GSoC 2019: Outliner Improvements Ideas

Edit: I have finished my GSoC final report, and all of my improvements are now committed to 2.81. Feel free to continue to discuss here in this topic, but you can also make separate topics for larger suggestions. We have a list of planned improvements here. I still have the list of ideas from this topic. Not everything will or can be added, but there are many suggestions I would still love to implement.

I have been chosen to work on improving the outliner for the Summer of Code this year. As part of this project, we want to gather feedback from users regarding possible improvements that can be implemented. Please share any ideas you have regarding the outliner!

A selection of already planned improvements

  • Synced selection with other editors
  • Click and drag box selection
  • Shift+click range selection
  • Arrow key navigation
  • Simplified selection indication

I am maintaining a list of all suggestions on the Blender Wiki
For more details, the original GSoC proposal can be found here

What can I suggest?

  • Improved functionality (operators, interaction)
  • Papercuts (small UI issues)
  • Feedback to any currently proposed improvements
  • Anything else you think should be mentioned

If you find a major bug or error, please report it rather than mention it here so it can be resolved quickly.

Please leave any suggestion you want, but try to make sure it hasn’t already been suggested before posting to reduce clutter. Check the the Blender Wiki or this post. Just click the :black_heart: to add your support if you see something you like


So great you take care of the Outliner!

I would really like to see this concept realized:

I talked about it before in the Colour coded icons thread. The pic shows a summary of the workflow:

A possible solution might look like this:


I would also like to propose the idea of adding 2 extra pixels per row, to make the outliner look less crammed:


Dalai Felinto posted today on Twitter and the blender blog about updates for the outliner that he worked on.
Are you 2 aware of each others involvement?

Sorry I should have read your initial post more clearly before posting…haha I guess I just too excited :sweat_smile:

There’s a difference between syncing the selection (ie making the same object selected in both the 3D View and Outliner when you select something) and what you are proposing here, which is that the Properties view should follow from what data you select in the Outliner.

Indeed, that would be a nice feature - some other apps do this. To work well, we’d need to reinstate the World item into the Scenes view, which got lost somewhere between 2.79 and today. Otherwise this approach would not allow for an easy way to switch to the World from the Outliner.

Edit: World is now back


I think that the current selected object should be better highlighted in the outliner so that you can find it faster.


in today’s official-beta build I can’t drag-move the outliner horizontally anymore, this is frustrating …

this change is related to this project ??


Dalai is one of the developers in charge of the outliner. I’m just a student who was selected to also work on the outliner over the summer. So I am sure he is aware of me and my involvement in this project for the summer. The coding period hasn’t begun yet, so while I have experimented with the outliner code, I haven’t actually implemented any of these features in full yet.

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I don’t have this issue at all with both the latest build from and my own build I have on my machine. If you are still having an issue, report a bug.

sorry my lapsus, I meant horizontal not vertical, in practice it is locked, I can no longer drag the outliner to the left beyond a certain limit and then see the rest of the text, especially if I keep the window narrow


Congratulations, Nate! The Outliner is something that really needs some love. Along with the things you already mentioned, I would like to add the following.

I really love the way that clicking the mesh data of an object in the Outliner puts the object immediately into edit mode in the 3d views.

It would be really great if this was extended to other types of data. For instance, if clicking the material data opened the material in any opened shader editors, or if clicking on camera or light data opened the “Object Data” tab in the preferences. It would really bring a great new way of navigating and editing data in the scene.


attention, someone is already optimizing a patch for this

I would like to see it possible to use the copy/duplicate command inside the Outliner on individual/multiple selected objects in a scene (only works on collections right now), so you don’t have to do it just inside the 3D Viewport.

I actually made a bug report months back that making a copy shortcut on an object would crash the program, but that was eventually patched up. However, it still lacks that functionality sadly.

Another functionality I would love to see is the ability to rename groups of objects at the same time to have the same name, and also give them individual numbers at the end to differentiate between them (i.e. Balloon_1, Balloon_2, etc.). Would save a bit of time if you could select several objects, then type a new name which renames all selected objects instead of having to copy+paste everything.

Also, being able to sort stuff in alphabetical/numerical and last created/edited order would be neat.


I stumbled upon this today, just to mention it here if you are not aware of it:
On - D4806
Covers the synced selection with 3d view and click and drag box selection.


Often when I add a new collection, it’s to organize and then hide a group of objects. After I hide and collapse the collection, I go back to editing other stuff. Then a half hour later I add a new object. But since the last collection I selected is hidden, the new object gets added to this hidden collection. I get confused for a few moments (the first time took me longer), wondering where my object is, and then realize my mistake and drag that object into another collection so I can see it. I can’t think of a time when anyone would want to add a new object to a hidden collection.

Off the top of my head, here’s a couple solutions:

  1. Do like Photoshop/Krita/etc. with layers and don’t allow new stuff to be added to a hidden collection, with a message on screen. For example, when trying to use the brush tool on a hidden layer, Photoshop says “Could not use the brush tool because the target layer is hidden”, and Krita simply says “Layer is invisible”
  2. When the last-selected collection is hidden, add new objects to the scene collection instead.

Then, besides what to do when the you try to add a new object with a hidden collection selected, I think that when you select an object, it should also consider that object’s collection to be the last-selected collection. In my example, this would also fix the problem, since I was editing an object in a visible collection before adding a new object.


Hi Nathan,
I summerize here is the complete list of patches by Aqib Maqbool implementing already most of your proposition aparently.


Allow to sync outliner filtered elements when you use the search box with viewport visible elements. Like unity.


Please, check this one. There is some moment that need more attention. Object hierarchies visibility toggle.

Hi Nathan!
Thanks for the updates and everything here are a suggestion I’ve come up with.

When the outliner is set on “Scenes” make the collections openable, could really help on big projects with a lot of objects :heart: (please)