As I understand it, Omega 4 will be going back to a "template-centric" design, rather than using the zone/region layout UI to design the page's layout. I understand the advantages of this "back-engineering" for speed, simplicity, and reduced code. However, the layout UI was one of Omega 3's best features for non-programmer themers. It reduced the need for learning template languages, CSS layout principles, and other Responsive technicalities.

I also understand that Omega 4 will eventually have this functionality by rebuilding the UI layout, to be stored in the database like the old Omega 3 paradigm. (which also made it harder to move designs from one site to another without the need for the Features module.)

Why not go for a far better design paradigm that combines the best of both worlds?

1) Rebuild the layout UI as a sub-module that takes the user's layout (which can use the old Omega3 UI) and writes out the code as a page template. In this way, designers can design in the UI but create a template that is compatible with the new "layouts" paradigm of Omega 4.

2) Instead of dealing with file rights issues, use the Export approach of Views: Write the TPL and INC code to a window and let the designer copy and paste the code into properly named files, which can be added to the OM4 layouts section.

3) Since most layout work happens at the beginning of the design phase, the layout module can be disabled after the layouts are complete, thereby saving resources, and keeping the full design of the site in code, rather than partially in the database.



Fantastic! The ability to convert UI settings into layouts and tpls will definitely keep the project much cleaner and encourage community development of new layouts. Theming in Drupal has always been such a challenge before OM3, because most themers do not have a programmer mindset. OM3 has protected themers from this issue.

Having a hybrid system that has the advantage of laying out designs in a UI combined with traditional tpls is definitely a winner. I've already looked at OM4 and it's daunting to understand layouts for a non-coder. Having the option to create them in a UI will surely be a blessing!

Any idea when a dev version of the "layout engine" will be available for testing?

Project:Omega» Omega Tools
Component:Feature Request» Code

Moving over to the Omega Tools queue.