Upcoming 6.5 Release: WordPress Contributors Aim to Merge Efficient Translations into Core

WordPress Performance Team Proposes Merging Performant Translations into Core for WordPress 6.5 Release

The WordPress Performance team is making strides to improve the speed and performance of WordPress sites by proposing the merging of Performant Translations into the core software. This move comes after an in-depth performance analysis earlier this year revealed that translations can significantly impact server response times. To address this issue, the team has developed a solution that requires no configuration from users.

Performant Translations is a feature plugin that has been tested by over 2,000 WordPress sites since its release in August. It is powered by a new lightweight i18n library that is faster at loading binary MO files and uses less memory. The plugin also supports loading multiple locales simultaneously, making locale switching faster. Additionally, it leverages OPCache if available and supports translations contained in PHP files, avoiding the use of a binary file format. If an MO translation file has a corresponding PHP file, the latter will be loaded instead, resulting in even faster load times and reduced memory usage.

Performance Team contributor Pascal Birchler, who authored the proposal to merge the plugin into core, has published benchmarks demonstrating the plugin’s effectiveness. The benchmarks show a significant reduction in memory usage and load time when using Performant Translations compared to the default settings. For example, in the scenario of the de_DE locale, Performant Translations reduced memory usage from 29 MB to 17 MB and load time from 217 ms to 166 ms.

The Performance team has opened a ticket for merging Performant Translations into WordPress 6.5, with core committer Felix Arntz marking it as a high priority due to its estimated impact on localized sites’ performance. This improvement is expected to benefit over 50% of WordPress sites that are currently using translations.

The proposed merge is planned for the WordPress 6.5 release, expected in late March 2024. By merging the plugin early in the release cycle, it will have ample time for further testing and refinement. However, users who do not want to wait until next year can install the Performant Translations plugin in the meantime to experience the reported performance improvements.

Even after the core merge, the Performant Translations plugin will continue to be maintained and will build on top of the core solution with additional features. One such feature is the automatic conversion of MO files to PHP files if a PHP file does not already exist. This is particularly useful for sites that have translations not sourced from translate.wordpress.org or exist only locally on the server.

In conclusion, the WordPress Performance team is taking steps to enhance the speed and performance of WordPress sites by proposing the merging of Performant Translations into the core software. The plugin has been proven effective in reducing memory usage and load time, making it a valuable addition for localized sites. With the proposed merge planned for WordPress 6.5, users can look forward to improved performance in their translated WordPress sites.

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