Transitioning from ACF Flexible Content Fields to ACF Blocks

## Our First WordCamps

**Aurooba Ahmed:** You are listening to viewSource a conversation around tech, web development, and WordPress with hosts Aurooba Ahmed That's me and Brian Coords

**Brian Coords:** What was the very first WordCamp that you ever went?

**Aurooba Ahmed:** The very first WordCamp I went to was WordCamp Calgary, here in Alberta, Canada, by the Rockies, and it was either 2015 or 2016 that I went to it for the first time. What about you?

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, I think my first one was WordCamp Orange County and which is here like Southern California. Um, and I would say the same, 2016 to 2018, somewhere in there. Sounds about right. Yeah. How was, how was WordCamp?

**Aurooba Ahmed:** it was, it was a lot of fun. It was the first time that I realized that there was a community around WordPress. So, you know, for context, word camps are these gatherings that often happen annually in cities around the world that have chosen to have one where WordPress is, can come together for a conference around

WordPress related topics and yeah, it was about 200 to 250 people and it was a lot of fun. I volunteered, and uh, yeah, that was when I first realized there's more to it than just software and code, you know?

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, I remember the first time I went and I didn't like know anybody, and I'm not like that kind of person who just goes to a thing. So it was very like, you're just walking around and everyone's super nice and friendly, but you're just kind of like, you know, just

**Aurooba Ahmed:** That's why I volunteered

**Brian Coords:** Yeah. That was-

**Aurooba Ahmed:** because I was like, then I have something to do. Yeah,

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, the second year I spoke and that helped a little bit cuz you get to go to like a dinner ahead of time and you kind of get to meet people. But still you have to like, you have to really put yourself out there, you know, and, and like, you know,

**Aurooba Ahmed:** definitely.

**Brian Coords:** be social. It was a little hard.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** I spoke the second year as well and the, it was about how to use Git to basically match your repo to your dev using, just git hooks. And I remember the hall that I would, they put me in was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. And I was so overwhelmed, like, oh my God, there's so many people here. How am I gonna do this?

Uh, learning how to be a, like a decent speaker in a live audience at the time. And I mean, I'm still learning. So yeah, it was definitely a moment.

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, mine. I did one where I did. Uh, like an overview of plugins for like nonprofits. So I went through like different topics and like what you plugins you could use and which was of course was a terrible idea because everybody has opinions on like, how dare you recommend that plugin? Like that's, you know, so I got like a lot of that.

But, uh, I didn't mind because I used to like actually be a teacher. Uh, I definitely.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah,

**Brian Coords:** Wasn't as worried about being in front of people, but I would find some of my teacher habits- like if people were starting to talk, I'd wanna like do like the teacher, like there's like teacher tactics to get people to stop talking.

And I have to remember like, these are adults. Like it's not my job to police their, their behavior.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Oh that, that must have been an interesting dynamic. I, yeah, I can't say that. My first talk is something I was very proud of. It did not go as well as I would want it to, but that's okay cuz I improved.

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, it's wordCamps are, are really a good training ground if you are interested in talking in front of people because it's really the best like. Welcoming warm crowd that you could want. Like everyone is super nice. There's a lot of like skill level ranges and it's not like you're going up in front of a bunch of like, JavaScript developers who wanna like crap all over you or something if you, you know, mention the wrong thing.

So like, it's, it's not that at all. It's way more, uh, way more of a fun, forgiving audience.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah, it's like the better version of Toastmasters. I remember reading about Toastmasters and I thought it was ridiculous. But you know, getting to practice with a topic you care about and an audience that also cares about that is so much better than like just showing up and talking about something random with people who don't know you or don't care about the topic.

## Brian spoke at WordCamp Phoenix

**Brian Coords:** Yeah. And like the, the reason we're talking about this is because I did speak at Word Camp Phoenix, like, uh, almost a month

**Aurooba Ahmed:** You did.

**Brian Coords:** Yeah. So that. That was, it was mostly exciting because it was a, like a real, you know, WordCamp. Like, it felt like, oh, we're back. You know, WordCamp we're back. It was, it was pretty exciting.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah. I am so jealous that you got to go and I almost did go, but then it didn't make sense for me to go, so I'm really excited that you went. And was it good? Was it lots of fun?

