Delicious Brain Bytes: Measuring Developer Productivity, New Releases, ACF Survey Results, and the State of WordPress Dev Tools

By Mike Davey, Senior Editor

In this issue of Delicious Brain Bytes, we look into contentious methods for measuring productivity in software development, new releases from ACF, WP Migrate, WP Offload SES, and WP Offload Media, the final results from the first-ever ACF user survey, and much more. You can subscribe to Delicious Brain Bytes here.

🖥️ WordPress 6.4 to Include New Typography and Design Features

WordPress 6.4 is set for release on November 7, 2023 and will bring a number of new features and enhancements according to the latest roadmap. This is the second major update led by an underrepresented gender release squad, with the first being WordPress 5.6, “Simone.”

Additions include the Font Library, which will allow users to easily install and use fonts across their sites. Similar to the Media Library, the Font Library will be available globally, regardless of theme. Other focus areas include improvements to the writing experience, interfaces and tools, site editing, design tools, global styles, and patterns management.

Beta testing for WordPress 6.4 is expected to begin September 26th, according to the development cycle.

🔎 The Complexities of Measuring Developer Productivity

McKinsey &Company have gotten a lot of attention recently with the publication of an article that outlines a method of measuring productivity for software developers. The article, “Yes, You Can Measure Software Developer Productivity” notes that “…building our set of metrics, we looked to expand on the two sets of metrics already developed by the software industry. The first is DORA metrics, named for Google’s DevOps research and assessment team …the second set of industry-developed measurements is SPACE metrics (satisfaction and well-being, performance, activity, communication and collaboration, and efficiency and flow), which GitHub and Microsoft Research developed to augment DORA metrics.”

There have been plenty of criticisms leveled at the article since it appeared in mid-August. On Twitter, Grady Booch summed up his thoughts by noting that the concept, as laid out in the article, is “rubbish.” He expanded on this thought by noting “To be clear the underlying work by @nicolefv is excellent, but @McKinsey has subverted and abused it, wrapping their odoriferous hairball in it to give their work the smell of authenticity.”

Dr. Nicole Forsgren (aka @nicolefv) was the CEO and Chief Scientist of DORA when it was acquired by Google in 2018. Judging by her own tweet, she isn ’t exactly thrilled with how her work has been used. “If they’re gonna bastardize my work, at least have the decency to do it all the way and take out the references. Sheesh.”

Gergely Orosz and Kent Beck dig into the McKinsey report in detail in a two-part article. In the first part, they cover a model of the software engineering cycle, where the need for measurement comes from, look into how sales and recruitment measure productivity accurately, and discuss the measurement tradeoffs in software engineering. The second part expands on this, offering analysis of the danger of measuring only outcomes and impact, team vs. individual performance, engineering costs, and some questions that are critical to ask when evaluating any developer performance measurements.

The “effort-output-outcome-impact ”model for software engineering described in “Measuring developer productivity? A response to McKinsey.”

🚀 New Releases from ACF and Delicious Brains

ACF 6.2 officially released on August 9th, bringing the ability to create options pages right from the plugin admin UI into ACF PRO, as well as bringing bidirectional relationship functionality natively to the plugin. The release also includes enhanced support for registering multiple locations for JSON files.

New releases for WP Offload Media and WP Offload SES were released on August 24th, with both plugins now compatible with WordPress 6.3 and PHP 8.2, among other new features and bug fixes.

WP Migrate 2.6.10 was released on August 29th with improvements to migration performance for sites that do not organize uploads into month- and year-based folders.

❓ ACF User Survey 2023: Final Results

The results are in from the first-ever ACF Annual Survey! The survey helped the development team discover how ACF’s fields and features are being used, firmly focusing the future of ACF development on what matters most. In addition, the survey data has helped to create a more complete picture of the plugin’s users and how they’re using ACF to build WordPress sites.

The final results reveal interesting insights about ACF, but it doesn’t stop there. The survey also covered preferred deployment methods, favorite page builders and extensions, and much more.

Some results from the ACF survey, showing developers were in the majority of respondents at 81%, mostly working at agencies (46%) or freelancing (38%). The graph also shows that most companies have between one and three developers, and maintain between 11 and 50 sites.

💻 The State of WordPress Dev Tools

Jonathan Bossenger has released the results of his survey on the state of WordPress developer tools. Among the findings, while the Mac OS still dominates, about one-quarter of the respondents develop on Windows.

The most commonly used local development environment is LocalWP, but that’s by no means universal, as Jonathan notes: “I did expect LocalWP to be the most widely used, but was surprised to find Docker listed second. I wonder if this is folks using custom Docker containers, and not something that uses Docker, like wp-env. It was also interesting to see MAMP and XAMPP in the top 10.”

You can see all the results here.

🤼 Building the Worst Team You Can

We’ve got a soft spot for tongue-in-cheek articles that present good advice masquerading as bad advice, and David Tate’s Bad Software Advice delivers it by the bushelful. Here’s just one part of a recent article, How to Build Toxic Software Teams:

“Most people, if they are shown some respect, will figure out a way to make peace with their coworkers. As the leader of a team wanting to create a toxic culture and have it still be going when you return from prison, you need to create a team that never reaches this peace.”

Check out some more of David’s work, like How To Create a Perfect Software Development Process That Does Not Work and How To Avoid Understanding the Business Domain of the Software You Work On.

⌨️ Revealing Raw Post Data

Ross Morsali has created a WordPress plugin for revealing the raw post data, taxonomy, and custom field data associated with a post. The plugin adds a button to the editor sidebar that shows this information when clicked. As the author notes, it is intended primarily for debugging and ensuring a post has the correct metadata. You can find the plugin on GitHub.

A screenshot from the above mentioned tweet, showing raw post data.

📚 Strategies for Large Media Libraries in Dev and Staging

Offloading your media files is a well-known tactic for speeding up your WordPress sites, but WP Offload Media can also greatly reduce the time it takes to replicate a new environment on a staging or development site, as well as the disk space needed to do so.

There’s more than one way to do this, and there is no canonical “best way.” In this article, Ian Jones looks at some of the different strategies you can use, and outlines their pros and cons.

What’s the most interesting news you’ve come across recently? Pop by Twitter and let us know.

About the Author

Mike Davey Senior Editor

Mike is an editor and writer based in Hamilton, Ontario, with an extensive background in business-to-business communications and marketing. His hobbies include reading, writing, and wrangling his four children.