Develop WooCommerce

The official WooCommerce development blog

WC Blocks 2.5 Release Notes — November 19, 2019
WooCommerce Blocks 2.3.1 Release Notes — August 27, 2019

WooCommerce Blocks 2.3.1 Release Notes

Version 2.3.1 of WooCommerce Blocks feature plugin is now available. The full changelog is below:

- Fix: Fix deprecation notices with PHP 7.4.
- Fix: Removed unused screen-reader-text css styles for buttons which caused some theme conflicts.
- Fix: Left align stars to fix alignment in Storefront.
- Fix: Best-sellers block query results #917
- Fix: Fix duplicated translatable string #843

These changes will also be included in the next WooCommerce core fix release.

If you would like to check out and use the WooCommerce Blocks feature plugin, you can install it by:

  • Heading over to your admin dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New.
  • Entering the search keyword woocommerce blocks
  • Looking for the WooCommerce Blocks plugin and clicking Install Now.

As always, if you have feature requests for blocks, or spot any bugs, please log them in detail on Github.

WooCommerce Blocks 2.3 Release Notes — August 12, 2019

WooCommerce Blocks 2.3 Release Notes

Version 2.3.0 of WooCommerce Blocks feature plugin is now available. This release includes some new blocks (detailed below) and a new build system under the hood.

Featured Category Block

The new featured category block allows you to visually highlight a product category and encourage users to click through to view its products.

GIF showing how a featured category block looks when inserted.
Inserting a featured category block

It works similarly to the Featured Product Block; you can control the displayed image, overlay color, and whether or not to display the description.

Products by Tag(s) block

The Products by Tag block works in the same way as the Products by Category block; choose a tag and the products within that tag will be shown in a grid.

Products by tag block
A grid of products

Existing block enhancements

Some of our existing blocks have been improved in this version, the highlights include:

  • The Featured Product now lets you feature a product variation! Selecting a variable product will now reveal its variations. The call to action links to the product page with the variation pre-selected.
  • Add to cart buttons in product grids can now be optionally aligned horizontally across the row if content lengths vary.
  • Edits to categories in the Products by Category block can now be discarded by using a new ‘cancel’ link, instead of persisting immediately.

Changes to the build system and minimum PHP version

In 2.3 we’ve made some improvements to how the blocks plugin is released and bundled in WooCommerce. As of version 3.7, WooCommerce uses Composer during a build step to pull in packages from Packagist, blocks included.

The new blocks package is also deployed to as a feature plugin.

WooCommerce core will use the latest version of the plugin it finds. End-users won’t see any difference, but for developers (and our team) it makes deploying updates simpler and reduces the likelihood of conflicts between different versions installed at the same time.

As well as moving to the package system, we’re using a Composer autoloader in blocks 2.3 and we have improved our PHP codebase to use modern dev practices. This means blocks 2.3 has a PHP 5.6+ requirement like WooCommerce 3.7. WordPress does version checking before updates, but if you’re installing or updating blocks plugin manually, ensure you’re using a supported version of PHP first.

Our contributing doc has been updated to reflect these changes.

2.3.0 Changelog

- Feature: Added a new Featured Category Block; feature a category and show a link to it's archive.
- Feature: Added a new Products by Tag(s) block.
- Feature: Allow individual variations to be selected in the Featured Product block.
- Feature: Added a button alignment option to product grid blocks to align buttons horizontally across the row.
- Feature: Added a cancel button to the product category block editor to discard unsaved changes.
- Enhancement: Change the toggle for list type in Product Category List block to a button toggle component for clarity.
- Build: Updated build process and plugin structure to follow modern best practices. Minimum PHP version bumped to 5.6.
- Fix - Correctly hide products from grids when visibility is hidden.
- Fix - Fix Featured Category block using radio buttons instead of checkboxes.
- Fix - Use externals for frontend dependencies so they are shared between extensions and blocks. That saves 2.57MB on page weight.
- Fix - Load frontend scripts dynamically only when the page contains a block that requires them.
- Fix - Reduce dependencies of JavaScript powered frontend blocks.
- Fix - Disable HTML editing on dynamic blocks which have no content.
- Fix - Hide background opacity control in Featured Product settings if there is no background image.
- Fix - Reduce CSS specificity to make styling easier.
- Fix - Fix author access to API for handpicked products block.

What’s next?

In the coming weeks we’ll be releasing some new blocks to display product reviews, and kicking off development for product filtering blocks. Stay tuned for updates!

Using WooCommerce Blocks

If you’re using WooCommerce core you’ll have access to blocks, however, for the newest developments you may want to use our feature plugin as well. To get started:

  • Head over to your admin dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New.
  • Enter the search keyword woocommerce blocks
  • Look for the WooCommerce Blocks plugin and click Install Now.

Once installed and activated you can use the new features listed in this post.

As always, if you have feature requests, or spot any bugs, please log them in detail on Github.

WooCommerce 3.5.8 security release — April 16, 2019
Performance improvements in 3.6 — April 1, 2019

Performance improvements in 3.6

The upcoming release of 3.6 contains a plethora of performance enhancements that improve both admin and frontend page load times. This post summarises some of the smaller changes, and explains the reasoning behind some of the larger changes and how they work.

