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Fixing Blender - Part 1: Why It's Broken

281

Andrew Price takes a hard look at Blender's user interface and discusses interaction design issues that make Blender harder to use than necessary. Now, before you leave a knee-jerk comment here, please watch the video - Andrew makes a lot of valid points!

Update: Andrew is collecting feedback, please fill out this survey to help him out!

Andrew writes:

It dawned on me recently that my tutorials are merely a band-aid to a much bigger problem: Blender is hard to use. Much harder than it needs to be.

...and the primary cause is the interface.

It's not awful, but it does have some pretty big areas for improvement, that I believe are important for learning and using Blender.

And whilst it would be easy to just continue making tutorials, I've decided instead to face the issue head on and see what can be done to impact it's improvement.

Whilst it's a long road, I think it's worth it. The usability of Blender determines it's future, so I think it's paramount that we give it more attention than it's currently getting.

281 Comments

  1. Well reasoned, well presented, and all true. Blender has always had wacky ways of doing things, but that's no excuse for the future. Well done Andrew - I don't see how even Ton could argue with the points you make.

  2. A very convincing argument. I definitely think the suggestions will make blender stronger. Look forward to part 2.
    Its great to see the passion and involvment of the community and the developers. Thats why I love Blender.

    • One aspect of this debate should be very gratifying. The subtext of all the comparisons of interfaces of various packages is ; Blender is a true peer of the commercial packages. As such I see this debate as a point of celebration.

  3. great video, I hope that Ton will see it :) Change selecting to left click was first thing what I changed, when I started with Blender. But Blender was not my first 3D software.

  4. Looks like this would be a good set of candidates for Blender to concentrate on for the next release as well as normal bug-fixing?

  5. Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

    OK, here’s one thought. Say we change the selection function in the 3D view to left-click. What should go on right-click? My feeling is, it should be the Add function, rather than positioning the 3D cursor, because I seem to use the former more than the latter. I find SHIFT-A harder to type than SPACE was on pre-2.5 Blender.

    3D cursor positioning could be moved to modifier-plus-click: perhaps CTRL-LMB or something.

    Thoughts?

    • I agree that in terms of a left-mouse-button style of mouse button layouts, the right mouse button could be used more advantageous to the task of modeling itself.

      Though, just for now, much of your issues state can simply be resolved by activating and using the Dynamic Spacebar Menu addon. I simply can't live without it.

      Not only brings back the Spacebar functionality of bringing up the Add menu, but provides a full listing of all the other operations you can do in both Object and Edit Mode (as well as all the other modes--it's context-sensitive, thus the "dynamic" spacebar menu).

      I'm personally not fond of the more un-ergonomic Shift-A for the Add menu, but this Dynamic Spacebar Menu is a lifesaver. it's not only ergonomic, but it's intuitive and gives me most of the menus features I need right at hand.

      That usage of the Spacebar is the best I've seen and one of the features I wish more new Blender users would familiarize themselves with. This would be just another thing I'd hope would be activated by default in Blender in the near future.

      The Dynamic Spacebar Menu addon combined with Quick Tools addon make for a formidable duo with modeling in Blender, tripling my production rate. Check them both out and set them as your new default if you haven't. ;)

    • First off, really well done video Andrew.

      I agree shift-A is awkward for such a frequent operation and I would rather have the mouse button that isn't select be at least some kind of context-sensitive menu rather than set the 3d cursor.

      I have used Blender for a long time now and I am used to the mouse buttons and some other peculiarities. I still find myself moving the 3d cursor accidentally.

      I also agree it makes sense to swap the buttons and make confirm on exit standard. In fact, I think I am going to change those options in my preferences. Both occasionally bite me, the mouse especially when I am multitasking.

      • I have to agree with JRipa. Right mouse button should be used to add an object, I mean that would be very convenient. And of course left mouse be used to select, I as well still accidently move the cursor just trying to select an object. Even though I have been using blender for a while.

        • Add me to the list of experienced users who still occasionally accidentally move the 3D cursor due to left-click habit.
          Moving the 3D cursor by clicking doesn't even get recorded in the Undo history, so you can easily lose a meticulously-placed cursor location. I need to start adding empties as bookmarks for the 3D cursor. Seems I saw a plugin that keeps bookmarks of the 3D cursor location, but either it was something else or it wasn't quite what I wanted.

    • Right click mouse should be assign to some menu. We could merge special menu (shortcut W) with add button probably.

      While place 3d cursor can be activated with CTRL+Leftclick or Shift+Leftclick because we not use it as much as selecting object

  6. You cannot tell that Blender need a toolbar for the beginners to scale, rotate,... and hide the toolbar that blender have for beginners to scale, rotate,... and hide the 3D manipulator.

    And the first problem about units and sliders... I think that it's some excesive... all programs have little differences between interfaces and blender have the most solid GUI in this aspect.

    • The Move, Rotate, Scale buttons in Blender 3D View toolbar are the most uncomfortable and useless buttons in history! :)
      Why? Because they just activate a tool that is mouse pointer position dependant, and the mouse pointer position when you click on the buttons is in a totally wrong place (just over the buttons, of course).
      That needs changing!

      On a more general conception of toolbars, Blender is sorely lacking a good brush toolbar for use when painting/sculpting. And that could be implemented horizontally on the top/bottom of the screen, I guess.
      Then, when not painting, in that same (context dependant) toolbar there could be commonly used tools also.

      • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

        They were added in 2.5x PRECISELY because some people must have complained that only being able to activate these functions via the keyboard was too difficult!

        Though I agree, they ARE clumsy to use. Though a recent tute posted in these pages did exactly that.

  7. BlenderStudent on

    I asked to max user, he said that Blender has a very friend user interface :) I really do not see anything wrong with it. At least I am used to.

    • Blender does have a very good UI in general, and the workflow is quite similar to 3ds Max's, and presumably that's why your Max friend find Blender so friendly. ;)

      But Blender's UI does have its problems and lacking elements too.

    • Yes I think "Legacy interface" is the best way to describe Max, Im surprised they dont still make you make objects with the CLI.
      Blender does have a great interface, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be even better.
      Most of these suggestions are about polish and really small changes or additions. I think, if added would make blender really shine and more appealing to the beginner!

    • What?! Asking a Max user how they feel about user interfaces is like asking a cave dweller about the sun.

      If they fix the UI, many tortured 3dsMax users will transition to Blender. If it's not fixed soon, the wave of Maya trained users that are starting to get seniority in the games industry will transition everyone to Maya. At that point, Blender will be fighting for new adoption against an actually competently designed program.

      Unfortunately, you already have lost out on our studio. We're transitioning to Maya, and that's even after I trudged through Blender's haphazard UI. My experience was so painful that from a personnel standpoint, needing to train people to use Blender, was too wasteful. It's cheaper for us to pay 3.7k per seat of Maya and have an open market of ready trained professionals than try to use a free piece of software that downright punishes new users.

      • Outch, 3.7k per seat???? And then multiplied by? That sounds to me like you can't do math, you should be able to save money with blender in any case.
        Please also remember that if you hire somebody trained in Maya, you will have to pay them for their knowhow, they bring the knowhow already. If you hire somebody that you train yourself, obviously they receive a lower salary, so in the case of Maya, that equation does not work in either case. But if you have money to waste, that is up to you. It just makes you less competitive to other studios that have a better hand at cost calculation. And don't forget that you will soon shell out almost as much in updates, which you will mandatorily have to do, in order not to have to pay full price again.

  8. I love Blender, but I should have turned off 'right click' to select from the beginning, but no, I wanted to do it the 'Blender' way.

    The problem is that I multitask and use other programs when I am using Blender too, and I find myself 'right clicking' a lot by accident. It really slows me down and takes me out of the flow.

    Imagine if you had two cars, and had to remember to turn the steering wheel clockwise to turn right in one car, and anticlockwise to turn right in the other. Very distracting!

    • I don't know why, but I personally just don't seem to experience that issue much. Even when I first started with Blender, I kept sense of software usability being context-sensitive. When I'm in Blender, I'm aware that I'm in Blender, and thus the controls to it are Blender. When I'm elsewhere, I'm aware of their respective control scheme. I guess that comes from years of gaming across multiple platforms at once, though. ;)

      Though, I do agree that this can easily be a problem for some newcomers and that by default, it'd be better if the left-click-to-select functionality was the default, while leaving the traditional right-click-to-select for those long set and comfortable in that control scheme. Just as Andrew suggested. )

      • That's my point. You have to always be aware that you are in Blender.

        It's not a problem if you remain conscience of your environment but then you can't take it to the next level,

        A pianist that is always conscience that he is playing a piano will never be able to just let the music flow from the emotional depths of his soul in an unbridled expression of passion and ecstasy!

        (Hey where did that come from! I am a tone deaf atheist that doesn't do drugs!
        ..maybe I should start!)

        • But Andrew brings up an excellent point, turning it to right click to select (assuming you do like it that way) is extremely easy for veterans, but for a beginner, they are not going to bother going through and finding out how to change it. Also if they don't know that right click selects, they may assume there is something wrong with the program and just move on.

          I see absolutely zero reason for Blender to have the mouse button to select things be different then every other program. It has no benefit.

  9. 수퍼

    Very accurate, very true. It was my credo for 25 years in IT. Don't waiste times with users learning your elaborate (and sometimes elitist) ways of your software. But when I stumbled over Blender a few years ago, I was quite fascinated. Not only the way Ton brought everything on its way, but also how it developed over time. Yes I see your point, specially when you try to forge a career out of it. But in my opinion, a lot of the charm of Blender is the fact that it's so different. You know exactly that you leave the well trodden roads of MS some fruits and others when you start Blender. So there has to be a Choice when you install Blender. Original Blender Interface or "common" Interface.

    But beside the opinion of an old IT geezer absolute premium presentation.
    :-)

  10. Good points; however, Blender is an open source projects and the issues outlined above take a lot of time and effort to address.

    If users feel so strongly about it, then they should donate a few hundred thousand dollars to the Blender Foundation so they can get the resources to address it.

    Also, it's inappropriate to call blender "broken" because of the above.

    Blender is far, far better than most of the open source projects out there, especially it's UI.

    • "If users feel so strongly about it, then they should donate a few hundred thousand dollars to the Blender Foundation so they can get the resources to address it."

      Thinking back to what Andrew has said, many of the changes he suggests require only very small tweaks to the software in terms of default values and scaling etc.

    • i don't have a few thousand dollars or even a steady enough income to set up a recurring donation but i have bought a decent bit of stuff from the blender store. most of which i could have gotten for free.

  11. yea... hours lost searching for why something reacted the way it did with no indication of what happened. been there... still there sometimes...

    the learning curve for blender is steep. not to mention that it's on top of the learning curve of working in 3d. if it's your first foray into 3d. no one's gonna know anything about topology, for example, if they're just starting. nah they're gonna be getting used to constantly swapping views to make sure that the verts in their horribly triangled and multi-pointed starred character are actually in a good spot instead of accidentally moving them way off to the side or below somehow. lets not even talk about the learning curve for animation on top of that... pretty sure most everyone's first walk cycle is stiff and awkward.

    i've also been confused by the experimental render stuff... like how i changed it to experimental but seemingly nothing changed as all the same options were still there with nothing new showing up. that's just strange and annoying.

    blender really isn't user friendly. i like blender but i'm sure i'd like it more if it were actually user friendly.

  12. some help when hoovering over a function is also a nice thing, i see it at some places but not at all, speaking of which why not include some URL's with such hoovering texts. Because then it could forward to a wiki article, AND it could forward to a youtube video showing how it works (perhaps videos based on community voting).

    I am at beginner level, and sure i can learn a lot but i am older and also forget about things and then it becomes hard, its i think like you showed here often lack of consistency and although one can learn an area, and get familiar with, the program could be improved by becoming more intuitive, but as far as i understood there is not much development on the user interface. (but more on parts)

    So is there a high chance for radical improvements ?

    • For radical improvements? No. Small fixes for the gripes Andrew points out: yes.

      Your comment about adding an url to a wiki article also seems reasonable to me.

      • The wiki link could be done according to standards I've seen elsewhere, also. Hover the mouse over what you want to learn about and hit F1. That would leave the tooltip to do the job it currently does, give you a longer name for the widget (button, whatever).

  13. Absolutely. I love Blender, and I even use it for my job, but the number complaint I still hear regularly from people who don't like Blender is never "Feature XYZ is missing" or "too slow" or naturally never "too expensive" or any other complain other than "user interface is too hard!". That HAS to be addressed. Even after years of using Blender, I still get confused by the interface sometimes and it was really daunting the first time I picked up Blender to use it. Especially with regards to animation, I think that area needs the most improvement. That doesn't mean we should dump very efficient UI elements unique to Blender, we should keep those, but there is a lot of bad ideas in the Blender UI which could be dumped.

  14. I'm an engineer by training, and I work in the wireless industry with lots of complexity. I value investment in human learning, and very much want new skills in 3d.

    However...

    So it's ironic to me that I download every single version of blender that comes out and try it some, but I find myself very concerned that if I invest 300 hours in gaining skills with this software, that every 6 months 150 of those hours will be wasted as everything gets changed around with a new version before that year is over. I do not feel that my investment in learning the software is durable, because so much changes so fast... seemingly for general improvement, but yet breaking so much of how things worked before.

    I often use tutorials not as a way to learn basic concepts which I value greatly, but to shorten the magic recipe of coming up with the right values/settings to get something to work. The tutorial author often explains that they have no idea why things have to be done, just that they tried for hours to figure it out.

    This tutorial use then compounds the learning investment issue. Pull up a tutorial for basic rendering from 2.5 or 2.4, and give it a whirl in 2.6. Now... do the same thing for how to add formulas to a cell in excel from Microsoft office using a 2 version previous tutorial of excel, and it works like a charm. It even works in Open Office 90% of the time.

    I understand things change, but Blender often completely changes screens and locations of settings, and combinations of required settings in new places.... so that even textbooks written about a Blender 2.x version can be very, very outdated in terms of any accuracy of how to get things done.

    Now, the advantages of the current way of doing things is that by not feeling bound to past conventions, a diverse and largely federated development model can proceed at breakneck speed. This is also one of the hallmarks of Blender, and through the last 3 years I'd say this has been a huge advantage.

    But just like the code got re-factored and new critical things like multi-monitor support were added, I do agree it is likely now time to move stability higher on the list.

    So: 3.x stream could go for this extreme usability re-factor, and would could launch the 4.x stream at the same time as a cutting edge stream of development. Trying to *NOT* support rapid introduction of new screens/methods into blender by a federated set of developers just seems impossible with this culture.

    Then part of version 5 would be the formal re-factoring of all the advancements made in version 4.. into the conventions created in version 3.

    Just ideas...

      • That may have been a rhetorical question, but Maya hasn't changed anything significant in a very, very long time. And so while Blender has been catching up very quickly feature-wise while Maya has stewed in its complacency, Blender has suffered from a lack stable, not-significantly-changing interfaces in terms of both GUIs and APIs as a consequence. Blender changes and improves much faster than most other softwares, but suffers "Perpetual Beta Test Syndrome" as a consequence.

        • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

          Blender has won awards for most-improved CG software package for the last 3 years in a row.

          Has Maya won any awards lately?

        • I agree. It's hard to hit a moving target. For instance, a few months ago, I learned that holding down CTRL and dragging a vertex turned on snap. With 2.68, it does something else completely. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

    • I think your comparison with a spreadsheet program is unfair. A spreadsheet is something a 1000 times more simple than a 3d modeling program.
      Also, 2.5 was the first major change for blender. Since then, it haslooked the same. Some things have been improved in the modeling workflow (bmesh) which gave new options for modeling.
      Ofcourse, whole new subsystems have been added. The cycles renderer, material nodes for blender internal, motion tracking, etc. But you are not forced to use these new features.

  15. There are disturbing factors in your film. First the title : Why it's broken. What does that implicitly mean? If you think about Blender, this is surely not the case. More and more use it and it is an extraordinary software. You come also up with the idea that a lot has not been done rightly is disturbing.
    You should be more modest, especially in your affirmations.
    Why do you not cite: William Reynish? He wrote an important study about Blender's user interface. This is all about “Ergonomics”, you do not even mention the word. In usability, consistency should no more be taken as the first rule! It is against the creativity of new graphical user interfaces. We would not have “Ubuntu Unity” as desktop interface, for instance, and the creation rules of new interfaces would be too rigid. If we would take so much care of “consistency”, why do all the cars in the world not ride on the “right” side?
    The example of MS Office, that you use does not apply at all for Blender, which is about another domain. Do not forget it is 3D. The use of the left mouse for the position of the cursor for the case of Blender is “pivotal”. To “grab”, you have not always the key “G” to use, a right click can be enough. Every 3D software has a different consistency, it is like that, let them have their own originality to permit creativity.
    Blender is difficult to use because it is too rich in functions, but that's just what exceptional and challenging.
    What you ask, gives a lot more work, most of it which has already been done by the Blender foundation and programmers all over the world. Let the time and everyone be able to do it. You alone cannot manage it. The right way to continue to perfect the usability of Blender is to let it be managed by the Blender foundation as it has already done with their very good work.

