What is wrong, and what should stay?

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

Moderators: jesterKing, stiv

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Joined: Wed Oct 16, 2002 8:56 am

Post by MontZ »

Hey! Don't forget that the blenders greatness lies in it's interface. There is no great physics system, no ubercool materials and the renderer is a bit limited(it is quite nice though). The interface is what makes blender great(ok.ok. gameengine too for some people), lets improve the interface, make it look better, maybe change color or allow users to do that.

By blenders interface i mean the one menu(kill the toolbar!!! whee), great windowing system, and "one hand on keyboard other on mouse" working and no silly buttons for moving/zooming and other stuff you could do from keyboard.

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Post by madprof »

well... actually, there are buttons for scrolling, moving about, etc. but no buttons (that I've found at any rate) for moving objects about. There can *obviously* be some improvements, eg, making sure there are graphical ways of doing all hotkey commands, so that newbies can do things without having to learn loads of keycodes. they can learn them later :-) However, the way blender works, as it currently is, is very good, and many people would be upset if it was completely changed. I think that, just like the source code, we should get it working, and bugfixed, and then add features, clean up things, and make it better, not going a complete overhaul until we are sure that that is the best way to do it, and even then to do it based apon how the 'old' blender is.


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Post by mark »

I'm just gonna agree with lots of people, but the UI of Blender is great. The learning curve is there to make Blender a better tool for the people who actually use the thing rather than kids spending two minutes and then whining that it's not easy to use. It would be a disaster to attept to change it. I was reading a post somewhere else making the point that nobody expects to be able to drive a car or play a musical intrument without putting in the time to learn the tool, why is computer software any different?

Even to have a second 'optional' UI that resembled other 3D software... KDE and Gnome, GIMP, OpenOffice etc. are all great, but constantly trying to immitate the competition will always leave them lagging in second place.

I don't want to see Blender join the gazillion open-source projects which just immitate commercial software and are 'better' on the basis of the fact they are open-source and free.

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Post by k-fish »

xand wrote:the first thing to add is a new shortcut (ctrl+space) to pop up a list of all the shortcut available for the window selected (like the menu with space).
it isn't difficult to implement and will be very useful to newbies end thoses with no memory.

as i seen in the sources, they will be only one file to corrected (space.c)
Absolutely GREAT idea!! This would even help all blender users, I'd say.


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Post by Mats78 »

Great idea to have a list of shortcuts. One limiting factor in the amount of blender users is surely the interface.. after that first glance quite a few will walk away.

I like it now, being used to it :D and hope noone ever changes it towards "windowslike" programs! I mean, look at 3DSMax for example, which one can you work faster with - blender or max? Max feels to me like a brick wall you have to fight with, and when creating 3d content I don't like fighting the program.. I want things to get done.

Keep it simple, light and fast.

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Post by Mobius »

I tottaly agree the UI might not "look" fun at first but after you actually spend time with it all other programs feel slow and limited...the whole "move mouse, click menu, find option, repeat" thin sux...

I like blender a lot and the learning curve is really all not that steep all you have to know to start is

space - opens objects menu
keep one hand on keyboard the other on mouse

and then your off unless your a total....never mind

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Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2002 12:29 am

refactor not reinvent

Post by fforw »

i think it is very important to keep the general flavour of the blender UI but change the bad parts with the prime directive not to interfere with current usage:

1) enhance the widgets

a button with can be left clicked / right clicked / dragged / shift-input-clicked should NOT look like a standard button.

(common UI wisdom speaks against the usage of colors in UIs, too, especially when the purpose of the program is to create colored content.
[colors interfere with another.. orange next to black looks different to orange next to blue or next to green])

2) reduce modes

there are many pseudo-modes in the blender-ui which are not nescessary.

I have some vertices and want to make a face of them.
press <B>, select 3 vertices, cancel <B> mode, press <F>

WRONG! why should I have to cancel the B mode? why can't the <F> work as it does in non-<B> mode?

(okay.. the face function should be able to make faces out of any amount of vertices.. but thats another point and no interface question)

3) in-programm help

blender has lots of shortcuts. I would really like to see the shortcut window implemented.

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Post by jarraj »

I have very little experience with 3d modelling, but the one thing that most bothers me in Blender is the texture coordinate assignment. The only two useful ways to set uv coordinates seem to be placing by hand and planar projection. Making a high poly mesh with textures, (say a face) is difficult at best.

The armature animation system could be improved as well. For example it seems to be difficult or impossible to make the feet of a walking model to stay in place when touching the ground. (They tend to wobble.) If there was a way to lock the end of a bone in place for certain frames, this problem would be easily solved. Also if skeletons could be twisted by moving the end of a bone, instead of rotating each bone at a time...

As already said, it would be useful if all the functions were easier to find. (Some sort of help or graphical alternative to key presses.)

