Gutenberg 1.8 Adds Greater Extensibility for Plugin Developers

Gutenberg 1.8 was released this week with several notable improvements that will give plugin developers more flexibility in extending the editor. It introduces block templates, which developers can use when registering a new custom post type. The block templates define a set of pre-configured blocks that will initialize when a user creates a new post. In the example below, Gutenberg lead engineer Matias Ventura demonstrates what a block template for a book custom post type might look like.

This release also improves the design of the tools menu (toggled by the ellipses at the top of the editor) to have a more lightweight UI that will lend itself better to displaying items added by extensions in the future. The new design displays multiple menu items as a radio group where the selected item shows a checkmark, an approach that Gutenberg designers found to be more intuitive after some research.

Version 1.8 adds the ability for developers to filter allowed block types by specifying an array of type names that can be shown in the inserter component. This capability paves the way for block nesting where developers can define allowed children types. It also allows custom post types to specify which blocks are allowed or restricted, which will be useful for keeping CPTs lean as Gutenberg already has a large number of block types.

The release also improves meta box compatibility with a fallback to the classic editor if Gutenberg detects that the meta box is unsupported. Plugin authors can now explicitly declare Gutenberg incompatibility when registering meta boxes, which will trigger a warning to the end user that explains which meta boxes have caused the fallback to the classic editor.

In addition to all the improvements for extending Gutenberg, version 1.8 makes many small design tweaks, including updated color pickers with color indications and collapsible panels, updated icon and tooltip for table of contents menu, and a new contrast checker for paragraph color options. It also puts block actions back on the block level for the default, while still preserving the option to change it to a fixed toolbar at the top of the screen.

For a full list of all the changes in version 1.8, check out the release post and the changelog on WordPress.org.

18 Comments


  1. Judging by the book custom post type example, it seems that the author field is being stored inside the post content, instead of a separate meta field or taxonomy. In my opinion, this is a terrible decision, because one cannot, for example, query books by author this way.

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    1. Agreed! Using a template like this, where all the CPT content is simply stored as post content, is not a viable solution when you’re dealing with content like this. This is just one of the reasons why Custom Fields are so important to developers, and shouldn’t be treated as second class content. Custom fields are much more flexible than these Gutenberg templates.

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  2. At last I am not absolutely sure anymore that almost every site I ever developed will just break instantly just because of Gutenberg being unable to handle metaboxes or fall back as a last resort.

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  3. Gutenberg seems to be a new toy for developers and marketers. I installed it and uninstalled it the same hour. I don’t want to put time into figuring out where basic functions have been moved to, if they are still available at all. As a reader I am already tired of the blocks thing so I’m not going to use it on my own sites. I think blocks are a fad, already getting tiresome.

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    1. I’ve actually just done the same thing, Laura!

      I’m beginning to wonder if it’s all just a joke. After all, why would anyone think it’s a good thing to hide all the functionality? I can’t think of any other software I’ve used that does that.

      If the Gutenberg developers have genuinely arrived at this hide-the-ball concept after all the user feedback they’ve had, then either they aren’t very good at listening or else they’ve been asking the wrong questions.

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      1. Have you guys tried out Medium? It’s probably one of the originators of a good well-rounded writing UX that integrates rich media and some funky formatting. Gutenberg is WordPress’s attempt to modernise with an updated UX inspired by writers like Medium and provide the stepping stones for the next wave of website creators to create sweet content with.

        I still feel there are some dodgy decisions in the architecture of Gutenberg, but since there’s plenty of that in WP already and we can still make pretty decent websites with it (who’s perfect anyway?), Gutenberg could actually prove to be the new (if maybe awkward at first) normal.

        But I guess it is a pretty tall order to write software that affects 25% of the world’s websites. Not everyone is gonna be pleased.

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      2. @Matt Scheurich,

        Have you guys tried out Medium? It’s probably one of the originators of a good well-rounded writing UX that integrates rich media and some funky formatting.

        No, because that is actually a terrible environment for long-form writing.

        Have you tried LyX? That’s how it’s done. I choose a template and then just write. Nothing “funky,” no toolbars wandering in and out, no clicking on buttons to open stuff that should be open in the first place. I can even (and do) use one set of fonts and font sizes to write in, but a different set to publish with.

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  4. I’ll just never understand why WP would undertake a project like Gutenberg when the Media Library is so incredibly crude in comparison to almost every other widely adopted CMS.

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    1. Agreed. Core devs priorities are weird. I find surprising that none of them want to work in areas (an improved media library, post-to-post relationships, multilanguage support, etc…) that would yield a positive reaction from both users and developers. Instead they like to work in the Customizer, a new iteration of the Twenty theme, or the new shiny toy in the room, Gutenberg. Puzzling.

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  5. I hope good old meta boxes will be supported the next couple of years, otherwise I’m forced to remove my plugin from the repository. Because this might be too complex for me.. I’m a slow learner.

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  6. Fix the damn media library! It’s so old. Images still can’t be tagged.

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