First of all I want to say that I like the new clean look in the layout files "columns1.php" etc. - "general.php" was quite sophisticated and not easy to understand.
2 questions about the layouts
- Why is there no frontage layout?
- Why is the HTML for empty page areas included into the page and hidden with CSS?
at 1. Why is there no frontage layout?
The frontage on most Moodle installations looks different from most other pages. With a frontpage layout several empty areas can be avoided.
at 2. Why is the HTML for empty page areas included into the page and some are hidden hidden with CSS when a layout-option is set?
For example the course header area is created and left empty in the page.
<?php echo $OUTPUT->course_header(); ?>
The navbar area is completely created with the breacrumb and all and hidden with the help of the body class ".layout-option-nonavbar".
If the rendered page should be as lean as possible the approach to add HTML only to hide it with CSS does not make sense. Why has this approach been chosen?