A First-Time Developer’s Guide for Contributing to WordPress

A First-Time Developer’s Guide for Contributing to WordPress

WordPress is huge, and so is its community. What’s more, WordPress was built on collaboration and has always been welcome to new developers contributing to the project. However, while you may want to help the platform grow even further, it can be hard to know where you could apply your skills.

Fortunately, getting started with WordPress development is easy, regardless of how you’d like to take your first steps. There’s almost certainly a task that will suit you perfectly, whether that’s contributing directly to the WordPress core, testing for bugs, or helping out in one of many other ways.

This piece will look closer at the several different areas of WordPress and how you can start contributing to them. However, first, we’ll talk about what contribution entails, and why you’d want to do it. Let’s dive in!

What Contributing to WordPress Means

Regular readers of the Torque blog will know that we’ve discussed the reasons you’d want to develop using WordPress previously, and also explored some of the misconceptions that can arise about developing for the platform. Rather than repeating ourselves here, we’ll just say that we think WordPress is the future of web development.

There are plenty of recent and future WordPress innovations you may want to get involved with. These include exciting technologies such as the REST API (including how WordPress can become ‘headless’) and the impending Gutenberg editor. In fact, here on the blog Josh Pollock recently looked at how WordPress’ two biggest innovations work with each other to potentially create stunning designs.

For the uninitiated, WordPress’ open-source nature means that everyone can potentially get involved. If you’re a developer, the door opens even wider and enables you to actively contribute not only to the base code, but to documentation, support requests, and more. In the next section, we’re going to talk about the specifics of how to actually contribute to WordPress’ development.

How You Can Start Contributing to WordPress (3 Ways)

Contributing to WordPress as a developer takes three main forms for first-timers – dive into the Codex, work on core platform code, or help out with WordPress’ myriad other areas. Let’s take a look at each approach in turn.

1. Improve WordPress’ Documentation

Even if you have no development knowledge, you’ve probably browsed at least one page of the official WordPress Codex. This is a community-run initiative that aims to document every aspect of WordPress in a wiki-style format. Think of it as the knowledge base for both the entire WordPress platform, and the user base as a whole.

With this in mind, you can imagine that keeping a project such as this up to date is difficult, especially with WordPress’ update schedule. In addition, because the Codex is a community project, there’s an inevitable ‘waxing and waning’ related to which pages and sections are regularly updated. For example, hot WordPress topics such as Gutenberg or the REST API see more attention than esoteric aspects such as specific function calls and hooks.

For this reason, contributing to the WordPress Codex provides immense value to the whole community. Once you’ve signed up, created a user page, and read the guidelines, there are three key areas that need assistance:

  1. Maintaining and administering to the Codex, including tagging and categorizing pages, and checking recent changes.
  2. Creating and managing the content itself, including translation and editing the example code.
  3. Involving yourself in the growth and evolution of the Codex. You can do this by joining the dedicated mailing list and the regular group chats.

Aside from this, there are plenty of other ways to help the forward movement of WordPress, outlined on a dedicated Codex page. We’ll look at some of these over the next couple of sections.

2. Help to Develop WordPress’ Core, Themes, and Plugins

The Core Contributor Handbook website.

If you’re a WordPress user with development experience, you might want to get your hands dirty under the hood. The open-source nature of the platform means that not only can you develop themes and plugins using WordPress’ own guidance, you can also contribute directly to the platform’s core code. In fact, there’s a document on the Make WordPress site discussing just how to get involved – the Core Contributor Handbook.

This resource is practically the bible for contributing code to WordPress. It also introduces the plethora of additional ways developers can lend a hand. This handbook is just one of many covering nearly all aspects of WordPress, such as its design, accessibility, and much more.

Given the far-reaching scope of WordPress, it’s important to make sure everyone contributing to the platform is (literally) on the same page – especially when it comes to core contributions. Even a quick glance at the WordPress’ organization should clue you in to just how large the scope of core contribution can be.