    • "There are disturbing factors in your film."

      That's quite the exaggeration there.

      "First the title : Why it’s broken. What does that implicitly mean?"

      I think he just simply meant "these are some of the issues that I have noticed that I will address:" If something doesn't work as well as it should--and in this case, it's in terms of intuitive usability--it's a rather broken system, or, at least, one requiring improvement.

      "If you think about Blender, this is surely not the case. More and more use it and it is an extraordinary software."

      This is by no means an explanation. And your second sentence is incoherent. You might want to make sure you're precise about the nature of your claims before accusing someone else's claims as "disturbing."

      "You come also up with the idea that a lot has not been done rightly is disturbing."

      He has done no such thing. You clearly heard what you wanted to hear here.

      "You should be more modest, especially in your affirmations."

      So far, it seems you need to take this into consideration with yourself.

      "Why do you not cite: William Reynish? He wrote an important study about Blender’s user interface. "

      If you wish to make a case that's objective as possible, it helps to use a source that speaks generally on the subject (in this case, user interface design) in terms of wide-applying principles of design.

      Price used sources based on years of research and wide experience beyond just one software, and from several people in the field, rather than just merely basing all his opinion on a single view, particularly one of someone who worked with Blender developers.

      This is not at all to disregard or belittle the work or opinions of William Reynish in any way. It's just that if you want an objective, totally-unbiased take on the issue generally--principles of design that apply to user interface design in general--you want to cite a number of third-party authorities on the subject.

      You've unfairly represented Mr. Reynish's work in this regard--now you're championing him as more of an authority on the subject over other experts in the field of human interaction design than he himself might not have done.

      "This is all about 'Ergonomics,' you do not even mention the word."

      There are several aspects of design that he could've covered. Had he gone completely in-depth (which would lie far beyond the scope of the video), I'm sure he could've mentioned a lot of other things about design as well. However, he chose to address a few select issues on the matter at hand, particularly those that he in his opinion felt could be better addressed.

      He focused on a few relevant issues to best make his point about what he saw as some of the biggest issues with Blender's usability issues, particular for newcomers. Had he been all over the place, you would've well complained about that as well.

      By the way, if you want to make the claim of ergonomics, there's just about as many people arguing that G, S, and R keys for move/scale/rotate isn't as ergonomic as W, E, and R for the respective operations.

      In other words, no matter WHAT you choose as a design, there's going to be some issue that others feel wasn't better addressed. The goal of user interface design isn't to necessarily go about pleasing everyone--it's to best help the majority get along better with using your software without thinking about the various process as much as possible.

      "In usability, consistency should no more be taken as the first rule! It is against the creativity of new graphical user interfaces."

      Change merely for change sake--even in the name of "creativity"--is often the poorest way to design. And it's not just consistency along that goes into a good design--it's catering to a purpose of more intuitive understandability.

      Being consistent to a purpose reduces confusion. Ubuntu's new design was intended to make Ubuntu less confusing and more accessible to use for newcomers.

      Changing merely just to make things look different isn't particularly a practical means of design. Purpose best guides consistency, but if there need be a new design to cater to a new purpose, there should be the start of a new consistency.

      "We would not have “Ubuntu Unity” as desktop interface, for instance, and the creation rules of new interfaces would be too rigid."

      Ubuntu saw a redesign for a purpose. A purpose that will likely be consistently echoed in its further developments. They didn't just redesign it just to be cute or to try something new outside consistency--they designed it for serving some proposed efforts of efficiency, esp. in an effort to make Ubuntu more user-friendly to newcomers.

      In other words, they merely felt their previous consistency with design was due for a new consistency with a redesign.

      "Every 3D software has a different consistency, it is like that, let them have their own originality to permit creativity."

      Again, mere "creativity" isn't the primary goal of a user interface design--maximized intuitive of usability is. Some exceptions may apply, of course--for instance, ZBrush totally does its own thing in terms of user interface, but it does so largely to suit its own design philosophy. They totally retrain you to their software.

      But still, the most common complaint with ZBrush, despite its large industry-standard user base, is its user interface. Thankfully for ZBrush, though, its positive aspects of its unique features outweight most of the negative aspects of its user interface with most people.

      Blender is hoping to become reliable enough for professionals to use and to be an integral part of many professionals' own workflow. They'll always continue to support the hobbyist, but they've got visions of Blender being suitable for professional use--as was originally Blender's origin to begin with (as a professional-grade in-house tool).

      If Blender is to ever truly reach that goal, Blender's design is going to have to help meet some people at least halfway in terms of an easier adoption.

      And not just for people coming from Maya and Max, but to many newcomers to 3D altogether, getting their taste of 3D thanks to Blender, but finding great difficulty "unlearning" some of the more unorthodox design issues that only come with using Blender.

      With 3ds Max, Maya, Cinema 4D, ZBrush, and SoftImage, W, E, and R keys all do the exact same thing. Now, this doesn't mean that Blender to necessarily follow suit (G, S and R work fine, in fact), but just as an example here, it does go to show that people expect some consistency across software of a similar nature.

      "Blender is difficult to use because it is too rich in functions, but that’s just what exceptional and challenging."

      3ds Max has practically every feature that Blender has (in terms of basic modeling tools) and then some, and still, it's still far more intuitive for most non-Blender users to pick up. Being rich with features isn't the whole issue. It's more intuitive accessibility to those features that is the problem, particularly for new users.

      "What you ask, gives a lot more work, most of it which has already been done by the Blender foundation and programmers all over the world. "

      He has proposed some rather simple changes to Blender. Though, even if it were a little more than just a little work, the effort would be far more rewarding in the long run, considering that one of the top goals of the Blender Foundation is to increase its user base and become a reliable choice suitable for professionals in addition to the hobbyist.

      "Let the time and everyone be able to do it. You alone cannot manage it. "

      It took Blender about ten years to finally have n-gons. Ten years. Don't expect the mere presence of available part-time developers out there as being the same as a focused and unified development effort at the issue.

      "The right way to continue to perfect the usability of Blender is to let it be managed by the Blender foundation as it has already done with their very good work."

      The Blender Foundations are not closed to fair-minded, reasonable, objectively-proposed considerations as respectfully given by Andrew Price. If anything, they're ears are open most particularly to considerations and suggestions that are going to maximize Blender's potential to the world.

      As a future reference, you might want to try not trying to find a problem where there truly is none.

      • Answer to Brian Lockett on September 26, 2013 at 5:06 pm who wrote:

        - “...This is not at all to disregard or belittle the work or opinions of William Reynish in any way. It’s just that if you want an objective, totally-unbiased take on the issue generally–principles of design that apply to user interface design in general–you want to cite a number of third-party authorities on the subject.
        You’ve unfairly represented Mr. Reynish’s work in this regard–now you’re championing him as more of an authority on the subject over other experts in the field of human interaction design than he himself might not have done...” -

        -------------------------------

        Your lecture to me with "great" and empty words is absurd, I never meant what you describe. I never unfairly represented Mr. Reynish’s work and also I never championed him. I used only a sentence: Why do you not cite: William Reynish?... This is only a question, not at all affirmations. Mr. William Reynish came the first to my mind easily as someone who worked on the topic for blender, I never specified that I championed him or whatever equivalent sentence. I wanted only to remark that work and discussions had already taken place for the desktop interface of Blender. With this, the value of your wrong remarks and deductions is nihil and I won't go deeper in rectifying your other lecturing, especially when you stick to “usability” as a dogma! You wrote also “..try not trying to find a problem where there truly is none.” I think there are a lot of problems, explained further.

        The word usability is something too trivial, not precise and old as the existence of the universe (It means: the ease of use), if our cells were not usable we would not be here. Use the word “user-friendly” would have been better. Come also up with the word “Scientific” has here also no meaning because the experiences today cannot be repeated with the actual computers as in 1987. The ROM in the PC was so tiny in that period, that the programmers had to use the “Assembly language” to spare memory. Thats why we find point 6 in the “Usability Standards” of 1987 that specify: – Permit a reversal of actions – It was first of all not a UI problem, it were the small Rom's with their 64K which did not permit the reversal. It was also a good argument for the sellers of mini-mainframes that PC's were not up to the task of the industry standards. Today absolutely no problem anymore, even if they sell you Rom's of 16 GB, rarely with the most intensive calculations as for Blender you will have more of 25% of their capacity which is used. The power today of the PCs has exploded, which make them totally different, almost robots. For sure Andrew's movie is not scientific and exact. Why still do Andrew retains the “reversal” point in “Usability Standards” when he mix the standard of 1987 with 1990in his movie, this when for the “Usability Standards” of 1990 it is no more a point.

        I did not go extensively to write arguments in my first post, I do it now for more clarity, but at least it would have been fair and “deontological” of Andrew to cite all the other people who worked on “Blender users interfaces” and not first coming up in his movie presentation with the letters “Usability”, presented in a very heavy bold white colour. A “usability”, which, for Andrew, seems totally missing in blender, for which I totally disagree, followed for the rest of the time with what seems a catalog of shortcomings in Blender. Note that the “number problems” are not strictly only interface problems but also mathematical representations problems.

        When you use the word “professional”, there is nothing to boast about it. I met too many times in my career professionals, which weren't professional at all. For instance a “3DMax “ seller who pretended to be professional in 3D and then he turned out to be, one year before, an ice cream seller. Also another guy who knows only “Photoshop”, who pretended to be professional in Digital Arts, when only two years before he switched to his new job. There is a need of knowing much, much more, and better still, have academic degrees, to have that title. In 1984, I met even IBM people, when the “Mac” got success, who told that the use of the mouse was not professional, as a selling point. By the way they were not completely wrong, the use of short keys is a more “user-friendly” function (Andrew should have used that word instead of “usability”) than the desktop interface and contrarily to Andrew's makes believe the use of the “Terminal” or “command line” is still very useful.

        The word “professional” is not a strict valuable argument, there is a need of much more references to justify the seriousness of pretended knowledge or business.

        I am categorical, there is no industry standard for user interfaces, as Andrew pretend, because there is no ISO Standard for desktop user interfaces. Even if he want to come up with ISO Standards, he can only point to the “Multimedia Icons”. The word “multimedia” can also mean “anything”, it is not very precise. When a seller tells people their user interface is up to to the industry standard, it is not true at all, for the reasons given before, it is only a meaningless marketing argument. Happily, for instance, that as web browser we did not stick to “Explorer” alone. If we would have listen tho the arguments of some, “Firefox” would not have seen the day , had the programmers be obliged to follow the so called (inexistent) “Industry standards”.

        I am also totally surprised with the gullibility of some, happily not everyone,
        Know that in an ocean of ignorance to bring knowledge is difficult, if not, impossible (E.M.). In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.

        Note: For the new users of Blender, who have difficulties, they can find free and very good lessons, which are very pedagogical (here the words are no usurped) about the use of Blender, done by Neil Hirsig, they are are rarely mentioned in the search engines, they deserve to be, because the videos are not on YouTube :

        http://gryllus.net/Blender/3D.html

        See also William Reynish (to better understand the UI problems of Blender):

        http://download.blender.org/documentation/bc2008/evolution_of_blenders_ui.pdf

        • "Your lecture to me with 'great' and empty words is absurd, I never meant what you describe."

          Are you serious?

          You said:

          “Why do you not cite: William Reynish? He wrote an important study about Blender’s user interface. “

          I responded properly:

          "If you wish to make a case that’s objective as possible, it helps to use a source that speaks generally on the subject (in this case, user interface design) in terms of wide-applying principles of design."

          Can you refute that point? I think you didn't face it because you can't. At least, that's the impression you're leaving me by how you nitpicked past that part.

          Then I defended what sources Andrew Price did use:

          "Price used sources based on years of research and wide experience beyond just one software, and from several people in the field, rather than just merely basing all his opinion on a single view, particularly one of someone who worked with Blender developers."

          It doesn't mean that Andrew Price was disregarding the work of William Reynish. It just merely means he chose to stick with addressing the principles of design as identified by other experts in the field of interaction design, speaking more generally about the field of user interaction design.

          I can't speak for as to why he didn't particularly use William Reynish's work. Maybe he only had so many people he could reference and had to be selective. Maybe he only wanted to address more general design issues rather just than specialized design issues. Maybe he wasn't even aware of Reynish's work.

          But, in any case, I think it's safe to say that the main reason why he chose the references that he did use is because they're software-agnostic, backed by years of industry experience across several kinds of software, with many years of experience teaching the subject, and when he researched the subject, these were some top and trusted names.

          Reynish's work is dealing with more the specific design philosophy behind Blender. It deals with design improvements in a style of design for Blender. It doesn't, however, deal with more software-agnostic design issues such as left-click to select or simple button consistency (like the New Particle System button look consistent to the New material button instead of having it look like the New Material Slot button).

          That's adhering design principles and it's not even addressed anywhere in Mr. Reynish's paper--that's because, while touching on a very-relevant issue of design in Blender, the subject of wide-applying design principles towards more intuitive design for users doesn't seem to be the goal of his writing.

          Andrew and Reynish are both touching very similar ground--and yes, Reynish's work is very relevant to this issue--but they're dealing with two rather different aspects. Reynish offered improvement to Blender as Blender. Andrew's dealing a little more specifically about improving Blender as a more intuitive software for the common user, with design improvements that are more software-agnostic.

          The likes of offering multi-object editing and drag-and-drag improvements that Reynish talks about are not exactly dealing with the same issue as the likes of changing the default mouse button mapping.

          And while Reynish does touch on the issue of visual feedback (with the suggestion of progress bars), Andrew's touching a good deal more on the issue with the likes of pre-action warning prompts.

          But I wasn't disregarding Reynish's work as irrelevant, and I don't think Andrew was trying to not include Reynish's work in the matter. I think he was just using the references he used to address software-agnostic principles that should be applied to Blender and he shouldn't be questioned as to why he didn't mention Reynish's work in his video.

          This is exactly why I gave the respectful disclaimer:

          "This is not at all to disregard or belittle the work or opinions of William Reynish in any way. It’s just that if you want an objective, totally-unbiased take on the issue generally–principles of design that apply to user interface design in general–you want to cite a number of third-party authorities on the subject."

          In your badgering Andrew for not including Reynish's work in his video (which merely summarizes the issue), I have said that you are championing Reynish's word as if the brief references from Jeff Johnson and Steve Krug weren't enough to make Andrew's point. You act as if the lack of Reynish's work somehow detracted from Andrew's main point, so I wrote:

          "You’ve unfairly represented Mr. Reynish’s work in this regard–now you’re championing him as more of an authority on the subject over other experts in the field of human interaction design than he himself might not have done."

          If this much is still just "great and empty words," then we're done here. I don't know how much clearer I can be here. If I use "great" words, it's only to be so clear, I can't be misunderstood. I used valid arguments against your various arguments made quite incoherently.

          If you won't actually address or refute my points, I have no time for further dealing with ad hominem, incoherent points, and red herrings.

          • It is clear now what you want to defend. I thank you for bringing more clarity. Your points are better explained. It touched sensible points.

            Again the way Andrew presented his introduction can be overhauled and points have to be added. Important missing points are also, for instance the power of the computer and memory, the differences of UI designs intended for the use with finger, pen ore mouse, They have always to be taken in consideration when you create a program or UI. Andrew showed images of tablets but no word about their UI differences with the other conventional UI's. Another type of UI design is “Unity”, which is “tablet-ready” and has a UI, which try to be usable with the fingers as with the mouse (This irritate a lot users for not be able to use “Unity” with their mouse as a desktop UI should do) That's also the reason why the UI has over-sized icons in Unity. Part of this did not exist thirty years ago.

            Blender can also have a version of their UI to use it with the mouse, pen or finger. That's a lot of work.

            As to use the word “Usability” it is not clear title, it is too general and there is more at stake. A UI is in principle always usable, but not always user-friendly.

    • Francisco Ortiz on

      I agree with you 3d2blender.

      I don't think that standards are neutral just because they are standards. For many companies It's profitable to keep people away from understanding low level ("the awful, old, horrible dark and green terminal"). It's better for you to repeat dumb patterns everywhere to complete small jobs/tasks.

      It takes a lot of time to learn 3D concepts and how computers really work under the surface. "Don't care about low level buddy (so we can sell you a new device later on). Just keep filling your excel table, let me do the creative work for you" or "Don't care about the shortcut or the name of the command, just keep hitting this beutyfull icon like donkey".

      When I first used Blender I thanked god (and the developers) that there is no "Save and quit" option. That's a nice example! When I hit "quit", obey me mf! Don't try to guess that Im distracted ;)

    • I agree with Brian.

      As to consistency between applications (and addressing your car analogy) let's look steering (which I think gets to the heart of the matter a little more succinctly). If you owned a Toyota and it had a steering wheel, would you ever consider buying a Dodge that used a system of levers for the same job, or a Ford with an array of pull-strings hanging from the ceiling? Not likely.

