Layers Pane and Tables

The Layers pane also works with tables, allowing us to arrange the order of fields in tables, the width of columns, and to show and hide columns.    When used with tables, the layers pane applies to fields and folders.  


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


Layers Pane


Folders in the Layers Pane


Layers Pane and Layouts


With the focus on the opened table, choose the Layers pane to manage which fields appear in a table and the column widths used for each field.







The following illustrations, to save space, show only the Project pane and the Layers pane, docked to the right.  Other panes have been closed.





The display above shows a table with 13 fields that is open on the left side of the desktop with the Layers pane open on the right side of the desktop.   We can adjust the width of a column by either double-clicking into the numeric width of the field, for example, changing the 72 point default width of the mfd_id column to, say, 35 points, or by dragging the column's border in the table.





We can adjust the width of a column by either double-clicking into the numeric width of the field, for example, changing the 72 point default width of the mfd_id column to, say, 35 points, or by dragging the column's border in the table.





If we drag the border of the mfd_id column to make it a narrower column the point size readout in the Layers pane will automatically be updated.





To hide a field, click the small on/off box at the right to toggle it off/on.  In the illustration above we have hidden the Country field.


To change the order in which fields are displayed, Ctrl-click the row for that field in the Layers pane to select it, and then use the up and down arrows to move the field up or down in the list.  In the illustration above we have moved the mfd_id field down one row, so that it displays between the Town column and the Year column in the table window.


We can move the mfd_id field up one row by pressing the Move Up button.  We also turn the Country field back on by clicking the on/off box.


A change will apply to all selected rows.  If we select four rows and we click the on/off box for one of the selected rows o hide it, all four of the selected rows will be hidden.   If we select three rows and then press the Move Down arrow button, all three rows will move down.  That also applies to changing the width of fields.





For example, suppose we select all rows where the column width is 96 points.   We double-click into the first such selected row to change the width of the column to 72 points.  





The moment we press Enter to accept the edit, all of the selected rows will have their column widths also changed to 72 points and the width of the columns in the table window will be adjusted.


The usual selection moves and keyboard shortcuts work.  Ctrl-A to select all, Shift-Ctrl-A to unselect all, Ctri-I to invert the selection.   Ctrl-click on a row to toggle it selected or unselected.   Ctrl-click on a row to select it and then Shift-ctrl-click on another row and all the rows in between will also be selected.


Saving a project will save current Layers pane settings for a table.  

Using Folders with Fields in a Table

Folders in the Layers pane apply to fields in tables just like they apply to layers in maps.    For an example, we have imported a drawing of countries from Natural Earth.   Natural Earth provides very useful, public domain, cartographic layers, but those layers have a staggering number of attributes for each object.   



Above we see the drawing's table, sized and scrolled to show only a small number of the columns in the table.   The columns in view provide the name of each country in many different languages.  If we are working only in English, we may want to hide the non-English name columns.   We can group fields within folders in the Layers pane to make it easier to turn on or off different sets of fields as we like.


Suppose our prime interest is the English language name, shown by the NAME_EN field.  We would like to group together in a folder fields for the names of countries in all the other languages, so we can turn all of them off or on together.


In the illustrations below we see the Layers pane, scrolled to that part of the list where all of the various other country name fields are listed.



We click the NAME_AR field to move the cursor there, and then we press the New Folder button.  The new folder will appear just above whatever is the current item.



We enter Other Names as the name of the new folder and then press OK.



A new folder appears in the Layers pane.



We Ctrl-click the NAME_AR field to select it and then we Shift-Ctrl-click the NAME_ZH field to select that field and all fields between it and the NAME_AR field as well.



 We press the Move to Folder button.  In the dropdown list we choose Other Names as the destination.   The selected fields move into the Other Names folder.  


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



If we Click the Other Names folder's on/off box, instantly that folder and all of the fields within it are turned off.   The system will remember the prior on/off status of any fields within the folder, to restore when the folder is clicked back on.


That turns off all of the selected fields, that is, all non-English country name fields.



The table is immediately updated.  We can repeat the procedure above to group within folders different collections of fields in the table that we would like quickly to hide or show.



