Desperate plea yet again for selected object sees its layer highlighted


I spend I reckon 40% of my time trying to find layers objects live on.

I simply need to INSTANTLY see what layer an object is on. I dont want to see it in one list then try to find it in my layers palette.
I am forever turning on Properties, noting where it lives, then trying desperately to find that layer in a vast list in my layers palette. I am losing my evenings through this, day after day.


I dont want to allocate a selected object to a layer. and I dont want to set that layer active.

I see others also wanting a fix.

I seem to remember asking desperately about this well before V5 came out,

When I first came to use Rhino V4, having come from Macromedia Freehand, it was the most glaring omission I found, I use that al the time, and its absence has been a nightmare for me… and it has slowed me right down ever since, by that I mean I am working well into the night for want of a few simple time saving things, and this is one of them. I am losing my evenings through want of this.

I see three separate threads about it now. (3 when I started typing this anyway !)

This first thread hits the nail on the head. but reply says we will consider for V6.

I said I would pay £1000 for V5 if it had this.

I simply need to have the layer an object is on show up somehow IN THE LAYERS PALETTE, either as a different highlight colour to the normal highlight which as we know indicates last layer in use or object applied to, or maybe flash on and off, or have a lightbulb glow on it. Someone mentions Adobe Ilustrator maybe having copyright over their concept of having a light come on for the layer a selected object is on. No …Macromedia Freehand also had the layer turn blue.

Also IMPORTANTLY it must autoscroll the layers palette to that layer. To have it scroll back to the working layer when object deselected would be brilliant.

I am not going to explain all the many reasons why, becausee that wil see folk with a host of separete fixes and this requirement wil be overshadowed. I need it for a variety of things, including I see something in the scene, and wish to INSTANTLY see what layer its on and decide if I want to turn it off, or move that layer somewhere else in my palette, or delete that item if its redundant to my work now, to do so I NEED TO SEE ITS LAYER NOT BY HAVING TO OPEN ANOTHER LIST, BUT IN THE LIST I AM WORKING TO…

I was told that in V5 the layer would show up in another list, thats still no good. One needs to stick to the one list FOR SPEED !!!

Lets just recap, we can have a ticked layer, anything created goes to that layer, whilst that is ticked we can also have a highlighted layer DIFFERENT to that layer, it becomes highlighted when we allocate an object to it.

I/we need ideally another highlight additional to that, I dont want to allocate a selected object to a layer. I simply need to see an objects layer light up somehow.

I also want to see same but for grouped items, I want to see their layers highlighted in some way.

All I get in properties is Layer Varies…aaaaagh !

In Freehand, select a grouped item and more than one layer became highlighted. I need that as well. You cannot believe how usefull that would be.

In Rhino I have to ungroup the object, select the items one by one to see just how many layers it lives on, that can take ages if not even prove impossible, then edit undo as I will never manage to get hold of them all again, so denying me the chance to do anything to it, as edit undo would undo such !

If not a secondary colour then a light bulb etc, and if we do have to sacrifice something , and if not possible, then it will have to be use the highlight colour we currently have, I will have to mentally note what was highlighted.

One reply said go to hammer icon and choose ‘Select Object Layers’…but thats no use, it just lost me the layer that was highlighted I had been allocating selected objects to, now I cant find that layer I was using.

I dont want various solutions for each of the examples, my stated need would give me what I need.

I need this desperately, I hope we dont have to wait even further for it. I reckon it should be in V1 !



Hi Steve,
I do share your problem and wish with identifying object layers. But since we will have to wait for a solution here a script that I use to locate an object layer in the tree. I have it on an alias so I can call it quickly if needed.


LayerInfo.rvb (1.7 KB)

(Dale Fugier) #3

Hi Steve,

With object selected and the Layer panel open, click the Tools menu button and then pick “Select Object Layers.”

Does this help?

(Dale Fugier) #4

Nevermind, I guess you’ve tried this…


yes I did

One reply said go to hammer icon and choose ‘Select Object Layers’…but
thats no use, it just lost me the layer that was highlighted I had been
allocating selected objects to, now I cant find that layer I was using.



