Asset management is among one of the most valuable features in a 3d software since it allows to handle very complex scenes, that are the daily bread for artist and firms. Blender currently does a good job due to some very wise design and in Blender 2.5 things may become better and better.
But Blender has a limitation regarding layer management, it only allows up to 20 layers. A typical layer manager, a very useful and requested feature (I remember myself years ago downloading and opening Blender just to see very disappointed that the number of layers buttons remains the same over versions) allows to handle dynamic layers with more than toggable visibility, that means unlimited named layers, selection freeze , toggable renderability and so on.
It’s true that there’s a Layer Manager Script that helps on many of those issues but did I have mention that it only manages 20 layers? Let’s face it, 20 layers could be ok for small projects, not so complex models or if we like to spread our 200+ pieces realistic modeled watch across 10 scenes in the same file and go crazy navigating for its different logical parts.
Since Blender 2.42 a very powerful feature has been included: Groups, which allows all sort of crazy things. Groups could act essentially like Layers but have more advantages:
dynamic nature (unlimited per scene), named, and the good news is that I have implemented also restriction flags for them: toggle visibility, toggle selectability and toggle
renderability allowing for a very functional Layer Manager… sorry Group Manager
Fig. 1. – current versions, outliner showing groups
Fig. 2. – patch applied, outliner showing groups with toggle buttons
I have written a patch for Blender 2.4x series and for Blender 2.5, though for the last one some recode is required in order for it to work nicely with the new RNA system. but again, like always, I only show what IS possible in Blender through working prototypes. This feature is relatively easy to implement, and for an established Blender dev should be a matter of hours before being added to the trunk. Moreover, could be very useful for Durian and even a nice addition if another 2.4x release were to be made
It allows to use the groups as layers. Now in the outliner windows, in the Groups entry, for each group will appear the toggle buttons for object visibility, selectability and renderability. That way you can quickly organize your project like in a layer manager, navigate through it, protect entire groups from selectability and restrict entire group renderability.
Fig. 3. – patch applied, entire scene
Fig. 4. – patch applied, NUTS group visibility toggled
Fig. 5. – patch applied, BOLTS group visibility toggled
I hope this feature will be very usefull and hope you like it