Nested layers or Sub-Layers

Is there any work being done to add either sub or nested layers? If I have a multi-level drawing, I can currently organize it a couple of ways:

  • use Groups for each layer and change the group name to show
  • use multiple top level layers but add names

For instance, if I am drawing a two story building (not what I’m doing but I think it works too) and I want have detail for each layer I can create groups on the Lower and Upper layer for Electrical, Plumbing, Framing, SubFloor, etc. Or I can can have layers called Lower:Electrical, Lower:Plumbing, Lower: Framing, etc and Upper: Electrical, Upper:Plumbing…

It would be nice to be able to have two top level layers and many child layers:

  • Lower
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
    • Framing
    • SubFloor
  • Upper
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
    • Framing
    • SubFloor

Big ask, I know but…

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This is why I ask. In this section of the drawing, there are three layers on top of each other (red is top, green is middle, blue is bottom). I am currently ‘greying’ the features in the mid level to minimize confusion with them being part of the other two layers.

I am also thinking artboards may make pulling the stacked (green) easily out to better display the features.


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This would be of use to me as well. I create networking topology diagrams and being able to use layers as containers for different object groups would be useful.

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Let me chime in. I would like nested layers, or at least enable lock/unlock and view on/off for all groups and graphic elements. I’m working on a very detailed, and large diagram of a large communication system of systems. Nested layers would be very helpful for organizing and showing variations in system interfacing and functioning by turning on and off large and small functional elements.

For that example, I would not need nested layers. Lower and Upper would be Canvases, not Layers. I would definitely not put more than one floor plan on a single Canvas.

I am a database geek, not a Network geek. But because the customers love my various database diagrams (100% OG except for the data model itself), I often get asked to redo their hopeless network diagrams. Some are quite complex. I have had no need for nested layers.

That said, I am not saying that no one has a need for nested layers, just that no satisfactory example has been given thus far.

One More Thing
Layers, including Master Layers, worked perfectly in OG 4. Omni broke Layers in OG 5, and broke it badly: Master Layers are gone; Shared Layers with massive duplication is the new kid. The forced duplication is pure insanity. There has been some improvement but no fixes. Point being, Layers do not work as they can, or as they should. So yes please, fix it up, and fix it first. No please, do not add nested layers to the current half-working layers.

The Collapse/Expand grouped objects is a disaster. Do not copy that functionality when introducing nested layers.

Using multiple canvas is an interesting idea. What keeps me away from doing that is I can’t see more than one canvas at a time without using separate windows/views so I have to keep switching back and forth between layers.

Not saying it couldn’t work, I am just kind of stuck mentally on how to implement without making viewing the entire drawing at one time harder. Seems that “Shared Layers” would help but not solve the viewing issue.

I agree with the comment about groups. If they would be more functional with visibility control, I would not need nested layers; I could group like items better. However, editting within a group is horrible right now (cannot add nodes to shapes within a group, cannot lock nested groups, moving items within a group or to another group are often challenging…)

What was a “Master Layer?”

  1. I don’t understand why [using your example] you would want to see all floors at the same time (they do not exist as a single thing in reality, they exist as quite separate things). If I were doing that job, I would want each floor on a separate Canvas.

  2. If you genuinely need to view the “whole thing” in one view, which is some other scenario, not floors in a building, just use a larger Canvas size.

  • Example Large Diagram
  • This guy has a A3 printer. I designed the database on a single A2 Canvas. The last step was to additionally provide the A2 diagram on 2 x A3 pages so that he could print on his printer, and avoid going to a print shop.
  • Yes, I have A1 and A0 drawings. Hundreds.
  • I don’t understand the problem you are experiencing, it seems to be unwillingness to try doing different things, and to evaluate how easy/difficult it is using a given piece of software. Rather you seem to want to do things your way, and that impedes your use of the software.

Sorry, I don’t understand what you are trying to say (you can’t “switch between layers”, but you can turn the visibility off/on). Either you use your method and do a hell of a lot of “switching between layers” (as well and turning the visibility off/on ?), or you use the separate Canvas method and switch between Canvases (hopefully somewhat less, and also almost eliminate turning the visibility off/on).

