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If you're a WordPress developer and have worked with custom post types and custom fields many times, you surely have heard about Meta Box or Toolset plugins. They're two famous plugins that help developers deal with custom post types and custom fields.

Both plugins target developers and own many tools to help users release the burden of working with custom fields, so they have many features in common. However, there are still some differences between Toolset and Meta Box. To give you the most in-depth and comprehensive view of them, we have analyzed and synthesized their features, advantages, and disadvantages in this comparison.

This comparison is based on the two bundles: Developer Bundle or Lifetime Bundle of Meta Box and the Toolset Agency bundle, which include all the features of each plugin - for the fairest review.

Meta Box is a WordPress framework to add and manage custom post types, custom fields for WordPress sites. It has the free version on wordpress.org with more than 500.000 active installations and over 20 extensions providing premium features.

Toolset is also a custom field plugin that focuses on developers and provides a toolkit for users to deal with post types and custom fields. Previously, Toolset has a free version called Types on wordpress.org. However, this version has been removed so now you have to buy it from Toolset website.

Meta Box

1. After buying the Developer Bundle or Lifetime Bundle of Meta Box, you will have Meta Box AIO (All-In-One), an extension of Meta Box that helps you easily manage all extensions on only one page. Remember that you still need to install Meta Box free version.

Meta Box AIO extension

Toolset

1. After buying Toolset, you will see a package with many different components, which can confuse you a bit at first. Each component is a plugin that needs to be downloaded from the website and installed individually. Even the documentation of Toolset is not so helpful in this case as it's not well-written.

Otherwise, you can install the plugin (components) Types and then apply your license code, and then all the other components will be automatically downloaded. This second way is more convenient than the first way.

Getting started with Toolset custom fields plugin

Because Toolset has so many components in a package (more than the number of the main components that are introduced on the Toolset homepage), it may be pretty difficult for you to know the features and functions of each one. Meanwhile, Meta Box plugin has Meta Box AIO to help you control all the extensions more conveniently and easily. Therefore, Meta Box wins in this first round.

Meta Box

2. You will see an introduction page of Meta Box, which helps you learn about Meta Box's features and how to get started, once installing the free version.

If you install the free core Meta Box plugin only, there will be no settings page. That's the special way of Meta Box to target developers. Why? Because the Meta Box core version serves as a library where you can configure it through the code snippets that you add in your themes or plugins. Besides, this method can boost your website performance, flexibility, and make it easy to bundle into other plugins.

And when you have Meta Box AIO extension, you will see a menu as below:

when you have Meta Box AIO extension, you will see a menu

This menu has everything that Meta Box plugin support like custom fields, custom taxonomies, custom post types, ...

Toolset

2. Once you finish installing Toolset, you will find the menu on the left where you can deal with post types, taxonomies, fields, and views.

Both Toolset and Meta Box provide UI for almost every feature like post types, custom fields, views. However, the user experience of these plugins is not the same.

Meta Box

1. In Meta Box, the section for creating and managing custom post types, custom taxonomies has a really good and intuitive interface. Because the Meta Box team puts high concentration on UI and UX, the manipulation in Meta Box plugin is very smooth. Besides, the native interface (quite similar to the WordPress interface) is another advantage of Meta Box. Therefore, it's very user-friendly and easy to use.

the native interface is another advantage of Meta Box

This is the section for custom fields:

the section for custom fields of Meta Box

And this is the section for editing template (through MB Views):

the section for editing template (through MB Views)

Toolset

1. The custom post types and custom taxonomies sections of Toolset is quite native (somewhat similar to the interface of the Meta Box old version).

The custom post types and custom taxonomies sections of Toolset

But the section to manage custom fields of Toolset has a quite monotonic interface with a lot of pop-ups, giving a sense of "inconvenience". Also, the options for each field type are not really sufficient.

the section to manage custom fields of Toolset

Meta Box

2. Meta Box hasn't had UI for forms (submit posts and create user profiles on the front end) and relationships yet. The team is developing a UI for relationships and settings pages. Let's wait!

Toolset

2. Toolset has UI for forms (submit posts and create user profiles on the front end) and relationships.

The interface for the form building of Toolset is different from other parts of the plugin. Although there is the set-up wizard, setting up a form is a bit complicated and not really user-friendly.

