28 Feb

Exciting Developments Coming for ACF as 2018 Rolls On

By Eric Karkovack

As expected, early 2018 has been a busy time here at Advanced Custom Fields. There are major enhancements coming on many fronts for both the free and PRO versions of our plugin.

First off, the free version of ACF will soon see the long-anticipated ⌚ upgrade to version 5, which is currently available for Early Access. Users will find a ton of improvements, including an updated UI, lots of new fields and more opportunities for customization.

Meanwhile, ACF PRO users will be in store for some incredible features in the upcoming release of version 5.7 ⚡. Upgrades include a totally rewritten JavaScript library, significantly improved performance and a major expansion of conditional logic capabilities.

And both flavors of the plugin can expect to see compatibility updates for the upcoming WordPress Gutenberg editor.

Suffice it to say that big things are in store for everyone! But to get you fully caught up on the latest developments, I asked ACF developer Elliot Condon to fill us in on the details.

ACF Free v5

One of the big developments with the free edition of ACF is the upcoming release of version 5. What can you tell us about its status?

Elliot Condon: ACF version 5 is scheduled for release in mid-2018, public testing is going great and we are very excited about the update!

Over the past 3 years, we have been hard at work in developing ACF PRO. We’ve built new fields, features and functions – and we’re looking forward to sharing these improvements with users of our free plugin, as well.

ACF 5 Free is available as an “Early Access” upgrade for users who opt-in. What are the benefits of taking part in the program?

Elliot: The Early Access program is super exciting. We worked with the plugins team from WordPress.org and developed a seamless update experience for accessing future versions.

All that is needed is a single line of code – no downloads, no effort! Did I mention that update notifications and one-click updates continue to work, too? 😎

Updating early not only provides you with the best version we have ever created, but also gives you a chance to influence and improve the update process. You’ll be able to provide feedback on documentation, issues and everything in-between.

I would like to encourage all developers to update existing [ACF free] websites using the Early Access feature and tell us you thoughts on ACF5! 👍

Gutenberg Compatibility

We know that you’ve been testing ACF with the new WordPress Gutenberg editor. How is that going so far?

Elliot: Testing ACF with Gutenberg is going great. I’m happy to see how well Custom Meta Boxes are being supported in this new JS powered edit screen – everything seems to be working out of the box! The only issues are due to changed actions and filters, which will require some minor compatibility patches. As the Gutenberg project continues to develop, we will continue to test and roll out updates.

Gutenberg is really changing the way Custom Meta Boxes are displayed on the WordPress Edit Screen. How will ACF adjust to this new UI?

Elliot: Visually, the new editor is very different, but the relationship between ACF and “Post Content” has remained the same.

Field groups will continue to sit below (and around) the “Post Content” area in a similar fashion. They’ll require only a few minor CSS tweaks to integrate with Gutenberg’s minimal style.

What are the plans for the free versions of ACF when it comes to Gutenberg – will they be compatible?

Elliot: Yes, both free versions will be made compatible with Gutenberg – which is the reason behind our slow release date and Early Access program.

We plan to release our major version a few months after WordPress 5.0 comes out, ensuring that all websites powered by ACF continue to work 100% with the new editor.

ACF Pro v5.7

For ACF Pro users, there is a good bit of excitement about version 5.7. What new features can we expect to see?

Elliot: Version 5.7 is going to be epic! This upcoming version aims to fix one of the biggest frustrations in ACF: Conditional logic.

The current conditional logic system is very basic and only works with “choice” based fields (Checkbox, Radio Button, etc). It’s not very user-friendly and can become quite slow on large forms.

To address this, we rebuilt the entire JS library – focusing on lightweight performance and inheritance. This gave us the tools needed to create an extendable conditional logic class that is infinitely customisable – and fast too!

Tell us about the expansion of conditional logic – it sounds like quite a game-changer.

Elliot: Seriously, this new conditional logic system is going to change everything! I don’t think it’s been done before – or at least, not to this extent.

Not only will you be able to base conditions on almost any field type, but you will also have access to many new conditions such as ‘contains’, ‘matches pattern’ and ‘is greater than’.

We’ll be sure to include lots of new conditions in 5.7 and will continue to add more in the future. Better still, this system is extendable – meaning you can create your own rules with just a minimal bit of code (documentation to come shortly).

When will ACF Pro 5.7 be available?

Elliot: ACF PRO 5.7 should be ready for announcement sometime in the next few months. There will be a beta program to test out the new JS classes, documentation and features shortly!

ACF’s Continued Evolution: Keeping You in the Loop

Indeed, there are lots of goodies on the way for ACF users – no matter which version you choose. It’s no secret that WordPress itself is going through a major evolution and ACF is right there, every step of the way. Our aim is to not only change with the times, but to provide innovative features that fit seamlessly into your existing workflow.

We also want to keep you informed of what’s happening. A big shout-out to Elliot for taking time to provide all the juicy details!

Stay tuned for more to come. Keep checking the blog and give us a follow on Twitter to learn what’s new and what’s next. 💯

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