Show Icon on fake user buttons instead of "F"
Closed, ArchivedPublic


There is nothing wrong with the *concept* of fake user, but the way we expose it to our users is a bit obtuse.

The user sees a button with a capital "F" on it. The "F" does not seem to relate to anything, and if they hover over it the popup hint text says "save this datablock even if it has no users" which does not contain anything important with an "F".

The attached patch replaces the "F" with a "lock" icon as this seems to match the concept a bit better. There is an image attached that shows what it looks like before and after the patch.

Just a thought anyway...



I like this concept a lot, checking with others.

Really like it too!
But i'd prefer locked or unlocked icon (see attached files, fakeuser_2), if possible, even without graying out the icon when not enabled

Yes, I don't mind it with both lock and unlock icons.

I found that Sebastian's patch was referencing local absolute paths. The attached
patch is relative: "fakeusericons2.diff" shows both icons and simplifies it all by using
the "?" operator.


The more I think about it the sillier it seems to have any operation represented by a single
letter to the user like this.

I'd guess that some English speakers seeing an "F" would think it meant "Free", as in
discard - the opposite of what it really means. We could change it to something more obvious
like "S" for Save or "K" for Keep, I suppose. But then do we translate those? "K" becoming
"T" in Spanish or "G" in French?

No, I think this needs to be an icon that represents the operation. "Locking" makes the most
sense to me and is an easy graphical representation to grasp. It could be something like a
garbage can with an "X" through it but that would look confusing when it isn't enabled.

a lock as icon isn't that good either, should actually be more of a floppy icon (like for saving), maybe combine floppy with a chain?

there are other suitable icons btw, dunno what they are usually used for... like (dis)connected chain, chain + 2 squares (documents?), ...

see attached picture

sorry, picture upload failed

Use this:

sorry, picture upload failed

Use this:

To be honest, I *mostly* just want anything besides "F" so for me anything is
and improvement.

The disk icons don't read for me very well in that location. Floppies, like file folders,
on a button look like an action that will take place when you click on it, while we
are trying to indicate a state.

The chain icons have a different meaning.

My personal favorites are the locks. But I like the push pin icon as that makes a bit
of sense. pushing the pin in to keep something. We use it for things like "only render
active layer". My only problem with that set is that it reads well as an icon in the off
state (the pin out) but not in the on state (just looks like two circles).

Perhaps, the padlock could have a small F shaped key hole.

I agree this should be an icon instead of an F, however the lock icon is already used in some places in the UI, and there it means you can't edit the data. So I don't think we should be using this icon, there should be a new one.

Thanks Brecht!

Agree the lock icon (and all the current ones) don't really work. And I can see how the "lock"
beside the Material name could look like it is a setting to disallows further changes to the
material itself.

Need something that means keep, preserve, retain, protect, etc. but without overlap
with locking and not changing.

I'll see if a BA thread can come up with some ideas...

maybe pin + red cross or green tick depending on state?

or a stickman symbolizing the user? (maybe just outline + red X if no users and disabled, filled otherwise)

We discussed this on a BA thead:

There were three pages of discussions and the consensus quickly moved to using the current "push pin"
icons. It works logically and metaphorically. It doesn't seem to conflict with our other uses of it, like "only
render active layer."

The patch is attached as "fakeusericons3.diff" and there is a screenshot called "FakeAsPin.png" showing
what it looks like.

Sounds logical to me. +1

Yes, the pin icon is ok with me too. Big improvement over ambiguous 'F' letter.

IMHO, it can be confusing to use pin icon. Fake User is relative to datablocks.
In Properties Editor, most of time, datablock template is not far away from datablock context line.

I think that new users would try to build a relation that does not exist between the pinning context UI trick and a fake user datablock.

I think ghost icon is more close to what fake user does. But it is not a good one either.
IMO, we should try harder to find a good idea.

Pin icon for fake user is ok for me; if we have another solution for fixing properties of a datablock, exiting them of current display restricted to active object.

