First of all, I am not going to venture a single personal opinion about how Blender should be. I want to facilitate a solution that might benefit the developers.
I know this is a vast and ancient battle-field littered with discarded weapons, broken bodies, weeping widows, scuttling scavengers, and Don Quixotes. But hear me out because I don’t see much conversation from this level of perspective.
I see endless stress in Blender between all the users who want features THEIR way, and the developers attempt to make as many people happy as possible, which is just plain impossible without a clearer picture of how people differ. One of the problems with crowd-contribution is the lack of discipline. I personally believe that Ton’s dedicated leadership, for better or worse, is hands-down the main reason Blender development has thrived and grown so much for so long. But a president cannot consider the options then commit to a decision when they can’t even clearly hear the crowd. Ton and the heavy contributors do this well but it is the voice of the crowd that may be hard to hear, like a huge protest with everybody yelling at once.
However, if the users are separated into specific bunches of well-understood user-types, then Blender could be designed with those camps in mind and the individual user could select which modality is more comfortable. I see some clear examples of this, particularly the beginner vs pro conflict of interest for the Blender team.
Then it would truly address every user in the larger spectrum. (and yes, possibly overwhelm the developers, but they can decide where to draw the line). It may also highlight biases at the developer level, which could get uncomfortable .
Some examples are below of those camps I am thinking of. Discuss possible solutions that address each group then allow the user to select which paradigm feels right to them and configure their Blender to that state (such as the checkbox in Preferences that sets mouse left- or right-button Select). I’ve heard there is a pending workflow-oriented preset system in the works, which is similar but not as broad in scope as I am thinking. Some of us non-beginners don’t even HAVE a workflow.
These are only some examples I have observed both in Blender and in the larger world, and I am sure others will mention new ones that never occurred to me or other people. And THAT is why this discussion is important!
- Some people like to ‘RTFM’, but others prefer hands-on learning by mistakes.
- Some people like to be walked through lessons (tutorials), while others just want full-blown documentation they can refer to.
- Some users are people-oriented learners (video tutorials) and some only need a list of steps to follow, with pictures when text alone is insufficient, or sometimes just an idea that creates an ‘aha’ moment.
- Some people want a well-structured interface, and others like to accrue a structure in a seemingly chaotic fashion.
(think of physical workspaces: some people always keep everything organized and cleaned-up even while working; others like me tend to let a workspace become heavily cluttered because I usually remember where I last put something. Stopping to constantly clean-up and organize feels like it interrupts my focus and churns my workflow. We are not ‘undisciplined’, we just have a more organic approach to efficient workflow and a tolerance for (personal) chaos.
- Some people are heavy productive users with established and streamlined workflows, while the cumulative rest of the users are more experimental and idiosyncratic, which could include beginners.
- Some people rarely use Blender and play with many different features in scattered fashion; others use it every single day and want very specific productivity enhancements. The latter tend to have a more coherent voice that may drive much of Blender, but the ‘incoherent’ group-voice of the former is very very large. Think of it as breadth versus depth. In this world it IS the pros that tend to steer the ship, whatever that is.
- Some people want everything visible at once, others want to declutter and minimize information overload.
- Some people want an intuitive approach to learning how to use something (a more familiar interface); others have the mental energy to learn how to use what might be an alternate but ‘better’ approach.
- Some people come from environments that have so much presence and authority that it must be ‘the correct way’. You might say that some people intrinsically respect authority while others are strongly independent.
- Some people just have their heads on straight and can blaze through whatever they are doing, but sometimes their solutions or answers are not helpful to the rest of us muddlers.
I think it might be of use to condense everything into some kind of short list that could be kept in mind with every decision the developers have to make (and yes, some won’t want to work that way and think any attempt to ‘group’ people creates stereotypes, but I’m hoping THAT discussion does not dominate and cause a flame-war :().
I don’t have answers for each of the examples above or even how they may apply to Blender. I’m sure some of them don’t even make sense (without further discussion) or have clear solutions. But it would be interesting to see how much this discussion might clarify the source of all the endless discussions of ‘what is correct’ and ‘what makes sense’.
(oh, and some people are interested in this kind of abstraction (‘ideas’, for you poor-English speakers), while others could give a damn, but they probably won’t participate much ).