First, to reduce the number of fields shown in the Layers pane, we can click on the - box of the Other Names folder, to collapse the folder.

Simplifying Tables

Some tables can have hundreds of fields.   We can simplify those to a manageable display using folders in the Layers pane.


We can start by placing the many fields beginning with or related to FCLASS in the same folder.



Click the first of the fields and press the New Folder button to create a folder called Fclass.   We then select all the fields to be added to the folder, and we press the Move to Folder button to move all the selected fields into the Fclass folder.



We can then close the Fclass folder and with one click turn off the Fclass folder and all the fields within.



That instantly hides all of the Fclass folder fields.


Next, we can put in a folder and then hide all the many fields at the beginning of the table which we do not need.



We scroll to the very top of the table, and we click the featureda field to move the cursor there.  We then create a new Misc folder, which appears just above the cursor row.



When we want to reduce the number of fields shown in a table with many fields, such as a Natural Earth table or a table from a Census Bureau site, we can select many dozens of fields in a swath with a Ctrl-click on the first field row, and then a Shift-Ctrl-click on the last field row.    In the illustrations above, we have selected dozens of fields in a swath from featurecla to ADMIN..  



We press Move to Folder and then choose Misc from the dropdown menu as the destination folder.  That moves the selected layers into the Misc folder.  We then press Shift-Ctrl-A or press Edit - Select None to deselect the selected layers.


We can click the - icon next to the Misc folder to close the folder.  That collapses the display from a too-long list of dozens of fields to the much simpler display in the right hand illustration above.   Grouping many fields into a few folders gives us an easy way to turn on/off many dozens of fields at once.


We can now easily click on/off dozens of fields at once.  If we like, we can even click both folders on/off together with a single click:  If we select both of the folders by Ctrl-clicking them, we can now with a press of the spacebar toggle many dozens of layers on/off at the same time.   The spacebar toggling action applies to all selected items.



That is a fast way of reducing very many fields in a table to only those few we want to see.  With only a few keystrokes, we have tamed the staggering amount of information in a Natural Earth table.


 Although the most frequent use for folders is to hide or show all items in a folder together, since the essence of being in a folder is that items are selected with a single click together, we can do anything to those folder members that can be done with selected items:  in the case of fields in tables, we could also change the width of all columns in a folder together, or move them up and down in the display stack together, to move the columns left and right in the table window.

Query Results Tables

Query results tables are virtual tables in that they are constructed on the fly to show the results of a query.  To make them permanent we would use SELECT ... INTO to create a real table.  However, for more effective browsing of results tables we can use many display features such as the Layers pane and Filters with query results tables.





For example, in the illustration above we have closed the table window and then we opened a Command Window and have run a simple query:


SELECT * FROM [Coin Hordes];


The results table appears below the command window.    If we switch to the Layers pane, it will control the presentation of fields in the results table.


We can use the Layers pane to adjust widths of columns in the results table:




Such settings go away with the next run of the query but they are so quick to specify they can be very convenient when browsing a complex results table.  





For example, if we are only interested in three fields out of twenty in a results table, we Ctrl-click on those three fields in the Layers pane to select them, we Ctrl-I to invert the selection, and we double-click any of those selected fields OFF to hide all eighteen of the selected fields.  





That is a quick way to hide all but three fields in a results table, taking only a few seconds for an experienced Manifold user.


We can also use folders in the Layers pane for results table.  These will disappear when the query is re-run or the Command Window closed, but folders are so quick to set and use that they are often convenient to use for managing results tables with very many fields.   In the case of a query that fetches all fields from a Natural Earth table, for example, we can select many dozens of fields in a swath with a Ctrl-click on the top field row and then a Shift-Ctrl-click on the bottom field row of the swath, press Ctrl-Right Arrow to group them, and now we have a single-click way of turning off many dozens of fields in that folder, or to turn them back on.



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.


See Also

Layers Pane


Folders in the Layers Pane


Layers Pane and Layouts


North Arrow


Scale Bar














Layer Opacity




Info Pane


Style Pane


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.