It might be useful if meshes could be split into smaller objects, without actually splitting the mesh into two separate meshes. The deformation groups can do this, but it's not easy to use.

Other that that, I think Blender is pretty good.

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Some new XP

Post by Hensch »


I read here, that many people are very happy with the interface, after they have learned it. So the question will, how to make learning easier.

How about a "What you can do next"-bar on the left side, similar to the left side at the file-explorer in windows xp ?

This left side should contain some context specific tutorials. In the main screen for example, there should be a button "configuring the interface", "creating new objects", "moving objects" etc.
Clicking on button reveals some introduction texts.

The texts could be implemented with HTML. All you what is required is a HTML-Rendering-engine (e.g. Mozilla) and a way to transfer some context information in order to choose the right text for display.

I think, this way the user won't feel alone, when he sees all the buttons and doesn't know what to press.


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Post by hanzo »

hay I'm an artist(not an idiot) to put it straight I hat blenders interface (look) the UI design however is good and fast, I know blender like the back of my hand (3 years), so i'm not some dumb kid newb, but I still think (as an artist) the UI look should change, big time. And not more like the leading 3d ap's but have it's own cool look.


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Post by dreamerv3 »

"They can take away our lives.... But they'll never take...OUR FREEDOM..."--Braveheart

Oh boy Oh boy, I see all the keyboard loyalists have taken up positions along the front of this new forum, let us argue :twisted:

In the blender universe we have two armies:

One is the anti-gui 4,000+ cps "efficiency keyboard loyalists" which I applaud and think a special skunkworks in IBM should be built to contain. LOL!!!

The other army is the visual army, ya know the guys over at Blur studio's, ILM, Digital Domain, etc etc.

Now they've found a special weapon called "middle management" that commands an army of programmers to allow them to use tailored GUI's and commands to thier every whim on any platform. Thier programmers are also on hand to help and document all these features.

They're artists, but sit like the proverbial windows user, totally anaware of thier platform's complexity, but they get the job done because 1.) They're artist's and 2.) They don't have to worry about learning something that makes them go out of thier specific workflow, they just snap thier fingers and the "middle management" fairy appears with a gang of coders to iron out the ineffiency. Well thats a very stylised exxageration but the sticking points are:

Workflow is everything, different people have a different workflow, thus the hugely sutomizable nature of the top two 3d apps Max and Maya, "You want a keyboard shortcut? you got it!" OR "You want a MAC interface? Wammo! There you go!"
This eradicates the two armies of yore. I'm surprised this topic has generated such discussion.

I think what the two groups really want are 12th century weaponry, and a scene from braveheart where they get to unleash the whoop ass on one another....

Linux user:
"You stinkan Windows noob! Eat steel!, You'll be crashin soon!"

Window's user:
"We've got millions of different types of swords, one of them will slay you!"

Mac User (sitting on a color coordinated, translucent horse, on a distant ridge watching all this):
"We get to design the furniture, drapes, and ye olde flyers when the winner comes out!"

Now, me personally, I'm a visual type of guy, I like to explore an application without ever resorting to the manual, (This is my off time I'm trying to have fun in 3D not earn a degree in a technical field.) It seems to me, that when the stress is lower, people are more creative. And the apps that lend themselves to exploration are much more successfull when it comes to expanding and keeping thier user bases. Things should be logically laid out, not intermixed for the sake of productivity, I think customizability should be employed for that purpose. I mean I'm a linux user, I use Gnome, and there are over 30 themes installed on my system, they came with my RH 7.3 install, I setup one for root, one for me, and possibly another one for another user, this works out great, I get to choose what my computer looks and behaves like when I log in. I have a Sun GUI for root which happens to look cool, I haven't textured my user GUI yet, I've made all sorts of custom launchers or shortcuts for the windows folks. Funny thing is I have just as many apps installed yet my desktop has only 4 main icons, one of which is blender (I dare you to find another free 3D app of this quality for linux! Thats why its there!) I use blender a lot, so I figured instead of typing the path and execution commands at my feeble 50wpm, which is beginning to sound like automatic machinegun fire. I'll just rig a button on the desktop and now blender opens up with the slightest of ease. I still prefer "cd" and "ls" in a terminal window when directory surfing, (who wants to wait for the redraw of a filemanager!?)

So I think the best solution is cusomizability, and not just "slap-on-a-skin-that-no-one-can-create-themselves" but a really well thought out, and EASY TO USE skinning system so that ANYONE can create thier mood, it actually would be nice to select a user type login or name to tie to the setup, so you can have:

1.)"Standard GNU GPL Blender interface version #.##"
2.)"Mac Boy's Glass Pony Interface"
3.)"It types, it wears thick black rimmed glasses, it does differential equations in a single bound? Linux SuperGeek Interface"

4.)"Normal Linux user that actually likes visual interfaces, Interface"

They could have up to 64 characters for brevity and descriptive scope.
Names like "Translucent Dream", "Cloudscape" or "IBM Skunkworks Jail Break"

Things like drag-and-drop or click-and-link, ways to link a function of the program to a visual element.

