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Why does selecting an object sometimes not make its layer active?

Community Beginner ,
Apr 13, 2023 Apr 13, 2023

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I've noticed that selecting a single object using the selection tools sometimes activates the layer that the object is on (i.e. the layer becomes highlighted in the layers panel, and the little triangle appears in the top right corner). But sometimes it doesn't change the active layer, and I can't work out why.

 

Does anyone understand Illustrator's logic behind this? I haven't been able to find any discussion on it.

 

Why is this important? Because I've created some automated actions that perform operations on the selected path and the active layer. If these are out of sync (i.e. one object is selected, but a different layer is highlighed in the layers panel), the actions cause unexpected results, and that's an easy thing to get wrong when Illustrator doesn't appear to be behaving consistently.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 13, 2023 Apr 13, 2023

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And why is there no ‘Edit’ button on these forums so I can correct my sloppy ‘it's’ typo in the subject? 😄

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Community Expert ,
Apr 13, 2023 Apr 13, 2023

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Kalmor,

 

Owing to misuse by some for various bad reasons, the ability to edit posts requires a certain level of paticipation/earned trust.

 

 

Edit: I rely heavily on the ability to edit (ranging from typos to elaborations/additions, my record being 13 edits of one post which ended up as the basis for a new feature suggestion).

 

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 13, 2023 Apr 13, 2023

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Thanks for explaining. Not sure how editing my post (within the first few minutes of posting) would be any more dangerous than posting in the first place, but there you go. 🙂

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Community Expert ,
Apr 13, 2023 Apr 13, 2023

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Please show screenshots. Is this about main layers or sublayers?

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 13, 2023 Apr 13, 2023

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The issue is that the main layer isn't getting activated (sometimes). Screenshot attached, showing that I have selected a single object on layer 'Level plan', but the active layer is still 'Floor plan'.

 

Layers screenshot.png

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Community Expert ,
Apr 14, 2023 Apr 14, 2023

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Ahh, I think I understand this; it flummoxed me in the beginning. 

 

The blue highlight of the layer Floor Plan means you clicked on it in the Layers Palette. However, your actual active layer is the one with the little red dot to the right of the layer. 

 

The blue highlight doesn't move with the layer when you click on shapes on the canvas, unlike we are used to with Photoshop. It's those little coloured squares at the side you watch for, and also the circles which mean the layer is "targeted".  Here's the Help article about layers in Illustrator.

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Community Expert ,
Apr 14, 2023 Apr 14, 2023

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Yes, the highlight of the layer and the selection on an object are 2 different things. But still the layer should get highlighted when you select an object on it. I tried that and the highlight went from layer to layer while selecting. I can highlight a different layer while an object is selected, but the other wa round the layer highlight always went with the object selection.

 

But maybe that works differently when selecting via script.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 16, 2023 Apr 16, 2023

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As Monika says, I think the highlight is supposed to move when you click on a single object in a different layer, and that's how it normally happens for me. I'm just scratching my head trying to work out why it doesn't happen sometimes.

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Community Expert ,
Apr 13, 2023 Apr 13, 2023

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Could you supply specific information as to how often and under what circumstances this behavior is happening? Is it only on certain documents? When it happens does it happen consistently or is the occurance of this completely random? I could not duplicate it using version 27.1.1 on a Mac running Monterey.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 14, 2023 Apr 14, 2023

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It seems to happens randomly, and on different files. I am running various actions in my current workflow which lock and unlock layers, deselect objects, etc—they're the only slightly unusual circumstances I can think of.

 

So I guess the expected behaviour is that selecting a single object always activates the parent layer? I probably should have labelled this one a bug report then.

 

Illustrator version 27.4 here on macOS Ventura.

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Community Expert ,
Apr 14, 2023 Apr 14, 2023

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I can confirm that it happens sometimes. I don't remember the specific reasons right now, but I seem to remember that it is even reproducible in certain situations.

 

However, can you perhaps share one of the actions that may fail if it happens? There are ways to force-highlight the desired layer as part of the action.

 

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 16, 2023 Apr 16, 2023

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I tested the actions in a new file with very simple layers and objects, and I couldn't reproduce the issue, so it's not the actions alone. Then I tested them in a new file from the AI template file I'm using, and this time I could reproduce the issue. But then I tried with the template again, and I couldn't reproduce it. Aren't these kinds of issues just the most fun to troubleshoot? 🫤

 

It seems that Illustrator sometimes gets into a weird kind of state, where selecting different objects will not change the active layer, no matter how many times you try. I've found that I can snap it out of this state by manually selecting a layer in the layer panel, and from there it will start behaving itself. (Deselecting all layers however does not snap it out of that state.) That's about my only insight into this issue.

 

So folks, at this point, I'm calling it an intermittent bug. I can't really afford to spend any more time trying to make sense of it. Is there any way to change this thread into a bug report, or should I just make a new post?

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Community Expert ,
Apr 17, 2023 Apr 17, 2023

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Kalmor,

 

You can report it here, with a link to this conversation,

https://illustrator.uservoice.com/forums/601447-illustrator-desktop-bugs

 

This is the main uservoice page for both bugs and features,

https://illustrator.uservoice.com/

 

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