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Best free wordpress plugins for wordpress theme developers & How to use them
November 14, 2014

Hi, from my experience, after developing various wordpress themes & wordpress theme framework. If i talk about some of the free plugins that i used most during the theme development, i will name the few.

  1. ACF (Advanced Custom Fields)
  2. Options Framework
  3. WCK - Custom Fields and Custom Post Types Creator
  4. Search & Filter

1. ACF (Advanced Custom Fields) by elliotcondon


This plugin allows you to add custom fields in the post, page etc. and then we can use the custom field values using the php functions provided by the ACF. It is very easy to use. After installing the plugin you will be provided with the GUI to add the custom field & then you can select where this custom field should appear whether it should appear in post, page etc. Steps to use this plugin:

  • Download & Install this plugin
  • Click Custom Fields menu, then again click Custom Fields and click add new field group and enter name of the field group.
  • And then in the fields area, click add field button, enter field name & select type of field.
  • You can create as many fields in the field group as you require.
  • After the fields area, in the location select where to display the field group e.g in Post, Page etc.
  • This plugin also has a premium version too.
  • You can use the fields in two ways.
  • As a Shortcode {#how-to-shorcode} At its most basic implementation it looks like this:

    <span class="token punctuation">[</span>acf field<span class="token operator">=</span><span class="token string">"field_name"</span> post_id<span class="token operator">=</span><span class="token string">"123"</span><span class="token punctuation">]</span>

    In a Theme File {#how-to-theme} To use this within a theme file you simple need to call the `do_shorcode` function with the shortcode above:

    <span class="token php"><span class="token delimiter"><?php</span> <span class="token function">the_field<span class="token punctuation">(</span></span><span class="token variable">$field_name</span><span class="token punctuation">,</span> <span class="token variable">$post_id</span><span class="token punctuation">)</span><span class="token punctuation">;</span> <span class="token delimiter">?></span></span>

     2. Options Framework by Devin Price

    The one thing that we more often see in the premium themes is theme options. To do so in our theme we can this free wordpress plugin. Getting started with this plugin is very easy.

  • Download & Install this plugin
  • The options framework makes use of the options.php file, which should be under the activated theme root directory, if it it is not there, download this file & copy it under the activated theme root directory (make sure it is named options.php).
  • After that you can see the theme options under appearance -> theme options
  • You can add/remove options using the options.php
  • The code to display any option value in the default or custom template will look like this:
    <?php echo of_get_option('name_of_the_option'); ?>

     3.WCK - Custom Fields & Custom Post Types Creator by Various

    As described in the wordpress plugin repository, WCK is a must have tool for creating custom fields, custom post types and taxonomies, fast and without any programming knowledge & that is true to great extent. Using this plugin is easy too.

  • Download & Install this plugin
  • As you can create custom fields, custom post types & taxonomies with this plugin, i will try to explain this plugin by creating the custom taxonomy( it is a way to group things together, like you may have seen the tags to the right side of every post in the wordpress post editor).
  • Then navigate to WCK -> Taxonomy Creator tab and create your taxonomies.
  • After creating the taxonomy, select where you want to show this taxonomy.
  • The code to display custom taxonomy in your post template will look like this:
    <?php the_terms( $post->ID, 'name_of_taxonomy', '', ', ', ' ' ); ?>

    4.Search & Filter by DesignAndCode

    As described in the wordpress plugin repository, Search & Filter is a simple search and filtering plugin for WordPress - it is an advancement of the WordPress search box. And this is a great plugin. Getting started is really easy.

  • Download & Install this plugin
  • After that you can use it anywhere on your site, with shortcode or in the custom template
  • As a Shortcode {#how-to-shorcode} At its most basic implementation it looks like this:

    [searchandfilter fields="search,category,post_tag"]

    In a Theme File {#how-to-theme} To use this within a theme file you simple need to call the `do_shorcode` function with the shortcode above:

    <?php echo do_shortcode('[searchandfilter fields="search,category,post_tag"]'); ?>