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Blender 2.66 Released

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the get-it-while-it's-hot dept.

Graphics 158

First time accepted submitter hochl writes "The Blender Foundation has announced a new release of the popular, free 3D design program Blender. From the release page: The Blender Foundation and online developer community is proud to present Blender 2.66. This release contains long awaited features like rigid body physics simulation, dynamic topology sculpting and matcap display. Other new features include Cycles hair rendering, support for high pixel density displays, much better handling of premultiplied and straight alpha transparency, a vertex bevel tool, a mesh cache modifier and a new SPH particle fluid dynamics solver."

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LOL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974127)

I'll blend yer dick.

Re:LOL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974323)

Will you mince?

Sweet! (1)

mapuche (41699) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974131)

Lots of nice new little features!

Re:Sweet! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974293)

Maya is much, much better. This is basically something for kids to play with to find out if they're interested in moving on into more complex and powerful applications.

Re:Sweet! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974411)

Maya = Closed Source software from Autodesk
Blender = Open Source software
You are comparing orange to apple, two different things...

Re:Sweet! (2)

JakeBurn (2731457) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974589)

He's actually trying to compare a $3700 apple with a free orange. If we're talking about people who don't like to pirate the software they use there's little reason for anyone who isn't a professional artist using company funds to ever think twice about Maya. Complete and total waste of money for 99% of anyone doing anything with 3d modelling programs.

Re:Sweet! (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975345)

While that is true I think the Blender guys really don't get enough credit. Sure the UI is complex and some might say PITA but when you are dealing with 3D animation frankly its gonna be complex no matter how you slice it and Big Buck Bunny shows that Blender CAN make studio quality animation and at the end of the day its the product that people care about and Blender can obviously make compelling animation.

But you really can't compare something like Maya and Photoshop to a free tool like Blender or Gimp simply because of the difference in budget. I'm sure the Blender and Gimp devs would love to have every feature that their counterparts have but they don't have a fiftieth of the budget that the big boys so one really has to take that into consideration.All in all I think the Blender guys really deserve kudos, they have made a pretty nice tool that anybody can have for free that can make top notch animation if you are willing to put in the time.

Sometimes open source loses ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975347)

Maya = Closed Source software from Autodesk
Blender = Open Source software
You are comparing orange to apple, two different things...

No. He is comparing two similar pieces of software. The fact that their respective developers are organized and funded differently does not change the fact that these are similar pieces of software. Open source is not some panacea, there is no law of nature that says it will deliver the better product, it will at times suffer from a lack of *capable* volunteers and/or a lack of subsidies/donations to hire paid professionals.

Re:Sometimes open source loses ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975457)

One is open source, which mean if you don't like it you can improve it.
The other is close source, which mean if you don't like, tough luck, you lost your hard earned money.

So he is comparing apples to oranges.

Re:Sometimes open source loses ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42976143)

One is open source, which mean if you don't like it you can improve it.

The Blender manual claims it has been usable since 1994. If it is still inferior after everyone has had the source code for nearly 20 years then your argument has failed.

The other is close source, which mean if you don't like, tough luck, you lost your hard earned money.

Which fails to address the specific point in this argument. That the closed source app is considered superior in numerous ways by its target audience. You are merely offering a straw man.

So he is comparing apples to oranges.

No. The two software products address the same audience and the same tasks. The method of organization and funding is irrelevant. It is an apples to apples comparison, merely the case where one apple is preferred over the other, admittedly the preferred product being unaffordable by hobbyists.

Re:Sometimes open source loses ... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42976457)

The Blender manual claims it has been usable since 1994. If it is still inferior after everyone has had the source code for nearly 20 years then your argument has failed.

The only failure here is your total lack of any research.

  Blender was a closed source program for roughly the first ten years of its life. The company, NaN (Not a Number), inc. was one of those profitable small businesses that got caught in the fallout from the dotcom collapse, and went under. They had begun Blender as an in-house tool for their own artists, but began selling it in the latter years; the folks who bought Blender and loved it managed to raise the cash to purchase the source code and copyrights from the now-defunct NaN, and released it as open source.

  It was a small community working on it until the past few years.

Re:Sweet! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974429)

I'll consider using Maya when they give it away for free including its source code.

Re:Sweet! (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974543)

I think they're doing just fine without your patronage.

Re:Sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974943)

so then where's your snappy response to the off-topic dickwaving GP was in response to? if maya doesn't need one AC's patronage, surely it doesn't need another AC's promotion, either?

Re:Sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975083)

But blender needs your dick waving. It. Can't. Survive. Without. It.

Re:Sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975727)

Can't. Write. A. Post. Without. Using. Lots. Of. Periods. 'Cause. Kids. Think. It. Is. Cool. I. Call. It. Shatner. Style.

Re:Sweet! (1)

Genda (560240) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976505)

What are you? Some kind of Rocket MAN... burning out your fuse up here alone?

Re:Sweet! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975519)

I think they're doing just fine without your patronage.

And I think we're doing just fine without their product. So everyone's happy! Finally, a good ending to all this!

Re:Sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975389)

I'll consider using Maya when they give it away for free including its source code.

You are not disproving the GP's assertion. You are merely identifying yourself as the curious kiddie rather than the professional.

