WordPress users are often left confused between two terminologies – reusable blocks and patterns. Reusable blocks do exactly what their name suggests – they can be created and edited in the block editor and can be reused in other posts and pages. Patterns, on the other hand, when inserted, can be edited but cannot be synced.
In the newest version of WordPress, a new change is expected – WordPress has now renamed ‘reusable blocks’ to ‘patterns’. The new ‘patterns’ offer the same functionality as the previous ‘reusable blocks’ and come with the option to sync or not sync. Synced patterns allow all instances of that pattern in one go, whereas non-synced are the ones that can be edited independently, irrespective of the instances inserted. These new updates have been introduced in Gutenberg 16.1 and will also be included in the upcoming WordPress 6.3 version.
WordPress developers have stated that users have found the concept of reusable blocks and patterns difficult to comprehend. Gutenberg contributors, on the other hand, feel that the new change was introduced hurriedly, considering that the WordPress 6.3 beta version is expected to be out in less than a week’s time. This would leave barely any time for contributors to create learning material on how to use the updated features in the latest version of Gutenberg and WordPress.
On the other hand, some contributors are also looking forward to this new consolidated feature, as it would help make the process of content creation easier and streamline content and site editors. Gutenberg contributors also suggest that down the line, users can expect consolidation of templates into ‘synced patterns’. This would help make the system more accessible for users, as they would have fewer concepts to grasp and implement.
This consolidation is beneficial for new users as navigating the system will be super easy for them. For existing users, it may be quite a shift from the system they’re used to working with. It may take a while for them to transition into using the new consolidated features.
WordPress 6.3 is also expected to introduce a new pattern-creation feature in the block editor. This would offer users a proper platform to view and manage patterns. The upcoming WordPress version would also include a Pattern Library inside the site editor. This library would include both patterns and template parts.
Furthermore, contributors are also discussing the possibility of the partially synced patterns features. Gutenberg contributor Daniel Richards summarised this concept in simple, easily understandable terms, stating –
“Today, when you insert a pattern, the blocks from that pattern are completely decoupled and standalone. There’s no way to tell that those blocks originated from a pattern, especially since they can be edited to no longer resemble the source pattern.
Partially synced mode is different. When a pattern that’s partially synced is inserted, it retains a reference to the source pattern. The blocks within the pattern are locked so that they cannot be removed or reordered and new blocks cannot be inserted (this is called contentOnly locking). Only specific parts of the pattern considered ‘content’ can be edited (denoted by adding __experimentalRole: ‘content’ to a block’s definition).
When the source pattern is updated, all instances of blocks that reference the source pattern are updated too (much like a reusable block), but the content values the user entered are retained. The best way to think of this is that the user can update the design of a pattern, but doesn’t lose content that exists in templates and posts.”
While this feature has not yet been introduced in WordPress, the direction in which WordPress is heading in terms of consolidation has got contributors hoping for the partially synced feature soon. The new wave of new features in WordPress has excited contributors and users, as it would help streamline the content creation process.