Unleashing ACF JSON: Mastering Custom Fields in WordPress

Howdy developers! Today, we’re diving into the fascinating world of Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) and exploring its JSON features, which can truly transform the way you handle data in WordPress.

ACF has long been a developer’s best friend when it comes to creating custom fields for WordPress websites.

But with the addition of JSON features, it’s like giving a cowboy a faster horse – we’re taking the efficiency up a notch! So saddle up, and let’s ride into the wild west of ACF JSON.

Understanding ACF JSON: The Basics

Before we dig into the advanced stuff, let’s cover the basics of ACF JSON. Starting from ACF version 5.7, a powerful new feature was introduced – the ability to save field group settings and field configurations in JSON format. This change brings several benefits, such as version control, collaboration, and easy deployment.

By default, ACF stores custom field settings in the database, which can lead to some challenges when working on a team or transferring changes between development and production environments. The JSON feature allows you to export and import your custom fields as JSON files, making it much easier to manage and share your configurations.

Enabling ACF JSON

First things first – we need to enable ACF JSON in your WordPress installation. To do this, navigate to your theme’s functions.php file or a custom plugin where you register your ACF fields. Add the following code snippet:

// Enable ACF JSON saving
add_filter('acf/settings/save_json', 'my_acf_json_save_point');

function my_acf_json_save_point($path) {
    // Update the path where ACF JSON will be saved
    $path = get_stylesheet_directory() . '/acf-json';

    // Return the updated path
    return $path;

// Enable ACF JSON loading
add_filter('acf/settings/load_json', 'my_acf_json_load_point');

function my_acf_json_load_point($paths) {
    // Remove original path (optional)

    // Add your custom ACF JSON load point(s)
    $paths[] = get_stylesheet_directory() . '/acf-json';

    // Return the updated paths
    return $paths;

This code will save your ACF JSON files in a directory named acf-json within your theme or custom plugin directory.

Exporting and Importing ACF JSON

Now that ACF JSON is enabled, you can start exporting your field groups to JSON files. Head over to the ACF Field Group editor in the WordPress admin panel, and you’ll see a new button labeled “Export to JSON” at the bottom of the page. Clicking this will download a JSON file containing your field group configuration.

To import a field group from a JSON file, simply click the “Import JSON” button in the same location. Select your JSON file and let ACF work its magic. Easy as pie!

Sharing ACF JSON Across Environments

One of the most significant advantages of ACF JSON is that it simplifies sharing field group configurations across different environments. Whether you’re collaborating with a team or deploying changes from a staging site to production, ACF JSON has got your back.

To demonstrate this, let’s say you’ve created a new custom field group locally and exported it to JSON. When you’re ready to deploy the changes to the production site, you can simply copy the JSON file to the corresponding acf-json directory on the production server. The new custom field group will be automatically available, without the need to manually recreate the fields.

Automating ACF JSON with Version Control

For developers accustomed to using version control systems like Git, ACF JSON is a game-changer. You can now include your ACF JSON files in your repository, ensuring that field group configurations are version controlled and easily accessible by your team members.

When working on a project, make sure to commit and push your changes to the repository whenever you modify or create a new field group. This way, your teammates can easily sync their local ACF configurations with the latest changes using their preferred Git workflow.

Wrapping Up

Congratulations, partner! You’ve ventured into the wild west of ACF JSON and learned how this feature can supercharge your WordPress development workflow. With the ability to export, import, and share field group configurations, you’ll find yourself working more efficiently and collaborating seamlessly with your team.

Remember, ACF JSON can be enabled in your WordPress installation by adding a simple code snippet to your theme’s functions.php file or a custom plugin. From there, exporting, importing, and automating ACF JSON becomes a breeze.

So go ahead, grab your cowboy hat, and explore the power of ACF JSON. Your WordPress development adventures will never be the same again!

Yeehaw! Happy coding, pardner!

Jan Horecny

Jan Horecny

Jan Horecny is a highly skilled Lead Senior Developer at GALTON Brands, specializing in WordPress development, PHP, and databases. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for creating exceptional online experiences, Jan consistently delivers top-notch solutions that drive results. His extensive expertise in WordPress, coupled with his deep understanding of PHP and database management, enables him to design and develop robust, scalable, and user-friendly websites.