Visio Guy

Visio Discussions => Visio 2525 Feature Requests => Topic started by: meyco on July 30, 2014, 02:17:02 PM

Title: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: meyco on July 30, 2014, 02:17:02 PM
I use Visio to do fairly sophisticated floor plans.  Many of my drawings have close to a hundred layers.  For a three story home, maybe 30 layers per floor.  When I print a set of final drawings, each page consists of a certain variety of layers.  I might have a floor plan for each floor, another set of pages, one per floor showing all electrical components, and another showing just AC components.  I presently have to keep a list of what layers go with each published (printed) page, so that when I make changes, I can reselect the layers that go with that page and preprint the page.  What a hassle.  It would be nice if I could go to a window and select, for instance, "Electrical Plan - First Floor", or "Heating and AC Plan - Second Floor".  It is not practical to create duplicate pages, since there is no way to make changes to one and have it propagate to the other pages.   Everything is drawn on a single page in layers starting with the ground floor and working you way up to the roof.  The drawings are too large to post here, so if anyone is interested, I can post to a webpage and send links to the pages.
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: Yacine on July 30, 2014, 02:34:45 PM
You seem to be using Visio quite professionally.
The first question that arises to me, is why are you using Visio? There are so many specialised architecture softwares out there.
One could certainly write some layer handling utility, but how much effort is it worth?
Just a first thought, may be you could send some more explanations.
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: wapperdude on July 30, 2014, 09:55:13 PM
It does seem as Visio is not the most appropriate tool, but, be that as it may, I think what you're saying is the following:
  Each page represents a specific function:
      Page1:  floor plan > layer1=1st floor, layer2=2nd floor, etc.
      Page2:  electrical > layer1=1st floor outlets, etc
      Page3:  plumbing > blah, blah, blah

Then, if you want 2nd floor info, you'd choose layer2 for all pages, and print that out.  Some layer2's might be blank, e.g., no plumbing.

So, that being true, what you'd like is then a list from which you can select specific layer on a specific page in your drawing.  Correct?

Should be able to do this in a macro, or in shapesheet for each page.  The attached file does the latter.  It uses the action section of the page to control the layer visibility for that page.  Right click on the page to bring up the context menu to select desired layer.  Probably not the best solution as you need to edit each page.

Perhaps someone else will offer a more robust VBA solution.

HTH
Wapperdude
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: meyco on July 31, 2014, 10:32:17 AM
On the contrary; Visio is perfect for what I do.  I have used AutoCAD, and I have participated in the design of several main frame and mini-computer "Smart" CAD apps before the PC even existed.  By "Smart", I mean the ability to draw a part and have a computer (main frame) automatically convert that into a paper punch tape that ran the machines that made the parts.  But I never liked AutoCAD, and I ultimately locked on to Visio, starting with version 1.  Of all the CAD apps I have used, except for 3-D, I prefer Visio because of its simplicity, robust capabilities, and versatility.  It's also integrated with Microsoft Office, so it's perfect for proposals.   I've been doing mechanical and electrical engineering, computer systems design, and architectural drawings for about 50 years.  Admittedly, however, it's too late for me to turn back, or take on something new.
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: wapperdude on July 31, 2014, 10:49:51 AM
Sorry if the comments came across negatively.  The suggestions were intended to find a more optimal solution for your needs and to ease the amount of effort you have to spend on getting Visio "tuned" to your tasks.  AutoCAD was not the type of program in mind, but, rather, some of the home / business architect programs that are geared specifically for room and building design.  You clearly realize the scope of such efforts as witnessed by the many pages and layers you incorporate in your drawings. So, just trying to ease your pain.

Anyway, have you had a chance to explorer the shapesheet solution offered?   

Wapperdude
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: meyco on July 31, 2014, 11:33:52 AM
I think I need to clarify what I am calling a "page".  There are "Visio" pages, aka the tabs across the bottom of the document screen, and there are the resulting pages that I print that are based on numerous combinations of selected layers on a single Visio tab.  Yes, my document has many tabs, but each of my tabs may contain as many as 745-100 layers. When developing architectural and engineering drawings, I start with a basic outline at the bottom and start adding layers.  All of the layers are related to each other, but when all the layers are all turned on it is difficult to see "through" the drawing to the bottom layer. 

