Template swapping

In one of the next versions I would like to see a way that we can swap out templates easier.

The thought I have is where we name content areas in the templates that holds the content in the templates.

For Example:
Template A is being used on a bunch of pages (say 50-100) in a section of your website with content areas named “Content1”, “Content2”, “Content3”, “Nav1”, “Nav2”, “Ads1”, and “Ads2”.

After a while you find that some tweaks are needed for the template or you want to update the look.

Templates B and C are then created with the named content areas the same as Template A and the templates must now be swapped out on the pages.

Instead of going through each one of the pages and copying the content to the new template a “Swap Template” feature that will allow you to swap templates for a series of pages. This would then be moving content from a page using Template A in a content area named Content1, Content2, etc. is placed into Template B content area named Content1, Content2, etc. also.

This would allow for significant time savings when the design/re-design of a site or a technical problem with the site arises without editing the actual template used so testing can be done with the new template before it is assigned. Being able to test a change is vital for me and with the current way the system works we have to either make the change to the template we are using directly or create the new template and copy and paste the info for each page.

This is a great idea, and one we’ve planned to add for a while. Some of the key obstacles are in how we associate content and what to do with “missing” content when the new template has fewer widgets than the old one.

The Regions have names, so we can use that today as you suggest, but a lot of the time a redesign involves moving a widget from one region to another, and we figure folks want the content to move with it. We plan to let folks give each Widget a “name” to facilitate this. That way, you could move the “body text” widget (rich text, say) from the “left side” region to the “right side” region and the content would move with it.

Another feature planned to help with this is an “outline” view for a page that would show a user just the names of the regions and widgets and the assets in each. That way, if you switched the template, and didn’t see some content, you could go into the outline view to find it, and drag the asset from the old widget that is no longer displayed on the new template.

We have not yet locked down the release or date for these features. Definitely this year. Parts of it may come sooner in the year than others (named widgets for example will come out sooner than the Outline page view).

In the mean time, the more you use Assets the better - for example, you can just drag and drop rather than cut and paste if you have rich text assets already.