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

Andrew Nacin wp at andrewnacin.com
Fri Apr 26 20:37:38 UTC 2013

On Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 12:35 PM, Corey Alexander <coreyja at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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.

Hi Corey,

I think re-thinking the file editors are a great idea — with a lot of
caveats :-)

   - The tab key doesn’t work. Un-indented code is really ugly and harder
>    to maintain.

We added simple tab key behavior back in 3.0 - works fine for me in Chrome.

   - Multiple browser tabs to look at multiple different files. A tabbed
>    editor to have multiple files open at once would be a huge improvement.

It depends on how much this would complicate the interface.

>    - 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.

Agree. Again, the interface needs to be designed in such a way that a
large, hierarchical tree of files is not crazy.

>    - 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.

Yes — but, this is very easy to do and is not something that would take a
long time in GSoC.

>    - 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.

LESS/SCSS is supported by WordPress.com, and I am pretty sure has since
shipped as part of Jetpack's Custom CSS module.

   - Ability to download a zip of the entire theme or plugin. Makes back up
>    easier
>    - 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

Not sure how useful either of these are. The latter is already possible as
a complete zip (via the plugin installer "Upload" tab).

Obviously, this has already been attempted previously — to good success,
e.g. Advanced Code Editor as pointed out by someone else.

So, while this probably wouldn't work as a project, I would encourage you
to explore some other opportunities for improvement. There *is* a theme
revisions idea on there (it's actually a project I attempted a few years
ago, but it wasn't feasible with the existing theme API - which has since
been rewritten).

I would also read through this entire thread:

If you have a different proposal you'd like us to consider, I would
strongly recommend it! There may be something on the ideas page that jumps
out at you, or there may be something else you have in mind. I like your
thought process in your proposal here, and would like to see an application
from you.


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