Folders in the Layers Pane

Folders in the Layers pane allow us to turn collections of layers in maps, fields in tables, and frames in layouts on and off with a single click, and to rapidly select many items at once for operations.  Folders in the Layers pane are easy to use: Learning to use folders is one of the first steps for beginners to begin working with the speed and efficiency more experienced users enjoy.

 

The Layers pane provides so many capabilities that several topics are required.   See also:

 

Layers Pane

 

Layers Pane and Tables

 

Layers Pane and Layouts

 

Folders allow us to turn on and off all layers and folders that are within a given folder.  Folders also allow us to select, with a single click, all layers and folders that are within a given folder.    

 

 

 

Besides making it easy to turn a collection of items on and off, folders make it easy to select, with a single Ctrl-click, all items within a folder.   We can then apply what we want to do to all items in the folder together.  Most frequently we want to hide or show all items in a folder together, but we could also change the opacity of all items in a folder together, or move them up and down in the display stack together.   Hierarchies of folders and sub-folders can be nested, to allow us to quickly choose exactly the collection of layers we want.

 

Creating a new folder:

 

  1. Click the row in the Layers pane above which you would like a new folder to be created.

  2. Press the New Folder button.

  3. In the New Folder dialog, provide a name for the new folder, and press OK.

  4. A new, blank folder will be created just above the current row.

 

Adding layers to a folder:

 

  1. Select layers by Ctrl-clicking them.

  2. Press the Move to Folder button.

  3. Choose the destination folder from the drop down list.

  4. All selected layers will be moved into the destination folder.

 

Another way to add a layer to a folder is to drag and drop a new layer into a Map window.    The new layer will be added to the folder of whatever is the active layer.

 

Moving layers to a different folder:

 

  1. Select layers by Ctrl-clicking them.

  2. Press the Move to Folder button.

  3. Choose the destination folder from the drop down list.

  4. All selected layers will be moved into the destination folder.

 

Another way to move a layer from one folder to another to drag that layer's tab in a Map window's tab strip.  That will change the folder of the moved layer to that of the target layer (the layer just to the right of where the tab ends up).   

 

Moving layers out of a folder:

 

  1. Select layers by Ctrl-clicking them.

  2. Press the Move to Folder button.

  3. Choose the Move to Root option in the drop down list.

  4. All selected layers will be moved into layers list outside of any folders.

 

Dragging and dropping tabs in a map window's tag strip can cause confusion as layers are automatically moved to different folders depending on where they were dragged in the tab strip order.   A good rule to apply is that once we have ordered layers in folders within the Layers pane, is to use the Layers pane to rearrange the order of layers in the display stack, in preference to using the tab strip.

Using Folders with Layers in a Map

We can use folders in any setting where the Layers pane operates: to group layers in maps, to group frames in layouts, and to group fields in tables.   Following is an example using layers in a map.

 

 

Suppose we have a map with many layers, as seen above.  We can use the Layers pane to quickly turn layers on and off.  

 

 

For example, to simplify the background and show colors better in buildings and roads, we can turn off the Bing streets layer with a single click.

 

 

When maps use many layers those, layers often can be grouped within folders, and then a much smaller number of folder tabs can be used to conveniently turn on and off collections of layers within those folders.   In this example, we would like to group all of the layers involving transportation together, so they can be turned on/off together.  

 

 

We see that all of the transportation layers are listed after the railways layer.    We click the railways layer to move the cursor there.   New folders we create will be created just above the cursor's row.

 

We press the New Folder button.

 

 

We enter Transportation as the name of the new folder and then we press OK.

 

A new folder called Transportation appears just above the row where the cursor was positioned,  the railways row.

 

 

We Ctrl-click the rows from railways to waterways to select them.   A quick way to do this is to Ctrl-click the waterways layer to select it and to then Shift-Ctrl-click the railways layer, to select that layer and all those in between as well.

 

 

 We press the Move to Folder button, and we choose Transportation as the destination folder.

 

 

All of the selected layers are indented one step below the Transportation folder.    The indented layers are now grouped within the Transportation folder.   

 

 

In the map, the eight different tabs for different transportation layers have been replaced with a single Transportation folder tab.   The folder tab has the roads layer listed because that layer was the active layer when the layers were placed within the folder.

 

 

We press Ctrl-Shift-A, a shortcut to Select None.    We then click the landuse layer to position the cursor on that row, and then we create another folder called Misc Places, and we move layers from landuse to pois_a into that folder.

 

 

The result in the map is to greatly simplify the number of layer tabs, from many tabs down to only four tabs.    We can now very conveniently either click the on/off buttons in the Layers pane, or double-click layer tabs in the map window, to turn collections of layers on and off.