Re:Sweet! (3, Insightful)

postofreason (1305523) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975493)

Blender can make movies that look absolutely professional. Isn't that what it's all about at the end of the day?

Re:Sweet! (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976053)

No, ease-of-use and supported workflowa are easily far more important than the end result. If the tool is hard to use and/or makes you have to waste time retooling your workflow most people will pass. Their time is not worthless.

Re:Sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42976209)

Blender can make movies that look absolutely professional. Isn't that what it's all about at the end of the day?

If you are a hobbyist, yes. If you are a professional, no.

Re:Sweet! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975771)

Yes, I suppose any professional maya user would be ashamed to show off this kid stuff: http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?281902-Queen-of-the-destruction

Blender is catching up to the feature sets of the big commercial packages at an accelerating rate. Right now I would agree it's not appropriate for a big-budget VFX workflow, but for stills and small animations it's more than adequate to get professional results - if you give it a chance and know what you are doing in the first place.

Re:Sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42977965)

You've obviously haven't tried blender for a while (or mayebe never), i have used Maya, Softimage, 3DsMax, Lightwave and others, to see the difference between blender and those that still live (Maya, 3DSmax sold to autodesk, lightwave, wich wasn't very intuitive until V6 , houdini that was waaaay to expensive), and frankly my dear, i don't give a damn... Blender rulez, there's nothing you can't do with blender (thanks to python and some c bindings.....) it'll take you a lot more bucks and time to extend maya for example: buy visual studio, learn mayascript instead of something standard : ( apt-get ) install GCC Python wget the source and build it yourself, ps with python you don't even need to do some C / C++ (id but still, for most stuff you can just script it since it integrates with your system and most bindings already exist....)

Usability (4, Informative)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974337)

Good on the Blender crew for plugging away at it. When I saw "UI and Usability" my heart leapt, until I saw that was about Retina. The UI in Blender is pretty much the best example of how not to design a UI. The UI has grown by evolution and not by sensible design. Every time I have to use Blender I wish for something better - not in terms of features (although improved reliability of import and export formats would be nice), but in terms of usability. Navigation is loathsome and I find to be troublesome as UI panels don't seem logically arranged to me (its hard to get from import to 3D view and back using menus, so you have to remember the accelerators instead). I hope that someone takes the bull by the horns and rationalizes the Blender UI (sorry, my development time is on another project).

Re:Usability (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974455)

No kidding. Blender's UI sucks ass. It's not an evolutionary thing, it has always sucked from the beginning. It's an idiotic design.

Use Wings 3D [wings3d.com] or similar (Mirai, Nendo) for a usable interface.

Re:Usability (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974655)

> I am unfamiliar with this workflow
> I have to learn something new
> idiotic design
It must suck to have a slow mind like yours

Re:Usability (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974753)

You obviously have not used tools that are actually good.

I know how to use a variety of tools, including 3DS MAX, and Blender, both of which totally suck ass. It's a poor workflow, period.

Re:Usability (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974967)

Says the nigger trying to greentext on slashdot.

Re:Usability (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42978047)

I am completely sick of this fucking 'blame the user' response from the Open Source fanboi community whenever one of their favorite applications is criticized. I just downloaded and opened Blender 2.66 for the first time a few days ago and the UI is shit. [One example, I followed the instructions in a tutorial, pressed "Render" and now my 3D view is gone. How do I get it back to try something else? No fucking idea. No back button, no menu I can find immediately out of 10 to 12 different popup menus all over the screen, promising menu items with names like "View all layers" or "Home" don't work. Finally I stumbled around a while or Googled and found F11 (Show/Hide Render View). Principles like 'don't surprise the user', 'show controls relevant to the current context', or 'make actions easily reversible' are apparently unknown here.] I get paid to create UIs for a living and if we sold paying customers something like this, the company would be bankrupt in short order. And then when somebody asks for help or asks why the UI has to be so obtuse and unconventional, here's all they get in return:

- You have the source, if you don't like it make it better (not my fucking job dickweed - I'm trying to -USE- the software, not write it).

- It's just a complicated problem space, that's why the UI is so clunky (then explain why other people manage to do better).

- Power users are used to it this way so we don't want to change it (there's such a thing as striking a balance between discoverability, learnability and usability and you missed by a mile).

- You didn't pay anything so you can't complain (I guess we're all twelve years old now).

Sound familiar? It's the same in the forums for Gimp, Handbrake, Blender and lots other open source packages. Tired excuses.

Why not just admit the truth? The people who -contribute- to Open Source software are super-enthusiasts and experts in their domain. They know intuitively exactly what they want the app to do, so they (and pretty much only they) don't need an expressive, well-planned UI. In the rush to provide the most feature-rich solution, the UI is the very last thing on their priority list. I understand. Just don't go treating this like a virtue and insist on heaping sarcasm and disdain on new users who want something better.

Re:Usability (3, Insightful)

nametaken (610866) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974497)

I don't know if you saw, but they completely gutted and redid the UI a while back. It's just my opinion, but I think it's fantastic now. One of the few cases where a project listened and made a good, major change.

Of course you might disagree.

Re:Usability (1)

Nermal6693 (622898) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974857)

I tried Blender for the first time a couple of weeks ago (version 2.65) and I found the UI horrendous. Multiple menu bars, non-standard file browsers, not to mention having to press X instead of Delete to remove objects. I shudder to think what the old UI was like if this is a "new and improved" one.