**Brian Coords:** It was lots of fun. Um, I drove there with like all my kids cause they wanted to visit family. So like that was terrible. That was a terrible idea to drive through the desert with like my kids in the minivan. Uh, but, um, Phoenix itself was super cool cause I had never been there and the organizers were like, Very, they like picked really cool spots for things like a, there was a speaker dinner at a brewery and there was, uh, the event was in downtown where they're like really revitalizing with a ton of like, great restaurants and coffee shops and kind of like the hip mix of big new high rise buildings and like old classic stuff.

So like, just Phoenix in general was super cool place and the, the organizers did a great job of making Phoenix look.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Nice. And so you went to the speaker dinner. That means you actually spoke there, right?

**Brian Coords:** Yes. So I spoke, um, as you know, because I made you practice, you, I made you be my practice audience, like probably two or three times beforehand. Um, because I did

**Aurooba Ahmed:** It was fun.

**Brian Coords:** first time I was doing that topic, I wanted to like, I wanted it to go well. So I did, I did do a, a, a speaking slash code demo at Word Camp Phoenix this year, which is now available online, which you can watch and, and see my slides and all that stuff, which we'll put in the show.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** yeah, yeah. I think the. Repo as well and everything. All of that turned out really good for that talk. I watched it during practice. I watched it on the live stream because there was a live stream from Word Camp Phoenix and it was excellent.

**Brian Coords:** Well, thank you. I, um, The one thing I will say is I was the very last speaker, like I'm the person, like I wanna go first cuz I want to get it outta the way and enjoy my weekend. But instead I was like the last one. And like, I'm not a person who likes to like stick around to the end. Uh, like, you know, they call it like the Irish goodbye where you just like leave things early and you never say goodbye.

Like, that's totally me. So I was like, I gotta stick through the end both days because, uh, cuz I'm the last person and I wanted to like be there for the other last person on the first day.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Solidarity.

**Brian Coords:** it was, uh, it was a, a thin little crowd, but I, I was, I understood that because if it was me, I would've been taking a nap by then.

Um, but it was fun. It was actually kind of nice. It was a nice, cozy little crowd.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** That's cool. I think that that is also is a, it's a nice, uh, vibe as well. It's a different vibe, but it's a nice one. And you talked about ACF stuff, right?

**Brian Coords:** Yeah. So I. The premise of the talk was: There's so much conversation about people moving away from ACF and moving into the block editor, and everybody's at a different place in that journey. And I wanted to do a talk that was really about, if you're at the very beginning of that journey, and you're still really reliant on using ACF to build your WordPress themes, if you're agency or a freelancer and you, you use custom fields to populate like everything on the front end with these really static templates.

How could you take like a baby step towards using some of the new block editor stuff? That was kind of the, the high level concept of what I was trying to get across.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Right. And then you walk through exactly like how you would trends like convert something, like you have in ACF regular fields into something, into ACF blocks. Right. Because that's sort of that, just maybe jumping a little ahead, but it's a, the middle spot before you go native blocks, right? In a way,

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, and I wanted to start where people were at, which is I, I personally used ACF flexible content rows as the example, which is a very, very like specific mindset. But I do feel like I've talked to a lot of developers who use flexible content rows in advanced custom fields to build out, you know, places for their clients to update content.

## Our histories with ACF

**Brian Coords:** Did you ever do flexible content row like website?

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Oh, definitely. Yeah, I think we talked about this in that in the ACF blocks episode that we did much earlier on. But yeah, I discovered first a repeater and then the flexible content rows very early in my WordPress career, and I used it for a long time to basically build a bespoke custom field focused page builder for my clients.

Right. Which is how I think you used it as well.

**Brian Coords:** You know, the pros and cons of it were like, really? You got to write your own HTML just like you always wanted to. And give your clients these little tiny areas of like, change the heading here, swap out an image here. They could never break anything. You could have like full control.

You could load exactly what you wanted. Um, it was a really great way to do things for a really long time.

## The age of shortcodes is over. The time of the flexible content rows has come.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah, and I remember before that people used to use short codes, but one you can really easily break short codes. They're really, really hard to parse, like visually speaking, when you're working through the content and. It was like you still have lock-in when you use something like ACF Con flexible content row.

So I'm just gonna transition over super easily to another theme or something, but, or at all, depending on how you coded it. But at least it was easier to manage and set up and make sure that you have a really clean editing experience and also a clean front end. Right. That was one of the biggest like advantages of it.

