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Fluid Designer - Modifying Blender's UI


Fluid Designer is a Blender add-on that allows users to create and use parametric model libraries. Part of the project is an completely new user interface which has been entirely coded in Python. In this first development update, Andrew Peele demonstrates the extent of the modifications they applied to Blender's UI.

About the Author

Bart Veldhuizen

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


  1. It is much more than an add-on, closer to a fork really since there are changes to the core code which reach as deep as modifying Blender's data structure. Discussions about getting a branch and eventual inclusion into trunk are still to come.
    As the UI modifications go what we have here is a specialized extension of what already exist and remains. One must understand that the purpose of FD is much, much narrower, designing rooms in the context of the cabinetmaking/millwork trades, than that of Blender as a whole. In that context radically redefining and simplifying the UI becomes a much easier task.
    FD will soon become available for testing: very exiting!

  2. RobSineNomine on


    For me as a Blender beginner this gives me the change to learn in a very natural way (low entry level)
    I like it, can't wait

  3. Very interesting, not sure why they state it will be available for PC (does this mean a Windows only build of their product?) I agree that there are some nice UI decisions made that could help new users. A debate that has raged in the community for a while now.

  4. jefferson moreira on

    New interface, without destroy the current UÍ
    this is very interesting, especially in this moment.
    Congratulations Andrew.

  5. That.. is .. totally WICKED! :) Great work and awesome presentation. Looking forward for the gory details in the next videos. On the topic of redesigning the Blender UI.. one day perhaps some smart kid will come up with a 123D add-on of the Blender UI to make the interface suitable (simple enough) for a 6 year old blender explorer :) Perhaps with an option to gradually increase the complexity of the interface as the 6 year olds gets familiar with the simpler interface they can move up to a more complex interface.

  6. These are incredible news!! There are so many good ideas that I always wanted to have in Blender. And now all those dreams seems to become reality :-))
    Many ideas in this project could be very useful when it comes to a redesign of the Blender UI. For example the way of applying and assigning materials to objects, only to name one of it. I really hope that the Blender UI team takes a closer look to all these concepts used here and decide to implement some ideas into the official trunk.

    I only have one wish to the future, an archictecture addon ("Fluid Architect"?) which does similar stuff in the field of architectur or archiviz.

  7. These are incredible news!! There are so many good ideas that I always wanted to have in Blender. And now all those dreams seems to become reality :-))

    Many ideas in this project could be very useful when it comes to a redesign of the Blender UI. For example the way of applying and assigning materials to objects, only to name one of it. I really hope that the Blender UI team takes a closer look to all these concepts used here and decide to implement some ideas into the official trunk.

    I only have one wish to the future, an archictecture addon ("Fluid Architect"?) which does similar stuff in the field of architectur or archiviz.

  8. Kirill Trideshny on

    Great interface for the architectural designers! I hope that many of these things will be implemented in the core of Blender. Drag-n-drop material assignment and models' placement is really helpful! Proved in Modo :)

  9. Craig Richardson on

    I fell in love when I saw the asset management system, apparently an asset management system is going to be developed during the gooseberry project, well all I can say is that until then I can just use this little addon lol, such a little addon but yet adds loads of features.

    This may have been created for a very specific purpose, however its actual use will be I believe a lot wider than that, just from what I have seen, you will be able to use it is an asset management system of sorts, it adds drag and drop capability, I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I had seen that, you will also be able to create architectural models much easier, this might even allow the creation of models for games.

    However if this does actually get added to the official trunk, which I very much hope it does, other areas of blender will benefit, like adding drag and drop capabilities to other areas of blender, for instance the library in this could be made into its own editor (please note he never actually said and I don't actually know whether or bot it is a separate editor) and improved into a more powerful Asset management system, like the one that is currently being created by the gooseberry project.

    and you never know if we get drag and drop capability implemented in other areas of blender, its not hard to believe that copy and pasts functionality come as a by product of that implementation or at the least if we are lucky they might also include copy and paste functionality lol, I can always dream, I am an artist after all, that is what we do.

    • Asset management (and default materials, no more noding from scratch) is really the last bit of improvement Blender needs to be a serious contender for the best 3D modeling/editing/rendering software. The current method is too time consuming to be a viable project center, and why you normally hear of Blender used as a secondary software for minor additions (i.e. flocks of birds) rather than the central focus. Add in an intuitive UI (funny how all the best mods have left click select and right click menu right? Right now mouse button 3 is ignored, so just have left select, right menu, center being the current left click) and it can easily be the go to program for many.

  10. Raindrops From Sky on

    A tale of two Andrews!

    Andrew-I shows us what is possible; and Andrew-II shows us that it can be done (and fast).
    Wikipedia says "Andrew" means 'brave'. I agree.

