A Brief Tour of the Unity Editor

Eyas
8 min readAug 11, 2021
Photo by @kellysikkema via Unsplash

Those picking up Unity will likely have a lot of questions about the Unity Editor. How do I navigate it? What is a good development workflow using the Editor as my IDE? Can I circumvent the editor and just do things programmatically? This article will give you a brief tour of the Unity Editor, helping orient you around the environment. We’ll explore how keeping everything in code can work, and why you might want to fight that urge.

This is Unity for Software Engineers, a series for folks familiar with software development best practices seeking an accelerated introduction to Unity as an engine and editor. We already covered foundational concepts, high-level best practices, and the Input System. The series is specially tailored for those who learn best as I do: starting with first principles and working your way upwards.

A Tour of the Editor

The Unity Editor offers a customizable layout of dockable windows. You’ll find many hidden gems buried in the dozens of windows Unity provides. In this article, I’ll focus on a few key windows you’ll need to understand when getting started:

Project View

The Project View represents your project’s state on-disk, mapping 1:1 to the file system structure your project is under. This view allows you to explore your assets as they exist in your source project.

Within this view, you’ll spend most of your time at the top level ./Assets/ folder and its children. This is where your scenes, prefabs, code, and authored code will likely live. This is also where assets you download from the Unity Asset Store will be added. Selecting an item in this view will show it in the Inspector. Specific file types, such as C# files, will open when double-clicked. Code will open in your favorite editor, while other assets might trigger internal Unity Editor Windows to open. Double-clicking a scene will open it in the Scene View.

Scene View

The Scene View provides a visual of the open scene. You can pan, look, and zoom in the scene, move and rotate objects around, and select individual…

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Eyas

Software Engineer living in Brooklyn, NY. MIT Computer Science S.B. ’13, M.Eng. ‘14. From Amman, Jordan. Interested in politics, current affairs, and technology