If you’re anything like me, you’ll have frequently been in the situation of finishing an article, hitting publish, and then going to check out your handiwork on your blog’s front-end, only to spot a typo or infelicitous bit of phrasing, which you have to go back into the post editing screen to fix.
Wouldn't it be much nicer if you could just click on the offending solecism where it appears on the page and fix it right there?
The correct answer is: yes, it would be very nice indeed. It appears that the WordPress development team agree with us, because they’re working on implementing front-end editing in a feature plugin.
In a welcome innovation to the WordPress development process, for recent releases some features have been developed as a plugin for feasibility and beta testing before being integrated into the main application. The developers benefit from being able to iterate more quickly than they could if they were working within WordPress Core, and curious WordPress users get to test out new features in advance.
Before going into details, I’m going to give you the usual warning so that you can’t blame me when something goes wrong: this plugin is undergoing active development, is very unstable, and if you install it on your production WordPress site there will be tears.
The Front-End Editor plugin adds a new “edit” button to the WordPress menu bar that is shown to logged-in users. When you press it, an editing interface appears that mimics many of the features of the TinyMCE editor. You can click on any text on the page and edit it as normal. The plugin adds a range of formatting options, so you’re free to restyle content, and of course you can write new posts from within the front-end, too.
Even better, when you click on an image or the “Insert Media” button, the front-end editor will give you direct access to the gallery where you can choose images or upload a new one.
Additionally, you can click the “More Options” button, which will bring up a modal dialogue that includes various post management options, including category and tag management, post format options, and post revisions.
WordPress isn’t the first editor to get this feature, Concrete5 has had front-end editing for a while, but it’s a welcome addition. I doubt it will entirely replace editing in TinyMCE, but the option to directly edit content as it will appear to readers is very useful. Let’s hope it’s ready in time for the 3.9 release, which should be ready some time in April.