Circles and Lines: Fabulous New Layer Tools

11 Apr, 2006 By: Lynn Allen

AutoCAD 2007 has arrived with helpful new tools for layouts.

AutoCAD 2007 is here! Although everyone probably will promote all the cool 3D features in the product, I thought I'd start with a few of the everyday commands that will make your drawing life so much better. The good news is that these new tools started as Express tools and grew up to become real live AutoCAD commands. That means that even if you don't have AutoCAD 2007, you can follow along with this article and use these same features as Express tools--are you with me? In addition, if you're using AutoCAD LT 2007, you'll have access to these great tools (which should make you LT users quite happy!)

The new layer tools are found under the Format/Layer Tools (figure 1).

Figure 1. The new layer tools add powerful functionality to AutoCAD 2007.

Rumor has it that accessing layers is the third most frequently used functionality in AutoCAD (behind Undo and Zoom/Pan). It seems only fitting to add some more tools to make our layer life easier. Let's take a look!

Layer Walk (Laywalk): This powerful command makes it easy to see dynamically which objects reside on which layer. Simply select the layer(s) you want to display, and only the objects from the selected layers will display (figure 2). This one is probably my favorite of all the new layer tools, and it comes in very handy should you need to work with someone else's drawing.

Figure 2. The Layerwalk command.

In the layer list you can:

  • Click on a layer name to display the contents of that layer.
  • Double-click a layer name to turn the Always Show option on or off.
  • Use the Ctrl and Shift keys to select multiple layers.
  • Click and drag in the layer list to select multiple layers.

A right-click in the layer list will give you additional options such as Inspect and Save Layer State. Inspect is an interesting option that provides you with information about all of your layers (figure 3). You also can purge unused layers in the Laywalk command.

Figure 3. Use the Layerwalk command to get an overall status report on your layers with the Inspect option.

Layer Match (Laymch): Laymch is a speedy means of changing objects from one layer to another (figure 4). Simply select the objects you want to move to another layer, select an object on the destination layer and poof! You also can select the destination from a list by choosing the Name option or move the objects to the current layer with a null answer (see below).

Command: Laymch
Select objects to be changed:
Select objects: Specify opposite corner: 4 found
Select objects:
Select object on destination layer or [Name]:
Nothing selected.
Use current layer? [Yes/No]: Yes
4 objects changed to layer Building Grid

Figure 4. Laymch makes it easy to move objects from one layer to another.

Change to Current Layer (Laycur): If your goal is to quickly move objects to the current layer, then I would opt for the more efficient Laycur command. Here, you simply select the objects, and AutoCAD automatically relocates them to the current layer.

Copy Objects to New Layer (Copytolayer): Use Copytolayer to copy a group of objects to another layer. By default the program will copy the objects to the new layer in the same location, but you can specify a base point and displacement to relocate them as well.

Command: Copytolayer
Select objects to copy: 3 found, 3 total
Select objects to copy:
Select object on destination layer or [Name] <Name>:
3 object(s) copied and placed on layer "Dimensions (COTAS)".
Specify base point or [Displacement/eXit] <eXit>: Specify second point of displacement or <use first point as displacement>:

Layer Isolate (Layiso): A favorite of many users, Layiso isolates one or more layers by turning the rest of the layers off. Simply select an object on the desired layer. Use the Settings option to indicate you'd rather freeze the layers in the current viewport (very handy for controlling your viewport layers). The other viewports in the drawing would remain unchanged.

Isolate Layer to Current Viewport (Layvpi): This hand tool freezes the selected layer in all but the current viewport. The extra-cool thing about this command is that you can choose to have it affect all layouts as well! You can even isolate layers that are nested in an xref or block by using the Entity option.

Command: Layvpi
Current settings: Layouts=Current Layout, Block nesting level=Block
Select an object on the layer to be isolated in viewport or [Settings/Undo]: Layer Const has been frozen in all viewports but the current one.
Select an object on the layer to be isolated in viewport or [Settings/Undo]: S
Enter setting type [Layouts/Block selection]: B
Enter Block Selection nesting level [Block/Entity/None] <Block>: E

Layer Unisolate (Layuniso): This command undoes the effect of the Layiso command (the two often go hand in hand).

Layer Off (Layoff): The name of this command cracks me up--this command is used to quickly turn off the layer of the selected object(s). You'll see the Block nesting options as you did in Layvpi. You also can specify whether you'd like the layer turned off or frozen when inside a viewport.

Turn all Layers on (Layon): Plain and simple, this command turns on all the layers in a drawing.

Layer Freeze (Layfrz): This command works just like Layoff, but the selected layers are frozen (versus turned off).

Thaw all Layers (Laythw): Also plain and simple, all frozen layers are thawed.

Layer Lock (Laylck): Select one or more objects on layers you'd like to lock.

Layer Unlock (Layulk): Select one or more objects on layers you'd like to unlock. As you hover the cursor over objects on locked layers, the locked icon is displayed (love that!).

Layer Merge (Laymrg): Use this command to combine two layers together (one is the target layer). The merged layer is deleted. You can select an object to determine the layer to merge or select the layer from a list.

Layer Delete (Laydel): This command is another of my favorite layer tools! Don't you hate it when AutoCAD refuses to let you purge a layer? Laydel to the rescue. This command is much like Purge on steroids because it will delete just about any layer and remove it from your life! All the objects on the layer go as well (so make sure you know what you're doing). Layers you cannot delete? Layer 0, defpoints and the current layer, of course. This command is so powerful that it will even remove a layer from an existing block definition! Remember, however, where there is power, there is danger!

So there you have a look at the new layer tools available in AutoCAD 2007. Try them all, get used to using them and they'll save you loads of time on your projects.

Until next month--Happy AutoCAD-ing!

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