Illustrated Recent Posts Widget
Plugin Name: Illustrated Recent Posts Widget
Plugin URI: http://github.com/elfsternberg/illustrated-recent-posts-wp/
Description: This plugin creates a fairly limited widget, but the magic in the CSS creates a lovely background for individual posts.
Author: Elf Sternberg
Author URI: http://www.elfsternberg.com/
Copyright: 2013 Omaha Sternberg (http://igameradio.com)
License URI: http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html
Tags: recent posts, images, category, categories, widget, post list, exclude, include
Tested up to: 3.5
This is a fairly ordinary extension of the Recent Posts widget. What's useful about it is that scans each recent post for an image and, if one is found, adds it to a div at the end of the returned HTML object. With a little CSS magic (see the included CSS file), the image is faded out slightly, like a background, and the text superimposed above it. This can be really attractive for gaming and movie sites. This effect, or something like it, can be clearly seen at theverge.com's home page, and I've implemented it for iGameRadio.com.
You can limit them by category (for example, "podcasts" or "news").
I wrote this for my wife's website. Ah, the things we do for love.
Extract the contents of the zip file to your wp-content/plugins folder, then activate the plugin through the "Plugins" menu in your admin center. You will have to drag-and-drop the widget to a sidebar using the Widgets admin pages.
The plugin doesn't work well at all without the included css (see irpw.css included in this folder). This will position the content and the images relative to each other, and that's the effect you're looking for.
Implement and understand the caching feature as seen in default-widgets.php.
Implement a per-post styling filter that allows us to colorize each image as seen at theverge.com, as well as alter the opacity, depending upon the user's wishes.
Implement variable display fields (author, date, comment count) on each article.