GSoC 2020: Outliner Discussion and Suggestions

Yep, saw that a while ago but never tried it. I think to do something like this neatly it’d need to be done internally. Don’t quote me on this, I’m not a coder. :slight_smile:

I for one am super happy I can’t tear off windows even if I wanted to, but if people are keen it could be an option in the preferences.

On Linux that is easy to solve, also, since we can already have multiple windows, having a floating always on top outliner is easy, without addons.


Unfortunately I m on mac os I can not even open two blender at the same time, unless I use the terminal.

You could have ended the sentence right after “os”. :joy:
Sorry for the joke, I felt I had to.


That’s because it is hard to make floating windows crossplatform.
Also, Floating windows is bad design solution - usually, if you feel need in something floationg across your screen, it means that your work is not organized properly.
So it is missed on purpose.

Obname and meshname are incompatible, so obname can’t be equal to meshname on purpose - this makes handling linked data objects (instances) clear.

Because lists of objects usually are way longer than list of collections. So there are way more indexes to handle.

It could be regular viewport shading color mode.

Are you sure?
Previously 3dsmax and Maya was borrowing ideas from Blender, but it reversed starting at 2.8


I don’t think it’s practically possible at GSoC conditions. It is just too deep.
Hierarchical issues are always hard to explain, to solve such issues you have to basically, see them, and to see them, you have to face them regulary during work.
Artists are way more about composition/color perception rather than system/hierarchical perception.
This is why, for example, add-ons such as Collection Manager were started as add-ons.

Granted, that is a difference. I’m not convinced it’s a good enough reason though. I’d argue it’d be more confusing than practical. I’d just keep that functionality consistent, same as in most other softwares.

Yes, I think object colors are used for differentiation as is, since they’re being optional to display that could work for me.

For sure, I would also like to be able to sort objects manually, but I also understand possible realization problems and performance issues on such long lists.
I may be wrong, but in my opinion this is a difficult mathematical problem.

Absolutely, I realize a lot of things might be a lot harder to solve than it would seem to regular users. That’s something that’ll never change though. Like the undo-gate, if it is slow in Blender and instant everywhere else people will throw huge tantrums until it gets solved.

I’d say this is the case especially in Blender, since it’s so accessible and opensource. I can only imagine how the Maya bug tracker would look if people could just comment on it. :smiley:

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I always disliked how finnicky it is to reorder items when you have to aim precisely for the narrow space inbetween items, and if you miss you suddenly did a parenting instead… that happens in Maya, AffinityPhoto and Krita (and probably others!). So if I had to choose I’d keep the shift modifier for parenting. Maybe only in “view layer” mode, or maybe throughout… I mean why not ? → click+drag could be considered the “reorder action” and clift+shift+drag the “parenting action”. Seems pretty simple to me.
…and this suggestion comes from a rigger ! IE somebody who does a LOT of parenting ! :smiley: What do you guys think ?

edit If indeed we go the way of “both parenting and reordering” then I suggest looking at Krita because in my experience it is where the “hotspots” are better done. Maybe it’s just three thirds, maybe not, but it just feels right and the room for error is pretty minimal.

My preference would be being able to do it with one hand only. I’m sure it varies from person to person.

When I switched to Maya from Max about 15 years ago I was shocked how more fiddly it is, how more precision was needed to select or move a vert, etc. I got used to it though, and don’t mind, neither viewport operations nor the outliner reordering. Doing heaps of parenting as well, facial modeling/rigging here, to make ends meet.

That being said, I’d take modifier keys any day over splitting the region horizontally into drop areas with different functions. On the other hand, often it’s just a matter of increasing the area for the inbetween row drop by a pixel or two to make it more convenient for more people.

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Obname and meshname are incompatible, so obname can’t be equal to meshname on purpose - this makes handling linked data objects (instances) clear.

I don’t mind if developers want to use data blocks in blender. I am sure some other softwares also use data blocks, the main problems here are that they make clutters in the outliner ( although people have an option to hide them which I didn’t know about) and I found that when I export my models to Unreal for example, the objects get the data block names instead, perhaps this can be solved in the FBX exporter?

That’s because it is hard to make floating windows crossplatform.
Also, Floating windows is bad design solution - usually, if you feel need in something floationg across your screen, it means that your work is not organized properly.
So it is missed on purpose.

