Hello All --- I've read and reread. Searched the net. Listened to podcasts. Read books. My question: What are the limitations of regions/blocks for those people who are not programmers but have great css, xthml, design skills. I'm trying to determine when to use panels and when not to. So far, I've been doing fine with a custom theme I made, section pages made with cck/views and css, -- but as I keep forging ahead, I'm wondering if I should stop now and use panels. In particular, I keep learning from Drupal.org how to do more than I ever imagined...and new ideas are floating in my mind. So, back to the main question: What's the drawback of what I'm doing...blocks/regions?

I also want to know if it's generally messy to switch to panels down the road, once the site is built with regions/blocks?

Opinions?

Comments

nevets’s picture

One way to compare them is regions/blocks by default show all pages (you can limit their visibility). Panels provides a layout mechanism for pages.

getting-wiser’s picture

Thanks Nevets, for your reply. With css and page.tpl, I can do the layout that I think panels is also providing. Regions/blocks, yes, one can limit visibility. But that brings me back to my original question: What's the drawback/limitation of someone without programming skills creating a site with dynamic and static articles -- and section landing pages -- using css, page.tpls, blocks/regions? Will I regret going down this path as the site gets larger?

I'm just not seeing the benefit from panels when I can do css/page.tpls/blocks&regions. So, I'm wondering what area the hurdles I'll face if I keep going down the blocks path.

And, I'm wondering: Can I easily convert a regions/blocks site later to panels?

nevets’s picture

Last question first, I know of no way to convert from regions/blocs to panels.

Lets "simplify" what panels is for the moment. Lets think of it as a custom set of regions and blocks that only show on one page. In this content "one page" can really be multiple pages with the actual content shown determined by arguments in the path. Section landing pages often fit this description and if this is what you are after I think panels is a better choice since doing it all with regions/blocks can get confusing.

getting-wiser’s picture

Hmmm. Interesting.

Can panels be used **just** for one section "page" -- the landing page/section lead page? Then, continue to use regions/blocks for other pages?

I'm confused because there's a group of people that report that they do everything with only blocks/regions, even section landing pages. Yet another group swears by panels, which, of course, isn't available for 6x yet.

I know that in Drupal you can do things differently but I keep thinking that there must be drawbacks to regions/blocks -- if not, why did panels get created, other than for people who do not know/want to know css/divs, etc.

Having lots of blocks could get confusing on the admin page. That's one drawback. Others?

WorldFallz’s picture

Yes, you can set up individual panels pages for only certain paths/overrides-- it's not like you have to choose one or the other. I frequently use both.

As for why to choose one over the other-- you have to remember, panels does much more than just replace blocks. So if you want any of the advanced layout features of panels, you might also want to make use of it for block placement as well.

Also, though I haven't tried it, there's the http://drupal.org/project/composite module as well.

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getting-wiser’s picture

Hi WorldFallz ---

** individual pages -- good. that's what I've been searching for. thanks! couldn't find it anywhere and I do seach and search.
** choosing one over the other -- advanced layout. That's where I stumble. Isn't that the same advanced layout I can get with my divs, nested divs, loads of css...and use of different page.tpls?

Or is there more to it?

WorldFallz’s picture

I guess you could, with lots of effort and some custom code, duplicate whats panels offers with blocks and regions. The current text on the panels project page does a good job of describing what it can do, including how it relates to standard block regions, I doubt there's much more I could add.

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If you find my assistance useful, please pay it forward to your fellow drupalers.

nevets’s picture

Regarding "different page.tpls". There seems to be a common confusion about page.tpls, each page.tpl.php file (regardless of name) is associated with an actual page with content. Both regions/blocks and panels can save you from hand coding something that can be done through the Drupal interface and is generally more upgradable between major releases.

bibstha’s picture

I think panels is only for layout.

Ie, say you need to display multiple content on one page, you create a panel page for it and embed necessary content on each pane.
While this is usually only for one page or specific number of pages that resemble sth.

Blocks in the sense are global, they display things like.. The login / navigation block, advertisements, necessary links, ... They are also built in the core of drupal. So it is in a way first class citizen in drupal city.

if you clear what you are trying to achieve, may be we can help you better?

Regards
Bibek Shrestha
http://bibekshrestha.com.np

getting-wiser’s picture

Thanks to everyone's comments. Some interesting words here. I still haven't come to a conclusion as to whether it's a good idea for me to use/learn panels, though, so will continue to research.

WorldFallz -- Took a look, again, at the panels page. Still hard to wrap my head around what panels can do that I'm not already able to do with stylesheets/xhtml/cck/views/blocks&regions. There's text at the project/panels page that reads: "you can create contexts, which represent the objects being displayed. For example, when displaying the node view, NID argument on the page is converted into a context through the 'arguments' system." But, that has no meaning to me. No idea what that says. As a result, I cannot compare.

Nevets --- Different page.tpls. Yep, this is one topic I really do get. I've already created four different page.tpls for sections of my site, without any hassle at all. Create the complex columns/areas needed for my custom page, using divs and css. Create blocks. Use views. Turn block visibility on/off and create regions. It's been simple enough. That's why I'm wondering...should I follow what seems to be a huge group into panels-land or is it just extra overhead. There's so much momentum there...that's why I thought I should get curious now, rather than later.

Bibsa -- Panels is only for layout. Ah, and that's what I've been trying to get to. If it's only a drag/drop interface for layout, then I'm comfortable sticking with my hand-coded xtml and stylesheets. I'm the kinda gal that when MS added windows icons to the desktop way back in early 80s, I shrieked. I preferred the non-icon interface. I hand-coded for decades and then broke down and used Dreamweaver, where I still hand-coded. And nope, frontpage..or other drag/drop gui's for web design haven't attracted me.

But I've been thinking, there's got to be more to Earl's panels creation than a gui for layout for people not comfortable with xhtml or css.

I'll keep studying....

getting-wiser’s picture

Well, I found this article and discussion on reasons to use panels and reasons not to: http://www.webschuur.com/publications/blogs/2008-08-19-5_reasons_why_not...

Just sharing -- might be of interest to someone else with a similar question..

eff_shaped’s picture

Thanks for raising this question. I've been wondering about Panels myself.

I found it while looking for a solution to creating a second user login block and placing it a different region (I have different page regions on my front page to rest of site).

So the article from webschuur.com made this clear: "Blocks can go in only one region. A login-block placed on the frontpage in the “branding” region can never be placed anywhere else..."

I keep looking...