ACF 5.8 Beta 1 Introduces Blocks Feature, Release Slated for November

photo credit: Adabo! 3d printed tetris blocks(license)

Advanced Custom Fields is now actively testing its new block creation feature in ACF 5.8 beta 1, released this week. ACF Blocks is a feature aimed at PHP developers who have not taken the deep dive into JavaScript yet. It essentially offers a shortcut to creating custom blocks using PHP and HTML instead of JavaScript.

“We believe that ACF Blocks is one of the more important features ever added to our plugin,” ACF representative Eric Karkovack said. “It levels the playing field and allows more developers to take advantage of Gutenberg’s key feature.” The feature was designed to allow WordPress developers who use ACF to maintain their current workflow for extending the editor.

ACF Blocks allows developers to register a custom block type from a functions.php file. From there they can create a field group and use any ACF fields in the block. Rendering the block is the same process that’s used for displaying custom fields, with the notable addition of wrapping the HTML + PHP in a function.

The ACF team plans to include the new blocks feature in version 5.8, which is anticipated to arrive in November.

Creating custom blocks in this way seems like a stopgap measure for developers who haven’t had the time to learn how to extend Gutenberg before WordPress 5.0 arrives. This feature may be a useful abstraction for those who need to maintain their current workflow with ACF but it postpones the inevitable for developers who want to be truly proficient at extending the new editor. JavaScript skills will be required to properly understand what is going on under the hood.

7 Comments


  1. I started building some blocks with this beta version, it’s obviously buggy, but when done, it will be great.

    – You can’t see the blocks html code.
    – Any changes to any of the blocks attributes (parameters) and you will get “possibly not saved message”, even though the page/post is saved.
    – The Additional CSS field in a block NEVER saves your custom CSS.
    – Duplicating and item will result in having the duplicate item “under” the copied block if that makes any sense, so by moving the block upor down will then see the duplicated copy.
    – Making a Block Reusable, which is a huge deal for Gutenberg, is a joke right now.
    – Not having the ability to have separate rendering code for the backend and frontend, like the Lazy Blocks plugin, can be an issue in some cases. Elliot has to check out that plugin and incorporate some of its’ finer points.

    And all these, with just about 3 hours of playing with it yesterday. Their support has not replied to me yet with all these issues, I’m sure they are busy. When everything gets fixed with ACF’s ability to have Accordions, Tabs, and the rest of unbelievable fields and features and options, the possibilities will be endless. The ability to do things with php, is a big plus for me.

    Until yesterday, I was using “Lazy Blocks” to create my blocks, which is much easier to create blocks, but with ACF, you can do much, MUCH more.

    Overall though, tools like this, I got converted from a Gutenberg hater, to a Gutenberg supporter, and very hopeful for the future and the potential of things to come. Very soon and just for the database bloat, doing things with custom fields will seem stupid, not to mention data migration issues with custom fields as oppose to json.

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    1. Hi Nick,

      Thanks for testing out ACF Blocks and for providing the feedback :)
      We’re adding all of these items to our to-do and will be in touch via the support ticket you started.

      It’s worth mentioning that this feature is still in early development, so please don’t think we would dismiss any of these issues. We have a very high standard for the ACF plugin and will be sure to ship nothing but perfection :)

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  2. “seems like a stopgap measure…” Strongly disagree for the vast majority of developers who will never have the need to go beyond what ACF blocks offer.

    An abstraction layer like that should have been a core functionality of GB from the very beginning.

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  3. My limited experience in extending blocks has it’s limitations as well. So, I welcome as another option until I get my act together. :)

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  4. Thanks for sharing our new ACF Blocks feature!

    We’re super excited to integrate ACF into Gutenberg and provide an easy PHP solution for creating custom block types.

    There is still lots of work to be done so stay tuned for new features over the next month!

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  5. Awesome. This is a big win for PHP developers who are not familiar with React or setting up the environment for building Gutenberg blocks. Elliot and ACF team are so fast, and other custom fields will come after.

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  6. First of all, as opposed to what has been the development and integration of Gutenberg in WordPress core, this new functionality of ACF recovers the WordPress way of doing things.

    That is to say, a way that makes accessible what, at the outset, is a complex process. That’s what made WordPress what it is, a powerful tool that almost anyone can use and transform on its own, without necessarily being an experienced programmer.

    ACF expands WordPress functionality by enabling a user-friendly interface to create specific content types in a very accessible and inclusive way. And with ACF Blocks, it extends that inclusiveness to the new WordPress editor. So, thank you Elliot Condon for this brilliant effort, which gives hope to many users who, not being developers, want to create their own sites with special features.

    Thanks also to all those who have sought to find simpler and within reach ways of building blocks for Gutenberg.

    Gutenberg is an innovative and challenging project that can effectively facilitate page creation and offer an experience far beyond a WYSIWYG editor, shortcodes or even page builders. But, at the same time, it creates a split between the average user and the advanced developer.

    I believe that, if there is anything that can save the Gutenberg experience, it will be a way to control the building of blocks without having to dominate several programming languages, development environments, etc.

    Before being merged into core, Gutenberg should ensure this flexibility. It should not be a developer-centered project, with its doctrines and theories. It should be a project centered on the average WordPress user and its needs.

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