Toolset – The Ultimate WordPress No-Code Builder Toolbox?

Build complete WordPress sites without coding. Is that really possible? The Toolset plugins from OnTheGoSystems promise that yes, it is possible. We have a special 20% discount for our readers too.
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This post was updated in March 2019 with a new 20% discount, updated descriptions, new Toolset tools, as well as new showcase examples that show the true power of this suite of plugins.

Build complete WordPress sites without coding.

Is that really possible?

The Toolset plugins from OnTheGoSystems promise that yes, it is possible.

Toolset is a collection of WordPress plugins that let you build virtually anything without coding. We’ve been using these plugins for a while across a variety of sites, so we worked out a deal with the Toolset team especially for our readers. Click on the banner below to get 20% off Toolset (discount applied automatically, no coupon code required).

You can define content types, display content, control access, and build front-end editing forms. Those are the building blocks of any website.

No PHP coding skills are needed and you can build entire sites from within the WordPress admin just with Toolset.

The Toolset package consists of four main components.

  • Types defines content types and customizes the WordPress admin
  • Views loads content and displays it any way you choose
  • Forms builds front-end forms for creating and editing content
  • Access lets you control which users can access content
  • Layouts uses full power of Bootstrap, together with a convenient drag-and-drop editor

Types is available for free from the WordPress plugin repository, but you only get access to the other components when purchasing Toolset, which is an investment of $149.

Not sure whether you’ll be able to build these features yourself? Toolset has you covered with its Custom Types Training Course which provides 16 bite sized videos to teach you how to build some of its most important features. By the end of it you’ll be able to start building

Still skeptical? Browse the showcase showing some of the sites that have already been built using Toolset, including the one below from Worcestershire Food & Drink. We even have some other examples here on WP Mayor for education sites and directory sites, all built with Toolset.

Now before you dismiss Toolset as another failed WordPress site builder attempt by some over enthusiastic young developer, you should know that OnTheGoSystems are the team behind WPML, the best multilanguage plugin for WordPress.

They already have thousands of customers world-wide, and consequently know a thing or two about development, QA and customer support. When a company of that size and calibre puts its weight behind Toolset, you know this has got to be promising in the least.

Let’s take a closer look at all the components of Toolset and how they’re being used on real websites right now.

Types

Types is the integrated solution for customizing WordPress.

  • Create custom post types, taxonomy and custom fields – all from within your WordPress dashboard.
  • It gives you the ability to create a wide selection of custom field types, all repeatable.
  • It enables you to create custom post types with parent/child relationships.

Types is being put to great use on the Rieger website, which uses custom post types to create a section for its menu, reservations and events among many others.

Get Types with Toolset

Views

Views plugin is the display engine for Toolset.

  • Build WordPress sites from within the admin dashboard.
  • Create entire sites or add functionality to existing ones.
  • Runs entirely from the WordPress admin.
  • Design your site without a single line of PHP.
  • Customize page templates and lists for posts, pages and any custom content you create.
  • Works with any WordPress theme. The theme determines the styling, Views lets you control the functionality.

It can be used to create truly beautiful websites. Helena Frith Powell’s website uses Views to display all of her latest articles in a pleasing way which is easy to browse through.

Get Views with Toolset

Forms

Want to build WordPress classifieds sites, directories or anything else that requires user-interaction? Toolset Forms is the solution. Forms gives you the ultimate Front-End Content Creation and Editing functionality.

  • Use it to create and edit any WordPress content type, with custom fields and taxonomy.
  • It will build the forms for you, and you design the look using simple HTML and CSS.
  • The comprehensive API allows you to build complete web apps with WordPress.
  • All Toolset Forms forms can create or edit posts in the database.
  • It knows the custom fields and taxonomy for every post type.
  • It comes with complete access control, API and other features that let you build complete web-apps on WordPress, making it very developer friendly.

For example, ICO Drip allows users to fill out forms to advertise their investments without having to log in to the WordPress admin or email the details to the site’s manager.

Get Forms with Toolset

Access

Access lets you control what different users can do on your site.

  • Manage user roles and privileges.
  • Control what content different users can read, create, edit, publish and delete.
  • All done through a simple user interface.
  • Hand-pick privileges for entire roles or specific users for each content-type.
  • Assign privileges to users using a simple UI to determine what different users can do.
  • You can also define your custom roles and assign privileges to each kind of user.
  • Also include a complete API so you can integrate it with your custom code.

Havard Club of New York used Access to create an exclusive section for members to be able to see the events calendar, make reservations or book training.

Get Access with Toolset

Layouts

Layouts exposes everything that Bootstrap offers, allowing you complete control over every element.

