EP387 – Gutenberg Full-Site Editing in WordPress

April 27, 2021

On this episode of WPwatercooler, we’ll be discussing Gutenberg Full-Site Editing in WordPress. We got Jason to start using Gutenberg, lets see what he has to say about it.

Join us on Discord

Full Site Editing – Learn about block based themes
Full Site Editing Go/No Go
ACF Extended
ACF | Synchronized JSON
Paw–The most advanced API tool for Mac
Testing Full Site Editing in WordPress – helenhousandi on Twitch


Episode Transcription

Jason Tucker 0:09
This is episode number 387 of WPwatercooler. Gutenberg full site editing in WordPress brought to you by ServerPress makers of DesktopServer they make local WordPress development easy. Check them out at ServerPress.com

support us on Patreon go to patreon.com/wpwatercooler.

I’m Jason Tucker IT director and web developer you can find me over Jason Tucker on Twitter.

Steve Zehngut 0:46
I’m Steve Zehngut. I’m the founder of Zeek interactive and I run the OC WordPress meetup.

Sé Reed 0:53
I’m Se Reed and I make requests prefer trust he prefers and have a bad microphone on saving. Yeah.

Steve Zehngut 1:03
And it’s your boy Jason Cosper

Jason Tucker 1:06
AKA Fat Mullenwig Follow us over on all the various places that you can find podcasts, Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, and all those other places we’d appreciate that. And you can go and hang out with us on discord go to wpwatercooler.com/discord where you can learn how to hang out with us over there. It’s going to be important soon because we’re gonna be doing some really fun things with discord and that discord community that we’re building up

Steve Zehngut 1:33
we’ll be playing video games trading Bitcoin, you know, that kind of stuff?

Jason Tucker 1:37
Oh, you know, all the things the internet.

Sé Reed 1:41
Everyone wants to chat with me offline. Say What is your problem? tell you, it works like that.

Jason Tucker 1:53
And there’s actually audio chat on there too, which is pretty fun. So yeah, just you know,

Sé Reed 2:01
and I apologize to all three of you and the rest of the listening community for my fake lack of proper sound today. I apologize.

Jason Tucker 2:13
Yeah, a year to figure this out. A year to figure this out. And you didn’t figure it out. COVID was the year of zoom.

Sé Reed 2:24
Oh, yeah. I just forgot my headphones. So everyone just took it.

Steve Zehngut 2:29
I think we’ll manage we’ll be good

Sé Reed 2:34
way. Let’s talk this thing, cuz I have a lot to say. Oh,

Steve Zehngut 2:41
I know when like you.

Sé Reed 2:43
Really let me Hey, raise your hand. Wait, should maybe I should do forgetting.

Jason Tucker 2:49
Yeah. Okay, go for it.

Sé Reed 2:51
Your hand if you don’t think full site editing should be coming out and we’re pressed. Release.

Steve Zehngut 2:58
Oh, I think men at all. I’m joking. I’m joking. It’s it’s still it’s it’s still not ready for primetime is what you’re asking

Sé Reed 3:10
me that I’ve never been in a beta. So beta.

Jason Tucker 3:13
i beta every iPhone release that comes out. And I’m one of those people that the phone like crashes in the middle of a phone call. I crashed when I’m sending text messages. I use a new emoji and it’s freaking out. All those sorts of things. So yeah, betas are supposed to be jacked up. That’s how betas work. especially early betas. But this is scary considering that you know, this beta is supposed to come out like soonish. Yeah.

Steve Zehngut 3:39
Yeah, it’s still very beta. I think we probably call it an alpha at this point.

Jason Tucker 3:43
Yeah, yeah.

Sé Reed 3:45
Not a gamma. I am going with gamma. I’m sorry. I’m

Steve Zehngut 3:54
sorry, added the four of us I think I’m the only one that actually couldn’t get it to load at all. So I followed all the instructions I have the I have the tab in there for site editing, and I literally just won’t load at all on my local machine. him What’s that?

