There was a meeting in IRC for WordPress developers yesterday. A release date for WordPress 2.8 was chosen, and they made some great decisions regarding WordPress 2.9 as well. Here’s a quick summary of the things I found important.
For WordPress 2.9, they’ve decided to raise the version of MySQL supported from 4.0 to 4.1.2! That may not seem like much to those of us out there using the latest versions of everything, since version 5.1 is out, 5.4 is in beta, and even 6.0 is under development (and because 4.1.2 was released in May of 2004). However, the big thing that sticks out to me is that 4.1 support subqueries and unicode. Unicode should help for people that are using WordPress in non-English languages, and subqueries should help to greatly simplify queries. Also in 4.1 MySQL added support for the ‘INSERT … ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE’ syntax which will insert a new row unless that would cause a duplicate primary or unique key, in which case it updates the existing row.
I’m looking forward to the next few versions of WordPress, which I predict will get considerably faster (and the codebase will probably lean out a little too) simply because of the additional MySQL functionality. Just remember that there’s a lot to do and not every query will be updated in 2.9 to take advantage of the new versions. Also, for those that are worried, they plan to add a check to the automatic upgrader to keep people from upgrading to 2.9 if they don’t have a new enough version of MySQL.
Which brings me to the next big decision. While WordPress is not going to require PHP 5, they are going to suggest it. If someone is still running PHP 4, the WordPress upgrader will suggest that they switch to PHP 5, and will even link to a Codex page describing how to do it for various hosts! As someone who’s been a huge proponent of moving the PHP requirements up to PHP 5, this is a big step in the right direction. According to Matt Mullenweg at WordCamp San Francisco 2009, over 80% of WordPress.org users are already on PHP 5+. If a notice like this could raise that percentage enough to make it reasonable to require PHP 5+, the codebase will see some huge improvements.
Overall, the meeting (which I unfortunately missed) took some great steps toward serious improvements of WordPress both in 2.9 and the versions to follow.