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