      Cars all use a steering wheel because it's the best of all ideas for steering. Software interface standards are still in their infancy, but when a good idea becomes widespread, we shouldn't dismiss it out of hand simply because our favourite 3D application doesn't use it.

  16. Andrew isn't the first one to bring this up, off course, but he's right.

    The best part is that it doesn't look like a lot of work to fix most of the deficiencies he points out.

    In the past I've loudly complained about the lack of the 'Do you want to save your work?' dialog, since it seems such an easy thing to fix. It angers me somewhat because I can't of a good reason why you would NOT want to have this in Blender, yet it's stubbornly omitted for over a decade. Blender currently has a compromise, where it asks you if you really want to quit without saving your changes (I don't believe it's even enabled by default) but that too sounds reversed from what it should be. Same holds for the left-click select.

    Blender's UI has already greatly improved compared to the 2.4x days, but it still needs work, as Andrew points out. The work is a lot less, though, that it used to be.

    That said the value of learning Blender still trumps ditching it and switching to some other package, which costs thousands of $ up front and for which you need to spend hundreds of $ each year upgrading.

  17. Very reasonable observations made, I have to say that I did learn Blender "fairly" quickly after coming from Maxon's Cinema 4D even though that was very icon driven and now find Blender an easier way to get around. For me the frustrating things are more the functions like an making an array object follow a curve.... now that's where it never seems to make sense LOL.

      • Thanks, I will watch this, I do get their use individually, but when you want to have an object array follow a path... thats when it all seems to just fall over... there MUST be something I am not doing right but at the same time it should be made obvious in the interface ;) which was what I was getting at.

        • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

          I just tried it, and it seems to work predictably, though it does depend on the modifier ordering: put the array modifier first, then the curve modifier, and you get an array of objects bending along the curve. Do it the other way round, and you get a single object bent along the curve, then replicated by the array.

          • are you trying on an unmoved and un edited object, because yes it works, but it seems hit and miss when you have edited and moved the object, and yes I have applied the scale and rotation and reset it's point of origin... the only way I got it to work was with a basic shape that I edited after getting the array to work. and that CAN'T be right. there has to be somer simple way of getting the array to work on and "created" object so it follows the path... but damn if I can make it happen the same way twice lol. I have to admit that I come from C4D and it is just so simple in that. I would love to watch a video of someone taking an edited object and drawing a precise path for it to array along and see the steps they take to make it work.

      • And Armatures please! I have recently been trying to parent an object to an armature bone. No matter how many times I 'Apply Location' or 'Apply Rotation' (for both the object and the armature) as soon as I select the armature as the parent the object jumps sideways and rotates 90 degrees!

  18. Kudos, Mr. Price! You have articulated what I've been complaining about for years. I do hope these suggested improvements happen sooner than later. Otherwise it could become a lost opportunity for Blender.

    Strike while the fire is hot!

  19. Personally, Blender interface feels smooth to me - despite it's uniqueness in various aspects (right click, etc). While I appreciate efforts to make Blender interface 'consistent', I think Blender can go Zbrush way.
    Andrew's arguments are sound and well presented. But I think there is no need to totally constrain Blender UI paradigm to 'industry standard'. Think of it: on the one hand, Blender community will grow (less learning required). On the other hand, some members will leave if Blender tries to mimic 3ds max interface paradigm.

    • Just FYI, there's a world of difference between "industry standards" and "software interface standards." Andrew is talking about the latter.

  20. MosherMike1138 on

    I am relatively new to all things 3D having only started learning about a year ago. Although I have now got used to Blenders interface, I must admit to having been near to tearing my hair out every time I accidently moved the 3D cursor when trying to select on object. It's difficult enough trying to learn a new system (especialy one with a steep learning curve like Blender), but trying to remember to use your mouse in a way which seems opposite to the norm only doubles the frustration factor.

    Like I say, I have now got used to the interface, but can see why newcomers to Blender often fall by the wayside when trying to scale the learning curve.

    Andrew makes some very valid points and I know there may be some that would not want these changes made (as they are now used to Blender as it is) but I thought the whole Idea of open source software was to work together in not just creating but improving great software by listening and acting upon the feedback from its users.

    The more user friendly a package is, the more newcomers will be encouraged to stick with it, which in turn will see them recommend it to others, creating an even bigger user community. The benefits of this seem obvious.

    An implementation could be made for die hard users to switch back to the current method via the user preferences panel so I don't see the "I'm used to it the way it is so don't change it" arguement being all that valid.

    Nobody is saying that the Blender foundation hasn't done a good job, they've done a bloody marvelous job and their efforts are appreciated all over the globe, but even the best software could sometimes be improved and that can only be done by listening to the feedback from its users.

    Quote from an earlier post...

    ...In usability, consistency should no more be taken as the first rule! It is against the creativity of new graphical user interfaces. We would not have “Ubuntu Unity” as desktop interface, for instance, and the creation rules of new interfaces would be too rigid. If we would take so much care of “consistency”, why do all the cars in the world not ride on the “right” side?...

    I made the switch from Windows to Unity about a year ago without a problem, because Unity is extremely easy to use and doesn't expect you to relearn the basics. You still select an item with a single left click, execute by double left clicking and so on. Also I live in the UK where we drive on the left, so its bloody confusing and requires a great deal more concentration when I drive abroad. Again I have to relearn the basics and it is ANNOYING! LOL.

    This survey and poll is valid... Let's use it wisely and think about whats better, not just for experienced users, but newbies and of course Blender itself!

  21. I agree with a lot :)

    but not with the left/right-click selection.

    And there is a very good reason for right click!

    So it's split up because with left-click you CONFIRM Actions and stuff and with right-click you SELECT. Why is that so important?

    The reason for that is quite obvious. You can't acidentally do something wrong. Like acidentally clicking in the viewport somewhere instead of pressing the confirm button, or some thing similar.

    If confirm actions and selecting is the same button you can easily screw up your work. That never happened in blender to me but in other software (also non-3d software) and can be VERY frustrating.

  22. These are some very good observations. I really hope Ton and the developers take them to heart. Perhaps it's time to take a break from adding new features, and implement a core set of usability standards across the software.

    Nobody want's to see the equivalent of Clippy added to Blender ... But the software could do a much better job and holding new user's hands and being more consistent across it's various interfaces.

  23. Has there ever been an official explanation from the dev. team as to why basic functions like "left select" & "save when quit" still is not turned on by default?

    I have finally started to understand how Blender works, but I prefer to do most of my modeling with Sketchup (free) & using Blender for materials & rendering.

    Say what you want about Sketchup but its simple & intelligent interface has brought 3D modellng to the masses. I don´t know how many functions are patented & can´t be copied, but I hope Blender can steal some ideas from it.

  24. Left click for selecting should be by default. Right click can be for bringing up options or something.

    Then what about the Pivot Point;
    Why not make that an OBJECT just?
    So just like a camera and lamps, you can grap the Pivot Point and move it around ( with left click or just with the G short cut ).

    • You make an interesting point about the 3D cursor. Making it an object would allow snapping it to a specific point in 3D space. Of course, I'm sure someone will quite willingly point out the pitfalls to this approach. :)

      • Great idea! One little addition to make it viable -
        there should be shortcut to select 3D cursor. Otherwise it it will get useless in terms of efficiency by wasted time to select it.

        Unfortunately no one can predict real outcome, so a separate test version will be needed to prove the point before such a radical change can be potentially accepted by more conservative users. I wonder how many people would be interested enough to fund the try.

    • Wow, this is a great idea, I see only one small problem with it. The 3d cursor is used in both object mode and edit mode. This problem could be overcome by making the 3d cursor act the same way as a vertex which is pinned to an object. One other thing as an object it would take significantly longer to move around and, depending on how it was programmed, would deselect whatever you have selected, so this new cursor should be an option because there are still advantages to the current cursor.
      I cant think of any other problems with this off the top of my head you should post a thread about this on the forums or something.

  25. As Andrew spoke, the goal is not to point fingers, but discuss how to improve Blender in order to conquer new users. A lot of new users. Milions and milions of new users which will discover Blender, try it and fix residence in it instead of saying: "uh, interesting! Thanks. Maybe I will put Blender in my pipeline... not now... maybe in the future". Let's discuss Blender. After all, Blender is an open source software, so it's ours, we are all own it!!

    Beside blender, I use Vue. And, I must to say, Vue is deliciously plug-and-play. There are libraries of materials (.mat files), objects (.vob), atmospheres (.atm) - Vue has a powerful atmosphere generator - also armature's movement (.vom).

    What about create - with the contribution of us all - a Blender library that should come within the Blender download? For now, we could do it in .blend file format.

    An artist - and most of Blender users are artists, professionally or not professionally - want to create his (or her) piece of art. A painter doesn't want to know about molecular structure of the ink. He want just to create, let's say, a morning scene, without concern about the carbon molecules on the brush.

    In the same manner, a CG artist want to create this morning scene without needing too much know about python scripts or worst, about where is the command to do something.

    On YouTube, Dominik Rabatin told me that there are an Online Material Library for Cycles. I got it and, after some troubles (I had to replace a python file) I have it working as a Blender addon. The materials are in .bcm format. Maybe this format can be used as official material format for Blender. Would be great...

  26. Hey Andrew,
    This is trully true. The fact is that for usability blender always give me some headache and frustations too. But I need to say I really love this plataform.
    I am self-taught in softwares like 3dsmax, maya, lightwave, modo, cinema 4d, rhino, zbrush, etc. and the only reason for that is the fact the in some way the programs could intercommunicate to each other so is easy to export knowledgement from one to another and soon use them.
    But in case of blender, I only can achieve success when I took a course specific, from begin to advanced. The usability in blender is really diferent from the others apps, topic that I have discussed some time ago in the Blender's forum.

    I could add to your explanation if you allow me, the necessity of standardize the metrics values relative to existing 3d programs to enable better communication of blender with it.

    Anyway I hope changes for the better in my prefered 3D application.

    Chears

  27. Very pertinent analysis. I do agree with most of the points Andrew made. Whether it's doable given the complexity of the application and the inherent constraints, that's a different story, but I think the usability can and should be improved. Awesome, BG!

  28. Btw.. the second question in the survey (should the user be warn to save on quit), does "NO" imply Blender will save automatically for you ? or simply ditch your changes? Personally I do want Blender to warn me if I want to save the changes i made. Sometimes I open a blender file and simply play around with some changes and not want to save and overwrite the original. On the other hand if Blender would auto save my file as a "originalName-edited.blend" copy and not overwrite the the original, then I don't have anything against automatic save. Alternatively, if blender could save also the history of the file and allow me to go back to check out different revisions of the same file, then saving/overwriting on quit the most up-to-date version of the file it's again no problem.

  29. Brilliant, Andrew. Thanks for the effort to shed light on a lot of problems that can be fixed with a minimal attention to detail.

  30. Great Initiative Andrew!

    By its very nature, most 3D content creation software can be quite baffling for new users to come to grips with. On that front, Blender is no different to Maya, Houdini, Max etc.

    That said, such Blender UI features as the default right-click selection mode fly in the face of the few UI conventions that almost all other applications actually adhere to - not just 3D apps, but pretty much every application that requires using a mouse to select anything - including the default mouse settings for every major OS that Blender supports!

    In a serious discussion on improving the approachability and useability of Blender, I think it's very wise to focus on the "low hanging fruit" first - and changing the default mouse selection settings is the perfect start. It doesn't require any serious recoding - simply reverse the current default. And obviously, leave in place the existing option to switch this preference.

    I heartily support Mr Price in this initiative!

  31. Excellent work on your research and presentation Andrew, I couldn't agree more! I remember when I was first learning Blender, how ridiculous I thought the interface was. Why can't you select objects with the left button like every other program in the world I was thinking. It actually did anger me for a few minutes, ha ha. Blender should default to simple, familiar, and slow but allow for advance functionality and speed once you get the hang of it. Let me also acknowledge a grateful THANKS to all the developers who have poured their efforts into my favorite piece of software ever!!!

  32. Brilliant as always, great ideas and wonderful references. Pin pointing these little areas will bring blender into the other world of software.

    I agree with your observations even after I have learned how blender works in it's different was. All the way back to 249 and even earlier trials of the blender software.

    I actually started with Truespace long ago and had a terrible learning curve. They based their assumption on the idea that people learn more from visual references, however that didn't really work either.

    Andrew is right in so many ways about consistency. In Microsoft Visual C++, I realized how easy MS was giving a uniformly operational environment for program development. Andrew is so right about this.

    Bless all the programmers of Blender. I am sure these changes will amount to a lot of work. However... again, I feel Andrew is right about the software failing for new users and we need that added base of new users to grow Blender off the scale.

    It is a tendency for experienced people to shun and criticize new users who refuse to spend long hours learning different operations in software. Often... the new user just moves on to another software even if they have to pay lots of money for it and then they have their world of effort and all is fine for them. If they loose some functions, not a big deal, since they are probably only working in one or another direction of the 3d world of modeling, animation, rigging, matchmoving, physics, game development, rendering... etc. And... Blender does all of this!

    many thanks Andrew... always like your devoted and concise analogy of so many things. You are a treasure.

    ron

  33. Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

    I don’t understand the complaints about warning the user to save or quit. Blender already does that: press CTRL-N to start a new document, and a confirmation dialog pops up. CTRL-Q to quit, the same thing happens.

    • Lawrence, if you clic on the X window icon the program just quits by default.

      Regarding Ctrl + N and Ctrl + Q it asks, but it is annoying that it asks even when it doesn't makes sense (i.e. when no changes has been made since the last save action).

      It's not only asking the user, it's asking in a smart way (i.e. when it really makes sense!)

      the object deletion question (that can be undone if it went wrong) is an annoying question too.

      • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

        Just a note that EVERYTHING you do represents a change to the document. Rotate the 3D view? That’s a change to the document. Switch to a different context in the Properties window? That’s a change to the document.

        Remember, the document also saves the entire UI state, not just the state of the model.

  34. A well researched , considerate look at a really important topic. I think I actually agreed with every point. The key consideration for me is accessibility, bringing in new users is essential to the software and communities growth, to that end might I suggest an addition that can immediately alleviate the worst effects of the inconsistent interface. A startup tour. Just like all the commercial software, 3dmax etc. There are official start up videos showing the basic motion manipulators and overviews of the main sections of the interface. WHilst blender has a wealth of tutorials it is often that wealth that can confuse new users, a multitude of different videos all for different versions all with slight variations etc. A series of brief official intro videos, (cued by tool tip roll overs? or on startup) ANd on the release of new features an official new feature video series could also really help. Just a suggestion. Again great work on the video.

  35. Good points! When I tried to learn Blender a few years ago, I couldn't figure out how to select things, and because of Blender's poor documentation, I game up until last year when I tried again with the help of an online friend. Now I use Blender constantly (in fact, I don't own Maya or 3DS Max or any others). I like the right click, but I can always learn something new.

    There is a lot of in-consistency in Blender, and yes, I agree, it needs to be worked on. Unfortunately, their website still hasn't been updated, and the bug tracker is complicated...

    I agree about the confirm to close box. I lost many projects that way, but that was before I learned about the "quit.blend" in C:\tmp that is made every time you close Blender. I think the box needs to ask to save, because when my Dad is making a Word document, he always waits to close the program before saving his work. He saves it from the dialog box. The box in Blender needs to be fixed so that you can save straight from the box, not having to click Cancel, then saving, then closing again.

    • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

      There is a new website-in-progress, currently visible here: http://staging.blender.org/

      I have used their bug tracker several times myself, and complained about it too. I mainly get annoyed by the poor searching capability, which is important to avoid filing duplicate bugs.

    • I dont't really get your point. What you seem to be saying is that because your dad saves his word documents by closing word and then click save from the dialog, something in blender needs to change.

      I don't see the point. In blender, you do what you are supposed to do: you save your work often. You save before you quit. If you don't, you grab quit.blend

      I actually like that I don't need dialog when I quit. I often use blender to discuss some 3d problem with my phd students, when the white board is not good enough. I just use it as a 3d sketch pad. I would hate it if I had to confirm everytime I closed the window.

      • I think the point is that everyone has their own way of using any software application. Being asked whether or not changes should be saved must be a feature a lot of people want, otherwise no software would ever have implemented it.

        Since some people like the idea and others don't, giving everyone the choice to set a preference one way or the other is the ideal solution.

        However, the way it's currently implemented in Blender doesn't really address the concerns expressed by those of us who prefer not to lose work accidentally.

  36. Surprisingly I agree on everything Andrew points out in this very well made video, but while many proposed enhancement will be trivial to make, I don't know how a change in units factors can be addressed since we all have files with values already in place, and experienced users have became accustomed on what a value really means.
    However I do think this is the _most_ important issue to be addressed for usability enhancement, together with a warning if you set a value to high that will, in some case, freeze the program indefinitely.

    Another great usability improvement would be to highlight certain commonly used settings or at least group them. For example in the hair/particle system why the user is forced to set the spline steps and type in 3 different places, plus strand render, and now also in the cycles panels?
    This sort of things can really confuse even an experienced user, much more important then right/left click that took me a second to figure out the first time I've opened blender. Let's focus on real issues, we are not really loosing user base for a missing confirm on quit window.