  • It produces clean and accurate HTML, which you can style accurately and conveniently.
  • Layouts combines convenient drag-and-drop with pixel-accurate output.
  • It can work as a page-builder, letting you design “the content”.
  • It works on pages, posts and custom types.
  • Layouts can add Bootstrap to any theme and lets you use all its power to design responsive grids and fancy elements.

In one last example, Priority Ministries used Layouts to customize each page and decide which Views they want to display and where.

Get Layouts with Toolset

Custom Search

With the Custom Search option you can build custom searches for any custom post type.

  • Include inputs by custom fields, taxonomy, relationship and text searches.
  • The search can include text, numbers, checkboxes, radio inputs and more.
  • Show the results with your own custom design, even on maps.

Anindilyakwa Arts employs a custom search to help users find the exact art they are looking for. It has a number of filters to help them narrow down their choice.

Get Custom Search with Toolset

Reminder: Save 20% on Toolset with WP Mayor

We have a special deal from Toolset just for our readers. Save 20% on the Toolset set of plugins! Click on the banner below to redeem the discount automatically (no coupon code required).

So what do you think about Toolset? Any Toolset users out there that want to share their creations? Fire away in the comments section below.

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57 Responses

  1. Nothing against this product, but I always think it’s funny designers will go through all the trouble of learning applications and systems like this, but won’t bother to just go ahead and learn to code. By the time they have a handle on avoiding coding at all costs, they could have mastered the basics, at least. Pretty valuable skills to have in the www business, not terribly difficult, and comparatively future-proof and well-supported.
    Totally off-topic I realize, but I’ll never get it.

    1. There’s definitely some truth in that, a pure web designer should take the time to learn basic html and css, plus JS, that’s a given.

      On the other hand hobbyists and other more business-oriented folks appreciate tools like this one, and it’s much easier for them to achieve their goals with such a tool rather than learn a lot of things they will not be earning their daily living from.

  2. Unfortunately, Views doesn’t work with “any theme”. I know of at least one theme that causes Views to display things incorrectly. I have a client using the Made theme from Industrial Themes. The theme has been customized to a degree, so I’ll grant that’s a possible cause of the issues, but switching to Twenty Eleven fixes the problems so it’s definitely a conflict with the theme.

    That’s not a knock on Views, just a caveat that there’s always the possibility for conflicts with themes and other plugins.

    1. Hi John, thanks for pointing that out. As with all themes and plugins, there’s always a chance of conflicts occurring.

      The most important thing is that the support guys can look into it swiftly and fix any conflict that is due to the plugin itself. If on the other hand the theme is introducing the issue, the theme would have to be fixed.

      I’ve seen many cases when plugin developers were blamed for conflicts, only for the end result being that the theme was calling an old version of JavaScript. Just one example to illustrate the point.

      Having said that, the folks at onTheGo Systems are some of the most proactive people when it comes to ensuring compatibility. If you take a look at their ‘multilingual compatible’ initiative with WPML, you’ll see what I mean. I am sure that they can help you sort out the conflict in your theme, and I’ll ask them to get in touch with you personally on this issue.

      1. Hi, Bruce,

        Thanks for the response. I will have to see if I still have the Views in question on the test site. If not, I’ll have to try to duplicate the issue.

        In a nutshell, I was trying to create a page with a parent type and a couple of child types. The parent could have multiple children of each type so there were two custom loops, essentially. With the theme in question, the wrong child data was being displayed. When I switched to Twenty Eleven, it worked as expected.

        As I said, I will try to duplicate the issue and contact support when I’m able to do so.

        Thanks,

        John

      2. Hi, Bruce,

        I just wanted to follow up on this. I was able to duplicate the issue and opened a support ticket for it. A tech responded quickly and found the problem. The theme has some code in it that modifies the loop for a specific post type (Reviews). That was causing “No posts found” to be returned when there were actually posts in existence. Commenting out that code fixed the problem. Fortunately, we don’t use Reviews with the theme, so it’s a viable fix in our case.

        In any case, I just wanted to say that the response was quick and accurate.

        John

  3. I’ve been using Views for a while now, the devs have done some amazing steps forward in response to what we users were demanding, and this new Toolset package is looking even more useful with the access control and CRED plugins. Thanks!

  4. Jean-

    What’s your opinion? Your run down the features but don’t say if u like or dislike and why? 🙂

    Personally I am a fan!

    1. I personally love this plugin, although I must say that there is a learning curve anyway with such tools. The same applies for somewhat similar tools like PageLines. However once you get the hang of it it’s very powerful, and of course it is much more of a learning curve to learn how to do all the things Toolset does by coding it yourself.