**Brian Coords:** Man, you gave me like a flashback of a site that I built and the site is still up and running now. Like, and every once in a while they reach out and I'm like, please let me rebuild this site. Cuz I built it like more than 10 years ago. But like it was just the classic editor and then just like short code soup, just like.

Oh, you have this icon thing, short codes with short codes inside the short codes and a short code to pick which icon and a, you know, and it was just some text, more short codes. And then if they like hit return like in a short code at the wrong spot, it would kind of like break the formatting cuz the line breaks would get all mixed in with the short codes.

And, oh man, I forgot about like that, that real short code soup era of, uh, so, you know, compared to that flexible content rows were like ground.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah, definitely. It was a, it was like four levels up, you know? It wasn't just like one level up, like, we're like a different tier now. Um, yeah. And that's where we all were for quite a long time, right? That was, that, that was the way you built a bespoke client website if you were a freelancer or an agency.

## Transitioning and staying profitable

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Um, and I think, you know, even now a lot of people do that, but obviously you're in the era of the block editor now and there's this question of how do you transition but still make money, stay profitable, you know? Ha, be efficient.

**Brian Coords:** I think that's the hardest part people have. It's like, you know, nowadays we have the block editor. The block editor's a great thing, but. Man, it takes a lot of time to learn cuz you're, you're really starting from scratch. Everything you knew about WordPress really stops applying all the build things. You know, a lot of it is like you get, once you do something, once in the block editor you're like, okay, this is great, this is fast.

But you have to do everything at least one time, very like from scratch and like very hard to get to that place like you have. Find out the, the best practices just through doing it. And every type of content you do with, you have to learn the limitations and, and the ways to do things.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** And it's not just a matter of slotting in one new piece of tech, right? It's really taking an entire existing workflow, saying bye-bye, and saying hello to an entirely new workflow if you wanna go full on, on the block editor, right? I think that's like the tough part. It's not just one thing you're learning, you're learning like 11 new things in order to make this one thing that you already know how to do with your existing stuff.

Really, really.

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, so what I tried to do is I, the, the, the framing of the presentation was, let's take a site that's built with flexible content rose. And let's convert those rows into ACF blocks and, and ACF blocks. Which, like you said, there's an episode where we go over this, but like there's such a perfect middle ground between building things in PHP with custom fields and using the block editor and getting a little more of a visual editor experience.

And so you can, there's like a spectrum. Your entire page could just be ACF blocks and you could get to build everything the same way you used to, but like you're just not stuck in these like, kind of like bottom of the things and there's a nice backend visual preview. Um, and then you can slowly work your way like to using ACF blocks only for the complicated stuff and using core blocks as you get in there.

maybe I

**Aurooba Ahmed:** even in ACF blocks, right, there's levels. Like you could do just the fields, but you could also technically do innerBlocks. Like you can start to experiment inside ACF blocks and transition even there before you start to like get rid of a ACF blocks for other aspects entirely, right?

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, so why don't I share like the back end and we can kind of talk about this like a little bit in practice and I'll just show,

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Let's do it.

**Brian Coords:** and what I'll do is I'll pull up, this is an actual website.

## Live-coding a presentation

**Brian Coords:** So during the presentation I. Loaded up my local environment and I loaded up some code and I like literally took something built in ACF flexible content row, and I like turned, uh, like one section of it into an ACF block, like live in front of people.

Um, it was, uh, you know, it was a, it was a bold choice, but uh, it did

**Aurooba Ahmed:** I remember when you told me, yeah, I remember when you told me about it and I was really nervous, but I think in, in the end, like it turned out really, really good, you know, with the short snippets and all the stuff that you had prepped beforehand. So it was okay.

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, so my inspiration was, and we should put this in the show notes, was the Nick Diego's WordCamp US. I'm gonna build a real block in like 15 minutes live in front of you and like he does this. So like, if you've never watched it, you should definitely watch it cause he does this great presentation where you like literally build the block as he's talking.

Um, and you get to see it made. And, and plus I just love like live coding things. That's like one of the things I do at work, like showing people how to do stuff. So, um, I think our previous episode had some like live debugging coding stuff. So you, you know, we've gone there. But you actually gave me the best, the best advice, like you saved me on this one, which was using like keyboard shortcuts to expand the code.

