Across the eight-block collections that I’m reviewing (default Gutenberg, JetPack, Advanced Gutenberg, Atomic Blocks, Kadence, Qodeblock, Stackable, and Ultimate Addons), there are a bunch of blocks that perform special functions. A couple show up in multiple collections; others in only one. Let’s run through them quickly.
Table of Contents
Ultimate has a fantastic block called “table of contents”. Just like in Word or other word processing programs, the page generates the ToC all by itself by recognizing where else in the page / post you have used headings. I frequently use H4, so I limit it to only grabbing those. I can style the background, width, texts, etc., even make the contents collapsible. Heck, I can even change the colour of the bullets…what’s not to love?
Advanced Gutenberg has a similar block called Summary but it takes all headings, with no real styling options. It works, but I have much more power with the Ultimate Addons one, so I’ll stick with it.
Notices, calls to action
Atomic Blocks has a block called Notice; Qodeblock has Inline Notice; and Stackable has Notification. The first two are virtually identical with a large block with a box around it, a bright colour for a heading, and some notice text to go under it. It is designed to stand out on a page, and frequently is used by companies right now for things like Covid notices or shipping delays or even specials. They can be “permanent” or you can make them so the viewer can dismiss them, almost like a popup.
Stackable, as always, has a different approach. They put the whole block in colour (not just the heading), and in addition to the title/heading and the description, they give you an option for a button.
They’re all okay, but honestly, I have a dozen different ways to do exactly the same thing. Pass. But interestingly, they all have a similar block called “call to action” blocks. What are they? Basically large text on a colour background, some description, and a button. Hmmm, sounds familiar.
Atomic Blocks lets me adjust fonts, colours, and the button. Qodeblock is the same. Ultimate goes in a slightly different direction by putting the button over to the side, and allowing it to stack on tablets and phones, but otherwise the same.
Stackable goes a bit crazy, as usual. They have six different layouts — two typical vertical ones, three different horizontal ones changing the relationship between the title and the description, and one called split centred which goes for a big title to the left and button and description stacked to the right. If you have the premium subscription, they have 33 different stylings all with unique backgrounds and colour schemes. Yep, they work. And while I confess I feel like I have almost no need for this type of block, I’m going to leave it active anyway. Just in case I want it in the future. Oh, and by the way? If you turn off the button, you basically have the same functional block as the notice ones. 🙂
I use the plugin AddToAny and it lets me include social icons at the end of each post. I also have a widget that lets me put it in my side bar. But some people want to put them in the middle of their page, which can be useful on a Contact Page for example, and so there are five separate blocks available in the collections to let you put in the social icons for people to click on. Some people use them for their own links, as well as giving people easy to click on “buttons” to get to a YouTube video or someone else’s Twitter feed. I have almost no use for any of these functions.
The Default collection includes Social Links and has options for not only icons but widgets too. The three choices ar medium-sized rounds, the logos only, or a flattened pill size button. Advanced Gutenberg has 16 presets in the Social Links block or you can upload any logo you want, as well as change the size and colour of the basic backgrounds. Atomic Blocks has a Sharing block, but limited to only six choices and none of the proper logos for each one (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Email), along with REALLY odd colouring. Qodeblock has Sharing Icons, and they too follow the AB model of not using the real logos, with the only difference being that the colour is better and they add Google. Last but not least, Ultimate adds one called Social Share, and it expands your choices to 12 sites — it adds Digg, Blogger, StumbleUpon, Tumblr and, wait for it, MySpace??? What is this, 1998? And just to be weird, they give you what looks like the real icon/logo, and only available in black and white? What the heck. NONE of the other blocks adds hardly anything to the default one as far as I can see, except perhaps styling the colours. I’ll leave the default, and disable the rest.
Tools for embedding
I’ve mentioned in other posts that there is a Default “embed” tool for a ton of different sites, almost none of which I use or would embed things from into my site. Sure, in theory, I could, but just as with the social sites, many of them are just of no interest or utility for me. So I disabled the blocks created for embedding from their sites too.
Three collections have a unique option for embedding a map. The Default collection uses a block called Embed: Map, and it links to a site called Mapbox.com. To embed from it, you need an Access Token, which you can get from creating a free account…which I did, and then it stopped working. I couldn’t figure out how to even tell it an address to show by default. Advanced Gutenberg wants a Google API key, and to be honest, I struggled to get a Google Map API for something else I was doing online. I’ve filled out the forms for three different types of APIs, and all of them fail at the OAuth stage, with no explanation as to why nor can I find any examples online that are any different from what I did. Ultimate has a block specifically for Google Map too, with the same results. It’s easier to just post a link that will open Google Maps itself, I guess, on the rare occasion I might actually need it.
As I mentioned, there is a LONG list of other embed options and I disabled most of them. A few that are more relevant to me are:
- Twitter … It lets me insert an individual tweet by someone, all I need is the URL. Note that Twitter lets you do it too, by giving you an embed code for every tweet, but it has extra code with it and requires a custom HTML block to insert it. The default block works better.
- Facebook … It seems like it would be the same as Twitter, you have to paste a URL. Except there’s a catch. You can only do it IF the entire timeline of the account is public. Not just THAT post even, the ENTIRE timeline. Kind of defeats the purpose, but when I think about it, it makes sense. Only people who are logged in can see various posts. Unlike Twitter where you can see anything whether you’re logged in or not. Dang, I was hoping to keep a few. Oh well, bye-bye FB block.
- WordPress … So here’s another weird thing. The auto-WordPress embed works with my own URLs too. For this same site. Which means I have no use for any of the big fancy Posts blocks that show dozens of other posts at once.
