On Contributing to WordPress Core

I’m honored to be featured on the WordPress 3.8 Credits page as a Contributing Developer/Recent Rockstar (Matt decided to list everyone in one big group this time instead of breaking it up, but the group is ordered randomly by a level of regularly active developers—the traditional “Contributing Developers”–and a level of developers who showed increased involvement and significant help in WordPress 3.8, the traditional “Recent Rockstars”).

My journey to this point has been surprisingly quick, and I’ve enjoyed every step of the way. Just a year ago, I was first discovering the Make WordPress Core blog, reading all of the discussions from the end of WordPress 3.5 development and into the beginning of WordPress 3.6 planning. I started reading some of the IRC logs, trying to understand how core development worked, how decisions were made, etc.

I think this initial phase of absorbing knowledge of the WordPress development system, procedures, and cultures is one of the reasons why I was able to become a fairly regular contributor so quickly. But making the jump from following discussions to becoming involved wasn’t easy. I saw several discussions on trac tickets or in the IRC logs that I felt like I wanted to comment on, and I eventually dived in, first on trac and much later on IRC.

I remember my firsts quite clearly. First ticket: #23841- Twenty Thirteen: Fixed Navbar not activated in IE10. First patch: 23996.3.diff, I realized that I knew how to fix a bug I’d reported, once it’d been discussed some on the ticket. First props: [23959], committing that first patch. First PHP patch, and subsequent commit: for Accent Colors (also a feature request) – #25220 and [25418], which was eventually extracted to the Fourteen Colors plugin.

After dabbling in the (unfortunately fairly unorganized) feature plugin teams at the beginning of 3.7/3.8 development, I decided to focus on Twenty Fourteen, since my first few contributions were to Twenty Thirteen in WordPress 3.6. I attended almost every IRC meeting and created a lot of trac tickets. I spurred several discussions and fixed several bugs. What I didn’t realize until recently was just how many tickets I created for Twenty Fourteen, and that’s not counting others that I patched.

Looking back, I think I made a pretty big impact on Twenty Fourteen, and that’s a good feeling. It’s definitely my favorite default theme to date, and I’m already running it on the USC ASCE website that I maintain. Going forward, I’d like to contribute more to core itself (as apposed to bundled themes). While it’s much easier to make an impact on a feature team like Twenty Fourteen, I don’t want to try to wade through the still-in-progress features-as-plugins system, where communication and work is currently happening all over the place. I really like how default theme development is managed, so I’ll definitely contribute to Twenty Fifteen. Until then, I think I’ll focus on smaller contributions to core tickets, most likely starting with addressing the lack of media support in the Theme Customizer(and other customizer improvements), and some WordPress projects outside of core, including my first publicly available theme, Figure/Ground.