Re:Usability (1)

mapuche (41699) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975207)

Blender interface is pretty configurable. There's a chance to change the shortcuts to something more standard, like a BlendMax or BlendMaya UI setup. It just requires someone to put some work on this (I know, it takes somone else time).

Daniel Martinez started something with his maxmaya interface:

http://www.daniel3d.com/pepeland/misc/3dstuff/blender/maxmayainterface/maxmayainterface.htm

Re:Usability (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975505)

X is pretty standard for Delete in a lot of packages, the reason is simple: you have your left hand on the keyboard WASD and your right on the mouse, you don't need to reach over to the other side of the keyboard to find the Delete button.

Re:Usability (4, Informative)

kayoshiii (1099149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975581)

the x and delete keys do exactly the same thing in blender. x is also available because delete is a common operation and x is in the part of the keyboard where the left hand normally sits

Re:Usability (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974547)

Actually, you could say the UI is broken. In Blender 2.64 (still applies to 2.66), go to the help menu, and click "Operator Cheat Sheet". The most you see is a small message saying to check something like the operatorlist.txt textblock - and no clue on how to get that.

When an experienced user needs to ask for help on how to use help, then it's time to focus on making Blender usable.

Re:Usability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975113)

You'd think they'd hire a technical writer to document it. You know, like anyone that wants people to use their software would.

Re:Usability (1)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976417)

In addition to software development I'm also trained in the Information Mapping methodology for technical writing. I have worked internationally doing technical writing (as well as software development). Because of this training that is why I think the documentation for Blender is poor and the UI is very poorly laid out in terms of workflow and task completion. I'm pleased that Blender has been made available and is so actively maintained. My criticism is that some proper design of the structure could improve the product immensely.

Re:Usability (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977575)

The question, as I tried to say very rudely above, is how to do that proper design. That's the hard bit that I can't answer after looking at similar things for years and you and all the others that say it should be improved are not even trying to answer.
Just saying "things could be better" doesn't get anyone anywhere.

Re:Usability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42977525)

Operator Cheat Sheet is a list of API operators for coders to write add-ons with. If that's actually what you want, you can switch the 3D view to a text editor and look at it.

Re:Usability (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974595)

So Kid - how do you go about designing a GUI for handling 3D objects shown on a 2D screen?
AutoCAD etc has had interfaces just as initially confusing for decades without much obvious improvement (apart from the hack of hiding stuff in menus) simply because when you are displaying a lot of options at once the GUI gets busy.

Re:Usability (4, Informative)

sg_oneill (159032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974871)

Pretty much how Max, Maya or Cinema4d are doing it. You should be able to open a new program and see at a glance how the basic operations are performed, and if you can't find out how to do it without consulting a manual. Blender is the only 3d software I know where its impossible to learn without a manual.

UI design isn't a black art, its a science with a lot of research behind it and its abundantly clear the blender team never consulted with it. Its an undoubtably power piece of software, and with inbuilt sculpting and matchmoving (I think), it may well be one of the most powerful 3D pieces of software on the market. But if nobody knows how to use the damn thing, it'll never achieve its goal of bringing that power to the masses.

Tough decisions need to be made that will disrupt the comfort of the power users by adjusting for workflow and ease of learning. My understanding is that blender can be operated well with a keyboard, and that doesn't need to change at all since keyboard shortcuts are largely non-discoverable. But The UI needs a massive redesign to create discoverability for new users.

Re:Usability (1)

del_diablo (1747634) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975101)

Seriously, I am only saying this:
>Implying Blender has a bad UI

Re:Usability (0)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975263)

Blender is the only 3d software I know where its impossible to learn without a manual.

That is simply showing how shallowly you delve into such applications and not informing us of anything useful.

Re:Usability (1)

postofreason (1305523) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976019)

In-as-much as the UI relies upon keyboard input (and non-standard keys at that - a la 'X' instead of [delete]) the previous poster cannot be gainsayed, because the keyboard shortcuts are, as he pointed out, non-discoverable. I won't even touch on the use of right-click selection rather than left.

Re:Usability (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976329)

In-as-much as the UI relies upon keyboard input

See also AutoCAD for another example with a lot of keyboard input. They've been tweaking their UI for a couple of decades but decided it's still a good idea.
It's not a simple 2D raster graphics thing like photoshop and 3D is hard to manipulate with software until you get used to it. I've never seen an interface to a effective 3D object modelling program that doesn't look as if someone threw box of little tiles all over the place.
I agree that it's initially confusing to see such a large number of options in front of you at once but dumbing it down probably slows down the workflow of people that know how to use those options.

Re:Usability (1)

Marxdot (2699183) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977115)

There are no "standard keys".

Also, baby duck syndrome.

Re:Usability (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976797)

Blender is the only 3d software I know where its impossible to learn without a manual.

That is simply showing how shallowly you delve into such applications and not informing us of anything useful.

blender is also one of the apps for which it's fucking hard to find a manual that's actually anything like the version you downloaded!

they should look at moray(old, not so capable 3d modelling sw) built in help and go from that. that is, the application should have a bundled in help/tutorials WHICH WOULD BE KEPT UP TO DATE and would hold your hand through the features.