I like the anchor.
But I think that the best metaphor is to have a character.

Next to Fake User button, there is often a number about how many user the datablock have.
The icon could help to enlighten this number.

Something like that.

Or a roswell alien head (a totally fake user).

Anchor and Shield work quite well! Suitcase is okay, but seems to say "pack this up so I can transport it somewhere" which could (wrongly) make sense in some cases. The Chain can look like a web link and the Database one doesn't visually say anything.

An icon representing "user" is the wrong way to go. Although we deal with this problem internally by assigning to a fake user, for the user of Blender this action is "keep this thing around even if nothing is assigned to it".

An icon representing "user" is the wrong way to go. Although we deal with this problem internally by assigning to a fake user, for the user of Blender this action is "keep this thing around even if nothing is assigned to it".

In this case, anchor or shield is ok. But fake user expression should not be kept and exposed as is in the UI.
I mean if we have an anchor or shield button activated to say "this thing is protected"; it would be weird to kept a count of 2 users next to it.

If we want blender users to ignore internal trick and consider the action as a protection, UI should mention a protected datablock and not a fake user.
It implies to visually exclude fake user from the cunt of data users.

I think the initial idea to use the lock icon was the most readable, but since, as brecht said, it's used already, we could use a "mutated" lock instead. So, a lock with the letter F by it for instance. That would have the added benefit of not switching to something entirely new, which is often painful for existing users, and is often met with defiance.

Alternatievely, a shield with F is also ok.

What's up with this? I'd really like to get this in soon.

Checked this and while F is a bit strange, none of the alternatives seem like a significant improvement

(these seem like OK options, but not great: )

Think we could just close this task if no good options are agree on soon.

no resolution or reply in a long time, archiving.

As William Reynish mentioned at one point: this isn't a case of nothing being better than 'F', it's a case of everything suggested so far being better.

Personally, I think the Pin or Anchor icons best describes what this does.
A pin or anchor suggest 'this stays here' more so than 'this is locked' which carries connotations of not being able to edit it.

Anything to do with a 'user' relies on a vague concept that only makes sense once you figure out the underlying reasoning, and is therefore the least immediately graspable to new users.
One of these combined with an F as a concession to old users is fine to me, although honestly I prefer it without.

It seems to me this is a 'too-many-cooks' situation, and someone just needs to make a final decision. I think this isn't a lost cause, multiple members of the UI team have weighed in, but now that there's been more discussion perhaps they're ready to make a decision?

@michael knubben (michaelknubben), to flip a coin and pick one may be fine for a new project - but for an application with existing manuals, tutorials etc, we better not make haphazard changes.

As for there being "too many cooks", we have design leads for this reason.

Rather agree on one that's a clear improvement and go with it. Or not at all.
Said different, if UI designers don't have time to make good choices, we can postpone making changes until they do.

I'm with @Campbell Barton (campbellbarton) on this one. Unless there's a very clear icon change, that makes good sense, then it's better to leave as is for the sake of manuals. I think we mostly all agree that the F is a bad representation, but none of the other proposals are all that much better in my opinion.

One of the issues is that we're trying to illustrate what is mostly a foreign concept to most users (not counting long-time Blenderheads), and so not very many, are going to adequately convey the concept. The padlock is probably the best, but that's not an option.

codemanx added a comment.EditedMar 8 2016, 6:01 PM

I would interpret the lack of a good visual solution as a general design issue.
Why do we need a fake user toggle in the first place? To stop content from being removed if it's not referenced by anything?

My answer is that it shouldn't be removed automatically.
There should rather be way to actually delete datablocks, and it should be visually distinct from clearing a reference to it
(e.g. trash can vs. X, or minus icon vs. inline X instead of a full, embossed button, like we have in some dropdowns or for the eyedropper already).

Not sure about the technical aspects, but maybe it's possible to have bilateral (weak?) references between datablocks. It needs to perform well of course.