Getting my feet wet in WordPress Trac

You hear a lot about getting involved in WordPress Core, and if you are someone like me it’s really daunting. I had my first experience recently and I realize it’s not as scary as it sounds, so I thought I’d share my thoughts.

As a side note there are LOTS of ways to get involved in helping with WordPress that don’t involve trac or core.

Honestly, jumping into even commenting on trac is not something I would have done without a little motivation, so I’ll start there. I’ve been developing a website with some custom registration and subscription functionality. I didn’t want the users to be logging in via the typical WordPress login screen, I wanted it to feel more unified with the front-end of the website. So I took advantage of the login_url filter, and set the login page to a different place, and added a quick login form to the header of the site overall.

When 4.4 was released I upgraded my site – still in development of course, and found my login form was no longer working. A little baffled, I started to dig into things, and found that with 4.4 a bug had been introduced that caused this particular use case of login_url to not work. Big Bummer. Obviously, I could roll back the site (and eventually I did for now), but ideally I’d like to launch with the current version of WordPress running, and avoid the potential for our client to click “update WordPress” and break things.

So I decided to try and help. Initially I just selected to follow the ticket. A patch had been referenced on another ticket, and I was eager to see if it fixed things, so I thought I’d test it out. I wasn’t entirely sure how this worked, so I did a little research, and soon enough had used the command line to download a versioned copy of WordPress 4.4, and was able to apply the patch and test it on my site.

It didn’t fix things, and I assumed I had done something wrong, until someone else commented that the referenced patch didn’t fix the bug – yay, I had the same result! Another patch was submitted and I tried it, but was getting an error. A little afraid, I timidly posted about my error, and you know what? No one made me feel inferior or unwelcome in my newness. Someone kindly offered a solution and I was able to adjust my process and get it working.

Then I went out on a limb, and created my own patch. The solution that had been landed on was simple, revert a few lines of code back to what they were in 4.3, and I felt confident in my ability to make that change.

In the end, my patch fell short of completely correcting the issue, but that’s not the point, the experience was priceless, and I learned that I know more than I give myself credit for. Exploring and editing the core files was not as daunting as I thought it would be, and it bettered me as a developer.

If you’d like to jump in, I think exploring the list of defect(bug) tickets is a great place to get your feet wet.

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