Article: Usage of controls in Blender's user interface

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

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Postby blendix » Fri Jan 31, 2003 5:30 pm

Well, it 's nice to hear that i did not understand the idea correctly. If the editable values keeps the same functionality, i think this will be a good change.

However, i still prefer buttons to dropdown lists. The one-click idea still has my preference, i never had any problem with the great number of buttons in Blender. But i know that this will probably scare of most people. So i can perfectly see why you would want to do this. It's probably the best choice.

Adding more text inbetween/next to/... the buttons, would indeed help finding the right button. I must admit i also had trouble finding the right buttons while learning to work with Blender. I'll probably have a very subjective view at this problem, since i am already familiar with Blender.

I don't really know what to think about this, not sure if there is a solution i like and is a bit newbie friendly :).

Finally, I will be trying to code some of that stuff, just to familiarize with the Blender's code. It's not really my intention to have it added to the official code, maybe eventually, we'll see. When i have finished something, i will post a patch or something in this thread.

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Postby dcuny » Fri Jan 31, 2003 10:35 pm

leinad13 wrote: Wot i mean is, that if someone is going to spend time on the coding side of things they might as well think about implenting skin support.

I'll disagree here. Skins are eye candy - they don't make the interface more functional. I don't think that there's really any benefit to skins other than the "coolness" factor.

There was a recent thread on Slashdot that discussed video and Linux. The topic of skins came up, and there was generally a huge backlash against programs that concentrated on eye candy instead of functionality.

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Postby Dani » Fri Jan 31, 2003 11:05 pm

I'll disagree here. Skins are eye candy - they don't make the interface more functional. I don't think that there's really any benefit to skins other than the "coolness" factor

me too!
Eye candy is nice for the eye, but that's all about it...
I like houdini's style, and I also like the mock-up on th e previous page! these would be really good!

If anyone gets these done, then I can betatest with windows!
(though i'm of the non-coders, i will most probably need a precompiled version :)))


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Postby matt_e » Sat Feb 01, 2003 1:43 am

Yes. Skins are a bad idea. Skins promote the idea of "hey it's skinnable, it doesn't matter if the interface is bad since people can create their own". They don't solve the problem though since skins are just a veneer, just skin-deep. Designing a good user interface needs to be done on a much deeper level - it concerns how the user interacts with the software on every aspect - not just what it looks like. Having said that, there's nothing stopping an enthusiastic coder adding the code for it on their own fork of Blender, but I'd seriously recommend against making it a priority in the main tree.

Just on a note about the coding side of things, changing the user interface etc. Recently I installed cygwin on windows and managed to get Blender compiling on it. I'm not a programmer, I'm a designer (although I do know a bit of PHP and ASP for web stuff). Even with that meagre knowledge of programming, I managed to find out how the interface code works by looking in buttons.c and I played around and made a few experiments to the code, just to see if I could. I managed to do a whole heap of different things, for example changing the texture blend modes to a popup menu, and also messing around changing the headerbuttons to a popup menu.


The above screenshots are of fully functional compiled Blender code. Once again, it was just a test to see if I could do it so don't start flaming me about changing the headerbuttons etc. ;) Anyway, if *I* can figure out how to change things, it shouldn't be a problem for anyone with at least a relatively minimal knowledge of programming to do so either! :)

Having said that, I don't think it's a good idea to be making small changes piecemeal. For these sorts of issues, we need to work together and come up with some sort of structured plan/guidelines that can then be followed in future. We really need soem sort of roadmap to work towards, rather than making small changes arbitrarily. That's certainly not to say that we shouldn't discuss and debate the small details, but before things are actually coded and implemented, we need to know where it's all heading.

By the way blendix, if it's any consolation, the popup menus work with only one mouse click too - just click, hold down the button, and drag it down the list a few pixels and let go. It probably only takes 1/2 a second longer to actually press. Considering how often most people would use these functions (for example the render scale buttons) in the space of a blendering session (probably not that often) I think the ease in finding the controls and the less cluttered interface makes up for it :)

Speaking more generally, you're right insaying that you have a subjective view - in fact all of us that have used Blender for quite some time have a subjective view of it too. That's why we really need to try and look at things from an objective, research based viewpoint rather than our own personal opinions. We all get used to things, and we all have a considerable investment of time and experience, in learning how Blender works and overcoming it's idiosyncracies so that it's second nature to us. However, we should try and be open to discovering and developing new alternatives, because just because we're familiar with doing things a certain way doesn't necessarily mean it's the be-all and end-all best way.

I'm really glad to see this sort of constructive discussion taking place!
Last edited by matt_e on Mon Feb 03, 2003 11:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby leinad13 » Mon Feb 03, 2003 11:09 pm

Since my post on Skins i have been flamed, by people saying that skins are only good for making the user interface look different but not change functionality.

I would like to say that my last post was a little rushed and i dont think think i clarified myself properly.

Hey this is a forum not a bloody tribunial, why am i apologizing. :twisted:

Anyway, i beleive that by using skins we can change the way the user interface functions. Take winamp3 for example, with its simple XML skin features and use of MAKI scripts the user interface can be changed functionally and looks wise.

Just look at the two pics below.




Winamp is a fine example of how the UI's functionality can be changed using skins. I dont know enough about how blender is coded or how Winamp is coded to make any more suggestions. But surely we could create our own XML type scripts such as BML (Blender MarkUp Language).

Over to you boffins.
Over to you boffins


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Postby Pablosbrain » Mon Feb 03, 2003 11:34 pm

following on the example of the render size buttons... 100% and so on... why not make that button in particular an editable value... so one can change it to 83% if one wanted... I doubt it would be a difficult improvement.. and that would also get rid of 3 extra buttons... at least make it a drop down.. no sense in seeing all the choices at once all the time... thats only needed when making the decision.

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Postby matt_e » Mon Feb 03, 2003 11:52 pm

That's a good idea - why not just make it a combo box, rather than a popup menu. That way you could click and type in a value, or just select the preset options from the menu.

leinad13: While I don't agree with your idea about skins, I do think you have a right to be heard. However, would you mind starting another thread about it, so this one doesn't drift off-topic and lose it's momentum? Cheers.

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Postby LukeW » Tue Mar 04, 2003 4:41 pm

Your picture is impressive, but I think it should be easy to enable and disable OSA (like it currently is) - there could be a checkbox-style control next to that OSA drop-down menu. It would be good if the amount of MBLUR could be set independently from from OSA...
at the moment if you want OSA and MBLUR together, the number of MBLUR samples you have is equal to whatever value you set for OSA... but often I want a lot of motion blur plus a bit of anti-aliasing. (e.g. MBLUR 16 with OSA 5) But I can't do that at the moment...

The render and anim buttons should be big and red (reddish) because they're different to most of the other buttons - they're not options like checkboxes, etc that toggle the properties of something - they "do" major things the instant you press them.

I think there should be a different kind of look for toggling controls (where you are turning options on and off) and single click buttons that do a task. The toggling controls could have a checkbox or tickbox, etc, next to some text.

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