Multi-layer selection workgroup

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Revision as of 14:40, 10 October 2015 by Jehan (talk) (Use Cases)
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Feature requests:


Current layer list has always exactly 1 layer selected. In particular it is not possible to select multiple layers. This workgroup proposes to extend the current behavior to allow multi-layer selection.

Use Cases

  • [DELETE] When deleting many layers at once, you have to select one of the layer to be deleted and click "Delete this layer" button, select the next layer to be deleted, then click the button again, and so on.

It could be interesting to multi-select several layers at once in an easy way, then click the delete button once.

  • [MOVE] When moving several layers at once, a common process would be to drag and drop the said layers one by one. Once again, a drag and drop would apply to all selected layers at once.
- Move also refers to placing a multi-selection into a group as well?)
- Yes, moving means as well position change in the list of layers, as well as moving in or out of a layer group. Jehan 10:09, 10 October 2015 (EDT)
  • [MASK] Possibly adding a layer mask to all of the selected layers at once (initialize to the same mask?) + delete mask.
  • [FILTER] Run a layer operation on multiple layers, including preview (e.g. Curves, or van gogh)
  • [TEXT] change the font on multiple text layers at the same time?
  • [PAINT] painting occurs on the selected (active) layer; what happens when you use a paint tool if multiple layers are active?
- About this point, consensus on IRC seems to be that painting should occur only on a single layer, hence a concept of the active layer != selected layers (the active layer being the "main selection", likely the last clicked layer).
  • [GROUP] Make a new layer group from the selected layers. Where does the layer group go if the layers were not contiguous, e.g. you select layers 3, 5, 6, 7, 23 out of 100? Perhaps it goes where the most recently selected layer was, so it's most likely to be visible?


This work group will have to determine exactly what should be "massively doable" and not. For instance, can we lock pixel/transformation/alpha channel for all selected layers at once?

What about the right click menu: can we add/remove alpha channel/layer mask on all selected layers?

Can we change visibility/chain to all selected layers at once?

We can edit only one layer at once. What happens with multi-selection? Do we forbid pixel edition when several layers are selected? Do we consider one layer as "primary" (the first or last selected?) and only the primary layer is edited? If so, there will need to be a visual cue to distinguish the primary selection from the rest.


"Selection" is usually a really easy discoverable feature because people are very much used to selection in various software. In particular file managers, but not only. You know you can select not only with a click, but often by clicking and drawing a square, or with shift-click (select all from last selection), ctrl-click (select/unselect without losing previous selection), or shift-ctrl-click (select all from last selection without losing previous selection). And when multi-selection is possible, it is also usually expected many features to apply on all selection at once (moving, copying, deleting, right-click menu…).


An alternative proposal (bug 755972) is to consider chained layers as multi-selected layers (hence moving a chained layer would move all other chained layers at once for instance). Does it make sense or should both concept be kept well separated?

Maybe a layer dialogue context-menu option, "Move all chained layers here" would solve the primary use cases and avoid the difficult questions of multi-layer filtering, painting, plugins, etc?