A video tooltip for every blender feature, slider, button & checkbox (proposal)

I want to mouse over any feature in blender and see a short video showing what it does and how it works.

With a little code, we could either put a hyperlink or embed a youtube video player in the tooltip of every item in blender.

You’d still need to experiment, but it’d be very helpful to new users.

My guess is that many people would be likely to participate, and we could actually get quality videos for everything.

They’d need to somehow be up to date, and depreciate when newer version of that tool came out, but that wouldn’t be too hard.

I’m thinking that every tool / feature / setting in blender could be covered in a 30 second video.

  • It would save lots of time hunting down & watching long format tutorials.
  • You’d be able to easily grasp new features while working on projects.
  • You could record all videos in English, and subtitle in other languages.
  • New users could learn all the hidden features of blender without years of work.
  • You wouldn’t be confused by strange ultra technical names on buttons, because you’d see 'em at work.
  • You’d save lots of time trying out the 100s of settings which may or may not help you at all.
  • Blender 3D would be easier to learn than other applications.
  • I’d be able to do more faster with complex features I don’t quite understand.

You think it would just take “a little” code to embed a web video player into Blender? LOL. Get coding then… :wink:

Using a hyperlink is a good idea though, but it has already been done…

Right-click on almost anything and you get a popup menu, select “Online Manual”. You will be taken to a page in the wiki about that particular feature. It is there that you could embed your youtube videos.

http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Meta:Guides/Style_Guide/Media

“10. Being stuck in tutorial-land.”

Video tutorials are the biggest mistake of the human race.
The short tooltip help is one of the best feature of Blender.

It’s not very targeted. I’m looking for 1:1 ratio of buttons and details about their use.
1 button/ slider / whatever gives you 1 video tooltip.

The wiki is about as targeted as it can be, with the amount of content that it currently has. To have more detailed information for each little part you just have to sign up as an editor and start adding content, including your video links. If you find that the “Online Manual” link is going to the wrong page (say to one that is too general when there is a more specific one available) then that could be fixed too.

Although I don’t agree with the idea of having video tool tips on mouse over as that would get very old very fast and become really annoying, I do agree that the online manual link could be slightly better targeted.

A Random example: if you right click -> online manual, over the rotation mode in the object data panel, you’ll get taken to the object mode page of the wiki which, says nothing about the rotation mode. If that was an autodesk manual you’d get a short terse sentence which doesn’t actually give you alot of info, but at least it tells you what it does.

So I agree it would be good if the online manual link took you to a page that describes the exact feature you clicked on, even if it’s really short and I like the idea of embedding videos in the wiki for larger features. But in practice, the important stuff is pretty much all covered in the wiki, and for things that aren’t, you can always pop in to BA and ask.

So really this is already possible (well without the vid tips in blender itself) using the online manual feature, the real issue is the state of the WIKI, I’ve always wanted to help out with it, but I don’t feel confident enough to write documentation.

What I do think would be good as far as video tool tips, would be a Blender Basics video set linked on the splash screen including a set of transitional videos for users coming from other packages, maybe with tips on how to configure the UI, basic movement, modelling and animations.

A Random example: if you right click -> online manual, over the rotation mode in the object data panel, you’ll get taken to the object mode page of the wiki which, says nothing about the rotation mode. If that was an autodesk manual you’d get a short terse sentence which doesn’t actually give you alot of info, but at least it tells you what it does
If you go through the interface and check if all the links are actually the most appropriate you can then get a list of corrections for the developers. No need to write documentation but you are still contributing.

A video player popping up every time I try to change a slider would quickly become incredibly annoying, I think it is a much better idea to have the videos on the wiki as Harley suggested.

@PaulStormblader - I understand you’'l be the one to start developing this feature? Or is it just your wish to help you understand Blender better?

Nope thats a bad idea.

Video tutorials are great for tutorials, lousy at reference documentation or describing a specific feature.

The best solution for tooltips is to make them user editable and shared online. Meaning anyone with an account will able to edit and tooltip and upload it to the blender database on the main website. Rating system can also be implemented to make sure top rated tooltips are the ones that get displayed first. Tooltips containing links to blender wiki or even blender video tutorials is a viable option too. I imagine a very easy to use direct system that will allow you to edit tooltips from inside blender on the spot.

I may be able to create something like that for my Ephestos project but is not a high priority right now. I need to finish the GUI API first.

kilon- I agree with you. Video tooltips are bad thing and you came up with something better. Great idea worth spreading.

I only expressed a personal opinion, if there is enough people who like my idea , I can try implement this for blender. I am also a big fan of expandable tooltips like the ones in Zbush where pressing the ctril button while the tooltip displays expands the tooltip to something much more detailed.

This makes me chuckle considering that tooltips are limited to a single line, despite requests to change that. (For now, the answer is: Keep it short)

Unfortunately, bullet point lists, however long or well written, don’t make things materialize out of thin air (yet). I do agree that short videos explaining features could be very helpful. Everybody can edit the Wiki, so if you found/made such a video, it should be fine to add it to the Wiki. Once we have a good collection of such videos, then we should discuss how to make them more accessible (maybe with a separate entry in the RMB menu).

The wiki allows almost anyone to quickly and easily make changes and add new information. But the mapping between Blender UI elements and wiki URLs is far from flexible. There is just a big list of manual mappings (rna_wiki_reference.py) that must be edited. Yes, this means that to improve where you are directed into the wiki for each element requires a change to the source tree of Blender.

It might make more sense to remove that mapping from the source and use redirects instead. So for every RNA item we make a page like “rna/render.resolution_x” and that page is nothing but a mediawiki redirect to the final page “#REDIRECT [[pagename]]”. This way it would be under direct control of the wiki writers.

I’d probably be up for re-linking stuff or helping with that. I’m not very good at coding. This would be a good way to let non-coders improve blender’s usability & lower the learning curve.

Obviously, you’d have the regular tooltip, and a modifier key you’d use, or an extended hover period, or a link in the tooltip to view the video. It wouldn’t start playing random videos as soon as the tool tip appears.

Sometimes text documentation makes more sense, and often I’ll avoid watching videos online, because I can read much faster. Video tooltips would help explain visual things things like animation, baking and dynamics.

I’d agree with this. There are direct links to the python API for almost every feature. Similar features are grouped making it fast, fluid and fun.

I think that if we left this on the wiki instead of putting it into tooltips, that would probably be fine - but we’d need to get per feature direct access. Not land on the wiki 3 pages out with scanning and clicking required to find what we launched from. However, having video tooltips in blender 3D would make it easy and fun to explore - so you could make sure you were taking full advantage of all blender’s features in areas you use.

I’ve spent time on the documentation / wiki. General pages discussing entire sections are good, but it’d be really nice to have a super short video tip on each tool, or more pictures, or stuff like that.

Overall, I want to know everything about each single component. I don’t want to wade through a 10 minute video tutorial to learn a single hotkey or feature. I believe speeding up the documentation precision would be a big boost to blender that non-coders would contribute to.

It’d also be a good idea to letting users know they can right click anything. =)

In autodesk apps you have the feature of small videos popping up if you are hovering over a button. It is extremely annoying as it makes the interface stop responding because it has to load the video.
Videos in the wiki , with a link to the wiki in the tooltip or a link when right clicking a button would be far better solution.

After running through 10 more features that I don’t really know how to control, and are missing help document linking altogether, I think it’s time we should do something about this, even if it’s just improving the documentation wiki.

How do we actually go about doing something, adding more precise links, and stuff like this?

First you can start by getting involved with the Blender Documentation team. Subscribe to the bf-docboard discussion list and drop in on the #blenderwiki channel on freenode.