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Sidebar Manager, now your sharpest tool in the shed

Written by Magnus Jepson on September 28, 2010 Product News.

We’re ecstatic to launch the latest addition to the WooFramework – Sidebar Manager.

The Sidebar Manager comes from years of my own personal experience with WordPress themes, having been frustrated with the rigid sidebars and widgetized regions. Blog sidebars quickly become static, boring and life-less when every page renders the same widgets time after time on every page – not giving your users a very dynamic or targeted experience.

The Sidebar Manager gives you the power to create a unique sidebar for specific pages of your site. You can now tailor make each page with specific content and functionality across almost every aspect of the template.

How do you get started?

  • We have launched the Sidebar Manager in our most powerful theme to date, Canvas, as we are preparing for it’s release in every theme in the WooThemes repository.
  • For those of you who are eager to try it out on your current Canvas theme, all you need to do is update your framework to Version 3.0.0+ and follow the installation instructions on the Sidebar Manager page. Follow the “Update Framework” tutorial here.

It requires very little adjustment to your theme, yet opens up a world of possibility! We hope that this feature becomes an instant hit amongst the community. Constructive feedback is obviously most welcome and will help improve the sidebar manager even further.

UPDATE: We have now added framework v3.0 to all themes and added functionality for the Sidebar Manger. You need to update your theme to the latest version. Note: As this was a mass update throughout all our themes, there has not been any update to the individual changelogs.

78 Responses

  1. Gino Pulgar
    September 28, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    neat. another milestone for the great Canvas!

  2. Jeprie
    September 28, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    I just join woothemes yesterday and I glad to know that in just a day there’s more feature coming. Nice work guys!

  3. Simon Schmid
    September 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    Although I’m using canvas, I don’t use the theme framework. How can I get this to output the functions under the appearance tab?

    • Magnus
      September 28, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

      The framework is included in Canvas, so don’t know how you can be using Canvas without the framework. If you need support on the Sidebar Manager, please post in our forum so we can try to help you further.

      • Peter Pappas Peter Pappas
        October 1, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

        Is this available with Woo Tube?

        • Magnus
          October 1, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

          It`s only available in Canvas this week, but we will be upgrading all our themes beginning next week.

  4. John
    September 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    Wow. Certainly up there with the coolest functionality you’ve added to a theme to date.

  5. Rachel Cowan
    September 28, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    Looks good, folks – well done for bringing in this new feature.

    However, I’ve had a look at it and realise that I probably won’t be using it! Why? Because all my blog posts open up to Full Width templates, so the only place my sidebar is visible is on the rolling blog pages. Am I right in saying that Sidebar Manager can’t influence rolling blog pages? It’s a pity 🙁

    Anyway, it looks like a great feature and you’re to be congratulated on the way Canvas is always growing. I’ve tried a few of your excellent themes (and some other companies too!) and for me it’s absolutely the best on the market because of its flexibility.

    • Foxinni
      September 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

      Sidebars can be found all over themes, and not only on single post pages. When you view an archive, or a page template, or your homepage, whatever.. you’ll be able to add a new, unique sidebar to which ever template you wish.

      Not too mention footer widgetized areas that you can over write with new sidebars. Best is too start small and work your way into a more complicated system.

      • Rachel Cowan
        September 28, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

        Ah yes I see what you mean. I can see the goodness of it for Archives and also in the footer widgets in some cases. I update my sidebar widgets regularly myself too, and this will make it easier I think.

        And maybe, with the Canvas option of 1200 wide, two sidebars instead of one would appeal to me too. One static and one changing one made with Sidebar Manager.

        And yes, I’ll start small. Thanks Foxinni.

  6. James Lee
    September 28, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    @Rachel – is it not possible in the footer area?

    I guess I know what I’m doing this weekend – looks like I have a new present. Thanks, Woo!

  7. Levi
    September 28, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    Awesome guys!

  8. Scott Webb
    September 28, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Wicked! Is there anything that would need to be updated for people that created a Child Theme?

