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more Help menu items

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004 11:45 am
by Monkeyboi
The Help menu is, admittadly, a bit odd in that it doesn't actually help you with anything. There are no links to any help files or online tutorials or anything. Now since Blender is just about the hardest 3D package to learn in the world this is slightly problematic.

Would it not be possible to add web links in the Help menu? There could be a link to this page for example:

http://www.blender3d.org/cms/Using_Blender.80.0.html


So, what do you think?

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004 12:54 pm
by ideasman
Why not?
Mabe a generic URL text file could be stored in the blender home dir,
Like a bookmark file.

the other possibility is to have a python based help menu, where menu's just have help as a section rather then import/export/misc

help items will go in the welp menu.
Some good person could code a generic URL loading function - cross platform for niceness and any web pages could be a small py file, import the generic page loading function and simple call the new func with the URL.

This could be done now- It would need some customizing to add them to the help menu though.

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004 3:37 pm
by Monkeyboi
What is the advantage of letting python control the web URLs? If users have to fiddle with Python in order to get the Help menu to work it wouldn't be much good. The Help menu is mostly for people who are not (or only slightly) familiar with Blender.

The only trouble I see with adding web links is that it might (but I don't know) be hard to program. How would Blender know to open the correct browser etc.? On the other hand, other applications link to webpages, although they are maybe not multi-platform or open source.

Anyone got an idea how hard it would be? I think it would make a big difference for beginners.

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004 4:39 pm
by locash
Python would you allow you to access the online docs thru the scripts menu like this:

Code: Select all

#!BPY

"""
Name: 'Help'
Blender: 232
Group: 'Misc'
Tooltip: 'Opens online Blender Documentation in default browser'
"""

import webbrowser

helpfilename = "http://download.blender.org/documentation/html/"

webbrowser.open(helpfilename, 1)
I'm nearly certain webbrowser works on any platform. Although I think this requires a full install of Python.

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004 6:20 pm
by Monkeyboi
But why not just include it in the source without python scripting?

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004 6:46 pm
by IoN_PuLse
Because recompiling the source just to add/change help text isn't the best idea.

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004 7:32 pm
by theeth
IoN_PuLse wrote:Because recompiling the source just to add/change help text isn't the best idea.
bingo!

Martin

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004 8:07 pm
by Carnivore
Why not gather some ideas, build a better help menu, call it an improved feature and commit it? Not that much work, is it?
Speaking as a non-coder and absolute moron, of course.

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004 8:27 pm
by Monkeyboi
But will users then have to install Python and set up the Help menu manually? That would destroy the whole point. And why would you want to change the URL all the time? Still don't see the advantage.

Posted: Thu Apr 15, 2004 10:29 pm
by gaiamuse
Hi,
I would like to make a few suggestions as a newbie desperately trying to learn blender. I think there should be a help menu that actually has some documentation in the next release 2.33.

My suggestions are:

1. Make this documentation in html format in a separate help folder like many other software packages do. In the latest gimp 2.0 people download the help files separately with instrustions to install the help files. So the help files do not necessarily need to be included when people download and install blender. On the otherhand the help can be included in the main blender download providing it's not too big.

2. The help file could contain:
a. a decription of what blender can do
b. a mini getting started tutorial- which can adapted from the available resources already, or even state the web site etc.
c. all the short-cut keys available in the present version. I can't stress how important this is as I sometimes read messages by "expert" blenders users who are still discovering keys from the updates. Right now I have old and some current tutorials using different keys and it would be good to have a place where this is all correlated instead of having to search through a bunch of tutorials to find a few keystrokes.
d. a "How to section", ie how to join two meshes, how to add materials, textures, armatures, how to animate etc. This does not have to be too elaborate. Just the simple do this press this key etc. Many of the answers are already scattered on the elysium sight with so many people asking how to do this or that. Instead of having to contantly search the website it would be great to have FAQs answered in the help menu.

Finally if the coders could code to have blender point and read up an html help file, people could also make there own additions to the html documentation or maybe add their favorite tutorials they found to have them handy.

Again, thanks for all the hard work everyone is doing. It is really appreciated!

gaiamuse

Posted: Thu Apr 15, 2004 10:55 pm
by theeth
gaiamuse wrote:On the otherhand the help can be included in the main blender download providing it's not too big.
Look at the sizes there: http://download.blender.org/documentation/
Does that fit in your "too big" bracket?

Martin

Posted: Thu Apr 15, 2004 11:19 pm
by gaiamuse
Yes, Theeth, I think the blender book is too big. I was thinking more of a concise help html version that would be smaller if it was included in with Blender. People like myself are still using 56k modems (oh humm). I would still download the manual and have downloaded every latest one that's available even with a 56k. I don't know how other people would feel about including a file size of 33 mg html inside blender or what the effects on the bandwidth would be if lots of people were downloading Blender at that file size. Perhaps a help file size of 2- 7 mgs. It doesn't have to have lots of pics.

My main emphasis is getting something available for the next release that would have a help file that would have at a minimum the things that I mentioned before that probably would not be too difficult to put together in a pinch and that much of the information is already available like keystrokes, FAQs - just scattered and can be confusing for someone like myself. I quess I am thinking of something that would be like a quick reference - quick get started with details and more knowledge left to the manual and tutorials--as a first help file release. Maybe it can be more elaborate later on.

I hope I have answered your question.

cheers,
gaiamuse

Posted: Thu Apr 15, 2004 11:50 pm
by gaiamuse
To add to my last message: the help file could also point to a folder called "tutorials" in which an html index with links to the tutorials in that folder. The user could edit this in an html software linking it to their favorite tutorials. Of course a few tutorials could also be included within the Blender download. The help file could also point to a folder "manual" which the user places inside like the tutorials that's been downloaded separately from the blender download containing the core help/quick find component.

So in essence, the coders to code to point to the help folder containing an index help file, a tutorial folder with its own index html and a manual folder etc.

If users could have a core, concise, up-to-date with each release help file with the flexibility to add tutorials and full manual documentation on their own, this would eleviate large file sizes of blender to download as well as keep users current on new releases and help out beginners.

Cheers,
gaiamuse

Posted: Fri Apr 16, 2004 2:23 am
by ideasman
Monkeyboi wrote:What is the advantage of letting python control the web URLs? If users have to fiddle with Python in order to get the Help menu to work it wouldn't be much good. The Help menu is mostly for people who are not (or only slightly) familiar with Blender.

The only trouble I see with adding web links is that it might (but I don't know) be hard to program. How would Blender know to open the correct browser etc.? On the other hand, other applications link to webpages, although they are maybe not multi-platform or open source.

Anyone got an idea how hard it would be? I think it would make a big difference for beginners.
The python weblinks would be setup by some person who knows what there doing.
The newbe would simply see the links in the help menu.

This method is a little chunky, but less chunky then adding spesific code for menuitems that load a web-browser with a url.

Also python would be good cos you could easely do a 'If linux then try Mozilla/ Konquorer/ Opera etc' If Win32 try Mozilla, Opera, IE whatever.

Posted: Fri Apr 16, 2004 3:27 am
by locash
Also python would be good cos you could easely do a 'If linux then try Mozilla/ Konquorer/ Opera etc' If Win32 try Mozilla, Opera, IE whatever.
Python is even better than that, the webbrowser module is a platform independant solution that will open a URL in the system's default browser. It doesn't matter what browser or OS.