Release Model Working Group Chat Summary: February 19th, 2020

This is the Summary of the Release Model Working Group Chat in #core on Slack at 20:00 UTC!

Folks are welcome to check out the agenda and Slack archive for this week’s meeting. Here is a recap of the last meeting, as well.

Thank you to @mikeschroder for doing the peer review on this summary!

This week a kan ban project board was introduced with new GitHub issues created!

@noisysocks broke down some of the ‘development’ phase of the pre-release cycle into individual issues for each critical step. 

A few of the issues have been assigned to contributors and more volunteers are welcome! Workflow is being broken down amongst team members as follows:

@noisysocks mentioned that some conversations have already lead to ideas for recommendations!

Next Meeting

Meetings for the Working Group will take place on the first and third Wednesday of the month at Wednesday March 4, 2020 at 08:00 UTC and Wednesday March 4, 2020 at 20:00 UTC. Hope to see you there!

#meeting-notes, #release-process

Agenda: Release Model Working Group – February 19, 2020

Here is the agenda of the chat happening today, Wednesday, February 19, 2020, at 08:00 PM UTC.

Some progress has been made following last week’s meeting! This week, we’ll discuss:

  • Kan Ban Board and Project for the Release Model Working Group
  • New issues/tickets added to the Github Repo
  • Issues/tickets that need volunteers

Looking forward to our chat!


Release Model Working Group Chat Summary: February 5th, 2020

Here is the Summary of the second Release Model Working Group Chat in #core on Slack at 20:00 UTC!

Thank you to @sergeybiryukov for the peer review on these meeting notes!

The Release Model Working Group was kicked off last week, with these goals in mind: 

  • Evaluate the technical changes needed to speed up the release process.
  • Evaluate if those changes are doable with the existing resources and tools.
  • Produce factual, objective documentation outlining the group’s findings.

Folks are welcome to self-assign areas of interest, which are outlined in this spreadsheet.

A GitHub repo has been created for the project, and there are a few open issues for the group to get started with. Here are some areas the group will focus on:

Next Meeting

Meetings for the working group will take place on the first and third Wednesday of the month at 08:00 UTC and 20:00 UTC. The next meeting is on Wednesday, February 19th, 2020. Hope to see you there!

 #release-process #meeting-notes


Agenda: Release Model Working Group – February 5, 2020

Following last week’s kickoff meeting, here is the agenda of the chat happening later today: Wednesday, February 5, 2020, at 08:00 PM UTC.

The group works on a self-organized basis, but there are some things to agree upon all together as per last week chat’s recap:

  • Schedule planning regarding adoption of tasks
  • Next Steps towards research and documentation in GitHub



Chat recap: Release Model Working Group – January 29, 2020

Today the kickoff meeting for the group happened at in the Core channel, based on this agenda. You can read the whole chat in Slack.

This recap is not in the order things were said, but in the order that (IMHO of course 🙂 ) makes more sense to see the project as a whole.

The Situation Now

As provided by @chanthaboune (thanks!)

  • We have some handbook documentation that has most of the steps plus some out of date things
  • We are lacking full documentation of the interior processes (knowing that some are irresponsible to publish in their entirety).
  • We are also lacking which steps are
    1. out of date
    2. contingent on other steps
    3. should be tied to particular timeframes
    4. automatable

Short introduction of the scope of the group

The increase of the cadence is not a foregone conclusion. The working group is here to research and document.

By documenting the existing release process, the group can:

  • Evaluate the technical changes needed to speed up the release process
  • Evaluate if those changes are doable with the existing resources and tools

The end result will be a few factual, non-opinionated documents which outline the above.

So! What is the group actually working on?

This point sparked a lively conversation! After a bit of back and forth, the group decided to adopt an existing document, put together by @chanthaboune over two years (thanks, again!): it divides the release into phases that group types of work needed.

