Until now, it has been a fiddly process to edit the ocPortal panels (formerly called 'menus'). You would need to individually edit both the left and right panels, and previewing them was not very easy. This was particularly tiresome when moving blocks between the left and the right han panels (or of course, vice-versa). Personally I would just open up the actual menu_left.txt (now, panel_left.txt) and menu_right.txt (now, panel_right.txt) files in a text editor and copy and paste them, and then tell ocPortal to emptying it's caches.
The new Zone Editor makes things much easier. It is an 'AJAX' interface, with built in previewing using a 'tab' system. The tab system is very simple, with one tab used for editing, and then another for previewing: moving back and forth is easier than 1-2-3 (because it's just 1-2) .
The Zone Editor opens up each panel in the position it would be in for a normal page view, and displays all panels, and the zone's start page, together. This makes it very easy to quickly move Comcode between panels by simply cutting and pasting. It is also possible to edit zone settings using the 'Settings' tab of the central editor section.
One of the nice things about the new Zone Editor is that it explains the relationship between panels and zones to the user, without having to use any words. The interface makes the relationship obvious, and is able to include in extra details (under the information tabs) to make the fine details of the relationship known).
I'd just like to take this point to say that we are not releasing the ocPortal public beta until the end of the month for a good reason - we're actually still tweaking the visual appearance of various screens, amongst other things. Therefore, it is quite possible some of the screenshots we will be releasing will not reflect what the final beta looks like.
Tomorrow I'll be showing how we've made ocPortal permissions far more flexible.