Re:Usability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42976539)

There are keyboard hints in many, if not most places. Perhaps your tooltips were off? To be honest, I was completely confused by the Cinema4d's UI at first and very quick to dive in to Maya's, both without reading the manual.

Re:Usability (1)

Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976969)

Blender is the only 3d software I know where its impossible to learn without a manual.

What else do you know, then? As just another "pro", I don't feel ashamed to say that I was unable to get anything out of Cinema 4D without the manual when I tried for the first time. Not even to talk about AutoCAD in 3D mode. I dare to claim that practically nobody will get anything three-dimensional done using AutoCAD without the help of a manual (still hard enough) or some training. Maybe newer versions are better, but anything I've seen between 1992 and 2009 was just terrible.

This applies even to 3D software said to be user-friendly, like p.e. VectorWorks. I've seen three freshman classes start with VW and C4D at the university - but I've never seen anyone successfully design even 2D objects without training. I don't say that Blender's interface or documentation are very good (especially the documentation is plain awful, IMO.) But I don't think other tools of similar complexity are that much easier to handle.

Re:Usability (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977413)

Some time ago, I decided to try creating some models for 3D printing. I'd never used a 3d CAD package before. I do have experience with 2D vector programs, mainly Adobe Illustrator.

So I started by trying several CAD apps. I'd download one and try to create a simple shape (cube, cylinder).
- Sketchup is great. You're up and running in seconds. The version I used had one big flaw though: there was no way to enter exact dimensions for an object. So no Sketchup for me. (The latest version may be more capable in this regard, though).
I tried several others, including Blender (may have been before the UI redesign). All failed this test. If I can't figure out how to draw a rectangle, you're doing something wrong.

In the end I used Inivis AC3D, which did pass the test.

I've also found that a 3D controller (e.g. the 3DConnexion ones) makes life much simpler than trying to rotate/pan/zoom your object with the mouse. There's no standard gesture for these operations, so each program works differently. This wreaks havoc when you need several programs to create your model (AC3D and Netfabb, in my case).

Re:Usability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42977097)

I don't know about the other two, but you can not figure out Maya without a tutorial/manual and I have used various other 3D tools before.
Those other 3D tools also require you to read the manual.

3D tools are very complex some work differently then others and non can be used without a manual.

Re:Usability (1)

teatimebing (992928) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977245)

Very untrue. Softimage, max, and Maya all now under the guise of Autodesk, all 3 on first start up throw Introductory videos on how to perform basic navigation, and choose the more common manipulators.

Re:Usability (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977403)

I've got no problem with the "hard to learn, easy and fast to use" philosophy of Blender.
It's basically the same with Emacs/Vim.
You want an "easy to learn, not so powerful and not so easy to do advanced stuff"?
Use Sketchup and Notepad.

Re:Usability (-1)

shaitand (626655) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974883)

"So Kid"

Your need to irrationally belittle those around you reveals deep rooted personal insecurity. It might just be that you don't believe in your own worth and thus must prove it to yourself and others by constantly trying to assert superiority. Or you may just have a very tiny penis. Either way, making others feel small doesn't make you big. It might make them feel small but it proves you actually are small.

Re:Usability (-1, Flamebait)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975245)

An immature suggestion warrants a response that calls it what it is.

Re:Usability (1)

shaitand (626655) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977483)

I find his criticism of the UI wasn't immature it was constructive. He gave specific examples of problems he was having with the UI. You don't have to know the solution to recognize a problem. You don't have to be able to write the program to know a bug or missing critical feature when you see one. Especially a UI bug or feature.

Obviously the problem is a challenging one or it is safe to say the minds who built an advanced 3D modeling platform wouldn't have built an interface the elicits so much criticism. The developers are free to not care and ignore that criticism and do what they want anyway. Or the devs can file the criticism away and use it as window into the mind of a user. After all, the entire point of an interface is to be intuitive and work the way the users expect. I suspect that the devs are creative problem solvers and exactly the type to be up to that challenge and would want all the constructive criticism they can get.

Re:Usability (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977649)

I'm not a blender developer, and in fact don't even use it much, but I've never seen a "simple" UI to a decent bit of 3D modelling software and can't think of a way to do one without slowing the user down. That's why I put up the rude challenge after a post that initially looked like a childish declaration that it's too hot in summer. Remove the "Kid" bit and it's still a valid question, but don't blame the developers for what an occasional user that's pissed off after hundreds of "it's all too hard" comments over time has written without thinking enough before posting.

would want all the constructive criticism they can get.

That's not what is being posted in all of those "it's all too hard" comments, some of which are probably about older versions of the GUI anyway.

Re:Usability (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975733)

"Your need to irrationally belittle those around you" ... "Or you may just have a very tiny penis."

The irony, it burns.

Re:Usability (0)

shaitand (626655) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977401)

Not all belittling is irrational.

Re:Usability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975353)

Some folks would probably hate me for saying this...

The tabbed layout with a side column in Daz3D's Carrara isn't all that bad. It makes navigating and using previously made content and materials "stupid-easy". In some ways that semi-pro 3D renderer is better thought out in terms of UI than the pro stuff Blender imitates in some aspects. (Most pros don't consider it because Daz3D pushes content more than the rendering engine, and there are still bugs. But despite that Carrara is still a little bit of a gem there. At least try it before you knock it.) More or less, Carrara is probably the most "noob friendly" of commercial 3D software. After that? C4D would be next in line.

