Asset Manager

The asset manager project goal is to help artists to quickly re-use, share and organize assets and production files. This project is one of the 10 projects for 2020, starting with a clear and focused design, planned to be implemented and expanded over multiple releases.

What is an asset?

“An asset is a data-block with meaning.”

A .blend file is a database with multiple data-blocks: objects, textures, materials, … When planning to re-use or share them, the data needs a meaning. What is this? What is this for? Assets are curated data-blocks that are meant for use outside of their original .blend file.

The asset meaning is handled as meta-data (category, thumbnail, author, license, …). When linking or appending from a file, assets should be the primary filter option one sees.

The asset nature and origin will determine the type of the asset:

  • User Presets reusable assets that can be appended into any scene. For example a base mesh for sculpting, gold material, or fireworks particle simulation.
  • Project Assets data-blocks in a project that are intended to be consistent throughout the project. For example a character or prop common to multiple shots in a film.

Note that user interface presets – matcaps, brushes, HDR studiolights, keymaps – are not part of the initial target for the asset manager project.

What is a repository?

“A repository is a container of assets.”

A repository is a folder-like containing multiple .blend files with assets inside. There are 2 kinds of repositories:

  • Presets repositories contain exclusively user presets that are appended or applied to the scene.
  • Project repositories contain exclusively project assets that are mostly linked, but they can also be appended or applied to the scene.

Eventually a .blend itself can be treated as a full repository. However performance would be problematic for large files. So this idea is on hold until we have more use cases to justify its development.

Life cycle of an asset

“Create, edit, share and use it.”

The asset manager is a new editor responsible primarily to use the assets and navigate the repositories. However it can also facilitate the creation, editing or even sharing of assets. These quality-of-life functionalities can still be performed manually for ultimate control.

  • Creating assets can be done manually. This is as simple as appending data-blocks in single or multiple .blend files, and setting data-blocks as assets.
  • Editing an existing asset is possible by opening the .blend files directly from its repository.
  • Sharing assets works the same as sharing .blend files containing the asset data-blocks.
  • Using assets is done via a new editor – the asset manager – where you can simply drag assets from the enabled repositories into the scene.

Milestones

The project will be implemented in steps:

  1. Basic editor – Managing user presets and preset repositories in a new asset manager editor.
  2. Online repository – Navigate preset repositories hosted online and download the assets on-demand.
  3. Usability – Improve the editor overall usability and extended drag and drop features.
  4. Variations – Support for different variations of an asset (e.g., Sintel young and old). The initial implementation will only handle collections.
  5. Project repositories – The definition of a project and its related resources (repositories) and settings.

To follow the latest development checkout this task. For related topics read the write up of the UI workshop last February.

34 comments 4,699 Views
  1. Amazing !

    Please don’t forget to add the possibility to store “scripts” on the manager. executing a simple scripts could be an opportunity to create libraries of presets, modular assets or custom usage of assets. it’s really important.

    Bests

  2. Very exciting!
    Please also think about how to store and display a possible LICENSE for certain assets.
    For now shared blend files mostly misuse the texteditor for displaying the licence to the enduser, which will not work in the same way for the asset manager i believe, i think we can do better than that.

    • License is explicitly mentioned in the article and even present in one of the images. Definitively something we are keeping an eye on.

  3. This sounds great and very promising. I hope Blender Cloud, Blenderkit, etc, will quickly integrate with that, gonna be really nice to have everything in one place in the UI.

  4. Will Blender ship with some preset Assets? and will that increase the size? maybe additional few megabytes won’t hurt.

    • If so it will likely be shipped as a separate bundle.

    • imo ship without and just have “official blender foundation asset bundle” (or whatever they want to call it) downloadable on the same page.

  5. After all, there’s already a beautiful AddonManager. I use it and am extremely pleased with it. Why are you going to duplicate the work, it has already been done.
    I would like to note that in addition to creating an AssetManager and easily keeping it up to date throughout the project, it is very important that the preview of the AssetManager is created automatically and quickly.
    In general, everything is already in the addon.

    • I have a need for an asset manager installed and the library compiled for me. I am a newbie business/marketing user. Do you do freelance work as a gig to set this up for me?