      Stay tuned though, we’ll have a proper review on Toolset out soon.

    1. Pods is a good plugin and I have a lot of respect towards its Scott, who builds it. From the beginning, pods took the ‘free product’ route, while Toolset plugins cost money.

      For sure, just slapping a pricetag doesn’t really make something valuable. However, knowing that we depend on our plugins for a living makes all the difference.

      When a free plugin has a bug, the author will do his best to handle it, when he can. When our plugins fail, we don’t sell. You probably see how this motivates us to develop, support and maintain our plugins.

      We don’t have such a thing as ‘holiday’, or ‘vacation’, or just ‘busy with my day job’. We always keep someone on duty to manage support and we always make sure that everything is up and running.

      Sure, we have bugs and problems and make mistakes, but if we don’t respond quickly, we might as well look for another job.

      Right now, we employ six people working 100% on Toolset plugins (and we’re hiring more). There’s no way to maintain this level of development on a plugin that has no revenue.

      This isn’t a side-by-side features comparison, but I hope it still helps.

      1. I like to get paid for my work, and extend the same courtesy to others, however your business model is a little awkward in my eyes. I understand the need for revenu to support staff and simply to make good profit, after all, that’s what we’re all after, but the way it’s presented is somewhat misleading. We do not buy a product, we purchase the right to use it, which is fine as well, but making it obvious, that this is a sub based service rather then a product that can be bought for a fixed price, would be nice. This is a long term commitment that’s not evident by the way pricing is presented. WP easily releases few updates per year, the Toolset will be obsolete without updates in no time, unless you are a coder, though then, chances are you do not need it to start with. It comes with a dev price tag, somewhat forgetting that there are quite a few individual users that would happily pay for the functionality if it was somewhat more rational. As it is now, it’s simply not worth it for one site, especially considering various other plugins and tools that are emerging rather quickly, and offer similar, even if not as complex, functionality, Best of luck any how.

        1. You have a good point. You might be interested to learn that we’ve added more purchasing options for Toolset plugins. If you prefer, you can buy a lifetime account. This will entitle you to upgrades and support without having to renew your wp-types.com account ever. So, if you’re unhappy with renewals, there’s an option for you to choose.

          All purchase options are shown in our ‘buy’ page:
          https://wp-types.com/buy/

    2. For a comparison of Types vs Pods, check out this multi-plugin comparison at http://pods.io/compare/

      While Amir is right, a plugin with paid support is definitely something worth investing in if you need someone who will be there 24/7, but I’m thinking he may be misleading some about how much can really go into a free plugin.

      We’re also a team of 6, we aren’t all working on Pods 24/7 (although a case could be made that I do!) but we’re all professional developers building large and innovative sites at our day jobs. We depend on very specific functionality to save time and grow with our projects ever demanding needs. And based on our shared experiences, we roll numerous improvements into each release of Pods. We are also sponsored by Automattic, and are working on getting Pods to be one of the very few approved plugins on the WordPress VIP platform used by some of the biggest sites using WordPress.

      With that said, yes Pods is free, but we’re not just doing this for fun. Pods makes our work lives sane, we directly depend on it to make a living, and we want to give WordPress something it dearly needs: a platform that makes it easier to define content types and fields, for apps, websites, and more.

      There’s still a lot coming ahead, we even have premium components coming out for Pods which each come with dedicated support. So comparing Pods to Types, both are free, but Pods is truly open, community driven, and something thousands of hours of development and planning has gone into. It’s anything but a basic free plugin, it’s feature set speaks for itself.

      1. I wanted to follow up on my previous reply. In the coming month(s) we’ll be launching a premium support service which you can opt-in if you want priority support or need the extra piece of mind. We’ll also have premium components bundled with the support plan so you can enjoy them along with other benefits of the support subscription. More details coming soon.

  5. I’ve done WordPress sites for a couple of years, but I’m a newcomer to the Toolset. First project with it, and I’ve already done some pretty nice listings, custom content templates, and front-end forms. It’s kind of like another layer of template code, which might be totally unnecessary in a trivial project, but that’s not what I’m talking about here…

    The free Types plugin seems pretty basic compared to, say, Advanced Custom Fields. If I didn’t have the whole package, I wouldn’t bother with Types.

    I’ve ran into one quite major bug (front-end permissions), and several annoyances. But nothing is perfect.

    Verdict: Very promising and quite solid piece. Worth a try (it’s free).

    1. Types is the free plugin, however the whole Toolset package provides the complete building functionality. I like Types and personally use it for setting up custom fields, it feels easier than most other custom field creation plugins.

