How to create a CRUD system on WordPress

How to create a CRUD system on WordPress using Gravity Forms and GravityView

Written by Casey Burridge

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Are you looking for tips on how to create CRUD applications in WordPress?

WordPress has grown over the years, from a simple blogging platform to a powerful framework for building anything from simple websites to full-blown web applications. However, in order to build functioning web apps, you need a way to handle CRUD operations.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll answer questions such as:

  • What is CRUD? 
  • How do you create a CRUD system on WordPress?
  • What options do I have for building a CRUD (custom code vs no-code plugins)?
  • How can I build a CRUD app without writing custom code or confusing SQL queries?

Keep reading to find out more! 👇

What is a CRUD application?

CRUD is a programming term that stands for Create, Read, Update, Delete. These are the four basic functions of any data management platform. 

A CRUD application or system allows users to work with entries in a database.

Almost any application related to storing information allows users to create new entries, delete irrelevant information, read existing information and update that information when required.

​​💡 Pro tip: Learn more about CRUD and how it relates to web development. 

Why would you need a CRUD system in WordPress?

WordPress itself is a CRUD application. As a Content Management System (CMS), WordPress allows users to create/delete pages and posts, and update existing content.

However, to perform CRUD operations in WordPress you need access to the backend of the site. Furthermore, users must have an Administrator or Editor type role to manage information in the database.

Often times, you’ll want to allow users to perform CRUD operation on the front-end. Here are some situations where you’d need an independent CRUD system in WordPress:

  • You’re building a directory that allows users to update their profiles from the front end
  • You’re building a bug tracker system, an activity log, a task-management app or some other tool that requires users to enter and update data from the front-end.
  • You want to allow users to edit businesses-related data from the front end without exposing them to the backend. You may even want to hide the fact that your site runs on WordPress!

Now let’s look at a few different ways to build a CRUD system on WordPress.

How to perform CRUD operations in WordPress

First things first – outline the type of app you’re trying to build and the functionality you’ll need.

This will allow you to scour the WordPress plugin directory to see if there are any reputable plugins built specifically for such a purpose. If you don’t find anything, you essentially have two options:

  1. Build your CRUD using custom code.
  2. Create a no-code CRUD system using a powerful framework like GravityView.

Let’s go through each option in more detail

Build your WordPress CRUD app using custom code

Coding your own CRUD app on WordPress is not an easy task. You’ll need knowledge of WordPress development, experience building plugins for WordPress, and a lot of free time!

Moreover, building a WordPress plugin from scratch requires knowledge of PHP, MySQL (for database operations), and HTML/JavaScript/CSS for the front-end interface.

Once you have a working plugin, you’ll need to spend time testing, refining, and debugging your code. It’s impossible to spot all the bugs right away. That’s why it’s important to test your CRUD application thoroughly before deployment.

Build a WordPress CRUD system using GravityView

If you don’t have the knowledge (or the time) to build a CRUD system from scratch, why not use GravityView? In fact, even if you DO have the skills to build your own plugin, GravityView may still be a better option!

GravityView is a powerful add-on for Gravity Forms that allows you to read, update, and delete form entries from the front end of your site. GravityView includes a drag-and-drop interface, allowing you to build sophisticated no-code (or low-code) CRUD apps on WordPress.

Here are some of the advantages of building with GravityView:

  • Save time! Get a new app up and running in minutes.
  • GravityView is a framework for managing your form data. This allows you to build a diverse range of applications, from business directories to intranets.
  • “Future-proof” your site. GravityView is a robust plugin with excellent support and documentation!

In the next section, we’ll walk you through an example of how you can build scalable CRUD apps on WordPress using GravityView.

💡 Pro tip: If you want to see what GravityView can do, check out our many live demos or experiment with your own, free demo site!

Building a WordPress CRUD app

Building a WordPress CRUD system using Gravity Forms and GravityView

When you collect data with Gravity Forms normally (or any form plugin for that matter) entries are stored in your WordPress database. If you want to read, update or delete that information, you have to log in to your website’s backend (this also requires Administrator access).

But what if you need to allow users to perform CRUD operations on the front-end? That’s where GravityView comes in. GravityView extends Gravity Forms by allowing you to harness your form data for use in powerful web apps

With GravityView you can display form entries using different layouts, edit entries from the front end and export data for analysis.

GravityView is a powerful no-code solution for building sophisticated CRUD systems on WordPress. In fact, it may be the best WordPress CRUD plugin! Here are a couple of simple examples:

WordPress CRUD example #1: a job board

Here we created a job board using GravityView’s List layout. The search functionality at the top allows users to search for jobs based on different criteria.

WordPress custom table CRUD Example: a task-management system

In this example, we created a task management application allowing users to add, display, delete and update tasks from the front end.

Editing the status of a task from the front end using GravityView

WordPress front-end CRUD example: a geolocation directory

By using GravityView’s Maps layout, you can display Gravity Forms entries as markers on a Google Map and create powerful geolocation applications!

