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UI: Properties tabs re-ordering

Authored by William Reynish (billreynish) on Mar 28 2019, 9:31 PM.



When we did the UI for Blender 2.5, the idea for the Properties tab ordering was to follow the general structure of the scene from high level -> low level.

That's why the first items relate to the scene, and as you move further down the list, we follow the hierarchy of the data.

However, we weren't completely consistent, because we put the physics and particles tabs at the end, even though they are object level properties. We did this because we were afraid that the Material Properties would otherwise be pushed out of view:

Also, View Layers really are on a level lower than the Scene, but they appear before Scene in the list.

So, now that we have enough space to show everything, we can use the opportunity to fully follow the original vision, and properly order the tabs from high level -> low level.

This has the additional benefit of grouping modifiers with physics and particles, all of which are inter-related.

Looks like this:

As you can see, this follows the hierarchy accurately, as opposed to the previous order which only follows the hierarchy somewhat.
It also keeps the three main sections intact, while at the same time keeping other logical groupings together - see the rendering tabs and modifier stack tabs.


  • I added extra spacing between the tab groups. Some users have mentioned that the spacing was too small.
  • Texture Properties are still at the end, even though this position made the most sense in the BI renderer, where each material could store texture datablocks. They are more often used for modifiers and tools now, so they don't really fit well anywhere.
  • I put the Scene Properties at the top, because it more accurately reflects the structure, but it can be debated if this is good or not. The nice thing is that it also then goes above View Layers, which are on a lower level in the hierarchy, but still keeps the Render, Output and View Layer properties next to each other,

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William Reynish (billreynish) edited the summary of this revision. (Show Details)

Even within that hierarchical order, I would go for convenience and place more used settings on an easier to find spot.

  • Render settings are used way more often than Scene, move it to the top. (Scene is still above ViewLayer so it's still correct).
  • Modifiers are used way more often than Constraints, place it right after Object.

Still doesn't feel totally right to leave such important sections like ObData, Material and Texture all the way to the bottom though. Contexts like Material and Texture are going to be used less and less now that most settings are available in the Shader editor, so not too worried about it. But ObData is so important, maybe it could go right after Object? then a separator then Modifier/Constraint, etc.

Further along the bottom doesn’t make it harder to locate - on the contrary it could make it easier to find.

I think it would be good to keep the logical hierarchy, which is what this is about. I would be ok with adding that separator as you suggest.

One thing I realize though, is that particles and physics really should be next to modifiers, because they inter-relate. Constraints is more of a separate thing. All are on object level though, but it could be Object, Modifiers, Particles, Physics, Constraints in that order.

One of the reasons I moved the Scene Properties to the top, is because then the Render, Output and View Layers can stay next to each other, while still following the correct hierarchy.

Eventually, some of these tabs will likely disappear. With Everything Nodes, there’s a chance that Particle properties and Physics Properties will go away, and Texture Properties perhaps too.

Having material and texture at the bottom makes sense to me. I think there could be a separator above them, might make them easier to find quickly.

Moving Scene tab to the top I don't like much. While it is called Scene, what it really contains is "all other scene stuff". It's not the main scene settings, we just don't have a better name for it. I'd rather follow the function than the naming here.

I think the render settings should stay at the top, because changing render engine can affect panels in all the other tabs.

just one thing, for me it is important that object data does not changes position, because it is only tab that changes your icons and for the new users can generate confusion.

Updated according to suggestions.

  • Put Scene after Render and Output
  • Put Constraints after all the modifier-related tabs

Now looks like this:

I slightly prefer the previous order, but I'm fine with this too.

I did like that constraints were next to modifiers, all while keeping all the modifier-related tabs together.
And before the Scene tab being at the top made it so the hierarchy was slightly clearer (change scene and the render properties change), and also kept the Render, Output and View Layer tabs together.

For me Object and than ObData. It's more logical and intuitive.

@stefano severi (Tetone) ObData is on a lower hierarchical level than modifiers or constraints, so that would violate the whole principle.

One space before Obdata?

@stefano severi (Tetone) I'm not sure you really understand the hierarchy of the data. ObData is on a lower hierarchy than Object (including modifiers, particles, physics, constraints). So if we follow this principle, then no, it can't be moved there.

Brecht Van Lommel (brecht) requested changes to this revision.Mar 29 2019, 5:47 PM

I think the view layer must be after the render output since they are closely related.

To be honest this whole thing feels like just a variation that is somewhat randomly different, but I don't see it adding much clarity and mainly just breaking muscle memory.

This revision now requires changes to proceed.Mar 29 2019, 5:47 PM

Yes, the original order proposed here did keep Output and View Layers together.

We could revert to that order, or the current order in master for the render & scene tabs. Although the order in master does violate the principle of hierarchy because the view layers are on a lower hierarchical level compared to the scene.

The order proposed at the top seems superior and more correct to me. There's nothing random about it - that's the point. The current order is somewhat random - this one is not.

The main thing I care the most about though, is the fact that physics and particles are so out of place. The current placement in master at the bottom both violates the hierarchy, and also separates them from the modifiers tab. So I feel that clearly that is a real, tangible improvement to move those two.

As for breaking muscle memory, the tabs are now vertical compared to horizontal. There is already no muscle memory retained, so I don't think that's a concern.