    • Foxinni
      September 28, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

      I stand corrected but there should be no problem. Things like dynamic_sidebar(); will have to be converted to woo_sidebar(); and is_active_sidebar(); to woo_active_sidebar(); in the parent theme. There are instructions in the Sidebar Manager page about this for manual upgrading.

      Please report back if you DO run into any problems, but I’m confident that it’ll work just fine. 🙂

  9. Dusty Dean
    September 28, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    If my page does not have a title will it not be displayed under Choose a template > Pages?

    • Foxinni
      September 29, 2010 at 9:59 am #

      Good question. The systems works very much on ID’s but it requires you to click on the desired page first to get started. If it’s a problem we can build in a fix for you.

  10. Benjamin
    September 28, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

    This looks great, but why wouldn’t you simply use Widget Logic?

    • Adii Rockstar
      September 28, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

      We just felt that this would be better if we developed it as part of the WooFramework. Sometimes it makes sense to use a 3rd party plugin and other times we prefer bundling awesome functionality (which was developed in-house) with the themes.

    • Foxinni
      September 29, 2010 at 10:04 am #

      Becoming plugin dependent is never a good thing. Sure there are some really great and continually developed plugins out there… but sometimes it goes quite downhill after and author looses interest or whatever the case.

      It would reflect badly on us if we promise more functionality than we can provide. Adding this great feature to the framework is something by us, for you. Plugins does not play a part here.

      • Scott Webb
        October 2, 2010 at 1:19 am #

        There were plugins for things that are not integrated with WordPress 3.0 and it makes everything that much better.

        The simplicity and experience of using the SBM is so much nicer and up my alley! I have widget logic installed still only because I am lazy to take it off. Which I’ll do now.

        Much like the Custom Menu’s that you guys created, I still like your UI more than the one in WordPress too. These are perks of using WooThemes – think they are not needed, go try and use a different theme and method, and then go back to WooThemes because you can’t stand how the other themes or plugins do the same things.

  11. Robb
    September 28, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

    Sounds like this would be an excellent way to create secondary / tertiary navigation on a page-by-page basis if used in conjunction with WP3’s new menu system. That’d be really great.

    • Foxinni
      September 29, 2010 at 10:05 am #

      Now you’re talking. 🙂

  12. Josh
    September 28, 2010 at 9:54 pm #


    Do you need voice talent to do the VO for the screencast? If not, would you do it with sound 🙁


    • Magnus
      September 29, 2010 at 8:51 am #

      It needs a bit of talent, but I’m sure there is somebody on our team willing to do it 😉 We’ll upload a new one today.

  13. Yannick
    September 28, 2010 at 10:13 pm #


  14. idale
    September 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    Hi guys – I’ve been dreaming of this sort of functionality for years now. This is revolutionary in my opinion.

    Is there an estimated time of arrival for availability in the other themes?

    • Magnus
      September 29, 2010 at 8:47 am #

      We’ll have to look at how hard it is to implement in other themes. If it can be done via a automated search and replace of the code, we can do it sooner rather than later.

  15. gomy
    September 28, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    Been using this for the best part of today and it’s excellent. Good work woo team 🙂

  16. Dan Frydman
    September 28, 2010 at 11:45 pm #

    This looks very cool – I’m sure that we’ll use this on our own site when we finally make the move to WordPress properly. And yes, we’ll be using Canvas 🙂

  17. Wes Kriesel
    September 29, 2010 at 4:01 am #

    This is an amazing new development, and works like a charm! You’ve helped me further customize my sites for clients. Brilliant!

  18. Mohammad Jeprie
    September 29, 2010 at 4:10 am #

    I can’t see video after 0:15. Same problem happen if I’ve tried to see it form screenr. It stopped at 0:14.

    Anyone has this problem?