Gravity Forms geolocation directory CRUD application

Example #4: a user directory

Here’s an example of a staff directory where users can update their information from the front end.

Updating a staff profile from the front end using GravityView

And much more

Here are some other examples of front-end applications that you can build using the powerful Gravity Forms/GravityKit combo!

Building CRUD apps on WordPress: it starts with a form

Gravity Forms is the most powerful form builder for WordPress. It supports a range of field types, including advanced fields such as File Uploads.

Any CRUD app built using GravityView begins with a form.

In other words, Gravity Forms handles the “Create” operation while GravityView handles the rest (i.e. Read, Update and Delete). Submitting the form adds a new entry to the database which you can then display, update or delete from the front end.

💡 Pro tip: New to Gravity Forms? Here are some tutorials to get you set up! 

Gravity Forms field types

After building your form, you’ll need to create a “View” to display submission data on the front end.

GravityView takes care of read, update and delete

GravityView’s flexibility makes it a powerful tool for building CRUD applications. Here’s what the flow looks like when building with GravityView.

Building a View 

After installing GravityView, you’ll see a new custom post type called a “View”. Views allow you to display Gravity Forms entries using different layouts. The layout you choose will depend on the kind of CRUD app you’re building.

GravityView layout types (Tables, List, Map, DataTables and DIY)
  • Table – Displays data in a table with columns and rows. 
  • List – Displays form entries one after the other (perfect for directories!)
  • Map – Display form entries as markers on a Google Map
  • DataTables Table – Includes advanced filtering, sorting and exporting options
  • DIY – Build your own layout using HTML and CSS

💡 Pro tip: Learn more about GravityView’s different layout types

After selecting a layout option, you can begin building your View using GravityView’s drag and drop editor. In the editor, you can add fields and widgets to different areas. Fields are the data you collect via your form and widgets are tools for navigating your View (e.g. a search bar).

The GravityView View editor

The View editor includes three pages – the Multiple Entries Layout, the Single Entry Layout and the Edit Entry Layout.

The Multiple Entries layout tab, the Single Entry layout tab and the Edit Entry Layout tab
  • Multiple Entries Layout
    This is the main page where your form entries are displayed one after the other. This is also where users can search and filter entries.
  • Single Entry Layout
    Here you can display more information about a particular entry.
  • Edit Entry Layout
    Allows you to control which fields are editable from the front end.

When you’re done configuring your View, the next step is to make entries editable from the front end.

Allowing user edit

After configuring the Edit Entry Layout, you may want to allow users to edit entries that they create. To do this, all you need to do is check the “Allow User Edit” option in the View settings.

The "Allow User Edit" checkbox in the View settings

Filtering the View

The GravityView Advanced Filtering extension allows you to display data using conditional logic. 

Here are some examples of what you can do:

  • Display entries created within a specific timeframe
  • Display entries created by the logged-in user
  • Hide entries containing a certain value
An Advanced Filter condition set to display entries where the Entry Date is after January 2nd, 2022

Embedding the View

After configuring your View, you may want to embed it on a page or post.

To do this, all you need to do is copy and paste the GravityView embed shortcode into your page editor.

This allows you to embed your CRUD system on any page or post on your website!

📝 GravityView adds a range of powerful shortcodes to WordPress.

WordPress CRUD – commonly asked questions

Before ending off, we thought it would be helpful to answer some common questions relating to WordPress and building CRUD systems.

CRUD vs rest: what’s the difference?

CRUD is an acronym for Create, Read, Update, Delete. It describes the basic functions of any data-management program.

REST on the other hand, stands for “REpresentational State Transfer”. It’s an architectural model for web-based systems.

CRUD operations (Create, Read, Update, Delete) are similar to REST basic commands, i.e., GET, PUT, POST, DELETE. This often leads to confusion between the two.

How do I use WordPress to create a database application? 

If you’re looking to build a CRUD system that allows you to display data in tables with rows and columns, GravityView is the perfect tool. GravityView’s different table layouts allow you to display, store and manage data from the front end. To learn more, read our post titled Turn Gravity Forms Into a Powerful Database Solution.

How do I make CRUD forms in WordPress? 

A CRUD form is a form that allows users to go back and edit their submissions from the front end. To create a CRUD form in WordPress, simply construct your form using Gravity Forms, install GravityView and create a View to display submissions. 

Ensure that you enable GravityView’s “User Edit” option and use the Advanced Filtering extension to limit entries to those created by the logged-in user. To learn more, read Gravity Forms Front End Editing: Edit Entries After Clicking “Submit”.

Build a WordPress CRUD application using GravityView

CRUD is a term used in IT circles to describe the basic functions of a data management system (i.e. Create, Read, Update, Delete). 

Directories, issue trackers, membership sites and job boards are all examples of CRUD applications. Coding your own CRUD system from scratch requires development skills, WordPress experience and a lot of free time!

In this post, we showed you how to create a WordPress CRUD system without writing any code using Gravity Forms and GravityView. If you found this post valuable, check out our live demos for more inspiration.

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