Did the Toolbar (Admin Bar) Render edit_post_link Useless?

I asked this on Twitter yesterday which raised quite some interesting replies from theme developers, the .org themes review crew and other folks.

For those of you who don’t know, the edit_post_link function is widely used in WordPress themes, to create an “Edit this post” link as a shortcut to the post edit screen. This was convenient I agree, except that the link was always in different places for different themes. Some put it near the tags and categories, others squeeze it in at the end of the post, or even the bottom of the page, so it’s not always easy to spot one, after activating a new theme.

The WordPress Toolbar (the former admin bar), however, changed that story. I started using my blog’s user facing side more that the admin panel. I use the “New” menu very heavily and when I need to edit a post or page, I can easily find the Edit Post button in any theme.

Edit Post in Admin Toolbar

Hence my question — do we still need the edit_post_link function? If there was an option to retire it, I’d vote for that. If the admin toolbar is turned off, well tough luck, but as Emil mentioned, we can always use the is_admin_bar_showing function and fall back to edit_post_link if needed.

However I think that’s just too much. You can turn the Toolbar off for your visitors, you can turn it off for subscribers, but please don’t turn it off for authors and editors! It’s almost like turning off the Media Library and saying “you know what, why don’t you FTP your images instead” ;) I believe that the admin toolbar is an essential WordPress experience, and shouldn’t be turned off.

The other, more valid reason for keeping edit_post_link is that we can use it in a list of posts, so to edit a post you don’t have to actually visit it first, but can do it directly from the list. I agree, especially if an extra page load takes 10 seconds. But how is that different from your Edit Posts screen in the Dashboard, right?

In any case, I can often hit the permalink and then Edit Page in the admin bar, faster than I can spot the edit link generated by edit_post_link, especially when I’m running Multisite with a bunch of blogs and a bunch of different themes. Because it’s in the same place for every theme, and because it’s always there. I’m used to it.

Your turn to speak! Do you still use edit_post_link when developing your themes? Do you use it when browsing around your theme? Do you disable the admin bar in any of your projects and why? Finally, do you think it’s time to deprecate the edit_post_link function? Thanks for sharing your thoughts and comments, and don’t forget to subscribe!

24 thoughts on “Did the Toolbar (Admin Bar) Render edit_post_link Useless?

  1. Good point, I use the admin bar more and more and find it more useful than the edit_post_link, older sites I have developed still use it in the theme however, I wouldn’t have a problem disabling it and showing my clients a different way to edit the content. As for disabling the admin bar… hmm, most of my clients are single users and are the administrators. Only a small number of sites have multiple users, in those cases the admin bar is still useful to them although with limited access for contributors, subscribers etc. they still need access to their profile right? It’s also worth mentioning that you can white label the backend quite easily ;-)

    • Hey Elliot, thanks for your comment! Giving clients administrator rights on a WordPress site is risky, but okay if you told them what’s where and that they shouldn’t deactivate/edit plugins, and so on. I always encourage developers to give editor privileges to clients, maybe a few other capabilities as well.

      As for white labeling the backend, good point! happytables (ex. Theme Force) is the best example I’ve seen so far. They gave it a fresh look, while keeping things in place, so if you can use WordPress, you can use happytables. White labeling to the extent where people won’t recognize WordPress anymore is not the best UX approach. It’s like teaching people to scroll up to scroll down, ha! (Apple did this with OS X Lion.)

      Anyway, thanks again for stopping by!

  2. I still really like using the edit_post_link() function in my themes. Like you pointed out, it works really well for lists of posts and makes archive pages easier to maintain. I am a horrible spelllller so I usually end up using it quite a bit. It saves a click through to the single post template. I’m a big fan of the admin bar and I’ve never disabled it on a project – I think it’s super helpful!

  3. Personally I have been removing it from themes recently, although as with Michaels (very cool) example – I can see use cases such as archive pages.

    I think all that needs to be done is for people to think a bit more when using the link so that it’s used in relevant places. It can be left out of single post pages, and used in archives.

    • Hey Ben, thanks for your comment, yeah I loved Michael’s example too, however, if the position and look is different in different themes, I’d rather spend an extra click and hit it where I know it’ll be there for sure :) It’s like copying the URL and tweeting it vs. searching for a Tweet button, not knowing it will be there, or better use a bookmarklet :)

  4. I agree that its a bit obsolete now with the admin bar, but I do agree with Michael about using it for an index or archive page. The link was always a pain in the ass to style because it would break the design sometimes and you’d have to explain to the client that that text isn’t visible to non-admins of the site. Good Riddance!

