Web Technology

Creator Blocks – Process of Building & Publishing

Oftentimes, I find myself going back to older Posts/Pages and hunting down a specific block (created using GenerateBlocks) I used previously, just so I wouldn’t have to spend time recreating it.

Initially, I tried the native Reusable Block option to manage my collection of blocks. Then I tried using the GenerateBlocks’ Pattern Library (previously known as Local Templates) option to manage the blocks.

While these options worked as intended, with frequent changes to the Blocks (i.e. spacing on mobile view, colours, borders, etc) I had to keep removing and adding the new reusable locks. Needless to say, it was becoming too much of a nuisance to manage.

Reusable Blocks v2

As a temporary solution, I ended up creating a Page where I stored and managed all the pre-built blocks. The page was left as a draft, so no one had access to it.

Anytime I needed a block I would head over to that page, Copy the block I wanted and Paste it into the new page.

All of my custom-built blocks were on one page and I could make quick adjustments to the blocks without having to remove the old block and adding the new one to the Reusable Block option.

It was a simple solution that served me well.

— Sometime Later —

I published an article called Closer Look at GenerateBlocks, which showcased the capabilities of the plugin. Not long after I started receiving inquiries on whether I would publish the pre-built blocks that I showcased on the page.

My response – Absolutely!

It would be awesome to see other people in the GeneratePress + GenerateBlocks community put these blocks to good use.

It was just a matter of figuring out the best method for making it available to be downloaded.

GB Collection Cover v3

View Creator Blocks

A free collection of pre-built WordPress blocks created exclusively for GenerateBlocks.

Exploring Options for Publishing Reusable Blocks.

There were few options available and it was just a matter of figuring out the best option for providing access to the pre-built blocks.

Option 1

I could make the pre-built blocks into Reusable Blocks, then Export as JSON file. I could then make the file available for download.

Possible Issues

1

If I make any minor changes, now I have to maintain a changelog with version control. This might be time-consuming.

2

Do people want all the blocks I built? Maybe they just want a few and don’t want to manage 30 or 40 re-usable blocks.

Option 2

Alternatively, I could use the Local Templates feature within GenerateBlocks to save the blocks. Then use the Export function to produce a downloadable file.

Possible Issues

1

Again, if I make changes then have to maintain some form of a changelog with version control. Something I was trying to avoid.

2

On Preview Mode, you cannot see what each pre-built block looks like unless an image of the block (low-res JPG) was added to it. This isn’t practical considering if changes are made, the preview image needs to be constantly updated.

Option 3

This is identical to my current process, where I hunt down the block I want to use, then Copy and Paste it into the new page.

GenerateBlocks is an extension of WordPress Blocks and allows for Copying and Pasting on another site. It’s simple and easy to maintain if adjustments are made.

Challenge

I found an approach that could work. Now, how on earth do I implement it?

Visitors will not have access to the backend editor which makes it easy to copy and paste. So, I have to find a way to allow copying of a block from a published page.

Step 1

Copy The Code From The Blocks

When you click on the Copy function on a Block, it’s actually copying the code for the block. And when you Paste, WordPress is converting the code back into a visual block. Unless you paste it as a text or into a Code Block, you won’t actually see the code.

Here’s an example of what the code looks like when you Copy a GenerateBlocks’s block:

<!-- wp:generateblocks/container {"uniqueId":"e037e245","containerWidth":1312,"paddingTop":"120","paddingRight":"20","paddingBottom":"80","paddingLeft":"20","paddingRightTablet":"40","paddingLeftTablet":"40","paddingRightMobile":"10","paddingLeftMobile":"10","borderRadiusTopRight":"3","borderRadiusBottomRight":"3","borderRadiusBottomLeft":"3","borderRadiusTopLeft":"3","backgroundColor":"#f7f7f7","gradientDirection":170,"gradientColorOne":"#f7f8f9","gradientColorOneOpacity":1,"gradientColorStopOne":50,"gradientColorTwo":"#ffffff","gradientColorTwoOpacity":1,"gradientColorStopTwo":50,"align":"full","isDynamic":true,"blockVersion":2} -->
<!-- wp:generateblocks/grid {"uniqueId":"e7c03b47","columns":2,"horizontalGap":140,"verticalGapTablet":30,"verticalGapMobile":10,"horizontalAlignmentTablet":"center","isDynamic":true,"blockVersion":2} -->
<!-- wp:generateblocks/container {"uniqueId":"72cac129","isGrid":true,"gridId":"316face0","width":50,"widthTablet":100,"widthMobile":100,"orderTablet":1,"orderMobile":1,"paddingBottomTablet":"10","paddingRightMobile":"0","paddingLeftMobile":"0","gradientDirection":270,"gradientColorOne":"#ffffff","gradientColorOneOpacity":0,"gradientColorStopOne":40,"gradientColorTwo":"#f7f7f7","gradientColorTwoOpacity":1,"gradientColorStopTwo":40,"verticalAlignment":"center","innerZindex":1,"isDynamic":true,"blockVersion":2} -->
<!-- wp:image {"align":"center","id":10197,"sizeSlug":"full","linkDestination":"custom"} -->
<div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter size-full"><img src="https://skool.house/wp-content/uploads/Mae-Wu-Cherry-unsplash.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-10197"/></figure></div>
<!-- /wp:image -->
<!-- /wp:generateblocks/container -->

<!-- wp:generateblocks/container {"uniqueId":"37e37825","isGrid":true,"gridId":"316face0","width":50,"widthTablet":100,"widthMobile":100,"orderTablet":2,"orderMobile":2,"paddingTopTablet":"0","paddingRightTablet":"80","paddingBottomTablet":"40","paddingLeftTablet":"80","paddingRightMobile":"10","paddingLeftMobile":"10","verticalAlignment":"center","removeVerticalGapTablet":true,"removeVerticalGapMobile":true,"isDynamic":true,"blockVersion":2} -->
<!-- wp:generateblocks/headline {"uniqueId":"39ddb05c","element":"h1","textColor":"","fontWeight":"600","fontSizeMobile":40,"lineHeight":1.3,"letterSpacing":-0.025,"marginBottom":"30","marginBottomMobile":"20"} -->
<h1 class="gb-headline gb-headline-39ddb05c gb-headline-text">Oh So Delicious!</h1>
<!-- /wp:generateblocks/headline -->

<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>Nullam turpis tempus fringilla pulvinar adipiscing tempor odio auctor, litora parturient vivamus fusce non quisque lacinia fermentum class, vel per eget convallis nulla bibendum integer. </p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->

<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>Eget curae accumsan velit massa purus ridiculus urna at, risus aptent est cras facilisis primis finibus dictum nam, quis mi proin conubia dolor placerat mus.</p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->

<!-- wp:generateblocks/headline {"uniqueId":"3130ca0e","element":"p","linkColor":"#999","linkColorHover":"#46c0a8","className":"loud-link"} -->
<p class="gb-headline gb-headline-3130ca0e gb-headline-text loud-link"><a href="#">View Page</a></p>
<!-- /wp:generateblocks/headline -->
<!-- /wp:generateblocks/container -->
<!-- /wp:generateblocks/grid -->
<!-- /wp:generateblocks/container -->

You can take this code and paste it into a WordPress site with the GenerateBlocks plugin installed, and the code will be converted into a visual block.

While it works, it’s not the ideal solution for two reasons:

1

Realistically, would someone want to manually highlight the codes that extend beyond the full screen? It would be more beneficial to have a button that allows Copy to Clipboard.

2

Is there a way to hide the code and still display the block? The code takes up the entire screen and it is visually distracting.

Step 2

Introduce Copy to Clipboard Button

While there are a few plugins which allow you to copy anything on the clipboard, I try and avoid installing additional plugins as they tend to add bloat to the website.

In this case, I was a bit lucky because I was already using Prism JS for Syntax Highlighting and it already came with a built-in Copy to Clipboard function.