    • Magnus
      September 29, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

      Posted a new video now so it should work fine…

  19. David Porter
    September 29, 2010 at 4:54 am #

    Will there be an update to the documentation to cover this new features at some stage ?
    I’ve watched the video and setup a local instance of Canvas, but I’m a bit overwhelmed by all the options in the sidebar manager in admin!
    Thanks Dave

    • Magnus
      September 29, 2010 at 8:44 am #

      Yes, the docs will be updated and there will also be a professional made video (with voice) 🙂

  20. Rick Adlam
    September 29, 2010 at 5:13 am #

    This video is spoiled by the lack of sound. It needs the sound.
    Otherwise I would be happy with a transcript. You will then have to explain what you are doing and why you are doing it.
    It shows what you are doing, but does not explain the aims and purpose, why you are doing it, and why you are doing this instead of that.
    The rule in training/selling is “Tell ’em what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell ’em what you told them.”
    You can’t don’t that with just show.

    • Magnus
      September 29, 2010 at 8:45 am #

      We agree, it is no good without voice, and we’ll be uploading one today that does have voice.

      • Rick Adlam
        September 30, 2010 at 10:35 am #

        Thanks Magnus. Had a look at it again with sound and it all makes sense.
        I always thought I was a “visual” till I watched this video without the sound.
        Great new feature for using WordPress as a CMS.

    • Foxinni
      September 29, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

      Hi Rick, I’m in the process of creating another video.

      You’re message sounds profound… but it’s hard to make sense of to be honest. You’re last sentence there has got me really confused. 😛

  21. Suphattra Tesphitak
    September 29, 2010 at 3:16 pm #


    That’s what I want 🙂

  22. Frank McClung
    September 29, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    Impressive addition. Again, one step ahead of the WordPress development community.

  23. Ed Sutherland
    September 29, 2010 at 6:07 pm #

    This is an intriguing addition to the WordPress toolbox. While I see the benefits of customizing sidebars for pages, could this also work for categories? I’d like to have a “Sports” sidebar display when readers click on the “Sports” category.

    • Magnus
      September 29, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

      Yes, you can change this for pages, categories, page templates, tags and template hierarchy

      • Ed Sutherland
        October 1, 2010 at 7:10 pm #

        This alone would make purchasing a WooThemes design worth my while. I agree with a later comment that this feature should make it into the WordPress core – alongside that other fantastic feature, custom menus.

  24. Rachel Cowan
    September 29, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    Since this tremendous news broke (and it was pointed out to me how I could perhaps use it) I’ve begun to realise some of the possibilities. I’m going to make whole new sidebars for each category Archive page. As Ed Sutherland suggested in fact. So I shall make a poetry-related sidebar for the Poetry Archives page and so on.

    In other words, my enthusiasm for the feature grows. Well done again Woo!

  25. Ruth Kuttler
    September 29, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

    “Update Framework” link not working its not even on your august archive

    • Magnus
      September 29, 2010 at 10:37 pm #

      Not sure what you mean by August archive… If you post in our forum then we’ll get it sorted for you 🙂

    • Foxinni
      September 30, 2010 at 11:29 am #

      This link?

      • Ruth Kuttler
        October 1, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

        yes that link, when i go there it says “This resource is only available to WooThemes users and theme owners.”

        but im login now

        • Magnus
          October 2, 2010 at 9:41 am #

          Most likely a cookie/cache issue. Try a new browser and it will work. If not, contact us via the contact page and we’ll help you out.

  26. Josh Smith
    September 29, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    Loved the voice over. Where can I hire that guy? His name is Alex, right?

    Also, love the fact that I can hear the a microwave beeping in the background. It’s a nice reminder that you don’t need an fancy corporate type office to make good stuff.

    I can see this getting used in just about every site from here on. Great job guys!

    • Magnus
      September 29, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

      Yeah we had a good laugh about Foxinni being creative 😉

  27. Joseph Lee
    September 29, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

    Nice work guys, great voiceover too. 😛

  28. Oliver Smith
    September 29, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

    A future were Web Developers disappear! LOL

  29. ronaldus
    September 30, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    Wow! Great looking, I will certainly have advantage with that!!
    Smells like WP core teature as well btw… 😉

  30. eliza49
    October 5, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    Foxinni… You are a genius. This is great functionality and I’ve been waiting for this for years!!

    Is there a possibility to add a widgetised area in a different place than sidebar or footer, for example a widgetised area across the front page?

    • Magnus
      October 5, 2010 at 9:22 am #

      you can only change the widgetized areas currently available in the respective theme.

      • eliza49
        October 5, 2010 at 9:32 am #

        Thanks for explaining. Great feature even without it!

  31. Mansoor Siddique
    October 5, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    This is a great addition.. I have now even blogged about it here

  32. Rune Dalfelt
    October 5, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    I have been waiting for this a long time! I hope it gets implemented in Postcard soon! 🙂

    • Magnus
      October 5, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

      It was added today, so update your theme by downloading the latest zip file 🙂

  33. Rune Dalfelt
    October 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    As mentioned this will be a great feature when it is implemented in the themes. Just a note: the video showing off the Sidebar Manager has the most awful voice! It gave me a headache and I could not finish the tutorial with sound on. Please get a better voice next time!

    • Magnus
      October 5, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

      Sorry it gave you a headache, we had quite a chuckle over it here at WooHQ, but obviously not the optimal voice. We are getting pro videos done though with proper voice, which is why we opted for the quick one here.

    • Foxinni
      October 5, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

      His name is Alex. He’s very friendly, I promise. 🙂

  34. AstroFix
    October 6, 2010 at 12:43 am #

    This is fantastic! Now I can uninstall the widget logic plugin. One less plugin clogging my blog.

  35. Magnus
    October 8, 2010 at 9:32 am #

    Foxinni used “Alex” on purpose to add some humor, and because he doesn’t like his voice 😉 A professional video is being made though…

  36. Chris
    October 13, 2010 at 9:41 pm #


    Implemented it great. Now when I used post tag I thought I could get a custom sidebar per post with that specific tag. Now all I got was the actual Tag Page that had the custom sidebar.

    Is there anyway to customise the specific post? Could this be done by post ID? I can think of some great things I could do per Post.

    Any thought?


  37. Ronald de Caluwe
    October 17, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    Well, just updated my site with a new version. Really cool feature, works rather intuitive as well, so I did not (for once) need the video.
    Thanks guys, well done!

  38. Lisa McMillan
    October 19, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    …anyone got it working on “TheStation” theme? If yes, how? It works on Canvas, but not the latest version of “TheStation” for me.

    • Magnus
      October 19, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

      I replied to you in the forum and updated the theme.

      • Lisa McMillan
        October 20, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

        W00t! Thank you!!!

  39. Igor Soyka
    October 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    Cool! Cool!
    Endless SEO & Creative Possibilities

  40. Lisa
    October 21, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

    I’m so excited about this new functionality, I’m ready to pee my pants.

    This is *exactly* what I needed for a client site I’m working on. There is only one question I have (and the answer will leave me on cloud 9 or totally burst my bubble): in the Busy Bee theme, will this open up new ad spots (to be able to display different ads on different pages)?

    Pretty please…….

    No matter what the answer – awesome work guys, just awesome.

    • Magnus
      October 21, 2010 at 7:38 pm #

      If you use the Adspace Widget (not currently included, but I’ll add it now quickly), you can use that multiple times and add all the ads you want 😉

      • Lisa Fox
        November 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

        Thanks Magnus — it helps a little bit. I need to be able to specify that certain ads appear on certain pages. I was trying to avoid having to make a zillion different page templates all with different sidebars (or even a custom post type), but it looks like that is the route I will have to take.

  41. Tristan Bruhn
    October 26, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    Share your opinion about listening to some good music can reduce our stress or not??

  42. J?r?me Jeanjean
    October 27, 2010 at 9:19 pm #


    I’ve just seen this feature in my City Guide theme.
    But I’ve tried to use it on a Category and it doesn’t seem to work.
    I’m not sure if it’s not supposed to work yet or if it is because the post has two categories.
    Would that be a problem ?
    (I’ve only created a sidebar for one of the category).

  43. John P.
    November 5, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

    Started playing with this. Absolutely brilliant. Very valuable for those using WordPress as CMS.


  1. Sidebar Manager by WooThemes - WPCanada