Update on default theme focus

Since March, I have been sponsored to focus on the default theme task force. I wrote about this at the start of my work. Now that we have passed the midpoint, it’s a good time to check on what has gone on and where things are.

Theme stats

Statistics are incredible, but they can also be deceptive. It’s important not to rely on them exclusively. In this post, I won’t just focus on numbers. However, sharing numerical data is a great way to begin.

  • Open issues: 436 as shared here to start and currently 257 ( – 179 )

It’s worth noting that because some issues have been opened over the months; this decrease, rather than increase, is even more exciting.

Bundled themes aren’t tied to a particular release, but this indicates how much work happened in this cycle.

These figures show not just my work but the work of so many. Each person who found the issue tested it and created a patch. There have been so many collaborating and focusing together, and it’s impressive to be part of this.

Personal stats

As mentioned, measuring contributions based solely on stats has limitations. The time taken for one commit or testing a patch can vary significantly. Relying exclusively on the time to complete a ticket may only sometimes provide a clear understanding, but it does offer a starting point for evaluation. Here are some of my stats from Trac until the end of June.

Total since March:

  • Commits: 53*
  • Closed tickets: 203
  • Updated tickets: 476

* Sometimes, one ticket has multiple commits to get tests to pass.


Whilst the stats are one thing, there have been other things done in the time. Just a few of theme in collaboration with others include:

  • A GitHub repo was created to coordinate approaches across tickets.
  • Bi-weekly triage sessions held in WordPress Slack on Mondays.
  • Monthly update posts were started and continue to be posted each month following the stats.
  • I began a community theme based called ‘Archvist‘ on the using the default themes as styles. This likely will now use section styles and other new features.


It’s been an adventure, and sharing the things that happened is only half the story. I have some points, though:

  • It will take time. There was a backlog, and clearing takes testing and agreeing approaches, which takes time. 
  • Closing is essential. Some tickets just needed closing, and the first few months were focused on this.
  • Committing patches continues to be an essential practice daily. Many small ones are ready to go with a bit of testing.
  • Patches need refreshing. Due to the course of time, many need reviewing.
  • Testers are needed. One of the backlogs we have right now is testing existing patches. Being able to go through and commit things means they need to be tested first.

When I started this, I thought more time would be spent on community themes, tools and improving not just in trac, and I still want to do that, but the queue and clearing remain a key priority for me. I have discovered a pace I enjoy keeping and a cadence for the days I focus on contribution.

If I had to choose the most significant issue, it would be the disparity between the editor and the front display. This problem affects numerous blocks, styles, and themes, causing several issues. Some of these can be resolved within the blocks, which is the preferred solution. A repository to discuss approaches has also helped address many of these issues.

Theme development complexity peaked a few releases ago. Since then, default themes have become less complex and easier to maintain. This is positive for the future but means heavier work in the interim. Interestingly, this was different for older, more straightforward themes.


A sponsored contribution focusing on one area has empowered me. This focus is valuable every day. I’m currently focused on reducing the backlog, increasing the commit rate, and patching the backlog. Maintaining pace is crucial. Thanks for the support and sponsorship. This contribution focus has been one of the most rewarding areas of work I have done in years. Once this backlog is under control, we focus on what is next for the task force and default themes, which is really exciting.