How to Work with Layers in Diagram

The elements can be organized in layers that can be moved, hidden or otherwise restricted.

Diagram content can be split into several layers. Layers allow you to hide and show the chosen details.

Layers tab in the sidebar contains a toolbar with these buttons:

  • Add Layer – adds a new layer
  • Delete Layer – deletes the active (selected) layer
  • Show/Hide Layer – shows the selected layer if it is hidden or hides it if it is displayed
  • Enable/Disable Layer – elements of a disabled layer are visible but they cannot be selected or moved.
  • Lock/Unlock Layer – elements of a locked layer are visible, can be selected and edited but they cannot be moved.
  • Merge All Layers – merges all layers into a single layer
  • Move Up Layer – moves up the selected layer
  • Move Down Layer – moves down the selected layer

Ribbon - Diagram Tab / Layers Group

Layers Group offers actions for handling the layers in the active diagram. Each diagram can consist of several layers, which are rendered one by one. Each layer can contain elements. The layer can be hidden, locked or deleted. So you can manipulate many relative elements at once.

Add Layer - Adds a new layer into the active diagram.

Layers - Shows a list of layers of the active diagram. It allows you to activate another layer.

Hide Layer - Hides the active layer in the active diagram.

Delete Layer - Deletes the active layer in the active diagram.

Merge Layers - Merges all layers in the active diagram to a single layer.

Show All Layers - Makes visible all layers in the active diagram.

Context Menu

If you right-click on an item in the list of layers, the context menu will show up. It offers the following options:

  • Rename
  • Move Up
  • Move Down
  • Show/Hide
  • Locked
  • Enabled
  • Delete

Working with Layers

Working with Layers
Working with Layers

Add Elements into Layer

If you want to add elements into a layer, select a layer (click on its name in the list of layers). All elements, you add into a diagram will be placed in the active (selected) layer.

Move Elements into Another Layer

You can mouse selected elements to another layer. Right-click on a selected element to show the context menu, click on 'Move to Layer' menu item which opens a submenu with all layers in the current diagram. Clicking on a layer menu item moves the selected element(s) to the chosen layer.

Rename Layer

Each layer has its name. The first layer of a diagram (each diagram must have at least one layer) is named Default. Other layers are named Layer2, Layer3 ... etc. You may rename the layer to any name you want, the name which will better correspond its content. To rename the layer, select it and press F2. Alternatively, you may right-click on the layer item in the list and choose Rename from the shown context menu.


Paul deAnguera 3 April 2020 20:45:03

Layers and send to back

I am trying to draw a detailed dataflow diagram with a border representing the process I'm detailing; data stores outside the border are also used elsewhere, while those inside are not (Gane and Sarsen notation). In Photoshop Elements a lower layer is depicted behind a higher layer, so a shape can enclose other shapes without covering them. How can I do this here? I also tried "Send to back" with a rounded rectangle but it has no effect.

Dusan Rodina - 4 April 2020 11:05:52

RE: Layers and send to back

The elements are added to the active layer. You have to select the active layer in the Layers sidebar clicking on it. All elements you will add to the diagram canvas will be added to the active layer. The layers are rendered as follows: the last layer in the list (in the Layers sidebar) is rendered first, the first layer is rendered last. If you want to move elements from a layer to another one, select them, right-click on one of select elements and choose Move To Layer / Target Layer.

Send to Back and Bring to Front work only within a layer and cannot move an element to another layer.

Paul de Anguera 4 April 2020 23:47:08

RE: Layers and send to back

I figured out that a good strategy is to put the enclosing rounded rectangle in its own layer, and move this layer behind the default layer that contains the rest of the diagram. This way I can make the enclosure invisible with the eyeball layer tool when I'm working on the rest of the diagram. I have to keep track of which layer is the current one, or objects I draw disappear from view.

Ralph Reinhold 14 March 2012 7:25:47

Example of Layers in Use

I read your instructions, but I have no idea of the actual use of a layer. I assume that you could use them in a variety of ways. For example, one could do a use case and then break down the bubbles into activity diagrams. However, I don't know how best to use layers to create workable code. An example would be very useful.

Dusan Rodina - 14 March 2012 14:47:42

RE: Example of Layers in Use

I will add an example soon.

Layers allow to work with many levels of details in a single diagram. They allow to show/hide only some parts of the diagram. In the current version, source code generator does not take into account the layers, they are used only in visual manner.

Ralph Reinhold 22 March 2012 10:45:35

RE: RE: Example of Layers in Use

I had the impression it was a way of nesting lower levels. If I'm doing an activity diagram where each Activity represents the roll up of lower level activities, do I handle the lower levels as separate projects rather than layers?

Dusan Rodina - 22 March 2012 14:53:29

RE: RE: RE: Example of Layers in Use

You can associate an activity diagram from the same project (right-click on the activity/Add Existing Diagram) or you can associate a new diagram (right-click on the activity/Add New Diagram). Then the activity will be linked with this diagram and you can navigate to this diagram each time you double-click on this activity.

I can add linking to other projects in one of next versions.

Ralph Reinhold 22 March 2012 15:34:04

RE: RE: RE: RE: Example of Layers in Use

Thanks. That's exactly what I was looking for.

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