(Let’s assume the editing capability in OG 7.x is at least as good as in OG 5.4.4, or stated otherwise, OG 5.4.4 is pretty bad and let’s assume that it has not improved in OG 7.x.)

It may help to understand that whereas an Object is an atom, a Group is not, it is a collection of atoms. Plus the collection has attributes that may be different to that of each of its members. So regardless of how one approaches the problem, there is going to be limits on what one can do to (a) the Grouped collection, and (b) the un-grouped atoms.

I have no complaints at all re the limitations of editing Groups, or members within a Group. Virtually all my diagrams consist of grouped objects.

  • For any serious changes, one has to un-group the collection and deal with the atoms, then Group them again.
  • For minor changes, the Click-Through feature works just fine and one can edit the members without un-grouping.
  • If you treat the Group as a permanent thing, then yes, you will have problems, because it isn’t: it is neither permanent, nor a thing. The Group is a concept, an abstraction, not something real. The atomic members only are real.

Examine those words carefully. One adds nodes to shapes (atomic objects). One cannot add nodes to a Group. Yes, it is a pain if you are doing a lot of “adding nodes to shapes within a group”, but that tells me that the groups are unstable and perhaps the shapes are unstable.

  • Do not group the shapes, until they are stable.
  • For some diagrams, I have Groups of Groups of atomic Shapes. Obviously those Groups are stable.
  • For other diagrams, I first make Groups of Groups, and the break it all down, and back into a single Group, precisely because I need to change the shapes, and not have the group limitations hinder me. (It is not that those Groups are unstable, but that I want to change the sizes of the Shapes. For simple changes to the attributes of Shapes, I use Click-Through.)

Dead simple. You just need practice.

There is no such thing. One can Cut an item from one Group without breaking the Group, but one cannot “move” or “add” or “paste” that item to another Group. Come on, the Shapes exist on top of each other, they are layered: where exactly do you want the new item. The target Group needs to un-grouped and re-grouped to include the new item, after you have placed it in correctly, between the existing items.

The technically and scientifically correct way to do anything in a computer is to eliminate duplication. This becomes obvious and painful when writing software, including databases. Duplication will kill any otherwise good project.

Sorry, Master Canvas, not Master Layer.

A Master Canvas is a single instance (not duplicated) version of Shared Layers. Separate section in the Canvases drawer. The limitations were

  • a target Canvas could reference (not duplicate) a single Master Canvas
  • A Master Canvas allowed just one Layer.

No problem for guys like me. But yes, it would be good to not have that limitation.

  • The only correct solution is to provide multiple Layers in a Master Canvas.

Omni did not do that. They removed Master Canvases. They provided Shared Layers which is 100% duplication wherever the Shared Layer is used (no longer a reference). The worst part is, whatever you do to a Shared Layer is duplicated in every instance of that Shared Layer … which is the opposite of what is required. The hierachy has been reversed from the Canvas (which contains subordinate Shared Layers) to the Shared Layers with a subordinate Canvas.

  • Eg. typically I want a certain Shared Layer of say five Shared Layers in a particular Canvas, to be invisible. But that makes that Shared Layer invisible across all Canvases. Which error gets exposed only after printing. Which results in rushing back to the office in the middle of a print run.

Separately, as per the first note, it grates on any IT person, because they know how hideous and anti-scientific a duplicated object is, and that the consequent problems would not exist if the duplication were removed.

Just as with the reduced functionality in newer releases of iWork, where only the users of older releases would know about it (ie. new user would not know that anything is missing), it is only users of OG4 who know about what we had, and thus how absurd the OG5+ functionality is.

And this is partly why OG5+ people come up with ideas like Nested Layers. No, we do not need Nested Layers, we need Master Canvases with multiple Layers.

I was not very clear and some of my references are not ideal. Let me see if I can clarify (maybe but no guarantees!)

