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Thread: Andrew Price on Blender's UI

  1. #1

    Andrew Price on Blender's UI

    This was an interesting and well presented expose' on how things could be better.



    I found myself thinking about LW sometimes while watching this.

  2. #2
    Thanks for linking this great video! It was an interesting watch and it even gave me some little tips as well (I immediately switched my left mouse button to selection, heh).
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  3. #3
    Yes, that probably explains why I hated blender so much, a lack of consistency. While some of the points he made about sliders were slightly invalid (sub-frames are a thing, and how do you have a slider for an infinite scalar) but otherwise spot on.

  4. #4
    I think the Blender Foundation should hire this kid. He is very intelligent and great at researching. He made a presentation at the Blender Conference a few years ago that was brilliant. However, here is a contingent in the Blender Foundation and the surrounding group that have a hard time thinking so broadly.

    As for me, I don't agree with the premise. It is a little naive. I am not sure what work would be involved in making those changes and I don't really agree the pay off would be worth it and I am going to bet that the BF feels the same way.

    Inconsistency is not that big of an issue. It is not half as bad in Blender as it is in other apps.

    It comes down to the tools.

    I did find Blender to be hard to get around at first. But I really wanted to get my hands on the tools it had. So I persisted and found it was not as bad as people claimed. My first lesson in the online CG community. Never listen to what people say. Explore for yourself.

    I found Zbrush about 100 X harder to learn and get my head around than Blender. But again, I wanted to get my hands on the tools, so I persisted. The funny thing is that once you do learn things the Zbrush way, it becomes artistically intuitive.

    So the claim that people are leaving Blender because of the interface is not true. I mean that is the inferred reason. The real reason is that those are the people that got far enough into Blender to realize the limitations. And no interface will cure that. Maya, Max or Softimage will. And so it goes. But by contrast, people that persist and learn Zbrush usually stick around and make great art with a powerful tool set. And then you have the Mudbox people who claim that Zbrush is hard to learn and it aint all that. But they are quick to dismiss something and proclaim facts about something they know very little about.

    And the same is true for Blender.

    By the way switching to LMB select has been around in Blender for a long time back at least to 2.4x. But the trade off is that you loose a lot of the other great functionality. So users who actually stick around with Blender usually switch it back to R click. So it is kind of a pointless feature. Same is true in Softimage, you can switch to a Maya interaction but you loose some very key features.

    So in the end it is simply better to learn a software on it's own terms. This is the best way to get the use out of it. And all software GUI has inconsistencies and issues.

    So I'd say the interface is an issue, but it is something we are a long way from seeing get standardized across programs. And it does not make better tools which at the end of the day is what keeps people around.
    Last edited by Surrealist.; 09-26-2013 at 11:04 PM.

  5. #5
    Super Member geo_n's Avatar
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    Brilliant assesment. Agree on most points. We learned usability standards in design school and he explains the psychology really clear.
    One thing he should add, the KISS concept. One of our mentors always say this to make people understand by making things simple and direct to the point.

    Any chance we can have the navi in lw to mimic maya natively without autohotkey?? One button instead of multiple buttons=rsi.

  6. #6
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    Excellent. Thanks for posting it.

  7. #7
    World's Tallest Dwarf safetyman's Avatar
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    I agree with Surrealist for the most part. No software is perfect and each has it limitations.

    I have a challenge for you:

    Learn Blender. Model some stuff. Get familiar and comfortable with it.

    Then switch back to LW and tell me which one is easier to use. I'm not saying it's better... just have a go. Alter your thinking a little.

  8. #8
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    I don't think the video is about "is this software better than that?" It would be a corruption of it's message to imagine that it was.

    The video is a great analysis of usability as applied to Blender and you could conduct the same exercise on LW without the need for an argument as to whether Blender or LW is the better software.

    It is an excellent video.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by safetyman View Post
    I agree with Surrealist for the most part. No software is perfect and each has it limitations.
    Yeah, to me it makes more sense that people leave Blender after exploring it because of its limitations or workflow kinks (which every 3d software has, just in different areas). But usability from the beginner's standpoint is still important regardless because we were all beginners at some point in our lives. Beginners help grow the userbase after all; we need em! If Blender is turning away people trying to explore the program right off the bat, then it IS something that should be seriously discussed.

