As usage continues to rise, and the adoption of Omega by users more and more willing to contribute time and energy to making the project better, it is time to start working on the 3.x version.
This post will serve as an outline, and be updated as the discussion continues on this thread, and in IRC (#drupal-omega)
There are many new & great features in the works that will greatly enhance performance and usability of the Omega theme forthcoming.
Replies to this thread should outline new features that should be there, interfaces that should be enhanced/clarified, etc. As valid ideas come in, they will be added to this outline.
- Segmentation of Alpha > Omega
Omega will be splitting into two "base" themes. Alpha will become the minimalistic base theme with all the preprocess functionality, as well as the basic grid structures. Omega will become the "enhanced" base theme with many more options and configurability.
This will allow for many users to enable core functionality of the 960 grid, HTML5, and advanced preprocess functionality without the added weight of some of the Omega features for those that may not use/need them. Enabling Omega (which will become a subtheme of Alpha) will give all the advanced features, including the new responsive grid and more.
- Performance Enhancements
Theme Settings performance
- Responsive & Extendible grids
After some of the lead work on adaptive/responsive layouts in Omega (http://groups.drupal.org/node/137424) The new 3.x version will really capture a simplified and extendible way to configure grids.
By default, Alpha/Omega will provide the default mobile layout (regions stacked), a narrow grid (720px), a normal grid (960px), and a wide grid (either 1200px or larger). These are broken in the Alpha core as "narrow", "normal", and "wide". Each grid set has a seriese of files that are auto-loaded based on settings for 12, 16 and 24 column grids. These are now broken out into individual files so that if you are only using 12 columns site-wide that the CSS loaded is more efficient. The 24 column grid is being redone so that rather than the 950 usable pixels (by Nathan Smith) actually now will fall in line (940 usable px) with the 12 and 16 so that they can all be mix/matched as needed.
The flexibility I've seen here already is amazing, and allows for ANY subtheme to define overrides for the narrow, normal and wide grids with ease, and generate your own grid css (will be documentation, and a script soon that will handle this easily)
- Zone/Region Flexibility
In Omega 2.x zones were introduced, which allowed for a logical way to group regions into their grid container. However, these WERE coded in a way such that it was reading the placement and order of these items out of the .info file only.
In 3.x, now you will be able to reassign the "section" (zones above content, content, and zones below content) which a zone is tied to through the interface, as well as assigning regions to another zone. This makes everything entirely flexible, and will allow for other regions/zones to be placed in the content zone, which was currently limited to the primary content region & sidebars.
This flexibility gives us the power to move forward with the Omega UI and allow for drag and drop placement of the regions/zones where ever we decide, as well as the ability to quickly create new zones AND regions ON THE FLY. This will be powered by Omega UI, and using drupal_alter, can inject those new zones regions that aren't defined in the .info file, as well as provide an export/rewrite of the .info to push changes back to code.
- Optional CSS Loading
Now all of the optional CSS is defined in the .info in an array with more meta data so that any CSS defined there gains a setting in the interface to quickly enable/disable it. Lots of great things can happen with this.
- Region Ordering
In 2.x only dynamic zones (using push/pull classes for content first ordering) were allowed to be ordered. In 3.x ALL regions will have weights, and those using static can be ordered, which will change the order those regions appear in source. Dynamic regions will behave in a similar manner that they have, by assigning a "primary" region (content region for example) that is the region that will always be first in source order, and the width of that region will be determined to take up any space left over by the presence/absence of other regions in the zone. The other "non-primary" regions in the dynamic zone will be allowed to be weighted also, but will be rendered in source in the order they are placed in for the settings. So the primary region is always first in source, but the non-primary regions are ordered in the way a static zone would be by placing them in source in the order chose via settings.
- Block Powered
Since in D7, things like $messages, $action_links, etc did not make it into blocks to be placed at will, this time around, Alpha/Omega will be turning those into "blocks" rendered on the fly in a region of your choice with a weight that will interact with the weight for other blocks in that region. So you could place $messages inside your content region, and give it a weight of say -50, moving it all the way up, or you could give it a weight that situated it between two items in that region. This is great news! A lot of the settings/options related to this are only available if you are NOT using the Blockify module (http://drupal.org/project/blockify)
- Branding Region
The branding zone/region will also be getting an overhaul, making it more flexible (without template edits) to show/hide the logo, site title, slogan, etc. This will be much the same as it acts now, but be less dependent on editing the region--branding.tpl.php to accomplish tweaks to that branding area.