A Node viewer for every node

I’m finally making this feature request just because I found out that the feature I’m dreaming of is actually present in the Texture Node Editor! I’m talking about the little button at the top right of each node in the Texture Node Editor that lets you toggle a small viewer for what the node does.

I use TouchDesigner a lot and every node has its own preview that you can toggle on and off (to optimize performance and/or make your environment less distracting/more intelligible)

I think every single nodes should have this feature and here’s why:

  1. It makes Blender easier to learn for new user. For example, being able to see the effect on a color ramp on your noise texture whenever you adjust it makes it easier to understand how the color ramp behave and more importantly, how its output affect what you are controlling it with. While many nodes aren’t used for how they look, by visualizing the 2d image they output, it’s easier to learn and understand how a 2d matrix controls whatever you are trying to build, whether it’s a matte, displacement map or something else.
  2. When troubleshooting a missing file or something weird. Being able to instantly preview the effect on every single nodes in your tree saves a LOT of time. You can instantly spot what is wrong without having to check every single node one by one.

Whenever I tried discussing this on other forums the response I got was something along the lines of “use node wrangler’s preview shortcut”. It is kind of a work around but in my opinion, there are many issues with this workflow.

  1. Node wrangler preview lets you preview only one node at the time. The preview is also applied on your model in your viewport, so you need to reframe your viewport or even apply the material to a different object to preview the image better.
  2. It doesn’t work well with grouped nodes.
  3. You rely on ctrl-z to revert back to your previous configuration, the preview feature interfere with your scene and can break your project temporarily.

Today, I was surprised to find this feature in the Texture Node Editor and realize it’s been part of Blender already except that it wasn’t implemented in the Shader Node Editor and Compositing Editor. I’m sure it would be very useful to everyone.


you mean this proposal?

Yes, something like those except I think it should applied to every single node, not just the texture generator. Also, I notice something similar is already present in the texture node editor but I couldn’t figure out how to use the latter because it seems to be deprecated.