    • I read your "for instance" with great interest. Personally, I have no clue how spline steps relate to hair growth (or particle systems, for that matter). Can't imagine talking to my barber about splines when I'm describing the cut I want. :)

  37. Ok, so I just voted for left mouse click,
    but what annoys me more than left or right to select is the fact that,
    currently, if I hit the left mouse-click in 3D view, it changes the 3D cursor,
    which does not get undone with control-Z.
    And then there’s the fact that, under some circumstances,
    even in the same 3D view, I AM expected to left-click in order to select;
    e.g. when selecting with a circle: left-click selects,
    right-click terminates the operation.

    Error warnings, yes: I’m all in favor of that,
    but ever since 2.5x I do get that quit-without-saving? warning.

    P.S. DAZ Studio is great at what it does, and supposedly intuitive,
    but when it comes to advanced functions,
    its documentation seems even harder to find than Blender’s.
    Even so, it has thousands of productive users.
    [Most of whom seem trapped in basic mode, alas.]

  38. I feel most of the problems are over dramatized with this sensational style of presentation.

    Left right click for sure should be changed by default. But a better interface will not make learning 3D better when you deal with a powerful software and not 123D.

    The rest is really cosmetic and does not prevent me from earning money with Blender and being very productive with it - even my students agree.

    • but there's a difference between learning 3d and learning blender.
      the 3d skills you learn remain regardless of the program you use them in.
      a better interface will make learning 3d better even when dealing with powerful software because learning that software is just that much easier and it's just that much easier to find your way around the software.
      when you can easily find your way around a complex software it makes using that software easier.

      your students may agree but they've got someone teaching them. most everyone who uses blender learns from someone else. be it video tutorials, a teacher, a book, or a website someone else made because it's still pretty darn hard to just jump in and figure stuff out on your own because a lot of the commonly used commands aren't there in an obvious place.

  39. Some good points, some bad points. But putting "broken" in the title comes across as the usual attention-grabbing hyperbole I associate with usage of the word on the web. For a project making such a fuzz about First Impressions, that's a big negative strike.

  40. The announcement sounds revolutionary, the proposals are evolutionary. Anyway I am curious to see the second part.

  41. Great conversation starter! I wholeheartedly agree. I've used Blender since roughly 1997. It's made great strides since then due to lots of hard developer and artist work. But there's always more that can be done, more thought could be given to beginner and advanced workflows. What's been discussed is just usability, UX. Within that are UI concepts that could be considered as well. For example, Pie Menus. I guess it all comes down to priorities for the community and developers, since sometimes broken or feature incompleteness is a problem too. But wonderful discussion direction and recent work by the Blender developers and artists.

  42. I agree with everything Andrew pointed out in this video because I'm nagging about the same issues for ages now. Looking forward to see part two.
    Unfortunately he will not accomplish anything with this, except to draw the wrath of dogmatics. There's simply too many people in our community that are thinking like that guy from one of the Blender Conferences that asked Andrew when he presented proposal for new look of Blender pages: "Are we really sure that we want new users?"

    • Yeah, you gotta wonder when someone says something like that. It would be like Ford saying, "Do we really want new car owners?"

  43. If you want to perfect the User Interface, find some middle aged women who have never work with 3D modeling software and teach them how to use Blender. The feedback will be priceless.

    Oh, I can remember when MS Windows first hit the common office place. I especially remember one person actually taking early retirement because she refused to learn how to use the mouse.

    • ...then take that middle aged woman and also teach her two or three commonly used production programs also, so you could test the impact of Blender's against-the-flow selection system over her productivity ;)

    • This may seem like a glib suggestion on the surface, but you're right, in a way. If it were possible to find a handful of trained artists who had never seen a 3D application before and sit them down in front of Blender...

  44. This is my personal story on the argument. I'm a Software Engineer with passion for photography and computer graphics. Two years ago I opened Blender. I tried years before but the old interface was intimidating. The new interface looked much better so I started playing around a bit. After a while, not being able to select and move objects around I literally gave up.

    I moved to 3DS Max, relegating Blender to the nerd sphere, and I spent a whole year on it. But 3DS Max is expensive so few months ago I decided, only for budget reasons, to give Blender a last but more serious try.

    I started digging into the interface and reading tons tutorials. It was a shocking experience... shocking. Modelling tools, sculpting tools, physics, particles and clothes simulations, amazing rendering engine, fire, smoke simulation, composer, etc, etc. For my personal projects Blender is far far more than I actually need. I really regret I gave up in the beginning after my first superficial impression on the UI, now I would be two years ahead in my learning curve.

    I even got my monthly subscription with Blender Cookie now :-) So, even if I'm now getting comfortable with Blender UI, I totally agree with Andrew. Few minor changes in the UI, may have a big impact on the user base.

    Kind regards,

    Giovanni

  45. Andrew, excellent video! Thank you for taking the time to produce a polished video and doing the research on GUI's instead of merely giving opinions that most of us have been feeling is 'wrong' with Blender for a long time, but also giving accurate, logical and reliable data from sources. I know it takes a lot of time to put a video together like this, so it's evident you're passionate about this and care about the growth of Blender. And as you said, this isn't to point fingers, but when we have proven intuitive UI standards, we should not ignore these standards and try to reinvent the wheel. However, I feel currently it's more of a 'we're short on resources to spend adequate time professionally designing the UI, so this will work pretty good. It gets the job done, looks OK,'. Perhaps in the near future we'll see a more professional / polished UI. I hope with your standing in the Blender community (and your thoughtful video) the devs will take note this time and seriously consider addressing these issues for the future health of Blender.

    My background: My first attempt at Blender was about a decade ago, 2nd attempt was 2 years later. Finally on the 3rd attempt I stuck with it which was about 6 years ago. So I know first hand what a hindrance the UI design can be to new people. I had very little issues test driving other 3d packages due to design, so this is Blender specific. Frankly, I just didn't have the time or energy to learn a non-standard and convoluted UI, became frustrated and moved on the first 2 times. Blender has made some great strides in this area, but I think as you are stating, now is the time to finally address a flaw that has been lingering for way to long in a such a great software package.

    Looking into the survey!

  46. Wheew; things are being said, finally! I've been using Wings3D for modelling, and then Blender for rendering for about 12 years now. I would really like a more graphical interface, icons & toolbars & dropdown-menues a la Wings3D, over subwindows, like for renderer settings etc, & shortcuts blenderstyle. Yes there are shortcuts in Wings too, but I rarely use them! One thing that I really would like is for Blender to save my rendered image automatically when it's finished, in case of Blender, or Windows, crashing afterwards.

  47. Fomhorian i agree with your interface case on wings. In wings i find the sort of interface very good and handy. But would this really work for complexity in
    blender ?

    Andrew well done! I am pleased to see that this bring here an nice discussing on the way without a flamewar. (....you critizise blender and be still alive?)

    As Hobbyuser of blender i am today (after 10 years) in the position to say: i can us it without wasting enormes time in searching a buttom. 3 years ago i got a time limited version of lightwave and had large problems to find my way in it. Making interfaces more "compitable" would make daily life more easy for profs and hobbyiests who like to switch between different apps.

  48. 85 comments :O i see this is an HOT theme
    i would add an argument to the discussion :
    some time ago i saw an interview to a 3d artist who did say he preferred the wings modeler to blender because of the much faster and efficient "one click" editing, (in blender you must select a vertex with right click THEN confirm with left click [or pressing the space bar], in wings the confirmation isn't needed [ more similar to a sculpt session ])
    I looked - without luck - for a way in blender to set a "one click" editing :(

      • Thank you very much sebastian_k, i owe you one! :)
        My ignorance has no end, i googled ' "one click" editing blender' and several other search strings without luck :)
        thanks again

  49. NabilStendardo on

    The question is: do we try and keep Blender familiar to all those who already use it, or do we try to adapt to established standards so that new users can learn it easier (with a little time of adaptation for existing users). I am more in favour of the latter. After all, we might be proud of our clockwise-tap-software, but difference for the sake of it is not the way to go (unless the procedure is covered by a patent, which, in this case, is likely not).

  50. I'm gonna say it...but after becoming very experienced with around 6 to 8 CG programs and around 13 years of digital media experience...the right click select left click apply, makes more sense for multiple reasons. And I think lowering standards in this case to work in with others is ridiculous.

    On top of this i am also the head of a succesful animation school. Organising and treaching Blender to high school students. I havent once run into high school students who have struggled with Blender, with a tutor there students pick up Blender ridiculously fast! 1 day short courses even allow us to get to even lighting and rendering on top of modelling and animation (no armatures).

    I gotta say, the UI is a HUGE step up from previous blender version and was the turning point for me to move to Blender (i still keep my hands in Maya and Max as well).

    People will prefer to work the worse way! if that is what they are used to. Microsoft is poorly designed...but half the world use it, they are use to it now. So creating a potentially better way doesnt neccesarily make it more attractive (at least not at first), we need to decide are we trying to show people the "better" way of working or work towards their familiarity.
    I just hope andrew isnt pressured by rejections of Blender. I say let them reject. This usually culls the ones who cant exercise their memory so well and keeps powerful minds on developing Blender.

    I think the python libraries probably need more overhauling, some ways to get data just dont seem intuitive and concsistent.

    Alright! time for some flame! :D

    • I totally agree with you on the point that just because the rest of the world does it, doesn't make it right. I am not a very advanced blender user, but I actually wish other ui's would be more like it.

      However, Andrew does have a point that there are some point wherethe ui good be more internally consistent and there for more blendery. Such as the arrows indicating that there is a dropdown in the materials and textures fields, but not when choosing a closure in the cycles material panel.

    • I think your experience teaching Blender to high school students is more a testament to your teaching skills than to the usability of Blender.

      Just saying.

  51. I can relate to some of the things (having to hold down D in the grease pencil), but some remarks by Andrew miss the mark completely. For instance in the discussion of the lamps. Andrew complains that it is not consistent that increasing the strength of a sun lamp by 1 doubles the light in the scene and increasing the point lamp doesn't. However, it should be obvious why: he changes the sunlamp from 1 to 2 (doubling it) and the point lamp from 100 to 101.

    Ofcourse one can wonder why the values of the point lamp can not also in the range of 1. But this is due to physics. For a pointlamp it matters how far away it is (intensity drops as distance squared) and for a sun lamp it doesn't.

    • One could also make the argument that neither system bears any resemblance to the lighting systems we see in our homes or those used by the film industry. I think those are the standards we should be using, standards that are understood by everyone who's ever flicked on a light or lit a film set.

      3D applications are, after all, an emulation of the real world. There's no need to complicate things by inventing a whole new way of looking at lighting something.

      • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

        In Blender we have concepts like negative lights, non-inverse-square falloff, light range clipping and layer-specific lights. Should we dispense with those?

          • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

            This needs to be emphasized: CG (not just Blender) is full of cheats and tricks that would be physically impossible in the real world. They are essential for producing all kinds of useful effects, and anybody learning CG needs to be clear about that from the beginning.

        • @Lawrence D’Oliveiro: "Should we dispense with those"

          Not necessarily, although I do admit to not understanding why all those cheats are needed. Isn't a 'negative' light just a more involved, more complex way to turn down the brightness of an already-existing light? Why not just do a more specific placement of the light and adjust its brightness down instead?

          Unless you're doing something that doesn't actually exist in nature, but then how would anyone know what it's really supposed to look like anyway? And if that's the case, there's no one to say, "Hey. That doesn't look the same as the _____ I saw last Wednesday."

          I'm sure you'll point out just how naive my point of view is (again) but I'd seriously like to know what advantages these 'trick' features yield. Can you point me at some images? I'd be curious to see the "before and after" of adding a negative light or a non-inverse square law light to see just what the difference is.

  52. This is criticism at its best - constructive! I think these are all great ideas.

    The value magnitude problem will be the toughest to tackle, in my opinion. Showing number controls more sensibly, that's easy. But if we were to normalize the different light intensities and all these other (admittedly pulled-out-of-thin-air) value ranges, we don't want to break values kept in existing files. One thing Blender has done better than almost any other software is to provide incredible data compabitility (forward and backward!) between releases. That's a big deal to the user's trust-ometer.

    I don't know what to suggest for sanitizing value ranges, but for everything else mentioned, I say full speed ahead! Nicely done.

  53. Mr Andrew Price , I must thank you so much for this helpful video but also for your clear and usefull tutorials .Keep up the good work !

  54. lots of very good points, I did not fill out the survey though as I felt it only addressed a very small portion of the problems, while they ARE important to new users they do not rectify the bigger problems of consistency etc...although letf click > select is a consistency problem both across software and internally(blender itself) but, it is only one piece of a larger aspect..I will GLADLY fill out a survey that covers the full range of topics discussed....
    I am also pleased that someone realizes the importance of visual recognition in the ui as opposed to text in tool bars....that is one of my biggest wants for blender.

    • He said somewhere it's a multi-part video series and will have survey questions after each. I assume he didn't just want one big long one, as people tend to not fill them out if they take a lot of their time.

  55. Hello Andrew Price,
    When placing an image background.
    It would be very useful when you can choose texture image in the world
    and there also put on horizon.

  56. I'd like to see the UI so modular that if you prefer another way of doing things, you can just load a UI prefs file and voila - it works like Cinema 3d (or whatever).

  57. Hello Andrew I agree with most of what you are proposing, This changes will be very beneficial to 3d Blender and all its users.

    Not only do I agree and support your propositions, but also I want to let you know that I am AVAILABLE to help you out in any way or form to accomplish this great Ideas.

    Thank you and get to work.. the sooner the better.!

    Note: please check out my own project coming up next week

  58. Hello Andrew,
    I am a newcomer to Blender.
    I have studied your points and I think that you are quite right because I have faced lot of difficulties when I tried to understand Blender.
    I started to look at 3D software about 8 years Ago, and at the time Blender was so difficult to Understand that I decided to choose another software carrara Where I go got a free version. I still use it for some projects, and some of your points were already there such as icons for easy use.
    Some useful features were also easy to use such providing sliding windows with visual choices of materials. It is true that it is quite complicate, not for the experienced people, but for me, to build each time a new material in Blender and not to have simple method to use. So each time I see a new version of Blender I see more complex features coming, but I do not see any real move toward easiness of the software use.

    Maybe I do not have the best practices, but when I look at the tutorials that are on the web, lot of people when they record their tutorials, they have difficulties and have to stop their recording to understand why something is not running well.
    I must acknowledge that a big step has been made by moving to version 2.5
    (Big congratulation to all the developers :) of this great community). The commands went clearer and it is easier to use the interface. That was great.
    I must confess that I am lost when we are going into some of the parameters for fire, where it is sometimes quite difficult to understand what is the real meaning of each one.
    On the other hand, I would think that the Blender foundation should not only focus on improving the software, but should also communicate much more on the blender features. Each time I see a new feature, I think that it is only for a limited number of persons, as it is quite complex to me.
    There is good other site such as Blender Cookies that sometimes provides good explanations, but nothing is really coming for the foundation in a very detailed way to explain what is going on.
    So why shouldn't we create in the Blender foundation, another group, besides the developers, focused on communication that should issue videos with clear and complete explanations about the changes, Otherwise, I have to look around in the web to understand. I loose a lot of time.
    I am not an expert in Blender and do not have a lot of free time available, but I could also be volunteer to participate to such a group to understand the new features and try to put them in videos...
    So Thanks, Andrew for your message, It is a great message to improve the interface and develop the number of users in Blender.
    I really think that Blender is a great software and once again, I thank all the developers for the job they have done, as well as the foundation.
    I think that this is a good opportunity to debate positively on the software evolution
    All the best

    (Sorry if my english is not good, this is not my native langage).

  59. mafster, agree with your points. "we need to decide are we trying to show people the “better” way of working or work towards their familiarity."
    I should say, there is no "better" way for everybody, but you're right - there is some conventions that doesn't make sense. Indeed, continuously clicking left mouse button for selecting, applying, moving stuff (while right mouse button is rarely clicked) is strange.

  60. Thank you for a good overview of usability and the basics of User Interfaces Design, Human-Computer Interfacing or User Experience (Ux) and looking at what works and does not work in Blender. I have noticed with subsequent releases of the Adobe suite (mainly Photoshop), that they have improved the design for both new and experienced users. So that the user can focus on the task and not the software, as you describe in your video, and this is one thing that Blender does do. The interface does not get in your way, in fact, it seams to go too far the other way and give too little information. This is a weak point in Blender with the lack of (internal) user documentation, tool tips, and the like. Most software is happy to point to a website with additional information, but this is no substitute for good internal documentation.

    The right click/left click and the save on quit options surprised me as a new user, but I've now adjusted to doing it the Blender way. Also as a teacher of students encountering Blender for the first time I point it out as one of the critical differences between Blender and other software, so that the students can develop their skills quicker by flattering the learning curve.

    One of Blender's strongest points is the philosophy of one hand one the keyboard and the other on the mouse is great for getting things done, and the non-overlapping windows is another. These help to allow the users to focus on creating, not doing.

