Encoding serialized attributes for Gutenberg blocks in PHP

I stumbled backwards into this and didn’t see it discussed anywhere else yet, so here’s a path for anyone else finding themselves temporarily confused and internet searching.

Say you’ve created a custom block for the WordPress block editor, Gutenberg. In addition to regular content, there are one or more attributes associated with the block:

<!-- wp:jf/custom { "data":"Some data assigned as an attribute." } /-->

Now that you have the block in place, you want to migrate the meta from thousands of posts into this structure and inject it into the post content. This data can contain all sorts of characters, including quotes and HTML markup.

If you enter quotes and HTML markup directly into Gutenberg, the content is saved like so:

<!-- wp:jf/custom { "data":"Hey, a \u003Ca href=\u0022http:s\/\/jeremyfelt.com\/\u0022\u003Elink to my website\u003C\/a\u003E." } /-->

This works because the Block API replaces a handful of special characters via regex after JSON.stringify()has done the initial translation.

WordPress does not have a PHP mirror of the Block API’s serializeAttributes(), but the existing functions for encoding JSON are really flexible. Per the documentation for json_encode(), which itself is used by wp_json_encode(), a handful of constants are available to apply as a bitmask to ensure specific characters are encoded in a specific way.

So we end up with this:

<?php
// String from non-Gutenberg data source.
$string = 'Hey, a <a href="https://jeremyfelt.com/">link to my website</a>.';

$attribute = wp_json_encode( $string, JSON_HEX_TAG | JSON_HEX_APOS | JSON_HEX_QUOT | JSON_HEX_AMP | JSON_UNESCAPED_UNICODE );

// And $attribute is now:
// "Hey, a \u003Ca href=\u0022https:\/\/jeremyfelt.com\/\u0022\u003Elink to my website\u003C\/a\u003E."

// If storing with wp_insert_post(), etc...
$attribute = addslashes( $attribute );

$block = '<!-- wp:jf/custom { "data":' . $attribute . ' } /-->';

And the block string can now be stored as part of the post content.

Note: addslashes() is needed if storing the data with wp_insert_post(), etc… because those strip slashes and \u003Ca looks like a slash that needs to be stripped unless it itself is slashed.

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