Layer Groups? Smashing Idea!

I’ve dreamed of this, and many have asked for it. Layer Groups for InDesign. DTP Tools has released a new plug-in for InDesign CS and CS2 that adds a new “Layer Groups” palette, and ushers in even more organization power for my documents.

I don’t know how many InDesign users over the years have asked about grouping layers in ways like Photoshop or Illustrator. Each time I’ve had to say “No, not now. But oh how I hope that one day…” I’ve given the plug-in a brief whirl and it seems to fit the bill. You get a new palette with some nice new features including setting everything in the layer to non-printing in one fell swoop. But then I started wondering.

What happens when my beautiful document with layer groups gets opened on a machine without the plug-in? I decided to write to DTP Tools and find out.

Wow! Within an hour I had my answer back.

Robert Goldwein sent the following:

it’s not a problem at all. If document with Layer Groups (LG) is opened in InDesign (ID) without this plug-in, all grouped layers are displayed as regular layers, correctly ordered. When such document is opened again in ID with LG, all is correctly grouped again (grouping data are persistent), if there are any changes in ordering, or there are new/deleted layers, it’s reflected in the tree structure.

Also, in the original Layers panel, you can see how layers would appear in ID without LG.

This sounds wonderful. In my limited testing two things have come to my attention, neither critical at all.

1) If a group is the top-most item in the Layer Group palette, dragging a layer above the group is difficult. To solve this I a new layer with the new layer button in either of the layer-related palettes. Now it’s easier to drag a layer above the group.

2) The feature for turning everything in a layer to non-printing is only found as one of the layer options in this new Layer Group palette. You have to select the layer in the Layer Group palette and then either use the flyout menu on the palette or double-click on the layer to open the options for the layer. Now you’ll see a checkbox to set the layer to non-printing.

I’m pretty impressed for a short test drive. Check it out.

DTP Tools Layer Groups