As we work, our project is enriched with more and more information, and after a while it can grow so big that it will be difficult to see or understand a lot of data. The visibility of the project is greatly facilitated by the use of layer filters as well as layer variations.
Let's see how to become a master of layer management in a few steps!
1. How layers work
You can start the Layer Manager dialog from the ribbon menu or from the bottom Status Bar. It’s important to understand that all of our projects are made up of layers, even if we don’t do anything during design to organize the content on the layers according to our own logic. When you start an empty project, the program already contains default layers. The architectural and drawing elements that we create are automatically applied to the layer specified in the styles, such as Walls to Wall, Slabs to Slab, Columns to Column Layers.
2. Move items to another layer
You may want to group some walls differently or rearrange objects per room on other layers. In this case, we have the option to create a new layer or move the elements to the existing ones. In this case, you need to select the element or elements to be moved on the floor plan and select from the drop-down layer lists in the Layer row of the properties that appear on the left. The item (s) will be transferred to the selected layer. If you can't find a suitable layer in the drop-down list, you can use the Add Layer option at the bottom to open the Layer Manager dialog to add a new one.
3. Add a new layer, delete a layer
Use the buttons in the upper left corner of the Layer Manager dialog to add, delete, or activate a new layer.
You can add a new layer if All Layers is active in the Layer filters on the right. After pressing the Add button, a layer named Layer 1 is created, which can be renamed as desired by double-clicking. (You can do this with any existing layer.)
The icon of the active layer changes to a green check mark.
4. Delete the layer
It is important to know that you cannot delete an active layer (you must first activate another one) or, by default, a layer that has items.
Empty layers can be sorted in ascending or descending order by clicking their head in the Items column in the header. Blank layers show zero (0) and can be deleted by simply selecting and then clicking the delete button in the upper left corner of the dialog.
5. Delete the layers with the items on them
Use the new toggle button in the lower-left corner of the Layer dialog box to set the program to allow you to delete layers that contain items.
ATTENTION! Deleting the layer containing the elements cannot be undone after the confirmation question, and the deleted layer can only be restored WITHOUT the objects on it. So before you delete a layer that contains elements, make sure you don’t really need it.
6. Restore a deleted layer
After the first deletion, a new entry for Deleted Layers automatically appears in the Layer Filters list. Click here to see the removed layers next to the red background color. We have the option to restore them using the restore button in the upper left corner, however, it is important to know that restoring a deleted layer only returns the layer name to the layer list as an empty layer. Select the deleted layer, and then click the Restore Deleted Layers button in the upper-left corner of the dialog to complete the restore.
If objects were included in the deleted layer, they will NOT be restored to the project in the restore!
7. Visibility and editing of layers
In the Layer Manager, next to the names of the layers, you can turn their visibility on and off immediately by clicking the light bulb icon in the first column. The icons of the disabled transparencies turn gray and their editable (padlock icon in the next column) is locked automatically. You can also lock the edibility of enabled layers, in which case they remain visible on the floor plan, but we can't select or modify their properties.
In addition to visibility and edibility, here you can also set the printability of the transparencies and see how many elements are on them.
8. Turn multiple layers on and off in one step
There may be a design situation where many transparencies need to be turned on or off at once. Select multiple layers while holding down SHIFT or CTRL, and just change the visibility of just one. In this case, all selected layers take on the set property of that one. All layers can be selected in one step by pressing CTRL-A.
9. Layer filters
For a larger project, additional systematization options may be required. This is helped by the Layer Filters, which allow you to create different groups. The Used Layers filter group is created by default on every program startup, and here you can filter out layers that contain items.
Click the blue plus button to create a new filter group, then double-click the New Group name to rename it. The layers to be grouped are then selected in the list on the left and dragged and dropped onto the name of the new layer filter. For example, we can create a list within the Layer Manager that contains all of our wall layers, and by clicking on it in a shorter list, we can find the layer we are looking for faster.
During DWG import, the layers in the imported file are automatically placed in a separate filter group to increase transparency.
Same layer can be included in more than one filter group and can be removed at any time. This is done by the red X in the upper left corner of the Layer Filter list. In this case, the selected layer is removed from the filter group, but this is not the same as deleting the layer.
The layer removed from the filter group can still be found in the Used Layers or All Layers groups and other filter groups.
We also have the option to delete an entire filter group. In this case, the layers in the project are not deleted either, only the filter group is terminated.
10. Display visible layers
In addition to a large number of layers, it may often be necessary to display the layers that are currently visible to increase transparency. A new layer filter, called Show only visible layers, is now available in the upper-right corner of the dialog. Here you can filter the layers on which they are switched on.
11. Display used layers
When you select the Used Layers filter, all layers in the drawing that contain items appear.
12. Delete layers created during DWG import
However, you may want to delete all the layers in the filter group, along with the content on them. This can happen especially in cases where we no longer need the items scanned during a DWG import and want to clean up the project. This can be done as follows. Activate the filter group created by the DWG import. In the lower-left corner of the dialog, select the elements on the layer and the Delete layer option from the drop-down menu. This also allows you to delete non-empty layers, so items received with DWG import will be deleted from the project. Then click in the layer list and press CTRL + A to select all the layers. Finally, click Delete Layer to delete them from the project. ATTENTION! This operation cannot be undone!
13. Layer variations
When creating a complex plan, we often turn on and off the visibility and edibility of different layers. You may need to constantly find and configure many layers during the process, as well as revert to a previous setting, which can be time consuming.
One such aspect might be to turn on / off transparencies that contain scans, imported drawings, fixtures, mechanical equipment, or building components at the same time.
Layer variations are used to facilitate this process.
The purpose of the Layer Variations is to change the state of the layers that belong together from the design point of view at the same time.
Once you have set which layers you want to turn off or lock, and know that you will need this display in the future, you can save all layer settings as a new variation by clicking the blue plus button. By double-clicking on the resulting New Group name, you can rename the variation to the desired name.
To create another variation, click the blue plus again (this will copy the current variation), name it, then set what you want to change from the previous variation and overwrite it with the new changes.
If you want to change an existing variation, the procedure is the same. Set what you want to change from the current variation and use the refresh button to overwrite it with the new changes.
Layer variations can be selected and activated with a single click on the Drawing Status Bar.