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I want to show a simple frontpage that contains a content creation form (cck) on the left side and a list of nodes on the right side. With a head and a footer, the page looks like this:

twocol stacked layout

I have looked into doing this with the Panel module, but it seems like overkill and I don't think it plays well with the grid layout I use.

I have also looked on doing this with the Views module and the Context module, but I don't really understand how I can execute the code for rendering the content creation form with this approach.

A third solution is to override the template for the page-front and hard code the rendering there, but a drawback would be that I then need to maintain multiple page templates.

So what is a good solution for this do you think? I would like to involve as little complexity as possible and my head is already spinning with all these modules for such an apparently simple problem.

Appreciate guidance from someone who is fluent with View, Context, CCK and Panels.

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Administering panels has a huge overhead, however, since panels are highly cached there is actually a performance boost to use them over plain blocks. It's discussed in this article, Assembling Pages with Drupal.

If this is some type of survey or questionaire you can make the node edit form the front page by using using the site configuration feature assigning the font page path. With Views you then can create two blocks that you use to show on the right column in either the block administration page or the panels administration page. However, for surveys the standard is to use the Webform module.

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You could create two block regions in page-front, and add the form and the list of nodes as blocks.

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