Difference Between A Plugin And A Widget

In a recent post highlighting an awesome plugin which provides an amazing amount of flexibility in terms of displaying widgets on a WordPress powered blog, one of the comments I received was a question asking what the difference is between a plugin and a widget. This post is aimed at answering that question.

Instead of coming up with my own definition, I’ll publish what the WordPress Codex has to say regarding each term.

Plugins are tools to extend the functionality of WordPress.

WordPress Widgets are also known as “sidebar accessories” which are WordPress Plugins or add-ons to your WordPress blog sidebar.

So there you have it. WordPress plugins and WordPress widgets are one in the same but used differently. I can see how one could confuse the two but think of it this way, you have to install a plugin in order to use a widget. Reminds me of the question, which came first, the chicken or the egg? I’ll take answers to that question in the comments.

9 thoughts on “Difference Between A Plugin And A Widget

  1. A client asked me to make a theme widget ready. I was not quite sure the difference btw widget and plugin, though i find articles about making a theme widget ready. Now, Got the clear picture.

    Thanks Jeff.

  2. You can certainly widgetize the footer or any other part of your WordPress theme. However, those widgetized parts are called sidebars even if those areas are not appear on any side of the WordPress theme.

  3. A plugin by definition is something that can “hook” into an existing program and extend its functionality. This makes a WP plugin as well as a widget a kind of plugin. However, the main difference is that a plugin can provide a widget but not the other way round, so that solves the chicken or the egg problem. Moreover, a plugin can extend functionality anywhere but a widget can only extend the sidebar.

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