Some of the attendees have already expresses interest in some specific areas:

  • @aaroncampbell is interested in helping document out the jobs of, and needs/struggles of, the security team.
  • @francina and @audrasjb are interested in the pre-kickoff phase:
    • Talk to leads, committers, and component maintainers.
    • Set a scope
    • Set a schedule
    • Etc…
  • @pandjarov (who wasn’t present, so @francina represented his commitment) is ready to work on E2E tests. These have been identified as a must-have even if the release model doesn’t change.
  • @amykamala is available for general project management and help with facilitating/coordinating E2E testing improvements with the hosting team + document.
  • @clorith can track down all the various teams touched by a release.
  • @marybaum is interested in the human side: making sure we have enough people at any stage and make sure there are backups.

Action item: go over the Google Spreadsheet, see if there is a topic that you are familiar with and it sparks joy. If yes, please see below and start working on it based on the workflow suggested.


We will be using GitHub.

A repo has been created and we can use the Project feature to keep track of the process.

The workflow will be (at least for now, so we can test it):

  1. Create an issue for the topic researched.
  2. All comments, research, findings will be added as comments. This will help keep the discussion focused.
  3. Once the research is ready, recap and move it to a document

Proposed meeting times

  • 1st and 3rd Wednesday, at 20:00 UTC (alternating with the New Contributors chat and back to back with Dev Chat)
  • 1st and 3rd Wednesday, at 8:00 UTC for APAC

Action item: times to be confirmed by group members.

All right, that’s a lot of info: what is next?

  1. Please confirm in the comments that the proposed meeting times are ok and if you are available to facilitate the chats.
  2. @francina – I will create the first issue on GitHub as an example. Done.
  3. Everyone interested: adopt a topic and get working 🙂 Ping me if you need to be added to the repo. Use the first issue as an example if you wish.

Thank you for making WordPress, now let’s get working!


Agenda: Release Model Working Group – January 29, 2020

Here is the agenda for the the kickoff meeting happening later today: Wednesday, January 29, 2020, at 07:00 PM UTC.

More information about the working group in the previous post.

  1. Short introduction of the scope of the group
  2. Self-assign areas of interest
  3. Decide on tools to track process
  4. Decide on times of meetings


Release Model Working Group – Kickoff, January 29, 2020

Thank you for your patience, it took longer than I predicted to kick off this working group, but here we are!

On Wednesday, January 29th let’s have the first meeting for the Release Model Working Group at 19:00 UTC. It’s the same time slot as the New Contributors Meeting and we can alternate meetings with them.

The problem we are trying to solve

Many fixes and enhancements are made continuously in WordPress core, the Gutenberg block editor, and third-party libraries, but everyone has to wait up to four months to see these due to the cycle of three or four major releases per year. This has a negative impact on both end-users and developers.

What will the Release Model Working Group do?

This working group will spend some time during the 5.4 release cycle to:

  • Evaluate the technical changes needed to speed up the release process
  • Evaluate if those changes are doable with the existing resources and tools

The group will also document the existing release process in order to achieve the above.

The end result will be a few factual, non-opinionated documents which outline the above.

Why do we need a working group?

A working group is a bit of a fancy name for a group of people who come together to spend time focused on a particular problem – in this case, the issues caused by the current release cadence – and identify potential solutions and their feasibility.

We need this because increasing the rate at which new versions of WordPress are released has a big impact not only on end-users but on those involved in the release.


A meeting can be held in the #core Slack channel every two weeks, alternating with the New Contributors chat, and it will be mostly a status report so everyone is aware of what the findings are so far, and what everyone is doing.

How will the group work?

The group is self-organising based on experience, skills, and interest. Team members should commit to one of the above-mentioned areas.

Which approach to use for the research and which tool to use for collecting the results has to be determined: please leave your comments below, so by next Thursday we will have a few ideas to pick from.