- Google Calendar … I thought there were actually two calendar blocks, just slightly different nomenclature but they are actually quite different. One of the default ones, called Calendar, is actually a calendar of all my posts that I’ve done i.e., for each day where I’ve posted something, it’s clickable to give the archives list of posts for that day. Definitely not something I would ever use. There is also an Embed: Google Calendar option, but after my experience with FB, I wasn’t surprised to find out that the Google Calendar you’re embedding has to be totally public. Not that helpful if you wanted to share a single event and make IT public somehow.
So I’m keeping the Twitter one, disabling the rest.
In previous posts, I talked about all the different text blocks for various things. But I intentionally left out five that are pseudo-related, and all come from Default/Jetpack collections.
First and foremost, there is one called Verse. This is for the poets among us, or at least the ones who need control of spacing in their poetry. The block has a small mono font, and the block won’t adjust spacing no matter what. Indent three spaces? You’ll see three equal spaces. Type three dots? Same distance. So if you’re into writing poetry, and the visual wrapping points on the page are important, you can style them in the block. I don’t do poetry, but having a way to totally control spacing and blocks isn’t a bad tool to have from time to time. I’ll keep it.
A second block is called Code, and it meets a similar need for not messing with spacing and fonts. If you are into showing computer code, like CSS or HTML, the code block lets you paste it in, control relative monospacing, and have the webpage ignore it so it doesn’t think it is actual code that it should execute. But I don’t need two blocks doin the same thing, so I’ll keep verse and disable code (code tends to highlight its text a bit).
The third block is called Preformatted and does the exact same thing as the first two. So I can disable it too.
The fourth and fifth were mistakes I made in looking at them. I thought “custom HTML” was to allow you, like Code, to be able to type in HTML that people could see to learn HTML. Nope, it’s a block to actually let you manually enter HTML code and execute it in the page. Same with Markdown, but it actually executes Markdown language. I don’t need Markdown, but I’ll keep Custom HTML for some occasional uses, although I could always switch any block like a paragraph block to an HTML view and type it there. This is just easier and cleaner. It even has a preview built-in to the block.
Totally unique blocks
As I have gone through all the different posts in the last few days about different types of blocks, most of them I could group together. A bit arbitrarily at times, but often they had clones in other collections. The last five blocks are a bit more unique although the first one has a clone.
Both Advanced Gutenberg and Stackable have a block called “Count Up”. The intent for this block is often related to things like fund-raising or some sort of web-state or a stat in general that you want to show off. Let’s say, for example, you’re trying to raise $500,000 for a charity, and you want to show that you’re at $222,312 so far. If you put that number in a block, it’s kind of flat. Boring even. But the count-up block allows you to enter the number ($222K) and when it is on the screen, it will show the numbers count from 0 all the way to $222,312 really quickly. Advanced Gutenberg counts up slower than Stackable, but Stackable has a lot more styling options. But to be honest, I have absolutely no need for either, really. Cool, interesting even, but useful? Not for me.
Default+Jetpack adds a Star Rating block and I wish I had found it years ago, even if I’m not going to use it. Let me explain. I have book reviews, TV reviews, movie reviews, even recipes. Lots of things I *could* use a ratings block for, and probably should. But the image is that of a star. And while I can increase it up to a scale of 10, and even colour it dark green to fit in my overall theme, I can’t change the icon. And some time ago, I came across the frog emoji that fits in with my PolyWogg theme. So I use that. It’s manual, I’m not thrilled by it, but it works. And so I’ll stick with that, cuz I like me my frogs. 🙂
Ultimate includes one called Timeline, and I almost missed it because there is another “posts” block in one of the collections that lets you see all your posts in a timeline diagram. I have no use for it, so I was going to pass on this one as well. Except it isn’t about posts. Honestly, it’s kind of a weird inclusion in any collection, as it is more like a plugin option for those wanting graphs and things. You can create a vertical timeline with it, with “blocks” / “tabs” hanging off either side. You enter descriptions in blocks with a Heading and a description, and opposite it, you insert a date (actually, you put dates in the block options). And it will let you create, wait for it, up to 100 things in the timeline. Honestly, most people doing this on a website would use a graphic editor to create an infographic of some sort, and then just share it as a photo. But this one lets you create it like a Powerpoint tool in your website, and you can totally enter text and links in the description boxes. The default is alternating left and right (called centred), but you can have it all go left or right with stacking above each one. Equally, there is a default connector that looks like a calendar, but you can have any one of 1200 other icons for the “hub” of the timeline bar, and turn dates off if you want. As I said, it’s totally unique, nobody else has anything like it. I can’t think of ANY reason why I would want it, but I have to keep it. It’s just too cool not to keep it.
And finally, the last block is from the Default+Jetpack collection and is a simple Contact Info block. While lots of other blocks had ways to show off contacts for team members, or bios, this is more of a website tool.
You can enter an email, phone number, street address, City, Province, Postal Code, Country, and link to a Google Map. I initially was of the mind, I have ZERO use for this. It was more for businesses, for example. Except, any of the rows that you don’t enter, it just ignores them and collapses the info. So if I wanted to give an address to, I don’t know, the place I was doing some astronomy, I could put in the info, and it would show up as an address that was clickable to a link. Now that I see it, I can see some of the allure. But if it is just a link, I have way better ways to do that. I could even make it a button, for example, that jumps to a Google Map. I can see the appeal, but not interested.
Update – Another special block
Shortly after I was nearing the end of my review of these blocks, Ultimate Addons included two “new” blocks that are “schema” friendly, but I don’t need that functionality per se. One is a “how-to” format for a page, but it’s pretty rough, and I have no real use for it. I can create my own headings just as easily. However, they have a second one to create a FAQ page, and it is pretty decent. Another “unique” one, although you could do the same with collapsible accordions just as easily. This just formats easily. I’ll keep it around.
Update: To see my current collection of blocks, check out the blocks I use.