If you use the Jetpack plugin by Automattic, you’ll notice there is an update to version 2.4 available. The changelog for Jetpack is usually a mile long but in this case, I was happy to see that the Widget Visibility module was added to Jetpack. Widget Visibility was made available to WordPress.com earlier this year.
As I mentioned in my initial post discussing the feature, the interface is surprisingly simple to use. In 2011, I shared my thoughts on what I think would work for a widget control interface.
I’m thinking of a plugin that’s a cross between Widget Logic and Widget Context. This plugin should work on the premise that anytime a widget is added to a sidebar, it’s viewable across the entire site where that sidebar loads. UI is added to the widget screen so that I can easily search or choose from the various template files that make up my theme to decide where the widget will be displayed. By specifically configuring where the widget will be displayed, I’ve also configured where it will not be displayed. I’m not quite sure which user interface would work best for selecting more than one area where the widgets will be displayed, perhaps the check box method that already exists in Widget Context. This is about all I’d need to satisfy my needs. It’s simple, not many options and I think covers the basis for a lot of uses. Now, if Kaspars or users suggested that they wanted rules, or more complex ways of telling their widgets where to show up or hide, I would not complain about having an Advanced tab that showed additional options. But I definitely don’t want that clutter in view as part of the default configuration UI.
What I requested in 2011 is not far from what Widget Visibility offers. Instead of choosing template files within a theme, I can choose between category, author, tag, date, page which are theme agnostic and cover the gamut of options I’d need to hide or show a widget. I’m glad they didn’t listen to me when I described the interface. I only wish something this simple would have been added to WordPress a long time ago. What something like Widget Visibility offers is an easy way to make one sidebar serve multiple purposes without needing to create separate sidebars with specific widgets. This opens up a lot more versatility for displaying widgets. While I’m still excited to see this piece of functionality accessible to a large audience through Jetpack, I can’t help but think about how much more exciting it would have been to see this as an added feature back in the WordPress 3.0 days.
Now I can retire the Widget Logic plugin which required me to know WordPress conditional tags in order to control when and where widgets displayed.