Blender adopts a user interface (icon based)

General discussion about the development of the open source Blender

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behzad
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Blender adopts a user interface (icon based)

Post by behzad »

Just wondering if Blender adopts a user interface (icon based) the competition will shake int heir pants including small and big players.

Am I correct? What is stopping many from learning Blender is the user interface that is missing and the steep learning curve.

tsgfilmwerks
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Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 4:31 am

Re: Blender adopts a user interface (icon based)

Post by tsgfilmwerks »

Umm... the user interface isn't missing. That IS the user interface, and an excellent one at that. You want a different interface, then either program your own into blender or get a different program.

Why would the blender developers want to change the interface (other than the less-visible shader aspects)? This would only hinder the people who already understand blender.
behzad wrote:Just wondering if Blender adopts a user interface (icon based) the competition will shake int heir pants including small and big players.

Am I correct? What is stopping many from learning Blender is the user interface that is missing and the steep learning curve.

kAinStein
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Joined: Wed Oct 16, 2002 3:08 pm

Re: Blender adopts a user interface (icon based)

Post by kAinStein »

behzad wrote:Just wondering if Blender adopts a user interface (icon based) the competition will shake int heir pants including small and big players.
I don't think so. There are other things that might be more important like the integration of Blender into existing working pipelines. Many importers and exporters aren't complete or not reliable enough and if you take a look at Renderman support then you'll notice that Mosaic or BtoR are steps to the right directions but still need quite some manual effort and tweaking and don't offer the same features and comfort as comparable plugins for other applications do.

Missing icons certainly are not the reason. If that was so then other applications like K-3D or Art Of Illusion would have been adopted. Which didn't happen even the UIs has been propragated as being so "uber-intuitive" (I don't see a reason for it - they are even way behind of Blender regarding productivity - what really matters in a real-world production environment with close deadlines).
Am I correct? What is stopping many from learning Blender is the user interface that is missing and the steep learning curve.
The user interface isn't missing in any way. Actually it is even fully graphical if you consider menus as graphical user interface.

I also don't believe that the learning curve is steeper than in other 3D packages:
Yes, the approach is different in many ways but also very similar if not sometimes even identic in other aspects. Nothing that's really hard to learn. If I look over to a friend of mine that without any experience in the 3D field besides of playing 3D games ;) learned to use Blender quickly and did in a short period of time things that I wasn't able to do in the same amount of time - even with 3D experience! That's an observation I've made over the time when looking at newbies. They adopt Blender very fast if they are total 3D newbies!

So the reason might be somewhere else:
When I started with Blender around ten years ago I was searching a powerful 3D modelling package that runs well on Linux. The only one that seemed to match my needs was Blender. So I tried it. And what shall I tell besides there wasn't many documentation? It felt weird and wrong because it was too different from what I was used. I wasn't even able to do simple things and dumped Blender a couple of times as I had an other package for Windows/ DOS. But I am stubborn and I kept trying in my sparetime because I knew that really cool things have been done with it ("How the f**k did they do that in here?!" was a common question) - and finally found out that Blender isn't that weird and in some aspects is even superior to other applications - especially regarding speed while modelling. Modelling is mostly recurring work and using Blender you are faster even compared to using shortcuts in another app while partially being better assisted. That's why I got stuck to Blender.

Regarding my own experience I've made I'd say that people don't have the patience and time to really evaluate Blender - which needs some learning effort as it would with any other. But to be able to compare two applications you should to be able to work with it - where the time factor counts again. In addition they've got the applications they want to have and because Blender looks so different they don't even touch it. That's certainly legitime but also relies on some prejudices experienced people might have.

On the other hand there are deficits with Blender also regarding the user interface. From my point of view the interface got crowded and poorly arranged due to the immense feature explosion. So this would be a point to concentrate on and I guess it's one reason besides the code maintainability why the UI refactor is being made.

Another complaint I've heard and fully support is that there are missing presets and a good, global asset management (though using Blender files as libraries is a very good thing to have - but it is restricted and some comfort is missing). Seeing hair as an particle option or the different cloth/ fluid presets I'd say that this issue is being taken serious by the developers. Like other issues are taken serious.

snifi
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Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 5:39 pm

Post by snifi »

I would like to hear, what kind of interface is in your mind, behzad? I have been long time planning GTK-based Blender version, but my knowledge is still not enough to implement it. Are you thinking about GTK, or QT or maybe some other existing Graphical Toolkit? Should this be a new branch named blender-gtk, and is here some others interested about this?

