Layouts: Alignment Commands

Three command buttons appear in the main menu when the focus is on a layout window.  These allow us to show or hide frame margins, to choose the cursor / command mode, and to choose alignment commands.   See the Layouts topic and Legends topic in addition to this topic.

 

 

This topic provides a reference guide to alignment commands:

 

Alignment commands - Align or adjust selected frames to the active frame.  Ctrl-click a frame to select it.  Atl-click a frame to make it the active frame.

Align Left - Align all selected frames to the left edge of the active frame.

Align Right - Align all selected frames to the right edge of the active frame.

Align Top - Align all selected frames to the top edge of the active frame.

Align Bottom - Align all selected frames to the bottom edge of the active frame.

Align Center Horizontal -  Align all selected frames to the horizontal center of the active frame.

Align Center Vertical - Align all selected frames to the vertical center of the active frame.

Stack Horizontal - Stack selected frames horizontally around the active frame, using the same stack order as the Z order shown in the Layers pane.

Stack Vertical - Stack selected frames vertically around the active frame, using the same stack order as the Z order shown in the Layers pane.

Same Width - Resize all selected frames to the same width as the active frame.

Same Height - Resize all selected frames to the same height as the active frame.

 

Same Format - Applies the active frame's format to all selected layout frames, making it easy to format many frames in the same way.  This is especially useful with legends.

 

Resize to Selected - Resizes and moves the active layout frame to fit selected frames.  This is typically used to resize and move a base legend frame so it wraps around legend frames that have been altered and moved about.  Note this command alters the active frame to fit selected frames, where the other alignment commands adjust selected frames as guided by the active frame.

 

 

Alignment commands use classic pick and select workflow:  We pick an active frame by Alt-clicking the desired frame, and then we select  the frames to which the alignment command will apply, using the active frame as a reference.  The active frame guides how the alignment command applies to all of the selected frames.  

 

 Tech Tip:  Learn how to pick  with an Alt-click and how to select and to deselect using selection mouse moves like a Ctrl-click or Ctrl-drag.   Learn them so they are automatic, without any beginner's clumsiness or hesitancy.   

 

Pick and select workflow is lightening fast and easy when the basic moves are automatic.  The same selection moves are used throughout Manifold in the same way.  Make them a core part of your "fast and easy" skill set.

 

In this example we align frames that are part of a legend.  The same moves and commands apply to aligning any frames.

 

 

Alt-click the Legend frame to pick it as the active frame.  The active frame appears with a blue border and edit handles.   Ctrl-drag a selection box over the other frames to select them.   The selected frames appear in red selection color.

Align Left

Press the Align Left command within the Align button.

 

 

All the selected frames are aligned to the left edge of the active frame.

Align Right

Press the Align Right command within the Align button.

 

 

All the selected frames are aligned to the right edge of the active frame.

Align Center Horizontal

The Align Center Horizontal command lines up selected frames, moving them left and right, to align to the center of the active frame.

 

 

Press the Align Center Horizontal command within the Align button.

 

 

All the selected frames are aligned left and right, that is, horizontally, to the center of the active frame.

Same Width

Press the Same Width command within the Align button.

 

 

All the selected frames have their width adjusted to be the same as the width of the active frame.   Note how the width is adjusted by leaving the left margin of each frame in the same location, with the right margin moved left or right to adjust the width.

 

Press the Align Left command within the Align button.  

 

 

That aligns all of the selected frames to the left edge of the active frame, so we can see they all have the same width as the active frame.  

Same Height

Next, we will adjust the height of the selected frames to be the same as the height of the active frame.   We repeat the starting illustration so we can see the effect side-by-side in a before and after comparison:

 

Press the Same Height command within the Align button.

 

 

All the selected frames have their width adjusted to be the same as the width of the active frame.   Because the frame heights are now larger than the vertical spacing between frames, some frames overlap.  We can fix that with the Stack Vertical command.

Stack Vertical

Press the Stack Vertical command within the Align button.

