interface

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

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GDP_Sabrina
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interface

Post by GDP_Sabrina » Sat Aug 04, 2007 9:58 pm

Hello everybody,

since many years I am using Cinema4D and 3ds at my work for modeling. I always looked aside to blender, but I could never convince my coleagues to switch to blender - though it is totally free.

The main reason is: NO ONE of my colleagues was able to create reasonable models or results in blender. The interface is totally complicated to use for newbies and that is the reason, why my company still spends thousands of Euros per year to these vendors.

Maybe this question was asked a thousand times before, but: "Is there an optional interface for blender ? Or is there a subproject, which tries to create a new (competitive) interface, which is comparable to the regular interfaces with dropdowns, pictures, icons etc instead of pressing weird combinations of keys" ?

Looking at the gallery pictures, many people create wonderful results with blender, but let me ask you: How do they / you achieve these results with this weird and cryptic interface ???

I personally would love to switch my whole team to blender, but since they all are unable to create reasonable results with the interface, they change back to the old proprietary packages.

Regards
Sabrina

teppic
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Post by teppic » Sat Aug 04, 2007 10:23 pm

Actually, I am just now trying out Modo since i have been recommended it by friends, and I feel exactly the same way. I can do pretty good stuff in Blender, Wings3d and in Maya, since that is what I'm used to. I'm totally lost in modos user interface, but I'm sure most experienced Modo users will say that it's very intuitive.

I'm just saying that this is an issue whichever new application you try. You just have to give it some time. I have a feeling many throws blender after having tried it since It is free. Free stuff can't be very good anyway right?

Try installing any modeling software you haven't used before and see if you can make something good without any training and/or reading of manuals. I really doubt that you can.

GDP_Sabrina
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first 15 minutes

Post by GDP_Sabrina » Sat Aug 04, 2007 11:47 pm

Hi Teppic,

if you don't use blender every day for hours, you scramble with shortcuts to simply move a camera and since it takes some minutes to find out the concept of how to move the camera, you will loose interest with the rest very fast. Sad to say, but Blender is persuading the user of a very long trial and error session - you even read in the beginner tutorial that the writer had to kill blender when he first used it because he was not finding the "quit"-Button.

Just look at this concetpual description, what mnany people are used to nowadays: http://designinginterfaces.com/

In the game industry, people say that the first 15 minutes of gameplay will decide about the game success. If people are able to make quick results easily within the first 15 minutes, they will stay with the game. If the game offers an overload of features, which confuse the user, they will quit the game. Therefore, many games start the training mode with small tasks and only a few visible buttons. Then the user learning more and more and finally wants to find out, what the game has to offer. So there is a smooth learning curve. In Blender, you are shot by the menues, which only offer buttons like "HoR", "AmbR", "Amb Occ", "Tralu", "Radio" ...

I know that this is because these buttons should all be placed on one screen. But these buttons only make sense, if I am a power user. When being a newbie or medium user, I would like to switch off these buttons, because I seldomly need to create "Translucency" effects. When looking at the interface, I feel like an idiot. Blender is only for jerks and geeks. That's what I feel when looking at the screen.

So, IMHO blender should hide all these little buttons and option switches and only open them if users are interested to use them. If I start blender, I would like to see a palette of visual objects (cube, mesh, surface ...), a palette of actions (cut, boolean, wind ...) and a material palette (which shows features on demand and doesn't show all it has to offer on an overloaded menu) and finally the render window to make a "quick win". The rest of the menues can unfold, if the user needs them.

And there is another point: After downloading blender since version 2.3 a few days ago, I still search for the buttons, which allow me to move the camera and fix the camera view. I don't like to click "Ctrl ALt NumPad 0", because I forget these combinations every time I quit blender. Some of these fundamental functions MUST be offered as a menu button on the main screen. My opinion is, that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of developers, what users always need on the main screen and what should be unfolded.

There is too much visible on the first view and there are so many little buttons, which no one understands, unless you have read a handbook to understand it.