 

 

Clicking the on/off button for the Transportation folder immediately turns the folder off, and also turns off all of the layers within the Transportation folder.    However, turning off the folder remembers the prior on/off status of each of the layers within the folder, so when we turn the folder back on the prior arrangement of visible or hidden layers will be restored.

 

 

We can use folders to make complex hierarchies of many layers and sub-folders more manageable.  

 

 

For example, we can collapse the Misc Places folder and then click it off and on as we like, without needing to see the expanded list of the layers it contains.

 

 

Turning off the Misc Places folder simplifies the map presentation to showing only the buildings layers.   With a small number of layer tabs, we can conveniently use those to turn folders on and off, for example, double-clicking the Transportation folder to turn it back on.

 

 

Instantly, all layers within the Transportation tab are restored to their previous on/off setting within the map.

 

 

The Layers pane also instantly synchronizes to show the Transportation folder is now turned on for display.

Zoom to Selection in Folder Tabs

The Zoom to Selection command in context menus for folder tabs considers selections in all layers that are in the folder.

 

 

Consider the view above, showing the Transportation folder tab, with an additional layer called roads_g added to the folder.  The roads_g layer is a copy of the roads drawing, but styled to use plain gray color for roads so we can better see selected objects, shown in red selection color.    One road in the roads_g layer has been selected, and one line segment has been selected in the railroads layer, which is also a layer within the Transportation folder tab.

 

We right-click onto the Transportation folder tab, to launch a context menu:

 

 

In the context menu we choose Zoom to Selection.  

 

 

Instantly, the map window pans and zooms fit all selected objects in both the railways layer and also the roads_g layer.

Folders and Selection

Folders are very convenient for showing or hiding groups of many layers at once.  Folders are also great for instantly selecting groups of layers, to apply opacity to all or to set all selected layers on or off.  We continue in this example without the road_g layer in the map.

 

 

Selecting the Transportation folder now selects all layers grouped within it.  If we Ctrl-click the Transportation folder all of the layers within it are also selected.  The Transportation folder is like a short-cut handle to select or de-select the entire group, including the Transportation folder itself.

 

 

We can now click the on/off box for any of the selected layers to turn them all off.    This is a very quick way to alter settings for all layers in a folder.

 

 

Click the on/off box for any of the selected layers to turn them all on again.

 

Associating layers by grouping how they are selected based on a folder lets us quickly select or de-select an entire folder full of layers, and it also retains the flexibility of being able to make an exception, if we like.

 

 

For example, we can Ctrl-click the traffic_a layer to deselect it.    That also deselects the Transportation folder, since not all items within the folder no longer share the same selection status.

 

 

When we now click the on/off box for any of the selected layers, we can turn them all off or on without affecting the traffic_a layer.   

 

Although the selection does not include the Transportation folder, the traffic_a layer is still within the Transportation folder so we can still use the Transportation folder to control selection of all layers within the folder, including the traffic_a layer.

 

 

If we Ctrl-click the Transportation folder , the folder and all of the layers within the folder will be selected.

 

 

If we again Ctrl-click the selected Transportation folder, the folder and all of the layers within the folder will be deselected.

 

 Although the most frequent use for folders is to hide or show all items in a folder together, selecting everything in a folder with a single click is also very useful.  In maps we could also change the opacity of all layers in a group together, or move them up and down in the display stack together.   In tables we can change the width of all selected fields together.

Folders within Folders

Folders can be nested, to create folders within folders.    We will move secondary transportation layers into their own folder, within the main Transportation folder.

 

 

We click on the traffic layer to move the cursor to that row.

 

We press the New Folder button.

 

 

We enter Secondary as the name of the new folder and then we press OK.

 

 

A new Secondary folder appears in the Layers pane.    The Secondary folder is a sub-folder within the Transportation folder.

 

 

We Ctrl-click the traffic layer to select it, and then we Shift-Ctrl-click the waterways layer to select that layer and all layers between it and the traffic layer as well.

 

 We press the Move to Folder button.  In the dropdown list we choose Transportation\Secondary as the destination.

 

 

All selected items are indented one step to the right, moving within the Secondary folder.  

 

We press Shift-Ctrl-A to deselect all layers.

 

 

The Secondary folder now controls all indented layers within it.  If we click the Secondary folder off, instantly with one click all the layers within the folder are hidden, with their previous on/off status remembered to be restored when we turn the folder back on.

 

Folders control all within them, including all layers and any hierarchies of sub-folders within.

 

 

For example, if we Click the Transportation folder off, that turns off all layers and folders within, remembering their status.  

 

 

Clicking the Transportation folder back on restores the prior on/off settings of all layers and folders within the Transportation folder.   The system remembers that the Secondary folder within was off, so it remains off.

 

When we use nested folders, that is, levels of indentation within other levels of indentation, the uppermost folder controls all items within it,, and any subfolder within likewise controls all layers and subfolders within its hierarchy.  This is similar to how indentation hierarchy within outlines or within Windows Explorer works.

