Layouts: Layers Pane

Use the Layers pane to manage frames in layouts.  The Layers pane allows us to specify the position of a frame above or below other frames, to turn frames on or off, to delete frames or to specify the opacity of frames.  Using folders in the Layers pane is an essential skill to manage groups of many frames, such as are used in legends.


We can Alt-click a frame in the Layers pane list to pick it as the active frame in the layout.   When layouts have many frames, it can be quicker to find a particular layer in the Layers pane list and to make it active in the layout by Alt-clicking it in the Layers pane.



Consider a layout as seen above, shown in Landscape paper orientation and using eight frames.    A PDF of a layout similar to this as printed by the FreePDF package may be downloaded from the three_countries_freepdf.pdf link in the Examples page on the Manifold web site.


The Layers pane at left below lists the eight frames in their vertical order.  Five of the frames are text frames, and three are frames containing drawings.




We will alter the presentation by clicking the on/off box for the Three Countries text frame listing in the Layers pane.   That toggles it OFF so it is not displayed.



In either the Layout or in the Layers pane, we Ctrl-click onto the Draft text frame to select it.    The selected row in the Layers pane appears in red selection color.



The selected frame's guide border also appears in red selection color in the Layout.   


If we would like to delete this frame we can do so in either the Layout or the Layers pane:  in the Layout we can choose Edit - Delete or press the Delete key on the keyboard.   In the Layers pane we can click the Delete toolbar button or press the Delete key on the keyboard.



Either way, that deletes the selected frame.    It is deleted both from the Layout and from the Layers pane.


We can also use selection in the Layers pane to move frames up and down in the display stack.




In the Layers pane illustration at left above we have Ctrl-clicked on the Mexico row to select that frame.  We click the Move Up button to move the Mexico frame up one position in the stack, as seen in the illustration at right above.



As expected, that moves the Mexico frame above the Germany frame.  


We Ctrl-click on the Mexico frame, either in the layout window or in the Layers pane, to deselect it.



Move and other commands operate on all selected frames at the same time.    Suppose, for example, that we Ctrl-click on each of the three small text frames that contain country names.   We can Ctrl-click on them to select them either in the Layout or on their rows in the Layers pane.



If we now click on the Move to Bottom button in the Layers pane toolbar all three selected rows will move together to the bottom of the display stack.   



That positions all three of the small text boxes beneath the three frames that contain country drawings.   Because the three country frames are all opaque, we cannot see the small text boxes below them.


In the Layers pane  we Ctrl-click each of the selected layers to deselect them.   Or, we can use the shortcut Shift-Ctrl-A to deselect all.


To see the small text boxes through the background and objects in the country frames, we must change their opacity so they are semi-transparent.



We can do that by double-clicking into the opacity cells in the Layers pane and changing them from 100% opacity to lesser opacity.  In the illustration above we have applied opacities ranging from 30% (mostly transparent) for Germany to 90% (mostly opaque) for Mexico.



The now partially transparent frames allow the names of the countries below them to be visible, from faintly visible in the case of Mexico to more clearly visible with Germany.


Just as in the case of controlling layer opacity in maps, a change in frame opacity in the Layers pane applies to all selected frames.




In the illustrations above, we have selected the France, Mexico and Germany frames in the Layers pane by Ctrl-clicking their rows.   We double-click into the France opacity setting and change it to 80.  When we press Enter to commit the edit, the opacities for the other two selected frames also change to 80% as seen in the layers pane and in the Layout illustration below.



As with other lists in the Layers pane, such as for layers in maps, the usual selection moves and shortcuts such as Ctrl-A to select all, Ctrl-I to invert the selection and so on work in the Layers pane for frames as well. Shift-Ctrl-A deselects all layers.


A PDF of the above final version of the layout as printed by the FreePDF package may be downloaded from the three_countries_end_freepdf.pdf link in the Examples page on the Manifold web site.



Deletions are Confirmed - Deleting frames in a layout displays a confirmation dialog. The default button in the confirmation dialog is set to Cancel.  If we do not want to see the confirmation dialog, we can check the Never show this again box.  That will remove the confirmation dialog for deleting frames in layouts, for deleting objects in drawing layers, for deleting labels and for deleting records in tables.    Another way to eliminate the confirmation dialog is to uncheck the Confirm deleting records box in the Tools - Options dialog.  Frames in a layout are records in a system table, hence the "records" terminology.


Layouts are Fully Parallel - Layouts are not only dynamic, they are fully parallel.  As parallel processes make changes to components those will be updated within any frames in which they appear in any layouts.   For example, if we create a data source using some remote server that contains large vector drawings but the combination of a remote server and a slow connection requires a few minutes for the data for a really big drawing to make its way to our workstation, when we drag and drop that drawing into a layout we will see how the frame for that drawing becomes populated within the layout as data comes in from the remote server.


WYSIWYG in Process - Layouts as currently implemented are only approximately WYSIWYG ("What You See Is What You Get") when View - Zoom to Native has been applied so that the size of the layout on our monitor is approximately that of the sheet of paper which the layout represents.   If we zoom further in or out the sizes of symbology will stay the same, unlike a sheet of paper as seen in a PDF display where the symbols will get smaller as we zoom out.    Plans are to provide a zoom lock by default for layouts to provide a more WYSIWYG effect to better mimic the fixed zoom of a sheet of paper.


Rendering Engines - Tools - Options settings in Manifold control what rendering engine is used for display to the monitor.  Layouts always use the Normal engine with all features such as antialiasing and transparency used to render frames.  


See Also

Getting Started


User Interface Basics














Project Pane


Info Pane


Layers Pane






Layouts: Create Commands


Layouts: Text Frames


Layouts: Legends


Layouts: North Arrows


Layouts: Scale Bars


Layouts: Grids


Layouts: Info Pane


Layouts: Alignment Commands


File - Page Setup


File - Print


File - Print Preview


Example: Layout Properties - Editing properties which appear in the mfd_meta table for a layout changes the content of that layout.   We can exploit that effect to create standardized layouts which are then re-cycled for different content.