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Microsoft Visio 2010 : Adding Sophistication to Your Drawings - Understanding Layers

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You can organize objects in a Visio drawing into layers and control various properties of all layer members at once. For example, you can control whether layer members will print, be visible on the drawing page, or be selectable. In a town map, for instance, you might put roads on one layer, sewer lines on a second, water pipes on a third, and buildings on a fourth. Organized this way, you can lock certain layers to prevent accidentally moving or selecting that collection of objects while working with shapes on other layers. Similarly, you could print a map showing roads and buildings, but not pipes.

Layers offer considerable flexibility in managing the parts of a sophisticated drawing. However, working with layers requires some planning because things can get complex: a drawing page can have multiple layers; each layer has multiple properties; and any shape can be on zero, one, or multiple layers.

In this exercise, you will assign shapes to a layer and change the layer properties to see the effects on the drawing.



  1. Select the globe symbol and the flag at the bottom of the page (do not select the photo of the building).


    Layers


  2. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click the Layers button, and then click Assign to Layer. The Layer dialog box opens, followed immediately by the New Layer dialog box.

  3. In the New Layer dialog box, type International, and then click OK.

    The International layer is added to the Layer dialog box as shown in the following graphic, and the selected shapes are added to the new layer. You can continue using this dialog box to create more layers and to add the selected shapes to other existing layers.

  4. Click OK. The drawing doesn’t look any different at this point but you will see evidence of the new layer in subsequent steps.


    Tip:

    Putting shapes on a layer is not the same as putting them in a group. Unlike a group, the shapes on a layer can be selected, moved, and sized independently.


  5. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click the Layers button, and then click Layer Properties.

    The Layer Properties dialog box includes seven check boxes for setting layer properties. The properties are described in the following paragraphs; default settings for each property are shown in the previous graphic.

    The Visible check box controls whether a layer’s shapes are visible on the drawing page.

    The Print check box includes or excludes a layer’s members from printing.


    Tip:

    Because the Visible and Print check boxes are separate, you can create a drawing in which members of a layer are visible in the drawing but do not print, and vice versa.


    When you set a layer to be Active, all new shapes added to the page are automatically added to the layer. More than one layer can be active at once, in which case new shapes are added to all active layers.

    Adding a check mark to Lock prevents you from selecting, moving, or editing any shapes on the layer. In addition, you cannot add shapes to a locked layer.

    The Snap and Glue settings allow/disallow snapping or gluing other shapes to the shapes on this layer.

    With the Color option, you can temporarily override the colors of all objects on a layer; clearing this option returns layer members to their original colors. When you select the Color property for a layer, the Layer Color and Transparency settings in the lower right of the dialog box are activated.


    Tip:

    Every layer belongs to exactly one page. When you create a new layer, it is added to the current page. If you copy layer members to a different page, the layer is added to the destination page. (If a layer of the same name already exists on that page, the copied shapes are added to the existing layer.)


  6. In the Layer Properties dialog box, clear the check box below Visible, and then click Apply.


    Tip:

    The Apply button provides a preview of the intended change without closing the Layer Properties dialog box. If you make a change in the Layer Properties dialog box and want that change to affect your drawing immediately, it is not necessary to click Apply—just click OK.


    In the graphic on the right, you can see that the two shapes on the International layer are no longer visible. Compare this graphic to the one following Step 5.

  7. Click OK to close the Layer Properties dialog box.


Note:

Save your changes to the Corporate Diagram drawing, and then close it.


The shapes in certain Visio stencils include pre-assigned layers. The flowchart shapes and the building design shapes are two examples. In addition, dynamic connectors are always on a layer, so dropping the first one onto any page creates a layer called Connector.


Tip:

Although they both help you organize sets of shapes, groups and layers serve different purposes. In addition, groups and layers are not mutually exclusive—you can use both in the same drawing.

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