I don’t understand why [using your example] you would want to see all floors at the same time

So maybe a blueprint may not have been the best example. In my drawing, In one layer of my drawing describing one attribute (the characteristics of the floor for example) I currently have over 1400 objects or different types: sand, mud, breakdown, or breakdown. Unless I split each of these types of floor contents into separate layers (so for one level of floor and I have four levels) I can’t view a single type. I can group them but still get no control over visibilty. Does that help?

(Re: Adding nodes within a group)

Examine those words carefully. One adds nodes to shapes (atomic objects). One cannot add nodes to a Group.

Again, I was probably unclear or not specific enough.

If I take a collection of objects and create a group, I am not limited in functionality within that group unless objects are removed, editted, then returned. That would not be a problem if you create a group once and it is complete and near perfect. However, if you find later correction is required, it is annoying. For example, if I select a Bezier shape within a group and choose the Node Tool I can delete nodes on the shape but cannot add any. This restriction does not apply to Lines within a group: I can add nodes using the Selection Tool or the Node Tool (but then line type immediately changes to Bezier).

Granted some of these changes are due to me figuring out better ways to do things within OG. In one instance, I went from using the Line Tool to use Pen Tool objects for outlines so I could add fill and masking properties (via object order) to better represent the drawing.

There is no such thing. One can Cut an item from one Group without breaking the Group, but one cannot “move” or “add” or “paste” that item to another Group.

This is pretty easy to do in 7.x, I can select an object in one group and move it to another group or layer. Can you not do that in 5.x? Only way it affects the group is if I only leave one object in the group then the group goes away and becomes a single object.

Hoping I was clearer but if not, let me know and I can try to again.

When dealing with computers and software, clarity and precision are demanded. The onus is on the presenter, not the audience.

This is a technical forum, pardon me if I do not get conversational.

I believe I understand your description. I don’t see how that description is anything different from your initial description. My comments remain the same.

You have 1,400 Objects total, not types. You have Types for { Sand; Mud: BreakUp; BreakDown; etc }. Let’s say you have 10 Floors. That is approx 140 Objects per Floor. I would definitely use:

  • one Canvas for each Floor
  • within each Canvas, one Layer each for { Sand; Mud: BreakUp; BreakDown; etc }. One Layer per your “attribute”.

The Canvas is what you see, in terms of viewing scope, a “window”. The content of what you see within that scope, is based on which Layers you turn On/Off for each Canvas. You can also set PrintOn/Off at the Layer level.

In your example, there is no need to see all Floors at any one time.

For a different example, for whatever purpose, where the entire massive diagram must exist on a single Canvas, please refer to my Example Large Diagram. That too, is not a problem.

Since you are using “level” for Type, you cannot also use “level” for Floor". If you do, you will confuse yourself. English, and particularly Technical English, is a Normalised language: the relevance here is, you can’t use a word to mean two different things.

No, for one Floor, you have four Types of Objects; or four “levels” of Objects, one Layer per Type.

Yes. Do that. Not think about doing that, but just do that and then evaluate the several Floors (Canvases). Thinking about what it could be from your current “it won’t work” mindset will result in “it won’t work”, even though it does work.

If ever you progress to advanced diagrams (using OG more productively; more efficiently; maintaining complex diagrams; over time; etc). You will appreciate the need for SharedLayers. (And then only, that MasterCanvases were better.)

No, you can’t Group them. Grouping them would cause all the members to move to a single Layer, that defeats the purpose of what we are doing. You want each Type to remain on the separateLayer for that Type.

Yes, you do have complete control of visibility, just turn the Layer On/Off. (Do not delete the Layer to turn visibility off.)

It appears that you do not have much experience working with Layers. (Thus your comments re the need for NestedLayers may be premature.)



Well, if you need Fill and masking properties, then of course it has to be a Shape, not a Line, because Shapes have those attributes, and Lines do not.

(Forget whether I can/cannot do that in OG 5, this is a basic functional issue, not a release issue.)

No, you can’t do that in OG 7. Since you say you can, please provide the exact steps.