Gutenberg 7.2 Adds Long-Awaited Multi-Button Block and Gallery Image Size Option

The Gutenberg team released version 7.2 of the plugin yesterday after a four-week release hiatus for the holidays. This update includes at least 180 pull requests to the project’s repository by 56 contributors. The largest user-facing features include a new “buttons” block that allows users to add multiple buttons in a row and the ability to define the size of images in a gallery block. These were two highly-requested features.

The update supports changing the font size in the relatively new navigation block. Users can also add a link for the image in the media & text block. A few dozen other minor enhancements across multiple components made their way into the update. Most enhancements continue to clean up the interface and improve usability.

Many bug fixes are included in version 7.2. Accessibility improvements include using radio inputs for text alignment, adding an appropriate group role to the block wrapper, adding a label to the social icons block, and more. Several fixes should improve how pasting content in the editor works, which generally works well already.

The team continued building upon experimental features, which must be activated via the Gutenberg > Experiments screen in the admin. Outside of a handful of bug fixes and enhancements, the most interesting change is the introduction of a new experimental admin screen. Gutenberg 7.2 now includes an early beta of a full-site editing page.

Adding Buttons in a Row

Screenshot of an example of using multiple buttons from within the Buttons Gutenberg block.
Adding multiple buttons within the Buttons block.

If I had a nickel for every time a user asked how to put two buttons next to each other…You know how the story goes.

One of the most-common website layouts today is a large “hero” section, a heading, some text, and a button, perhaps two. An end-user could easily build this with a combination of the cover, heading, paragraph, and button blocks if only a single button was needed. However, that second button was troubling without some custom code work.

The introduction of the buttons block changes everything. It is a block that allows end-users to add any number of individual button blocks in a row. At the moment, the block essentially serves as a wrapper. The block’s only option is the ability to set the alignment of the inner button blocks.

Image Size Selector for Galleries

Screenshot of selecting a custom image size for the Gallery Gutenberg block.
Selecting a custom image size for the Gallery block.

The lack of an option to set the size of gallery images has been one of Gutenberg’s largest failures since its inception. After years of this basic option for the gallery shortcode with the classic editor, the gallery block has always felt incomplete.

For some users, the lack of basic features that have long existed in the classic editor is frustrating. That frustration is understandable, given the fast-paced movement on newer and shinier features. It is refreshing to see work being done toward addressing long-missing features such as this.

The gallery block now has a new “Images Sizes” dropdown select for choosing the size of the images shown. This option will solve at least a couple of major issues. By selecting a custom size, the images will utilize less bandwidth for site visitors. Previously, full-sized images were displayed. It also allows users to select a consistent size so that galleries with multiple image aspect ratios are better aligned in a grid. Basically, it can make for prettier galleries.

Site Editor Screen Beta

Screenshot of the Site Editor (beta) screen in the Gutenberg plugin.
Testing the beta Site Editor screen.

Gutenberg 7.2 introduces a “Site Editor” screen, which can be enabled by ticking the “Enable Full Site Editing” checkbox on the Gutenberg > Experiments admin page. The new screen is an early, bare-bones beta exploration into what will eventually be fully-fledged site editor.

At this point, the screen does not do much. End-users can insert blocks and little else. Content on this screen is not stored for later. There is not even a save button yet. Mostly, it serves as another step toward site editing, which could possibly land in core WordPress late in 2020. However, that is an optimistic schedule, and it is far too early to make a solid guess. There are a lot of open questions that need answers and technical hurdles to jump. A 2021 release might be more realistic, depending on the pace of development.


20 responses to “Gutenberg 7.2 Adds Long-Awaited Multi-Button Block and Gallery Image Size Option”

  1. The main reason I don’t use Gutenberg is that I can’t easily extract raw HTML. There is a capability, but the code is full of junk and doesn’t convert well to other CMSs without a lot of manual work. Any idea if this is something that will be addressed?

    • Technically, Gutenberg is valid HTML. It does have some JSON within HTML comments for some blocks. But, I understand what you’re asking. You want to drop the HTML comments.

      I’m unsure if there will be an option to export without the comments at some point. However, the conversion part would be easy from a development standpoint. The functions are already there because everything is output as HTML on the front end.

      This wouldn’t be necessarily Gutenberg-specific though. The same issue existed in the past with shortcodes. There may be a plugin that already exists to export without the cruft and spit out the HTML for dynamic content (some blocks are dynamic too).

      • Yes, it also adds a lot of line feeds. This seems random in that there can be a different number line feeds between pars. In practice it relates to the amount of HTML comments.

        It happened with short codes, but manually editing them wasn’t hard, with Gutenberg the cruft can be as much as 50 percent of the content.

        I work with a publisher who has a custom made CMS that chokes on the line feeds and comments, so my whinge is specific to me, but I expect it can also cause problems for others.

      • What happens after December 31 next year, when official support of the Classic Editor plugin ends? I’ve come round to Gutenberg, and actually like it, but to say “it’s not being forced on anyone” when alternatives are being discontinued within a couple of years isn’t quite true.

