Support » Plugin: Atomic Blocks - Gutenberg Blocks Collection » A lot of potential, but could be greatly improved

  • Introduction
    The Gutenberg editor is mainly focused on post editing right now, with more powerful page (and later entire website template) building features coming in WordPress 5.1 and later. But this plugin certainly helps you get closer to that right now by expanding the selection of building blocks to choose from. However, I think this plugin feels a bit unpolished overall, with several blocks feeling incomplete or implemented in a less-than-ideal way. I think this plugin has a lot of potential, but as it is right now, it is just alright. Not great, just alright.

    Thoughts on the blocks
    What follows are my thoughts on the blocks in this plugin.

    – AB Accordion block
    This block is pretty nice. You can throw in a bunch of these after each other and make a nice FAQ section or reduce the space taken up by things like a description and specifications by dividing them up into collapsible sections using these blocks.

    I think this block could be improved by adding a parent Accordion block that contains nested collapsible section blocks. You could then toggle a setting on the parent Accordion block to make opening one section automatically close all the others.

    I also think it would be nice to see what it looks like when not expanded in the editor.

    One more thing I think that this and the other blocks in this plugin should have are custom icons to easily distinguish them from other blocks in the inserter.

    – AB Button block

    This is a pretty nice block. It has a lot of nice options, and fits most use cases for buttons with custom styling.

    One issue I noticed is that hovering over the text of the button feels a bit weird since it shows the pointer cursor rather than the text cursor that the core Button block uses.

    I think the Button Shape controls should either be updated to use the block styles API, or else they should be replaced with border radius controls that let you set the precise degree of roundness on the edges.

    Speaking of which, the core Button block includes a colored outline variant as one of its styles. It would be nice if the AB Button block supported that kind of style variation as well. Alternatively, border color options could be added to the block.

    You could take it a step further than that by adding hover options to control the colors when you hover the block. The Advanced Button block in the Advanced Gutenberg plugin has this functionality, as well as the ability to set the transition speed.

    The color controls should warn you when you choose a color combination with a poor contrast ratio. This is something the core Paragraph block does.

    If you really wanted to just go nuts with options, you could also add padding options for the block. If you do add them, there should probably be a reset button to reset all padding, as well as the ability to enable/disabling locking the padding values so that increasing one will increase the others automatically.

    You should also be able to transform this block into a core Button block and vice-versa, to ease transitioning to or away from the plugin.

    – AB Call To Action block
    This block is not really necessary, in my opinion. It could be replaced by an AB Container block with nested Paragraph and Button blocks saved as a Reusable block and used as a template.

    Even if this block remains, it should be converted to use a nested AB Button block at least, in my opinion.

    That said, right now the UI for inserting a Reusable block and then converting it to a standalone instance is less than ideal, and Reusable blocks do not work well with nested blocks. So at the moment the block does have a use, but I think in the future it could be superseded by templates.

    Notably, the button placeholder text in this block has the same cursor issue as the AB Button block.

    There is also a bug where setting the alignment to wide has no effect on the appearance of the block in the editor. Additionally, the center alignment option appears to have no effect, so perhaps it should be removed.

    – AB Container block
    This block is definitely the most useful block in the entire plugin. It is also the most likely to become obsolete in the future. It is inevitable that Gutenberg will add a block like this one in the future, and there are already multiple other plugins that add a block just like this one, with varying degrees of functionality.

    This block would be even more useful if you could change the HTML element used by the block from div to section, article, or aside. The Row Layout block in the Kadence Blocks plugin has this functionality.

    Additionally, the ability to have a background video or parallax scrolling background image like the core Cover block would be very nice.

    Gradient backgrounds are another thing that would be nice. The Row Layout block in Kadence Blocks has this feature. Divi Builder also has this functionality in its Sections.

    Additionally, it would be nice if you could toggle locking the padding and margin values together, so you could change the left and right padding at the same time like you can in some page builder plugins like Divi Builder. The ability to change the opacity of the background color would also be quite nice.

    I think the block should also have the ability to use the wide alignment option. The center alignment option appears to do nothing, so perhaps that one should be removed.

    – AB Drop Cap block
    This block is confusing. It is essentially just a Paragraph clone, but without most of the options of the Paragraph block, and instead just some different Drop Cap options.

    Annoyingly, the drop cap only appears on the front-end. It does not appear in the editor at all, unlike the drop cap in the core Paragraph block.

    You are not even able to convert the block into a normal Paragraph block or any other of the core textual blocks. The core Paragraph block can be converted into a List, Heading, and several other textual blocks.

    This is definitely the weakest block in the entire plugin, and I would not recommend using it. I am confused about why they did not just create an Advanced Paragraph block with all the options of the core Paragraph block and more. I think this block should be deprecated and a transform from this block to the core Paragraph block should be provided. I see no reason for this block to exist.

    – AB Notice block
    This block is pretty nice, but I can see a lot of potential improvements.

    The block should make use of a nested blocks area to allow it to take advantage of Paragraph blocks for the notice content, as well as allow List and other textual blocks to be used in it.

