The Most Complete Build System for WordPress

How We Built Our Plugin Licensing System On Top Of ACF Engine


One of our goals at ACF Engine is to balance our support of “no code” and “low code” options with the capability to leverage custom code. Too often we see projects where the objective of supporting users in “doing more without custom code” comes at the cost of versatility and the ability for developers to extend the system. I have one plugin in mind which is quite popular and has a strong feature set in this same category as ACF Engine, but that project has virtually no support for developers to build on top of their system.

In this article we’ll share the story of the ACF Engine Licensing system which is used to create license keys, verify licenses and if needed block access to plugin features and API connections. This system is really important to our business because without it, our software may be shared so widely and without respect for the licensing that it could undermine our entire business. Plugins that lack sufficient license enforcement will sometimes still be viable because there is a lot of good honest people in the WordPress community that will purchases licenses even when they have access to a premium plugin for free through nulled plugins or other options to bypass the licensing. The problem however, is that the reduction of sales from having a lot of authorized use cuts into the funds the developers have to improve their product. And in WordPress the ecosystem is constantly evolving, products have to at least keep pace with changes, as well as support their growing user base and filling gaps in their feature sets. This all takes financing, so making sure we don’t have an exit wound leaking blood continuously is what the licensing system is designed to achieve.