I must begin by expressing my sympathies to all of those affected by the tragic events at Virginia Tech yesterday. Working in Richmond, Virginia (about 3 ½ hours from Virginia Tech) a large percentage of our engineering staff are Virginia Tech graduates. Today has been especially hard for them as many are learning old friends, and even old professors were among the group of individuals who sadly paid the ultimate price.

windowslivewriternewfunctionalityofthelayerisolatelayisoc c77ehokie hope thumb1 ***UPDATE (4/18/2007)*** As the news reports have continued to come in, I have recently learned the tragedy at Virginia Tech has touched my firm, Timmons Group, even more. Graduate student, Matt Gwaltney was a phenomenally bright individual who we had made a job offer was among the victims of April 16th. In memory of not only Matt, but all of the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy this Friday (April 20, 2007) has been declared a national “Orange and Maroon Effect” day (click left image for details). Likewise a memorial fund has also been set up. More information on it can be found on the Virginia Tech website. ***


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Introduced as “Bonus Tools’ in Release 14; layer tools such as Layer Isolate (LAYISO) are among the list of favorite commands for countless AutoCAD users. Since AutoCAD 2000 users have come to know the “Bonus” menu under its new name – “Express”. Quite simply the Express Tools are commands that Autodesk is nice enough to include in the software, but does not officially support. From time to time these commands “grow up”, earning their stripes, becoming full-fledged AutoCAD commands. In AutoCAD 2007 our beloved “Layer Tools” were among the commands to get their stripes and become full-fledged AutoCAD commands.

The only real change to the Layer Tools in AutoCAD 2007 was where to find them on the menu. Rather than going to “Express > Layer Tools” we had to go to “Format > Layer Tools”. Of the new features in AutoCAD 2008 is the ability to fade locked layers. Users of the Reference Edit (REFEDIT) command will likely find similarities between it and the new layer fading. Those familiar with the Layer Isolate (LAYISO) command are likely confused because the Layer Isolate command isolates selected layers, turning the remaining layers off?

Well my friend, that statement is true of the Layer Isolate (LAYISO) command in AutoCAD R14 – 2007. By default the AutoCAD 2008 Layer Isolate (LAYISO) command no longer turns off non-selected objects, but rather locks them. Illustrated below is the same drawing with the same layers “isolated”. Notice in the AutoCAD R14-2007 example how non-selected layers are not displayed. The AutoCAD 2008 example looks dramatically different, as the non-selected layers have been locked & faded, not turned off.

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As with other releases of AutoCAD, locked layers can still be snapped to. Surely any CAD user can appreciate the new functionality, although there are times where the old functionality may be favored over the new functionality of the Layer Isolate command. For that very reason Autodesk has kept the legacy functionality in the command, although it is easily overlooked.

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When running the Layer Isolate (LAYISO) command there is now a settings option. In going to the Layer Isolate settings you will be given the option [Off/Lock and Fade]. Specifying “off” will restore the functionality of the Layer Isolate (LAYISO) command to the way it was in AutoCAD R14-2007.

Those who have been using the Layer Isolate (LAYISO) command for years now have likely established the habit of using the Layer On (LAYON) command to turn layers back on. Since the Layer Isolate command now (by default) locks layers, the Layer On (LAYON) command will no longer work in conjunction with the Layer Isolate (LAYISO) command. There is a Layer Un-isolate (LAYUNISO) command that will work regardless of how you have your Layer Isolate command configured.