    One bug I noticed is that the toggle for the close button on the notice does not seem to work quite right. Changing it from “Dismissable” to “Always Show” does not make the little X button disappear in the editor. Actually, it seems that once you enable the close button, you can not make it disappear from either the editor or the front-end. (Tested using the Divi theme.) Hopefully that gets fixed soon.

    – AB Post Grid block
    This block is almost really useful, but there are a couple little issues that annoy me.

    First of all, you should be able to transform this block into the core Latest Posts block and vice-versa, transferring matching settings from one to the other.

    Second, I think it was a mistake to include color styles with the block for the links. Most websites do not use purple as their standard hover color, and many do not even use purple as an accent color in the first place. It should be up to the theme to provide default styling like that, and the block should provide something neutral or nothing at all. Alternatively, they could provide color options for the links, but I think that may be overkill.

    Additionally, I am a bit confused why there is an option to have a multi-columned layout with the featured images shown above the titles and excerpts and an option to have a single column layout with the featured images to the left, but there is no way to have a single column with the featured images shown at the top.

    I also noticed that the “Featured Image Style” option seems to be broken; it does not appear to change anything when you switch it from “Landscape” to “Square”.

    I think you should also be able to set this block to the full alignment, and I think perhaps the center alignment option should be removed as it appears to do nothing.

    – AB Profile Box block
    This is a nice block with a lot of nice features. However, like many of the other blocks in this plugin, I think it could be better.

    I think the profile bio text should be a nested blocks area so it can take advantage of the features of the Paragraph block. Currently, you can not change the color of the bio text from the inspector settings of the block, but using nested Paragraph blocks would give this ability for free.

    The placeholders are also inconsistent with whether or not they use an ellipsis at the end. This is a minor complaint, but it would be nice if it was more consistent.

    I also think this is another situation where the default styling should use the styles API to make it easier for a theme to control the look of the block and provide alternative styles.

    It would also be nice if you could change the color of the social icons; currently you can only change the color of the background discs behind the icons.

    Additionally, since the general design principle of Gutenberg is that a block should look as close to the front-end as possible when unselected: I think the image placeholder should not appear unless the block is selected. This would make the unselected block look more like the front-end, and it would also be more consistent with core blocks like the Gallery and Image block that only show placeholders when selected. I also think the image placeholder should have some text to indicate what it is.

    – AB Spacer block
    This block is alright, but I think the core Spacer and Separator blocks are better. The core Separator block makes use of the block styles API to provide some default separator styles while allowing themes to override and/or provide their own, as well as potentially allow for registering custom styles using CSS classes. This is better than the more hardcoded approach that the AB Spacer block uses for its optional divider line.

    The only improvement I could think of for this block is that you should be able to convert the block into the core Spacer and Separator blocks.

    – AB Sharing block
    This is a nice convenient block. It would be even nicer if you could add custom share links to it, but I am not sure what the best way to implement that would be.

    I think the default styles should use the block styles API to allow for simple variants and customization by themes.

    I also think you should be able to make the social link buttons be a custom color, rather than choosing between black or brand colors.

    I also think it would be nice if you could transform this block into a bunch of core Button blocks or AB Button blocks. Other than that, I think this block does about everything you would expect.

    – AB Testimonial block
    This is a fine testimonial block. It is about as flexible as some basic plugins that used shortcodes, albeit with the benefits of the Gutenberg WYSIWYG (if your theme styles the editor) editing. That said, there is potential to make this block a lot better.

    The block should use nesting for the testimonial itself, allowing you to take advantage of the features of the Paragraph block in your testimonials, and possibly also other blocks like the Quote block

    Like the AB Profile Box and AB Spacer blocks, this one should also probably make use of the block styles API and have its default style be registered through that API, allowing themes/plugins to completely do away with it or add additional style variations that the user can switch between.

    Like I said for the Profile Box block: I think the image placeholder should not appear unless the block is selected.

    Also like the Profile Box, the placeholders are also inconsistent with their usage of an ellipsis.

    Conclusion
    Overall, this is a pretty nice plugin. The blocks are generally pretty useful (especially the Container block) and have some nice features. However, I think that the blocks in the plugin are lacking in some areas and has some funky behavior in some places. There are multiple other plugins that add blocks, and I think some of them, such as Kadence Blocks, definitely have an advantage currently. Still, this plugin has some of its own unique features, and with some enhancements and fixes, this plugin has the potential to be really good.

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  Zebulan Stanphill. Reason: I thought h2 and h3 tags were allowed in reviews, but they are not. Trying Markdown instead for headings
    • This topic was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  Zebulan Stanphill. Reason: Formatting tweaks
    • This topic was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  Zebulan Stanphill. Reason: The AB Button block was fixed, so I updated my review to include my thoughts on it
    • This topic was modified 1 year ago by  Zebulan Stanphill. Reason: Updated review to reflect updates to plugin and additional things I have noticed
    • This topic was modified 1 year ago by  Zebulan Stanphill. Reason: Updated due to recent plugin improvements
    • This topic was modified 10 months, 3 weeks ago by  Zebulan Stanphill. Reason: Updated to reflect recent updates, slight changes in opinion, and consideration of other plugins
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