Automattic is working on a new experimental Full Site Editing plugin aimed at enhancing the page creation workflow in the block editor. Starting a new page from scratch may be overwhelming for those who don’t have a vision for how to tastefully put blocks together to lay out the page. This is a problem that this experimental plugin may be able to solve.
Full Site Editing currently provides three custom blocks for post content, templates, and a blog posts listing. The Blog Posts Listing block expands upon core’s Latest Posts block to include an excerpt and meta information.
The plugin is available in the WordPress Plugin Directory, although it is somewhat difficult to find when searching in the admin plugin installer. The most recent 0.1.1 version of the plugin seems to be broken, but if you roll back to the initial release, you can see some of the page template experiments. After activating the plugin, navigate to Pages » Add New and a new modal with a template selector should pop up.
The templates come pre-filled with demo content and images, so the user doesn’t have to think about how to configure the blocks to match the demo.
The functionality in Full Site Editing is being developed for use on WordPress.com. It makes sense for a network that regularly onboards new bloggers and site owners. It is in the company’s best interest to deliver the fastest possible site creation experience, rather than have new users get frustrated and confused about how to get started.
A template selector for creating new pages could also be useful for the broader WordPress community. Plugin developer Jeffrey Carandang tested Full Site Editing and suggested that it might be useful to add this functionality to Gutenberg with custom hooks so that developers can add their own custom templates. This would make guiding users through the new theme setup process much easier for theme shops.
Automattic has a label on the Calypso repository dedicated to categorizing issues in the full site editing project. The plugin is going to be enabled on a small set of sites for initial testing. There are quite a few issues that still need to be ironed out, including things like preventing users from deleting the header and footer and finalizing the theme used with the plugin. At the moment, the plugin seems to be tailored specifically to the Twenty Nineteen theme and the pre-filled templates do not look as good when used with other themes.
The functionality included in the Full Site Editing plugin may also be coming to Jetpack. Automattic’s developers are currently researching the best way to include it, since so far it has been developed as a separate plugin and not geared towards becoming a Jetpack module.
Full Site Editing is not recommended for use in production, as it’s still under active development. The plugin’s details explicitly state that it is “only designed to work on the WordPress.com environment and could break after an update.” Check it out if you want to explore some exciting new possibilities for how the block editor can work together with themes to make page creation more approachable for users.