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Proposal: Move Scene and View Layer dropdowns to Scene and View Layer Properties
Needs ReviewPublic

Authored by William Reynish (billreynish) on Mar 28 2019, 11:06 PM.



Currently, we put ID dropdowns inside each relavant Properties area, except for Scene and View Layer. Instead, these are in the top right of the window.

My issues with this are:

  • It's inconsistent
  • It adds lots of clutter to the window that you seldom need to worry about (scenes and view layers are overall quite marginal features)
  • It adds a double-X issue on Windows, where there are then two X icons next to each other (window close and View Layer close)
  • It takes away space from the Workspaces

It's trivial to add them to their respective Properties sections, so I did, in this patch.

In the Properties it looks like this:

The top bar is now free of clutter:

This is especially beneficial to Windows, where the window close button is on the right.

...and there is more room for Workspaces:

I find this to look a lot cleaner overall. If I need to see the name of the active scene or view layer, I can see it in the Outliner. So I don't even think it's necessary, even if you do use those features.


  • Less clutter when you don't need it
  • Can still see active scene & view layer inside the Outliner, for the times when you do
  • No double-X problem on Windows
  • Consistent Properties
  • More space for Workspaces

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

Overall I agree with having ViewLayer and Scene Datablock pickers in their respective properties context. However, I don't agree that they are 'rarely' used.

For this to work there should be a quick way to see at a glance which Scene and ViewLayer is active at the moment.

Can still see active scene & view layer inside the Outliner, for the times when you do

It should be visible at a glance. In the Outliner, when in ViewLayer mode, all you see is 'Scene Collection'. It doesn't say the name of the scene, nor the name of the active ViewLayer.

Solutions in the outliner:

  1. ViewLayer mode could have the name of the active ViewLayer on the top (above Scene Collection).
  2. The dropdown in ViewLayer mode could have the name as label (not just be icon_only like it is now).
  3. "Scene Collection" could be NameOfTheScene Collection, or Scene Collection [nameofthescene] or so.

Solution elsewhere:

  • Display active Scene and active ViewLayer in the stats on the status bar (next to Memory since these are actually global stats). Move non-global stats (geometry, objects) to the bottom-right of the viewport as a part of the text-info overlay.

Yes, in the Outliner View Layer view, the name of the current scene could be added at the top of the hierarchy, as well as the current view layer. It seems to me that this would solve the most pressing need for viewing this information when needed.

You can already see this information in the Scenes view, it’s just missing from the View Layers View.

I'm not sure about this. When you are using just a single scene and view layer, this information is not important. And that's the case for maybe the majority of users.

When you do use them though, I think it's important for this to be always visible. Showing in the outliner is not really a solution for me because you have to scroll all the way up to see them then, assuming you are in the correct outliner view. That's not really any faster than going to a properties editor tab, and slower to go back to the previous scrolling position.

Not sure if it's really a good solution, but maybe these buttons could only show at the top if there are multiple scenes or view layers.

These buttons are also a bit more annoying now, since they need to be redesigned still to put buttons inside the menu. If that was done would it still be important to remove them?

@Brecht Van Lommel (brecht): I mean yes, if the widgets were re-designed to have all the buttons and controls inside of popovers, it would solve some of the issues.

That would also remove the X-buttons, create less clutter and take up less space. So that could be a nice improvement too.

I think it just hit me that (and this is my main hypothesis I guess) really view layers and multiple scenes are really relatively obscure features that never get used in the vast majority of Blender projects. So they just seem to be too prominent compared to how frequently they are used. Again, this is my claim/hypothesis and the impression I get from being involved with Blender-related projects.

Ideally, as Pablo pointed out, I think we could just add the information to the Outliner, inside the View Layers view also. It has the additional benefit of making the hierarchy even clearer:

We could even add a way to switch out the active scene or view layer.

I know that I am probably not part of this vast majority of users, but Scenes and View Layers (or Renderlayers previously) have always been a curcial part of my workflow. And as soon as you start doing any kind of VFX view layers are necessary, and while not the majority I do think that there are quite a few VFX artists in the Blender community. I found it a very welcome step forward to have the info, which view I am an currently in, in the header bar.
@William Reynish (billreynish) I really like your proposal though to add the View Layer info in the outliner like in your last mockup, as well as putting those dropdowns in scene and viewlayer properties panels. I'd just like to keep them in the header as well.

@Sebastian Koenig (sebastian_k) If they were both in the Outliner, always visible and switchable, why would you need them in the header also?
Keeping them in the window header defeats the entire purpose of this change.

I am aware that, if you do certain work these things may be useful to see at a glance - which is why I think having them in the Outliner solves that use-case.
And for the vast majority of Blender projects in which don't use multiple scenes or view layers, they won't be permanently affixed to the window.

Another solution is what @Brecht Van Lommel (brecht) suggests, to only show them in the window top bar when there are multiple scenes or view layers set up.

Even without any change to the current Outliner, you *can* see this information if you set the Outliner to Scene view:

Here you see the name of the active scene and active view layer, already. For the people who make heavy use of scenes and view layers, they could just set an Outliner to Scene view and that should be enough.

And, if you really want you can even make very specific layouts in which you can make the Scene and View Layer ID's visible in any UI configuration, like so:

If those two menus are gone it get's rather annoying to get to the scene and viewlayer configuration that you need. I mean, usually there is just 1 properties editor open. And in most cases it will be set to something else than viewlayer or scene. So if you need to switch those you first have to navigate to these 2 (separate!) tabs, set scene and viewlayer and then go back to your previous properties tab.
Then there's fullscreen mode where you also sometimes need to change scene and/or viewlayer.
More importantly though there is the Video Editing workspace, which doesnt currently have an outliner. But especially there you have to have more than one scene in your file, if you wanna use a blender scene for editing. So you need to be able to switch scenes there. But adding an outliner there just for that? I don't know. I mean, is space really problem in the header bar? I would guess that the majority of Blender users do have at least an HD monitor, and there is plenty of space. I
That said, think @Brecht Van Lommel (brecht)'s solution could work well.

Generally though, this is why we have workspaces. If in the VFX workspace it's very important to see this information, we could make sure there's an Outliner in Scene View so you can easily see the active scene and view layer.

For reference, this is the related paper cut topic:

I don't make use of render layers very often but I do frequently use multiple scenes per project. I understand the reasons for removal (too prominent, clutters UI) but I can see how it will make workflow slower for those who use it.

In addition to the scene and layer switchers in the properties windows, if the current scene and layer indicators in the outliner were functional and you could switch scene and layers from a dropdown menu it could minimize the hassle.

Another option would be to bring back breadcrumbs to the properties window header and also bring them to the 3D View as an overlay text as well.
If made functional, in the sense that clicking in them gives you a a dropdown list of items to pick from, like current Windows Explorer address bar, breadcrumbs could replace the top bar entries.