Happy Lunar New Year! It’s the Year of the Dragon following the Lunar New Year in Vietnam, where the Meta Box team locates. At the beginning of the new year, we usually look back on a year and send to family and friends a wish of prosperity, luck, and success. This is a beautiful tradition that has been through generations.

At this time, we, as Anh Tran, Janessa Tran, and other people behind the Meta Box, would love to wish you all a year full of luck and wonderful opportunities, and everything goes as expected. We also would like to send many thanks to all our dear fellows for always being by our side, using our products, and fully supporting us.

Now, let’s look back to see what we have done in the last year together, and take a look at some main points of the next year’s plan.

infographic of Meta Box 2023 in review

Interesting Numbers

2023 is the year right after the Covid-19 pandemic, the global economy is still in the recovery period. Although many fields and businesses may be facing difficulties, we seem to stay out of that. Meta Box keeps the regular development and growth over the years with the help from you all. These are some impressive statistics that we did together:

  • Reached 700,000+ active installations of the Meta Box plugin;
  • Reached 10,000+ active installations of MB Custom Post Types and Custom Taxonomies;
  • Reached 3,400+ members in the Meta Box Users group on Facebook, also getting thousands of discussions in the year;
  • Published 60+ tutorials along with videos on the website and YouTube;
  • Resolved 2000+ topics in the Support forum;
  • Raised the growth rate in revenue and purchases compared to previous years. We also keep the business growth steady and regularly over the years.

In 2023, Meta Box participated in The WP Awards 2023 competition, and got the prize for one of the two most popular Dynamic Data Plugins thanks to users' support and voting.

As well as, we are delighted that Meta Box is also a hot topic mentioned in many social communities such as Dynamic WordPress, Advanced WordPress, WPDevDesign, The WP Weekly, WP LTDs, @webtng, @WPAllImport, @idavinder, and communities of page builders as Bricks, Breakdance, Oxygen, etc.

It's great that more and more people know about Meta Box and love our products. We would like to send our sincere thanks to you all: Meta Box users and all the influential and active people in the WordPress communities, for being with us to reach all above great numbers, as well as always supporting us in the development process, giving us ideas or suggestions, and spreading Meta Box name.

Highlights in Product Development

Over the last year, we’ve received bunches of users' feedback, requests, and suggestions. We are always aware that in addition to having unique ideas, paying attention to the customer's feelings and needs is the key point to have a stable growth for the business. As a result, we based on those requests to have improvements and even new features for our products with the hope that you will have better experience and more power with Meta Box.

Let’s take a look back at the highlights of product improvements in 2023:

New Field Type: Icon Field

Since we have 50+ field types that can meet various types of data already, we have been quite limited in adding a new type of field. Adding a new field type comes with a huge amount of work required to maintain and update all extensions so that they work smoothly with that field. It’s not as simple as people often think.

However, realizing the necessity for a new field type also based on users' request, we spent time on it. At the end of November, we released a new field type named Icon that allows you to select icons from the previously-specified library and display them on the frontend. So that you can add icons more flexibly, and replace them easily as well.

The Icon field helps you select icons from the specified libraries and display them on the frontend

This field supports libraries such as Font Awesome Free/Pro and custom icon sets via CSS files or SVGs. You can read the introduction about this field type for more details. We hope it will be useful for all our users and you will enjoy it.

New Integration

Developing a website may need a package of tools to do different tasks. That’s why people often care about the compatibility between plugins.

We're excited that over the years, there have been a lot of integrations made for Meta Box, even including them in the plugin as a native feature. Despite that, we sometimes want to create integrations ourselves as the MB Divi Integrator as we did in September 2023.

Among a range of page builders, using Divi to build a website is still a good option, so Divi is known as a popular page builder and has a large number of users around the world. Thus, having numerous requests for this integration is an easy-understanding. With this integration, you can use Divi's module to get data from Meta Box fields or use two totally new Meta Box modules for higher performance. You can refer to this walkthrough.

New Features

In the first half of 2023, we have released some brand-new features that got a lot of attention from the community:

Theme Code Feature

The Theme Code feature automatically generates code for displaying the values ​​of fields on the frontend. There is no need to look at the documentation to see how the syntax is everytime, just copy and paste the generated code into the theme's files / template.

Theme Code feature provides auto-generated to display the values ​​of fields on the frontend Meta Box Builder

Then, even someone who is not familiar with code can do it so easily.

Though we still encourage you to read the doc to understand how we get and display values from custom fields in the most detailed and clear way. It’s fundamental, so please don’t ignore reading it!

Add-New Feature

Previously, we used to switch multiple screens to add new posts, taxonomies, or users when we were editing one and inputting data to custom fields. Although it’s default, many people find this quite inconvenient. And, they let us know that.

Therefore, we have the Add-New feature. Since May in 2023, you can add new posts, taxonomies, and users right in the custom fields without changing the screen. This feature will be especially useful if you use Gutenberg.

With the Add-new feature, there’ll be a button to add posts, taxonomies, and users directly

Improving Existing Features

Besides releasing new features, we also pay heed to improving existing features. We recorded all the updates in the changelog that you may want to see for more details. In this review, we just want to highlight two improvements that users find most interested in:

  • Export / import data

From the Meta Box version 5.9, you can export or import data for post types, taxonomies, relationships, settings pages, and templates created with MB Views. We believe that this improvement can help you a lot to quickly save and input data.

