Jetpack 2.4 Adds Widget Visibility Module

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 earlier this year.

Widget Visibility
Now Available In Jetpack

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.


12 responses to “Jetpack 2.4 Adds Widget Visibility Module”

  1. @Marcus Tibesar

    I believe the policy is to enable a feature if it doesn’t change the appearance on front before any user action. You have to set the visibility for each widget for something to happen. I use the “Manual Control for Jetpack” plugin by Mark Jaquith to make sure nothing is enabled by default, but I haven’t had any use of it since Jetpack changed their policy. The current policy of Jetpack is ok with me.

  2. The update is a disaster.
    The lack of an appropriate response to the messup a catastrophe.


    After we updated this Jetpack update we experienced:

    1) all photos of our newspaper shown in full size
    2) the Top Posts and Pages field GONE
    3) the e-mail subscription field GONE

    and others report more issues….. so much to the disaster. Now to the catastrophe.

    Quality management.

    The very least one should be able to expect is that a reissue of the old plugin is sent out when people begin reporting serious issues.

    The only way to solve this – intermediately – is to deactivate Jetpack.. which leaves you (us) without vital statistics and in some cases – lost advertising revenue.

    Automattic and co should call all developers to quality assurance seminars. The should Beta Test properly so one avoids seeing 30 + support issues within 4 hours or less. It is a management question (problem) which will make many of us reconsider whether wordpress is an appropriate platform.

  3. You wrote
    “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.”
    I say
    “Don´t” It defeats the entire purpose and fundamental idea of the system. Which is that we decide for ourselves where to add, and not to add anything. Better focus on proper Beta Testing than fancy new ideas. What we need is a rock-solid, 100 % reliable and fast product. The entire wordpress scene is going over the edge in creativity.

  4. @Daniel J. Lewis – Nope, never looked into that particular plugin. I don’t use Widgets very much and so, sticking with Widget Logic made sense for me, despite having to know some conditional logic. Beware of Jetpack. It turns a bunch of stuff on by default. The new Widget Visibility Module so far appears to just exactly what I need and all I need.

    @Steve – That’s good to hear. That way, other Widget control plugins won’t end up conflicting.

    @Martin – I agree :)

    @Knut Sparhell – I was surprised to see Widget Visibility automatically enabled when I went into the back-end of WordPress. Granted, I was going to enable it anyways so having it enabled automatically was a nice convenience. I think that’s a good policy. If it doesn’t change anything on the front-end, it can be enabled by default.

    @Christof Lehmann – I pointed your comment out to multiple people and they responded that you have posted the same information in the support forums and a few folks have already tried to help you. I think it had something to do with your use of Photon on your site. Also, they do beta test the plugin and new modules before releasing it to the public, it looks like they happened to miss something interacting with Photon. I understand your frustrating of having a working site suddenly get broken due to a plugin update but lets not start things off with roasting the developer over an open flame.


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