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  5. 5. Organize the Project

5. Organize the Project

The structure of a HighDesign project
Topics in this section
  • Layers
    Setting up the layers used in the project.
  • The Project Browser (SE/Pro)
    Using the Project Browser panel.
  • Drafting Sheets (SE/Pro)
    What is a drafting sheet and how to use its properties.
  • Details (Pro)
    Add detail areas to create detailed views of your drawings.
  • Layouts (Pro)
    Use layouts to present the project.

A project is a complex set of drawings, symbols, views, details and documentation elements such as annotations, tags, dimensions and non graphic information. All these elements need to be organized and arranged in a convenient way. Layers, Drafting Sheets and Details allow to manage the project effectively.


A layer is a concept used in CAD and design programs to conveniently group elements in a logical way. As its name implies, this concept derives from the use of overlaid semitransparent papers in manual drafting. As in manual drafting, layers are used in HighDesign to organize a complex drawing into different component parts, but, differently from real layers, each CAD layer has its own properties. 

Decomposing a drawing into its components is one of the most important operations in computer design. Any object, even the most complex, can only be analyzed by separating its elements in logical groups, applying criteria that depend on the object nature and on the designer goal. 

Any element of a drawing in HighDesign belongs to a layer: there is no restriction on what types of objects you can assign to a layer. You are free to group different elements together in the most convenient way to you or according to the drawing standard you are following. 

HighDesign layers have the following properties:  

  • Name. Layers are identified by their name;  
  • Visibility. A layer can be visible or invisible. Items belonging to a visible layer are redrawn to screen, are printable and selectable; invisible layers are not printed. 
  • Lock. Layers can be locked to make their items not selectable.
  • Color. Layers can have a default 32 bit color. If the byLayer option is on (you can change it by opening the “Colors” pop-up menu in the Properties bar and selecting “byLayer”), any new item gets the color of its layer.
  • Opacity. Controls the overall opacity at which the objects on that layer are displayed.
  • Drawing tool binding. You can create a binding between a drawing tool and a layer so that, every time you activate that tool, the layer is set automatically. To enable this option, click the corresponding check box. The Tool column on the main table will become active. Click the icon on a row to select a tool or method to associate with that layer.

Quick Layer Management 

The layers of the project are listed on the Layers menu of the Properties Bar: select the desired layer by a click to update the current default or to change the layer of the selection. 

The name of the current layer or of the layer of the selection is shown on the menu.

  • The Layers menu displays the main functions to manage layers: you can switch to other layers, show or hide layers, lock some layers and access the Layers Manager to create and arrange new layers. 
  • The commands on the upper section of the menu allow to create new layers, open the Layers pane of the Resource Manager window and switch layer masking on and off. 
  • You can mask the layers of a project so that only the current layer is visible and editable. Masking is a switch on/off command, and as long as the mask is active, changing the current layer will automatically hide the other layers. Once masking is switched off, the other layers return to the original visibility they had before the command.
  • Layers are document based and are only available to the project you created them for.
  • In addition to the pop-up menu, you can manage project layers with the Layers panel, available under the Window menu, or with the Resource Manager. 

Project Browser  (SE/Pro) 

The Project Browser shows a logical hierarchy for all the Drafting Sheets of the project and also lists Details and Layouts which are special sheets used to present the project. By using this panel you can quickly create, rename and delete sheets, change their visibility, protection, optional size and scale attributes.

To create a new sheet, click the New Sheet button (+) and modify its name. By default, new sheets are created with the current drawing scale and units. You can change the units and scale of a sheet by double-clicking it on this window. 

To arrange a sheet, drag it to the new position: the table order corresponds to the actual display order, where the topmost visible sheet is the first item of the list. 

You can control how the sheets are displayed on screen by clicking the Opacity button. There are three states: all sheets equally visible, the current sheet displayed normally and the others dimmed, or only the current sheet visible. 

Utility Buttons 

The Project Browser panel provides several buttons on the footer of the window to quickly access functions and set options.

  • New sheet: adds a new sheet at the top of the list; new sheets have a default progressive name which can be changed by double-click.
  • Delete selected sheet: all objects of the current sheet can be moved to another one or deleted. 
  • Action menu. The action menu lists the commands to manage sheets as in the Project menu, apart from those specific to the selected objects of the drawing, and the commands to change the visibility status of all sheets in relation to the current one.
  • Display modes: All Visible, Dim Others, or Hide Others.

