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WordPress 5.9 to Introduce New API for Locking Blocks

The advent of block themes delivers more creative power into the hands of users, but there are times when theme authors may want to lock down key elements of a design and its designated content areas. First introduced in Gutenberg 11.6, the upcoming WordPress 5.9 release will include a new API for locking blocks.

Template level locking has been available in Gutenberg for a few years, allowing developers to lock the template on the UI so that users can’t manipulate the blocks. This new API offers more granular control that can be applied on the block level and override template locking.

“Instead of applying a lock to all inner blocks, you can apply it selectively to individual blocks via the lock attribute,” Marcus Kazmierczak said in the dev note. “The block level locking would supersede the inherited templateLock value. You can choose to lock moving or removing a block.”

One of the primary use cases for locking individual blocks, cited in the ticket proposing the new API, is where one might lock the “post-content” block of a single template so users can’t remove it.

“Another use case that we’re building for is having a Checkout Block with different blocks that act as fundamental steps, we don’t want people to delete or move those steps since they’re fundamental and their order is also important, but we want to allow people to select them, access settings, and insert blocks in between them,” WooCommerce engineer Seghir Nadir said.

Kazmierczak’s dev note demonstrates how developers can lock a specific block in a pattern and explained how block level locking is not inheritable.

“If a block is locked from being removed, its children can still be removed,” Kazmierczak said. “If you want to apply locking on children as well, add templateLock to the inner block component, or templateLock attribute to supporting blocks.”

For more information on the new locking mechanism, check out the Block Editor Handbook and the code examples in the dev note.