Ultimately, there are three ways to contribute to WordPress’ core:

  1. Testing the platform.
  2. Writing code that directly improves WordPress’ functionality.
  3. Updating the associated documentation that helps make the platform accessible to others.

We’ve already discussed one aspect of contributing to documentation, but there are also inline and JavaScript file docs to consider. The latter of these is especially important, given WordPress’ move towards a focus on that language.

3. Find Another Area of Interest at the Make WordPress Website

The Make WordPress website.

It’s worth considering that the platform’s core is just one part of the larger picture, and some of your skills may be transferable to other areas. In fact, depending on your exact skill set, you could contribute at a much higher level than you previously thought.

We’ve mentioned the Make WordPress site in previous sections. Now, let’s take a closer look at it. This is essentially the central hub for all areas of WordPress development. You’ll find the various facets of WordPress represented by dedicated teams, specializing in design, accessibility, mobile apps, and more. The Make WordPress site is in a way the endpoint for each area of WordPress, and this makes it an ideal place to find a way to get involved.

For example, the Mobile team is focused on making the WordPress experience smooth on smaller devices. If you read the blurb on the home page, you’ll see that developers with Java, Objective-C, or Swift knowledge are going to be welcomed with open arms. In addition, you may also be interested in the following teams:

  • Tide. If you’ve ever seen PHP or other compatibility warnings when viewing a plugin or theme on WordPress.org, you’ve met the Tide team. Tide is a series of automated tests run on plugins and themes and is an important part of the approval (and ongoing quality control) process.
  • WP-CLI. The WordPress Command Line Interface (WP-CLI) is a great way to manage WordPress sites from your Terminal, and the team is constantly striving to make the tool better.
  • Test. In short, the WordPress Test team “patrols, curates, and tests the WordPress experience” using a Quality Assurance (QA) mindset. They study the flow of the entire WordPress ecosystem on as many devices as possible. They also test document, and report on WordPress’ User Experience (UX).

Regardless of your current abilities, there’s going to be an area where your expertise is welcome and wanted. Contributing to one (or more) of the smaller teams might be more beneficial to you than simply focusing on the obvious development areas.


WordPress has cornered the market when it comes to publishing websites, thanks to its collaborative foundation. It’s arguably the most versatile and easy-to-use platform available, with the most welcoming community to boot! With that in mind, offering up your skills by contributing to the platform helps you gain experience for your own projects, and lets you give back to the community you’re a part of.

In this post, we’ve looked at three ways to get involved by contributing to WordPress. Let’s recap them quickly:

  1. Check out the official Codex page on WordPress contribution to see what’s available.
  2. Read the Core Contributor Handbook if you’d like to delve into working with WordPress’ core code.
  3. Take in the different areas that require contribution on the Make WordPress website, and lend a hand.

Do you have any questions about contributing to WordPress? Let us know in the comments section below!

Featured image: jonasjovaisis.

John Hughes

John is a blogging addict, WordPress fanatic, and a staff writer for WordCandy.

The post A First-Time Developer’s Guide for Contributing to WordPress appeared first on Torque.

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A Quick Guide to Building Restaurant Websites in WordPress

Creative Website Menu Designs and Best Practices

I was recently working on an article about merging a local brick-and-mortar presence with its digital one. As I put together my argument, I decided to use local businesses from my area as examples in the article. However, I ran into a problem when I started looking for restaurant websites. To start, some of the […]

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Giveaway: Win 1 of 3 Jupiter V6 WordPress Theme Licenses

Jupiter V6 WordPress Theme

Today we’ve partnered up with Artbees to deliver you this great giveaway. You have a chance to win 1 of 3 Jupiter V6 WordPress Theme Licenses. Make sure to enter this competition!

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WordPress.com parent company acquires Atavist | TechCrunch – TechCrunch

WordPress.com parent company acquires Atavist | TechCrunch - TechCrunch


WordPress.com parent company acquires Atavist | TechCrunch
Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Longreads, Simplenote and a few other things, is acquiring Brooklyn-based startup Atavist.
Automattic, Parent Company of WordPress.com, Acquires Atavist Publishing Platform and Award-Winning MagazineMarTech Series

all 3 news articles »

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7 Steps to Start Your Online Business

7 Steps to Start Your Online Business

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, anyone can become an entrepreneur with a WordPress site. In fact, following the recession that began 10 years ago, entrepreneurial activity has picked up rapidly.

