Soft Groups

Ordinary Groups as described in Grouping and un-grouping objects sit on a single layer, they cannot span layers. Soft Groups are an alternative way of linking objects together where the objects can be across several different layers.

Selecting one member of a Soft Group also selects all other members of the same Soft Group – even members that are on invisible or locked layers. This means when you delete, move, rotate or otherwise transform one member of a Soft Group, all the other members are similarly modified.

The status line indicates when a Soft Group is selected.

Soft Groups are useful for keeping closely related objects together. For example the MouseOff and MouseOver states of a web button are Soft Grouped together, so that if one state is moved or transformed, so is the other state.

Creating Soft Groups

To create a Soft Group, select all the objects that are to be included in it and then choose "Arrange > Apply soft group" (or press "Ctrl+Alt+G"). Note that if the Soft Group is to include members on invisible or locked layers, you'll need to make those layers temporarily visible and editable using the Page & Layer Gallery in order to select the objects and Soft Group them.

An object cannot be a member of more than one Soft Group and Soft Groups cannot be nested (soft groups as members of soft groups).

Removing Soft Groups

To disband a Soft Group, select it and choose "Arrange" > "Remove soft group" (or press "Ctrl + Alt +U"). The objects don't get deleted, they are just no longer linked together by a Soft Group.

Text Synchronization

In some circumstances text objects in a soft group are kept synchronized so that if you edit the text of one, the others update too. This feature was added before support for Live Copies was introduced and Live Copies are much more flexible and powerful, so this feature is less useful than it used to be. But it's still relied upon by many of the templates and elements included in the Elements and is commonly used for mouse-over buttons, where both the off and over states of the button need to show the same label at all times. When the button off-state label is changed, the mouse-over state changes to match.

Also sometimes "shadow-like" effects can be achieved by placing two or more copies of text very close to each other, but slightly offset. Again, editing one causes them all to change in sync.

To stay synchronized, the text objects must:

  • Be all in the same soft group.
  • And have exactly the same text on them at the time when the soft group is created.
  • And either have overlapping bounding boxes, or be on different layers or different animation frames.

If you need text to stay synchronized in other circumstances, use Live Copies.


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