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WP Engine’s Pattern Manager is now available in the WordPress Plugins Directory. The plugin gives WordPress professionals a dedicated interface for browsing, designing, and organizing patterns with categories, keywords, descriptions, and more. It is still in beta and not recommended for use in production. Although it can be used on a lived website, the plugin’s intended use is for managing patterns on a locally hosted development site.
The Pattern Manager makes it possible to use core features for which there isn’t yet an interface:
WP Engine made several improvements to the plugin based on beta feedback since the time we reviewed the plugin earlier this month. The matter of where the patterns are stored was one issue the testers were concerned about. Pattern Manager pushes the patterns to PHP files every time the user saves them, which also makes them available for collaboration via git.
“One of the most requested features was child theme support, so we added that,” WP Engine Principal Engineer Mike McAlister said. “Now, if you have a child theme active, Pattern Manager will save your new patterns to the child theme, while all of the patterns in your parent theme are still available.”
Another common request McAlister’s team received was the ability to register custom pattern categories. This feature is currently in development and will be available in the plugin in the near future.
“Other than that, we made a lot of nice little improvements like adding a setting for defining the pattern preview width, deprioritizing the Pattern Manager admin menu item (which was previously at the top of the admin menu), and some light UI touch-ups,” McAlister said.
“We had over 300 people in the beta and the feedback was highly positive, which is surprising for a niche developer tool like this. To me, it speaks to the interest in all of this new WordPress technology and how developers are looking for tools like Pattern Manager to help them start working with it.”
I was one of the beta testers, and I also fully tested the version that was released via the wp.org plugin repository. The only complain that I have and it’s a big one, is not giving us accurate information about the media files.
VERY IMPORTANT: The media files will be automatically copied and referenced to them accurately ONLY if the media files in the patterns are used by CORE blocks. Any media files used by other third party block libraries, won’t be used – you will get no warnings about this. So if you then export your theme with the expectation that all is fine, you will end up with broken patterns (missing media files).
The second issue is that if you manually place the images yourself in the “images” folder, to manually refer to them, the Pattern Manager will delete them !!! If you want to do things this way, use a separate folder other than the images folder found inside the patterns folder which this plugin generates.
Finally, I’m absolutely shocked that media used in ACF Blocks are not supported, since WP Engine actually owns ACF…
I fully understand that this plugin is still in beta, but yesterday I lost a few hours by editing and making changes to some of my 100+ patterns that contained hardcoded images mostly made with ACF Blocks, only to revert them back, because they withheld the extremely important info. about the media issues. Once one understands all the pitfalls, this is a 5 star plugin for sure. It’s a great start, and a potential time saver !
This is great feedback. Thank you Nick! We will look at all of these. (I am one of the lead developers on this plugin).
You guys, along with Nick Diego with his videos and plugins, are awesome ! Thanks for everything…
I have two things on my wishlist when it comes to patterns (that are not necessarily WP Engines job to solve, probably more up to core devs):
Being able to create a pattern, insert that pattern into a bunch of pages, then make changes to the layout/style/content of the pattern and have that change every instance of the pattern wherever it is used on the site. Today, if a client wants a change to a pattern, I can’t just edit it in the pattern manager and be done, I also have to find every instance of the pattern and make the same change over and over.
If I make a content-only locked pattern with a paragraph of text, I want to be able to add more paragraphs, and maybe even headings and lists. It would be nice to be able to specify an area within a locked pattern where certain blocks are allowed to be added.
If you insert a pattern into a re-usable block, and use that re-usable block many times, that might do what you are hoping for. Updating a re-usable block in one place updates it everywhere it is used. Under the hood a re-usable block and a pattern are each just groups of blocks.
Yeah, but that only works for patterns with identical content. And I might as well just use a reusable block in that case.
That’s what I’m saying essentially. A Pattern is no longer a Pattern once it is inserted into the block editor. It’s just a bunch of blocks at that point. Whereas a re-usable block sounds like it might be more what you are after. Maybe I am misunderstanding though!
A reusable block requires each instance to have identical content. I want to create a layout pattern in which I can change the content, but not rearrange it. But if I edit the pattern layout I would want the layout change to also change the existing instances of the pattern.
Imagine including a php-template file with
get_template_partand setting heading, text and image attributes (for example). I could include that template file many times, displaying different content each time. And if I change the template file, the change will affect every instance where that template is used. That’s what I wished patterns could be.
I wish “Patterns” were called “Block Starters”, as that helps explain what they do more simply. I also wish re-usable blocks were called “Synced Block Groups” or something similar.
You may be interested in this issue: https://github.com/WordPress/gutenberg/issues/48458
Great plugin, I can see this being a huge time saver.
Thanks for making this available.
I have noticed one small issue in my testing.
If the active theme does not already have the /patterns/ directory, when creating the very first pattern and the pattern contains an image, the image is not copied across to the newly created /patterns/images/ directory.
It then works okay when creating additional patterns, and when going back into the first pattern and editing it to replace the image (or remove and re-insert the same image).
Hi Andrew, thanks a lot for mentioning that issue with copying an image for the first pattern.
I’ll create an issue in our tracker for that. (I work on Pattern Manager)
Very nice 👌
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