GSoC 2019: Outliner Improvements Ideas

As far as I understand it’s the equivalent of disabling a whole layer with the old system, like in the picture below

@natecraddock Great job on the Outliner so far!

Since you’ve got pretty far with the development of the Outliner, I just wanted to ask if my old suggestion about bulk renaming is still on the table during this GSoC? Thanks!

Thanks! I won’t be considering bulk renaming for the GSoC because addons to rename already exist. Also, the naming of objects in Blender is very accessible from Python scripting alone. The features I am focused on are impossible to add from Python so it is more of a priority to focus on those. This doesn’t mean the feature will never be added though, because it would be useful.


Bulk renaming also probably should not be limited to the Outliner, so adding this probably should not be considered strictly part of Outliner improvements.


I had an idea that I think is very simple and at the same time powerful … can you add “frame select” in the outilner’s menu?



Is the Blender Wiki suggestion list still being implemented?
I ask specially the always visible scroll bar.
Thank you for your hard work, honestly for me the outliner is the biggest thing that has kept me away from adopting Blender totally.

This branch is coming along nicely! Great work!

I realize the project is winding down, but I have some questions/suggestions. If they can’t be added now, maybe could be put on the to-do list for further work in the future?

  1. [Ctrl]+click to deselect currently seems to require two clicks (first being setting layer to active, then deselecting). This would be more useful of [Ctrl]+click on the name would set the object to active, but outside the name would make it deselect right away.
  2. Are you planning to add [Ctrl]+[Shift]+click functionality? In case it needs explanation, basically, the user can [Ctrl]+click on an object to add to current selection, then [Ctrl]+[Shift]+click elsewhere to have all the items in-between be further added to the selection. Very useful in Windows Explorer.
  3. Can we have [Alt]+click to solo the selected layers/collections? Actually, I think if you can make [Alt] inherit all selection key combinations for soloing, that would make for a really powerful solo system I’ve yet to see anywhere.
    E.g., [Alt]+box select instantly makes the selection solo, [Alt]+click on new layers add to current solo.
    *Important thing here would be to make sure [Alt]+clicking again on any currently soloed layer would cancel all soloing and revert visibility options to what they were set before the solo.
  4. When creating new collections in the Outliner, it would be nice and logical to have the selected items be added as a collection that’s a child of the collection the active item is currently in. Right now, all selected items get extracted out of the current collection and placed on the bottom of the list, and that’s not the behavior I want in an organizational tool like the Outliner.
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Hi, a little late to the game as I just got my hands on a computer again, but I had a thought after trying the outliner build. I realized that when selecting many objects in the outliner that the blue for selected objects, and the slightly highlighted blue for the active object weren’t as contrasted as I would perhaps like.

Above is the current build. You can definately tell what is selected overall, but what object is the active object is a little bit hard to pinpoint sometimes. It’s not that bad at all, but I feel maybe it could be improved.

Here is what I thought might be better. I basically just de-saturated the selected objects and kept the nice blue for the active. I think it makes it a bit easier to read. I think this would probably work with other themes as well.

Here they are beside each other for comparison. Does anyone else feel this way? Or is it fine as is?


Allowing the user to select the color for Selected (Multiple) in user preferences would probably be the best option.

Invisible objects should be selectable if needed. A toggle for that would fix a lot of problems.
Selecting and then duplicating a hierarchy works only for visible objects. Invisible objects aren’t duplicated.

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Hi, as your work is under review and, if all goes well, will add to 2.81 may I ask for a feature not really fit in to your GSoC project?
It is a filter “Sort Alphabetically”, it sort mesh, emptys and so forth but not the collections itself, make no sense for me.
What do you think, or is this a bug?

Cheers, mib

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what im missing is some functionality on the collections to quickly select their content, im surprised this was not one of the first things added nor mentioned anywhere.
would be great to have a option to double click or shift click on the collection and all the conent inside is selected/deselected

ctrl+lmb on a collection should collapse all other collections except the one that was clicked. same that works with the sections in the properties view.

a way to only unhide objects in the selected collection, this was a verry usefull feature in the old layer system that seems to have vanished, now if i use alt+h all the objects from all the collection are unhiden. this is really impractical to work with.

disabling a collection (or whatever this checkbox left to it does) should still show the content of that collection. like this if im searching for an object inside a “disabled” collection, and i might have a lot of those, i will need to enable it to see if its inside the collection that i suspect it to be, if not the search continues.

if i select a object then i do not see on the collection level that it inside the collection, i think it would be good to have this. and yes im aware that there is a darkening around the mesh data icon and think this is not good enough.
or a option that navigates directly to that object would be nice, unfolding all the sub collections to show the selected object and if a other object is selected it collapses agian and navigates to the new object.

thanks for the improvements that have already been made, makes it soo much better to use with standard selections and so on!
The downside is that i cant go back to the official release any longer:sweat_smile:


Probably not. It’s not too difficult to select in the outliner, then press . in the 3D view. Additionally, which 3D view would be framed if multiple were open? Because Frame Selected is a View 3D operator, this wouldn’t be as simple as it sounds.

The list exists, and I hope to look through it after gsoc. Not everything there can or will be added to Blender, but there are many great suggestions left to work on.

I did this to keep consistency with selection in the 3D view.

Already done. :slight_smile:

Solo what exactly. Visibility? Currently a ctrl+click on collection visibility restrict icon will solo that collection.

That’s a good idea, noted.

