Why no layer manager

I am asking this not to spark a flame war or anything but just to get a clear cut answer to something about Blender that leaves me at times flabbergasted.

I dig the new interface and all the goodies it has bestowed on us but one of Blender’s shortcomings that I hoped would get sorted has not. I am speaking about a propare layer manager that doesn’t limit me to 20 nameless boxes.

I would personally find something like this more useful than drag and drop but in all my searches and reading up on the interface design and all, I have seen nothing to indicate that we will be ditching the 20 boxes anytime soon.


I must admit that i dont use Blender layers really and prefer to organise my scene with the outliner.
Maybe a good compromise would be to add a new layer system to the outliner, much like photoshop, paintshop pro and gimp.
Even the ability to add folders to the outliner would be a huge leap forward imho…combined with drag and drop it would be perfect.

One of the big problems is that it’s called a “Layer” system at all. It doesn’t actually work like layers in any program that has them. It’s more of a shortcut-based grouping and visibility system.

Think about it. In any other “layer” system, an object is on a layer. That’s where it lives. Layers are arrange-able, stackable and you can blend different layers with different kinds of blending effects. Layer order matters to the final effect.

This is drastically different than what Blender has. If you think about the functionality of our “layer” system, it is much more akin to grouping in other apps than anything else. Would it be helpful to name these groups and have those names show up on rollover? Yep. But I don’t think a full layer-based interface would be appropriate for what we have.

Yea i think you are right Harkyman…the current system is named incorrectly for what it actually is.

I really do think that we need a better system for organising scenes though as from personal experience the current outliner can get very cluttered.

Im working on a HP model at the moment and its got 50 objects showing (there would be more but im using array on 80% of the objects with counts of each being between 4 and 8) , which is starting to become a headache to work with…and i still have about another 25% left to model before i start on the sculpting of each piece and the final LP.

As i said before, if a folder system was implemented in the outliner it would speed up workflow and organisation loads as i could separate the Basic HP into 4 folders (bottom, mid low, mid high and top) and put them all into a single folder called HP, which would allow better organisation of the sculpted pieces and the final LP (each in separate folders).

I would have a go a coding this myself but unfortunately im so busy with other commitments, i don’t really have the time to learn anything new at the moment. :frowning:

Is something like this even feasible with the current outliner code?

Im so grateful to the whole community and developers for the work that they do and really appreciate that any change to a system is not something that can be taken lightly so i cant complain.
After all if it wasn’t for the work they all do i wouldn’t be having this conversation right now :slight_smile:

WELL C4D DOES NOT HAVE ops layers.

they just use the outliner. If they would enable use
to create folders in the outliner it would be great.

layers in Blender are pretty neat when u use them
with light restrictions onto geometry which is also
on the light layer.

few month ago I have made public a patch for adding group visibility in the Outliner, basically replicating a layer manager functionality … it get lost in the dark :no:


I second Stargeizer’s post - FourMadMen’s layer manager is brilliant in 2.49, and I use it in all my work; I would not want to be without that one. And in the world of 3d the term ‘layers’ as used in Blender is actually correct, in my opinion: think multi-dimensionally.

I had the same problems with complex objects - with lots of objects starting to bog down the view. Thanks to above-mentioned script I can now easily switch whole groups of objects to a different view mode and organize them quickly in layers.

I would like drag and drop support in the outliner, though. Folders would be a nice addition too.

Farsthary, you mean this? I’ll be installing this ASAP!


By the way, your Volumetrics work is magnificent :cool:

Farsthary that patch looks very good, just what we are after.

I think it’s good to have the layer’s and groups, since we can use layer’s as quick methods of hiding and showing objects, which aren’t grouped yet and the group visibility for final scene control etc.

Hopefully it will get included in 2.5 beta and 2.6 release.

Is there any reason why it hasn’t been included yet (To the developers)?

a lot of other 3d apps have layer systems in exactly the same way as blender, the term is used often enough for 3d artists to understand what it means, you can just organise them a bit better with colours and names etc.

I think it’s aptly named, it’s conceptually a bit different tho…the layers are 3d objects on 3d layers represented in a 2d view (the 20 squares or a layer manager). Comparing it to 2d layers like in photoshop or gimp is like comparing apples to oranges but term “layer” is still appropriate.

