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Load fields from PHP exported file by default

  • Hey,

    By default I want to load all fields from the PHP exported file. Because manual synchronization of the updated fields by the user of my themes is too cumbersome. Usually I have a child theme, which is loading the fields from the PHP exported file by default.

    This is included in the child theme functions.php and it works fine:
    include_once( get_template_directory() . '/inc/acf-field-groups.php' );

    BUT, not everyone can read the documentation to find out who should work with the child theme. The reality is, a lot of theme user work with the main theme instead of the child theme.

    So I thought I can add a field loading switch like this:

    if( ! get_field('mode_custom_fields_json', 'option') ) {
        include_once( get_stylesheet_directory() . '/inc/acf-field-groups.php' );

    The user must first to activate the field loading from JSON manually. It’s the best way to keep users from manually syncing the fields.

    BUT if I added this code above to the main theme functions.php and it dosen’t work 🙁

    Without the condition if( ! get_field('mode_custom_fields_json', 'option') ), the fields will loaded from the PHP exported file by default and it works.

    Why this is not working with the if condition?

  • Ok, I have solved this issue by myself. The reason why the PHP exported file is not loading inside the if condition, I have loaded the JSON files at the same time with the following code:

    if ( ! function_exists( 'acf_json_load_point' ) ) :
            function acf_json_load_point( $paths ) {		
                unset($paths[0]); // remove original path (optional)
                $paths[] = get_stylesheet_directory() . '/inc/acf-json'; // append path
                return $paths;
        add_filter('acf/settings/load_json', 'acf_json_load_point');

    If I load the “PHP exported file” OR the “JSON files” only, handled by a if condition, everything is fine and it works great 🙂

  • Here is my solution:

    add_filter('acf/settings/load_json', function( $paths ) {
        $dev_mode = get_field('mode_custom_fields_json', 'option');
        // load basic [ MAIN THEME ] field groups from the [ MAIN THEME JSON ] folder
        $paths = array( get_template_directory() . '/inc/acf-json' );
        // load custom additional [ CHILD THEME ] field groups from the [ CHILD THEME JSON ] folder
        if( is_child_theme() && $dev_mode ) {
            $paths[] = get_stylesheet_directory() . '/acf-json';
        // WITHOUT ACTIVATED DEV MODE --> load all fields from PHP file by the [ MAIN THEME ]
        if( ! $dev_mode ) {
            // load all field groups from PHP exported file for theme users
            include_once( get_template_directory() . '/inc/acf-field-groups.php' );
        return $paths;
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