By David - Posted on 13 February 2009

This is a screenshot of the sidebar widgets I've been working on.

sidebar-widgets-example.png

The side bar is a customized theming/setup of various modules - most are generally premade to be either "within" the content or stacked in separate blocks, so my goal was to streamline them. These items were selected to be on the sidebar so that they will be available to users while browsing later pages in a topic/thread. Below these widgets on the sidebar, there is a Related content listing (currently powered by Similar by Terms module, but will ultimately be powered by the same system that the site's search will use, Apache Solr - which is the same search system used by digg, cnet, etc). The sidebar also has a single-column version of the Featured and Latest posts blocks from the main forum listing, and will have a few google or sponsored ads in between one or two of the blocks.

Description:

  • A custom made "Share this" button, which reveals a variety of social bookmarking icons/links when clicked (wrote a little basic jQuery and CSS to do this). Underlying module is Service Links. I liked the concept of a button that reveals a variety of social network icons, but didn't want to rely on a 3rd party service such as AddThis or ShareThis. The default Service links module is pretty bland (and no option to contain the links, so if you want to include many icons, they clutter up the page), so I decided to make this widget for it. I'm going to contribute this widget to Service links module for others to use as well, so it may be available in a future release. I may replace the social network icons with a bit "slicker" looking ones from a different icon library - these are just the ones that came with the module... but I'll possibly leave that until later (feel free to suggest an ideal icon pack that doesn't have overbearing license requirements - the very most I will give is a link on a "credits" sub-page, or would pay a minor sum).
  • Print version and email icons/links, powered by Print module. This can produce PDF versions as well, though requires an add-on library - will consider down the line (particularly for facilitating PDF formatted/styled output of studio images or maybe even "collections" of artwork).
  • AJAX rating widget, powered by VotingAPI and Fivestar module. Stars are gray initially, green when voted, and text updates dynamically to reflect the voting action. Ratings will help high quality posts to be featured on various most-popular/highest-rated lists throughout the site. The rating option only appears to registered users, though I may open it to anonymous visitors so long as there is some kind of system to help prevent abuse (need to look into it).
  • Add bookmark area, includes an AJAX toggle link to add and remove the current page from a user's bookmark list of their favorite content on the site. Since in reality it happens very fast, the screenshot is showing a combination of the AJAX icon which appears briefly as the bookmark is added or removed, and the subsequent "Unbookmark" text of the link (think it should be Un-bookmark?). This is powered by Flag module. The bookmark option only appears to registered users.
  • The Tags area lists the taxonomy free-tags that have been added to the content by the original author. As soon as a bug in it is fixed (it's still in beta), Community Tags module will facilitate any registered user also adding tags to a topic. When community tagging is added, there will be a small "Add tags" link similar in style to the Add bookmark link, which will toggle out an auto-complete field for entering tags. The tag listing is powered by Views. The same/single list of tags will cover a variety of types of content on the site, so tag listing pages will gather together related content from varying sources and types.

Feedback welcome. My checklist for completing the forum (and related functionality) is getting smaller and smaller. There are a few theming items, addition/customization of an abuse-handling module/method for Staff to use, and a bit of PHP in my custom module that I'm a bit stuck on and getting assistance (related to the icons/links such as Add new topic/etc, which change links depending on the page's context). I'll probably tackle the "initial" simple version of user profiles next (to be expanded later when the studio and other features are added). After that, probably will go for the user/forum data import. Then a simple version of the home page (since little of the content needed to fill it will be available yet), and after that I'll decide whether it's time to head for beta testing :D

Tags — 

How is it coming along? Looks good by the screenshots.

You could package these and their settings together as a Feature.

http://drupal.org/project/features

Adjusting sidebar widget distance in blogger is quite easy to do. You just need to change the margins that regulate the distance between the sidebar widgets. :)