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WordPress Performance Lab Plugin Officially Out of Beta

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WordPress Performance Lab Plugin Officially Out of Beta


WordPress announced that it’s Performance Lab plugin is officially out of Beta testing stage and is officially released as version 1.0. This means that the Performance plugin is considered stable and that there should be no infrastructure bugs and that it is considered ready for testing performance improvements before they are released within the WordPress Core.

The official announcement noted:

“The first stable version 1.0.0 of the Performance Lab plugin has been released. You can download it from the WordPress plugin repository or via GitHub.

The stable release means that the Performance Lab plugin’s infrastructure is now out of beta testing stage.”

What is the WordPress Performance Lab Plugin?

WordPress formed a Performance Team in late October 2021 whose purpose was to focus on improving WordPress performance.

The initial proposal for the performance team noted that WordPress was falling behind its competitors in terms of website performance.

The WordPress core contributor who published the proposal also noted that not only was WordPress falling behind competing website building platforms, he wrote that the gap between WordPress performance and that of its competitors was widening as companies like Wix, Shopify and Squarespace continued to invest in improving performance.

“Compared to other platforms (e.g., Wix, Shopify, Squarespace), WordPress is falling behind. Other platforms are on average faster – and becoming increasingly faster – than WordPress websites (see The HTTP Archive’s Core Web Vitals report), and are actively investing in (and marketing) core performance-as-a-feature [12].

We can see the impact of this investment in the widening gap between the proportion of WordPress sites which achieve ‘good’ Core Web Vitals scores, vs other platforms.”

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Previous to the formation of the WordPress team there was no unified approach to website performance.

The performance team was created to fill this gap and the Performance Lab Plugin is the first product produced by the performance team.

What is the Performance Lab Plugin For?

The purpose of the plugin is to give publishers the opportunity to best test new performance boosting improvements and features that are being considered for a future release of the WordPress core, the main WordPress files that powers websites.

This allows publishers to acquire advanced previews of improvements that could be included by default within future versions of WordPress.

The hope is that the WordPress publishing community provides feedback on the improvements that in turn helps the performance team understand how well the improvements work and if viable include them into the next versions of WordPress.

The official announcement noted:

“The plugin’s primary purpose remains to facilitate beta testing for future WordPress core performance features and enhancements…”

The Performance Lab plugin can provide a boost in website performance, that’s the purpose of the plugin after all, but it’s important to be aware that the different improvements are still meant to be considered as advance previews of possible features to be included in a future version of the WordPress core.

Performance Lab Plugin Uses a Modular Interface

The plugin is currently made up of five individual modules that are related to specific performance improvements. Some of the modules are health checks, for example, and others are actual improvements that can help speed up a website.

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The modular approach allows publishers to test only those features that they want to try out.

These are the five modules included in the Performance Lab Plugin:

  1. WebP Uploads:
    Creates WebP versions of all JPEG images that are uploaded to the WordPress media library. This feature only works for server environments that support it.
  2. WebP Support:
    This is a health check that tells the publisher if their server supports WebP.
  3. Persistent Object Cache Health Check:
    This is a health check module that will suggest a persistent object cache for sites that may need it, particularly sites with large amounts of data.
  4. Audit Autoloaded Options (Experimental):
    A health check related to auditing autoloaded data usage, to alert a publisher to a possible problem.
  5. Audit Enqueued Assets (Experimental):
    A health check that warns a publisher if there are too many or too large enqueued CSS and JavaScript files.

About Experimental Modules

The modules that are labeled experimental are not necessarily stable for use in a live production site. The modules that are not labeled experimental can be considered tested and ready for use in a live production site.

The WordPress Performance Lab Plugin page provides the following explanation:

“Per the primary purpose of the plugin (see above), it can mostly be considered a beta testing plugin for the various performance modules it includes.

However, unless a module is explicitly marked as “experimental”, it has been tested and established to a degree where it should be okay to use in production. Still, as with every plugin, you are doing so at your own risk.”

Citations

Read the Official Performance Lab Announcement

Version 1.0.0 of the Performance Lab Plugin Published

Official WordPress Performance Lab Plugin Repository Page

Performance Lab By WordPress Performance Group

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WordPress Gutenberg 13.8 Offers Greater Editing Flexibility

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WordPress Gutenberg 13.8 Offers Greater Editing Flexibility

WordPress Gutenberg 13.8 is here, unpacking further incremental improvements to the Gutenberg block editor.

Some of the improvements are relatively trivial additions, like adding a WhatsApp icon to the Social Icon Block.

But others are more important because they give template designers the ability to provide more design options for their users.

Chief among these is a new feature that makes it easier to see template parts and to insert them from the block inserter.

This option is aimed at template designers who can now make it easier for users to choose variations.

According to WordPress:

“Gutenberg 13.8 introduces improvements for those who leverage variations and patterns to provide flexibility for their users.

The specific template part variations are now available in the block inserter, making it easy to add “Header”, “Footer,” or “Newsletter Subscription” template parts to your site.”

New Template Search Component

Another useful update is the addition of search functionality that makes it easier to locate and use specific template parts.

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The functionality is described as:

“Adds a new search functionality to the template parts replacement modal.

…It makes it easier to find specific template parts.”

Border Block Support for Color, Width, and Style

The Image block now supports the full range of border controls, including Color, Style, and Width.

Testing of the new feature went well, with one contributor commenting:

“Great work getting this to the finish line @aaronrobertshaw! Tested with a few different block and classic themes, and all working nicely

Crop tools are working nicely in the editor with and without a custom border

Custom border color is working nicely in the editor and site editor

Image border in global styles works well”

Video of New Border Block Control

Improvements to Accessibility

Gutenberg 13.8 ships with cumulative improvements to accessibility.

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Fixes included adding tooltips and fixing a mismatch between the visible text and the aria-label of the Toggle block inserter button.

These are some of the improvements:

  • BorderControl: Update labelling, tooltips and wrap with fieldset and legend.
  • Add aria-hidden to query pagination arrows.
  • Fix labelling and semantics of the paragraph block Left to right control.
  • Fix mismatching label and visible text on the Toggle block inserter button.
  • Fix the description text of block movers for horizontal movement.
  • Replace clickable div elements with buttons in the Add template modal.

Improvements to the Code

One improvement that’ll be welcome to SEOs is the removal of React fragments from the Block Library.

It’s not a dramatic improvement. But changes in the right direction are always welcome when it comes to code size, even something as small as this.

Incremental Change Continues

WordPress Gutenberg 13.8 continues to evolve with incremental improvements, which is the hallmark of most updates to WordPress and the Gutenberg full site editor.

Citation

Read the Official WordPress Announcement

What’s new in Gutenberg 13.8?

Screenshots and Featured Image Screenshot by Author

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