But it does take a bit of getting used to idea at first, as with most things in 3d apps. You just have to forget about the 2d interface because it just represents the information. Also groups are vastly different to 3d layers, you certainly need the distinction between the two.

Would be interesting to hear if anything is planned. Some apps even have selection sets which adds another level of ease of use or confusion to the mix. Can blender do selection sets? I haven’t thought to look into it. In some apps the selection sets can be recorded for sub-objects like verts and edges etc… and apply to groups of whole objects. Can be very useful when selecting the same pieces over and over that you know you will want to edit but for some reason you can’t make it a group.

I like what cekuhnen brought up about C4D…it seems being able to create a folder or domain for our objects to reside inside of the outliner is a great idea, but that is just me…one of the best layer mangers I ever used was actually in trueSpace 6…so many per layer options like locking, the visibility type, wire color etc…I also liked Lightwaves layers a lot…ok, my 2 cents end here. Chalk this up to one more person asking for something and not contributing…since I have not donated since orange…

Basically (IMHO) the idea is to make groups of objects, very much like the actual layers, but i think that some aditional features needed to make these gruops usefull to all users:

  • Ability to make the objects in the group visible/hidden in the viewport
  • Ability to make them renderizable/not renderizable. (different to the above: hidden in the viewport, but renderizable in the final render, and viceversa is a must for some applications)
  • Ability to give an arbitrary transparency value (alpha value) and/or a color to all the objects in the group at the same time, without the hassles of the compositor or material hacks. The idea is not to override the material original alpha/color, but to mix a global alpha/color to make possible some effects not possible right now. (without losing time in the compositor). (BTW is too much obvious that i hate the compositor?? :wink: Take this with a little of salt. Basicaly i’m speaking of a feature that allows someeffects in no time, easily)
  • Ability to receive/ignore lights globally (That is all objects in the layer receive/ignore some determined light).
  • Ability to “lock” the objects: That is: make them visible as objects, but not editable (unless the user “unlocks” it).
  • Ability to give an arbitrary name to the “layer” or “group” (with a reasonable limit, let’s say… 255 characters??)

Well… as we say in our country: “Dreaming is still free” :wink:

2 cents again in the table…


I can actually see the current group function, and of course the patch that farsthary developed turning into a feature like this. Of course it would probably be down the list on the development front as there are a huge number of bugs to solve and features to add back in.

Dreaming is free, but making your dreams/ thoughts known leads to results, so if you would like something like this try and design a proposal document of how it would work and look, I may actually do this since I think it would be very handy, but the more merry. :slight_smile:

+1 Fourmadmen’s Layer Manager script.
I suggest to people to look at this first.
I don’t want to manage layers in the outliner.
Constantly searching or scrolling to do what should be easy.
Check the functions in the 2.49b layer manager script.

AGH perharps I have too much AutoCAD in my system, they have layers too. I don’t think layers should thought of only in terms of their 2D counterparts there is no need for blending modes etc. I don’t know if its universal across CAD programs but there layers are like ‘container’ for parts of a drawing. Like photoshop layers without opacity controls, blending modes, mask etc.

the kind of functionality that would be cool for me.

  1. been allowed to create more than 20 layers and name them.
  2. visibility controls
  3. been able to group and organise layers
  4. and perharps a filter to be able to quickly navigate the layers, to use an example from engineering CAD programs you can at times get a drawing with over 100 layers but its still easy to use and navigate them because lets say you wanted to see only plumbing, you can use your filter to only show layers that begin with the word plumbing etc.

but the first three things are what would be cool to see.

Yeah. 3D layers have never been the same as 2D layers. There is no comparison.

I would like very much to see naming of layers.

I would also like to see a display in the outliner as to which layer something is in. M shortcut only works if you have that layer open. In a large scene with many objects, it is difficult to manage. I would like to see this built in to Blender.

Its one of the big bad things about Blender.

Also there are now 2 different ways of accomplishing this - “Get 'er Done!”

I tend to prefer 4madmen’s version.

I’d personally like to be able to do it from within the outliner.

it is much more akin to grouping in other apps than anything else.
Dont forget the "only this layer" function in the lamps. To be honest: layers in Blender are messy and have to be re-thought right from the start. The wonderful layer manager of "FourMadMan" helps, but doesnt solve the problem.