    • agreed with one hand keyboard and one hand mouse.

      However i dont think people will like it as people prefer what they already know, i.e. microsoft/..one hand mouse and one hand on coffee/hanging limp shrivelling up.

      Its much more efficient to be using both hands and exercises the brain :)
      I once taught an older adult student (40's) animation for the first time - they were having a slight career change - ...and my gosh...hardess thing ever in teaching. They were using one hand on mouse and the same hand for keyboard...add to that they took time looking for the key. Im telling you, as politlely as possible we dont need to make it easier for that generation, think ahead and be leaders of change not stick to what the rest are doing. People WILL come round eventually.

      I was an avid Blender hater and hassled my fellow blender-heads (i frankly didnt really know anything about Blender tbh :P) and then after one month learnign curve (self-taught) i switched all Maya and Max knowledge across and havent regretted it one bit! Blender makes a lot of sense.
      I think its Python Libraries probably need the most conventionalising. But thats getting there.

      Personally i think just stick it to the man and keep the better philosophy of Blender. let's not lower the standard of good thinking. People will come round, or they will eventually disappear out under natural selection :P hahaha jokes guys.

  61. BlenderStudent on

    And the render button should be available regardless of what panel you are selecting. Shortcut key is OK, but the button should be highly available in some place so that you will not need to go to render panel to click it. Otherwise you should divide it to only show buttons.

  62. A brilliant video Andrew, I have always enjoyed your tutorials and respect your talent in 3D and video creation.

    As a user interface designer, I fully support what you are saying. Many software packages are dreadfully inconsistent, as are many websites, and for that matter many products with software I come into contact with; cellphones, kiosks, etc. Blender is a remarkable piece of software, very complex and powerful, but this is no excuse not to follow simple UI standards. If Blenders goal is to reach further out to the masses, then making it even simpler to use by using conventions, especially for a beginner, will surely help.

    Steve Krug's quote is so valid here: "... and many designers tend to underestimate just how much value conventions provide".

    Thank you for your efforts, Andrew. I look forward to the 2nd video.

  63. It's hard to imagine for anyone who did not tried it, how much it decreases concentration needed to work in blender if used properly -
    by far the most used command in blender by me is "toggle full screen" (for blender inner windows)

    The problem was it has a bit awkward shortcut ctrl+up.
    Once I changed it to space (had to move search to shift+space) blender became much more pleasant to work in.

    Imagine you have most of editors in single blender screen. Because pressing space requires almost no effort at all no matter how drunk or sleepy you are, you have all needed editors in full screen mode virtually at the same time.

    Best part - after short time of getting used to, being simple action it becomes really automated. Pressing space to get out of 3D window, moving mouse over graph editor and pressing space again all takes 0.5 seconds or even less, while saving a lot of mental concentration wasted moving things by pixel because the viewport is was only part of the screen.

    I don't know if this is for everyone, but such a small change made me love blender's interface.

    • You also could have simply used the much more pleasant shortcut shift+space for fullscreen (i agree that ctrl+up sucks). That works out of the box, and thumb and pinky already are almost in the right spot when i have my hand on the keyboard.
      But being able to change it to space is also nice. :)

    • Instead of all those miracle shortcuts
      Why isnt it like in most games that there is a keymap
      So you can see what shortcuts are available easily ?
      And one could re-assign them depending on personal favor
      (or favorite other 3d editor) - and they should be the same ofcourse in any mode of blender.

      I've not yet seen a screen in blender with a list of keys, but i wont be surprised either if it is somewhere between the spaghetti interface. Its not that i condemn people's coding or design, its realy cool great product blender which i prefer above others, i think its just because as it grows software projects become larger more complex. And as 3d editing already is a complex thing, thinking about the GUI doesn't come first.

      • Nomis Animations on

        The keymap is actually pretty easy to find:
        File->User Preferences->Input
        Then you see a list:
        > Window
        > Screen
        > View 2D
        ....

        Just click on one of them to edit all keycommands in that area of blender.

    • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

      You do realize that most keyboards have a CTRL key right next to the arrow keys? So you can press CTRL-anyarrow with one hand? This includes CTRL-← and CTRL-→ for quickly switching between predefined screen layouts.

  64. I spent my entire career working in creative sector including agencies and game design outfits and spent a number of years as a professional 3D artist. I've spent countless hours learning all kinds of software to enable me to do my job. In the case of 3D work I used 3DS Max which I class as an amazing piece of sofware.

    Nowadays I'm in a position where I don't do this kind of work hand-on anymore but I still love it and would like to do it for pleasure. This makes Blender an obvious choice as I don't need to spend 000's. However I have to agree that the interface just isn't up to the job. Some convention really are followed because they just work. The only thing holding blender back is it's interface. I guess the problem is that large companies will devote time and resources to the interface. They'll have team of guys developing the perfect set of icons and the perfect workflow - but it's worth it.

    I would agree that if the Blender guys just said OK, lets pause the new features development and make the next major release all about the interface (and not be afraid to look at Max and Maya) then there would be no looking back. People would embrace the system alongside all the other power tools in the creative toolbox.

  65. NO..please do not look at MAYA, horrible design. This coming from Weta supervisors.

    3d Studio Max yes its ok. ..

    Maya is a horrible design UI wise and even large production supervisors like ones from Weta have confirmed it...only reason they wouldnt shift?...Maya is massively embedded into their pipeline now, its too late. They also help dev Maya from their own projects. Even if somethign better comes out "they wouldnt switch".
    Every time i meet with supervisors from Weta Digital i ask them these questions (with Blender in mind) and its the same response each time, they stick to it because it has a great coding ability(now with python implemented even better) and so is great for pipeline and the techys but as for interface its absolutely horrible. Its industry standard cos of Marketing and first-foot-in-the-door and pipeline, but it is not a great example to work off UI WISE and philosophy of UI..there are great production features, especially rigging that i think we should look at but please dont reference Maya for UI. It's way outdated...students dont like learning it first off.

    • Indeed, Maya interface is horrible. It seems they just don't care. But there are small hardly noticeable things that are thought through well. For instance, while modelling, if you press a shortcut for tool, you can either press enter to complete or press the shortcut again to complete and start the tool again. Saves finger-running-over-the-keyboard time.

      • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

        Blender has SHIFT-R to repeat the last action. More than that, just about every action puts up a panel at the bottom of the Tool Shelf, which you can edit to repeat the action with some quick adjustment to the settings.

        • Somehow didn't know about Shift+R, thanks, tried and I'll definitely use it.
          But I wasn't talking about the possibility of repeating exact same procedure, rather about general speed.

          If you click K to cut, move mouse to adjust, then you have to hit enter before running that function again.
          If you have to make 20 primitive cuts you get annoyed really fast by wasting a whole second by having to run to enter and back on each one.

          Yes, it's seemingly easy, but pushing buttons fast and precisely takes concentration away from work and makes you tired much faster. If there's possibility to use one button for repetitive task - it's much easier on brain.
          While I understand, that I can whine about this to developer of knife tool and maybe, if he agrees and if he has time it will get addressed, but almost every modelling action would gain a bit of speed if made this way. Even extrusion - it takes more concentration to E, adjust,click,E,adjust.. than just e adjust, e adjust..

          • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

            Hmm, interesting.

            How about if something like SHIFT-ENTER were to confirm the operation and start a new one?

          • Pressing additional shift is about the same if not worse.
            The point is:
            Put a finger on a button once and can execute it as many times as you need without moving your hand.
            In such scenario brains are free to automate it and you concentrate only on moving mouse on the operable mesh area.

        • What would be nice is to have access to that panel for longer. I've lost track of the number of times I've added a sphere (for instance) and, after working with it for a while, realizing I should have had a different number of segments and/or rings. At that point, I've inevitably had to delete the sphere and start over.

  66. As a frustrated beginner, I have to say Andrew's podcast pretty much sums up my experience of Blender.

    I have downloaded and attempted to use it since 2.2, I think. Before that, I used Carrara and dabbled with 3DS Max. I'll admit that I switched to Blender because it ostensibly offered more of the 3DS features than Carrara, better rendering...and it was free. However, I have always found it all but impenetrable and despite reading a couple of books, wasting hours trying to find things, watching wikis and reading mags, it's development has always outstripped the texts and I just don't have the time to create something and destroy it by trying to work out what does what. And as I want to do Arch Viz with it, I'm tempted to look at Rhino or Bonzai3D

    I will say that the later releases have made more sense but I remember none of commands or shortcuts. That to me screams for the need for an Icon set.

    What would also be really useful is a definitive list - in beginners terms - of what all the numbers for all the functions mean. As is pointed out, the numbers go from tiny decimals to larger integers. Are the things logarithmic, exponential or just linear. It's annoying to a beginner not to have an understanding as to what is behind the design and development.

    Enough from me.

  67. As a noob i find a lot of things in blender confusing:
    What is this 3d cursor thingie?
    If you press "render" you lose the interface and go to the rendered image with no clear way of getting back.
    The rendered image is not saved anywhere, or is it?
    The default directories for fonts and temp and images.
    The fps setting revert to 24 fps if you change the image size in the render menu.
    If you use the file browser, you get no clear indication of what you are browsing for; for instance, if you are setting the default texture dir, this should be indicated in the file browser :"select default texture dir"

    P.S. Love blender!

  68. i was going to say i don't think the UI needs a complete reworking and that simply fixing the inconsistencies and throwing in some actual icons rather than just word buttons for most everything but the more i think about it the more i realize it's a terribly unorganized UI and needs reworking. make buttons for commonly used commands front and center.

    yes using the shortcuts are always faster than clicking buttons but not having buttons in an obvious place does make a program much harder to learn on your own.
    i'm a CADD major and currently learning both autodesk Revit and autodesk Inventor. they're both 3d modeling software although they're for architecture and manufacturing purposes. one thing i can say their UI has done much better than blender's is organization and icons... i've advanced a decent bit ahead of my classes just by playing around in the programs and i've been learning shortcuts for commands by the tooltips that pop up over the icons.
    no one here should be fooled into thinking that other programs don't make just as much use of shortcut keys as blender does... it's just that other programs are also organized better so you're not forced to look up a shortcut or a tutorial if you don't know how to do something.

    i simply wasn't able to learn by playing in blender because most everything is hidden in a menu or a constantly changing toolbar without much visual queue and i wouldn't really even know where to start looking for how to do what. i absolutely had to use tutorials to learn blender because it's so badly organized for ease of use. i'm fairly sure the general experience of learning blender is learning the shortcuts from a tutorial and moving on to ignoring most of the UI while you work.

    also i saw someone mention how the differences in lamp slider numbers was a result of the way they work and reading that it made sense to me why the different sliders would work differently.
    personally i think a more graphical in viewport way to edit the lamps fall off, power, direction, etc would speed some things up there.

    it's already pretty easy to use glsl shading mode or cycles viewport rendering to check lamps that way for a quick look at how your settings are working but constantly having to tweak sliders or numbers is very vague way edit those settings because it's hard to picture how some random number correlates to the 3d world.
    i'm sure that it would be much easier to grasp if instead you're visibly tweaking parts of an envelope around a lamp or emissive object.

  69. Nomis Animations on

    First, i think "Why it's broken" is a little heavy for the small things he mentions. A someone already said, the thing with the lamps is simply the basics of what a sun-lamp does (brigthness independent of distance) and what a pointlamp does (depending on distance).

    The right/leftclick problem has been there forever. I wouldnt mind if the default would be changed. It much more simple to reach all the people who already use Blender than to tell it to the "newbies".

    ___[PROPOSAL: A "getting started" tutorial for blender INSIDE blender]___
    However, i think what Blender is really missing is kind of a "getting started" tutorial, that is presented if you open Blender the first time. There are good tutorials out there, but the newbie has to search - if he saw the big "getting started with Blender"-button (yes, make in big!) when he opens it the first time, he will remember that. Maybe he will first try to use it without watching/reading it, but when he gets into problems he will remember that and go back to the tutorial!

    This could be done even further in the tutorial:
    1. Show the user some great blender artwork (get him interested) (1-2 minutes)
    2. Tell him where to find information (2-3 minutes)
    a) documentation (blenderwiki, cgcookie, blenderguru etc.)
    b) where he can get help (blenderartists, irc)
    c) that the most important links to that can be found directly in the menu under "help" (include the getting started in that menu)
    3. Teach him some blender... (some hours, make parts)

      • Nomis Animations on

        Well, i know that. But some of the new users wont even try, if "nothing seems to work" (do we want that users? - could be discussed)

        However, this should not increase downloadsize or something like that, just put a very big link "getting started with blender" on the splashscreen ("Manual" is already there, but hey, "getting started" sounds way better to a newbie, at least to me). All the (video-)tutorial-stuff should be on the website - but advertise it!

        First, you need to learn something about the overall concept ->"getting started" (exists in the wiki)
        then you read the manual:
        -> now you already know where to find render-settings, what cycles is or what is meant by the terms "mesh" "modifier". So you think you may actually understand the manual without reading half a million other manual pages to understand the words

  70. Hi Andrew, while using blender at the first time it looks so hard to understand..... but later on I read many tutorials and I found it interesting. Mostly I like this because it is open source , but the interfaces are not pretty good, but after giving your lots of efforts I understand. the problem i found in rendering is there is no option when we save the image . I want I want to save the image there are no options available whether I can save it in jpg or png etc.

  71. I agree with what was said for the most part. However, there are times when having fractions of a frame is useful. Not necessarily in the particle settings where you pointed it out but for numerous other things.

    When filming at standard frame rates (25 fps PAL and 30 fps NTSC) some movements are so fast that they fall between frames. That's why wagon wheels in westerns look like they're spinning backwards and hummingbird wings are just a blur.

    The ability to key on sub frames is useful for sampled motion blur. Let's use a drummer playing a string of 32nd notes, for example. At a tempo of 180 and a frame rate of 25 each 32nd note, from rest position to attack back to rest position, is one frame. From frame 5 to 6 it would look like there's no motion. However, if a key frame is added at frame 1.5 of him striking the drum during playback it will still look like there's no motion but when rendered with sampled motion blur it will give the effect of a fast strike.

    In fact, not only would I argue that fractional frames are useful, I would also argue that the scene's frame_current property be changed from an integer to a float to allow sub frame keying, as currently the only methods are to move each key frame in the graph editor (or dope sheet) or to write an addon, click a button every time you want to change frames, and use another button along with drop-down menus to insert keys.

    • There really needs to be an edit feature. I meant 24 fps and the strike is added at frame 5.5, for those who want to try it out.

    • yeah but when was the last time you animated a drummer? or when was the last time you intentionally put a key on a fractional key frame?

      true, there are times when you would as you mentioned... but for the VAST MAJORITY of animators and animations, they intend only to key on integers.

      imo, the best way to handle this would be an option to enable/disable with the default being disabled.

      • That's pretty much all I use Blender for these days, to be honest. I work a lot with musical time and there have been enough attempts made at a good MIDI import script that I'm not the only one.

        Fractional frames are absolutely vital when synching to music, and I've talked to a whole community of indie musicians who would love to use 3D software to add effects to their videos but have to spend more time nudging frames around than actually animating.

        It wouldn't require a boolean option, either. The current setup and default will work. Left and right arrows move one frame either direction, Shift + up and Shift + down move ten frames, and that's already the default unless you change the frame delta in the key map.

        Float inputs can also be set to move in increments of 1 if you're talking about dragging on the slider or scrubbing along the timeline (which I assume is tied to the frame step value defined in the render/animation settings).

        Going into user preferences and being able to set the frame delta to 0.5 or 4.5 wouldn't impact new users or those who don't need that level of precision. And nothing would change as far as the interface other than frame delta in user settings accepting a floating point value and formulas typed into the the frame indicator resulting in a floating point value not being rounded.

    • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

      Or you could do what a real camera operator would do: film at a higher frame rate and slow the playback down.

      Blender lets you remap time in its animation render settings, which you can use for this sort of purpose.

      • "Or you could do what a real camera operator would do: film at a higher frame rate and slow the playback down."

        That doesn't always work. There will always be some notes that don't fall right on a whole number. For example, at the highest frame rate I can get (1200 fps, obtained from using the highest FPS Blender will accept (120) and the lowest frame base (0.1)) most divisions are integers. In fact, 5 out of 7 are, but if I set it so that the last two are integers others will be floating point values.

        Now this would eliminate the issue of needing an entire action to take place entirely between two frames but over the course of a 3 minute song rounding the floating point values to integers will lead to a loss of precision.

        That's acceptable for most applications but when dealing with music it's about like working with a drummer who can't keep a steady beat past the first verse. There's a musician community out there, most of them indies who make their own music videos and would love to incorporate 3D animation into it, that rivals the size of the Blender community and enough of them would come over to Blender to increase the user base by a factor of at least 1.5 if the software could offer the precision required without a system of complicated workarounds or key frame nudging.

        • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

          You don’t need 1200fps for music. That’s already sub-millisecond precision, which is way better than any human musician can manage.

          • So what you're saying is that with a high enough frame rate the loss of precision from rounding to the nearest frame would be imperceptible? I may have to play around with that, then.