There are numerous benefits to starting your business online — one of the major ones being a low startup cost. Many digital startup businesses don’t require much (or any) initial investments, which makes them very attractive to the newcomers. If you’re looking to start your own online business, make sure you read through the 7 crucial steps that will guide you on this journey.

Find Your Motivation

Before venturing into any business, take a moment or two and question your true motivation. Why do you want to start an online business?

Perhaps you’ve just left your regular job and are looking for some steady cash flow. Maybe you have an amazing idea that you want to show to the world, or you simply want to try your luck in ecommerce with WordPress. Whatever it is, make certain you are in tune with it, because your motivation will help you persevere. Business ventures requires patience and focus, so think about all the benefits you might get out if it and they might keep you going.

Develop An Idea

Obviously, every good business relies on a good business idea, so you have to have one at the start. Of course, these ideas don’t come in the form of a heavenly revelation. Most of the time, you’ll need to actively think about it and brainstorm online business ideas. You can start by choosing the industry you want. Obviously, since you’re looking to make money, find a list of the most profitable ones in the current year.

Do Your Research

Once you finally decide on the business idea, it’s time to do the research. This is, no doubt, one of the most important parts of the process. Research your idea, find your competitors and, most importantly, discover your target audience. CoSchedule states that knowing who your target audience is “will help you focus not only on creating great content but on creating the right content.” Narrowing down your content production will make you seem more relevant in your field and rank you better on Google.

Craft A Business Plan

So, you have a good idea, you’ve researched your field and found your target audience – what’s next? Now you need to formulate a proper business plan that will articulate your idea in detail, define the structure of your business and clearly establish all of your goals. Bplans emphasizes the fact that your business plan should be short and functional because people still need to read it. It is also a good idea to hire a professional writer to write this for you in a professional way.

Determine A Corporate Identity

Considering how there is quite a lot of competition on the internet, it is necessary to find a way to stand out from the crowd. A good online business has an easily recognizable presence on the web, including a strong corporate identity, clear authoritative voice and an inspiring logo design. When choosing a logo, make sure you research that year’s design trends to make sure that your design is modern, interesting and, of course, memorable.

Build A Reliable Team

This step obviously depends on the type of online business you’re making but pretty much any business can use a good team. Analyze your work and think about how it can be divided to be most efficient. Remember, however, that it’s much better to have a couple of people working for you who specialize in certain areas than having just one employee who does a lot of different work. You might think that the second option is much more cost-efficient, but it doesn’t pay off in the long run.

Just Keep Working

Even when you finish the above steps and establish your online business, the work is far from over. A good entrepreneur never relaxes or puts the guard down. Instead, they are constantly working on the business, thinking about ways to innovate, upgrade or expand.

In addition, take the time to manage your employees well and invest in their growth, too. For example, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh introduced a controversial holacracy system, which empowers employees to take charge and cultivate leadership skills.

The post 7 Steps to Start Your Online Business appeared first on Torque.

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Top 30 Expenses You Can Expect When Launching a WordPress Business

Top 30 Expenses You Can Expect When Launching a WordPress Business

As WordPress gains more and more of the global CMS market share, there are a lot of opportunities to help businesses establish a strong digital presence with it. Needless to say, launching a WordPress business in this environment is a smart move. That said, no matter how slow of a start you have with your […]

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Matt Mullenweg Unveils Gutenberg Roadmap at WCEU, WordPress Agencies and Product Developers Sprint to Prepare

Matt Mullenweg Unveils Gutenberg Roadmap at WCEU, WordPress Agencies and Product Developers Sprint to Prepare

photo credit: WordCamp Europe Photography Team

At his WCEU keynote address in Belgrade, Matt Mullenweg laid out a detailed roadmap for Gutenberg to land in WordPress 5.0 within the next few months, garnering mixed reactions from attendees. Gutenberg’s timeline is one of the most pressing questions for those who work in the WordPress ecosystem.