For example: In the lower panel is a button "lamp". If I have a cube open, the lamp button is totally senseless. If you have a cube selected and click on the lamp button, the toolbar gets empty - this is a indication for me, that the menues are not context sensitive. Why does blender offer buttons, which make absolute no sense at this moment ?

That's what I am talking about: There a re so many features, but the menu structure is not context sensitive. It looks more like an arrangement of all and everything possibly on one view, which is a visual overlkill and you only can understand after working with it for weeks or months.

Comparing the learning curve with Cinema4D or 3DS, I can say that these expensive products have one big difference: Occasional users see only minimal functionality on first view. The rest unfolds piece by piece. And that makes a real difference !

Just a few thoughts ... (I don't write this to say that Blender is bad or so - just the opposite: looking at the tutorials and galleries, Blender has gotten better and better and with every release and there are so many new features, which I would like to try out, but since I am a occasional user, I am not able to use it; that's why am so mournful hoping that the interface will improve someday ...)

Regards
Sabrina

stiv
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Post by stiv » Sun Aug 05, 2007 2:46 am

I personally would love to switch my whole team to blender
Allow me to play Devil's Advocate and ask why, after spending large sums of money and many years of time mastering your current tools, why would you want to switch to something new?


Simply put and without meaning to sound harsh, we care more about people who use blender than people who do not. Remember we have the source code. If we wanted blender to look radically different, it would.

I am not going to walk thru the history of the interface but simply mention that over time almost all of the hotkey features have gained menu entries or buttons. A minimalist blender with only a START button may be friendly to someone who only uses blender 15 minutes a month but a skilled user appreciates having buttons or hotkeys at their fingertips.

The best tools work in consistent ways. Blender is designed using a set of principles. Moving a camera works the same way as moving a cube or any other object, for example. If you do not understand these principles, blender will always be incomprehensible. (btw, look under View->Cameras in a 3d window)
unless you have read a handbook to understand it
A personal remark: I have never understood how people can expect to use complex tools without ever reading the manual.

May God forgive me for getting involved in Yet Another UI Thread.

jesterKing
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Post by jesterKing » Sun Aug 05, 2007 6:54 am

stiv wrote:May God forgive me for getting involved in Yet Another UI Thread.
I forgive you.

/Nathan

stiv
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Post by stiv » Sun Aug 05, 2007 2:11 pm

jesterKing wrote:I forgive you.
/Nathan
Thanks! I can resist anything but temptation.

GDP_Sabrina
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Post by GDP_Sabrina » Sun Aug 05, 2007 8:46 pm

Hello stiv,

>>> after spending large sums of money and many years of time mastering
>>> your current tools, why would you want to switch to something new?
Because with every new release we have to pay update fees again and again - and believe me, professional products are very expensive.

IMHO blender offers many interesting features, which professional vendors are not offering, so it would be a real alternative.

>>> we care more about people who use blender than people who do not
I am a recurring, occasional user, who checks by once half a year, seeing those wonderufl gallery pictures, downloading blender, starting it and fiddling around with that same strange camera positioning and material panel dialogue, which I still don't undertand though I bought the game kit book, the 2.3 book and the 2.4 animation book. Every half a year, I feel like "now I am going to learn blender, because it must be more understandable to me this time" and getting frustrated after 3 or 4 hours of not finding the reason, why some of my cubes are colored in the rendered picture and why others are not - not say that my camera never spots what I would like it to view at.

By the way: Meanwhile there ar these 3d positioning arrows and the rotation circles, which are being found in 3ds and Cinema4D as well, so the interface is being altered by the blender team. And those little preview panels in the material panel, help to understand what these shorcuts are - I can see the result which makes it more understandable than 3-letter cryptics on a button. On many places, there are some icons now and that is absolutely the way, blender should go further.

Maybe I am a real nut and a blender usage idiot, but I have done several nice projects with Cinema4D and carrara, since they simply illustrate the button functionality by using understandable icons, grouped cohesive sets of controls with visual preview feature and a simple to understand camera movement technique.

My question is: Is there any subproject, that tries to build an alternative interface ? Because after 3 years of watching this fantsastic project, I am totally motivated to join an "alternative interface subproject".

