About Blender interface...

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

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oktodindon
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About Blender interface...

Post by oktodindon » Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:29 am

Hello,

I have several critics to make about the interface. OK, this is my first post, and I already bother. Sorry. First of all, I would like to say that I'm *very* interested in Blender and I really would like to understand it. To all developers, thank you.

But.
The problem is : I don't get the point to have the most unintuitive interface of all the 3D softs on the market. I don't mean it's not complete or not powerful, I mean that if you never read any tutorial about how to use the interface, you can do absolutely NOTHING !

I would understand that you answer "but, if you really want to know the software, then take time to learn it". The problem is that when you come from other softwares like XSI (which has, in my point of view, the most efficent inferface ever), Maya or 3DS, you are totally lost using Blender. Which is not true when you switch from XSI to Maya, 3DS to XSI etc. I'm sure a lot of professionnals would prefer to add Blender to their softwares to save money, but that's a huge time wasted in learning how to use the Blender interface.

The biggest rule of interface design is : the user don't care about manual.

To extend my point of view, I unfortunately feel that 95% of open-source free softwares have the worst interfaces ever, the less intuitive ones. Probably because people developing such softwares are into the open-source ideology, running Linux or other free OS. People who know how read a manual. People who even know how to use a console and more than that, who know how to code ! That's great, but a such community forget one important thing : the "I don't want to waste one week on learning how to extrude along a path" users. (Of course I didn't take one week to do that, just one hour after searching on google). With XSI, without reading any manual, without knowing a fucking thing about this software, you extrude a beautiful shape along a path in 2 minutes. One more minute is enough to make branches to the new-made mesh with other curves etc.

What I want to say is I'm sure Blender can do what the other can do. But you lose 95% of your potential users only because Blender interface is... well I'm sorry to say that... Blender interface is shit.

To make Blender the greatest software (free, powerful and *accessible*), Blender needs an interface, a true interface. And easy-to-switch-from keyboard shortcuts.

The manual is the last thing a user will look for. If he feels great with the interface, he will open it to find advanced functions. If he can't do a damn thing in less than 5 minutes, he'll throw this software to trashcan. And no, this user is not dumber than anybody.

Thank you for reading, and long life to Blender !

z3r0_d
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Post by z3r0_d » Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:13 pm

blender started not as open source, but as an internal application of NeoGeo in the netherlands.
http://www.blender3d.org/cms/History.53.0.html

I had trouble learning xsi without a manual, same with 3ds max, same with blender...

[that said, I think your points are valid, but will not be addressed soon if ever]

LetterRip
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Post by LetterRip » Tue Jan 09, 2007 12:46 am

Without reading the manual there are only handful of 3D apps I've been able to use - Silo, Wings, and sharpconstruct - and even then I required some manual for both Silo and Wings to do figure out some features. For XSI, Maya, 3DS Max, Houdini, Cinema4D, Truespace, ZBrush -- all have been fairly useless without reading a manual or viewing tutorials.

I do agree that ease of migration between some of those programs is quite a bit easier than between any of those and blender.

Also to get started with blender you can read just the quickstart guide - not even a full manual :)

Also as already noted the interface is due to being historically in house software that was originally developed on hardware that had different user interface conventions.

That said - the interface is to become fully customizable after 2.43 - and likely will have some themes that can have things work in a similar fashion to Maya, XSI, etc.

LetterRip

joeri
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Re: About Blender interface...

Post by joeri » Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:24 pm

oktodindon wrote:
But.
The problem is : I don't get the point to have the most unintuitive interface of all the 3D softs on the market. I don't mean it's not complete or not powerful, I mean that if you never read any tutorial about how to use the interface, you can do absolutely NOTHING !
True. Very true.
As an inhouse 3d app blender was made to be as fast as possible for people who know how to use it. A bit like a cockpit of an airplane. It's not made to learn fast; it's made to use fast. Same goes with a piano for example. Nowadays people boot up a computer and want to be Mozart, that's not how it works.

For blender today it's a bit of a hurdle to be so un-intuitive. Lots of people think blender is a good start into 3d because it's free and a free download.
And get disappointed that they can't be stahlman orso the next day and blaim it on the interface.

I know the foundation wants a free 3d tool for everybody, but what does that mean for the learning curve? If the goal was "an easy as possible to learn 3d app" then why support a project Orange ( hardcore blender specialists creating top end movie ) ?

Meanwhile lots of people are working to get this 10 year old core more up to date with todays computer standards ( big keyboards, mousewheel double click, content sensitive popups, etc etc. ) but keeping it compatible with as many operating systems as possible. This means the Vista version will look like blender not like Vista, but then again it will also look like blender on a mac and on a linux machine, that's very handy for documentation for example. All professional apps work like this, adobe now even has it's own file selector, the ones provided by the o.s. are just to stupid.

