Updates to Block Hooks in 6.5

First introduced in WordPress 6.4, BlockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. HooksHooks In WordPress theme and development, hooks are functions that can be applied to an action or a Filter in WordPress. Actions are functions performed when a certain event occurs in WordPress. Filters allow you to modify certain functions. Arguments used to hook both filters and actions look the same. offer an extensibility mechanism for Block Themes that allows extenders to inject a dynamic block in a location specified by an “anchor” block and a relative position. (For example, before or after the Post Content block.)

WordPress 6.5 updates Block Hooks to make them more widely useful and includes some frequently requested new features.

New features

Modified layouts

Previously restricted to layouts – templates, template parts, and patterns – that didn’t have any user modifications, Block Hooks now also work with modified layouts. This works out of the box; extenders do not need to update their code to benefit from this. Block Hooks will continue to respect user customizations. If a user moves or deletes a hooked block in the Site Editor, the Block Hooks mechanism will not re-insert it, thus preserving the user’s express intentions.

Navigation block

Additionally, it is now possible to inject hooked blocks into the Navigation block. Previously, a hooked block could only be added before or after the Navigation block, but now it can also be added as its first or last child.

As a consequence, the hooked_block_types filterFilter Filters are one of the two types of Hooks https://codex.wordpress.org/Plugin_API/Hooks. They provide a way for functions to modify data of other functions. They are the counterpart to Actions. Unlike Actions, filters are meant to work in an isolated manner, and should never have side effects such as affecting global variables and output.’s $context argument can now also be a WP_Post object with its post type set to wp_navigation.

This means that a negative condition, such as if ( ! $context instanceof WP_Block_Template ), is no longer sufficient to conclude that $context is an array (i.e., a pattern). Instead, use an affirmative check, such as if ( is_array( $context ) ).

The following example adds a (hypothetical) Shopping Cart block as the Navigation block’s last child, after ensuring that the block isn’t already present elsewhere in the Navigation menuNavigation Menu A theme feature introduced with Version 3.0. WordPress includes an easy to use mechanism for giving various control options to get users to click from one place to another on a site.:

function add_shopping_cart_block_to_navigation_block( $hooked_block_types, $relative_position, $anchor_block_type, $context ) {
	// Is $context a Navigation menu?
	if ( ! $context instanceof WP_Post || 'wp_navigation' !== $context->post_type ) {
		return $hooked_block_types;

	// Does the Navigation menu already contain the block?
	if ( str_contains( $context->post_content, '<!-- wp:my-ecommerce/shopping-cart' ) ) {
		return $hooked_block_types;

	if ( 'last_child' === $relative_position && 'core/navigation' === $anchor_block_type ) {
		$hooked_block_types[] = 'my-ecommerce/shopping-cart';
	return $hooked_block_types;
add_filter( 'hooked_block_types', 'add_shopping_cart_block_to_navigation_block', 10, 4 );

New filters

In order to offer more fine-grained control over hooked blocks, two new filters have been introduced: hooked_block and hooked_block_{$hooked_block_type}. Both share the following signature:

  • $parsed_hooked_block (array|null) – The hooked block, in parsed block array format, or null, indicating that a previous filter has suppressed the injection of the given block.
  • $hooked_block_type (string) – The hooked block type name.
  • $relative_position (string) – The relative position of the hooked block (can be one of before, after, first_child, or last_child).
  • $parsed_anchor_block (array) – The anchor block, in parsed block array format.
  • $context (WP_Block_Template|WP_Post|array) – The block template, template part, wp_navigation post type, or pattern that the anchor block belongs to.

One of the most frequently requested features for Block Hooks was the ability to set a hooked block’s attributes. While it is generally advised to choose default values for block attributes that work well when the block is used as a hooked block, it is now possible to set custom values for its attributes via these new filters.

In addition, the filters allow setting a hooked block’s inner blocks (and, by extension, wrapping it inside of another block), or suppressing the hooked block altogether (by returning null).

