BLender101 or holding the user's hands

I was watching a interview wit Ton and apparently Blender101 is still a thing.

The first thing that need to change about the UI to be noon friendly is warn about unsaved data when you save a blend file. That’s orphin blocks and unsaved textures and anything else that doesn’t make it in to a blend when saving.

Noobs this “I need to save my work. I’l just save a blend file.” WRONG and we should tell them that.

Forget about this Right click to select nonsense. I lost like 2 minutes at most looking up that up, and that’s because I didn’t follow a basic blender tutorial. I’ve lost hours of work do to blender not saving it in the blend file.

Blender 101 is intended to be an optional mode for beginners and for those seeking an easier to use workflow (adding concepts like scale cages).

Power users can still go in and use Blender as they always have (with all of the extra power that 2.8 brings).

Something else Blender101 needs and Ton kinda talked about, Blender101 isn’t just one UI remake of Blender it’s several simplified version for specific tasks. Something else that would benefit noobs is a hotkey/Blender101 manager; this would let you load hotkey presets and UI elements and work you if they conflict with each other.

Here is the interview:


What should change is the whole concept of automatically disposing “unused” user data, period. This is an implementation detail that should never bubble up to the user to deal with. If users want to delete something, let them delete it. That’s a concept everyone understands.

Of course, while this trainwreck of application design remains, users should know about it (approximately 25% of user don’t), but the straightforward solution isn’t annoying warnings, it’s changing the dangerous defaults.

Really? Who raises money for Open Movie projects? Ton Roosendaal.

If one euro disappeared from Ton Roosendaal’s bank account for every time some poor Blender user loses an hour of work because of orphaned datablocks, the issue would be dealt with, guaranteed.

@DrAlta, how is that related to the Blender 101 project? From my point of view, it is something that should be handled differently in Blender.
The title is also confusing for me, because you are not mentioning or clarifying the “hand holding” in your post.

‘Hand holding’ is making Blender easier for new users to use. It’s an English saying, from holding the hands of a child while they learn how to walk.

What i believe it means, after seeing the interview, is that he doesn’t see money as an end, but as a medium to get somthing. He cares about creating things: software, teams, movies, etc. But money is only a medium to have that.

I think one should see the interview in full to get the meaning.

Well guess what, that’s the whole point of money, that’s why money is interesting even to Mr. Roosendaal - you can use it to get things done. Very few people want money for the money. They want money for what you can do with it.

If there was more money in (developing) Blender, it would have a lot more of what people want out of it. Instead, even at the top, we have a certain “anti-money” mentality, but why? Because Blender users don’t have enough money! It’s a convenient rationalization, nothing more.

I wasn’t sure whether you ment it with a negative touch, because the title and your post are about different subjects.

I think there could be a strong case for having the auto-magical clean up of orphan data blocks as a user setting.
Leaving it unchecked will reveal “Clean Up” operators to call manually.

So experienced users can have it as it is today, and beginners can have their messy blend files.

It’s really not uncommon though to have an Array/List displayed with unsaved data upon closing.

There are some good ideas and concepts, somehow the software/tools reach a consensus what works best at the moment.

In my opinion if we have it like this we might even have an extra Properties tab, with that Triangle warning icon showing warnings. Warnings tend to show up in weird small places now days like headers, or if you drag down the info panel. or look at the console - even flash by in the GUI among the buttons in number inputs as plain text.

Why not gather them at one place. Could be good for add-on developers also to know there’s a dedicated place to show warning and error for the user. It’s kinda ad hoc haphazard at the moment.

Also I think there could be error messages that has an expire time, that kinda fades away. And there could be consistence error messages such as unsaved image data blocks.

So we can have error flash in the header with expire time, but in the properties panel it’s there until closing Blender.
Also when closing Blender it can kinda prompt user to check warnings about unsaved data blocks.

I have to say I am skeptical about 101 too. It further fractures Blender’s already very fractured environment. What Blender needs is unification, not further fragmentation. Blender is not hard for new users because they see lots of buttons. It’s hard for new users because the way interaction with the software has been mapped to input devices like mouse and keyboard is alien to most. Introducing multiple different Blender layouts with multiple different interaction models will just exponentially grow the confusion, instead of helping.

I agree with quite a lot of what Ton says with the interview, but I believe that what he is wrong about is that the users still want more flexibility and customization. Blender has gone so far with the flexibility and customization that is actually does more damage than good (think input editor). The solution to this is not “let’s add more flexibility so everyone can make Blender the way they want”. What people really want and need at this time is something that works so well out of the box that there’s not much need for customization in the first place. The importance of good defaults is greatly underestimated here.

People don’t customize things because they enjoy it or because they are control freaks. They usually customize things to alleviate default solutions they don’t like. Just think about it… when was the last time you felt a strong need to deeply customize for example Photoshop, or Google Chrome, or a Word editor…?

I couldn’t agree more. Even though, there is some value in the flexibility, the defaults are way more important for users. Nevertheless, I am very comfortable with the overall direction. There are several topics on the way or on the roadmap which are going to make Blender more intiuitive, no matter what kind of settings are used.

I know some extreme cases when it comes to customization. I know control freaks who want things exactly in certain ways and for them this are the only valid settings that exist. At the same time, I know some guys who are so individual that the defaults are simply not good enough for them. They need something different for the sake of it.
Both are rather rare and extreme cases, but they exist.

I agree here, absolutely. I do think that significant customization needs to be available, especially in such a complex piece of software as a 3D package. My main point was that availability of deep customization should not become an excuse for poor defaults and unfriendly out of the box behavior. These factors greatly contribute to the first impression which tends to scare most of the users trying Blender away :slight_smile:

That depends on how it is done. If you just have an rmb and a click to hide a part of Blender to make your custom layout, it’s simple and perfect.
Show what you want, hide what you don’t want, that’s it’s, a custom layout for a specific part.

