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WP Feature Notifications Project Progresses Towards MVP for Standardizing Admin Notifications

The WP Feature Notifications project, formerly know as WP Notify, is making progress towards creating a better way to manage and deliver notifications in the WordPress admin. Core contributor Jonathan Bossenger started the project in 2019 with a proposal to build a unified notification center in WordPress that would replace the chaos caused by developers hooking into admin notices, which was not designed to be a notification system.

In the latest 0.2.0 update of the feature plugin, contributors have implemented a more robust JavaScript-based system for standardizing how notifications appear in the admin.

“What originally started as a UX proof of concept has evolved into a more sophisticated JS-based system for displaying notifications based on serialized data,” WordPress core contributor Joe Bailey-Roberts said. “At the moment this uses static dummy data, however in a future update this will interface with the upcoming REST controllers to display persistent data.”

The project is restructuring its leadership with Bossenger stepping down as the lead and Bailey-Roberts taking over the position.

Although WP Feature Notifications currently exists as a feature plugin, its contributors are intent on seeing it merged into core when ready, instead of kept as a canonical plugin. They are eager to see the project’s design and functionality work in concert with the planned modernization of the admin as part of Gutenberg Phase 3.

“Notification functionality is indeed fundamental, and already in constant use via the admin_notices hook, a workaround that has major issues of standardization and accessibility,” Bailey-Roberts said. “The new API needs to be universal, and available by default, otherwise admin_notices will remain the de facto option.”

Contributors plan to remove the demo content from the plugin in version 0.3.0 and make it into an MVP (minimum viable product) with a functional notification system.

“The next (and largest) piece of the puzzle is persistent database storage of notification data,” Bailey-Roberts said. “We’re working on finalizing the proposed schema, as well as discussing other issues such as retention, translations, multisite support, and more.”

In order to keep moving the project forward, contributors are seeking a partnership with a core committer for guidance on preparing the plugin to be a good candidate fore core, as well as additional contributors with PHP and SQL expertise. The feature plugin is available on GitHub for testing.

A solution for notifications in WordPress is critical for improving the admin experience for every user. A standardized way of displaying notifications will make site management a more predictable and less cognitively draining task. The WP Feature Notifications project is still in the early stages but it has some momentum and it needs help. Contributors can join the team’s weekly office hours on WP Slack in the #feature-notifications channel, and the project will also have representation at WordCamp Europe’s Contributor Day.