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Wintercamp Results: Area Manager


areamanagerA first sneak peek of last week's 'Blender Sprint' is in! Nathan Letwory reports.

Nathan writes:

During the wintercamp we have discussed a whole lot of things, the GUI one of the prominent candidates. In one of the sessions we worked in two groups, our group - Matt, William, Jean-Luc and I working on concepts for the GUI: area management, automated layouts, etc.

I implemented two very small features based on our discussions. You can see them below:

In short, you can swap entire areas by holding alt and dragging with LMB from either corner and releasing on the area you want to swap with.

The other feature you see already existed through a hotkey (ctrl-alt-r), and it asked for a confirmation. It used to be called Rip Area, but it has been renamed to Duplicate Area. It is invoked by holding shift and dragging with LMB from either corner. When the move threshold has been triggered (12 pixels for now), the area will be duplicated into a new window.

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.


  1. I think it will be great to have the old way of splitting areas as well(right click>split) this way you won't need to drag anything, just point your mouse and split.

  2. @Jahmaica - I actually used the stock audio that you can choose for your youtubes. It was a song by Absolute in the Dance & Electronic category (don't remember the actual song now :S )

    I'm glad you all like this :)

  3. Blender really needs some work on the Outliner, e.g. allowing multiple view types like for instance parent-children, lights, objects, particle systems, materials, etc.

  4. Vassilios Boucer on

    Looks Great!
    but sometimes its a little "hard" to Grab the small Triangle in the Corner to move and open a new Window!

  5. >In short, you can swap entire areas by holding alt and dragging with LMB from either corner and releasing on the area you want to swap with.

    ALt + LMB - is registerd combination in MOST (if not all) Linux window managers, it used for moving windows, so this key-mouse combination will not work in Linux(FreeBSD, Solaris and so on).

  6. I second dimaL. Please do not use Alt+LMB which is reserved in Linux for dragging windows. It is better for all of us the key/mouse combinations can work on all platforms.

  7. Looks good I can imagine using it with lots of tiny icon sized views which I only drag up to a big view when I want to work on it. I love the rip too, as it gives you a disposable view (not very eco friendly though). I frequently want to zoom in or rotate to see something and then revert to the old view.

    How easy would it be to add voice control with the new events system? It is very well being able to set new keyboard short cuts but because every key plus modifier is already in use you have to break existing functionality to assign a new key code. Being able to assign voice commands to a macro would enable an almost limitless supply of command words. Users could then swap dictionaries. Even very obscure functions could be accessed with a single word or short phrase (rather than being buried in a sub-sub-menu).

    Whatever 3D system God used when making the universe he appears to have used voice for its user interface:

    And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. Gen 1:3
    Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation." ... And it was so. Gen 1:11
    And then Phil said, "Set cursor, origin. Add primative, cube. Modifer, subsurf, two. Add light, point. Grab." he moved the mouse pressed space and then said "Render!". Ble 2:5

  8. santogiuseppe on

    What mean automated layouts?
    It will be good the possibility to store/load windows layouts, instead of manually arrange the windows for each task.
    I think the python api hasn't the capability to access (in write mode) some screen properties

  9. @Phil: Hilarious! I agree, we need voice activation. While we're at it, we should e-mail God asking him what universe generation tool he used.

    I love the window duplication, I can now make a little mini-Blender that I can use for quick updating of texturing on the side of Photoshop.


  10. I guess the ease of splitting windows is good, the concept of dragging different window types into other windows (swapping window types) I will get used to, I will probably like (or love) that feature. But having the GUI be able to have floating windows - UH OH. Personally one of my favorite things aspects about Blender's GUI is that there are hardly any floating windows. One of my least favorite things about GIMP is that it has floating windows instead of a split window management like Blender (I also do not like that the GIMP does not have layer folders.) But, actually, I have learned to be fine with GIMP's multiple windows, especially since you can treat the main windows like separate pieces of paper on a desk - the concept of each piece of work being a separate piece of paper. So that isn't so big of a deal. And then there's Synfig, which has 5 windows on startup - this pushes me away from Synfig. However, with Blender being able to have floating windows, well, I suppose there will be some benefit: allowing those who like floating windows to accept Blender more. I just hope that it is not easy to accidentally create a floating window - bleh! :) Anyhow, I am still looking forward to 2.5's great features. A huge thanks to the dev team, WinterCamp for hosting them, the Blender community, and all free countries who allow us - and were our example - of promoting free code. :D

