About Blender interface...

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

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zingbat
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Post by zingbat » Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:37 pm

acdwrp wrote:My poin is that it should be more "new-user friendly". Don't get me wrong. I actually think that the use of shortcuts is actually a great feature of interface, but what I find really annoying is that I have to look for this shortcuts through the entire manual.
You don't have to do this. The menus in each window shows the shortcut key used to call that function. But i see your point. Browsing window specific menus or using the more general Help->Shortcuts menu may help.
acdwrp wrote:In 3D Max and other similar software you can just point your mouse over a button and see the shortcut in the tooltip and then use it instead of clicking buttons.
This already happens. For example if you over the mouse on the gizmo button a tooltip with a message appears saying: "Use 3D transform tool manipulator (Ctrl-Space)".

What buttons specifically did you noticed that don't have a short-cut key in the tooltip? Not every button calls an action with an associated shortcut.
acdwrp wrote:It feels like developers are hidding them so only 'the chosen ones" could use it. Besides, by hidding the buttons and making interface more "shortcuttish" you actually hidding Blenders features.
The interface was changed with menus and tooltips sometime ago in response to user complains about this. Have you tried a recent version of Blender?
acdwrp wrote:But unfortunatly, to find out about them you have to read though the ENTIRE manual, just to have some sort of idea what Blender is capable of. I think thats one of the main reason why Blender isn't so widespread like Max and Maya.
You always have to look at the manual. If you worked with 3D studio you know that a minimum reading for a program of this complexity is required. Using the Help menu will send you directly to the several sections of the wiki documentation or the manual index without leaving the application.

I agree with you that the wiki manual should be much more improved. With 3D studio we have a very well written manual and we can click on any button or panel and be directed to an help page in the manual with contextual info about what we have clicked.

But there are better examples than 3D studio. Anyone remembers Nendo? This modeler had a feature to record tutorials and then playback those tutorials as if we are looking at a movie with possibility of indexing and playbacks.
acdwrp wrote:I'm not saying that Blender interface is a total crap and that it should be more "standart", after all, innovation is the thing that keeps the progress running.
Blender interface is similar to Vista in it's general idea. Probably 3D studio max interface and Maya interface will both change in the future to adopt Vista look and feel and thus become closer to Blender.

Standards are just good receipts for guis. There isn't a superior standard like some ignorant people claim. I agree that Blender could be more flexible and be able to adopt the look and feel of the OS it is running on. Think of how Java applications adapt to the OS where they run.
acdwrp wrote:But maybe by ADDING (NOT REPLACING) an alternative way to use Blender we could make it much better, and keep "newbies" and "gurus" satisfyed simulteniously.
Certainly, but understand, that programs like 3D studio have hundreds of professionals working full time. While Blender team is small and only a few people are dedicated full time to the project, i think.

If more gui coders are interesting in joining the project than UI development may speed up. There are side projects where people try different ideas for the UI. You may check the coding forum for some links.

In alternative you have the doc forum where you may propose your own changes to the manual or add documentation yourself.

Just stating the obvious, that Blender interface can improve, or coming here with an attitude insulting everyone like it happens occasionally (not referring to you of course) isn't going to do make anything happen more smoothly, but solid contributions will.

LetterRip
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Post by LetterRip » Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:40 pm

After 2.5 you should be able to completely redesign the UI to suit your needs so after the next release.

LetterRip

scorpion9
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Post by scorpion9 » Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:53 pm

well personally i think that blenders interface is very good, at least the organisation of menus etc.
i think that compared to 3D max, blender menus are a lot better.
i had used blender for 0.5-1 year and then downloaded 3D max, and then i realized how simple blender actually is.
Blender was my first experience with 3d, and it took 1 day to get it going.
when using max, it took me hours to eaven find a way to make the simpliest vertex, few days to find a way to extrude.(i wasnt using it all day, just couple of hours per day.)

