Further Interface Improvement proposal - NEW: UV Editing

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

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Monkeyboi
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Post by Monkeyboi » Wed Dec 10, 2003 4:55 pm

I just updated the proposal again. This time, it's the Buttonwindows - General proposal.

I have included a thing about the Edit buttons icon which I think is quite cool. See it here:

http://www.shadeless.dk/ui/buttonwindows_general.htm


Keep the comments comming!

slikdigit
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Post by slikdigit » Wed Dec 10, 2003 5:12 pm

Monkeyboi, I think the forumbug just struck again- I'm on page 3 of 2.
The edit button idea is interesting, but its been a long time since I can remember whether I found that confusing or not. having the icon change based on context may or may not be easy to do (I have no idea) but it might actually confuse new users too (where'd that button go?). I propose if the icon is confusing change it to something more generic, rather than have it change.
Is the rounded theme button grouping based on your proposol? or just convergant evolution?
By the way, I totally blame my own stupidity for not trying copy-paste in the ipo window. :oops: I know what the buttons do, and changing the interface may not have helped- I just assumed that since I couldn't select the ipo in the dropdown it also wouldn't be available via the copy-paste. Not much could've helped expept maybe a flashing button saying Try me! :wink:

Monkeyboi
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Post by Monkeyboi » Thu Dec 11, 2003 3:22 pm

Monkeyboi, I think the forumbug just struck again- I'm on page 3 of 2.
Yep. This is getting seriousely annoying!

The edit button idea is interesting, but its been a long time since I can remember whether I found that confusing or not. having the icon change based on context may or may not be easy to do (I have no idea) but it might actually confuse new users too (where'd that button go?). I propose if the icon is confusing change it to something more generic, rather than have it change.
Ok, I'll try to explain a bit more why I think adding different icons for the edit buttons with different objects selected would be good. The main point is, that the editbuttons contents change when chosing different objects while the icon currently does not. Therefore, as a newbie, you would expect the mesh toolset to be exacly the same as the NURBS/surface toolset judging from the icon. If, however, there were different icons for different object types, it would be much more logical to use, bucause there is a difference between for example the camera-editbuttons and the mesh-editbuttons, reflected in the icon.

I don't think users will get confused of the icon changing. The current icon looks like a mesh object, and the other icons i proposed look like their respective object types. I did think about designing a new icon to replace the current one that was more generic, but then I ended up having one for each object type, both because of the above reasons and also because no icon really seemed appropriate to represent all the object edit buttons.

Is the rounded theme button grouping based on your proposol? or just convergant evolution?
No it is not. I proposed to merge all radiobuttons (mutually exclusive buttons) together with no border between them to make a logical and clear distenction between radiobuttons and normal toggle buttons. The rounded theme doen't do this; some normal toggle buttons are completely grouped together too!
By the way, I totally blame my own stupidity for not trying copy-paste in the ipo window. I know what the buttons do, and changing the interface may not have helped- I just assumed that since I couldn't select the ipo in the dropdown it also wouldn't be available via the copy-paste. Not much could've helped expept maybe a flashing button saying Try me!
You may blame you own stupidity, but other people might never find out that it is possible to copy IPO curves. I know it took a long time for me to realise anyway, and I have also manually copied IPO curves in the past. I also know that I would have realised the possoblity instantly if it had been in a menu like in the Text Editor.


Thanks for the comment!
I can only speak for myself and the people I have taught Blender ofcourse. You are always welcome to comment.

slikdigit
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Post by slikdigit » Thu Dec 11, 2003 5:41 pm

I see what you mean- content/context change -> icon change.
the problem I see is that of recognition; until you click on the edit button's icon, you don't see the contents. Currently a new user can be told : click on the edit button icon; its the one that looks like X. If it changes per object type you have to say: It looks like X if you're on a mesh, Y if....... The user has to remember all these icons, which don't say Edit- they just say Type. OTH you could see it as press the Edit X button, where the icon looks like an X (X= mesh, camera, curve, etc.)
I'm not really fighting here- just weighing pros and cons. I think its great that you're presenting these proposals so nicely, because it fosters understanding and discussion and allows us to see what you mean graphically before it just suddenly pops up as an interface item.
Perhaps the grouping mechanism used in the rounded theme, could be implemented for the radio button idea. My only gripe would be that I like the grouped look so much (and it works to group similar options) that I'd miss less of it. This is more an aesthetic preference than a functional one.

Monkeyboi
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Post by Monkeyboi » Thu Dec 11, 2003 6:28 pm

Hey look! The third page is working!!! Way to go someone!!

Slikdigit, you have a valid point there. It's a good to look critically at things.

Anyway, I know that when I learned Blender, it took quite a while before I discovered the camera edit buttons. I wanted to adjust the camera settings but I had no idea where they were. It may seem strange but I wasn't able to find them before someone pointed me to the right place. I can imagine if there had been a litte camera icon lingering in the header I would have found them instantly.

I do see your point in that it is more difficult to explain where the edit buttons are if the icons look different.

So..
Does anybody else have an oppinion on what would be best?

kAinStein
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Post by kAinStein » Fri Dec 12, 2003 3:08 pm

I like most of your ideas, but there's one point that doesn't make any sense:
You propose to use CTRL-dragLMB for gestures. I guess you don't use gestures or a tablet, do you? Gestures are nice if you're using a tablet and the gestures are there because you don't need do lay your pen down and press a key. So your proposal does not make any sense at all. In my opinion you should leave it as it is, or perhaps make it configurable, so you can use your key-mouse-layout - but not as a default. Personally I'm pretty happy the way it is and gestures are really innovative and useful.

Rui

thorwil
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Post by thorwil » Fri Dec 12, 2003 4:29 pm

kAinStein wrote:You propose to use CTRL-dragLMB for gestures. (...) So your proposal does not make any sense at all.
Hey, that's a bit harsh, I think. The proposal doesn't make much sense for tablet usage! That changes nothing about that LMB should be used for selection and RMB for context menu (because switching between Blender and _any_ other app sucks right now because of weird MB mapping.)

It would be nice to have rectangular selection on LMB drag. Gestures are not that interesting with keyboard/mouse. I think it would be best to have at least 2 profiles, 1 for keyboard/mouse, the other for tablets. Easy switching and no distraction by lots of options.

Another possibility would be to combine rectangular selection and gestures: LMB drag action imediately draws
a rectangle, but movement is tracked and if the user draws just a straight vertical or horizontal line, an O or S its interpreted as gesture. A mouse trail would help. I guess it would be quite hard to get this to work nicely, but I'm sure it would be possible.

kAinStein
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Post by kAinStein » Fri Dec 12, 2003 4:49 pm

thorwil wrote: Hey, that's a bit harsh, I think. The proposal doesn't make much sense for tablet usage! That changes nothing about that LMB should be used for selection and RMB for context menu (because switching between Blender and _any_ other app sucks right now because of weird MB mapping.)
It wasn't supposed to be harsh! I think Monkeyboi is doing great stuff and has a lot of really cool ideas. I was refering to the proposal to use CTRL-LMB for gestures. That would be silly, because it would take all use out of gestures. So it doesn't make any sense to press a key to access gestures that are supposed to minimize the need of a keyboard!
Additionally I haven't had real problems in the last few years in using RMB for selection. It was a bit hard to get used to it in the beginning because it was different (which applies to everything in Blender - it's very different to other applications, but still makes sense). But after I got used to it then it was ok. It probably would suck to get back used to LMB selection, I don't know.
The idea of having two presets makes sense: One for "traditional blending" with gestures and quite the same mapping (if no other is really needed - like the 'm' menu for mirroring) and another with LMB selection, etc.

Rui

thorwil
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Post by thorwil » Fri Dec 12, 2003 5:10 pm

kAinStein wrote:I was refering to the proposal to use CTRL-LMB for gestures. That would be silly, because it would take all use out of gestures.
To me, it sounded like dissing the whole mousebutton proposal because of one part of it. That's why I stepped in. Now that it's clarified, no problem :-)
And I agree about Ctrl+LMB.
Additionally I haven't had real problems in the last few years in using RMB for selection. It was a bit hard to get used to it in the beginning because it was different.
It was the main reason why my first testdrive of Blender was terrible and rather short. Took me some time to get used to it later. But now I accidently try to select with RMB in other apps sometimes. Can't change all other apps in the world. And it makes sense to put selection on the primary MB. Left for righthanders, under strong index finger.

Maybe 3 profiles: "Traditional", new mouse/keyboard, new tablet with LMB selection (gestures instead rectangular selection). The only thing about this that bugs me, is the need for a rectangular selection shorcut (could otherwise be removed / used for something else).

kAinStein
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Post by kAinStein » Fri Dec 12, 2003 9:57 pm

thorwil wrote: To me, it sounded like dissing the whole mousebutton proposal because of one part of it. That's why I stepped in. Now that it's clarified, no problem :-)
And I agree about Ctrl+LMB.
No! I'm sorry if it sounded like that! That definitely wasn't my intention. Good that it is clear now.
But now I accidently try to select with RMB in other apps sometimes.
Hehe! That happens only if i spend too much time with Blender! ;)

NateTG
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Post by NateTG » Sat Dec 13, 2003 6:19 am

First of all, I want to commend you on a well layed out proposal. After reading the whole thing, i must say i agree on a few points.

However, I have to admit that I crinkled my nose in disgust at some of the suggestions. I have noticed that there seems to be a general trend in your proposal. Things that used to be one click, one button, etc are now menus and dropdowns. I really dislike this. A major example is your texture buttons window. According to your proposal, I would have to hit a dropdown, select procedural, hit another dropdown, select clouds. That is four clicks where it was one before. Very bad in my opinion. Your layout for the texture layer buttons is also less intuitive than the old layout.

Also, the IPO window. You have grouped the various ipo curves, which is not a bad idea. However, with your proposal, you have many 'subpanels' that will have only one key in them. (such as ref, hard, spec, alpha, emit) This achieves nothing except doubling the space required when these panels are expanded. one would either have to continuously collapse and expand those boxes, or have it take twice as much space and be constantly scrolling up and down. And having the colours as you have it makes it look very ugly in my opinion. i suggest keeping the colours the default except the toggle button that turns the curve on or off. I like the sliders idea (espcecially the frame counter on the bottom) The main disadvantage of the sliders is that they double the width of the side panel, taking up more space on the screen.

About the copy and paste: I don't think those two buttons are that hard to understand. if you have enough patience to hover your mouse for 1 second, a tooltip will be so kind and tell you what they do. I personally despise menus where they are not needed. I'm also wondering what the point of using the OS clipboard would be. Other than text, what would you copy and paste outside of blender?

Also, CTRL-C in blender already brings up an extremely useful function, possibly the best method of copying i have ever encountered. And materials can be copied using the CTRL-L menu. An no, these menus should not be joined; they perform different functions. There is no way i would sacrifice blender's copying methods for the "standard" CTRL-C CTRL-V method. With the current way, you can copy a material, copy an ipo, paste the ipo, copy another one, and your copied material is still on the material clipboard.

I think that making the interface a bit easier is ok. but over-standardizing it is bad. just because its standard doesnt mean its better. Many of blender's unstandard attributes are what set it apart as faster, more efficient and just plain cool.

im sure i forgot something. oh well.

nAyt

Monkeyboi
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Post by Monkeyboi » Sun Dec 14, 2003 2:32 am

To thorwil and kAinStein:

I'm glad you generally like the proposal. I do in fact have a wacom tablet myself. I think it is good to look critically at things, and it is a good point that Blender would not work as well for tablets without gestures. That is why I like the idea of having several setup's incorporated. I would recommend my setup to be the default one because it is so easy to use for people who are used to other programs (and generally people who are starting to learn Blender). The strange mouse setup in Blender also was a nightmare for me when I was a new user.

I think the three-mouse setups sounds good. This could be the names: "Traditional" (like the proposal), "Classic" (How it used to be) and "Tablet" (same as traditional but with gestures instead of selection box. You would be able to use the old Bkey as always to call boundbox selection.)


NateTG:
However, I have to admit that I crinkled my nose in disgust at some of the suggestions. I have noticed that there seems to be a general trend in your proposal. Things that used to be one click, one button, etc are now menus and dropdowns. I really dislike this. A major example is your texture buttons window. According to your proposal, I would have to hit a dropdown, select procedural, hit another dropdown, select clouds. That is four clicks where it was one before. Very bad in my opinion. Your layout for the texture layer buttons is also less intuitive than the old layout.

This is a good critique; I'll throw some arguments for my proposal below.

I personally don't think functions should be measured in mouse clicks. If the UI is so confusing that you have no idea what buttons even relate to, it doesn't matter if everything only requires very few clicks. If everything is very easy to find, I believe that a few extra mouse clicks won't slow you down, because things will take you no time to find and understand.

An example to illustrate this could be that we could combine all the buttonwindows into one window with hundreds of small meaningless buttons (I know you do not suggest this). That would reduce the need for mouse clicks, but it would make the usage slower because things would be so disorganised. In the same way I believe adding a little more grouping, more dropdown menus with explaining labels etc. will not slow you down.

Clicking with the mouse isn't what takes time when you use any program, it is much more searching for the right functions. Having said that though, I don't think we should add 100 mouse clicks to execute every function. We should find a good balance where the interface is both learnable and usable. Currently the interface is just not learnable without reading docs, tutorials, books asking questions etc. Not that I don't think new users should do so, but it is generally a good rule of thumb that an interface should generally make sense even if you know nothing about the program.

The dropdown menu vs. the radio-toggle buttons: In terms of time usage I don't think the dropdown menu will be any slower to use. Would the 'Save image as' dropdown menu in the renderbuttons be any faster if all the types were laid out in a panel? I don't think so. The advantage of using a dropdown menu is that it gives us extra space to write labels. You know that those buttons are for choosing the type of texture, but it is easy to forget that for a new user it is not quite obvious. It also makes it easier for developers to add new stuff. They could add many more procedural textures this way.

The optimal solution would be to have an interface that was both required very few clicks and also was very easy to understand and clear to use.

I think it is good that you critique my work. You are welcome to continue the discussion.

Also, the IPO window. You have grouped the various ipo curves, which is not a bad idea. However, with your proposal, you have many 'subpanels' that will have only one key in them. (such as ref, hard, spec, alpha, emit) This achieves nothing except doubling the space required when these panels are expanded. one would either have to continuously collapse and expand those boxes, or have it take twice as much space and be constantly scrolling up and down.
Good point NateTG! Yes, I'll have to look at this. Having an IPO panel with only one slider isn't very clever I can see that.
And having the colours as you have it makes it look very ugly in my opinion. i suggest keeping the colours the default except the toggle button that turns the curve on or off.
Good idea actually. That would look nicer, you right.
About the copy and paste: I don't think those two buttons are that hard to understand. if you have enough patience to hover your mouse for 1 second, a tooltip will be so kind and tell you what they do. I personally despise menus where they are not needed. I'm also wondering what the point of using the OS clipboard would be. Other than text, what would you copy and paste outside of blender
I am a bit confused.. I don't seem to remember mentioning anything about copying/pasting to the OS clipboard in the IPO window. Yes copying to the OS clipboard would only be useful for text. But pretty much all other programs work like that; you can copy text fields using ctrl-c (command-c on the Mac) and paste them in other programs using ctrl-v. Users won't think it is strange if they cannot paste IPO curves into a Word document. Or did I misunderstand you?
Also, CTRL-C in blender already brings up an extremely useful function, possibly the best method of copying i have ever encountered. And materials can be copied using the CTRL-L menu. An no, these menus should not be joined; they perform different functions. There is no way i would sacrifice blender's copying methods for the "standard" CTRL-C CTRL-V method. With the current way, you can copy a material, copy an ipo, paste the ipo, copy another one, and your copied material is still on the material clipboard.
Yeah, I agree here. It's very cool how it currently works in that respect. All I discussed was the fact that the actual way you copy in the text editor and in the IPO editor is inconsistent with each other and that the IPO window way in inconsistent with any program, therefore not obvious.

I think that making the interface a bit easier is ok. but over-standardizing it is bad. just because its standard doesnt mean its better. Many of blender's unstandard attributes are what set it apart as faster, more efficient and just plain cool.
Yes I definitely agree! Blender has many cool things that other programs don't have. The way you organise windows where they never block each other is brilliant, and the whole concept of window headers is nice. Also stuff like instancing (linking) in Blender is uniquely brilliant. I have used Softimage XSI and it is not nearly as geniousely done there. The whole concept of datablocks that can be shared is so brilliant. The list of unique cool things in Blender is long. I think we should keep every singe one of those things. All I would like is to make the interface more easy and obvious to learn and use. This is not done by making everything necessarily look like a Microsoft product, but presenting the current functions in a nicely laid out way that makes as much sense as possible. It also is about making things a bit more recognisable, i.e. using icons and menus a bit more like people are used to.

