One of the greatest strengths of WordPress is the widget system. As long as a theme supports sidebars, it can use widgets which can be anything from a Twitter status update area to a static text box. The beauty of the system is that you can move content around without using any extravagant code. Thankfully, themes have really started to embrace the sidebar/widget system in 2010 by providing an ample amount of sidebars and in some cases, the opportunity to create as well as place sidebars where you want them. However, the default widget system in WordPress does not offer granularity out of the box. When a widget is placed within a sidebar, that widget will show up on every post/page that the sidebar is on. I’ve personally been waiting to see WordPress come up with their own system of being able to dictate when and where widgets will show up but to this day, that system is not in place. This is where something like Dynamic Widgets comes into play.
Dynamic Widgets written by Qurl takes the widget system to the next level. If you have any familiarity with Joomla, you know that you can assign modules to various positions that can only be seen by a specific user group. Dynamic Widgets allows for this and a whole lot more. In a nutshell, the following variables can be configured for displaying a widget: Role, Date, Front Page, Single Posts, Pages, Author Pages, Category Pages, Archive Pages, Error Page and Search Page. After installing the plugin from the WordPress back-end, the settings link will show up next to the Deactivate and Edit links, something I wish more plugins would do. There is also an additional menu item added within the Appearance main menu labeled Dynamic Widgets. From here, you can see an overview of all the widgets available on the site with the inactive widgets on the left side of the screen and active widgets on the right side. However, while the inactive widgets is labeled, there is no indication where the active widgets are located. This is a minor UI mishap that can easily be corrected,
As for the plugin itself, it works as advertised without any issues with my testbed of WordPress 3.0.3. The reason why plugins like Dynamic Widgets are so cool is because instead of having a special sidebar for a particular page that only shows the widgets in that sidebar, you can instead, use one sidebar but define when, where, and under what circumstances a widget will appear which is a much better approach in my opinion.
Until now, my plugin of choice for accomplishing the same sort of functionality has been Widget Logic. Widget Logic is a no frills type of plugin that requires you to know a thing or two about Conditional Tags which control the display behaviour of widgets. However, Dynamic Widgets is much more user friendly and enables the typical end-user to tap into the strengths of conditional tags without knowing them.