Volto Blocks – Effective Volto – Architecture

Volto Blocks

Volto Blocks#

Volto features the Pastanaga Editor Engine, allowing you to visually compose a page using blocks. The editor allows you to add, modify, reorder and delete blocks given your requirements. Blocks provide the user the ability to display content in an specific way, although they can also define behavior and have specific features.

Volto's blocks are one of its most attractive propositions and represent the culmination of Plone's community efforts for a full composite page solution. They are loved by both the editors and developers for their ease of use, and this is demonstrated by the big numbers of open source blocks already available.

Their secret is that they're almost self-contained mini-applications, supported by Volto's infrastructure, so they can be anything and they can easily integrate the huge number of React libraries. Sliders, carousels, fully editable charts, layout solutions like tabs, accordions, rows and columns, they can all be powered by Volto's blocks.

Volto ships with several built-in blocks (richtext editor, listing, image, table of contents, html, etc) and can easily be extended with new blocks, completly replace the existing blocks or enhance the blocks with new features.

Volto Blocks engine#

Any Dexterity content type can be made compatible with Volto blocks engine by enabling the Blocks behavior. From the Content Types Control Panel it's also possible to define a default blocks layout for a particular content type.

A Volto block is defined in the Volto Configuration Registry, the config.blocks.blocksConfig branch:

  html: {
    id: 'html',
    title: 'HTML',
    icon: codeSVG,
    group: 'common',
    view: ViewHTMLBlock,
    edit: EditHTMLBlock,
    schema: HtmlBlockSettingsSchema,
    blockSchema: HtmlBlockSchema,
    restricted: false,
    mostUsed: false,
    sidebarTab: 0,
    security: {
      addPermission: [],
      view: [],

A Volto block is two React component: the Edit and the View component. These components receive the data as input property and the onChangeBlock callback to upstream the modified data. They can be any valid React components, but typically they integrate with several Volto facilities:

  • The SidebarPortal, which allows edit components to place things inside the editing CMS UI right-side Sidebar

  • The BlockDataForm which allows editing a block's data with a form autogenerated from the blockSchema. It provides variations-aware schema-based forms for JSON data, so it can be placed in the Sidebar

  • Variations and Styling extensions, which open schema-powered blocks to "third-party" extensions.

The block manifests its data a simple JavaScript Object:

  "@type": "heroBlock"
  // anything else we want

Passed down from the main Edit Form are the block id and several callbacks, the main one being onChangeBlock. So, when writing the most basic block edit component, all we need to do is something like:

    '@type': 'heroBlock',
    title: "My hero block",
    text: "something here"
    // ... something else

Almost all Volto blocks use the Sidebar to place additional settings and controls for the data they provide. To simplify this task, we define this block data form using a block schema, which is derived from the way plone.restapi publishes edit schemas for backend content types.

Note: these schemas are pure "frontend" schemas, they are not defined in the Plone backend, but only in Volto frontend code.

Once we have the schema, in the Edit component of that block, we can use it to generate the Sidebar controls:

  <SidebarPortal selected={selected}>
      onChangeField={(id, value) => {
        onChangeBlock(block, {
          [id]: value,

Being able to have the block edit controls expressed as data (the schemas) allows us to programatically manipulate the data (the schema and the generated controls), so we open the door to the schemaEnhancer mechanism.

By mutating the Volto Configuration Registry settings for a block and adding/overwriting the schemaEnhancer, you can configure a function that can tweak the schema. This functionality is provided by the BlockDataForm component, see the BlockDataForm page.