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Mind the Gap

10

Have you ever wondered why some features take a long time to be implemented? Nicholas Bishop shares some insight into his development process.

Nicholas writes:

It’s interesting to reflect on how long it takes some features to go from the idea stage to being a finished feature you can use in released software. It has been frequently noted that building software is not like building bridges. You often don’t know upfront what the implementation will look like, or what unexpected issues will derail the project, or what nasty bugs will appear that take a long time to work around.

In between the idea stage and the complete stage you often have an intermediate step: a test or preview of the feature where you can see it doing whatever cool thing it does. In my experience, that intermediate step usually sits much closer to the idea stage than the completion stage. I think that this is often confusing for users of the software though; they saw a video of the feature “working”, so why didn’t that feature go into the next release? Sometimes years go by and the feature is still not released. What the user doesn’t often see is the work that goes into making a feature stable and making the code maintainable.

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About 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 ;-)

10 Comments

  1. Alexander Kasper on

    That's why making too many preview videos too early is dangerous :) Personally, I'm really grateful to the Blender community and the Blender Foundation for making this awesome software free of charge and developing it so actively and well thought out. Big thanks for that! It's always a pleasure using Blender and asking questions in Blender Artists or the various IRC channels. Keep going all you awesome Blender developers and users!

    • second that. i hope that blender will continiously developed, and im amazed by the software and the capability of all the devs.
      maybe there should be an easy acess for learning scripting in blender, i think the tuts are still to "abstract"
      i assume coding could be lots of fun

      • Maybe the next open movie project ought to be on python scripting in blender, I'm sure it would sell quite well as there seem to be a lot of people who would like to learn Blender scripting (including me) but don't really know where to start (again including me).

  2. IMHO I think a plugins system, could be easier for code development.
    A stable kernel with few tools, and a lot of plug tools in continuous development.

    regards

  3. Kirill Poltavets on

    I think that making preview videos (even a lot of them) is right and cool! :) How do you suppose that the developer will get that a feature he's doing will be wellcome by most of users. 2nd is... making fun of your work and giving a satisfaction from users' comments. It's a very motivating moment, don't underestimate it, please.
    One well-known thing I want to tell: "80% of coding process usually takes 20% of time to make and the rest of 20% of code takes 80% of time". It's almost the rule with rare exceptions (which proves the rule).

  4. the first game I ever made(after learning "C") was an RPG(big mistake) it took 6 years and 7 re-writes(from scratch right down to the main function/core re-write)...so I get it...a little more planning goes a long way

  5. Well said, Nicholas.

    Often times, a developer has to be not only good at programming, but developing efficient design (thinking about both how the program will work altogether and how the end user is going to use it), being sufficient with computer logic (including sufficient mathematics), and have a tenacity for problem-solving. Programming is typically not straightforward and often it takes thinking outside the box.

    When it comes to open-source software, a lot of folks should exercise patience and gratitude before getting in line to complain or so easily make their demands. And if you do have complaints/criticisms or demands/requests, one should be kind, respectful and reasonable about it. It's already hard work for even a professional full-time developer, so when it comes to volunteers, esp. with many of them being developers who are still learning and refining as developers as they go along, folks should keep that in mind.

    I'm just a game developer myself right now, but I'll be looking into developing and contributing to open-source software like Blender soon.

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