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Having spent the week slogging over a project which contains an obscene number of layers (and trying to work as fast as I can), I'm wondering why AD doesn't have a search-bar on  the Layers Panel and also why duplicated (⌘-J) elements and groups don't have their names automatically highlighted (so they can be instantly renamed). Actually, the fact that copied elements and groups (⌘-J) retain the same name as the original can be really problematic in complex projects. They could at least maybe append ____copy1, ____copy2 etc.

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Just guessing, but a search feature would not be very useful unless most layers were named, & many users do not name them, so maybe that is why they haven't considered implementing it. Same thing for groups & duplicates -- unless users have already named them, they only have a layer type property (like "Pixel" or "Group") but no name.

The auto-highlighting idea sounds like a good one, but since only one layer at a time can be renamed there might be some logistical or usage problems to work out for things like power duplicate.

BTW, Pixelmator Pro has an automatic layer naming feature powered by their machine learning ("ML") engine. It has been 'trained' on 20 million photos to recognize many kinds of content & name the layer accordingly. It sounds like a really cool feature but in practice it isn't very helpful & of course it only works on photo or photo-like bitmap images. The "ML Enhance" feature works reasonably well -- basically, a 'smart' inpainting brush -- but like the Affinity Inpainting Brush it can still take a lot of trial & error to get good looking results.


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I think it's good working practice to name elements, groups layers etc. It was one of the first things I was taught. I'm afraid upwards of a thousand elements named 'curve' just won't fly in my work. This is particularly the case when they are sometimes nested several layers deep. Add to this that in-window selection in AD falls to pieces the deeper an object is nested and that Adobe Photoshop has had the layer search facility for quite a while now.

The layer name idea could be implemented in a way where it only highlights when single elements were duplicated. Alternatively, it could allow for several areas of highlighted text to be entered at the same time. This multi cursor facility is fairly common in modern code editors. Ideally, this would allow you to give all the sub-elements the same name and then group them. Unfortunatly, When you create a new group it's name is also not highlighted. Perhaps, when defining a new name for multiple elements, an incremental number suffix could be automatically added. 

Of course, this would remove focus from the actual element and this might not be very popular with designers who work in a less regimented way. Then again, is there any reason why AD couldn't maintain focus on two elements at the same time and respond based on the input? Who knows...?

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3 hours ago, Simon Degay said:

I think it's good working practice to name elements, groups layers etc.

To some extent so do I, but it would be tedious & a waste of time to have to name every or even most items. Consider for instance a vector illustration of a cartoon character. The face might have a number of eyelash, wrinkle, & other facial detail layers. Clothing like shirts, blouses, pants, & dresses could have various layers for shadow & wrinkle effects; shoes a number of them for laces; & so on. There is no way I'm going to name every eyelash, wrinkle, lace, etc. layer, nor would I find it useful to do so.

4 hours ago, Simon Degay said:

The layer name idea could be implemented in a way where it only highlights when single elements were duplicated. Alternatively, it could allow for several areas of highlighted text to be entered at the same time. This multi cursor facility is fairly common in modern code editors.

I am not familiar with any editor with a 'multi-cursor' feature that would allow entering text in more than one selected item at a time. Are you maybe thinking of a find & replace feature that supports regular expressions, or something like that?

4 hours ago, Simon Degay said:

Of course, this would remove focus from the actual element and this might not be very popular with designers who work in a less regimented way. Then again, is there any reason why AD couldn't maintain focus on two elements at the same time and respond based on the input?

How could the app tell if a keypress input is intended to trigger a keyboard shortcut like to switch tools or to enter a text character in a highlighted layer name field? Keyboard keys often have different functions depending on the current UI focus, like when the focus is on the workspace for the cursor key nudge feature or for the character keys when in text entry mode in Frame or Artistic text layers.

I am reasonably sure there is no way to implement a GUI that can somehow place the focus on more than one element at a time. Every input has to target something specific that is unambiguously defined; otherwise the results would be unpredictable.