Hi Dale, is there a way to do this with a macro or script?

(Wim Dekeyser) #7

It just now dawns on me that you want 3 different types of ‘identifiers’. One is the check mark in the Current column (with bold typeface in the Name column), the second one is the existing color-across-all-columns marking that at the moment doesn’t really do anything - it just happens to be on the layer that you last touched. On top of that you request a third identification that would somehow highlight the layer(s) that selected object(s) are on.

The existing system where a field in the status bar reports the Current layer when no objects are selected and the object layer when a selection is made fails to provide the requested functionality because (1) the field does not display long and/or nested layer names completely and (2) it says Varies when objects on different layers are selected.

So far so good. I agree that it would be beneficial to be able to quickly see what layer an object is on.

But then you write:

More specifically:
As I select an object, to see the layer immediately and turn it off is what I want

Turning that layer off involves clicking on the light bulb icon in the layer row, which in turn will move ‘Identifier nr 2’ to this layer, again making you lose your allocation layer. How would you solve that?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Remember, it’s very easy to request a feature and you might even have a pretty good idea how it would work. Implementation something else entirely. The devil is in the details …

Personally I don’t use the blue highlight of a row in the layer dialog so I would be OK with using that to indicate selected items.


Just to chime in here. Here is an example of how the blue highlight feature is helpful:

You’ve got curves that you’re going to fill with hatching on layer A. This layer is set for non-print so that the hatching doesn’t have a line around it. You want your hatching to be generated on layer B which has the print width set to default so that it will, of course, print. So you make layer B current, but set your cursor on layer A (which turns blue) and right click on it / choose select objects. This highlights the curves in Layer A which make up the perimeter of the hatching. You then run the hatching command which sets the hatching in layer B.

@steve1 @dale @wim @BrianM

(Wim Dekeyser) #9

That I do by calling SelLayer.
Also, I don’t quite see why it is useful to have the blue highlighting in this particular case. It will turn blue when you click on it…

(Andrew le Bihan) #10

What you are asking for is that selection in th layer list follows selected objects’ layers. This would break existing functionality and other people’s workflows. You would no longer be able to noun-verb select - for example if you want to switch a specific object to the selected layer, right now you can select the layer, select the object and the change object layer.

It sounds to me like what you need is a fully functional layer panel that only shows the layers of the selected objects.

Or, specific tools to do what you want. You are making the mistake of thinking that your workflow is the only possible one and that the changes would benefit everyone.


Not aware of asking for the first.
Retaining ‘layer last touched highlight’ is a nice to have…ok so as to not make things difficult, I am willing to lose that luxury, I’ll get the note pad out,the biggest need comes first…

I just need to see the layer light up, or a spot show, just something, to show me IN PALETTE VIEW, the layer a selected object resides on

Thats all…pleeeeeeeeese.

Freehand does it
Illustrator does it.
I am lost without it, as are other posters.

It truly is taking hours looking at one palette then trying to find the layer in another. A whole bunch of different reasons I need it.

To have it do that solves all these, I dont want to have to remember a whole bunch of different functions

another example, I want to turn my datums into dashed lines, I have a variety of datum layers for different reasons, I select a datum, see the layer IMMEDIATELY and can choose lineweight, thickness and alter colour if need be, in seconds.

I have some odd lines, I wonder where are they from, I may need them on or off, I select one of them, see layers, decide if needed and sort it there and then !

Personally I don’t use the blue highlight of a row in the layer dialog
so I would be OK with using that to indicate selected items.

One example of using it, I have dimensions in different greens denoting which plans they came from, I find later on I have drawn some with the wrong layer ticked, I select one I want those to go to the layer of, that layer (if wish was granted) would show up, aha there you are, note its location, select the dimensions and allocate to that layer (yes its lost its highlight, but now its back as I click it and allocate those dims to it, then I spot some more, easy now, that layer is still highlighted, and as i spot even more, I use that highlighted last used layer in that way, but I am willing to lose that if coding makes it impossible to have it both ways. To have an option to have it one way or the other in properties to keep folk happy either way would keep everyone happy.

