Layers Panel Users Wanted!

rose_barfield
edited November 2020 in 2D Drafting

We're currently working on UI for The BricsCAD Layers Panel and want to hear your feedback on what we could improve. No remark too trivial!

You are also welcome to message me directly.

Comments

  • Is it only about its (G)UI,
    or also about UX ?

    I would be more interested in the latter ...

    (Or maybe both,
    still experience problems with font sizes in so many places/palettes,
    no matter if HiDPI or standard screen resolutions)

  • Add access to Layer Filter Panel. Currently you need to open the drawing explorer to access.

    Regards,
    Jason Bourhill
    BricsCAD V21 Ultimate
    CAD Concepts

  • Oooh yes please. Can you implement the VPLAYER commands into it so I can insert a layer frozen in all veiwports more easiley, and change the states of layers in all viewports (but not model space).

  • @Jason Bourhill said:
    Add access to Layer Filter Panel. Currently you need to open the drawing explorer to access.

    I second that.

    Here's another request: maximize. I often find myself dragging the edge of the Layer panel to expand it across the full screen or most of it, temporarily, to see or adjust fields farther to the right such as lineweight, plot, or material, while still seeing layer names, etc.—only to drag the panel width back to where I usually keep it showing just a few columns. It would be great to have some quick way to maximize the panel and then shorten it again, like maybe a long click on the panel icon. (Double clicking already docks or undocks the panels, which is also handy.) A regular short click would still toggle between hiding the panel or restoring it to whatever usual narrow width the user keeps it set to. The user should still be able to adjust the maximized width and the narrow width by dragging, and each workspace should remember the two. Maximizing could be useful for other panels, too, such as the Library (Components) panel, but Layers for sure.

    Regarding appearance, I haven't entirely warmed up to the new v21 dark mode icons. They feel a bit severe compared to their light mode counterparts, although I admire the minimalism. Maybe I'll get used to them. Layer visibility icons, however, definitely look too harshly orange on my display. I prefer the softer yellow lamp and sun, and the lighter frozen snowflake to the new solid blue one. That said, I am happy to see the lock/unlock layer icons have been corrected in v21, so that unlock is colorful and lock is grayed out (as I think it has been all along in the layer control toolbar).

  • Michael Mayer
    edited November 2020

    @Michael Mayer said:

    or also about UX ?

    I may repeat myself but for me the most important issue about using Layers :

    First.
    Activating a Layer should result in temporarily ignoring (but keeping)
    any Layer settings !
    E.g. such as being frozen or invisible.
    Active means fully active,
    new Elements will be drawn on the active Layer, it is always visible and ...
    if it was frozen before, it has to thaw temporarily, as long as it is active.

    So there would be no more need for throwing annoying warnings, which you
    have to click away, re-set the whole related Layer Settings, before finally being
    able to activate that Layer.
    (And later even need to set everything back)

    Second.
    A Button to temporarily switch all Layers temporarily invisible,
    beside the Active Layer (of course !)
    This would allow to check through all your set to OFF Layers, by settting
    them active one after the other, to see what's in there and maybe find and
    correct Objects which don't belong to that current Layer.
    So there is no more need to switch all Layers OFF manually before you
    can do that.

    Third.
    A Button for a temporary "Layer Lock"
    which prevents any Objects on any other than Active Layer,
    from being highlighted, selected (!) or edited in any way.
    (Microstation had a "Layer Lock", Vectorworks has multiple overwriting
    general Layer usages or behaviors in dropdown, like
    Active Only/ Gray (freeze) others/ Gray but Snap others/ Show and Snap others
    until final, common "Show, Snap and Edit Others"

    BTW,
    Any Element on any Invisible or Frozen Layer should never being allowed
    for highlighting or Selection in any way.
    Same for Hidden Elements. It is totally error prone if a CTRL+A selects any
    Elements that you can't see or control on Screen and could modify
    accidentally.
    If that makes ever any sense, it should be a clearly optional Feature hidden
    in Menu or Command Line, that throws a warning that non-visible Objects are
    selected and now active for Modification (or Destruction),
    until the Pro User deactivates that Warning.

    Also I think,
    Any already(!) existing Object,
    when being Edited or Upgraded,
    should never ever be pushed/assigned to the Active Layer !
    E.g.

    • if there is a 2D Element on a non-active Layer and you want to Extrude /upgrade,
      it has to stay on/keep its Layer assignment.
      This works in many cases but by far not for all Commands.
      e.g.

    • if there is a 2D Element and you convert or "Upgrade" it to a "Region"

    • Bricscad currently thinks this should be a "Creation" process of a new Element and
      pushes the resulting Region on to the Active Layer.
      As Bricscad misses a clear and trustworthy structure here, this way you can accidentally
      ruin Layer Assignments of large parts your files in minutes and therefore even can't
      really select/separate these Elements again anymore to repair "your" error.
  • @Michael Mayer said:
    Is it only about its (G)UI,
    or also about UX ?