  6. Excellent, will donate right now.

  7. Very cool! This sounds very promising.
    I’m curious to know if something like a specialized file type for assets was discussed and the arguments for/against it.
    It’s just an idea that, I imagine, could be very useful. Seeing a “chair.blasset”, I would instantly know it’s an asset and not an entire scene and these files could be shared very easily. And easy to link/append as well. The file itself gets selected and Blender knows what to do with it, instead of the good old dive into the blend-file, where you need to find if it’s a material or an object, etc. (Might not be to clear)

    Again, just wondering if this was discussed.
    Thanks to everyone involved!
    Cheers,
    Michael

    • There was a discussion of this in the task. The files are just .blend files, but there was the suggestion of using .asset.blend to distinguish them.

      • Also as an opportunity to save a stripped down version of .blend files without the unneeded data (UI, …). It is not one of the pillars of the proposal though, so not worth mentioning here to avoid more complexity.

        • I think it should be also considered to make .blend file accessible on a modular basis, meaning if I need just one model from hundreds of models inside a .blend file the operating system shouldn’t need to load the entire .blend into memory.

  8. Why must assets be in a blend file? As the number grows the blend file will grow and individual assets can be sent to othe r people?
    Why not make a file type for each asset and store each asset as a file in a custom hierarchy of folders. That way I could send someone a material. Also it seems that compositor node groups and material node groups won’t be counted as assets which saddens me.

    • Just like Unity, It will help with organization and reusing-sharing of individual assets to say, other projects.

    • Node Groups and Materials are considered as assets (they are data-blocks already). The idea is supporting individual files with their own assets in a folder is in the plan. And presented in the article, sorry if it wasn’t very clear.

  9. Hi Everyone. PLEASE DONT FORGET, ALLOW .OBJ .FBX . ALEMBIC .USD – Be LINKED in Scenes As XRefs ASSETS – WITHOUT EMBEDING Them in The .Blend Files
    – Because its a DEFAULT INDUSTRY Behaviour That Every other Softwares Allow Houdini – Maya – Max – Cinema4D – Unity – Unreal usd – Katana – Clarisse …
    Less BLENDER…
    For Studios and Artists that Have Giant Assets Libraries Pipelines, Its just improper, and impossible, to import all every objects 1 by 1 and fix Materials , and Save to Blender format …
    Why Professional Studios Still prefer to Use Houdini Maya Unreal Unity , Instead Blender , Because its More usable and faster to use the thousands Assets people sell online all in Standart formats as Obj, fbx, alembic , Usd
    Importing them in any Softwares that Suport Native XREFS directly from Objs, fbx , alembic , usd….
    UNITY and HOUDINI and Clarisse Katana Maya …
    Are greath examples how one can Make gigantic massive scenes, with obj, fbx, alenbic, usd, Any Objects Libraries A Studio accumulated sometimes Over 20 years … That rage Several Terabites, And its Totally Impossible to Duplicate with 2 or 3 times each asset for each of the large hundreds shots even in a short film …

    THEREFORE WE NEED THIS OF A PROPER ASSET MANAGER

    1 – Native Import as XREF of OBJ FBX ALEMBIC USD
    With Option to import as XREF with Relative to a Blender Path or scebe path ( Houdini Like ) With Option to FREEZE / EMBED all xref geometries onto a scene if need
    But default behavior Objs, with diferent formats than .blend be imported as ,Xref with Geometry Never Embeded in The Blender scene …

    (A) this will help not just studios with large libraries in other formats

    (B) As well using other softwares as “Plugin on a pipeline relative to blender

    (C) As well easy things on Merchants wanting to sell assets online that contain dependencies to other already existing products that people must buy and put relative to the blender main scene … The whole why dazstudio and reallusion business strive wile blender much not… Because including referenced products in obj fbx alembic usd or other format in a blender scenes inbeads them … Making illegal to share derivated , products ecosistems, because there is absolutely no ASSETS RUNTIME concept in Blender at All…

    Completly oposite to industry proven tools as HOUDINI …. That absolutely everything you import in houdini is External … No matter how much houdini networks completly transform destroy even voxelize assets …
    THIS SHOULD BE DEFAULT BEHAVIOUR IN BLENDER … Since ages ago… But never was

    2 – Every other formats that blender can Import – obj, fbx, alembic , usd, etc That are in A Asset Manager Directory – Be Automatically Recognized as XREFS get a Special Icon – And have Big thunbnail PREVIEW exactly as Any Other Blend File .

    3 – If There is Need of Extra Sensitive data that after changing the Xref Asset, This be Automatically Writen As a .blend file next to the Xref …
    But Both Textures and geometries
    Always Relative referenced to Blender Scenes And Never ever Embeded.