The Gutenberg team has sustained a rapid pace of development over the past year with 30 releases since development began. There are currently 14,000 sites actively using the plugin and Mullenweg plans to roll it out to WordPress.com users in the near future. He announced that the WordPress 5.0 release could be ready as soon as August. In the meantime, the Gutenberg team will continue to refine its current features according to the roadmap Mullenweg outlined in his keynote:

June 2018

  • Freeze new features into Gutenberg
  • Hosts, agencies and teachers invited to opt-in sites they have influence over
  • Opt-in for wp-admin users on WP.com
  • Mobile App support in the Aztec editor across iOs and Android

July 2018

  • 4.9.x release with a strong invitation to install either Gutenberg or Classic Editor plugin
  • Opt-out for wp-admin users on WP.com
  • Heavy triage and bug gardening, getting blockers to zero
  • Explore expanding Gutenberg beyond the post into site customization

August 2018 and beyond

  • All critical issues resolved
  • Integration with Calypso, offering opt-in users
  • 100k+ sites having makde 250k+ post using Gutenberg
  • Core merge, beginning the 5.0 release cycle
  • 5.0 beta releases and translations completed
  • Mobile version of Gutenberg by the end of the year

Mullenweg said he hopes to increase Gutenberg usage to 100,000 sites with 250,000 posts made over the next few months. WordPress.com will be instrumental in that goal with a call to action for opt-in that will appear on several hundred thousand sites. In July, WordPress.com will switch the Gutenberg editor to opt-out. Mullenweg said he hopes to gather data from how users respond, especially those who have third-party plugins active on their sites.

Switching between editing posts in the mobile apps currently breaks but Mullenweg anticipates this will be resolved by August, with full mobile versions of Gutenberg available by the end of the year.

Mullenweg opened his keynote by drawing attendees’ attention to a new “Public Code” link in the footer of WordPress.org. This campaign, organized by Free Software Foundation Europe, aims to require any publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made available under a Free and Open Source Software license.

Mullenweg also announced St. Louis, MO, as the next location for WordCamp US in 2019-2020. The local WordPress community in the city spans two states with members from both Missouri and Illinois who have hosted seven WordCamps since 2011.

Developers and Agencies Double Down on Gutenberg Preparation, “Playing for Keeps”

The process of getting products and client websites ready for Gutenberg is a leap for nearly every company and freelancer invested in the WordPress ecosystem. Mullenweg said he cannot guarantee a specific date for release but thinks that “5.0 is going be ready within a relatively short time frame.”

Although many WCEU attendees expressed skepticism about the accelerated timeline for Gutenberg’s inclusion in core, most recognize the importance of working towards making their clients and products compatible with the new editor.

Gutenberg technical lead Matias Ventura said it’s too early to tell whether the WordPress community will be ready by the time Gutenberg is included in core. “I think people have already been trying to get ready and we’re already seeing many major sites being launched using Gutenberg,” Ventura said. “From what we’ve seen with plugin authors building compatibility for Gutenberg, it seems there’s already enough momentum going on that it could be achievable.”

Brad Williams, CEO of WebDevStudios, said his company’s team of engineers has been actively preparing for Gutenberg since late last year and is “very excited about what it means for the future of WordPress publishing.” Williams assigned two Gutenberg Leads internally to head up everything related to the new editor and conducted internal training with staff. WebDevStudios also built and released its own Gutenberg add-on framework called WDS Blocks, a framework that includes new custom blocks that many WDS clients use.

“Having a potential release date, even if it’s only a target month, is incredibly helpful,” Williams said. “This gives us a goal to work towards with each of our clients to verify we are ready for the release. I expect the majority of our clients will not enable Gutenberg on release, but we still need to make sure we have an upgrade plan ready for WordPress 5.0. We are working closely with each of our clients so they understand what is coming, the benefits Gutenberg can provide them, and what a potential roll-out plan will look like. We are also making sure any new leads coming in the door are aware of Gutenberg and the impact it will have on their new WordPress project.”

