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Visual Keymap Editor
Confirmed, NormalPublicDESIGN

Authored By
William Reynish (billreynish)
May 12 2020, 1:40 PM
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While Blender's keymap editor is very flexible, it isn't very easy to get a clear overview, to spot conflicts, or to edit in general.

Issues with the current keymap editor:

  • It's hard to get an overview of the keyboard
  • You cannot easily see how a given keymap works
  • It's very hard or impossible to tell which keys are free vs used
  • No way to print out to get an overview
  • It's not possible to tell if there's a conflict
  • It's not easy to see which entries are custom vs 'original'

We can solve these issues with a new approach for how the keymap editor should work:

Rather than just listing entries in a long nested list, we can do something more visual that shows the layout of the keyboard.

Above the keyboard, users can choose which editor and which mode to see. You can also pick if you want to edit the main keyboard, the keypad, or the mouse buttons:

An example of how the Mouse section could work:

In the top right you can choose which modifiers to take into account for the keyboard below. In this case Shift is enabled, so we only show items that are activated while holding Shift.

The keys themselves highlight if there is a shortcut added. The blue key here is the one that is selected. The dot means that it was customized. The warning symbol means there is a conflict on this key.

When a key is selected, you can see the operator assigned to it below. This is similar to the current keymap editor:

On the left we have a way to search for all operators, filtered by the current context, which you can apply to the current key in one of two ways:

  • Either by first selecting the key, then searching for an operator and clicking Apply.
  • Or, you could simply search for an operator and drag it directly onto a key

Normally you see a list of all operators which apply in the current context:

You can search this list to narrow the results down:

Event Timeline

William Reynish (billreynish) changed the task status from Needs Triage to Confirmed.May 12 2020, 1:40 PM

Is the keyboard layout supposed to look different depending on the keyboard the user uses?

@Jacques Lucke (JacquesLucke) Ideally it would take the current input language into account, but not sure how feasible it is to add support for all regions. But, some select ones would probably need to be added, like an AZERTY layout. Ideally it would simply auto-detect the input language so that it 'just works'.

This looks great I do have a use-case where its slightly less useful..

I like the built in keymap but change my navigation controls to be the usual ATL+LMB/MMB/RMB. I do this across all editors/contexts. its currently quite easy to modify all editor versions of similar keymaps by using the search.

This may be something that's less important but thought it was worth mentioning as there are a number of things that are shared (circle/box selected for instance)

With this proposal we'd have to switch editor manually again to see if that editor even had the mapping.

I like this in general, but I'd also like to request that an "Advanced Mode" be retained which would show the version we have now, because of things like what @Andrei Nadin (AnadinX) said about having a list that spans multiple contexts, and for the ability to have multiple keymaps open at the same time which it looks like the new design wouldn't allow. But for general use and conflict detection this looks like a great improvement!

I too agree, this one seems you can navigate & change one thing at time which would be slow to customize an entire keymap while the current one allows for much more flexibilty it's just a long list of scrolling when it should have been a multi-column layout

I think the primary reason why folks would want to retain an "advanced" list of entries that span multiple contexts at once is because there's no hierarchy to the keymap. In many instances I want to add/change a keymap entry at a "top level" and have it apply to everything below that unless overridden later.

Why do I have to add/change the same keymap entry (key and action) for both "Object Mode" and "Mesh" today? What I really want is to add/change that entry for "Viewport" and have it apply to object mode and mesh accordingly.

Why do I have to add/change the same keymap entry (key and action) 3 times for "Object Mode", "Mesh", and "Curve" modes when they will all call the same pie menu using the same key? What I really want to say is just add this pie menu entry to the "Viewport" and have it apply in all the lower modes.

You could still override entries for things like "Mesh" mode individually but for the most part I want a top level hierarchy so I can set most things once.

Beyond that, being able to draw the various keyboard and mouse layouts will probably be very difficult although I really do like it :)

If a hierarchy won't be added, consider allowing multiple "contexts" to be selected at once in your selector maybe? Then display all the actions somehow on the same keyboard layout. It would allow folks to modify all the contexts they have selected at once. Would get messy real quick. At least consider it and mention it in the design even if you chose to not do it.

@Jesse Yurkovich (deadpin)
You can already do that. Just add a keymap entry to the 3D View (Global) section (or the Window section which is truly global). This will make it work in any mode, so long as a keymap entry in a specific mode doesn't override it. I think the reason why people add multiple keymap entries is because they want it to be there for only some modes, not every mode.

You can already do that. Just add a keymap entry to the 3D View (Global) section

Not quite, at least for 3D View (Global). Adding a custom keymap entry there doesn't work in Object mode (weirdly enough). It's why e.g. the Subdivision Set operator is duplicated for Object mode explicitly even -- 6 extra keymap entries that are nothing but clutter.