The interface for the form building of Toolset

Both plugins support the UI for the major features quite well. However, regarding the user experience and aesthetic, Meta Box has done better.

Create Post Types and Taxonomies

Both Toolset and Meta Box allow you to create and manage custom post types and custom taxonomies with UI. Toolset has done a bit better because it lets users edit labels of the available post types created with other plugins or the default WordPress post types.

Supported Object

Toolset and Meta Box support these objects:

  • Post (including posts, pages, attachments, and all post types);
  • Taxonomy terms;
  • Users;
  • Front-end forms.

Meta Box

Meta Box allows you to:

  • Create custom fields for comments;
  • Create settings pages;
  • Create Gutenberg blocks.

Toolset

Toolset doesn't allow you to:

  • Create custom fields for comments;
  • Create settings pages;
  • Create Gutenberg blocks. But don't misunderstand it with Toolset Blocks - the plugin to create templates/views in the block editor (you can't create custom Gutenberg block with PHP like MB Blocks).

Field Types

Toolset and Meta Box both support cloneable/repeatable features for fields and field groups as well as support creating a repeatable group containing subfields.

Meta Box

1. Meta Box supports a large number of field types: 40+ field types.

Toolset

1. The number of supported field types in Toolset is quite small: 20 field types.

Meta Box

2. There are field types that are supported in Meta Box while Toolset doesn't support:

  • Image/File/Video (with drag-and-drop interface);
  • Taxonomy/User;
  • Image select;
  • Background;
  • Button group;
  • Custom HTML;
  • oEmbed;
  • Open Street Maps;
  • Switch.

Toolset

2. Toolset supports file/image field type and allows you to upload files through Media Library. However, it just displays and saves the values in the form of URL, which corresponds to the file_input field in Meta Box.

This method of saving URLs is quite limited. Therefore, Toolset has to create an extra table in the database to save the ID of these files. but that's quite redundant, making your database bloated unnecessarily.

Meta Box

3. Meta Box supports repeating fields in one group.

Toolset

3. Toolset doesn't support repeating fields in one group, and you are just able to repeat this whole field.

As for field types, Meta Box has more outstanding features than Toolset.

Data Storing

Both plugins save custom fields in one line in the database. However, there are still some differences.

Meta Box

1. If you use the relationship feature, you will have an additional table to save these relationships. Otherwise, there is no extra table created.

Toolset

1. Toolset creates up to 4 custom tables in the database to save its settings, including:

  • wp_toolset_associations table and wp_toolset_relationships table to save the relationships;
  • One wp_toolset_type_sets table to save the type sets;
  • One wp_toolset_post_guid_id to save the ID of the file uploads.

Creating 4 tables like that is unnecessary for your database, especially for the ID of the file uploads (you can read more about it in the Field Types section above).

Meta Box

2. Meta Box doesn't add any prefix to the key of fields when saving custom fields in the database.

Toolset

2. Toolset add the wpcf- prefix to the key of fields when saving custom fields in the database.

Settings Page

This feature is now available in Meta Box, not in Toolset.

Meta Box lets you create settings pages for themes/plugins or even networks. You can also use it to create sections/panels in the Customizer.

Meta Box lets you create settings pages for themes/plugins or even networks.Use Meta Box to create sections/panels in the Customizer

Front-end Forms

Both Toolset and Meta Box have the ability to create front-end forms to let users submit posts and register user accounts.

Meta Box

1. In Meta Box, you can display front-end submission forms by shortcodes.

The options of forms like reCaptcha and ajax submission are created with shortcodes while the form creation is done with a UI thanks to Meta Box Builder.

Toolset

1. Toolset has a UI for building fields for forms. Besides, it has an additional interface for users to customize the form settings. Although this interface hasn't been perfect - still not really native - it plays an important role in helping users create forms easily.

Meta Box

2. You don't have an email section - sending emails after users submitting forms - in Meta Box. Developers can hook into Meta Box to send emails themselves as they want.

Toolset

2. You have an email section to send emails after users submitting forms in Toolset.

Meta Box

3. Meta box allows you to create a Dashboard page so that it's easier to manage the published posts.

Toolset

3. Toolset doesn't allow you to create a Dashboard page to manage the published posts.

User Profile Forms

Similar to the front-end forms feature, both plugins support creating forms for user profiles on the front end.

