WordPress has announced the launch of its new Performance Lab plugin, a suite of tools aimed at enabling WordPress users to boost the performance of their websites. Specifically, Performance Lab provides developers with the opportunity to trial improvements to WordPress prior to their implementation in the software’s core, if they get the job done right.
The Plugin was developed by a team of WordPress core developers, aka the WordPress Performance Team, as a means to gather feedback on the usefulness and effectiveness of pre-release features for the platform.
An extract from the official WordPress release announcing the launch of the new feature:
“The Performance Lab plugin is being actively worked on by the WordPress performance team, which was formed in late October 2021. The plugin is the primary project of the team where new performance features are being explored and implemented. It complements the direct contributions to WordPress core, which happen for smaller fixes or for features that already have seen significant testing in the plugin.”
“The modules included in the plugin are based on the priorities of the performance team contributors who meet weekly in the #performance Slack channel to discuss the ongoing efforts and priorities. The performance team takes into account the impact of different features while prioritizing work, and the modules included are also influenced by contributor interest.”
“So far, over 250 people have joined the performance Slack channel, with many of them participating in the weekly chats and reporting issues on GitHub. While code contributions to the plugin so far have been limited to just slightly more than 10 contributors, the performance team is confident that the volume of code contributions will increase over time, especially as the plugin starts seeing increased usage.”
For the time being, and with further expansion planned for the near future, the new WordPress performance lab plugin has four modules, as follows:
- WebP Uploads: Creates WebP versions for new JPEG image uploads if supported by the server.
- WebP Support: Adds a WebP support check in Site Health status.
- Persistent Object Cache Health Check: Adds a persistent object cache check for sites with non-trivial amounts of data in Site Health status.
- Audit Enqueued Assets (experimental): Adds a CSS and JS resource check in Site Health status.
In terms of safety and stability, WordPress has indicated that the majority of modules are extensively tested and are therefore unlikely to break your website. Only those marked as “experimental” should be approached with caution for the time being, but WordPress still issues the usual disclaimer, just in case:
“As with every plugin, you are doing so at your own risk.”
Though they are keen to invite anyone with an interest in contributing to the whole thing to do just that:
“If you would like to participate in developing or shaping the direction of the plugin, the performance team would be pleased to have you join the weekly chats in the #performance Slack channel!”
We will be keeping our eyes peeled for more information from WordPress on its new performance lab plugin, as and when it becomes available.