Interface Changes (without the debate)

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

Moderators: jesterKing, stiv

Post Reply
Eternl_Knight
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2004 2:22 am

Interface Changes (without the debate)

Post by Eternl_Knight » Wed Aug 23, 2006 7:04 am

The question I would like to pose is: If you were going to change the interface to Blender, what would you do?

Given how easily this question derails threads into "Blender's interface must / must not change" back and forth arguments/debates - I would like to suggest that we ignore that issue for the purposes of simply getting possible changes discussed. I am hoping that this thread can be simply for the discussing interface ideas rather than get bogged down by an irreconcilable debate about whether we should change the interface at all.

I'll start with one change close to my heart....

Mouse Control Changes: I would like to change the mouse behaviour to something I am more familiar with. That is, left-button (with optional drag) is for selecting and right-button is for the context menu. These can change depending on the "mode" the interface is in (such as translate mode moving selected objects on left-button+drag). The reason for my desire in this is that Blender is only one tool in my pipeline and the rest have similar operation to the one I described. Being able to operate Blender in a similar manner would decrease the large mental "disconnect" that I (and some of my friends) get when moving between say Blender & Wings / GIMP.

Side-effects of this would be that the "3D-Tool" would need some sort of hot-key to trigger placement & that the "mouse gestures" would need similar. Mouse gestures are limited in use from what I can tell from the developer & community forums, and I find the context menu used much more often than the "3D-Tool".

--EK

SeanJM
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 3:19 am
Location: Stouffville
Contact:

Post by SeanJM » Mon Sep 18, 2006 3:38 am

I vote for the left button change.

joeri
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2003 6:41 pm
Contact:

Post by joeri » Mon Sep 18, 2006 9:09 am

A forum without a debate?

I'd say make a complete list of mouse assignments before posing the one change. And while your at it come with an idea on what to do with all current tutorials etc. It makes it sound less selfish.

slikdigit
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Oct 16, 2002 3:52 am
Location: Northampton, MA (US)

Post by slikdigit » Tue Sep 26, 2006 6:52 am

you know you can already change that in the user preferences, right?

Eternl_Knight
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2004 2:22 am

Post by Eternl_Knight » Fri Sep 29, 2006 4:46 am

joeri:
A forum without a debate?
This is not at all what I was proposing. I'm simply sick of the fact that whenever someone suggests ANY change to the interface - the thread turns into a "should we / shouldn't we" change the interface at all.

We already know that one is unlikely to change the minds of those that are going to argue either of those points. I would rather participate in a thread where one can debate the merits of the interface changes themselves.

As for the "rewriting tutorials" comment, that is a non-sensical argument to make. Blender has changed interface before and (like it or not) is likely to change things again in the future. That is how a product evolves. If one holds back an application because of "old documentation" (so to speak) - then it will never grow beyond the bounds of the 'first cut'.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by a "complete list" of mouse assignments. If you are referring to key combinations with mouse buttons - to my understanding, this is going to be configurable in one of the upcoming releases.

slikdigit:
Actually, you can only change which button invokes the 3D Tool (that is, one button will always position the tool, you can only change which button). You cannot actually change the mouse buttons to say bounding box select or pop-up a context-sensitive menu.

--EK

joeri
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2003 6:41 pm
Contact:

Post by joeri » Fri Sep 29, 2006 3:45 pm

Eternl_Knight wrote:joeri:
A forum without a debate?
This is not at all what I was proposing. I'm simply sick of the fact that whenever someone suggests ANY change to the interface - the thread turns into a "should we / shouldn't we" change the interface at all.
Like in the question "How are we going?" we first want to know "Where shall we go?"
Eternl_Knight wrote: We already know that one is unlikely to change the minds of those that are going to argue either of those points. I would rather participate in a thread
where one can debate the merits of the interface changes themselves.
No, the point is that changes need to be made to serve a point. And if the point is "it's easier for me" then it's not very likely to convince people who don't find it easier.
Eternl_Knight wrote: As for the "rewriting tutorials" comment, that is a non-sensical argument to make. Blender has changed interface before and (like it or not) is likely to change things again in the future. That is how a product evolves. If one holds back an application because of "old documentation" (so to speak) - then it will never grow beyond the bounds of the 'first cut'.
Obviously you never wrote a tutorial.
Or answerd a gingerbread/sub surf confused user.
Eternl_Knight wrote: I'm not sure exactly what you mean by a "complete list" of mouse assignments. If you are referring to key combinations with mouse buttons - to my understanding, this is going to be configurable in one of the upcoming releases.
Why not show you gave the subject some thought?
Eternl_Knight wrote: slikdigit:
Actually, you can only change which button invokes the 3D Tool (that is, one button will always position the tool, you can only change which button). You cannot actually change the mouse buttons to say bounding box select or pop-up a context-sensitive menu.
Arguable. Any one can change anything in blender.
The question is on what "level" the changes should be possible.

I have only read requests on that blender should improve it's mouse / key bindings and not one document or hint on how it should be improved. (what would a keybinding screen look like, how would the "help" in blender react to that, how to 'share' keybindings, etc. etc. etc.)
To me that always looks selfish. "I what this, I want that, and you have to do it"
Maybe I'm all wrong and you are collecting ideas to implement for next summer?

Or for what reason are you asking " If you were going to change the interface to Blender, what would you do? "
Because, if *I* would be changing the interface to Blender, you could see the changes in my own release.

LetterRip
Posts: 0
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 7:03 am

Post by LetterRip » Fri Sep 29, 2006 9:26 pm

complete list of current mouse and assignments is already done,

see the help scripts.

