The interface, modeling, 3d editing tools, import/export, feature requests, etc

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Postby Landis » Sun Jun 08, 2003 8:36 pm

Yet Another Interface Discussion

I origianally posted this at Elysiun under the following thread:

I am currently working on some changes to this post according to the feedback that I have recieved from various members of the community but here is the original post....

First lets get some things out of they way...

1. Blenders interface is by far more productive than any other interface I have ever used.

2. Modifications to the interface of any application for the benefit of a newbie should be avoided if productivity is to be sacrificed in the long run (i.e. unnecessary outlandish graphical layouts with high resolution 3D shapes for buttons that absorb system resources like a sponge…. you all know what programs I am talking about :wink: ).

Now, before I begin I would like to emphasize how much this simple little attribute would not only enhance Blender’s interface cosmetically, but more importantly how it would influence the learning curve of Blender’s “buttons window”.

Theory of Operation:
How does it work?

The first and most important adjustment would be to the icons currently associated with the buttons window. They would be arranged as tabs rather than a row of buttons. The applicable selected tab would be displayed as being on top or in front of the un-selected tabs and the icons of the un-selected tabs would be subdued (in grayscale). As you mouse over each tab, in addition to the buttons title popping up as it does now, its icon would highlight by changing from grayscale to color for as long as the cursor remained over it (as shown below through the use of the lamp button’s icon). Which brings me to my second adjustment…all icons that are currently in color would be grayscale until moused over as discussed above. This would ultimately streamline the interface making it look much less cluttered.

Click image below for larger version (to scale).

Explanation and Conclusion:
Why is this necessary?

As seen in the screen shot above this obviously looks a lot better, however, the fact is that this reason alone isn’t good enough for volunteer programmers to spend their spare time implementing such a feature. My whole reasoning behind this was to hopefully aid others in what I had difficulty with when first starting out. All of the various options and buttons throughout Blender’s interface currently look very similar to one another. There is no observable indication as to what are the “main controls” or settings pertinent to the workspace. One thing I have always admired about a good solid application is its ability to speak for itself. When one loads up Adobe Photoshop for the first time, he or she may not necessarily be able to “hit the ground running”, but they sure as hell can identify the tool box without having to read the manual and that is what I hope to address. The buttons of the buttons window (lamp, material, etc.) are different areas containing information critical to that of a 3D artist and it is imperative that this information be handled a bit differently, in terms of visual organization, than the rest of the buttons throughout the interface. While it is obvious how important continuity is in any application (especially one used primarily by artists :wink: ), although, I do not feel that aspect of the interface would be hindered by a modification such as this what so ever, in fact, as simple as this feature may seem I am positive that this would result in increased productivity for novices as well as please the eyes of the experienced user.


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Dockable and Un-Dockable pallets window

Postby Landis » Sun Jun 08, 2003 9:16 pm

Now, this is what I came up with last nite...maybe an option to change the current "docked" version of the buttons window (or any other window for that matter) to a floating version containing tabs as I stated before (similar to that of Adobes floating palletes where you can drag and drop various tabs from one window to another gathering which ones you use the most). This way people like Ztonzy can have it vertical in a sense and people like me can drag that window to another monitor! That would yield excellent results in productivity. I currently cannot utilize multiple monitors when working solely in Blender, only when I am working on texturing or referencing an image for display on another when modeling am I able to do so....and it really is VERY uselful and VERY productive. The most important thing is that we keep the current setup as default and that the "undocked" version be an option similar to that of the "fullscreen" option that was introduced with 2.27 (which I love by the way).
Now some people might not prefer to have floating pallets all over the screen especially those that do not have multiple monitors. I personally do not feel comfortable with workspaces such as this when working with only one monitor. Also others such as Ztonzy who request for a vertical placement versus the current horizontal setup of the buttons window regardless, simply make the information contained in the buttons window "vertical friendly". As you are all aware if you try and split view the 3D window for vertical use of the buttons window, it still tries to show this information in a horizontal nature forcing the user to use the "shift + middle mouse button" in order to see everything. If the window some how squezzed the data to fit the apllicable window or if there were some sort of otion to toggle this on and off to allow the information to be diplayed in a manner where the user could atleast have the option to "scroll down". I will create some graphical examples of this to help show you all exactly what I am picturing in my head.

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Postby Landis » Sun Jun 08, 2003 11:01 pm

Here are my ideas for a "vertical friendly" buttons window version of Blender :

Click image below for larger version (to scale).