Drafting Sheets (SE/Pro)

As it is in manual drafting, a project is made of different sheets, each with its own page size, drawing scale and units, depending on the part of the project it represents. HighDesign provides an intuitive way of handling projects by introducing the concept of “Drafting Sheets.” 

  • A Drafting Sheet in HighDesign has special attributes such as visibility, write-protection, etc., that make it a convenient way of organizing a project: you can, for instance, put a different drawing on each sheet or use a sheet for the main drawing and draw sections on additional sheets. 
  • A HighDesign project, either for architecture, engineering or design, is thus made up of several drawings contained in a single document. 
  • The ability to show or hide sheets, transparency and write protection allows you to compose a complex project even in a single layout. 

The following are some of the properties and advantages sheets provide: 

  • Independent drawing scale and optional paper size of the current sheet; 
  • Independent drawing units;
  • Write protection and display mode (visible, hidden and dimmed);
  • You can search and select items on a single sheet or on all sheets; 
  • Visible sheets can be merged into one; 
  • You can create and delete any number of sheets;
  • The print functions only prints the visible sheets;
  • A sheet can be saved as a new document;
  • Sheets can be reordered and renamed; two or more sheets can share the same name; 

Drafting Sheets are managed through the Project Browser Panel of the Sidebar and via the Project menu, which provide all the commands to create, rename, delete and reorder sheets, move and duplicate items across sheets, show and hide, etc. 

Drafting Sheet Properties

From left to right, the properties of a drafting sheet accessible through the Project Browser are: 

  • Visibility, on or off;
  • Optional Paper Size: double-click the page icon or use the Object Info panel to change the paper size of the current sheet;
  • Name: double-click to rename the selected sheet; 
  • Sheet Protection: click to switch; protected sheets are visible but are invisible to the snap; 
  • Drawing scale and units: click to open the units and scale menu. 

Details (Pro)

Detail Sheets are specialized drafting sheets used to add detailed views of the project. This class of sheets allows a better organization of the project by separating the drawing sheets, where the project is, from the other drawings that complement the main design. Details are typically “extracted” from a larger design and include additional elements and information, usually at a larger scale.

There are two methods for creating a detail sheet: by detail area and as an independent detail.

To create a detail sheet by a detail area:

  1. Go to the drafting sheet where the desired drawing is and create a detail area on the part of the drawing from which the detail is going to be generated.
  2. Select the detail area, click the drop-down triangle next to the area’s title and choose New Detail by Selected Area.
  1. In the dialog, enter the name of the detail sheet and define its scale and units. The Show Texts switch controls the visibility of texts, dimensions and other annotations in the detail. All these options can also be set later in the Object Info panel.

The new detail sheet by default shows the drawing contained in the source area. This is called “underlay” and it can be toggled on and off and displayed at the desired opacity. The underlay serves as a reference for further drawing and automatically updates whenever the original drawing is changed. The objects that are visible on the underlay can be snapped, but cannot be selected.

To create a new detail sheet as an independent detail:

  1. On the Project Browser, click the plus (+) icon on the Details group heading or choose Project > New Independent Detail…
  2. Define the sheet’s properties in the pop-up dialog.
  3. Independent details are not linked to a detail area and show no underlay.

Detail sheets support a sub-set of the drawing tools: you can use sketching and documentation tools, but design tools as Walls or Windows are not available.

In linked details, the underlay can be exploded and turned into a group for editing and further transformations: to explode the underlay use the menu item Project > Explode Underlay.

The Object Info panel provides the main information and the options of the current Detail. Details do not have the Paper Size option. To add a detail to a layout, create a viewport on the layout and choose the detail as source sheet for that viewport.

Once a detail area is linked to a detail sheet, it becomes a Callout. Callouts have an additional marker that contains information about the detail:

  • the upper half shows the identification number of the linked detail sheet.
  • the lower half shows the layout identification number where that detail has been placed as a viewport.

When the detail area is selected, you can click either of the labels in the callout mark to go directly to the linked sheet.

Further information about detail areas is available on the chapter Annotate the Project.

Layouts (Pro)

Layouts are special sheets used to display the various drawings of the project. Think of layouts as the presentation sheets that are going to be published and shown to the client.

Layouts are always at 1:1 scale, can contain their own drawings and annotations, such as tables and text blocks, and can display drawings taken from the main design inside scaled windows called viewports.

By using layouts, you can separate the model, that is the actual project you are working on, from its representation. More information about layouts is at the chapter Present the Project with Layouts.

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