Finally, the filters are also given the anchor block instance as an argument, so it’s possible to, for example, set the hooked block’s attributes based on the anchor block’s:

function set_block_layout_attribute_based_on_adjacent_block( $hooked_block, $hooked_block_type, $relative_position, $anchor_block ) {
	// Has the hooked block been suppressed by a previous filter?
	if ( is_null( $hooked_block ) ) {
		return $hooked_block;

	// Is the hooked block adjacent to the anchor block?
	if ( 'before' !== $relative_position && 'after' !== $relative_position ) {
		return $hooked_block;

	// Does the anchor block have a layout attribute?
	if ( isset( $anchor_block['attrs']['layout'] ) ) {
		// Copy the anchor block's layout attribute to the hooked block.
		$hooked_block['attrs']['layout'] = $anchor_block['attrs']['layout'];

	return $hooked_block;
add_filter( 'hooked_block_my/like-button', 'set_block_layout_attribute_based_on_adjacent_block', 10, 4 );

For more examples, refer to the snippets found in the description of the PR that introduced the new filters.

Plugins block inspector panel toggles

The toggles for each hooked block in the block inspector’s “Plugins” panel have been updated to fix a confusing behavior that would remove the toggle in certain cases after it was deactivated. Furthermore, toggles are now shown for blocks added by the hooked_block_types filter; note that due to technical limitations, this currently only works for layouts that have user modifications.

A screenshot showing a Navigation block selected in the Site Editor. The block contains 'News', 'About', and 'Logout' links, and a shopping cart icon.

The Block Inspector sidebar is open. It is showing the 'Plugins' panel with toggles for the hooked blocks: one for the Shopping Cart, and one for the Login/out link.

Under the hood

The major technical challenge to making Block Hooks work with modified layouts was to ensure they would continue respecting user customizations to a given layout. That is, when a block was persisted, moved, or deleted by the user in the Site Editor, it wouldn’t end up being re-inserted by the Block Hooks mechanism.

It turned out that this problem could be solved by essentially a “finer-grained” version of the same principle (i.e., modified vs. unmodified). This is achieved by storing information about hooked block types in an ignoredHookedBlocks array inside the global metadata attribute on the anchor block. Specifically, it works via the two following operations:

On write (i.e., persisting a modified layout to the database): All hooked block types that were present during the edit are persisted to their respective anchor block’s ignoredHookedBlocks arrays. (Note that this is regardless of the nature of the edit: It works the same both for when the hooked block is persisted and when it is removed.)

On read (i.e., rendering on the front end or loading into the Site Editor): The Block Hooks mechanism will now look for the presence of a given hooked block type inside its anchor block’s ignoredHookedBlocks array. If a hooked block’s type name is found in that array, it will be ignored (i.e., not injected).

See this Trac ticket for more information on how this solution was conceived.

For controlled inner blocks: For inner blocks that aren’t present inside the containing block but loaded separately at runtime, the same ignoredHookedBlocks array is stored, but in a new post metaMeta Meta is a term that refers to the inside workings of a group. For us, this is the team that works on internal WordPress sites like WordCamp Central and Make WordPress. field _wp_ignored_hooked_blocks instead of in the containing block’s attributes. This is how hooked blocks work in the Navigation block with its external wp_navigation post.

With these new features in place and several important limitations lifted, Block Hooks can now be used across a large number of layouts, without paying heed to whether the user has modified a layout or not. Specialized filters allow you to fine-tune hooked blocks by setting their attributes and inner blocks while also taking information about the anchor block instance into account when doing so. This makes Block Hooks a more intuitive and powerful tool for extending Block Themes.

We’re looking forward to seeing what extenders will create with this APIAPI An API or Application Programming Interface is a software intermediary that allows programs to interact with each other and share data in limited, clearly defined ways.!

Props to @dmsnell, @gziolo, @ndiego, and @leonnugraha for peer review.

#6-5, #dev-notes, #dev-notes-6-5