Embracing The Spirit Of Open Source With WordPress Trac

As the vast majority of you are no doubt aware, WordPress is an open source development platform. In practical terms, this means one thing – you can have a hand in maintaining the world’s most popular content management system.

Sounds pretty cool, right? However, there is a flip side to this – WordPress lives and dies by the efforts of volunteers. The vast majority of WordPress users will never contribute towards ongoing development. Whilst that is fine – you are certainly under no obligation to do so – if you feel you can help, there is a welcome place for you.

Which brings me to the WordPress Trac.

The WordPress What?
Are You A Fixer?
The Process

The WordPress What?

For our purposes, Trac is a web-based bug tracking system. It represents the base of operations for all existing and resolved bug issues in the WordPress source code.

WordPress bugs – cute, but deadly.

Here’s the deal. Software will always have bugs – regardless of whether it is open source or not. With WordPress Trac, you have the opportunity to not only report but actually fix bugs in the WordPress source code.

Are You A Fixer?

You may be wondering how getting involved in ongoing WordPress maintenance benefits you.

If you are a WordPress developer, placing yourself on the cutting edge will ensure that you have a well-rounded and current understanding of the WordPress platform.

Pictured: the cutting edge (yes, I went there).

But besides anything else, getting involved in the WordPress open source project is good karma! There have to be people like you in order for WordPress to exist.

The Process

As is often the case, the WordPress codex has done a great job of detailing exactly how the bug-reporting process should operate.

There is a mandatory two-step process that you need to go through before reporting a bug. Trust me when I say that following these two steps saves everyone a lot of time!

1. Check That The Bug Is In The WordPress Source Code

There are Tracs for every major element of WordPress development. These are the main ones:

WordPress Trac
BuddyPress Trac
Themes Trac
Plugins Trac

When reporting a bug, you need to make sure that it is present in the WordPress source code, as opposed to a theme or plugin. Bugs are much more likely to occur in themes and plugins than in the source code.

For more information on how to locate the source of a bug, click here.

2. Check That The Bug Hasn’t Already Been Reported

Duplicate reporting of bugs is a bone of contention for WordPress developers. If you discover a bug, it has probably already been reported. So before you report a bug, you should always search to make sure that isn’t the case.

When it comes to WordPress bug reporting, you may not always be the first on the scene.

Don’t get me wrong – if you discover a bug, you shouldn’t simply assume that it has already been reported and move on with your day. But it probably has, and it will save everyone time if you do not submit duplicate bug reports.

Find out how to search for existing bugs here.

Scratching The Surface

There is a lot more involved in WordPress Trac than I have outlined here. There are two places you should visit in order to take your interest further:

The WordPress Codex entry for reporting bugs
The WordPress Trac itself

Good luck!
Creative Commons images courtesy of Daniela Hartmann, Ripley Engineering and Jackie 
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