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My understanding is that if I go the full panels route (i.e. every node is a panel) then I only need to worry about prepping views to populate the panels. Is this the right way to think about it? Or am I missing something in regards to where blocks are still relevant for site building under an all-panels site?

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Well, it depends on what your needs are. Panels and Views is a very powerful combination that can handle almost anything. That said, there may still be times when you need or want a block. For example, the Heartbeat and Revisioning modules both supply useful blocks that I use on my (mostly Panels and Views) site. Yes, these two modules have Views integration, but their built-in blocks are already configured and easier to use than customizing views to meet my needs.

If you need a custom block and are trying to keep things in Panels, you can add a custom content pane. As a bonus, such panes can be exported with the Features module if you have a complicated deployment.

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  • Thanks Patrick. Are those blocks that you mentioned meant for publishers? Is it too simplistic to consider blocks for backend functionality and panels+views for the audience side? – Warpstone Sep 12 '12 at 18:40
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    Too simplistic. Heartbeat blocks, for example, show users "activity streams" similar to the Wall on Facebook. Blocks, Panels, and Views all provide different ways to display content. Of the three, the blocks solution has been around the longest and is by far the simplest and least customizable. However, blocks is also in Drupal core, whereas Panels and Views are contributed (add-on) modules. The author of Panels, Earl Miles, has remarked before that he sees Panels as a replacement for blocks. While it is an excellent general replacement, it may not replace all blocks in all cases. – Patrick Kenny Sep 13 '12 at 0:02
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I'd say blocks can be very useful when combined with panels, for instance earlier today I had to place a graphic that linked to a newsletter sign up page in a right column of a page that is controlled by panels. I simply created a new block, uploaded an image using IMCE and CKEditor then pulled that block in using panels, much easier than creating a new region in a template.

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  • Thanks. I'm curious though, what is the difference between creating a new block to show that graphic vs creating a view? I guess I'm looking at it from a Panoply model, where every block-like element is a view of some sort. – Warpstone Sep 14 '12 at 14:07
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I'm new to Drupal but I'm finding I use all three. Four really, if you count Mini Panels. Using all four types of content/display manipulation has let me build a really well layed out site.

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