If you look at the bottom of the Lamp window you will see a little button labeled "vertical friendly". I thought that this should be an option that is toggled on and off to prevent the reorganization of the buttons when people like myself wish to keep it horizontal. This way the current zooming feature (shift + middle mouse button) would still be an option an ofcourse the default setting. This button could also be located under the user preferences window instead of or in addition to.
I am working on an "Un-Docked pallets window" version for users like me who use multiple monitors as you read this. Also, I created another thread regarding this topic at Elysiun. You can find it at the following location:

http://www.elysiun.com/forum/viewtopic. ... sc&start=0

Last edited by Landis on Mon Jun 09, 2003 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Landis » Mon Jun 09, 2003 12:41 am

And here is the resizable un-docked version...keep in mind that I did not bother filling in the box with the apllicable lamp info but I'm sire you all get the idea:

Click image below for larger version (to scale).

Again this window could be pulled to another monitor and be full screened by clicking the toggle button located on the top right of the window...this mimics the existing fullscreen toggle button instilling that magic word...thats right...continuity.

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Postby hanzo » Fri Jun 13, 2003 6:14 am

:shock: candy buttons are cool,

but could we change blenders grey to a lil darker grey (or darker dull color shades almost grey) wouldn't that be simpler?

also: again I mosty add Max, Maya, Lightwave all have great interfaces otherwise the best work in the industry wouldn't be made by these apps there UI's have been founded built and tested to work excellent, :idea: thats why there so popular, just had to get that out...

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Postby Landis » Fri Jun 27, 2003 5:38 am

Here is another version I created (click link at end of post) based of off a request from an individual by the name of dpvtank over at Elysiun...his idea was to have the name of the buttons appear inside of the menu somewhere....I think that this would be an even greater idea for the learning curve of the various windows ...I also threw in some shading to the bar holding the various options throughout Blender simply for cosmedic reasons, and a small grayscale version of the icon to go next to the title to help relate the two together...again for learning purposes. Tell me what you think.



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Postby Michel » Fri Jun 27, 2003 9:18 am

Hey Landis,

this looks pretty good!
Are you subscribed to the Functionality Board mailing list? Link: http://www.blender.org/mailman/listinfo/bf-funboard

Broken has compiled a list of topics that have come up on the list. One of the topics is, you probably guessed this :wink: , a look at the GUI. Link: http://www.blender.org/docs/fubo_topics.htm

If you scan through the mail archives (available through the 1st link), you can see what future steps are to be taken. I hope to see you there.

With regards,

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Postby Haunt_House » Wed Jul 23, 2003 5:59 pm


I understand the reason for those wishes, but my preferences are different.

I like Blender's Interface not although but BECAUSE there are no floating windows that necessarily hide (bury) content or leave space where the desktop shows through. I easily get distracted and confused when my 'papers' lay over each other. So the idea of tabs (that didn't satisfy me when using photoshop, flash or freehand) is scary for me. And so are the floating windows. Blender's way of presentation was kind of a revelation to me. Honestly.

It's just contrary to Blender's UI Design which counts on being digital and not trying to imitate a real table or desktop (Like certain OS). Unneeded parts disappear completely and I find that very reassuring. The 'screen' idea of easily shifting between cumstomized workbenchs with Ctrl-Arrowleft/Arrowright-Key supports this UI design-decision quite nicely (and is a very valuable feature by the way).

I admit that the icons of the toolbar look a bit cartoony and nonprofessional, but I never found questionable that they are buttons instead of tabs. Since the pressed button is clearly marked, I have no problems to know where I am. I rather find it annoying, when all the tabs of the second row immediately jump into the first row and my mousearrow is kind of dislocated (which may be necessary when you fill space with written text, but not if you use icons).

Another thing I do not understand is putting gradients on the buttons. It looks prettier,admitted, but it diminishes readability. Good readability depends (with other criteria) on a wellbalanced contrast between foreground (icons and text) and the background. If you use a gradient as background in order to simulate 3d-Buttons, it kills the overall contrast. It's like having a background picture on a website with bright and dark parts. You won't find a textcolor to compensate that.

Bottomline is.: I understand the wish for floating windows and vertical buttons, but PLEASE preserve the good features of the UI, so I (and not me alone I think) won't start to feel uncomfortable using my favourite App and GUI.

This GUI has a very good visual concept.

It's as clean and tidy as I can imagine (ok, editbuttons are sometimes quite stuffed, but I mean the overall thing). Current ideas seem to disregard that in order to make it more windows macintosh uniform. I hope I am wrong, because I fear that.

