Many of you have brought up that this should be done server-side and, while I agree that it _could_, it would need to be done in the most flexible way possible (which many won’t bother with). You see, what this script allows quite easily is redesign; a designer can change page layout—of an entire site *or* section by section—without ever having to touch the back-end. It also allows for different columns to receive different figure classification schema.
If this were done on the content-entry side (as some have suggested), the image classifications would be stored in the database (or XML or whatever) along with the rest of the content HTML. That means that if the design were to shift to a wider column (for example), the figures that once occupied a half-column, may no longer continue to do so, making the classifications hard-coded in the HTML incorrect.
If you’re interested in doing something like this, goodonya. I’ve built you a pretty decent roadmap for implementation, but I don’t imagine it will be easy to get it up and running. That said, I wish you luck…it would be yet another great tool for enabling designers to create consistent layouts with figures.