I’ve been using UE4 for several years now, and I am mostly happy user of it, but every time I start a new project on open someone else’s, I get a harsh reminder of how frustratingly neglected one aspect of UE is - handling of Editor Preferences.
As the name “Editor Preferences” suggest, it’s a collection of preferences related to the editor. In other words, completely unrelated to the project. Yet, for some crazy reason, they are always saved with the project. Even things that are matter of ergonomics, such as inverting middle mouse pan direction to be consistent with the DCC package you are using gets saved per project.
Imagine for example if something similar happened in visual studio. If user settings such as keyboard shortcuts were saved within the .sln file and every time you opened someone else’s VS solution, you’d also get their keyboard shortcut customization. Or if you opened someone else’s Photoshop file, it’d change your Photoshop preferences. That would be absolutely crazy, yet this craziness is somehow considered okay in the land of Unreal Engine.
To add to the confusion, UE actually makes an exception for a few specific Editor Preferences settings, such as keyboard shortcuts, derived data cache folder location or color theme (in UE5). This adds yet another layer of confusion, uncertainty and inconsistency, where not all of the Editor Preferences are saved within the project, just vast majority of them.
The Editor Preferences window is full of extremely granular settings for every aspect of the editor, allowing the user outstanding degree of customization. For example look, in just graph editor, I can tweak many different variables to adjust how the curves connecting the nodes look like, or what colors the data type pins have:
But what is the point of this? Who in their right mind would invest so much time into a deep customization of the editor when this would have to be done for every new project, or every received 3rd party project.
The reasoning from the UE developers I’ve gotten time and time again was that there are some legacy issues, and that it can’t be changed at the moment. But now, we have UE5. We have whole new generation of the engine. Now is the best time it could possibly be to finally get rid of this embarrassing legacy issue.
If this doesn’t get tackled now, and UE5 gets settled into its rails, we will have to suffer another decade or so of disfunctional Editor Preferences system, before UE6 arrives around 2030 or so. UE5 is now in Early Access, in Alpha, so if this is a breaking change, let’s do it right now! The sooner this gets addressed, the less issues it causes down the road.
It’s about time we finally get proper Editor Preferences handling that are actually saved within the editor installation (in the operating system user account scope, to be more precise), not with the projects. Otherwise, we may as well remove the vast majority of Editor Preferences, because no one is changing them anyway, exactly for this reason.
PS: Yes, I know you can copy and paste .ini files between the projects. But it’s a workaround, not a solution, and often causes some unintended issues. So please avoid suggesting it in the replies.