Sé Reed 4:11
It’s a don’t hire him because he doesn’t know how to joke I want to offer a quick disclaimer. My disclaimer, but a caveat or something to that nature. I just I really appreciate the work that folks are doing on this. I think the work that Hello Cindy does such a great name is great. And I you know she’s done some great Twitch streams and I am so happy about the transparency that just has a limited in putting a video transcript of this of a meeting that they had about full set editing, both a transcript and a video on post about this. And I appreciate all of that so greatly. And I think it’s so important. So I just want to say that all of the really not great things I’m going to say about full site editing, and not personal and have nothing to do with those people. Jason

Jason Tucker 5:19
frickin years,

Steve Zehngut 5:20
eight years, like So say we we are we are very harsh and very critical on the show. And we have been of several platforms and plugins and themes and all kinds of stuff, right? We’re not knocking the developers that are working hard to get this out, right?

Unknown Speaker 5:37

Steve Zehngut 5:39
Yeah, in nowhere was saying that we were I’m worse. I’m a saw. We’re all software developers, right? We get how this process works, right? So just because we’re critical, doesn’t mean we don’t like it. Wait,

Sé Reed 5:50
wait. We

Steve Zehngut 5:53
love the people building it, right?

Jason Tucker 5:55
Like I use Gmail in beta for 10 years, it had the beta logo for 10 years. So

Jason Cosper 6:01
I actually, okay, say has notes, I would like to point out that because of Gmail, because of its constant beta status, because of all of these bits of software from like the web 2.0 days to about the mid 2010s, you slap a beta tag on it just to be like, it’s not it’s not fully ready yet. Although, in Google’s case, like for Gmail, and being a beta for 10 years, they ship an actual, like workable product. This is made that that raises the expectations of what a beginner should be these June, this does not meet those expectations. But that’s okay. Because this is actually what the traditional definition of a beta is something that Shaggy, something that that doesn’t work.

Jason Tucker 6:58
But okay.

Sé Reed 7:01
Shaggy, turns out

Jason Cosper 7:06
go ahead. Cosper. Yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s basically it is is this is more of what people should consider a beta because it is it is a little rougher around the edges than what you might think.

Sé Reed 7:24
I’m really concerned about the announcement that this is coming out in five days. And I think that one of the major flaws that happened with the Gutenberg rollout was the rollout. And not Gutenberg. I think Gutenberg has, is has to happen. And I have for a long time. But Gutenberg was rolled out poorly, it went, it caused a rift in the community rift in the community, and caused developers to just completely ignore it. Not tested, not use it bad mouth, it just immediately I’ve had, I think we talked about this back in the day, I had developers, so I was working on client says, Well, we just randomly installed classic editor. Just as a matter of course, like, they were like, Oh, we just blocked that, because it’s, it breaks things. And so that was, in my opinion, not the fault of Gutenberg, that was the fault of the rollout of Gutenberg, it was too soon. And it was rushed out, because it was rushed out in order to provide fodder for the state of the world in 2020, whatever that was. And we all felt that way at the time. And I’m not sure what the Russians, I know, there’s a 10 year. But like, I feel like we’re just heading down that exact same road again, where we’re going to be like, push this stuff on there. People are just starting to embrace Gutenberg and the block editor and the blocks in general, I feel like there’s starting to be a little bit of acceptance from more developers people experimenting with it using it. I feel like this is gonna just push everyone away again, and cause problems are just going to dismiss it. And it’s not ready. five, eight is coming out really soon. Like July Yeah. Hi. I guess there might be a lot of room for improvement. I’ll do my best to maybe make some comments somewhere and something can help. I guess, maybe there’s no. But anyway, I just

Jason Cosper 9:29
think that’s a little different about when they rolled out Gutenberg versus how they’re going to roll up full site editing is nobody is being forced into using full site editing on their site, they can still use the same theme that they found on themeforest or whatever. On the on the rebo. They don’t have to use full site editing unless they want to as to where Gutenberg, it was like Oh, hey, there’s a new post editor get used to it or install the classic editor? Like, at the very least, even though I feel like yeah, they might be rolling this in a bit too soon. I think that the fact that you actually have to go out of your way to, to do work with a full site editor makes it not as wild of a transition as as the Gutenberg one personal

Sé Reed 10:30
question, do you know, then is the rollout is going to be built into Gutenberg? Right? Or it says, you know, it’s going to be built into five, eight, right? So it will be it will be there. But you don’t have to use it. And if it doesn’t work on your theme, like I actually didn’t touch this isn’t

Steve Zehngut 10:51
your theme has to be compatible to even turn it on? Here,

Unknown Speaker 10:55

Steve Zehngut 10:58
does it, it won’t even appear for you if your theme is not full site, editable, full site editing compatible.