For modeling?
In my opinion Wings3D (in Mirai mode) has best workflow for polygon modeling.
(Even with Wings, I might be wierd though as I favor an old 1.3-ish development version as some of the "mechanical style" modeling aspects have been depreciated since. Newer versions seriously nerfed my workflow because certain options were removed from prefs and some of the new "organic modeling" stuff got in the way.)

Blender still has a way to go. However it's supposedly modularized with plugins and skins in mind. If somebody with the right coding skills would take the time to correct what's lacking in comparison to what I mentioned, it wouldn't take too much time to make that powerful software known as Blender a lot more user friendly. No need to keep doing things the hard way just because "that's the way it is, and you'll like it!" (It really could use another and different UI shell on top.)

Re:Usability (1)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976565)

Well, there are numerous ways to improve Blender for those skilled in UI design and workflow. As a software developer and trained technical writer (both with plenty of international experience) I see that changing the structure of Blender could improve the product a great deal. It turns out that in my spare time I'm working on a jet combat flight simulator. It's multi-threaded and cross platform (its written in modern Java, so already works on Linux, Windows and Mac with fantastic runtime performance) and I've recently got multi-player communication going with IEEE 1278.1 (just like a military sim) and a SOAP Webservice. For many graphical tasks I write my own algorithms and GLSL shaders (based on a lot of research on the physics of light transmission, atmospheric extinction etc). That covers most of my needs but occasionally I'll license a complex $1000 model from Turbosquid and I'll need to adjust the mesh or normals. That's where Blender can come in handy for a quick tweak along with many other tools.

Given that a modern flight simulator has very very many components, of which building or importing graphic assets are actually a relatively small part of effort to build a product (smaller than many would think, despite the quality of assets having a big apparent impact) I don't want to spend a great deal of time in Blender if I can help it. I'm not interested in spending ages learning Blender, since I'm more of a casual user and would rather spend the time I have making excellent flight dynamics models and integrating devices like the TrackIR (on all of Windows, Mac and Linux).

So you can arrogantly call me "kid" if you wish. However, it is almost certain I know a great deal more about computer graphics/hardware shaders than the average Blender monkey (not a competition, but I'm no n00b). However, I'm not an expert in Blender and don't wish to be one. I just want to get what I need done (eg. reorganize normals, optimize the mesh, etc) because I have so many other tasks to do than merely create models (although I have zero problem with those that do). Learning Blender is certainly not beyond my capabilities, I have a PhD in Physics (Astrophysics, as part of a gravitational microlensing project that has successfully detected several extra-solar planets). I'm also a software developer and technical writer by day. So learning curve Blender is not a problem - time is.

So I still think my statement is valid. Blender is a great product that suffers from a terrible user interface with poor discoverability for users who are doing 'just-in-time' style learning across a huge breadth of technologies and associated applied mathematics [an even larger set of things to learn] for a real multiplayer application - rather than getting deep into a single thing. Blender could use much a better UI *design*, and it ought to work on doing so. So please drop the conceited and arrogant attitude, you'll do everyone a favor (not least yourself). k?

Re:Usability (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977509)

Since I haven't as yet seen any 3d solid modelling program with more than a handful of features that doesn't look like somebody dumped a wheelbarrow full of icons on the screen I really cannot see how the GUI of any of those things can be dumbed down to a far enough point to stop complaints about confusion and still be useful. Here's why I called you "kid" - your comment (along with many others here on the same subject - sorry about the baggage from reading stuff from a dozen idiots I dumped on you instead of others) came across as a request for instant gratification combined with appearing to not be able to grasp the concept of there being many options available in solid modelling - and also because I used to do this stuff on paper before wrapping my head around the more confusing AutoCAD GUI in around 1988, a few other ones since and much simpler ones like the blender one now (even the earlier one wasn't too bad) . Every time blender gets mentioned there's a pile of posts about how the interface is shit but nothing about why - thus my challenge above. Even though I've got nothing to do with blender the pointless criticism of "it's all too hard" without any suggestions why is annoying. I don't care about your bio where you try to prove I shouldn't be able to call you kid, just about the general level of pointless noise you were part of which may even be about the older interface for all I know. You had a second chance to post something constructive about an item you think should be improved but instead posted a story about how wonderful you are, which, while interesting, adds nothing of use.

Re:Usability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42977619)

For a novice like you it would be better to watch a 10-minutes tutorial instead of bitching on forums about things you have no idea about (Blender Cookie has tons of tutorials, including tutorials about basic things like interface and simple modeling). Don't lie -- time is not an issue, you have already wasted more time on that flamewar than time required to learn basics from tutorials. Of course, learning is not nearly as interesting as bitching forums, so whatever is best for you.

Re:Usability (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42977689)

I am pretty good with 3d graphics as I spent years learning modeling, rigging, shading, sculpting, compositing and so on. Still when I try to get into astrophysics I have a really hard time because the whole bunch of scientists behind it did a really awful job when trying to provide a good entry point for the casual astrophysicist who doesn't want to waste a lot of time on all of that boring math stuff but would rather put their time in improving graphics.
Shame on them!