Sorry for being harsh


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Postby Landis » Wed Jul 23, 2003 7:51 pm

Thank you for your prompt response! Excellent points. However, unless something was done incorrectly to begin with, I never request for a replacement. What do I mean by this? What I am saying is that there are always a number solutions to every problem, none of which are neccessarily "wrong or right". This philosophy is the whole basis of my upcoming 3D World tutorial. It is up to each of us to decide on the most practical answer.....each of us....not all. The methods I proposed are options. All of them allow for you as the user to choose which one you are more comfortable with.This is the reason that I like Blender, its ability to allow the user to display any aspect of 3D information in any window at any time. Everyone obviously has their own personal preferences. I have multiple monitors for example so that I can be doing as many things at once as possible in order to maximize my overall productivity. I feel that it would be very beneficial to display the information held in the buttons window on another monitor all together. Now, it does not have to be tabs piled on top of one another because I explained that the information would be organized in a manner dependent upon the window size. If you grab the bottom corner of the "un-docked buttons window" and drag, the tabs will automatically spread themselves out, ultimately looking exactly like they do now (an elongated rectangular window). Again, the docking window feature is an option and does not have to be utilized, although, it can be extremely beneficial if used correctly.

In terms of the shaded toolbar, it is in fact nothing more than a cosmetic suggestion, although, the grayscaling of unselected tabs is very neccesary to streamline or, more accuratley, "de-clutter" the buttons window. All of those different colors are unnecessary. This is one of the reasons why I too feel this aspect of Blender (and probably the only aspect) looks unprofessional. I like the industrial look of Blender...I just hope it's furture improvements continue to allow it to shine in an industrial manner (continuing to make use of the varying shades neutral grey's and blue's throughout the interface with lest colorful icons). There is a reason why sketchbooks are made of brown or off white paper instead of speckled colors!

Thanks again for your feedback.

Now give me some more :wink: .


P.S. If you do have more feedback then email a copy to the members of the board as well in addition to posting a reply to my thread in the forum.

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Postby Haunt_House » Wed Jul 23, 2003 8:43 pm

Hi Landis

Don't be too polite, or I start feeling like a bloodthirsty ogre ( :

As long as the options remain options, I won't complain. Although I feel a
little bit sad that the so far compact Gui design will become less
straightforward (the more I think about it the more I adore the designers).
When I worked with two Monitors, I just pulled Blender over both and put a
column of small windows at the seam (and saved it with Ctrl-Ukey). I was
satisfied with that.

Actually I am grateful that Blender didn't present a wellknown option.
Because it made me swallow and accept this different gui instead of changing
it to my Windows-contaminated habits.

Of course I can only speak from my personal experience.

The grayscaling is a good point. Or at least fading the colors a bit. On
the other hand, changing the brightness of the whole button (like it does
now) may be more recognizable. I think redesigning the icons could also help
a bit (I feel like a blasphemer by saying that ) .

What definitely is not so nice is that the buttons of a small window must
be dragged and are not completely visible (made me mad when I first tried to
bevel something and confused meshname with objectname, because the
objectfield was nearly out of window).

The industrial look of Blender is great. The Buttons have presence but
remain flat. Balanced contrast of slightly coloured buttons with black text
(aliased as small text should be). There's a video effect application called
Combustion with similar style. Again a big YAY to Ton and the other
responsible guys. Guilty of producing something great.

Actually instead of changing the gui, I'd like to improve my babycoding
abilities and start one or two other small gnu projects with Ghost. Call me
an addict ( :


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Postby ero » Sat Jul 26, 2003 9:47 am

Landis: This is an excellent concept! I too would much rather prefer a split screen like Houdini/Cinema4D instead of the bottom vertical window. In a 1600x1200 display there is quite a bit of space wasted as it is now.

One "tiny" request of my own: If there is a way to enlarge the layer buttons? There is enough space to do so and it would make for a faster selection of the layers instead of aiming to get the right one. Also, there should be and option for how many layer buttons one wants. Like 5 or 10 or 20 and so on. I know about the number keys and that the layer get's selected very quick, but for some reason, when i'm picking from that header, it never makes much sense to me to not to use the mouse. Must be an old menu sicknes of mine? ;)

Anyway, I would be all for it .... like your post # 3 showed. That would be a dream come true!


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Tabs implimented.

Postby madprof » Fri Aug 01, 2003 2:57 pm

The tabs are now implimented in tuhopuu (CVS). It wasn't
very difficult, and seems to work quite well (for me).

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