Here we are, 2 years from it’s initial commit and the Advanced Custom Fields plugin is continuing to grow amongst the thriving WordPress community. So much so that I have chosen to end my part time contract at twenty4 to focus solely on the growing world of ACF.
With my new availability, it’s time to take ACF to the next level; from being a client friendly data management tool to a professional level framework for both websites and web applications.
Web applications you say? Over the past 12 months, I have seen a new trend in the way that ACF is being used. Now that web applications are being powered by WordPress, ACF is being used as a framework to power them – this is truly exiting, but is clear we are pushing a square shaped ACF into a triangle shaped hole.
My thoughts are that the ACF plugin needs to be rebuilt to better organize and optimize the fantastic functionality which has evolved over the last 2 years. I want to re think everything from the way a field is saved to the database, to the class names used throughout the admin interface.
In doing this, we will be able to address many core limitations such as ‘duplicating a field’, or even ‘moving a field to another field group’. Also, I will be able to write the ACF core in such a way that it could be used to power 3rd party plugins which require custom field functionality!
Another thought is to streamline the premium content (Add-ons) into 1 Pro version instead of 4 separate plugins. This will allow for easier updates, faster update times and will also tackle the licensing issue that has haunted ACF version 4.
I think the solution is to offer a free plugin hosted on wordpress.org and also pro version hosted on advancedcustomfields.com. This would allow for a professional license key and update service with a single and multi-site license product. These licenses would be priced cheaply to match the current Add-on costs and all current customers would be given the developer license up front for free.
Version 5 is looking to be a complete rebuild focusing on future proof practices. A lot has changed in WP over the last 2 years, and it’s time that ACF gets prepared for the next generation of data interaction. With a free and pro model, version 5 will be able to offer faster and more reliable updates. It will also be able to offer a simple way for developers to package into their premium themes and plugins.
At the same time, it will be important to make sure that Version 5 takes advantage of the powerful jQuery libraries available such as Select2, and use smarter and safer HTML and CSS.
Above all, it is critical that Version 5 continues to work with the current data, field types and functions used in your websites.
I couldn’t be more exited about this new direction for ACF. Thanks for reading this far, and thanks for your support.
Now, back to work on conditional / required sub fields in Version 4.3.0!