Re: Usability (4, Informative)

deathguppie (768263) | about a year and a half ago | (#42974961)

Are you even talking about the same product? Or have you actually tried Blender in the last few years? The non overlapping window layout can be modified any way that you desire. Import is on the main file menu in the upper right hand corner at all times.. You can even change the key keymapping to that of Maya with one click in the preferences. I understand when people have valid complaints about products, but what you are saying neither makes any sense or is in any way even truthful.

Re: Usability (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975545)

Yes: Blender's UI *is* slightly obscure. That's probably because it's not really designed for discoverability by someone who has invested a grand total of 10 minutes learning it. Instead, it's designed for people who have to spend all day in the tool, and actually Get Work Done. My suggestion would be to try using Blender and its commercial competitors on projects that take several weeks to complete... *then* compare usability! Blender's UI is often actually *praised* when compared with the competition.

However, all that said, efforts have been made to make the UI discoverable since the 2.5 series was release. You can press spacebar to get a large list of filterable commands. The menus also make the vast majority of the commands discoverable.

Re:Usability (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975177)

Yep. Nevermind that they overhauled the UI between 2.4 and 2.6, throwing just about everything away in the process.

Re:Usability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975415)

They redid the UI. It's much better now and keeps getting better. The only thing still throwing me off is the fact that the selection modes aren't standardised between each other and putting the 3d cursor move on left click where it gets constantly clicked accidentally.

Still small annoyances considering how far it's come.

Then swap them (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975569)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

putting the 3d cursor move on left click where it gets constantly clicked accidentally

Swapping left and right mouse buttons so that select is on LMB and move cursor is on RMB is the first thing I do when I set up Blender.

Re:Usability (1)

Mystery00 (1100379) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975489)

So tired of these comments, the UI in Blender is some of the BEST and FASTEST most EFFICIENT there is.

If you want an example of how NOT to design a UI look no further than 3Ds Max.

Re:Usability (1)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976613)

The UI may be fast and efficient. What it is not is 'discoverable'. This makes Blender a pig for those learning it - especially those who know what they want to do (eg. understand computer graphics) and find that trying to get Blender to do what they want is unnecessarily obscure. This appears to be something you don't get, which is why you also fail to understand what so many people are trying to so. I hope this clears the issue people are talking about for you. They are not complaining you can't get by with accelerators or that Blender isn't powerful, they are complaining that accessing that power could be made far more accessible and discoverable with a well-thought out UI design (which is entirely possible for a good designer to do - the trick of design is to orient the interface towards the current task and simplify where you can). Get it now?

ps. the movie "Constantine" rocks!

Re:Usability (3, Insightful)

Mystery00 (1100379) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976843)

Saying 's is not "discoverable" is the same as saying a jet plane's cockpit controls aren't "discoverable". This is a tool for PROFESSIONALS, the only thing they care about is speed, efficiency (time is money) and functionality. If it takes an hour to learn something but then takes 5 minutes to DO something, that is better for a professional than being able to learn something in 5 minutes but then take an hour to actually do your work.

People complaining about Blender's UI are usually kids who jump on the "bad UI" bandwagon because they can't figure out how to make the next Pixar movie in half an hour.

The UI of Blender is very well thought out, for the people that actually use it, and those people are more important than the ones that are still figuring it out. If you want to "discover" how to use it, read the manual, tutorials and learn how 3D production works.

Re:Usability (1)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977293)

Actually, great effort is spent to make aircraft controls as simple and *consistent* as possible. Even beginners can perform basic flight maneuvers in complex aircraft. More complicated things require more study in aircraft, but the simple things remain simple and *obvious* to any pilot with as little as a few hours hands-on training. Think of Einstein who is paraphrased as, "As simple as possible, but no simpler". If simplification of complex systems is good enough for Einstein then its good enough for me. That was the position I tried to outline - Blender can be made simpler, more consistent, and more discoeverable in many places if you think about it. So your aircraft analogy was kinda poor on your part (just shows you understand neither the principles of good software design nor aircraft design - simplify and make consistent where possible).

People complaining about Blender's UI are usually kids who jump on the "bad UI" bandwagon because they can't figure out how to make the next Pixar movie in half an hour.

I know a great deal about computer graphics, since I write a lot of OpenGL (both fixed functionality and GLSL shaders). I also understand a lot of the maths algorithms and modern techniques (parallalx mapping etc). I understand what I'm trying to do, but what I often cannot see is how to do it with Blender. This is because Blender's interface is not discoverable, poorly laid out, and items elided unnecessarily (hidden). I'm not one of the "kids" you lament about. My criticism of the UI is because I'm both a practicing software developer and technical writer and understand the principles of good UI design - and Blender simply doesn't meet them.

The UI of Blender is very well thought out, for the people that actually use it

That is not true. What you are saying is that Blender suits you personally because you have invested a great deal of time to learn it. In fact, the time you have spent learning Blender makes you a worse judge of its interface from the perspective of the requirements of people who are competent and would like to use Blender, but don't want to deal with its interface in the sorry state it is in. There are programs doing far more complicated things than Blender that are far easier (as in intuitive) to use - eg. many software Integrated Development Environments can do a lot more than Blender. It is this property that sets great UI design from mediocre or poor design. Unfortunately it appears you might be good at 3D modelling but are rather clueless about the principles of human-computer interaction and good software UI design.

