GSoC 2020: Outliner Discussion and Suggestions

On the sequencer thing. I think the drag and drop would mainly be useful if the Outliner, in Sequence mode, could show all scene names and the a/v content inside of them. Currently it only shows the a/v content of the current scene.


I agree it would be a useful thing, but I suspect that this is something related to internal dependencies rather than outliner UI.

Yes, that could be satisfying for most of types that are minorities of objects in scene I mentioned.
But I think that you should take into account that for 2D animation, Grease Pencil objects are the majority of objects in Scene.
If you have to scroll down or up the outliner a lot because of dozens of objects from type of majority, that will not be sufficient.
So, a filter to exclude type of majority of objects (Meshes, Lights, Empties, Grease Pencil) + sorting per type should be satisfying.


If the Outliner would have the option to show Scenes + Media files and drag and drop i/o from Sequencer workarea and File Browser, the Sequencer could have a nifty workspace template like this:

You are properly aware that the right click options in the Sequence view are not yet implemented:
Lock and Unlock could also be nice to have in that menu.


A feature that I’m missing and I think it’s essential is selecting, moving or deleting hierarchies that contain objects with “disable selection in viewport” or disabled viewport visibility.

Currently the only way to do that is to manually select them with shfit+click in the Outliner.
When working with long hierarchies this becomes very tedious.
I think the core of the issue is the way Blender handles viewport visibility and selection (they are somehow connected, in my opinion they shouldn’t be) More about this issue. I know that this is not just an Outliner thing, but the Outliner is where we handle invisible objects or objects with disabled viewport selection.

Also if you try to animate an object’s viewport visibility, the moment it becomes invisible in the viewport the keyframes disappear from the Timeline and the Graph Editor (it gets unselected) and the task becomes a hell.


Even though this is only a change in the default key mapping for a single shortcut, I’ll post this here since it is related and very important but not receiving the recognition it needs. Ctrl+G should be bound to Move to Collection > New Collection, not Create New Collection


I switched to Blender not that long ago and I highly appreciate the outliner improvements, that made my life a lot easier! Thank you for that :slight_smile:
There are a lot of great suggestions here and I’m looking forward to seeing the outliner become even more powerful!

A few more ideas:

  • Renaming many items could be faster with pressing up and down keys, something similar to:
  • Duplicating an item could be added by holding a modifier key and dragging the item to a different position. (Like in Photoshop: alt+drag item, or Cinema 4d: cmd+drag item,…)
  • Not sure if that’s the right place to address this: it would be great if collections could have coordinates and a gizmo to move them around in the viewport.

The last thing you ask for is the group feature a lot of us are dreaming about.
I also expected the new collection system to act as a bounding box and parent for the objects in it, have it’s own origin and the possibility to put modifiers on it. Then just nest it into another collection and do it again :slight_smile:

Unfortunately it’s more abstract than that. it’s an abstract collection of objects for organizing and visibility, AFAIK it has and can have no representation in the 3D scene at all. (perhaps they could add a solid view color option by collections… but that also would only really help if it acts like a group)

But this is really a long held wish of mine too: I drew and animated in Flash and After Effects a lot - their nested symbol / composition system is crazy crazy crazy powerful.
I haven’t used any but I know some 3D software have similar concepts.
I don’t want to rely on add-ons (like Group Pro) to do this. This could be a beacon feature for Blender.


New outliner paper-cut:

Here is the function that i made.
Double click the collection tag,it will select objects in the collection


Hi Nathan, here are 3 great suggestions from another topic found here:

"Sadly 2.82 doesn’t improve the situation much.

  • you still can’t select multiple hierarchies

  • you still can’t select a hierarchy of hidden parent objects (IMHO visibility should not effect selection behaviour in the Outliner)

  • List item

you still can’t move a selected hierarchy from one collection to another without creating duplicate references.

Generally speaking, as soon as you try to restructure a scene graph with empty-hierarchy into a collection structure, you are screwed. I really hope that the team keeps up the great work and will give the Outline the love it requires."