But thas just my oppinion(i think differently than most people, and thats why my oppinion is so different.)
installing Blender
[IIIIIIIIIIIII::::::::]
installed 127.000.000 verticles (224.000.000 left)

joeri
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Post by joeri » Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:55 pm

I think that flexible tabs will create a path to more task oriented oranization of buttons. If users can create their own tabs then they can collect their own favourite workflow layout. ofcourse moving your mouse up and down from 3d to button window will give you rsi, but that's what you get if you don't want to learn the hotkeys...

innactpro
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Post by innactpro » Tue Feb 13, 2007 10:53 pm

I have used Max, Maya, Cinema, Bryce, ZBrush and tried to use LightWave but gave up on it. Blender has everything the rest do, you just have to learn the differences. Every designer has their own philosophy and this includes UI designers. Just because you can use one doesn't mean you will be able to begin using another with same proficiency. What I would like to see is a nice UI tutorial for blender. I've been looking and haven't found much yet. If you have a theme for blender, make it available. I can't find too many of those either. I will keep looking though for themes as well as tutorials.

margoraider
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New user's opinions

Post by margoraider » Thu Feb 15, 2007 5:14 am

I'm a recent convert to Blender.
Recently a few friends and I decided to try developing a game, so I went out to scout for something affordable yet very intuitive, to ensure fast development time.

Max and Maya I've used, but were out because of
A) Price
B) Slow development time
Don't get me wrong, they're both very capable and mature software, and the workflow made sense, but seemed a bit clunky and awkward. There were some things that frustrated me because in my opinion, it would have been much faster to do it in a manner other than how it was implemented. At times it felt like driving a porsche with a flat tire.

I tried out Softimage, and ran into the same problems. Good software. Not the most intuitive workflow. Looked at Lightwave before and the whole thing just made me dizzy. My last shot, other than Blender (which I had already tried and found decent) was Cinema4d. I had heard really good things about its ui. Well it really wasn't that much better than the rest.

So I decided if I had to read a manual to learn software it might as well be the free one. Other than that Blender actually has a very fast workflow. Right click tweaking. Non linear workflow. The envelope system is much faster than Max imo.

Blender has a fast workflow, but an inconsistent one. I think there lies the problem. In Max I know I'm working with stacks. In Maya I know I'm working with nodes. In Blender I can't really tell. I have nodes, I have stacks, and whatever else it uses, and it's just difficult not having a certain rule set for everything within the program.

I think the UI could also be improved upon and have some consistency. The buttons are kind of everywhere, each having a different size and layout. It's hard to find where the commands you need will be located.

I'm not knocking Blender. As I've said, after looking at commercial software, I think it's probably the best for what I'm looking for. I have to mention, that for modeling, I think nothing can touch Silo or Wings in regard to being an intuitive tool. I think the main thing the Blender UI needs is consistency, and organization.

My 2 cents...

alt

Post by alt » Sun Feb 18, 2007 3:06 pm

I think this comes to personalities.
Some people, god forbid, like Max. I can't understand why or how, but they seem to get their work done quickly in an environment that for me is an awful mess. Some people like Maya, I had training for it and it's okay but not good. I like XSI, it's logical, seems to anticipate what I want to do and doesn't try to piss on my face.

I like Blender and it's fast modeling, though I haven't done serious animation with it.

Complexity does not scare me a bit. It's a byproduct of multifunctional software. Software that only does one thing can get away without being too complex.

What annoys me is if I know that functionality is there, but I'm not allowed to access it. There might be only one way to get to that functionality and if I don't get it, I'm doomed, and even worse, it wastes my time and possibly the money of my client.


