Toolset is a comprehensive plugin suite designed with a single purpose in mind. It allows user to build complex websites with minimal code.
What sets toolset apart from (most) of the competition the built-in blocks module which makes it easy to display custom data on the front end.
Many alternatives (like Advanced Custom Fields) require you to hand-code your templates with PHP or use a page builder to display custom data.
These are the best alternatives to Toolset.
Alternatives to Toolset
As you can see, Toolset is more than just a custom fields plugin. It’s an all-in-one solution for any type of site that uses dynamic data.
So few plugins can match the full capabilities of Toolset one-for-one (though a few come close). However, you can stack several plugins together to build that exact functionality you need.
These are Toolset Alternatives worth considering:
- JetPlugins by Crocoblock (paid)
- Pods (free)
- Advanced Custom Fields (freemium)
- Carbon Fields
- Custom Field Suite
What is Toolset?
Toolset leverages WordPress custom data types such as: Custom Fields, Custom Post Types & Taxonomies to create incredible, dynamic sites. And it’s designed so that even non-coders can use it.
Types of sites you can build with Toolset:
- Directory Sites (realtor.com, AirBnB, Capterra)
- Membership Sites (Masterclass, Udemy)
- Comparison Websites (slant.co, G2, alternative.to)
- E-commerce (Amazon.com, Target.com)
Toolset is sold as a package and comes with multiple plugins:
- Types: Create custom post types, custom fields, and custom taxonomies
- Blocks: Create custom templates and display your Types data-types in customized layouts. It controls how your data is displayed and queried on the front end.
- Forms: Front-end forms to accept user input for listing sites (craigslist), social sites (reddit) or anything else you can think of.
- Access: Control user roles (including custom roles) and control what each role can access (tiered membership site)
- Maps: Mapping API that can be used for filtered searches or directly listings
1. JetPlugins Suite by Crocoblock (paid)
Post Types • Custom Fields • Taxonomies • Templates • Filter • Forms • Booking (and more)
JetPlugins by Crocoblock is hands-down the best competitor to Toolset in both features and usability. So as you’d expect, it’s massively popular.
But it’s got a significant advantage compared to Toolset. It’s even more user-friendly as long as you’re using Elementor Pro or Gutenberg.
It’s deeply integrated with both page builders, even providing custom Elementor Widgets and Gutenberg blocks that you can build your pages with. There’s no messing with shortcodes or text-based templating engines. It’s all visual, drag-n-drop awesomeness.
Like Toolset, Crocoblock is a suite of complementary plugins rather than a one-off tool.
- JetEngine: Custom fields, post types & taxonomies
- Jetsmart Filters: Dynamic front-end filtering
- Jet Formbuilder: Front-end forms and user input
- Jet Reviews: Accept user reviews
- Jet Booking: Take reservations (vrbo, airbnb)
- Jet Search: Real-time Ajax search
- and over 10 more plugins…
It’s an insanely powerful plugin pack, and lets literally anyone build incredible, dynamic websites and directories.
2. Pods (free)
Post Types • Custom Fields • Taxonomies • Templates
Pods is the second most capable plugin in terms of matching Toolset’s full functionality.
But it’s a strong contender because it’s 100% free. It’s an open-source project that is supported by community donations.
And make no mistake, Pods is incredibly capable. And while development got sidetracked for a while, it’s back on track with some incredible new features in the pipeline.
In fact the only real drawback to Pods is the documentation sucks. It’s flat-out bad. And advanced features like templating and magic tags are hard to learn because the docs are a mess. Hopefully they’ll clean up the knowledgebase after Pods 3.0 is released.
- Create custom post types (CPTs) or extend existing post types
- Custom taxonomies
- Custom fields, including field groups (repeater field coming soon)
- Blocks API (like ACF Pro Blocks)
- Templating engine using shortcodes. Includes conditional logic (e.g. if/else)
What’s missing compared to Toolset?
Pods doesn’t include:
- Access control / user roles
- A repeater field (coming soon)
- Maps API
- Dynamic filtering (filter views based on custom fields)
Pods is one of the best-supported plugins on this list. It integrates with the most popular page builders, as well as popular filtering plugins.
Pods Integrates with:
- Elementor Pro
- Beaver Builder / Beaver Themer
- Oxygen Builder
- Visual Composer
- FacetWP (Toolset doesn’t integrate nicely)
- Search & Filter Pro
3. Advanced Custom Fields (freemium)
Custom Fields • Forms
Advanced Custom Fields has been a developer favorite for nearly a decade, though their new pricing is much less attractive than the previous lifetime license.
ACF does one thing but does it well.
It’s for creating, organizing and displaying custom fields.
Bonus: As of version 5.9, there’s now a Gutenberg block API for creating custom blocks with your ACF fields.