 

 

Keeping the active frame in the same location, all of the other frames are rearranged 1) to fit adjacent to each other vertically, and 2) to be positioned in their Z display order from top to bottom, with the highest frame at the top and the lowest frame at the bottom.   The first effect is obvious, but the second effect is more subtle.   

 

If we look at the Layers pane illustration at above right, we can see that the frames have a display order where the 617 frame is the lowest in the display stack and the Legend frame is the highest, with the other frames in between.  If we dragged the Legend frame to a lower position, it would cover up the frames below it, because it has an opaque, black background.  

 

 

Suppose the various frames had been arranged in the layout as seen above left, where frames that are higher in the Z display stack are positioned lower in the layout.   After a Stack Vertical command, not only would the frames be moved vertically to be adjacent to each other, they would also be rearranged so that frames higher in the Z display stack are positioned higher in the arrangement.    The effect is intended to make it easier to arrange many frames in legends.    

 

To line up all of the vertically stacked frames, we choose Align Left to get the final result, above right.

Horizontal Stacking

The Stack Horizontal command within the Align button repositions frames 1) to be horizontally adjacent, and also 2) to be positioned in their Z display order from left to right, with the highest frame at the left and the lowest frame at the right.

 

 

Note from the above that the Stack Horizontal command does not move the frames vertically.     To align them vertically, we can use the Align Bottom command.

 

 

That aligns all selected frames to the bottom edge of the active frame.   This is a quick way to convert a vertically oriented legend into a horizontal orientation.

 

We continue to explore horizontal commands using the example below, where we have resized the Legend frame to be taller.   Other frames have been positioned to the right of it.   

 

 

Note that the 617 frame, which is the lowest in the Z display stack,  is in the middle of the group, and not at the farthest right position.  

 

 

We Alt-click the Legend frame to pick it as the active frame.   We select the other frames.  

Align Top

Press the Align Top command within the Align button.

 

 

All the selected frames are aligned to the top edge of the active frame.

Align Bottom

Press the Align Bottom command within the Align button.

 

 

All the selected frames are aligned to the bottom edge of the active frame.

 

Press the Stack Horizontal command within the Align button.

 

 

All of the selected frames are repositioned 1) to be horizontally adjacent, and also 2) to be positioned in their Z display order from left to right, with the highest frame at the left and the lowest frame at the right.  Note that the 617 frame has been repositioned to the farthest right position, because it is the lowest pane in the Z display stack.

 

We will now make the Legend frame the same height as the other frame.    

 

We Ctrl-click the Legend pane to select it.   Next, we Alt-click one of the other frames, to pick it as the active frame.

 

Same Height

Press the Same Height command within the Align button.

 

 

All the selected frames have their height adjusted to be the same as the height of the active frame.   The Legend frame is the only one that visibly changes size, since all of the other frames were already the same height as the active frame.

 

 

We choose Edit - Select None to deselect all frames, and we click anywhere outside the frames to unpick the active frame, to remove the blue border and edit handles.  That lets us see our final arrangement with all the frames repositioned.

 

Align Center Vertical

The Align Center Vertical command lines up selected frames, moving them up and down, to align to the center of the active frame.

 

 

Press the Align Center Vertical command within the Align button.

 

 

All the selected frames are aligned up and down, that is, vertically, to the center of the active frame.

Same Format

The Same Format command applies the active frame's format to all selected layout frames, making it easy to format many frames in the same way.  This is especially useful with legends.

 

 The Same Format command alters frame format settings such as background color and border color for frames.   It does not alter Style settings for samples, such as the colors of area samples.  This makes it possible to use the Same Format command to alter the format of many frames without destroying Style information such as a series of colors in area sample frames that show a thematic format in use.

 

To see the Same Format command in action, we will alter the format of one of the frames in a legend and then apply that same format to other sample frames in the legend.

 

 

The legend we start with is seen at left above.   By default, margins showing the edges of frames are visible.  We will turn those off to get a better feel for how the legend looks without virtual guidelines.

