The concept for ACF Engine first arose at least 8-years ago. Working with ACF was one of my first experiences when switching to WordPress over a decade ago from Drupal. Because in Drupal there is a built-in “webform module” and Fields API, my first question when considering that switch was “how do we make custom fields”. Because I knew this would end up being an important part of my work with WP. ACF was the answer I got from nearly every search and every other developer I asked the question.
ACF (Advanced Custom Fields) has helped me deliver hundreds of projects. Amazingly having bought the plugin prior to it’s fairly recent change in licensing terms, I have paid very little for this incredibly versatile and stable software. Clients are always amazed at the value, when they need a custom admin interface for managing content and we deliver an ACF solution along with a custom post type, settings page and taxonomies.
Around 4 or 5 years ago I started bundling some of the common solutions for building with ACF into various plugins. One was ACF Options for making options pages through the WP Admin, another was ACF Post Types. Those both found their way into the WP Admin around the WP4.x time period. After some time however these custom plugins were not maintained and were eventually removed. And although some people may have found them useful, because these were incomplete solutions they had limited use cases. And there were always other options such as CPTUI that could do the same thing for people who needed a UX for registration of components like CPT’s (Custom Post Types) and Taxonomies.
Then less than a year ago I discovered Elementor. An agency client I was working with whose ability to make bad decisions was notable, told me there was no future in Elementor. When he said that, I thought I better try Elementor because if this idiot thinks it’s doomed, it probably has good potential. Some people lead with their poor decisions. While I don’t really think Elementor itself is useful when building larger scale, more data-driven sites, this discover led to a new understanding of where we’re heading in terms of block-based development. I also found the Crocoblocks line of products and took an interest in JetEngine. And as I worked with JetEngine, mainly using their built-in meta field system, I thought what if there was a similar system but it was designed specifically for ACF and had thorough documentation?
The free version of ACF Engine is available in the official WordPress directory at https://wordpress.org/plugins/acf-engine/