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Feedback Some UX thoughts on the project window and workflow

Discussion in '2020.2 Beta' started by print_helloworld, May 3, 2020.

  1. print_helloworld


    Nov 14, 2016
    Here's some thoughts about the project view workflow and other things related to it after working on several projects of varying sizes and complexity over the years, and I decided to post in the this section because Unity has made it clear that they're focusing on stability and UX improvements (yay). So heres some stuffs:

    Separate inspector views
    The idea of being able to open an inspector view just for a component is pretty handy if you inspect something like a global SO asset and then dock it somewhere for persistency and easy reach. It doesn't seem useful for specific components like say a RigidBody, but it is very welcome for cases like the singleton SO or specific objects or other cases which I'm unaware of.

    So thank you for this feature Unity!

    Focusing on a folder in the project view
    Similar to the reset inspector view changes, perhaps the project view should allow a user to focus itself onto a single folder hierarchy instead of the entire Assets + Packages view. I think this is useful because eventually a project gets massive and developers would end up scrolling back and forth a lot, collapsing and expanding folders, searching and the like, just to find the one folder that has all of your Xs and Ys. Scrolling is especially annoying, and anyone who worked on large documents can probably relate to this, its why we have TOCs with hyperlinks to the headers, or we skip docs and use wikis instead.

    So shouldn't the user have the ability to have a project window that is focused onto a folder, showing only its contents and nothing else? This kind of behaviour existed back when the Packages folder was never shown, and it used to be just the contents of the Assets folder, this is exactly what I'm talking about it, let us do this.

    Layout workspaces and switching between them
    I've heard that Unity is developing the ability that lets you have separate focused layouts, and I'm hoping that it has a UX that let you work with it quickly as how OS's let you. The 3 major operating systems let you create a virtual desktop that you can switch to any of them with a shortcut, and I'll be using Windows as an example.

    You press Win + Tab and you create a new virtual desktop with another set of windows. Then with the multiple virtual desktops, you can press Win + Ctrl + Left/Right to switch between them very quickly. You can see how for a person with a dual monitor setup (most devs) is insanely powerful, because you can now switch between 4 windows instead of 1 at a time with Alt-Tab.

    My point is: I hope this feature will let users switch between the different focused layouts very quickly.

    Cycling between multiple tabs only switches to the first instance of a window
    Also, the default Ctrl + 1/2/3/4/5 keys, which let you select the different common views such as the scene view and project view are great (If you're a keyboard warrior then I highly suggest you switch them out for something easier to reach with).

    However, these shortcuts only focus onto the first instance of those windows instead of cycling between them. I'm sure this just an accidental oversight from the past, so I'm not too worried about this.

    You can't make a folder or an asset a favourite
    The favourites feature is interesting, I've never actually used them before and I never thought that it only applied to searches, which I thought was odd. Shouldn't the user be able to favourite a folder or an asset for quicker access? Because this feature seems like it was added to reduce time searching for assets, but you could've pushed it further. If this is intended and by design, I'm curious to know why and how was this decision made.

    Workaround to focusing on folders
    There is a workaround solution to the lack of focused project views if anyone is interested:
    The user gives the assets inside a folder label X, and then have a separate and locked project view only showing assets with the label X. This is messy though and it requires the user to add the label every time a new asset is put into that folder, which can of course be automated with an editor script. This can of course be an obsolete feature if Unity allows for focused views, but this technique could also serve other purposes for some people.

    Label tagging
    Speaking of lables, how come you can only tag objects through the inspector and not with the right click context menu? I'm aware that your right click menu is already getting bloated in the project view and you guys are clearly trying to combat this.

    I'd also be interested to know how many people actually use this label feature, or if they even knew it existed.

    Selection changes across project view and hierarchy
    Another small thing. When you change the selection in the project view, it will change the selection of another project view as well, which also happens for the hierarchy. Locking the other windows doesn't change the behaviour, and this feels like its design unintended and just a cause of how the selection system works internally.

    Has Unity thought of having separate selections per windows?

    Changing this can of course bring an issue where you have 2 hierarchy/project views, and you select objectA in view A, and objectB in view B. Right now, both views would select objectA, but if the selection is now per window, did you just select two different assets, or did the other window's selection clear itself?
    I'd say neither, for example: If you select something in the project window, then every other project window of this type should stay the same. The inspector should instead utilize the selection of the window that is currently focused, this works because a window is automatically focused if you click inside it, which just so happens to be how you select an object.

    Asset path panel when searching can obstruct the mouse
    If you search for something in the project window and you select an asset that has a deep hierarchy level, the panel at the bottom of the project view will expand and obstruct the selection, and any repetitive clicks will be stopped. Yeah maybe the user shouldn't be spam clicking on the project window, but this shouldn't be obstructed in the first place since because it just looks like inconsistent behaviour to the user.

    I understand that the user should be able to see where this asset is from, so you show a path to asset, but why is the path shown vertically instead of the traditional horizontal approach? Yeah, the path could be insanely long so it would have to be truncated, so I can see why vertical was chosen. But you could still show the full path horizontally if you scroll the text along, or if you show a tooltip when the user hovers over the text for 0.5 seconds, or some other solution. If you worry about users complaining that they don't know what the full path is, you could show an ellipses at the end (...), which will typically make a person curious enough to hover over to show the tooltip.

    Thats all I wanted to say, I'm not upset or mad or anything like that, I just hope that the UX devs see this feedback. I'm also interested to know on the reasoning behind some of these decisions, I'd like to hear from the devs if that possible.

    Also want to ask the others, does anyone else suffer from big-project-scrolling-itis?

    PS: nice performance gainz
  2. Rennan24


    Jul 13, 2014
    Oh man some of the things you suggested would save people soooooo much time. big-project-scrolling-itis is definitively a real problem and I think Unity is making the right steps with the new popout inspector properties window shortcut. There are packages out there that overhaul mitigate some of the issues but I still think it should be inside Unity by default. The favorites things is also something that would be interesting to expand upon.
    print_helloworld likes this.