 

 We press the Margins button to turn off margins.  Next, we Alt-click onto the bottom frame.  Even without margin lines to guide us, it is clear where to Alt-click if we want to pick that frame.

 

 

Alt-clicking a frame picks it as the active frame.  The active frame is shown with blue border and editing handles, and it also pops open the Info pane to show the formatting applied to the active frame.

 

 

We change the formatting as shown, using a tan color Background, a Padding of 2, and a Sample position of right, and then we press Update Record to apply the changes.

 

 

Select the other frames with a Ctrl-drag mouse selection move over them.

 

Choose the Same Format command within the Align button.

 

 

The selected frames immediately take on the same formatting as the active frame.

 

 

Choosing Edit - Select None deselects all frames, and clicking anywhere outside of all the frames unpicks the active frame, to show the display at left above.   If we like, we can turn on the base frame layer for this legend to get a border that surrounds the entire legend, as seen at right.  

 

Note that when using a base frame layer to provide a border for frames that have a background fill color, we should move the base frame above the other frames, so the base frame border will not be covered by the fill color in those frames.  We should also set transparent background color for the base frame, so the white fill color in the base frame does not cover the contents of lower frames.

Sample Shapes

Sample shapes in area sample frames specify what symbology to use for the sample.   The illustration at right shows these in use within area sample frames.

 

Diamond 

Ellipse - An ellipse with default sample width of 100% (the same width as the height) is a circle.  Increase sample width for more of an ellipse / oval effect   Small ellipses look the same as octagons.

Hexagon

Octagon - When samples are small, octagons look the same as ellipses.

Pentagon

Rectangle - A rectangle with default sample width of 100% (the same width as the height) is a square.  Increase sample width for more of a rectangular effect.

Rounded Rectangle - The same as a rectangle, but with rounded corners.  When samples are small, rounded rectangles look the same as rectangles.  

Triangle - A classic, more or less equilateral triangle.

Triangle Skewed - A triangle with the upper tip skewed to the left, for a more dynamic effect.

Triangle Skewed Top - A skewed triangle that is inverted, for a more Manifold logo effect.

 

 

The Sample width parameter sets the width of the sample shape.  It is normally set in % percent, the default, but can be a number without the % percent sign, meaning a width in points.  The system will widen the shape as much as the frame and any text in the frame permit.   Changing Sample width from 100% (the default) to 150% to 200% for an Ellipse sample shape, as seen at right, changes the shape from a circle to an increasingly wider ellipse.

Resize to Selected

A frequent use of Resize to Selected is with legends, when after altering the number, size, or positioning of frames within a legend we would like to "wrap" the base frame for the legend around all of the other frames, to provide a unified background and border for the entire legend.    

 

Resize to Selected is also handy whenever we would like to reposition and resize a given frame so that it precisely conforms to some selection of other frames.

 

 

For example, suppose we would like to resize and reposition the frame at above right, which shows a section of a map, so it is exactly the right size and position to fill in the three frames at left above.    We would like to use the imagery seen in the map frame as a background for the legend elements.    The frame showing the map is the lowest frame in the display stack.

 

 

We Alt-click the map frame to pick it as the active frame, and then we Ctrl-drag a selection box over the three frames at left to select them.

 

Choose the Resize to Selected command within the Align button.

 

 

That resizes the active frame to the same size as the selected frames, and it moves the active frame to exactly align with the selected frames.

 

Choosing Edit - Select None deselects all frames, and clicking anywhere outside of all the frames unpicks the active frame.

 

 

 We have also pressed the Margins button to turn off margins, so we can see what the composition looks like when printed.    For another example similar to the above, see the Layouts: Create Commands topic.

 

 

Consider another example, where we use Resize to Selected to fit a text frame to an area sample frame where we have expanded the area sample to nearly fill the sample frame.   We can do that if there is no text in the area sample frame.

 

 

In the illustration above, the upper frame is a default text frame that was just added to the layout using the Create Text command in the Cursor / command mode button in the main toolbar for Layouts.  