        • The Classic Editor end-of-life date isn’t set in stone and can be extended based on usage stats. This has been noted many times. The Classic Editor plugin isn’t the only game in town either. As long as there is a large enough market, some smart developer will use that opportunity to build for that market.

          The greatest thing about WordPress is the Plugin API. It allows developers to essentially turn WordPress into anything they want it to be by hooking in and changing how the platform works.

  2. I really hoped that this feature was finally going to work so I could reduce my dependence on JetPack. I tried it, and I’m sorry to say it is still unusable for my sites. In my quick test, I found:

    Writing your own CSS to suppress captions seems to be the only way to turn the captions off — there should be a switch for this in the Block Options area.
    It cannot cope with mixed portrait and landscape images. It has a setting so that it no longer crops images, which is very good. But instead, it just leaves large areas of white space — which is unacceptable.

    I’m struggling to understand why this cannot be made to function in the same way as JetPack Gallery shortcode, which is another freely available Automattic product that runs rings around the Gallery block.

    • For not showing captions, you can simply not add a caption to an image in the gallery. But, I’m guessing you have some situation where you have old captions or something that you want to hide. Using CSS or a custom filter is the best way to do this at the moment. It’s probably not a common scenario, so that’s likely the reason there’s no option.

      For aligning a mix of portrait and landscape images, the new image size option can work really well for this. By choosing a specific cropped size, all of the images can align in a grid, which is on par with the original gallery shortcode.

      As for the gallery in Jetpack, I believe it uses the Masonry script or something similar. You likely won’t see anything like that in core WordPress because of the extra script load required to make that happen. Generally, this is considered plugin territory because this extra script slows down page-load speeds and would be unwelcome by many. For features like this, it is really ideal that plugins or themes handle it. That way, users who wish for that sort of functionality can have their pick from the available plugins. It also keeps WordPress from tying itself to a specific third-party library on the front end, which is generally a good thing to avoid in the long run.

  3. Hi,
    I’m a little bit confused.
    The updates and new features in Gutenberg you describe above:
    Are they also part of the built-in Block Editor in WordPress?
    Or do I need to seperately install the Guutenberg plugin to get these new features?
    The reason I ask is because I can’t see them in the built-in Block Editor.
    I am using the latest WordPress 5.3.2.

    • Currently, they are in the Gutenberg plugin only, so you need it installed to use these new features. Eventually, they will be rolled into WordPress 5.4 and beyond. That’s essentially how WordPress block editor features work. They’re built and tested in Gutenberg. Once the team decides they’re ready, they get pushed into the next major WordPress release.

      • Ahhh… so just adding the Gutenberg plugin will actually update the Gutenberg editor with the new features, (that we don’t see, because we are using Gutenberg default/cooked-in to WP version). Will try that now. Specifically, we will try: 1. Add Gutenberg plugin to a site already using the built-in Gutenberg editor. 2. Editing posts and pages with the new features (ie: buttons block). 3. Disabling the plugin and seeing what happens… for s&g.

        • Neil, yes, that’s how it works. If you install and activate the Gutenberg plugin, you can use the new features. For the most part, it will be a similar experience to core WordPress.

          I almost exclusively use the plugin because there’s always a lot of new and useful features that might not be in WordPress for months. If I recall correctly, there were 12 major releases of the Gutenberg plugin that went into WordPress 5.3. That’s a load of features, enhancements, and bug fixes.

          The one caveat is that, if you’re using a theme built specifically for the block editor, it may not yet be updated to style some of the new blocks or block features. Whether they “look” right on the front end may depend on the theme on a case-by-case basis.

    • Thank you for the updates in this post Justin.

      I wonder if it would be useful to make it clear a the top of these posts that to access the features described you will need to have downloaded the latest Gutenberg Plugin and have this active on your WP installation?

      It’s probably obvious to some folks but less so to others who may be left wondering why they don’t see the same features in their WP environment.

      Thanks for highlighting all the great new features in Gutenberg!

      • Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. I generally try to refer to “Gutenberg” when talking about the plugin and “block editor” when talking about the editor in core WordPress. But, the waters have been so muddied at this point, it’s probably best to add an explanation when we cover the Gutenberg plugin.

  4. I must say that for most of my clients who just want to write nice new pages and posts, this plugin is a godsend. It still requires some training for them to NOT mess us the layout of a page and keep things nice and tidy but as soon as they got the hang of it, it just works.

    I was very skeptical in the beginning when it first came out but I can see that the usability keeps improving and I believe it will make WP more able to keep its lead, in a world where more sites are being built using hosted “drag-n-drop” services.

  5. Thanks Justin! So much clearer now on the differences between the Gutenberg plugin vs block editor. I’ll be installing the plugin from now on so my themes / styles can stay ahead of the curve.

    I’ve looked, but can’t find anywhere that lists which Gutenberg/block features are enabled in any particular version of WordPress core. I have read that not all features from the plugin make it into core, so it’s not as simple as saying “WP v 5.3.2 includes Gutenberg 7.1” or whatever. Do you know of anywhere that can be tracked down? It seems like something that would be helpful in tracking down bugs/fixing issues.

    Thanks again!


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