[wp-hackers] GSoC 2013: Application Idea - Making the Code Editor Usable

Corey Alexander coreyja at gmail.com
Thu Apr 25 16:35:00 UTC 2013

Hey WordPress team,

I'm Corey Alexander. I'm a CS major at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology.
I have been doing web work, mostly in WordPress, for the last 3 years or so
now. If you want to check out some of the projects I've worked on, I have
done most of my work as part of Mad Lab MG, and I have worked on almost
every project that is listed on the Mad Lab

If this email is a duplicate, I apologize. Had a problem with sending to
the list from an email that wasn't subscribed so sending from my main one
this time.

Most of the rest of this email is going to be copied and only slightly
modified from the blog post I wrote on my application idea. If you want to
read it there, it is located at

Here is my idea:

The project I want to work on isn't one of the ones that is listed on the
ideas page, but is one that I have ran into when I've been developing in
WordPress quite a bit. Currently I hate doing any development, or even
reading code, using WordPress’s built in code editor. There are times when
I am helping someone else out quick and I can’t get FTP access, or just
have to fix something quick. In both of these cases I would like to be able
to use the built in editor. But currently the built in editor’s usability
is so low I do whatever I can to get FTP access and avoid this editor at
all costs.

Some of my biggest gripes with it currently are:

   - The tab key doesn’t work. Un-indented code is really ugly and harder
   to maintain.
   - Multiple browser tabs to look at multiple different files. A tabbed
   editor to have multiple files open at once would be a huge improvement.
   - Only can view files in the top level folder. Can’t edit CSS files in
   the CSS folder, or JS in the JS folder for example. So following good
   standards for code management leads to not being able to edit these files
   using the built in editor.

These are all things that I want to fix in the editor. This will make it
more usable and an actual tool, instead of the annoyance I currently view
it as. Besides these I also want to add some other features, most are
things that would make development easier, but aren’t as necessary as the
one’s I listed above.

   - Code Coloring. This is probably the most important of these features.
   Code coloring makes reading code orders of magnitude easier, and is
   something I would really love to see in the editor.
   - The bare minimum files that should be editable and highlighted are
   PHP, CSS and JS. It would be great if these could be expanded to
   CoffeeScript, LESS, SCSS and some of the other derived file types.
   - Ability to download a zip of the entire theme or plugin. Makes back up
   - Allow uploading of either individual file, or a big zip that would
   simply update the files that are currently there for that plugin or theme

I don’t have a timeline in mind yet for the development process, but I
wanted to get some feedback from the WordPress core team to see if there
you guys think this is a project that would work well for a GSoC project.
If so, is there someone who would like to be my mentor for it? Either leave
a comment on the blog page I linked above or shoot me and email at
corey at coreyja.com to give me some feedback on this project or chat about
it. Thanks everyone!

--Corey A.

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