  11. @Phil: Cute analogy. :D Go God! He can create anything from nothing, way better than anything I will ever be able to dream of. ;)

  12. The view port switching feature looks very useful. though this has bean available in the X11 tiling window managers pretty much forever as far as I can tell.

    The multiple window feature would be far less useful, as I use a tiling WM.

  13. Sweeet. But when the view is dragged out it would be nice not to have that top windows bar on it, and also be able to drag is back into blender. It would be also awesome to have windows that stack and windows that automatically minimize and pull out when you have a mouse over them. And hey some people will like that and some won't, but who cares its optional they don't have to use it (but they will eventually) !!!!

  14. Do I detect support for multiple monitors? That is awesome! The new user interface is awesome thanks to you :D

    Voice recognition seems like a little bit too much, but there is always the users' option not to use it. It would be interesting to see if it sped up the creation process.
    A macro editor would be cool, we could plug anything with buttons into the computer and use it for blender!

  15. Are there any half decent open source word recognition systems? I always lose the path-to-mesh option.

    Has anyone else seen:

    It is uses a web camera for a motion caption input device. The youtube videos have people playing racing games with a a cardboard cut out for a steering wheel. The system seems to pick up depth and rotation. It may be a novel way of controlling armatures. If you painted your fingers different colours you may even be a able to do some multi input sculpt modelling.

  16. adding extra features to the gui will make it harder to keep blender cross platform I say keep it as simple as possible. remember "less is more" :P

  17. What is this all about??
    Aren't they interested in the important things or don't they feel like doing a good GUI??
    I think the difficulties are in Blender to much!!
    I am waiting for a good Blender over 2 years! But now I will get Maya!!

  18. @banor
    the window split feature is usefull when you have a multi-monitor setup, with different resolutions (or also with the same resolutions. It's easier to put fullscreen two window on two monitor than drag one window across two monitor)
    And if you don't like, you can alwasy continue to work with one window :)

  19. @Blender devs: Thank you! I've had dual monitors for years; this'll be much appreciated!

    @ysvry: Shouldn't be a problem; Blender draws it's own GUI and it all it needs from the OS is an OpenGL context. When it comes to window management, more is more :)

    @huggy: You're complaining about the GUI in a post about the efforts to improve the GUI? Don't let the door hit you on the way out...

  20. I usually remap my window manager to use the window key instead of alt- really should be even less of an issue with 2.5 since blender's own keymap will be customizable. I agree it can be a small hurdle, but 'incompatiblity' is really a strong word here.
    ps blender developers use a variety of OS's- Linux, OSX, Windows, the idea that Blender is developed under windows is not true (well only for the fraction of devs who use windows, anyway)

  21. This here looks like a brilliant addition, and I can definately see myself using it as it will be faster than swapping of layouts from the menu (or ctrl-arrowing through umphteen different sets). I get disoriented if I do things on the "wrong" side of the screen, it's a bit like trying to write backwards.
    And for dualmonitor users the floaters will be a godsend. (I can totally relate to Banor's comment about Gimp though...wich is something I curse every single time I open the program.but I think this is a bit different)

    @Huggy : Bring an umbrella to ward off the sun so you don't turn into stone.

    @Devs reading this: Thank you for continuing to improve Blender for it's userbase, and not trying to mold it into some cheap looking copy of whatnot3dMK2000ultrahip to please industry fanboy nincompoops with rtfm issues.
    Identity is Key to a good program!

  22. Kudos to the devs!
    I thought the current system worked just find it has clearly been demonstrated that it could be greatly improved.
    2.5 is highly anticipated over here.

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