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 When previewing unpublished posts, both the active tab and the preview tab will load the front end of the site.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?

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