6 Free Alternatives to Toolset

Updated: March 10, 2021

Understanding the concept of custom field and custom post type is a key to maximizing WordPress as an open-source content management system. By understanding those two concepts, you will be able to create a complex WordPress-based website with minimum plugins possible. Even if you have no PHP skills. The Toolset plugin offers solutions to create custom fields and custom post types, without dealing with PHP code. The problem is that Toolset is a paid plugin, which might be problem if you are just getting started to learn both custom field and custom post type. No worries. There are some free Toolset alternatives out there that you can use to create both custom field and custom post type.

Free Alternatives to Toolset

1. Pods

Pods is one of the best free alternatives to Toolset. There are two options to create a custom field group in Pods. First, you can assign the custom field group to an existing post type like the default post type (blog post), page, and so on. Second, you can create a new custom post type — along with the custom field group. Pods comes with REST API feature. Pods allows you to show/hide a custom field group by user role. For instance, you can set the custom field group to be visible by users with an administrator role and editor only. Pods supports the following field type:

  • Plain Text
  • Website
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Password
  • Plain Paragraph Text
  • QYSIWYG Editor
  • Code
  • Date/Time
  • Date
  • Time
  • Plain Number
  • Currency
  • File
  • oEmbed
  • Relationshop
  • Yes/No
  • Color Picker

Pods supports popular WordPress page builder plugins such as Elementor, Divi Builder, and Brizy. Allowing you to display the data of the custom fields without needing to write a PHP code. We have covered how to create custom fields with Pods on the previous article. You can read to learn more.

2. ACF (Advanced Custom Fields)

With over one million active installations, ACF (Advanced Custom Fields) is the most popular custom field plugin for WordPress. The plugin is designed specifically to create custom fields and offers no feature to create a custom post type like Pods and Toolset. ACF is released as a freemium plugin, but the free version is more than enough in many cases as the free version supports over 25 field types, including AJAX-based date and time picker and color picker. Want to embed social media content? You can also do so thanks to the oEmbed field. You can use this field to embed social media content like Twitter as well as video content from YouTube. If you use Elementor, you can even make use of the oEmbed field (as well as the URL field) to add a dynamic video to your theme builder template (e.g., the custom single post template). Here are the field types offered by ACF:

  • Text
  • Text Area
  • Number
  • Range
  • Email
  • URL
  • Password
  • Image
  • File
  • WYSIWYG Editor
  • oEmbed
  • Select
  • Checkbox
  • Radio Button
  • Button Group
  • True / False
  • Link
  • Post Object
  • Page Link
  • Relationship
  • Taxonomy
  • User
  • Google Map
  • Date Picker
  • Datetime Picker
  • Time Picker
  • Color Picker

Same as Pods, ACF can also be integrated with Elementor, Divi Builder, Brizy, and other page builder plugins that support custom fields to allow you to display an ACF field without coding. ACF comes with a feature to allow you to export/import a custom field group. When creating a new custom field group, you can also set the custom field box location. Whether beneath the WordPress editor or on the sidebar. You can read our previous article to learn how to create custom field types with ACF.

3. Meta Box

Meta Box has one thing in common as ACF in which it is released as a freemium plugin. It also supports a bunch of field types, including oEmbed to allow you to add a field to store social media content, WYISWYG editor, and so on. Another one thing in common between Meta Box and ACF is that Meta Box also has no capability to create a custom post type. If you need to create a custom post type, you can install MB Custom Post Types & Custom Taxonomies, which is also created by the Meta Box developer team. Meta Box allows you to add the following field types when creating a new field group:

  • Button
  • Checkbox
  • Checkbox List
  • Email
  • Hidden
  • Number
  • Password
  • Radio
  • Range
  • Select
  • Select Advanced
  • Text
  • Text Area
  • URL
  • Autocomplete
  • Color Picker
  • Date
  • Date Time
  • Fieldset Text
  • Google Maps
  • Image Select
  • oEmbed
  • Slider
  • Text List
  • Time
  • WYSIWYG Editor
  • Post
  • Taxonomy
  • Taxonomy Advanced
  • User
  • File
  • File Advanced
  • File Input
  • Image
  • Image Advanced
  • Video
  • Divider
  • Heading

As you can see above, Meta Box supports more custom field types than the first two free Toolset alternatives above. However, it takes more effort to create the custom fields using Meta Box. Unlike ACF and Pods, the free version of Meta Box doesn’t allow you to create the custom fields from the WordPress dashboard. Instead, you can create the custom fields on a separate tool offered by Meta Box. Once done creating the custom fields, you can generate the PHP code of the custom fields and then paste it to functions.php file of your WordPress. Make it hassle? Indeed. Meta Box itself is compatible with Brizy to allow you to display the data of your custom fields without coding thanks to Brizy custom field feature.

4. Custom Field Suite

Custom Field Suite is a simple custom field plugin developed by a developer named Matt Gibbs. You can also use it as a free alternative to Toolset. PHP knowledge is required to use Custom Field Suite. You need your PHP knowledge to display the data of the custom fields you created with Custom Field Suite. None of page builder plugin supports the plugin as of today. Custom Field Suite supports the following field types:

  • Text
  • Text Area
  • WYSIWYG Editor
  • Date
  • Color
  • Checkbox (True/False)
  • Select
  • Relationship
  • Term
  • User
  • File Upload
  • Loop
  • Tab

5. Custom Post Type UI

In addition to creating custom fields, you can also use Toolset to create a custom post type to accommodate custom content on your WordPress site. Custom Post Type UI (CPT UT) is the best alternative if you are looking for a free plugin to create a custom post type. It is by far the best WordPress plugin to create a custom post type. You can add necessary components such as Dashicons, singular and plural menu labels, editor elements (title, featured image, and so on). You can pair the use of CPT UI with ACF. After creating the custom post type using CPT UI, you can create the custom field group using ACF and assign it to the newly custom post type created with CPT UI.

CPU UI only helps you to create the custom post type. To display the content of your custom post type, you can install Custom Post Type UI Extended (paid). Alternatively, you can create a custom template using Divi Builder, Elementor, or Brizy.

6. Custom Post Types

Just like the name suggests, Custom Post Types offers a solution to create custom post type on your WordPress to accommodate custom content like movie database, song database, and so on. Same as CPT UI, Custom Post Types doesn’t have a feature to display the content of the custom post type you created. You can use your favorite page builder to create a custom template to display the content of your custom post type. Custom Post Types also allows you to add components like Dashicons, singular and plural menu label, and editor elements.

The bottom line

WordPress is very customizable. Two of the customization features offered by WordPress you can maximize are custom field and custom post type. A custom field allows you to store additional information about a post type while custom post type allows you to add custom content, other than blog posts or pages. Toolset is a great plugin to create both custom field and custom post type. It comes with lots of handy features. However, if you are just getting started to learn custom field or custom post type, starting with a free solution is a more reasonable option. You can use the free Toolset alternatives we have just covered above.

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