WordPress 4.2 includes both new and improved features. It also includes changes under the hood. While I’m sure you’ve been testing your themes, plugins, and sites in preparation for the release, you may have missed the announcements of all the changes. Here is a quick rundown of developer related things you should know:
For the second release in a row, I put together some Field Notes to help developers for the Make WordPress Core blog. The most fun thing I found is that in 4.2 231 bugs reported vs previous versions of WordPress were fixed. This is up from 174 in 4.1. Every release WordPress improves.
On Saturday, I got a phone call asking if I would be interested in presenting the Keynote address at WordCamp Philly. I didn’t have to think very long. WordCamp Philly has long been one of my favorite WordCamps. It’s a great community and they put on a solid event year after year. On a personal note, It’s also the place I met the woman I love.
One of my favorite changes coming in WordPress 4.2 is a new accessibility API to help with communicating changes on the page to Screen Readers. Core is using it in a number of places (including shiny updates) to improve the experience for users of screen readers. I’m excited to see plugins start taking advantage of it as well. The first step in accessibility is making something usable. The second is making sure the experience is top notch. This helps support step two.
HHVM has now released it’s second long term support release and PHP 7 is in the final stages of implementing changes. It’s an exciting time for PHP and to be a PHP developer which means it is also an exciting time to be a WordPress developer since it creates an opportunity for WordPress to once again embrace forwards compatibility.
While I was at PHPUK, one of the most common conversations I had was people being critical of WordPress for supporting PHP 5.2 as a minimum. Many of those same people became less critical once they find out WordPress runs great on PHP 5.6 and that many people run it on HHVM.
For the last several weeks, WordPress has been running it’s unit tests on PHP7 nightly builds. They’ve been running on HHVM for months. Right now, the unit tests are not passing for either one and as far as I know, have never passed for either one. This is a problem.
Social media is broken for most of us. The myth of it being a democratic or meritocratic system isn’t holding up to scrutiny. We’re learning that it’s not the place to start thoughtful discussions, vet new ideas, or find complex solutions to niche problems. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wondrous place for serendipitous snark between celebrities, world leaders, and the public, but the majority of us are spectators.
My buddy Cyrus, makes some really great points about Social Media and the fact that it really is a publishing platform, but one where he points out “…we can all publish, we aren’t promised that anyone is going to read or respond.”
I think his platform Kapuno aims to solve this problem where it’s less about who you are and more about what you have to say. I worry though that we are a world that values celebrity too much though and often times it is the who that matters.
Syria Deeply is an independent digital media project led by journalists and technologists that explores a new model of storytelling around a global crisis. Our goal is to build a better user experience of the story by adding context to content, using the latest digital tools of the day. Over time the hope is to add greater clarity, deeper understanding and more sustained engagement to the global conversation.
Syria Deeply is a very cool exploration of the Syrian Conflict. From a digital storytelling standpoint and a international relations student standpoint, I like the daily executive summaries of the conflict, the map which helps visualize the conflict, and the timeline for looking back on important moments in the conflict. I also like that that header includes a count of how many days have passed thus far in the conflict. I think for long ongoing stories, the team at Syria Deeply is onto something interesting.