Gary Jones, plugin developer and WordPress engineer at Gamajo, expressed apprehension about the timeline. He also plans to make use of the Classic Editor plugin to opt sites out of using Gutenberg.

“With 737 open issues, I think the August timeline may still be a little short,” Jones said. “That’s only for the ‘critical issues’ to be resolved but introducing such a massive change to the basics of managing content like this needs more than just the critical issues resolved; it needs all of the workflow to be very smooth as well.”

Jones said he doesn’t think the typical rhetoric of getting a ‘1.0’ release out the door applies in the case of Gutenberg. “There’s too much riding on it for it not to make a great first impression for the user base who haven’t been following its progress,” Jones said. “A plugin can have a much quicker release turnaround time for non-critical improvements and fixes than what WP core would have.”

Jones said he plans to wait until the merge proposal before tackling plugin compatibility and will wait until 5.0 is out to start improving the experience for his clients. He said this may require creating custom blocks or installing plugins that add custom blocks clients might need. “By then we’d also know how ACF, Pods. and other plugins we use, and the Genesis theme, are supporting Gutenberg editor (or not),” Jones said.

Jake Goldman, President and founder of 10up, said his company already has an internal mandate that all new public plugins and major plugin updates must have at least “beta” support for Gutenberg. 10up’s Distributor product is already Gutenberg-ready and the company has several Gutenberg-ready plugins and updates expected to ship in the next 1-2 months.

“Clients are trickier,” Goldman said. “We have two big client projects started in the last couple of months that are using Gutenberg, and some pretty complicated custom blocks and extensions. We have a couple of other customers who are curious or in the exploratory phase. Two big client projects have us a bit gun shy about adopting [Gutenberg] as the ‘standard’ on newer projects until it matures a bit more and begins to focus a bit more on the ‘enterprise use case / user stories’ – there are some real challenges with those user stories.”

Goldman also said he was encouraged to hear that Calypso will adopt Gutenberg in the next couple of months, because he hopes it will address some of the confusion and fragmentation issues.

He doesn’t anticipate Gutenberg actually landing in August, however. “I don’t see August, frankly, because I don’t think the core team has a clear vision for ‘how’ an upgrade with Gutenberg will work,” Goldman said. “That said, I suspect Matt is knowingly putting timeline pressure on the team – a bit of ‘if I say August, we can probably hit November’ type mentality.”

Mason James, founder of Valet, said he is confident his clients and products will be ready after testing Gutenberg on hundreds of sites. His team is watching a few products that have compatibility issues but he is hopeful these will be resolved soon.

“The timeline of August seems a bit optimistic,” James said. “I’d be surprised if that is met, but our clients will be in good shape if that happens. We’ve also been sending information to our clients via email, a whitepaper, to try to mitigate any surprises ahead of time.

“We decided last year that Gutenberg was a tremendous opportunity for us to reinforce our value proposition to our clients,” James said. “It’s an ongoing important initiative for us this year; We’re playing for keeps.”

Carrie Dils, a WordPress developer, consultant, and educator, has also jumped head first into getting her products compatible with Gutenberg ahead of the new timeline.

“I’m feverishly working to get an updated version of the Utility Pro theme (my primary product) out the door,” Dils said. “The Gutenberg updates are just one part of a larger overhaul (including a minimum requirement of PHP7 and WP 5.0+). I’ve also made the decision not to incorporate Classic Editor theme styles. All looking forward, no looking back.”

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WordPress.com Owner Buys Atavist, Maker of Subscription-Offering … – Wall Street Journal

WordPress.com Owner Buys Atavist, Maker of Subscription-Offering ... - Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal

WordPress.com Owner Buys Atavist, Maker of Subscription-Offering …
Wall Street Journal
Automattic, the owner of the popular publishing platform WordPress.com, has acquired the technology and publishing company Atavist in a bid to expand the …

and more »

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