I've been using multiple column formats for a while now.
Sometimes it's through the multicol package, sometimes it's using the twocolumn option for the document class. In both cases, dealing with mixed column numbers can be a pain. It's less of a pain, and, more importantly, more predictable using a twocolumn document class, but it's less flexible.
What is, at this point, the idiomatic way of dealing with multiple column environments? In particular, what is the best way to deal with needing an environment with figures and tables spanning multiple columns?
My current solution is using the multicol package and ending the multicols environment, placing the figure, and starting the multicols environment. This can ruin space optimisation, though. Another way this is done is by creating a nonfloat minipage. Neither solution is particularly appetizing, and it really seems like there must be a better way at this point.