Blender taking off?

I just took a look at the new features of Blender 2.71. I am impressed.

I would like to know: is the development of Blender speeding up?

I just get that impression but what do you think?

I think Blender has been developing at a rather steady pace for a few years now. However, one might perceive the development as speeding up if features are included that are interesting for you.

A couple of months ago there was no intention to develop features for gamedev like Cycles baking, better FBX support, vertex split normals, etc. That has recently changed with donations coming from Steam Workshop artists which allowed to hire 2 devs for work on game development related features. Recently Epic Games donated 10k euros for further FBX I/O improvements.

Not in particular. The developers have been hard at work since 2.5 I would say.

The more than usual development that we see at the moment takes place thanks to the development fund (Steam Workshop) as it was already mentioned. This should go on thanks to further donations and will be even further accelerated thanks to Gooseberry.

Well, thanks to the very quiet work of the Blender Foundation, one thing that Blender now has a modest amount of is, money.

But it also now sports a completely-transformed user interface which has now reached a point of real maturity. A rolling stone does gather momentum as time passes.

Well, a lot of the acceleration can be due to the fact that more money coming in means a larger paid dev. team.

Essentially, the more users they can see subscribing to the development fund or the cloud, the more developers they can hire (though some of the cloud money acts as a reliable funding source for open movie projects).

Interesting topic, especially after missing one of the most important member of the Blender Foundation: Brecht. In my opinion you are going to see a big slow down in features and functionality at least in the rendering side until they can fill the big hole Brecht left. So I’m not sharing such a positive feeling, sorry.


I think the ‘Activity’ graph is interesting, however in this case I think the stats are a bit misleading… moving from subversion to git, there is a tenancy to prepare a feature locally before committing (hence it looks like activity has dropped off since 2012).
Also, we have feature freeze during release - where some devs work in own git repos.
Nevertheless it shows activity has increased over the years.

Up until ~2009 we had 1-2 devs hired to work on Blender, now we have ~6 or so (not counting GSOC… depending on how you count - some are part time).
Also we had some quite prolific volunteers over the years, but they tend to come and go, or they get hired. Rough estimate is 80% of code is done by paid devs these days.

I can say with certainty that this thread right here, is the main driving force for me to try Blender again…and even purchase a subscription to CG Cookie:

I dont think you are being fair to other devs. Brecht did the cycles from ground up and brought it to a state of almost being production ready. Thomas , Broadstu or Storm and similar devs keep adding and fixing things ( i.e. Gsoc cycles optimizations , MT branch etc)…

On other subjects like BMesh , Sculpting & Painting , VSE , Movie editor and other parts there are very capable and incredibly talented devs like Campbell (ideasman42) , Anthony (Psy-fi) , Sergey , Dalai , Miika,Lukas , Bastien , Gaia , Tamito and other awesome people i forgot to mention…

They keep building and building, which is just incredible (Thanks devs !!!).

I wish I had enough resources to offer individual blender projects to these great people, i hope that day will come.

Hey yii7, I have very much respect for the blender developers, where do you get that I’m not from my previous post? All I’m saying is that Brecht was a playing an important role into the one of the most important things in Blender: Rendering! and just use simple maths: 6 developers are not the same as 5. If you lose one person in your team obviously is going to affect your production for sure until someone with similar knowledge can replace him/her. I still don’t know where you see anything bad in my post, anyway.

If Brecht left in the first year of Cycles development, I would’ve had a reason for concern about its future because he was pretty much the only person making major contributions to the code.

Then we got Stuart Broadfoot committing hair rendering functionality along with shaders, Dfelinto committing baking, DingTo committing a basket of various items which included the base code for volumetrics, and now Lukas Stockner working on more advanced sampling algorithms. Cycles as far as I can see still has a future because Brecht is still in an advisory role and it now has its own ecosystem of developers.

Yeah, it is interesting that the thread you linked to is the largest one on the Foundry forums. Credit to the Foundry that they haven’t locked it by now, especially considering how many Modo artists have defected to Blender recently. As a regular on that forum, it is hard not to notice the amount of interest that Blender has gained over the years.

There is a great post from nervouschimp here that illustrates this perfectly:

Yep; that was a great bit of honesty from the Chimp. Refreshing really.

You can’t deny that Blender is more capable than ever, but what would you define as ‘taking off?’ If you mean becoming more popular (in some segments), recognized and complete, it most certainly has. If you’re talking about replacing some of the existing stalwarts (3DS, Maya, Houdini, etc…) then I would say it hasn’t and probably never will. Blender is a great program, but it’s still too odd and quirky (in a good way IMHO) for the hugely complex pipelines of the big league players.

That being said I do think Blender has a great future with smaller VFX facilities that don’t have the finances or technical staff to play in the Autodesk/Renderman arena.

A lot of commercial applications are actually trying to compete for that market as well now. The larger expense at most studios is the employees rather than software licenses; thus the ol’ saying: Time is Money.

Given that even highly experienced 3D artists struggle learning Blender the first time, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Maya LT or something similar corner that market in the near future.

All Autodesk might have to do really is wage an aggressive marketing campaign on how Ton and co. run for the hills whenever the words ‘Industry Standard’ is mentioned. In other words make a play on all of the common complaints about how Blender is being developed (from the lack of patch review resources to the GPL) and seal it with Autodesk does what BlenDON’T.

Perhaps it would actually be good for Blender, because it would mean they would have to add things like left-click default on certain control presets just to stay relevant, less we all but seal the idea in the minds of some people that FOSS as heavy production software just fails and you’re delusional to think it will change (how many years now have people been proclaiming it’s the year Linux becomes mainstream again?).

Now I’m not saying Autodesk will do that, but I think the Blender devs. could use more vigilance on not letting the opportunity to get new developers on board or more professional use slide away (which I think we really are losing potential long term developers because of the patch review resource issue).

That’ll solve the issue Andrew Price found at Siggraph - that some people never heard of Blender :), free publicity never goes astray.

Could we avoid this turning into a Blender vs X - thread, its possible for multiple players to be successful. And its a divisive topic we don’t need to re-hash again.

Eh, I was trying to avoid tumbling down the ol’ UI/UX rabbit hole again. The problem there isn’t with Ton and co, but changing the Blender Community. Every time it’s brought up, the community is the one that brings out the pitchforks, not Ton.

My point was mostly that Blender isn’t the only one aiming for the small studio market anymore, and software licenses aren’t the part the small studios struggle with. Maya LT, and Substance Painter is an affordable solution that a small studio making mobile games can use for example. Is it a better option than Blender? I don’t know. We’ll have to see.

Edit: This was in response to Ace