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How do you Ungroup?

0 votes
I made a Group of some nodes so that I could move them around the page together. Now that I've done that, I can't ungroup them (I want to add additional nodes). Eithe "Ungroup" is greyed out or if it isn't greyed out, it simply does not do anything. The Group remains as a Group.

Sorry if the answer is obvious - I am very new to this.

thank you
in Help by (300 points)

1 Answer

+2 votes
Actually, the simplest way to ungroup all nodes in a group is selecting and deleting the group.

To ungroup only some nodes in the group, select the nodes you want to ungroup and choose "Grouping" -> "Ungroup".
Alternatively, press and hold SHIFT, move the mouse over one of the selected nodes, press and hold the left mouse button, drag the selected nodes out of the group, and finally release mouse and SHIFT when everything is outside.

By the way, you do not need to group nodes just to be able to move them together. Simply select all the nodes you want to move at once and the normal mouse drag will move all selected nodes.

To select several nodes at once either press the left mouse button at empty space in the editor, then drag the mouse to open a selection rectangle around the nodes you want to select or left-click a single node to select it, press and hold SHIFT, then left-click additional nodes to select them, too
by [yWorks] (134k points)
Would you mind providing some constructive criticism like which application you are referring to or how you think grouping should behave?
I'm talking about yEd. If the app puts a border/container thing around the group, then that's what I'm talking about.

I think the grouping implementation could be more like e.g. an Adobe product like Illustrator or Photoshop, or pretty much any of the top 100 desktop publishing apps of the last 30 years. In the relatively infrequent case where we want a big border around the group, we can easily place it beneath. That is the exception, and if anything needs to be Googled to be learned, it should be that, not a basic task like how to ungroup.

What if I want to hide the folder border thing, but want to keep the grouping behavior (drag and drop as one, etc.)? We should be able to do this!  But personally I think the border / container thing should be hidden by default. But don’t ask me, do a survey of your competitor’s users (not your own, because of ‘sunk cost fallacy’). As to how you would implement the activation of the visibility of the border / container, have you ever heard of 'context sensitivity'? If not, I would again point you to the two programs mentioned above - in short - the limited real estate that is the available panel / UI space at any given time is intelligently and sensitively responsive to the task at hand. These 'Clever Panels' are for me (for the moment) the ideal (presumably the most common tasks are prioritized), but a slightly less intuitive approach is also common (e.g. Microsoft Word), which is still worth mentioning, i.e. a right click on the object reveals it's properties / config / options. I don't see the harm in providing both solutions simultaneously where possible. At the moment, I would not feel comfortable using the group tool because it’s container / border thing is far too dominant for me.

Gestalt design principles exploit the brains innate facility for grouping by proximity alone. The border is seen as superfluous. These considerations, together with user research could help you to prioritize configuration: which are defaults and which need to be activated by a user action? It’s not an easy question, cause often people don’t know what they want until they’ve tried it. But at the very least, I think it’s good to somehow, provide a way to do a relatively basic task, even if it’s buried in a sub menu of a sub menu...


I'm talking about yEd. If the app puts a border/container thing around the group, then that's what I'm talking about.

When I asked "which application you are referring to" I meant the "other software" you mentioned. That your criticism is targeted at yEd is obvious - after all you posted in the yEd user forum.

What you want is not "grouping" in the way the term is used in yEd.
You want a compound node style. yEd does offer a fairly complex way to create compound styles by converting nodes into labels for other nodes. E.g. create a 60x30 red rectangle, then create a 30x30 blue rectangle, move the blue rectangle over the red rectangle, right-click the blue rectangle to open its context menu and choose "Convert to Label". Yes, it is cumbersome to do. That is because the recommended way to create a compound node style is to create the desired image or vector graphic in an application like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator and then import the image/graphic into yEd as described in How can I use my own node symbols in yEd?

yEd's grouping feature is a logical grouping like e.g. a directory in a file system. As such it is essential to yEd's grouping feature that the grouped nodes (i.e. the files in the directory) can be moved and edited individually and (even more importantly) that layout algorithms can change the (relative) positions of nodes in groups.

Mr Behr, you seem to be missing two points: 1) a lot of us would prefer not to see the grouping border, and 2) disabling the "ungroup" option is annoying and confusing.  I had to read your original answer twice before I realized that the solution was to *delete* the group.  That works perfectly, but I had ignored the delete option because my original expectation was that it would also delete the things *inside* the group, which I had painstakingly created and didn't want to lose.  *Ungroup* seems more intuitive.  Many of us probably had our expectations set by Powerpoint, which has 1.2 billion users according to Google (that's one in seven human beings!); even if it is imperfect it is at least understandable and predictable how grouping works.


1) a lot of us would prefer not to see the grouping border

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a "grouping border" in yEd. There are group nodes and these nodes have visualizations. These group nodes do behave differently than "grouping" in Microsoft Visio or vector drawing applications like Inkscape.
You can use group nodes to simulate Visio-style grouping to some extend, but not completely. If you use group nodes to simulate Visio-style grouping, you will have to use some workaround.
Finally, it is possible to change the visualization of a group node to be invisible. It is not recommended to create invisible nodes, because invisible elements are hard to work with.



2) disabling the "ungroup" option is annoying and confusing

The "ungroup" action is disabled if and only if the action cannot be applied to currently selected elements. It does not make sense to have the action enabled even if it cannot be used.



Many of us probably had our expectations set by Powerpoint, ...

yEd is not a presentation tool. If you really need to compare yEd to a Microsoft product, then it is much closer to Visio than Powerpoint. But of course, yEd significantly differs from Visio as well. And that is a good thing - after all if there were no differences why have a separate application at all? Moreover, yEd's focus is graph editing and automated graph arrangement. That is a separate concern from Powerpoint's and Visio's focus. And as a result not everything that works well in Powerpoint and/or Visio works well in yEd.


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