ACF Engine provides you with a UX to create what we call “WP Objects”, this includes custom post types, custom taxonomies, options pages and Gutenberg blocks. And if you’re a big fan of ACF and it’s amazing support for building data-driven sites, you’ll love being able to prototype and build faster using an interface that is very similar to ACF itself. After all ACF Engine is built with ACF field groups organized into tabs, so you will feel right at home creating your custom WP Objects using ACF Engine.
The free version of ACF Engine gives you 5 object types with no limitations on the feature set, this means you can utilize any of the underlying options provided by WP and ACF respectively.
- Custom Post Types. The starting point for most data-driven WP solutions. Never again will you need to manually register post types or install a stand-alone post type creator like CPTUI. ACF Engine features a Post Type Editor that covers all the options, really all the options that includes the newly provided “template” and “template_lock” settings which are used to defined Gutenberg default setup and the ability to lock that block template into place for the post type.
- Custom Taxonomies. After you make your post type(s), next step, defined your custom categories and tags. Again the ACF Engine Taxonomy Editor provides you with all the options available through the WordPress custom taxonomy register function. These options are organized in the user-friendly ACF tabs interface. Minimal setup for a new taxonomy can be done in a few seconds by defining only the key and name.
- Custom Options Pages. These are ACF options pages which appear in your WP Admin menu, they can be organized into a menu and submenu, and they can be placed under existing WP menu items. The purpose is to provide an ACF Field group to the admin user for storing options, which can then be used as settings in your theme or plugin to create custom logic in the site.
- Gutenberg Blocks. Yes you can build your own Gutenberg blocks without writing the registration code or dealing with React, or learning the block library itself. These are of course ACF Block Types, and they are designed to provide an ACF Field Group which the user will enter their data for the block to display. You are still somewhat on your own in providing the rendering template for your block but with ACF Engine there is a built-in code editor where you can enter HTML and placeholders to output your block, or alternatively you can use the ACF Engine Block Templates for rendering.
- Gutenberg Templates. We had a lot of debate over whether to include this powerful feature in the free version of ACF Engine. After all it’s exactly the type of feature a lot of users would upgrade to pro just to have. The ACF Block Templates enables you to use the Gutenberg editor, save the post, then use it later as a template. The blocks you enter into the Gutenberg editor, which can include ACF Engine dynamic blocks for rendering ACF Fields, these are parsed and rendered anywhere the template is used. Template locations or assignments include setting the template as your single page template. The custom block template you build can also be used to render your custom Block Types registered by ACF Engine. Yes, blocks being used to make templates that are then used to render blocks. Welcome to the future 🙂
- Forms (PRO ONLY). Front-end ACF forms that include the capability to create new posts or edit existing posts. This powerful feature is available only in ACFG Pro. A must-have when creating an “application style” site where you want to provide users with the ability to make and edit their own posts.
- Queries (PRO ONLY).
- Components (PRO ONLY).
Custom Post Types
Save yourself the annoyance of manually writing post type registration code. ACF Engine support ALL OPTIONS from the vast array of settings available for register_post_type() and that does include the newly added WP5.x Gutenberg template supports for setting up a default Gutenberg template configuration and locking the template down in Gutenberg. This is something that (as of 2020-10-16) even many popular plugins for post type management like CPTUI don’t yet have support for.
As with all our WP Objects created through ACF Engine when you build a post type all the settings for the CPT are stored in a JSON file. This JSON file is what ACF Engine actually uses to perform the initialization of your custom post type on each page load unlike many other UX registration tools that perform a database query. Not only is this better for your site performance, but in addition it means moving your post types from one site to another is just a matter of dropping in your JSON files.
What do you need right after you register a new post type? A custom taxonomy to keep all those delicious posts organized of course. Taxonomies (categories and tags) are an important part of putting together a data-driven solution for your site, and with ACF Engine you can make a new custom taxonomy in minutes with minimal configuration. Just as with our Post Type Editor, the ACF Engine Taxonomy Editor has most fields optional and helps create standard labels.
Taxonomies are one area as well that really suits creation through the UX because of the tendencies for these structures to change as a site is being built. How often do you get part way into a build with a custom post type, then realize it would be better to split a large and cluttered taxonomy into separate taxonomies? When you’re registering taxonomies in code, this can become a pain and you’ll be less likely to make the changes that are best for the site. With ACF Engine these changes take seconds, and all your changes are saved automatically to a JSON migration file making it easy to deploy on a different domain, push to staging or production and see the exact same taxonomy registered.