Proposals/Basic magic block

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At the moment, we are still using the working title of "Magic block" for this new feature as that where it originated from in discussions with Lisa Donaldson and Mark Glynn from Dublin City University. It will become the default block in Mahara when implemented.

Forum discussion


Be able to create templates more easily by setting up the basic structure, including block headings, but without the need to choose a specific block type from the start.


  • A template page can be created and blocks added to it without the template creator determining from the start what content needs to appear in the specific blocks giving more freedom to the portfolio authors.
  • Template creators do not need to add instructions on removing a specific block if the portfolio authors wants to use something else, making the template easier to work with.
  • A block can be dragged into a page but its content doesn't have to be decided on immediately by a portfolio author.


Note: The images on this page are wireframes and illustrate the concept. Icons, buttons etc. are not to scale, and the final icons as well as text can still change.

The content chooser that is currently displayed on the left-hand side of a page when it is in "Edit" mode is removed. Instead, a new block is added to the page without the need to select the content type.

Magic block 1.png

Once a block has been added to a page, its settings can be decided on later. When a block type is selected, it can't be changed unless no settings have been changed yet or the block is not saved but cancelled.

Magic block 2.png

  1. Typically, the block title needs to be set. Since a block type is not automatically selected, it will not receive that directly as default text. It can be left empty, but then nothing will be seen in "Display" mode of a page, and the blocks can only be made out in "Edit" mode.
  2. The content type does not need to be selected upon the creation of the block. This area is the replacement for the current "Content chooser". When a type has been selected, the relevant block settings are displayed in the modal window.
  3. The most frequently used block types are displayed with an icon. At first, this might mean that the order cannot be changed by the site administrator.
  4. Additional content types can be selected from a drop-down menu.
  5. The "Save" button is clicked to make the changes. The block can be updated as often as possible.

Related changes

  1. Move the theme selector from the block edit screen to the page settings screen

Tech notes

  • Our current automatic block titles need to be rethought because nothing needs to be selected at the start, and the title should then not be overwritten automatically when a specific block title is selected.
  • A block type review, i.e. consolidating certain blocks into fewer, is desirable, but not necessary for this feature.