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File Browser GUI: Planned Changes for 2.81
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Description

File Browser GUI: Planned Changes for 2.81

After the recent file browser UI design overhaul, we have a couple of TODOs stemming from own plans and user feedback.

These we should probably do for 2.81:

  • Add + and - buttons inside the name field (828905190e1, 2aa3e9c67c)
  • Store the last used File Browser settings (display type, thumbnail size etc). Store inside Preferences, just like Quick Favorites.
  • Make the Options sidebar open by default when saving images, link/append, and possibly others
  • Add preference for each temp window to either open as a window or the old full window temp state. (also move Render window option to Preferences for consistency then)
  • Add click-in-empty-area-to-deselect to File Browser (42c062c98a)
  • Better handling of temp windows, so they don’t ’steal’ each others windows
  • Better handling of secondary windows so they always display on top

Open Topics

  • Smarter file path controls that work like clickable breadcrumbs, which also allow you to double-click to edit as text

    We'd like to experiment with this as an alternative to bringing back the .. item.
  • Find & implement a better way to expose file operator options

    We didn't want to expose a huge empty side-bar for common cases like save & open, when there are really few settings. So idea was to have the sidebar hidden by default for these, with a prominent way to open it. That's why a big button on the left side-bar was chosen, with the obvious trade-off being that it opens a region on the right. We should re-evaluate on that and decide on a better solution, the trade-off is too apparent.
  • Search and file path buttons are barely usable in small areas, needs a solution

    We could make the contents a bit more responsive, so buttons are moved into a menu if space is tight. Or we merge the file path and the search button so that when clicking on a search icon button, the file path button turns into the search button.

Details

Type
To Do

Event Timeline

Julian Eisel (Severin) changed Type from Bug to To Do.
Julian Eisel (Severin) triaged this task as Normal priority.

Another very small change we could do, is to make the Options button a toggle, and put it in the top right

I like that location @William Reynish (billreynish).

Perhaps we could also make the search field be like in nautilus?

If you click the search button (magnifying glass or hit ctrl + f or simply /) the path filed fill turn into a search input field.
This way we save space.

For the breadcrumbs, perhaps we could simply have a text string as it is now, but the folder name under the cursor will be highlighted. So when you click in the input field while a folder is highlighted, it will navigate to that folder.

Could also add a warning before saving over other files. Currently you can very easily accidentally overwrite existing files with no warning, other than the red name field.

Maybe feature to double click an empty area to parent directory?

Maybe feature to double click an empty area to parent directory?

I'd find that a bit obscure and more importantly confusing. Double clicking at the wrong place would then jump directories, without being obvious why and where it jumped to (users might have to remember and check the file path to find out).

Using empty space in file browser is a bit troublesome anyway: What is the empty space? Is it only at places where no file is highlighted? That would leave us with very little empty space when there are many files, or when they cover the view (very common). People would still ask for a better way to go to the parent directory.
Or does it include empty space of highlighted items? Then it would be easy to accidentally invoke the wrong double-click action.
There's a good reason for click-in-empty-area-to-deselect, and that is consistency. But on it's own it is not reliable enough for the file browser, there needs to be a more reliable way to quickly deselect too (i.e. Alt A).

Piotr (radi0n) added a comment.EditedTue, Sep 10, 1:38 PM

Now blender file browser use full line selection and clicking on empty space in this mode is useless. Especially when a lot of files are displayed in the window.
For example in Directory Opus (windows explorer replacement program) i use selection only on filename and have a lot of empty space and its very easy to go parent by double clicking on empty space.

Anim gif:

The new File Browser window is one step forward and few backwards:

  • it is great it opens as separate window – this took so long to implement. Finally it is here. Thank you for that!
  • the window does not remember previous opened size. People have large displays and want to use that space. Tiny windows like this and like preferences is not a welcome usability fix.
  • there is missing Up arrow with two dots .. over files list that allowed to quickly go back. Using only the arrow up that is farther away is a bad idea. Since it was feasible before why it is not now?
  • opening a folder using single click was a great Blender's feature. Now it's removed. Why?
  • monochromatic, same colour icons makes a list one mess. Why can you introduce colours for folders, blend and image files? It would help so much to distinguish what is what at first look.

I agree with most of the changes, but after using the Blender for over 10 years I think:

  • icons are better way to sort/filter files than popovers. One click, fast and visible.
  • two dots (as up arrow) is needed.

Is there a reason for ea94cade2991 to be an unpublished commit?

In the Video Editor Workspace, the File Browser's path and search field are not useful unless you make the width of File Browser area fill half of the screen(1920x1080):

Minimum width for a 5 letter search:

So in other words, it's currently not really working for this purpose. Maybe it could be considered, in this case, to ex. move the path to the footer, move the search into the menu header, or make the File Browser area in the Video Editor wider?

@Sam Van Hulle (sam_vh) On the contrary, there WAS a confirmation popup for creating new folders, but that is now removed.

@Sam Van Hulle (sam_vh) On the contrary, there WAS a confirmation popup for creating new folders, but that is now removed.

Yes, I noticed the ea94cade2991 commit after I posted my comment (hence my edit). But it's unpublished for some reason. I believe that's why the confirmation popup is still there? Just pointing it out.

Any design feedback not strictly about the points mentioned here should go to the design task, T62971. Here we only list the TODOs for 2.81, and maybe try to find solutions to the mentioned open topics.


  • the window does not remember previous opened size. People have large displays and want to use that space. Tiny windows like this and like preferences is not a welcome usability fix.
  • there is missing Up arrow with two dots .. over files list that allowed to quickly go back. Using only the arrow up that is farther away is a bad idea. Since it was feasible before why it is not now?

The description of this very task explains the plans regarding these.

  • opening a folder using single click was a great Blender's feature. Now it's removed. Why?
  • It was confusing & inconsistent (clicking on regular files invoked a different action than clicking on folders)
  • With LMB-select there would be no good way to select directories without opening them
  • It's what users expect coming from common file browsers

I get that some prefer the old behavior, but it's no good choice for a default IMO. If users really want it, they just have to enable the Open toggle in the file.select keymap item.

  • monochromatic, same colour icons makes a list one mess. Why can you introduce colours for folders, blend and image files? It would help so much to distinguish what is what at first look.

If you check latest master, there have been some changes.


@Peter Fog (tintwotin) agree, it's not great, it's even worse than I thought. Will add to the 2.81 TODOs.


@Sam Van Hulle (sam_vh) All non-master commits are "unpublished" since a while now, but that's just a phabricator display thing, has nothing to do with the actual changes. It's broken for a different reason, I need to check why.

Any design feedback not strictly about the points mentioned here should go to the design task, T62971. Here we only list the TODOs for 2.81, and maybe try to find solutions to the mentioned open topics.

Thanks for the reply, I will continue in the design task discussion.

All non-master commits are "unpublished" since a while now

@William Reynish (billreynish) Ah, 'non-master'. Didn't spot that before. I haven't said anything!

Speaking as a very new blender user (2.80 convinced me to switch), I have found the file browser hard to use. Mostly these two issues:

  • Because the filepath path at the top doesn't work similar to the windows 10 one (clickeable bread crumbs). I found it hard to navigate back a few levels/folders. Hopefully that will be changed.
  • The way the drives are sorted at the left side (volumes vs system) feels a bit unexpected for me (windows user). I would expect that those two panels are merged into one (treeview) window similar to how explorer works on windows.

I know I'm looking at this with the bias from a windows user, but still wanted to share my experiences as a very novice user learning to know blender.