The default blocks in Gutenberg blocks includes a “group” block. Atomic Blocks, Qodeblock and Stackable added their own called “container”. The point of these “parent” blocks is to add a container around a bunch of nested blocks within it. Suppose, for example, you have four blocks that always go together — a header, a paragraph of text, an image, and some links. You could put those four inside a block, and then if you want to move them around a page, you just move the big container block, and all of those sub-blocks / child blocks will move at once. They stay together. Alternatively, where it becomes really useful is if you put the four child blocks in a reusable group block, say for example instructions on how to do something that you frequently refer to in your posts, and you can dump that block in anytime you need it.
While that can also start to make a site look repetitive in a blogging world, one area where it could be useful in my site is the close-out of a book review. At the end of my book reviews, I use to have three things — a set disclaimer about my review (now removed as irrelevant), links to other reviews, and a signature block saying Happy Reading. If I wrapped all three of those together in a reusable group block, I could just paste all three at the end of every BR and be “done”.
To me, though, the real danger is that repetition. You start to think every page is the same, and you just dump something in without thinking about whether all three pieces are appropriate. Take the disclaimer for example. While I could add it to every BR, it was only relevant to a couple. And the more I played with wording and tweaking, the more I realized it was just unnecessary. In a commercial world, people frequently stick in boilerplate info because they “can” without thinking about whether they “should”.
I’m happy to do reusable blocks for various signatures like “Happy reading” or “Clear skies”, as it saves some steps, but grouping too many things together makes me nervous. It honestly encourages lazy design rather than conscious design. I know, I know, I’m likely over-thinking it.
The default Group block has very few settings to tweak, mainly the idea that you group them together but the only thing you can change is a background colour. Nothing terribly exciting.
Atomic Blocks’ Container block adds the ability to do padding and margins, and this COULD be useful, set an overall width on the container (so if some child blocks like to go full-width, you could over-ride their tendencies here by wrapping them in a larger but thinner container). In addition, you can replace the background with an image, not just change the colour. Definitely better than the default. Qodeblocks’ container is identical. You’d swear they were just copies of each other.
From my earlier posts, you already know that I’m in love with Stackable’s approach to just about all of their blocks. So I was excited to see what options they add. Height and width are nice additions, gradients are added to background colours, you can use video instead of an image, separator styling above and below, etc. There are some premium features that allow custom column colours and things like that, but considering I don’t have much need for such a block, and I’m fearful of over-use, I’ll stick with the base options. And I wasn’t disappointed. Stackable adds all of the options that the other three options did, plus some more. Definitely a keeper.
I know, I know, you’re thinking, if you’re not going to use it, why are you keeping it? I’m keeping it simply because I like the option if I need it without having to re-install it. I’ll still be hesitant, but I do like the option of wrapping a background colour behind it. For example, I could excerpt some stuff from other websites or even include segments in posts where I want to highlight several blocks at once. This would be one way to do that.
Update: To see my current collection of blocks, check out the blocks I use.