Here is a three story home with 85 layers, all of them turned on:

http://www.meyco.com/Visio/SM140704%207507%20Floor%20Plan%20(All%20Layers%20On).pdf

Here's the same tab with about 40 layers turned on.  This is what I used for marketing the home:

http://www.meyco.com/Visio/SM140704%207507%20Floor%20Plan%20-%20Composite.pdf

And here's the same tab with just those layers related to the third floor:

http://www.meyco.com/Visio/SM140704%207507%20Floor%20Plan%20-%20Third%20Floor.pdf

By turning on a specific set of layers, I can produce a framing plan for each floor.  But as I said originally, it is nearly impossible to remember which layers were used to produce a published (printed) set of drawings.  What I need is the ability to assign layers in a particular tab to one or more groups and give each group a name.  Then when I want to work on the third floor electric, I can click on that group and turn on all the layers related to that subject or published page.

Here are two more examples of a home with all layers on, and with just the HVAC layers on.

http://www.meyco.com/Visio/FM130407%203736%20E%2043rd%20St%20Floor%20Plan.pdf
http://www.meyco.com/Visio/FM130122%203736%20E%2043rd%20St%20Floor%20Plan%20-%20HVAC.pdf

And here is a 27 page drawing with mechanical, electrical, civil, and landscape in it.  In this case there are 27 tabs, each representing a page to itself, and each with only about 5 or 6 layers:

http://www.meyco.com/Visio/SR101115%20RT31%20Front%20Gate%20Design%20(27-Pages).pdf
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: meyco on July 31, 2014, 12:16:52 PM
wapperdude,

Didn't intend to criticize your reply, but wanted to give you a little information on my background.  I have tried one or two CAD programs designed specifically for architecture, and haven't come across anything I really liked.  There are dedicated apps for everything, but my work is so diversified, I need something like Visio which does it all, and I don't want to have time to remember how to use multiple programs, especially at my age.   

I didn't get the attachment with your original reply.  My intention was to stir up Microsoft to make some changes and improvements, assuming Microsoft continues to develop Visio as a viable application.  Another thing that would be helpful would be the ability to have different scales applied to different layers or groups of items on a page.

Here's a couple of other applications if I have used Visio for where the ability to scale multiple views on a single page (tab) would be nice:

http://www.meyco.com/Visio/EP080723%20Computer%20Telcom%20System%20Proposal.pdf
http://www.meyco.com/Visio/TL040818%20Structured%20Wiring%20Plan%20(7-Pages).pdf
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: wapperdude on July 31, 2014, 02:11:59 PM
Those have to be some of the most detailed, thorough drawings I've seen.  Very impressive.  Yes, I can see why you don't want to move away from Visio, and, why other programs may not do everything that you need.

I looked at my 1st response, and the attachment seems to be there.  But, after looking at your drawings, and reading your more in depth description, not sure that it offers a really viable solution.

If you still want to access it, and cannot see it (you have to be logged in), then I'll re-upload the file.

Again, very nice work!

Wapperdude
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: Yacine on July 31, 2014, 04:31:25 PM
I definitely do agree with Wapperdude. How the hell do you manage to get those drawings up to date?
How long does it take to draw them?
Chapeau!