Recommended

If you want Prism JS up and running on your website, Start Blogging 101 provides a great step-by-step tutorial on implementing Prism JS.

Prism JS comes with a Copy button on the top right corner, which copies over any text within the Code block.

See the sample below.

.author-description {
    margin-bottom: 1em;
    margin-left: 4.6em;
    color: #777;
}

Now, I can Paste the code from the block I copied and allow anyone to copy the code with a click of a button.

Step 3

Button Styling & Hiding Code Block

The original Copy to the Clipboard button was a bit small, so I added some CSS styling to make the button appear larger so it would be easy to spot.

Next, the Code Block itself was visually distracting. Again, using CSS I hid the Code Block while maintaining the Copy Button.

By using adding a new Hook in Elements from GeneratePress, I was able to apply the CSS to a specific page without affecting the rest of the site.

See below for the specific CSS used to stylize the button and hide the Code Block.

<style>
	.code[class*=language-], pre[class*=language-] {
		display: none;
	}
	
	div.code-toolbar>.toolbar {
		top: 0 !important;
		right: 0 !important;
	}
	
	div.code-toolbar>.toolbar>.toolbar-item>button {
		font-size: 0.9em;
		padding: 0.6em 2em;
		-webkit-border-radius: 3em;
    -moz-border-radius: 3em;
    border-radius: 3em;
	}
	
		@media (max-width: 425px) {
    	div.code-toolbar>.toolbar {
				font-size: 0.8em;
    }
}
</style>
Step 4

Adjust The Appearance On Block Editor

While the published page looked much more presentable, the back-end Block Editor looked like a mess! The Code Block was taking up the entire screen on the Block Editor.

Using editor-style.css, I was able to change the appearance of the Block Editor. I included CSS styling to set the height of Code Block to 100px so it doesn’t take up the entire screen.

Ideally, I didn’t want to limit the height of the Code Block on all the pages, just for this specific page only. I reached out to the GeneratePress Support team and they helped me implement it.

4A

I added the following CSS code within the same Element as Step 3. This will bring the Copy button in alignment in mobile view.

<style>	
	@media (max-width: 767px) {
    div.code-toolbar>.toolbar {
        top: -42px !important;
    }
}
</style>

4B

To adjust the height of the screen size in the Editor, I had to introduce a new style sheet called editor-style.css. Then I added the following CSS code and uploaded it into my Child Theme folder.

.editor-styles-wrapper .block-editor-block-list__layout pre {
	max-height: 100px;
}

4C

Lastly, I wanted the new editor-style.css to be only applied to specific pages, so I added the following code to functions.php file.

add_action( 'enqueue_block_editor_assets', function() {
    if(get_the_ID() == 13508 || get_the_ID() == 13276){
        wp_enqueue_style( 'my-block-editor-styles', get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . "/editor-style.css", false,'1.0', 'all' );
    }
} );

Big thanks to GeneratePress Support Team!

I was having a difficult time with Step 4C which allows you to target specific pages. For some reason, the code provided by Fernando (GeneratePress Support) to target a specific page didn’t work and neither did any following solutions.

At one point, I just gave up and was willing to settle that the CSS code to limit the height would apply to the entire site.

Fernando on the other hand kept offering new solutions even after I admitted defeat. Talk about persistence! This motivated me to keep looking for a solution and I did eventually find one that worked.

View the support thread.

Conclusion

Having worked with WordPress for so long, one thing that I’m constantly reminded of is that with every solution there’s a new problem. It takes a lot of patience and persistence to work with it. Be patient, and be persistent.

What I implemented above is not an elegant solution, but for a simple blog like this, it works well and serves its purpose.

If you are looking to build something similar or curious about how I implemented some of the functions, I hope this post has been helpful to you.

Math

Designer, photographer, and all-around tech enthusiast. He enjoys sharing what he learns with others and you can find him creating helpful resources, articles, and how-to guides for Skool House.

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