10 WordPress Plugins to Supercharge Advanced Custom Fields

I have to admit – I have a bit of a dev-crush on Advanced Custom Fields (ACF). The popular WordPress plugin allows you to build some incredibly powerful and user-friendly customizations. It takes WP’s already built-in ability to use custom fields and adds an attractive GUI for ease of use. But that’s really just scratching the surface.

Using ACF, you can create a custom UI that makes adding content a breeze. This makes for better efficiency and serves as a helping hand for non-technical users.

For example, you might dedicate a section of your website to staff member profiles. You could create custom fields for each person’s name, title, email address, photo and biography.

From there, you add the custom fields to your theme’s template so that they display exactly the way you want. The result is that inputting content is quite simple and you ensure that the data displays consistently on the front end. So yeah, that’s why I love using this plugin!

Even better is that several developers have created companion plugins that add even more cool features to ACF. Let’s have a look:

ACF Theme Code

ACF Theme Code solves a very common issue when adding custom fields – you need to add code to your theme in order to render that data (although Shortcodes are also available for more simple implementations). This can get rather complicated even for seasoned developers.

Using this plugin, a code snippet for each field is displayed at the bottom of an ACF page that you can copy and paste into your theme. A pro version adds more features, including compatibility with several third party add-ons (some of which are in this roundup).

ACF Theme Code

Advanced Custom Fields: Font Awesome Field

This plugin combines my passions for both ACF and Font Awesome icons. It adds a field that lets users choose an icon to go along with their content.

For example, I recently used this to add icons to text headings within a page. It makes for a nice way to separate content and provide context to visitors. Plus, people really like to pick out their own icons.

Advanced Custom Fields: Font Awesome Field

Advanced Custom Fields: Table Field

Here’s an easy way to add custom field data to HTML tables. What’s nice is that the non-technical user can enter data without having to worry about breaking anything. Simply drag rows or columns to reposition them. Tables can also have an optional header.

Advanced Custom Fields: Table Field

Advanced Custom Fields: Gravityforms Add-on

Both ACF and Gravity Forms are among the most flexible WordPress plugins. So it makes sense that there’s now a way to tie them together. This add-on creates a new “Forms” field type that will allow the user to select the form of their choice from a drop-down list.

Advanced Custom Fields: Gravityforms Add-on

Advanced Custom Fields: Image Crop Add-on

When building a UI that includes an image field, you often have specific image dimensions in mind. Users, however, don’t always pay attention. WordPress can try to automatically crop large images but the results may not be pretty. Here we have a plugin that will allow the user to crop an image to the exact dimensions you specify.

Advanced Custom Fields: Image Crop Add-on

Advanced Custom Fields Repeater & Flexible Content Fields Collapser

The ACF repeater field is very handy for managing content. But its display within the WordPress backend can get messy.

That’s where the Repeater & Flexible Content Fields Collapser comes in to save the day. It collapses each row of fields in a repeater (except for the first) to tidy up your screen. It does the same for the flexible content field as well.

Advanced Custom Fields Repeater & Flexible Content Fields Collapser

Ajax Load More for Advanced Custom Fields

The Ajax Load More plugin adds infinite scrolling to various aspects of your WordPress Website. This add-on brings that same lazy loading functionality to ACF repeater, flexible content, gallery and relationship fields.

Ajax Load More for Advanced Custom Fields

ACF Code Field

As the plugins’ name indicates, a “Code” field is added to ACF. Based on the Codemirror JS plugin, you can now easily add code examples through a custom field. This could be a great solution for those who run a tutorial-based or code repository website.

ACF Code Field

ACF to REST API

If you’re taking advantage of the WordPress REST API to build custom applications, you’ll also want the ability to pass along custom field endpoints. ACF to REST API allows you to choose fields to both share with and be editable through the API.

ACF Code Field

ACF qTranslate

Meant to be paired with qTranslate X, this ACF add-on will add dynamic multilingual capabilities to a variety of custom field types (text, text area, WYSIWYG, image and file). This is a very handy tool when managing a multilingual website.

ACF qTranslate

Build It Your Way

If you’re serious about developing with WordPress, then custom fields are a must-have tool. With Advanced Custom Fields, you have the ability to customize just about any type of content scenario imaginable. It’s one of the tools that help make WordPress a truly powerful platform.

But combining ACF with the add-ons above will bring even more convenience and flexibility to the party. It will allow you to transform a standard website into something much more dynamic.

Comments

  • Patrick Baldwin

    ACF is garbage. Serious bloatware coded terribly. We inherited a site that uses it that suffers from major slowdown. As soon as I deactivate the plug-in it’s lightning fast.
    I’ve come across this plug-in lots, I would never use it from scratch.

    It abuses your post meta table creating hundreds of thousands of records in a site with a couple thousand posts.

    Editor functionality should be part of your codebase anyway. If your site requires certain editors should they really be stored in your database? Have you ever tried staging and migrating editor updates? Nightmare…

  • Nice list gathered… really helpful, thanks for sharing

  • Interesting. We use ACF exclusively to build our WordPress sites and we don’t ever experience slowdowns like what you describe. Perhaps its something inherently wrong with the theme, rather than it being ACF.

  • Patrick Baldwin

    No, I fully understand how it works. I’ve been developing with WordPress for over 10 years and have created more than a dozen plugins on my own.

    I get that’s it’s great for the non technical, budget conscious crowd, but that’s not who I build websites for. Plus my comment was about the abuse of the postmeta table, which no one has actually refuted…

    Why do you claim that it’s one of the best developed plugins? Because it does what you want it to? That doesn’t mean that it’s not a steaming pile of coding garbage. Every single file is loaded on bootstrap. Unless you’re running compiled PHP you’re wasting resources on every page load to bootstrap 90% of functionality that isn’t used.

    I get it, it’s the best plug-in on the web for hack developers working for cheap clients

  • samjco

    Hey Patrick, Have you tried the export ACF PHP function within ACF? This should kinda cut back on a lot of renderings and use of resources the plugin uses for non-savvy developers. If you want another option for strict developers.. you can try the rising star, CodeStar Framework http://codestarframework.com/ cheers!