LetterRip

Eternl_Knight
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2004 2:22 am

Post by Eternl_Knight » Sat Sep 30, 2006 3:14 pm

joeri:
Please correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to be arguing for the sake of arguing. For example, rather than debating whether the suggested change I wrote about is bad because of X, or not feasible because of Y - you are calling my motivations into question. That is, it seems to me, you are attacking the messenger rather than the message.

As I mentioned earlier - I am not interested in debating WHETHER we should change the interface or not. It always turns into a "religious" argument as niether side is willing to relent to the other. Debating the issue is pointless as there is never a resolution and generally bad feelings linger afterward.

I agree that changes need to be made to serve a point. I never argued otherwise. As an example, take the 3D Tool & Mouse Gestures compared to (say) a selection box. How often in a modelling session to you select something? How often do you use the mouse gestures? How often do you use the 3D tool?

My experience (and those of others I have convinced to spend time in Blender) is that the 3D tool (while undoubtably useful) is nowhere near as used as the selection box. Also, while interesting for the pen/pad users - the mouse gestures are simply "fluff" given the ease of the keyboard shortcuts.

As for thought into it - I have discussed the above mentioned issues with several people and we have come up with the following points:
  • The use of the 3D tool is easily moved to a keyboard shortcut and mouse click. This frees up the mouse button for other functions more commonly used.
  • The "click & drag" selection functionality of the left mouse is common across most graphics applications (Photoshop, GIMP, Maya, Vue, the list REALLY does go on). As such, any user familiar with ANY of the other applications will find the functionality intuitive. Similarly, the instant movement of an object (in this case the 3D Tool) with a single (always bound) click is nigh on unheard of in all other applications (where instant movement tends to be a side-effect of numerical entry).
  • The removal of the 3D tool to a "key + click" is not motivated by our desire to simply "make things easier for us", but to speed up workflow for commonly used modelling & animation techniques. The 3D Tool (also know as a 'working pivot point' in other applications) tends to be used in uncommon situations where one needs to move the "origin" of the workspace for a single tool's use. For box-modelling & key-frame animation, this occurs far, far less frequently than other operations such as selection, translation, & rotation. Given how unfrequently it is used, it seems a waste to allocate such a basic "user interface" (a button with no "option" keys) to it alone.
Lastly, the reason I bring this up is so that everyone can have input. It matters not what I implement in my own Blender if I have to repatch everytime a new Blender comes out. Which is exactly what would be required if the interface changes (such as the one I have suggested) are not adotped or made options for adoption by the primary Blender branch.

This feature I have discussed above I am fully willing to implement (it is, after all, relatively simple compared to some of the other stuff in Blender). However, I also have licensed copies of other software for the same tasks (modelling & animation) - and if I would need to repatch Blender everytime a new version is released, I cannot see the development time being worth the effort. Which is not a threat (you need to have leverage of some sort before statements like mine can be counted as "threats"), but simply a statement of "is it worth the time?". I want to be involved in Blender for both my own use and (honestly) because I get a kick out of seeing my work used by others. If the changes I make are not going to be accepted into the main branch - then it is for my own use only, in which case it is simply easier to use what I have.

I hope I am coming across clearly - as it is hard to describe where I am coming from without sounding arrogant (which I'm trying not to be *grin*)

--EK[/list]

LetterRip
Posts: 0
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 7:03 am

Post by LetterRip » Sat Sep 30, 2006 10:54 pm

Ton has the tool api refactor planned for the very near future (might be working on it now), after that setting up whatever preferences you want for key and mousebindings and specific ways of doing thing should be possible.

Hopefully it will be ready for the next release...

LetterRip

Eternl_Knight
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2004 2:22 am

Post by Eternl_Knight » Sun Oct 01, 2006 8:48 am

That is, indeed, incredibly good news LetterRip :)

Is there somewhere I can look up the technical details on the change? My reason for asking is I would like to ascertain whether said changes would help with a configurable GUI interface as well.

--EK

LetterRip
Posts: 0
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 7:03 am

Post by LetterRip » Sun Oct 01, 2006 5:50 pm

Is there somewhere I can look up the technical details on the change? My reason for asking is I would like to ascertain whether said changes would help with a configurable GUI interface as well.
Nope no place to look it up. The intent is to allow custom key, mouse, menu, and button bindings among other things. Not sure what all will be addressed in the first iteration though...

LetterRip

elander
Posts: 0
Joined: Sun Dec 19, 2004 4:30 pm

Post by elander » Tue Oct 03, 2006 1:13 am

I don't have a clue of how much work this would need but i would like to give some ideas on interesting customization options besides key bindings:

* Configuring the space used by tool bars and the size of the menu text.

* The orientation of tool bars (vertical or horizontal), possibly with vertical text orientation.

* How menus and buttons "flow" in a tool bar. Possible options are flowing left to right and top to bottom over multiple lines but all buttons remain visible (good for tall views), usual blender method of dragging the tool bar with the mmb or auto-hide.

* Buttons for views to quickly iconify, minimize, maximize or reset its area to what the user has drag the view border. Options to choose what side of the Blender window will recieved minimized view icons.

* Customizing the space between button groups and between panels themselves, so that panel borders have minimum space waste.

* Having one tool bar per view (normal Blender mode) or one tool bar for all views ala Mac or a mix. That is application is sensitive if a view has hidden its tool bar and some buttons will be displayed in the global toolbar.

* Method to select the active view. Could be the normal Blender mode by hovering the mouse over the view or by actualy having to click on the view to select it showing a colored border. The last works better if one tool bar is used for all views ala Mac.

* Modifying the gui doesn't change the current screen but modifies a default screen called user screen. Prevents unwanted changes on the pre-defined screen setups.

* A text file with gui configuration options that we can edit manualy or with an external tool.

* More options for buttons and other guis shaders, backgrounds, borders, padding, text effects.

Post Reply