 

The lower frame is an area sample frame, created with the Create Area Sample command.  After creating the area sample frame, we deleted the text and then formatted the frame to use a Rectangle sample with 500% sample width, so the area sample nearly fills the frame.  The area sample does not completely fill the frame, because area samples will not grow to be perfectly flush with frame margins.    In the Symbol dialog for the area sample, we used an image as the fill, filling the rectangular area sample with the swirled line pattern seen.

 

 

To resize and move the text frame onto the area sample frame, we Alt-click the text frame to pick it as the active frame, and then we Ctrl-click the area sample frame to select it.

 

Choose the Resize to Selected command within the Align button.

 

 

That resizes the active frame to the same size as the selected frame, and it moves the active frame to exactly align with the selected frame.

 

Choosing Edit - Select None deselects all frames, and clicking anywhere outside of all the frames unpicks the active frame.

 

 

We can in turn pick both of the layers in the composition (the Layers pane makes it easy to pick either one as the active frame) and alter their format to make the composition above, which uses padding and background color in the lower frame together with a medium gray border in the upper frame and white text color.

 

Changing the text in the text frame, we create a caption for a legend.  

Formatting Tutorial

We can take a quick look at how to compose the above arrangement, using a text frame above an area sample frame, is composed.

 

 

In the Layers pane, we turn off the text frame and then we Alt-click the area sample frame to pick it as the active frame.   A blue border with edit handles appears around the frame.

 

 

 

 

Picking a frame to make it active also launches the Info pane with formatting and style settings for the frame.  The original default text for the frame was deleted, so the area sample could expand to fill the entire frame.   This frame uses a background color of black, with 1 point padding.   The sample shape is a Rectangle, and the sample width has been set to 500%, that is, five times as wide as it is tall, which will fill this particular frame.  There is no significant downside to using larger values, such as 800% or more, to make sure we fill a frame with an area sample.

 

The style setting for the area sample uses one of the style bitmaps shown in the Style: Drawings topic examples, seen at right.  We can use any combination of style parameters we like, including bitmap fills, to style samples in sample frames.

 

See the Style: Drawings topic to learn how to fill an area with a bitmap.

 

 

To see the effect of Sample width, we can change the value to 400%, to create a rectangular area sample that is four times as wide as it is high.  We press Update Record.

 

 

When we reduce the size of the area sample, we can see how more of the black background used for the frame appears.  

 

 

A more subtle effect (because of the small sizes involved) is the Padding parameter.   We change Padding to a value of 0 and we press Update Record.   

 

 

The black border around the area sample becomes thinner.   With Padding of 1 point, we specified a thicker space around the area sample through which the black background could be seen, thus providing a thicker black region around the area sample.   Changing the Padding to 0 reduces the width of that surrounding region by one point, leaving a thinner space around the area sample through which the black background can be seen.

 

Consider formatting of the text frame.   In the Layers pane we turn off the area sample frame and turn on the Legend text frame.

 

 

The text frame has transparent background, so the default white sheet of the layout shows through.   We Alt-click the text pane to pick it as the active frame (not illustrated), so we can see the format and style parameters for the frame.

 

 

The text in the frame is Legend, styled to provide 14 point Nunito Sans bold font with a slight drop shadow.    The frame itself is formatted with transparent background color and a medium gray border that is 1 point thick.  

 

 

If we turn on both frames we see that the text frame border combines with the lower frame's black background to create a composite border effect.  In the illustration above we have restored the 500% width of the sample and Padding of 1 point for the area sample frame.

 

 

If we imagine what a 3D perspective view would look like of the two frames, we can see how the upper frame's gray border overlaps the lower frame.

 

 

 

Part of the thicker, black border of the lower, area sample frame is created by the 1 point padding specified.   Part of that padding is covered up by the gray border of the upper text frame.   If we had zero padding, after what was covered by the gray border the black zone surrounding the area sample would be too thin for the effect we would like.