      Toolset is very usable but as you say it’s also a work in progress and the developers are very reactive to bug reports, so I’m looking forward to where they will take things with this plugin.

  6. Hi Jean,

    What’s your view on Toolset as compared to Headway? I actually found your first blog on Toolset, discovered the free, online trial and – lo! – discovered that one of the available themes in the trial was Headway Base. I realise that Headway is a theme and Toolset is a plugin, but there seems to be a lot of overlap to me.

    Interested to know your take on this. Thanks.

    Valerie

    1. Valerie, Toolset is similar to Headway in the fact that its aim is to let you build websites without coding, but the way they go about achieving this is different. Toolset is easier to put into use in websites which already have a theme, but need to have some new functionality built in. Both are good tools, but I think Toolset has more advanced functionality (for example access control), and I am convinced that its feature set and capabilities will grow at a very fast rate.

  7. There’s one major failing with the Types plugin which gives me doubts regarding aspects of the others: You can’t attach a custom fields group to a specific page ID/name, or to a post category. So basically, I may have a specific page that needs specific custom fields, or a particular post category likewise, and you cannot do this with Types. Where as it is very simple to do with Advanced Custom Fields, for example. This is a major failing in my opinion.

    1. DJ, you are absolutely right in this observation. There will always be more flexibility when creating everything from scratch and always, some plugins will have certain features and other plugins not have them.

      We are working to make Types, Views, CRED and Access as feature-rich as possible, while avoiding feature bloat which makes the GUI difficult to understand.

      Our approach to displaying fields on specific pages was via Views plugin’s “View Templates”. We assumed that you would want to both enter the fields for the specific post and also display them on the front-end. So, when you assign a specific View Template to a page, you can also tell Types to display the custom fields when displaying with that View Template.

      I realize that this makes it usable only when displaying with Views.

      Anyway, we are always reviewing and adding new features and it’s great to receive this kind of feedback.

      1. So basically Types is not a plugin for developers, but more for hobbyists or non tech folk running their own site (and needing to use Views), while Advanced Custom Fields is more for developers?

        1. If you feel that ACF is more suited for your needs, then it’s fine. The great thing about WordPress is that there are so many good plugins and themes. Eventually, everyone finds the extensions that he likes and are best for his workflow. Right?

          I agree that ACF is better for people who prefer to code everything from scratch. We’re trying to optimize Toolset plugins for those who want to build sites without coding.

          These are not necessarily hobby developers. Many great developers enjoy this workflow to save time and produce sites on short schedules. On the other hand, if you have years of experience developing in PHP, I can easily see how it would be more convenient for you to use a minimal environment and code everything yourself.

          Sounds fair?

            1. Indeed, everyone is free to choose their own tools, however it’s important on places like here (ie. not a Types/Views sales channel) that folk understand both the benefits and the limitations. If I’d had full knowledge of both the benefits AND its limitations I would have saved myself a couple of hours.

              Though I wouldn’t agree with “great” developers using Views personally. I certainly wouldn’t engage a developer on the occasions I bring in extra resources who used Views rather than coded templates themselves. It’s not rocket science, and you don’t need to be a PHP programmer to do so. And the aim for any serious WP developer should be to use as few plugins as possible, in my opinion.

              But as you say, each to their own.

          1. We use Toolset when speed is needed. And it most often is since our clients have a limited budget. If you are a 1337 designer/developer with customers with big pockets and no limit budgets then maby this is not the tool for you but then again wordpress would not be the tool of choice either.

            1. “Big pockets”, “no limit budgets”?? I hardly think so, don’t know of many small businesses that match that description. A well coded site doesn’t need to be an expensive site.

  8. With regards to using Toolset when speed is needed and budgets are restricted, I have to agree. There are many cases where we would have refused to develop a website for the budget given, but now it is possible to do it since Toolset reduces the time needed to develop that solution. A library of reusable code is the other alternative, but many times Toolset can be even faster.

  9. After several months of hemming and hawing over options, I was set on using ExpressionEngine and Pixel&Tonic’s Playa to achieve my multi-relational needs (which are extreme). Is anyone familiar enough with Playa to compare it to Types?

      1. From where you’re coming from I would suggest looking at Advanced Custom Fields plugin. Much better plugin, and you only need to know the absolute basic of PHP (indeed, only HTML really, the rest is copy and paste) and you can add all the field you want.

        1. ACF is really good and I use it way more than Types/Views, but I find them a bit hard to compare.

          Types can go further than ACF, but that might not be useful unless you seriously need search/filtering or some sort of advanced structure. ACF has much nicer UI, and premium addons like repeater make it extendable enough to cover almost any case.

