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Asset Manager “Basics”
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Dalai Felinto (dfelinto)
Jan 24 2020, 5:16 PM
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The description was moved to the Asset Browser project description (click the tag to see it), the Milestone 1 description to Asset Browser (Archived) (Milestone 1: Basic, Local Asset Browser).

Milestone ?: Online Repository

Here we want to be able to append assets from an online repository like the Blender Cloud, BlenderKit and similar.

There would be a Python API to register custom asset repositories as part of add-ons. The main operations would be to provide a list of assets and metadata, provide .blend with an asset to append/link into the scene, and functions to add/remove/update an asset.

Milestone ?: Usability

Once the asset manager is working for the basics and the UI can do its job, we can start to make things nice. This includes better handling of thumbnails, re-configuring the ID browser to allow for asset browsing, a nice UI widget for managing tags and tag-based filtering.

A key part of making the UX nice, is to make it effortless to drag assets into the scene. When dragging in objects & meshes, they should be able to snap to surfaces. When dragging in materials, the underlying target objects should highlight on rollover. You should be able to add multiple assets at a time.

Milestone ?: Collection Variations

Not strictly part of the asset manager since this would be a core feature of Blender also usable without the asset manager. We would like to support variations for all datablock types, but the first step could be collections (it's effectively like automatically toggling visibility on subcollections to show only one).

Once this is in the place, the asset manager will need to be modified to understand variations.

Milestone ?: Project Repositories

Up to this point the asset manager will handle only the use case of appending files from a local or online repository. The next step would be making it works also for projects.

  • The root project directory would contain a .blender_project file indicating that it is a project (similar to e.g. .git)
  • When opening a .blend file within the project folder, Blender will automatically know which project it is part of
  • Folder structure, file names and file saving are left to the user. The asset browser will not add or remove .blend files in the project. That's all done using File > Save and file browsers as usual.
  • The assert browser will have a "Project" repository that can be chosen, which will show all assets within the project
  • The user will have to mark relevant datablocks as assets in each .blend file in the project so it shows up in the asset browser.
  • Assets can be linked between files within the same project. This is different from other repositories, where only append is possible. Linking between projects or to other repositories should not be possible, a project must be self-contained and not link to any .blend file outside of it.
  • The project folder would be indexed exactly like other asset folders.

The idea here is that we don't want to make many assumptions about how users might structure their project. It should be possible to simply add or remove files, reorganize project directories, and the asset browser should keep working. It will merely provide a view on the existing project structure, and functions to create links to other assets in the project. It will not introduce an alternative linking system as an earlier iteration of the asset manager design did.

This system does not preclude a studio from making an add-on that takes more control over file saving, version control, partial repository checkouts and so on. Such an add-on would likely need to integrate in various places in the Blender user interface, one of which can be the asset browser. For example it might include a custom asset repository to browse assets that are not on the artist's computer, and right before the user links an asset into the scene, download the corresponding .blend file.

But for most projects that are not e.g. feature films, the built-in project repository and automatic indexing system should already be quite powerful.

Further links:

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Julian Eisel (Severin) updated the task description. (Show Details)

Personally I would like to see this get merged into master as soon as its any what useable. The sooner we have anything that saves us from having to append blend files manually the better!

Gotta give credits on the design work done so far <3 Looks clean and powerful.

Will asset manager support custom node tree data blocks so such add-ons as animation nodes or sverchok could use to save some node trees?

"Once the asset manager is working for the basics and the UI can do its job, we can start to make things nice. This includes better handling of thumbnails" ...

Could the following Python library be used to speed up thumbnails loading?

Will the asset manager support skinned armatures? I've got an armature with a skinned mesh parented inside it. when I select the armature and mark as asset, I only get the skeleton without the skinned mesh.
when I select both the armature and the mesh and mark as assets, I get them separately without the skinning connection "because of renaming".

when I put them both in a collection and mark the collection as an asset I get them together but as a collection instance without an override so I can't pose the armature.

am I missing something?

Will the asset manager support skinned armatures?

There's no such thing in Blender.

I've got an armature with a skinned mesh parented inside it. when I select the armature and mark as asset, I only get the skeleton without the skinned mesh.
when I select both the armature and the mesh and mark as assets, I get them separately without the skinning connection "because of renaming".

No. You get them separately, because they're two separate objects, and the assets are created as such.

when I put them both in a collection and mark the collection as an asset I get them together but as a collection instance without an override so I can't pose the armature.

am I missing something?

Yes. Lookup Linked Rigs.
Asset Manager is an Interface/Management system. It does not functionally change anything.

Bay Raitt (spiraloid) added a comment.EditedJun 8 2021, 9:32 AM

Thanks for the response. I like that it's not changing anything. I am wondering how to put characters in it so that they can be added to scenes without additional setup.

(The first thing I tried was to link a rig and create a library override for it and make an asset for it)

in case anyone ever needs my fancy bendy tube for testing.


Any chance on seeing some basic support for geometry nodes modifiers & node groups any time soon?

I am super excited about this new Asset Browser. I've started using it in the 3.0 Alpha and am really happy with what is already implemented. So way to go! 🎉 🎉 🎉

  • Is there a way to search "tags" assigned to different assets? Or what's the plan with that?
  • If there is anything I can do to help with testing or UI/UX design wise (I'm an experienced artist) to help let me know.

Hi all,

Regarding the Project Repositories, please reconsider having a default base set of folders for a project.
It will make cleaner project setups, and it's not that hard adding extra folders to a project if needed.

Or, like with e.g. Maya or Houdini, have some kind of project manager available to change folder names, or add extra folders., before the project creation.
With a base set of folders, you can also 'direct' the app towards these folders for certain tasks, e.g. opening the 'textures' folder when you need an image for a material. Or by default rendering all images to a folder called e.g. 'renders'.
Same for caches, go into 'simulation' etc. etc.

It's not forcing users to use a certain workflow, but it makes a cleaner one when certain things are offered. It's one of my annoyances with Blender, after working with apps like Softimage, Maya, Houdini and others for years.
And I always found it odd that unpacking a blend file will create some of these folders, but by default there's no such system in place.

So again, please consider something like a default folder structure for projects.


Along with folders, I would also like to see an asset tagging system that's independent from folders. So you can tag each asset with an unlimited amount of tags and then search entirely by these tags, for larger databases with a large variety in assets I believe management would be easier this way.

Philipp Oeser (lichtwerk) changed the status of subtask T79178: Asset Manager: Support preview thumbnails for more data-block types from Needs Triage to Needs Information from Developers.Sep 21 2021, 4:34 PM

Just to be clear, there are no folders per-se. But instead the catalog system that creates a virtual folder system to sort the assets in a hierarchical way. On top of that a tag system can be implemented for filtering too.

This is a group project now, no reason to keep me as lone assignee.

Unless there are major show stoppers requiring a big revert, the Asset Browser will make its debut in the 3.0 release. There is still a lot of work to do and we'll soon do further planning for that. But at this point I think we can reduce the priority of this basic umbrella task to Normal. Better to have individual parts of the design high priority (e.g. collection support).

Julian Eisel (Severin) lowered the priority of this task from High to Normal.Nov 3 2021, 3:41 PM