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Document & Visualize forum

Cut CD Production Time in HALF - toggle LAYERS ON and OFF...

Not applicable
I haven't found any threads on shortcut key programming to TOGGLE layers ON and or OFF (without having to go into the Layer list..."control-L" on windows.) When trying to develop efficient PROCESS, we look which sub-tasks happen the most FREQUENTLY and try reduce how often they occur, or reduce the amount of TIME it takes for it to happen.

An analysis of the Construction Documents phase shows that a vast amount of production time is lost working through the layers to select the content you want to work on.

One could present that the "Layer Combinations" feature built into AC already does this, however, I have found that a mastered keyboard command process for layer control can be a much faster form of data entry, navigation and layer management. There are a few items that have presented themselves during the course of considering this...

Benefits of Keyboard Layer Commands...

1- You don't have to look through a list to find the name of a layer which your mind has already thought of... mind, eyes, and hand (tethered to the mouse) all have to shake hands (so to speak)... the eyes and hand being the bottleneck. This process becomes repetitive thousands of times over in the process of modeling and drafting.

2- As you are working, on the fly, you can toggle a layer on... with one command... For example... "WE" for Walls Exterior ON, or "RS"for Roof Shingles ON, or "D" for duct ON. ...Inversely, "WEO" for Walls Exterior OFF, or "RSO" for Roof Shingles OFF, etc.

3- The least amount of letter in the keyboard shortcut... the better. (ie. its best if you do not have to enter "control", "command," or "shift" along with the layer information)

4- Its best to set them up so that they are all on the left side of the keyboard...(if you mouse with your right hand)

3- It is also advantageous if the Layer Combinations can be set to toggle with keyboard commands... for example... "FA" = Floor Plans ALL, or "FLA" = Floor-Framing ALL, or "RA" = Roof-ALL layers.

4- Another keyboard layer command that would be advantageous is to be able to toggle all layers OFF... for example type in "O" for off and all layers would turn off... this let's the CAD tech reset there mind and frame of reference in a lot of cases and be able to toggle layers on from that point

I'll stop the list there for now. This isn't the first time I've looked at the layer strategy in a software to make work more profitable. The last CAD system for which I created Keyboard Layer commands proved incredibly successful. Once the layer commands were set up and applied to the next project in queue... we reduced the CD phase by an estimated 40-50 hours. Now, it's not that CAD operators were spending 40-50 hours changing layers... its that the inertia of a mouse and window driven layer GUI (graphic user interface) was sabotaging the speed and momentum of the work.

At the end of the day... we all want to spend more time in the SD phase and less time in the CD phase. Because the "work" of architecture is highly tied to the hour it is very difficult to scale. We only have two (2) options to "scale" the work into a more profitable model...

1- Higher more people to do the work = (increase in HR overhead)
2- Identify and create solutions to get the same work done faster = (Keyboard Toggled Layers)

Based on my calculations, If the layers could be managed with memorized keystrokes... production time could almost be cut in half. If anyone is interested in more of these efficiency work-flow ideas, let me know. I would welcome a collaborative dialog to share ideas and findings of where the bottlenecks have been found in production, and solutions to these bottlenecks.

If ArchiCAD has a feature to set up keyboard commands for layers like I mentioned above, I would be VERY interested in this. I have found keyboard command setup for tools and tool bars, however I have not found them for layers, or layer combinations yet. Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts on this subject.


I don't believe that you can control your layers with keyboard commands, but by using saved views and quick layers, the difference seems minor at best. I rarely need to open a layers dialog while working and I do have a fairly long layers list.

Check out both topics in the help files.

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Not applicable
Interesting idea, although I'd be very surprised if you were actually spending 50% of your working time in the layer dialog box turning layers on and off. (That's four hours a day!?) Also the prospect of remembering 70 further keyboard shortcuts could be impractical. Fine for Rain man perhaps, but I struggle to remember my phone number sometimes!

I wonder if an alternative solution could be a simplified 'modeless' layer palette that stays on constantly, which would allow you to quickly turn layers on and off on-the-fly?

If we were thinking 'outside the box', I'd say voice controlled layers might be the fastest solution that didn't slow the workflow/movement of the mouse, although you might disturb your colleagues around you when muttering things like "Beams off" and "Fixtures on" constantly! Maybe this would work in AC20 when GS implement the control system as shown in this video clip -

On a more practical note, could a more clearly and logically named layer list help speed up finding the correct layer?

Steve Jepson

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Not applicable
Peter wrote:
On a more practical note, could a more clearly and logically named layer list help speed up finding the correct layer?
In this vein of thought, I'd think being able to assign colors in some fashion to layers would speed scowling though the layer names.

Not applicable
Steve wrote:

I didn't watch the video in detail, but what point are you trying to make?

Not applicable
A lot of what you're talking about can be solved with logical use of the view map. It's like a "favorites" list for seeing your model with certain layer combos and other attributes or even views of other parts of your project without having to recreate each view manually. It'll take some time to fully develop a set of views but once you do it's really easy to double click on a saved view and have the model look exactly like you want it to*. And the difference between one saved view and another could be as little as one layer is on in one but off in the other.

Just to illustrate this my view map is huge. Probably the most work in my template went into developing that list. From 3D views to schedules to details to sections to floor plans to whatever. And then I have many huge folders of cloned views that have nothing different about them other than scale and Metric vs Imp (mostly views for finished layouts).

