Add Per-Block Notes and Create Draft Blocks With the Wholesome Publishing Plugin

Matt Watson, through his Wholesome Code brand, released a plugin called Wholesome Publishing on the plugin directory on Tuesday. Version 1.0 of the plugin adds a couple of simple but useful editing features that should help teams of writers or content designers. The plugin allows users to add nested comments on a per-block basis and mark individual blocks as drafts.

At this point, the plugin is not a fully-fledged pro editing plugin. However, its basic features go a long way toward improving collaborative publishing. It is a good first showing for a version 1.0. I hope that it continues to grow and bring new editing features to the block editor.

The plugin works with both core WordPress and third-party blocks. Overall, it performed well in my tests, but I did find a few minor issues that could be easily addressed in a future update. If you are looking for such a plugin, it is well worth a test run to see if it fits into your publishing workflow. I am seriously considering it for use here on WP Tavern, if that provides an indication of its potential.

Nested Block Comments

Adding per-block nested comments in the block editor via the Wholesome Publishing plugin.
Adding nested comments to a Cover block.

The primary feature that drew me to this plugin was the ability to leave simple notes via the block editor. Even here on the Tavern, we have an old editorial notes system, but it is no longer a user-friendly option with the block editor. Notes are tucked away at the bottom of the editing screen along with other old-school meta boxes. A new system, particularly one that allowed comments on a per-block basis, was definitely worth exploring.

Block comments — not to be confused with post comments on the front end — are simple to add. On the post editing screen, users merely need to click the comment button in the toolbar, which will open a comments sidebar panel. The panel will show a text box to add a new comment for the currently-selected block.

Comments belong to individual blocks. However, it is not clear in the comments sidebar panel which block a comment is for when there are multiple comments. Clicking on a single comment selects the block in question, which helps, but the user experience would be better with two additions:

  • The selected block's comments should be highlighted while unrelated comments fade out.
  • There should be an indicator in the comments sidebar that points out the block each comment is assigned to.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to see or leave a comment unless you are an administrator. I am unsure if this is intentional or a bug. It is at least a user experience issue because the comments sidebar panel still appears, regardless of whether the user can read the block comments.

Despite the need for a bit of polishing to improve the experience, this feature was reasonably easy to pick up and use right away.

The plugin does clean up after itself. If a user deletes a block, its comments are also deleted.

I do have one big feature request for the plugin author. An opt-in setting for enabling an email system would be a nice touch. author and anyone who leaves a comment on the post should be notified when a new comment is made.

Create Draft Blocks

Marking a block as a draft in the editor via the Wholesome Publishing plugin.
Setting a Gallery block to draft status.

The second plugin feature goes hand in hand with the first. Wholesome Publishing allows end-users to mark any block in the post as a draft, which means the block will not appear on the front end of the site. The reason it works well with the comments feature is that users can explain why the block was marked as a draft. This could be particularly useful on teams of multiple writers.

In the block options panel, users should see a new tab titled “Publishing.” The tab will have a single on/off switch for setting the given block as a draft. Unlike the block comments system, any user can put an individual user into draft mode as long as they have access to edit the post.

I did run into one issue with draft blocks. When clicking the on/off toggle, all of the block options tabs would reset to the default open or closed state. It is a trivial issue that might become irritating for some. Outside of that, the feature worked well.

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