            I'd like to get away from the whole sub frame thing but higher frame rates mean longer render times and larger files/more image files so I stick to 24 fps, sometimes I go as high as 30, but in that range rounding to the nearest frame results in an unacceptable loss of precision.

          • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

            Let’s put it this way: there’s a reason why psychologists find it enough to do all their timing measurements in integer milliseconds.

            In musical performance, latencies under 10ms seem to be perfectly fine. Consider that sound can only travel about 3m through a normal Earth atmosphere in that time.

  72. You make an excellent case, Andrew. I admit, I've been frustrated with Blender and several times I've come close to quitting, but that would mean giving up on 3D altogether because I simply don't have the money to buy something else that's worth using. Blender IS worth using, but you're right; it needs work.

    Speaking of quitting Blender, as to the whole 'Quit Blender' controversy, I think it needs to go further than "Do you really want to quit." There are two states the software may be in when the Quit button/menu is clicked or selected: 1) changes have been made since the last save and 2) no changes have been made since the last save. Most software tracks changes and will only ask if changes HAVE been made. I think Blender should mimic this behaviour, not just blindly ask every single time.

    Maybe Blender does differentiate between these states and maybe it does only ask when changes are unsaved. I've cultivated the habit of making sure there's no asterisk in the menubar before exiting, so I don't even bother setting this in preferences. And, in the name of not taxing my long-term memory ( :) ) or actually having to run Blender to check while I'm in the middle of writing this, I'm going to leave my comments on this topic as-is.

    Over the last three years, since I started learning Blender, I've gotten into some (sometimes) heated debates about how it works and how it SHOULD work. I've always been too frustrated or angry or you-name-it to sit back and make a considered and informed argument as you have, Andrew. Thank you for this. You've brought up points that I've always felt were important for any software and I've never understood when someone decides not to follow these basic principles of software design. Hence my frustration.

    Again, thanks. May this campaign succeed beyond your wildest desires!

    And if it doesn't, I suppose we can always talk someone into starting a new branch. :)

  73. A couple of others things I forgot to mention:

    Addressing your point of making things familiar from other software or the real world:
    I believe any concept within Blender that already exists in other industries such as film should use terminology and measurements already familiar to someone well-educated in that industry wherever possible.

    For instance, in 3DS Max, there is a lighting system where the user can pick a light source by wattage and type. The types are all real-world types and the wattages are all familiar to anyone who's old enough to reach a light switch. It would be brilliant if Blender would follow this real-world model as well.

    • It would be misleading for a non-unbiased renderer and rise lot's of questions like "why my 100w bulb can't light the toilet" and why my 5w flashlight doesn't matches one in a photograph etc.
      Existing units are more or less logical result of technique of how they participate in computation. Inventing new units will complicate the system making it less transparent.
      For instance I know that emission of 1 is 100% illumination that decreases with distance depending on size of light source. That's a really useful information. Emission of 25W is not - you can't estimate resulting color in your head from it.

      • I guess you've never played with 3DS Max where one of the lighting systems uses watts, etc. Yes, it takes a bit of getting used to, but it works quite well.

        I'm glad you've got a handle on what an emission of '1' means. It's all still Greek to me. :)

        • I have played, long ago. What I meant is that current system is based on real computational values while watts or any other realistic unit will get some sort of conversion.
          Indeed watts can work quite good when you try to tune lighting based on some real world knowledge, but it destroys control over synthetic rgb output. How can you guess what exact wattage will produce luminance of 1 on hsv value, not 0.97 or 1.05?

          • Perhaps the solution could be implementing additional units for lighting (like we have metric/imperial). But probably it is doable via addons, without changing blender source, which would keep it maintainable easier.

          • @Konstantins: You've lost me. Why (or perhaps a better question is: when) would I need to do such a calculation? Is there some specific physical phenomenon that, in order to reproduce it, you would have to do this type of calculation?

            Perhaps I don't understand because I base any lighting set-up I do on what the final render looks like. If it looks right, I'm done.

          • It's not about calculation it's about having full dynamic range exposure.
            Imagine you have a textured emission material and you do not want to clip any of texture highs as well as keeping white at 255. How many renders will be needed to get that with watts instead of just typing 1.0?
            It's alike with lighting.

            Also there are technical complications:

            - if by physical you mean total power rating, like 100w light bulb, renderer needs to calculate object surface area to determine how bright each pixel is. Thus increasing emitter size will lead to it being less bright, which is a pain to animate.
            - if we mean power emission per surface area you can't easily create 100w light bulb as you will need calculate area of tungsten etc.

  74. i've made multiple attempts to get a handle on blender - usually trying every few years accompanied by video and book purchases to facilitate the attempt. but each time, one issue more than any other repulses me - both practically speaking and emotionally - the LEFT CLICK, RIGHT CLICK INCONSISTENCY ISSUE.

    imo, blender falls flat on its face at the most FUNDAMENTAL level by getting this wrong. i've even written to ton regarding this issue but a lot of the blender community simply feels this is not an issue and that being the case, i just can't be bothered with blender.

    i'm usually very good about interfaces that are merely DIFFERENT. that if they are different yet consistent in their difference... i can adapt and not find fault with something that is merely different. but blender is different AND inconsistent.

    the problem in detail:

    - by default, rt-click is select. in almost everyone's collective understanding, selecting is an AFFIRMATION.
    - however, there are many operations that are NEGATED by a rt-click!!! you have the SAME BUTTON for AFFIRMATION... **AND** NEGATION?!?!?! just aesthetically, that is just sooooo offensive.
    - as andrew mentions, some windows rt-click is selection... WHY?!?! and while you can use the settings to change the leftclick, rightclick functions, the truly maddening thing is that when you switch that, the windows that had lt-click as select ALSO FLIP and now become rt-click selection!
    - there is absolutely no way using the settings and preferences to make uniform the interface so that lt-click is always select and rt-click is always something else like negate.

    and because they get that so wrong at the very foundation of the app... i just can't do it... i just can't be bothered to engage in something that gets something so fundamental wrong and can't be bothered to fix it.

    how i would have it:

    - left click is selection EVERYWHERE. no exceptions. absolutely none.
    - mm click places 3d cursor.
    - right click ALWAYS brings up the context menu when relevant and can also be used to cancel operations.

    --------------------------------

    lesser irritants that i believe they've addressed is the splash screen popping off if the mouse is slightly moved... that does not give me the feeling of control... it felt "fiddly" and that i had to be careful about my movements... AS SOON AS I STARTED THE APP!

    - similar to the above is the 3d cursor. the fact that THAT flies around as soon as you start left clicking again makes the app feel "fiddly" and "unstable" where i'm constantly doing things that i don't intend. imo, putting it default as mm click is a good compromise between speed and intentionality because it is relatively less used than either lt click or rt click.

    - not asking if you're sure when you hit quit... no excuse. if you can't undo it easily, you ask for confirmation dammit.

    - asking if you're sure for all kinds of operations that ARE easily undoable... gah.

    i've learned my lesson. i will not even attempt to get back into blender until those fundamental issues are dealt with.

    and i think it's a huge shame for everyone - developer and potential user base - because blender has lots to offer. but it gets a few, tiny, easily fixed, but absolutely fundamental things wrong that ends up hurting everyone.
    ------------------

    i'd like to make one thing clear because i think it's so important and so "first thing you see" when you start playing with blender:

    - i think it's ok that selection is rt-click. imo, that's not ideal... but it's ok. if it's consistent.

    but it's not consistent. if it's going to be rt-click select, make it that everywhere... for everything...

    we can even cut blender more slack... ok, it can be rt-click select some places, and left click select other places if you insist... but the user MUST be able to customize FOR EVERY WINDOW AND CONTEXT THEN. even if it's all inconsistent as it is now, at least give the user the option to make it consistent THEMSELVES. at least give us that.

    as it is now, it is IMPOSSIBLE to make select one button across the entire app. if you flip the switch in preferences, all you will do is make previously lt-click selects a rt-click and make the previously rt-clicks a lt-click! it just gives you a different way to be inconsistent in other words... GAH!

    ------------------------------
    unlike what others have said, i don't think the issue is tremendous time or money commitment. this should not be that big of a deal for a collective that can turn out blender as it is today and that can make one great movie after another.

    but the issue is that TON MUST AGREE THAT IT IS AN ISSUE WORTH ADDRESSING. like torvald's is for linux, the heart and soul of blender is (rightfully) ton.

    i've written to him about this and he just doesn't see the problem. or to be more diplomatic, he doesn't see it as a problem. and a lot of the community agrees with him so he has support to keep the status quo.

    but i firmly believe everything else is chaff, there are no other real reasons this can't and won't get addressed. the crux is ton. until someone can make him see the issue, until he comes around, this won't get fixed. not because of lack of money or time but simply a lack of will by blender's benevolent dictator to steer the state of blender that way.

    • about the click toggling:
      it would be strange to have it toggle in any other interface, but remember that in blender you are dealing with points on a mesh. therefore it is important to be able to select and deselect easily.
      if there was a separate button for deselection, it would make mesh operations take longer and be more of a hassle than a gain.

    • Nomis Animations on

      Really good points here with the splash screen and the 3dcursor. I always had the impression that this is not really under my control.

      Chinging the splashscreen behaviour to "go away if the user clicks somewhere not on the splashscreen" should be pretty simple and avoid this.

      Using LMB for cursor control seems not logical to me. LMB is a fast reachable control, why use it for something so rarely (?) used if it could be useful for an important function?

  75. when bringing up discussions like this, we should be sure not to over simplify to product. it may have a learning curve for those beginning but once learned it becomes a powerful software. while we should consider newer audiences, we shouldn't do anything to take away from the experience of those who have been using it for some time.
    if we go for reducing the amount of parameters physics and objects use,for example, it will make it extremely easy for newcomers but nearly useless for those who want to tweak every aspect of their scene.
    balance is key. :)

    • I'm sure there's a way to make things physics more accessible to beginners without taking away the fine control wanted by a more expert user. For instance, in several applications I've seen dialog windows for adjusting settings (or whatever) that show, by default, only the 'simple' controls. Clicking a "more" arrow shows the rest of the dialog with more advanced settings.

      I suppose you could say Blender already does this with its expandable/contractable panels, but it's difficult for a beginner to distinguish which panels are entry-level and which are intermediate or advanced.

  76. Blender does save a backup of the file when quitting, you can recover it by clicking "recover last session" in the file menu. (I agree that there should be a dialog asking to save on quit that appears by default, (also informing the user that they can recover the file even if they don't save now) but make it disable in the user prefs. (the current option does not exist on Linux)

    Blender does have an option for finding missing textures, file menu > external data > report missing files.

    I agree that if LMB is changed to be select, it should be customization to be changed back for users who are used to RMB.

    Another inconsistency besides N and T in the UV editor are the shortcuts used for controlling brush size and strength when painting/sculpting.

  77. I think that its really good that Blender users do share what they think would help to increase Blender usability.
    Me personally I am used to it, and do not really think left or right but focus on my work.
    But Andrew's approach made me realize some stuff that I just accepted. If I knew what went wrong every time when blender crash or freeze that would made me gain so much time.
    In overall, making Blender more easy to use would be a gain to us old users and a great gain of time to new users.
    One thing that I'm sure is that if we increase Blender user community, that would be of great help. I do not know how many time I have loss Jobs bids because I use blender and not 3d max. That would surely change if the professional community take Blender popularity in consideration.

  78. Constantin Semenoff on

    I think the idea is interesting Andrew made about wanting to help users understand the problems that steps and make a small box on understanding the keys or even bring us on a website for example access the keys and Blender wiki and Blabla.
    But if you look at reality, we should not forget that when you go into a 3D school it takes 3 years and even know the 3D software with the following. So I understand he wants to simplify Blender for new beginners, because I had to learn myself the software and it is true that I was not easy at first, but after awhile of practice after six months I was making a start character that was not too bad. So I also think we should put some of his self and take the patience to learn before becoming a 3D artist. I do not think that this is in some months, it takes patience and determination, and then by the passion that focuses on the software you learn step by step the software utilities. I think his ideas will enable simplified the beginners , but after that it is not necessary overcame the inconsistency of Blender after having understood ....

  79. Totally agree... I gave up on blender three or four times before I became a user.

    I remember my brain hurting as I tried to edit the default cube :(

    now I wish I never had to let go of the mouse to press shortcuts.. like the num Pad or pressing Ctrl+up to fullscreen a window(space bar in maya).. sure I can customize but after seeing the video I remember the trouble I had starting out.

  80. I totally agree with what Andrew said. I love Blender, have been using it since version 1.3, but I still rembember my "how do I select this cube" times.

    • Nomis Animations on

      It's crazy, but i never had problems with selection in blender (however i understand that leftclick-select is the standard and should be used by default) - "ok, leftclick doesnt work, lets try rigthclick - ahh, works!"

      However, i had those "i cant get anything done" moments too (did not understand the process of rendering vs gl-rendering at all at this time). Well, i was young, searched about ten minutes for something i could understand on the internet (my english was pretty basic at that time) and gave up.

      Later, i remembered Blender, downloaded a new version, read something an watched videotutorials, and everything went well.

  81. One of the biggest hurdles ANY software faces is that it's written by programmers, not the people who will end up using it.. unless, of course, it's intended to be used by programmers, but that's not the topic of discussion here.

    Programmers and artists don't look at the world the same way, don't think the same way and forcing an artist to learn how to view the world from the point of view of a programmer isn't fair to the artist any more than it would be fair to force a programmer to write software by painting pictograms on leather or by using a chisel to carve diagrams into stone.

    When I was in art school in the 1980s and computers were first being introduced into the curriculum, one of my classmates (a sketch artist) hated using a mouse. She said it was like trying to draw with a brick. And she was right. I've lost touch with her, but I'm sure she stays as far away from computers as she can during the act of creation. Eventually her complaint was addressed when the stylus and drawing pad were developed.

    I once stated in the Blender Artists' forum that Blender's user interface should use knowledge that potential users bring in from the real world and from their areas of expertise that overlap with what Blender does.
    - a cinematographic camera operator should find terminology and measurements he knows from his life operating a camera,
    - a lighting technician should find terms and measurements from his everyday life,
    - an animator should find terms, etc. from his job,
    - and on and on.
    My statement was misinterpreted as "dumbing down" the interface and descended quickly into the ridiculous. Needless to say, the point was lost.

    But how dumb is it to expect:
    - light strength values to be expressed in watts,
    - or the colour of a light to be expressed in kelvin?

    An what animator coming from the world of classical animation has ever encountered the concept of 'frame 0' before coming to 3D software?

    That's just the tip of the iceberg and Blender is by no means the only 3D application to go in this direction.

    There are times when a concept doesn't exist in the real world, but there's where interface design and the choice of terminology becomes even more critical. Descending into terminology only a PhD in physics would understand. Expecting an artist to spend several hours/weeks/years studying a subject totally unrelated to 3D art isn't the answer.

    A lot of things 3D applications give fine control over could be given an interface that relates more closely to the real world. After all, that's what 3D software is intended to do, mimic the real world.

    Combining what we (as a world of software users) have learned about intuitive machine interaction with terminology and measurements from already-existing tasks in the real world is the best way to go, IMHO. Can you imagine how many computer users there would be in the world today if someone hadn't come up with the idea of the mouse and keyboard?

    • Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

      Your classmate should have tried to do computer art in the days BEFORE the mouse was invented.

      Yes, there were artists who managed it. We called them names like “groundbreaking” and “pioneers”.

      I mean, who else is supposed to write software, if not programmers? If artists wrote software, would we still call them “artists”? Or would we call them “programmers”?

      3D is a highly technical field. That’s why any professional studio needs a range of specialists.

      If you want to see what “easy-to-use 3D” gets you, go spend some time in the DAZ 3D community. There any old newbie with cash to spare can buy a range of models and props and churn out an endless stream of renders that, after the novelty of the detail wears off, end up all looking much alike.

      It doesn’t matter which way you cut it, it still takes skill to produce worthwhile art.

