Skip to main content

Element Structure

Every element is represented with settings files and JS/PHP files. The best way to understand element structure is to clone our boilerplate repository on GitHub.

There are certain files required to build element:

  • manifest.json – describes element data, preview, thumbnail, description, category and PHP files;
  • package.json – npm install/update files for required node modules;
  • webpack.config – files to build a component with Webpack;
  • Directory {tag}:
  • cssMixins directory – cssMixin.pcss: POSTCSS file that holds mixin for custom generated style;
  • public directory – may contain custom CSS, JS, and images for public view
  • index.js – the main file, build with Webpack;
  • component.js – ReactJs component contains VCWB editor component. This component is used only in the editor and contains element built-in methods that provide additional functionality.
  • settings.json – describes element attributes;
  • .php files – required PHP files (must be described in ../manifest.json);
  • editor.css – CSS files which will be used only in the editor;
  • style.css – CSS files which will be used on the frontend to display content.

Package file#

The package.json file is a configuration file used in web development projects that contains information about the project and its dependencies.

Among various packages that might be specified in your package.json file, you should pay attention to the vc-webpack-vendors package under the devDependencies property.

This package contains dependency packages for building Visual Composer element. You can get familiar with the contents of this package in our GitHub repository.

You should keep your package.json file up to date in order to properly build your elements.


Make sure you have the latest vc-webpack-vendors package. You can always check the latest package.json file in our element boilerplate on GitHub.

Settings File#

settings.json file example:

{  "output": {    "type": "htmleditor",    "access": "public",    "value": "<p>ElementBoilerplate API. HTML editor also the part of the editor</p>"  },  "designOptions": {    "type": "designOptions",    "access": "public",    "value": {},    "options": {      "label": "Design Options"    }  },  "editFormTab1": {    "type": "group",    "access": "protected",    "value": [      "output"    ],    "options": {      "label": "General"    }  },  "metaEditFormTabs": {    "type": "group",    "access": "protected",    "value": [      "editFormTab1",      "designOptions"    ]  },  "relatedTo": {    "type": "group",    "access": "protected",    "value": [      "General"    ]  },  "tag": {    "access": "protected",    "type": "string",    "value": "elementBoilerplate"  }}

File settings.json stores description of attributes and element dependencies. An attribute is an object with a unique key. Attributes have a type, access, value and options (optional) properties. access represents an ability to change a value of the attribute from the inner part of the system. options can differ for different attributes.


There are two types of access of attributes:

  • Edit form attribute;
  • Meta attribute.

Edit form attributes are those attributes that represent any settings in editForm for a user. The editor has public access to attributes. Each attribute is displayed element form control which can be easily managed by customers with programming knowledge. Public attribute values can be accessed in the component.js file via this.props.atts. Each attribute has a type and options. Type is how this attributes will be displayed in editForm and how it will be saved in data storage of edited document. Options property is an object that may contain multiple properties which can extend an attribute.

Meta attributes are system attributes with protected access. Meaning that these attributes can’t be edited and are used by the editor. There are following meta attribute keys available:

Attributes may react to self or other attributes value change. The change is defined by the rules set and the action applied when the rule is matched (e.g. toggle attribute may show/hide another attribute field.) Rules and actions are defined under the onChange property within an attribute options property. An attribute may have multiple rules. A rule may have additional options.

Manifest File#

manifest.json file example:

{  "elements": {    "imageGalleryWithTestZoom": {      "settings": {        "name": "Image Gallery With Test Zoom",        "metaThumbnailUrl": "[publicPath]/image-gallery-with-zoom-thumbnail.png",        "metaPreviewUrl": "[publicPath]/image-gallery-with-zoom-preview.png",        "metaDescription": "A grid type image gallery with a test zoom effect upon hover to catch visitors' attention."      }    }  },  "categories": {    "Image gallery": {      "elements": [        "imageGalleryWithTestZoom"      ]    }  }}

File manifest.json stores main meta information about the element:

  • Tag;
  • Name;
  • Description;
  • Thumbnail/Preview images URLs;
  • The category where the element should be available;
  • phpFiles list of PHP files to be autoloaded on WordPress init.

Element categories#

Element category specifies to which category the element belongs. Depending on a category a corresponding icon will be displayed in the Tree View panel and in the element controls when you hover over the element.

Element category is specified in the manifest.json file and should always start with a capital letter. Below is the list of all available categories and how they should be defined, copy and paste to your project:

  • Row
  • Column
  • Tabs
  • Tab
  • Button
  • Header & Footer
  • Feature
  • Feature section
  • Section
  • Hero section
  • Icon
  • Image Slider
  • Single image
  • Image gallery
  • Text block
  • Misc
  • Pricing table
  • Social
  • Videos
  • WooCommerce
  • Separators
  • Maps
  • Grids
  • _postsGridSources
  • _postsGridItems
  • Toggle
  • Message Box
  • Hover Box
  • WordPress
  • Feature Description
  • Call To Action
  • Empty Space
  • Testimonial
  • Accordions
  • Accordion Section
  • Charts

Webpack Configs and Build#

When all settings and components are done need to build element with a help of Webpack. Just use yarn install && yarn build.

yarn install // Install all the element dependencies (must be same as visualcomposer)

yarn build // Build development build

yarn watch // Builds & watches development version on file modification

yarn build-production // Builds the minified build