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6 hours ago, R C-R said:

I am not familiar with any editor with a 'multi-cursor' feature that would allow entering text in more than one selected item at a time. Are you maybe thinking of a find & replace feature that supports regular expressions, or something like that?

mcursor.thumb.gif.2eb5f596edf6bd63e8bbc5a33a8ca675.gif

mcursor2.gif.43c6ee83411081a2e0b21e83e7777ddf.gif

mcursor3.gif.fa71f3da922da5f64df3ca55acb97597.gif


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SublimeText?

The weird thing is that coming out of Sublime or PHP Storm, I can't get my head around Pages or Grammarly not having multiple cursors lol.
It's bit like coming to terms with the fact that my mouth doesn't have ⌘-Z

 

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@R C-R
I think it would be a mistake to underestimate the leaps and bounds in which technology is becoming 'aware'. Video games alone have accelerated the need for artificial intelligence, and the Gboard on my iPhone is eerily accurate in its ability to 'know' what I want to say. Sometimes I barely need to touch the keyboard.

I see a future where software will not only be able to work with input, but also predict our intent. Apps will be able to learn, predict and adapt themselves to our individual ways of working. 

I dream of a time when I can become totally detached from the creative process and lay in bed playing Stardew Valley on my iPad while my Mac quietly hums away in a cupboard under the stairs, earning me a living.

 

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1 hour ago, Simon Degay said:

I see a future where software will not only be able to work with input, but also predict our intent.

I'm sure there will be software that will try to do that, but I am not so sure that in the foreseeable future it will be able to do so accurately. Consider the massive amount of data Google collects & the enormous amount of computing power it applies to predicting what we are searching for from ambiguous input, & how often there are dozens or even thousands of results, only some of which are relevant to that.

So even if we allow the software to collect all the needed data, locally or remotely have the required computing power to process it, & can train it to predict what we are trying to do based on what we have done in the past, how can it choose among the different things we have done & pick the right one, or deduce that we are trying to do something we have never done before?


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I foresee the day when the iPad plays "Stardew Valley" by itself,  allowing me to enjoy advanced vegetative state(s). I s'pose the iMac will be busy expending enough energy to counter the expansion of the universe from dark matter, thus causing all of reality to contract into a small shell centered around "yours truly™."

Oh, and in the mean time, it would be really handy if AD could find layers and layer groups by name.


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1 hour ago, gdenby said:

Oh, and in the mean time, it would be really handy if AD could find layers and layer groups by name.

If I have a few documents of several hundred named layers each, it would be even more handy if I could just remember what I have named them. :S


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If you're working as part of a team or just on a large project which is likely to be passed on to other designers/developers in the future, the use of naming conventions is not optional. At the moment I'm working on a building with 37 separate rooms. Each has design elements for custom designed floor coverings, floor graphics, wall colours and graphics, ceiling design and light placement, fixed and unfixed furniture and architectural elements. If you can remember the ridiculous number of elements in a project like this, I look forward to seeing you on the X Factor. 

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1 hour ago, Simon Degay said:

If you're working as part of a team or just on a large project which is likely to be passed on to other designers/developers in the future, the use of naming conventions is not optional.

Even for something like that, does every item in every subgroup really have to have a name?


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No, not at all. But for me, I think having a separate layer/group for each room is a start. After that, I might have a separate layer/group for floor items. Then furniture. Then the reception desk. Then the elements that make up the reception desk.

Design No1 / Reception / Floor / Furniture / Reception Desk / Desk Top / Wood Texture Scan /

Now, the Floor groups/layer are nested in each Room group/layer. An example is that being able to select all the Floor group/layers and lock them would be very useful sometimes rather than have to dig through each Room group/layer individually. Or being about to select all the Wood Texture Scans (no matter where they are or what they are masked into) and edit them simultaneously would be a real advantage. Obviously, Symbols can go some way to achieving this, but they have limitations.

 

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7 minutes ago, Simon Degay said:

No, not at all. But for me, I think having a separate layer/group for each room is a start.