    When I first opened up Lightwave (after using Blender), the difference in learning curve compared to Blender was surprising... I mean on a fundemental level (basic control schemes), not figuring out how to achieve Y task with X tools. I have always considered this a weak point in Blender... so I'm really glad someone is taking the time to put that in the spotlight. Blender is the only mainstream open source 3d program out there right now, so if it can be easy to grasp on top of what it already provides it can really boost its userbase without dedicating a ton of time in development.
    Last edited by Ryan Roye; 09-27-2013 at 07:44 AM.
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  10. #10
    Axes grinder- Dongle #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by geo_n View Post
    Any chance we can have the navi in lw to mimic maya natively without autohotkey?? One button instead of multiple buttons=rsi.
    Which bits? I, for instance, change CTRL+C to just C, if that's what you mean.

    MOST (not all) LW and LWM keymappings are redefinable.

    ++
    For me, Blender's TEXTURE system is the part that is totally opaque. I can do a tutorial, but there doesn't seem to be rhyme nor reason to the system itself.

    And I've yet to see any 3D software that treats the camera as intuitively for me as Lightwave. All the others feel "CADdish", with the camera tacked on as an afterthought. Alan H. was correct to go with a camera-centric paradigm.
    Last edited by jeric_synergy; 09-27-2013 at 08:54 AM.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by jeric_synergy View Post
    For me, Blender's TEXTURE system is the part that is totally opaque. I can do a tutorial, but there doesn't seem to be rhyme nor reason to the system itself.
    There is. And it is the same concept that applies to the entire data system which goes back as far as I know to the very first versions of Blender. But you learn this system you've learned the Object/Mesh system, Animation Actions and so on. It is all the same concept and it all works the same way.

    A data container and a block of data you assign to it.

    So in effect you create a surface and instantly any object can share that surface and all of it's attributes. Same with the textures. So yo have multiple users or one block of data - a surface, a texture, an animation, mesh data etc. And further not only can you access this data within a scene you can reach into other scene files and pull out object or mesh data, rigs, animation actions, materials, camera, lights, textures. Pretty much anything that is stored within a scene.

    Also you can then make a user of data break off from the shared ones and edit a material etc as separate without affecting the others. Pretty much the gist of it.

    Once you understand how this all works, you are off and running.

    From there texturing assignments to attributes such as specular and bump are fairly straight forward and self-explanatory. Nodes are somewhat limited but they work well and give you lots of options.

    Cycles has its own nodal system and is very different. But fairly simple to use. Still in its infancy but really a nice system.

    But just like anything, you have to spend a little time learning to get something out of it.
    Last edited by Surrealist.; 09-27-2013 at 10:06 AM.

  12. #12
    If switching right mouse button to left causes users to miss out on some usability - erm - that's stupid, that means the switch isn't complete. I.e. my partner is left handed, so she uses the mouse in her left hand, and switches the buttons round. (windows prefs, takes ages for me to get used to it!) However, in no way does it limit her windows-using experience, because it's just remapping inputs. This does not make sense!

  13. #13
    Axes grinder- Dongle #99
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    re button switching: I agree with both sides: one must REALLY grit one's teeth for a while when acclimating to Blender, but there is a whole system of justification to it that has a certain flavor that, over time, I came to value.

    Not enough to actually USE Blender, but I could see where they were going.

    They really did (seem to) start with no pre-conceptions, so there's one hell of a learning curve. Does ANYBODY else use the "3D cursor" concept? Sometimes it's quite useful.
    They only call it 'class warfare' when we fight back.
    Praise to Buddha! #resist
    Chard's Credo-"Documentation is PART of the Interface"
    Film the cops. Always FILM THE COPS. Use this app.

  14. #14
    If you are familiar with Blender at all, the lack of consistency across the UI is not as important. But if you're looking to learn Blender, then it becomes a larger problem. Blender's UI has been one of the largest complaints I've seen overall, so maybe they should do something about it.

  15. #15
    Axes grinder- Dongle #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by hrgiger View Post
    If you are familiar with Blender at all, {emphasis added}
    I profoundly disagree with this: any inconsistencies makes Blender, and any tool for that matter, more difficult to use until you are a master (or journeyman at least).

    A truly random UI would just be a slog, like memorizing arbitrary strings, but you'd know it was random and have no expectations. A perfectly consistent UI would be natural. But a MIX of randomness and consistency throws users into a state where they waste vast amounts of time thinking "Well, it works this way over here, so it MUST work that over here."

    I don't think Blender is particularly inconsistent, but it is certainly different, and that's what throws people. I hear (and only hear) that Houdini is similar in that it is a different mindset.
    They only call it 'class warfare' when we fight back.
    Praise to Buddha! #resist
    Chard's Credo-"Documentation is PART of the Interface"
    Film the cops. Always FILM THE COPS. Use this app.

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