on Wednesday, August 7, 20:00 UTC for our weekly developer meeting in #wordpress-dev on I expect 3.7 to be a bit crazy, with a high volume of commits (oh, the days of WordPress 3.0), but also with increasing organization that can help set the stage for future releases. Daily bug scrubs! Rapid development! High tempo! Yay! Who is with me? See you tomorrow.

#3-7, #agenda, #release-lead