Tips and Tricks: Widgets, Part I

Last month, we gave you a quick rundown of your most basic tools for formatting a wiki page. This month, we wanted to give you an introduction to one of the all-time most popular wiki tools: widgets.

Widgets: A Primer
A “widget” is any piece of media or dynamic content that you can embed into a wiki page. It could be anything from a table of contents to a video to a playable Flash game. It’s also a great way to make your wiki more engaging, relevant, and fun!

Wikispaces Widgets
When you click the widget icon in your toolbar, the first thing you see is a list of Wikispaces Widgets. We built these tools to make it easy for you to add certain types of formatting and wiki-specific information to your pages. For example, this is how you’d add a table of contents, or a reference (a “reference” is like a footnote for your page), or a special character.

Some of these widgets make it easier to navigate your wiki. For example, you can add an alphabetical List of Wiki Pages, and even narrow the list to only pages with a certain tag. Or you can add a List of Links to a Page, and provide a little backwards navigation. Or, if you are working in a Private Label site or if you have a whole bunch of single wikis, you can add a List of Wikis to any page on any of your wikis.

Documents, Presentations, and Other Popular Media
Chances are you’re already using other Web 2.0 tools in your projects or coursework. One of the most popular is Glogster, which lets you create and publish rich, dynamic online posters. Our users love Glogster so much that we recently built a special widget to make adding them to wikis even easier.

It’s easy to add other content, too: videos from YouTube and TeacherTube, presentations and slideshows from Flickr and Scribd, Google Docs and Google Calendars, RSS feeds, even Skype chat.

We have a list of widgets on our help page — but as long as you have the embed code, you can add any widget from anywhere to any page on your wiki.

How It’s Done

  1. Go to the page of your wiki that needs a widget. Hit the Edit button.
  2. Place the cursor where you want the widget to go, then click the Widget icon (it looks like a little TV).
  3. Select the type of widget you want from the menu.
    • If you’re using a Wikispaces Widget or one of the popular media or widgets that we’ve listed for you, just follow the instructions on the screen.
    • If you want to add other media or widgets, select Other HTML and paste the embed code into the field (you can usually find the code in a text box labeled “embed,” “embed HTML,” “add to my site/blog,” or something similar.
    • Hit Save.
  4. Save the page.

And that’s it!

More About Widgets
You probably see widgets every day, on web sites, blogs, and other wikis. And there’s no reason not to use those great tools — and get the same great impact — on your own wiki. If you already have tools you love or media you admire, take a look around for that embed code. It can probably be yours with a simple cut and paste.

But that’s not all. In fact, we have so much to say about widgets that it wouldn’t all fit in one blog post. So be sure to check back for the April tips and tricks, and Part II of Widgets.

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7 Comments

  1. Emilio Romero
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Honestly, I really never knew exactly what a widget was. I thought it was just like a shortcut to certain pages or like an app that you can play games until I read this article of course. I never would’ve found out about most of the things ts article talks about, unless I “play” around in this wiki. Also, this can be really informative to those who aren’t use to using widgets or dont know anything about them.

  2. Posted March 16, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Hi, I am teaching using the site to share information with my students. I would like to know if you could tell me how to posta powerpoint so that it can be viewed by students. I saw the slideshow widget but cannot figure out how to post my powerpoints.

    Thanks

  3. Clarence Malone
    Posted March 20, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Wow! Our libraian at school loves using Wiki’s with our students. This is honestly the first time I have explored them. The widget information above is most helpful.

  4. Shannon Martin
    Posted March 21, 2011 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    I’ve been having a problem the past few days trying to embed a Scribd widget. This is a recent development as my Wiki contains many of these widgets. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

  5. Posted March 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    This will sound silly, but the first time I heard of “widgits” was in the old TV series “The Jetsons”. The company for which George Jetson worked made “widgits” and nothing but. It’s nice to know that a widget is something real, not just a figment of the imagination of a script writer in Toon Town.

  6. Posted March 30, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the simple tutorial! Widgets add life to wiki pages. Looking forward to part 2!

  7. Posted April 4, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Hi! Nice features :)
    I love widget, especially the possibility to show my RSS feed in my wiki page! :)

    Thanks!

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