The Widget Customizer plugin is currently being considered for inclusion in WordPress 3.9. Weston Ruter, the project’s lead developer, submitted a proposal for its merge into core. He and a large team of contributors have been working ardently to bring this feature into WordPress so that users no longer have to edit widgets blind. With the Widget Customizer in place, you can see a live preview of your widget as you are editing it.
The Widget Customizer actually goes far beyond simply editing widgets. Actions available in the live preview include: adding a new widget, editing existing widgets, reordering widgets, dragging widgets to other sidebars, or even removing widgets from the sidebars entirely. There’s no need to save and move to the frontend to preview any of these actions, since they can all make use of the customizer’s preview.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the plugin includes a couple of other new additions. The team added a search bar for finding a specific widget and icons to help you quickly identify a widget. Support for widget visibility is also included with a semi-transparent indicator in the customizer for widgets that are not able to be rendered in the preview.
New Requirements for WordPress Themes
If the Widget Customizer is added to core, WordPress theme developers will need to indicate that their widget areas support live previews in the customizer. This is as simple as adding support to the parent or child theme’s functions.php file:
Additionally, themes will need to indicate a widget’s support for live previews by including ‘customizer_support’ => true in the array passed to WP_Widget::__construct(). If the Widget Customizer is merged, WordPress theme developers will need to get busy making these updates for 3.9 in order to ensure a smooth experience for widget previews.
WordPress core developers will be studying the implementation of the Widget Customizer plugin today during the regularly scheduled development meeting. They will determine whether it is ready for core and provide feedback for improvement.
Have you tried the Widget Customizer plugin? Would you like to see it added in the next major release?