WordPress lead developer changes

Yesterday and today there has been some significant news for the WordPress project. We now have two new lead developers, and two long-time leads are stepping down after outstanding tenures assisting with steering the ship.

Yesterday, it was announced that Helen Hou-Sandí and Dion Hulse are now lead developers of the WordPress project. That announcement, we learned today, is tied to another: that Peter Westwood and Ryan Boren are stepping down from their lead developer roles.

Peter and Ryan have been enormously influential on the project.

Ryan Boren has been committing to the WordPress codebase for over 11 years (aka: since the beginning), and has more commits — 7,961 according to Open Hub — than anyone. Peter has been committing for 7 years, and has 1,261 commits to his name. However, a lead developer’s influence goes well beyond commit; they are the guardians of the project.

Both Ryan and Peter have been more quiet lately than years prior. Andrew Nacin describes it like so:

For some time now, Ryan and Peter have avoided weighing in on technical matters. Very simply, when you aren’t able to be active in development, you know you’re not up to speed, and you realize your words shouldn’t carry the weight that they do. Being able to make this judgment is one of the things that makes both of them such great leaders.

Peter will step into an emeritus role:

Peter will be moving into a dormant/inactive/emeritus status. We hope to have him back when his life and work allows. In the meantime, you may see him committing a bug fix here and there, as he is wont to do.

Ryan has shifted his focus, however, and is concentrating fully on UX in WordPress:

Ryan has been focusing all of his energy on improving UX for more than a year, especially for mobile and touch devices, and especially for workflows like media management. So I’m pleased to say he’ll continue to do that:Ryan will be spearheading UX for WordPress in 2015. It’s been a while since we’ve had someone truly focusing on just UX, so this is really exciting.

With this shift, Helen and Dion are stepping into official roles to represent their enormous impact on the project over the last several years.

(Note: this bit of the post will look familiar to Club members)

Helen works for 10up, a WordPress consulting agency, and spends nearly 100% of her time on the WordPress.org project. She received commit access in late 2012, at the beginning of the 3.6 release cycle. You can follow @helenhousandi on Twitter, and visit her website as well.

These are the first additions to the list of lead developers for WordPress since Andrew Nacin became a lead in 2012, before the WordPress 3.5 release.

I asked Andrew Nacin how these decisions are made, and he responded with the following:

After each release, the lead developers review the current list of guest committers, potentially propose new committers, etc. Any proposals are finalized through consensus.

This is a big honor and an uncommon occurrence for the WordPress project. Major congratulations are due to both Helen and Dion.

Also, we all owe Peter and Ryan a huge round of applause and thanks for their contributions — past, present, and future — to the WordPress project.

The WordPress.org About page maintains the list of lead developers for WordPress, and with yesterday and today’s announcement, we’re back to five Lead Developers plus Matt Mullenweg as Project Lead. The website now reflects these changes, with fancy (and totally serious) titles for the new lead developers.