Setting at Window level seems like a workaround to a legitimate bug perhaps. Haven't tried it to see if it would work though I wouldn't want my keybinding to work while my cursor is over the outliner (operator shouldn't have to care too much about the region)

If folks are wanting to view multiple contexts at once, I wonder why if not to set the same key in multiple places more easily? All I'm suggesting is if that's really the case, we should fix that problem directly, instead of keeping the older list around (unless there's other reasons to do that)

I think you've found a bug there. When I try working with the Subdivision Set operator in a global context all kinds of weird things happen. In fact the Subdivision Set operator seems to display unexpected behavior (to the user at least) even with the default keymap.

As to why you'd want a large list or to see multiple contexts at once is to get a better overview of whats there, not to mention that lists are easier to scan through than the visual keymap proposed here, and you can also have multiple keymaps open and editable at the same time. Another reason is that sometimes you can't currently just assign to a global context because you actually need a different operator for each context; an example of this is the select all operator. There are many different select all operators like object.select_all, mesh.select_all, curve.select_all, action.select_all, gpencil.select_all, etc. (spread across multiple contexts) that all use the same shortcut (A). Changing the shortcut for this operator is already hard, but without access to a list like we have now it would be much harder.

I think the improvements suggested here are useful, but I think there is still value in being able to work with the current list, so I don't think it should be removed, at least for now. As this progresses, solutions may be found that make the list view obsolete, but the current proposal doesn't account for the more complex situations.

While Blender's keymap editor is very flexible, it isn't very easy to get a clear overview, to spot conflicts, or to edit in general.

This proposal provides key-oriented solution instead of operator-oriented.
Operator-oriented is good in editing in general, since it provide clear view of the entire operators structure per modes and the list of available assigned operators, and also can be filtered across modes.
I think proposed solution can be used as a layout viewer, since it prioritizes keys instead of operators, and even with that in mind you have to check all Ctrl Alt Shift combinations to get full key map image per single mode.
Maybe, adding Any button to the filter, that will expose all key's modifiers will help that.

Operators have too long names to fit buttons GUI, and writings like "Start" and "End" are are far from self-evident.
Also it is unknown how to be with things like that

In my opinion, Blender have too complex keymap system to be comfortably exposed in key-oriented way.

Why do I have to add/change the same keymap entry (key and action) for both "Object Mode" and "Mesh" today? What I really want is to add/change that entry for "Viewport" and have it apply to object mode and mesh accordingly.

Because they have different functionality. There is extrude operator in mesh mode and no extrude in object mode.

@Paul Kotelevets (1D_Inc) I don’t think that’s true. The current keymap editor is not really operator-centric at all. It doesn’t list all operators and then which keys are assigned to them - It just primitively lists all the keymap entries in a rather unsorted list. That’s not operator-centric.

@William Reynish (billreynish) Technicaly, true, it is not operators-centric, it is assigned operators-centric, since its a list of assigned operators, which allows you to observe operators by modes, including modal ones.

This comment was removed by Brecht Van Lommel (brecht).

@Loïc DAUTRY (-L0Lock-), I'm afraid I have to remove your comment because of this:

This content can't be posted on any of the Blender development websites.

@Brecht Van Lommel (brecht) then I'd rather just remove the screenshots from my post - eventually replace them with mockups at some point - but keep my comment alive.

It's not just screenshots that are not allowed, detailed explanation of the implementation in other applications should not be posted here either. You can write a new comment with just explanations of how you think Blender should work.

Then can I have a copy of my original comment please ?

@Loïc DAUTRY (-L0Lock-)
Are you planing to reconstruct the entire post?
Maybe I am too early, but

This on itself would basically replace the need for addons that only consist of creating operators just to make new hotkeys.

No. This solution has a hard limit - usable keys are not infinte.
That's why such tools are used with spacebar menu and command alias, especially during repetitive linear work.

And let the advanced user make their own jam. And we all love that, don't we?

We are currently retraining such an "advanced user" to the professional wide-range modelling layout.
It is always painful, but necessary for productive teamwork.

Are you planing to reconstruct the entire post?

Yes, but I need to rethink the entire thing and probably make my own mockups. It will take some time x)

By the way, are there some form of tool or asset pack to create the beautiful mockups we often see here? I'm sure the community would be happy to be able to use them too (and me). Unless it's programming a custom Blender build x)

No. This solution has a hard limit - usable keys are not infinte.
That's why such tools are used with spacebar menu and command alias, especially during repetitive linear work.

You show an example where there are existing operators to call. Any operator can be hotkeyable AFAIK, so creating a "custom command" for that would be useless since you can already hotkey the operator itself.
But what about this that don't exist as operators ? What about macros ?

I personally had to create scripts just to be able to bind things to my keyboard, like a key to reset all Stretch To constraints in my armature, another to Set Inverse all the Child Of, increase/decrease the gizmo size, ... Things I can't do with a search bar unless I first create the operators myself. They can be very user-specific, they can be temporarily, but if there's a way to at least make it easier, why not ?

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