Desperate plea yet again for selected object sees its layer highlighted

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.

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Hi Steve,

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

– Dale



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?


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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)

I, also, see room for improvement with Layers and the interface cues given to a user. A number of current methods seem a bit clumsy and dated. Sure, meticulous organization is a great goal (as is seven helpings of fruits and veggies per day!) but the heat of battle is not always pretty and there sometimes is some collateral damage despite best intentions. :slight_smile:

Here’s a partial list of items that might benefit from some massaging (admittedly, some of these may be MacRhino only since that’s where I’m spending the majority of my time these days):

  1. What Layer? - Mods: Agreed on the benefit to more easily see what layer something is on when selected. Lots of ideas listed here, but I do like @rhinouserx mockup. Taking this one step further, clicking on the displayed layer name could either take you to that layer or activate it, as desired.

  2. What Layer? - Popup: Another (less useful but possibly easier to implement?) alternative to Item 1, is that if one selects an item and hovers on it, a delayed tag could display the layer name (and total layer string, if nested). Could even select an item then immediately force the delayed tag to show up by holding down Option, or something, rather than waiting. Maybe even permit right-clicking to make this layer active? (Which might be possible to do now by customizing?)

  3. Highlighting: The current Layer name highlight methods (bright and dim) is confusing. New users inevitably (and understandably) think the bright highlight means the layer is Active since most other programs use a similar method—but this is not the case. Then there is the dim highlight. Why does the last layer that one has clicked on in the list remain with a dim highlight while modeling? It may not be Active, or even be displayed, yet the user is “told” that this layer means something; thus, this seems to be useless information at best. Is there some functionality for the dim highlight that I’m missing?

  4. Hidden ObjectsWould very much like to know if objects are Hidden on any given layer when looking at the layer list. Adding a clickable option in the Layer list to Show hidden objects on a layer and/or Show all Hidden objects (on all layers) would be great. It’s super easy to hide something while working, then move onto another layer without then Showing them, then forgetting. This can trip up any user working with lots of content and layers, but when sharing files with others this can be… well, bad.

  5. Copy/Paste: Copy/Paste is a bit odd in that one can’t paste into a layer that is selected (meaning highlighted, but not active). Rather, pasting goes into the Active layer. This can confound people used to other a number of other programs. Alternatively (or in addition to) Adobe’s system (which they may have patented?) is simple in that one can drag a little dot to the desire layer to move the selected contents. Option key duplicates the content and puts it in another layer. Nice.

  6. ** BIGGEST WISH:** The ability to have layer sets: I can’t recall if this is possible in WinRhino (and can’t check right now since my Windows partition recently decided to go on vacation) but I’m constantly hunting down (usually the same) layers to turn them on and off while working. Nesting layers helps a little, but then one is always clicking lightbulbs on and off. It would be really, really nice to have layer sets populated with desired layers displayed as one wants. This would be no different than Named Views and Named Cplanes—in a perfect worlds, a variety of predetermined layers and their state could be chosen at the click of a button. VERY useful while working, but INDISPENSABLE for presentations! Yes, Named Layers sounds a bit odd, thus, this convention might be a little better using the word “Saved” instead of “Named”?. (e.g. Saved Views, Saved CPlanes, Saved Layers).

Am enjoying all the ideas on this from others and thanks to RMA for being interested in this topic (and improvements in general)!


I completely agree. @DigiFabLab I think those are all good practical suggestions. [quote=“DigiFabLab, post:21, topic:8249”]
Sure, meticulous organization is a great goal.
I like to think I am meticulously organized and I find Rhino unnecessarily laborious in this regard. A little caveat here, I’ve only been using Rhino since the new year. When one transitions to new software, one should attempt to learn the new software’s native workflow. I’m doing my best and I have some way to go. Thankfully we have these forums and Google to help us.

Nevertheless for me, the key feature Rhino has yet to implement is a unified interface to select and organize objects by name from a text list. I’ve seen a other posts about it. Depending upon the profession/ segment and the way one uses Rhino, this may or may not be an issue for individual users. But for me it is. The method for picking objects in Rhino can be slow. I’m not quite at BrianM’s number of layers and objects but my current project is at about 250 layers and 1200 objects. I’ve looked around in the forums and I have not found a way to speed up my workflow better than selecting objects from list. As an analogy, using just layers without being able to see and select the names of the objects within the layer is bit like using Windows Explorer but only having the navigation pain without being able to see the files in the folder.

Having an Object Lister (Alias)/ Outliner (Maya)/ Explorer (XSI)/ Scene Explorer type of functionality would be a huge time saver for the work I’m doing. I’m hijacking the thread a bit here, but perhaps the addition of even a basic Outliner type of functionality would make some of the other issues in the thread moot and provide benefit for many users.

PS, Just to keep you from having to pop up a new window (from the linked post above):

Hi Dave -
LayerStateManager may get you what you want here.


