Wish: object "current" indicator on layer panel

I know this is similar to HighlightObjectLayers, but it would be really nice to have a passive way of seeing what layer an object is on just by selecting the layer, without running a command or clicking anything. My specific use case:

  • I have a set of nested layers and sublayers
  • I duplicate layer and objects (and sublayers and their objects), i.e. to create an alternate configuration of similar objects
  • The topmost layer now has “- Copy” appended to the name, but all the sublayers retain their names

At this point in the workflow, the layer name displayed in the properties panel is ambiguous, since it doesn’t specify which of the higher-level layers it’s within. Here’s the layer tree as revealed by HighlightObjectLayers:

And here’s what the properties panel shows:

In this case, “Layer 07” could refer to either of the two Layer 07’s, and it’s not clear which one my object belongs to. I think a little dot indicator in the Layers panel (maybe all the way on the left side, left of the drop down carets?) to show what layer the currently selected object(s) is (/are) on would be hugely helpful.

A good comp is the way Adobe Illustrator does it – it’s obvious at a glance which layer your selection is on, even if the layer tree is collapsed (the colored rectangles on the right side):

image image

1 Like

Hi Sam -

There is such passive way. The object’s layer with hierarchy is indicated in the layer field on the status bar.

On the bottom of the screen, you mean? Doesn’t really help. Here’s what that shows in my current model:

Here’s the actual hierarchy – in this example, the layer “people gallery” (which I could figure out by the “g” shown before the name gets cut off) exists on several of the layout versions shown in the full hierarchy, here. It’d be nice to know just by selecting an object which of those versions the object belongs to.


@samface I’d color code each layer set. You can select multiple layers and once and set their color in one go. A bit more work would be to add a prefix or suffix to each sublayer, a script could maybe do that work for you as well.

I mean… yeah, that’s a workaround, another would be to obsessively rename each layer so it’s unique and shorter than the 8 characters that fit in the status bar… but workarounds don’t address the root problems that
a) the status bar’s representation of current layer is fundamentally unhelpful,
b) the properties panel reveals nothing about hierarchy, and
c) the layer panel doesn’t provide any info on where the current selection lies

Workarounds notwithstanding, I thought this was worth a post because it seems like there’s already the capacity to do something like this – HighlightObjectLayers – so I thought the low-hanging fruit would be to just invoke that behavior/command every time any new object(s) is (are) selected, perhaps as a toggleable option in settings in case there are users for whom maintaining a consistent layer selection is important.

Hi Sam - if you have the screen space, look at Settings > Advanced >StatusBarLayerPaneWidth. Set that to say 3. Close the current window and open a new one to see the wider pane.


I’d like to chime in to second this wish. It follows the same logic as the material palette; you know how when you select an object, a small indicator lets you know at a glance what material is used. Perhaps the layer text simply changes color.

Here’s how it’s done with a modeler I no longer use:

Hi @samface,

If you put your mouse over the status bar layer pane, you’ll see a tooltip that shows the full path to the current layer.

The notification panel (on the far right of the status bar) will also show the current layer. You can turn off all the other noise if that’s all you want to see.

– Dale

So one thing thats related (and driving me nuts) is this business of the right click menu on layers (which i use constantly to move stuff to a different layer, as due to the current layer (even with the check being moved to the left column not standing out enough to be noticed) not being where I wanted it to land), is screwy.

Most of the time it end up in layer rename mode vs the context menu dropping like it did in R7 and prior.

Granted there’s times when I do want to rename the layer but thats far more infrequent than the uses of the context menu.

Maybe rather than always having to fight the context vs rename layer you make rename layer a context menu item and as a result just get rid of the conflict completely?

It’d save a whole lot of distraction, errant clicking to make the rename edit go away, and inadvertant renaming of the layer when it wasn’t the intended action.

Thanks Dale. The tooltip is helpful, but finicky and slow – finding the spot to hover with the mouse and waiting for the tooltip to appear is a lot slower than typing an alias for HighlightObjectLayers. It also, more importantly, doesn’t work for multiple objects on different layers – the tip just says “Varies.”

The “notification” panel is interesting, I didn’t know that was modifiable. That’s definitely the most helpful thing so far – is there a way to show more than one of those options at the same time? I.e. instead of having it cycle between things?

Still, though, even that requires a great deal of reading and parsing instead of just glancing at the layers panel, which I always already have open, and which is much more visually comprehensible.

It also just reverts to “Varies” if the objects are on multiple layers.