Odd interface

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

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Karma
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Odd interface

Post by Karma » Fri Nov 26, 2004 5:50 pm

You must be getting this a lot so I have put my flamesuit on. Why the, umm, weird interface? Everyone I show Blender to has almost barfed and won't even try it. I played with it a little and gave up. I am sure there's a gem there underneath but the interface simply turns the non-Unix-geeks off at first sight. Why not use tried and tested modern UI concepts - hate MS, Apple, IBM...etc all you want but they have huge research budgets and know what they are doing. Cross platform shouldn't mean the worst of both worlds or the common denominator. My 2 cents.

levon
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Post by levon » Fri Nov 26, 2004 6:02 pm

the windows interface realy would suit blender. mac either.

look at all the 3d programs, they all have very different interfaces, and what is it you particualy find 'odd' about it, you realise that you can add many more windows and make it look like anything you want?

alt

Post by alt » Fri Nov 26, 2004 6:37 pm

>they have huge research budgets and know what they are doing

I think they just repeat what has been done before.
And their audience is also a lot wider than for any specialised (professional) application so they have to play with the most common denominator card. Change to something different but more functional might scare customers away.

And specialised packages have different UIs because they are ..umm.. specialised for that particular task :)
Check Digital Fusion, Softimage XSI and so on.

If you mean menus then Blender has them too.

Karma
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Post by Karma » Fri Nov 26, 2004 8:48 pm

I don't know where to start, the interface is simply non-standard and non-intuitive. A successful interface needs to convey the state machine information as well as accept commands and the user needs to feel informed and in control. With Blender's interface, it's all mixed up, buttons also double up as checkboxes, radio boxes, combo boxes... etc. Button sizes/colors are all over the place, that's not the way to "rank" tasks. Further, labels and group titles are missing. There's a bunch of buttons in Render panel, fi., that have captions of "100%","75%","50%","25%". Why is "100%" bigger than the rest? Are users who need to render at 100% more uncoordinated? It's bad practice to make size of UI element signify its (subjective) importance. More importantly, why is there no descriptive label? Proper way to do that is to put a label and a combo box. It would take less room and be more meaningful as well as extensible for the future. But then again, it's the overall interface that would need to be organized in a more logical and friendly context so you cannot do a bottom up fix. Reworking has to be made top down.

Also, the transparent elements and fancy animation run like molasses. What's the point with transparency anyway?

The strangest UI decision has to be the file browser. Why not use the OS provided services? It looks like file open "dialogs" from various applications from the bad old DOS days - no folder tree view, no icons, no details, no preview... Instead of using the OS provided services for free, the programmers spent more time and effort to achieve something obviously worse.

I could go on and on...

At least it's not as bad as, say KPT or Poser were (I don't know if they still are). And who says specialized applications have to have horrific interfaces (unless they have their roots in "legacy" OS's and haven't bothered to modernize) : Look at Rhino3D, for instance. That's a 3D application which managed to achieve a very clean, logical and windows friendly modern UI. Or look at POV GUI, very sensible. Even 3DSMax, although it packs more functionality, managed to achieve a sensible interface by minor tweaks and extensions to standard windows UI.

I think its interface is Blender's Achilles' heel.

-efbie-
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Post by -efbie- » Fri Nov 26, 2004 9:19 pm

Blender interface IS intuitive, but not in the way you expect it. We are formated by conventional GUI and when we see blender's interface we think that it is unlogical and messy. In fact it is not, blender interface has been carefully thought to be efficient and intuitive, but not in the usual way.

I would say that blender interface is it's strongest feature. I was a max / autoCAD user, and i would never go back to theses applications without any good reason. Blender is so simple and fast when you are used to it :)

You must take the time to understand how the interface is concieved.

Blender is based on the non overlapping windows idea and it works really well. I'm also glad of the inbuilt file browser, so when you change OS blender don't change. And if you try the 'append' command, you will begin to understand why it is implemented in this way.

You can not make a 'windows like' application with an efficient workflow. You loose two weeks learning blender, and then you gain 4 years of productivity.


I agree with the fact that the difference between checkboxes and buttons is not clear, but devloppers are working on this :)

transparence and animations are Options, if you don't like them, don't use them...

Karma
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Post by Karma » Fri Nov 26, 2004 10:05 pm

-efbie- wrote:Blender interface IS intuitive, but not in the way you expect it.
There's something funny with that sentence but I cannot quite put my finger on it. :)
-efbie- wrote:We are formated by conventional GUI and when we see blender's interface we think that it is unlogical and messy. In fact it is not, blender interface has been carefully thought to be efficient and intuitive, but not in the usual way.
Here's a good link that does a much better job than I could:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/uibook/ch ... 00057.html
-efbie- wrote:You must take the time to understand how the interface is concieved.
The whole point of modern OSs supplying GUI elements is users don't have to spend weeks and months learning each program they encounter. Today's pace is much too fast to afford that luxury to many of us.

