Adding Drag And Drop Support To wp_editor / TinyMce Part 1

Since WordPress 3.3 a nice new drag and drop uploader was included. It works great because it has fallbacks for older browsers that don’t support the newer HTML5 api. Accessing the file uploader still requires bringing up the media uploader via the upload button. Wouldn’t it be even nicer if we could directly drag and drop our files into our WYSIWYG editor?

The newish wp_editor function also makes it easy to include additional tinymce editors for our plugins and themes. I was looking for a way to add the tinymce editor to P2 and include a quicker way to drag and drop files. Adding the editor is relatively easy now but and it even lets you add the media upload button to the front end, but I want to remove the need for clicking that button.

Possible solutions:

My first thought was to insert the new native uploader inline below the editor so that we could directly drop files into a dropzone without having to navigate to the media uploader. I’m sure it can be done, but it was going to take me too long to do it properly and cleanly.

My second idea was to look for existing plugins that could do all the work, but there don’t seem to be any functional ones in existence that are straightforward to implement and integrate. It also seems a bit overkill to include another uploader when WordPress already can do everything I need.

After that I thought about digging into the filereader api for HTML5 and making my own solution…but then I thought of a shortcut that would be the best of all worlds.

Providing you have the upload buttons enabled for your editor, it’s possible to detect a drag event when a file is being dragged into the editor and automatically fire the native media uploader.

The great thing about this is:

  1. It streamlines the uploading process without adding loading scripts unnecessarily.
  2. It removes one mouse click operation and feels more intuitive than navigating to the uploader manually.
  3. It relies on the native uploader which deals with all the complex stuff, such as fallbacks, inserting the file into the post, setting parameters, attaching the file to the post and so forth. No reinventing the wheel!
  4. It removes the need for a separate ‘drop zone’, which takes up space. Instead, the editor itself is the drop zone.


All we need is a few lines of javascript. What is needed:

– A way of detecting when a file is dragged into our editor that works across all modern browsers

– The id attribute of our editor

– A trigger event to activate the native uploader when a file drag (or drop) is detected. For this we need to know how to select the media upload button with a selector.


some extra magic to add some css styling during the drag and drop operation.

Part 2 will cover the actual code…which I haven’t written up yet. Want to see the final solution? Sign up to the newsletter and you’ll get a notification when it is published.

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