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22

BlenderNation screenshotWhen I was playing with blogging for the first time in January I wrote '..we'll see where this goes :-)'. Well, it certainly went somewhere! Here's a short overview of where we are today.

What is it that we do? Someone has commented that BlenderNation is 'defragmenting the Blender community'. He hit the nail on the head: there is *so* much going on in the Blender community but you had to keep track of lots of sites to be able to see it. BlenderNation aims to solve this and in the process, to provide a library where you can find the most important Blender resources on the web. We have no ambitions to add community features such as forums or public galleries: other sites already provide those and they're doing a great job at it. We collect and report. Nothing more, nothing less.

The project is by far surpassing my initial expectations: within three months, we've reached the point where we are being read by over 2500 people every day. Our RSS feed has 500 subscribers on average. 70% of you are 'returning visitors'.

Authors

I started off alone, but was quickly joined by four other authors. Let me introduce them to you:

  • Féderico Lucignano (Lox_federico). Féderico is a Blender developer from Italy. He keeps an eye on Blender development for us and is currently in love with the renderer Kerkythea.
  • David Millet (Spiderworm). David is a long time Blender groupie from the United States. He's the author of the award-winning 'Blender 3D: Noob to Pro'. For BlenderNation, he's preparing a series of interviews with people who are the driving forces behind Blender and the Blender community.
  • Eugene Reilly (etr9j). Eugene is a self-proclaimed 3d junkie from the United States. He is continually on the lookout for all kinds of 3d tools and techniques. We built the Version Tracker just to be able to keep up with him! (more about that below).
  • Rui Campos (rcas). Rui is a Java developer from Portugal. He is the head of the Blender Foundation Education Board and focuses on everything that has to do with Blender and education.

And then of course there's me:

  • Bart Veldhuizen ([email protected]). Bart is an internet consultant from the Netherlands. He was involved with Blender in its early days and produced the two Blender Tutorial Guides. Later he worked as Community Manager for Not a Number and after its bankruptcy he helped Ton Roosendaal collect the required €100,000 to release Blender as Open Source software.

If you have a passion for writing about Blender and you'd like to join the team, then just contact us. We don't bite! (well, most of the time we don't).

Version Tracker

To be able to keep up with Blender related releases without swamping the homepage, we've added the Version Tracker sidebox to the homepage. In here, you'll find posts such as updates to Python scripts, special Blender releases (brancher or platform optimized builds), commercial releases.. you name it! You'll find the Version Tracker in the sidebar column on the homepage:
Version Tracker

RSS Feeds

All the RSS feeds are now routed through Feedburner.com. I visited a presentation by their founder a few weeks ago and decided to give it a try. Feedburner takes a lot of load off of our server: an RSS client will typically reload a feed every 15-30 minutes and with our current number of RSS subscribers (around 500, see the nifty Feedburner icon on the homepage) that could result in around 25,000 pageviews a day.. As a bonus, they provide nice usage statistics and they give me another toy to play with!

Our plans

Apart from continuing to provide you with the best Blender news, there are a few things that we are planning:

  • Higher posting frequency. I started out with one iron rule: at least one post a day. We maintain a queue of articles to make sure that we can this up. Only, at this moment there is so much news coming in though that we may need to increase to two posts a day.
  • Social bookmarks. We've already experimented with a plugin for adding pages to sites such as digg.com or del.icio.us, but the plugin caused some problems (it completely broke the tutorials section, for one) and I thought that the layout was pretty ugly. We'll get back on this later.
  • Contest. There are plans for a BlenderNation style contest but I can't give you any details about it yet. Just stay tuned :)

Your feedback
So, what do YOU think of how we're doing so far? We'd like to get some feedback on the things that you like and what you think stinks. As long as we don't get feedback we'll just keep doing the things we do because, well, it makes us happy :)

About the Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.

22 Comments

  1. Well o.k. but I ever wondered why http://www.blender3d.org doesn't fill this lack of centralisation.

    I agree completely with the comment because there ist blender.org,blender3d.org(where the cms part is and whe wiki part, too),different libraries for plugins,materials,particels,...,localized pages(www.blendpolis.org the german board where I come from) and so on. Why isn't it pssible to link all pages,resources,... on blender3d.org?

    I guess it's very hard for a newbie to know where to look when the offical hp only lists a few VTs,materials.... And that news are more often on elysium than on the offical channels.

    Well this it not a criics to the people that work on the offical pages, they do a good job, it's just a hint.

  2. blendernation is my daily dose of blender related news... however I'm already hooked, and as such you could increase my dayly blendication.
    You wanted some feedback:
    Layout and styling: almost perfect, because if I say "perfect" you'd all just relax and sit down thinking of a job well done.
    One news/day...: more more more! we can take it...really. And I don't really believe there'd be a day without at least one new news about blender... with current devs, rants, suggestions etc... going on in all major blender fora.
    the tracker is a great idea... now if you could make it a separate RSS feed too...or is it already?
    A great welcome "yaay" to the whole team.

