The custom pals are an old options correct. No decision has been made on those things.
Actually what got the ball rolling on this was someone requested the ability to add banner ads so I was playing around with things investigated how vb did it and invested a little time.
I posted in my tutorial a couple same blocks although they are based in the standalone html format. It gives you an idea how things are done.
The following would be an example of a sideblock in vb format. I use single quotes in the html so you do not need to escape quotes but here you go.
Content visible to verified customers only.
That should give you a jump start in the basics