Summary of Hallway Hangout on overlapping problems in the Site Editor

This is a summary of a Hallway Hangout that was first announced on Make Core. The aim was to have a shared space where we could talk synchronously about overlapping problems facing the site editing experience.

Video Recording:


Notes are somewhat provided by some AI tooling but, unfortunately, wasn’t quite on point enough for me to use entirely. If anything is off or missing, please let me know.

The hallway hangout focused on discussing issues and problems users experience with the Site Editor, including changing something across an entire site or just for one blockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience., pervasive inconsistencies in user interfaces, understanding inherited values and options, and determining what can and cannot be edited. This came out of a public blog post on the topic.

We discussed the need to improve documentation and educate users to help address these overlapping problems. We chatted about the what’s underneath the desire to not ship any new features and that some of these areas of problems require new features to be fixed. We discussed how some GutenbergGutenberg The Gutenberg project is the new Editor Interface for WordPress. The editor improves the process and experience of creating new content, making writing rich content much simpler. It uses ‘blocks’ to add richness rather than shortcodes, custom HTML etc. features are released in stages across various releases ultimately paving the way for greater work to be done, like Block HooksHooks In WordPress theme and development, hooks are functions that can be applied to an action or a Filter in WordPress. Actions are functions performed when a certain event occurs in WordPress. Filters allow you to modify certain functions. Arguments used to hook both filters and actions look the same. released in 6.4 and expanded upon for 6.5. Another example that was mentioned was content-only locking, which was added into a release without a UIUI User interface as it was a foundational part of a larger roadmap (overriding content in patterns needed this work for example). Part of what needs to be done here to is to better communicating how new features connect to and build upon each other. In many cases, polishing these experiences and reducing confusion has been a major focus of many of the last releases.

We discussed how it feels like we’re caught in between right now and there are different UI experiences floating around between the customizerCustomizer Tool built into WordPress core that hooks into most modern themes. You can use it to preview and modify many of your site’s appearance settings., site editor, and then page builders building on top. In a perfect world, the page builders use what’s being built in coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. and the experience of using blocks feels more natural, whether just in the block editor or in the site editor (instead of those feeling like different experiences). It’s also tricky to come up with solutions that don’t just surface the complexity without providing clarity too. It’s both the most rewarding and most difficult to cover the wide range of use cases WordPress seeks to cover.

We chatted about using the experimental flag in Gutenberg pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party to allow incremental exploration before features are merged to core for some features. Tensions exist between accumulating features quickly in Gutenberg vs bottleneck of merging to core releases. Folks want to see more efforts made to document feature decisions and UI changes at the same level as core tickets, with complete descriptions. Getting feedback into UI decisions as much as possible will help with this too as we should make changes based on feedback and design direction combined. It would be great if more hosts ran the Gutenberg plugin directly and gave feedback to help with this. At this point, the #outreach channel was plugged as was the new outreach group in GitHubGitHub GitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that can easily be shared, copied and modified by other developers. Public repositories are free to host, private repositories require a paid subscription. GitHub introduced the concept of the ‘pull request’ where code changes done in branches by contributors can be reviewed and discussed before being merged be the repository owner. to pingPing The act of sending a very small amount of data to an end point. Ping is used in computer science to illicit a response from a target server to test it’s connection. Ping is also a term used by Slack users to @ someone or send them a direct message (DM). Users might say something along the lines of “Ping me when the meeting starts.” folks who have opted in to provide feedback.

We discussed differentiating user capabilities for blocks and experiences based on user roles and the context of what they are trying to do on a site. More work needs to be done to explore and improve user capabilities. It was suggested that having more Core team members build real sites could help surface important issues and help prioritize work. Right now, we do see this happening with the Create Block Theme allowing folks to build block themes directly with the Site Editor and surface gaps. The same is true of each time a default theme is made and the gaps that are surfaced and fixed as a result. As much as possible, building real sites or working with folks who do has always been and remains critical.

Feedback from folks in the agency space centered around how agencies can’t ensure brand standards due to inability to lock down with GitGit Git is a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency. Git is easy to learn and has a tiny footprint with lightning fast performance. Most modern plugin and theme development is being done with this version control system. when content can change in the editor. It’s important to find ways to reassure clients that brand standards can still be ensured with new workflows. The same problem exists on the broader The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. site so there are big opportunities for learnings and feedback. In some cases, folks tried the Site Editor last year and need to be invited back in with the latest & greatest to try once more with additional plugins to fill the gaps for now. In other cases, folks are successfully using it. Opened this developer blog idea after the fact to have agencies start sharing how they’ve successfully used the Site Editor process wise.

A new “overlapping problem” that @annezazu will add to the post is around the swirling experience of gradual adoption, extension, and curating of the editing experience. How do we make it as seamless as possible and have it make sense to folks? Expect the post to be updated with more thoughts there.

Towards the end, we also discussed issues everyday users face with site editing, the need for better onboarding, and a call to join more WordPress meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through A meetup is typically a chance for local WordPress users to get together and share new ideas and seek help from one another. Searching for ‘WordPress’ on will help you find options in your area. events. The “usual suspects” came up particularly around editing the homepage, the pain of the template hierarchy being exposed, missing settings in the Site Editor, etc. We also discussed an unfortunate experience someone had in giving feedback but feeling very dismissed. This is not something any of us want anyone to feel and it’s important we engage constructively. We also discussed how the majority still use classic themes and the importance of respecting both in discussions.

To close, we talked about how these are the toughest problems to solve! They are not easy by design and there’s a lot of appreciation for everyone who is willing to engage in these topics. We’re very much listening and I wouldn’t have been able to write the post to begin with if we weren’t. The biggest next step is to hold an additional hallway hangout in the future around one of these areas with a large design presence to help present solutions, discuss potential drawbacks, and see how we can move forward.

#gutenberg, #hallway-hangout, #outreach, #site-editor