I can take on the role of facilitator, with main tasks being:

  • Pinging people to remind them of their commitment and deadlines 😉
  • Remove blockers if necessary
  • Check overall progress

Who is the team made of

Many people raised their hands in the call for volunteers post. Thank you for your enthusiasm and generosity!

I am spending the next few days reaching out to each one of you to see how your experience and expectations, together with the capability of being self-organised, aligns with the group.

The chats will be public, so everyone can see what is being discussed.

Initial research: The different aspects of a release

I took some time to explore all the aspects involved in releasing a new version of WordPress and divided them into macro areas. The list is not exhaustive but a starting point. At this point it’s not necessary to go too granular, that’s what the working group is for.

This list should give the working group a starting point of areas to focus on.

Stages of the release cycle

  • Alpha
  • Beta
  • Release Candidate
  • General release

Issue tracking

  • Bug reporting
  • Bug gardening
  • Code writing
  • Testing
  • Committing

Planning and coordinating

  • Scoping the release
  • Putting together a release team
  • Scrubs scheduling
  • Collecting feedback and status reports from everyone involved

Communication of the release

  • Blog posts in /news for each stage
  • About page
  • Dev notes
  • Field guide
  • Bug scrubs (schedule and hosting them)
  • Dev chats (agenda and hosting them)

The people involved in releasing

  • Coordinator
  • Mission control
  • Core committers
  • Security team
  • Systems

Thank you for making WordPress!


Dev Chat summary: January 8, 2020

The chat was facilitated by @francina on this agenda.

Full meeting transcript on Slack

Upcoming Release – WordPress 5.4

@francina reminded the main feature of 2020 will be full site editing. All component maintainers received a ping before Christmas to put together a scope for WordPress 5.4. An open call for tickets was also published on Make/Core. While @francina noted there were mostly bugfixes and not so many new features, @audrasjb raised ticket #48850 from the comments of this post. This ticket is related to automatic updates for plugins (with manual opt-in), which is one of the 9 projects for 2019-2020.

@azaozz noted that the media component team plan to continue with image post-processing. It looks like it will need couple of small UI changes/enhancements.

@audrasjb added the accessibility team will probably focus on bugfixes on both Gutenberg and Core for 5.4, and target the next major (5.5) for bigger new features.

Highlighted posts

@francina noted that a lot of volunteers signed up to the release model working group. @francina will write a recap post on Make/Core.

Worth noting @azaozz published a 5.3 release cycle post-mortem.

Components check-in

Comments: @imath is working on #35214. Feedback welcome.

Core privacy: @xkon said the privacy team won’t have any specific focuses for 5.4, only bugfixing & enhancements on existing parts. Some of them need backward compatibility review, especially #44038 and #44176. Both tickets have a patch and are ready for further iterations if needed.

Media: @azaozz is experimenting with #44427. Seems a very worthwhile enhancement for 5.4.

Open floor

In the agenda comments, @justinahinon pointed out some editing needed in the roadmap, and highlighted reactions of the community concerning handling of big media on WP 5.3. @azaozz noted most comments are about “missing” the original image in some way. The initial plan was to have a link to it in the user interface. It should be added in 5.4. Another enhancement for the UI would/may be to show when an image is missing some of the sub-sizes and have a way to create them. There are plugins that handle this, but may be time to have it in core. There are couple of pre-existing edge-cases that need fixing too. Most notably increase of the file size for indexed PNGs when resized to smaller dimensions.

@timothyblynjacobs shared #47192 as a possible 5.4 feature. It’d bring a pretty often requested feature to Recovery Mode. It would need design and copy input as well as a security review from people familiar with the intricacies of the Users/Capabilities API.

#5-4, #devchat, #release-process, #summaries

Continuing inline docs improvements adjacent to 4.8

As we’re now into the full throes of the 4.8 cycle, the uncertainty that comes with not releasing “until it’s ready” inevitably creates a lull in areas other than the three focuses. Areas like maintaining our inline documentation, which populates the official Code Reference.