This doesn't need to be community accepted idea, it can be just an experimental branch beside of existing programm code.

mr_n
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Post by mr_n »

I guess it comes back to the purpose of blender? If its purpose is supposed to be for hobbyists who have the leisure time exploring an unfamiliar user interfaces then fine. I am sure there must be reason for why allot of things were structured the way they were. But try using it in a production environment when you are using multiple applications with various interfaces (none quite so radical as Blender) and you hit a stumbling block. As someone pointed out the results speak for themselves but if you have to fight the interface how can that be productive?
If every program had its own way of doing things it would be interesting indeed to try out new software. Or producing anything in this climate of ‘Yesterday’
Like someone else here I’ve downloaded blender in the past during several iterations and each time been completely put off by the interface. As a professional I just don’t have time to figure it out, without any guidance something just do not make sense and allot assumptions about HUI have been made I think with little thought to the average user? Most interfaces I’ve used are pretty self explanatory (cinema 4d being one of my favourite GUI’s) I just dont understand the trend. Zbrush is the same, but along comes Mudbox with a more ‘standard’ interface concept ... and it just looks so much more appealing!
If the user interface is the biggest talking point on the forum when why hasn’t anything been done about it since it was adopted all that time ago??? I really do love the results this 3d package can offer especially since there is no cost involved but I also know of a lot of other ‘free’ software which takes the users comments on the GUI with each iteration. I think radical redesigning is needed, it will be a massive undertaking and I am sure many Blender users would disagree that its needed at all?
If this app is seriously going to contend with the big boys why alienate people by making so hard to access or produce things? A complex app doesn’t have to have a complex interface?
Anyway I am sure that this will go unheeded (judging by past comments in this forum) still good to see blender doing well.

Cheers

Blend'n 4 jesus
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Post by Blend'n 4 jesus »

I personally found Blender's interface easy to learn (I hate menus) and I read that when Blender was made in the nineties(NeoGeo), it was made to be fast to use, not something people could just pick up and go. It imho isn't that hard to learn.
-Becs

mr_n
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Post by mr_n »

The majority of people use the windows or apple Os’s which is quite drag and drop and list centric. The majority of the people I deal with in a graphics environment would balk at Blenders interface. Why alienate the majority before they’ve even got into the meat and potatoes of the app? I’ve used Max, Maya, cinema, softimage and while a few of them have their own ideas of basic structure its not difficult to find what you need with a little thought I don’t mean to dumb things down but the interfaces are kind of intuitive and big.

To make my point im going to download blender again now and have a crack at it without looking at tutorials and what not and see what I can come up with just off the bat and then get back to this thread. I’ll try and be as unbiased as I can.
Check back soon!

dan_hin
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Post by dan_hin »

mr_n wrote:The majority of people use the windows or apple Os’s which is quite drag and drop and list centric. The majority of the people I deal with in a graphics environment would balk at Blenders interface. Why alienate the majority before they’ve even got into the meat and potatoes of the app? I’ve used Max, Maya, cinema, softimage and while a few of them have their own ideas of basic structure its not difficult to find what you need with a little thought I don’t mean to dumb things down but the interfaces are kind of intuitive and big.

To make my point im going to download blender again now and have a crack at it without looking at tutorials and what not and see what I can come up with just off the bat and then get back to this thread. I’ll try and be as unbiased as I can.
Check back soon!
why would you not look at tutorials? did you learn how to use any other program without using tutorials, books or other learning materials? why not watch a few tutorials (or better still pick up The Essential Blender), THEN try to make something with Blender...

stiv
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Location: 45N 86W

Post by stiv »

To make my point im going to download blender again now and have a crack at it without looking at tutorials and what not and see what I can come up with just off the bat and then get back to this thread. I’ll try and be as unbiased as I can.
In order to make this a scientific test, the experiment needs a control. I suggest you beg, borrow or steal a complex machine such as a multi-engine aircraft or nuclear power plant and try to operate it without training or reading the instruction manuals. Do report back or take good notes for your next of kin.

tsgfilmwerks
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Post by tsgfilmwerks »

mr_n wrote: Check back soon!
Don't waste space continuing this topic (like I just did...).

Compared to Maya and 3ds Max, blender's UI is much nicer. Plus the current users have all gotten used to it, and can use its unique design to their advantage.

joeri
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Re: Blender adopts a user interface (icon based)

Post by joeri »

behzad wrote: Am I correct? What is stopping many from learning Blender is the user interface that is missing and the steep learning curve.
Yes you are correct.
Not sure its only blender or 3d in general with the learning curve.

Maya has loads of books and tutorial dvd's, I dont think that is because their interface explains itself.

But true, others are better looking ( thats taste really ). And some follow OperatingSystem rules better ( mostly because you can only get it for one operating system ). And some follow paradigmas better suited to *your* brain. Thats called intuition I guess; things you do automaticly because somehow you picked them up to do them automaticly that way. Like the order you turn your head when crossing the street on foot.

