Toolset is a suite of tools that can help you extend the functionality of WordPress with regards to its ability to store data and publish it on your website.
The various components of Toolset give you a visual interface for working with custom post types, custom taxonomies, and custom fields. It also gives you an easy way to get that content out of the database and publish it on your website.
If you are not quite sure that that all means, or you’d like to know more about what Toolset can do for you, then read on to find out how you can use Toolset to extend WordPress in order to improve its abilities to better meet your growing needs.
What Is Toolset?
Toolset comprises of six individual tools or plugins, each of which are available separately, or as a single package:
- Types: create WordPress custom post types, custom fields, and custom taxonomies
- Views: query your content and display the results, without writing any PHP
- Layouts: a drag and drop tool that lets you design pages and templates for your website
- CRED: build front end forms for your website, for collecting data and publishing content
- Access: manage user access and create membership and community areas of your site
- Module Manager: create a library of building blocks, and reuse your designs on different websites
There is also a Toolset starter theme available. This theme gives you a basic foundation for your custom WordPress website. You are then able to use the Toolset plugins to add the rest of the content and functionality to your website. The theme is fully responsive and has been built using the Bootstrap framework.
Furthermore, you can find an extension which works specifically with WooCommerce. The WooCommerce Views plugin gives you the ability to create custom views on your website, which display WooCommerce products in the way that you want.
What You Can Do With Toolset
Assuming you’ve installed all of the plugins from Toolset on your WordPress website, there is lots you can do to build your custom website, or just store and present your content more effectively.
Create Custom Post Types and Taxonomies
By using the Types plugin, you can start creating custom post types for your website. If the default posts and pages of WordPress aren’t enough for your project, then Type gives you an easy way to add more content types to your site.
For example, if you were publishing city guides on your website, you can could create a new post type called ‘cities’. Then each time you publish this type of content, you use this new post type. This keeps the content separate from your regular blog posts. You can also apply a custom template to this post type only, allowing you to present this content in a particular format.
With Types, you can also create custom taxonomies. These taxonomies work just like regular WordPress categories and tags, expect they have their own custom name, according to the type of data they are storing. Sticking with the city guides example, one option could be a taxonomy named ‘country’, which then contains the country the city is located in.
These custom taxonomies can be made available to your new custom post types, as well as the existing post type if you wish. Your visitors can then filter your content using the custom taxonomy, just as they could with the default category and tag taxonomies.
The Views interface for creating this custom content is very easy to get to grips with. Even if you don’t fully understand how custom post types and taxonomies work, you should have no trouble creating them for use on your website.
Types also lets you work with custom fields. These fields can be added to any of your post types, and used to store additional information. With our city guide example, a relevant field could be population size.
The data stored in these custom fields can be used in a number of ways. This could include publishing it on the front end of your website for your visitors to view; or using it as part of query in order to extract content from the database, and display it on your website.
Create Custom Views of Your Content
Views is a tool that allows you to display your content in any way you want, according to a custom query that you’ve built. Using our city guides example, you could create a view that displays all the city guides for a particular country. This query would use the city post type and the country taxonomy as the foundation for its query.
Views gives you a visual interface for creating this query, helping to make the whole process very straightforward. To start creating your custom view, you can choose which content to include in the view.
You can then choose how to sort this content when it’s displayed, as well as set the number of items to list. In addition to ordering your content by post date, you can also sort it according to post tile, date of last modification, or any of the custom fields you’ve created, and much more.
Next you can create a query for the filter. This filter lets you query the view by post information, taxonomies, or custom fields. For example, you could filter the view by the country taxonomy, to only show the city guides from a specific set of countries.
Once the query and filter has been created, you can then have to decide how the content it returns is displayed to your visitors. By opening the Loop Wizard tool, you can choose the layout for your query results.
Next, after choosing a layout, you can then choose which fields from your content are displayed to the visitor. Examples of these fields would be the post title, the post excerpt, or any custom fields.