Sure, for design projects that have obvious logical structural hierarchies (or everyone working on those projects can agree to use the same ones), it is useful to structure groups & layers according to those hierarchies, & to name the more important higher level ones. I do that myself. But I do not want to bother with naming everything, or have to come up with unique or descriptive names for every item nested deeply in the hierarchy. I also not infrequently ungroup & regroup things differently at different times while working on a project because there often is not just one structural hierarchy that is the one best suited for everything.

That's why I would not want everything to inherit the name of its parent group, or automatically highlight new or changed items, the latter of which would change the focus to the Layers panel, which in turn would cause most keyboard shortcuts to be applied to the names instead of, for example, switching tools. That's pretty much the deal breaker for me.

This is not to say I don't see the value in some way to mass name or rename selected layers. I am just not sure of the best way to implement it.


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9 hours ago, Simon Degay said:

SublimeText?

The weird thing is that coming out of Sublime or PHP Storm, I can't get my head around Pages or Grammarly not having multiple cursors lol.
It's bit like coming to terms with the fact that my mouth doesn't have ⌘-Z

 

Yes it’s Sublime Text which set a standard with those. Now every serious programming editor or IDE supports these too in the one or other way, some nearly equally good others not on the same fluid level.

And yes once you are used to these you won‘t want to miss them anymore.


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6 minutes ago, v_kyr said:

Now every serious programming editor or IDE supports these too in the one or other way ...

It is the 'one or other way' part that is unclear to me. For graphics editing apps, at the least it should be something that does not disrupt typical workflows.


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I think what you want is something like AutoCAD, which appears to be able to construct drawings from relational databases. One can query a database for something  like "Building01/Floor 1, 5, 7/rooms-toilet/floors/floor covering-tiles/color=green" and do a mass replace. And all of that has to be documented so subsequent users know where the attributes are placed within the structure.

I do wonder if there would be a way to get a simple list of the group/layer names in Designer, and a way to find specific groups within the current layers panel. I'm sloppy about such things. For instance, did I put the group of curves "eyebrows" in "forehead," or "eyes?" The fact that I may have worked on the eyebrows long after either eyes or forehead means now I have to scroll thru maybe hundreds of other layers just to find the group they should be in. 


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9 minutes ago, R C-R said:

It is the 'one or other way' part that is unclear to me. For graphics editing apps, at the least it should be something that does not disrupt typical workflows.

One or other way means some tools support it directly/natively now, other relay on third party plugin implementations etc. Some older tools like Jedit for example do switch edit/select modes here. 

It always depends how you implement it, those who have access to the sources can add it directly, other no open source tools via APIs, plugin interfaces and the like.

Try out Sublime Text and you will see it‘s fluid in workflow.


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2 hours ago, v_kyr said:

Try out Sublime Text and you will see it‘s fluid in workflow.

For its intended purpose, I don't doubt that it is. But according to the web site it is "a sophisticated text editor for code, markup and prose" with its own custom UI toolkit, layout menu options, etc. Its workflows are done in considerably different & more limited working environment than graphics editors, so I have to wonder if it could be adapted to apps like Affinity & remain as fluid as one might like.


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Why not, as indicated before it's more a matter of setting up a fluid use case and implementation then.


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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, v_kyr said:

Why not, as indicated before it's more a matter of setting up a fluid use case and implementation then.

But a dedicated text editor only manipulates text, so it can use as much screen space as it wants for that, have its own set of menus, its own keyboard shortcuts, & so on. Unlike a graphics editor, there is no other context, nothing else that should remain at least as fluid as text manipulation, whatever the use case or implementation.

tl;dr -- the devil is in the details.

EDIT: I was thinking a bit about practical ways to implement this in Affinity without it affecting the fluidity of object creation, painting, filtering, & all the other stuff in typical graphics editor workflows. It is still just a germ of an idea, but what do you think of an additional "Naming" Persona, which could have its own set of keyboard shortcuts, tools, & menus; & use as much of the screen space as it wants without interfering with anything in the other Personas?

Edited by R C-R

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I can imagine different use case scenarios for something like this, it depends on what makes most sense and fits best into the overall general usage flow.


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