The Custom Post Types Block is Growing

Custom Query Blocks

The Custom Post Types Block for Gutenberg has come along way since its first iteration.

In the beginning…

In the beginning of the plugin, my co-worker Chris Logan said to me (paraphrasing): You know how in the WordPress settings, you can map a page to the blog archive and the homepage? Why not for post type archives?

I was like, “Why in the living ** would you want that?”

Alas, he showed me some use-cases and that convinced me to begin working on the plugin for internal use only. We decided on a name: Post Type Archive Mapping. We called it that because that’s exactly what the plugin did. In hindsight, it’s was a horrible name, but that’s for marketing to figure out.

Evolution of the block…

Without a page builder, creating archive pages are a chore. Chris asked me when I was going to put it on the repo. I sighed. It wasn’t ready. With a way to map archive pages, there also needed to be a way to show the archive content.

So I looked at existing solutions. The closest one was a latest posts block by Atomic Blocks. It was stylish, had a nice amount of options, and multiple layouts. I decided to fork it and adjust the latest posts block to work with any post type.

Initial Reception

The plugin took off pretty slow. It took a few months for it to grow past 10+ installs.

A user recommended we rename it to Custom Post Types Block. It confused me at first. The plugin was made for post type archive pages. The block was a nice-to-have and/or an afterthought. People wanted the plugin for the block, and also for archive mapping. So a decision was made… we renamed it to the user’s suggestion of Custom Post Types Block.

Block Popularity

By this point, the block was proving popular and was mentioned in several tutorials, one by my friend Paal Joachim.

People kept requesting more features on GitHub. The block was taking off on its own.

Users requested and were dismayed that custom fields weren’t supported. It took me 4 months to figure out how to make custom fields work in a Gutenberg concept. With a page builder… easy. Gutenberg? Not so much. I did finally add custom fields, and it has proved to be a popular feature.

Technical Debt

As the block grew in popularity and added more layouts, keeping a marriage between the front and back-end became problematic. People requested multiple terms. They wanted to select for a specific author. None of those were/are possible with the current block’s architecture without breaking backwards compatibility.

For the 4.0.0 release, I did decide to clean up the code substantially so that, in theory, more blocks could be added easily. With that in place, I decided on a second iteration of the plugin.

Term Mapping

We had a request for term mapping for its archives. I decided to go ahead and code it into the plugin. We did do archive mapping at its core, so it was logical to map term archives as well.

Immediately, people were emailing me telling me what a great feature it was and requested even more features for it. The plugin was slowly becoming a victim of its own success.

Term Grid Block

Paal Joachim ended up joining the team around the plugin due to his numerous user experience improvements and overall direction of the project. I told him I had an idea about a Term Grid block. At first, he was like, “What’s that?”

The I showed him a demo. He was like, whoa, I can see a use for this. So I began coding it as part of the Custom Post Types Block plugin.

We had an hour long Zoom meeting of me showing off the demo, him doing his own testing of it, and deciding whether it should be its own plugin or not.

As soon as I mentioned that term mapping was built into the plugin and that there would be a lot of overlap, we decided to keep it in the base plugin.

The Present

The Custom Post Types Block plugin is currently sitting at around 500+ installs and gets around 20-40 downloads a day. At this point, we’re looking for more contributors to help out if you are interested.

We just released the Term Grid, so we’re waiting on feedback to see how users use it.

We have nine 5-star reviews, one 4-star, and one 3-star rating.

Active Install Growth

The Future

We’d like to compete with some of the other Custom Post Type blocks out there. Our solution is great, but page builders are leap-years ahead of what can be accomplished with a post type block.

I plan for a more advanced post type block with many layouts, themes, and query options. But I’ll need help. So if you’d like to contribute, please leave a comment below and I’ll contact you via email.

Takeaways

The Custom Post Type Block started humbly as just an archive mapping tool. It then evolved into a popular Gutenberg block. Term mapping was added, and so a Term Grid block was added as well.

I’d like to thank Paal and Chris for their contributions, as well as the translators who have contributed translations. I can’t thank y’all enough.

Here is to a bright future for the plugin!

Ronald Huereca
Ronald Huereca

Ronald Huereca

Ronald has been part of the WordPress community since 2006, starting off writing and eventually diving into WordPress plugin development and writing tutorials and opinionated pieces.

No stranger to controversy and opinionated takes on tough topics, Ronald writes honestly when he covers a topic.

2 thoughts on “The Custom Post Types Block is Growing”

  1. Thanks for sharing about this, I think it’s valuable yo understand how your plugin developed.
    I did a trick for getting Print My Blog to the first 10 installs, and I wonder what you think: I installed it on about 10 of my own sites! I had about 5 public ones, and about 5 local host ones. I think the local host ones counted, but I’m not certain.
    Once you’re past “fewer than 10 installs” the plugin has a critical amount more legitimacy. And I don’t think this is altogether dishonest because the plugin is getting tested across a variety of sites, although admittedly not a variety of users.
    Anyways, I’ll try to give the plugin a whirl!

    Reply

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