Regards
Sabrina

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

Re: first 15 minutes

Post by kAinStein » Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:43 am

GDP_Sabrina wrote: if you don't use blender every day for hours, you scramble with shortcuts to simply move a camera and since it takes some minutes to find out the concept of how to move the camera, you will loose interest with the rest very fast.
Then I would guess that Blender is not the tool you are looking for, you don't have a need to use it or you are having the wrong premiss that because you can already use similiar tools that you don't have to learn how to learn the next - which might lead to my first assumption.
Sad to say, but Blender is persuading the user of a very long trial and error session
I hope you haven't gained your driving license that way! Honestly, I've made the experience that people who have never done anything in 3D before at all, learn extremly fast how to use Blender and do things way more impressive in less than 2 weeks than I was able to do in the same time period. The difference? They must learn everything and don't have a certain way in their thinking how things have to be done - they learn and just do!
you even read in the beginner tutorial that the writer had to kill blender when he first used it because he was not finding the "quit"-Button.
Well, that might refer to a pre-1.80 version where no menubar existed. So it isn't a problem with recent versions. Also I wasn't able to do anything with Blender when I started with it - that was '98 with the first public version and all I had was a single HTML-page of documentation. After reading it I was able to do some stuff. Now I don't want it any other way than the Blender way... And I've got good reasons for it!
Just look at this concetpual description, what mnany people are used to nowadays: http://designinginterfaces.com/
Being used something doesn't mean that it is better or more ergonomic! Take a look at "The Humane Interface" by Jef Raskin.
In the game industry, people say that the first 15 minutes of gameplay will decide about the game success. If people are able to make quick results easily within the first 15 minutes, they will stay with the game. If the game offers an overload of features, which confuse the user, they will quit the game. Therefore, many games start the training mode with small tasks and only a few visible buttons. Then the user learning more and more and finally wants to find out, what the game has to offer. So there is a smooth learning curve.
That's why driving a car is the same as riding a motorbike, isn't it? You can't compare a game with a serious tool that you are expected to use all the time.
In Blender, you are shot by the menues, which only offer buttons like "HoR", "AmbR", "Amb Occ", "Tralu", "Radio" ...
Take a look into the documentation to learn what it means.
I know that this is because these buttons should all be placed on one screen.
Wrong! Those buttons are meant to be displayed where you need them.
But these buttons only make sense, if I am a power user.
So?
When being a newbie or medium user, I would like to switch off these buttons, because I seldomly need to create "Translucency" effects.
When modelling a mesh I don't have the need for a timebar (I'm refering to your screenshots in the other thread). I also don't create new objects all the time when working on a mesh - at least not as many times that would justify to huge icons in a toolbar to take a good amount of my working canvas! But when I want certain information then I want it now - and not after clicking a button that opens a window that might block my view at what I'm doing. So the solution? Create as many different screens as you need, arrange them as you need and store them as default. That's the Blender way!

