acpt has potential but is not ready yet

ACPT stands for Advanced Custom Post Types. It is a newish plugin. There is a free version that was added to the WordPress plugin directory last November. The pro version is available now on AppSumo. The idea with ACPT is that it wants to be your “one stop shop” for working with Custom Post Types and custom fields. The developer states that he wants it to be an all in one solution so that users don’t need to add more plugins. Since ACPT is on AppSumo people would like to know about it. I took a look at ACPT and the short answer is that ACPT has potential, but is not ready yet. What follows is a longer summary of my testing.

In my thinking, there are two stages for working with Custom Post Types. First there is the creation of the Custom Post Types, custom fields, and taxonomies. Second, there is the display of them on the front-end. ACPT isn’t supported by page builders or other 3rd party tools, so the only way to display the data is with the ACPT template feature.

ACPT uses Freemius. After you install it you get a new admin menu area. The center of action is the main dashboard. When you install it there are rows for Posts and Pages. In the screenshot below, I’ve added two Custom Post Types, book-authors and book-reviews.

acpt menu

Creating on the Backend

Creating the Custom Post Type

When you register a new Custom Post Type you go through three screens in a wizard. The options are pretty much the exact same as when creating a Custom Post Type with CPT-UI, Meta Box, Pods, and the other options. On the first screen you supply the slug, labels, pick a icon, and which post type features you want to support.

cpt wizard 1

On the second screen there is a long list of labels, the descriptions that show up in the user interface. Usually you can just go with the defaults.

cpt wizard 2

On the third screen there are some advanced options.

cpt wizard 3

Adding The Custom Fields

After you create the Custom Post Type then it shows up in the list and you can add custom fields and taxonomies. To add custom fields you click on the add Meta Box, give it a name, and then add fields. Here are the field types. There are a large number of options.

Editor
Number
Text
Text Area
List
HTML
Select
Select Multiple
Toggle
Date
Time
URL
Phone Number
Email Address
Address Map
Color
Currency
Weight
Length
Embed Content
File
Gallery
Image
Video
Post Relationship
Grouped Field (Repeater)

Since I had two Custom Post Types, I wanted to see how the relationship fields worked. I saw that there is the option for one to many or many to many types. There is the option for bidirectional relations also.

There was one issue I ran into when creating the custom fields. If I put an apostrophe in the name then there would be no error, but nothing would save. I reported that to the developer. Once I removed that from the name then it worked fine.

Adding the Custom Taxonomy

You add a taxonomy the same way, with a wizard. On the first screen you give the slug, the single name and plural name. The slug has to be lower case with only letters and dashes.

taxonomy wizard 1

The second screen is the labels. I left them at their defaults.

taxonomy wizard 2

The third screen has advanced settings.

taxonomy wizard 3

I had one problem when setting up the the taxonomy. The program used the lower case slug for the label. I reported it to the developer. He does not think it is an issue.

image

There were some rough spots when creating on the backend, but I was able to complete the process.

Displaying on the Front

There is a section on the dashboard for the frontend UI. There you can create a template for the archive, single, and relationship. It was when I started working with creating templates that I ran up against limitations.

frontend template options

About half the time when I clicked to open the template editor it just spins.

template editor loading

If I go back and click again then it opens. When you get into the template editor you see it looks like a page builder.

acpt template editor

Here are the elements that you can add.

basic elements
layout elements
standard wordpress fields

At the bottom of the list there are the custom fields.

widget areas
custom fields

The drag and drop feature was pretty hit or miss. I was generally able to get close to the layout I was thinking of, however, we don’t have access to the custom fields in the way we are used to. We are used to being able to pick a custom field when adding an element, but the only way to add a custom field was to drag the field to the canvas area. What this means is that the fields are totally separate from the other elements.

Here is what I could do with the single template in the editor. See how the post title and post content have all of that space?

single template in editor

Here you see I have added the relationship field that links book reviews to book authors. I want to put the link to the author’s website under the featured image / book cover photo. When I added the field there is the option on the right to pick how many elements. It doesn’t matter how many you pick, there is no drilling down to pick the field in the related post type.

custom field in the editor

Here is the template on the front. See the rating isn’t in line with the text I added and there is no styling. The link doesn’t go to the author’s website, but to the author’s record.

template on the front

I went into the template for the relation. There is the same problem with the relationship field, you can’t pick the fields from the related post type. But there is a larger problem and that is that there is no way to show it on the front!

related template

Summary and Conclusions

It seems pretty clear that the templates in general are unfinished and that the related templates can’t be used. So, while the creation phase had rough places, the creation process was possible. However, the display side is still too unfinished to be useable.

The developer has been interacting with users and collecting feedback. It appears that he intends to build out ACPT, but this is still somewhat early days in the project, especially when you compare it to other solutions. Some people may want to take a chance on ACPT and see how it develops over time, but it is not ready yet.

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