You might have to use design dialog for this.
I am not sure what you mean. Let me explain my question a bit more:
I want the user to be able to change the layour of the page/template in parent page and be able to see that change reflected in all the children. Change would be for example floating some component to the right or adding a right side nav.
Have you tried iParsys ? One example is under /apps/geometrixx/components/contentpage/content.jsp. Sorry if Still not understand your requirnment.
For layouting changes you should use the design (/etc/design), and the change of the design is inherited down the tree. The situation is different if this goes together with new elements or functionality (like navigation).
one important aspect to this question is: minimize your number of templates and make your standard contentpage template as flexible as possible.
in the page properties add the different layout possibilities so the author can choose (hide left nav, hide toolbar, hide right column, ......) which layout he wants.
in the code you can get the inherited page properties with pageProperties.getInherited("hideLeftNav","no") as example.
iparsys seems to be what I am looking for, however one issue I am having is that inside iparsys some components can't be dragged around, when I try to drag and change their position they say "Fixed Component," do you know how I can get around this? thanks
Jorg design is great in that it can be inherited down the tree, but I want the non-technical authors(not able to create new designs) be able to change the layout using drag n drop GUI and have those change propagate down to children.
This is also a good suggestion and can be used for certain changes to the layout, however the authors of our application want complete control over the layout, it might not be possible to code for every change they would want through page properties.
Then allow me the question: When the editors want to have complete control over the layout of a page, why do you use a CMS in the first place? The basic concept behind a CMS is the separate the content from the layout. And to be consistent over multiple pages editors should have only limited possibilities to change the layout themselves.
If your editors really want to have this full control, then give them a text control where they can paste their HTML in :-)