This follows on from T37982 (all the way back in 2013!) which included several plans and UI designs for updating the File Browser layout and interface.
As discussed with @Julian Eisel (Severin) on IRC, we were going to follow on from that old topic, but decided to create a fresh File Browser design task instead.
Currently, the File Browser has a number of issues:
- The general layout doesn't communicate the hierarchy well
- The execution button (Open/Save etc) is in the top right
- The header is overcrowded and not easy to read
- The operator settings take up too much room, even when it's not needed
- The sorting is separate from the data-view columns
As it turns out, the three main platforms we support use a surprisingly similar layout for Open/Save dialogs:
Things they have in common:
- Execute buttons in bottom right
- Ability to sort items by clicking on the category headers
- File path at the top, file name along the bottom
- Source list on the left
- Display buttons at the top
- Search in top right
By following the basic common design and layout, Blender will fit in more nicely with all three platforms.
Mockups & Diagrams
Back in 2013, we made these mockups, to visualise what an updated File Browser could look like:
(Disregard the UI styling here, it's not related to this task)
With recent work related to the Asset Browser, we made updated UI diagrams:
- We could make it open as a new window by default, which makes it easier to close again, and is more consistent with the Preferences window
- Currently, using the File Browser takes over the whole window, with a small 'Back to Previous' button.
- In this state, you still see the active scene and the active view layer, as well as tool settings, all of which make no sense
- This could be made a single, consistent option that applies to all temporary windows (File Browser, Preferences, Render window)
- Might be a good time to remove the '..' buttons to go to the parent directory
- It's no longer a convention in any of the OS's we support
- We are still emulating Windows 3.1 here, which is... yikes.
- We could make shift-clicking select all items in-between
- Same thing is needed for the Outliner, could be solved similarly
- We should handle deleting data better
- Deleting files or folders via the File Browser currently hard deletes it without even using the system Trash
- This is highly error-prone and dangerous - better to just remove the ability to delete from the File Browser, or use the system Trash for Mac, Windows & Linux.
- The operator settings region in the bottom left often has the wrong size, and is way too big.
- We could make the area size dynamic, based on the number of options: