Layers Pane

The View - Panes - Layers pane lists all layers in a map.   In addition to the tab strip at the bottom of a map window the Layers pane is our primary interface to see what is in the map.   Like all Manifold panes the Layers pane can be docked or undocked by Alt-clicking the title bar.  An undocked project pane can be resized and moved anywhere on our Windows desktop.  See the User Interface Basics topic.


The Layers pane is not visible by default.   It may be turned on from the main menu by using View - Panes - Layers.   The Layers pane will be empty unless the focus is on an opened map window.


Layers are listed in the order in which they appear in the map layers stack with upper layers at the top.  Check a layers box to turn the layer on for display.  Uncheck a box to turn the layer off.   The Background box when checked shows a background for the map of the color shown in the color well.  Click into the color well to change the background color.




Click a layer to highlight it.   Ctrl-click a layer to toggle it to highlighted or not.   When a layer is highlighted, the toolbar icons will be enabled.   Use these to move the highlighted layer to the top of the stack, up one level, down one level, to the bottom of the stack or to delete the layer from the map.


Important:  The Delete button in the Layers pane toolbar does not delete the component from the project.  It simply removes it from appearing in the map.

Layers Pane Tutorial



Consider the map seen above that includes several layers, as seen in the Layers pane below.  Note how the Layers pane provides more room than the tab strip at the bottom of the map so we can see the full names of layers


Click on the background color well to change the color.


If we change the color to a light green that will change the background color in the map.


Checking the box for a layer will display it in the map.  Unchecking a box will not show the layer in the map.



For example, in the Layers pane above we have unchecked all layers except for the single layer that shows the result of the Overlay Topology, Intersect operation.   Astute readers will have noticed this example utilizes the same example data used in the Transform: Overlay Topology topic.


Unchecking that layer only has the same effect as double-clicking on all the other layer tabs to toggle their display status to off.  When there are many layers in a map it is much quicker to turn layers off and on by using the Layers pane instead of double-clicking tabs in the tab strip.   Note also we have restored the default white color as the background color.


To consider another example, we have unchecked all layers except two.


The map immediately updates to show the new layers to be displayed.


Let us now remove layers from the map we do not want.   To remove a single layer we click it to highlight the layer and then we press the Delete button.


That removes the layer from the map.


We can also remove multiple layers if they are highlighted.   To highlight a range of layers we click the first layer to highlight it.


Next, we shift-click the last layer in the range to highlight that layer and all in between.


We can then press the Delete button to remove all of the highlighted layers at once from the map.



When a layer is highlighted the buttons allow us to move it up or down in the layer stack are enabled.



Note that in the map the Overlay Yellow layer is above the Data Blue layer.




To move the Data Blue up one level to the top of the stack we click on it to highlight it and then we press the Move Up button.


That moves the Data Blue layer up above the Overlay Yellow layer.



Background Color

The layers pane shows a check box to turn the Background color on and off.  The Background is not a real layer in that it does not correspond to any drawing or image in the project.  




The Background shows what color to put underneath all other layers. By default white, it may be switched off by unchecking the Background check box.   Double-clicking into the color well at the lower right corner of the Layers pane allows us to change the background color to some color other than the default white color.   Changing the background color to a color other than white allows us easily to see if any white space in the map is part of the background or not.

Background in a Map


Consider a map with two layers as seen above, a Cities layer of points and a Regions layer that is a drawing of regions as areas.   By default the Layers pane uses white color for the background.


We can change the background color to a different color by double-clicking into the color well in the lower right hand corner of the Layers pane and changing the color to any desired, such as the light green color seen above.


Unchecking the Background box turns off background color, showing the default checkerboard pattern that indicates transparency.


Background in Drawings

Background is a property of a specific component when opened in its own window.    Each individual component can have its background color set to some color different than the default by opening the component in a window and choosing View - Panes - Layers.   The background color specified for a component comes into effect only when the component is opened in its own window.


For example, we can double-click open in its own drawing window the Regions drawing used as a layer in the map earlier used as an example.   The Layers pane shows no layers for a drawing window, since unlike map windows a drawing window has no layers.  However, the Background option is still available and background color by default is white.



We can uncheck the Background box to show the drawing without any background color.  



We can change the background color for the drawing to a blue color as seen above.   Changing the color for a drawing's background will apply only when that drawing is opened in its own window.   It will not apply if the drawing is used as a layer in a map.



For example, we can open the Regions drawing in its own window at the same time that it is used in a map window as a layer.   With the focus on the map window, the Layers pane shows the background color specified for the map, a light green.   The blue color used as a background for the Regions drawing does not carry over into the map.

Visual Effects

Changing the background color can dramatically change the appearance of a map.   The following three illustrations below show the effects of changing only the background color from the default white, to black to green.




It is important to consider background color when using Style to choose colors for objects in drawings.   In the illustrations above a white background hides the yellow road lines while a black background hides the black line used for a railroad.  The map shown above was intended for use with a green background color, and not with white or black background.


Besides the practical aspect of not using a background color that is the same as a color used for objects in a drawing, the choice of background color can have a big aesthetic effect.  The background color set by the Layers pane can dramatically change the look and feel of a visual display, as seen below where different formatting using the Style dialog is combined with different choices of background color in the Layers pane.






See Also

User Interface Basics






Transform: Overlay Topology