Layouts: Text Frames

Text frames in Layouts are frames that contain text.  They are created entirely within the layout and do not take their contents from some other component, the way other frames may show content from maps or drawings.  


To create a text frame, open a layout, choose the Create Text tool from the drop-down menu for the cursor mode button in the main toolbar, and then click the approximate center of the text frame you would like to create.   



A small text frame appears at that location with the default word Text in the frame.  The Info pane pops open to the Style tab so we can edit the text and change colors, font, style and size as desired.  When we would like to apply any changes, we press the Update Frame button.  We can resize and reposition the text frame as desired, or click again to create another text frame.   


 When we are finished creating text frames we can choose the Default + cursor tool in the main toolbar to exit Create Text mode.  


Keyboard shortcut: Press Shift-Esc to get back to Default navigation mode.


We open the layout and click on the Create Text tool in the cursor mode button in the main toolbar.  



In the layout we click approximately where we would like the text frame to appear.



A small text frame of default size appears at the clicked spot.  It is already enabled for editing, as if we had Alt-clicked an existing frame.    The Info pane pops open with the default text and styling for the text frame as seen in the illustration at left below.




If we like we can manually change the X and Y extents of the frame by entering whatever extents in millimeters we desire. Except for special purposes, doing that is inefficient as it is easier to simply drag the borders of the frame to resize it and reposition it as we like.   Instead, we will use the Style controls for Color, Fill Color, Label Style, Font and Font Size.   


We replace the default Text string with the phrase This is a text frame.   We change the Font Size to 16 points and then we press the Update Frame button to apply the changes.


Immediately, the new text appears and the text size increases to the larger font size we specified.  Now we will resize and reposition the text frame.


To do that, we click on the Default cursor button in the main toolbar, to exit Create Text mode.  This allows us to click into the Layout without creating a new text frame with each click.



We drag the corner handles to resize the text frame as seen above.   We now have room for an even larger font, which will be easier to see given the reduced size of the layout in these illustrations.



Back in the Info pane we change the Color to a steel blue, the Fill Color to a very light gray, the Font to Segoe UI Bold and the Font Size to 32 points.  


We click the total Style button and then choose More... to launch the Label Style dialog.



We then choose a Label Style that provides a Shadow effect, with an offset of 2 points.  In the illustration above, we have set white as the background color in the preview pane.


Press OK   



Back in the Info pane, we press the Update Frame button to apply the changes.  Note that the drop shadow is not visible in the preview shown in the total Style button, since the color gray used for the drop shadow is too similar to the gray background used by default.  However, the gray shadow will show up against the white background in the layout.



The text in the text frame immediately changes to the new style properties specified.   In the illustration above we have clicked  outside the frame to eliminate the editing handles.  The very light gray Fill Color together with the drop shadow Label Style provides a slight effect of three dimensionality when seen against a white background.   


The light gray border around the text frame is just a preview to help us see the extents of the frame.  It will not appear in any print to PDF or hard copy.



  We click the Margins button to turn off margins, to see what the layout will look like when printed.


When combining text frames with frames in the background, we will often want to change text style properties, to make text more legible.



If we use the Layers pane to turn on the background frame in the layout, which shows a map of drawings overlaid on a Bing satellite view, we see that the blue text with a gray drop shadow that looks good against a white background is too difficult to read against a busy background.   



In the illustration above we have changed the text frame to use white color for the text, using a Label style that produces an outline effect by using a halo of black color.  This is better, but It is still difficult to read the text since the text frame uses default transparent background and the busy background shows through.



We can provide the text with greater visibility by drilling down into the full style dialog and turning on a box with white fill color, and changing the text color to black with a slight drop shadow in light gray.  We have also slightly resized the text frame.



Anything we can do with Label styles we can do with text in text frames in layouts.   For example, we can use an icon chosen from the built-in glyphs collection, as seen in the above settings.  Note the use of Move to provide more space between the icon and the text.  Note also the use of a drop shadow with the icon.



The result can be very legible, and the use of icons can provide an additional visual cue.



We can combine more than one frame on the same spot for an endless variety of effects.  In the illustration above, we have turned off use of a box for the text frame, leaving it with transparent background color.  We then added another text frame, moved and sized to the whitish region above, with blank text.  With white background color that provides a white rectangle of the desired size.



In the Layers pane we moved that text frame to just below the This is a text frame row, and we set the transparency of that text frame to 80%, so some of the background shows through.  The combined effect with the text frame is s though there is a partially transparent background combined with fully opaque text and icon.

Vertical Positioning within Text Frames in Layouts

The Align control in the Position tab of the Label Style dialog provides a horizontal alignment control for center, left, or right justification of multi-line labels as well as a vertical position control that controls the position of text within text frames in layouts, either centered or aligned to the top or bottom of the text frame.


Suppose we have a layout in which we have created a text frame.



We Alt-click the text frame to pick it.   That launches the Style tab in the Info pane for that text frame:



To edit the position of the text frame, we click on the total style button for the label text and in the pull down menu we choose More...


That launches the Label Style dialog.   We click on the Position tab.



In the pull down menu for the right hand Align setting, we choose top.


Press the OK button to apply the new choice.



Back in the Info pane, press the Update Frame button to apply the change to the layout.



The text in the text frame is now aligned to the top of the frame.


If we like, back in the Info pane's Style tab, we can click the Total Style button to once again launch the Label Style dialog, and then in the Position tab we can choose bottom in the right hand Align control.    Press OK to apply the change, and then Update Frame to update the frame.



Choosing bottom aligns the text in the text frame to the bottom of the frame.


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: Legends


Layouts: North Arrows


Layouts: Scale Bars


Layouts: Grids


Layouts: Layers Pane


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.