In early September, WP Engine announced the launch of Genesis Custom Blocks, a block-creation plugin made possible by its StudioPress team. The concept should feel familiar to developers who have made use of Advanced Custom Fields and similar plugins. However, the focus of this new plugin is entirely on blocks.
Genesis Custom Blocks handles all the dirty work on the backend while leaving the basic PHP, HTML, and CSS of the front end completely up to developers.
The plugin seemed to slip through the cracks of the plugin directory’s guideline against frameworks — the Plugin Review Team started disallowing new framework-type plugins in 2016. Team rep Mika Epstein confirmed that the plugin should not have been approved. She also said that she would talk to the developers, explain why it’s not good, and see about finding a path forward.
Setting guideline issues aside, the plugin is a nice addition to the toolbox of any developer who needs to quickly knock out custom blocks for clients.
How the Plugin Works
Genesis Custom Blocks is currently a lightweight field manager for custom blocks. It provides an admin interface for creating, editing, and managing those blocks. Developers use this interface to essentially create block options in which a user can configure via the editor.
The free version of the plugin includes 13 standard form fields, such as text, image, URL, color, and more. The commercial version includes an additional six field types and allows users to import or export their custom blocks.
For the block to output anything on the front end, the developer must create custom templates and use the Genesis Custom Blocks API. This template will render the output in the editor too, at least until the user clicks on the block, which takes them into editing mode.