So like, you know when you're doing a live demo and you're like typing out your code and then you start doing all these like spelling mistakes while you're typing because of the pressure and the nerves you really like. So yeah,

**Aurooba Ahmed:** All the time on all Zoom calls.

**Brian Coords:** yeah, ex, you're on the zoom call and they're like, can you just add this to the Google doc and you're.

Just hitting keys like, like you've never typed in your life. Yeah.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah.

**Brian Coords:** Oh, so you saved me on that one cuz you, it was like a little like keyboard command and it just like pasted in like the code snippet ahead of time. It was, it was

**Aurooba Ahmed:** It looks so slick. Like watching. It was so slick.

**Brian Coords:** Yeah. There was only one time on one practice, uh, where it did not work and I was like, this is gonna happen, but it was okay.

## Looking at a standard ACF Flexible Content Rows page

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Okay, so I'm looking at your screen right now and I see a dark blue hero area that has an image on one side, and then on the other side it has like a little breadcrumb showing you that you are on a landing page and then there's a headline, and then there's some Lorem Ipsum.

**Brian Coords:** And the, the page itself had a few other components that, um, I would maybe do in a longer version, like a slider and, uh, uh, a featured post like kind of query block and things that you would really want to build with ACF blocks, maybe even like for a long time forward. Um, But this first hero area, you know, people would say to me like, yeah, I could just build that in core blocks.

I'm like, that's a hundred percent true. Like this is very simple to build in core blocks. Um, but it also was something easy to wrap your head around as an example, which is why I I chose to, to do this one.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah. Awesome.

**Brian Coords:** so this is the ed, this is the flexible content rose version of the page, right? This is, you know, some people just turn off the, the block editor when you're using flexible cause, like you're just, you don't get to use it on this page. Um, so that's one version. Um, this version keeps the block editor turned on, but like, you just have to like, ignore the, the content.

Like it's, so, it's not a great experience.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah. You're.

**Brian Coords:** But you know, there's, there's a lot of plug-ins that now really require, I wanna say, or like really heavily expect you to use the block editor. So, um, so this is a concentration. So, but you know, this, this thing where you give clients this just wall of fields, and this is a tiny page. Most pages are like twice as long, you know, it's just kind of like, it's just, it's just not a great experience anymore, is what it feels like.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah, I agree with you. You know, once you've seen like what visual editing can look like and how, I don't know, seamless, it feels and smooth. It's hard to go back to a wall of fields, even though the wall of fields felt like a great level up from the wall of short codes and soups, right?

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, it definitely was. And so,

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah. Our standards have.

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, and I think client expectations have changed. I think people's expectations of what you can do on your phone, on your computer, on social media apps and things like that. Like it's just, you know, we just expect a lot more and we expect a lot more flexibility and giving them that much flexibility with safety of not breaking a site, um, is still pretty hard.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah. I. Okay, so I'm looking at, you know, your flexible content row, and you have a hero section in that flexible content row. And there's a headline and then then a section where you can put in some content. And then there is an image field where you can add an image.

**Brian Coords:** And so, you know, these are the three fields that make up that content. And then there's actually, um, I'll open up the,

## ACF Blocks on the frontend

**Brian Coords:** I'll open up the preview so you can see it, but there's actually a, um- I can- every episode is me trying to remember how to get back to the front end of the website. I think we usually edit this part out.

I'm like, what do I click

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah.

**Brian Coords:** Oh my gosh. Um, it doesn't show it if it's in a new tab. Huh? I'm only sharing the one tab.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Oh yeah, because you didn't share the window.

**Brian Coords:** I, I don't know that it gave me the option. Okay, here we go. The, the developer podcast where your developer cannot, uh, navigate between two browser tabs. So the one. But one piece I'll add here is like, this is the little breadcrumbs that's actually pulling like the PostTitle and stuff.

So, you know, there's a little bit of cool functionality here, but mostly, yeah, we have, here's the three fields being spit out on the front end. Right.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Totally.

**Brian Coords:** Okay. Are we ready to take a look at the block? A version of this?

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah. Let's do.

**Brian Coords:** Okay, so what I did in the presentation was I, um, recreated this page using ACF blocks. So like here on the, we're looking at the front end where it just looks exactly the same.