    – This is a Major why at our studio, We Prefer to Use UNREAL + USD / UNITY + FBX + ALEMBIC + USD / MAYA + All Xref Formats / HOUDINI + All Formats …

    And NOT BLENDER …

    Because Simply using blender will take us 3 times more To convert Assets from our uge library that we cant ever repurpose …
    Then a 1 tera project Represents 3 teras wasted space … Just in Convert all to Blend files …
    Then our Artists … Canot even merchant their own work , that contain more than 2 Products in Stores …

    Then Even our Short Movies be Open Source … We canot actually even open source our scenes files to redistribute within our 5000 members artists community …
    Because much of those artists use assets from all webstores, daz, cgtrader, cubebrush, unity … That most of all come in fbx format … And reaching BLENDER Become ILLEGAL to be Open Sourced …
    Oposite of if we use , Houdini, Clarisse, Maya … Wich are extremely expensive tools …

    But no matter how much blender evolves, our 5000 artists community , Simply Canot Share and collaborational work online…

    Because BLENDER lacks obj, fbx, alembic, usd, XREF IMPORTING …

    With Direct Live Conection to Base Files, recognizing if XREF was changed or not … As Proper Industry Standarts as AUTODESK & UNITY & UNREAL proper Do ..

    Making those More Viable Solutions
    THAN BLENDER …

    Just because a Simple Litle Feature
    AS XREFS …

    We really hope this is fixed .
    WITH ASSETS MANAGER PROJECT

    Thanks for listening

    Ruben Ismael
    SOULSSHINE STUDIOS TEAM
    Artstation.com/SOULSSHINE
    DeviantArt.com/SOULSSHINE-MADEFIRE
    DeviantArt.com/3DDREAMSCAPES
    http://Www.CG3.org

    • Holy c… I Hope this was as convincing for blender devs as It was for me.. totally agree btw. Thanks for the time to write such a well detailed and argumented post!

    • You think? I’m inclined to ignore his whole post because of how unprofessional and amateurish it is even though it does have good point.

      It doesn’t help that it could be condensed as
      “You need to fix Linking and bring it to the level it was meant to be asap. Also expand it to all imports instead of just blender data”

    • Despite how controversial the subject is, Sory but = Its Just the Absolute Truth.

      The Above thoughts were made by a industry veteran with 24 years of 3D Art experience .
      I have Been using blender privately since version 1 … just for Original modeling .

      But as my Art Studio is mostly about Cinematic productions Were Gigantic Terabytes Assets Amounts come outside of blender in Obj Fbx Alembic Usd formats …
      We use Mainly Houdini + Clarisse Katana / Houdini + Unreal

      As we have a Open Source Cinematic production coming were All Scenes Will be Shared online .
      Would be Absolutely GREAT if blender Assets management Allows XREF Assets Instead Embedding into scene …

      I am also a games programmer / Developer at unity / unreal engines …

      So here some major professional key points to be Addressed
      Within the development of this most needed feature request

      _____________________________
      Coding Difficulty on this Task
      —————————–

      I Totally Understand how to just Allow XREFs And not Embed Geometry …
      Its a MAJOR core refractory that needs to happen with blender …
      Because Blender data blocks are all Static to its Default format.

      And i also understand that this is at least 4 Different fields that need to be connected
      And that probably are few developers handing the Asset-manager project …

      And Only Maybe joining the “Everything nodes” project … can save this idea
      Only When Blender Asset Data is Accessed by Blocks as houdini .

      ( Only then maybe will be possible to Allow This Modular behaviour / imitating Houdini Structure of The files be Empty blocks , that can be filled with Geometry information at its Base core programing … But this just inside Everything nodes project … To not go and Developers have to refactory the Whole Blender Code … )

      I also know that This Subject been internally Addressed and Studied inside blender team …
      ( But just lightly because there is no much community Interaction “requesting this at Hundreds peoples needing and asking” to be Raised Across priorities Anytime sooner …
      And Either way for the few Asking They already implemented External data linked Referenced in form of .blend assets databases … That is this Asset manager project ALL ABOUT …

      __________________________________________
      What this Project needs in Evolution terms no one is Discussing about
      ——————————

      ( The Main Point is that ) Its VERY WRONG this Asset manager project be just About BLENDER .blend Assets … but Absolutely All Assets formats That blender can And Should Import Should be Imported in Asset Manager browser … As Well Easy Replaced … in a manner as industry Standard, if same asset is changed, in other software applications , Saved to disk changed …be automatically replaced in Blender scene … ( Which makes Every other software a PLUGIN to blender )

