I've compiled a list of the most popular posts on BlenderNation this year. While it may miss some events, it certainly gives a good impression of 2011. Enjoy!
There's no better way to get people's blood pumping than by discussing Blenders user interface. You either love it or you hate it, but most people agree what once you've mastered it, it's amazingly efficient. William Reynish proposed a cleanup and met both both praise and resistance in this post.
Blenrig is one of the most advanced rigging systems available for Blender.
This tutorial by Ben Simonds was the most popular tutorial on BlenderNation this year.
SIO2, a game engine for mobile devices, dropped their open source license earlier this year and caused an outrage.
What can I say? The work of a genius.
In his typical way, Blender Guru comments on 4 new features that made their way into Blender: Cycles, Camera Tracking, Dynamic Paint and the Ocean Simulator.
After Cycles, the new Motion tracker is what got people REALLY excited this year.
Colin Litster's new book drew a lot of attention and was received very well, although some people were disappointed by the printing quality (something that the publisher, PACKT, seems to suffer from a lot).
I think this is the news item that caused the most turmoil in the Blender community this year. It showed a first glimpse of the new GPU renderer Cycles, which left people drooling. Cycles was integrated in Blender 2.61.
At the top of our 2011 list: we've seen no less than five new Blender releases this year! Much needed and pro-level features were added at a pace that we've never seen before - Blender development is speeding up at an unbelievable rate. The new features convince more and more users of other 3D apps to give Blender a try, and often they find it a useful addition to their workflow. I can only guess at where we'll be in one year from now, but I'm sure 2012 will be a great year for the Blender Community!