AutoCAD Layer Translator: Tuesday Tips With Frank

AutoCAD Layer Translator Feature

Layers. They’re one of the most frequently accessed features in AutoCAD. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of tools and settings for them. If your Command Line search options are enabled (and if not, why not?), typing in Layer will return just under 40 entries. Many of them are available from the Layers panel in the Ribbon.

But there’s one that you may not be aware of since it’s not grouped with all the others. It’s called Layer Translator (the actual command name is LAYTRANS), and it’s found in the CAD Standards panel of the Manage tab.

AutoCAD Layer Translate

But when you think about it, it really is the perfect place for it, as it is a powerful CAD Standards management tool. It just that a lot of us aren’t aware of it. I hope to fix that in today’s post.

So, while you might not be familiar with the tool, I’m sure you’re familiar with the scenario where you could use it. Have you ever received a drawing file from an outside source who doesn’t use your layering standard? Or maybe you just have an internal file that for whatever reason has become non-conforming? Of course, you have.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that outside file, in fact it can be used in your current project, but not with those layers! Wouldn’t it be great to be able to say, “I want that layer of theirs to become just like my layer called this”? There’s good news; you can do that with Layer Translator. Let’s see how easy it is.

Clicking on the icon or typing in LAYTRANS will display the following dialog box. Initially only the left “Translate From” box will be filled in. These are the current layers in your drawing. Your first step is to load a file that has all your correct layers in it. This will populate the “Translate To” box on the right. The file selection dialog will give you the option of choosing a drawing file (DWG), a standards file (DWS) or a template file (DWT).

AutoCAD Layer Translator Dialog Box

The second step is to map the layers you want to translate. In the example, we want everything on layer CPU to become our standard layer of A-ANNO-SYMB. Highlight each and click on Map. The mapping info will be listed in the Layer Translation Mappings panel. When you’re done, your third step is to click Translate. Badda bing, you’re done. That was easy.

While we’re here, there’s a couple of other buttons to be aware of. Next to Load, you’ll see New. That will allow you to create a new layer to add to your “Translate To” list.

There’s also a friendly shortcut under “Map.” It’s called “Map same.” This handy button will automatically map any layer it finds that are named the same in both list boxes and add that to your mappings. It comes in pretty handy when you have that maverick in your office that continually changes layer colors to their liking. I’m speaking from experience here.

You can also Edit or Remove any mapping with the buttons below the Mappings box, or if you know you’ll have to do this task again, you can save your mappings into a DWS standards file.

Finally, you do have a lot of control over what gets mapped and how via the Settings dialog. By default, everything but Show Layer Contents when Selected is turned on.

AutoCAD Layer Translator Settings

Wrapping It Up

Unlike the full-blown CAD Standards Manager tool (which may be a post for another day), AutoCAD Layer Translator simply handles the job of mapping non-conforming layers in your drawing to your standards.

So, the next time you need to convert non-standard layers into your own, cruise on over the Manage tab and give LAYTRANS a try. I think you’ll be glad you did.

More Tuesday Tips

Check out our whole Tuesday Tips series for ideas on how to make AutoCAD work for you. Do you have any favorite AutoCAD tips? Tell us in the comments!

Frank Mayfield

Frank has worked in various design and CAD Management roles with AutoCAD and Autodesk software since 1986 (v2.62). He is currently a Design Technology Consultant in Tulsa, OK. He also serves as Vice President on the AUGI Board of Directors and is a member of numerous Autodesk user panels. As a top-rated mentor for trial users of AutoCAD 2018 and AutoCAD LT 2018, he has provided live, real-time guidance and support for over 2,500 new users in more than 50 countries worldwide. He currently serves on the AUGI Board of Directors and is a member of numerous Autodesk user panels.

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