For quite a while now, we’ve been changing the way we make decisions for WooCommerce core. This affects how we think what’s important for the plugin, what features we want to add and how to determine what’s important for the future in general. This blog is the next step in this process. We want to give some more insight to everyone using and developing on the WooCommerce platform. This is the place, where you will get the opportunity to make decisions with us.

Starting the development cycle for WooCommerce 2.2 (which we’ll start after 2.1 is released, more on that later), we’ll be using the full potential of this blog. Until that day, we’ll be using this blog mainly for communication about WooCommerce 2.1 and the final bits and pieces that need to be done before we can feel confident it’s good enough to release it.

New release schedule

In previous versions, we basically had no real roadmap. We had a long list of features that we really wanted to be in WooCommerce core, but it was very hard to actually get that list done in a reasonable time. It has taken us 8 months to go from the release of WooCommerce 2.0, to being as close to finishing everything for WooCommerce 2.1 as we are today.

WooCommerce has become one of the major players in the field of eCommerce. With well over 1.5 million downloads of our core plugin and over 200 premium extensions for sale on our site alone, it’s safe to say that we’re experiencing some amazing growth.

It’s obvious something needed to change in the way we plan our releases and determine what goes in a release and what not. That’s why we’re going to make our releases smaller, but also more frequent. We want to focus on shipping three new releases of the WooCommerce plugin each year, where each release contains a smaller number of new features and enhancements. This doesn’t mean that our releases will be boring, it just gives us more time to dedicate to each new feature and make sure the releases are secure and reliable.

As more people have come to rely on the WooCommerce plugin, we feel this is the right decision to stay on top of everything. We want to make sure our plugin continues to be one of the best choices when it comes to eCommerce on the WordPress platform.

WooCommerce 2.1 and beyond

We want to have the first beta of WooCommerce 2.1 available by the end of this month. Yes, that soon.

We did the first beta of WooCommerce 2.0 right before Christmas, which was not a good idea. People are spending time with their families and enjoying the holidays, nobody has time for testing some beta release of a plugin. That’s why we want to release the first beta a couple weeks earlier this time. We’ll still be in the beta phase during the holidays, but hope to release the first release candidate in early January 2014.

Depending on how smooth the testing goes, how many bugs there are to squash and how well we’ve been keeping our documentation up to date, we’re keen to release the final of WooCommerce 2.1 as early in 2014 as possible. After that, we can focus on our new release strategy, starting with version 2.2.

We’ve already started putting together a list of new features for version 2.2, which will give us a head start in developing that release. This gives a good impression of how ‘small’ we want future releases of the WooCommerce plugin to be. There will still be a couple more enhancements to be added, but this is it when it comes to larger changes.

Get involved, start contributing

Not only did we want everyone developing on the WooCommerce platform an opportunity to have a say in what happens in the plugin, we’re also hoping this will inspire some of you to start more actively contributing. It has been pretty hard to track what we’re doing with the plugin, with our vague roadmap and growing list of issues for each release. So we hope that this blog will be a big help in staying on top of what’s happening within the WooCommerce ecosystem.

As you might have noticed, we’re having some people outside of our team take the lead in developing new features already. Max Rice is implementing the REST API (issue #4055) as we speak and Brent Shepherd is developing the “Add Payment Method” feature (issue #4054), both going in WooCommerce 2.1 still.

We hope to have more people involved in the future, in the same way as these two issues have evolved. In the near future, we’ll be offering more resources and opportunities for everyone willing to help out, to step in and get more active in contributing to WooCommerce core.

Excited? So are we!

We realise that this is just the start of this blog and that it will take time for it to really prove it’s value. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be sharing more information here already as we get closer to the first beta of WooCommerce 2.1. This is an exciting new way for us to stay in touch with everyone involved with WooCommerce and give some insight in our processes.

We’re looking forward to start improving the WooCommerce plugin, with all of you helping out. Stay tuned to this blog and let us know what we can do to improve this whole process in the comments below!