@Bobo_The_Imp and @Dev1, the selected and active row highlighting colors are in the user preferences.

Currently Blender does not allow selection of invisible objects, and when developing synced selection I was asked to maintain this behavior from the outliner. I’m sure there are good reasons for this, but I’m not the developer to ask why.

I think that sorting definitely should include collections, and if alphabetical is turned off, then custom arranging should be allowed for collections and objects. I would like to work on this after GSoC as well.

This is in the right-click context menu.

This could be extended to toggling on disclosure triangles, and made available for all elements, not just collections. Thanks for pointing this out!

The visibility restrict icons in the outliner exist for this purpose.

If you aren’t excluding (the checkbox) a collection for the reasons of excluding, I suggest to just hide so you can see the contents.

Show active, either in the context menu view > show active or . key shortcut.
I’m glad you are enjoying the improvements. :slight_smile:


I’m sorry but I don’t agree with you.

I understand that you developers have the tendency to schematize and sectorialize, but now I’ll explain to you as a user perspective what I imagined when “this idea came to me”:
I had a lot of objects in the 3D view, I had created an object and I knew very well what name I had given it, so it was easy for me to find it with a search in the outliner, but I didn’t see it in the 3D view, so, to speed up the process, I have realized that it would have been very useful to me, once I clicked the object in the outliner do right click to menu and instead of “select”, do “frame selected” saving me some steps …
And believe me when you have to do this type of operation over and over again a day in series, it’s good for mental health if you save steps of operations.

If many objects are selected, it would be useful if all selected objects would be framed … as is already now …

Same thing if many 3D views are open, if I do rightclick in the outiliner, I want to say that I don’t care in which 3D view the objects are focused, so the logic wants to framing in all the 3d view open.

Hi. I need to work lately with a quite big number of objects into a file, and I needed to use the outliner more. Unfortunately the outliner workflow it is not so intuitive as it should be and here are my propositions for improvement:

  • Select hierarchy, I think it is supposed to select also the child objects of the parent one. Unfortunately it doesn’t, it is selecting only the parent object. Will be nice that when I’m pressing the Select hierarchy button to select also the child objects from inside the parent one.

  • If I right-click on top of an object will be nice to have a MOVE command also into the right-click menu. Right now you can only move using the M key, but will be handier to have this command also into the right-click menu.

  • Select objects when I press the left-click on top of them into outliner and without the need to right-click and ‘Select’ from the right-click menu. More faster, logical and intuitive.

  • If I select only a parent object and move to a new collection I want also the child objects to be moved into the new collection and not only linked how it is right now.

I want that the objects with red market to be moved with the parent object and not unpacked into the old collection, which is a mess.

  • A check-box right next to the Search field to ‘Select the result’. Very useful when working with huge number of objects where it is impractical to select a few hundred or thousands objects one by one.

I needed to move a few hundred objects from one collection to another and was very time consuming to click-select every single object.

  • Will be good to have a drag-drop feature from the material list into outliner.

Also to show an icon of the materials next to the green triangle.

There are more things that can be improved, but I will be happy to see at least this ones implemented into outliner.

P.S. I prepared more pictures but seems that it is a limitation to only one picture/post?

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To be entirely honest - and really I’m not saying this to take down your suggestion - but the left one stands out way more to my eyes, being brighter than the rest. What would be nice is being able to theme those colors, if not already possible ? (haven’t tried)

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Yea, you can change them, it’s in the preferences for the outliner.

Actually, is there a way to deselect without setting the object active first? If there is, this request isn’t needed.

Hm, I’m trying this with the latest version, but nothing’s happening when I [Ctrl]+[Shift]+click. Can’t drag to box select either.

Fantastic! Yes, I was talking about toggling visibility. I checked it out and I noticed it even adds additional collections to solo when using [Shift]. :+1:

One really annoying problem I noticed though is that when a collection is added to the solo instance via [Shift], it sets all the objects within that collection to be visible regardless of the settings before. This doesn’t happen when soloing only via [Ctrl].

Also, a nice, logical extension of this would be to apply the same behavior for individual items within (currently it seems to work only on collections level).

Two additional things if I may add:

  1. Something else that would be really helpful is a visual indicator of the currently active collection so the user knows which collection newly added objects will go to.
  2. When undoing, objects/collections selection reverts to the previous selection, but the layer selection (the blue bar) doesn’t. This is problematic because 1) It’s visually confusing as to what’s going on, 2) I can’t think of any reason why the user would want this to happen.

The issue here is we have to decide which 3D view(s) to update; it cannot be arbitrary. I didn’t say this is impossible or will not happen, but when it takes 2 clicks in the 3D view (or a single keypress .), it isn’t super high on the list of things to improve within the outliner. I hope that makes sense :slight_smile: This would be a nice feature, and it is on the list of suggestions and ideas.

Wow, that’s right. Thanks for pointing this out.

The menus do need cleanup, which is planned.

Selection already works by left-click. Not sure what you mean here.

This is already reported, thanks for mentioning it.

No, but it could be done.

Strange, box select works for me. And I meant the behavior of a range select works. It is mapped to Shift+click, like a normal file browser.


I’m not sure this is the way it should work. I certainly don’t always want to move a whole hierarchy when selecting only the parent object. I often store parent objects on different layers, I mean collections, as a way to organise them.
Maybe there could be a popup when calling the move command, with two optiosn “Move selected” and “Move selected with all children”.

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