  82. Well I really can't be bothered to read 185 replies but I may as well say my piece. I have used Blender since 2006 and sorely miss the old interface. Its weird how something so disorganised also looked so clean. The post 2.5 interface is OK but ' here is what I think is wrong with it..:

    ~ the rant ~

    1. WHY CAN'T WE HAVE THE SPACE BAR BACK! Well you can if you concoct it yourself. I hardly ever use the command search thing but I use what would be shift A all the time.
    2. WHY DO WE HAVE TO HAVE THE NEW WAY OF CREATING NEW WINDOWS WHICH IS FIDDLY AND YOU OFTEN END UP WITH A PILE OF NESTED WINDOWS YOU CAN'T EASILY GET RID OF. The old 2.4 system was so elegant and easy. I miss it so.
    3. The new graph editor is so fiddly to use - the old one was weird with IPOs but you somehow knew what you were doing.
    4. WHY CAN'T THE SEQUENCE EDITOR FEED INTO THE COMPOSITOR. We are getting into really heretical territory now. AfterEffects is crap because you can't see what you're doing but you can change the time line. Blender is great but you have to use those stupid node boxes for you movie clip which never make any sense - I want to have them on a timeline.
    5. WHY NOT TURN THE SEQUENCE EDITOR INTO A VIDEO EDITOR WHICH NORMAL PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND. The sequence editor is pretty novel in OpenSource land, it is a video editor that actually works, that is free and if your using linux doesn't involve a computer science degree to get the audio working. There isn't a good OpenSource video editor available and Blender has the capability to be that. But to use it for video editting is a nightmare. No Bins! Long ago I made a suggestion that Blender saved the position of the file browser window in the Blend file so you could use it as bins... but no! Have a vaguely normal looking display for a video editor so you can see what's going on.. no! AN AUDIO METER.. I still have not seen a workflow which involves mixing the audio. (In fact there seems to be a dark mystery over the workflow of how the blender movies are edited and mixed.) So the tracks now have an audio wave form great.. but when your mixing audio it really important that you know what level the output is - really important. Also, and I know it might cost money, would be nice if it supported some normal output formats with audio.
    (don't tell me that's not what the sequence editor is for - I don't care)

    Well there are the things that come to mind. Sorry for my rant. I am really grateful to all the people who have slaved over the project over the years. Also I realise that some of the things I have mentioned may have been fixed as I don't read the release notes closely anymore. But these are the things that have brought me down over the last few years.

    • For number 2 you can right click window borders and get the split area/join area window like the 2.4x interface. It's been awhile since I used 2.4x so maybe I'm forgetting some other functionality it had.

  83. Oh Yeah and another thing. My tutor at college asked a really good question when I said i was using blender. 'How is the artistic quality of the output of blender managed by the community'.

    What the output looks like is really important to commercial 3D packages. Do we have people in our community that have the expertise and input over what, say, particles are going to look like. Can they feed back.. or is it all decided by the programmer who takes on the project..

    Just asking

  84. Well, he does have some valid points though I must say I like the default mouse behaviour so I don't want that changed and some other problems stated is really minor. And the 'broken' part of the tittle is just was too exagerated.

    Well, in my side, in my first time with Blender is that it is just too difficult to 'play' with. Just as with many users, I jumped in instead of reading the manual. That is how we do with our mobile phones. You know, who reads the manual?

    However I met a wall. There is just no easy or intuitive means of knowing how to use it. It is just not fun to play around and conductive to self discovery. I actually rejected it at that time and it has taken some months before I come back to it. And when I come back, it relatively stayed the same. It is just no fun to figure Blender by yourself even for the basic stuff, so I started looking out and read or watch tutorials.

    That experience, I think, make me experience one of Blender's weakness (as I believe it is). There is just no easy, intuitive and obvious way to access the basic commands like extruding and grabing. I believe that there had to be some quite visual and obvious way for the beginners to know how to use these very basic tools even if it has to be in a way of telling it with tooltips or something.

    Using shortcuts sure speed up your workflow but they are quite impossible to 'discover' intuitively, especially if that is the only way the tools could be used. With these conditions many tools that might have been very useful aren't found, much like as if these tools don't even exist. I know there are some shortcuts and tools out there that but I just have no way of finding them (except trying all possible key combinations?) or reading some tutorial that somehow exposes these things.

    So, in the end, a lot of tools that would have been useful, remain unfound and unused by many users.

    My second problem is the very clunky way some related editors work together (at least for me). Not only do they don't really look well side by side, they just seems to not cooperate with each other. The Node Editor and the UV/Image Editor for example have some issues when working together. There aren't a very cooperative atmosphere between most of such pairs.

    That is my most greatest grievance with Blender, still Blender is quite a great software. I really like it.

  85. Bart, what are you doing? :)
    This theme will be one of the longest... How can I search something here? The commenting system isn't well prepared for such large conversations here. It's not BlenderArtists forum.
    I respect all your work but this ought to be moved to BA (or joined with a theme there).

  86. Suggestion for right mouse:
    If you click on an object etc. have it bring up a menu linking to all available panels / operations for that object, armature etc.

    This could jump you to that panel, or open a pop up that disapears after you are done so you don't have to navigate back to where you were before. It also means you don't have to leave the area you are working in. ie you don't have to move your cursor away from a mesh to add a modifier.

    This menu could also be customizable for tasks you do all the time.

    Example:

    Modifiers >
    Textures >
    Constraints >

    This could also be a good training tool, since it would give new users and idea of what can be done with that object without having to know where to go find that context.

    • Constantin Semenoff on

      I really like your idea , I think that will be more easier to find some tools,keyboard something else ,without searching during an eternity the good keys. The Blender community should make a tutorial on how to change the left & right click ,how to change frame to second & other little things that Andrew said in basic tutorial inside Blender in interface . Of course ,with some few extra basic details .

      • No offense, but I'm allergic to words like "community should".

        Community is everyone, you included. You might not have the knowledge to code something, but everyone can make a tutorial, more or less :)
        In every suggestion there is a good chance of failure, and who than the one suggesting deserves the consequences. Imagine someone else makes a tutorial by your suggestion and it proves to be useless. Wouldn't you feel bad for wasting that person's time?
        Nothing personal, I just know how it is to try implement someone else suggestions.

  87. Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

    The issue of ease of use versus functionality is not a new one in computer software. It may be instructive to look back at a historical example or two.

    I suppose you have heard of AutoCAD? Long the dominant player in mid-range Computer Aided Design. Yet by all accounts it is not easy to use: it is not a drawing package where you can sit down and immediately start making shapes, you need a fair amount of intensive training in specifying parameters and constraints before you can become productive.

    A couple of decades ago, a company called Ashlar decided to create a competing CAD package called Vellum. Instead of having to remember all the settings you could apply at each point as with AutoCAD, it would continually provide subtle reminders of the options available, as you were drawing a shape. It won praise from UI experts for its slickness, and for how it made such a complicated task as CAD more approachable.

    Where is Ashlar Vellum now? Gone, disappeared into history. Where is AutoCAD? Still dominant in mid-range CAD. Is it any easier to use? I don’t think so. And the company that made it—Autodesk—was so successful that it went on to build a sizeable empire of acquisitions of software like Maya, Softimage, Mudbox, 3DS and a whole bunch of others.

    In my earlier days as an Apple Mac fan, I was very serious about ease of use and consistency and stability of user interfaces. Consider a commonplace task like word processing: in those days, we had packages like MacWrite and WriteNow, that prided themselves on their careful UI design. And then we had Microsoft Word, full of irritating inconsistencies. Guess which one has survived?

    I remember more than once, UI experts saying that ease of use versus powerful functionality does not have to be an either-or thing, it is possible to have both. Yet time after time, I have seen products with greater functionality, but greater difficulty of use, win out over ones that prioritized the user interface.

    What’s the answer? I don’t know. Is there any software anywhere close to the functionality of Blender, but easier to use? No there isn’t. Others have said that Maya, the industry standard, is (in)famously difficult to use—more difficult to use than Blender, from the sound of it. Blender has already been through one major UI and functionality revamp, with the 2.5x series. Having started to learn Blender around the time of 2.49, I appreciated the importance of the changes, as disruptive and upsetting as they were to a lot of people. Do we need another such major revamp? Or can we just fix up a few minor things from here on?

    • @lawrence

      sure, you can cite examples where complexity won out over simplicity. but you can also cite plenty of examples where simplicity won out.

      computers themselves are a perfect example. how many people who use computers now strictly with a command line interface? the entire concept of a GUI was to make computers more friendly and intuitive and by an overwhelmingly large margin - this system has won out.

      apple has made it a psuedo-religion to make the user experience easy and fun and their market capitalization speaks to their success.

      ------------------------------------

      there is NO need to sacrifice one for the other. especially in this day and age, it is possible to allow options for as many different user modes as desired. just having the option to turn on certain ease of use options is enough.

      and other things like the lmb and rmb not being consistent for select is just ridiculous and pointless. there can be no possible justification for inconsistency like that.

      -------------------------------------------------------

      the rule that's stated in the video is a good one.

      MAINTAIN CONVENTIONS UNLESS:
      - your way is OVERWHELMINGLY AND CLEARLY BETTER.

      and

      - don't be different JUST for difference sake or arbitrarily.
      - be able to ARTICULATE WHY PRECISELY this unconventional way is better.

      don't make the left pedal the gas on your 2014 model just cuz you felt like it.

    • One factor that has to be taken into account with the software you mention (AutoCAD and MS Word, especially) is the amount of advertizing dollars behind the products. These days, it's very difficult to compete in a market where the 800-pound gorilla has such an advantage, even when the 8pG's products are inferior.

      The only product I can think of that didn't have this problem (at least for a while) is Firefox. But I also have no idea who was funding that.

  88. Out of curiousity, I tallied up the reactions to Andrew's proposals. Yes, I read all the responses. If it was unclear if the responder was for or against, I counted them as Undetermined. Also, even if the initial response was not in favour, but the responder proposed changes him/herself, I counted that as "In favour of change."

    In Favour of Change: 68
    NOT In Favour of Change: 11
    Undetermined: 7

    That's 79% in favour of change.

    • Nothing stays forever and changes will be made sooner or later, but I did not vote, because I prefer someone competent making the decision. Majority may easily be wrong.
      Actually I wouldn't mind if blender would require to manually hack the mouse to have a special fourth button, thus breaking away from all standards in the computer world, if it would be efficient.

  89. Everyone who knows the Blender's history, should be thankful to Ton and all the devs who turned a pile of code from a long forgotten conpany in one of the most important open source projects around, and a 3D package that can not be ignored. I think the devs known what they're doing. Users are complaining since Blender turned public. I remember the outdated internal renderer discussion, the lack of ngons war, the euler rotation fans crying.... Now is the interface that keeps Blender out of the industry. C'mon guys, what keeps Blender out of the industry is something called lobby. The interface has issues, we all known, but Blender has proved to be production ready for small and medium studios, and professional freelancers. But it will never replace Maya. There's nothing wrong with the discussion about the issues, but time shows that some users does nothing but complain, and doesn't remember to look back.

    • Agree mostly.
      But it did replaced Maya for me. I feel fear every time I have to get back to it, because I know it will be a headache. Luckily it almost doesn't happen anymore.

    • mostly agree.
      Blender is defintiely production ready and surpasses Maya in some cases..

      I think it could replace Maya eventually, but the money-making machine Autodesk is a formidable organisation, if they decided to stop milking the cash-cow and really put effort into dev Maya would leave Blender in the dust i reckon.
      But....stupidly they dont :P

      So Blender is really taking off. I just hope Blender snowballs enoguh so that even if Autodesk decided to get rear into gear its too late.

      This is coming from an ex-Blender flamer :P now my company is built on Blender.

    • I think you're confusing a desire for improvement with being ungrateful. Perhaps not; that's just the way it sounds.

      I, for one, am grateful. Having some background in programming, I know the kind of effort, knowledge, concentration and dedication it takes to produce even a very simple, GUI-based application. Of course, I also know how much fun it can be when things are going well and the compiler isn't spitting out too many errors, but that's beside the point.

      I also know how much fun it is to create art. If every time I picked up a pencil, I had to think like a PhD in chemistry or physics, it wouldn't be any fun at all, if you know what I mean.

      So, forgive me if I do sound ungrateful; I'm not.

  90. Probably will become TLDR but worth a shot:

    I've heard lots of rants on B.UI
    I'll try to derive logical points from what I understand.
    Please correct me if I misunderstand anything.
    Hopefully we can reach logical consensus or at least understand both sides clearly.

    Some boundaries to prevent misunderstanding:
    Design decision is not the same as time management. What to do is design. Whether there are resources to do it now is time.
    Not being in Blender Foundation we have not enough experience to discuss time, so I suggest discussing design only.
    Some terms:
    Convenience - lack of mental stress (learning included) to perform a task (inconsistency and other general design guide violations are considered stress too),
    efficiency - speed.

    Arguments:
    - Blender does benefits from increased user base, but it does more so from professional user base.
    - Professional users care about results (functionality and efficiency) over convenience.
    - Efficiency is heavily influenced by convenience too.
    - New users are heavily influenced by convenience.

    So, trying to put goals in order, in terms of design decisions (NOT time management):

    First goes functionality, then efficiency, then convenience, with one exception:
    convenience goes highest if it does not degrade other two goals.

    Obvious point of interest to test logic - right/left select:
    Left select adds to convenience thus should be considered.
    Will it interfere with efficiency and functionality? Please point known ideas behind right select.

    • Well, I read the whole post and tried very hard to see your point(s).

      Let's see if I got it:
      You're saying the most important design consideration should be functionality followed by efficiency and convenience? As long as convenience doesn't degrade functionality and efficiency?

      LMB select will add to convenience? But your question is whether or not it will degrade efficiency and functionality?

      I'm one of those people who immediately switched the LMB and RMB (once I found out it was possible and figured out how). I admit I can't think of anything else to use the RMB for except moving the cursor, but that's okay with me. It has to be moved somehow and at this point, it's second nature for me. Going any further than that (adding contextual menus or what-have-you) to the RMB click (and here I think I agree with you) needs some study. Perhaps Ton and his team have already done that; I don't know.

      • Yes, that's exactly what I meant.
        What I'm curious to find is what is the logic behind particular choice so it can be proven as good or bad, thus having universal answer to stop further rants.

        Defining design guides would allow to make consequent decisions with not much space for arguing if done right.
        By no means my chosen points are the best, more important is that we have to choose common logical ground to be constructive and have conclusions not opinions.

  91. (Subscribing to get notifications of new comments by email so I can keep track of it all. Nothing to add except it's a great discussion.)

  92. As always, excellent presentation, Andrew.

    While I agree with many of your points, there are some contrary arguments I'd like to point out that I hope you, the other users and the developers please won't overlook...

    The criteria by which you judge a UI are limited and are in reality different depending on who the target use base is. What you've been using are the criteria for it to be usable and recognizable to EVERYONE. Well, making something that is extremely COMPLEX easy to use by everyone will eventually make it useless to more serious, experienced, professional users. In any system, the truth is that the more complex it is, the less the UI must be focussed for everyone to use it. I can offer several examples.

    MS Word was originally designed so that desktop publishing can be accessible to ordinary people, so not just computer programmers, but also the temp secretary in the office, or my grandmother. Over the years, more and more demands were placed on the software so it has grown into something that can do almost everything, though it really does it BADLY. Professional publishers would not use MS Word, not just because it is a inefficient publishing software, but also because it would slow them down to the point of closing down. What they use, they can use fast, but it isn't a good UI that everyone on the street can walk up to and use. It takes a lot of training to use professional software. Those of you who are familiar with LaTeX, will know what I'm talking about. It is a compiler based publishing software, by which you write your styling commands in a text file inside the actual document, which can be a novel or a journal paper with pictures and figures and tables and equations. It is then compiled and spits out a document ready for the printers. The user has to learn the styling command language, but doesn't have to drag the mouse into a complex menu system , click, drag, click-drag etc. Someone who is fairly experienced, can therefore write a dissertation in a fraction of the time a Word user could style the same thing.

    Another example that I have experience of is FEA software (Finite Element Analysis). Over the years numerous players entered this market. As companies usually go, some bought out others and enhanced their portfolios and each time they would try to change the UI's from the previous owner to fit the style of their particular suite. Well, I can tell you whenever they tried to simplify the UI to make it more user friendly, the software itself became less powerful. And even if you were to streamline the UI, I bet it will become slower to use! There really is some wisdom to all those shortcuts that aren't in the menus!

    Basically it boils down to this: Don't sacrifice the raw power of a complex software like our Blender just to improve User Friendliness. I think most Blender users would prefer steady increases of it's power over spending developing time to a more streamlined UI. I'm not talking about bugs and inconsistencies. I'm talking about a general overhaul of the UI. The UI was overhauled just recently anyway.

    If you do want to go that direction, then please keep in mind the speed at which a task can be accomplished. It takes much longer to find mouse, drag cursor to menu, click item, drag mouse back to work area, etc etc... than to pres CTRL-K and drag.

    All the best and thank you again.

    • I'm not sure MS Word is the best example for your argument, sorry to say. Please bear with me...

      Word started as a word processor, but as you said, it now does everything and quite badly. BUT, as a straight word processor, it's still very usable and having all those toolbars doesn't stop anyone from using the shortcut keys. All those OTHER tacked-on features are the things it does badly, things no word processor was ever meant to do.

      If you compare it to other word processors, it holds its own quite nicely. It's only when you compare it to desktop publishing packages that it becomes a messy, half-baked parody.

      Complex software can be set up for both beginners and advanced users. Take, for instance, Photoshop's little brother, Photoshop Elements. I used Elements before I got the full version and it has a lot of those easy-access for-the-beginner features you mentioned. It also has a fair set of features inherited from Photoshop, too. The standout features it doesn't have which the flagship product does are CMYK and +32-bit format support. Other than that, it works well for users of all levels.

      I think Blender could be the same way and with such a healthy set of preferences, it wouldn't be too much more trouble to be able to set the user level.

