Get Proper Widgets for WordPress

Get Proper Widgets for WordPressI’ve always been left a little confused and underwhelmed by the default widgets that come packaged with WordPress. Whilst there are a few that are clearly useful and functional, there are also some rather bizarre inclusions. For instance, I have never seen the calendar widget used effectively (if indeed that is possible).

However, I do appreciate the WordPress dev team’s predicament. They can’t just pile 101 widgets in there and leave us newbies to it out for ourselves. And yet, why a calendar or blogroll widget is seen as vital functionality is beyond me. Then again, Hello Dolly is also bundled with WordPress, so perhaps applying logic to this situation is not the best course of action.

These thoughts were brought to the front of my mind this morning when I stumbled across a brand new plugin – Proper Widgets. Its name filled me with promise of a widget haven that would perhaps bring clarity and harmony to WordPress widgets. But was my dream fulfilled?

Extra Widgetey Goodness

In a nutshell, Proper Widgets is a package of six widgets, which either add to or intend to build upon the existing options. Those six widgets are:

  1. Article
  2. Google News
  3. Linked Image
  4. Links
  5. Posts
  6. RSS

As you might be able to tell from the names, the first three widgets offer additional functionality, whilst the second three intend to improve upon existing widgets. The new entrants are all rather spiffy:

Proper Widgets

As you can see, there is nothing particularly exciting going on here, but the three new widgets just offer up quick and easy ways to do things that are not immediately possible with the default widgets.

My presumption with this plugin was that the developer was intending to create common widgets that most people might want to use on their blog, which is why the Google News widget seems like a bit of a white elephant.

It’s actually a really good widget, with some handy customization features:

Proper Widget

And yet, it seems out of place amongst the others.

The improved widgets are for the most part better than their default counterparts. Proper Posts is worthy of specific mention, as it allows you to display posts by category. This gives you a very easy way in which you can display “Recommended Posts” in a widgetized sidebar (by adding them all to a unique category).

Worthy of Default Status?

Personally, I would argue that the Posts and RSS widgets contained within Proper Widgets should replace their default counterparts. I don’t actually think the “improved” Links widget is any better, but then, I really don’t care about having a links widget.

Furthermore, I think that the Article and Linked Image widgets are pretty handy, and I would welcome their inclusion in the default installation of WordPress. The Google News one is hardly mainstream, and its inclusion still puzzles me (although it is pretty cool). Ultimately, I am sure that there are plenty of people who can make good use of the widgets available in this plugin.

Download Proper Widgets here.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of tallkev

4 Responses

  • Tom, thanks for the write-up! Just saw it today …

    All of these widgets came from various premium and client projects I’ve put together in the past. The core WP widgets are fine, in most cases, but there is some key functionality missing IMHO. The default Links (aka Blogroll) and Posts (aka Recent Posts) widgets both need just a little bit more to be totally functional. Same with the RSS widget, it just needs a little bit more so I found myself creating replacements for clients.

    This project is one part “improve what’s there” and one part “add new stuff.” The Google News widget actually comes from a premium template I sell, WP-Drudge, and, yes, it’s a little out of the ordinary but I figured people could find some interesting uses for it.

    This is the very first release and I have a few more widget ideas on deck. I’m totally open to recommendations and suggestions, both with the widgets that are there and for new widgets. Let me know if you have any ideas and drop a rating on wordpress.org if you have a chance.

    Thanks again!

    • Design Lord, Child of Thor

      Hi Josh,

      No problem :-)

      I think you have a danger of the plugin trying to achieve too much. I’m all for lightweight plugins, so would perhaps like to see something that only creates better versions of the default widgets and adds new widgets that would be useful to everyone, and leave the other stuff (like the Google News widget) to another plugin.

      Cheers,

      Tom

      • “I think you have a danger of the plugin trying to achieve too much.” I agree and I totally see your point. I like lightweight plugins as well but I also like having as few in there as possible, mostly because you have to spread your trust across multiple developers.

        That said, I think the way around this is to create a settings page to allow certain widgets to be turned off. Then developers can use it for clients and have it trimmed down and our widgets page doesn’t get cluttered up by all my crazy ideas!

        Thanks again, Tom. Look for an update in the near future and let me know, email or Twitter, if you come up with any more ideas for additions or changes.

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