If you’re keen on testing any of this before 3.6 drops, you can test out the release candidate here.

Product Data Lookup Tables

Post meta is super flexible, but not that efficient when we need to sort or filter by many meta values at once. This is mostly down to the need to do multiple joins between the wp_postmeta and wp_posts tables

Something our team has been looking at is moving data from post meta to custom tables to mitigate this. We actually have a feature plugin in progress to do just that, but it does introduce challenges such as backwards compatibility so it’s a long term project. To ship some improvements short term we’ve looked at an alternative approach…lookup tables.

Lookup tables can be tailored to the needs of the application, making data available in a structured, efficient format, with correct indexes, without needing to move data out of wp_postmeta. Data is formatted and synced to the lookup table when a product is updated.

The new product lookup table contains data we use for searching, sorting, and filtering, and the schema is as follows:

  `product_id` bigint(20) NOT NULL,
  `sku` varchar(100) NULL default '',
  `virtual` tinyint(1) NULL default 0,
  `downloadable` tinyint(1) NULL default 0,
  `min_price` decimal(10,2) NULL default NULL,
  `max_price` decimal(10,2) NULL default NULL,
  `onsale` tinyint(1) NULL default 0,
  `stock_quantity` double NULL default NULL,
  `stock_status` varchar(100) NULL default 'instock',
  `rating_count` bigint(20) NULL default 0,
  `average_rating` decimal(3,2) NULL default 0.00,
  `total_sales` bigint(20) NULL default 0,

The new lookup table is used by joining it to the main posts table (product_id maps to post id) when running queries.

As an example, frontend sorting and filtering prior to 3.6 the queries was done by joining the wp_postmeta table to the wp_posts table and using ORDER BY and WHERE clauses on that data. Now we simply join to the new lookup table instead which should be more efficient.

This can be useful during searches or when sorting by meta. Examples where this can be useful include:

  • Stock reports
  • Dashboard reports
  • Sorting by X on the frontend
  • Sorting by X in admin
  • Searching by SKU in the backend
  • Filtering by price


Updating the Lookup Table

The data stores handle updating of lookup tables when data changes. WC_Data_Store_WP has 4 new methods which are extended by other data stores:

  • get_data_for_lookup_table – Returns an array of data to store in a lookup table, by name
  • get_primary_key_for_lookup_table – Returns the primary key of the lookup table, by name
  • update_lookup_table – Updates a row, by ID, for a named table. It uses get_data_for_lookup_table and get_primary_key_for_lookup_table to gather updated data.
  • delete_from_lookup_table – Removes a row from a lookup table.

Updates are done only when data is updated, for example, the product data store monitors all changes to products:

if ( array_intersect( $this->updated_props, array( 'sku', 'regular_price', 'sale_price', 'date_on_sale_from', 'date_on_sale_to', 'total_sales', 'average_rating', 'stock_quantity', 'stock_status', 'manage_stock', 'downloadable', 'virtual' ) ) ) {
    $this->update_lookup_table( $product->get_id(), 'wc_product_meta_lookup' );

As long as plugins/extensions use the CRUD system, the data stores will keep things in sync.

Initial population of the data store is done via an update routine which calls a new function named wc_update_product_lookup_tables(). This queues a bunch of updates using Action Scheduler to populate the tables in stages.

The product table can also be forced to update via a tool in system status, WooCommerce > Status > Tools > Product lookup tables, or using a CLI command which does the updates all at once:

wp wc tool run regenerate_product_lookup_tables --user=1

This process can take a while depending on the number of products, but once updated the sync only does updates/deletes.

Transient Invalidation

WooCommerce 3.5 and below had a transient versioning system which would invalidate data and clean up expired transients. In this system, the transients names were given a ‘version’ suffix to allow them to be invalidated all at once. Cron jobs cleaned up expired transients after invalidation.

The drawbacks of this included:

  • Hundreds of cron jobs being created when updating many products at once, for example, when generating or importing products
  • The cronjobs, when ran, would slow down other pages due to load
  • Large number of cleanups were needed after any form of cache invalidation
  • Cleanups were difficult because the transient names are unknown (they were appended with a random suffix) so this had to be done with a custom SQL query.

To fix this, we’ve introduced a new method of handling versioned transients. Instead of changing transient names and invalidating transient data by name, we store transients as an array with this structure:

    'version' => 12345,
    'data'    => ....

When the transient is read, if the version is outdated, the transient is regenerated. This allows us to invalidate cache without expensive cleanup operations.


REST API Initialisation

In 3.5 and earlier, the REST API was loaded on each page. To improve performance we’re now only including and initialising the REST API during the rest_api_init hook.


Similarly, to speed up the API request itself, frontend/theme code is no longer loaded during REST requests.


To ensure this was not a breaking change, specifically for plugins extending the WooCommerce REST API or using it’s classes directly, the WC autoloader will include all REST API classes if used. If this occurs a warning will be logged or displayed if WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY is enabled.

We recommend other plugins switch to using the rest_api_init hook to prevent performance issues.

