UI improvement: Sidebar Icons instead of Text Labels (PoC)


I’ve created a little Proof-of-Concept for myself to see if the tabs in the Sidebar could be displayed in a different and probably more efficient way.

Motivation / Problem to be solved
Over the time I have accumulated lots of add-ons that I use and the Sidebar gets extremely crowded up until to a point where those tabs don’t even show their text labels anymore due to lack of free display space.

Click on this image to see the full image:

So my idea is to simply replace the text labels with icons for each tab. This is what I have so far:


I had to make some changes in the C sources to achieve this. The iconified tabs are fully functional and even the workspace Filter Add-ons feature still works as expected. :slight_smile:

Next steps on my list would be:

  • Add a new settings section in the Blender Preferences dialog inside the Interface tab for the sidebar.
    • Allow users to toggle display modes: text labels or icons
    • Allow users to set a custom path where Blender should look for Sidebar icon image files. (There should be a default path as well, I guess)
    • Allow users to individually assign an icon to a Sidebar category.
  • Define an API for add-ons so they can provide additional Sidebar icons. User assigned icons always take precedence.
  • Add tooltip support to the Sidebar’s category tabs. This enables users to still find out the category name per tab.
  • Add resize support when Sidebar is used in icon mode (undecided)

Is this something of general interest to fellow Blender users?

Maybe also a Blender UI dev could give me some feedback whether this is a feature you’d like to see officially added to Blender after enough iteration time. If that’s not the case, I’m fine with that, too. Your feedback would simply help me decide how cleanly I should implement the things I listed above - just for me or for everyone. :stuck_out_tongue:



This looks extremely promising. Any chance I could take a look at the code? I’d love to see if I can use it to some degree. It looks extremely useful.

Bump, you have some magic here!

bumping thread, this has great potential

FYI. There’s another discussion about the sidebar in this thread:

And also an open task to redesign it:


I haven’t fully read everything in there, but so far as I have there are some really interesting solutions and thoughts around it. Check them out and let me know what you think! Having icons for tabs is certainly a cool option for sure :+1:

非常反对 右侧面板标签图标化
Very much opposed to the icon of the label on the right panel.
Or keep the text label simple?
But it can be provided as an UI option

Now wondering if we should be drawing tab labels differently if the output language is Chinese, Japanese, and Korean so the characters are vertical but not rotated.

我同样认为不必要竖直排列中文 日文 与 韩文等
因为目前排列 正好能起到视觉上得分割感,
一旦竖排 旋转 虽然便于阅读 但却会增加UI混乱感
I also don’t think it is necessary to arrange Chinese, Japanese, Korean and so on vertically.
Because at present, the arrangement can give us a sense of visual division.
Once the vertical rotation is easy to read, it will increase the sense of UI confusion.

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Yeah, I have been keeping a lurking eye there. Though, for now I’m more curious about this specific code to figure out how he did it.