The hero section looks the same. I don't have any of the other content. But, um, the hero section, uh, Renders exactly the same. And like part of the presentation was showing that actually this is the same exact PHP um, in the theme that you were, you used to build the flexible content row. Like we literally in the pro like copied and pasted the PHP , from a flexible content row to a block.

And it just like, it worked cuz you're, you're literally using the same process of writing your PHP.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah. You just had to change, like instead of a subfield, you, it's actually just a direct field and like there was like a one or two tiny changes. I remember you literally made those changes and then it was just like, boom, you have your, you have your block ified version of the same row. It was, it was pretty cool.

## ACF Blocks in the Block Editor

**Brian Coords:** Yeah. And then, so let's go into the editor.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah.

**Brian Coords:** And this is the best part to me, like this is the part where you go like, oh, okay, this is something I could show clients. It's you're in the block editor and instead of just like an empty content area and like scrolling down to some metabox area and stuff, it's like you're just looking at this front end version of it and your client can just click directly on it and, and just, you know, know exactly which section of the page that they're.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah. And now we don't have to think about what, what are those ambiguous names that sometimes people give. They're flexible rows, like, oh, it's called this like weird swap something and you know, rotating something. And instead it's like, oh yeah, this is what I'm was looking for. It looks exactly the same as the front end, and I can click on it and I can edit it.

**Brian Coords:** I've been building some custom blocks and coming up with the names of them. Like some of 'em I'm like, like there's the name that's in like the design file that the designer gave it, which is usually very specific to the content cuz they're thinking content first, where they're like investment, you know, logos or something.

But like, when you're building it, you're like, well this isn't about investment logos, this is just a logo carousel. So like you're, you're trying to come up with a name that. Gives that's more for its broad functionality and not like the specific content and not having this like about hero section row and like about our company Roe and you know, that kind of stuff.

Oh, the

**Aurooba Ahmed:** yeah.

**Brian Coords:** the, this does kind of

**Aurooba Ahmed:** is always hard.

**Brian Coords:** of that it, yeah. That it really will never go away like naming. Back to the flip, back to the block. So this is the block. This is what's great about it, is if you just click on a block, like you can't edit it in line, like I can't click on the headline or the content or the image and edit it, right? It's not a real one-to-one block editor experience, but like, you know, you can, um, edit the text in the sidebar, like all your custom fields just show up automatically in the sidebar.

So if I change any text, I can do it. Like you can pretty instantly see it. And it pretty quickly updates in the live render. Like it's a pretty fast, easy, , update that your client can do and still see those visual and see what it's gonna look like on the front end.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah. And that, that's really cool. I think, you know, even though it's not, I mean, if this was a real block, you would be able to edit it in that main content area, right? And you'd be able to click on that heading and to change it right there in the design itself. But even without that, this is a really much better experience than flexible content rows for.

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, and then you can also do the version where you hit the little pencil and you can just edit it in line. Like if you need a little more room, sometimes like the sidebar's a little narrow. You can get that like broad room, but like you. I think like knowing that you can even just fall back to a section like this.

Um, to me it's like, It basically takes the weight. Like if you're thinking about transitioning and you're thinking about the pressure of it, knowing that like, okay, maybe I'll spend five or 10 minutes trying to make this with core blocks, and then I will say, if I can't do it in a certain amount of time, I know I can do it this way and I can just have this in there.

## Experimenting with Core Blocks and ACF Blocks

**Brian Coords:** And like you can start going down those experimental paths. But you always know like, I can fall back to this tool that I've used for a decade, and I know really.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah, no, definitely. Um, I think it's really, really cool. Cool to have in your back pocket. And I do think that that part where you say, Hey, let me try making this first in a like a limited amount of time. Let me see if I can make this with core blocks. That's like a really important part as we're transitioning because you still need to allow yourself some space to experiment and try to learn these new things.

And it's a really nice way to say, okay, I have this thing. Maybe I can make it with core blocks. Let me try it. You'll learn something. You'll learn whether you can, you can't, or if there's something else you need to figure out. And then you move on and you do the thing that you need to do for your client, which is actually make this block with ACF.

But as you do that, you're gonna build up those skills, you're gonna build up that knowledge and be able to transition more. Right,

**Brian Coords:** Yeah. And one of the other things we talked about, um, which I don't have in this block demo right here, but like with ACF blocks, because it's such a good middle ground, you can start turning on additional features, um, and starting to support them. And they're a good training ground for what you're gonna need to learn with Gutenberg.

So for. This one, the only, like a core Gutenberg feature we've turned on is this like full or or wide width, which on the screen size, actually, if I get rid of this, I'll probably see it a little better. You know, do I want it to fit to the content area or do I want the block to go full width across the entire content?

That's a Gutenberg feature that we've turned on and that we like supported and that, you know. Between that, between some of the color pickers, some of the dimension stuff, like you start adding that in and you're just starting to like dabble and learn how, how this would work in a, in a block editor environment.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah. Yeah, I think that that's, it's really cool that a ACF supports that stuff and a lot of the structure in the code, like using block.json, like, you know. You're able to go from using something that is not blocks at all to kind of transitioning very gently into, uh, actual blocks. Using the way ACF blocks are like, allows you to pick and choose what parts you wanna support.

**Brian Coords:** Yeah. And speaking of things to support, like one of the more controversial ideas or slides of mine was, uh, Providing an option to turn off, like, so what happens if you build this for a client? But then they can come in and they can start like adding their own core blocks. So, uh, let me do the little block insert.

What happens if they start, you know, that it's kind of scary, right? Like, I have to start supporting all of this stuff. I have to like, you know, oh, there's a, I

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah. And there's styling challenges.

**Brian Coords:** Yeah.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah.

**Brian Coords:** The verse quote. Yeah. And so you do have this kind of idea of like, so we did, or I presented an idea of like, you can get rid of all these blocks.

Like you don't have to have- give your client access to all these, it's a pretty easy piece of code you can copy and paste in and just, you know, trim down all of it, trim down some of it, you know, start thinking about curating that experience a little more with really minimal.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah, I mean if you wanna get rid of all of them, I think it was like what three lines of code that you shared and it'll get rid of all of them. Or you can say, Hey, I wanna like support the paragraph block, but I don't wanna support the verse block. And then you can pick and choose as well. Um, It might be controversial, but I think that it makes a lot of sense from like a transitional sort of perspective. Because when you're transitioning, maybe you're just not ready to support any of them, and you do the same thing where it's like it's a one-to-one going from flexible con content rows to.

ACF blocks, but then slowly you could start to introduce blocks as you learn more about them and you understand how to support them in your theme and then keep adding more and more, you know, like I think that that goes really well with the idea of slowly transitioning and we need to like get rid of this idea that you must be all or nothing with the block editor.

Like that's ridiculous. Like you should, you, it's totally valid to start slow.

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, and I've, I've kind of gone like back and forth with different ways to do it. Like some you. Sometimes it's nice to try to build the whole page in core blocks first when you're, especially when you're dealing with anything that's like static, like headings, paragraphs, columns, all of that sort of stuff, like images, all of that is pretty like, you know, It's not gonna probably be too much of a learning curve for you to be able to do stuff like this.

And then, you know, slowly start leaving like empty areas in your page where you're like, all right, that'll be an ACF block, that'll be an ACF block, that'll be, you know, a core block, that sort of stuff. And you just kinda like, you know, slowly make your way through the process. Um, it's just, you know, you just have to be like open-minded to the idea that, you know, you-

you will one day probably want to be using the core block editor because like, it is WordPress, you know. Like it's, it's, it's like the rest of WordPress is gonna be this, you know, going forward. Like that's, that's what it's gonna be.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** I also think that as you start to use it yourself, you start to come around to it, you start to un enjoy it even, and then you want to be able to like make it more dynamic. You want to make it more of a native experience. Like I, I definitely. Saw that happen with a bunch of my friends where they were doing like ACF blocks only, and for the most part, and then they're like, you know, but you know, I could do this with core blocks, so let me like try to learn to do this a little bit more with that.

And then they saw the power it gave them, and in the long term, how much ease it gave them in supporting their clients. And you know, they, they changed their mind and now they really like it. So I think that that can also happen as you start to play with it.

## On writing the same code for the rest of your life

**Brian Coords:** And like, you know, when I look at like this, it's. I could write this in code, I could make it in a visual editor. At the end of the day, like I don't really wanna write this code like a hundred more times in my life for a simple like two column thing. So this is an Understrap theme and it uses Bootstrap and like I did, you know, the Row and I did columns and I, you know, column medium six and all that classic bootstrap stuff.

