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I realize that what I'm asking for is something that, by nature, converges on a re-implementation of the .blend file format (or a GLTF-style exporter that precisely mirrors .blend) as it gets closer to full functionality.

I also know we could write our own. Traverse the hierarchy, extend pickle, dill, JSONEncoder, etc. Some good work has also been done recently on specifically serializing materials, and there's a couple questions about writing exporters, but I haven't found any that (1) aim to work on entire object hierarchies (including geometry data, modifiers, relationships, etc) and (2) fully preserve the data and structure for continued use in Blender.

I wonder whether any other work or tools are already out there.

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    $\begingroup$ Related blender.stackexchange.com/questions/43017/… can use on any object (very verbose) $\endgroup$
    – batFINGER
    Mar 19 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ @batFINGER It seems to immediately choke by trying to access custom properties as object attributes: rna_xml.py", line 222, in rna2xml value = getattr(root_rna, attr) AttributeError: 'Object' object has no attribute 'SomeCustomProperty'. Hm. Also not sure how to get it to actually save mesh data. $\endgroup$
    – Will Chen
    Mar 20 at 16:57

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