Tide: Automated Testing for WordPress Plugins and Themes

Yet another way to contribute! Remember this 20-piece WordPress contribution chart with the tester Easter Egg? Even though testing is growing stronger in WordPress core with each release, it’s still mostly manual — usability, visual regression, accessibility, and beta testing with real sites before launch.

Now the tide is turning a bit more toward automation. I’m beyond thrilled to see this!

Tide is a new software test automation project kicking off in WordPress core.

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Screenshot of the Tide page on Make WordPress.

Announced at WCUS 2017 Tide is: “A path to better code across the WordPress ecosystem” — tools to run automated tests for all themes and plugins in the WordPress official directories.

From the XWP team announcement:

Tide, a project started here at XWP and supported by GoogleAutomattic, and WP Engineaims to equip WordPress users and developers to make better decisions about the plugins and themes they install and build.

Tide is a service, consisting of an API, Audit Server, and Sync Server, working in tandem to run a series of automated tests against the WordPress.org plugin and theme directories. Through the Tide plugin, the results of these tests are delivered as an aggregated score in the WordPress admin that represents the overall code quality of the plugin or theme. A comprehensive report is generated, equipping developers to better understand how they can increase the quality of their code.

Once up and running these automated tests would update the plugin and theme description with a status and score so everyone knows whether they pass the tests or not, from PHP version compatibility to the quality of the “front-end output.”

The Tide project is now officially moved over to the WordPress project. See the related story on WP Tavern for a longer history. And, if you’re curious like me about the tech “innards” — take a look at the source code on GitHub.

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Screenshot of the Tide API plugin code on GitHub.

I love the genesis of the name:

…inspired by the proverb ‘A rising tide lifts all boats,’ thinking that if a tool like this could lower the barrier of entry to good quality code for enough developers, it could lift the quality of code across the whole WordPress ecosystem.” Rob Stinson

One key to success: Tide makes it super easy for developers to identify weaknesses in their code — and learn how to fix them. It’s not just about getting a high score or to ranking better against a minimum requirement. It’ll teach us all to improve. I love that.

Stripe Connect, Frontend Experience

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Connect: behind the front-end experience is an extraordinary frontend engineering knowledge drop from Stripe’s design team — how they built engaging landing pages with next-generation technologies like CSS 3D, CSS Grid, and the Web Animations API — including the (new to me) Intersection Observer API to detect the visibility of an element. A must-read.

Via Twitter / johnmaeda.

If You Love Being Limited

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Screenshot from a phone showing the reasons why the narrow options on Squarespace can limit your site’s potential.

Laura Sorensen — the talented designer behind Atelier LKS (and my first cousin) — explains why Squarespace might not be a great for fit for your website in 10 Reasons to Choose WordPress Over Squarespace.

First of all, their templates virtually require high-end photos to not look odd or underwhelming.

Some Squarespace sites are gorgeous, but you can bet they have a full stable of high-resolution professional photography to accomplish that, because their templates virtually require it. If you lack professional photography, your Squarespace site could easily look odd or underwhelming.

Other reasons to choose WordPress over Squarespace include: flexibility, lower cost, freedom from limitations of many kinds, and better help + community.

My favorite part of her 10 reasons list:

You love being limited. If the simplicity of being told what to use or having narrow options makes your life easier (rather than limiting your site’s potential), then Squarespace might be for you!

WordPress will grow with you. It’s unlimited, built for freedom, and you can do more with less.

Inspired by Doug Glanville’s Triple Threat: Baseball, Journalism, and Social Justice

A modern-day baseball anthropologist, Doug Glanville is a former Major Leaguer whose activism and advocacy for social justice is as inspiring to me as his incredible talent as a writer and journalist.

For years I’ve enjoyed his essays and reporting on sports, society, and life from The New York Times to ESPN to The Atlantic to speaking at TEDx. Check it out — now he’s debuting as a college professor.

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Whether you love baseball metaphors or not, Doug’s a triple-threat.

(Hat tip, Tom Willett — aka my Dad.)

Home is Where the Work Is

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In Home is where the work is my colleague Cate talks about remote working, tools for communicating in distributed teams, and fascinating bits of detail about her daily routine and habits for getting work done. (Via “Increment” Magazine).

See also: Where is Automattic? Our HQ is right near you.

Understand By Doing

This wonderful exposé in Kinfolk on fashion designers and artists Isabel & Reuben Toledo struck me in both its beauty, and a clear description for understanding a business or a craft. Do it yourself.

