Tales from the Evil Empire

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Bertrand Le Roy

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Creating simple custom Orchard widgets

If you want to create a simple widget in Orchard, such as a box of social links, you have three possibilities:

  1. Find a module on the gallery or write one yourself, but there is overhead associated with modules, which may make this overkill.
  2. Use an HTML widget and paste a bunch of HTML and Javascript, hoping administrators of the site don’t break it accidentally. I don’t like this, it feels like a hack.
  3. Create a simple widget, following the instructions in this post.

First, let’s create a content type (in the admin, go to Content / Content Types and click “Create new type”) and call it “Social Links”.

Add the widget and identity parts. Those are the only ones you really need:

Pick the identity and widget parts

Uncheck creatable and draftable, add the “Widget” stereotype (with an upper-case ‘W’: I made the mistake, as you can see, of using a lower-case ‘w’ on my first try, and it did prevent the widget from being seen as such):

configuring the new type

Now when you add a widget, the social links widget appears in the list:

The new widget can now be added to a zone

It’s a simple, apparently featureless widget, which minimizes the chances of accidentally messing it up.

All that’s left to do now is to add a template to the theme that will render what we want. We’ll take advantage of shape alternates. Using shape tracing, we quickly discover that we can name our template Widget-SocialLinks.cshtml to target it narrowly enough:

Shape tracing can show us how to override the rendering

Once the file has been added to the Views folder of my theme, I can paste in the code from Facebook, Twitter, or whatever else I want in there.

All done

Done. Fastest and simplest way to create a new widget.


der-oli said:

Thanks, Bertrand, for this short and interesting walkthrough. I'm wondering though how to do the same thing from within my development environment to later publish that new widget to a production site... it seems to me that the ease you can do things with Orchard applies mostly to running application instances. Or am I missing something here?

I'd really like our development work to be that easy, but deploying many sites from the same codebase we need an approach different from clicking through the admin area of each and every one of those sites.

# March 8, 2013 6:03 AM

Bertrand Le Roy said:

@der-oli: you might want to take a look at recipes and import/export.

# March 8, 2013 12:05 PM