Automattic is Testing an Experimental Full Site Editing Plugin

Gutenberg gets closer to a page builder.

The new WordPress editor, Gutenberg, is getting ever closer to offering a full page builder experience with the public testing of Full Site Editing, a plugin created by Automattic which makes Gutenberg something much closer to a page builder.

This really should not be surprising at all. It was fairly clear from the very start of the Gutenberg project it wouldn’t stop at a new editor, and at WordCamp US last year we heard more about Phases 2, 3, and 4. Phase 2 describes something similar to what the Full Site Editing plugin offers.

The plugin itself is in the very early stages. Currently it offers three different page layouts: menu, home, and contact. Selecting one of these pre-fills the layout with template content which you can then edit. It’s at the very early stages, but if you’ve ever used a page builder which lets you select a pre-built layout, it’s pretty similar to that, just with Gutenberg.

As Sarah picks up on her article (linked above), the FAQs on WordPress.org say the plugin “is only designed to work on the WordPress.com environment”. This is interesting, and a slight departure from what we’ve seen so far: a common response to criticism of Gutenberg was “if Automattic wanted this just for themselves, they would have made it in-house in a third of the time!” The Full Site Editing experience is different from what is described in Phase 2 of Gutenberg – it uses the editor rather than the Customizer – and it’s noteworthy that this is something Automattic feels they need to work on just for themselves.

I’m not passing a value judgement on this; they are, after all, still open sourcing it and building in public. One does wonder, though, why now is the time to diverge Gutenberg development from WordPress in general + WordPress.com to just WordPress.com with the option for people to adopt for WordPress in general. I’m sure there was frustration within Automattic at how long Gutenberg took and quantity and volume of criticism about the project. It seems plausible that it was decided progress simply needed to be made faster.

It’d be a weird double-standard to both critique Automattic for leading Gutenberg, and then also for anything which hints – as this could be – moving any attention away from Gutenberg. Let’s not do that: for now this is interesting and I look forward to seeing where it goes.

This post first appeared in MasterWP, a weekly newsletter for WordPress professionals.


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