You surely should first inform yourself about the fundamental philosophy of Blender...
When looking at the interface, I feel like an idiot. Blender is only for jerks and geeks. That's what I feel when looking at the screen.
I'd better not write what I thought when I saw Blender the first time... ;)
So, IMHO blender should hide all these little buttons and option switches and only open them if users are interested to use them.
Well, if you have seen them then you surely opened them, didn't you?
If I start blender, I would like to see a palette of visual objects (cube, mesh, surface ...), a palette of actions (cut, boolean, wind ...)
Why? Are you filling up the window with primitives? Surely not. And what's wrong with the hotkeys? You don't know them? You can use the context menus and learn them while using the functions. Hotkeys are a lot faster than using the mouse and after knowing them, you don't actually think what you've got to press: You just do it! So what are you after? In what way is your proposal better? Easier to learn? Not really. You've got also to learn what the icons mean because most icons don't express themselves very well...
and a material palette (which shows features on demand and doesn't show all it has to offer on an overloaded menu) and finally the render window to make a "quick win". The rest of the menues can unfold, if the user needs them.
Well, hide them. Don't see any problem at all.
And there is another point: After downloading blender since version 2.3 a few days ago, I still search for the buttons, which allow me to move the camera and fix the camera view. I don't like to click "Ctrl ALt NumPad 0", because I forget these combinations every time I quit blender.
You that one already. Believe me: You actually don't have to think about it after some training. You also don't think how to put your foot on the ground or how the best position for your hips would be when you are walking.
Some of these fundamental functions MUST be offered as a menu button on the main screen.
It might be fundamental for you. For others it might be not because they do something in a different way than you do it.
My opinion is, that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of developers, what users always need on the main screen and what should be unfolded.
All the Blender developers use Blender themselves. My guess is that you should learn the very basics how to use Blender. This would be: What are the main tasks you can achieve with it? What are the main windows? How do I customize my Blender?
There is too much visible on the first view and there are so many little buttons, which no one understands, unless you have read a handbook to understand it.
You are expected to read the manual. Not all at once. But certainly in portions. You are expecting that all the people work the way you do. But that isn't the case.
For example: In the lower panel is a button "lamp". If I have a cube open, the lamp button is totally senseless.
Those buttons act in the same way as tabs would do (but take less space). Why would you open the paintfx tab in Maya when you want to add a cube?
If you have a cube selected and click on the lamp button, the toolbar gets empty - this is a indication for me, that the menues are not context sensitive. Why does blender offer buttons, which make absolute no sense at this moment ?
Guess why it's empty. :roll:
That's what I am talking about: There a re so many features, but the menu structure is not context sensitive.
First: This is not the menu structure but some subwindow types. Further: Of course it is context sensitive or do you see any light attributes in the window then? Also take a look at the menus: They change from an object type to an other. There are reasons why there are those "tabs": You can arrange custom screens. Sometimes it makes sense to have a screen where you can have the mesh tools and the material settings. Or the texture and the light settings. You don't have to use it - but you can.
It looks more like an arrangement of all and everything possibly on one view, which is a visual overlkill and you only can understand after working with it for weeks or months.
You can hide the most of it. So what's your point?
Comparing the learning curve with Cinema4D or 3DS, I can say that these expensive products have one big difference: Occasional users see only minimal functionality on first view. The rest unfolds piece by piece. And that makes a real difference !
I guess Blender isn't meant for the occasional user. Perhaps you are searching something different.
Just a few thoughts ... (I don't write this to say that Blender is bad or so - just the opposite: looking at the tutorials and galleries, Blender has gotten better and better and with every release and there are so many new features, which I would like to try out, but since I am a occasional user, I am not able to use it; that's why am so mournful hoping that the interface will improve someday ...)
The interface will surely improve. But I doubt that it will ever work the same way as Cinema 4D or 3D Studio Max...

A tip: Look at the very basic tutorials and check the very basic documentation. Then you surely will have a better understanding how to work with Blender. I guess that you started with something more advanced. Seems a common error to me that pros commit when changing their application...

And please use the quote function of the forum - that makes reading your posts a lot easier... Thank you!

BeBraw
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Post by BeBraw » Mon Aug 06, 2007 6:03 pm

Blender has one significant advantage above its competitors. The source code is available. This means that with some investment you can hire coder(s) to fulfill your dream of the perfect user interface. This is something you ~cannot~ do with alternatives. Instead of investing into license costs you could direct the funds into developing Blender. This might mean maintaining own fork but it might pay back in longer run as you have the possibility to customize it as you wish.

Azrael
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Hello

Post by Azrael » Tue Aug 07, 2007 5:18 am

I think we should listen to posts like this.

There are changes we can make to better blender. We have to have a positive outlook towards change. Just think that blender will one day stand side by side with Max and Maya as an industry standard application. First, blender needs to make more moves to appeal to the new user and the professional. Like Sabrina here who has industry experience and is a professional.

She is the kind of person blender appeals to. We can make the choice the only choice.

Interface=Intuitive, streamlined and logical.
Tools=Powerful, Robust
Cost=Free


That is a no-brainer for anyone. Blender having an intuitive interface would make it a new standard in production. This would benefit the community greatly and add to blender's development. A Win-Win-Win.

