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Advanced Custom Fields: A WordPress Theme Developer’s Best Friend

By Thad Bloom

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Have you ever had to tell a client that a portion of their website is not editable within the WordPress administration? Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) is an essential plugin for WordPress theme developers that will give your client more freedom to manage their website and allow you to take control of how the content is displayed.

ACF allows the use of flexible data within your WordPress posts, pages, custom content types, templates and more. Imagebox has been using ACF for more than a year and it has changed the way we create themes for our clients.

Why is this plugin so awesome?

  • You can visually create fields
  • Create custom fields from multiple input types (text, textarea, WYSIWYG, image, file, page link, post object, relationship, select, checkbox, radio buttons, date picker, true / false, repeater, flexible content, gallery and more to come!)
  • Assign your custom fields to multiple edit pages (via custom location rules)
  • Uses the native WordPress custom post type and metadata for ease of use and fast processing

In the past, we would program complicated option pages from scratch that wouldn’t always turn out as intended and required an excessive amount of time to implement. ACF provides a great GUI interface for developers to create custom fields to leverage inside of WordPress theme templates, creating the ultimate experience for the client.

What types of fields can I create?

What types of fields do you want to create? The possibilities are endless; ACF provides fields for just about anything, right out of the box. See ACF’s page in the WordPress plugin directory for a complete list.

Could you show me an example of that?

Here are some examples of how we have leveraged the power of ACF:

  1. On Kelly-Strayhorn Theater’s website, we are using ACF to help control Events (along with the aid of a Custom Post Type)
  2. On Sherwood Oak’s website, we used the Options Page premium add-on to make the websites footer, sidebar content, banner images and logo easily editable in the WordPress admin. The homepage slideshow is also controlled by ACF fields.
  3. Iron Bridge Integration’s website uses ACF to make the homepage content blocks editable with WordPress’ default WYSIWYG editor.

The capabilities of ACF are up to your imagination. ACF provides a stable framework for building helpful editable regions for your clients. If you are interested in more advanced tutorials that include code examples, or have any questions regarding the use of ACF do not hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to provide some insight.

4 thoughts on “Advanced Custom Fields: A WordPress Theme Developer’s Best Friend

  1. I have never worked with ACFs before. Sounds interesting. I will have to read up on this a bit more and try to play around with these. Thanks for the tip! 😉

  2. Thad,

    I’ve just started using ACF and like it, espeically with the options page stuff and repeater field.

    I’d like to start using this for my own themes, and had a question: what’s your opinion on using this as opposed to something like the options framework or nhp options frameworks for options pages?

    Is there an advantage to using those other ones over ACF?

    1. Hi Craig,

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of experience with the Options Framework plugin or NHP Options. I just installed NHP Options locally and noticed that it came packaged with a ton of cool features.

      I would say that if you have enough PHP knowledge, then the NHP Options framework would probably be a better choice.

      I think ACF is great for beginners or developers who focus only on front-end.

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