At Uncanny Owl, our team works hard to understand what people are doing with Automator…
We get a lot of amazing ideas for new Uncanny Automator features, both internally and from our users, but some of the time they don’t really fit the Uncanny Automator “model”. Those ideas might include new plugin ideas or maybe front end tools, so features that might extend Automator but wouldn’t fit into the recipe/automation/integration scope of the Uncanny Automator plugin.
Today, we’re excited to introduce a brand new addon for Uncanny Automator that adds some really cool capabilities to Automator sites, but that really needed to be its own plugin. We call it the Custom User Fields Addon, and it’s a pretty simple plugin that makes it a lot easier to work with custom user data in WordPress. The data can of course be used in recipes, but to make this really useful, the plugin goes far beyond Uncanny Automator itself.
User Fields Basics
The Custom User Fields Addon, at its most basic level, offers perhaps the easiest way in WordPress to add custom fields to user profiles. Here’s an example of what that looks like:
All too often on user sites, we see a need for some type of custom profile record. Maybe it’s something related to the user that they fill out in a registration form, like Job Title. Or maybe it’s something that would help in a recipe, like Last Login Date or Total Credits Earned. Basically you can add any field you want to user profiles, using a super simple interface:
That’s it, you really only need to enter a field label. We’ll take care of the rest, or you can set a custom key for the user meta record in WordPress. Then, when a field is added, we automatically add it to a new section on the edit user page in /wp-admin/.
And did you notice that in the list of fields, as they’re created, that we automatically generate a shortcode for that record? Here it is again for reference:
You can take that shortcode and paste it into any page or post, and it will output the value of that record for that user viewing the page. Suppose we add that shortcode to a page, I then view the page, and if my job title is “Director”, I will see the word “Director” on the page. It’s the easiest way we’ve seen to create new user fields, add them to edit user pages and show the values on front end pages.
Uncanny Automator integration
An easy-to-use way to manage user profile fields is cool, but why make it an add-on for Uncanny Automator?
For any Automator users that regularly work with user meta, you know that it can be awkward to remember and work with meta keys, and it’s a pain to figure out where other plugins are storing data. It’s hard for us to support those questions too, because while many plugins store records in user meta, they don’t often document exactly how they do so.
For fields created with the User Fields plugin, it’s super easy to use them in recipes. When the addon is installed and there are custom fields available, we show a new section called “Custom User Fields” in your list of tokens, like this:
You’ll see that the fields in this screenshot are from the fields that I set up in the first image of the article. And that’s all that’s needed—no working with meta keys, and instead just an intuitive list of user fields. Beyond being able to use the values in your recipes, fields can also be used in tokens, like this:
So maybe an action only fires if the user has a “Job Title” of “Director” here, or if you’re using our new Loops tool, you could do something like run a loop that adds everyone with a “Director” job title to a newly released course.
Everything you might want to know about the new plugin is covered in our new Knowledge Base page for Custom User Fields.
Why a separate plugin?
We get a lot of support tickets from users that are confused about how to work with custom user meta. Even when advanced customers are using plugins like Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), they seldom know what meta keys their data is mapped to. Our aim with this plugin is to make working with custom profile fields vastly easier without having to buy additional plugins.
It was created as an independent plugin because many of the features we wanted to include, like front end shortcodes and changes to edit user pages, simply don’t fit the core Automator model itself.
It’s compatible with other custom fields plugins
You may have noticed that in the add/edit field modal that we allow you to choose your own meta key or use one that we generate automatically. If you are using another plugin that adds data to user fields, you just need to use the same meta key that it uses for your custom field in our plugin and it will point to the same record. So if another plugin you use adds a “last_login_date” record for users, just created a “Last Login Date” field from our settings page, use the same meta key, and now in your Automator recipes you can just pull our User Field token instead of having to set up a complicate user meta key lookup.
No extra cost
The Custom User Fields plugin is available now to all Business and Agency annual license holders. If you have an active subscription with us, you can grab the new plugin right now from inside your accounts on the Downloads page. No additional action or purchases are needed.
Does this mean more Automator addons are coming?
While the Uncanny team’s focus is on the core Automator plugin (and making it even more fantastic every single month), we do have some really cool ideas for additional plugins in the future too. Having a way to release new features that don’t quite make sense in Uncanny Automator itself, and where there isn’t a free or easy alternative available in the market, ensures that we can continue adding significant value to Automator users. Keep an eye on our blog for announcements about other new addons for Automator!