Outliner GSoC Follow-up Feedback

Many of the targets for the 2020 Outliner GSoC project are in 2.91 now, so this is a thread to collect feedback on those new features and fixes. Some features are also in 2.92 and that feedback should be collected here too.

Follow-up tasks: https://developer.blender.org/T82233

What features are in 2.91

  • Mode toggling column
  • Collection colors
  • Move collection exclude button to restrict columns
  • Modifier/Constraint/Effect dragdrop
  • Context menu on right-click target
  • Simplified hierarchy lines. Solid lines for collections and dashed lines for objects

Features in 2.92

  • Properties editor sync

Also see the release notes https://wiki.blender.org/wiki/Reference/Release_Notes/2.91/User_Interface for details on what was changed.


Hello Nathan! Here’s my feedback:

Collection exclude button

  • Currently the exclude button cuts the text and data also of objects below, it would be nice to reduce it only to the collection text.


  • I think that just dragging modifiers/etc. from one object to the other shouldn’t copy them, but transfer them to that object, and instead use shift/ctrl/alt + drag to actually duplicate and have them on both objects.
  • I think that copying all the modifiers/etc. shouldn’t happen only when we select the parent element, but also when we select all the modifiers with shift and/or ctrl: currently, even if we select multiple modifiers and we drag them, only the last selected modifier it’s copied. This can permit also to drag multiple specific modifiers, and not simply all of them.
  • I think that pressing delete on the modifiers/etc. should delete the elements and not the entire object, like with parents.

For the rest, thanks for the all improvements (and for quickly implementing the dashed lines for parents, the proposal on RCS was mine! XD). Can’t wait to see Outliner/Properties syncing implemented in 2.92!!!


The synchronization with properties editor has just been added to master.
I am not a fan of the synchronization based the edge shared between Outliner and Properties Editor.

That removes freedom to build a workspace that makes sense.
Imagine that you have a very wide screen but you are lacking height.
So, you want 2 Properties Editors, next to each other but you also want an outliner that takes the entire height of screen.
You will have to place the outliner in the middle. But it would be easier to read a configuration where outliner is on one side and the 2 properties editor next to each other.

Most common case will be to want one Properties Editor synchronized with the outliner and another one, you want fixed.
For example, one fixed Properties editor dedicated to Active tool or Render Settings and another one for Object Properties in synchronization with Outliner.
In the case that you want to make one column with Outliner above a Properties Editor, you are forced to put another editor between Outliner and the non-synchronized Properties Editor.
And the smaller Properties Editor below Outliner can not be the one dedicated to Active Tool which is often the Tab with the less amount of Panels and Properties to display.

So, I propose to let user managing synchronization of Properties Editor while he is building a workspace by using context menu of properties editor.
Currently user just have to do a right click on Context line or empty space of Properties Editor to display right click menu.
This right click menu is almost empty. It just displays area sub-menu.
There could be an item with checkbox in this menu Sync with Outliner.

For the first time, in a decade, passed requesting a way to make a 2 column layout for Properties Editor, in order to see all properties : I think that you inspired me an elegant solution.
A snapping choice for scrollbar of Properties Editor, available in Properties Editor Context menu.

Currently, Properties Editor shows almost always panels at the top of the Editor.
Whatever was the scrolling you did in a tab with several opened panels, you lose it when you go to a tab with only one panel like Modifier stack.
That will be great to be able to snap scrollbar to bottom or center of editor.
3 choices like Top/Center/Bottom would be alignment options (similar to options for text alignment).

Using such solution for tabs with many properties like Render, Particles or Physics tab : that would become easy to build workspace with 3 columns of settings synchronized with outliner, in a secondary window.

Thanks for the feedback! I’ve created a task to track the follow-up tasks https://developer.blender.org/T82233

Noted. This is something we also noticed that we want to fix.

I think it’s reasonable to allow box selection in the gutter during object mode, but during edit modes we need to prioritize drag&drop for adding multiple objects to the mode.

I like your suggestions on modifiers and drag&drop. I will prioritize fixes first, but many of those seem reasonable.

We try to avoid adding options, but I think it may be reasonable to add a toggle to each properties editor to always sync. This feature was just added so we will hopefully get other feedback too. Perhaps we will always sync and have a checkbox to disable syncing.