That said, I freely admit I am a total newbie with Blender so my comments may not be well informed. But that's the chicken egg problem: I don't feel like spending much time with Blender since the interface is foreign and unappealing. But if I don't, it will always stay foreign and unappealing. I am sure you see the problem.
-efbie- wrote:Blender is based on the non overlapping windows idea and it works really well. I'm also glad of the inbuilt file browser, so when you change OS blender don't change. And if you try the 'append' command, you will begin to understand why it is implemented in this way.
Sorry but I don't buy that - even though I admit I don't know what difference 'append' makes regarding this. Anyone who uses multiple OSs has to be familiar with the common dialogs in each one. How can a user using Blender on Windows not feel comfortable with the Windows file dialogs? He would have to be using other Windows applications, I would assume. In addition to introducing a 3rd file dialog in this situation, Blender doesn't even offer the functionality found in the other 2 so it's a double miss.
-efbie- wrote:You can not make a 'windows like' application with an efficient workflow. You loose two weeks learning blender, and then you gain 4 years of productivity.
Again, I disagree. Rhino3D is one of the most efficient 3D modelers I have used and it's very "windows like". It took me not weeks but minutes to feel completely in control with it, without reading a single line of help or manual, but even if I had to, I knew F1 would bring up the help.

Crafty
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Post by Crafty » Fri Nov 26, 2004 10:05 pm

While some things might be easier to do in Blender, there are many things that are simply stupid. Why are the mouse buttons used in such an illogical way? Why does the camera (both of them) rotate around the z-axis? Why cant you find the tools etc. in the pulldown menus? Why cant you set your own hotkeys? (Ok, i know the answer for this, but its still a problem) Why does it look so outdated? :)

Surely something could be done to these things without making it any less efficient.

Pierre-Luc_Auclair
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Post by Pierre-Luc_Auclair » Fri Nov 26, 2004 10:15 pm

Sorry but blender's UI is quite easy to understand. It took me only 2-3 hours and I was up and running.

Manuals are there for a reason, so read it.

-efbie-
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Post by -efbie- » Fri Nov 26, 2004 10:29 pm

A user interface is well-designed when the program behaves exactly how the user thought it would.
Blender is exactly like that. The few principes are applied everywhere. Once you know them everything is obvious.

You try to judge the interface and you didnt even spend the time to understand how it works. For me it took a day not more. And after a week, using blender is like using a third hand.

how can you say defacto that the append function is not a good reason to do the dialog like that if you haven't tried it...

Well, download the manual, spend some time on it, and come back later :)
While some things might be easier to do in Blender, there are many things that are simply stupid. Why are the mouse buttons used in such an illogical way? Why does the camera (both of them) rotate around the z-axis? Why cant you find the tools etc. in the pulldown menus? Why cant you set your own hotkeys? (Ok, i know the answer for this, but its still a problem) Why does it look so outdated?
1) because you can swith right and left button in the options...
2) because it is faster to get the right point of view with trackball. However i agree turntable shouldn't turn like that...
3)Tools are in the pulldown menus, but blender is hotkey oriented.
4)Are you using a recent version ?

ideasman
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Post by ideasman » Fri Nov 26, 2004 11:29 pm

There needs to be a blender UI rationaly doc, so anybody with UI issues can be re-directed to it. - We all know the UI is good, with minor issues that can be delt with by smart people like Broken - and the UI people.

I was a little dissapointed that much of the talk at BCon seamed to revolve around how buttons look. - Realy, there are more important things to discuss.
- Cam

pinhead_66
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Post by pinhead_66 » Fri Nov 26, 2004 11:57 pm

Blender is still very much 'a work in progress'

so is the UI

As far as I understood, the file select and image select windows are on the list of things to do. This list of things to do goes a looooooooooong way.