And it's like, I can do it. You know, at the end of the day, if I'm using a bunch of classes from Bootstrap or whatever, or I'm just building it with like the, the block editors, like sidebar settings here, you know, at the end of the day, like I kind of just want to get this stuff done faster so that when I do get to that complicated hard stuff, um, I can do it.

I can like spend more time, you know, doing it and like I kind of. I don't really want to go through a project and just do a thing I've done a hundred times, like I want to do new things, I wanna learn new things, I wanna like try new things. Like that's kind of the fun of being a developer.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah. You know, we learn all the time. We're all trying new things. I agree. And. Having the room to be more thoughtful about the complicated, more interesting parts of a project. Whatever we can do to make that happen, not only is that good for us, it's good for the client too, right? If we are able to give them a better product because we've taken away the re rep repetitive, redundant stuff and don't have to deal with it.

So I think there's a lot of long-term advantages to it, but I also think that, yeah, you know, we're all allowed to transition slowly. We're all allowed to take this approach that you shared. It's okay to not go all in all at once.

**Brian Coords:** If you're working with a designer, who know, builds things saying like a Figma or something like that. Like the day will come where that person will not need you to write the code. And, you know, for these sorts of things, like the, you know, the future of like how websites are built is definitely gonna change.

And so like, I think I was pretty slow to jump on the path of like learning a lot of these skills and now I'm like, I think the time has really come where like it's, it's the time. Yeah. And you just need a, you need a co-host who can like, help you walk you through it, but like, It's the time has come to do these sorts of things.

## Transitioning from ACF Blocks to native blocks

**Brian Coords:** And then now I've been building a lot of like native blocks and I use like a lot of dynamic blocks. And then you realize like all this stuff I did with ACF blocks has made especially dynamic blocks in WordPress, um, which is like a type of a core native block. You're like, this is almost the same thing.

Like it's so close to it that you're like, wow, I like if you can, once you can master an ACF block, you're really not that far from building, um, a dynamic. Um, that's very similar and you can actually click and edit and stuff like, it's, it that like step is actually not that, not that bad.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah, you're right. I mean, there's still a little bit of JavaScript, but I remember, you know, I started making blocks before I really understood React or JavaScript. Like there's enough tutorial, there's enough examples out there right now for those fields to be able to set up a lot of the basic stuff that we use, um, constantly when we're building blocks.

So, I'm glad You're right. It is the time and I think the more we can encourage people to take that, you know, baby step and, and start to transition, the better it is for all of us, the better it is for the ecosystem.

**Brian Coords:** Yeah, so if you are curious, I would say go and we'll put a link, the show notes, I put like a landing page on my website that has the video from the actual presentation, the slides, the code, the snippets, all that stuff will be in the show notes. Well, we should definitely put links to our, like ACF blocks, native blocks, like two-parter cuz that's definitely, we go way more into depth on all of this stuff.

And um, and then once you're ready, we have our, , React series also that just kind of goes even deeper into it once you're past that point. But, you know, the resources are getting out there, so, uh, definitely click around and see if that.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Well, I'm really happy that you got to be part of one of the, you know, first WordCamps to come back after Covid, and it was a really great talk. I enjoyed it the many times that I watched it

**Brian Coords:** Thank you.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Yeah.

**Brian Coords:** And I will say there, of all the talks, there was a lot of really good talks. I'm waiting for them to do the edited videos so I can make a, a list of like some of the ones that I saw in person that were some of my favorites. But there was, um, some really cool new unique stuff all around AI and modern PHP and like all this other stuff, um, at that WordCamp So if you want to, you know, blow an afternoon or two, definitely scroll through the YouTube feed, there, cause there's some really good stuff.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** Well, we'll have all of that for everyone in the show notes, and I guess we'll see you all in the next episode.

**Brian Coords:** All right. See you next week.

**Aurooba Ahmed:** See ya.

**Brian Coords:** Visit for the latest updates and links to the show notes. Review and subscribe to viewSource in iTunes, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Creators and Guests

Aurooba Ahmed
Aurooba Ahmed
(she/her) Developer building bespoke #WordPress solutions, tools, and blocks. My name is pronounced "oo-ROO-ba" — Default to kindness, folks.
Brian Coords
Brian Coords
WordPress developer and writer blah blah
Transitioning from ACF Flexible Content Fields to ACF Blocks
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