A look at: 2012 and beyond!!!

Hello Blenderheads,
2012 is coming to an end, the aim of this thread is discuss the highlights of blender in 2012, and discuss what blender should aim for in 2013.

I’ll start, a lot of improvements have occurred throughout this year, features such as image layers , freestyle renderer and dynamic topology(sculpting) are yet to be brought into trunk as well as many others. Features such as tiled rendering in cycles as well as improved smoke simulation and newly incorporated modifiers (skin and laplacian smooth) have been part of the massive ‘footprint blender has taken upon my hard-drive’ . Most favoured feature being the improved compositor that to me has taken the correct step towards modernizing blender. 2011 was the year of cycles which continues to boast many features at an incredible speed (in development); 2014 would probably be the year when a cycles is truly ready for the production pipeline. 2012 was the year of TEARS OF STEAL which as always, been a project that’s a pleasure to follow, and an excellent addition to the blender foundations portfolio.

As for 2013, I believe blender would only get better, with advancements in computer technology (touchscreen tablets, ARM, Linux, Kepler, GCN, and HSA etc.), I believe blender should push towards making its features better for these technologies. One technology would be the use of HSA, whilst the other, which I am more in favour of, would be OpenCL, imagine the power of any gpu and cpu combined, in the realm of physics simulation(fluid, cloth, smoke, rigid body etc). As was achieved with the new compositor. If blender was to harness these technologies, we could truly see blender become an early user-a step closer to making blender mainstream, which I’m sure is already happening i.e. more production companies are starting to include blender as part of their production pipeline.

  1. Solid, multi-threaded, and incredibly flexible/ extendable depsgraph.
  2. A unified stance on Blender’s user-interface and methods of improving it for artistic workflows.
  3. A solid asset-management research project to understand how/ if this can help Blender artists, and how such a tool/ set-of-tools can be developed for Blender to aid in project management, revisions, pipeline set-ups (Import/ export (Alembic)) for multi-tool-managed pipelines &c.
  4. Extending of the nodal concepts of Blender to cover particles, modifiers, rigging, work-history (Nodal channel editor), external rendering engines (SVM to OSL conversion? or just a really solid API for external render engine materials.)
  5. Improvements to Blender physics i.e. Hair-collision/ physics/ controls, skinning of fluid-particles, integration of Alembic for caching/ exporting/ importing of simulations, &c.

That’s all I can think of right now, I personally think OpenCL/ acceleration would be nice for simulations if it could handle the huge memory requirements. I would like to see it stripped from Cycles though, or at least take a nice, comfy back seat to CPU improvements; speed, OSL/ shader improvements, shader types, different methods of sampling and so on.

I’ll vote for some basic UI improvements; now all windows and additional options take too much space and sometimes need a lot of mouse wheelers scrolling. I would love to see horizontal panels back, much more intuitive, practical and cleaner Outliner; moreover I would like to work on animation system a bit: viewport speed, more user friendly graph editor.

So when it comes to me - polishing existing tools.

Asset Manager

Nodes for BGE and particles! also some love for rendering in cycles with multiple machines working on the same frame (tile rendering?). Would be interesting as well to have a ram player or something into the compositing nodes so we can preview our scenes much better.

As far as the API is concerned…

This year, 2012, I lost a lot of cool working AddOns due to developer changes. I call this API Shock! (yes I am coining a term…that is so Fetch) It has reduced my enthusiasm to create scripts because they will be dead in 2-3 months anyway due to unforeseen future changes. There needs to be some kind of initiative or pledge that developers should take to allow old, great and working scripts to continue to work despite future API changes that may need to occur. Without this kind of assurance there is really no reason to develop scripts unless it is utmost needed or paid for up front. The limited lifetime of a script is a serious concern and obstacle for more professional studios adopting Blender into a pipeline or workflow. I don’t know, something like “The Blender Foundation pledges to keep the API backwards compatible for at least one year.”…or “The next release of Blender will not break your script!”. Most movies are developed over a year so having a high comfort level that the API will remain stable for that period of time is a reasonable request.

I would like to see a way to write actual modifiers in python. An extra event handler, perhaps that feeds us the current state of the datablocks in the stack and allows us to modify the data without crashing the dependency graph.

Colorized labels/fonts and gradient backgrounds for our interface, yeah I want pink and black and all the colors of the rainbow all over my AddOns.

A progress widget that we can display in our panels to indicate when our python script is busy or calculating. I can’t believe it is 2013 and I am begging for a progress bar to be included.

Cycles improvements and a depsgraph rewrite is what get’s me most exciting! :slight_smile: Really hope I will get to witness both this year!

Right now, I’d settle for getting all the constraints working. In fact, to get everything in Blender working the way it was originally intended to work.