    • Hey Pete, thanks for stopping by!

      you’d have to explain to the client that that text isn’t visible to non-admins of the site

      Totally agree, and sometimes even explain who non-admins of the site are :)

  5. In 99% of the websites I build I totally disable the toolbar on the frontend. In other words, I do not even give it as an option to my clients.
    Therefore the edit post link is still a handy shortcut in my opinion.

    • Hey there Piet! Thanks for your input. Can you say why you disable the toolbar on the front end? Is it because it doesn’t fit into your design layouts, or is it too complicated for your clients? Or perhaps it’s useless? :) Thanks!

    • Hey Konstantin, you’re welcome.

      Actually it’s all of the above reasons you mention and on top of that I find the toolbar on the frontend a dead ugly useless piece of junk :)

    • And thank you for replying :-). As mentioned before at http://theme.fm, you and Gennady are pretty much the only people who are actually trying to interact with people, instead of just monetizing their blog…

      Talking about blogs, this is really the main issue I have with the admin bar… To me, when including a feature like this, WordPress is becoming more and more a blog or social media platform (something they’re currently really bad at), instead of trying to become an actual CMS (not going to discuss the exact terms of a CMS here. Just read it as a company website)

    • Thanks for the kind words Cor! By the way, Gennady also blogs at codeseekah.com if you’re interested. Regarding WordPress as a CMS, I think we’ve seen a major rise of cases where the “blogging engine” is used as a CMS, and “CMS” is actually the most popular tag in the showcase, that definitely means something. In any case, it’s going to get only better :)

    • Exactly the same answer as Piet really! I actually really like the post edit link, and often include it unto my breadcrumbs, instead of just below the post or page. Also I often try to hide most of the admin bar back-end using something like this:

      add_action( 'wp_before_admin_bar_render', 'cor_remove_admin_bar' );
      /**
       * Rearange the admin bar.
       *
       * @link wp-includes/admin-bar.php
       */
      function cor_remove_admin_bar() {
        global $wp_admin_bar;
        $wp_admin_bar->remove_menu( 'appearance' );
        $wp_admin_bar->remove_menu( 'comments' );
        $wp_admin_bar->remove_menu( 'my-account' );
        $wp_admin_bar->remove_menu( 'new-content' );
        $wp_admin_bar->remove_menu( 'updates' );
        $wp_admin_bar->remove_menu( 'view-site' );
        $wp_admin_bar->remove_menu( 'wp-logo' );
        $wp_admin_bar->add_menu( array( 'parent' => 'top-secondary', 'id' => 'logout', 'title' => __( 'Log Out' ), 'href' => wp_logout_url() ) );
      }
      
  6. Keep. Some essential plugins that “solution developers” use are themes and plugs that hook the template tag to inject useful ‘design time’ editing tools & links. Types & Views is one of them (think Crystal Reports if you can go back before the Internet).

    Is this major? About as major as what made a little company like Microsoft exist. Remember them?

    WordPress is more then just a blog, it’s finding it’s way as the web standard for creating business solutions (where Access and Visual Basic used to consume the market). Business solutions that use WordPress are quite sophisticated and the edit link provides a killer feature to change and update context sensitive content. Whether it is a ‘view’ from Types & Views, or a slide that pulses through child pages, or an inventory for a web store (WordPress and eCommerce are quite popular, I’d say they make up about 80% of my own clients).

    If it’s disabled in future versions, I can guarantee it will come back in the form of plugin.

    • Hey Steve! Okay maybe I was too harsh when I wrote “deprecate”, and what I really meant was for it to stop being a standard in WordPress themes, .org hosted themes, to be more accurate. I agree that some solutions will need it and will make good use of it. The P2 Theme is a great working example, especially if posts are short, have no titles, etc., you’ll find that the Edit link is right near the Permalink link :)

      Anyway, thanks for your input on this!

  7. It seems useless when working with single posts, but when you work with many posts with little content, clicking through just to get to the edit link is annoying.

  8. Think of edit_post_link like HTML5 standardization, work in process that will “hit the road” somewhere around 2014. IMHO edit_post_link should stay little longer.

    Cheers,
    Emil

  9. The front toolbar is just a user option. Theme developers would have to check if it’s shown, before removing single post edit links.

    The toolbar may seem ugly to some. To make it less prominent I always install a “Hide Admin bar” plugin. In this way the tool bar is usually hidden, that is until you hover the top edge.

    I see this as a compromise between the uglyness and the usefulness of this bar.

    Until this is hidden behaviour a core option I guess themes should provide this edit links.

  10. I do agree with Piet. The toolbar is just a piece of junk. What is it there for? I never use it and will most likely gona remove it from my main blogs.

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