But... research has shown that humans dont think in crumble paths; so menu driven options is bad.
New train ticked machines in holland are a success to young and old people because they show "maps"/ overviews, not popups.
( like the legenda down this page, loads of opions, sure you need a search, but you get the feeling you are in control, and while searching you are not searching like searching something in your house going from chamber to chamber ) Ergo: blender is good in that respect ( only became dumber to fit the poor 800x600 linux boy screens ).

Anyway... Icon driven is fun for ipod with 16 icons. but a program with 1530 icons sounds a whole less fun to me.

snoopbaron
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Re: Blender adopts a user interface (icon based)

Post by snoopbaron »

I have zero formal training in 3D modeling and had known about Blender for many years. 3D modeling is something I had always wanted to try but I never gave Blender a try until just recently. I had read that it was difficult to use and would probably have tried it earlier if I hadn't heard that. After one day of viewing some video tutorials that covered how the UI worked (from the blender underground) I found it very easy to use and very consistent. The UI is non-standard but with just a little investment it becomes easy to use and the consistency makes it really powerful. Also the focus on hot keys makes for very quick editing. It's really difficult for me to see how a professional in this field would have such a hard time picking it up. It shouldn't take more than a few days to get comfortable with this consistent UI. What I can understand is that if you try to learn the UI by just experimenting with Blender without watching a UI video or reading a book or tutorial that explains the UI then it would be very difficult. I think it's reasonable to expect someone to watch a video explaining the UI for a program with this many features. But not everyone will do this. Perhaps it would be a good idea to have a welcome page in blender the first time you run it that has a link to an official UI intro video.

Snoop

zingbat
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Post by zingbat »

Professionals don't read manuals to learn how to work with their tools? For more people praise 3dsmax or Maya gui i don't know how i could have learn how to use those tools by looking at the menus alone. One advise, use informed argumentation, not hype garbage argumentation if you want people to listen to you.

jayr
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Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 6:23 am

Post by jayr »

Having used and still use XSI and Max professionally at game houses I find XSI most intuitive a very sound pipeline and king of iteration. There are quarks in XSI that I don't like and keys binding that I don't care for. So I have the ability to change it, that a huge plus for both apps. If you don't like some feature, script it and bind it to a key.

Blender should have had this since day they when it went Open Source. However the classic hacker Linux ethic got in the way. You don't like it??? change the source code. Which is a really ignorant argument if they are catering to artist. What this displays is self serving and not really commie coding. For a long time I watched Blender developers ignore and flame users complain about strange key bindings, nightmare UI. I know I'm going to get flamed for that one.


But how come I have to click
1. on the material button to go to materials tab or (F5) cycles
2. Add new Data block to get a new material
3. Click drag to the location of my texture node
4. Click Add new texture nod
5. Click Map input tab and select click UV.
If I have multiple UVs i have type in the uv number (lots funk in how the number widget reacts)
6.Click texture button or (F6)
7. Hit Home to get the window to rest
8. Click and select image for texture type
9. Click and drag to go to Image pane or click on the tab
10.Click on load the image

wooohoo I got the image to set up of course it is a little easier in node based . But now I want to see it in the view port
11. Click on the drop down "Display current Window Type" and select UV Map image editor or pres (shift F10)
12. press Tab to get into edit mode. select all or some mesh types and apply a UV data point. You can also do this in New Mesh.New UV. (hard to find)
13. Still in edit mode select uv that you want your image to show upon, and browse exiting image or open and image.new menu.

WOW!!! that's uber fast.

Many of these work flow could be implement in the outliner view or node view and cutout half the happy clicking. Rather than cramming them into these little windows and making the user playing hide and seek with the UI system or binding them to things X-3-F10..... WTF

At the very least give the user to key bind their tools. (which is coming... I hope)


Anywho that's my two cents of destructive criticism.

stiv
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Location: 45N 86W

Post by stiv »

Blender should have had this since day they when it went Open Source. However the classic hacker Linux ethic got in the way. You don't like it??? change the source code. Which is a really ignorant argument if they are catering to artist
Your fundamental premise here is wrong. We were not catering to 'artist', we were catering to Blender users - the people who put up EU$ 100,000 to liberate the source code; we were catering to ourselves. Our goal was to make a better Blender, not steal market share from the big 3D apps and that was where we put our time and energy. Features like a scripting language, menus for all the hotkeys, threaded rendering, and the node editor and outliner you mention later in your post were the result. Feel free to browse the release notes from 2.26 to 2.48 to see our progress.

Blender also provided a platform to experiment with graphics algorithms, coding techniques and a UI based on Jef Raskin's Humane Interface concepts.

The big 3D apps are all fighting over the same customer base, so naturally they tend to look and work alike. We don't have that constraint. We can afford to be a Grand Experiment. Over time, we will see what works and what does not.

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