So, few notes:
- Never hide complexity. Tools should be very transparent in what they are doing.
- Allow several paths of access for each feature. Not only a hotkey, but a hotkey and a button and a menu item and whatnot. This way I can choose whichever path fits my workflow. Or open the menu and check the hotkey for that feature.
- Think about usage scenarios and make flow from one feature to next fast&quick. For example: when working on materials on Blender, the texture features are not shown by default. But in reality I must use them at the same time! Switching between tabs wastes clicks and wrists. Stuff that is connected should be visible at once.
- Make the buttons more clear, as has been talked before. Use drop-downs for selecting one item from a list and use checkboxes for checking multiple options.

Blender complexity could be segmented. XSI separates modeling phase from animation phase and so forth. This way only features applicable to current task would be shown. This doesn't hide complexity, but it only shows relevant complexity, relevant being the key here.

Sorry for long post.

nifrek
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Post by nifrek » Fri Feb 23, 2007 6:33 am

First, sorry for my english.

I have been using Blender for a bit more than 2 months now, and have been reading the BA forums daily since then.

I wanted to talk about the "elitist" factor somebody mentionned, but here are my thoughts about the interface first. (Don't worry, I'm not critisizing anything or anybody).

I don't really have prior experience with 3D other than using 3ds (in DOS) back when I was about 13-14 years old. I agree that blender's interface is not very intuitive for new-comers, experienced 3d artists or not. I can usually learn any complex appplication very fast, be it music or graphics related or anything, without looking at documentation or tutorials. Simply because once you learn Photoshop or any music sequencer, it's pretty much the same exept buttons have different names or are placed somewhere else.

There is only, that I can remember, 2 apps where I ever had trouble learning (meaning, couldn't understand anything after an hour of testing and pushing buttons). They are AVID and blender. The reason for that I think, is that the workflow is mainly based on hotkeys. If you don't know those hotkeys, you'll be scratching your head until you realize you have no choice but look for documentation.

AVID is a video editing software that has been the standard for years in the movie industry. For the last few years it has slowed down and Final Cut is being used more and more. Why? Because anybody can mess around in Final Cut with no prior experience for an hour and understand how it works, because it is more intuitive. So a lot of new people have started using it, making amateur movies look very professional. Nowadays you can achieve the SAME thing in any of those apps. But put an experienced Final Cut user in front of AVID who has never used before and he'll go crazy. However, watching an experienced AVID user working is almost spectacular by how fast they work! An experienced Final Cut user (IMO) could never compete in terms of speed in his own app.

When I realized I could'nt learn blender just by messing around I spent a day watching all the tutorials I could find and took notes of all the shortcuts I saw that were used a lot. The next day I had no problem at all with the UI, in fact I now find it awesome and easy to use. I even wish more apps were that way! Soon, very soon, you will be able to do anything that you can do in any other 3d app that cost big bucks in Blender for free. So what if it takes a bit more time to learn? Just for the fact that development is so fast and that everything will eventually be customizable in the future versions, I find it crazy not to learn right away. In 2 years I would'nt be surprised if most freelancers use it instead of Maya or 3ds. Since it's open-source, there is no limit. Heck, maybe someday it'll be able to seriously compete against compositing apps like AfterEffects!

So there, call blender's interface "shit" all you want. It makes no difference to people who know how to use it.

I can understand this community can seem elitist. But new-comers need to understand is that the Blender community is a HUGE part of Blender. And Blender coders are part of the community and are users themselves (I think, don't quote me on that).

So think about it. Telling coders that the interface is shit and that they need to remake it, while they have been using it themselves for years is kind of ridiculous. They ARE part of the user base. Of course it's important to have new users, and that's why there is so much documentation. But I'm pretty sure they put more priority on feature requests by experienced users who are active in the community (which again, they are part of) than some new guy registering on the forums and posting once.

EDIT: Removed cheezy analogy about kids building a cabin in a tree ;)

Basicly, if you criticize Blender whitout learning about it first, in a way you are criticizing the community. Call it elitism if you want, but since Blender is not a "product" since it's free, new-comers that expect Blender to be a cheap replacement to 5000$ apps are going to come up as annoying whiners. That's the opensource mentallity, get used to it. Just take so time to learn it and read all the great informations on the BA forums and you'll see that it's worth it.

