Introduction to Widgets and Column Layouts
Widgets form the backbone of all rich content that your customers can add to their pages. Column Layouts are created in the same way as widgets but are grouped logically under the 'Column Layouts' section and are designed to display content in different kinds of column layouts.
As you work with more advanced sites you might want to create a widget for a specific purpose. The Theme Merge system lets you do this easily for a single site while still using the shared Design Mode theme resource for future compatibility.
Creating a new Widget
The process of creating a new Widget for a site is to add a new Smarty template file to the templates_widgets or templates_columns Theme Merge folders. Smarty template files have the .tpl extension.
You should add a png image to represent the widget that shares the filename of the widget. For example, if you add mynewwidget.tpl you would add a PNG image called mynewwidget.png as well. These thumbnails should be 120x120px.
A widget template at its simplest would just be some HTML inside the file. This HTML would be output wherever someone adds the Widget on their page.
However, with Smarty template syntax you can use widgets to achieve much more.
You can also define custom properties that each widget instance can have. You can define any number of editable properties for a widget that allow CMS admins to save different kinds of data with each instance of the widget.
All of this power is accessed simply by working in the Smarty template files with only minimal template syntax style programming needed.