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:
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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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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