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What is the field meta key option

Iain Poulson avatar
Iain Poulson Last updated on March 6, 2021

If you’re just getting started with meta fields in WordPress, check out our tutorial on how to set up WordPress custom user meta fields.

The support for custom fields for users in WordPress is limited and it isn’t possible to define new custom fields without a plugin like
WP User Manager. WP User Manager, with the Custom Fields addon allows site admins to define custom user meta (such as phone number, address, employment details) that they can add to user registration forms to collect data from users, as well as being displayed on the user profiles.

WP User Manager is one of the most straightforward to use WordPress membership plugins available, with a large number of
features that turn your WordPress site into a membership platform.

Custom Fields

Every field has a “unique meta key” setting that must be filled. This is automatically created for you when you create the field. The meta key determines how the field will be stored into the database of your website. If you do not need to do any custom development you probably do not need to customize this field.

It’s important however that if you change the key, it has to be a unique value that no other field has. Using the same key for multiple fields will make it impossible for the user to correctly update it’s information.
Developers however can freely customize this setting if they know what they’re doing. The metakey is used to retrieve the saved value from the database and display it. 
If you are a developer, chances are you already know about this WordPress function 
https://codex.wordpress.org/Function_Reference/get_user_meta.
This function is used to retrieve the value of a user custom field from the database through the user id number and the metakey name.
In WPUM every custom field metakey has the prefix “wpum_”.
Note: the prefix for file fields is “wpum_file_”.

This means that the full metakey name is wpum_field_11. If you change that to anything else like “job_title”, the metakey will be wpum_job_title.

Here you can find an example of the get_user_meta function retrieving a WPUM field value.

get_user_meta( $user_id, 'wpum_field_11', true );

OR, if the above does not work:

carbon_get_user_meta( $user_id, 'wpum_field_11' );

Get started adding custom fields to your WordPress users.

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