The release of WordPress 3.9 saw the introduction of an improved theme customizer. This saw the addition of a widget editor with a live preview, a new and absolutely welcome feature for the WordPress core. This basically means the end of blind widget editing as you can always preview your widget before you commit and publish your changes.
The widget customizer allows you to easily edit, rearrange and add new widgets to different widget areas on your theme using the theme customizer screen.
The preview window to the left of the theme customizer screen auto-refreshes whenever a change is made to the theme. The widget preview however uses an ajax call for sanitization the widget settings every time a change is made on the widgets area. This causes a slight lag or overhead between when the change is made and when the theme preview renders the change.
One thing that you will also notice is that the widget form does not have the usual save button. Changes made to the widget automatically reflect on the preview without saving.
If you will hover your mouse on the widget, a border is added to the widget’s section on the preview screen. This is meant to help you identify where the widget will be added if you save the changes. You can also easily identify the effects of the widget.
The ‘Add a Widget’ button loads a column that enables you to select a widget to add to a given area. There is also an option to search for a widget, which comes in handy when your theme has very many widgets.
WordPress 3.9 also retained the old widget editor for those who would like to manage widgets the old way.
Those who for some reason are yet to upgrade to WordPress 3.9 can install the Widget Customizer plugin to enjoy these feature.
The preview is not the smoothest and we expect some improvements in later releases, but it is a great thing to have. Check it out and feel free to share your thoughts here.