As an example, take the fantastic product like OmniGraffle for 2D artwork. It is a joy to use even when doing some complex compositions. It is consistent, helpful and works well. It also has pretty good online documentation. In short, a skilled designer put a great deal of thought in (which can also be said for most Apple products - which is why they have often trounced the competition). Most of what you need to do in Blender is actually not that complicated, yet it is a dog to navigate through and the online help is pathetic (eg. non-existent) or woefully out of date; the python messages are not helpful for non-programmers (fortunately I am a developer, but I realise I'm an atypical user) etc etc.

Re:Usability (1)

mikael_j (106439) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977553)

I first tried Blender back when it was a NaN product and not open source. I've downloaded and tried it every now and then since but most of my experience is with Maya and 3dsmax.

I'll agree with those who say that Blender has made huge steps forward. However, the UI feels, to me with experience from other 3D software, a lot like a "programmer UI". It's not just a UI for 3D graphics professionals, it's a UI for Blender-using 3D graphics professionals. That's the problem with it. If you know 3D graphics in general but are unfamiliar with Blender the learning curve can still be a PITA (not as bad as it used to be though, in the past it felt like you were starting over from scratch when going from 3dsmax or Maya to Blender).

Re:Usability (1)

teatimebing (992928) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977225)

What are you talking about? What 3D suite has a GOOD UI? This isn't Drag and Drop magical effects, like those fire writing apps on the iPad. These are complex tools with complex workflows. It's just as "messy" as Maya and Houdini, and as highly customisable. That's the selling point to studios for these apps, customisable. The Zbrush UI is horrific, yet it's praised incredibly because the output is far more important than the method. Modo probably has the best UI in the market, evidently so because people don't talk about it.

Re:Usability (1)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977439)

Many CAD suites have quite decent UIs. They are doing 3D, just in a more logical way (and with different emphasis) on the chaotic artistic "modelling" tools. While not exactly the same the CAD packages can produce 3D meshes with normals, texture coordinates, animations etc etc. The point being that if CAD can have relatively intuitive, discoverable and most importantly *consistent* interfaces, then why can't the modelling tools do it?

Re:Usability (1)

teatimebing (992928) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977515)

Touché, I have had the privilege of using Solidworks about 6 years ago. It is indeed very clean. Maya has had a great modelling toolset for years, but the interface does indeed not do a lot to promote them. Mirai (written in Common Lisp!), had a much more organised approach and separated modelling, animation, texture maps, into different tabs. Same for Softimage.

Re:Usability (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977685)

Which 3D CAD suite with solid modelling do you consider has a decent UI?

Re:Usability (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about a year and a half ago | (#42978237)

part of the problem is that the blender developers have been working on writing the Program and have considered Documentation as SEP.

so what we have is

1 Video "tutorials" that don't document %feature% IN DETAIL (hows about starting with a good transcript of the vids BC??)
2 Outdated and or completely WRONG tutorials (they used an old version and or had a number of nonstandard plugins)
3 a wiki that has MASSIVE sections that are backlinked to older versions

So what i would like to do is as part of a Bad Wolf Ballet project host a set of tutorials using Blender 2.66 (win32).
If anybody would like to step up to help make content (and document how you made whatever) email me directly with the subject Bad Wolf Ballet.

UI (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42974535)

Since 2.5 came out Blender's UI has improved incredibly. I now prefer it to tools like 3ds Max and Maya, which feel clunky by comparison. And anyone who says Blender is a toy and can't be used for serious projects clearly doesn't know what they are talking about. Blender can read/write most formats, has excellent rigging and animation tools, an incredible compositor, integrated video editing, UV editing, sculpting, remeshing tools, motion tracking, soft and hard body simulation, hair, network rendering, several renderers available, including the new (excellent) cycles renderer, the list goes on and on. It has improved FBX support now, which means it integrates with most game engine asset pipelines seamlessly. Plus it has fairly easy-to-pick-up python scripting built-in, which means whatever you need that isn't there you can hack in without too much work.

Unlike many OSS projects, the blender foundation does a really good job of accepting patches, and creating branches for what seem at first to be random ideas, that quickly develop into can't-live-without features. And yes, that does lead to some bloat, but so what -- it's still a fraction of the size of 3dsMax, and far more functional in most areas.

Seriously, if you haven't tried Blender since 2.49, you haven't used blender at all.

Heh, captcha "approval"

Re:UI (1)

wilhoitm (2794165) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975195)

I agree and correct me if I am wrong but even Maya and 3ds Max have nothing like the Cycles unbiased renderer. With Maya and 3ds Max you have to shelling out $1000 or $2000 more for an external unbiased renderer. I think this "Introduction to Cycles" video says it all http://www.blenderguru.com/videos/introduction-to-cycles [blenderguru.com] Also, once the Pie Menus ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCIoYf8-5pI [youtube.com] ) are added to the next version I think Blender might just be the best out there!

Re:UI (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975981)

Once, when I was young and idealistic, I really had a lot of fun playing around with TrueSpace, and subsequently Blender... for a bit.

Of course, then I got older and got into web development and lost touch with the creative side of things, and this article and your comment comes along.

Cheers, I think I might check out Blender for the first time in 10+ years. I'm sure I'll be delighted at what is possible now.