And just to add. The way I have it set up it's easy to whip out finished layouts. Everything is in views so I place them instead of capturing and recapturing views from the model space which means setting up and re-setting up all those views again and again. That's the real time waster. And that's what your doing by opening and reopening the layer pallet to re-setup your current view. Just use the view map and much of your manual use of the layer pallet will disappear.

This is how I primarily navigate my project and switch between layer states as this discussion is pertaining to.

Also don't hesitate to create the same view twice. I have folders that have duplicate views between them but I have the duplicates for convenience so I don't have to wade though the view map.

Finally, when you have your finished layouts setup those are the views you most likely will be working with most during the project. Open up the Drawing Manager and there is yet another way to navigate the necessary states of your model without having to wade though the view map. Just so you know, if you click on an entry you will go to that drawing but not model space. This is a list of the drawings in your project such as placed views on layouts and imported images like PDFs .dwgs, or .jpegs. If you want to see the model space that corresponds with the placed view you have to highlight the entry then click on the "Open Source View" at the bottom.

There is one thing, I don't know what happens to views when the story they're associated with gets deleted. I've never tested it. So what has happened is every project I have has six stories above zero and four below so all the associated views remain intact. This means there is extra story dimensions in elevation/section but I deal with this by opening up the story settings un-clicking the check box in the final column so that particular dimension won't display in elevation/section. Also I just rename the stories as needed and in my OCD way I have the unused ones named empty.

*tip - If you right click on a saved view and open its settings, in the 2D/3D Documents tab there is a setting that says "Ignore zoom when opening this view." I have sets of drafting views with this set and when I click on them my current view changes to the saved view but the zoom remains where I'm currently at. Very helpful for modeling.

Laszlo Nagy
Community Admin
Community Admin
As a possible solution to the problem in the original post, I would consider creating as many Layer Combination as needed and using the Quick Options Palette to switch among these Layer Combinations.
I have encountered the same problems and for me personally, creating a lot of Views was not a good solution. For example you may be working on your CDs and you have to toggle 2-3 layers. You need to do this on most Stories. So I would have to create maybe 4-5 different Views, multiplied by the number of Stories, which can add up to dozens of View just for this one purpose.

This is why I would try creating Layer Combinations, display the Quick Options Palette and switch those needed Layers ON and OFF by switching among those saved Layer Combinations in the Quick Options Palette.
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I integrated the quick layers palette into my workspace. It's really fast to select some objects (whatever type) and use quick layers commands as a sort of isolation.

I use this a lot when adding dimensions for CDs, because I can quickly select a wall and a dimension and isolate those two layers, and then I know my dimensions will snap to walls as there are no other elements. The same when working on sections. Isolate dimensions and slabs, and you're set to go fast! Undo the quick layers operation and you're back to your last layer set.

Layer combos help too, and a lot!, but I think that these need an update. While I like how easy you can change and update them, I hate that you activate the combo just by clicking it. What if I want to just view or compare a layer combo vs another one? Me thinks a couple of simple features, like a checkbox before combos to select the active one and a "edit layer combo" mode would improve functionality; but that's another topic.

Best regards.

Not applicable
What I don't like about doing it that way laszlonagy is I'll end up forming a really long quick layer combo list. That list doesn't sort easily and it can't have folders. Plus there is a lot of scrolling and hunting for an entry if it's back and forth switching between layer states as well as having to open the list every time there is an adjustment. Feels like the quick layer combo list is working against me.

That's why I use views primarily. For any given task I don't have more than two or three views per floor per task but most are just one view per floor per task. It seems faster to me to just open the view map and the folder of views I need and work from there. However I have dual monitors so my organizer pallet is open all the time and usually the view map is visible where most users will close it if they're working on a single monitor.

I also mentioned not to worry about making duplicate views. This is the key to convenience. I have duplicate views in many folders in my view map but that's because I open one folder per task and see the views associated with that task all at the same time instead of wading around the view map to find the necessary views which would defeat a major reason why I don't to use the quick layer combo list.

But this not saying that I don't use the it. I use it but not that much. I also open the layer pallet to adjust my view but as soon as I notice I'm recreating a useful view I save it.

The biggest reason I use views is views can radically change the model where as quick layer combo list only changes layer states. I like to switch between drafting and finished views often to make sure everything lines up. I also use cut planes more than I think most users do and I use three different pen sets. Plus I use views like a navigator in my project as many of them are fixed zoom views and that alone can save tons of time.

Another advantage is if the Navigator and the Organizer are open it's possible to have three planes of the view map open at the same time which I use frequently.

Good use of the view map and the favorites pallet are huge time savers. I say this because the original topic partially covered cost savings by identifying repetitious tasks and streamlining them. What I like about AC is how it, in a layer upon layer sort of way, adds to the control over the project by giving tools to deal with said tasks by forming sets of things. Something like model space→layers→layer combos→views→layouts→publisher forms those sets to perform repetitious acts. There's more but the idea is there.

scoreville identified the need to be able to quickly adjust his model that's specifically faster than the quick layers combo list on the quick options pallet. An effective way to do that in AC is to use the view map. But in reality normal use of AC is best served by using both the combo list and the saved views. It's just I find that saved views has taken over as the view map matures in my template.

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