Important change to our block strategy

When starting a new business or launching a new product, it is always uncertain how the new offer will be accepted by the market. As a founder, you sometimes have to adapt your business model in order to achieve economic success.

We are taking this step today.

Effective immediately, we announce the retirement of our GT Blocks plugin. There will be no further development, new features and updates of our blocks. We recommend all users to migrate to WordPress Core Blocks (see last section).

Reasons for withdrawing from block development

The decision to give up my blocks was not an easy one and was made with a heavy heart. There went a lot of time, effort and passion into the plugin and letting go is rationally the right thing to do, but it’s not easy.

The following reasons have moved me to do so:

Core Blocks now have the most important features

My blocks were created from summer 2018 until the end of the year for the launch of WordPress 5.0. At that time I missed many functions in the Core blocks. Since blocks can hardly be extended until today, it was obvious to develop own blocks. Blocks are the future of WordPress and therefore it was clear that I had to be part of it.

In the meantime almost two years and four major versions have passed. With WordPress 5.4 and the coming versions the Core blocks have come a very long way. I am still missing some functions, but it is no comparison to the past.

Some of our blocks have become obsolete

In addition to improving the existing blocks in Core, new blocks were added, including the Group and Buttons block. Our own blocks GT Section and GT Multiple Buttons have thus become completely obsolete and were more or less absorbed by the Core.

My plan was never to develop blocks with 1000+ options. However, as a result, many blocks in Core now offer the same functionality as our blocks that originally added and expanded the standard blocks.

Complex blocks are probably replaced with patterns in the future

The rapid development of the block editor will continue in the future. An upcoming feature are Block Patterns, which will fundamentally change page building with WordPress. Block Patterns can be described as templates for complete page layouts, which can be inserted with one click.

Once patterns are available in Core, there is no need for complex single blocks. Our blocks for Features, Portfolio and Hero Image, for example, are quite complex with parent-child relationships and many layout options. Patterns allow for much more flexible and diverse variations without the need to create an extra block for it.

To develop for Gutenberg is really hard

I am a fan of Gutenberg and I like to use the new block editor very much. But it is a disaster to develop extensions for the editor. It is not much fun at the moment and it is one of the main reasons for this decision.

Development is going too fast and the Gutenberg APIs are simply not stable. Each update causes breaking changes in the form of dozens of deprecated messages, changes in HTML markup and CSS styles in the editor.

The speed also means that far too few functions and interfaces are properly documented and code examples in the Github repo or in tutorials are often outdated. Programming blocks is therefore mostly a tedious trial & error process, because as a developer you simply lack information.

Economic reasons against own blocks

While the mentioned technical issues were the main reason for retiring my own blocks, in the end, also the economic motivation to continue working on the plugin was missing.

Not enough resources for block development

As mentioned above, it was ultimately very time-consuming to design and continuously develop our own blocks. In the end I underestimated this point and as a solo developer it was very difficult to offer a complete block collection in addition to Gutenberg themes.

As a result, we currently offer mediocre blocks and mediocre themes. The quality after one year of GermanThemes is far from where I would like it to be. With a focus on WordPress themes alone, I hope to be able to offer significantly more and better designs in the coming months.

Lack of reach and business model for own blocks

A lack of resources would be a feasible problem if demand for our blocks were there in the form of large numbers of users. Unfortunately, we did not succeed in this.

Marketing was never my strong point and I couldn’t keep up with the race for adding more and more features and blocks. At the moment everything looks like big webhosters like GoDaddy with CoBlocks or WPEngine with Atomatic Blocks are completely catching on, while theme shops tend not to have their own blocks.

Besides, I no longer believe in monetizing the blocks. I see a market for special block plugins, but not for a fairly general collection like ours. Who pays money for a slightly better Button block? So it was a lot of investment without much return. The blocks didn’t work as marketing for our themes either.

New block strategy: Themes, Core blocks and Patterns

From now on, we will focus as much as possible on our Themes and adjust our designs so that they work optimally with the WordPress Core Blocks.

Over the last few days, I have changed the GermanThemes website and all our theme demos to core blocks. Even without external and additional block plugins, it is now possible to build very respectable websites completely with the standard blocks.

In the near future we will be adding additional block styles to our themes for the Core blocks and then working on new themes. By the end of the year we will hopefully be able to offer the new block patterns when the feature finally lands in the core.

Migration to Core Blocks

Our GT blocks still work without problems, but due to the lack of updates, I recommend switching to Core blocks in the medium term.

In the last days we have updated the plugin and added transform methods for all blocks. So now every block can be transformed into a corresponding counterpart in the WordPress core with one click. This works for all blocks except the iIcon block, because there is no block for icons in Core yet.

The transformation of a block is possible in the toolbar.

Transform Block

The plugin will be available in the WordPress plugin directory for a few more weeks and will then be taken offline.

Thanks to all of you who have used the plugin with our blocks and have supported us so well on our way. I’m very sorry that we have to retire our block collection and want to apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.