BlackBoe
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Post by BlackBoe » Tue Aug 07, 2007 1:43 pm

Holy crap, kAinStein, slow down before you break something. Not every single suggestion for the UI sucks, and not everyone who mentions something is a foe of blender and should be stomped on with as many line-by-line nitpicks and as much endless ranting as possible.

kAinStein
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Re: Hello

Post by kAinStein » Tue Aug 07, 2007 3:50 pm

Azrael wrote: Like Sabrina here who has industry experience and is a professional.
So are many people in this community.
We can make the choice the only choice.
Don't know what you mean by that.
Interface=Intuitive, streamlined and logical.
Tools=Powerful, Robust
Cost=Free
Let's see what we have:
- Intuitive. If all those UIs you are proposing are so intuitive why the heck is there a whole training-industry that tries people to teach each single feature? If it really was intuitive people would instantly know how to achieve what. What you call intuitive is nothing more than your habit.
- Streamlined. What's the installation size of Cinema 4D and 3D Studio Max? Count the plugins out.
- Logical. What is more logical than moving a camera like any other object? The Blender interface was fully logical and consistent - though it's not anymore (from my point of view) just because of such demands that actually don't really fit in that manner.
- Free of cost. Really? Ask Ton what it costs. If someone makes money with Blender or intends to do it then it actually would be a logical step to make a donation to the foundation in a way that the development can continue and some of the demanded features may then be made. Especially UI changes in that way (for example as a fork) would need paid, fulltime coders.
That is a no-brainer for anyone. Blender having an intuitive interface would make it a new standard in production. This would benefit the community greatly and add to blender's development. A Win-Win-Win.
Really? How?

kAinStein
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Post by kAinStein » Tue Aug 07, 2007 3:51 pm

BlackBoe wrote:Holy crap, kAinStein, slow down before you break something. Not every single suggestion for the UI sucks, and not everyone who mentions something is a foe of blender and should be stomped on with as many line-by-line nitpicks and as much endless ranting as possible.
Have you actually read the post?

stiv
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Post by stiv » Tue Aug 07, 2007 5:51 pm

Stiv's Law: Any Blender UI thread becomes repetitive and useless at the point the word 'intuitive' appears.

pinhead_66
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Post by pinhead_66 » Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:02 pm

hi sabrina

this thread was lost from the first line you typed, I'm sorry to say.
since many years I am using Cinema4D and 3ds at my work for modeling. I always looked aside to blender, but I could never convince my coleagues to switch to blender - though it is totally free.
you've used a professional tool for years and the first reason you give to switch to blender is because it's free. convincing people to switch apps because the other one is free isn't a good reason., especially if they are used to their tools.

Maybe this question was asked a thousand times before, but: "Is there an optional interface for blender
If you used the search function of this forum, you would have found quite a few topics about the UI and the interface. If you would have read some of them, you would know how they evolve to non-sensible threads.

Some people prefer a well worked out proposal concerning the interface. unfortunately all to often it comes down to people wanting a blender looking like their favourite app they can't afford/ no longer can afford/don't want to warezz..

If you find the people who are willing to code such an interface, you are more then welcome to do this. I can imagine there would be quite a demand for this. If succesfull enough, it might even become the official blender version. just don't count on the current coders to do it.

btw. reading the wiki concerning usablity advances in the near future might be very interesting (they are working on customisable hotkeys and stuff)
regular interfaces with dropdowns, pictures, icons etc instead of pressing weird combinations of keys
these weird combinations of keys are called shortcuts, because they make you work faster. Once upon a time, I didn't use them either, nowadays, I can't live without them.
Blender has icons for lots of stuff (window type, object mode, material mode, turn manipulator on/off, pivot ....)
Looking at the gallery pictures, many people create wonderful results with blender, but let me ask you: How do they / you achieve these results with this weird and cryptic interface ???
simple: practice

I personally would love to switch my whole team to blender, but since they all are unable to create reasonable results with the interface, they change back to the old proprietary packages.
possible sollution: hire a team of people who can work with blender, or are able to learn blender.

Regards
pin

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