Version: 2022.1
Create user interfaces (UI)
UI Toolkit

Comparison of UI systems in Unity

UI Toolkit is intended to become the recommended UI system for your new UI development projects. However, in the current release, UI Toolkit does not have some features that Unity UI (uGUI) and Immediate Mode GUI (IMGUI) support. uGUI and IMGUI are more appropriate for certain use cases, and are required to support legacy projects.

This page provides a high-level feature comparison of UI Toolkit, uGUI, and IMGUI, and their respective approaches to UI design.

General consideration

The following table lists the recommended and alternative system for runtime and Editor:

2022 Recommendation Alternative
Runtime Unity UI UI Toolkit
Editor UI Toolkit IMGUI

Roles and skill sets

Your team’s skill set and comfort level with different technologies is also an important consideration.

The following table lists the recommended system for different roles:

Roles UI Toolkit Unity UI
(uGUI)
IMGUI Skill sets
Programmer Yes Yes Yes Programmers can use any game development tool or API.
Technical Artist Partial Yes No Technical artists who are familiar with Unity’s GameObject-based tools and workflows are likely to be comfortable working with GameObjects, Components, and the Scene view.

They might not be comfortable with UI Toolkit’s web-like approach or IMGUI’s pure C# approach.
UI Designer Yes Partial No UI designers who are familiar with UI creation tools are likely to be comfortable with UI Toolkit’s document-based approach and can use the UI Builder to visually edit their UI.

If they are not familiar with GameObject-based workflows, they might require help from programmers or level designers.

Innovation and development

UI Toolkit is in active development and releases new features frequently. uGUI and IMGUI are established and production-proven UI systems that are updated infrequently.

uGUI and IMGUI might be better choices if you need features that are not yet available in UI Toolkit, or you need to support or reuse older UI content.

Runtime

uGUI is the recommended solution for the following:

  • UI positioned and lit in a 3D world
  • VFX with custom shadersA program that runs on the GPU. More info
    See in Glossary
    and materials
  • Easy referencing from MonoBehaviours

UI Toolkit is an alternative to uGUI if you create a screen overlay UI that runs on a wide variety of screen resolutions. Consider UI Toolkit to do the following:

  • Produce work with a significant amount of user interfaces
  • Require familiar authoring workflows for artists and designers
  • Seek textureless UI rendering capabilities

Use Cases

The following table lists the recommended system for major runtime use cases:

2022 Recommendation
Multi-resolution menus and HUD in intensive UI projects UI Toolkit
World space UI and VR Unity UI
UI that requires customized shaders and materials Unity UI

In details

The following table lists the recommended system for detailed runtime features:

2022 UI Toolkit Unity UI
WYSIWYG authoring Yes Yes
Nesting reusable components Yes Yes
Global style management Yes No
Layout and Styling Debugger Yes Yes
SceneA Scene contains the environments and menus of your game. Think of each unique Scene file as a unique level. In each Scene, you place your environments, obstacles, and decorations, essentially designing and building your game in pieces. More info
See in Glossary
integration
Yes Yes
Rich text tags Yes Yes*
Scalable text Yes Yes*
Font fallbacks Yes Yes*
Adaptive layout Yes Yes
Input system support Yes Yes
Serialized events No Yes
Visual Scripting support No Yes
Rendering pipelines support Yes Yes
Screen-space (2D) rendering Yes Yes
World-space (3D) rendering No Yes
Custom materials and shaders No Yes
SpritesA 2D graphic objects. If you are used to working in 3D, Sprites are essentially just standard textures but there are special techniques for combining and managing sprite textures for efficiency and convenience during development. More info
See in Glossary
/ Sprite atlasA texture that is composed of several smaller textures. Also referred to as a texture atlas, image sprite, sprite sheet or packed texture. More info
See in Glossary
support
Yes Yes
Dynamic texture atlas Yes No
Textureless elements Yes No
UI anti-aliasing Yes No
Rectangle clipping Yes Yes
Mask clipping No Yes
Nested masking Yes Yes
UI transition animations Yes No
Integration with Animation ClipsAnimation data that can be used for animated characters or simple animations. It is a simple “unit” piece of motion, such as (one specific instance of) “Idle”, “Walk” or “Run”. More info
See in Glossary
and Timeline
No Yes

*Requires the TextMesh Pro package

Editor

UI Toolkit is recommended if you create complex editor tools. UI Toolkit is alos recommended for the following reasons:

  • Better reusability and decoupling
  • Visual tools for authoring UI
  • Better scalability for code maintenance and performance

IMGUI is an alternative to UI Toolkit for the following:

  • Unrestricted access to editor extensible capabilities
  • Light API to quickly render UI on screen

Use Cases

The following table lists the recommended system for major Editor use cases:

2022 Recommendation
Complex editor tool UI Toolkit
Property drawers UI Toolkit
Collaboration with designers UI Toolkit

In details

The following table lists the recommended system for detailed Editor features:

2022 UI Toolkit IMGUI
WYSIWYG authoring Yes No
Nesting reusable components Yes No
Global style management Yes Yes
Layout and Styling Debugger Yes No
Rich text tags Yes Yes
Scalable text Yes No
Font fallbacks Yes Yes
Adaptive layout Yes Yes
Default Inspectors Yes Yes
InspectorA Unity window that displays information about the currently selected GameObject, asset or project settings, allowing you to inspect and edit the values. More info
See in Glossary
: Edit custom object types
Yes Yes
Inspector: Edit custom property types Yes Yes
Inspector: Mixed values (multi-editing) support Yes Yes
Array and list-view control Yes Yes
Data binding: Serialized properties Yes Yes

Additional resources

Create user interfaces (UI)
UI Toolkit
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