The devil is in the details …

Maybe despite the progs mentioned above having it, its beyond McNeel coders or a 3D prog is a different world and cant have that coded in.

How about right click an item, from options that then appear, choose highlight object layer.

like a spot appears, someone said Adobe do that. That way last used layers remains highlighted,

New request then, if it breaks free of issues a highlighted layer would cause…we have a column with a spot that appears., or maybe the layers text goes bold.

Is it that folk disagree that its useful to see what layer an object is on , in a one stage instant way ?

What you are asking for is that selection in the layer list follows selected objects’ layers.
lost me there !
You would no longer be able to noun-verb select
even more so lost.

I just want to select an object and have its layer get indicated…in some way…the method I shall leave to McNeel !

I suggest a spot that appears, and layer autoscrolls to it, saves losing folk the last used layer highlight.

I cant believe I am alone in finding this invaluable.

Start a survey thread maybe and find out…or resign myself to losing what amounts to many hrs each day with this.


(Andrew le Bihan) #12


Please try to engage in the discussion rather than just repeating the same thing over and over. It’s very important - especially so from our point of view at McNeel because we’re trying to determine the exact fix that would best solve these problems. We absolutely understand that there is a problem here. The question is not that we disagree. It is “what it the correct solution”.

As you said “the method I shall leave to McNeel !” - however, that’s not our way. We want to understand the true nature of the problem before we do anything at all.

Let’s be clear - you are not asking for “dots”. You are asking for much more than that - in particular:

  1. You want the “dot” to be immediately visible. That will involve potentially expanding the layer tree’s “+” marks so that a nested layer becomes visible.

  2. You want the layer tree to scroll to the “dot”. What happens if the dots are at opposite ends of the list? Do we just scroll to the first one?

  3. You want the layer list returned to the state it was in prior to object selection - presumably with the nested layers that were opened, closed.

2 & 3 are going to cause a massive performance hit. BTW.

Is this correct?

  • Andy

(Andrew le Bihan) #13

A much more important question to answer is this:

What is the end result that you want most of the time? Do you want to hide the layers that the objects are on? Do you want to delete the layers?

If we could solve 90% of the problem for you, would you pay $900 :wink:

  • Andy

(Wim Dekeyser) #14

Excuse me?
I find that a rather worrying statement…


Personally I’d hate to have the layer list jumping all around and definitely don’t need the feature described. The current layers tools are excellent for keeping a well-managed model.

The screenshot is an audit of the file I’ working on at present, normally complex with wires, surfaces, solids, 2d geometry all co-existing in an orderly fashion. Probably a third of the layers in this file are empty and used as folders and the structure is organised and alphabetically ordered so a layer can be found very quickly.

I’m not so sure there is a problem here and if something along the lines discussed is implemented, please make it optional.

Steve, while you wait for your wishes, dock the V4 properties panel beside the layers panel and organise you layers with care, it’s ridiculus to be wasting the hours you mention with such a fine set of tools available already, sounds like you just need to learn how to use them.

(Dale Fugier) #16

Hi Steve,

If the layer did this automatically, would this provide any benefit to you?

– Dale

(Pascal Golay) #17




Pascal…MatchObjectLayer says unknown command in V5


Excuse me?
I find that a rather worrying statement…

I dont understand your reply here and sorry if I caused some kind of offence…you had said

It just now dawns on me that you want 3 different types of
’identifiers’. One is the check mark in the Current column (with bold
typeface in the Name column),

I simply dont recall asking for anything to do with the check mark, I really dont.
I dont know how else to say that the check mark doesnt feature in my request, I looked through my posts but dont see mention of it anywhere.

How should I have said that ?..


Personally I’d hate to have the layer list jumping all around and definitely don’t need the feature described

Ok I’ll drop that idea.

I’ll also drop the idea of it requiring expansion of trees.

I’ll drop any idea that causes any performance hit.

I will start taking notes on why I reach for such a ‘selected object sees layer indicator appear’

I shall then list them, if there is an alternative tool for each reason then I shall go with that.

Bear with me whilst I see what all my reasons are. I know a few now but its best if I list them all.

