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The Layers panel has gotten a welcome makeover in CS5. I'm going to open up the Layers panel; I'm in the advanced workspace. At first glance it doesn't look much different. You see the same top-level layers. This document happens to have three layers: text, pictures, page furniture. But what is different is that if you reveal these layers, you'll see that they have sublayers just like in an Adobe Illustrator. Every single object that you put on the layout gets its own entry in the Layers panel now.
So let's say that I just drag out a square, because I'm on the text layer we see the little selection dot that indicates the text layer's active, and if I twirl open the text layer, I can see the selection dot next to the actual sublayer that this object is on. So you can call them object layers or sublayers. Notice that InDesign automatically names them with some sort of generic name, but you can easily rename these. You just click on the sublayer once, pause, and then click on it again to put it into editing mode, and we'll just call this box.
So any sublayer that is surrounded by braces are layers that InDesign automatically named. Now if something is in a group, then you'll see that it gets its own disclosure triangle. So there is a group somewhere on this text layer. If I twirl it open, you can see it's made up of a text frame and a path. Now how can I tell which group this is? Well I can work the other way. Rather than selecting something in the layout and seeing which selection dot gets highlighted in the Layers panel, I can now click on a selection dot in the Layers panel, like group, and see what gets selected in the layout. This is fantastic for when you're trying to make a tiny selection in a crowded layout, or an individual item in a group.
Say that I just wanted to edit the path of this group, I can just click on path, and only the path is highlighted. Let's say you select this hansel & petal group right here. I can see that it's on the text layer and it's a group. I can twirl it open and there is a petal and hansel. So if I click hansel, oh that's the text frame containing word hansel, and that's the one containing the word petal. So you see text frames InDesign names according to the first few words in text frame itself. There's also a group within this group with a whole bunch of paths. So if I click it, I can see this little illustration is part of it.
So there's no getting away from the fact that every single item that you create on a layout gets its own sublayer, or object layer within the Layers panel What's a little disconcerting for new users is that the Layers panel changes based on which spread you have active. If you think about, it does make sense, but it is strange because up until now, anything that was in the Layers panel is document-wide, right? It is still true that the top level layers will remain the same regardless of which spread is active.
So if I go to say the second spread in this document, and I open up the Layers panel, we still have the same layers. But if I open up the picture layer you see that the sublayers are all completely different. This spread has a lot of pictures of beautiful flowers and so we have the names of the actual jpegs here instead. So that's just something that you'll quickly get used to. Now because every item gets its own sublayer, they're very handy for doing things like individually locking or hiding a single item. Say for example that I want to lock this flower. I can select it to identify which one it is in the Layers panel, and then click the lock square to lock this object. I didn't have to lock the entire layer; I can just lock a single object.
It's the same thing as if I'd gone up to the object layer and chosen Lock. Or the same thing is, if I want to hide it. So I can hide the item by just clicking on the Visibility column in Layers panel. I don't have to hide the entire layer. So I'm going to make that visible and unlock it. I'd recommend that you rename certain items that you're going to be referring to a lot. For example, let's say that I'm going to be referring to this text frame a lot, I'm going to need to find it quickly in the Layers panel. So I'm going to open up the text layer that it's in and I can see it's named automatically according to the text. If I change this tax, if I double-clicked on this first word and typed in my name, and then tabbed out of that, or clicked something else, and then selected it again, you can see that InDesign automatically renamed it.
So if you actually give it a custom name, if I call this Camellia descrip, and then I go ahead and change some of the text here, like I'll call this Joe, and then select it again, it doesn't change. I find this is especially useful for things like groups. Let me scroll back up to the first spread and notice that as soon as I click in here to make it active, everything changes here. For example of this group right here, I might want to rename from just group to cover title, and so on.
Another great thing about having every object exist in its own layer is that it makes it really easy to do things like change the stacking order of items. Say, for example I have this flower illustration, that is grouped in the pictures layer, and what I would like to do is I'd like to place it, let me drag it over here, and zoom in. I want to arrange it so that it is still behind the URL, but it is in front of the word petal. So it's very easy to do so, just via the Layers panel. I select the cover title group to see where it is; that's where it is.
I select the URL and it's up there. So I just know that I need to move my group, which I'll take the opportunity to rename to blue flower. I need to drag it so it's in between cover title and the URL. Right, anywhere in between here. As soon as I do that the stacking order has changed to match exactly what I wanted. So the all-new Layers panel in InDesign CS5 adds a lot of features that make life a lot easier when working in InDesign and brings it up to par with Illustrator and Photoshop.
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