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AutoCAD Feature: Layer Manager
Layers are an essential part of any AutoCAD drawing and you could have 2, or 2 dozen depending on the complexity of your drawing. The most common use of layers is to group specific objects together, i.e. wall layer for walls, window layer for windows and so on. This can seem tedious and does take time setting them up but once you have established the layer properties, which will be explained further below, all objects assigned to the different layers will automatically adopt these properties and in turn make for better control while drawing and also makes the drawing much easier to understand.
To access the Layer Properties manager, click the icon, located on the right, on your toolbar – or by typing ‘layer’ into the command line. This will then open the layer properties box
1. Creating a New Layer: By clicking this you create a new layer which will automatically adopt the same properties as the previously selected layer (in a new drawing, there will be 2 layers, 0 and Defpoints) This new layer will be given a default name that you can rename by right clicking on the name and selecting ‘rename layer’.
2. Creating a New Layer VP Frozen in All Viewports: Here you can create a layer which will be frozen in your current viewports and also in all newly created viewports.
3. Delete Layer: This deletes a highlighted layer; however, the following layers cannot be deleted:
- Layers 0 and Defpoints
- The current layer
- Layers containing objects
- X-ref dependant layers
4. Set Current: By highlighting a certain layer and then clicking this, it sets the layer as the current layer. Any objects drawn after this are automatically assigned to this layer.
Layer List Columns
The symbols in the ‘Status’ column explain the state a layer is at.
The following listed is the current layer sample:
Object Layer: This layer has objects assigned to it. It is also the default status for all created layers but can be changed by clicking the settings option at the top right of the box.
No Object: This layer has no objects assigned to it.
Object Assigned: This layer has objects assigned to it but there is also a property override in the layout tab.
No Object Assigned: This layer does not have objects assigned to it and there is a property override in the layout tab.
xref: This layer has objects assigned to it and also has xref and viewport property overrides turned on in the layout tab.
xref1: This layer does not have objects assigned to it and also has xref and viewport property overrides turned on in the layout tab.
xref2: This layer does not have objects assigned to it but also has an xref property override turned on.
Name: represents the name of each layer and these can be edited at any stage.
On: Layers can be turned on or off by clicking the lightbulb beside the layer name. If a layer is on it is visible and can be plotted, if it is off it is not visible and cannot be plotted.
Freeze: Selected layers can be frozen which is particularly useful in large complex drawings as it improves performance and reduces regeneration time. These layers are invisible and cannot be plotted. If you wish to turn on and off the visibility of a layer frequently, it is advisable to use the on function as it prevents the drawing regenerating each time.
Lock: This locks and unlocks a layer. Once a layer is locked, the objects on this layer appear faded in the drawing, they cannot be modified, and a lock symbol appears when you hover the mouse over an object on this layer.
Plot: Once ticked this layer cannot be plotted, however, the objects on the layer can still be visible in the drawing.
Colour: A colour can be assigned to the layer.
Linetype: Clicking on the line description will open a line type box. If the line you require is not there you have the option to load more from this box.
Lineweight: Clicking on the laceweight will give you options to choose a laceweight for the layer.
Transparency: The transparency of layers default to 0 when created. To change this, click on the ‘0’ to open a layer transparency box. You have the option to change the transparency, between the values of 0 and 90.
Plot Style: Once ticked it opens the Select Plot Style dialog box where it is possible to change the plot style for the specific layers. The plot style of a layer cannot be changed if it is colour dependant.
New VP Freeze: By clicking this you can freeze this layer in all future viewports created but it does not apply to previously created viewports. If you wish for this layer to be visible in a certain newly created viewport you can override the setting in the current viewport setting.
Description: A description of the layer can be entered here.
The following options are only available in the layout tab:
VP Freeze: This only freezes the layer in the current layout.
VP Colour: The colour of the layer can be overridden to a new colour in the layout only.
VP Linetype: The linetype of the layer can be overridden to a new linetype in the layout only.
VP Lineweight: The lineweight of the layer can be overridden to a new lineweight in the layout only.
VP Transparency: The transparency of the layer can be overridden to a new transparency in the layout only.
VP Plot Style: This allows the user to override the plot style already associated with a layer for the current layout viewport. If the visual style in the drawing is set to conceptual or realistic, the override settings are not visible in the viewport or plotted. A plot style override is also not available for colour dependant plot styles.
Layers can be sorted by clicking on the column label.
The order of the columns can be changed by clicking and dragging the column heading.
Columns can be added or hidden if unwanted and other options are available by right clicking on any of the column headings. The short cut menu that pops up allows the user to untick any columns that are not needed.
Other options that are available in the short cut menu are as follows:
Maximise all Columns: This expands all columns, so all details underneath is legible.
Maximise Column: Expands individual columns.
Optimise all Columns: Minimises all column widths.
Optimise Column: Minimises individual column widths.
Freeze column and Unfreeze column: This keeps the column you freeze and any columns to the left of that column visible while scrolling to the right. Unfreeze to allow all columns to scroll.
Restore All Columns to Defaults: This returns all columns to their default display including width settings.
