How to Build a WordPress Form with The Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) PluginPRO

This knowledge base article relates to the WS Form Post Management add-on. Click here to purchase this add-on.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to integrate WS Form PRO with the Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) plugin. You’ll learn how to create a form that can create a WordPress post that contains custom fields configured in ACF.

ACF is a plugin that allows you to create custom fields for any post type. WS Form can be fully integrated with custom fields created using ACF.

ACF has basic form functionality built-in that enables you to place the same ACF form you find in the WordPress admin onto the frontend of your website. However, this form has a fixed layout and design.

By using WS Form you can develop powerful, mobile friendly forms that have any layout in place of this basic functionality.

In this tutorial we’re going to create a form that will create a new blog post when it is submitted. These same instructions can be used to create any other post types such as pages or products.

When used with the WS Form Post Management Add-On you can:

  • Automatically create forms that contain the fields you have made in ACF for any post type.
  • Automatically populate select, checkbox, radio and button groups with the choices you have configured in ACF.
  • Push form submissions as new posts that are fully compatible with ACF.
  • Pre-populate forms using post data that includes ACF fields.

ACF repeater fields are fully supported when creating, populating and submitting forms.

Prerequisites

For this tutorial you will need the following plugins:

Create Fields in ACF

First, we’re going to create some custom fields that will appear when we edit a post in WordPress. We can choose any of the field types that ACF offers, including groups and repeaters.

WS Form ACF Tutorial - Creating ACF Fields

You can find some helpful resources on how to configure ACF here.

The following ACF field types are supported in WS Form:

Basic

  • Text
  • Textarea
  • Number
  • Range
  • Email
  • URL
  • Password

Content

  • Image
  • File
  • WYSIWYG

Choice

  • Select
  • Checkbox
  • Radio
  • Button Group
  • True/False

Relational

  • Post Object
  • Page Link
  • Relationship
  • Taxonomy
  • User

jQuery

  • Date Picker
  • Date Time Picker
  • Time Picker
  • Color Picker

Layout

  • Message
  • Tab
  • Group
  • Repeater

If you add a ‘Repeater‘ field in ACF, that field will be converted to a repeatable section in WS Form. When that form is submitted the repeated rows will be populated in the post at rows in ACF. WS Form supports all field types in repeatable sections.

Create a Form

Next, we’re going to create a form in WS Form. To do this, we click on ‘Add New’ in the ‘WS Form’ menu.

WS Form ACF Tutorial - Create a Form

Because we have the Post Management add-on installed, you’ll see that we have a ‘Post Management’ tab. If we click on that tab it will show us templates for each post type registered in WordPress. We’re going to choose the ‘Post’ template.

WS Form - ACF - Create FormAfter you click on a template, WS Form automatically creates a form for you. WS Form will:

  • Add basic post fields (title, excerpt and featured image).
  • Add ACF fields, fully configured according to your ACF settings.
  • Add taxonomy term selectors (e.g. Category and Tags on posts).

At the top of the form is a section that includes standard fields we would expect to see for a post, such as the title, content an excerpt. In addition to that it has created fields and sections for all of the custom fields we created with ACF. WS Form sets the width of fields to match your ACF configuration settings.

WS Form ACF Tutorial - New Form

You can edit the form in exactly the same way as you would any other form. For example, you can resize fields, resize sections and even split the form up across multiple tabs. All of the functionality of the WS Form layout editor is available to you.

Field Mapping (Optional)

When the form is submitted, the fields on your form are used to create a post in WordPress. WS Form automatically creates field mappings for you if you use a template.

The fields are mapped to either WordPress or ACF fields by using a ‘Post Management‘ action.

WS Form - ACF - Field Mapping

To edit the field mappings:

  1. Click the ‘Actions’ icon at the top of the layout editor.
  2. Click the gear icon next to the ‘Post Management’  action.
  3. Scroll down to the ‘Field Mapping’ and ‘ACF Field Mapping’.
  4. Adjust the field mappings as required then click ‘Save & Close’.

Fields such as selects, checkboxes and radios pull their choices dynamically from ACF. This means that if you change a choice in ACF it will automatically update on your form.

WS Form - ACF - Field Example

Likewise, relational fields in ACF such as ‘Post Object’ and ‘User’ fields are also updated dynamically.

Preview The Form

Now let’s test the form. To do that we simply click the ‘Preview’ button.

WS Form ACF Tutorial - Preview and Populate via the Debug Console

You’ll notice in our preview window that we have the WS Form debug console open. This is a really great feature for testing forms and allows you to populate a form in a single click. Every time you click ‘Populate’ the form is populated with different data. There’s even a ‘Populate & Submit’ button which lets you populate the form with data and submit it.

View The Post

Now that the form is submitted, let’s take a look at how that looks in WordPress.

First, we’ll click back to the WordPress admin. Then we’ll click on ‘Posts’ in the WordPress menu.

And there is our new post that was created by WS Form.

WS Form ACF Tutorial - Post

If we click on the post, we can see that the post title, excerpt and content have been populated from the form. Below that you can see the custom fields created in ACF that have also been populated.

WS Form supports integration with all of the core ACF field types.

Pre-Populating a Form with ACF Custom Fields

In addition to creating posts, WS Form can also pre-populate forms using ACF custom fields. To demonstrate this, we’ll go back to the layout editor for the form we just created. Next, we click on the form settings icon at the top of the layout editor.

Then we click on the ‘data’ tab. From here we configure WS Form to populate the form using the data from an existing WordPress post. In this example, we’ll set WS Form to use the ID of the post we just created.

WS Form ACF Tutorial - Form Populate

Below that, you will find the field mappings.

WS Form ACF Tutorial - Field MappingThese allow you specify which post and ACF fields will be mapped to which WS Form field. You’ll notice that because we created this form from a template, all of the fields are already mapped for us, so all we need to do is click ‘Save & Close’. Then we click ‘Preview’ to view the form.

WS Form ACF Tutorial - Form Populated

The form has been populated with the data from the post and is ready for editing.

And that’s how easy it is to integrate WS Form with ACF!