      I suppose they could also create a side branch and call it Blender (sic) Elements. :)

      • Not to mention that:

        - in MS Office the shortcut to save is Ctrl+B, while it's Ctrl+S in almost ALL softwares. Why? B, for Bill?
        -in MS Office the shortcut to find something (like a piece of text) is Ctrl+L. It's Ctrl+F (find) in almost ALL softwares.

        Like Blender, MS Office seems to like the charm of be different.

        • I can't imagine which version you're using if Ctrl-B is Save. I have never run across a version of MS Word that had this as a shortcut.

          • Hmm, strange... I'm using 2007 version and it is Ctrl+B the shortcut to save. In all old versions is this one the shortcut. Perhaps this stuff change for country to country... I'm using Brazilian Portuguese version... In this language version, Ctrl+S is for "Sublinhar", it means "underline text".

    • no one is saying to sacrifice power or to dumb down the interface at the cost of the program. they certainly don't want to oversimplify things they're just saying the UI is horrible right now.
      even for a complex program a bad ui just makes it harder on everyone.

      everyone uses shortcuts in blender so much BECAUSE the UI is so bad that shortcuts are the only way to do things in any decent amount of time. even in complicated programs with decent UI's eventually people learn to start using shortcuts for things they do a lot simply because it's faster and easier but the problem with blender is that for the things you don't do all that much you still need to look up shortcuts or tutorials for because it's so badly presented that it's hard to find.

      it's kind of like telling someone "here's this great shed full of tools that you can do all kinds of things with" but when they look inside it's a lot of poorly labeled boxes filled with seemingly random tools or other boxes and very little indication of what's where and what any of it is actually used for.

      the differing screen layouts that come default should come into play here to make some things more obvious and make the common tools for each purpose more front and center so people know that they don't really need ALL this stuff if they just want to make a cool model or animate or motion track or whatever but at the same time give them much easier access to the less commonly used tools in that purpose.

    • For god's sakes, the User Interface was just recently completely overhauled and I think they've done a fantastic job.

      I would much rather see development time spent on adding new functionality making Blender more powerful than spending it on the User Interface.

      The versatility of a system is directly proportional to it's complexity and inversely proportional to it's user friendliness. The more versatile system will dominate the rest of the systems.

      Look, it's basic human nature. If you want to make something accessible to everyone, then it must be dumbed down until it becomes easy for the laziest and dumb & dumbest. Instant cameras are smarter because they have microprocessors making all the tough decisions for you and making photography accessible to the average fool. And guess what - they feature simple easy user interfaces. But, is an instant camera what a professional photographer would use? Seriously.

      • no it isn't inversely proportional. you're reaching for extremes with your examples just to try and push your point.

        by the way you can still adjust a lot of the same settings on your point and shoot camera just not to the extent that you can on a DSLR. while a DSLR will have more features a professional photographer will still be able to take good pictures with either one the same that some amaturecan still take bad pictures with a DSLR even if you know what all the settings do.

        i don't know why you equated user friendliness to pure simplicity of use when that isn't what it means at all.

        it is common sense that more complex software that has more options is going to have a more complex user interface but how that user interface is presented can make complicated software that much more complicated to use and learn, which it does in blender's case, or easier to learn, yes learning still required because it can do a lot of things but in a UI that doesn't force people to constantly look up everything in order to learn how to do it.

        • Oh yes, it absolutely is inversely proportional. It's a natural consequence of the law of the conservation of sorrow.

          • OK, you got me. Ha Ha. For a minute there, I thought you were seriously implying Blender was better than MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR backed development efforts on commercial products like 3DSMax, Maya, etc. simply because Blender's UI is more cumbersome and harder to use.

            But seriously, post the names of Block Buster movies that contain computer generated artifacts or is completely animated where Blender was the tool of choice for the studio and then you would have proved your point. Otherwise, be quiet!

          • I was being serious :) You cannot compare Blender to corporation products on which millions are set aside for development and that is precisely why Blender efforts absolutely must remain focused on functionality and not on the GUI. The law of conservation as stated stands :)

          • So what you're say is that Blender never intends on being a serious player in the industry and is happy being curious oddity at best. And aspiring 3D artists who what to work for major animation and/or CG studios should definitely not focus their talents on using Blender as Blender is just for hobbyist and low budget studios in 3rd world countries? Is that what you're saying?

          • Not what I'm saying at all.

            What I'm saying, is that

            1) The GUI was recently revamped. Don't overhaul it yet again. Instead, focus precious development time on expanding functionality and versatility. I hope I've driven that point in.

            2) Users should keep posting bug-reports and bugs should keep getting fixed.

            3) Do not confuse User Friendliness with Efficiency.

            4) Andrew made a valiant effort, though it is a bit misdirected. There will always be a trade-off between making the User interface more user friendly for a broader user base and the efficiency of the software.

            Look, even the example of remembering the F11 key (last Render) in the video was unfair. I'll prove it to you. How user friendly do you think the average TV remote control is? Pretty well thought out by now, aren't they? Ok, so let me ask you this: How quickly can you recall the position of the mute button on your TV remote control? (without looking of course). Whereabouts is it on the remote? Top-Left, Middle-right, Bottom-Left? Harder than you'd expect isn't it? If you are like most people, then you had to really think about it, no? But if you have it in your hand, then you don't even have to think about it. You can mute the TV instantaneously, because it has become automatic when you have it in your hand. You barely have to look.

            Lastly, don't believe everything you read on the internet.

          • you seem to be confusing user friendliness with efficiency - in that somehow, the two are antithetical.

            so howabout concrete examples.

            currently, rt-click is used in certain contexts like 3d views but with nodes and files it is a lt-click.

            how is that more efficient? how does that make anything better?

            as andrew showed, currently in certain pulldown menus, the pulldown is signified with a down arrow, in other places a dot. how is that more efficient? how does that make anything better?

            are revisions like that really something you disagree with?

          • No, I don't care about any of that. File a bug report or put it in a suggestion box or an email to Ton.

            I question broader inferences that are being reached (as if they are true, because much of it's just plain wrong). And I question any preachings directed at overhauling the user interface at this point, which would be a colossal waste of efforts.

          • I am aware that the UI was recently redone. However, the same ideology was carried through to the new interface that (I believe) drove NaN into bankruptcy. Nobody wanted to buy Blender because of the learning curve involved.

            Blackberry is a great example of a company who failed to stay profitable because they failed to listed to their end users. This "We know what you want and need better than you do" attitude isn't a good long term strategy.

            Even if you built the best shovel in the world, if a potential buyer had to take a 2 week class just to learn how to use it he/she would probably just pick up a regular tried and true one that he already knows how to use. After all, that busted water pipe needs fixing now. :-)

          • Sigh. This is not a product for the masses to use. It is a complex specialized tool.

          • and that's no excuse to not make the ui as good as possible.

            certainly, you're not saying that ui is perfect now?

            and if it's not, why not make it better? why resist the call to put some thought into it?

            even with the most complex types of software possible, it IS possible to have a bad ui.

            there are things in blender that are bad right now.

            those are the things that people say should be changed.

            and the fixes will not make anything less efficient or less versatile or less powerful.

            it will just make things more consistent.

            how is that harmful?

          • If Blender was the Only CG Modeling/Animation product in existence, then I would buy your argument that Blender is a "complex specialized tool" and has no need to listen to end user complaints about it's friendliness. As of now, Blender is just a niche that will never achieve the recognition that the community seems to want it to get. Kind of reminds me of all those die hard Amiga fans out there who are waiting for its reincarnation.

          • Too bad you guys are so against Blender. In the past I've used Maya, AutoCad, Inventor, Rhino and even Animator, which was pretty powerful for it's time. Today, I have a small business and I rely on Blender. It's by no means perfect, but if you're willing to put in the effort, then it is the most economical and it gets the job done rather well.

            Cheers.

          • just so you know i'm not against blender. i love blender. it's one of my favorite softwares and i spend money in the blender shop for the sole reason that it helps support blender.

            that said i'm not blind to it's horrible UI.
            at one point after the UI revamp i had the thought that maybe it didn't really change that much because i was still doing things in very much the same way and having to look up tutorials to figure things out because just about every major tool or command is hidden away somewhere a fair bit less than ideal.

  93. The main point in this thread is that consistency across vendors for like functionality as well as consistency within its own framework is important to most people on the planet who use such technology. The ones who hold the keys to the final commit branch need to pull their head out of the sand so that the world will finally take Blender seriously. Blender has been around for many many years. If you evaluate other open source projects that's been around for quite some time, you will see which ones are powerful as well as widely used. You will also see what separates the popular ones from the rest. The popular ones offer a comparable alternative to their commercial counterparts while maintaining a familiar end user experience. Case in point #1: Just about every person on the planet who accesses the Internet knows about Firefox even if they don't personally use it. Case in point #2: How many of you drivers out there think you can drive just about any car from any manufacturer regardless of whether you are in a left or right side driving country? I would venture to say most would think they could. Why? Because cars offer a familiar user interface, albeit a mechanical one. You get the idea.

    I may get shot for bring this up but someone needs to say it. A long time ago, Blender was a commercial company what went bankrupt and was only later available as an open source product after a community fundraising campaign to pay off debts. Why did it go bankrupt? Probably for many reasons. One possible reason is no one liked the user interface which has changed little since then.

    So far though, I haven't seen any discussion as to why Blender's UI is the way it is (and why changing it is a huge deal). Here's my thoughts:
    1) Blender uses its own "GUI Framework" because early developers didn't want Blender to become bloated by external C++ based frameworks like the Qt framework or maybe just wanted to maintain consistent Look and Feel across all supported platforms.
    2) Blender's internal "GUI Framework" really isn't a well defined framework at all. but rather a collection of GUI element templates that get defined differently depending on who implemented that certain widget.
    3) These coders are also artists who have a mindset that favors their artistic side yielding such thoughts as: (a) Standards are for losers. (b) An artist must not be abound my convention so that the art can flow freely. (c) You must appreciate my artistic implementation because it's art!

  94. Comparing Firefox with Blender makes no sense. Blender will never be famous as Firefox. Firefox is a web browser and anyone with a device connected to internet needs a browser and not a 3D package. A lot of regular people who surfs internet have never installed a Apache server, and this doesn't make Apache unpopular or unsuccessful.

    • @Savio,

      You obviously did not understand what I was actually comparing. Nowhere did I compare Firefox to Blender. Firefox was compared to other Web Browsers. The only comparison between Blender and Firefox would be their licensing and development models. Read my comment again but this time, do it carefully. In doing so, you will see that the point I was making is that Firefox's success is largely do to its ability to be adopted by anyone who is able to surf the net - because there's little to no learning curve.

      • Sorry, my bad. When I read the car interface comparison I thought you was oversimplifying as if a regular driver could drive a F1 just because every car has a steering wheel. So a browser could be compared to a 3D package just because both are software. I apologise.

          • Oh no, I never leave my house except when I go to my job in a public library, what I do, let me see... everyday. But my routine is not the case here. And ad hominem arguments is not the best arguments. And this conversation is going nowhere as is all this UI discussion, as I believe the devs don't care to listen the majority of users complaints. And I don't blame them. I remember when Project Durian's site became a mess of harsh criticism during the Sintel production

  95. i don't get why this warrants so much controversy.

    - is it really best that lt-button is selection in some contexts while it's rt-button is in others? is that better than a single mouse button being selection in all contexts?

    - is it really best that some drop down menus are signified with dots while others are signified with arrows?

    - what's being said is the equivalent of don't put the brake pedal on the right side of the accelerator... or if you're hellbent on doing that (for some reason)... don't alternate between different models and makes.

    but for some reason that drums up all this consternation and defensiveness?

    are changes like these really so zero-sum so that the choice is to EITHER fix things like this vs. developing more features?

  96. lol.

    it's funny. this thread kinda looks like the american public reaction to obamacare. if you ask most of them whether they want "obamacare", they say no. hell no!

    but if you ask them if they want specific things that obama care would provide, they universally love it!

    so it might be more helpful to stop talking about change in broad abstract terms.

    i think it might be more helpful to talk about specifics. and again, my two pet peeves that keep me from even giving blender another chance is:

    - the mouse button used for selecting something is different for different contexts, different things.

    anyone disagree that that is not ideal?

  97. Lawrence D’Oliveiro on

    *Sigh* This was such a hopeful, if passionate discussion, but I see it’s starting to degenerate into a flamefest, no thanks to certain individuals who really should know better.

    Let me try and inject one more bit of actual content here, about a group of professionals who appreciate Blender even in its present form: Valve Software. You may have heard of them? A company that grew out of the modding community, and still respects its roots. The one that is working on a Linux-based “Steambox”, purpose-built for gaming.

    http://libregraphicsworld.org/blog/entry/blender-developers-hired-thanks-to-valve-steam-workshop-donations

  98. I think that if many large changes are made, there should be a preset option in the user prefs to reset blender to the old settings for people who are used to the old shortcuts and mouse clicks. (at least for a little while)

    BTW,
    I thought that the dots in place of arrows were there to tell the user that "this setting is a node input", rather than just any other sort of setting.

  99. I've been reading all these comments with interest and there's one point no one has covered...

    Can anyone give an example of a Blender feature that would suffer if it were:
    - easier to find, and
    - easier to understand.

    I'd like to read about them and the details of how ease of use would negatively impact high-end users.

    • rontarrant....bit of a strawman dont you think....you are assuming of course it IS making it easier to find or understand.

      Even if it makes the feature easier to find or understand, it may make the entirity of the program harder to grasp.

      Imagine putting ALL features one or two clicks away on the UI...what a clutter that would be!

      What i like about Blender, is that i have found it all very sensible out of the multiple CG softwares i have used, it makes sense from an object oriented point of view. However i recognise that i tend to lean towards a programmer's thinking, so yes bias. However i also do alot of design work and colour, light, compositing and animation departments and even in that i think Blender is simple to grasp and easy to work with, the lighting side is weak on features but thats a lack of feature not a rearranging of features. Same with Comp, still far too slow.

      Btw when i used Sun for the first time i went to change the value and automatically changed it by a smaller amount then point even before i knew Blender would work that way. It just made sense.

      • mafster:
        Please give specific details for a specific example of why Blender is better the way it is. I really want to understand that side of this debate.
        Every statement I read that's against the changes Andrew proposes is made in general terms, but there's no way the rest of us will ever understand if we aren't provided with specific, detailed examples. You know, the way Andrew did in his video.

  100. Hmmm....
    Andrew - still here with "us"? :)

    Just to illustrate some of what Andrew might have wanted to point out (things more then ready to change for the better):
    when I started it had been on a DOS machine. While this only outdates me there still is a reason why I feel that Andrew has more then one valid point.

    Got ZBrush when it first came out (got it still), and besides encountering my first convoluted UI this way, it also brought me to Silo for box modeling and the like (still got that one, too).
    So, while Silo is perfect for a lot of things (in 3D, still does not make coffee), it lacks options and functions compared to any of the larger applications.
    Like Blender.
    So, guess it had been 10 years ago or more, I first picked up Blender, bought the attempt of a Blender Bible (illustrations had been printed light grey on white - splendid), and let Blender hibernate instantly (almost).
    Repeated these steps a few times (with and without the parts where I purchased books). Always with the same result.
    You can not really say that I did not try, after all.

    So why did Blender not stick?
    Small example: while box modeling you might want to select either points, faces or sides. Perfectly done by using short key's like a, d, s.
    That is for Silo - in Blender? Forget it! There even had been no way to configure keystrokes for these functions.
    Only with the help of Blender Cookie (and some diving into the "programmers only" area of Blender it had been possible to implement this simple "overhaul".

    Right now - well, I step by each month, look at the new functions, the ones you only get to work if you are willing to bang your head at the same UI over and over again.

    Stubborn? Yep, both of us :), and I seriously believe that even if I change, Blender will not.

    Still I hope for the best (prepared for worse) - good luck, Andrew!

  101. Hi,

    first off all great video, and almost all points I agree with Andrew.
    And of course this is not to point against anyone. I want to be a part of this open discussiion to improve blender's UI.
    I think the reason why UIs are sometimes far away from the users is that they are made by technichians, software developers and engineers. The funktions, button captions or whatever are created out of the engineers mind, not the users mind. The user is only asked when the tool, new function, etc. is ready developed. But then the function has already it's buttons and captions - from the developers - not from the users. Also the workflow and handling for any new feature is made by the developers not by the users. This need to be changed. A feature request is already available to send to blender. But we should also prepare a UI and best workflow for the new feature in advance together with the community and based on that the developers should start to implement.
    Biggest problem for me in Blender is to use the particle system or any other
    simulation. There are too many buttons to get things done.
    Did you ever try to get fluid particles to flow like you want? Forget it! So many buttons, options, settings - depending each other - I could never master it :-(.
    Why smoke simaluation cannot be more easy to setup?
    'Quick smoke' is a good start, but not enough. There should be only few buttons like smoke color, smoke density. But there are so many buttons and it is always a way of try and error to get the results you expect. With particle system it is the same.
    Hopefully in future releases we will get a more user friendly UI.

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