The Performance Lab Plugin

analysis of the performance lab component

On the way to joining the heart of our WordPress, the development of The Performance Lab is today a collection of specialized modules that are used to measure and test functionalities on our site. WordPress. This component is an excellent set of tools when it comes to checking and testing various modules, and we are going to benefit from them before they are definitively integrated into WordPress. In other words, The Performance Lab Plugin it's a test drive of functions that in the future will not need this plugin for us to use: WordPress will include them natively in future versions.

What is Performance Lab Plugin?

It's about a downloadable component like any other, but unlike any other, is developed by The Core Development Team, that is, the developers themselves behind WordPress. The plugin in question was born in November 2021 with the idea of be able to test quickly (and get feedback from the community) on the scene of new features and their acceptance/experience of use on WordPress websites across the globe.

The Performance Lab plugin provides a centralized section on our Dashboard from which to take advantage of all performance related features that will eventually be merged into WordPress core.

In a few months we have its first version ready. Thus, we can now install it in the usual method:

After its installation and activation, we will be able to see a notice that summarizes what we have been discussing:

We find the centralized section of modules in Settings → Performance as the message tells us.

As we can see in the screenshot above, the “performance modules” of the plugin can be enabled individually on this setup screen. This possibility of turning each one on and off in isolation reduces the possibility of "breaking something" and not knowing what we have touched. On the other hand, by combining functionalities we reduce maintenance and encourage each one to collaborate with the other in pursuit of a faster site.

What does each thing do?

Images: the first option is to enable the upload of images in .WebP format

At Duplika we have embraced this format and we are not the only ones. WebP allows an image to have a weight in kb smaller and better definition than the classic JPG leaves us. In other words, a JPG that is 100kb will have worse image quality than a WebP that is 100kb. In fact, a 50kb WebP is likely to look better than a 100kb JPG (although this weight difference also depends on the complexity of the image).

If we want to ignore the compression of our images (read, we do NOT use PhotoShop —or another similar— to export to WebP), it is better to check this option. Thus, WordPress will manage the WebP compression for us, converting the images that we upload automatically.

To test the WebP Uploads module just upload some JPEG images to the Media Library. This action will allow us to ensure that WebP versions are generated automatically. For convenience, we will use these versions in our web content.

Site health: the second option allows us to enable the audition of “queued” resources.

Still in an experimental state (because each site is a unique CSS and JS ecosystem and therefore it is difficult to build a measurement tool that works "all terrain"), this functionality allows us to check CSS Styles resources and JavaScript behavior on load.

WebP Compatibility:

Simply add a WebP Compatibility Protection in site maintenance state (Tools → Site Health). This check has been added because not all hosting servers support conversion from JPEG to WebP format. If there is an error, Site Health will report it.

Object cache:

Add a persistent object cache check to Tools → Site Health.

A persistent object cache is similar to a database, but faster.. It helps WordPress to efficiently store and access the data most used in the load of your site. Popular solutions are Memcached and Redis.

Conclusions

The Performance Lab plugin allows us to test and diagnose several performance modules that, although for now they are "passing through" in said plugin, their final destination is to make up the core of WordPress.

This is essentially a collection of “feature plugins”, different from other performance plugins that offer performance features not targeted at WordPress core.

In future versions of this plugin, the list of available modules will change to embrace new modules and discard others (as long as they formally enter WordPress core).

In short, WordPress is letting us be part of the “ingredient test” that will eventually make up the main course (read WordPress core). Thanks to this avant-premiere of new features, WP developers use our own feedback and ecosystems, while we are testing and taking advantage of these possibilities without having to wait for the “dish to be ready”.

The Performance Lab, like WordPress, is open-source software. We can all contribute same since here.

As always, we encourage you to write your comments as we wish them success in their endeavors. Thank you for reading.

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