Thank all of you for the encouragement. And curse your foul hides for the great suggestions. I really am looking to make all of this simpler with better end results so keep them coming.
@BOFH, I ran your scenario with the alarm panel. Yes you made me want one of those too! During my configuration, I noticed that it would be nice to include external states when defining the state icons. A bit of hashing and merging later and bammo the state icons can reference the state from any other device. It does not need to be previously included on one of the local panel variables. I'm packaging up a new build that supports that feature right now. Btw it also cleans up some of the js quirks I noticed along the way that will get in your way. Right thumb/left thumb sometimes get reversed.
@Maaz, I'm right there with you. The configuration data is already decoupled from the device setup. Initially, I did this so that there would be a path for adding features and responding to Vera updates. A wizard to include a device on a panel would absolutely rock and the ability to share it would be remarkably straight forward. I might see how much of the jQuery draggable interface exists on the Vera to make this drag and drop. The hardest thing about creating a Virtual Panel is positioning the controls.
@RexBeckett, I did a bit of playing around to see which model placed the least load on the Vera and was careful to keep the footprint low after config load/execution. I started down the path originally of creating a plugin for each panel that I wanted on my Vera. This rabbit hole really ate up the resources. New child devices consume very few resources in comparison. Hopefully, this can limit the number of plugins that are required to get the job done.
I will reach out to the mobile App guys. I'm guessing traction here will guide my ability to convince them. The funny part about this is that if they support this plugin, indirectly they will support all plugins. I'm willing to transform any of the config data in any form they would like. So if your listening and you have a mobile app... call me. (thumb in ear pinky right side of the mouth).
On a side note any of you who are struggling with .json files you will find that Virtual Panel will create the contents of .json/xml files pretty quickly that you can use in your plugin and tweak. I've spent more time than I would like to admit digging through view.js, interface.js, and the jquery custom js files to gain some level of the ui interactions with it since the rules behind each and every control is different. This was the origin of Virtual Panel.