Not sure if it’s been suggested in this thread yet, but highlighting of objects inside a collapsed hierarchy would be really cool. Currently it’s really hard to spot selected objects in complex scenes. -


This is one of those things that is often frustrating but just small enough I forget to bring it up. I always end up pressing zoom to selected, but we could do better than that.


Ye, seems like a small quality of life improvement, but definitely something that’s coming up frequently when talking to professionals converting to Blender.

Really happy to see how much the outliner progressed though. Looking forward to proper manual sorting.


@kromar I agree with you, more work could be done in this area. Making collections the children of objects would be very difficult because collections are containers for objects, not the other way around. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done, but it’s a very large task that wouldn’t be a good fit for the summer of code.

On that topic, @kynu I agree, a grouped mesh that could support instancing and modifiers would be amazing. I even talked about this with @billrey the other day. Very off topic though, so let’s try to stay more on topic here.

@tintwotin I’ve noted some smaller things that could be done this summer (like drag and drop). Those mockups you have made are great, but I really think that it would be better to make a separate design task for the sequencer workflow.

@Oskar I see the problem. One issue is currently Blender doesn’t allow selection of hidden objects. You can “outliner” select it, but the actual object data is not selected. The Select Hierarchy operator is selecting objects recursively, so when it gets to Sphere.001 in your example it cannot select it. Now that selection syncing works well, a better solution for this operator would be to select the objects recursively with Outliner selection, that way it still syncs to visible objects, but the whole tree is selected for drag+drop. Most of the context menu operators in the outliner will get some fixes this summer.

An alternative would be to drag children with parents when linking between collections.

@LeoSch I hope to make arrow key renaming better in the next few days. The workflow would be Up/Down then F2 to rename. The rename field is a generic UI rename field, so I’m not sure if it could be mapped to Up/Down to rename the next item. That would be great though, so I’ll keep that in mind.

We use lots of modifier keys for drag+drop currently, so I don’t think duplicate would be able to fit well there. For your last point, collection instances!

@Rayfly0225 cool video, but there aren’t any links to your addon so others can benefit!

@dan2 Parent highlighting when active is in a collapsed hierarchy. I really love the idea. and I wanted to do it last summer, we already have 3+ types of highlights in the outliner so this would need to be done right to not add more clutter.


Thanks for the great feedback and suggestions everyone! I’m keeping a list of the smaller improvements to implement alongside my original plans on my design task: ⚓ T77408 Continued Outliner Improvements Design. Let’s try to keep that design task free of feature requests please :slight_smile:

Now that the summer of code has officially started I’m making good progress with my first task. I’ll start a weekly reports topic tomorrow. Within a few days I’ll be sharing my progress for feedback on the current progress of the mode toggle and activation column.


Hey Nathan, great to see you tackling the Outliner again! :smile:

I’ve been thinking about a small QoL improvement: Currently, when in local mode, the only indicator is the word “(local)” in the viewport, which is very hard to spot sometimes. So, I was wondering if the Outliner could be a visual aid and dim (or even disable(?)) all objects that are currently not in local view.


giving it a try…


or even


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I’d go with a full length one, almost like a dimmed overlay, similar to other packages. (maybe an option in the theme settings would be cool) Highlighting only that little object data icon could be easy to miss depending on the contrast in the theme settings.


@natecraddock: Hello, you mentioned drag and drop improvements in the outliner.
The problem I have every day with the blender outliner is, that it is not possible to drag and drop one hierarchy into another one because all transformations are lost. You have to select one hierarchy then the other one, move the mouse into the 3D viewport and hit strg+p and select “Object (keep transform)”. That is very cumbersome!
Maybe if I drag and drop in the outliner a popup can appear where I can select if I want to parent with transforms or without! Or it is an option you can set in the outliner options dropdown.
In all other 3D programs I know, you can drag and drop across the hirarchy without loosing the transformations. It would be really great if that would be possible in blender too!
I hope you understand what I mean?!