Earlier this year we tested the Customize Snapshots feature plugin, which allows users to draft and preview customizer states. For the past several months Weston Ruter and his team at XWP have been working on adding the ability to schedule Customizer changes. This would allow users to stage content as a set of customizer changes, such as building new pages, adding a collection of widgets, and updating menu items.
Customize Snapshots version 0.5 was released last week, introducing scheduled publishing and frontend browsing for snapshots. Two new buttons are available at the top of the Customizer for launching snapshot previews and scheduling changes to publish at a future time. The save button changes to ‘schedule’ when a future date is selected.
The UI in the admin has been expanded to include a link in the snapshot edit post screen for viewing the set of changes on the frontend. A new link in the Customizer allows the snapshot to be inspected, taking the user back to the snapshot’s edit post screen in the admin.
Version 0.5. also adds initial read-only REST API endpoints for snapshots, allows for previewing AJAX and form submissions, and introduces several other technical improvements that are detailed in the changelog.
Customize Snapshots is an example of the kind of functionality that Ruter’s customizer transactions proposal enables. This proposal is part of the long-term plan for removing some of the limitations of the Customizer and getting the feature more deeply integrated with WordPress’ powerful publishing capabilities.
The feature plugin is also compatible with the Customize Browser History plugin which syncs the browser URL in the Customizer with the preview URL, appending the current panel/section/control autofocus parameters. This allows users to navigate freely within the Customizer preview via forward/back buttons and menu items, without breaking the preview.
Recent advancements in the Customize Snapshots and Customize Browser History plugins, along with Ruter’s experimental Customize Posts plugin, are paving the way for the possibility of having the Customizer handle front end editing. If you want to get a hands-on demonstration of some of the more advanced Customizer capabilities that WordPress core contributors are working on, install all three plugins and take them for a test drive. Development for each is managed on GitHub and feedback is welcome.