Sé Reed 11:06
Well, that’s at least good. So your habit. So that makes me feel a lot better, I just tested it. And when you put on another theme, the little site editor goes away, and all of that stuff that isn’t there. Because it also Incidentally, changes a bunch of other tabs on the side. For example, there’s no more menu, like in the Appearance tab, you can only get into editing menu from the customizer, which, in theory, it’s nice to only have one spot to edit a thing. However, that’s not where that spot is been for level last, always. So the fact that it does link to that page? Is it those types of little things where it’s like, okay, maybe you don’t we don’t want to have the page and admin where you edit menus anymore. But taking away the menu button that’s been there for literally forever, Senator burden sense. And not just having that link into the customizer, and opening up the menu page? Is those types of little things that confuse the heck out of people.

Unknown Speaker 12:12
So there’s a training issue.

Sé Reed 12:14
Yeah, there’s no explanation. There’s no information. And maybe that’s because this is the beta, maybe that’s coming. And if people don’t have their full site theme activated, they won’t even see it. So. So that’s good.

Jason Tucker 12:30
The I found the editor, I found the editor pretty jarring to be perfectly honest. Like when I first loaded it up and started working with it, which again, you know, I’ve just started working with Gutenberg, because these three fine, individuals have been given me crap about it. So I thought I’d actually give it a shot. It’s been working just fine. Like Gutenberg, by itself is great and beat, knowing how good now, I can at least figure out like how the full site editor works, but it’s like, it’s like a whole nother language. I can’t remember what it was that I texted to Cosper when we were doing this, but it was like, it was it was just such a weird. Maybe Cosper remembers, but it was like it was such a weird interface that I was working through that trying to move all the blocks around and move all the pieces around. And I started seeing some cool stuff. But I also started seeing some things where I’m just like, oh, why is this like this? I don’t know, if somebody can be able to figure out how to do this. I think at one point I said, I don’t know if the cat blog people are gonna be able to figure this out.

Sé Reed 13:30
No, that’s a great point. Because that’s really my question. Who is this for? Yeah. Is this for the average end user? Because at least like like this, it’s like understanding the page templates and headers and all that is like it was confusing to us and I understand the template hierarchy and the you know, I build things from scratch so I understand how they work but the whole concept like it was confusing the page templates and this templates gonna affect this other template and I was like, What is even what template

Steve Zehngut 14:08
I know exactly this for it. Right? This is for anybody that is currently using Divi or Beaver Builder, Elementor. Right. It’s, it’s, it’s that clientele,

Sé Reed 14:18
builder target. And it is nowhere near this. And this has nothing on doing for Elementor. I get

Steve Zehngut 14:26
it, I get it. But these are for people that want full full control over the website without having to hire a developer that that’s who that’s who this is targeted for.

Sé Reed 14:37
I think this is for wordpress.com.

Unknown Speaker 14:42
Okay, that’s why I’m sure.

Jason Cosper 14:45
I feel I feel more or less because for what would what would be considered an end user. And we, the four of us right here are not end users. We go a little bit further than that.

Sé Reed 15:00
Absolutely, but I work with end users all the time I train end users, this is not something they want. And this is not something that in this is I understand things have to iterate to get to the point where it is usable. But I, the way that it looks now and the way that it operates. Now, this is not

Steve Zehngut 15:22
what the end user you’re thinking of. And you’re right, the end user you’re thinking of is overwhelmed by the existing WordPress interface, right. So the existing WordPress dashboard is confusing to them. So this is just adding more stuff.

Sé Reed 15:37
easier. This is not like, here’s a place to change your, you know, header spacing in the thing. Well, how to set up a navigation menu, and can even preview thing on the page. And it puts it in and it’s like, all online, like, Alright,

Steve Zehngut 15:57
so we spent, we spent 1516 minutes now being pretty negative. Let’s get maybe we can change the air a little bit on this on the on today’s on today’s podcast, right? I say say you keep cutting out. Oh, do I?