I think this is the only way we can avert a major UI war among the warring tribes.

I mean look at linux, we've managed to "have it our own way" and we distribute code easily, check out system's for compatibility with "./configure" compile it with "make" (hope you never ever ever have to write a configure script!)
and we're off. I'm sure some guy/gal is reading this with enlightenment (The interface/window manager) or some other person with KDE 2 or 3. We get along!
I can see different linux users uniting to rush the windows enemy on the battle lines of 12th century scotland!

As for me, I'll stick with a mostly visual "all functions are there in the form of a visual element that I can eventually find and tinker with!"

Just the other day I was cursing blender because I saw no mirror function anywhere on the gui. So I assumed there was no mirror function, here I am writing a wish list for a mirror function and searching to web for python scripts, when a guy on irc tells me the key combination, I feel like an ass right away. I forgot the copy command several times which caused needless irc visits. I'm pretty sure human beings are better at using visual cues than we are at remembereing myraid functions. I never had to ask questions of this level which is born-yesterday-noob with Max, I mean I'de never ever ever ask such questions with max, because the mirror button is right there in front of me all the time. or whaever I need is neatly tucked into a drop down heirchial (spelling?) menu like the Gnome foot, or the windows start button.

I would suggest a paradigm like max, select a button for something and all of its propoerties will appear in a special are that's always there reserved for nothing else but displaying and working with fuctnions of the program, slap a scroll bar on it and make it move, that take care of the sapce dilemma. The program's size shouldn't even be debated as an impediment to adding features, since size isn't a limiting factor in distribution.

I don't work at ILM I don't need dealdine optimized key stroke to feature functionality.

Thats my story, and I'm stickin to it!

I hope this GUI war doesn't turn out like the elysiun one with 17 pages of replies...

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Ease of use? Hell this is 3D, no wordprocessing!

Post by solmax »

To all the ppl who "don't wanna earn technical degrees" - and don't wann "waste" their time with manuals: I fully understand that point of view. I thought the same. But very soon I learned that there is no way of learning and understanding an application (regardless if it's max, maya, blender or whatever) without ever having a look at some manual or tutorial. The speciality of all of those application is the fact, that once you took this hurdle you can really concentrate on the content and be creative. And everyone who's really serious with 3D content creation won't stick with menues and buttons for the very basic features - because they distract your focus from the actual content.
One more thing: Everyone who's serious with 3D knows what expects him. Since developing blender is not about making toasters which should be used by housewifes without effort, I see no problem with the fact that most ppl will need some kind of manual for the very beginning. If it's well done, this won't hurt anyone. except those "I'm-gonna-learn-max-maya-lightwave-without-tut's-because-I'm-creative" heroes.

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my suggestion

Post by MontZ »

The blender has nice windowing system which allows you modify, by splitting/joining/resizing windows, the way blender looks. Additionally you can have many views(called screens) that you can switch any time. And you can save your costumized interface by pressing Ctrl-U. These are the things that many newbies are unaware of so they should check them before complaining about blender.

What we need to do, to satisfy everyone is:
*let users modify the keys(add shortcut window)
*make additional window or more for actions where we could have all the cute pixmapped buttons many are used to have in other 3d programs(primitives, move/zoom/rotate etc). We could use the window "toolbar"(the place where the little buttons are) for buttons and the working area for help. So the user could drag the window bigger for getting context sensitive help.
*change the spacebutton menu to be more like mayas and add all the same stuff there too.
*deliver blender so that the easy to use windows are on the screen and arranged in usual manner, when user starts blender the first time.

This way we could get really good and easy to use blender for everyone without much work.

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Post by kaktuswasser »

i fully agree with montz.The only thing i want to add to the list is this
ctrl+space-help thingy. that woudl be really cool for noobs..

cya henrik

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Joined: Mon Oct 14, 2002 9:56 am

Post by hanzo »

Light Wave has a cool GUI, the first time I was on it, it took me a half hour to learn how the LWave UI worked, blender sorry to say is a clutter and again I'm not one of those newbs that don't know what i'm talking about (blender). And let me say this one of the reasons max, maya, LW, are so popular is because the (high payed programers try to appeal create every dream tool of artists, artists need a visually intuitive interface. Now blender has an adaptive UI but not too appealing, what make the latest games software on the market sell the fact artists make them look cool, so artists/programers make money. If the artists don't have power over their tools and the tools made for them, the gaming business would go down the toilet with the programers jobs in the industry but artists would still make money, because every body loves what looks good.........Now I'm learning how to program, and I realize programers are extremely important, they open the doors of power (for the artist).


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