The idea is to separate the Layout/Group into two completely different concepts/entities.
Right now, the Layout determines the Groups (e.g. 2-column Layout automatically creates 2 Groups, http://i42.tinypic.com/30rnxi8.jp). Rather than doing this, my idea is to have the ability to create Groups that each have its own individual Layout that can be changed. Doing this implies that only one Group and it's pages are shown in the display window at any one time.
To help visualize, taking a look at the same screen shot above, all the tabs we see in both the left and right columns would be within the same Group (let's say Group 1). Say there is also a Group 2 with the files footer.phtml and footer.css, that group and its files would NOT be visible in the window, except in the Side Bar (or maybe somewhere else on the screen if the Side Bar is hidden). Switching to Group 2 (either by clicking the Group on the Side Bar or hitting ctrl+2) would then switch to viewing only the files within Group 2 using whatever Layout was originally selected for that Group. Because each Group can have it's own Layout, Group 1 could have a 2-column layout, and Group 2 could have 2-row layout.
Using myself as an example on how I would use this feature; I personally do a lot of web programming, so often I find myself editing 2-3 different files (phtml, css, js) to make changes to a single page. I am also often editing more than just one page at a time, so as I edit more and more pages, the tab count quickly gets out of hand. With this proposed idea, I could easily group each of my phtml/css/js files into Groups for each page I am editing, reducing tab clutter since the display window only displays the files in the current Group in focus. I could also change the layout for each Group independently, though I personally would most likely just leave each Group in single-page layout since I enjoy having lots of screen real-estate.
This idea provides significantly more flexibility than the current Layout/Group system for organizing one's working environment.
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