Just look at it this way: More and more blender standards are getting incorporated into other applications in the future; first the non overlapping windows, today the build in file selector, tommorow the object oriented construction of files. (I'm not even starting about verse and the no longer use of files)

Happy blendering.

oktodindon
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Post by oktodindon » Tue Jan 09, 2007 2:26 pm

As an inhouse 3d app blender was made to be as fast as possible for people who know how to use it.
Well... We don't seem to have the same definitions of "productivity". Let's compare a simple action : make a 3D bézier curve.

In XSI :
- Click "Curve=>Draw Points", make 10 points while rotating the viewport. All right, a beautiful curve is created in 11 clicks.

In Blender :
- Click "Add curve", search on the web to find why you can't have 3D curve, then when you found the 3D button, you ctrl+click 10 times while rotating the view. Then, right-click + left-click 50 times to adjust your tangents which are always created in the same position (why ???). The same curve is created in more than 60 clicks.
EDIT: OK... I just find out the SHIFT+H option for auto handles...

So, OK I understand that it's like a cockpit of an airplane. But sometimes we don't need to have a cockpit to do easy stuff !

And to answer your example of a piano, the beginner will have everything in front of him to play music. Nothing more than easy to use touches... The manual is here to learn advanced functions, not to learn how to use the thing...

Marianne
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Post by Marianne » Tue Jan 09, 2007 4:25 pm

I understand and agree that Blender cannot have an easy-to-use interface - however it could be better.

Though i completely disagree that the blender filepicker is a plus. I find the file selector in blender is really painful to use, and much less powerful that the one my system provides

Gustav Göransson
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Post by Gustav Göransson » Tue Jan 09, 2007 4:54 pm

oktodindon actually have a point, I've used 3ds MAX for several years and big trouble learning blender compared to other 3d applications that I've tried (XSI, Zbrush etc). An better interface would attract more users, not scaring them away, and make the blender community bigger and better.

I strongly believe that you can improve the interface big time by just reorganizing and remaining buttons. Right now blender big mess of buttons squished together, and with short names like col, spe, mir (diffuse, specular, mirror colour).

By using more describing names, titles, and placing the buttons in a logical way. Right now blender is using buttons for everything, I would like to see the use of check boxes (for on/off options) and dropdown menus (multiple chose options).

Take the render output dialog for example, there nine different preset you can chose among (HD, PAL, NTSC etc.), instead of using a dropdown menu there is nine different buttons! And there no titles above the buttons like “presets” describing what the buttons are for, that you have to figure out for yourself.

Here is another example of what I mean. This is the tuhopuu interface (discontinued experimental version of blender), compare it to the official version.
Image

Image

Image


Another thing that makes it difficult new users (and people like me who can’t even remember my own telephone number) is the frequently use of hotkeys. Hotkeys are great those know them and it improve the speed dramatically. I believe that you never should replace a button with a hotkey. It’s much easier to learn where a button is than learning a shortcut. A tend to learn where the buttons is and what it does before I learn the hotkey, and believe most people also do.

Take the modelling tools for example, in blender there is a mesh tool & mesh tool 1 panel, but those panels doesn’t contain all the modelling tools and absolutely not the most useful ones (except for extrude…). Instead the other tools are “hidden” under the Mesh -> Faces/Edges/Vertices menu. All the modelling tools should e collected at one “place” (consistency!). I know that the space is limited, but must be a way. The edge modelling tools don’t need to be visible when you’re in face mode and so on.



I think that was all I could think of for now =)

And I almost forgot, thanks to all the developers and the work you have put down on blender so far!

Edit:
Regarding the file selector, there was a great suggestion in the Blender 2.3 UI redesign project, looks like it hasn’t (for some reason?) been implemented yet.
http://www.blender.org/docs/UI/filesele ... lstyle.png
Last edited by Gustav Göransson on Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

nemyax
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Post by nemyax » Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:21 pm

Gustav Göransson wrote:Right now blender is using buttons for everything, I would like to see the use of check boxes (for on/off options) and dropdown menus (multiple chose options).
Absolutely. Blender should get recognizable check boxes and radio buttons. If an option is semantically a radio button (e. g. drawtype), it should look like one, not like a toggle button.

joeri
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Post by joeri » Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:39 pm

oktodindon wrote:
As an inhouse 3d app blender was made to be as fast as possible for people who know how to use it.
Well... We don't seem to have the same definitions of "productivity". Let's compare a simple action : make a 3D bézier curve.

In XSI :
- Click "Curve=>Draw Points", make 10 points while rotating the viewport. All right, a beautiful curve is created in 11 clicks.

In Blender :
- Click "Add curve", search on the web to find why you can't have 3D curve, then when you found the 3D button, you ctrl+click 10 times while rotating the view. Then, right-click + left-click 50 times to adjust your tangents which are always created in the same position (why ???). The same curve is created in more than 60 clicks.
EDIT: OK... I just find out the SHIFT+H option for auto handles...

So, OK I understand that it's like a cockpit of an airplane. But sometimes we don't need to have a cockpit to do easy stuff !