    1. Thanks, Dave, Jean and nettiapinafi. I was aware of ACF before, but I’m not sure how well everything will work together. What I want to do is so many-to-many related that to get this thing off the ground would either require a complicated combination of multiple add-ons or a totally custom solution ($!). I’m probably just going to have to can the concept, or at the very least castrate it. 🙁

      1. If you’re coming from EE then in all seriousness I wouldn’t even consider Types. If you’ve used EE then you’re a coder. Types and the related family is for users who are not coders, that’s what it’s for. If you want advanced functionality with a comparable level of coding and quality of code base, then the main three plugins you’ll want to look at are:
        – Advanced Custom Fields
        – Gravity Forms
        – Custom Post Type UI

        All these three have very high quality code behind them (I can’t say the same about Types) and while easy to get a hang of at a basic level, also offer a very high level of advanced features and customisation that delivers features that are comparable with EE.

        You will still need to decide if WP is the best platform for your project – anyone who says it’s fine for any site is either lying or not a very experienced developer – but if it is, then these three plugins are the best starting point for more advanced functionality with a good quality code base behind them.

        Feel free to drop me an email if you want some advice on choosing the best platform for your project. I’ve been working with WP to a high level of customisation for a number of years, and with custom developed CMSs and online applications for over a decade, so have a pretty solid knowledge of “the best tool for the job” for most projects.

        Cheers.

        1. Thanks, Dave!! Post of the year, for me!

          I’m not married to EE, in fact we’ve hardly even had a date, but I’ve been researching options for far to long that I will soon have to make a committment one way or the other. I have come back to reviewing WordPress after discounting it a couple of years ago, and boy has it changed for the better. I am not a coder, and I can’t afford the costs my project would incur.

          I would love to discuss things further with you in the future. I’ll keep this aside for future reference. Thank you.

          I am still interested in what the Types/Toolkit might have to offer and will look into it further. Thanks to everyone who’s commented so far.

    1. I followed FlexiContent when it was starting out, and continued for a long time after that. It’s a great piece of kit, but it does not have the detailed relational structure or freedom that I’m looking for. From what I can see, Types seems to allow a lot more freedom. I’m still going to consider it if I go the WP route, but I still think P&T’s Playa w/EE is the most powerful option.

    1. Nope, you take that title, for choosing to troll an old post simply to personally abuse someone just because you don’t agree with their opinion.

  10. Anyone have any thoughts on the general nature of solutions like Toolset or Pods that (usually) require the plugin to be active on the site, in order for you to use the tools that you built with it? What I mean is, I’ve read in other forums (and agree) that there doesn’t seem to be a solution (yet) that allows users to export a final stand alone “plugin” that can be used independent of the tool used to build it.

    I’ve been reading through the Toolset documentation, and it seems like this might be somewhat possible.

    Mind you, I’m coming from a perspective of being mostly a designer and/or web “assembler” and only a fledgling coder.

    Ideally though, I’d love something that allowed me to “build a plugin” then export it for stand alone use. Is there a solution out there like that, that already exists that I’ve missed?

    Great post, and interesting comments. Thanx all.

    1. This is Amir. I’m responsible for WPML and Toolset plugins.

      We’re actually working on embedded versions for all Toolset plugins, which will allow you to export entire designs without the full plugins. These embedded versions will allow redistribution and we are in contact with a number of theme developers who will use them as basis for their themes.

      Does this help?

  11. @Amir, that would definitely help. I personally would prefer to have a final, “compiled” “application”. Optimized, with stripped down libraries etc.

  12. I use intensively the Toolset plugins for most if not all my clients sites. I am hearing quite offending opinions in this blog posts to the “non coders” who deploy Toolset for web development been classified as “non great developers”. My choice to use Toolset was deeply pondered. So far I never had a client who asked me what solutions I have deployed for his/her site, what really matter to them is to get the “functionalities” they need and so far Toolset plugins did the job fantastically. Also that “non coder” definition is very misleading, to use Views you need a strong background on HTML and CSS… is this coding or not? For sure it’s easier than PHP but still it is coding and with Views you have to do it by hand. So, am I a hobbyist or a developer? I own ACF as well, I have used it a bit and I have to admit that looks really amazing but so far all features requested by clients where satisfied just using Toolset plugins but I am ready to deploy ACF the day I will be asked a functionality that Toolset cannot accomplish.

  13. This is an interesting article to read. I am glad I found this blog.
    Enjoyed learning this information !! Thanks for posting !!
    Keep Blogging !! Have a nice Day !!

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