Toggling between Datasmith design iterations are frustrating and too time-consuming

Toggling between Datasmith design iterations are frustrating and too time-consuming

This is about architecture workflow where there are dozens (and constantly growing) of design iterations made by architects for internal use as real-time rendering feedback.
Case scenario: 10 Building options from Rhino or Revit (and growing)
Design exploration is being made through editor mode and by 3rd/1st person game mode. – Having the same stuff visible in the Editor and Game Mode is crucial. Right now there are too many things to change every time to keep these two things synchronized.

Ways to toggle between designs:

  1. Variant Manager
  2. Level Streaming
  3. Data Layers (UE5)

1. Variant Manager – why it is a bad way to do it.

  • If you have 10 variants you need to specify 9 to be invisible and 1 to be visible.
    If you import to UE 11th option, then you got to make 1 new variant and edit all previous variants to include new stuff into the visible/invisible list.
  • Even if you set stuff to be invisible it still blocks player movement.
    The Variant manager is not suitable for this kind of stuff.

2. Level Streaming – too many clicking
We can go through the Level Streaming route with our design iterations and create a separate level for every Datasmith import or use levels created by Dataprep.

  • Problem is that toggling through sublayers takes too many clicks (to have the same stuff activated in the Editor and Game Mode). Changing the streaming method from „Blueprint” to „Always Loaded” should be accessible by one click directly from the Levels panel. Right now it’s in the submenu of right-click menu of level.
  • If we split our building variant into two Dataprep files – e.g. separately building parts and separately furniture and props (which by the way is always like that to avoid long processing times and bloated files) then we need to load and unload two sublevels which double the clicks for the simple toggling through designs.

3. Data Layers (UE5)

  • It seems to doesn’t work with Datasmith actors. You can hide/show stuff in Editor mode but in Game Mode it’s loading no matter what.
  • There is also too much clicking in the submenus to have the same stuff showing in the Editor and Game Mode and it’s even more difficult to know if it’s loading at Runtime or not. You need to look into properties. To have the layer completely hidden in Editor Mode and at Runtime, you got to make few clicks in the properties.


All that inconveniences are making us using Unreal way less than we would like to, and we stick to Rhino’s viewport to compare design iterations more often. Toggling through designs inside Unreal is irritating and distracts us from our work which is based on countless toggling between designs, looking, and comparing our work.
As Unreal is rendering live we would like to keep looking at our desings as much as we can inside Unreal. Even if we invest time in some Dataprep graphs to streamline our import processes there is still too much clicking to toggle between designs and keep them synced between Editor/Runtime.

Please let us know if menus can be made more comfortable for that type of task. Also, let me know if something in my post wasn’t described enough or clearly.

Because I post it inside feedback category but it’s highly connected to the Datasmith workflows I will tag some staff @pf_breton @UE_FlavienP

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Thank you Czaja91 for reporting. We will discuss it with PF Breton and the team.

IMHO Variant Manager was a very unfortunate attempt to attract non-gamedev visualisation folks to the engine by creating way too task-specific tool that doesn’t really fit well into the philosophy of flexibility game engines tend to employ.

Something like variant manager is relatively easily scriptable with Blueprints. So what should have been done is a combination of tutorials explaining new users how they can script such functionality in BP themselves, along with a ready made blueprint in form of a content pack anyone can migrate into their project and start using, if they refuse to learn BP scripting.

This way, there would not be any hardcoded variant manager, and at the same time, users who would not find the BP variant manager sufficient could easily get in and adjust the BP or extend it with their own functionality. An issue such as actor still colliding with player pawn despite being hidden would be trivial to address if it was an editable Blueprint, but it’s almost impossible (for beginners) to address when it’s hardcoded engine feature.

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