Toolset has the form builder and settings customization via UI.

Meta Box allows building fields for forms using Meta Box Builder and provides all the features for creating login forms, register forms, and customizing profiles. On the other hand, Toolset provides profile registration and customization only.

Moreover, Meta Box includes the password reset section that Toolset doesn't have.

Conditional Logic

Two plugins have this feature to show/hide a field or group field based on the value of another field. Conditional logic of Toolset and Meta Box work quite similarly to each other, but still, there is something that makes the differences.

Meta Box

1. Conditional logic section of Meta Box:

Toolset

1. Conditional logic section of Toolset:

Conditional logic section of Toolset

Meta Box

2. Meta Bos has many conditional logic to display forms in

  • Page templates only
  • Posts in some specific categories
  • Users with specific roles.

Toolset

2. Toolset doesn't have conditional logic to display forms in:

  • Page templates only
  • Posts in some specific categories
  • Users with specific roles.

Meta Box

3. Meta Box has more conditional logics than Toolset. For example, Meta Box has: IN, CONTAINS, BETWEEN, MATCH.

Toolset

3. Toolset doesn't have IN, CONTAINS, BETWEEN, MATCH.

Relationships

Creating relationships between objects is available in both Toolset and Meta Box.

They all allow you to create different kinds of relationships like one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many.

Meta Box

1. With Meta Box, you can create relationships between posts, between terms and users.

Toolset

1. In Toolset, you just can create relationships between posts while the relationship support between terms and users isn't available. That's one of the weaknesses of this plugin.

Meta Box

2. Meta Box doesn't have a UI for this section and the Meta Box team is building this feature.

Toolset

2. Toolset has a UI to create relationships.

Toolset have a UI to create relationships

Meta Box

3. Meta Box supports reciprocal relationships.

Toolset

3. Toolset doesn't support reciprocal relationships.

Meta Box

4. Meta Box doesn't support creating fields for relationships.

Toolset

4. Toolset supports creating fields for relationships.

Custom Table

This is an interesting feature that is available in Meta Box while Toolset doesn't have it.

With the custom table, you can create tables to save the value of custom fields. As a result, your data is optimized when the number of data increases. Plus, it helps your website have better performance.

Meta Box supports this feature for every object (posts, terms, users) and every other feature (group, clone, ...).

Views

Next, we will review the most powerful feature of both plugins: Views.

Meta Box

1. Meta Box focuses on developers so it provides a template builder (MB Views) to help them customize templates, including HTML/CSS/JS - but you have to use code.

Plus, inserting custom fields into the template is very convenient.

Toolset

1. Previously, Toolset has WP-Views plugin to create templates on the front end. However, because the interface is not user-friendly and easy to use, they have developed an alternative called Toolset Blocks plugin. This plugin helps users to build the front-end interface with block editor (Gutenberg).

Meta Box

2. Meta Box hasn't had a live preview for this feature.

Toolset

2. Toolset has a live preview for this feature.

Meta Box

3. With Meta Box, if you want to create a search and filter on the front end, you need the help of a plugin like FacetWP (Meta Box has a free extension to support FacetWP).

Toolset

3. Toolset allows you to create queries very intuitively, including the search and filter section.

Meta Box

4. Meta Box has the ability to help users create templates for single post pages, archive pages, or for some specific pages (with a lot of conditions to set up the template's location). Regarding this feature, Meta Box is more flexible than Toolset.

Toolset

4. Toolset custom field plugin can help users create templates of archive pages and single post pages of post types.

Toolset seems to have more features than Meta Box, but Meta Box is much more flexible and has better performance.

Gutenberg Blocks

Meta Box

Meta Box allows you to create custom blocks for Gutenberg through its API. Thanks to that, it's so easy to create blocks for Gutenberg without spending days and nights learning React, Webpack, or any tool if you already have good knowledge about PHP.

Toolset

At that time, Toolset doesn't have this feature to create custom blocks for Gutenberg. Again, don't misunderstand it with Toolset Blocks. As we mentioned in the Views section above, Toolset Blocks plugin is used to create templates on the front end through the block editor, not create custom blocks in Gutenberg.

Page Builders

Almost all popular page builders like Beaver Builder, Elementor, and Oxygen support Toolset and Meta Box.

