What is the relation between the new Page Layouts and Templates

With the advent of the new Page Layout functionality in the 4.2 editor, it seems that the way a page appears to the viewer can now be styled on three levels:

1. Theme (mostly not the content, but the decoration around it)
2. Page template (fill content into sections/columns, style output from macros, etc
3. Page Layout (somewhat like the older sections/colums)

For our usage (intranet), we need to control page styling rather tightly, as wel want a consistent experience and will have a number of non-technical people contributing content.

We are planning to achieve this by providing a set of useful templates to our users, where they just need to fill in the relevant content.But should this not be better achieved using Page Layouts?

Is there, for instance, a way to create a template that contains a page layout already?

Inversely, is it possible to limit the ability of the user to choose/change the layout a page is using?

Unfortunately, there seems very little documentation on advanced use of page layouts available (but granted, it is a rather new feature). Any insight on this topic would therefore be very appreciated.

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Page templates are still using wiki markup, and there is no way to define page layouts using wiki markup.

In 4.3, we will be shipping a new version of templates, and you will be able to define a template to use whatever layout you want. See https://jira.atlassian.com/browse/CONF-11744 for more detail.

Hmm... is there a release date or beta date for 4.3 already? A quick search didn't reveal anything regarding timelines

Atlassian does not publicly announce release dates ahead of time. There should be a beta release of 4.3 in the next few weeks, and the full release will follow that.

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