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!This plugin hasn't been updated in over 2 years. It may no longer be maintained or supported and may have compatibility issues when used with more recent versions of WordPress.

Asynchronous Widgets

Asynchronous Widgets allows you to have any registered widget on your WordPress.org-powered site be loaded asynchronously via an AJAX call.

How does it work?

The plugin replaces the callback a widget has registered with the WordPress.org engine with one of its own. When that callback is invoked, instead of outputting the widget content, it outputs a customized chunk of HTML. That chunk contains information that will be parsed on the client side, after the page is loaded, by a short bit of JavaScript this plugin also injects on the page. This will result in an AJAX call to the server delivering the actual widget content (one call for each widget). The HTML also contains a <noscript> block with some information, in case JavaScript shouldn't be enabled.

This mechanism is set to run on the wp_head action hook, at priority 2^17.

What's it good for?

Good question. I don't know. It seemed like a froody idea.

More seriously though, the main motivation for writing this was an instance where I wanted the contents of a specific widget NOT appear to search engine crawlers. Since with this plugin, the widget content won't be visible unless JavaScript is enabled, this seemed the perfect way to achieve that goal.

I'm anxious to see whether it can have any other uses, though. I am also aware that the purpose stated above isn't entirely uncontroversial.

In terms of performance, this plugin will most definitely increase your pages' delivery speed (in proportion to how many and how "heavy" widgets you have), and probably not increase your server's load average significantly.

Is it compatible with custom widgets and/or other plugins?

Yet another good question. I'm not sure, but I'm trusting you to help me find out.

I've tested it successfully with a very few custom widgets. But there might be problems, due to one significant change this plugin introduces. Namely, the fact that it detaches the widget display callback from the rest of the WordPress loop (the widget callback is invoked asynchronously, thus outside of the loop). If a custom widget makes some non-persistent changes somewhere in the loop AND relies on those changes in its display callback, there MAY be compatibility problems.

One specific instance I've encountered was with the WP Widget Cache plugin (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-widget-cache/) (which doesn't work with WordPress 2.9, anyway). I had to integrate a little hack (essentially, making the changes WidgetCache performs persistent) to ensure compatibility with it.

Other such conficts might arise. If you encounter one, please provide some feedback.

Which PHP version does it use?

This plugin has been developped with PHP version 5.3.1.

Can I get hooked?

  • You can hook on the action that outputs the proxy HMTL code: async_widgets_output_proxy_html.
  • You can filter on the action that outputs the proxy HTML code: async_widgets_output_proxy_html_filter.

Each of these take one argument: the "widget settings" array as would normally be passed to the widget display callback (they'll be invoked once for each widget).

If using the filter, you MUST return that value, lest you want to supress the widget's output.

Can I donate?

No. Go buy yourself something nice.

Requires: 2.8.6 or higher
Compatible up to: 3.3.2
Last Updated: 2012-3-31
Downloads: 1,519

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