Besides, the saving methods of two plugins are compatible with the standard method of WordPress so you are able to get and display custom fields of Toolset and Meta Box easily.

Along with supporting WordPress custom fields, Meta Box has two free extensions that help you integrate with Beaver Themer and Elementor better. Meanwhile, Toolset and page builder integration is not really good.

However, the support of page builders for groups and repeaters is not good - in both Toolset and Meta Box. So, you need to create views to display groups and repeaters and insert their shortcodes to page builders.

Access Management

This feature is available in Toolset while Meta Box doesn't have it yet.

This feature in Toolset allows you to manage the capabilities of each user like adding, deleting, editing post types, accessing pages on the front end, or managing front-end forms. With Access management, you don't need any plugin to control roles and capabilities like Members.

In Meta Box, you have to use a plugin for access management like Members - which officially supports Meta Box.

Maps

Maps is a feature that gives you the capability to edit listing posts on a map. That's a useful feature with a listing page and it's available in Toolset. In Meta Box, you have to do it yourself by following this tutorial.

Composer

Developers have to use Composer to manage libraries very frequently.

At this time, Meta Box allows you to include/exclude extensions in your plugin to save your time. You can use Composer to integrate these extensions easily.

As for Toolset, it hasn't had this feature.

Other Features

Meta Box

1. Meta Box supports users to follow the changes of custom fields through revisions.

Toolset

1. Toolset doesn't support revisions.

Meta Box

2. Meta Box supports getting and updating data through REST API.

Toolset

2. Toolset doesn’t support to take and update data through REST API.

Meta Box

3. Meta Box supports displaying fields in admin tables in the Dashboard.

Toolset

3. Toolset doesn't support displaying fields in the admin table in the Dashboard.

Meta Box

4. Meta Box can shorten the input time for Geolocation fields thanks to Google API.

Toolset

4. Toolset doesn't have the feature to shorten the input time for Geolocation fields.

Pricing is an important factor that affects the decision of users when buying any plugin.

Meta Box

Instead of buying the whole package, you can buy Meta Box extensions individually. Besides, there are three bundles:

  • $79/year: 12 essential extensions for unlimited sites;
  • $149/year: all extension for unlimited sites;
  • $349/lifetime: all extensions for unlimited sites for lifetime.

Toolset

You can't buy Toolset extension individually like Meta Box. But there are also three bundles:

  • Presentation: $69/year for one website (this package doesn't include the extension to deal with front-end forms);
  • Interactive: $149/year for all extensions for three websites;
  • Agency: $299/year for unlimited websites and have all extensions.

If you compare the full options packages of two plugins (Developer Bundle of Meta Box vs Interactive of Toolset), you will find that Meta Box is better because it supports unlimited sites.

Moreover, Meta Box has Lifetime bundle - a kind of license that lets you "buy one time and use for the whole life" that Toolset doesn't have.

Meta Box's documentation is understandable and easy for users to search for the instructions. There is also a blog written by the Meta Box team where you can read many useful tutorials and case studies.

The Toolset's documentation has a pretty complicated structure. But Toolset also published some case studies, including video tutorials for you to set up certain kinds of specific sites (like Meta Box's case studies).

Besides, they all have support forums. But Meta Box has the official Facebook group and Youtube channel.

Choosing a suitable plugin for post types and custom fields is one of the essential tasks for WordPress developers. If you can find the right one they will be your excellent companion helping your business more thriving. Toolset and Meta Box have different approaches but they all have the potential to become your mate in this field.

They have some similar features, but in general, Meta Box has more features and an easy-to-use interface than Toolset. Meta Box price is more flexible and affordable, particularly the lifetime bundle is a good deal for you to save your money.

Quick Comparison Table

Items Meta Box Toolset
Getting Started            
User Interface            
Creating Post Types & Taxonomies            
Supported Objects            
Field Types            
Data Storing            
Settings Page            
Front-End Forms            
User Profile Forms            
Conditional Logic            
Relationships            
Custom Table            
Views            
Gutenberg Blocks            
Page Builder Support            
Access Management            
Composer            
Other Features            
Pricing            
Docs & Support            
This page is designed with MB Views. The data is entered with Meta Box Group & Meta Box Conditional Logic.