Tags vs. Outliner to control Object visibility in your Scenes?

Controlling object visibility in Outliner for Scene setup in SU 2020 is a nice improvement, but how do Outliner and Tags interrelate? We now have two menus that can control visibility while setting up scenes. Tags seems to have precedence. There is a great potential here for me making a hash of things. Power Users, how are you using coordinating Outliner and Tags for object visibility in Scenes? I am a bit confused. Thanks in advance for your help.

I’m not really sure what the question is. Both the object itself and its tag need to be visible for it to be shown in the scene.

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It is a workflow question. In Outliner you can toggle the visibility of any object and its nested objects. In Tags you can toggle the visibility of any set of objects with the same tag (formerly layer). So since we have two slightly different ways to toggle the visibility of the same object or set of objects, what is the best practice. This is a new feature for SU2020. In response to your reply, I do not understand how to make an object’s tag visible.

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In my opinion, Tags should only be used for non-objects, like dimensions.
Visibility of objects can be controlled by hierarchy, inner objects, multi level.

Interesting idea. In my workflow there are no non-objects in SU. All that stuff is in LO.

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I’d like to echo Gary Brian’s question.
Also, are tags different from layers, or is tags a new name for layers?

The outliner represents groups and components at a raw geometry level, the actual model. Tags are assigned in a less direct way/ overlay. There may be instances where you want say all furniture switched on and off, if any instance of furniture is tagged as such it can easily be made visible or not by a tag. To do that in outliner would mean making many instances visible or not and saving that on a scene by scene basis, whereas tagged items can be controlled regardless of scene.

tags is a new name for layers to combat the issues a lot of people ran into thinking layers are stacked like photoshop etc. So they didnt really work as expected coming from that software. Tags seem to be a better word as they are just assignments for visibility, kinda how meta-tags are used in search engines.

Thanks for the clarification, WRDC. I have historically used layers and the outliner in the ways you describe. So correct me if I’m wrong–what has changed are these three things:
-the name of layers
-the addition of a toggle to hide and unhide outliner items.
-that outliner items don’t disappear from the outliner (but are greyed out) when their layers, I mean, ahem, tags, are turned off

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yes, as far as I know, what you describe is exactly right, and the visibilty in the outliner can be saved on a scene by scene basis. The tags are now also available in layout too.

what’s new:

Yes me too, but for dimensions appearing in perspective views.

Control of outliner item visibility in scenes can be helpful;
the ability to toggle tags directly in layout sounds great.
We will see.

OK. So let’s say I have a model with 50 pieces of moveable furniture. I could:

  1. Make a group of all of them and toggle the group off / on in Outliner.
  2. Make a Tag (old Layer) and assign each piece of furniture to that Tag, and toggle visibility there.
    Which makes more sense?

I’d use tags not outliner. That way you don’t have to group all of your furniture which could be a hassle.
When you add a new piece of furniture to the model you’d have to remember to open the furniture group to add it, or add it and then cut and paste it into the group instead of just tagging it as furniture.


The rephrasing is merely intended to organize your model differently. Old users with a system can still use their ‘nested’ layer approach and with the control to hide and unhide objects via scenes, they don’t have the hassle it created when you changed a definition of a group. (Pre-2020, hiding some chairs in one scene would change the visibility state for those chairs in other scenes, as well)
If the model doesn’t exceed to much objects, you don’t need Layers/Tags at all.

Basically, if you’re a ‘one man shop’ that builds individual houses, you could still use the approach you’re used to, if you need to collaborate with other(s) CAD/BIM, you need a more ‘Objects-organized’ approach.

Check out where it’s heading:

Great topic, because I too do not understand why name tags are more relevant than layers.

So what is the purpose of the name “layer” in 2020?

Now I am even more confused. It is not just a rephrasing. True, “Layers” is now called “Tags”, but in addition a new way of toggling visibility has been added in Outliner. I have been using SU for many years, and have never heard of “nested layers”. I do not think such a thing exists.

Nested Layers…

I can’t be bothered to explain so I’ll let Mike Brightman:

But you don’t need to use his plugin to have your own nested layers system

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The outliner shows the hierarchical structure of the model’s groups and components, that is, their physical nesting. It provides a way to control visibility based on that structure.

Tags provide a way to control visibility of an arbitrary collection of entities (including simpler types than groups or components) without any required constraints on their geometric relationships. That’s both a strength and a weakness. It allows things such as tagging all bedrooms without gathering them in a single container. But it allows strange situations such as edges using a different tag than the face they border, and nested contents using tags with no logical relationship to the tag used by their container. In a sense, tags are more powerful but that opens the door to very confusing models if they are used carelessly.


Basically, if you use a group to group all walls on a level, and tag it level 1, the walls inside that group can be tagged ‘Inner’ and or ‘outer’
Inner walls and outer walls on level 2 should be grouped, to, in order to tag that group ‘level 2’