Layers Manager
There are two personalities to the Layers Management tool: Layer0 Warning, which attempts to keep one out of trouble by warning the user when he/she changes the active layer to other than Layer0; Layer Tools which are a tool set used to create layers and
Layers Manager

Layers Manager Tool Overview

There are two personalities to the Layers Management tool: Layer0 Warning, which attempts to keep one out of trouble by warning the user when he/she changes the active layer to other than Layer0; Layer Tools which are a tool set used to create layers and make them all visible, invisible or reversed.

Layer0 Warning

I have taught SketchUp to a large number of students, mostly through my live courses, DVDs and book. Based on their feedback, and conversations I have had with other instructors, it is clear there are two dominant areas students struggle with.

1.    The stickiness of SketchUp is stumbling block number one. Anytime two primitives touch they become connected. This is useful if those primitives are meant to touch, such as when they are pieces of the same part. But if they are pieces of different parts this stickiness creates huge problems. The solution is for students to follow the Six Rules for Modeling in SketchUp listed at the end of this description. I have found that students who follow these rules, particularly Rule 4 - As soon as a part takes 3D shape make it a component - escape this problem entirely.

2.    The second largest stumbling block is the accidental or intentional violation of Rule 2 - Layer0 (Layer Zero) should always be active when modeling. To see the kind of havoc this can cause view the Primitives, Components & Layers tutorial. To help students avoid this problem I have added functionality to the Layers Manager tool which will warn of a Rule 2 violation.

The image at right shows the View menu with Layer0 Warning shown enabled when checked. The intent of Layer0 Warning is to let a beginner know when he/she is about to change from active Layer0 (Layer Zero) to another layer. By default Layer0 Warning is enabled the first time Layers Manager is installed. From then on the last state of Layer0 Warning will be stored upon closing SketchUp and recalled upon subsequently opening SketchUp.

If you wish to disable the warning go to menu View/Layer0 Warning and uncheck it.

If you wish to re-enable Layer0 Warning go to menu View/Layer0 Warning and check it.

When enabled Layer0 Warning will monitor the active layer; the layer with the radio button selected to the left of its name. If a layer other than Layer0 is made active, a warning message will appear.
 
The message will tell you which layer will become the active layer and also how to disable the warning. If a layer other than Layer0 is active and then Layer0 is made active, no warning is given because Layer0 is the desired layer for modeling. Note that this is just a warning; Layer0 Warning will not prohibit the layer change. The user must decide if this change was intentional or accidental. If the latter the user must manually change back to Layer0. Click OK to close the warning message box.

I should point out that I am an experienced SketchUp user and I never disable Layer0 Warning. It is too easy to accidentally change the active layer and get into serious modeling trouble.

Layers Tools

The Layers Manager has the following commands under the View menu:

  • Add Visible Layer
  • Add Invisible Layer
  • Show All Layers
  • Complement All Layers
  • Hide All Layers

In addition a Layer Tools toolbar is available under View/Toolbars and contains four icons which can be used instead of the menu items above. You make this toolbar visible by choosing View/Toolbars/Layer Tools. The toolbar looks as follows:

Description of Tools:

Add Visible Layer icon adds a visible layer to the current scene, but invisible to all existing and new scenes. Add Visible Layer always adds a layer to the Layers list but its Visible check box is unchecked in all scenes EXCEPT the scene that was active (scene tab is blue) when you added the layer. If there are no scenes, a layer is added and its Visible check box is CHECKED.

Add Invisible Layer icon adds an invisible layer to all existing and new scenes. Add Invisible Layer always adds a layer to the Layers list but its Visible check box is unchecked in all scenes. If there are no scenes, a layer is added and its Visible check box is CHECKED.

Show All Layers icon makes all layers visible.

Complement All Layers icon reverses the visibility of all layers except the active layer which should always be Layer0.

Hide All Layers icon makes all layers invisible except the active layer which should always be Layer0.

Six Rules For Modeling In SketchUp

  1. Save your work frequently.
  2. Layer0 should always be active when modeling.
  3. Draw one part at a time.
  4. As soon as a part takes 3D shape, make it a component.
  5. As soon as a component is created, move it to the layer where it will reside.
  6. Draw a complete model before creating scenes, texturing or dimensioning.

Reviews

Pablo A.'s picture

Hello, Mr. Zeh:

this is Pablo, from Spain. Why do you think Layer 0 will be always active and it's necessary to model in it? Thank you very much.

Joe Zeh's picture

Hi Pablo,

Layer0 is a very special layer. It is always visible and it can not be deleted. he always visible part it the important one. If you created a design with a number of components and put them on various layers the components may or may not be visible when you make visible the layer in which they reside. It will depend on what layer the primitives that make up the component are on.

For example, Suppose Layer Top is the active layer and you draw a table top on it and make it a component called Top. Subsequently, you draw aprons and legs and then decide to move all of the components to a layer called Table. When you make only the Table layer visible (Layer0 is always visible) you will not see the Top. The reason is that you left its primitives on the Top layer. But had you always had Layer) the active layer you wouldn't have this problem.

If you keep Layer0 the active layer, always, your primitives will always be available for viewing, no mater what layer a component is on. Hope this helps.

Joe.....

I have been using Layer Tool since purchasing and watching Joe's video tutorial series (which is superb):

1) The latest iteration of Layers Manager has a new icon/function "Complement All Layers". But nowhere is the function or use of Complement All Layers explained or documented.

2) OK... let's call layers created with Zeh's Layer Tool "Zeh Layers" and layers created with the SU's native layer panel functionality "Native Layers".

My Question: Cannot one simply create a separate (Native) dimension layer for each scene (i.e. not a Zeh Layer) then turn off visibility of the newly created Native dim layer on all existing scenes EXCEPT the one you want the dimensions to show on?

3) If so, is it not true that all this tool does, effectively, is save users the time otherwise needed to open up each scene (existing at the time the new dim layer was created), and turn off visibility of that new dim layer in every scene EXCEPT the scene in which you want to show/ use the dims ? (By default, all scenes existing at the time a Native Layer is created will inherit/show every new non-Layer Manger created dim layer - so without Joe's tool, you have to go back into each existing scene and turn off the dim layers that you do not want showing in that scene.) Am I missing some additional benefit/use of Layer Tool here?

Joe Zeh's picture

Hi Lee,

Thanks for the kind words re: video tutorial series.

Complement All Layers is described on the tool's web page (this one) in the Description of Tools section. I will repeat it here for convenience:

Complement All Layers icon reverses the visibility of all layers except the active layer which should always be Layer0.

It's a very simple tool (as are all of the Layer Tools) but very useful in some situations.

No, you are not missing any additional benefits to the five Layer Tools tools with icons. They are merely time savers, but I might add huge time savers because the process you described so well is very time consuming and frustrating.

There is one more part to Layers Tool that does not have a tool icon. That is Layer0 Warning. See the description above. This tool will keep you out of trouble with the "sticky" nature of SketchUp.

Joe....

Galin G's picture

its the most accurate layers plugin for sketchup. work fine with SU2017 x64
Thanks for sharing this nice job

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Joe Zeh, an accomplished lifelong woodworker, is an electrical engineer with more than 35 years experience in the computer and graphics industry, ranging from computer design to executive management. He retired as Vice President & General Manager, Desktop Graphics Development at ATI Technologies Inc, now acquired by AMD. He teaches SketchUp both in video and live courses. Joe recently published a book titled SketchUp - A Design Guide for Woodworkers. He offers free SketchUp plans and help on his blog (http://www.srww.com/blog). You can contact him via email: jpz@srww.com.
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