Re:UI (1)

Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977043)

10 years? Well, prepare to be surprised. I still remember the -horrific- 1.x GUI. Can't believe that I really used it for everyday's work back then.

how bout them changelogs? (3, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975159)

How about linking to the changelog [blender.org] instead of directly to the download page? Or even better, both?

UI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975483)

Blah blah blah I don't like Blender's UI. Um.. yeah no duh it's blender. Blender is sick though, it's awesome to have free open source software out there that does everything it does (and it really does everything.)

Beating a dead horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975525)

ITT: comments about the interface

This is coming from a group of CLI nerds.

That's great and all... (4, Funny)

Tarlus (1000874) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975577)

...but will it blend?

er.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42975795)

Will it blend ... er ... what is it you wanted blended?

Captcha: disposal
No, really.

Regarding the UI (5, Insightful)

razorshark (2843829) | about a year and a half ago | (#42975785)

There have already been several posts about Blender's UI, and the topic of its UI always seems to come up every time a story about Blender appears.

The problem seems to be an assumption about modern software being easy enough to pick up and use without requiring a manual or even a basic tutorial. This might suffice for some software, maybe most, but for a complex 3D development package with thousands of different features and functions, there's a limit as to how far that "dive-in-and-use" approach works. I'm not suggesting there aren't ways the UI could be improved further; of course there are. It's just that sometimes you need to read and study in order to learn, and you can't just click buttons and expect to pick things up from a cursory approach.

3D modelling and development is hard. There are a ton of different things that are expected in modern 3D packages and if Blender is to support them, then that means more buttons, more options, and more complexity. Some of it can be redesigned to provide novice users a less intimidating experience, but it's the nature of the beast, and it's unfair to harp on about it when it's been shown that you CAN use Blender to do good work.

Re:Regarding the UI (1)

socceroos (1374367) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976249)

Well said. Blender has come so far since the 2.49 series. I actually find the interface in Blender to be far and away the quickest workflow in any 3D package I've used.

OSS graphics tools (3, Informative)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976327)

While the desktop is always a bit broken, at least the open source graphics tools for Linux are excellent.

- Blender
- Inkscape
- Gimp

There might be some certain enterprise features missing, but the tools are not "broken" in any way. The pack is completely usable for semi-professional work right now.

This works, and should be improved even further.

Please specify why the Maya UI is easier to use (2)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976411)

Please specify why the Maya UI (or any other 3D package) is easier to use than the Blender UI. I've never used Maya and would like to get some idea what are the differences.

Please be specific.

Re:Please specify why the Maya UI is easier to use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42977055)

Please specify why the Maya UI (or any other 3D package) is easier to use than the Blender UI. I've never used Maya and would like to get some idea what are the differences.

Please be specific.

It costs money! After spending a big wad of cash on it, I'm sure as hell not going to admit there's anything else worth using, especially if it costs nothing! I hate you hippies SO MUCH right now!

Complexity redux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42976641)

The depth of features available to a dedicated Blender user is staggering. You can make an full-length feature without ever leaving Blender, including a spin-off game, promotional material etc and programme anything missing with proper python integration including basic IDE, on ANY computer and OS out-of-the-box, for free, with the possible exception of writing music and foley, NOTHING else needed except an investment of time and intelligence. A true swiss army knife of cinematography. Amazing!

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42976677)

"Bite my highly specular metal ass."

Blender isn't for defeatists (1)

freedom_surfer (203272) | about a year and a half ago | (#42976689)

Blender is an awesome tool that just gets better by the day. Defeatists won't like it because it takes effort to learn how to use it. However once you do, you'll be addicted and basically only be limited by your imagination and your willingness to learn more. It is such a powerful tool that even after using it for almost 4 years now I still learn new abilities and hack gems outside of the new stuff that is added all the time.

I can't thank the blender devs enough. Keep up the good work and don't let the haters get you down. Our community is better off without people who don't contribute more than insults and complaints. Which reminds me, time to make another donation. I now make a living doing something I actually enjoy because of blender.

Blender is FREE (2)

Quakeulf (2650167) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977461)

What part of free do you not understand? Stop complaining about it. You have no reason at all. I switched from 3Dsmax to Blender and have never looked back. Seamless integration with the Unity made it superior as a development tool for graphics and animations. Whenever I see people complain about a free product like Blender for petty reasons remember that jumping off a bridge is free too.

with power comes complexity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42977617)

Once again many bad comments about the UI of blender prompt me to make my first post here!
I used max, Maya and hundreds of other commercial and opensource. software in the past 20 years of my career. Blender offers tbe best interface EVER, but you have to get used to it like any new user interface. You can't expect to enter in an airplane cockpit and start flying just by randomly clicking around.
Once you blend your mind around it makes sense and you wish every software had the same UI paradigm, I never been so productive but It takes time and dedication and it pays off considering it has some unique features all in one single neat package.
Which other software you know off where you can customize the UI just by right clicking in the panel and run your own python script?
Also consider that 3d ain't easy to grasp but the blender community offers greats tutorials like no other but infos are a bit spread around several sites. Besides all this, the people I met behind the foundation are special and deserve a big kudos
Eli
(Italy)

2.66? (1)

sa1lnr (669048) | about a year and a half ago | (#42977915)

Hah, 2.66a will be out in a day or so. :)

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