....However, you havent said that it has made it worse for you.....
Hmm, but I did. If I need 2 or 3 steps to change something, in different interfaces,things become more time consuming and cluttered (as opposed to easier and faster).
....With the advent of widgets, if you need to create something new, you do it the same way as before, so it really isn't harder for you to achieve.....
Before, without widgets, if I wanted to change/add to the sidebar, I went into the theme customization dialogue, chose the sidebar editing and edited.
With widgets, if I want to change/add something, I first need to create the relevant widget (or customize one already in the php file) and save this in the widgets php file. Then I need to go into the sidebar dialogue and manually add (and probably also further customize) the sidebar element.
Actually this is quite a few more steps than simply changing/adding to the sidebar, thus takes more time and thought.
....So if you are the vast majority of bloggers who use WP, don't know PHP (as most don't), want to be able to change your theme, keep your sidebar, and change it, all without looking at code, I'd say you'd be pretty happy with the whole widgets idea.....
Only if you use widgets as they come out from the box.
Let me tell you something from the vantage point of a webmaster who in the last 4 years has created over 200 sites for non-geeks, even practical computer illiterates, often speaking no English to boot: widgets are more complicated for them, not easier. I just might (and that's a huge MAYBE) teach those to d&d a widget into the sidebar, if that person is extremely interested in learning how to do that. But I'd have one hell of a time teaching this person to write (or even just to c/p) the convoluted code inside the huge php file which is the widgets base php.
I however successfully taught quite a few of them to edit the sidebar. It's a short file, has a clearcut architecture with a syntax you can easily jot down and explain to people if you give them a multicolored version.
The widgets file is nothing like that. Hell, it took me quite a long while to figure out what is what in there and where it is. It's LARGE and LONG and it has REPEATING code (if you scan it from a layperson's POV) which actually isn't repeating, it just looks as if.
Thus, anything but out of the box is in my book now at least ten times as difficult for someone "not into programming".
I dunno whether you know e.g. Joomla/Mambo, which has a similar system, which got completely out of the hand when the coders of Joomla/Mambo's "boxes" realized they needed to offer *every* possibility of customization to them. You can do that now, sure, but customizing a box content and it's display now is almost a science of its own and it's a major affair. The only small point which still is easy, is shoving it around the template, but even then, if you haven't added the placeholder and activated it for that part of the template the boxes won't show. The whole thing now is far past a layman's abilities and it's neither simple, nor elegant, nor easy.
As you yourself point out, it's no major obstacle to people like you and me. But one reason I chose WP for many client sites is it's simplicity and the fact that I can easily explain it to them. If someone is of so little coding/computering knowledge that he wouldn't be able to customize anything anyway, it's me the webmaster who sets up (and I don't need something like widgets), if someone has "some" knowledge and wants to apply it, I tend to favor the simpler system, instead of making him delve into a huge practically unstructured php file.
And if widgets are written so encompassingly that all possible configs are added, the files will become enormously large (just think of all that unnecessary code bloat this will mean), the customizing procedure will become a hurdle course to adjust what you even didn't think about until you have it as you want it.
That's what I meant with "technical" vs. "economic". :-)
And no, I'm not "trashing" widgets simply because I feel like that.
I like WP however A LOT for it's simplicity and easiness (I use all major OSS and commercial blog softwares in my work, but way above all the rest prefer WP for small sites) and believe that founded criticism of something bound to complicate and bloat the system should be presented when it rises. Especially as WP has lately acquired a performance problem, when compared to former versions, which begins to set it back compared to other blog systems. I see widgets as a possibility for more of the same.
Needs to be voiced, que no?