If I have twenty different uses for my request, having one fix is easier than having to remember a different fix method for each one.

Quicker to have one screwdriver with twenty different heads for twenty different screws I am working with than twenty different tools in a bag buried amongst a load of other tools.

I wish my projects were simple like the layer palette shown. Its the nature of my subject that it requires many many layers, 20x what was shown there.

Layers for:-
raster plans, I may have 30 in a project, each has a layer with its file name and to enable me to turn it on and off, or have more than one on, and have them translucent.
Aircraft sub type datums.
Station lines
Annotation dots
Contributed work has these but coming on on autocad named layers and I wish to keep these separate from my work.
different aircraft models datums, one layer per sub type.
cutting objects, 1 or 2 layers
sweep rails and profiles
construction lines
Dimension location lines
surfaces (1 or 2 layers, 1 for lofted, 1 for sweep, should I later decide on which one is better for my needs)
Dimensions from different plans, I need to be able to turn each set on or off, so each has its own layer and shade of green.
points and lines from photogrammetry. one layer per import.
sub layers for different parts of this as to have 160 points all showing is a mess !
surface through Photogrammetry points
different objects each have different layers.( each frame, each different structure, )
Surfaces kept separate to curves that created them.
Custom Cplane creation surfaces, each has a layer.
Object centrelines
Object points (aerofoil sections are first drawn with points, I need to have these off when aerofoil visible.
Annotation text and leaders.

I use layers to give colour to objects to help find them in the layers palette quickly.

I import a drawing from an autocad friend and he has allocated colours not visible in the layers. He will have several different coloured objects all on one layer. I have to select each object, go to properties, find the name of the layer, then find it in my layer palette, takes ages. I can look at my drawing and if its a purple longeron, look for longeron layer coloured purple. I do this either because I want to select his objects of that type and change their colour, or to turn them off or to clone them or to work with them in some way. No good using selCol as he has others I dont want also in the same colour. He uses just three or four colours for the entire subject.

His skins and objects separate layers.

I have sub layers set up so that e.g. all tail skins and their sweep rails and profiles sit in a layer called tail.
I have an area of the palette marked out with a dead layer dividers, #######subtype M below here ####### where all layers for a certain subtype sit between two of these.

If I need certain lines to stand out for client screen share or printouts I need to alter line thickness so they need their own layer. Yes I could alter line thickness by using properties but then I would have to be sure I have all these objects selected, else selecting one only sees that one curve go thicker in lineweight, if they are on a layer i simply alter layer lineweight and they all go thicker as required.

It is all very ordered.



For me I don’t find the status bar layer indicator that useful because 1) it’s almost on the diametrically opposite side of the screen and 2) it’s not wide enough (I often use nested sub-layers to stay organized, then the name gets cut off). Of course everyone uses the software differently, but personally I haven’t found layers in the status bar useful thus far. I do have Layers tab stacked on the Object Properties tab as many others do, but nevertheless it doesn’t feel to me the natural place to look when I’m working with layers (and a bit cluttered for just trying to get one piece of information).

Maybe something like this mockup.:

I’ve inserted a little status line between the layer commands bar (not sure what it’s called) and layer columns. There’s a little button to the left (greyed out checkmark) to make the current object’s layer displayed in the status bar current (or right click to merely highlight the layer).

What I do like about the current status bar object layer indicator is that when I have nested layers collapsed in the layers window, changing layers in the status bar doesn’t expand them or mess up my layout. That would be a nice feature to hang onto.
My mockup shows the object name as well.

Note for some reason I have an extrusion on my curves layer - what kind of organization is that?



Typo, it’s ‘MatchLayer’ which is one of several very useful match features, see the autocomplete at the command line when you start typing match.

Steve, if you are still looking for a quick way to ID layernames, this may be of use to you. If you open these V5 scripts in Notepad and copy and paste onto a button (one each to left and right), then the layername of the object picked shows in the PopUp as illustrated. Use at your own risk but it works a treat.

LayerShortNameID.rvb (1012 Bytes)

LayerLongNameID.rvb (608 Bytes)