With WordPress 4.0 released, it’s time to once again look to the future, WordPress 4.1. Over the weekend, Andrew Nacin announced our new release lead for 4.1, Jack Blackbourn, and a couple of guest committers that are coming along for the ride.
John Blackbourn has been a core committer to WordPress for the better half of a decade, and has made some pretty incredible contributions to the WordPress community — with valuable blog posts, and plugins like Query Monitor, User Switching, and WP Crontrol.
Blackbourn will be joined by a new group of guest committers, with a few names you’ve probably heard. This includes Gary Pendergast (Jetpack, Automattic), Boone B. Gorges (BuddyPress lead), Konstantin Kovshenin (Developer, Automattic), Aaron Jorbin (Post Forking, Conde Naste), and Jeremy Felt (Varying Vagrant Vagrants).
WordPress 4.1 will also include the return of Ian Stewart of Automattic, who was active during the design and development of the Twenty Eleven theme, and also by Scott Taylor and Drew Jaynes. It’s a pretty powerful lineup, and every member of the team has had an active role in the WordPress code and community.
What’s Coming in WordPress 4.1
The WordPress 4.1 release cycle will be a quick one. Per the IRC chat on Monday, John wants to release a beta in the next month or so, with a final release of 4.1 sometime in December. That might feel quick, but it speaks to the more agile movement that WordPress core development has seen lately.
As for what’s new, we will mostly see more bug fixes, and patches and refinement of the underlying codebase. This was a focus of the 4.0 release, and getting WordPress leaner and faster remains a priority for the team.
Ian Stewart will also be leading the design and development of the Twenty Fifteen theme, which should be released alongside 4.1. We got a first look at Twenty Fifteen a few weeks ago, and it will once again be more blog focused, something that is fairly clean and minimal. The theme will also be responsive, and keeps mobile top of mind. It will take advantage of a lot of WordPress core features, and will hopefully serve as a great learning tool for new developers. We may see a version of this theme developed in time for Wordcamp San Francisco at the end of October.
WordPress 4.1 will also probably come with a few more UI enhancements here and there. Mark Jaquith is hopefully going to push the distraction-free and focused new post editor just a little bit further, tweaking interactions and scroll functionality. On top of that, Blackbourn has proposed a focus on user interactions and flow, enabling users to identify where they are logged in from, and switch off active sessions on different devices. So, if you log on to the mobile app, and then on your desktop, you can turn the mobile app session off and keep everything in sync. A few tweaks to the user profile screen will also accompany this.
In addition, John has a few ideas for making changes to the WordPress install process for plugins, theme, and core. Hopefully this can be streamlined a bit, and progress bars might be added to make the process more transparent for users.
Other than that, we will largely see a good amount of the same for just about the shortest release cycle planned yet. Not that that’s a bad thing. The more we can all get familiar with these shorter cycles, the quicker progress can be made. And with features as plugins still being worked on, new features can be rolled in alongside releases whenever they are finished. So welcome John Blackbourn and good luck.
Jay Hoffmann is a WordPress developer hailing from NYC. In the strictest sense of the word, he is a WordPress enthusiast with an eye for front-end development and design. He has been working with WordPress since 2006 and currently works for a popular children’s media company. This year, Jay started Tidy Repo, a curated list of the best and most reliable plugins from around the web. You can also follow Jay on Twitter.