New Maintainer Team and the future of WP Rig

At the end of 2020, we began transitioning responsibility of WP Rig over to a new team of maintainers. Today, we have a new team of maintainers and progress has been made on getting WP Rig moving again. We pushed out a new release at the beginning of the year that addressed some long-standing issues in the latest version of WP Rig. Specifics around that can be found in Github. So now what?

We have big plans for WP Rig moving forward…

First and foremost, we are currently working on improving documentation around WP Rig in a big way, so stay tuned to the website for updates there, as this is where most documentation for WP Rig will be found in the future.

Second, we are working on some semi-secret integrations with some local 😉 development build tools to make it easier and faster to get up and running with theme development using WP Rig. We are hoping that by introducing these, we can generate more interest around this amazing tool and get more people actively contributing to this project.

To keep things short and sweet, we have some pretty ambitious ideas for ways to improve WP Rig in the future. More features, better documentation, and integration with other popular development tools are our primary focuses for the rest of 2021.

We are always actively looking for people who would like to contribute to WP Rig. If you are interested in being a part of this journey with us, please feel free to reach out to us on Github, or join our Slack workspace to join the conversations around all things WP Rig and WordPress theme development.

Rob Ruiz
WP Rig – Team Lead

WP Rig August 21, 2020 Meeting Agenda

Agenda for the August 21, 2020 meeting about the future of WP Rig. To join the meeting, sign up by following this link. You can read more about the meeting at WP Tavern.


  1. Brief history of WP Rig.
  2. What stepping up as an owner or maintainer means.
  3. Q&A + open discussion.

The meeting is scheduled for 1 hour, of which at least 30 minutes will be dedicated to Q&A and discussion.

Relevant links

In advance of the meeting, here are relevant links worth exploring:

You, WP Rig, and the future of WordPress Themes

Update: A public meeting is scheduled for Friday August 21 at 8am PST to discuss the future of WP Rig. The meeting will be held over Zoom and everyone is free to join. Code of Conduct applies.

It started as a conversation at a sponsor booth at WordCamp US: What would be the most effective way of directly impacting the performance of WordPress sites and through that the performance of the web? The answer: Build tools for designers and developers to build more performant themes. So we did, and WP Rig was the result. Now we’re putting the question to the WordPress community: Is this what you want?

WP Rig is looking for new maintainers and contributors

An open source project stands and falls on the desire of the community to keep it going. Over the past two years WP Rig has grown from a secret project managed by Morten Rand-Hendriksen to a large public endeavor co-maintained by Rachel Cherry, Andrew Taylor, Felix Arntz, Benoît Chantre, and Morten. It is supported by a popular course on LinkedIn learning and is in use by agencies and developers all around the world. 

In late 2019 the majority of project maintainers found themselves in professional circumstances that made it impossible to continue committing the necessary time to keep evolving the project, but we all feel WP Rig is an essential tool for the WordPress community and can play a pivotal role in evolving what theme development for WordPress looks like and what themes in WordPress are.

For these reasons, we are making a public call to the WordPress community to recruit new maintainers and contributors.

If you have an opinion about how WordPress themes should be built, want to build a better starter theme for WordPress, and want to explore and experiment with the future of themes, this project is for you.

We are exploring all options here: Donating WP Rig to the WordPress Open Source Project or more specifically the Theme Review Team, donating it to an agency or new group of maintainers, or freezing the project in its current stable v2.0 state until new maintainers come forward.

A meeting will be organized in January (date and location TBA) for anyone and everyone interested in the future of WP Rig. Stay tuned to this post and the GitHub issue for updates.

What is WP Rig?

WP Rig is a modern build process and starter theme in one package. It allows developers to build performant, accessible themes using modern PHP, CSS, and JavaScript and does the complex work of pre- and post-processing, linting, minification, and optimization. It provides a robust build process using modular Gulp written in ESNext, uses modern CSS techniques like conditional in-body stylesheets, custom properties and media queries, and CSS grid, all processed through PostCSS. It tests every line of code you write against the WordPress Coding Standards.

The purpose of WP Rig is to give developers a tool which outputs themes that prioritize

  • Accessibility
  • Performance
  • Modern best-practices
  • Coding standards
  • Modern languages and tools

New maintainers, contributors, and adopters are expected to adhere to these principles.

What already exists

WP Rig has an established presence on the web and in the WordPress community. There is a website, a Twitter handle, a Slack channel, and a GitHub organization with multiple repos. This project is already up and running. Stepping in as a maintainer means jumping into a moving car and deciding where it should go next.

What WP Rig can be

The WordPress community does not have a canonical boilerplate or baseline tool to showcase what good theme development and build tools look like. For many years _S (Underscores) served this purpose, but that project has lost steam and adoption and is anchored in an old way of thinking about themes and coding languages.

Developers and agencies would benefit significantly from the WordPress Open Source Project having and maintaining a core theme development kit containing a modern build process and starter theme. That’s what WP Rig was always intended to be, and it is uniquely positioned to take on this role.

There are a myriad of starter themes and frameworks available for WordPress, and they all have great features and practices worth adopting. The challenge is almost all of them are tied either to a commercial product, are in themselves a commercial product, or are internal tools used by agencies for their purposes. WP Rig was intentionally built to be agnostic – a true open source project without fealty to any organization or commercial interest. It is a project for, by, and owned by the WordPress community.

As the Block Editor (Gutenberg) moves into “Phase 2” and blocks migrate out of the content blob to take over the whole view, the WordPress community needs first a place to experiment with what this concept means, and second a best-practice starting point for how to build themes the new way. WP Rig can be that proving ground and best-practice baseline.

There is a possible future on the horizon where theme developers, from novice to professional to agency leads, start from the same baseline with the same build process to build the future of the web. There is a possible future where everyone contributes back to this baseline to keep the community on the cutting edge of accessibility and performance best-practices, build tools, and coding standards, and where an entire ecosystem of new starter themes and build tools are built on top of this baseline. There is a possible future in which WordPress theme developers come together and take on the role and responsibility of staking the course for the front-end of the web by building progressive themes based on the latest and greatest in code, design, and tooling. 

WP Rig can be the vehicle to make this future happen.

Introducing WP Rig: A tool to help you build better WordPress themes

WordPress and the web it lives on has evolved. So have the tools we use to build experiences and interactions on and with the web. WordPress theme development is no longer “just” about writing PHP and CSS and JavaScript. It’s also about accessibility and build processes and coding standards and performance best practices and and modern coding languages and browser support and a myriad of other topics. 

WP Rig bridges this gap by building accessibility, performance, coding standards, and modern coding best practices in by default. WP Rig is a modern build process and progressive starter theme bundled together. It does the heavy lifting so you the developer can do what you do best: Write modern PHP, CSS, and JavaScript. And there’s more:

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