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December 05, 2019, 06:14:21 pm


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Grouping Layers

Started by The Track Planner, July 31, 2019, 05:02:51 am

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The Track Planner

This request may be beyond the capabilities of AnyRail, but I thought I would ask anyway. I'm currently finishing up a three level plan for a client. The plan ended up with fifty-six (56) layers. I group the layers based on multiple factors (1) levels, (2) bench work, (3) helixes, (4) track, (5) scenery, (6) roads, (7) water, etc.
It would be very convenient if I could group layers and turn them on and off as a group. Currently, I have to turn each layer on and off individually. Not a big deal when dealing with six or eight layers. When dealing with four or five dozen layers it becomes a tedious and time consuming job.
For me, this would be a real time saver.
Thanks again for a great product.



Indeed it would be easy to group the layers. I do at the moment the same way, just like The Track Planner and use 1xxx for tracks, 2xxx for scenery, 3xxx for surfaces etc.

Keep on going, David. I still love to work with Anyrail.
Grtz.<br /><br />Kees

Tom Springer

Perhaps sub-layers (the ability to nest layers) might be the answer. Changing the status of a layer (visible/locked) changes the status of all layers under it. Individual layer controls for sub-layers would still be available, as long as the parent layer was 'visible' and 'unlocked'. Movement within the sub-layer level (up/down) would be possible, but not moving a layer outside its original sub-layer level, so as to not overly complicate things too much. Create a sub-layer by right-clicking on a layer, perhaps. And of course, a nested layer could have layers nested under it.

Just a thought.
Tom Springer

(Unintentional Pyromaniac)

The Track Planner

Tom's approach (sub-layers) would work well for me. Because of the number of layers, I tend to use on complex designs, I've had to create my own numbering system, with sub-sets of sub sets. Example: 01, 01.1, 01.2, etc. In some cases I go two decimal places, example 01, 01.1, 01.1.1, etc. This would also help clean-up the titling of the layers, i.e. the wording after the number, which can get challenging when each level, has basically the same titling information.
On the plan I described in the original post, the fifty-six (56) layers actually scrolls off the screen and I'm using a 27" 1440 dpi monitor, set at the highest resolution.
Sub-layers would "clean up" the layers column, considerably. No more scrolling to find the layer I need. I've attached an example of just the main level layers on the plan that has the fifty-six (56) layersLayers.jpg

Bob Bryce

I am currently using a form of sub-layering now.  Mine is not really a "sublayer", but a naming convention that starts with the level on the layout (Upper Level-Mountain Passenger Rail, Upper Level Mountain Freight Rail, Lower Level structures, etc).  It works, but it is time consuming to use when I need to turn off all the upper level layers and turn on all the lower level layers.  A grouping or subgrouping form of layer control would really be helpful.


We've been thinking of this before, but I'm not really sure about the interface.
If you accidentally click the 'supergroup' function, there should be some sort of 'Undo'.

I've been thinking about 'views', where you can define a view as a preset configuration of layers. In this way, you can define multiple 'views', and switch quickly between them.
The only problem with that approach is, that if you add a layer, you will have to set its properties for each of the views.

It shouldn't be too complex though. Currently, the concept of a 'layer' is not always well understood or even used.
David Hoogvorst. Founder and Owner of DRail Software. Creator of AnyRail.

Bob Bryce

I don't know, I think the concept of a "layer" is well understood and widely used, understood and used by 100 people in 120 different ways!    ;D   :)  ::)

Tom Springer

Quote from: Bob Bryce on August 01, 2019, 05:29:42 pmI don't know, I think the concept of a "layer" is well understood and widely used, understood and used by 100 people in 120 different ways!    ;D  :)  ::)

How true.

One of the very beneficial elements of AnyRail is that it (generally) allows the user to use a facility as the user wants, not being forced into using something in a particular way.

Take AnyRail's "Sections" as an example.  When creating a "Section" one can, if they wish, provide the name and usage info, but they aren't forced to; as a result, if all a user wants to do is to color a set of track elements, then they can do just that with a "Section"; they don't have to assign a name or define the usage; in other words, the user can choose how they want to use the "Section" facility, even though their usage might not be as was originally conceived when the "Section" facility was developed.

A similar capability applies to "Layers": one can choose any name they want for a layer.  With appropriate user-defined naming "conventions", the user can generate layers in the order of their choice.  But, currently, that's about all they can do.