    I would be more interested in the latter ...

    (Or maybe both,
    still experience problems with font sizes in so many places/palettes,
    no matter if HiDPI or standard screen resolutions)

    Everything is valid!

  • Thanks everyone. This is really useful!

  • As Michael mentioned, there are probably things that could be improved in layer handling in general, but let's first stick to the layer panel UI:

    In all panels, IMO the need to alter the panel width or to scroll horizontally should be eliminated wherever possible. The layer panel is particularly notorious in this regard, since its 20 columns are hard to handle even in full explorer view. I would therefore like to see the panel split into a list/table on top and a detail pane at the bottom, as it is already the case e.g. for the attachment panel. The detail pane should work just like the properties panel, allowing to change the attributes of all selected layers at once. The table pane could then be reduced to a few columns, acting more like a selection list then like an editable matrix. To further set the panel apart from the layer explorer view, some columns could be imploded:
    1.) The active layer could just be shown in bold lettering, and empty layers could be shown dimmed (greyed out).
    2.) On/off, thawed/frozen, locked/unlocked and viewport thawed/frozen display could be combined in one row:

    • if a layer is frozen in all viewports, the snowflake would display
    • if a layer is thawed but off, the grey light bulb would display
    • if a layer is thawed and on, but frozen in the active viewport, the snowflake would display, just in another color
    • if a layer is thawed, on and locked, the lock would display
    • clicking on a snowflake would thaw the layer (in the active viewport or all viewports) and reveal its on/off or locked state
    • clicking on an off lightbulb would turn the layer on, possibly revealing a locked state
    • clicking on a lock would unlock the layer
    • alt-clicking on an illuminated light bulb could lock the layer
    • alt-clicking on an off or frozen layer could thaw, unhide and unlock the layer at once.
      3.) Long layer names are often truncated, and the layer description is mostly too wide anyway, so hovering over a layer should display a tooltip with the full layer name in one line and the layer desription in one (or more lines) below.

    As a result, you could be fine with a minimum of two columns, the layer name and the layer state. This would free a lot of space that could then be used for more advanced ideas: what about providing the functionality of the structural panel for the layer panel as well, so that you could sort layers in a tree hierarchy depending on user-definable criteria?

  • Hi,
    something I am missing
    -to have a popup displaying the whole name of the layer, if you move the cursor over the layer and the layer is not fully visible in the column, Like the attached images from AutoCAD
    -highlight and jump to the current layer if you open the layers.

    • a Photoshop like behavior (making layers visible), click and drag vertically the cursor over on/off, freeze/unfreeze or lock/unlock and affect all the layers crossed with the cursor
    • selecting some layers an create a layer selection, so only the selected layers are displayed. (quick and easy layer filter creation)
    • shortening the displayed filename of the xref file, so the layer names don't get so long
    • maybe its not directly to the UI but for working with layers a custom color palette would be very useful, to be able to save the colors you created. Maybe also to import all the RAL, Pantone, NCS etc palettes.
  • ^ I second all of the post above.

  • So many good ideas here. I especially like what @Knut Hohenberg said, much better than what I had suggested about a quick way to maximize the panel:

    the need to alter the panel width or to scroll horizontally should be eliminated wherever possible.
    ... split into a list/table on top and a detail pane at the bottom, as it is already the case e.g. for the attachment panel. The detail pane should work just like the properties panel, allowing to change the attributes of all selected layers at once. The table pane could then be reduced to a few columns, acting more like a selection list then like an editable matrix. To further set the panel apart from the layer explorer view, some columns could be imploded:
    1.) The active layer could just be shown in bold lettering, and empty layers could be shown dimmed (greyed out).
    2.) On/off, thawed/frozen, locked/unlocked and viewport thawed/frozen display could be combined in one
    ... As a result, you could be fine with a minimum of two columns, the layer name and the layer state. This would free a lot of space that could then be used for more advanced ideas: what about providing the functionality of the structural panel for the layer panel as well, so that you could sort layers in a tree hierarchy depending on user-definable criteria?

    And one more column to reduce in width, and allow to be hidden, is the untitled number column, which eats up a precious centimeter or more of the width of my screen.

    To build on @fs_at12's good suggestions, add alt-clicking a la photoshop or some other shortcut to hide, freeze, or lock all non-selected layers, and go back. Custom color palette should include hexadecimal color codes.

    I also think the ways @Michael Mayer is looking critically at the UX would take pressure off the layer panel and expedite many operations.

  • Thanks again everyone. All this has been forwarded dirrectly to the development team!

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