Introduction to Advanced Custom Fields – ACF (Free and Pro) and the ultimate guide to better exploit it
ACF Pro (Advanced Custom Fields Pro) is a popular WordPress plugin that allows users to create custom fields. This is the paid version of ACF. Several things often intrigued us when it came time to choose tools for creating WordPress websites. Indeed, preconceived solutions are excellent; however, sometimes come with unnecessary options. On the other hand, WordPress does not by default offer an easy option to create a theme or feature from scratch. After exploring several online extensions or modules, we settled on the ACF. In this article, we tell you what it is. We'll see how it works. Our article will talk about the pros and cons. At the end of the article, we will see why we prefer to use it for creating custom websites.
What is ACF (Advanced Custom Fields)?
Under WordPress, you have by default, the classic forms (WYSIWG – What You SEE IS WHAT YOU GET) or the block editor for creating pages or categories. These forms are not always adapted to your reality. For example, if you have a page talking about an achievement, you might need an option for customer testimonials. To enter this data, for example, you would want an option independent of the form on the page. Therefore, creating custom fields may be necessary. ACF (Advanced Custom Fields) is a popular WordPress plugin that allows you to create custom fields. You can use it to create fields on:
- The pages of your website
- The publications
- The categories form
- The label forms…
The PRO version of ACF (ACF Pro) offers several other options. Additional options include:
- Creating reusable blocks for the Block Editor
- The options for the website
- Flexible content.
The options you might have.
ACF Pro offers great flexibility and ease. Indeed, it allows to create fields of different types such as
- text fields,
- The drop-down list,
- radio button, image,
- of relationship,
- group, etc.
ACF Pro also offers advanced features. Among which you can have:
- repeating fields,
- the display condition of the fields according to the values of the other fields,
- import/export of custom fields,
- support for custom fields in taxonomy fields and comments,
- and customizing settings for each field.
What is the difference between ACF and ACF Pro?
The ACF is the free version that you will find on WordPress.org or from the catalog of extensions. However, the ACF Pro is the paid version. If you intend to create fields directly on each post, the free version is sufficient. Below are some differences.
ACF Pro has more advanced features compared to the free version. He understands:
- repeater fields. If you want to create repeating options. This can be ideal for creating testimonial options or functionality for a website.
- flexible content fields,
- gallery fields,
- option pages,
- clone fields and much more.
ACF is a free plugin that you can download from the WordPress plugin repository. However, ACF Pro, on the other hand, is a premium plugin that requires a license. The cost of the license varies depending on the number of sites on which you want to use it. You can also buy the license for an unlimited number of websites. We advise you to visit their website for terms and conditions.
ACF Pro comes with dedicated support from the ACF team, while support for ACF is limited to community forums. Therefore, if you are using the Pro version of ACF, you can easily reach the support team when needed.
ACF Pro receives more frequent updates and bug fixes compared to ACF.
ACF Pro includes additional developer tools such as the ability to create custom field types and add-ons.
How ACF (Advanced Custom Fields) works
The general idea behind the ACF is as follows:
- You install the extension on your website (the Pro or free version).
- Then, in the field creation option, you create the custom variables you want to add to your pages, posts or categories.
- Once you have created the variables, you will have access to the data filling fields under the appropriate forms.
It is also possible to create fields with PHP codes or to import fields from another project.
Install the extension on your website (the Pro or free version).
To install the plugin, you either need to go to the WordPress Plugins option or to wordPress.org. If you have opted for the premium version, you can do the first download from the seller's website . The installation mode is generally the same for all extensions.
- Go to the extension tab
- Select or search for the extension
- Click install
- And activate
Create Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)
Creating the fields will usually depend on what you want to achieve. Indeed, if you want, for example, to create an option to add video links to your publications, it will be a question of following the appropriate steps. We will consider an example where you want to add a photo gallery to your website. In this case, the following steps must be followed:
- Login to your WordPress panel
- Go to the ACF tab and select Field Groups
- Right next to the "Field Groups" heading, click Add.
- Give a title to your group of fields
- Create the fields for your functionality. For the case of photo galleries, you must select the gallery option in the field type.
- Next, at the setting level, you need to select the rule to assign the ACF field or page form. You usually have several options.
Once you've assigned the group to a form, you'll see it appear at the bottom of the page form (if you've assigned page forms).
Adding data and configuration with your WordPress theme.
The ACF offers fairly detailed documentation to explain how to use the extension on your website. It is important to note that you must have some knowledge of PHP development to be able to do the configurations. In the case of the photo gallery, you have for example this example which explains how to code the option of galleries on its website.