Barley for WordPress: A Revolutionary Inline Content Editor

barley-for-wpHopping back and forth between screens to edit and preview content will soon be a thing of the past. Many WordPress plugin developers have taken a shot at improving the editing experience and there’s even a team of core contributors working on a front-end editor for a future version of WordPress. The big news today is that the folks at Barley CMS are throwing their hat in the ring with the release of Barley for WordPress.

In a nutshell, Barley for WordPress allows you to edit content directly inline without ever needing to see the admin. The team decided to break the Barley Editor out of the Barley Content Management System, a CMS built on top of CodeIgniter. The Barley Editor can now be licensed by third parties to use in their apps. Barley CMS customers loved the editor so much that the team decided to port it over to WordPress, and here’s the result:

The Barley editor plugin lets you edit your titles and content and see a list of your drafts without ever leaving the frontend. It also includes easy access to images in the media library, a video embedding tool and the ability to categorize your post, add tags and set featured images without visiting the admin panel.

Barley Content Editor
Barley Content Editor

Barley for WordPress can be purchased directly from the Barley website for an introductory price of $12/year. They’ve also teamed up with the folks at Pagely to offer the Barley editor to customers on their managed WordPress hosting platform. Joshua Strebel, CEO of Pagely, said, “I am so impressed with what Barley adds to the WordPress user experience. We know our many hosting customers will love it.”

I interviewed Colin Devroe, co-founder of Plain, the company behind Barley, to get some more background information on why they decided to branch out with a WordPress product. I asked him what inspired the team to tackle the challenge of improving the WordPress publishing experience, since their core product is the Barley CMS. Devroe replied:

Our belief has always been that we wanted as many people as possible to begin creating content using an inline editor. This is a shift for many people familiar with form-based content management. A popular platform like WordPress could never switch to inline editing and ditch the admin interface all at once. They would leave too many people out in the cold. But that is exactly what we did with Barley CMS. We flipped everything on its head from templating using just HTML to having all content managed without an admin.

Over the past ten years, WordPress has been adapting and evolving to provide a better content creation experience but completely ditching the admin interface will be out of the question for quite some time. The decoupled Barley editor makes their modern, non-admin oriented content creation process available to WordPress.

The Challenges of Fitting Into the WordPress Ecosystem

Making the Barley editor compatible with the WordPress platform was no small feat for their team of developers. However, it makes sense as their first challenge, given that WordPress now powers more than 20% of the web. I asked Devroe about the challenges they encountered in bringing the editor into WordPress. It turns out that finding a place in the tightly-knit WordPress ecosystem was more of a challenge than the technical aspects of creating the plugin itself.

Porting to WordPress took us 40 days of really hard work. The editor itself was put into WordPress in a single night but then began the task of making Barley for WordPress really fit into the WordPress ecosystem. We spent an incredible amount of time making Barley work in every theme we could get our hands on. In addition we had a few things within WordPress that do not exist in Barley CMS that we had to work on such as WordPress’ Media Library, the specific way it handles tags and categories and featured images and more. We look forward to making Barley for WordPress work even better in the WordPress ecosystem as we release continual updates of our plugin.

Will the Barley Product Become Irrelevant When WordPress Adds Frontend Editing to the Core?

Given that there is a Frontend Editor feature currently being developed for the WordPress core via the features-as-plugins process, I asked Devroe how will Barley remain relevant once WordPress adds inline editing. Will they continue to sell a product for a feature that will soon be a default part of the WordPress publishing experience?

Inline editing is still very new to many people. And there is a lot to learn. Just as there isn’t any one email client or Twitter client that is right for everyone, surely there isn’t any one editor that will be just right for everyone. Barley is an editing experience that we hope to bring to many platforms and we hope people begin to expect a really great, simple, yet full featured editing experience wherever they see Barley pop up.

As far as keeping it relevant, we’re going to do our best as a team to keep Barley for WordPress working great with every WordPress update, popular plugin, and amazing theme. We want people to depend on Barley for their work every single day and we think if we manage to do that it will stay relevant.

If you like the way the Barley editor works, then the introductory price of $12/year really is quite reasonable. It ends up being $1/per month for a fancy new content editing UI with professional support included. Not bad for a totally transformed way of editing content.

Due to the massive number of websites running on WordPress, there is a marketplace for any product that aims to improve the publishing experience. It’s interesting to see new solutions pop up to improve content editing, especially when they originate in products outside of the WordPress community. This kind of cross-platform sharing of solutions can only stand to make the WordPress ecosystem more varied. It also serves to continually challenge our core design and user experience, both inside and outside the admin panel.

Who is Sarah Gooding


Sarah Gooding is an Editorial Ninja at Audrey Capital. When not writing about WordPress, she enjoys baking, knitting, judging beer competitions and spending time with her Italian Greyhound.

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