3 Approaches To Adding Configurable Fields To Your WordPress Plugin

Anyone who has created a WordPress plugin understands the need to create configurable fields to modify how the plugin works. There are countless uses for configurable options in a plugin, and nearly as many ways to implement said options. You see, WordPress allows plugin authors to create their own markup within their settings pages. As a side effect, settings pages can vary greatly between plugins. In this article we are going to go over three common ways you can make your plugin configurable. We will start by creating a settings page and create our fields using the default WordPress Settings API. I will then walk you through how to set up your fields with a custom handler. Finally, I will show you how to integrate a great configurable fields plugin Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) into your own plugin.

Anyone who has created a WordPress plugin understands the need to create configurable fields to modify how the plugin works. There are countless uses for configurable options in a plugin, and nearly as many ways to implement said options. You see, WordPress allows plugin authors to create their own markup within their settings pages. As a side effect, settings pages can vary greatly between plugins.

In this article we are going to go over three common ways you can make your plugin configurable. We will start by creating a settings page and create our fields using the default WordPress Settings API.

I will then walk you through how to set up your fields with a custom handler. Finally, I will show you how to integrate a great configurable fields plugin Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) into your own plugin.

For code examples please see the repository I have set up to accompany this post.

Creating Our Plugin And Settings Page 

The first thing we need to do is set up our plugin and create a settings page. All three approaches outlined in this article start with the plugin structure below. This plugin structure is object-oriented so there may be a few differences in your own code if your plugin is written procedurally. Pay particular attention to the callback function format in the actions and filters.


/*
    Plugin Name: Smashing Fields Plugin
    description: >-
  Setting up configurable fields for our plugin.
    Author: Matthew Ray
    Version: 1.0.0
*/
class Smashing_Fields_Plugin {
    // Our code will go here
}
new Smashing_Fields_Plugin();

Inside our class we are going to add an action hook to add the settings page:

public function __construct() {
    // Hook into the admin menu
    add_action( 'admin_menu', array( $this, 'create_plugin_settings_page' ) );
}

You can see that our action’s callback is create_plugin_settings_page, so let’s create that method. Note: I have set up the arguments as separate named variables to give some context to our code, but you can simply place the values directly in the function to save memory.

public function create_plugin_settings_page() {
    // Add the menu item and page
    $page_title = 'My Awesome Settings Page';
    $menu_title = 'Awesome Plugin';
    $capability = 'manage_options';
    $slug = 'smashing_fields';
    $callback = array( $this, 'plugin_settings_page_content' );
    $icon = 'dashicons-admin-plugins';
    $position = 100;

    add_menu_page( $page_title, $menu_title, $capability, $slug, $callback, $icon, $position );
}

Take a look at the WP codex for add_menu_page for more information.

This function will create our page as well as the menu item. The important parts here are the slug, capability and callback arguments. The slug we will use later to register our fields, so write that down somewhere. You can change the capability to allow different user levels access to your settings page. As for the callback, we will create that method shortly. Notice you can also put a dashicon class directly into the function to change the icon for the menu. The last argument is the position of the menu item within the menu; play around with this number to find the spot in the menu you’d like your settings to fall. Note: you can use decimal values to avoid conflicts with other menu items.

Our next step is to create the callback method plugin_settings_page_content for our settings page.

public function plugin_settings_page_content() {
    echo 'Hello World!';
}

If you save your plugin and refresh the WordPress admin panel you should see the following:

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