For Blender 2.8, we want to make some changes to how Tool Properties and the Top Bar features work.
First, we've identified a few issues:
# On large monitors the top bar wastes a lot of unnecessary space, leading some users to want to hide it
# When the top bar is hidden, there are some controls that users cannot easily access.
# Changing from Data Properties to Tool Properties is too much of a hassle
# Command Settings dropdown in the Top Bar was too far out of the way, and too much work to engage, always requiring a click to access
# When users have a long list of custom brushes, the toolbar makes it hard to quickly access them all
For this reason, we want to make some changes to these features.
==1: Top Bar
The new philosophy for the Top Bar, is that Blender should be fully useable if it is hidden, so that users with large screens can hide it away without issues.
This makes the Top Bar simpler too: It now only contains Active Tool settings.
== 2: Tool Properties
To make Tool Properties easier to access, we will add them as the left-most tab in the Properties Editor instead.
Also, the Tool Properties will will always display the same settings as in the Top Bar, so that the Tool Properties will work for all tools.
Additionally, users will be able to access the tool adjustment settings for adjusting the tool result here too.
== 3: Command ‘redo’ Tweak Options
Rather than using a popover in the right-most corner of the Top Bar, we’ve decided to handle Command Settings in a different way:
When activating a Command (Subdivide, Remove Doubles etc), we will display the tweak settings directly in the Editor view in which you initiated the command. This way, they can appear inside any Editor, and it will display even if the toolbar is hidden. They appear immediately, and don’t require a click to open. This way, they will always appear close to the area in which you used the command, and they can appear in any Editor with commands that have settings associated to them.
Normally, the command settings will always appear when you execute a command, if there are useful settings to tweak, but if the user minimizes the Command Tweak Settings, these settings will stay minimized for the next executed command too.
Additionally, we will add a global method to turn tweak settings off for users who prefer to use the F6 popup for tweaking.
== 4: Toolbar
We want to add some additional enhancements to the toolbar.
First, we would like to make it possible to add tools and brushes to custom tool groups. This makes it possible to create categories of brushes, especially useful for sculpting where you can have hard surface brushes, organic brushes, skin detailing brushes all separated into separated categories. This is also useful for other modes, as a way to group favorite tools.
Second, we are working on more readable, flexible icons, which work better at smaller sizes. These icons are vector icons and can be themed inside Blender, so that they always appear clearly defined.
== 5: 3D View
The above changes have implications for the way we display certain settings in the 3D View. We've found a way to group items in a logical and hierarchical way, like so:
The items on the left correspond to the active mode. When switching mode, the toolbar and the menus change.
The items on the right are view settings, and are independant of the mode. They also will not change position based on the active mode, so that the same settings stay put.