It was only six months ago that I was testing, and seriously enjoying the newly released Barley, and its intuitive take on website management. Featuring tag-based installation, editing that is almost entirely inline, and a beautiful admin area, it has been a hit with web designers looking for a client-friendly option.
Few in the web industry would describe WordPress as the leanest editing machine, nor as the friendliest environment for the hapless, technophobic business owner. But can a plugin really outdo the system it is plugged into?
Originally, Barley required the kind of installation that is common among hosted CMS providers: dig into the HTML, and insert tags in the areas that should be editable.
However, because the new plugin – which costs $12 per site, per year — is built with only WordPress in mind, the manual addition of editing tags is not needed — you simply upload the plugin, and it takes its cues from the WordPress theme structure.
Barley’s concept, no matter which flavour of installation you go for, has always been to bring editing inline and make it instinctive. I have to say that this plugin very much toes the line.
With the plugin enabled, every post offers the option to Edit with Barley, although merely visiting a post, or previewing a draft, is all that’s required to edit inline.
Post titles can be changed with a straightforward click and type. Categories, tags and the featured image can all be inputted via the slightly erratic, hovering bubble at the top-right of the content, made distinguishable by the tag icon it holds.
Simply highlighting a word or section of text is enough to initiate Barley’s editing pop-up, which includes a remarkable number of options in what is such a neat little palette.
On the left, under the star logo, are the text types. The choices here: paragraph, quote, code, and headers one, two and three.
Then, under the pencil, there are formatting styles. Bold, italic and the usual two types of list (numbered and unordered) are accompanied by three forms of alignment. The absence of justified alignment is a notable, if stylistically well-attuned omission.
The last two items in the palette allow for the addition of a link, and the total removal of styles from the highlighted text.
The whole thing is extremely efficient and bordering on dummy-proof.
Barley is also able to deal with the usual forms of visual interjection you might expect on a new-media-savvy blog.
In between text sections, a faint dotted line is accompanied by another form of bubble, this time containing a + icon, on the right of the content. Again, it isn’t the easiest thing to trigger, but it holds another nice little menu.
Instant access to your site’s media is available, for the inclusion of an image (which can be aligned by typing in the appropriate class title), and videos can be embedded. Helpfully, you’ll only ever need to input your YouTube channel’s URL once, as Barley makes a permanent note of it. Alternatively, the source of a video may be a Vimeo URL, or the embedding code from any other site, and videos can also be assigned a class.
HTML can be pasted in via a drop-down text box, and a line break requires only one click.
As with Barley’s original release, this plugin sets a new standard for intuitive website editing, the only difference being that Barley’s latest product builds on the world’s most popular CMS.
As a package, it’s not quite perfect — it’s a little fiddly to get at those bubbles — but the content management side is well thought through, and outstandingly well designed.
In fact, for those who can bear Barley‘s hefty price tag, I would say that it is currently, by far, the best hosted CMS on the market for basic editing.