Is there any alternative to Panels that can be used for smaller websites where Panels may be a overkill?

I recently took up DP development again, haven't worked with DP7 for approx a year now, did lots of work on DP7 earlier.

When settings up a new site I always feel blocks are sufficient, if only the configuration had been made "correct" from the beginning - sorry for being biased.

But is the only alternative to blocks full blown Panels and mini panels if you want to be able to configure blocks differently depending on the the context in which they appear?


after having tested Context and Display Suite I have to admit they fit perfectly! As stated by @j-reynolds in his comment, the Display Suite makes it possible to create column based layouts in which you can determine what data you want to see eg. splitting your node into a 2 column stacked view where body is in the left region and tags in the right, title goes into the header region.

Using the Context module you can control which blocks or regions are being shown based on eg. term view or node view.

Combining the 2 and you have something easy to work with and manageable without going full blown Panels.

Both modules can do a lot more, I am just mentioning a few of the options.

2 Answers 2


Check out Context.

Context allows you to manage contextual conditions and reactions for different portions of your site. You can think of each context as representing a "section" of your site. For each context, you can choose the conditions that trigger this context to be active and choose different aspects of Drupal that should react to this active context.

Think of conditions as a set of rules that are checked during page load to see what context is active. Any reactions that are associated with active contexts are then fired.


If your site is really simple and you have very few contexts the basic drupal core block system is still a valid option.

It saves on server resources compared to things like panels & context so if you don't really need the features of those you're better off without them.

I agree it is not really viable for more complex setups but on simpler sites it can be perfectly acceptable, especially if you aren't changing blocks and block content regularly.

  • One of the few things I miss, is the ability to have different block configuration based on URL - if only the block configuration had been more modular it would fit perfectly. But perhaps Context and Display Suite makes a good basis for smaller sites. Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 8:36
  • Hm, that's not something I've really needed to do much of. I don't think context + display suite will allow you to do that either although I'm not really very up to speed with all of what display suite can do these days.
    – rooby
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 8:41
  • I'm going to test it, found some good videos on mustardseedmedia.com/podcast and it looks promising Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 8:57
  • Context is the best way to handle block conditional placement, even by path. And Display Suite has a feature whereby you create a block through it (adding content fields to it). Also check out its dynamic fields as it relies on CTools to do something similar to Panels. Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 9:58
  • Context is definitely better than the core block system I agree (I tend to use it on most websites), but it is also a resource hog and IMO there is no reason to use it on very simple sites if they don't really need it. It's a matter of requirements and selecting the best tool for the current job. I'm not a huge DS fan so I don't use it that often but I'll have to check it out again soon.
    – rooby
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 1:27

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