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Author Topic: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions  (Read 10830 times)

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Offline kat

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BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« on: October 25, 2013, 11:33:26 PM »


If you've not yet seen BlenderGuru's talk on Improving Blenders UI and Brecht's UI analysis and challenges from this years Blender Conference (#bcon or #bcon13), do, as they're both worth a watch.

A couple of notable points; first and foremost is Andrews realising the 'mistake' of his initial approach to the problem, it was unfortunately based on not having a more complete grasp of Blenders general environment and program ecosystem, it really isn't like other applications (both points he acknowledges in the talk). His latest modified ideas make much more sense now, not because the original ideas were wrong necessarily, but because they are now more appropriately contextualised with respect to the way Blender works; this is so very important and something initially (and still is in some quarters) grossly underestimated in the clamor for change.

Brecht's talk is much more pragmatic and reasoned around Blender being more akin to a series of editors held in place by a broader program container. This makes it difficult to implement certain types of change because Blender uses the mouse to determine where and what is to be affected by a particular action. As an example of this, open Blender and position the mouse over the 3DView, press "A" and everything is selected; do this over the Properties panel and it collapses whatever property sub-section the mouse happens to be hovering over; do this over the Outliner and all entries listed are highlighted (but not selected).

So, fundamentally, this means that Blender doesn't have the kind of hierarchical structure that might otherwise better lend itself to the type of 'global' changes being discussed in the broader conversation about the UI without perhaps tweaking what's going on under the hood. What then are the repercussions of this? Would it mean the Outliner becoming a 'master' or 'parent' editor to which everything else is subservient or a child - would this then allow for the data selection alluded to in Brecht's talk, about being able to double click a data point in the Outliner and having that open in the respective editor. Allied to this is then a question of whether the Outliner needs to be visible all the time (or at least easily accessible), in such instance how are other panels/editors organised - would it be possible to 'dock' or overlay them given Blender mechanics?

But... all this is sophistry at present and ignores a more pressing and important issue; how much of this UI issue is really to do with Blender truly being "a difficult application to use", versus how much of it is simply down to users not knowing where things are or what they do. The two are not synonymous. Neither is the problem particular to Blender (it's expressly naive to think otherwise it should be noted); anyone new to 3D, irrespective as to the application used, faces the same fundamental obstacle of not knowing what all the buttons do. How then is this problem solved by other software providers. How do they address what is ostensibly an informational issue.

The interesting take-away point from the two talks linked above is the creation of a UI team which Brecht will head (no solid info on other team members at time of writing), and it certainly important they have executive authority so-to-speak - open-source democratisation works to a point before it's just spinning its wheels.

Further Reading

Offline kat

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2013, 07:00:27 AM »
An interesting update on Blender UI development; testing 'tab' based toolshelf content. Basically the toolshelf content (for now?) has been broken down into a set of (not yet finalised) sub-sections each of which has a 'tab' associated with it - which currently reside on the far left of the screen rather than being to the right of the tool column and closer to the 3DView/Workspace. No word on whether tabs can (will) be (able to be) re-ordered, removable or collapsible, but options can be pinned so they remain visible at all times.

Allowance is being built into the system to cater to 'custom' additions - activating an AddOn tool might place further tools in the the toolshelf for example, these have to be considered. Tabs are also aligned vertically, which likely means text labels are images(?) - if more than an allotted(?) amount of tabs are available/used it's not clear as of yet what that means for 'text' or tab display (or what happens if font size/dpi is increased) - do they scroll, shrink, collapse etc..

Although features etc. might change it looks interesting nonetheless so far.

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2013, 08:09:26 PM »
i watched that youtube video and it does look quite useful.

what i'm not at all happy with is in the latest alpha builds, not only can we no longer turn off user preferences > interface > rotate around selection but also ... > input > continuous grab or at least they removed them from the preferences that can get saved and loaded each time blender is run.

ok so those might be bugs, but equally annoying is what appears to a design choice of no longer centering the 3d window's visible layers, when pressing the home key or using 3d view > view menu > view all as some of the scene is now hidden behind the properties panel and or tool shelf if they are open.

i thought blender's ui designers had decided against overlapping windows?

Offline kat

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2013, 09:23:33 PM »
Not keen on using non-public releases for that very reason, features get disabled/removed whilst others are being tested. But yes, BF has not been keen to use overlay property panels post 2.50 for a number of reasons (including it being a step backwards to pre-2.50), least of which is that sort of interfaces transparency is quite resource hungry relative to standard panels and buttons. Would certainly agree that changes which don't provide an immediate and logical benefit should always be optional.

WRT rotating around a selection, rather than using a 'global' setting in Preferences, what they might be opting for is the more user/instance controllable "NumPad." (Del) which focuses the camera/manipulations on selected items.

Might be worth checking the IU page to see what discussion is going on with respect to the points you raise, and/or alert the devs to their being issues if they've not already been made aware of them.

