Can you use Elementor in an FSE theme?

You want the truth? You really want the truth? You can handle it I’m sure. Yes, Elementor can be used in an FSE theme. Of course this is because Elementor doesn’t really have any specific relationship to the theme to begin with. What Elementor does (mainly) is provide a page builder for the content area. Which means you can simply use the Gutenberg Post Content Block in your FSE templates and whatever content is in the given page or post is going to show in that space. And if that’s Gutenberg block content great, if it’s Elementor content, also great. In this sense, content rendering, Gutenberg FSE and Elementor play along fine.

What about Elementor template management?

This is where the landscape might become a bit murkier. Without having really tested FSE and Elementor Pro’s template management on the same site I can only speculate. I would say there is the potential for some conflicts. However, generally speaking Elementor Pro templates (and other related plugin template handlers like Crocoblocks JetThemeCore) sit on top of WP’s native template management. And in FSE we’re still using that same template hierarchy. We’re just loading theme templates using HTML and Block Markup instead of using PHP/HTML mixed templates.

One potential issue is that once an FSE theme is loaded and the site editors start using Site Editor to manage templates, those templates now live in the database as overrides of the original template. It isn’t clear yet (to me at least) how template overriding will work at that point. Will Elementor Pro still be able to hook in and say show this custom Elementor Pro template for a given post type or page? Probably, but whether that is ready now is hard to say.

Prediction on the future of Elementor post-FSE

I for one use Elementor as the benchmark for how to create a design control system. I’m talking specifically about their design controls and the way their editor provides those controls. As the saying goes… 5 million people can’t be wrong. Elementor has given the community a massively innovative approach, one that Gutenberg is still catching up with. In terms of Gutenberg versus Elementor, I’d say the writing is on the wall, Gutenberg is going to win out. But that doesn’t have to mean total death for Elementor. For other page builders, first generation page builders that have barely survived the age of page builders 2.0, they will be dead and dusted except for supporting some legacy sites unwilling to migrate. But Elementor can still make a compelling case about providing a more complete and robust design system. For now. Gutenberg of course is getting better both in core, but also in commercially supported block plugins. Many controls panels are looking a lot like Elementor’s with nice tabs, and a full spectrum of options to control spacing, backgrounds etc.

Summary about using Elementor with FSE

On this site we’re embarking on relaunching with our own FSE custom theme named Proto. This theme will be shared on GitHub and you can try it if you want to use it for testing. By the time you read this post, it might already be live. At this point we’re still evaluating whether to keep some of the existing Elementor pages or replace them. Replacing them is just a matter of some work, but we also potentially lose certain functionality like reduced support for motion effects and backgrounds. We can replace those things with plugins or by adding scripts and styles to our theme. But it’s a matter of time and money, we’re not so determined to replace Elementor that we’ll rebuild something unless we feel we can improve it.

Share in the comments below if you have a WordPress website that runs Elementor and are thinking forward to the age of FSE adoption. What are your plans? Will Elementor stay or go in your site rebuild?

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