Using Create Guten Block to Build a Gutenberg Ready Plugin with Multiple Blocks

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Getting setup to build custom blocks for the new Gutenberg editor can seem intimidating. If you’re using modern JavaScript you’ll need to setup compilers and build processes to take your new-fangled ES6+ and JSX and make it browser compatible.

We don’t want to spend our precious free-time configuring Webpack and managing dependencies! We want to get started developing awesome blocks now! Thankfully tools like Create Guten Block make it easy to start.

Enter Create Guten Block

Create Guten Block is a toolkit developed by Ahmad Awais to take the hassle and learning curve out of configuring development setups for Gutenberg Blocks.

Once installed, running Create Guten Block’s npx create-guten-block my-block in your plugins directory will get you setup with a plugin following Gutenberg block development best practices. Including support for ES6+, JSX, CSS prefixing, and a snazzy build process.

Create Guten Block manages the dependencies needed to build blocks in modern JavaScript using Node and npm. So if you don’t have those installed you’ll need them first before getting started. (It’s easy.)

Running Create Guten Block for the First Time

If you don’t have Node and npm installed on your machine you’ll need that first for Create Guten Block to do it’s thing. I’ll wait…

Congratulations! You’re now officially a JavaScript developer. Neat, huh?

Note: If you run into issues with your version of Node and CGB check out nvm for managing your node version.

You’ll want to have a local WordPress environment setup and installed before we begin.

Now within Terminal you’ll navigate to the wp-content/plugins directory of your WordPress install and run npx create-guten-block my-block. Replacing my-block with your new plugin name.

Then when you’re ready to start editing our blocks you navigate to your plugin directory and run npm start.

But first let’s take a look at what exactly that gives us.

Note: If you need some help getting your first block started with CGB check out this post from Atomic Blocks.

Create Guten Block Plugin Structure

Once you’ve fired up a piping hot block-ready plugin using Create Guten Block you’ll need to know a little about the plugin structure.

Some of these you’re not going to want to concern yourself with unless you know what you’re doing. I’m looking at you node_modules, package-lock.json, pacakage.json, and hidden dot files. But let’s take deeper look at some of the more important files

dist/ directory

The dist directory is where your JavaScript and CSS is compiled for the final output. These are the CSS and JS files that will be enqueued through your *init.php* file.

plugin.php

This file is used to define your plugin. You’ll likely want to rename this file to match your plugin’s name to stick to WordPress plugin best practices.

You’ll definitely want to go through and update the header information to list yourself as the author and update your plugin name and description.

README.md

This file contains some basic information about using CGB. You’ll want to update this to provide information about your plugin and create a *readme.txt* if you’re releasing to WordPress.org.

src/ directory

The src/ directory is the good stuff. This is where all of the files we’ll actually be editing are stored.

First up is the block/ directory. This contains three files right off the bat. Our block.js, editor.scss, and style.scss. These files make the foundation of our block.

block.js is going to be where we do most of the building of our block.

Within your block.js file you’ll want to update your block namespace from cgb/block-name to something using the plugin-name/block-name format to keep with best practices.

editor.scss is the styles used only in the editor while style.scss will contain styles used by both the editor and front-end output of our block.

You’ll notice in your block.js file that the editor.scss and style.scss files are be imported. Webpack uses these imports to build out our final CSS files to be enqueued for the block.

For a more detailed breakdown of what to enqueue on the editor vs frontend check out my post on enqueueing scripts and styles for blocks.

Now hopping back to the root of the src/ directory we’ve got the common.scss file that can be used to store variables that are to be used across the project.

We also have init.php which is being used to enqueue the scripts and styles that our compiled into the dist/ folder.

Then finally we have blocks.js which is used by webpack to compile the block or blocks of our plugin.

Adding Multiple Blocks

There’s a good chance you may want to build more than one block in your plugin. And with Create Guten Block it couldn’t be easier.

The first thing you’ll want to do is

Crack open the blocks.js file and you’ll see the following line import './block/block.js';

This line tells webpack to grab the block.js folder from the block/ directory in our plugin. If you’d like to rename your block to something a little more catchy you could rename the folder then update it here.

If you want to create a second block all you need to do is duplicate the existing block/ directory, rename it, and add a new import inside blocks.js.

So if we want to create a new dynamic block we could name our folder dynamic-block/ and then to register both blocks are blocks.js file would have:

If you’ve got npm start running CGB will compile the new block and you’ll be up and running and ready to edit away.

Where To Put Dynamic Blocks Callbacks

Speaking of dynamic blocks if you’ve read my past article you know that dynamic blocks require the use of a PHP callback function to render data from the server. So where does that PHP function go?

I’d suggest dropping it in the init.php file for a simple plugin. You do register blocks in PHP on the init action after all.

But you’re welcome to add directories to your plugin and organize to your hearts content. WordPress is open source of course, so you do you. But hopefully this guide gives you a basic understanding to what Create Guten Block gets you started with out of the gate.

Wrapping Up

Create Guten Block is an awesome tool for getting up and running building custom Gutenberg blocks fast. It takes away a lot of the headaches that working with a build process and modern JavaScript can introduce and let’s you get started building rather than configuring.

It’s a must-have for developers looking to build their first blocks in the new WordPress editor. 👍

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