I agree it’s messy but I don’ t use in that way. I was thinking more like being able to use the outliner or other panels as popups, which you can quickly access and close them again. In my case I do everything in full screen but rarely I need to access the outliner so it would be convenient for people like me that want to work in fullscreen 3D viewport (which is even less messy) to have that option

@natecraddock Can we have the option to change this color in the preference panel. At the moment it’s very light and almost indistinguishable from the other colors of the interface.



Another couple of things that I noticed this morning while working.

  • there isn’t a duplicate option in the option menu.

  • when i do copy and paste it paste the item outside the collection.



Hello. I was told I should ask here about an Outliner feature I suggested on RCS:

In short: Please add the ability to parent bones to other bones with drag & drop in the Outliner.


Hello, I don’t know if there will be time with already all these new features, but it would be nice being able to scale the outliner’s dimensions with CTRL+MMB, like in other editors:

Currently, the only way to scale it is by changing the resolution scale in Preferences, with the downside of scaling the entire interface. It would be helpful in situations with a long list of elements.


I spent 3 days trying to get the color tags to draw in a row. This isn’t supported in menus so I spent a lot of time stepping through the code to get this far. I’ve gotten stuck on the highlights (and a few other issues), and I’m not sure if the route I’ve taken is the best. I’m putting this aside for now since it isn’t a priority. Maybe some day I’ll come back to this. :slight_smile: I’m going to chat with my mentor and other UI team devs to see what I should do here. I do think having the color tags as icons in a row is the best option. I learned lots about the UI Layout and alignment code though!


I’ve also been putting together a sort of “overview” of my project. Now that we have reached the halfway point it’s time to start refining the features I’ve written so far. In addition to everything I’ve done, I want to make a detailed plan for after the summer of code.

There have been great suggestions (we are at 450+ replies!) throughout the summer; it’s obvious that the outliner is complex and needs attention. Most of my project this summer involves adding features to the outliner, but we also need to keep the existing behavior consistent. Adding a new feature often causes conflicts with existing behavior, or other parts of my project. Here are the areas I want to clearly define:

  • Selection. Much of this was cleaned up last summer, but there are still a few edge cases that would be great to fix.
  • Context menu: how actions are performed.
    • Is new data created in the active collection or next to the selection?
    • Make actions apply to the entire selection.
  • Drag & drop: Consistent behavior, modifier keys, more clear drop targets, etc.
  • Highlights: How to indicate active, selected, active/selected inside of a closed hierarchy, searched, drop targets, etc.
  • Layout: row icons, popover, restriction toggles, mode tabs.
  • Extra information: linked/instanced state, hierarchies, etc.

Most of these goals aren’t specific features; rather they are behaviors that should be consistent and well thought out.

Thanks again for reminding me of this. I fixed this today and it will be available in the daily build in a few hours.


@natecraddock When deleting a empty with a cube as a child, the empty gets deleted (obviously) but the cube stays in the scene. Why the two Delete operators (Delete and Delete Hierarchy) are not fused into one?

I did try Krita, Photopea and Gimp (plus the commercial ones) and when you delete the parent layer it automatically deletes all the children.

I tried adding assigning Delete key to the shortcut of the Delete Hierarchy but it doesn’t work.


HI Nathan,
I believe it is not directly related to you, but I do not understand the logic in the viewing layer, why if you turn off the camera icon
camera icon
it affects the other layers (Everything else is disconnected) especially that it is also intended for render, turning off the collection also turns off things that sometimes affect the scene, plus sometimes I Want to render one object why you should put it in the collection and turn off the collection, it makes more sense to turn off the camera, for me it is very confusing.

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Sorry to bug you, but I found that to move a child object out from the parent I need to drag to child object to the left or right and there is no visual cue on where the object is going to land.


before the outliner, I felt this lack on blender, but I had never focused on how deep it was useful and complex, you certainly took blender to a higher level, and you gave an important note to make blender more comfortable and fun to use.


@jc4d: This has been discussed a while ago in this thread, and it’s a real pain in the behind when working with CAD related files or larger hierarchies alike.
I truly hope we can get some parity there in the end :wink: