Proposal: (Particle) Effects window mockup

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Monkeyboi
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Proposal: (Particle) Effects window mockup

Post by Monkeyboi »

The Effects panel. Is there anything wrong with it? One thing is it doesn't fit into the panels system, because it is too wide. When you are in vertical mode, a considerable part of the panel is not visible. That is one problem. Another one is that the controls are extremely cluttered. If you were to explain to a martian what the word 'cluttered' means, I think showing them the Particle Effects panel would make them understand! And thirdly, it is very confusing, and not obvious what the controls are for, and what they affect. There are many abbreviations such as "Tot", "Mult", "Sta", "Vect", "Grad" etc. which makes it harder to make out what the buttons do.

This is how the particles UI system looks currently(3.32):
Image

I have made a mockup proposal on how to change the Effects system into a much more flexible system, where the particle system could easier be expanded, where it is easier to learn, clearer to see what does what, fits better in both vertical and horizontal mode and is more consistent with the rest of the UI. I have removed practically all abbreviations from words, I have made things less cluttered and stuffed together, placed controls in a logical order in logical panels, and I have also applied the same Button Window UI rules also seen in the Render Buttons proposal (http://www.shadeless.dk/ui/renderbuttons.htm).

One of the main things I propose to change is to not have the Effects system in a single panel. Instead, I suggest there could be added a new button window called Effects that could include panels just as all other button windows. This means that more panels could easily be added if new particle features/changes are made, but most importantly, it enables a much better structuring on controls because of the added space. It also allows much better for additional advanced effects that would require many controls, such as a Hair Effect for example, or Soft or Hard Body dynamics etc.



These rules from the Render Buttons proposal have been used here again:
  • Radio buttons must touch each other - regular toggle buttons must be separated
  • Button groups can be made by drawing lines around a group and darkening the space inside
  • Buttons must be grayed out when they are not applicable
This is how it could look:
Image


This is the full list of changed names:
NEW Effect > New
RecalcAll > Recalculate
Tot > Total Particle Number
Sta > From
End > To
Life > First Generation Life
CurMul > Particle Generation
Mult > Birth Factor
Child > Children
Life > Next Gen. Life
Norm > Normal
Ob > Object
Rand > Random
Tex > Texture
Int > Intensity
Grad > Gradient
Keys > Key Frames
Face > Emit From Face (opposite: Emit From Vertex)
Vect > Vector
Bsplin > B-Spline (Opposite: Regular)
Static > Static (Opposite: Motion)





Please read and comment!

-William

theeth
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Post by theeth »

I don't really like the use of two buttons to toggles between only two options (Face / Vertex emiting). These are toggle buttons, they toggle between two states and in those case, two states is just the number of options we have. I think Radio buttons are only truely needed when more than 2 options are present.

I think there's a lot of space wasted, but I agree with the general idea.

Martin
Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans.
- John Lennon

Money_YaY!
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Post by Money_YaY! »

It's own tab right ? That would be much cleaner then. But in the first place Particles need to not use the XYZ sliders they need to beable to just rotate the emitter in 3d view to point it in the direction that you wish. The current silder thinsg are annoying.

Other than that it looks fine if all of the effects are in it. But truely "Effects" should have there own entire window with sub tabs. The effects should be greater and stuffed with more. Time is time and waiting is waiting.

theeth
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Post by theeth »

Money_YaY! wrote:But in the first place Particles need to not use the XYZ sliders they need to beable to just rotate the emitter in 3d view to point it in the direction that you wish. The current silder thinsg are annoying.
You can already do that, just use a Norm force... :roll:
Sometimes I wonder if you ever used blender seriously or if you just like to talk about it.
But truely "Effects" should have there own entire window with sub tabs. The effects should be greater and stuffed with more.
On that I have to agree. By using a whole tab, we will be able to add a lot more settings without cramming the buttons too much.

Martin
Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans.
- John Lennon

Monkeyboi
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Post by Monkeyboi »

Theeth: Sure, it could maybe be made more compact. About the radio butons, I think it is important to let the user know what happens when a button is off. When you have "Emit From Face" off, it doesn't stop emitting all together, it emits from vertices instead. I like the idea of that being clear.

Money_Yay wrote: It's own tab right ? That would be much cleaner then. But in the first place Particles need to not use the XYZ sliders they need to beable to just rotate the emitter in 3d view to point it in the direction that you wish. The current silder thinsg are annoying.
I am not concerned with the particle effects features, sure they could be improved, but this is to do with how to use it in the interface. Btw, it is possible to do what I think you want, use the "Norm" setting, not XYZ.
Money_Yay wrote:Other than that it looks fine if all of the effects are in it. But truely "Effects" should have there own entire window with sub tabs. The effects should be greater and stuffed with more. Time is time and waiting is waiting.
Uhh? That is what I suggested, that the Effects should have its own buttons window. Or did you mean a seperate Window Space (like IPO Editor, UV/Image editor etc)? If so I disagree. That would be highly inconsistant since all object properties (including materials, textures, animation settings, etc) are located in the buttons window. Anyway, I don't see an advantage of this. Tell me if I'm blind though.
Last edited by Monkeyboi on Sun Feb 22, 2004 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Monkeyboi
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Post by Monkeyboi »

Forgot to mention this: The dropdown in the Effects panel saying "Emit" was put in to be compatible with the new tools in Tuhopuu Blender where objects can deflect and serve as a gravity source for particles. The dropdown should include three entries:

-Emit
-Deflect
-Gravity

All the controls in the window would ofcorse reflect your choice; when you choose "Deflect", the deflect controls would appear.

If you would like to have an object act both as a deflector and as a gravity source, you could add two Particle effetcs to the object and set one to Deflect and the other to Gravity.


A variation on the same idea would be to add only two entires to the dropdown menu:

-Emit
-Interact

"Interact" would then give you all options for interacting with particles including Gravity and Deflect (as well as others that may be on the way)

theeth
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Post by theeth »

Monkeyboi wrote:Theeth: Sure, it could maybe be made more compact. About the radio butons, I think it is important to let the user know what happens when a button is off. When you have "Emit From Face" off, it doesn't stop emitting all together, it emits from vertices instead. I like the idea of that being clear.
The button could be called "From Face" and the tooltip could say "Emit from face instead of vertices"


About Deflect and Gravity: You can't put them there, they are mesh object properties, you don't need to add an effect to the mesh to use them. I mean, the deflector doesn't need to have an effect.

Martin
Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans.
- John Lennon

leon
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Post by leon »

hi,

i agree with theeth that you don't really need to have a "deflect" or "gravity" effect - it makes life more complicated!

On the other hand...... Now I've been using the deflection and gravity settings a bit, it might make more sense to put the particle interaction panel in Monkeyboi's new effects tab.

The reason is that when you're setting up the particles, it's a bit of a pain: you have to switch to the edit tab to change deflection/gravity settings, then back to the effects tab to make changes to particles or recalculate. When you're tweaking things, this can be a bit awkward.

In the mockup, the particle interaction tab would be to the right of the effects panel if no effect currently existed. If an effect existed, it would be pushed off to the right of all the other panels (this is ok, since most of the time you don't want an emitter with interaction settings).

Any thoughts?

Cheers

Leon[/code]

Monkeyboi
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Post by Monkeyboi »

Theeth:

I know it doesn't now, but surely it would seem more logical if it did. You need to add an effect to emit particles, so why not handle particle interaction the same way?

You need a central place to acces everything related to particles, and that place should be the Effects window. The Edit buttons are related to modeling, painting etc, not settings such as Particle deflection. An important reason is also thinking about the future. What we want to avoid is placing settings and buttons all over the place where you cannot find them. There needs to be some structure so that everything isn't just a mess.



theeth wrote:The button could be called "From Face" and the tooltip could say "Emit from face instead of vertices"
"From Face" doesn't really make much sence, but I could live with it just being a toggle button. But you've got to remember that we are not pressed for space if we add this new Effects window instead of the old panel. Might as well make things as clear as possible then.

About tooltips: Sure, you can always write tooltips to explain things in more detail, but you can't shrug off everything and just expect people to understand everything from reading the tooltip. The names, the placement of controls and the panels organisation should make as much sence as possible. Idealy, by just looking at the button window, users should be able to work out exactly (or partially) what each button or field does or has to do with.
This is certinately not possible currently.

Currently, users have to read extensive documentation (that is the few who bother), read through all the tooltips, and try out every button before they can even begin to figure out how to use the particle FX. This is a pity, because it is a good system with some good controls. Wouldn't it be great if new Blender users in the future could just dive right in?

This wont just benifit newbies. Unless you are either a developer or a guy who uses Blender every day, you might not always remember exactly what every thing does, and how things work. Therefore, the clearer it looks, the easier and faster you can just get the work done without even having to think about the interface.


-William
Last edited by Monkeyboi on Mon Feb 23, 2004 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

Monkeyboi
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Post by Monkeyboi »

leon:

Yeah I agree on not having a 'deflect' and 'gravity' effect. That is why I was talking about an effect called 'Interact' that would include both these things.

Just moving the Particle Interaction panel to the Effects window is certinately better than having them in the Edit buttons.

theeth
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Post by theeth »

leon wrote:In the mockup, the particle interaction tab would be to the right of the effects panel if no effect currently existed. If an effect existed, it would be pushed off to the right of all the other panels (this is ok, since most of the time you don't want an emitter with interaction settings).

Any thoughts?
Sounds good to me.

Martin
Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans.
- John Lennon

Money_YaY!
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Post by Money_YaY! »

Monkeyboi wrote: Uhh? That is what I suggested, that the Effects should have its own buttons window. Or did you mean a seperate Window Space (like IPO Editor, UV/Image editor etc)? If so I disagree. That would be highly inconsistant since all object properties (including materials, textures, animation settings, etc) are located in the buttons window. Anyway, I don't see an advantage of this. Tell me if I'm blind though.
seperate window. But now that you explain it better it makes sense in your place. Though eventualy blender will get more effects and the extra space will be benifical

As for the the XYZ. Shoot me ! I did not know, shesh! But I sure am happy now new hidden stuff to play with ^v^

thorwil
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Post by thorwil »

How about a little unification? Dealing with Effects more like Materials (or Scenes and Screens), with dropdown including the add command and the x button for deleting.

Monkeyboi
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Post by Monkeyboi »

Thorwil:

That is a good idea, but the effects system isn't based on datablocks. The effects are built into the objects themselves. Currently you can have a maximun of 20 effects per object. What I have triede to do here is to make the current system as easy and clear to use as posssible.

But I think it is a good idea.


I am actually currently considering making a standard system for the render presets, texture channels, layers etc - all places where you need a list and the ability to add new entries, and to be able to view more than one item at once.

Here is my idea projected into the Texture panel in the Texture buttons. The same principal could be applied to the Effects system:

Image


The clever thing is that you can in principal add as many channels/effects/layers as you would like while still being able to see several of them. This scroll bar system could also be incorporated into the Text Editor and File Browser to keep consistancy (no need to have a dozen defferent types of scrollbars in one application.)


(By the way, here is the old Texture panel for camparison: http://www.shadeless.dk/ui/texturepanel_old.gif)


Tell me what you think.

-William

theeth
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Post by theeth »

What's wrong with the current scroll bar?

Martin
Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans.
- John Lennon

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