If Blender is to make a more serious impact in the 3D industry, the learning curve must be brought down to a reasonable level. Ofcourse there are several ways of doing this and therefore it is good to get good and bad critique.

Regards, -William

thorwil
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Post by thorwil » Sun Dec 14, 2003 12:31 pm

Monkeyboi wrote:I think the three-mouse setups sounds good. This could be the names: "Traditional" (like the proposal), "Classic" (How it used to be) and "Tablet" (same as traditional but with gestures instead of selection box. You would be able to use the old Bkey as always to call boundbox selection.)
"Traditional" and "Classic" both sound like the old way, how it was before. Choose one for the old setup. But the new default should be called "Default", "Standard", "Normal" or maybe "Mouse".

Clicking with the mouse isn't what takes time when you use any program, it is much more searching for the right functions.
Searching for the righ function only takes considerable time for functions you don't use that often. Positioning the mouse and clicking always takes time. Target size and distance from mousepointer origin is important. A dropdown menu might provide a larger target area than one button in a collection. But you have to aim 2 times, for the menu button and in the dropdown list.
I do think that dropdown menus might be better in some cases, but it's not easy to decide on. Visibility of options and immediate access are of high value. Usability (including speed) in ongoing use is what realy counts in the end.
Currently the interface is just not learnable without reading docs, tutorials, books asking questions etc. Not that I don't think new users should do so, but it is generally a good rule of thumb that an interface should generally make sense even if you know nothing about the program.
Of course it would be ideal to have an interface that's self-explanatory, obvious to use. But an application like Blender can't have an interface that makes sense to someone who doesn't know anything about the program, because most things only make sense in a larger context. Now I guess that means we should make it easy to grasp that context :-)

Donald A. Norman talks about "Knowledge in the Head and in the World" in his great book "The Design of Everyday Things". It has a lot to do with the fact that you will have a hard time to write down many things you do while you have no problem actualy doing them. The environment might remind you of many things and there are natural constraints everywhere.
Would be a good idea to put more knowledge into the ui, so the user doesn't need so much knowledge in his head (freeing resources for the actual task).

Monkeyboi
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Post by Monkeyboi » Sun Dec 14, 2003 2:58 pm

"Traditional" and "Classic" both sound like the old way, how it was before. Choose one for the old setup. But the new default should be called "Default", "Standard", "Normal" or maybe "Mouse".
True, I'd go for "Standard", "Classic" and "Tablet" then. Good point.
Searching for the righ function only takes considerable time for functions you don't use that often. Positioning the mouse and clicking always takes time. Target size and distance from mousepointer origin is important. A dropdown menu might provide a larger target area than one button in a collection. But you have to aim 2 times, for the menu button and in the dropdown list.
I do think that dropdown menus might be better in some cases, but it's not easy to decide on. Visibility of options and immediate access are of high value. Usability (including speed) in ongoing use is what realy counts in the end.
Ok, maybe I was a bit extreme. I agree that few clicks are good, but I also think the interface needs to be more self explanetory. It's always a balance, but I think it is possible to make Blender quite alot easier to learn while not making it slower to use. I'm just finishing my Edit buttons proposal and I am really happy with the result. I'll upload it soon.

Of course it would be ideal to have an interface that's self-explanatory, obvious to use. But an application like Blender can't have an interface that makes sense to someone who doesn't know anything about the program, because most things only make sense in a larger context. Now I guess that means we should make it easy to grasp that context
Yes you must know something ofcourse, but the problem is that even if you do, it is hard to work alot of stuff out. Lots of buttons are not self explanetory, and generally the Buttonwindows are very disorganised. If they were categorised and standardised just a little bit, it would go along way to make Blender a more accepted and popular program, and I am striving not to make it slower to us experienced users.

Keep those comments coming!




ACCES THE FOURTH PAGE HERE:http://www.blender.org/modules.php?op=m ... c&start=45
Last edited by Monkeyboi on Sun Dec 28, 2003 3:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

Blendorphin
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Post by Blendorphin » Wed Dec 24, 2003 8:57 pm

wow. this thing really fell into the dust.

is there going to be an update anytime soon? i really like your work.

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