Layers can be searched using the search box at the top right of the layer box
The following characters can be used to refine your search:
# – Search by numeric digit.
@ – Search by alphabetic character.
. – Search by non-alphanumeric character.
* – Can be used to search anywhere in the search string.
? – Searches any single character.
~ – Searches for anything but the pattern, e.g., ~*elec*matches all strings that don’t contain elec.
[ ] – Searches for any one of the characters enclosed, e.g., [blue red]logo matches blue logo and red logo.
[~] – Searches for any character not enclosed, e.g., [~blue red]logo matches red logo but not blue logo.
[-] – Searches by specifying a range for a single character, e.g., [10-14]D matches 10D, 11D, 12D, 13D and 14D but not 15D.
` – Searches by reading the next character exactly, e.g.`14D matches 14D.
Filters allow the User to group layers together or isolate certain layers.
New Property Filter: This option allows the user to create a layer filter which only groups the filters according to specific searches (below).
New Group Filter: This option allows the user to create a layer filter by dragging the layers to the file.
Invert Filter: Once selected, this displays all layers that do not meet the search criteria.
The seven pre-set filters available are as follows:
- All: List of all layers in the drawing
- All non-Xref Layers: List of all layers that are not from an xref drawing.
- All Used Layers: List of all layers with objects assigned to them.
- Xref: List of all layers that are from an xref drawing.
- Xref Overrides: List of all layers that are from an xref drawing that have property overrides.
- Viewport Overrides: List of all layers that have property overrides in the layout viewport.
- Unreconciled New Layers: List of all the new unreconciled layers that were added since the drawing was last opened, reloaded, plotted or saved. A new layer is considered unreconciled until you accept the layer as reconciled (when the layer notification feature is turned on via layer settings)
- Click this arrow to collapse the filter list.
- Once collapsed, this arrow will expand the list again.
- When the filter list has been collapsed, click this icon at the bottom left of the layer properties box to display the list of filters.
Layer States Manager: Lists the names layer states that have been saved in the drawing, the space in which they were saved (model space, layout or xref), whether the layer list is the same as in the drawing, and an optional description.
Refresh: This refreshed the layer status information and the order of the layers.
Toggle Override Highlight: This turns on and off the background highlighting for layer property overrides. This is turned off by default.
Layer Shortcut Menu
By right clicking on the layer details the layer short cut menu appears.
Show Filter Tree: Displays and hides the filter list.
Show Filters in Layer List: Adds the filters to the top of the layer list.
Set Current: By highlighting a certain layer and then clicking this, it sets the layer as the current layer.
New Layer: Creates new layer.
Rename Layer: Renames existing layer.
Delete Layer: Deletes highlighted layer.
Change Description: Edits the description for the highlighted layer. If the layer filters are added to the layer list, editing the description of the filter will edit the description of all layers in that filter.
Remove from Group Filter: This removes a selected layer from a group filter.
Reset Xref Layer Properties for: This removes an override property or all overrides on a layer or all layers for an xref or all xrefs.
Remove Viewport Overrides for: this option allows the user to remove a property override or all overrides from a layer or all layers in the current layout viewport or all viewports.
New Layer Frozen in All Viewports: Create a layer which will be frozen in your current viewports and also in all newly created viewports.
VP Freeze Layer: This freezes the highlighted layer in all viewports and newly created viewports.
VP Thaw Layer in All Viewports: This thaws the highlighted layer in all viewports and newly created viewports.
Isolate Selected Layers: Turns off all layers except the selected layer.
Merge Selected Layers(s) To: This merges a number of selected layers to one layer. This new layer adopts all properties of the merged layers.
Select All: Selects all the layers displayed in the layer list.
Clear All: Deselects all selected layers.
Select All But Current: This selects all layers in the list except the current layer.
Invert Selection: Selects all layers in the layer list except any selected layers.
Invert Layer Filter: Displays all layers that do not meet the fit the criteria of the selected filter.
Layer Filters: Displays a list of layer filters.
Saves Layer States: This saves the current layer settings as a layer state.
Restore Layer State: This displays the Layer States Manager and a layer state can be selected to be restored.
Filter List Shortcut Menu
Visibility: Changes the visibility of the layers in the selected filter.
Lock: Selected layers can be locked or unlocked in the filter.
Viewport: This controls the VP freeze option of the layers in the filter but only in the layout viewport.
Isolate Group: This freezes all layers not included in the selected filters.
Reset Xref Layer Properties: This removes an override property or all override properties on a layer or all layers of a selected xref.
New Properties Filter: Opens the Layer Filter Properties box.
New Group Filter: Creates a group filter.
Convert to Group Filter: This carries the properties of a layer to a group filter.
Rename: Edits the name of the selected filter.
Delete: Deletes a filter, all filters can be deleted except ‘All’, ‘All Used Layers’, or ‘Xref Layer Filters.’
Properties: Opens the Layer Filter Properties box (this is only available when a filter is selected).
Select Layers: Like above, this option is only available when a filter is selected. Here you can add or replace layers in a group filter.
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