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Media / Texture tab possible refactor discussion


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This is something I had in mind a while back. To me, both names and usage of those tabs is kind of overlapping and confusing, especially to newcomers. First off, the naming convention. Media tab lists all available material shaders (and not any other media, like sound shaders), while Textures tab is a list of material shaders currently used in the map. Not only the tab names are technically wrong, but also the functionalities could be merged into one tab, I think.

If you ever worked in other engines, a typical content/material browser does load all materials used in current map, but it also has a folder structure list on the left hand side (this would be the equivalent of Media tab). Double clicking a package name loads the material and displays its preview tile in the pane on the right hand side. To achieve similar functionality, I imagine the Media and Textures tabs would have to be merged into one Materials tab. I only have doubts about having it as a embedded window in Regular or Regular Left window layout (i.e. under the perspective view and sharing its width lock with it). Having it as separate floating window, as with other inspectors, would probably work better.

In general, this should speed up mappers work and make the use of materials more intuitive (I hope).

Your thoughts? ;)

@greebo, @OrbWeaver are there technical blockers in terms of DR coding?

Edit, a mock up:

Clipboard01.jpg.b3bafe62b16b029ced4e2ba308267aa4.jpg

Edited by peter_spy
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For me it's mainly about a mapper's workflow and use of available space. Each mapper has their own workflow, but if people can agree on certain functionality, then things can be changed. This can either be feedback about certain tool windows (like the Texture Browser tab) being mostly useless and candidates for removal and/or other tabs like the Media Browser lacking things, needing to be expanded.

Talking about screen space, we have people using different Window layouts. I believe (I don't have any recent feedback on that) most people are using Embedded and Floating, but I might be wrong on that. Floating gives the Tab Window (including Media Browser, Console etc.) lots of freedom, whereas Embedded make only a small portion of the main window available for the Media Browser.

I'm open to listen to opinions on those two matters, and as I said in the past, I'm shamelessly giving more weight to input coming from veteran mappers who one or even more released missions under their belt.

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2 hours ago, greebo said:

Talking about screen space, we have people using different Window layouts. I believe (I don't have any recent feedback on that) most people are using Embedded and Floating, but I might be wrong on that. Floating gives the Tab Window (including Media Browser, Console etc.) lots of freedom, whereas Embedded make only a small portion of the main window available for the Media Browser.

I'm using Embedded myself, and that's why I thought about moving it to a separate window, so it would behave like Inspector windows. That, in theory, would make it independent from layout types.

Edited by peter_spy
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I agree that "Materials" would be a better overall name, and divorcing it from the other hodge-podge (Console, AI, etc.) would be good, so "Materials Inspector". I'm not sure about the generalization to showing multiple packages... would there ever be more than the current FM and the TDM core? If not, then we don't need a whole subpanel to show that choice.

For "Current FM" and probably "TDM Core", I'd like to see several views (with sychronization of selection when switching between them):

- One like the present "Texture" view, namely large icons with name captions in a primary pane, and a secondary pane below showing details of a selected icon. The latter could be improved in various ways (e.g., instead of truncating the Description with "...", use wordwrap)

- Another like that, but primary-pane icons scaled down by half

- A list view, with a single icon on each line followed by its name in alphabetic order (only the "non-path" part).

- A tree view, like in Media, that is text searchable

I might add that a current "view" - "Show Favorites" - is not something I use, but maybe others do. This could be presented as a type of filter.

BTW. One thing I dislike about the current text-search in general (not just in the Media tab) is that it times out and goes away (can't be pinned). And then I have to restart the search from the beginning, not from the last hit.

And, if there was option to turn on, "as soon as you apply texture to something, automatically pop up the Surface Inspector", that would be great for me.

WISH LIST OFF

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I didn't mean to literally replicate the UDK Content Browser and package view, I only used it as a reference / inspiration. UDK content browser actually provides view of all assets. This would be a huge change and I'm not even sure that mappers want it.

I was thinking in more baby steps / careful iteration of what we already have. Media tab is kind of like a master list of the materials, and that works fine. So IMO there's no need to replace it with anything else right now. I was thinking just about having Media and Texture tabs in one Material Inspector window, so it would look like in the screenshot above. That alone should be a big improvement, the rest depends on further mapper feedback.

Edited by peter_spy
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