Export template of MB Views

Import a template to MB Views

Along with that, we completely rewrote the MB REST API extension to ensure a stable operation with other features. In addition, it’s easier for use and maintainability. It is especially compatible with the settings page.

Improving UI/UX

As we always notice about improving user experience, we made some improvements in the UI to uplift it.

Although we believe the improvements were the best at the launching time and we also received positive feedback from users, they may not fit someone's expectations since the experience is all about the feelings and habits. However, we always aim to satisfy the most majority of users as possible. Furthermore, we’ve oriented ourselves to improve the UI/UX regularly, and 2023 is just the beginning stage. Hence, if you are wavering about something, please let us know and keep patience then we will resolve it soon.

Despite it’s the beginning, we made some significant changes in the last year and are glad to review them all now.

Changing the Field Management Screen

When you have just several fields with a simple structure of groups, you may not pay attention to the management screen at all. But when the number of fields increases significantly, and when you have numerous complicated groups with subgroups inside, you definitely need a clear overview on the field group structure on this screen, as well as changing the screen to see the structure in multiple ways.

We arranged fields by levels to show a clear hierarchy of every group. No matter how many levels the groups have, they all clarified as you usually see in code.

Show the hierarchy of the groups and add the toggle buttons

And of course, it’s not always smart to open every complicated thing. That’s why we added some toggle buttons to easily collapse / expand the groups / subgroups to see all the things inside, as well as a toggle button to open / close the field settings. You can turn the screen from the full view to the tidy one, and otherwise, with just a click.

Besides, rearranging fields by dragging or dropping is improved to be more flexible. You can now drag/drop subfields in/out of the group.

Drag/drop subfields in/out of the group

Also on this screen, you can quick-edit any fields including creating, copying, and deleting a field, or editing the field label/ID. Everything is possible with only one click.

Quick-add field button

Just click on the label or the ID on the header bar of each field to directly edit them.

UI for MB Frontend Submission and MB User Profile

Year after year, we've tried to reduce the time you spend working with code in Meta Box. Not only improving the existing UI for things in the backend, we created new UIs for the two plugins that work on the frontend which are MB User Profile and MB Frontend Submission.

Instead of using shortcodes along with attributes for customizing as in the past, we now have blocks / widgets / elements (or any other kinds of name) for Gutenberg and page builders to visually add fields on any place on pages.

add Submission Form block in Gutenberg

Obviously, the settings in a visual panel goes along with each block / widget.

Settings of the Submission Form block

In the future, we plan to put everything into the UI as much as possible.

Improving Code Editor for MB Views

We even can save your time and effort on where we must work with code in MB Views. This extension is a feature that can bring a lot of power and is also interesting, especially for those who are familiar with code. So, we highly recommend exploiting this product.

Anyway, working with code still needs something optimal and convenient.

In 2023, we had a very important update that improved code editing based on the Visual Studio Code editor (VSCode) - the most popular editor for all developers in the world.

shortcut in MB Views

With this update, you can use a lot of VSCode features like search and replace, Ctrl-P command palette, keyboard shortcuts and powerful code suggestions:

code suggestion in MB Views

Improving Validation Module

There are some places in the field settings that need to input data. It may be field ID, variable, operations, etc. Previously, you had to remember or look for them somewhere then copy/paste or type it directly.

To ignore this process, also input more accuracy, Meta Box has had a built-in validation module for all fields, ensuring it works well with all field types and groups. And, this is available in Meta Box Builder.

We also add suggestion variables/attributes to set conditional logic, group title, date picker options, post/term/user query options, etc. from Meta Box for settings of any field. Just need to choose from the list with suggested values.

Predefined/suggested values in settings of fields with the Validation module

Then, there will not be a situation where you forget something and change between multiple screens. We believe it’s useful and saves your time effectively.

Meta Box’s Plan in 2024

As mentioned, 2023 is just the beginning stage of improving the UI/UX for Meta Box. We plan to have more changes in the next year to continue this progress, especially the experience with the MB Views extension. Besides that, we’re also improving the power of the following extensions. Let’s take a look and see which one makes sense to you.

MB Blocks

We’ve received various suggestions from you all in 2023, and a large part of them is about the MB Blocks. Therefore, developing and upgrading the MB Blocks extension becomes our main goal in 2024.

It will be updated to be compatible with Full Site Editor, can register blocks via JSON files, and render blocks with MB Views, etc.

MB Relationships

Relating to the UI a little bit but about relationships, we plan to improve the UI of the MB Relationships extension so that you can use it easier and more effectively.

In addition, we’re planning to add metadata for the connections, and continue to publish more tutorials about bi-directional relationships.

MB Custom Table

Understanding the important role of saving and managing the data for PHP/WordPress developers, in 2024, we’ll improve the method to do it with the MB Custom Table extension. We believe that it’ll definitely be more smart and you will enjoy it.

That’s some main points in the plan that we will try to follow in the next year. So, keep calm and wait for us!

Last Words

Once again, we want to say thank you to you all for your support, feedback, and suggestions for a better Meta Box. What we have today is thanks to your efforts and support. We highly appreciate that, and wish we will go along together for all the upcoming stages.

Let's look forward to an even more explosive year 2024 with Meta Box!

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