Guys, I've implemented and attached a layout enhancement for 1.4.4 that allows to have all templates have opening and closing tags in the same file rather than split between a header and footer file. This is pretty similar to how it worked in 1.3.2, but with the key difference that it's the actual page that defines how the side content is rendrered not the layout. This overcomes the problem that Daniel disliked with 1.3.2 and the main reason for his change. There was no need to through out the baby with the bathwater.
I've asked Daniel to consider actually implementing this change in the core as it's a far nice way of doing templating, but don't know if he'll do it.
To implement the change you need to replace the controller in the engine, and then have a look at other files in the package. Then you need to do a search replace on the entire site to get rid of the repetitive inclusion of header, column_left, column_right and footer in EVERY template. and also add $this->parent = 'page'; into the controllers after the children.
I honestly think that this is the way the templating should be implemented, rather than inclusion of the same thing in every single template. Using this concept also allows you to have the same layout for all box modules too, rather than having the layout replicated in every single one.
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