  3. @well: I'm not sure why that is, but maybe running a blog is a lot easier (shorter posts) and more fun: as an author you get immediate comments on your articles.

    @scott, hoxolotl: thanks :) About the Version Tracker RSS feed: check out the orange RSS icon next to the Version Tracker's title on the homepage..

    Have fun,

    [email protected]

  4. I follow blendernation since the announcement on blender.org, i think it's a great site. Everyday i load the page to read what's new. Great work so far. The style is good the way it is...elegant and light...should be more blenderish though (in colors). I think you should in some way consolidate with Elysiun to make a coherent info-discussion-center.

  5. evilninjadude on

    I really like this site and come here every day. Just one little thing: I often try to click on the little thumbnail image at the top of an article, expecting to get a larger version of the image (especially if it's artwork). And then I'm disappointed that it doesn't work ;) I know a larger image can often be found following a link in the article, but it would be neat if thumbnails of artwork would link directly to a larger version (preferrably as a popup, like the gallery at blender3d.org).

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

  6. @bart you might be right, indeet a blog is easy to manage and the articles are short and lively.

    But I mean we are dozends of blenderheads around the globe, why is it so difficult to make the offical hp to that what it IMHO should be, the center of the blender universe :-)

    Nevertheless I forgot to say something about blendernation.com well it's just cool to read something about my favourit GFX app after lunch and after hours of coding. I like this blog because there are various news and very regular(day by day!)
    The outfit is very nice, but could be more "offical" so the blenderlogo, Suzanne or Blendo in the header.

  7. Friends,

    In fact I tought you openned this site years ago. It seams so professional to be started a couple of months ago.

    Although my language is Portuguese I am enjoying a lot open this site daily and find many interesting things related to Blender. And nice organized. I hope in the future you include a Portuguese version of al this great articles and tutorials.

    I am a begginer in Blender and have lack of time to study the application but I am very happy to have a place to read something related to this subject when I can separete a time for it.

    The great challenge for all of you is keep this quality of information for a long time. I suggest you never lose the material you accumulated until now because one day the students will require that old but important information published here one day in the past.

    As I told you I did not separate enough time to make everything I want with Blender at this moment but when someone really want something specially when have a place like this to help, everybody reaches the target.

    I am slow working in a video-tuto for Blender begginers like me and I will be very proud to let you and the community know this work as soon as possible.

    Congratulations !!!

    Tio Ilmo

  8. Blender Nation is one of my best sites already, now I feel fresh and I know about all the news :)
    Keep on doing guys!

  9. This Site is simply amazing!!!

    at the moment they are 3 site I check daily:

    The Orange Project: just to know how is going our little baby :D
    The Elisyun Forum: to see what is going to the Community

    and...BLENDERNATION: Simply to know what is going with Blender :D

    I must confess that I already know of must of the news that appears here, but anyway it still a good tool so see when a new version of a nice script is out.

    I don't know for the overs, but for me, i think the 'one post per day as least' is a very good ideia; it's so refreashing to come every day and see new stuff.

  10. Hi all,

    I've seen many good recommendations and I'll definately consider them all carefully. Right now, I'm preparing for a short break to the sunny island of La Palma. I'll be back in one week. Until then, the rest of the team will take care of the site.

    See you all in one week!

    [email protected]

  11. I thank you greatly for the dailey news. i like the independant but related nature of the site.

    i think that if you were to have a competition you should administer it from another more apt site like elysiun or blenderartists and post only the news here. as you said yourself that you dont want art galleries here. or forums.

    "We collect and report. Nothing more, nothing less."

    now i can see that collect could mean tutorials and gallery and other things, but AFAIAC the tutorials section doesnt really belong here.

    instead BlenderNation could sibmit any tutorials sent to it to another more apt site.

    and other sites should keep only there site related news items to themselves and pass the rest to you, centralising the specific contents to those sites that are best able to handle them.

    if you take my meaning. i think you are doing a wonderfull thing here, and look forward to many months of checking up the latest news

  12. Hey, i'm completely addicted to this site too... I have to make an effort just to come here once a day, what will happen with me if you post twice??? Congratulations for this excellent site, i think it's exectly what a lot a people were looking for...well, at least me.

  13. Hey [email protected],

    Great review of your excellent progress! I've been following your site since your first post too and its only been getting better and bettter. The increase in news posts lately because of your new team of Blenderheads has been really informative too!

    I think you should increase the number of daily news too, 2 a day or even 10 a day would suit me dandy ;)

    Keep it up and good luck!

  14. Bart and co - brilliant work! I've also made this my homepage, and make a point to read it at least once a day. Something to look forwards to!

    Could it be possible to somehow link the top 'Tutorials' link and its content to be the same as the left sidebar 'Tutorials' filter. I found a lot more useful information using the filter, but initially didn't see it because I used the top link.

    Keep up the good work.
    Nicho Bouma.

  15. I love Blendernation and visit it every day. It is a perfect site for collecting important news and trends around Blender. Keep it like it is, it is perfect. Besides that it motivated me to do something similar for my favorite programming language. To bad that there isn't so much news to post. But hey, it might change.

    Michael

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