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How to Work With WordPress Block Patterns

Just a little post I wrote up over at The Events Calendar blog. The idea is that a set of blocks can be grouped together in WordPress, then registered in a register_block_pattern() function that makes the group available to use as a “block pattern” in any page or post.

Block patterns are becoming upper-class citizens in the WordPress block editor. They were announced without much fanfare in WordPress 5.5 back in August, but have been given prominent real estate in the block inserter with its own tab next to blocks, including 10 or so default ones right out of the box.

Block patterns are sandwiched between Blocks and Reusable Blocks in the block inserter, which is a perfect metaphor for where it fits in the bigger picture of WordPress editing.

If the 5.6 Beta 3 release notes are any indication, then it looks like more patterns are on the way for default WordPress themes. And, of course, the block registration function has an unregister_block_pattern() companion should you need to opt out of any patterns.

What I find interesting is how the blocks ecosystem is evolving. We started with a set of default blocks that can be inserted into a post. We got reusable blocks that provide a way to assemble a group of blocks with consistent content across all pages of posts. Now we have a way to do the same, but in a much more flexible and editable way. The differences are subtle, but the use cases couldn’t be more different. We’ve actually been using reusable blocks here at CSS-Tricks for post explanations, like this:

We drop some text in here when we think there’s something worth calling out or that warrants a little extra explanation.

Any reusable block can be converted to a “regular” block. The styles are maintained but the content is not. That’s been our hack-y approach for speeding up our process around here, but now that block patterns are a thing, previous reusable blocks we’ve been using now make more sense as patterns.

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