WordPress Dynamic Content: Advanced Features of Page Builders Compared

Comparison Table

A number of page builders in the Dynamic Toolbox have the ability to work with WordPress dynamic content. The table below compares builders across several advanced features. You can create templates for Custom Post Types and display custom fields with any of the listed builders, but not all of them have advanced features. There is often a tradeoff between easy of use and more advanced features. Please see the discussion, explanations and notes below for more information.

WordPress Builders - Advanced Feature Comparison

BuilderOutput Repeater FieldsCustomize Loop OutputUse PHPConditional DisplayFrontend FiltersDev Skills RequiredStabilityFrontend Perfomant

Discussion - Displaying WordPress Dynamic Content

One of the dividing points between simple and advanced WordPress sites is the use of custom fields and Custom Post Types. Theme builder functionality facilitates this without the need to hand-code PHP templates. All of the tools in the table above have the ability to create templates for Custom Post Types and output, to some degree, custom fields.

The features listed in the Advanced Feature Comparison table are those related to the displaying WordPress dynamic content. These are advanced features, and the more of them that a tool has, then the more powerful and flexible it is. The use of these advanced features enable site builders to create sites with more "application-like" functionality.

Each site builder has to find their own "sweet spot" in the tradeoffs between ease of use, stability, and power / flexibility. In my mind, anything that gets the job done and is reasonably performant and stable is acceptable. The "best tool for the job" is a calculation that depends on each site builder's assessment of time, effort, cost, and project requirements. It is reasonable that the more powerful tools require more "dev skills."

It appears to me that Beaver Themer is the best choice for displaying dynamic content for sites up to a moderate complexity. It requires a low level "dev skills," is very stable, performant, and is more powerful (by count of features) than half of the tools in the list. Toolset Blocks would be the next choice in terms of "dev skills required" in relation to power and flexibility. Meta Box Views requires more "dev skills" but also exposes a good number of advanced features. Oxygen and Toolset Views are the most powerful and flexible, but need the most "dev skills."

Explanation and Notes

Builder: The criteria for inclusion in the table is that the builder can be used for creating theme templates and displaying WordPress dynamic content. Some builders have third-party addons that extend them, but addons are not considered. The table just shows native features.

Output Repeater Fields: ACF, Meta Box, and Toolset have repeater fields. A checkmark in this column indicated the ability to output the values of a repeater field within the builder itself. All builders allow the use of shortcodes and users could code repeater field output using PHP in a plugin or code snippet as a shortcode, but that is separate from the builder.

Customize Loop Output: Being able to customize the loop output allows for advanced content views. This feature means you can, for example, add custom fields to archives or content lists.

Use PHP: WordPress has a lot of helper PHP functions. ACF and Meta Box have helper functions for custom field output. The ability to use PHP in the builder requires developer skills, but adds flexibility.

Conditional Display: The ability to dynamically show or hide content based on the logical evaluation of variable conditions. The conditions may be based on WordPress site content (site settings, user settings, or post type content) or on variables external to the site (time, location, URL parameters, etc.). Many builders have the ability to hide content by device size breakpoint, but that is not what is referred to here.

Frontend Filters: Frontend Filters make it easier for users to find relevant content. Filters may be based on categories, tags, or custom fields.

Dev Skills Required: There is an assumption that all of these tools require a good knowledge of WordPress and familiarity with the tool. I've labeled this column "Dev Skills," but really any power user who is willing to invest time and effort is capable of using them. The level is an approximation of the amount of CSS, JavaScript, and WordPress PHP knowledge needed to use the advanced features listed here. This category is a proxy for ease of use. It is based on the author's experience with the tools and is somewhat subjective.

Stability: Based on reports of bugs, updates, general flakiness, or security issues breaking sites in the last 12 months. This is also somewhat subjective.

Frontend Performant: Any site can be optimized for better frontend speed and page size performance. In this context, "Frontend Performant" refers to default page size and asset optimization.


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David McCan
Last updated: January 10 2022

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