Once the template has been created, you can then edit it to improve its formatting if necessary. This can be done through the CSS editor, or by editing the template directly.
Now that your view is finished, you can then display the results of the query in your content, or by using the Views widget. Adding the view to your content is as easy as clicking on the Fields and View button and then selecting the appropriate view from the list.
This then inserts a shortcode into your content. When the post is published, the output of the view will be displayed in place of the shortcode.
Creating Custom Website Layouts
The Layouts plugin gives you the ability to create custom layouts for your website. This is the drag and drop editor that lets you customize the entire appearance of your website, including the header, footer, menu, and content area.
Unfortunately, Layouts doesn’t work with all WordPress themes. However, if your current theme is not supported, you are free to modify it in order to add support for Layouts. The Toolset package also includes a suitable theme you can use instead.
Once your site is Layouts-ready, either by installing a compatible theme, or editing your current theme, you can then start creating custom page layouts for your website.
You get a few useful pre-set layouts for your custom design, as well as the ability to specify which content this layout is automatically applied to. This could be the individual post types on your website, as well as just a specific page. Once you’ve created the layout, you can then start customizing it to meet your needs.
Doing so allows you to insert the different types of content into your layout. This includes: custom content, sliders, YouTube videos, image boxes, post content, custom layout structures, and more. You can also add your custom views to the layout. This then gives you the ability to display the results from your custom views query, in your custom layout.
As well as assigning a layout to a piece of content, or a post type when you first create it, you can also choose a template from the WordPress post and page editor screen. This all helps to make Layouts a flexible tool for creating a custom page layouts, and then assigning them to specific types of content on your website.
The developers of Toolset have put together a large collection of websites that have been built with their plugins. The projects cover a wide range of types of website, and you can browse them through the showcase area.
Try Toolset For Yourself
While the above should give you a good idea of what you can do with Toolset, you can also access their sandbox service to get a hands on experience of using these tools. If you head over to http://discover-wp.com you can setup a test site and start experimenting with the Toolset plugins right away.
The Toolset products are very well documented. On the Toolset website you can find user guides for each of the individual tools, reference sites, and FAQs. There is also material that covers advanced Toolset usage and information for programmers and theme developers.
This level of documentation is great as the scope of these tools are pretty advanced, and at first, it can seem a little overwhelming with so many features and options on offer.
However, thanks to the detailed online documentation, you can get a good sense of what each component of Toolset can do. This not only simplifies the process of deciding which tools you need for your project, but also how to use them to their fullest once you’ve assembled your toolkit.
Toolset Pricing Information
The entire Toolset package is available on two pricing options:
- One year of access to support and product updates: $149
- Lifetime access to support and product updates: $299
Access to the individual tools that make up toolset are also available for purchase individually.
Toolset Review Conclusion
After experimenting with this suite of plugins, it feels like I’ve only just scratched the surface of Toolset and what it can do.
If you are finding the core post and page content types of WordPress too restrictive and are unable to provide a suitable solution for the needs of your website, then Toolset, and specifically its Types plugin could be just what you need.
By using Types to start creating custom post types, custom taxonomies, and custom fields, you can really expand what can be done with WordPress. The Views plugin then makes it very easy to query this content and display it on your website, according to your specific needs.
If you then want more control over how that content, as well as the rest of your website, is presented then the Layouts plugin does a great job of really getting the content out of the database and ready for human consumption.
While Layouts doesn’t compare too favorably to the latest generation of page builder tools, the fact that it plugs into Views and makes it easy to display a wide range of content from your WordPress database, gives it a unique feature-set that will appeal to those with more demanding needs.
If you then take into account the CRED plugin, which allows you to publish front end forms on your website for collecting information for your visitors, as well as the Access plugin which gives you the ability to control access to your content, the possibilities of Toolset are endless.
If it’s starting to feel like you’re outgrowing WordPress, then maybe it’s just that you haven’t started using Toolset yet.