AsBlocks Shows The Future of Collaborative Editing in WordPress

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Here at PublishPress, we’re focused on the publishing experience in WordPress. And lately we've been learning about new publishing features that may be coming to the new Gutenberg editor.

Back in November 2019, we wrote about collaborative Google Docs-style editing in WordPress. This image gives a good idea of what we're talking about with multiple people collaborating on the same document:

At the moment, this kind of collaboration isn't possible with WordPress.

Collab Editing
Collab Editing

As we explained in last year's blog post, Matt Mullenweg and the WordPress team really want to add Google Docs-style editing to WordPress. But realistically it's a very tough challenge and we're unlikely to see any features like this in the WordPress core until late 2021 or perhaps 2022.

However, there is good news. One person is making progress with these features. Riad Benguella works for Automattic and contributes to the WordPress core.

Riad has a new project called AsBlocks that allows two people to collaborate on a post together. Here's a video of the collaboration in action. The person on the left is writing, and the person on the right sees their screen update in real time.

And in the last few days, Riad has also released an update with commenting on specific blocks:

Yes, there are some limitations to the current version of AsBlocks:

  • It only supports around 30 Gutenberg blocks.
  • It's not available as a WordPress plugin.

However, it's proof that these Google Docs-style features will arrive in WordPress at some point. And you can test the current version in your browser right now. Head over to Asblocks.com and you can use the live demo.

If you're curious about the code, Riad is working in the open on Github. WPTavern has a post from last month with more details.

You may also be interested in our interview with Kevin Jahns about the open source Yjs framework which promises to bring collaborative editing to any platform.


PublishPress and Collaborative Editing

Since the beginning of the Gutenberg project, Matt Mullenweg always promised that collaborative editing would be Phase 3. That phase is likely to start next year. We're now in Phase 2 now and that's scheduled to wrap up around the end of year.

One or two PublishPress features do overlap with the Phase 3 plans. For example, our plugins already support editorial comments. We promise to support and extend the core of WordPress. So if Google Docs-style comments do arrive in 2021 or 2022, we'll happily support them in our plugins.


Steve Burge

Steve is the founder of PublishPress. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. (P.S. This profile is generated by the PublishPress Authors plugin)

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