Sé Reed 16:15
Yeah, it’s been a rough week. Oh,

Steve Zehngut 16:18
I hear you. Um, one of the resources even though I couldn’t load full Senator, I did find a resource called full site editing. com. I think that is the name of the of the website. Let me let up here. Full site. Yep. Full site. editing.com will give you a whole bunch of information on full site editing, and then links to some of the themes that other people are building that are that they’re readying for. For the full site editor.

Sé Reed 16:50
I actually want to test some of those themes, because I find that the default themes are so bland. Like, I think those other themes would probably have better execution.

Steve Zehngut 17:00
Sorry, the themes I that’s no, that’s great. One of the themes that I think you should look at is called Armando. But what I found kind of hidden, they linked to the theme. And, Jason, I’ll share this link with you, but they they linked to the theme, and Armando, but if you look at the GitHub repo that is housing, Armando, it’s actually a whole course about full site editing that this person has, has developed. So the theme is just one little part of their GitHub repo, and I just put the link in the in the chat there. So that’s that I thought that was kind of cool. So that site in this course will will teach you about full site editing, if it’s something that you are interested in.

Unknown Speaker 17:42
Just don’t understand why it has to be released right about

Jason Tucker 17:46
what I don’t really how did how did no other like. So there’s no other CMS or no other website building tool or anything. using the term full site editor. Like we It feels like we jumped into some namespace that we didn’t really check it out. And now we’re gonna start having some collisions at some point.

Steve Zehngut 18:06
But are you saying, Are you saying that in comparison, in comparison to some other site building tools that are out there? Full site editing is just assumed? it’s assumed that it’s part of the tool?

Jason Tucker 18:17
Yeah. But it just seems weird that we just kind of jumped into this, this term full site editor and we’re in Gutenberg is is pretty unique. But this is like, is this unique? I’m not sure if it was.

Steve Zehngut 18:28
And I think what you’re talking about is a little bit of the branding danger. The only reason we call this because it was called Gutenberg, as they were developing it, it’s actually called the block editor. Right. That’s the official name for it in, in WordPress, but we still call it Gutenberg. Right? So full site editing is sort of the name of the project. Once it’s wrapped in, its WordPress, right, that’s just part of WordPress. It’s a feature. Right. And so that’s sort of the danger in in in these branding words that that will, that will probably stick around forever.

Jason Tucker 19:01
Well, one thing that’s interesting about this site that you that you brought to our attention here is they, they they describe this as for developers, and this is a term that we should probably be using more of, and I think this is a great term that kind of describes this, but a site creator. Yep. Which is the the new version of webmaster, if you will, it’s the person who’s going to go in and make those changes and do all the different changes on to the site. I think I really like the term site creator as a way of kind of, you know, differentiating, differentiating that a little bit between developers and somebody who’s kind of building the site.

Steve Zehngut 19:40
And, and here’s the thing, in my mind, I think it’s a great term a site creator is who I was describing before, right, maybe full site editing sounds a little grandiose, because really what they want to do is be able to go in and change the logo in the header right or change the color of the header right. It’s sort of the the beaver theme or Part of Beaver Builder, right beaver Thema allows you to change the header and the footer and the look and feel, make some changes to the layout of like your post pages, things like that. That’s what a site creator is looking for full site editing, tell what you’re implying with that term. And I think the I think the problem with it is it says, Every part of the website can be edited, and I can build whatever I want, right? I have full design control over my website, I don’t need a web developer anymore. That’s what that implies. And that’s why it’s a little grandiose.

Jason Tucker 20:30
Yeah, it’s gonna be interesting to see how at some point, applying roles, and the restrictions have a role within full site editor and how you’re going to kind of do it. I know, in Beaver Builder, they have the ability to essentially lock down various modules that you drag in, and then you can kind of lock those pieces down. I’m hoping that that sort of thing does come to

Unknown Speaker 20:54
me go

Sé Reed 20:56
back, it’s like, you’re like you did? You’re different from me, if

Steve Zehngut 21:04
not, you know, if not, you can use something like user role editor to control to get a little bit more granular with those roles, right? I’m assuming I’m making the assumption that will be built in.