Jesus, I wrote so much I'm not even sure what I was supposed to be talking about. Maybe that "cabin in the tree" thing was too much ;)

Oh well...

joeri
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Post by joeri » Mon Feb 26, 2007 12:33 pm

Nice piece nifrek.
alt wrote:What annoys me is if I know that functionality is there, but I'm not allowed to access it.
Goes for all applications.
alt wrote:So, few notes:
All true, now can we get a detailed document on how to get this implemented in (opensource) blender?

Listing these issues seem to surpass the reality in which they need to be executed, and sound like nobody has come up with them before, or worst; that current developers are not implementing them on purpose.
This is all not the case.
alt wrote:- Allow several paths of access for each feature. Not only a hotkey, but a hotkey and a button and a menu item and whatnot. This way I can choose whichever path fits my workflow. Or open the menu and check the hotkey for that feature.
As far as I know all features are under a hotkey and in the spacebar tools pop menu. Most of them are even in the annoying far away header.
It's more often the different name or different way of execution compared to other apps that make them hard to find. But that's true to all different apps. Maya handles subsurf different to Xsi and LW and Max.
A migrate list in the wiki could help out alot.
alt wrote:- Think about usage scenarios and make flow from one feature to next fast&quick.
Implying this is not done is insulting, right?
In your example it's not okay to have tabs for texture and materials, but you don't mind to split stuff up in modes (model/anim).
alt wrote: - Make the buttons more clear, as has been talked before. Use drop-downs for selecting one item from a list and use checkboxes for checking multiple options.
Yes that is todays vision on user interface. But currently the underlying events system of blender does not allow modern (mouse) events or things like multiple instances of a button for a feature. That's why a new events system is planned and will open the road to shortcut remapping and user defined shelfs and GUI experts defined workflow subsets.
[ Blender has always been a struct visualizer. You are looking at (and altering) the data inside a memory block. In modern days where people don't want to know how their machine works GUI can adapt to that, but that's a choice. ]

Some people just want to work a different way then others and alot of people want to do different stuff then others. By being completely different to anything Blender can suit a lot of those wishes.

Weak points in my opinion is not the interface but the renderer. It's long past since it was the fastest renderer and modern features (GI/Caustics/Final Gather) are just to hard to get going in animations.

masser
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Post by masser » Sun May 06, 2007 8:34 pm

I know this is an old thread but I'd like to add a couple of points. Keep in mind, I've been using many commercial products for years (3DS MAX, TrueSpace, Maya) and have only used Blender seriously for a few weeks, so I am no Blender zealot.

1) Blender is what it is - the people who try so hard to make this thing "look and operate" like Maya, 3DS MAX, etc. are making a mistake IMO. I tried to do the same thing myself originally, and admittedly walked away from the app on my first use because it was "unintuitive". Once I took the time (time I was also forced to invest in 3DS once upon a time -- been using for 10 years) it was not all that tough. In the end, I'm getting around just fine and although there is always room for improvement (I'm not a fan of the file selectors either), I understand the limitations and would put Blender against most commercial packages on the market.

2) Complexity in Operation Leads to Complexity in Interface - There are so may people on this thread suggesting that you can make Blender "point and click" like ZModeler or other "comparable" commercial products, where the education is quick. This is just not true. When you select a vertex in any complex software, there are so many possible operations, modes and implications available that a simple click and drag will not do. I've watched the evolution of products like TrueSpace, that set out to make a simpler, point and click interface available to the masses, in a matter of years heap hundreds of operations on their dream only to end up with a pile of disconnected menus where you can't find a thing either.

3) Comparison - To compare Blender to ZModeler is a joke -- it's more like 3DS MAX in its compexity. To compare it to 3DS MAX or Maya, if you're honest about it, yields the conclusion that is no less simple, it's just DIFFERENT. But in the end, once you begin to understand it, did it take less time that it did to learn 3DS or Maya and does it perform as well? These are fair questions to ask.

