Layers panel explored

Next in the series of Panel explorations we have the "Layer" panel. It is probably one of the most used panels in the application.

The whole concept of layers is just brilliant when the document has to be organized and different applications have different ways of handling it. Photoshop being the a hugely popular one explains the need for it. In Fireworks the layers behave a bit differently. Fireworks application works at the object level meaning that any attribute which is applied to the layer like a blend mode or the opacity is actually applied to all the objects which are contained within that layer.

The above mentioned difference is huge in understanding how Fireworks handles all the objects and the layers containing them.


Layers panel explored


In the above shown panel image, I have tried to highlight some of the functionality of the panel. Apart from that the other detail features are mentioned below.

  1. The Layers panel menu can be accessed now from right click on a layer. This is the same menu list which appears on click from the icon on the top right. There is just one exception in a menu item for "Share Layer to All Pages" in the right click menu.
  2. The layers panel can contain optional master page layers if the document contains a master page. The master page layer by default sits at the bottom in the hierarchy order. The order can be changed but all the individual layers of the master page will be moved together and not independently.
  3. The master page layer are locked in child pages and cannot be renamed or unlocked from there. If the visibility is toggled, the affect is seen on all the pages containing the master page layers.
  4. When the blend mode or the opacity values are changed for a layer, it is actually applied to all the objects contained within that layer.
  5. Layers can moved around and converted from sub layers to parent layers or vice versa.
  6. The visual feedback for layer movement is when the folder icon changes color to a yellowish icon color.
  7. All web layers and master page layers are shared to all the states by default and cannot be toggled. This is represented by the film strip icon which is seen at the end of layer name. Other kind of layers can also be shared but not by default. This functionality can be toggled for the other layers
  8. Layers can also be shared across pages, which is represented by the page icon next to the layer name. Any change in the layer attribute like visibility, lock etc are reflected in all the pages where the layer is shared.
  9. The shared layer can be detached from the current layer with/without a local copy.
  10. Even web layers can be shared across pages. In the above graphic, "Web Layer" cannot be shared but layer "Web Layer 1" can be shared. sub layers cannot be shared. The top most parent has to be shared in entirety for the layer contents to be visible across pages.
  11. The last column in the panel representing a circle with a dot in it allows for the movement of selected objects from one layer to the other. In case there are no objects selected in the layer, the circle will be empty otherwise it will show a dot. Moving this dot to any other layer/sublayer will allow for the movement of selected objects onto the destination layer.

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One Response to Layers panel explored

  1. As powerful and important as the Layers Panel is I find it extremely frustrating when trying to drag/move layers around in it. The layers never go where I want them to and usually end up in the wrong group folder or don’t move at all.The usability of this was terrible in CS3 and I was hoping that it would be much better with CS4 but alas no. Fireworks definitely needs to take a chapter out of Photoshop’s “Layers Panel” book.