      ________________________________
      WorldWide Marketplaces Opportunities
      ————————–

      There is many marketplaces opportunities needs Within this Development request
      I manage also … a Daz3D Reallusion Renderosity “clone” Starting Merchants team production …

      We also have a Soon to be Assets Store Website
      That is still very early in production and will take us like 1 year more to finish

      Were we will try to make a community that is Free Selling
      with 100% royalties for artists Selling on their own …

      Because this leeching markets as Daz ( that are the biggest worldwide )
      Take 50% of all Artist Hard work … Wich afect us all Merchants worldwide immensely

      ___

      In our case Were Most of the 300 persons team is forced to use daz studio / poser / Reallusion Softwares ( and lose up to 60% of all their work profits ) to do merchanting and some online money

      … And most of them just use this softwares for merchanting – and use Maya, Zbrush , 3dcoat, Houdini, clo3d , And many others Softwares as BLENDER …

      But they Can’t even SELL online their creations that they do in BLENDER …
      ( With proper 100% Profits in places as gumroad cubebrush artstation )

      Because most of their creations are DERIVATIVE Assets That need a base figure …
      Base Figures on all those Softwares Daz poser Reallusion …
      That are illegal to be Distributed …

      This is a Lobby made on purpose by this companies …
      To make The people be forced to use their marketplaces Softwares …

      _________________________________________________
      How Other Biggest Assets market places Excel – Were blender lacks
      ———————————

      Well If you go technically and Investigate Further …
      This Marketplaces Rendo Daz Reallusion ..

      Their software is “superior” in terms of assets Workflows
      Especifically because they have this RUNTIMES features …
      That basically Are XREFS Systems …

      Were Scenes are always small as few kbs because are just a List of referenced runtimes
      That Allow Merchants to do Works In collaboration and on top of each other’s Works …

      Its a main feature Sell online Assets and creations Parented to each others and to a main Sistem
      Without inflicting the Copyrights of ( Embed others works in Same scene ) as forced in blender
      But Having Required products Setup… to be Xrefed in product RUNTIMES …
      And if not found When opening have the possibility to locate the Missing data .

      Today blender is a closed Black Box on communitarian multimerchanting collaborational productions

      That can be OPENED with just a SIMPLE XREF Feature …
      That Should be in Blender since 10 years Ago …
      But Everyone forgot …

      Because before Blender was not so much professionally oriented 10 years ago …

      But things change Business needs change Artists Workflows Become universal
      Everyone in a professional Cinematic Production Specially knows how important Xrefs is .

      ______________________________________
      A Major feature needed for the Community
      ———————

      Its a major Thing that you do to the community of 3d developers Artists , cinematographers , and merchants Worldwide .

      – Allowing Every obj. fbx Alembic usd ( as well every asset that blender can import )
      Be used as Xrefs and Loaded as Runtimes Folders Relative to Blender …

      And not force users to EMBED All Every Geometries imported in blender .

      On a Worldwide Artists financial Achievement
      Just THIS will allow us Merchants of all World …
      To Stop Being Taken 50% of all our Work profits …
      With Exclusivity … by exclusivity leeching companies as daz3d on its top.

      This Xrefs proposition basically Copies Fully the Whole daz marketplace model …
      That is Impossible to be maintained and developed fully at blender .

      Allowing us merchants to make our own Marketplaces of Blender Assets …
      Strive and sell as much , but with 100% profits for Artist …

      ______________________________
      Assets Workflows that Allow Independent Artists Online Collaborate within products
      ——————-

      With a Xref Assets management System inside Blender …
      Because finally we will be able to use blender opening our Work to others more easy
      With multi online collaborative Work and not just for merchants
      And without Restrictions.

      This whole Workflow Will also Allow ARTISTS
      To Sell Whole Blender scenes even with others Assets
      Xreferenced and never embedded within …

      Which is a major money making thing for millions Artists.
      In a network of Together works that can be developed Online

      Just this of making Blender More Modular more close to houdini Workflows …
      ( Allow XRFES and not Embed Forcedly Externally geometry Assets imported )
      Will not just Alleviate Whole world Artists from Teras of Disk data That is always repeated .

      In OPEN Merchants MARKETPLACE Possibilities .

      Is a BIG CHANGE …
      That can change Not just the Blender users Live .

      But the WorldWide 3D Community Lives

      _____

      I believe in OPEN SOURCE productions
      Not just in open Source Softwares .

      As well open minded developments of any degree.
      Why i will not let this Ideas be muted in my production i am constantly Striving with it .

      ___

      My Words here are just a Small Sketch …
      And the whole Article the tip of the iceberg

      That blender Developers in this next year – next months.
      Should Take to the Round table. Serious Discuss . And do it Sooner .

      ___

      Because its a large handicap for blender more professional productions.
      And its a great Marketplace NEEDED opportunity

      For All freelancers worldwide that are now Binded to their homes …
      But Still with online Marketplaces Stealing them 50% of all their Small profits .

      ____

      Personally i Really hope the Added External formats XREFS Feature Is added as Soon as Possible .

      Because Majorly our whole online marketplace production
      Depends on this single external formats Xrefs feature .

      ___

      Good luck everyone in their Strive to Artistically Survive .
      Stay healthy Eat healthy Think Healthy .

      Thanks for listening

      _
      RUBEN ISMAEL
      CG3.ORG CEO
      Facebook.com/groups/CG3.ORG
      Deviantart.com/3DDREAMSCAPES

  10. It is a real shame brushes won’t be in the initial plan (especially since the initial plan alone seems to be a year long project?) I personally feel like brushes will be one of the biggest beneficiaries in the long term so that is quite a shame. (matcaps and hdri’s is kind of okay, you don’t need to work with them that often anyhow and it is easy enough to copy them to the start folder. Keymaps and workspaces etc seem like they should be in pretty end game anyhow)

    Anyhow I hope this gets all the attention and love it deserves. Very excited for asset management.

    • The thing about brushes is that they shouldn’t be data-blocks to start with. At least not the way they are now. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have your brushes saved in your .blend if you ever need to tweak it and sync it across multiple files.

      So they will fit more in the UI presets, which for practical reasons (trying to keep the scope as small as possible) won’t be tackled in the first deliverables.

  11. To be honest, this is one of the features I’m the most excited about. Really hoping this project becomes a great success:)

    Two questions tough:
    Does this touch upon how Linking/Proxies work for rigged assets, or is that perhaps a bigger core task?
    Has any thought been put into how this would handle version history? I’m guessing it would require a blend file for each version?

    • Not sure what you mean by linking/proxies. Basically nothing changes in that regard for this project. The override project is touching that subject though.

      For simplicity sake it was decided to leave version handling up to the users. It is a matter of versioning the repositories folders and their files (svn, dropbox, …).

    • asset management is a basement for the development a lot of other features…

  12. anyone seen this proposal? It’s awesome sauce.
    https://blender.community/c/today/kVdbbc/#5e6376089c1221564f2d043b

    • yea Dalaï commented this video he saw it. I have to add an asset should include group nodes for world and material. because we need a folder to get them back easily and not have to reinstall them on some changes of version

  13. Would be cool to have both auto & user generated Animation ,Motion, animated shader nodes previews in the manager.
    Something like what Rokoko Studio & Autodesk did recenetly, make it fun & easy to use.
    https://youtu.be/ttG7NSvOjFg?t=63

    • Maybe also talk to the Rokoko team since they seem too intrested in supporting Blender with mocap stuff.

  14. Hi,

    This looks really amazing and I cannot wait to use it. Furthermore, it could get Blender one step closer to an actual tool for research. I am currently working as an academic 3D Modeller in the Humanities and the largest issue with 3D data is the lack of scientific transparency in terms of tracking the sources and their reliability.

    Currently, we solve this by adding an external database with the object name as database key. Including this functionality directly in Blender would make our entire workflow much more robust and valuable. Furthermore, it would add some additional functionality.

    Important is the use of custom metadata and that it sticks with the object even after appending/ linking it. As an example, the possibility to filter objects in the 3D view or hierarchy after certain parameters could simplify the management of temporal sequences in built heritage. Furthermore, one could create conditional Shaders dependent on certain values (colour objects after a category, quantity, …). Finally, access from outside of Blender to this structure and the export of all the object’s metadata in the scene in the form of a standardised ontology like the CIDOC CRM makes it compatible with most of the current research requirements.

    I am aware that Blender is aiming towards a much different audience. However, having the possibility to include some of the points from above could make a significant change for us, even if it will be only via an API which we can later use to create our own scripts to deal with it.

    Thank you for your awesome work!

    Luca

  15. A lot of things will change from this point. it was a major missing pillar. another important point can be added, linked to browser manipulations, cut/past/copy/drag folders and directories.

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