As for your request, we'll certainly be able to help to a certain amount ... but not this evening anymore.
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: meyco on July 31, 2014, 10:31:56 PM
Yacine,

If you are referring to the architectural plans, keeping them up to date is easy because everything is drawn under a single tab in layers.  The problem of course, is selecting the required layers to print the various pages.   Have no idea how long it took to do the three story unit, but I'm guessing 200 hours spread out over several months.  I'm thinking 400 hours on that one, maybe more.  When I am on a roll, I work 12-15 hour days.  Also, I have created a mountain of shapes and templates, which is the whole key to CAD productivity.  However, I can still draw about as fast by hand, but of course I can't do repeat shapes and templates.  In the old days, we could cut and paste on sepia paper using templates that were run off on a Xerox machine.  I also developed a method of doing manufacturing drawings where standard drawings were produced with a set of instructions (text), were attached explaining how to modify the item on the standard drawing.  The instruction page started with the words "same as except" and might include a sketch of the modification or item on the standard drawing that needed to be changed or replaced.   Today, we just copy the standard drawing, edit it, and give it a new drawing number and file name.
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: Yacine on August 01, 2014, 12:30:07 AM
I'm thinking, that such a layer management system my require some additional columns. eg: Layers by task, document purpose, elevation, audience, time, ... etc.
May be even a hierarchy.
Setting up groups would then consist of gathering elements from several categories.
Would you mind uploading an empty vsd, so we can figure out what kind of structure the layers may need?
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: Jumpy on August 01, 2014, 09:48:13 AM
I think one of the things Visio has, that most CAD programms lag, is the easy way to customize it with VBA or an AddOn.
And that is imho the only "easy" way I see, to improve your "working conditions".

If you don't have (security) problems with using VBA you could create a stencil with your custom VBA macros. Then you can link in that stencil to every drawing and template, you want to have that code in and you are ready to go.

There could be a "layer snapshot" macro, that saves all currently visible/printable layers under a certain name the user can input.
Such information could be stored in ShapeSheet cells of the current page or the document.
There could further be a custom user form, that shows a list of all "snapshots", and eventuall applies the visibility status of the saved layers of a selected snapshot.
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: meyco on August 01, 2014, 06:48:06 PM
A Layer "Snapshot" sounds good.  I'm thinking something simpler, like a "Save As" and a "Recall" button on the Layer management screen.  In either case, the popup window would include a list of saved items to select from (if any), and the buttons "Save", "Delete", "Open" and "New".   Something along those lines.  I'm new here.  I haven't any macro or vba talent.  Is Microsoft still supporting this product?
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: Yacine on August 02, 2014, 04:26:35 AM
Hi Meyco,
I enclose a simple proof of concept demonstrating how layers can could be switched.
The solution lacks any automation as I was not sure what the best solution could be in matters of usebility.
You mentioned being hapy with snapshots of settings.
I wonder however if it would not be better to categorize the layers.
There could be categories like "craftmanship" (plumbery, electrical, masonry, IT, etc.); "purpose" (annotations, printing, dimensioning, etc.); "location" (cellar, levels, garden, ...)
The advantage of such categories would be to limit the number of combinations. Instead of setting up a layer "heating installation in bedroom #2", you'd chose "heating" and "bedroom #2". The shapes would however need to be allocated to several layers.

Next question that arises is wheter everything needs to be in Visio, or if the layer organisation (management) could be done outside in Excel or Access.

Furthermore one should think about the possibility to erase a layer. What is to happen to the shapes allocated to this layer?

... just some thoughts on a lazy saturday morning.
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: Yacine on August 02, 2014, 01:17:48 PM
Did you realise that bath1 has no door? Must be some secret room.  ;D
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: meyco on August 03, 2014, 09:21:21 AM
Tub lifts up exposing trap door in floor. ;D
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: Yacine on August 03, 2014, 02:33:58 PM
Would be nice to have a real world layers remote control. My house would have only one room and the furniture would be switched on and off.  8)
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: meyco on August 03, 2014, 10:47:31 PM
 I like it.
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: Yacine on August 05, 2014, 12:17:17 PM
Hi Meyco,
you haven't commented my upload. Did you have difficulties with it?
Title: Re: Ability to assign layers to layer groups..
Post by: Jumpy on August 06, 2014, 04:40:31 AM
Would be nice to have a real world layers remote control. My house would have only one room and the furniture would be switched on and off.  8)

Ever seen Star Trek Next Generation? The Holodeck?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodeck