Automattic is Testing an Experimental Full Site Editing Plugin

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.

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22 Comments


  1. “Gutenberg isn’t an Automattic project”

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    1. You’re right, Gutenberg isn’t an Automattic project, but this experimental plugin to extend Gutenberg functionality beyond its original intention is an Automattic project.

      You also don’t need to be Automattic to extend Gutenberg: https://wordpress.org/plugins/browse/blocks/

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  2. So they basically want to make Divi?

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    1. Perhaps, there is no law against that. While it may not gave all the bells and whistles and the usability could do with some improvements, the overall block project is moving at a fast pace. It will be interesting to see how things progress.

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    2. Divi, Elementor, WPBakery, Fusion Builder…. like it or not, it’s what users are asking for

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      1. If that is all the WordPress editing experience can be then that seems unfortunately and too narrow of thinking.

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      2. Well the page builder is in weather you want it or not Patrick B.

        What type of editor do you want??

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      3. You seem to be misreading my comment. I was commenting that Divi, Elementor and other page builders, despite their popular demand, are not the only way of conceptualizing the editor experience. Hence one of the reasons why Gutenberg is interesting.

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  3. Good luck to the team working on this, but they’ve got a hell of a long way to go before it can compete with Divi or Visual Composer.

    However, if they can make it faster than DIvi it will certainly get my vote. I’ve been using Divi for a few years now after switching from Visual Composer, but with every update they add in, Divi seems to get slower and slower when saving pages.

    Divi also starts to crawl once you’ve got more than 20 or 30 pages in your website (probably because of the way it compiles CSS)

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    1. I switched from Divi, Visual Composer and Avada to Elementor 2 years ago. And I’m pretty sure I won’t turn back.

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  4. That is more full page editing than full site editing. I was hoping to edit menu, header or something. This seems to be like pre-built templates in Elementor.

    Anyway, it’s a great feature for Gutenberg users.

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    1. I guess this will come. It was talked about last WordPress Eurocamp in Belgrade. It’s the way it goes

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  5. I wonder if they’re keeping an eye out for accessibility, or if it’s still just an afterthought for them.

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  6. I remember when Headway 2.0 came out (10 years ago now, I think), and had a site builder feature from the off, where you basically just uploaded your logo, and it would brand the design based on the logo colours.

    That was a game-changer at the time. Surprised no-one’s continued to build upon this, and really make creating sites from scratch super easy.

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    1. Cool idea. Results > possibilities is the way product devs need to be thinking.

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  7. I like the direction in concept. Page templates for blocks is already supported so a user interface to select a template seems like a natural evolution. Clients have always tended to find pages amorphous, especially if creating one from scratch. So having a template you can load in association with the pages creation helps add context. I’ll be interested in seeing how it evolves.

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  8. I am hoping this is a joint cooperation with Gutenberg and Automattic. Developing full site editing can at the same time also have a very good influence on the development of Gutenberg. As new specific features might need to be focused on now rather then later.

    Here is an Gutenberg issue from over a year ago in regards to:
    “Starting out blank or with selecting a template layout.”
    https://github.com/WordPress/gutenberg/issues/5537

    As it shows some initial thoughts on how to begin with a preexisting page layout. It would be great to continue this exploration with the Automattic team who are working on the full site editing experience. There will naturally be many overlapping features that should be worked on as a joint project.

    It would be good to have a discussion about this project during one of the core-editor open office Slack meetings.

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  9. This is really interesting. My agency uses a lot of the themes and frameworks mentioned in comments. Interested to see if this compares / competes.

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  10. This shouldn’t be a shock as this was always going to be the end goal when Gutenberg was introduced, hopefully the community get on board and this makes WordPress an even better platform.

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  11. Nothing this exciting and groundbreaking happened to WP in years then suddenly it’s all kicking off! Struggling to keep up. At the end of the day – as long as our clients benefit from easier editing then it can only be a good thing!

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