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The only way to truly understand how every piece of [a] business can be assembled…is to do it all yourself. — Isabel Toledo

I’m reminded of the actor-director duality of tech and design leadership. To provide deep and meaningful guidance I need to be not only aligned with organization and customer needs — but also knowledgeable of the daily practice, the details of the work.

How Canaries Help Us Merge Good Pull Requests

Technical update from my colleague Alister for how WordPress.com uses automated tests for build confidence, now running for on GitHub pull requests instead of after deployment to production. The tests and webhook “bridge” infrastructure are open source just like the Calypso source code itself.

Developer Resources

At WordPress.com we strive to provide a consistent and reliable user experience as we merge and release hundreds of code changes each week.

We run automated unit and component tests for our Calypso user interface on every commit against every pull request (PR).

We also have 32 automated end-to-end (e2e) test scenarios that, until recently, we would only automatically run across our platform after merging and deploying to production. While these e2e scenarios have found regressions fairly quickly after deploying (the 32 scenarios execute in parallel in just 10 minutes), they don’t prevent us from merging and releasing regressions to our customer experience.

Introducing our Canaries

Earlier this year we decided to identify three of our 32 automated end-to-end test scenarios that would act as our “canaries”: a minimal subset of automated tests to quickly tell us if our most important flows are broken. These tests execute after a pull…

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Happy Second Birthday AMP

Great to see this report via WordPress.com VIP of the huge improvements driven by AMP on conversions, traffic, and time spent on page. Drives home the fact that mobile is everything, even in the WordPress world.

Enterprise WordPress hosting, support, and consulting - WordPress VIP

Today the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project turns two. As part of a look back and ahead, the AMP team at Google has shared impressive data today that quantifies its positive impacts on time spent on page (2X), traffic (10% increase), and sales conversions (20% increase compared to non-AMP.) We’re proud to be a part of AMP’s unfolding story, and to continue to make it easy for WordPress users, from the individual author to the largest global media and marketing organizations, to take advantage of these powerful open source tools.

Photo by Mo Jangda

From early on we saw AMP as an important project to support because of its core focus on improving the mobile web experience for both publishers and readers, and for its commitment to the open web. We were proud to be the first platform to integrate with AMP, and continue to iterate on the plugin to…

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(Listen) Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hits refresh

I highly enjoyed Kai Ryssdal’s conversation with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on NPR’s “Corner Office from Marketplace” podcast.

https://www.marketplace.org/2017/09/27/world/microsoft-ceo-satya-nadella-hits-refresh/popout

On Microsoft’s mission in the world (hint: it’s not “a computer in every home and on every desk,” which is a goal, not a purpose) [22:33]:

We want to democratize the use of technology to create more technology.

[Interviewer, Kai Ryssdal: Tech right now is cool, you guys, you’re not necessarily the “coolest kids on the tech block.” Do you have to be cool to do what is you want to do at this company?]

Our mission is to make others cool. All we want to be is the tech they use.

The wide-ranging interview jumps between many topics from the purpose of technology, his wife and family, to attracting women to tech jobs by promoting diversity and being an inclusive company, to the immediate feedback he gets from employees via Skype emoji reactions during Town Halls.

The main point, hitting refresh — also the name of his new book (Goodreads) — highlights Microsoft’s shifting branding perception. A reframing away from “big, bad company” and how they’ll know if they get that right.

Ultimately there is no escaping the one true measure of what any company does: what do people who deal with us think? …The multiple constituencies, and what they think about Microsoft and our progress and innovation, is the only score that matters.

A highlight for me in the interview is how to recognize mistakes we make in order to push, think, and change. An example given for a recent Nadella mistake [25:55]:

In many cases customers have already chosen to work with you, and yet you, consciously or unconsciously, abandon them to go work off a new and shiny object… It’s tempting in tech to sometimes move on to the next thing. Except, we all need to work to help others move with us.

The last part of the interview hit home with me because of my leadership path at Automattic, where I’m striving to create a space where we can do our best work. “Describe your job for me in 5 words or less?” [33:05] Nadella says, “Curating culture.” 💯 🖥

Hat tip: Mike Levin.

(Video) Interview with Jack Dykinga

An interview with a photography legend, Jack Dykinga, a Pulitzer-prize winner, who has become one of the best landscape photographers in the world.

My favorite note from his philosophy: “Sometimes your voice can be more of a whisper than a shout.” Applies to writing and software just as much as photography and art.

More about Jack — a fellow resident of Tucson, Arizona — on Wikipedia. Hat tip: Charles M.