I’m working in a studio that is doing animated series with blender. The 101 project look like a very good tool to customize blender even more.
We don’t do things like motion tracking , game engine stuff so we can get rid of that and add more of our own tools.

It’s already possible with current blender by tweaking interface .py file, but it’s hard to maintain. The 101 project seems to simplify this process a lot.
That’s one of the 2.8 projects that I’m really looking forward to.

To sum up, 101 isn’t just about having a stripped down blender for noobs, it also allow professionals to customize blender for their needs.

I kind of feel like learning RMB took all of two seconds.

But the first time I hit the wrong keystroke and didn’t know what it was and it completely changed what I was looking at and when I reloaded my file it was still like that, I just about quit. I still run into those situations-- there’s something I do that locks me to timeline scrub from the 3D editing I was doing and I don’t know what it is, but at least it goes away when I quit/restart.

What new users need to know is what they just did. If they hit a key in the wrong view and it did something weird, tell them what they did. Keep an action history, more verbose and complete than the undo history, with descriptions that actually make sense.

I don’t think that’s ever been a problem for me. Unless you count textures that I wasn’t smart enough to save to file.

Or those times I ruined all my textures from unanticipated bake consequences and saved all to file when I was overly worried about the first problem.

What should change is the whole concept of automatically disposing “unused” user data, period. This is an implementation detail that should never bubble up to the user to deal with. If users want to delete something, let them delete it. That’s a concept everyone understands.

Something needs to change. I’m not sure that it should be invisible though. There needs to be a management structure to deal with linked and packed data as a whole, someplace where you can duplicate/unlink or delete node groups and particle systems, meshes and materials, someplace where you can actually find that lonely single user that you forgot about years ago. Until that happens, I’d be awfully scared of Blender just saving everything. It’s already hard enough to try to prep a blend for distro/help. Even if it’s limited to a 101 version, we’re going to have to be downloading those monstrous files in order to help the beginners.

I saw the interview and didn’t really come away feeling excited for 101 for a couple of reasons. The interview is really good though, and I recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.

First, it sounds like the UI and tools for the basic 3d printing workspace will be quite different to that of the default setup, with widgets to make scaling easier, and large UI buttons for the tools that are needed to allow people to easily do printing. Whilst that doesn’t sound bad, are we going to get tools to make scaling etc. easier in default Blender, or will these tools only exist inside the 3d printing workspace? When you start getting addon authors making addons for a particular workspace, will it require more work from the developer or user to have them work correctly in other workspaces? I’d really like to know more about how features are shared between different workspaces and if it’s merely the Blender UI that will be changed, rather than widgets and functionality.

The other thing is that I haven’t seen much in the way of how the developers plan to improve Blender’s default UI and workflow. There are a few nice concepts of UI components (, but I haven’t seen much about how the workflow for Blender’s existing features is planned to be improved. Is it better to fix problems with Blender’s default UI first, or will the experience of Blender 101, and subsequently developed workspaces for things other than just 3d printing help inform how to improve the default UI?

Overall, I am definitely not against Blender 101, but I would like to know more about how it will affect the default Blender UI and what improvements we are likely to see if we aren’t using a 101 workspace.

I don’t believe that blender 101 will be a big difference interface… Blender foundation and developers needed years to make the blender2.5 UI improvements, and at the end it was only a cleanup of the UI elements, better theme and change few things. They will make a complete refactor of all the UI? I doubt

And if blender101 was a really big UI change, something like sculptris/zbrush (to compare) I think that it will be other project that nobody ask for it. So many years with people asking about the left click to select by default and nobody make this stupid change, and now somebody want to make a “simple” blender when nobody ask for it? because people asked about a lot of things this years, but I don’t remember any “blender101” that no other programs needs to be used by 10 years kids.

Good defaults are always great, but customizability is important. We are all different, and may have different things that are important to us for a good workflow.

For example, I have eyes that get very irritated by small antialiased fonts, they seem blurry to me. If I have to work longer with a program where I can’t disable it, I get a headache, because my eyes and brain want to adjust focus, but can’t. Luckily Blender eventually got a setting to disable it.

Most people don’t even notice and/or want to have aa UI fonts, so that would be a sensible default for the majority. I would be excluded, though.

On the other hand, I understand that every new setting is an added burden to the developers, because every setting has to work with every other setting, the combinations of that are getting numerous and can lead to maintenance nightmare.

This mainly means that Blender’s default font, its size and its sharpness need to be reviewed and improved, not that we need bunch of settings for font handling. I have an issue with Blender’s fonts using some themes too, but I never had any issue with any other software package. This is again a matter of poor default, not lack of flexibility.

This is exactly what I was referring to in my post above. Most of the Blender users have to change settings to alleviate difficulties, not to improve their workflow.

The most common argument is “I really like Blender’s flexibility because I did not like X, Y and Z, so I could just go deep into settings and change these to what I like.”, but the main issue is that in Blender, there are way too many of these “dislike fixes”. Instead of introducing poor setup by default and requiring users to fix it, we should have good X, Y and Z defaults, so that no one feels like they need to touch it.

There will be always people claiming the good old story that you can not satisfy everyone, but trust me, you can satisfy a vast majority. I’ve designed most of the Corona Renderer UX and UI, and while people were complaining about lack of flexibility at the start, rarely anyone complains about it these days. If anything, when ChaosGroup acquired Corona, the thing Corona users were worried about the most was Corona getting “V-Ray’s level of flexibility”. Same simplification can easily be done with Blender’s UI too.