Block Variations Edit

Block Variations is the API that allows a block to have similar versions of it, but all these versions share some common functionality. Each block variation is differentiated from the others by setting some initial attributes or inner blocks. Then at the time when a block is inserted these attributes and/or inner blocks are applied.

A great way to understand this API better is by using the embed block as an example. The numerous existing variations for embed (WordPress, Youtube, etc..) share the same functionality for editing, saving, and so on, but their basic difference is the providerNameSlug attribute’s value, which defines the provider that needs to be used.

By default, all variations will show up in the Inserter in addition to the regular block type item. However, setting the isDefault flag for any of the variations listed will override the regular block type in the Inserter.

variations: [
        name: 'wordpress',
        isDefault: true,
        title: __( 'WordPress' ),
        description: __( 'Code is poetry!' ),
        icon: WordPressIcon,
        attributes: { providerNameSlug: 'wordpress' },
        name: 'google',
        title: __( 'Google' ),
        icon: GoogleIcon,
        attributes: { providerNameSlug: 'google' },
        name: 'twitter',
        title: __( 'Twitter' ),
        icon: TwitterIcon,
        attributes: { providerNameSlug: 'twitter' },
        keywords: [ __('tweet') ],

An object describing a variation defined for the block type can contain the following fields:

  • name (type string) – The unique and machine-readable name.
  • title (type string) – A human-readable variation title.
  • description (optional, type string) – A detailed variation description.
  • category (optional, type string) – A category classification, used in search interfaces to arrange block types by category.
  • icon (optional, type string | Object) – An icon helping to visualize the variation. It can have the same shape as the block type.
  • isDefault (optional, type boolean) – Indicates whether the current variation is the default one. Defaults to false.
  • attributes (optional, type Object) – Values that override block attributes.
  • innerBlocks (optional, type Array[]) – Initial configuration of nested blocks.
  • example (optional, type Object) – Example provides structured data for the block preview. You can set to undefined to disable the preview shown for the block type.
  • scope (optional, type WPBlockVariationScope[]) – the list of scopes where the variation is applicable. When not provided, it defaults to block and inserter. Available options:
    • inserter – Block Variation is shown on the inserter.
    • block – Used by blocks to filter specific block variations. Mostly used in Placeholder patterns like Columns block.
    • transform – Block Variation will be shown in the component for Block Variations transformations.
  • keywords (optional, type string[]) – An array of terms (which can be translated) that help users discover the variation while searching.
  • isActive (optional, type Function) – A function that accepts a block’s attributes and the variation’s attributes and determines if a variation is active. This function doesn’t try to find a match dynamically based on all block’s attributes, as in many cases some attributes are irrelevant. An example would be for embed block where we only care about providerNameSlug attribute’s value.

The main difference between block styles and block variations is that a block style just applies a CSS class to the block, so it can be styled in an alternative way. If we want to apply initial attributes or inner blocks, we fall in block variation territory.

It’s also possible to override the default block style using the className attribute when defining block variations.

variations: [
        name: 'blue',
        title: __( 'Blue Quote' ),
        isDefault: true,
        attributes: { color: 'blue', className: 'is-style-blue-quote' },
        icon: 'format-quote',
        isActive: ( blockAttributes, variationAttributes ) =>
            blockAttributes.color === variationAttributes.color

It’s worth mentioning that setting the isActive property can be useful for cases you want to use information from the block variation, after a block’s creation. For example, this API is used in useBlockDisplayInformation hook to fetch and display proper information on places like the BlockCard or Breadcrumbs components.

Block variations can be declared during a block’s registration by providing the variations key with a proper array of variations, as defined above. In addition, there are ways to register and unregister a block variation for a block, after its registration.

To add a block variation use wp.blocks.registerBlockVariation().


wp.blocks.registerBlockVariation( 'core/embed', {
    name: 'custom',
    attributes: { providerNameSlug: 'custom' },
} );

To remove a block variation use wp.blocks.unregisterBlockVariation().


wp.blocks.unregisterBlockVariation( 'core/embed', 'youtube' );