And to answer your example of a piano, the beginner will have everything in front of him to play music. Nothing more than easy to use touches... The manual is here to learn advanced functions, not to learn how to use the thing...
Hmmm.
At NeoGeo we made a Philips promotion film of 12 minutes with 3 people in 6 weeks. A film that is currently still on the "for hire" list http://www.tfc.nl/webshop/productdetail ... uctID=3392 for it's good quality. (It won a golden bear at Berin movie festival). All Philips personel saw this movie and rated it with a 10 and as "best part of the day".

It's a bit lame to come up with examples on how you don't know how to add a curve because that was excactly my point. Once you know how to add a curve in blender the workflow will be much faster than in any other package. And I don't mean just modeling, but from grey-grid to 10 minutes of moving animation.

joeri
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Post by joeri » Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:45 pm

Gustav Göransson wrote:
Another thing that makes it difficult new users (and people like me who can’t even remember my own telephone number) is the frequently use of hotkeys. Hotkeys are great those know them and it improve the speed dramatically. I believe that you never should replace a button with a hotkey. It’s much easier to learn where a button is than learning a shortcut. A tend to learn where the buttons is and what it does before I learn the hotkey, and believe most people also do.
Yes, difficult for new users.
But users are only a small % of the time new users.
If there is a system possible that can suit new and old users, then thats great, in the meanwhile lets stick to the usedge of old users, there are more of them, they promote blender better and that's what blender was intended for in the first place.

joeri
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Post by joeri » Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:52 pm

Gustav Göransson wrote: Take the render output dialog for example, there nine different preset you can chose among (HD, PAL, NTSC etc.), instead of using a dropdown menu there is nine different buttons! And there no titles above the buttons like “presets” describing what the buttons are for, that you have to figure out for yourself.
I had an intern at work who grabbed his whole video of his band in NTSC.
Then he edited the thing, and made special effects. Did some audio to it, and then wanted to make a dvd. So I asked; why did you make it in NTSC? Is it for the US market? Turns out he had no Idea what NTSC or PAL is.
Bad thing he lives in the Netherlands where the TV standard is PAL.
Now his grabbing software had a nice "user friendly" interface and all. But modern computer users think they can just use any programm without any knolledge about anything and that the application wizard will guide them truw the world of technology...
My point being: If you know what PAL and NTSC is you don't need a 'preset' header and if you don't know what PAL and NTSC is 'preset' is not going to help you a tart bit.

oktodindon
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Post by oktodindon » Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:11 pm

joeri: I totally disagree with your point of view. I don't think the interface has to be thought for people who "we know they will spend time to learn it". I don't think to have a intuitive interface will ruin the productivity of Blender top level users. I don't think people HAVE TO learn things they DON'T WANT to learn (and spend time thinking "where is hidden this goddam button").

I think the essence of interface design is to make a powerful, efficient, flexible and intuitive interface for all kind of users !

It's too easy to hide behind some "this guy is a lamer". No, this guy just want to feel confortable with a easy to use but powerful soft. And don't want to be transformed into a customization geek...

Gustav Göransson
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Post by Gustav Göransson » Wed Jan 10, 2007 1:19 am

joeri wrote:Yes, difficult for new users.
But users are only a small % of the time new users.
If there is a system possible that can suit new and old users, then thats great, in the meanwhile lets stick to the usedge of old users, there are more of them, they promote blender better and that's what blender was intended for in the first place.
That's what we trying to to here, improving blender, right? Of course you could make an interface that suit bother new and and old users, others have done that sucessfully. But that requires old user to be acceptant towards changes =).
My point being: If you know what PAL and NTSC is you don't need a 'preset' header and if you don't know what PAL and NTSC is 'preset' is not going to help you a tart bit.
That was just an example, my point was that there are many things within the UI that could be improved, by renaming and reorganizing in a logical way (I'm the only one finding Tuhopuu interface better and easier?).

All things are easy when you know how to do them, it's learning how to do them that is hard! And I think much you improve in the "learning part" in blender, and that's what I'm trying to share with you here =).

/Gustav

Marianne
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Post by Marianne » Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:18 am

Agreed, putting a label on top of a bunch of buttons doesn't make you an expert at them. But it helps point in the right direction! I don't know why blender devs refuse to even consider simple things that would help make things at least a bit clearer.

I often find myself staring at a bunch of buttons and asking myself "hmmm what do these buttons do?" yes i know there is the manual and the docs and all, but having docs is not a reason for making things unclear on purpose, isn't it? Just a little label on top of it could help a lot sometimes i believe. Even when the docs have been read - it's so much information to remember. When you have practiced for years, it's okay. And i totally understand you need to practice to use blender - it's just it seems like people think "well users need to practice so no use to try making a ncier interface anyway"

I also believe radio buttons, buttons and checkboxes should be visibly different, and that heavy bunches of check-box buttons should be turned into combo boxes. I have already proposed it BTW, but people made me feel kinda unwelcome :roll: and i honestly don't see how any of these proposals would hurt workflow.

If some compelling reasons exist why not, then it's ok, but till now all reasons i could read were "when you get to used to it, it's ok"

stiv
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Post by stiv » Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:32 am

I often find myself staring at a bunch of buttons and asking myself "hmmm what do these buttons do?"
You know about the tooltips, right?

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