Status Update On The WordPress Front-end Editor and How You Can Help

We’ve written about a number of alternate editors to WordPress for both editing and writing content. Sir Trevor WP, PrettyPress, Splitdown, and Barley to name a few. However, WordPress may soon have its own frontend editor built into core. WordPress Front-end Editor was proposed by Janneke Van Dorpe in late 2013, with the goal of merging the backend and frontend editors into one. After six months of development, I tested the plugin using a local server running WordPress 3.9 beta 3.

Rough Around The Edges

After installing WordPress Front-end Editor, it was hard to determine how to use it since the plugin doesn’t contain directions within the readme file. By trial and error, I was able to figure it out. When clicking the Edit Post link on the front end of the site, the admin bar displays a number of editing buttons such as bold, italicize, etc. In my tests, it wasn’t immediately clear what text or content became editable.

WordPress Front End Editor In Action
Editor In Action

Just about everything you can do in the visual editor can be accomplished with the inline editor. For example, you can use keyboard shortcuts to bold or italicize highlighted text. While you can change tags, categories, or access other options, there is a bug preventing them from displaying correctly. When previewing unpublished posts, both the active tab and the preview tab will load the front end of the site. This is a bug and has already been reported.

One question I had concerning the editor is when would it be appropriate to use? It’s a great way to quickly edit typos or fix URLs without having to navigate to the backend of WordPress but that’s for content already published. I’m so used to creating content from the backend, it’s tough to imagine doing it any other way.

When A Content Editor Crosses The Line

I’m pleased to report that the editor is strictly tied to editing content. You can’t move widgets around, change the text within them, or change the site’s colors. Those tasks have been left to the theme customizer. I’m happy the team has made this decision since I believe enabling users to manipulate their theme with a content editor is crossing the line.

How You Can Help The Project

When I asked Dorpe what she needed help with the most, she responded, “We really need some people to help out with the development, because right now, I’m the only one working on it. We also really need a lot of people to test it and give feedback.” If during testing you run into a bug, please create a new issue on the plugin’s Github page.

WordPress Front-end Editor
WordPress Front-end Editor

The team meets every Tuesday, at 13:00 UTC-4 in the #wordpress-ui IRC channel. You can keep tabs on the project by subscribing to the front-end-editor tag used on the Make WordPress UI blog.

The WordPress Backend May Become A Thing Of The Past

If the WordPress Front-end Editor succeeds in its mission of bridging the gap between the backend and frontend of WordPress, it will revamp the way users create content in WordPress. The backend will become a thing of the past for some authors as they create and edit all of their content using the inline editor. Having the editor built into core would also give WordPress a feature other modern publishing platforms like Ghost, already have.

There is no guarantee that the plugin will ever be merged into core but it’s an excellent example of one way to implement the feature into WordPress. Do you think having a frontend editor in WordPress would make content creation and editing easier? Can you see yourself using it as the primary method of creating content?

9 Comments


  1. Hi Jeff
    “Can you see yourself using it as the primary method of creating content?”

    Not at the moment for the same reason you mentioned earlier…

    “I’m so used to creating content from the backend, it’s tough to imagine doing it any other way.”

    Plus working in the backend is no great hardship.

    I write all my posts on a local copy of my site and then cut and paste into the live site when everything is finished – change the image URLs and I’m done.

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    1. Great article Jeff! Keith i think that plugin will benefit new users the most i train people on using wordpress all the time and it very common for me to have to explain the difference between the front and back end repeatedly and even myself and i am very comfortable using the backend editors will often find myself toggling between a front and backend tab when doing certain posts.

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  2. In my opinion a front end editor will appeal mostly new WordPress users, and also non technical users that come from a traditional office background. Many people are used to MS Word and WYSIWIG editors and they simply find unnatural having to write a text and not knowing exactly how it will appear to the reader while they are writing it.

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  3. I think my novice writers will like it a lot.

    Works well for editors too, I can easily read and edit a story live.

    Can’t use it yet on my main site though, some conflict causing it not to load right. Hopefully we will get that figured out. I’m very excited about getting it going.

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  4. I can see the usefulness of this even for more experienced users, the formatting of content / images can often change dramatically between the backend and the theme in use on the frontend & you don’t want to keep switching between the two to see how paragraphs etc line up. Also, as mentioned in the article, typos that get past initial proof reads can be fixed one step quicker, which always helps :-)

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  5. I feel this is a great feature! Very useful!

    While writing lengthy articles can be done at both ends, I found it very practical to correct typos or change words and phrases, some things you just see later and easy improving and finetuning is a big help.

    Also having a two column setup and pictures (a successful first test made with page builder which shows you just blocks in the backend) and creating the balance between texts and pictures feeling just right is much easier from the front-end. While one can live with a lot I found eliminating the constant cylce “switch from back to front and back” a blessing!

    Obviously I used WP now for 4 weeks only and am not a professional writer.

    I vote for core integration!

    Thanks for your efforts!

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  6. From what I can tell most people responding are “single blog” people.

    But the problems of the WP core back-end are manifest when you run a theme.. such as a Directory, Classifieds, Real Estate, Vacation Rentals, etc.

    Where Users are permitted to self-register and to control their own posts — ads, rentals, for sale properties, etc.

    All of these commercial themes switched several years ago to customized Front End forms for creating and modifying posts. The User is redirected away from the “ugly” WP Dashboard in the WP Admin path. The User interface now exists inside custom forms and they never see the WP back end.

    But, every single WP plugin must be administered in the core back end if it has User menus and sub-menus that alter the content of a post.

    There is no way for a User (lesser roles than Admin) to utilize plugins that can only be seen in the WP core Admin dashboard.

    I have a calendar plugin for Rental Bookings and Availability that offers the User (owner of posts) many options for creating and embedding their own calendars and reply forms into each post (rental type) they create. Unfortunately, my users have no access to these fine features because the plugin, as all WP plugins, can only be used in the WP backend. And the theme directs them away from the default backend.

    Many new plugins can be written IF the back end options and settings can also show up in a custom front end.

    If a plugin is installed that shows a menu and sub-menus to an Author role in the Wp Admin Dashboard then those tabs ought to be replicated in the User front end of any well built theme template. All back end functions that a plugin bestows upon a User ought to automatically be made available in a Front End menu, too.

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