That’s it. There’s no custom post types or taxonomies, minimal front-end display option.
- 27+ customfield types
- Relationship field
- Field Groups
- Repeater field (pro)
- Flexible Content field (pro)
- Gallery field (pro)
Free vs. Pro
But the biggest selling point is ACF Blocks, which is a intermediate-friendly way to create custom Gutenberg blocks in WordPress.
And while ACF blocks is perfect for skilled devs, beginners will find free alternatives like Lazyblocks to be much more approachable.
How it compares to Toolset
By itself, ACF does only part of what the Types plugin from Toolset does. For everything else, you’ll need to stack another plugin or code it yourself.
Fortunately, ACF works great with Elementor Pro, Beaver Builder Pro, Oxygen Builder, FacetWP and Search & Filter. By combining a page builder with a filtering widget, you get most of the functionality of Toolset’s Views module as well.
4. Carbon Fields
Carbon Fields isn’t as well-known as Pods and ACF, but it’s still a solid product for the right user (mostly developers).
Carbon Fields is a completely free, open-source plugin maintained by volunteers.
It is pretty close to Pods in terms of features, including:
- Custom fields
- Custom Post Typtes
- Blocks API (like ACF Pro)
In many ways, Carbon Fields is like the best of ACF Pro (repeater field, Gutenberg blocks) plus the custom content functionality of Pods, Toolset Types or CPT-UI.
This makes it a good free alternative to ACF Pro, but not a complete replacement for Toolset.
Also, page builder support isn’t great. You can still access basic field values using dynamic data in plugins like Elementor Pro, but it’s not a full integration. This means Carbon Fields is most suitable for devs who will be hand-coding templates and blocks for the front end.
- Front-end filtering
- Page Builder integration
- Templating engine (e.g. Toolset Blocks)
5. Metabox (paid)
Metabox is very similar to Carbon Fields with a few exceptions.
First, it adds several features that you’ll find in Toolset:
- front-end forms
- location API
as well as some features that Toolset doesn’t offer:
- custom data storage (for faster load times)
- custom settings pages
What Metabox lacks, however is a user-friendly option for displaying custom fields on the front end. It doesn’t have anything like Toolset’s Blocks module, so you’re forced to rely on php code or 3rd-party page builders.
And the pricing isn’t particularly competitive either, so you’re probably better off sticking with Toolset.
6. CPT-UI (free)
Custom Post Type UI lets you easily create custom post types and taxonomies without code. This makes it a good complement to plugins like Advanced Custom Fields, which doesn’t support CPT and taxonomy creation.
By combining both of these plugins together, you get similar functionality to Toolset Types or Crocoblock JetEngine.
And while that’s a far cry from matching Toolset’s full capabilities, it’s still enough for many simpler projects, especially if you’ll be using a page builder for front-end display of your custom fields.
Favorite Feature: If you prefer to run lean, CPT-UI will let you export the PHP code for your post types & taxonomies, which you can paste into your functions.php file and delete the plugin entirely!
7. Custom Field Suite (free)
Like ACF, this is a one-trick pony that does the custom fields well but not much else. This gives you 1/2 the features of Toolset Types.
On the plus side, you get 14 field types including repeater (loop) fields.
And combined with CPT-UI or Pods, you can match Toolset Types feature for feature.
It’s lightweight and stable, but there isn’t much depth. And while field values are accessible from Elementor Pro and similar page builders, you won’t get full integration.
That said, it’s a decent free option if you only need custom fields.
One thing that none of these plugins offer (other than JetPlugins and Toolset) is front-end filtering.
Dynamic filtering is a user-friendly way to let your visitors sort through large amounts of data (usually custom post types).
Fortunately, you can add this functionality to tools like ACF or Pods by using one of these excellent plugins:
It should be pretty clear by now that Toolset is hard to replace, especially if you’re using it’s full feature set.
Of these alternatives, only the JetPlugins suite comes close to replicating all of Toolset’s features. And it is by far the best replacement for Toolset (if you don’t mind the cost).
In fact, JetPlugins may well be the better alternative for many users, especially if you prefer to build sites with Elementor Pro. The one-two combo makes Crocoblock’s offering even easier to use than Toolset’s bundle.
And Jetplugins actually has some features that Toolset doesn’t:
- Woocommerece integration
- Booking/Appoint engine
- Better Ajax filtering
- Full Elementor integration
- and some stylistic addons like custom design widgets and animations
Of course, JetPlugins (and Toolset for that matter) might be overkill for many projects. In fact, many directory-style sites only require custom fields and custom post types.
In that case, I recommend one these two plugin stacks:
- ACF + CPTUI
And if you add in a capable page builder for displaying fields on the front-end, you’ve got a pretty capable (and free) development stack for dynamic sites.
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