Toolset Plugin Review – Creating Custom Post Types is Just the Beginning
Sometimes you just want to create something special, something unique. For instance, something that the default WordPress setup just doesn’t provide – like a custom post type – complete with custom taxonomies and fields. And of course, don’t forget the fancy front-end display. You do want you visitors to be impressed right?
But, what if there was an especially exceptional WordPress tool that could do all of this and more?
Well, there is. And it is not just a simple plugin with the functionality to create a custom post type on your website. Instead, it is an entire set of plugins specifically designed so website owners such as yourself can create an entire website in a PHP-free environment.
I am talking about Toolset plugins.
Brought to you by the talented developers who are responsible for the popular WPML translation plugin, Toolset is a feature-packed set of plugins that provide you the tools necessary to create custom post types, taxonomies, and fields (and more!). And I am going to share it with you today.
What is Toolset?
In a nutshell, Toolset plugins allow WordPress users create standout websites using custom post types, taxonomy, and fields; all without writing a single line of PHP code. Take a look:
- Add custom post types, taxonomies, and fields to the WordPress admin so your site’s content displays every piece of information you want it to – no exceptions.
- Design specialized templates for displaying your content on single webpages using only basic HTML skills.
- Create custom post archives for easier user navigation and optimal SEO results.
- Display your custom content anywhere on your website (custom searches, Google Maps, grids & tables, paginated lists, and infinitely scrolling pages).
- Build forms for any type of front-end form submission (i.e. classifieds, directories, and memberships).
The neat thing about Toolset is that it comes as a set of 6 different plugins. This makes things more manageable when it comes to creating your custom content because each Toolset plugin is dedicated to one task. You are then able to pick and choose which plugin to access to get your desired look. In the end, there is no need to wade through tons of features looking for one specific functionality.
More so, here is a quick rundown of each Toolset plugin:
- Toolset Types. Creates custom post types, taxonomies, and fields.
- Toolset Views. Displays your content on the front-end.
- Toolset CRED. Builds front-end forms for front-end submissions.
- Toolset Layouts. Designs responsive layouts for pages.
- Toolset Access. Adds custom roles and define their privileges.
- Toolset Maps. Displays Google Maps.
In addition, Toolset also comes with a lightweight and modern starter theme called Toolset Starter. Built on Bootstrap for optimal performance, this modern starter theme comes as a blank slate. Though the Toolset plugins are compatible with all WordPress themes, Toolset Starter is great for those who have a specific vision in mind. For example, Toolset Starter has zero widgetized areas and nowhere to display post titles, giving you complete creative control when it comes to developing your website.
Now that you have a good idea what Toolset is all about, let’s dive in and see how easy creating custom content really is.
I often find myself saying “I am a writer, not a coder” to those that ask me what my strengths and weaknesses are.
And, since this plugin set is geared towards those like me, this should be a breeze right?
Step 1: Install and Activate the Toolset Plugins
Without going into too much detail, the first thing you should do after purchasing the Toolset plugin set is install and activate it on your WordPress website.
To start, navigate to Plugins > Add New. Then select Upload and choose the types.zip file from your computer. Next, click Install Now.
Once installed, register your website by retrieving the special Key from your Toolset Account and download/activate the individual Toolset plugins you would like to use on your website. For detailed instructions on how to do this look here.
Step 2: Add a Custom Post Type
Custom post types let you add your own data types into your WordPress website. You are probably familiar with WordPress’ standard post types Posts and Pages. However, if you want to display content that does not fall within a Post or Page your best bet is to create a custom post type.
First, go to Toolset > Post Types > Add New in your WordPress dashboard to start creating a custom post type.
Notice that the WordPress built-in post types are already listed.
From there, on the Add New Post Type screen:
- Add your custom post type’s plural and singular name.
- Notice a slug is automatically created for you.
- Add a description.
- Change the icon.
- Select the taxonomies (Categories and Tags) to be used with your new item.
- Choose the position in the WordPress dashboard you would like you menu item be in.
- Click Save Post Type.
Your new menu item, or custom post type, is now visible on your WordPress dashboard.
And that’s it! Creating a new custom post type for your WordPress website really is as easy as that.
And just to make sure you did it right, you can access every custom post type you have created by navigating to Toolset > Dashboard.
If you are interested in the advanced custom post type settings available, take a look here and check out the additional features Toolset provides.
Step 3: Add Custom Fields
Custom fields let website owners add specific pieces of information to their WordPress content that relates to the custom post type. WordPress’ standard content information includes the title and body which makes up what you know as a post or page.
But with Toolset, you can create custom fields to add additional information such as text editors, numbers, URLs, images, and checkboxes to your website.
But why not just use the title and body sections to display custom post type information? Well you can, but custom fields offer a lot of benefits including:
- Improved overall design and visual appeal of your content.
- Automatic content styling, you only input the information.
- Display of fields in various places – on single-page templates, lists, searches, and more.
- Easy and PHP- free design of custom post types.
Since a custom post type has already been created, a custom field can now be added.
From the Toolset Dashboard click on Create field group.
Next, click on Add New Field. Choose the field you would like to add to the content of your custom post type. For instance, pick from things such as Audio, Checkboxes, Single Line (of text), Image, Date, and more.
