The first look at ACPT in August 2022 was titled ACPT Has Potential But Is Not Ready Yet. Since then there have been a number of improvements, so I have updated and retitled the review.
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.
Starting Out With ACPT
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.
After you install ACPT 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. As you add Custom Post Types then more rows appear. Here one for Books has been added.
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.
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.
On the third screen there are some advanced options.
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.
Grouped Field (Repeater)
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.
I added three fields: a URL field with for a link to the author’s website, an image field for the author’s photo, and a number field for the reviewer rating.
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.
The second screen is the labels. I left them at their defaults.
The third screen has advanced settings.
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. In the meantime, you can manually change it in the list of labels.
There were a few small things I saw when creating the Custom Post Type, adding custom fields, and creating the taxonomy, but overall it was pretty smooth and I was able to complete the process.
Creating Templates for 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. The next step is to create those display templates.
When you get into the template editor you see it looks like a page builder.
Here are the elements that you can add.
At the bottom of the list there are the custom fields.
The drag and drop feature was clunky. 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? Some of the items have the option to add a class, so you could, for instance, add CSS to center them. Others do not. Like the link to the author’s website under the book cover. If it has the option to add a CSS class then you could style it to look like a button, but it doesn’t.
Here is the template on the front. The link correctly goes to the author’s website, but as mentioned above there is no way to style it.
ACPT has a pretty extensive API that programmers might find interesting for projects such as headless WordPress where regular WordPress post templates are not used.
ACPT also has support for WPGraphQL. This is a fast and power query language which is an alternative to standard wp_query operations. This is another feature that might appeal to programmers.
Discussion and Conclusions
I first tested ACPT in August 2022. Now in October 2022 there have been a number of fixes and improvements. Freemius has been removed and a number of bugs have been addressed.
If we think of there being two stages, the creation of the Custom Post Type and then the creation of the templates for display. The first part, the creation of the Custom Post Type, custom taxonomy, and custom fields was pretty smooth. The templating is better than it was in August, but it is still clunky and needs more work in order to provide the kind of layout and styling options people are used to. I guess you could use ACPT in place of the Custom Post Type UI plugin for creating the Custom Post Type and custom taxonomy, and then use ACF for the custom fields, and then your builder of choice to create the templates., but it is probably not worth it just for that use.
The developer has been serious in collecting user feedback and addressing issues. There is a public roadmap and the developer said that Divi integration is almost ready and Bricks integration is planned. He is also working on user interface and user experience improvements. Though it is still early days, the project is beginning to look promising. Once there is a good integration or the template builder is more robust then ACPT may be a good option for an “all in one solution.”