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2013, 10:33:24 PM »
thanks kat, and today was the first time i've seen the new bug tracker site, but i've found the relative page and they are certainly testing those features i mentioned, as well a few others.

i also installed a slightly older alpha/beta (?) version from builder.blender.org of a few days ago, which i had previously downloaded but not installed, and that still allowed these preferences to be saved to the startup file. so maybe they just disabled them over the weekend for some reason?

oh, and i did find where in the older versions of blender we can toggle on or off the feature to use those resource hungry overlay property and tool panels user preferences > system > region overlap

what concerns me the most, is that according to the header of the ui page "these changes have been discussed and approved by UI leads"

so that leaves me with a lack of confidence they are to retain as much of blender's user preferences that existing users are familiar with.

http://developer.blender.org/T37518

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2013, 11:25:30 PM »
another user, or maybe even a dev (?) named senshi, raised the issue that currently the overlay panels also fade in and fade out when toggling, and that he thinks it makes blender "feel slow and bulky" which i personally agree with. also having to pan the 3d window or toggle the property panel, just to be able to edit what underneath it is a pain in the ass to work with, i really hope they leave the option to disable that in preferences.

Offline kat

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2013, 11:27:55 PM »
There looks to be a 'patch' for that rotational issues here. I've never used the feature myself so can't really comment on it beyond what we've already discussed above - I tend to use the focus on selected approach. There's a bit of confusion WRT 'overlap', it looks like for the most part its 'OFF', but why even have it if the panels are to be opaque (not transparent as mentioned here) for reasons mentioned above concerning resources to render it. SMH.

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2013, 12:06:07 AM »
thanks kat, and i just finished reading the whole of that page.

re rotate around selection it's a potentially useful feature that i tested years ago, but it can also be problematic and disorientating. so i have it off be default and use the view selected like you, although i've remapped mine to use the shift + home keys.

i also found in the theme color where to turn off the transparency of the property panels, before i read the others talking about it, but that then leaves the only "benefit" being the 3d view doesn't automatically resize itself when the panel is opened. and currently there is a performance hit on my mid range laptop.

i'm about to read your personal rant in the other ui thread here. i'm also shaking my head in disbelief at some of the things i've seen the ui team do today, and how they aren't even aware of some of the default settings as it is, which all versions of blender can be quickly defaulted to check, as long as we've also saved our personal preferences in a startup file.

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2013, 02:13:14 AM »
campbell, one of the main devs, has apparently disabled the following for the reasons he states:

Quote
Rotate around selection (gives strange behavior too easily)
Region overlap (performance problems)

i haven't yet tested the latest builds but basically this sounds like they reverted the defaults back to how they were a few weeks ago.

https://developer.blender.org/T37518#137


Offline kat

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2013, 12:01:24 PM »
Yep, you can't use overlays and not expect performance hits, that even happened with the panel overlays in Blender 2.49. Why they would realise that and not realise that type of transparency wouldn't cause issues is beyond me.

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2013, 12:51:05 PM »
agreed, and the fact they didn't even thoroughly test these buggy and unintuitive features before announcing this was the way blender was going to be out of the box, for all users, comes across as misguided and incompetent.

i don't have a problem with their code being a work in progress, but the ui team were meant to design blender to be easier to use, while at the same time not hindering experienced users. so far they have been doing the opposite most of the time.

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2013, 08:46:36 PM »
i've just posted a comment on that official ui thread, politely asking campbell to fix the bug/design decision that prevents user preferences from being saved to the startup.blend files.

i first reported this on the 8th dec and it seems redundant to have "user preference options" if we can no longer save them.

am i being unreasonable in wanting to choose my own user preferences?

i don't see any logic in forcing all beta testers to use those "defaults" since experienced beta testers will know where we used to be able to toggle them on or off, and i personally wouldn't mind if the devs asked us to test certain features, but these latest builds are unusable for me due to some of the options they appear to be hard coding now.

Offline Shaderman

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2013, 08:56:51 PM »
Wow, there's a lot of discussion going on there (which I don't have the time to follow  :o).

Offline kat

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2013, 09:59:51 PM »
Yah, I'm unsubscribing from all Blender Comms channels when I get a chance, it's just background noise now that I similarly don't have time to monitor or filter any more. And yes Ratty, these types of experiments shouldn't be being done in 'active' forks of Blender at all. They should know that, but won't listen to anyone telling them. That gets tired and old pretty quick ::)

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: BCon (Blender Conference) and UI discussions
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2013, 11:34:01 PM »
kat, understood and at least i have some good news, one of the users or devs replied to me today saying the user preferences are now saved to a separate file called userpref.blend

the build i was using from the 3rd of dec still had them being saved to the startup.blend as they have been for years. of course, it would of been nice of them to of informed us weeks ago, but i'm not aware of any change logs available to the public.

i also laughed to myself when one other user or dev posted after me in that thread complaining that:

Quote
If something is approved by the leads, why is there a need for further discussion? Further issues can be brought up separately in a separate design task. Just my thought in keeping these more manageable and "closeable". It starts turning into "design by committee" with these open forums.

can i call bs on the elitist fanboyism here without getting in trouble?

seriously, if the blender foundation don't want beta testers reporting bugs and or obvious design flaws, then they should develope blender in a closed environment, like a professional company would likely do.

they can't ask for our help then complain that we find issues. it's not like i was being subjective in my feedback i gave them, but oh well they are a law unto themselves, he he.

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