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Video: what Blender’s interface should look like

Thursday, October 17th, 2013 | Posted by Jim Thacker

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Blender Guru’s Andrew Price recently got a lot of praise on community forums for his clearly argued analysis of why Blender’s interface is ‘broken’.

In his latest video, Price puts his money where his mouth is, at least figuratively speaking, and presents some concrete proposals for redesigning that interface.

More conventional – but too much like Autodesk?
His suggestions, which include a contextual sidebar and a more conventional layers panel, would make Blender look far more like an Adobe or Autodesk app – the mock-up of the UI Price uses to demonstrate the use of tabs and drop-downs looks rather like 3ds Max’s modelling ribbon on steroids.

Perhaps partly as a result, the new video has proved more controversial than its predecessors. A post on BlenderNation labelling the proposed UI a “Max/Photoshop copy for idiots” is fairly typical of its detractors.

But there are also a lot of people posting in support of some or all of the ideas, and a lot of people simply debating the issues. And as before, the new video is slickly presented and persuasively argued.

Watch it above, then add your ten cents to the debate via one of the links below.

Comment on the proposals on Blender Guru
(Includes the full text of the video and some interesting survey data)

Comment on the proposals on BlenderNation
(Generally more negative feedback than on Blender Guru)

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  • Chris Sederqvist

    This would possibly keep first-time users actually continue using Blender, instead of how it is now, where a Max or Maya user opens Blender, doesn’t understand anything AT ALL. Not even how to select elements, you know. So, I’m absolutely pro these changes.

  • RazorXcom

    It’s pretty clear Andrew knows what he’s talking about in UI development. They would be wise to listen to his suggestions if they want to increase the Blender user base. I previously stopped using Blender because the UI was too convoluted. It eventually dissuades people from using it.

  • Ste We

    There is no difference in the learning curve between Blender or Max and others, because everything in 3D is complex and needs a lot of options. To really improve the GUI, it’s not at all necessary to show (off?) a new colorscheme and Icons, that take even more space, than the old adjustable scroll-pads. Andrews proposal simply takes away all the options and buttons, that are needed constantly, pretending to be therefore simple. The design looks like an overtabbed Word-2010-Clone, which doesn’t add any usability-advantage whatsoever and completely ignores the possibilities of the existing design. It’s not a shame for someone experimenting UI-design for the first time, but it’s a shame quite some people like the illusion, that this desperate design-sketch would make a better Interface somehow!

  • Robert Cummings

    Blender seems smashed together by different programmers over time, with no clue of how creativity really works, or having any stable grounding in art. The curse of open source is the lack of strong direction. It’s the reason we’d rather all pay for max at our company. If this gui change could be optional, there is no negative to doing so, thus bringing more creativity and more talent to blender, thereby improving blender. Resisting change for zero reason is a good reason for it to remain a bastard stepchild in the creative world.

  • http://www.handpaintedtextures.com Jimmy Livefjord

    A really nice presentation, some serious effort was put in to make a change for the better.I think open source community’s are the best thing in the world, it really is something special when you feel that everyone is helping out. There is also a backside to this and that is that a lot of people who contribute to open source projects always seems to think that everything HAS TO BE DIFFERENT, why?

    Big programs like Maya and Max are a pain to work with so I understand why making a unique UI for blender was needed. But why in the world would you select with the right mouse button? What is the benefit of that?

    I find it flabbergasting to hear that Blender is to complex to change, I mean Jesus Christ Its built on Python! Also everyone else change the UI with their own scripting!

    I think Andrews Ui idea looks like a clean version of the windows ribbon menus. Ideas are ideas,when you actually make a functional program its completely different. A good program evolve, Blender has become fantastic compared to how it was before. But the key to have a really good UI is to let the USER decide what should be in there, and I am not talking about voting for how the next version of Blender should look,I am talking about complete freedom to customize every part of blender that you want. That way all users get exactly what they want, you can’t keep adding more buttions to meet everyones wishes!

    Blender would gain so much by letting the users customize their UI to look and feel according to their needs. I do some freelancing in the gaming industry as an 3d artist, and something I have learned is that everyone more ore less transform their programs in one way or another. I mostly do lowpoly stuff with hand painted textures and want an easy way to preview them in the viewport with quick lightning. In total I use around 50-60 commands, the other quadrillion buttons (that doesn’t make any sense at all) I consider to be pure Garbage.

    Blender should give you the option to simply just drag and drop buttons, create custom toolbar with ease,change colors. Real custom marking menus like Maya that actually works with the right click and then you have everything you need right there, the rest is shortcuts or some floating toolbars (like the left and right Toolbar windows scrolling in) I mean if you open Blender for the first time and you are trying to rotate a model and you can’t even select the darn thing, Then you find out that 50 % of you mouse buttons are wasted to move an gun aim on the screen I mean WTF!? Its not just bad design, its a stop sign saying: “GO AWAY! We don’t want you here”

    I really love Blender to death but the UI has to change. Please make it easy to customize anything you want,problem solved. (and no offence Andrew, fantastic video)

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