Have you worked with standard layer naming convention? If you have, you probably get irritated to have so many layers in your AutoCAD drawings. It is more difficult to find layers, more clicks to freeze/unfreeze, or even changing the properties. Imagine that you can have dozens or even more than one hundred layers in your AutoCAD files!
If you have that problem, there is an AutoCAD feature that you can use. You can simplify the list and change the properties quite easily. You can use AutoCAD layer filter and group filter. Let us see how we can use them.
If you are not familiar with standard layer naming, you might want to see this AIA naming convention.
Layer property filter
The good thing about layer naming convention is we can define search criteria by their properties. In AIA standards, we give prefix such as A- for architecture drawing, S- for structural, C- for civil, and so on. So if we want to see Architecture layers only, it is very easy to filter them.
Now let us try to open AutoCAD layer manager. The left column will show you available filters. By default, you will see two available: all and all used layers. If you click all used layers, then you will see only layers containing objects. The unused will be filtered out. All will show you all layers in the drawing.
Now let’s say we want to see only architecture layers. It is easy to filter them, because the layers started with prefix A.
Click new properties filter, it’s the left most button in red rectangle at image below. AutoCAD will open layer filter properties dialog box.
In this dialog, you can define which layers should be included in the list. In this example, we are going to give a simple criteria: all layers with prefix A. You can give wildcards (*) so AutoCAD will only include layers that have the characters. Because all architecture layers started with A-, you can add A* or A-* to match all architecture layers criteria.
See the filter preview to see if your search criteria is right.
Click OK to save this filter. Now make sure the layer filter selected, and you see only architecture layers in the layer list. Now in layer toolbar (or layer panel if you use ribbon) you will see only layers that met that criteria.
This allows you to see only layers you are using at your current task, and hides all others that you don’t need.
Sub Properties Filter
Still not enough? The layers are still too many for you? You can filter the layers further by adding more search criteria. Right click on the layer properties filter, then select new properties filter from contextual menu.
You need to use contextual menu to define the selected filter as the parent filter. If you click properties filter button, it will create parent level.
Now when AutoCAD open filter criteria, you will see only layers from it’s parent filter: architecture layers. Now you don’t have to worry about the prefix. In this sample, I give criteria *Flor* in layer name. If there are other layers similar to that name in structural layers with prefix S-, you don’t have to worry about them. They will not be included here.
Changing Layer Properties in Filter
After your layers grouped with filters, you can quickly change all layers properties that match filter criteria. If you want to freeze, lock, or thaw layers, simply right click and choose the option you want in context menu.
Layer Group Filter
Layer group filter is similar with layer filter, but you don’t define the layer criteria. You select the layers you want. You can do it by dragging the layers from the list to the layer group filter. Or you can right click above the group and choose select layers>add from contextual menu.
I prefer layer filter, but I believe layer group can be useful. Sometimes you need to group layers from different disciplines, or different objects, that can’t be defined by search criteria.
Layer Filter and Template
If you have defined layers standard in your template, then you would want to have these layer filters in every new drawings you create. You might have already guessed: yes, you need to define them in your AutoCAD drawing template.