Thanks for your continued efforts Nate!

Quick question, since the task said remaining tasks from the GSOC project -

What’s the faith of the “Indicate active object when in a collapsed hierarchy” and the manual object sorting? In many respects the current outliner is ahead of the competition, but without these it’s lacking a bit.

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Maybe it could be inspiring to go through each editor, and give it a few thoughts on how the Outliner could be improved to ease working in that particular editor? Ex. many editors have the option to switch data-block, this could also be done from the Outliner ex. in the Text Editor.

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Hey Nathan, so happy that properties sync finally landed!

Having the option to disable it would be a good addition.

Also, regarding physics properties and particle systems tabs, when we click on their specific icon in the outliner I think it would be way better that the sync brings you to their tab instead that to the modifier tab: if you click on the fluid icon, it brings you to the fluid in the physics tab etc.

EDIT: maybe it could even be more content-aware, in a way that if the object has one or even more modifiers of the same TYPE (modifiers, physics, particle systems), it brings you to their tab also if you just click on the “general” modifiers icon in the outliner. So, if the object has for example only particle systems, it brings you to the particles tab, but if instead has also a subsurf modifier, then it brings you to the modifiers tab.

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When selecting stacks of objects with RMB+Shift in Outliner , the first object selected is the active one while in the 3D Viewer it is the last.
If you do the same with RMB+Ctrl, the active object is the last one selected. Is there any reason why the active object is not always the last one selected?

One thing to ponder, file browsers select as Outliner but Edit Mesh does it by reversing the Shift and Ctrl functions, that is, RMB+Ctrl selects the shortest path and RMB+Shift adds the vertices one by one.

Thanks for the improvements and the attention natecraddock

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That’d be handy, as of now it seems to be inconsistent with the viewport selection when just selecting the objects -


Not sure if this is intended (it jumping to object properties no matter what).

It is intended, and I think that maybe not always it’s a desiderable behaviour :thinking:
(but are short on modifier keys now…)

Thanks for the properties sync feedback everyone! I’ve collected around 4 different solutions to make it more intuitive and less disruptive, and I’ll be discussing them with the other UI developers next week sometime.

This is how i would tackle this. A toggle button in the properties header.

  1. Rather intuitive and simple.
  2. Allows the user to chose which area to sync with the outliner. Does not matter where the properties area is placed.
  3. Can sync more than one area or none.
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Nice, but point 1: I don’t think it’s rather intuitive

If you know what that toggle button is doing(label) than it rather is :smiley:

ha ha, of course you and this thread gave to that picture a lot of context. Bring it out of here to the masses and I don’t think that the icon would tell much of what it does and why

Regarding icons in general, I’d argue that there are many others in Blender (or other 3D software) that don’t exactly convey their function, sometimes it’s not that easy to explain something with just a bunch of pixels. Discovering what a button does, either by yourself, with manuals or tutorials it’s something that will always be part of learning any kind of program.

My two cents on sync options: despite the fact that I like the idea of having multiple properties editors with an enable/disable function, so far the problematics with syncing regard only when we click on the object’s name and we jump to object tab, not to syncing in general, as I think that having the ability to access to modifiers, constraints or materials directly from the outliner is a major improvement. On the other hand, going to object properties every time we click can cause confusion and slows down the workflow.

Here Nathan considered to:
1- have a disable option in preferences
2- erase the sync just for object tab
3- to enable/disable it for every single tab, not just the entire properties editor. On this last one, even if it might be time demanding to set up every time, I really like this level of customization, might be worth a try.

Sure. But we have many icons magicians on the forum, let’s ask them: maybe an icon that resembles the outliner’s is a good start

Sure. I think that a modified version of the “link” icon could also work. The shape of the icon is something to worry for later, when/if we actually have something at least semi working.

An easier one: change property tab only if icons are clicked. Keep it if the click is on the object’s name

I think in general it is a nice functionality and wouldn’t add a toggle but make it standard.
But in my opinion it has to preserve the old behavior when clicking on the name of the object to still behave as expected.
That is how I’d expect it to behave at least, as in 90% of cases I don’t want to switch to the object properties when clicking on an object. And usually I click on the name. Being able to switch directly by clicking on an the object icon can still be useful and is in line with the general behavior.