Unknown Speaker 21:16
What’s that

Sé Reed 21:17
word with, like, you know, your whole thing, right? You have your you don’t roll out changes to the site, the themes, the plugins, you’ve got that system where it’s like, you never actually update on the site. Right. It’s all met. So how does this factored into that? Like, would you be able to do I mean, you’d still be able to push staging sites, obviously. But like,

Steve Zehngut 21:39
to me, to me that the, to me, yeah, to me, the full site editor is content. Right? And so it’s part of the database, the content is not saved to the GitHub repo. Right. those are those are

Sé Reed 21:51
quiet to be in here. Doing Yeah, whatever. Yeah, I guess you check your theme from like, you could have a theme that has full set editing, but the header is locked or something like that?

Steve Zehngut 22:03
Possibly, possibly. These are. Yeah, what we’re talking about is configuration files, right? And I consider configuration files part of content.

Sé Reed 22:15
So that you wouldn’t like that’s the thing. Because it’s part of content. That’s I’m saying it wouldn’t be part of that upload process that you currently have. And so let’s say you had a client who had full site editing at a full site editing theme, where would you as the agency then make changes to that? Would you you wouldn’t do it necessarily in your in your Git repo or whatever, because it’s content to do it on the

Steve Zehngut 22:43
fly? I think it’s just part of strategy, each client’s going to be a little bit different, right? Some clients will actually, you know, assuming that full site editing will be user role based, right? We’ll have certain user roles that can access it and certain ones that can’t, right, so that so that the client can’t go in and make a mistake. Right. But yeah, you’re right. That’s not it’s not gonna be part of code.

Sé Reed 23:04
Is that something that’s already part of this, for example, that it’s like only admins can access the site editor?

Steve Zehngut 23:11
I can’t, I can’t load it at all. So I can’t answer that question. I just tried the Armando theme, which was in that that full site editing site, and even that one won’t load for me. So there’s something on my local machine that just doesn’t like this. What’s your cutting out again? Say?

Jason Tucker 23:29
Yeah, I think your crisper thing is doing turn off. Turn off crisp.

Unknown Speaker 23:36
My fault. Yeah.

Sé Reed 23:39
Now you can hear me so my attempt to be heard better was, yeah, but cool. Anyway, let’s just make my point. And then I’ll mute myself. I’m going to share my screen real quick. One of the screens, hold on, I just want to show this one thing. Can you see this?

Steve Zehngut 24:03
Yes, yeah, yes.

Sé Reed 24:06
This is this is just I just set up nothing, right. But this is, in theory, the navigation menu. Okay. And there’s not really a ton I can do over here. I mean, there’s some line heights and spacing or whatever. But then I come over here, and it’s like, hey, go. What is that? Like? That’s not the same? No, it’s like, what is that? Well, no, I mean, right? Anybody?

Steve Zehngut 24:32
And I’m assuming, I’m assuming that is some sort of a bug, right? I’m assuming that there’s something changed in the in the, in the stylesheets. that’s causing that right. So in in the update or the AJAX that’s being loaded? They it’s a mess on their part. So some some some stylesheet didn’t get loaded properly. That’s all.

Sé Reed 24:51
I mean, I know that but,

Unknown Speaker 24:53
but, but

Sé Reed 24:54
that point here, I’m like, I can’t even test it. What is that like? I don’t know. Go to troubleshoot what’s wrong with the menu and go examine CSS. I know I’m sorry. I mean,

Steve Zehngut 25:04
I, I totally get it. But I, I would actually that kind of thing. I’d expect that in the beta.

Sé Reed 25:10
You’re being so nice today. See?

Steve Zehngut 25:11
I’m tired.

Sé Reed 25:13
Yeah. I’m being punchy and kind of harsh. You’re tired, and you’re being nice.

Steve Zehngut 25:20
But exhaustion affects everybody a little bit differently. It really

Jason Tucker 25:22
does. This, this, so this topic might let’s talk about the same might might end up being something we should talk about for a Dev Branch. But what is the future of of GitHub? Like, what is the future of this sort of stuff? When because, after se was talking about this and start making me think a little bit? Like, what is the future of that when everything in your what you were saying, Steve, everything is content? Because at this point, like the entire site is going to be content?

Steve Zehngut 25:53
I don’t know. I don’t agree.

Jason Tucker 25:56
Like how are you rolling back? How are you like, how are you checking in? How do multiple people work on the same thing at the same time? Like, how do you do any of that if the whole thing is built this way?

Steve Zehngut 26:08
Yeah, I don’t know. Yeah, I don’t have an answer for that, but I’ll tell you what ACF does, right? So ACF actually has advanced custom fields has a hidden feature called ACF sync. And when you turn it on, you can when whatever, what if it’s on when you’re editing your ACF fields on your machine, it’ll actually save those out to JSON files within your code. And so that’s how we manage our ACF changes from site to site as it goes, it goes into GitHub. And so it’s the only it’s the only platform I found that does that. And so I’d like to see people borrow stuff like that, where you’re saving those config files out to, to the local device so they can be

Jason Tucker 26:52
to any, it’s just been more extrapolate extrapolated and you’re having to figure out like, where, where’s this supposed to reside? And how do I, how do I check in a change? How do I manage those things, you know, there’s, there’s a whole bunch of those WP site sync does something similar to that. I was gonna mention things between the two,

Steve Zehngut 27:12
I was gonna mention them as well. And I see an opportunity for a service like a software as a service for something like this, right, WP site syncs is about the closest I can come up with right now. There’s another, there’s another tool we use called pa, pa W. And pa is for Yeah, or our pa is for pas for testing API’s. And so it sounds really easy for but we have a team’s version of it. Because as we’re working on things locally, it commits to their own Pol GitHub repos so that we can share those API calls in those testing platforms. And so I think those types of things that you’re talking about are maturing, right. And there’s an opportunity for a service like, like what you’re talking about, and it’s about the closest,

Sé Reed 27:59
this, this creating this, creating a whole new world is literally creating another level of services that have been built around kind of the existing workflows that happened with site development. And with this move toward, you know, caught all it all being on the site, it all one thing, it really does open up a whole nother level of ecosystem for more solutions. Like, obviously, people were able to tap into Gutenberg, to, you know, launch the first collection of themes like how whatever got bought by WP Engine, you know, like, that’s a whole nother level of new stuff. So I suppose on that, on that tip, it’s kind of exciting because it’s introducing all of these new opportunities. And, you know, we always get rough around change, everyone does that I am not opposed to change or full site editing, I just am opposed to moving so fast that you alienate your community on the way that is what continues to be my problem with it, like, like, everyone in the inner circle is like, this is great, it’s ready. We know what it is. And there’s, there are steps being made to improve that communication so that everyone feels that way. But it’s just you know, the WordPress community is so huge and so widespread, that this is only still being talked about by the tiniest little group of people, but it’s going to be launching into the real world and into the real core. And it just to me, it really just seems like it’s it’s just rushing, and I don’t know why we’re rushing. Right. So

Jason Cosper 29:40
right. Just Just before we wrap up, I know we’re at the 30 minute mark. I do want to shout out Helen has been doing she hasn’t done one for a few weeks twitch videos of the full site editor like it like as she’s been working through it and she’s he’s been seeing a One of the warts that we have and shows them off. I know we record on Friday as a podcast, you can listen to it whenever but if you’re not, if it’s like Friday and you’re not really doing anything, take a look at it we’ll put it in the show notes at Helens full site editing video. It’s like three hours long and it which is just like I it’s hard for me to even wrap my head around I put it on to act and watched it and I it really was eye opening for a lot of the stuff that’s that’s capable and the full site editor so you know if you can’t play with it on your own site, at least kind of see what Helen who is like one of the the people who holds the keys to the kingdom for WordPress releases does with us, like even even she has struggles so don’t think that you know, just because you’re having a problem with it that the people who actually know what you’re doing.

Sé Reed 31:02
Yeah, and I want to say thank you to her and again to Joseph for being so transparent and open. I I still think that we should take more time but at least they’re doing that and I am really grateful for that. So high five.

Jason Tucker 31:16
Yep, yep, yep.

Unknown Speaker 31:18
So thank you.

Jason Tucker 31:20
And that about wraps it up. Make sure you go over to our new Discord server and check that out good ip workwear.com slash Discord. talk to y’all later. Here’s our outro this content, go over to Wr corps.com slash subscribe where you can learn how to subscribe to this on Apple podcast, Google podcast Stitcher, Spotify. If you’ve been watching us, you most likely been watching us on YouTube. talk to y’all later. Have a good one. Bye

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