Earlier in the beta cycle I suggested that layer management and the layer state be combined in one panel along with the properties of selected objects instead of two panels or three panels.
However Layers are an archaic form of management left over from ye olde Cad days.
They do have their use but I don’t see how highlighting layers when an object is selected is going to solve the dilemma maybe it does for Steve1?.

Instead I would welcome a better and faster and more complete properties or scene manager where many more object properties and selection options are exposed both for selection and for editing. For example Box edit is another panel why is that not included within object properties and why are the details of an object/s another click and why all the verbose information in details when that could be left to the What command.

I lobbied for combing many more of the panels that are similar in one place so that we could more easily do and manage things.

Selecting objects needs to be worked on and Steve1 and others bring up many good points but highlighting a layer for me or worse many layers just seems confusing especially since there are also layout space layers wow what a complex state of affairs.

I would prefer better reporting at the command line. It sucks that properties panel is so slow and uses so much resource and doesn’t even show the details of an object that’s an extra click. One example if you select a group it doesn’t even report at the command line you selected a group instead it gives an object tally and it does suck you don’t know which layers they are on, the varies thing is just a joke and annoys me every time I see that. But I don’t see how having all those layers selected is going to help it because in a groups example your still going to have to wonder which layer is that line on.

My ultimate wish is for a Rhino spreadsheet environment where I can combine and do all of the above and combine it all with formulas and other things like Block management, boms and object selecting and properties. This could be docked full size on another screen and would be an interface to everything Rhino like layout space is for drawings.



Hi Roland,

These are all good points and indeed it’s inevitable that the structure and setup of “scene” management will need to be overhauled at some time in the future.

I just hope that at McNeel there is a thinking that allows for these type of drastic changes in paradigms. If not; it will mean their product will slowly become more and more archaic, and getting surpassed by newcomers.

The patching up can only go so far.



Thanks, Pascal…. LayerStateManager is not yet implemented in MacRhino. Look forward to trying this out either in a future MacRhino release (or once I get my Windows side back up and running).


@dale - any thoughts or comments on this one??



Don’t forget this thread:

At that time I wasn’t fond of the idea of using tags but perhaps times are changing…

One could think that, in addition to the user assigning one or many tags, Rhino also assigned tags automatically for object type (line, curve, surface, polysrf, solid).

The Tag Manager window could have 3 fields (rows): the current tag that is assigned to new objects, all tags that are assigned to the currently selected objects, and tags available for use.

@4dsynergy Roland, even filtering through a spreadsheet environment is mentioned here :wink:

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BrianM, thanks indeed for the scripts, as you say they work a treat!!


I use that function a lot, let me explain how I use it, having just done so I recall you wondering …so here is an example…

I am creating objects and having them go onto a layer I have as ticked, I then create a dimension which needs to be on a different layer, after messing about in Object Properties and finding out where it is in the palette, I select that layer and allocate the dimension to that layer, I carry on making objects and they still go to the layer I have ticked, I then create another dimension to assist me and again it must go to the same layer the last dimension went to, THAT LAYER IS STILL INDICATED TO ME, HAVING MANAGED TO FIND IT AMIDST MY HUNDREDS OF LAYERS, it makes that process of dims to one layer and objects to another easy, as the tick looks after itself, the dims go to that layer but I quickly re-allocate them to the highlighetd layer…speed !!!


Thanks for this, Steve. Makes sense, but it seems like there may be better ways to achieve the same speed without this sort of visual confusion caused by the dim highlight.

One idea might be a “Move to Recent Layer Selected” kind of command. This kind of command (accessible by hotkey / Right-click) could give a short list of recent layers used, defaulting to the last. Could be slick!

Also, been thinking about the “tags” idea, and on the surface there are probably a number of benefits. One of which is that it would also work for your process.

Another possible improvement for visually navigating complex layer lists might be the ability to assign colored text or a colored highlight to the text of the layer name. Could match the layer color or be totally different. The layers could then optionally be sorted by things like ROYGBIV display (or other methods) or one could pick just one color to filter the layers viewed.

This way, common layers like dims, guides, curves, etc, could be easily identified with an assigned color for each type, but live on a number of different layers while still displaying in different colors in the drawing if desired. Consider this idea a sort of “visual tagging” method, I suppose.


Hi Wim,
I remember that post. I don’t know about the tag thing yet I have to see it working or a better example. Filtering in a spread sheet doesn’t need to rely on tags if the objects themselves are spreadsheet aware. But tags could be good, I’d have to try them to really see.

Hi Willem,
Yes me too, I think McNeel can and will. I kind of think of GH as good start on what a spreadsheet type of environment for Rhino would be. Only because GH is a kind of spread sheet instead of cells you link components. I would like something similar to GH. Where all object properties of the file could be exposed and modified and interacted with. Add a physics engine and scan and solve you could do amazing things easily, When I say easily maybe a little more user friendly less geeky than GH something for the entire Rhino community not just specialists. For instance easy boms, sun studies, object modification, object selection and organization, etc. would be quick and easy.

Yes please, these are features I used for years in [Maya][1] and I miss having the speed associated with selecting objects and making changes in addition to Layers.