Linked containers workflows 2.93

I’m trying to build my own workflow for blender and I’m having some troubles. All I’m really finding is “use library overrides.” But things get pretty complicated in the view layer pretty quickly and I’m not understanding what’s going on. That being said, I Have figured out a few things that are working well Enough.

This is for products, so hard surface renderings/animations.
My intended workflow looks something like:

1 blend file for all materials
- will probably link some/all of the lighting/environments from some of the final files for making some tweaks to the materials, once they are created.
1 blend file for each product.
- if there are many products and the product share a common piece that’s complicated enough, I’ll create a blend file for that. For example I’m working on a cooler and the handle assembly is the same on all 6 models. So I have one file for those with a common reference point. That file gets linked and duplicated (I hit a problem there) in each of these files.
1 blend file for working animations
1 blend file for working renders (only splitting these up if I’m splitting the work between 2 or more people)

And that’s basically it. I’m using STEPper right now to import the data, which then lets me change the tesselation of individual parts if I need. The mesh looks like hell, but the files are really small And it keeps the object origins from CAD (if they exist) and keeps things parented nicely so I can more easily sort through the assembly (if it came from a competent engineering team).

I’ll assign the materials in the individual files. Then once the animation starts I can take some of the cameras and lighting and link them to my materials file so that I (or another person) can update the materials to be more awesome than just colors and an initial guess at a few settings.

So that’s basically my initial thought on it. I have to do some work with internal data as well, so the models are heavy. That’s why I want to keep the model data all in one file for each model. Some projects are pretty short, so it’s not worth instancing every shared part between products, but ideally that would be part of it.

I get a little stuck here and there. I linked my handle in the first file by linking the container. That seems to be the easiest way to make sure you can still update things if you actually Add a part. Import, then create a library override right away.
I duplicated the handle - Shift-D (should it have been Alt+D?) and it was still instanced because, well it’s a linked instance already.
But it won’t let me move the duplicate into the same container. So I had to make a second handle container.

One thing I want to do is set it up so I can animate things. Just moving around, exploded view, etc. But I’m not sure how things need to be “rigged.”
Normally I’d just parent pieces and that’s it. I’m not a fan of bones for hard surface models. It just seems like a lot of extra work. If I’m just opening and closing a door, I don’t feel like anything more than a standard keyframe animation is all that necessary? But I also haven’t seen any good tutorials showing me otherwise. I’ve either seen Really simple examples of One of the tools (and usually you can tell they don’t actually understand what they are doing because they’ve never used it in part of their workflow), or they are just showing their really complicated thing, but not start to finish. Great, you set all that up? Where did you get that fancy rig, and how did you make the decisions to do it that way to enable what you’re doing?

If anyone has any resources they think would help, or just suggestions on changing the workflow, and why, I’d love to hear it.