4) RTFM - There is no way around it, a package this complex requires some good background material and tutorials before you even begin to play with it. I know many people who are looking for (to use an analogy) the Microsoft MovieMaker of 3D tools will be disappointed, but this is more like Adobe Premiere and on its way to Avid. It's a professional tool and requires the same commitment. Unfortunately, because it's open source, most of tutorials are weak (sorry to the authors) so it will take time to get this community up to speed (the software is far more advanced than the educational materials). The product documentation looks like it's on its way, however, and I look forward to contributing and seeing it grow. I would advise a noob to read though http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Main_Page, http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Blender_3D:_Noob_to_Pro and http://www.blender.org/documentation/htmlI/ before even trying to figure it out. Also make the image at http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Reference/Hotkey_Map and make it your wallpaper for awhile. If the concepts are not familiar after reading, you have some general 3D education to pursue.

Sorry for the late post, but I saw how much of a beating Jeori took in this thread and I think these things needed to be said. False analogies and irrelevant comparisons will not improve the product but actually hurt, long term, and I wanted the Blender team to know that I agree with their direction (despite being new to the product). Keep up the good work, guys!
Masser

joeri
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Post by joeri » Mon May 14, 2007 10:05 am

Anyone seen the new Office2007 (word) interface?

Image
I'm sure i've seen this tab in tab system somewhere before.
I guess this means microsoft will now get all the "worst interface ever" forums.

kAinStein
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Post by kAinStein » Mon May 14, 2007 12:38 pm

joeri wrote:Anyone seen the new Office2007 (word) interface?
I'm sure i've seen this tab in tab system somewhere before.
I guess this means microsoft will now get all the "worst interface ever" forums.
Yes, it's pretty close to the way Blender works. But there is one important difference: It's configurable. ;)

joeri
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Post by joeri » Mon May 14, 2007 1:16 pm

kAinStein wrote:
joeri wrote:Anyone seen the new Office2007 (word) interface?
I'm sure i've seen this tab in tab system somewhere before.
I guess this means microsoft will now get all the "worst interface ever" forums.
Yes, it's pretty close to the way Blender works. But there is one important difference: It's configurable. ;)
There is another more important difference; It only gives one view on your work: No outliner, no IPO, no Import browser etc., just one window with one view. That makes learning the interface a lot easier. Also, the objects to create are pretty simple, 40 shapes or so :) ?

kAinStein
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Post by kAinStein » Mon May 14, 2007 9:08 pm

joeri wrote: There is another more important difference; It only gives one view on your work: No outliner, no IPO, no Import browser etc., just one window with one view. That makes learning the interface a lot easier. Also, the objects to create are pretty simple, 40 shapes or so :) ?
Don't be sarcastic! (Though it's so true... *eg*) Another highlight is the fact that it is also scriptable (that's why I really liked broken's approach to store changes as Python scripts). Let's wait till 2.50 to see what's there in the future for us!

joeri
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Post by joeri » Mon May 14, 2007 9:58 pm

kAinStein wrote:
joeri wrote: There is another more important difference; It only gives one view on your work: No outliner, no IPO, no Import browser etc., just one window with one view. That makes learning the interface a lot easier. Also, the objects to create are pretty simple, 40 shapes or so :) ?
Don't be sarcastic! (Though it's so true... *eg*) Another highlight is the fact that it is also scriptable (that's why I really liked broken's approach to store changes as Python scripts). Let's wait till 2.50 to see what's there in the future for us!
That's how flash does it. Well crazy flash-javascript. And Maya. So,... how can anyone object to that? It would be interesting to see how a python command list could be interpreted by a PointyArrow Tutor Thingy that moves the cursor and presses the right buttons for you. Jummy.

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