  11. FluxCapacitance on

    I was recently at a Solidworks seminar covering (patented) API usage for automating cabinet fabrication. The customer filled in dimensions on text boxes online, and the API would generate cost, drawings, bill of materials, CNC code for all panels, and work orders -automatically. FD, as a start, blows a text box interface away any day (or you could have both). Lots of nice real world applications with Blender! Great presentation.

  12. Andries Koorzen on

    I am... awed by your work! Good luck with the development. It never fails to surprise me what people come up with

  13. As somebody also making a custom special-purpose version of Blender, I feel I can learn a lot from these videos. I, too, am putting some properties into the tools panel, since the location/rotation fields are really an extension of the translate/rotate tools.

      • I'm making a Powerpoint alternative with the game engine called "BlendShow", due to feeling limited by current options. I haven't released any alpha version or demo videos yet because of time(computer died, mom had a stroke, sleep issues, etc. etc...), but I've done a lot of experiments over the past year to test viability and even used the game engine at 2 church events, which brought to light several new issues I hadn't thought of(Game engine doesn't let you choose which screen to display on? Fix: run in a fullscreen Blender window w/ no interface).
        At Christmas, I used the game engine mostly for simple stuff(video display with transitions, exact positioning and tiling, tilting the videos on one song), but for the finale I put a twinkling starfield video on the inside of a cylinder and spun it at 2 different speeds( ). Nothing spectacular, and I shouldn't have deactivated the speed I considered dizzying(small bursts would have been fine), but the interactivity was a nice touch and pushed development on parts of BlendShow, mostly with video display and game logic. I've been meaning to do a writeup on the event at but time hasn't allowed. I did do a writeup on the Halloween-alternative event "Kidfest", though it was just a still image created in Blender and spotlights that light up when you hit the space bar, due to time constraints.

        The interface for BlendShow will be similar to the top presentation programs, thanks to the extreme customizability of Blender. The font selection is going to be a challenge to simplify, but I've figured out most of the other challenges, including the fact that 3d text doesn't work in the game engine(it'll duplicate, parent, and convert it to mesh within the editor, setting the editable text to not render in the game engine). The customizations will hopefully be mostly via plugins and a startup.blend file, for ease of importing new versions of Blender, and some plugins should have some use in Blender itself, like for game development.
        As soon as I release an alpha version or a demo of the features and interface, you'll of course be one of the first to know, heh.

  14. I hope that a lot of the UI changes will become part of the official Blender trunk. There are many well designed ideas in Fluid Designer. For example the way of dealing with materials.

    • Can anybody help me install these scripts so I can start using Fluid Designer? I am not familiar with editing Blender's scripts and defaults

      • They require some changes to Blender's core that Peele's team is trying to integrate at the moment. Once they're done, it shouldn't too hard to install.

  15. i am really intrigued by this product. i wonder how many "libraries" we can think of? for me, as an illustrator in the aviation industry, there are all kinds of hardware libraries that i can think of that would help in the process of creating illustrations and animations.

  16. masterxeon1001 on

    i hope this kickstarts some of the main branch features. This is a much different blender than the one i grew up with by so i worry about too much change, But keyshotting in blender is important.

  17. The assorted videos showcasing what Fluid Designer can do are just marvelous!! My dad was a structural-engineer and architect for well over 40 years, but could never make the leap to computer-based engineering. THIS would probably have changed his mind! :o)

    Alas, for the moment there does not seem to be a MACINTOSH enabled version of the free beta…
    I hope somebody hurries up just a bit, and brings one out…. Since this is (supposedly) user-modifiable code…. what’s involved with recompiling the source code (?) and doing a Mac version?

  18. That company is NOT off the internet;


    They give their corporate HQ as being at : 444 South Haskell Street, Central Point, Oregon USA

    their toll free number is Toll Free: 800-204-0913 | Local: 541-664-1625.

    They'll post on their site a reseller closest to you.

    The renderer they have tweaked and it is better than present day Cycles, and the Internal renderer put together.

    The algorithm they have for assembling a furnished kitchen with cabinets and appliances, is to be amazed.

    They have improved on Blenders ability to model and finish an Interior room in a domestic house lifestyle.

    Why doesn't Blender have at least as good a renderer as Fluid Design has?

  19. Well, I am trying to get a list of some solid (more or less capable) applications based on blender (to analyze them and do my own one), no matter what it serves as a purpose. Fluid Designer is interesting, but is still Windows only, moreover the GitHub repository hasn't been updated for about a year now. The other point is, FD hacks the core C blender's source code, and I would like to remain in the python scope for my "tweaky" application. So here are my questions:

    1/ Does anyone know about other applications doing this (tweaking blender GUI in depth to serve a specific field, meaning hiding most of the blender's features to the user and create or make more user friendly some others)?
    2/ Does anyone has good and deep pointers on literature regarding how to perform this (tutorials, cook books)?

    Thanks a lot by advance for any useful material ;).

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