When I wrote the idea of "sub-layers", I deliberately did not use the word/term "group", because "group" has a defined meaning in AnyRail.  And I did not want that concept of a "group" mixed in with the "sub-layer"/"nested layer" concept.

To me, the Layers pane is much like a table of contents (TOC) that one might have in a document; the 'layers' describe the structure of the layout as a TOC does for a document.

Except that the Layer pane in AnyRail currently is (effectively) limited to a very simplistic form of a TOC, a single 'level'; i.e., imagine a TOC with just 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, etc for the main chapters.  If a word processor software package only allowed for that, it probably would be seen as being deficient in capabilities because most documents have chapters divided into parts, which each may be further divided into sub-parts. A TOC needs to provide for that.

My view was that having "sub-layers", layers within layers, nested as the user wants, mimicking a TOC, would give users an expanded ability to "document" the parts of their layout.  And it would "address" the need the original request for "grouping" asked for.

I wonder if the term 'group' in Bill's original request has impacted understanding what he asked for in some way; so, with respect to Bill because he has a very good request (imo), what happens if his request is read this way:

"I'm currently finishing up a three level plan for a client. The plan ended up with fifty-six (56) layers. I group create and organize the layers based on multiple factors (1) levels, (2) bench work, (3) helixes, (4) track, (5) scenery, (6) roads, (7) water, etc.
It would be very convenient if I could group organize layers into 'sets' and turn them on and off as a group set, perhaps having a 'parent' (control) layer and child layers."

To me, applying the TOC concept, I thought 'sub-layers' (nesting) might work and the Layers pane would become more like a TOC.  If my view of the Layers pane as a TOC is off-base, then none of this applies.
Tom Springer

(Unintentional Pyromaniac)

Bob Bryce

This is very similar to a request I asked for titled "Saved View Groups" back on 1-4-13, only a bit better.

The Track Planner

Good discussion.
To maybe help clarify things. My idea, though poorly written, was to have a layer structure very similar to what Windows has used for decades with folders and sub-folders. A main (top) folder (layer) and as many sub-folders (layers) as one would need. The way my mind works, this structure seems the simplest to understand and manage.
When I start a design, I start with a pre-set number of layers, usually about 15 to 20 layers, I know from experience, I will always need. As the design evolves, I add additional layers as needed. Most of the time, to save time, I disregard which layer I'm working on/in until I have gotten to a point where I want to save my work, at that point I highlight the "work" and "dump" it into the specific layer, or if need be, I add an additional layer.
I find, this approach saves me time. Since, I don't have to keep switching back and forth between layers, as I work, or worrying about which layer I'm working within. Having a predefined set of layers, makes is easy to move objects around.
When a design is finished and before sending the finished product to the client, I go back through each layer, double checking that all objects are on their proper layer.
The sub-folder idea would not necessarily simplify my work, but would keep the layer panel from having the cluttered look. A side benefit to sub-layers (folders) would be once you've double checked that set of layers (folders) you can basically hide and forget them.
Finally, the disadvantage of having all the layers, in the side panel, showing all times is the cluttered look and the fact, after adding three or four dozen layers, it can make finding a specific layer fairly time consuming. This is an improvement, that I feel is worth perusing.

Tom Springer

Not poorly written, because I could understand it  :) ; I've just become super-sensitive to using words that are also the name of an existing AR facility because I think that if I do, it adds confusion sometimes, especially for other users who might not be fluent in English; I know my English grammar is getting worse as I age... which I'm sure people thought wasn't possible.
Tom Springer

(Unintentional Pyromaniac)

Nick the Nomad

Just my two bob's worth.

I like the idea of layers and sub-layers.  Like Track Planner, I start a new plan from a template file, which contains all the layers that I regularly use.  Somewhere along the line I "adjust" them to suit the particular plan.  There are over fifty layers in the template, which could be split into six or seven categories.  So if I'm working on track, I don't need to see the scenery all the time, but that is several layers (and multiple categories, such as Railway, Town, Village, Industry etc).  If I was able to switch an "upper" layer on and off, thus switching the "lower" ones, that would save a bit of time, and also make the layer list pane a bit less unwieldy. If it could go "deeper", that would suit my style of working also.

Nick the Nomad
Currently snug as a bug in a rug, in Snug, Tasmania