Then, click on the field you would like to add and then configure the setting options.
Following field configuration, navigate to your newly created custom post type, select Add New and notice near the bottom of the editor that your fields are now visible.
Now fill out the information you want to include in each field you added to your content.
Step 4: Create a View
In short, the Views plugin loads content created by you and displays it onto your website’s front-end. Unfortunately, it took me a minute to realize that in order to complete the rest of the steps you must be knowledgeable in both HTML and CSS, which I am not. After all, I am just a writer, not a coder.
That being said, let’s take a quick look at how the next steps work in theory.
Create a View
Navigate to Toolset > Views and select Create your first view. Next title the View and decide what type of display you would like to create.
Following that, pick the content you want to download and view on your website. Views can display post types, taxonomy, and users.
There is an additional query section so that you can set up specific filters for loading content. For example, you can filter based on date if you want.
The next section is called the Loop Output. This is where the Views plugin determines how to display your content as it loads. Here you can edit your content using simple HTML input and fields. This is where some basic coding knowledge definitely comes into play. Since I am not a website developer, this is above my expertise and unfortunately, my content gets lost in translation.
First, click on the Fields and Views icon to bring up the fields you created earlier for your custom post type.
Then select which ones to include for display and select Insert shortcode.
Add the View to Content
Lastly, after creating a View with the desired fields, you must add the view to some content such as a WordPress page in order to preview the loaded result.
Click on Fields and Views in the content editor to add your newly created view to the WordPress page.
Again, since I failed to edit my View correctly using HTML input, there is nothing to display after clicking Preview. However, there is a really great example here that will show you step-by-step how to get the desired look of your content using the Views plugin.
Create a Content Template
In order for your content to display properly on your website, WordPress must have what’s called a template. This template will inform WordPress how to display your content on the front-end. You can edit templates much like you would Post or Page content.
With Toolset’s Content Templates your standard ‘content’ section will be replaced with this content instead.
Again, my examples do not work properly since I am not experienced enough to create entire HTML pages. However, there is a nice dropdown menu in the Content Template editor that provides some HTML styling options to help you out. Plus, Toolset has documentation regarding styling using HTML and CSS here.
Go to Toolset > Dashboard to again see this table:
Notice the newly created fields that have been added to the dashboard.
Create a Content Template
Go to Toolset > Content Templates and select Add new Content Template.
- Name the Content Template.
- Choose the post type the template will be associated with.
- Select Create Content Template.
Add Field to the Template
Add fields to the template by clicking on Fields and Views.
Next, click on the field you would like to insert into the template and select Insert Shortcode. Don’t worry, the shortcode will not appear in your template’s content.
Lastly, edit your content using basic HTML and CSS styling to finish creating your Content Template.
Assign the Content Template
When a Content Template is created, select what type of content will use it.
Now you can view your content on the front-end as a webpage. Look here for some more information regarding Content Templates and displaying them on your website.
Documentation, Support, and Pricing
The amount of documentation that is available for Toolset is nothing short of incredible. It is organized, thorough, and interlinked everywhere for easy navigation to multiple topics. The only problem I have is that it is a lot of information. I just don’t have time to read the novel they have shared with users.
That being said, better to have too much then nothing at all. And it is helpful. It’s just a lot of information.
Superior support is the name of the game when it comes to the team responsible for handling Toolset support issues. Just as with WPML, the support team of Toolset is trained to handle clients building websites that run into issues.
Working 5 days a week, 19 hours a day, chances are if you run into a problem someone will be around to help you out. And to top it off, there is an extensive support forum with thousands of topics and tons of active members just like you looking for help or suggestions. In addition, there is also a section dedicated to known issues and their solutions you might want to check out if you run into trouble.
Toolset comes as a complete package; all plugins are included. With one purchase you can use Toolset on unlimited websites (which is awesome!). You also get support and continual updates for one year with the initial annual payment of $149. After that each renewal year will cost you $74.50 if you wish to continue receiving updates and support.
Furthermore, you have the option to purchase a lifetime account for $299. This will come with regular updates and support and may be the better option if you plan on using Toolset long term.
Not sure you want to invest that much?
Toolset is available to WordPress users for a 30 day trial, with a money back guarantee if you make the purchase and change your mind afterwards.
In the end, there is so much more to this plugin set than even multiple posts could cover sufficiently. Toolset truly is an advanced developer tool not for the faint of heart.
Altogether, I have mixed feelings about this plugin set. While I am not experienced enough to fully create my own website from scratch as Toolset allows me to, it is worth noting that the ease of use for someone who understands the process is apparent. However, it was simply too advanced for me and I found myself frustrated more times than I would have liked.
If you are a serious website creator with a solid background in how websites work, HTML and CSS styling, and have plenty of time to thoroughly learn what Toolset is all about, I would definitely recommend investing in this product. However, if you are like me and cannot deal with the advanced levels of webpage creation without getting lost and confused, you may want to consider a slightly less involved plugin choice.
Have you ever used any of the Toolset plugins? What were your feelings regarding ease of use, functionality, and the features? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free. In addition, I was financially compensated for this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be beneficial to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”