 

Borders are drawn from the margin of the frame inward.  Borders do not extend outside the margins of the frame.  If we create a border that is 2 points thick, that border will extend two points into  the frame.  Therefore, if we have an upper frame that is aligned to a lower frame and that upper frame uses a thick border, we should use padding in the lower frame to move the contents of that lower frame inward from the lower frame's margins, so those contents will not be overlapped by the upper frame's border.

Alignment using Snapping

When we move a frame near to the edge of another frame the system will apply smart snapping, based on the zoom used, to precisely move the frame adjacent to the nearby frame edge.     This is a great way to align groups of frames to the sides of other frames, for example, when creating legends consisting of multiple columns.

 

 

We start with a variety of sample and text frames, arranged into three groups.   We would like to align all of the frames in three columns that are adjacent to each other.

 

In the central group we Ctrl-drag with the mouse to select all of the frames, and then we Alt-click the top frame to pick it as the active frame.

 

 

We drag the active frame to a position almost adjacent to the Area Samples  text frame in the leftmost column.    Because the active frame is a selected frame, all of the other selected frames will move with it.

 

 

When we move the active frame close to the adjacent frame, Manifold will automatically snap it exactly next to the adjacent frame.  All of the other selected frames will likewise also be snapped adjacent to the leftmost column.

 

We press Shift-Ctrl-A or choose Edit - Select None to deselect all frames.  

 

In the rightmost group we Ctrl-drag with the mouse to select all of the frames, and then we Alt-click the top frame to pick it as the active frame.

 

 

We drag the active frame to a position almost adjacent to the Line Samples  text frame in the central column.    Because the active frame is a selected frame, all of the other selected frames will move with it.

 

 

When we move the active frame close to the adjacent frame, Manifold will automatically snap it exactly next to the adjacent frame.  All of the other selected frames will likewise also be snapped adjacent to the central column.

 

We press Shift-Ctrl-A or choose Edit - Select None to deselect all frames.  

 

 

 We press the Margins button to turn off margins, so we can see what the composition looks like without margin guidelines.  

 

That is a clear presentation, but we do not like that text is centered within the text boxes at the top of each column.  Upcoming builds will add left, center, and right alignment for text within text boxes, but until they do we can use a simple hack to move the text.

 

 

Turn Margins back on as a guide.   We Ctrl-drag over the three frames to select them all, and then we Alt-click the Area Samples text box to pick it as the active frame.  We drag the active frame to the left so that the text in the frame is moved to the left.   That also moves the other two frames.

 

 

When we clear the selection and unpick the active frame, turning Margins back off we see a better composition, with titles at the top of each column moved more to the left.

 

Notes

Why is Z display order used in Stack commands?  -  The Stack Vertical and Stack Horizontal commands are frequently used when arranging legend frames, which most often are created automatically, at least as a starting point, using the Create Legend tool in Layouts.   In such cases the Z display order, as can be seen in the Layers pane, automatically ends up being the top to bottom order used for the legend frames, for example, the various sample frames.   The Stack commands thus automatically help to preserve that order.

 

Z display order also is a useful guide when stacking frames that overlap.  When two frames are exactly horizontally adjacent, for example, the Stack Vertical command has to choose one of them to be stacked above the other.   Instead of choosing randomly, it follows the Z display order.   The Stack Horizontal command follows the same logic to stack frames left to right.

 

Sometimes, however, we might want to stack various other types of frames, such as frames that show maps or images, or text frames, where we do not want the frames stacked by Z display order, but we would prefer them to maintain their relative positioning as is.    To do that, we use the Layers pane to temporarily move frames up and down in the display stack to the relative positions we want to preserve, we issue the Stack command desire, and then we move the frames in the Layers pane back into the Z display order positions we want.

 

See Also

Selection

 

Project Pane

 

Layers Pane

 

Info Pane

 

Layouts

 

Legends

 

Layouts: Info Pane

 

Layouts: Create Commands

 

New Legend

 

File - Page Setup

 

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.