I would appreciate it very much if people would spend some time to really learn blender.

download the last version before blender became open source, and play with it (following some old tutorials, there's plenty of them if you take the effort to browse around)

then download the latest version and compare

in a very short time giant steps have been made to be more userfriendly, and to make everything more consistent.

the process of improving the UI continues through the complete blender 2.3x serie and suggestions and idea's are always welcome

I am not to fond of people 'demanding' all kinds of stuff without knowing some of the backgrounds (not that I know that much...)

anyway, this is my opinion

please share your create idea's and possible improvements with the artists and coders in a positive way and constructive way. we may differ in thought, but that doesn't mean we can't work together to make blender better

I'm just tired of all the flamewars,
my 2 cents

halibut
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Post by halibut » Sat Nov 27, 2004 12:18 am

I think the distinction between "radio", "checkbox", and "button" buttons needs to be clearer. Also, how about an "instant tooltop popup" option. I imagine this would be easy to implement, and could be useful to newbies if it is mentioned in a quickstart tutorial. This would allow them to scan around all of the buttons, getting a feel for what everything does without having to wait a few seconds on each button.

To take it even further, how about pressing H or F1 whilst a tooltop is up, and it expands in to a longer description of how to use that tool,

To take it EVEN further, there could also be a link to the documentation that when clicked would open up the relevent section in a webbrowser - it would give people more confidence to experiment.

I would be very happy to help write the extended tooltip descriptions! :)

matt_e
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Post by matt_e » Sat Nov 27, 2004 2:53 am

Karma wrote:I don't know where to start, the interface is simply non-standard and non-intuitive.
You're right. I think people here that say Blender is intuitive don't really know what the word intuitive means. Now that in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, there are some things which are a trade off between intuitive (immediately able to be grasped), and easy to use for people who need to use it all the time, Of course in this regard there are plenty of weaknesses still in Blender that can be resolved, without damaging the general efficiency.
With Blender's interface, it's all mixed up, buttons also double up as checkboxes, radio boxes, combo boxes... etc. Button sizes/colors are all over the place, that's not the way to "rank" tasks. Further, labels and group titles are missing.
There's actually work underway on this right now (and a cute little demo). It's been a bit dormant for the last weeks/months due to the Blender Conference and people like me deciding it was a good idea to go backpacking in Europe after it :), but it's getting there slowly.
The strangest UI decision has to be the file browser. Why not use the OS provided services? It looks like file open "dialogs" from various applications from the bad old DOS days - no folder tree view, no icons, no details, no preview... Instead of using the OS provided services for free, the programmers spent more time and effort to achieve something obviously worse.
What you have to understand is that it's not a 'decision' per se, but a historical remnant from Blender's past. Blender started life as an amiga, and then a unix program many years ago, and follows many traditions from that era. It's not like it's a recent decision. So, yes there have been plans, mockups etc made to improve the file selector too, which can be improved immensely (though I'm not sure how feasible or worthwhile using native file dialogs would be as opposed to just re-doing blender's one to make it more usable). These things just take time and work.

Please understand the fact that Blender is still relatively young as an open-source program, and there's still a lot of weird UI stuff left over from when it was closed source that needs to be eventually fixed. If you go and download an older version like 2.25, you will probably hate that one much more :) On the other hand, there are also a lot of really good things about Blender's UI that should be kept, if not promoted. The problem is that there aren't really many active developers that are interested in doing this sort of work (which is fine, that's up to them), but it does mean that progress in the UI department is going rather slowly.

Most of the things you've mentioned so far are on (at least my personal) agenda for investigation and work. Other things include more sensible defaults and selection colour settings, better ways of accessing presets, improving the toolbox, improving visualisation of 3D objects like lamps, and all sorts of things. There's still a lot to be done.

If you're interested in these sorts of things, I suggest rather than just complaining, you somehow help out to make things better, by making mockups and well thought out proposals for things in the forums/wiki (though I suggest you first learn blender more thoroughly to get an idea of how it works, and should work), by posting bugs for small problems and inconsistencies (like missing menu items for hotkeys), and so forth.
Last edited by matt_e on Sat Nov 27, 2004 3:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by matt_e » Sat Nov 27, 2004 2:55 am

Crafty wrote:Why cant you find the tools etc. in the pulldown menus?
If there's something missing from the pulldown menus, please post it as a bug, and I'll try to fix it.
Last edited by matt_e on Sat Nov 27, 2004 3:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by matt_e » Sat Nov 27, 2004 3:04 am

halibut wrote:To take it EVEN further, there could also be a link to the documentation that when clicked would open up the relevent section in a webbrowser - it would give people more confidence to experiment.
This is on my list to experiment with - right-click on a button, get a menu with 'Help' as one of the options, clicking it takes you to the relevant documentation page. Don't know how feasible it is, but I have some ideas.

I also would like to experiment with also doing this linking to the Python code reference for controlling that button, or even in the tooltip (with a modifier key held?) So for example when you hover the mouse over the SizeX button in render buttons, the tooltip would show something like:
py: Scene -> RenderingContext.imageSizeX
(though I'm not sure of the correct syntax to document something like this, I don't know much Python yet :))

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