 

 

Manifold will apply reasonable logic to resolve commands that involve nested folders.  For example, in the illustration at left above we have deselected all layers, we have collapsed the Secondary folder, and then we Ctrl-clicked the Secondary folder to select everything in that folder.  

 

 We then press the Move to Top button.

 

Move commands cannot move items from within a folder to outside of the folder, so Manifold interprets the Move to Top command  to mean moving the Secondary folder to above all other layers in the Transportation folder.    The Secondary folder is automatically expanded, as well.

 

 

If we now press the Move to Folder button and choose Move to Root in the dropdown menu, the entire Secondary folder will be moved out of the Transportation folder hierarchy, and positioned at the bottom of the layer stack.  

 

 

To move some layers from one folder into another, we select them and then we use the Move to Folder button to move them to the desired folder.    

 

In the illustrations above, we have selected two layers, and then we click the Move to Folder button and choose Transportation from the dropdown list.   The layers move out of the Secondary  folder and into the Transportation folder.  

 

 Now would be a good time to select the Bing layer and move it down to the bottom of the stack.  Image server layers hide everything below them, so they should be the lowest layers in the display.

 

Notes

Read-only data - The Layers pane recognizes when the data it displays is read-only, and disables controls and commands that cannot be used with read-only data. Temporary layouts and temporary maps are always writable. Tables and queries always appear writable with changes to tables on read-only data sources being kept in the window and being discarded after the window is closed.

 

Widths in printer's points - Why are the widths of columns in tables specified in printer's points as a unit of measure?  Tables display text in fonts that are specified in printer's points, with displays and printouts normally scaling to show those fonts in reasonably accurate real-world sizes.   Setting the width of columns using the same units of measure allows table column sizes to scale the same way as the fonts they contain.

 

Folders only with consecutive layers - In the Layers pane, all layers within a folder are consecutive layers.   Using consecutive layers as part of a folder repeats a familiar metaphor, as used in outlines, to group together layers under a folder in a simple, clear, easily-understood interface.

 

Selecting layers follows folder hierarchy - Selecting or deselecting a folder also selects or deselects everything within that folder, including all layers and subfolders.   Deselecting a layer or a subfolder within a folder hierarchy, deselects all folders above it in the hierarchy.  That follows the rule that if a folder is selected, all of the layers and subfolders are selected as well.

 

Moving layers follows folder hierarchy -  Moved layers using move up/down commands in the Layers pane never change their folder level, and layers never move between folders as a result of move up/down commands.

 

Grouping layers in the Layers pane preserves folder selection - Actions that attempt to create folders with a selected parent and unselected children are denied.

 

Missing or Invalid Z Order - Table fields, layout frames, and map layers with invalid or missing Z order info are placed last in the display stack (at the bottom).

 

No redundant layers - A given layer can appear just once in a map.   For example, a drawing of roads can appear only once as a layer in a map.  We cannot have a map that has two layer tabs that both refer to the same roads drawing.   It is possible using programming or by manually changing a map's properties to add two layers to a map that both refer to the same roads drawing.  However, in that case only one layer tab will appear in the map window.   Both "roads" layers will appear in the Layers pane but only the first, upper layer will be valid and will be usable.   Any additional layers referring to the same roads drawing will be invalid and will not be usable. The invalid layers will appear in the Layers pane so we can select them and delete them, a useful way of cleaning up programming errors.

Videos

Manifold Future - Future Tour Part 1 - This video shows how to download and use a portable installation for Manifold Future.  The video also shows the Layers pane, layers and layer opacity, one click use of data source favorites, using your own archival favorite and getting record values instantly.  If you are using Viewer or Radian Studio, download and use the Future version to get access to all these powerful new features.

See Also

Getting Started

 

Layers Pane

 

Layers Pane and Tables

 

Layers Pane and Layouts

 

User Interface Basics

 

Maps

 

Drawings

 

Images

 

Labels

 

Selection

 

Layer Opacity

 

Style

 

Info Pane

 

Style Pane

 

Topology Overlays

 

Example: Layers Tutorial - We take a tour of the Layers pane, learning how to manage layer display order, select layers, turn several layers on and off at the same time, alter opacity settings for one or more layers and how to change background color.

 

Example: Style Pane Quickstart - A tutorial introduction to using the Style pane to apply color, symbology, size and rotation to areas, lines and points in drawings.

 

Example: Create Maps - Maps are used to show layers that can be drawings, images, and labels.  This topic shows how to create new, blank maps, how to create maps from existing components, and how to create maps from other maps.

 

Example: How Not to Format a Drawing - When using Style to format a drawing it is a really bad idea to use the same color for objects that is used for the background color.   It can also be a bad idea to use transparent color for objects.   This topic illustrates why.