Coincidence? I think not.

This week WordPress.com announced WordPress Widgets enabled through a “Sidebar Editor.” I suppose imitation is the best form of flattery, but naturally WordPress would never cop to imitating anything. Although, technically I copied TypePad, so I am not one to talk either.

What follows is a comparison of the two implementations: WordPressSidebar Editor and Movable Type’s Sidebar Manager.

mt-sidebar.png
wp-sidebar.png


As you can see, their user interfaces are essentially the same. WordPress has a nice effect where sidebar widgets float to the bottom of the list if they are dropped well below the last item in the drop area. But other than that, there is very little difference between the two. But what differentiates them?

  • WordPress’ implementation has the sidebar embedded directly in the page template. This is a huge convenience as users don’t need to deal with editing cumbersome page template, or deal with HTML at all. But this will only be a differentiator for a short period; in the next available version of Movable Type, Sidebar Manager, will be integrated with MT making this level of integration finally possible right out of the box. (WordPress +1)
  • Movable Type’s Sidebar Manager allows users to have multiple sidebars per blog, whereas WordPress’ only allows one. For professionals, this level of control is critical as the sidebar on the front door of your blog is likely to very different than the one on your individual archive or permalink page. For example, many people like to place ads more prominently on their permalink page, but supress them from the front door entirely. This would be difficult in WordPress. (Movable Type +1)
    • Update: Matt pointed out to me that WordPress does indeed supports multiple sidebars, it simply depends upon the theme you are using. (WordPress +1 for ease of use, thus canceling each other out I suppose).
  • Movable Type’s implementation works with ANY design, even custom ones. Because Sidebar Manager is driven by template tags, it technically can be integrated with any design. WordPress on the other hand only allows Sidebar’s to be editable for specific themes that have the feature enabled. Of course, you have to edit template code in Movable Type, but at least you have the option. But as I said before, in the next release of Movable Type, editing template code won’t be necessary since Sidebar Manager will be fully integrated with MT. (Movable Type +1)
  • Movable Type’s Sidebar Manager is perhaps not aptly named. “Widget Manager” is perhaps more appropriate. That is because SBM can be used to manage more than just “Sidebars.” I have heard from several people who are using SBM to manage the entire layout of their blog. For example, they have created widgets for their page header, post content, footer, each column, etc. And then use SBM to layout their main page, their individual archive pages, etc. Even more, I have seen people use SBM to layout their posts allowing them to drag and drog different add units, post titles, post footers, etc directly into the post template. In this way Movable Type’s SBM provides much more flexibility. (Movable Type +1).
  • Extensibility - I have not looked into how one would add additional sidebar widgets in WordPress, so this maybe an unfair comparison, but SBM re-uses an existing feature (Template Modules) and is infinitely extensible. Movable Type plugins are already shipping with Sidebar widgets allowing them to be install automagically when the plugin is installed or first accessed. It was designed this way so that Sidebar Manager could be a platform within a platform that could be used by users and plugin developers alike. Since I could do a fair comparison between the two, Movable Type gets no points for this, but it should. <wink>

So the final score? WordPress: 12. Movable Type: 5. Then again I am horribly biased, so perhaps my adhoc scoring system is worthless. Anyone care to weigh in on pros and cons between the two?

6 Comments

Ah its good to know SidebarMananger will find its way into Movable Type as early as the next version...

Except that we renamed it WidgetManager a month ago... The irony...

"naturally WordPress would never cop to imitating anything."

http://wordpress.org/about/

See the bottom of the sidebar.

Fair point. I have never seen that. My respect for WordPress goes up every day. Too bad the credit is not as prominent! :)

The implementation was actually inspired more directly by the widget implementation in the Hemingway theme, he may have gotten it from Typepad or your plugin, I'm not sure. That said, they look fairly similar, and I'm not sure of a better way to implement that interface.

One clarification: we do support unlimited "sidebars", it's up to the theme.

The plugin will be released for all WP blogs soon so you can check out the code more directly then.

Yeah - I shouldn't bust your chops so much. I will revise my statement regarding what is supported - thanks for pointing out the error.

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  • Yeah - I shouldn't bust your chops so much. I will revise my statement regarding what is supported - thanks for pointing out the error. ...

  • The implementation was actually inspired more directly by the widget implementation in the Hemingway theme, he may have gotten it from Typepad or your plugin, I'm not sure. That said, they look fairly similar, and I'm no...

  • Fair point. I have never seen that. My respect for WordPress goes up every day. Too bad the credit is not as prominent! :) ...

  • "naturally WordPress would never cop to imitating anything." http://wordpress.org/about/ See the bottom of the sidebar. ...

  • Except that we renamed it WidgetManager a month ago... The irony... ...

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