Justin Tadlock

Proposal for widget-only plugins in the repository

For some time now in a few WordPress circles, there have been discussions on being able to find plugins that are nothing but a standalone widget. I even wanted to set up a “widget store” back when I was working for DevPress. That idea was never fully fleshed out. But, I’d still like to have a way to install just widgets.

After hearing this discussion on one of the WPCandy podcasts last night (forgot which one), I started thinking of solutions. Now, I would like to propose some changes for the WordPress plugin repository.

Step #1: Get plugin developers involved

WordPress.org has no real mechanism in place to let us see plugins that are just a widget. Therefore, I propose that the community step up and make this happen. With that in mind, I’m unofficially declaring the widget-only tag be used in all plugins that are only a widget.

How would you add this to your plugin?

All plugins in the repository are required to have a readme.txt file with some important information the repository needs for setting things up. Let’s take a look at the readme.txt file a widget-only plugin of mine called Query Posts (yes, it needs some update love).

=== Query Posts ===
Contributors: greenshady
Donate link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=3687060
Tags: widget, pages, posts, sidebar, page
Requires at least: 3.0
Tested up to: 3.0.1
Stable tag: 0.3.2

There’s a line for “Tags” that allows plugin authors to input tags for their plugins. So, to update my plugin, I’d change the line to the following.

Tags: widget-only, widget, pages, posts, sidebar, page

If you’re a plugin developer who has some widget-only plugins, would you use this tag?

Step #2: Make widget-only plugins visible to users

We need to get some support from the higher-ups to put a link to the widget-only tag somewhere on the front page of the plugin repo.

Users need a way to easily find widget-only plugins. Most of them won’t know about this tag, so just having an easily-discoverable link could help tremendously.

Steps #3,4,5,…: See where it takes us

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. I’d like to see some support put behind this proposal before we start making huge plans. There are some questions that need to be answered first, such as how popular this feature will be and whether users actually like standalone widgets.

But, folks like me can always dream for now. ↓

Screenshot of standalone widgets in WordPress backend

Update: Looks like the movement has begun.