In the past, the freshness of core’s inline documentation relied almost entirely on a regular, major release schedule. And due to a preference for keeping the number of changed files low, inclusion of docs fixes in minor releases has previously been a rare occurrence.

Until now.

I’ve spoken with @matt, and the decision has been made to go ahead and prioritize some inline docs fixes for inclusion in minor releases going forward.

As with any decision, there are certainly pros and cons. Here are some of them:


  • Ability to continue our ongoing inline docs maintenance adjacent to the 4.8 major release
  • Ability to address some glaring docs errors that we’ve been fixing manually in the Code Reference
  • Continue forward progress in documenting core JavaScript
  • Prioritize docs improvements for existing functionality in the three focus areas ahead of the 4.8 release, freeing up resources for documenting new functionality


  • Number of changes and changed files in minor releases will increase (within reason)
  • All changes pushed to trunk will also need to be backported to the 4.7 (or current stable) branch

It’s worth noting that the reason the number of changed files has traditionally been kept low is to reduce the number of automatic update failures. The hope is that since we’ve been pushing automatic updates for 10 major versions now, reliability is less of a factor now than it has been previously.

It’s also worth noting that we shouldn’t expect a downtick in activity for core team resources focused on the three areas following this decision. As always, inline docs contributors will be focused on major release priorities before minor release ones.

This decision simply maintains the inline docs team’s ability to ensure the usefulness of core’s source documentation for the thousands of users and developers who rely on it every day.

#inline-docs, #minor-releases, #release-process

Release Process Checklists

The release process is complex and beyond one person. Releasing is an intricate dance that we haven’t been sufficiently capturing. Knowledge siloed in heads needs to be committed to public, institutional memory. The upcoming 4.5 release is an opportunity to capture every step of the dance so that we can iterate process, automate away lingering drudgery, and improve our cognitive net for the stressful task of releasing to 25%. I like using checklists in this cognitive net. They relieve anxiety, make process transparent, and help teams flow during stress. We already have a couple release checklists. We can build on those while adopting a little checklist culture in a manner empathetic to developers and flow. Pitch:

Checklist cool tricks


  • distribute power.
  • push power of decision making to the periphery.
  • provide a cognitive net.
  • make the minimum necessary steps explicit.
  • make sure simple steps are not missed.
  • make sure people talk.
  • capture and shape real flow.
  • inspire flow in emergencies and sustain it through the quotidian.
  • capture flow between teams.
  • encourage a shared culture around flow.
  • accessibly capture institutional memory in the context of flow.

Attributes of a good checklist

What makes a good checklist? Checklist shouldn’t be about just checking boxes. Instead of being a chore and an admonishing finger, checklists should fit and assist real flow. The Checklist Manifesto offers these suggestions. Ideally, checklists…

  • are not lengthy.
  • have clear, concise objectives.
  • define a clear pause point at which the checklist is supposed to be used.
  • have fewer than ten items per pause point.
  • fit the flow of the work.
  • continually update as living documents.

See this checklist for checklists and this example checklist for more.

Stuff to checklist

The major release checklist attempts to use pause points and follow the suggestions above. The major and minor release checklists are pretty rough and incomplete and overlap with each other. These and the things to keep in mind list need love and unification with help from developers who are in the release flow and handling controls on the release train.

about.php is…quite the process. It needs the oxygenating powers of a checklist.

Checklist Feature plugin merges.

Checklist bundled theme releases so stuff like this makes it into institutional memory.

Beta and RC releases.

Plenty of other stuff. 🙂

Start by capturing. As we walk 4.5 release flows, capture.

Selected quotes from The Checklist Manifesto

Checklists supply a set of checks to ensure the stupid but critical stuff is not overlooked, and they supply another set of checks to ensure people talk and coordinate and accept responsibility while nonetheless being left the power to manage the nuances and unpredictabilities the best they know how.

Continue reading

#checklists, #pitch, #process, #release-process