2020-08-14 - Asset Browser

Present: Bastien Montagne, Brecht Van Lommel, Dalai Felinto, Julian Eisel, Ton Roosendaal

Meeting to define early development targets and next steps.

Asset Management vs. Browsing

  • Asset Management is a huge topic. Many open questions and unknowns.
  • Focus on creating an Asset Browser - a UI in Blender to browse assets and edit asset meta-data.
  • Asset Management solutions (e.g. Cloud Add-on, BlenderKit, a Kitsu-Blender bridge) should be able to hook into the Asset Browser UI. They remain separate systems from Blender’s core.
  • The APIs for that are for later milestones.

From a project perspective, assets management appears on 3 distinct levels:

  1. Project
    Management of the mass of assets required for the entire project, typically with production tracking software (e.g. Attract).
  2. TD
    Assets assembled for specific shots or persons/departements.
  3. Artist
    A user’s personal collection of assets (may be project specific or not).

Blender will deal with levels 2 and 3. Level 1 will be done in actual production/asset management systems.

User Stories

The project will focus on the following use cases for now:

This map will be updated and expanded on.

Design notes

Some informal design notes for the first iterations:

  1. Repositories
    • Set via Preferences
    • Stores .blend files
    • Rules needed to define when asset data is (re-)loaded
  2. “Adding” assets always only for current .blend
    • You have to save for assets to be registered!
  3. Viewer (aka Browser)
    • Select assets
    • Add properties/meta-data (“edit”)


  • Get something tangible to look at and evaluate early.
  • Agile process, with iterations of one week, each with defined targets.
    (Given Julian’s other responsibilities, the iteration week may have to be spread over 2-3 actual weeks)
  • Always have a working (even if limited or buggy) system after each iteration.
  • First iteration: Initial Asset Browser UI, working for Materials or Objects.

In order for anyone outside the meeting to understand the map, I think it needs some more clarification. For example, what do the blue & yellow colours signify? What does “User Presets” mean – are presets (like for video encoding settings) now also seen as assets? And what are “Project Preparation Artists”? What does “Apply Asset” mean?


(Sorry for the late reply.)

Some notes about user story maps:

Story maps are generally not meant as documentation. User stories evolved from the understanding that no documentation can capture the abstract thoughts people have in mind when it comes to design. After reading a document, everybody will end up with a slightly different understanding.

User stories are supposed to spark conversations. By having these conversations, differences in understanding can be found and resolved. So a vague post-it note may tell “outsiders” nothing, but that is not their purpose.
Put in a user story map, the individual stories are put into context of the big picture.

I’m explaining this because we will continue to work with user stories for the design process. There will hopefully be more design fragments and we will make them public. We are just starting to experiment with this, so we have to find the right balance between documentation and fragments that are more for the internal design process.
If things are unclear, I’m happy to answer questions.

To your specific questions:

  • The blue cards just name the different milestones, separated by the roles . A user’s personal asset collection has different requirements for the Asset Browser than the one of a “Project Preparation Artist”.
  • “Project Preparation Artist” would be somebody who assembles .blend files for the different departments, the sets, the shots, etc. So basically Andy :wink: (Others called this role “TD”, I’m not sure if that’s correct.)
    These artists might want to pre-configure the asset meta-data UI for others to use and set up access permissions so not everybody can change all assets in the production.
  • “User Presets” is actually the wrong term in this case. It should just be “User Assets”. We corrected that in later versions.
  • There is a special kind of asset that behaves more like presets. For example brushes or poses: You wouldn’t add these to your scene, you would apply them.
  • Indeed, at a later point we want to support things like render settings as assets too. After all that’s just a file that the Asset Browser can display and a tiny amount of special handling to apply it.

Here is a newer, more detailed version of the map (minus the project related milestone):

Unfortunately I can’t export this at high resolution, so this screenshot will have to do it.