Loading Active Webhooks

WooCommerce creates instances of the WC_Webhook class to listen out for events and send requests out when specific events are triggered. Each webhook has its own instance.

Because there is no limit on the number of webhooks a user can add this can create bottlenecks if many webhooks exist, even if the webhooks are not in use. Webhooks are loaded regardless of status in 3.5.x.

WooCommerce 3.6 will only load active webhooks. Other webhooks (i.e. those that are disabled or paused) will no longer be loaded. This reduces the load on stores with inactive webhooks.


Caching Improvements

These improvements introduce new caches, and improve existing caches, to speed up database read times if the same query is run multiple times on the same page, or on future page loads if using dedicated object caching.

  • Prime caches when reading variations (#22587) – Priming caches reduces the number of queries by bulk-selecting all data that will be needed later on.
  • Use day, not time, in status widget for caching (#22950) – This increases the likelihood of a cache being available by caching data for longer.
  • Added caching to System Status Report (#22887) – Adds transient caches for expensive remote posts on the status report so it doesn’t retest as often.
  • Add caching to attribute functions (#22938) – Caches global attribute data to prevent multiple DB reads or looping over arrays of attributes.
  • Improved caching of template loader, product types, and layered navigation widget (#22612)

Query Improvements

These improvements increase the speed of queries, or reduce the number of queries per page load.

  • Delete empty meta on update in data-stores (#22773) – This change will remove ’empty’ meta values, rather than keep them in the database. Thus reducing the amount of meta stored in total.
  • Don’t query for an order count unnecessarily (#22984) – Prevents a query if the order count is not needed for the main menu in admin, either because of permissions, or if removed intentionally.
  • Index on the downloadable_product_permissions table to improve speed when fetching downloads for customers (#22906) – A new index on this table speeds up lookups of download permissions on stores with many downloads/customers.
  • Improve slow term ordering by using queries instead of PHP (#22570, #22570) – The previous queries grabbed all terms then sorted them with PHP code/loops which used memory and was slower than pure SQL queries that are now in 3.6.
  • Improved speed of the find_matching_product_variation variation lookup function (#22423) – This is used when a product has a large number of variations to find matches based on selections.

Miscellaneous Improvements

  • Remove external lookup of IP addresses on localhost (#22608) – A slow lookup was performed to get the IP address of the user when on localhost. Since this only affects those testing locally, this bottleneck has been removed.
  • Optimized product CSS class functions to avoid multiple product reads and duplication (#22610) – The CSS class name generation for products was terribly slow and inefficient and did lots of logic twice. This is now improved.
  • Image regeneration edge cases (#22818) – Some sizes of images, in combination with image size settings, lead to images being regenerated on every page load. This is now resolved.
  • Remove unused legacy ‘woocommerce_lock_down_admin’ option and use filter only instead (#17796) – This option has not existed for some time so removing it removes a query per page load.
  • Removes legacy woocomerce_termmeta table and swap out all calls to legacy term meta functions to the new WP ones (#22570) – This table has not been needed since WP 4.4.0. Removing the checks for it prevents unnecessary conditionals.

Benchmarking the Improvements

To measure the above improvements we wrote a script which would hit various frontend/admin endpoints and time them, making sure caches were cleared between each run. These were then loaded into a spreadsheet to calculate averages and generate some charts.

The tests were ran on WooCommerce 3.6 RC1, 3.5.7, and 3.4.7 to see the change over time, and we tested with 3 data sets:

  • small (20 products from sample data)
  • medium (1000 products generated with wc-smooth-generator)
  • large (25k products generated again with wc-smooth-generator).

This was to ensure changes such as the new lookup table improved the performance of large stores without negatively impacting smaller stores which may not be facing problems.

We tested mostly product-related endpoints since the majority of performance improvements in 3.6 targeted them. These included:

  • Shop page
    • Main shop page
    • sorting by price/reviews/sales
    • filtering by price
  • Stock reports (low, out of stock, most stocked)
  • Admin dashboard (which shows stock reports)
  • Product list in admin

Each test was ran 10 times and used to calculate an average.


On the small store, the results were almost identical between each version of WooCommerce. With such as small data set, this was expected. Postmeta copes fine with small amounts of data.

The medium store also had similar results, however, the SKU searching and price filtering did show some positive improvement due to the lookup table:

The large store, which had 25k products and 50k variations, showed the benefits of the lookup table more clearly, showing improvements of up to 62% between 3.5 and 3.6. This chart shows the frontend requests we measured (results in seconds):

On the admin side, the performance improvements were more substantial, particularly when reporting or dealing with SKUs:

For example, the SKU search above is a fulltext search which on the large data set took ~40 seconds. With the lookup table, results were matched in under 1 second.

What’s Next?

The above changes are shipping in April 2019 inside WC 3.6 which is now in release candidate stage. We hope the performance improvements help you and your clients. This is an ongoing process and we’re continually looking at ways to improve performance further, so stay tuned to the dev blog to find out these changes are coming.

If you have suggestions or feedback about the work that has been carried out so far, please let us know in the comments or on GitHub.